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SECURE SYNOPSIS: 12 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: Urbanization, their problems and their remedies.

1. Urban commons can act as nodes to stimulate wider public conversations on imagining future cities, nurture social capital, bridge inequities, and reclaim common rights to the city. Examine (250 words)

Reference: iasc-commons.org  www.transform-network.net

Why this question:

The world is on a headlong rush towards urbanization, with more than 75% of its people expected to live in cities by 2050. Urban commons can provide a key to sustainable living and wellbeing in cities, helping citizens forge new connections, rebuild social capital and reclaim their right to the city. Despite the undeniable importance of urban commons, commons research for the most part focuses on landscapes that are largely rural. Urban commons, such as wooded streets, urban forests, parks, lakes and wetlands, are threatened by conversion to built spaces, degradation and pollution in cities across the world. Collective action is especially challenging in cities, with high pressures of time, disrupted social connections, constantly changing community compositions, and extreme inequities.

Key demand of the question:

One must discuss the importance of urban commons and how they act as a nutritional buffer and safety net for migrants who flock to cities from distressed parts of the country as well as for other classes in the urban areas.

Directive:

Examine – When asked to ‘Examine’, we have to 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:

Give a definition of Urban commons with examples.

Body:

Discuss the importance of urban commons in urban areas Discuss about the various challenges faced by the urban commons and how we have failed to conserve the same. What measures are needed to tackle it?

Conclusion:

Conclude with way forward about how Our cities can hold out any promise of a better future only if the commons play a central role in urban planning

Introduction:

Urban commons could be loosely defined as “those social institutions that, beyond to those property regimes in which they are enrolled in, are managed by local, communitarian and participative social practices in seeking to build responses to a given demands or social necessities, and characterized by a non-commercial management of the resources they provide, as well by forms of sharing time, goods and knowledge nor regulated by the state, neither by the markets.”

The world is on a headlong rush towards urbanization, with more than 75% of its people expected to live in the cities by 2050. Urban commons represent those rare spaces in increasingly segregated cities where the rich and the poor can still meet, children of all classes play together and collaborations for conservation can occur.

Body

Two types of urban commons are worth foregrounding in this regard:

  • Urban ecological commons (such as air, water bodies, wetlands, landfills, and so on).
  • Urban civic commons (such as streets and sidewalks, public spaces, public schools, public transit, etc).

Each of these is rapidly diminishing due to erasure, enclosure, disrepair, rezoning, and court proscriptions, replaced in many instances by new – privatized, monitored – public spaces, such as malls, plazas, and gated venues. The ongoing diminution of urban commons is cause for concern because they are critical to economic production in cities, to cultural vibrancy and democracy, to regenerating the sense of place that forms communities and, ultimately, to the reproduction of urban populations and ecosystems.

The current popularity of the commons as an idea is partially driven by the internet and the fact that network tools make it so much more feasible for larger groups to self-organise. Open-source software, Wikipedia, the creative commons and social media make commoning possible while affirming the ethos of horizontal organisation.

Importance of urban commons in urban areas

  • Urban parks and gardens play a critical role in cooling cities, and also provide safe routes for walking and cycling for transport purposes as well as sites for physical activity, social interaction and for recreation.
    • As per WHO estimates, physical inactivity linked to poor walkability and lack of access to recreational areas, accounts for 3.3% of global deaths.
  • Mental well-being: Green spaces also are important to mental health. Having access to green spaces can reduce health inequalities, improve well-being, and aid in treatment of mental illness.
  • Pollution Reduction: Through improved air and water quality, buffering of noise pollution and mitigation of impacts from extreme events, urban green spaces can reduce environmental health risks associated with pollution from urban sprawl.
  • Wetlands act as filters and also help in preventing urban floods.
  • Green spaces can reduce the ambient temperature of cities by 1°C, thus reducing the urban heat island and harmful city smog. In this sense, 1°C cooler urban environments prevent the harmful ozone layer that is triggered during intense heat episodes from forming.
  • According to recent studies, cities with more Urban commons, especially parks and public spaces boost social cohesion and relations, since they are meeting points to share and create links between city inhabitants.

Challenges and threat to urban commons

  • Urban common property regimes are facing increasing threat due to state and private capture in cities across the world.
  • Forests like Mumbai’s Aarey are threatened for infrastructure projects, wetlands in Thiruvananthapuram acquired for technoparks and trees in South Delhi felled to build apartments.
  • Smart city plans and restoration projects take an approach that de-commonises the commons by evicting people who depend on them most.
  • Beach sides, river fronts, lakes and parks become gated spaces, accessible only to those who can pay, and available only for recreational use, often coupled with “entertainment” in the form of flashing lights, loud music and food courts that evict wildlife.

Way Forward

  • Integrated Planning: Urban Commons such as parks, sidewalks, public transit and landfills must be part of area planning.
  • Community Engagement: It is based on the concept of participatory democracy. These include projects such as decentralized use of regenerative energy sources, social housing, digital democracy, urban gardening, open spaces for culture and art, among others.
  • Government must create spatial GIS maps where common areas and their boundaries are clearly marked. This will solve the problem of information asymmetry today and communities will be empowered to fight for their common spaces.
  • Ward committees must be empowered to manage urban commons and protect them from encroachment and construction activities.

Conclusion

The ongoing diminution of urban commons is cause for concern because they are critical to economic production in cities, to cultural vibrancy and the cement of community, to “learning” how to do democracy through practices of creating, governing and defending collective resources, to regenerating the sense of place that forms communities and, ultimately, to the reproduction of urban populations and ecosystems. Hence it is important to realize that commons are not commodities and must be protected.

Case study:

Berlin awakening: Every year about 40,000 people arrive in Berlin and try to find a living. Beyond the hype of glamour and politics Berlin is a working-class city. Traditionally most of its citizens do not own houses. Still today 86% live in social housing or rented flats. As in all globalized cities, real estate run by hedge-fonds became ‘the’ big business in Berlin. In the last five years rents increased by about 50 %. In this extremely tense situation, activists remembered a wonderful and never practised article in the German Constitution: Art. 15 states ‘Land, natural resources and means of production may for the purpose of socialisation be transferred to public ownership or other forms of public enterprise by a law that determines the nature and extent of compensation.’ Since March 2019 activists campaign for a referendum to expropriate big private housing-companies, and it’s going rather well.

Okupas: Another example is from Barcelona, where a participatory citizen’s platform, Barcelona en Comú, has started to work on a decentralized and democratic controlled use of renewable energy sources at the municipal level. Briefly, okupas is about occupying abandoned houses and giving them to families who lost their homes during the European crisis. Its activists also try to save the old popular boroughs at the seaside from being taken over by international investors.

 

Topic: 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.

2. The Universal Basic Income, implementation of which has repeatedly been debated in India, seeks to alleviate poverty. Critically discuss the possibility of UBI in India in light of COVID-19 pandemic impact. (250 words)

Reference : The Hindu 

Why this question:

In its report on human rights in India, the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has informed the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) that the recommended implementation of a universal basic income was “under examination and active consideration” of the Centre.

Key demand of the question:

The answer must weigh the pros and cons of the concept of Universal basic income as to how the minimum income proposal would not absolve the state of its core responsibilities of providing food, education and healthcare for the poor but however It will strengthen the State’s ability to deliver on its promise of a guaranteed minimum standard of living .

Directive word

Critically Discuss– this is an all-encompassing directive which mandates us to write in detail about the key demand of the question. we also have to discuss about the related and important aspects of the question in order to bring out a complete picture of the issue in hand.

Structure of the answer

Introduction:

The ongoing crisis is creating changes that could end up dividing society into pre- and post-COVID-19 days. Give a brief about how people are being pushed into poverty and need for a social security net in the form of basic income.

Body:

Discuss the details of –

  • What is Universal Basic Income (UBI)?
  • Why Universal Basic Income?
  • How does it work, pros and cons.
  • challenges that the state may face in Implementation of UBI.
  • Case studies supporting your opinion.

Conclusion:

UBI, though a noble idea, but should not completely outdo the existing essential social services/schemes related to education and health which are not only the core functions of the state but also indispensable for meaningful and dignified individual existence. However, the alternatives to UBI can be explored like direct benefits transfers, conditional cash transfers and other income support schemes which also hold the potential to yield the above mentioned benefits.

Introduction:

Universal basic income is a form of social security in which all citizens or residents of a country regularly receive an unconditional sum of money, either from a government or some other public institution, in addition to any income received from elsewhere. The payment is enough to cover the cost of living. The goal is to provide financial security.

In its report on human rights in India, the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has informed the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) that the recommended implementation of a universal basic income was “under examination and active consideration” of the Centre.

Body:

UBI characterizes the basic income in five divisions — Periodic (being paid at regular intervals, not lump sum), cash payment (not in kind or vouchers, leaving it on the recipient to spend it as they like), individual (not to households or families), universal (for all), and unconditional (irrespective of income or prospects of job).

Current importance of UBI:

  • The ongoing crisis is creating changes that could end up dividing society into pre- and post-COVID-19 days.
  • IMF has projected global growth in 2020 to be -3.0%, the worst since the Great Depression. India is projected to grow at 1.9%.
  • These changes are also likely to exacerbate the novel challenges accompanying the fourth industrial revolution.
  • Today, disruptive technologies like artificial intelligence are ushering in productivity gains that we have never seen before.
  • They are also steadily reducing human capital requirements, making jobs a premium.

The pros of UBI include:

  • Fights Poverty and vulnerability: Poverty and vulnerability will be reduced in one fell swoop. It increases equality among citizens as envisaged in our DPSP.
  • new social contract: A social contract that will empower citizens with the freedom of choice. UBI treats beneficiaries as agents and entrusts citizens with the responsibility of using welfare spending as they see best; this may not be the case with in-kind transfers. Nobel laureate Amartya Sen had also propounded that choice should be given to people, which will lead to development.
  • Better targeting of poor: As all individuals are targeted, exclusion error (poor being left out) is zero though inclusion error (rich gaining access to the scheme) is 60 percent.
    • Example: The India Human Development Survey found that in 2011-12 about half of the officially poor did not have the BPL card, while about one-third of the non-poor had it.
  • Fighting technological unemployment: With IR4.0 on the rise, there is an increase in the automation leading to loss of many white and blue collared jobs. UBI can act as a sort of security net for the millions of people who will be left jobless by the tech revolution.
  • Supporting unpaid care workers: Those with ill or differently abled relatives are often forced to quit their jobs and look after them full-time. UBI would allow care-workers to support themselves, encouraging care work and taking pressure off public services that provide care to the sick and elderly.
  • Expanding the middle class: The economic growth of high-income countries is making the rich richer, but having very little effect on the working classes. The research of economists Emmanuel Saez and Thomas Piketty showed that “the bottom half of earners went from making 20 percent of overall income in 1979 to just 13 percent in 2014. The top 1 percent, on the other hand, have gone from making 11 percent to 20 percent. The pie has gotten vastly bigger, and the richest families have reaped bigger and bigger pieces from it.” UBI would help balance this inequality and expand the ever-shrinking middle class.
  • Insurance against shocks: This income floor will provide a safety net against health, income and other shocks.
  • Improvement in financial inclusion Payment: transfers will encourage greater usage of bank accounts, leading to higher profits for banking correspondents (BC) and an endogenous improvement in financial inclusion. Credit – increased income will release the constraints on access to credit for those with low income levels.
  • Psychological benefits: A guaranteed income will reduce the pressures of finding a basic living on a daily basis.
  • Ending abuse: Those who suffer domestic abuse, mainly women, become trapped in violent situations because they don’t have the means to leave them. UBI would make leaving an abusive partner easy, and would unleash the potential of countless people trapped by domestic violence.
  • Administrative efficiency: A UBI in place of a plethora of separate government schemes will reduce the administrative burden on the state.

The cons of UBI:

  • Conspicuous spending: Households, especially male members, may spend this additional income on wasteful activities.
  • Disincentive to work: A minimum guaranteed income might make people lazy and opt out of the labour market.
  • Gender disparity induced by cash Gender norms may regulate the sharing of UBI within a household – men are likely to exercise control over spending of the UBI. This may not always be the case with other in-kind transfer
  • Implementation: Given the current status of financial access among the poor, a UBI may put too much stress on the banking system.
  • Poor fiscal capacity: India doesn’t have the fiscal capacity to implement Universal Basic Income. Economic Survey calculations showed that a 75% universality rate with an annual Universal Basic Income of Rs 7,620 per year at 2016-17 prices will cost about 5% of the GDP. Economist Pranab Bardhan showed that inflation– indexed Universal Basic Income of Rs 10,000 at 2014-15 prices—about three-quarters of that year’s poverty line—will cost about 10% of the GDP.
  • Distort labour Market: Universal Basic Income can create distortions in the labour market. A steady, permanent and guaranteed income without any work is likely to affect labour mobility and participation. It can cause a rise in the wages too.
  • Political economy of universality: ideas for self-exclusion Opposition may arise from the provision of the transfer to rich individuals as it might seem to trump the idea of equity and state welfare for the poor.
  • Exposure to market risks (cash vs. food): Unlike food subsidies that are not subject to fluctuating market prices, a cash transfer’s purchasing power may severely be curtailed by market fluctuations.

Economic Survey 2016-17 views:

  • Universal Basic Income should replace the welfare scheme. The Economic survey wants UBI to replace and NOT supplement the existing social welfare, anti-poverty schemes like MGNREGA, PMJSY etc
  • Economic Survey has suggested replacing all current cash transfers with universal basic income.
  • Survey in a bold step ensured that universal basic income will not be distributive in nature. The burden to distribute the income will not be shared by the rich.
  • The Survey points out that the two prerequisites for a successful UBI are: functional JAM (Jan Dhan, Aadhar and Mobile) system as it ensures that the cash transfer goes directly into the account of a beneficiary and Centre-State negotiations on cost sharing for the programme.

Way Forward:

  • QUBRI (quasi-universal basic rural income):
  • It is targeted only at poorer people in the rural areas.
  • The scheme is no longer universal.
  • It excludes the not-so-poor in rural areas as morally it should.
  • All the schemes, rural and urban, could be cash transfer schemes, which Aadhar and the digitisation of financial services will facilitate.
  • Strengthening of institutions of the state to deliver the services the state must (public safety, justice, and basic education and health), which should be available to all citizens regardless of their ability to pay for them.
  • The institutions of the state must be strengthened also to regulate delivery of services by the private sector and ensure fair competition in the market.
  • A better solution to structural inequality is universal basic capital (UBC). People own the wealth they generate as shareholders of their collective enterprises. Amul, SEWA, Grameen, and others have shown a way.

 

Topic: India and its neighbourhood- relations.

3. India-Nepal ties must be dominated by opportunities of future, not frustrations of past. Critically analyze. (250 words)

Reference : The Hindu  Indian Express 

Key demand of the question:

As Nepal prepared to vote on Saturday for a new map amidst the ongoing Kalapani territorial dispute, the Ministry of External Affairs on Thursday reiterated India’s civilisational ties with Nepal. The question wants us to delve deep into the issue and bring out the reasons behind the downfall in the Indo-Nepal ties, as witnessed in the recent times. We also have to form a personal opinion on the issue as to how should we proceed in this regard.

Directive word:

Critically analyze- here we 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:

write a few introductory lines about the Indo-Nepal relationship- shared culture and long historic ties, open border etc.

Body:

Bring out the frustrations of the past that has led to downfall of the relations. Talk about the India Nepal border issues that recently has led to low in our bilateral ties; the Madhesi agitation, the resultant economic blockade and India’s open criticism of the Nepal at that time; mention India’s discomfiture with the volume of Chinese investment in hydropower and infrastructure and transport projects in Nepal; India is also seen as being interfering in Nepal’s internal politics and policy making;  Highlight how China is waiting in the wings to fill in the gap that lackadaisical attitude on part of India can create.

Discuss how should we proceed further. E.g briefly discuss the need to revitalize communication with Nepal; respecting each other’s sovereignty and non-interference in domestic affairs; restricting diplomatically sensitive statements; How the focus should be on implementation of projects

Way forward

Conclusion:

based on your discussion, form a fair and a balanced conclusion on the given issue.

Introduction:

Nepal is an important neighbour of India and occupies special significance in its foreign policy because of the geographic, historical, cultural and economic linkages/ties that span centuries. India and Nepal share similar ties in terms of Hinduism and Buddhism with Buddha’s birthplace Lumbini located in present day Nepal.

The inauguration of the “new road to Mansarovar” on May 8 2020, in the midst of a global pandemic by India’s defence minister has strained the relations between Nepal and India. As Nepal prepared to vote for a new map amidst the ongoing Kalapani territorial dispute, however, the Ministry of External Affairs reiterated India’s civilisational ties with Nepal.

Body:

Reason for dispute between India & Nepal:

Over Lipulekh pass:

  • Lipulekh pass is located atop the Kalapani at a tri-junction between India, China and Nepal.
  • Lipulekh pass is an ancient route made for trade and pilgrimage purposes by Bhutiya people. The route was closed by India following the Indo-China war of 1962.
  • The Indo-Nepal border dispute over Lipulekh dates back to 1997 when for the first time Nepal raise objections against the decision of India and China to open Lipulekh pass for travelling to Mansarovar.
  • However, lately in the beginning of May 2020, India reopened the route for Kailash Mansarovar pilgrimage after constructing 22 km long road on the pass.
  • Lipulekh pass opens from Gunji village.
  • Nepal claims that the village and the road is its territory.
  • On the other hand, India and China signed a trade treaty in 1954 declaring Lipulekh pass as the Indian gateway.
  • Moreover, both the countries signed another treaty in 2015 for trading through Lipulekh Pass.
  • However, this time Nepal protested against the move staking claim over Kalapani area.

Over Kalapani:

  • India’s Indo-Tibetan Border Police has been controlling the Kalapani and nearby areas since the Indo-China war of 1962.
  • Though treaty of Sugauli clearly mentions about the Kali River and its location in Nepal, there were a few subsequent maps drawn by British surveyors which show the origin of Kali river from different places.
  • This digression from the treaty led to territorial disputes between India and Nepal.
  • Even the size of Kalapani is different in various sources
  • Indian Government claims that a ridgeline located towards the east of Kalapani territory is a part of the Indian Union. The treaty of Sugauli mentions nothing about this ridgeline.
  • Nepali Government claims that towards the west of Kalapani flows the main Kali river which falls in its territory. As per the Treaty of Sugauli, the Kali River is located in Nepal’s western border that it shares with India. The treaty was signed between Nepal and British East India Company in 1816.

Prospects of India-Nepal Relations:

  • Trade and economy:
    • India is Nepal’s largest trade partner and the largest source of foreign investments, besides providing transit for almost the entire third country trade of Nepal.
    • Indian firms engage in manufacturing, services (banking, insurance, dry port), power sector and tourism industries etc.
  • Connectivity:
    • Nepal being a landlocked country, it is surrounded by India from three sides and one side is open towards Tibet which has very limited vehicular access.
    • India-Nepal has undertaken various connectivity programs to enhance people-to-people linkages and promote economic growth and development.
    • MOUs have been signed between both the governments for laying electric rail track linking Kathmandu with Raxaul in India.
    • India is looking to develop the inland waterways for the movement of cargo, within the framework of trade and transit arrangements, providing additional access to sea for Nepal calling it linking Sagarmath (Mt. Everest) with Sagar (Indian Ocean).
  • Development Assistance:
    • Government of India provides development assistance to Nepal, focusing on creation of infrastructure at the grass-root level.
    • The areas assistance include infrastructure, health, water resources, and education and rural & community development.
  • Defence Cooperation:
    • Bilateral defence cooperation includes assistance to Nepalese Army in its modernization through provision of equipment and training.
    • The Gorkha Regiments of the Indian Army are raised partly by recruitment from hill districts of Nepal.
    • India from 2011, every year undertakes joint military exercise with Nepal known as Surya Kiran.
  • Cultural:
    • There have been initiatives to promote people-to-people contacts in the area of art & culture, academics and media with different local bodies of Nepal.
    • India has signed three sister-city agreements for twinning of Kathmandu-Varanasi, Lumbini-Bodhgaya and Janakpur-Ayodhya.
  • Humanitarian Assistance:
    • Nepal lies in sensitive ecological fragile zone which is prone to earthquakes, floods causing massive damage to both life and money, whereby it remains the biggest recipient of India’s humanitarian assistance.
  • Indian Community:
    • Huge number of Indians lives in Nepal, these include businessmen, traders, doctors, engineers and labourers (including seasonal/migratory in the construction sector).
  • Multilateral Partnership:
    • India and Nepal shares multiple multilateral forums such as BBIN (Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, and Nepal), BIMSTEC (Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation) NAM, and SAARC (South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation) etc.

Other challenges:

  • Internal Security is a major concern for India; Indo-Nepal border is virtually open and lightly policed which is exploited by terrorist outfits and insurgent groups from North Eastern part of India eg. supply of trained cadres, fake Indian currency.
  • Overtime trust deficit has widened between India-Nepal because of the Indian reputation for delaying implementation of various projects.
  • Nepal over the years has witnessed chronic political instability, including a 10-year violent insurgency, damaging Nepal’s development and economy.
  • There is anti-India feeling among certain ethnic groups in Nepal which emanates from the perception that India indulges too much in Nepal and tinkers with their political sovereignty.
  • The establishment of diplomatic relations between Nepal and China and its growing influence in Nepal has resulted in declining traditional leverage of India in Nepal.

Way forward:

  • On border issue:
    • The two countries have managed to settle about 98% of the common border.
    • More than 8,500 boundary pillars have been installed reflecting the agreed alignment.
    • As both countries are laying claim to the same piece of land, the time has come for both countries to sit for talks to solve this issue.
  • Completion of the ongoing process of updating the 1950 Treaty of Peace and Friendship:
    • India must recognise that as in all other developing economies, Nepal’s aspirational young population is also looking beyond the open Indian border for opportunities, and its desire to turn his “land-locked” country into a “land-linked” country with a merchant navy must be considered positively.
  • People-to-people inter-dependence must lead the relationship along with civil society and business-commercial level interactions.
  • India’s major foray should be in innovation and technology transfer, multidisciplinary dialogues, educational and technical institutions, local and global migration management and skills and capacity-building.
  • India needs to finish the infrastructure projects on time for instance Pancheswar project has been pending for over 20 years now.
  • Nepal could be the fountainhead of climate change knowledge and connect to India’s larger dynamics of the management of the ecology of hills and mountains.
  • Effective delivery on the pending projects, the remaining ICPs, the five railway connections, postal road network in the Terai and the petroleum pipeline so that connectivity is enhanced and the idea of ‘inclusive development and prosperity’ assumes reality.
  • India should maintain the policy of keeping away from internal affairs of Nepal, meanwhile in the spirit of friendship India should guide the nation towards more inclusive rhetoric.
  • With its immense strategic relevance in the Indian context as Indian security concern, stable and secure Nepal is one requisite which India can’t afford to overlook.
  • India needs to formulate a comprehensive and long-term Nepal policy.

 

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.

4. Agriculture still forms the backbone of development in India. In this light, critically analyse how Genetically Modified Crops could help India and its farming community? (250 words)

Reference : Indian Express  downtoearth.org.in

Why this question:

In the current kharif season, farmers would undertake mass sowing of Genetically Modified (GM) seeds for maize, soyabean, mustard brinjal and herbicide tolerant (Ht) cotton, although these are not approved. Farmers had carried out a similar movement last year, too.

Key demand of the question:

The answer must weigh the pros and cons of GM crops and use of such technology in doubling farmer’s income. One must justify in what way using GM crops is more of a boon than bane.

Directive:

Critically analyze – When asked to analyze, 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. When ‘critically’ is suffixed or prefixed to a directive, one needs to look at the good and bad of the topic and give a fair judgement.

Structure of the answer:

Introduction:

Describe first the context of question.

Body:

The answer discussion should have the following aspects discussed in detail:

How do GM crops increase yield? How do GMOs benefit farmers? Can GMOs improve food security? What are the roles of GMO in agricultural industry? Explain if GM Crops Increase Farmer Profits and Environmental Sustainability? Quote facts and figures from various reports and form a balanced and fair opinion.

Conclusion:

Conclude with a way forward.

Introduction:

Genetic engineering aims to transcend the genus barrier by introducing an alien gene in the seeds to get the desired effects. The alien gene could be from a plant, an animal or even a soil bacterium. In most cases, the aim is to introduce a new trait to the plant which does not occur naturally in the species.

Last week, Shetkari Sanghatana announced fresh plans in its agitation for use of genetically modified seeds. In the current kharif season, farmers would undertake mass sowing of GM seeds for maize, soyabean, mustard brinjal and herbicide tolerant (Ht) cotton, although these are not approved. Farmers had carried out a similar movement last year, too.

Body:

Examples in food crops include resistance to certain pests, diseases, or environmental conditions, reduction of spoilage, or resistance to chemical treatments (e.g. resistance to a herbicide), or improving the nutrient profile of the crop. Examples in non-food crops include production of pharmaceutical agents, biofuels, and other industrially useful goods, as well as for bioremediation

Advantages of GM Crops other than pest resistance:

  • Food Security: Given the increased growth of global population and increased urbanisation, GM crops offer one of the promising solutions to meet the world’s food security needs.
  • Improved Stress Tolerance: Genes that give greater tolerance of stress, such as drought, low temperatures or salt in the soil, can also be inserted into crops. This can extend their range and open up new areas for food production.
  • Faster Growth: Crops can be altered to make them grow faster, so that they can be cultivated and harvested in areas with shorter growing seasons. This again can extend the range of a food crop into new areas or perhaps allow two harvests in areas where only one is currently practical.
  • More Nutritious Crops: Plants and animals can be engineered to produce larger amounts of essential vitamins and minerals, such as iron, helping to solve nutrition problems in some parts of the world. They can also be altered to change the amounts of protein, carbohydrates, and saturated and unsaturated fats that they contain. This could lead to the production of foods designed specifically for a healthy diet for all consumers.
  • Production of Medicines and Vaccines by Crops: It may be possible to have plants and animals produce useful medicines and even vaccines, so that prevention and treatment of human diseases in some places can be achieved cheaply and efficiently through the diet.
  • Resistance to Herbicides: Crops can be modified to be resistant to specific herbicides, making it much easier to control troublesome weeds. Farmers can simply apply the weed killer to a crop field, killing the unwanted plants and leaving the food crop unaffected. For example, GM oilseed rapeseed – the source of canola oil – is resistant to one chemical that’s widely used to control weeds.
  • Better Tasting Foods: Foods can be engineered to taste better, which could encourage people to eat healthier foods that are currently not popular because of their taste, such as broccoli and spinach. It may be possible to insert genes that produce more or different flavours as well.
  • Economic benefits: GM crops can increase yield and thus income. Genetically modified foods have a longer shelf life. This improves how long they last and stay fresh during transportation and storage.

Concerns/Challenges associated with GM Crops:

  • Human Health Risks:
    • Potential impact on human health including allergens and transfer of antibiotic resistance markers.
    • The impact of growing GM crops poses risks to human health as their resistance to antibiotics can turn medicines ineffective and may result in the formation of new toxins and allergens.
    • Toxins produced by GM crops can not only affect non-target organisms but also pose the danger of unintentionally introducing allergens and other anti-nutrition factors in foods.
  • Bio safety concerns:
    • They can reduce species diversity.
    • For example, Insect-resistant plants might harm insects that are not their intended target and thus result in destruction of that particular species.
    • Cross-pollination in GM crops paves the way for herbicide-resistant super weeds that can further threaten the sustenance of other crops and pests because of its uncontrolled growth
    • GM technology could also allow the transfer of genes from one crop to another, creating “super weeds”, which will be immune to common control methods.
    • Viral genes added to crops to confer resistance might be transferred to other viral pathogens, which can lead to new and more virulent virus strains.
  • Implications on Farmers and Consumers:
    • Critics claim that patent laws give developers of the GM crops a dangerous degree of control over the food supply. The concern is over domination of world food production by a few companies
    • National Institute of Agricultural Economics and Policy Research’s anticipation that Bt brinjal’s high yield and increased shelf life will benefit consumers and farmers owing to cut in retail price of brinjals ignores the scenario that companies might charge premium prices for Bt brinjal seeds, in which case farmers may not benefit at all.
  • Economic Concerns:
    • Introduction of a GM crop to market is a lengthy and costly process. It has not resulted in high yields as promised.
    • For instance, the highest yields in mustard are from the five countries which do not grow GM mustard — U.K., France, Poland, Germany and Czech Republic — and not from the GM-growing U.S. or Canada.
  • Inefficient Regulatory system:
    • Seeing the lapses in the regulatory system and irregularities in the assessment of Bt brinjal (in terms of labelling and unapproved and illegal sowing of GM crops) Parliamentary Standing Committee on Agriculture and the Committee on Science & Technology, Environment and Forests recommended:
    • A thorough probe by a team of eminent independent scientists and environmentalists for commercialization of GM crops.
    • Endorsed labelling GM foods to protect a consumer’s right to know.
  • Ethical Concerns:
    • Violation of natural organisms’ intrinsic values by mixing among species.
    • There have also been objections to consuming animal genes in plants

Way Forward:

  • The government must take decisions on GM technologies on the basis of scientific evidence.
  • Need to start cultivating an environment of openness and transparency to allay genuine fears
  • The government should adopt a participatory approach to bring together all stakeholders to develop regulatory protocols that restore trust in the process.
  • There is a significant uncertainty over their safety, so precautionary principle is that country shall wait till a broader scientific consensus is achieved.
  • Need for better policy, pricing and to rationalize the input costs
  • GEAC needs to be a transparent body. it should put it in the public domain that on what grounds it has approved GM mustard
  • There has to be strong liability laws if there are any environmental hazards or if something goes wrong in future
  • Agriculture is a state subject; therefore, it is important for the Centre to take into consideration the views of State Governments as well.
  • The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has rightly pointed out in 2004, “Science cannot declare any technology completely risk free. Genetically engineered crops can reduce some environmental risks associated with conventional agriculture, but will also introduce new challenges that must be addressed”.

Conclusion:

Clearly, there can be no credible argument against scientific experiments in agriculture that advance the goal of developing plant varieties that can withstand drought, resist pests and raise yields to feed the growing world population. But this should be done through a transparent regulatory process that is free of ethical conflicts. All this underscores the need for a cautious approach — one that fosters scientific inquiry, allows for scrutiny and is underpinned by regulation. Enacting a comprehensive law that covers all aspects of GM crops should be a priority.

 

Topic: Infrastructure: Energy, Ports, Roads, Airports, Railways etc; Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment.

5. Public disclosure of energy performance is not only needed to aid energy efficiency and climate target accounting but also to build public confidence in energy efficient technologies and strategies. Discuss.  (250 words)

Reference : .downtoearth.org.in

Why this question:

Prime Minster after his recent review of the Indian power sector, advised the Union Ministry of Power to ensure that the Discoms (distribution companies) publish their performance parameters periodically so that the people know how their provider fares in comparison to the peers. It is anticipated that these performance disclosure requirements may be included in the proposed Electricity (Amendment) Bill 2020. This is a move in the right direction and can become more effective if extended to end-users of electricity as well.

Key demand of the question:

One must discuss in detail how India loses a considerable portion of the electricity it generates at the supply end much of the power ends up in the kitty of a privileged section of society that has been documented to waste it as well.

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:

In brief explain the scenario of lack of transparency in the power consumption in India. Further elaborate how power wastage leading to multiple issues like Discom losses, inequal access to power to various sections of society etc.

Body:

Explain in detail how Indian consumers are unaware of the energy consumption and this is leading to power inefficiency. Discuss the initiatives taken in India like BEE, EC Act etc and why it has failed in its objectives. Briefly explain the impacts this has on climate change, poverty etc. Suggest measures how this opacity can be overcome and the benefits it accrues with transparency of energy efficiency information.

Conclusion:

Conclude with a way forward.

Introduction:

Many different governments have begun to require disclosure of building energy performance, in order to allow owners and prospective buyers to incorporate this information into their investment decisions. These policies, known as disclosure or information policies

Prime Minster after his recent review of the Indian power sector, advised the Union Ministry of Power to ensure that the Discoms (distribution companies) publish their performance parameters periodically so that the people know how their provider fares in comparison to the peers.

Body:

Prospects of disclosure of energy performance:

  • The first step to achieving a zero-carbon building goal is to measure the current energy efficiency for core segments of the city’s building stock, and understand the scope for improvement.
  • Reporting and disclosure policies are vital to enable this, delivering valuable data to the city, and to building owners and managers.
  • This allows cities to design better programmes to achieve zero-carbon buildings, and track progress.
  • Over time, benchmarking builds and refines the city’s datasets on building energy efficiency, enabling more tailored policies to support a zero-carbon building goal.
  • Benchmarking data also helps to promote market adoption of new building energy efficiency technologies, by providing evidence of the energy and cost savings they deliver.

Challenges faced due to lack of disclosure of energy performance:

  • India loses a considerable portion of the electricity it generates at the supply end.
  • Transparency will help understand in nuanced detail and aid development of effective remedies and solutions.
  • But given the asymmetrical distribution, much of the power ends up in the kitty of a privileged section of society that has been documented to waste it as well.
  • A separate legislation was enacted in 2001 to address this wastage on the consumer end.
  • The Energy Conservation (EC) Act 2001 established the Bureau of Energy Efficiency (BEE) with the mandate of setting and enforcing energy consumption standards with periodic energy audits for major energy consumers (referred to as designated consumers in the EC Act).
  • Discoms and commercial establishments, along with various industries, are designated consumers.
  • a quick assessment of the implementation of the EC Act and Rules in the commercial building or establishments (only designated consumers whose performance by individual entities is in the public domain) paints a rather dull image.
  • BEE issues Energy Saving Certificates to most designated consumer entities to track and ensure compliance with the EC Act. +But for existing commercial buildings or establishments, BEE developed a star rating programme, in the same spirit as the star labeling for appliances.
  • It was launched in 2009 and was limited to daytime office typology and was to eventually extend to cover all commercial building typologies.

Measures needed:

  • Globally, legislations like the EC Act, that aim to track and improve energy performance of various consumers, have incorporated disclosure of energy performance as an integral part of their mandate.
  • These policies not only seek energy consumption information but an assortment of details regarding physical infrastructure, operation and management to establish peers, fair comparisons and realistic reduction targets.
  • Understanding the importance of energy performance data and behavioral gains to be made via peer-to-peer comparison, India Cool Air Action Plan prepared by the environment ministry has recommended disclosure of energy performance of commercial buildings.
  • And rating is an effective tool to make use of the standardized data collected through disclosure policies to understand the baseline performance of different consumers and setting up of energy performance targets.
  • BEE needs to revisit, revive, and expand its star rating system for all designated consumers, especially buildings. It can’t be kept voluntary and confidential.

Way forward:

  • It is anticipated that these performance disclosure requirements may be included in the proposed Electricity (Amendment) Bill 2020.
  • This is a move in the right direction and can become more effective if extended to end-users of electricity as well.
  • Cities should consider partnering with utility providers for benchmarking. They can help to gather energy use data for specific segments of the city’s building stock.
  • Cities can lead by example through the public disclosure of energy performance of all government-owned and managed buildings.
  • For example, the Tokyo Metropolitan Government publicly discloses emissions from several thousand public buildings online.

 

Topic: Contributions of moral thinkers and philosophers from India and world.

6. The lives and teachings of Gandhiji, Nelson Mandela and Martin Luther King are as relevant in today’s times as it was in yesteryears. Discuss. (250 words)

Reference : The Hindu 

Why this question

The article discusses the life and teachings of Gandhi, Mandela and Martin Luther King and discusses what lessons can be drawn from their life and teachings. The question would provide filler material for GS4 as well as help us in tackling personality or quite based question in paper 4.

Key demand of the question

The question expects us to bring out the lessons that could be drawn from the life and teachings of Gandhi, Mandela and Luther King and thereafter explain why are these teachings relevant in the current age.

Directive word

Discuss – Your discussion should bring out the life and teachings of their life and discuss their relevance in the current age Structure of the answer

Introduction:

give an introduction about Gandhiji, Mandela and martin Luther King.

Body:

discuss the learnings that we need to draw from the lives of these iconic gentlemen and how their teachings are relevant in the present day and age.

Conclusion:

Give your view on their relevance in modern times.

Introduction:

Gandhi, Mandela and Martin Luther King fought for the rights of people, walking the path of peace in their homelands. Gandhi spearheaded the freedom movement in India after fighting for the rights of native South Africans. Luther King is best known for his role in the advancement of civil rights using nonviolent civil disobedience. They both negotiated the darkness of conflicts using the human values of conscience, non-violence, Truth, Equality of all by taking on oppression and discrimination, prejudice and injustice.

Body:

The relevance of the life and teachings of the great stalwarts is very high in today’s era

  • Truth:
    • In today’s post truth era, where social media rules the ICT, there are increased incidents of fake news, doctored videos, radicalization through fake propagandas etc.
    • Truth should be verified about such information and then accepted. It is a responsibility of every citizen to be responsible to curb spreading of lies and hatred.
  • Equality:
    • Many traditions and customs which hurt the equality, dignity, fraternity of the human being are present in India like caste discrimination, honour killings, banning women from entering sacred places, manual scavenging, racism etc.
    • Non-cooperation and resistance to such indiscriminate ideas is necessary and it is already visible.
    • The use of non-violent means to achieve morally endowed ends like demand for justice against irresponsible, unacceptable government e.g. Arab spring, Anna Hazare’s movement etc.
    • The recent incidents of racism which was brought to fore in USA with violent protests also portray the presence of inequality which is still present in our society.
  • Culture of peace and harmony:
    • Today, the world is suffering from immense crisis from many sides. Crimes, conflict, hatred and distrust between one community and another, insecure environment among minorities, hunger, unemployment, poverty and literacy, refugee crisis, ethnic violence, terrorism, etc., all these altogether make a grave danger to peace.
    • Resistance through non-violence and appeal to the conscience of perpetrators can bring change.
    • Compassion is necessary for victims, minorities, fellow humans and other earth creatures.
    • Reconciliation and negotiation were far more effective and powerful weapons and that should never be forgotten.
  • Educational values:
    • Gandhiji’s education philosophy also emphasised on environment, conservation, kindness for animal, focus on villages hence which brings out concept of all round development of individual and society which is required in today’s world.
  • Leadership:
    • Mandela taught the idea of leadership was as much about delivering results as it was about uplifting those who work and strive with us.
  • Self-determination and Courage:
    • In the fast-paced world today, many farmers, students are bogged down by desperation of failures, fall in to depression and even commit suicides.
    • There is a need of self-determination, courage and resilience to face the failures and bounce back.
    • Mandela’s experience of discrimination ensured that he never allowed immediate situations to overshadow the true purpose of his activity, to create a world where there is space for everyone to live a life of dignity.
  • Simplicity and Sustainability:
    • Climate change effects are being seen across the world with many ramifications.
    • The ideals of simple living, minimalistic and non-materialistic lifestyle and respect for the nature are imperative today.

Conclusion:

The teachings of Gandhi, Mandela and King will remain a moral compass for the generations to come. Today, as the world battles climate change, religious bigotry and rising intolerance, world leaders have much to learn from these tall leaders. Their fundamental message was that unless we learn to put aside our differences and work together, we will never create a better world. The need of the hour is to inculcate such values in individuals through value based education, moral parenting and socialization.

 

Topic: Contributions of moral thinkers and philosophers from India and world.

7. Write a note on the teachings of following moral thinkers. (250 words)

Reference :

  1. Confucius
  2. John Stuart Mill
  3. B.R. Ambedkar

Why this question:

The question expects us to bring out the lessons that could be drawn from the life and teachings of Confucius, JS Mill and B.R. Ambedkar and thereafter explain why are these teachings relevant in the current age

Structure of the answer:

Introduction:

give an introduction about Confucius, JS Mill and B.R. Ambedkar.

Body:

discuss the learnings that we need to draw from the lives of these iconic gentlemen and how their teachings are relevant in the present day and age.

Conclusion:

Give your view on their relevance in modern times.

1. Confucius:

“Humility is the solid foundation of all virtues.”

Confucianism is the philosophy based on the teachings of Confucius (551 BC – 479 BC), who was an important Chinese philosopher. Confucius was deeply involved in thinking about the concepts of human compassion and the development of a character. His lessons were basically full of ethnics on human behaviours. He discussed more on the kindness of human rather than spiritual concepts.

Morality:

Confucian moral education aims at a noble person who is characterized by superiority of mind, character, ideals or morals. Confucius insisted chiefly on the four virtues of sincerity, benevolence, filial piety and righteousness.

Confucius taught that people should have compassion for one another, and to avoid treating others in ways that they themselves would not wish to be treated. In order to be compassionate, people should avoid self-aggrandizement and be “simple in manner and slow of speech.” They should practice altruism and self-restraint. This teaching is relevant today as due to fast pace of economic growth and globalization, the inherent cultural values and virtues are deteriorating.

Confucius supposed that strong family values, with mutual respect and family loyalty were vital for a stable society. He stressed the significance of seniority and the need to pay respects to ancestors.

Human character:

Confucianism teaches 5 virtues.

  • Ren (Jen), that refers to altruism and humanity.
  • Yi, that refers to righteousness.
  • Li, that refers to good conduct.
  • Zhi, that refers to knowledge.
  • Xin, which means loyalty.

According to him, Human character must have ever-lasting perseverance for standing up and doing the right things. One must have belief in self to be successful. Confucius emphasized the role of family and social harmony than on just spiritual values which made Confucianism humanistic. He relied on wisdom and knowledge which would shape human character and make the actions of human moral.

Confucius was deeply involved in thinking about the concepts of human compassion and the development of a character. His ideas are true even today and can be applied in ethical judgement of an action. The Confucius teachings can be summarized into social and political philosophy with emphasis on education, social harmony which develops individual character.

2. John Stuart Mill:

The ethical theory of John Stuart Mill (1806-1873) is most extensively articulated in his classical text Utilitarianism (1861). Its goal is to justify the utilitarian principle as the foundation of morals. This principle says actions are right in proportion as they tend to promote overall human happiness. So, Mill focuses on consequences of actions and neither on rights nor ethical sentiments.

The philosophy of John Stuart Mill and his contribution towards ethics and moral philosophy

  • Utilitarianism:
    • Mill defines “utilitarianism” as the creed that considers a particular “theory of life” as the “foundation of morals” His view of theory of life was monistic: There is one thing, and one thing only, that is intrinsically desirable, namely pleasure.
    • In contrast to a form of hedonism that conceives pleasure as a homogeneous matter, Mill was convinced that some types of pleasure are more valuable than others in virtue of their inherent qualities. For this reason, his position is often called “qualitative hedonism”.
  • Harm Principle:
    • Harm principle basically lays down the principle of individual freedom and its limitation. Mill distinguishes human actions between self-regarding actions (which only affect him) and other regarding actions (which affect others in the society).
    • He advocates of no interference of state in self-regarding action as it would withhold the individuals’ potential in development. As far as ‘other regarding actions’ are concerned state has the right to interfere but with caution, as freedom is at the core of human society, and is so crucial for a dignified human life, it should only be constrained in special circumstances.
    • For minor harm, Mill recommends only social disapproval and not the force of law. The ‘harm caused’ must be ‘serious’ enough to use force of law. But we must make sure that the constraints imposed are not so severe that they destroy freedom itself.
  • Liberal feminism:
    • The essential case is that if freedom is a good for men, it is for women, and that every argument against this view drawn from the supposedly different “nature” of men and women has been superstitious special pleading.
    • If women have different natures, the only way to discover what they are is by experiment, and that requires that women should have access to everything to which men have access.
    • Only after as many centuries of freedom as there have been centuries of oppression will we really know what our natures are.
  • System of Logic:
    • Mill’s conception of logic was not entirely that of modern logicians; besides formal logic, what he called “the logic of consistency”, he thought that there was logic of proof, that is, a logic that would show how evidence proved or tended to prove the conclusions we draw from the evidence.
    • That led him to the analysis of causation, and to an account of inductive reasoning that remains the starting point of most modern discussions.
  • Environmentalism:
    • Its philosophical interest lay in Mill’s reflections on the difference between what economics measured and what human beings really valued: leading Mill to argue that we should sacrifice economic growth for the sake of the environment, and should limit population as much to give ourselves breathing space as in order to fend off the risk of starvation for the overburdened poor.
    • Mill also allowed that conventional economic analysis could not show that socialism was unworkable, and suggested as his own ideal an economy of worker-owned cooperatives.

Mill occupies an unusually important position in the history of western moral and political philosophy. Viewed in historical context, both utilitarianism and liberalism have exerted considerable progressive influence on the scope of moral concern, the design of public institutions, the responsibilities of government, and the interests and rights of the governed.

3. B. R. Ambedkar:

Equality is a pre-requisite for an ethical society. Though it is difficult and undesirable to achieve absolute equality. But equality of opportunity to everyone ensures fairness and justice. It gives a chance to everyone to live a decent and respectable life. Ambedkar’s political legacy reminds us of his aim to build a democratic and inclusive India with economic growth, equality and social justice.

There are reports of practices of untouchability in rural parts, caste-based discrimination in public institutions and heinous forms of atrocities against Dalits, honour killing by dominant caste, Khap Panchayat. Many young couples who prefer inter caste marriage are being ostracized and in many cases being killed by dominant caste Panchayats. The policy and criminal justice administration has failed to ensure justice to the victims of atrocities. There should be exemplary punishment for the persons who believe in caste system by treating them as anti-nationals because they are against equality and human dignity.

Dr. Ambedkar is a champion for the cause of equality. His moral philosophy argues-

  • Annihilation of caste: He argues that caste system is irrational and has divided our society. He argues that only a complete annihilation of caste can help to unite our society.
  • Liberty and Equality: He argues that liberty and equality cannot be separated from each other. They must go hand in hand. If liberty prevails over equality, then it would cause rule of a few elites but if equality would reign over liberty then it would kill individual initiative.
  • Religious Scriptures: Ambedkar argues for the logical interpretation of religious scriptures. Discard scriptures that promote discrimination.
  • Dysfunctional Society: Ambedkar argues that a society where occupations were divided on caste was a dysfunctional one. This is not working on its ultimate efficiency and is holding the nation back.
  • Boycotted Temple Entry Movements: Ambedkar boycotted temple entry movements. He argued that these movements can at most achieve cosmetic changes.

Ambedkar was not only a social reformer but also a visionary leader. He not only showed how caste discrimination was unethical but also showed how it was holding the progress of our nation back. The social and economic equality vision of Ambedkar continues to inspire Indian nationalism and in building India on principles of democracy, liberty, equality, fraternity and dignity of human being.


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