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SECURE SYNOPSIS: 8 June 2020


NOTE: Please remember that following ‘answers’ are NOT ‘model answers’. They are NOT synopsis too if we go by definition of the term. What we are providing is content that both meets demand of the question and at the same time gives you extra points in the form of background information.


 

Topic: Important Geophysical phenomena such as earthquakes, Tsunami, Volcanic activity, cyclone etc., geographical features and their location-changes in critical geographical features (including water-bodies and ice-caps) and in flora and fauna and the effects of such changes.

1. Examine the threat perception of earthquakes for the Delhi NCR region in the light of recent series of Earthquake tremors witnessed by it. (250 words)

Reference: The Hindu 

Why the question:

The National Capital Region has witnessed seven mild earthquakes in the last 20 days. Thus the context of the question.

Key Demand of the question:

The answer must evaluate the threat perception in the Delhi region.

Directive:

Examine – When asked to ‘Examine’, we must look into the topic (content words) in detail, inspect it, investigate it and establish the key facts and issues related to the topic in question. While doing so we should explain why these facts and issues are important and their implications.

Structure of the answer:

Introduction:

Start with some key facts related to the events – Since May 15 2020, the National Center for Seismology has recorded seven small earthquakes, ranging from 1.8 to 4.5 on the Richter scale, with epicenters at Faridabad, Rohtak and New Delhi. The spate of tremors has fuelled speculation of a high-magnitude earthquake in the region.

Body:

Discuss the underlying reasons that have been identified, that have led to the Earthquakes. Some experts have interpreted the recent earthquakes as being a sign that the region was unlikely to have a greater earthquake. Earthquakes in this region were due to “release of stress” accumulated from the movement of the Indian tectonic plate and its collision with the Eurasian tectonic plate. The recent tremors would have diffused the accumulated stress, reducing the risk of a more serious earthquake. Discuss that Consistent tremors would be a cause for concern only if they occurred in regions where tectonic plates met. Only larger faults and larger systems trigger bigger earthquakes. Highlight the associated concerns.

Conclusion:

Conclude with what needs to be done to address the situation; Given the threat perception, it is imperative to strictly impose building codes as a precautionary measure.

Introduction:

Delhi lies in ‘seismic zone IV’ or an area of high damage risk from earthquakes. Since May 15 2020, the National Center for Seismology has recorded seven small earthquakes, ranging from 1.8 to 4.5 on the Richter scale, with epicenters at Faridabad, Rohtak and New Delhi. Scientists have warned that the national capital might witness a massive earthquake imminent in the Himalayan foothills. The impact of such an earthquake might be “heavily damaging” for a densely populated city like Delhi.

Body:

earthquake

Reasons for the increased earthquake tremors:

  • Scientists base their conclusions based on the fact that the region had remained seismically quiet for 600-700 years, creating an “enormous stacking up of seismic strain”, which could result in an earthquake of a magnitude of 8.5 or more at any time in the near future.
  • Earthquakes in this region were due to “release of stress” accumulated from the movement of the Indian tectonic plate and its collision with the Eurasian tectonic plate.
  • Studies suggest that this part of the Himalaya has not seen a major earthquake (greater than 8 magnitude) for hundreds of years unlike other parts of the Himalaya.
  • The science tells us that the stresses due to the northward movement of the Indian plate piled up enormously there and it has to be released through a major earthquake or a series of earthquakes.
  • Scientists can only say it is imminent but cannot say when this is going to happen.
  • Parts of Delhi, Haryana and the UP will be affected, other than parts of the central Himalaya (the Garhwal and Kumaon parts). It could happen anytime.

Threat perception:

  • Delhi lies in ‘seismic zone IV’ or an area of high damage risk from earthquakes.
  • Delhi will be heavily damaged. It is pointed out by architects that 95 per cent of the buildings in Delhi do not follow the safety code.
  • Delhi’s population has also grown many times in the last 70 years.
  • Large sediment thickness (loose soil) in the Ganga Alluvial Plains to the north of Delhi tends to amplify the impact of earthquakes.
  • Studies warn that the areas around Yamuna River are more vulnerable because high soil thickness amplifies the seismic energy and generates more damage to buildings.
  • For that matter, the entire alluvial plain along the Ganga river is highly vulnerable to a major earthquake from the Himalaya.
  • Given the presence of high-rises in the area, large number of buildings and a dense population.
  • If a 1720-like earthquake recurs, the loss to life and property could be colossal in today’s Delhi.
  • The destruction to property and lives would be colossal from a massive earthquake from the central Himalaya.
  • However, it is also being said that small earthquakes may also reduce the chances of a major earthquake. The Delhi Ridge region is a low danger area, while the medium risk areas are – South West, North West and West. The most threatened areas are the North Eastern region.

Way forward:

  • The scientists have urged the Central and Delhi governments to take preventive measures and create awareness.
  • We have to develop the synthetic articular radar technique, which is a remote sensing technique that can be used to assess the occurrence and scale of the earthquake.
  • there should be an initiative to make houses, buildings, bridges earthquake resistant.
  • People should adopt these techniques in sensitive areas to make their houses safe and earthquake resistant.
  • Retrofitting is recognized by the Bureau of Indian Standards and any civil engineer can apply this technique to a building.

 

Topic: Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.

2. With country still at risk from the Covid pandemic, need for behavioural change at a large level is the only best cure available under current circumstances, Comment.  (250 words)

Reference: The Hindu 

Why the question:

The article talks about the current situation of the lockdown in the country and the dismal conditions caused due to the Covid pandemic.

Key Demand of the question:

One has to explain in detail how in such circumstances there is need to understand the importance of behavioural change among people.

Directive:

Comment– here we have to express our knowledge and understanding of the issue and form an overall opinion thereupon.

Structure of the answer:

Introduction:

Though the over 2, 00,000 current novel coronavirus cases in India looks huge it is still modest for a country with a population of over 1.3 billion people.

Body:

In short first present the background of the situation. The measures taken in India, like the nationwide lockdown, had helped to slow transmission. The doubling time of cases in India was about three weeks at this stage. Hence, the increase in epidemic though not exponential is still growing.

Explain what the challenges are – Specific issues in India regarding a large amount of migration, the dense populations in the urban environment and the fact that many workers had no choice but to go to work every day could lead to a sudden spurt in the number of cases.

Discuss the importance of behavioural change in such circumstances. Quote relevant examples to justify the importance.  

Conclusion:

Conclude with way forward.

Introduction:

The Covid-19 pandemic has caused social and economic disruptions all around the globe. WHO executive director said that there were specific issues in India regarding large amount of migration, dense populations in the urban environment and the fact that many workers had no choice but to go to work every day. COVID-19 has not “exploded” in India, but the risk of it happening remains as the country moves towards exiting the lockdown that was imposed in March 2020 to contain the disease.

Body:

While there is no doubt that India’s health infrastructure is inadequate and needs considerable improvements, the real success of dealing with a crisis of this magnitude and scale depends to a large extent upon dealing with certain other sociocultural factors that go beyond the physical infrastructure of health centers, dispensaries, hospitals, and so on.

Need for behavioural change:

  • The impact of the pandemic was different in different parts of India, and varied between urban and rural settings.
  • People especially in country like India live in very dense localities where physical distancing becomes difficult to follow, requires utmost care maintain distancing.
  • Unlike many countries that the virus has affected, the case of India presents unique concerns owing to its geographical vastness and the complexity of its cultural and religious diversity, beliefs, and practices coexisting with poor social indicators, such as lower life expectancy, higher fertility, and high child mortality.
  • Wide illiteracy, poverty, poor sanitary conditions, open defecation and manual scavenging further add to its woes.
  • These health and social indicators underscore the gravity of the situation that can worsen conditions in the face of a massive community outbreak.
  • All of this demonstrates the glaring reality of a vulnerable population that can potentially worsen the situation.
  • In many urban areas, it is impossible to maintain physical distancing and it becomes very important for people to wear face coverings when they are out, at offices, in public transport and educational institutions.
  • Overuse of Public transportation beyond its capacity especially in city like Mumbai where local sub-urban trains run with huge crowd, therefore work from home must be new normal for maximum people.
  • Misguidance in the form of suggesting cow urine as a protection against the virus; religiously-oriented obligations that discourage social distancing;
  • Mass disregard and refusal to adhere to rules restricting and in some cases prohibiting altogether cultural gatherings suggest that such behavior escapes the particularity of any one religious, cultural and geographic identity.
  • Home remedies and dubious advisories that are rapidly spreading through WhatsApp and other social media platforms also weaken the resolve for preventive behavior.
  • India’s strong cultural and religious tradition of communal celebrations as well as close interactions with extended family members and neighbors constitute major social and behavioral factors that pose serious challenges

Some instances of behavioural changes brought in India due to COVID Pandemic:

  • Jharkhand has set up isolation wards to treat migrants in each gram panchayat and is distributing masks to all villagers.
  • Uttar Pradesh
    • It is distributing Swachhata Kits, each with 3 triple-layered masks, 2 antiseptic soaps & a sanitizer bottle to most backward Musahars and Vantangiya.
    • A special online portal is identifying all who have come from outside state and abroad after March 15. Not just that entries are being made village-wise and updated by each block.
    • Panchayat bhavans and schools are being used as isolation wards. And tracking of all safai karmcharis fogging vulnerable areas is through Google Docs monitoring system.
  • Tripura has seen shifting of local markets to football and cricket fields to maintain social distancing.
  • Himachal Pradesh/ West Bengal
    • Self-help groups (SHGs) & ward members are used for making sanitisers and masks and special sanitation and social distancing campaigns are being run by them in villages.
  • West Bengal
    • It is using community vehicles to sell vegetables, fish, fruits procured from SHGs in villages.

Ways/Means to bring in behavioural changes in Indian society:

  • All of this points to the significance of ensuring dissemination of the right form of awareness and dispelling pseudoscientific practices.
  • At the same time, global grassroots policy experiences suggest that in contexts such as in India, health-related information alone helps little.
  • It is imperative to bring behavioral changes to reap maximum benefits from public health interventions.
  • Social and behavior change communication (SBCC) may be employed as a potential strategy to increase awareness of the effectiveness and the necessity of preventive measures – such as home quarantine and social distancing – under the broad framework of health communication.
  • SBCC employs mass media, community-level activities, interpersonal communication, ICTs, and new media to carry out its objectives.
  • Such evidence-based communication programs can help enhance knowledge, shift attitudes, and change public behaviors.
  • Preventive behaviors such as home quarantine and social distancing must be combined with efforts at dispelling rumors and misinformation as well as efforts to allay fears and concerns.
  • Discipline in public life or civic sense among people has to be inculcated through influence and persuasion.

Conclusion:

Needless to say, fighting the COVID-19 crisis essentially requires a holistic approach that sufficiently integrates the infrastructural, social, behavioral, psychological aspects to prepare us for any emergency response. As things transpire, this is going to be a long battle with an emerging, and potentially reemerging, pathogen. It needs to be fought with good science and proper health care. In the long run, India must increase its public health spending to build a robust health care system and deal effectively with overriding religious considerations, social beliefs, and cultural practices to enhance the scientific temper of the people.

 

Topic: Issues relating to poverty and hunger. Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the Centre and States and the performance of these schemes; mechanisms, laws, institutions and Bodies constituted for the protection and betterment of these vulnerable sections.

3. Do you think Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA), 2005, is still a shining example of a radical and rational systemic change to address the challenges being faced by the poor in the rural areas of the country? Elucidate. (250 words)

Reference: Indian Express 

Why the question:

The article talks about the a radical and rational systemic change that MGNREGA is potential of bringing in the current conditions and austerity caused due to the Covid situation in the country.

Key Demand of the question:

One has to explain in what way Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA), 2005, is still a shining example of a radical and rational systemic change to address the challenges being faced by the poor in the rural areas of the country.

Directive:

Elucidate – Give a detailed account as to how and why it occurred, or what is the particular context. You must be defining key terms where ever appropriate, and substantiate with relevant associated facts.

Structure of the answer:

Introduction:

In short explain the current conditions of the rural poor in the country amidst the pandemic.

Body:

One has to explain the key features of the scheme, but remember the answer is not about discussing the scheme in itself but about discussing the nuances of the scheme, as to how it is radical and rational and is capable of bringing systemic change in the system and aid in addressing the current situation.

Explain that with the Act in place – Any citizen in rural India now had the legal right to demand work and was guaranteed 100 days of work with minimum wages provided by the government. And it proved its worth very quickly — a grassroots, demand-driven, Right to Work programme, unprecedented in its scale and architecture, focused on poverty alleviation. Millions have been saved from hunger and worse in the 15 years since its inception.

Conclusion:

Conclude with a positive note; highlight the importance of the scheme in the current situation.

Introduction:

With rural distress deepening across India and private consumption growing anaemically, calls for ramping up the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS), are growing louder ahead of the upcoming budget. Proponents of MGNREGS believe that it may be the only ammunition in the government’s arsenal to fight rural poverty. Critics, though, have labelled the scheme as leaky, wasteful and simply ineffective.

Body:

Current scenario:

  • The monthly demand for rural jobs under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) has touched a new high at 3.95 crore until May 20, with analysts saying it will most likely cross 4 crores by the end of the month.
  • This is significantly higher than the month-wise demand this year, which was 2.48 crore in January, 2,92 crore in February, 2.70 crores in March and 1.77 crore in April, according to the Ministry of Rural Development data.
  • It is also much more than the monthly average demand of 2.3 crores in 2019-20.
  • The spike in May this year is indicative of the huge job losses all around, particularly in the informal sector, where lakhs of workers have suddenly become unemployed owing to the lockdown.

Reasons for increase in demand for MGNREGA: 

  • The high number of people seeking work under the MGNREGA is due to desperation.
  • Most of these workers have gone home and have no work hence they are seeking jobs under the scheme.
  • An analysis of the data shows there is a spike in demand for MGNREGA jobs in May-June when the sowing season for kharif crops is set into motion.
  • The data also shows that states which have seen reverse migration of workers have seen a sharp rise, most significantly in Uttar Pradesh. The total number of applications in UP was 17.4 lakh in March and 12.7 lakh in April. This jumped to 49.3 lakh until May 20.
  • The increasing demand for MGNREGA jobs only seems to confirm what many organisations have projected about unemployment.
  • According to the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE), rural unemployment rose from 8.49% in March 2020 to 22.67% on April 29, 2020.

Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA):

The MGNREGA was launched in 2006 in order to provide at least 100 days of guaranteed employment to rural households. It is the largest scheme run by the Ministry of Rural Development (MoRD). Data on key metrics such as wages, inflation, and consumption suggests that the truth lies somewhere in the middle. While MGNREGS can provide income security to its beneficiaries, its overall impact on the rural economy will be limited unless it is implemented with greater resources and greater care.

Impact of MGNREGA: 

  • MGNREGA works have demonstrably strong multiplier effects are yet another reason to improve its implementation.
  • It is a labour programme meant to strengthen participatory democracy through community works. It is a legislative mechanism to strengthen the constitutional principle of the right to life.
  • It has helped in increasing rural household income.
  • It has not only helped in increasing groundwater table in the last one decade, but also agriculture productivity, mainly cereals and vegetables and fodders.
  • The water conservation measures, including farm ponds and dug wells, have made a difference to the lives of the poor.
  • While the scheme was earlier focused on creation of community assets, in the last three years, individual assets have also been emphasised.
  • It has provided goat, poultry and cattle shed as per the need of poor households.
  • One national study found that MGNREGS has created valuable public goods which have augmented rural incomes.
  • Another national study found that, even after deficiencies in implementation, MGNREGS may have improved nutrition outcomes.
  • Even consumption has been shown to improve if MGNREGS is implemented well. A 2018 study of a better-implemented version of MGNREGS in Andhra Pradesh, where there was significantly less leakage or payment delays, estimated that MGNREGS increased income households’ earnings by 13% and decreased poverty by 17%
  • MGNREGS can smoothen food consumption of rural poor by providing them with an alternate source of income during the agricultural lean season.
  • According to a study conducted by New Delhi-based Institute of Economic Growth.
    • there has been an 11 per cent increase in rural household income,
    • 5 per cent increase in cereal productivity and
    • 32 per cent increase in vegetable productivity,
  • Some instances of success:
    • Rise in water table varies from 30 per cent in Muktsar to 95 per cent in Vizianagaram.
    • Sasur Khaderi-2, a tributary of the Yamuna River flowing through Teliyani block of Fatehpur district, 150 km south of Lucknow, was revived under MGNREGS. The 46 km-long stream originating in Thithoura Lake was encroached over time, resulting in its drying up. Its revival generated 205,000 person days of work and cost around Rs 4 crore.

Challenges: 

  • Aadhar has been hastily implemented for the MGNREGA. Several MGNREGA payments have been rejected, diverted, or frozen as a consequence.
  • The delay in the payment of wages which is captured in the system is intentionally suppressed to avoid paying delay compensation.
  • There are numerous cases of MGNREGS payments getting diverted to Airtel wallets and ICICI bank accounts.
  • In a recently concluded survey on common service centres in Jharkhand for Aadhar-based payments, it was found that 42% of the biometric authentications failed in the first attempt, compelling them to come later.
  • the MGNREGA wage rates in 18 States have been kept lower than the States’ minimum agricultural wage rates.
  • In the last five years, the average person days of work generated per household under MGNREGA remained less than 50 across years
  • The scheme is running out of funds due to increased demand for work.
  • Droughts and floods in several States have led to an increased demand for work.
  • Data show disparity in MGNREGA wages across States.
  • Agricultural minimum wages exceed MGNREGA wages in almost all states.
  • The total MGNREGA expenditure reported by States has risen, but the year-on-year growth has fallen below 5%.
  • The act continues to fight widespread corruption and administrative negligence.
  • In some areas of certain states, MGNREGA work opens only during specific seasons and time.
  • Since April 2014, the work completion rate has been declining.
  • Jharkhand being one of the poorest states and having huge dependence on MGNREGA, has the lowest wage rates.

Way Forward: 

  • MGNREGA should be converged with other schemes of the government. For example, Green India initiative, Swachh Bharat Abhiyan etc.
  • There has been a delay in the completion of works under MGNREGA and inspection of projects has been irregular. Also, there is an issue of quality of work and asset creation under MGNREGA.
  • After the additional Rs 40000 crore allocated, the budget for 2020-21 is now above Rs 100k crore.
  • This is the highest allocation for MGNREGA in any year since the passage of the law. However, the allocation, which amounts to 47 % of the GDP continues to be much lower than the World Bank recommendations of 1.7 % for the optimal functioning of the program.
  • There is a need to strengthen the demand-driven aspects of MGNREGA through a focus on local level social audits, funding and tracking of outcomes.
  • State governments must ensure that public work gets started in every village. Workers turning up at the worksite should be provided work immediately, without much delay.
  • Local bodies must proactively reach out to returned and quarantined migrant workers and help those in need to get job cards.
  • In order to improve transparency and the accountability of Sarpanchs, it is recommended that MGNREGA projects be tracked right down to the village-level and not just the Gram Panchayat level as is the practice now.
  • The Supreme Court in the Swaraj Abhiyan vs. Union of India case stated that said that the delay caused in stage-2 was not taken into account for the purpose of payment of compensation.
  • Incorporation of ICT infrastructure at grassroots level, so that the data is available in public leading to better transparency and accountability.
  • Social audits, mandated by law under MGNREGA, should be strengthened to reduce the data suppression and under-representation of job demand.

Conclusion: 

It is in some of these contexts that strengthening an existing universal programme such as the MGNREGA would have been a prudent move instead of introducing a hasty targeted cash transfer programme. At a time of such acute distress, there is a need to the Central government to improve the existing universal infrastructure of the MGNREGA before plunging into a programme pretending to augment farmers’ income. MGNREGA is a bottom-up, people-centred, demand-driven, self-selecting and rights-based programme. Thus, MGNREGA remains crucial for integrated resource management and livelihoods generation perspective.

 

Topic: Infrastructure: Energy, Ports, Roads, Airports, And Railways etc.

4. Provide for a detailed analysis of the One Sun One World One Grid project of India. (250 words)

Reference: Financial Express 

Why the question:

The Ministry of New and Renewable Energy has issued a request for proposal for developing a long-term vision, implementation plan, road map, and institutional framework for its One Sun One World One Grid (OSOWOG) program. The question is straightforward and there isn’t much to deliberate, it aims to analyse in detail the “One Sun One World One Grid project of India”.

Key Demand of the question:

In detail provide for an analysis of One Sun One World One Grid project of India.

Directive:

AnalyzeWhen asked to analyse, you have to examine methodically the structure or nature of the topic by separating it into component parts and present them as a whole in a summary.

Structure of the answer:

Introduction:

Explain what “One Sun One World One Grid project” is.

Body:

Explain in detail the vision of the project – With India at the center, the solar spectrum is divided into two broad zones, namely, Far East, which would include countries like Myanmar, Vietnam, Thailand and Cambodia. The far west would cover the West Asia and the African region. Through this initiative, India plans to build a global ecosystem of interconnected renewable energy resources that can be seamlessly shared for mutual benefits and global sustainability.  Discuss the positives and negatives associated with the project. Highlight the possible challenges associated. 

Conclusion:

Conclude with importance.

Introduction:

India has come up with a ‘One Sun One World One Grid’ (OSOWOG) initiative to set up a framework for facilitating global cooperation in this regard aiming at building a global ecosystem of interconnected renewable energy resources that can be seamlessly shared. Indian Prime Minister in October 2019, had floated the idea of cross-border solar connectivity. Recently, the Government of India has called for bids to roll-out the ‘One Sun One World One Grid’ (OSOWOG) plan.

Body:

‘One Sun One World One Grid’ (OSOWOG) plan:

  • Objective: The Union Ministry of New and Renewable energy (MNRE), through this initiative, plans to build global consensus about sharing solar resources among more than 140 countries of West Asia and South East Asia.
  • The vision behind the OSOWOG is ‘The Sun Never Sets’ and is a constant at some geographical location, globally, at any given point of time.
  • At a later stage, the project envisages getting this grid interconnected with the African power pools.
  • The idea is to utilize solar power when the sun is not shining in other parts of the world by building a common transmission system.
  • It has been taken up under the technical assistance program of the World Bank.
  • OSOWOG plan may also leverage the International Solar Alliance (ISA), co-founded by India

Potential:

  • India would generate 40% of power from non-fossil fuels by 2030 and has called for connecting solar energy supply across borders giving the mantra of ‘One World One Sun One Grid’.
  • The proposed integration would lead to reduced project costs, higher efficiencies and increased asset utilization for all the participating entities.
  • This plan will require only incremental investment because it will not require a parallel grid infrastructure due to working with existing grids.
  • It will help all the participating entities in attracting investments in renewable energy sources as well as utilizing skills, technology and finances.
  • Resulting economic benefits would positively impact poverty alleviation and support in mitigating water, sanitation, food and other socio-economic challenges.
  • It will allow national renewable energy management centers in India to grow as regional and global management centers.
  • This move, during the time of the Covid-19 pandemic, gives India the opportunity to be seen as taking a lead in evolving global strategies.

Importance and Need for a OSOWOG plan for Globe:

  • The challenges of global warming and climate change is becoming serious and efforts need to be done by moving more towards cleaner fuels to resolve it.
  • Limiting the rise in global average temperature by 2OC as per the Paris Agreement and even further to 1.5OC require that the world should move towards fossil-fuel free economy by about 2040. This is a huge challenge and requires to act rigorously to achieve it.
  • India, Europe, United States etc are more or less covered with an integrated grid for power supply.
  • Integration of nations over the world with a common grid can be very helpful. This can help in generating, for example, solar energy in regions where it is largely available (like deserts of the world) to places where it is less available. For example, solar energy generated in Sahara Desert can be taken to Europe and reduce Europe’s dependence on gas.
  • Pitching International Solar Alliance to becoming a global body like United Nations is going to be a very important foreign policy tool for India (as its Headquarter is in Gurugram, India) apart from being helpful from environment, economy and energy points of views.
  • India has an installed capacity of 345GW in electricity sector with one National Grid. Solar energy is a fast developing industry in India and its capacity has reached 23 GW till June 2018. India has an ambitious target of achieving 100GW of solar capacity by
  • India has developed solar energy in large solar parks. But, the solar energy needs to be made available in lakhs of villages as well. This will be helpful for farmers to a large extent in increasing his productivity.
  • Government of India has worked on programmes like increasing use of LED bulbs in rural and urban areas both. Such initiatives need to be taken further to save both energy and climate.
  • A major challenge towards achieving solar energy all over India is storage technology (like using batteries). This will help in getting solar power in different areas and in non-peak times of solar energy. India needs to develop and get such technologies at present.

OSOWOG plan and South Asia:

  • India is already planning to connect more neighbouring countries through a regional power grid which can be used to supply electricity to surrounding nations without adequate number of power plants.
  • Apart from Bhutan, Nepal, Myanmar and Bangladesh, which already take power from India, there are plans to connect Sri Lanka with power transmission lines as well.
  • Draft procedural guidelines have been framed for firms to participate in cross-border electricity trade.
  • In November 2014, India, along with the other countries of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation, had signed an agreement to enable cross-border electricity trade among the member states on a voluntary basis.
  • Later in August 2018, the country also signed a memorandum of understanding for establishing grid interconnection between the members of the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (Bimstec).

OSOWOG and the world:

  • India is already expediting ISA’s plan to set up the World Solar Bank (WSB) with a capital of USD 10 billion.
  • WSB aims to compete with other newly created funding institutions like the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) and the New Development Bank (NDB).
  • OSOWOG will help to mitigate the ill effects on climate by providing clean and renewable energy sources, enabling member countries to fulfill their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) towards reducing global warming.
  • OSOWOG will provide a strategic rebalance in favour of India and will control the increasing Chinese dominance in Asian subcontinent, providing a better alternative to developing countries.

Way forward:

  • The first and foremost action would be to develop storage technology. In this regard, both the government and the private sector need to make a substantial investment.
  • Continents like Africa can be explored for ensuring the constant supply of rare earth minerals that are important for making batteries for energy storage.
  • An alternative to storage like solar thermal can be explored.
  • However, the most important work has to be done at the front of ISA. The team of 121 countries should come together and work as a facilitator instead of a cartel (OPEC).
  • The move is the key to future renewable-based energy systems globally because regional and international interconnected green grids can enable sharing and balancing of renewable energy across international borders.
  • It allows grabbing opportunities to learn quickly from global developments and share renewable energy resources to reduce the global carbon footprint and insulate the societies from pandemics.

 

Topic: Issues related to direct and indirect farm subsidies and minimum support prices; Public Distribution System- objectives, functioning, limitations, revamping; issues of buffer stocks and food security; Technology missions; economics of animal-rearing.

5. Do you think shifting to DBT for food and fertilizer subsidies may do more to bridge the gap with the doubling of farmers’ income goal? Give your opinion with suitable justifications. (250 words)

Reference: Financial Express 

Why the question:

The explains that the latest reforms are a significant step forward, but shifting to DBT for food & Fertiliser subsidies may do more to bridge the gap with the DFI goal.

Key Demand of the question:

Explain the idea of shifting to DBT for food and fertilizer subsidies and in what way it may lead to better achievement of the goal of doubling farmer’s income in the country.

Structure of the answer:

Introduction:

Start by explaining the recent reforms and steps taken by the government amidst the current lockdown situation owing to the pandemic woes.

Body:

First explain the importance of agriculture to the country. Agriculture matters not just for food security, but also for the good of the large masses of this country, given almost 44% of the country’s labour force are engaged in agriculture. Highlight the issues pointed out by the author in the current proposed reforms by the government. Discuss the idea of shifting to the DBT methods in food and fertilizer subsidies; explain the advantages of switching to such methods.

Conclusion:

Conclude with way forward.

Introduction:

India has successfully conducted direct benefit transfer in case of LPG and now it wants to expand to fertilizer as well. So far DBT in fertilizers has been rolled out in 19 States and Union Territories and 12 States are expected to come on board. DBT in fertilizers is expected to expand its footprint in the entire country.

Body:

Benefits of Direct Benefit Transfer Scheme:

  • Food:
    • Reduces the need for large physical movement of food grains,
    • Given the wide inter-State and intra-State variations in food consumption habits, the DBT provides “greater autonomy” to beneficiaries to choose their consumption basket and enhance dietary diversity, and
    • It reduces the leakage in the PDS system.
  • Fertilizers:
    • DBT in fertilizer envisages transfer of subsidy to manufacturers upon authentication of purchase by farmers. This restricts diversion and brings about greater transparency, accountability and efficiency.
    • Given the complex nature of fertilizer subsidies, with multiple producers and varying cost structures, this was perhaps the best option to begin with.
    • Quick subsidy payments on a daily basis is expected to end delays in companies receiving their dues from the government, besides leaving an electronic trail of every transaction with all relevant details.
    • It will plug leakages and save huge amount of money to the exchequer.
    • Sales of neem-coated Urea have already stopped illegal diversion of fertilizer for non-agriculture applications like in plywood and textile sectors or for milk adulteration.
    • New system will completely put this practice to an end when companies will have to provide details of end users.
    • Once the system functions fully, it will lead to better soil health management, balanced fertilization, and better productivity.
    • Based on NITI Aayog findings:
      • 85% of farmers received transaction receipts and the grievance redress mechanism has improved and 79% retailers are satisfied. A majority of farmers (and retailers) prefer the DBT system.

Demerits:

  • Food subsidy:
    • The inadequacy of transfers to maintain pre-DBT consumption levels,
    • Insufficiency of last-mile delivery mechanisms, and
    • Weak grievance redressal system.
  • Fertilizer subsidy:
    • Introduction in the fertilizer sector seems a gigantic task as the beneficiaries and their entitlements are not clearly defined at this present.
    • Different inputs – urea, phosphatic and potassic fertilizers – have different rates of subsidies. Besides, it would be premature to accept that all the farmers would be able to buy their requirements of fertilizers at market rate and wait for 15 days or a month to get the subsidies.
    • A major concern is of some dealer attrition, which is probably on account of declining margins and reduced possibility of diversion or sale at a higher price.
    • Under DBT scheme, dealers will have to pay at least two to three times more. This will require greater deployment of working capital. If banks do not lend more, many of them will be forced to leave this business, This will in turn affect sales.

Measures to Strengthen DBT

  • Food Subsidy:
    • States with lower literacy levels, higher portion of BPL populations and relatively high child malnutrition could first strengthen the existing PDS through Information and Communication Technologies-based in-kind transfers before embarking on ICT-based DBT cash transfers.
    • Selective implementation in a few districts that exhibit diverse food habits and market infrastructure may be undertaken by states which have fulfilled the pre-conditions and feedback from these districts can be used to extend this programme further.
    • To sum up, the PDS has been undergoing transformation and the state governments may have to be ready to adjust to the change to improve the efficiency of expenditure on providing food security to their people.
  • Fertilizer Subsidy:
    • Subsidy should be linked to productivity which will remove fertilizer companies from the game.
    • The momentum for these changes has to be created through robust policies.
    • State Governments and Central Government need to work in tandem to encourage farmers for ecological farming. Particularly in western UP and Punjab, the farmers need to move away from wheat and rice because the ground water has depleted.
    • Farmers have to be educated and taught to change their cropping pattern and move to multiple cropping.
    • There is a need to improve the organic content of the soil through organic farming or compost.
    • To secure long term fertilizer supplies from locations where energy prices are cheap, it might be worth encouraging Indian firms to locate plants in countries such as Iran following the example of the Fertilizer Ministry’s joint venture in Oman, which allowed India to import fertilizer at prices almost 50 per cent cheaper than the world price.
    • Fertilizer is a good sector to pursue JAM because of a key similarity with the successful LPG experience: the centre controls the fertilizer supply chain.

Conclusion:

Thus, DBT will save domestic resource costs (DRCs) in production of urea in excess of ‘real’ demand as farmers would not over use urea. Pulses, for instance, being self-nitrogen fixing crops, do not require use of urea. At the same time, soil health will improve and productivity levels will augment considerably. Secondly, it will address the issue of ‘inequity’ as marginal farmers need more assistance compared to other farmers. Thirdly, the total bill on account of fertilizers subsidy can be contained, at least for next few years. It will be a ‘win-win’ situation if the Government walks the last mile in fully implementing DBT in case of fertilizers subsidy.

 

Topic: Probity in Governance: Concept of public service; Philosophical basis of governance and probity; Information sharing and transparency in government, Right to Information, Codes of Ethics, Codes of Conduct, Citizen’s Charters, Work culture, Quality of service delivery, Utilization of public funds, challenges of corruption.

6. Discuss the possible role that social capital would play in good governance, economic development and social harmony of the nation. (250 words)

Reference:  Second administrative reforms Report

Why the question:

The question is about the role of social capital in achieving the goal of good governance, economic development and social harmony of the country.

Key Demand of the question:

One must discuss in detail the possible role that social capital would play in good governance, economic development and social harmony of the nation.

Directive:

Discuss – This is an all-encompassing directive – you have to debate on paper by going through the details of the issues concerned by examining each one of them. You have to give reasons for both for and against arguments.

Structure of the answer:

Introduction:

Briefly define the term social capital in the introduction. Social capital is a sense of belonging and the concrete experience of social networking that can bring great benefits to people.

Body:

Discuss first the types of social capital along with its significance. Explain how social capital can play a role in the governance of the country. Explain the forms of social capital available, discuss about the social capital institutions. Highlight their role in achieving good governance, economic development and social harmony of the nation. Quote relevant examples to substantiate.

Conclusion:

Conclude by stating the need for the inclusion of the deprived and vulnerable sections of society under social capital.

Introduction:

Social capital is a positive product of human interaction. The positive outcome may be tangible or intangible and may include useful information, innovative ideas, and future opportunities. The term social capital was popularized by Robert Putnam. OECD defines Social Capital as networks together with shared norms, values and understandings that facilitate co-operation within or among groups.

Body:

Bridging social capital is argued to have several benefits for societies, governments, individuals, and communities. Today, social capital is arguably as valuable as financial capital. The Internet allows professionals to form global social connections and networks in many variations. Social capital is no longer narrow and local in scope.

Strong social networking, coupled with efficient performance by the workforce, signifies a healthy state of affairs for the company. Social capital stresses on the importance of these social networks and relationships and aims to use it in the best possible way for achieving organizational goals.

Social Capital and Good governance:

  • ‘Good governance’ is a form that ensures political plurality and economic liberalism, a process that is conscientious and transparent, and a government’s capacity to ensure accountability and develop an enabling system
  • Good governance thus refers to a structure, process, and relationships.
  • Five major requirements for good governance are: accountability, participation, plurality, predictability, and transparency. All governmental process needs to ensure plurality, participation, and accountability.
  • An open and inclusive process can ensure transparency and predictability in governmental policy and strategies.
  • Social capital enables participants to act together effectively to achieve a certain objective.
  • social capital will produce good governance to the extent that it makes citizens ‘sophisticated consumers of politics’.
  • Active participation in community associations will help do this by providing opportunities for citizens to discuss civic affairs, increase their awareness of political issues and argue about whether or not the government is doing everything that it should to improve their welfare.
  • In addition to making citizens better informed and building their qualities of judgement, social capital contributes to effective governance by facilitating the articulation of citizens’ demands.
  • For instance, to secure compliance of tax payments, governments must create complex and costly mechanisms of enforcement.
  • Social capital reduces the need for such mechanisms by shaping the expectations citizens have about the behaviour of others.
  • If people expect their fellow taxpayers or waste-producers to pay their taxes or comply with environmental regulations, then these costs are more likely to be borne willingly and the cost of enforcing compliance will be low.
  • Numerous scholars have suggested that social capital enables citizens to act together more effectively to pursue shared objectives and make collective demands of governance institutions.
  • Societies with robust associational life and diverse networks are more likely to be engaged civically and participate in governance than those without such networks.

Social Capital and economic development:

  • Increasing evidence is appearing at the macro level which identifies trust, civic norms, and other factors of social capital as a key condition for economic development.
  • It has also been found out that neighbouring states that have not been friendly with each other may benefit from a regional integration agreement which raises trade and therefore trust between them, raises each country’s stake in the other’s welfare, and thus raises security.
  • A good social capital will enhance trade relations among people and nations, thus helping in mutual economic development.
  • For instance, India’s trade with Bangladesh is better as compared to Pakistan due to better social capital in former case.
  • Companies and organizations can also suffer if they have the wrong sort of social capital –relationships between colleagues that are too inward-looking and fail to take account of what’s going on in the wider world. Conversely, social capital can also help businesses.
  • Social capital is important for societies to prosper economically and for development to be sustainable.
  • social capital and trust can make economic transactions more efficient by giving parties access to more information, enabling them to coordinate activities for mutual benefit, and reducing opportunistic behaviour through repeated transactions.
  • Social capital plays a significant part in shaping the outcomes of economic action at both micro and macro levels
  • In rural communities, social ties are often strong and longstanding. Informal ties and social norms provide essential safety nets. These safety nets are especially important because income and the availability of food vary with seasons and depending on weather; in many countries there are no formal social programmes or existing safety nets do not reach people in villages.

Social Capital and social harmony:

  • Social capital can act as a security system. It is evident in traditional societies where gram Sabha would serve as the judicial authority to take concrete actions like social boycott against criminals or evildoers.
  • A proactive civil society can take can take up the cause of common people and work towards their welfare, for example HelpAge India NGO working for disadvantaged elderly of India.
  • So far as the civic values and virtues in the context of social capital are concerned, these imply a number of ideas, concepts and activities such as honesty, truthfulness and being law abiding; and the link of these aspects to the civil society.
  • Through shared values and norms, the level of community violence can be reduced or kept low. People who have informal relations with their neighbours can look out for each other and ‘police’ their neighbourhoods.
  • In addition, inter-family social capital provides support networks for family members overwhelmed by such stressors as poverty and unemployment.
  • This support can help to reduce drug abuse and domestic violence—potential roots to patterns of violent behaviour.
  • Here, a reference may be made to the nature of democratic movements, protest movements and electoral participation and the like.
  • Civic engagement can be measured through newspaper readership and voting in referendum and associational structures that enrich the civic community which can be measured through the density of the voluntary associations.

Conclusion:

Communities with higher stocks of social capital are more likely to experience better health outcomes, fewer violent conflicts and less crime, higher educational achievement and increased economic growth. Evidence demonstrates that, those communities endowed with a diverse stock of social networks and civic associations are in a stronger position to confront poverty and vulnerability, resolve disputes, and take advantage of new opportunities.

Thus, Social capital is essential for proper functioning of society, however care must be taken about the capital being present equally in terms of bonding and bridging capital for a harmonious and prosperous society.

 

Topic: Ethics and Human Interface: Essence, determinants and consequences of Ethics in-human actions; dimensions of ethics; ethics – in private and public relationships. Human Values – lessons from the lives and teachings of great leaders, reformers and administrators; role of Family society and educational institutions in inculcating values.

7. Discuss some of the key ethical values enshrined in the Indian constitution. (250 words)

Reference: Indian polity by Lakshmikant

Why the question:

The question is straightforward and aims to discuss the key ethical values enshrined in the Indian constitution.

Key Demand of the question:

Explain some of the key ethical values enshrined in the Indian constitution.

Directive:

Discuss – This is an all-encompassing directive – you have to debate on paper by going through the details of the issues concerned by examining each one of them. You have to give reasons for both for and against arguments.

Structure of the answer:

Introduction:

Define ethical values and briefly explain how Indian constitution is based on ethical values.

Body:

Ethical values are those values that determine what is right and wrong in different situations. Institutional ethical values like integrity, transparency, accountability, impartiality, public welfare and equity are guiding principles of the Indian Constitution.

Discuss in detail some of the constitutional ethical values and mention the related articles or part of the constitution associated with it. Some of the constitutional ethical values that can be discussed are liberty, justice, equity, equality etc. Suggest relevant articles from the constitution and explain them in detail.

Conclusion:

Conclude that the values enshrined in the Indian Constitution are based on a strong ethical foundation. Moreover, these values of the Indian constitution endeavor and inspire to make the Indian society more ethical and promote the spirit of tolerance and respect towards unity in diversity of India.

Introduction:

Constitution is a set of fundamental principles, basic rules and established precedents. It also provides for rights and freedoms of citizens and spells out the relationships between individual citizen and the State and government. Ethical values are those values that determine what is right and wrong in different situations. Institutional ethical values like integrity, transparency, accountability, impartiality, public welfare and equity are guiding principles of the Indian Constitution.

Body:

The values expressed in the Preamble are expressed as objectives of the Constitution. These are: sovereignty, socialism, secularism, democracy, republican character of Indian State, justice, liberty, equality, fraternity, human dignity and the unity and integrity of the Nation.

  • Equality:
    • Equality is considered to be the essence of modern democratic ideology.
    • The Constitution makers placed the ideals of equality in a place of pride in the Preamble.
    • All kinds of inequality based on the concept of rulers and the ruled or on the basis of caste and gender, were to be eliminated.
    • All citizens of India should be treated equally and extended equal protection of law without any discrimination based on caste, creed, birth, religion, sex etc.
  • Liberty:
    • The Preamble prescribes liberty of thought, expression, belief, faith and worship as one of the core values.
    • These have to be assured to every member of all the communities.
    • It has been done so, because the ideals of democracy cannot be attained without the presence of certain minimal rights which are essential for a free and civilized existence of individuals.
    • Though freedom from want has not been guaranteed in the fundamental rights, certain directives to the State have been mentioned in the Directive Principles.
    • The Constitution provides every citizen a number of liberties and freedoms under Article 19 to 21, 21A, and 22.
  • Fraternity:
    • There is also a commitment made in the Preamble to promote the value of fraternity that stands for the spirit of common brotherhood among all the people of India.
    • In the absence of fraternity, a plural society like India stands divided.
    • Therefore, to give meaning to all the ideals like justice, liberty and equality, the Preamble lays great emphasis on fraternity.
    • In fact, fraternity can be realized not only by abolishing untouchability amongst different sects of the community, but also by abolishing all communal or sectarian or even local discriminatory feelings which stand in the way of unity of India.
  • Dignity of the Individual:
    • Promotion of fraternity is essential to realize the dignity of the individual.
    • It is essential to secure the dignity of every individual without which democracy cannot function.
    • It ensures equal participation of every individual in all the processes of democratic governance.
  • Justice:
    • Justice promises to give people what they are entitled to in terms of basic rights to food, clothing, housing, participation in the decision making and living with dignity as human beings.
    • The Preamble covers all these dimensions of justice – social, economic and political.
    • Social justice incorporates concepts of basic rights, the realization of human potential, social benefit, an equitable distribution of resources, equal opportunities and obligations, security, and freedom from discrimination.
    • Social justice means equal rights for all, regardless of gender, race, class, ethnicity, citizenship, religion, age or sexual orientation. It implies equal rights for women and girls in workplaces, homes and public life.
    • Article 20 provides protection in respect of conviction for offenses.
    • Article 21 deals with Protection of life and personal liberty.
    • Equal justice and free legal aid under Article 39A.
  • Transparency and accountability:
    • The constitution makes the government the representative of the public interest and guardian of public resources.
    • Constitutional bodies like the Finance Commission and Comptroller and Auditor General have been created for the same purpose.
  • Public welfare:
    • Directive Principles of State Policy in Part IV of Indian constitution aim to create social and economic conditions under which the citizens can lead a good life.
    • They also direct the governments to adopt social and economic democratic value in their conduct to make India a welfare state such as:
    • Promotion of education and economic interests of SC, ST, and other weaker sections under Article 46.
    • Article 45 has provision for early childhood care and education to children below the age of six years.
    • Article 48A endeavors to protect and improve the environment and safeguarding of forests and wildlife.
  • Equity:
    • Equity derives its spirit from the concept of social justice.
    • It represents a belief that there are some things which people should have, that there are basic needs that should be fulfilled, that burdens and rewards should not be spread too divergently across the community, and that policy should be directed with impartiality, fairness and justice towards these ends.
    • It is generally agreed that equity implies a need for fairness (not necessarily equality) in the distribution of gains and losses, and the entitlement of everyone to an acceptable quality and standard of living.

Conclusion:

Thus, it can be certainly said that the values enshrined in the Indian Constitution are based on a strong ethical foundation. Moreover, these values of the Indian constitution endeavor and inspire to make the Indian society more ethical and promote the spirit of tolerance and respect towards unity in diversity of India.