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SECURE SYNOPSIS: 16 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: Indian culture will cover the salient aspects of Art Forms, literature and Architecture from ancient to modern times.

1. Discuss the contributions of Muslim Rulers in the development of Indian architecture. (250 words)

Reference: Indian art and culture by Nitin Singhania

Why the question:

The question is straightforward and there isn’t much to dwell but to directly enlist the contributions of Muslim Rulers in the development of Indian architecture.

Key Demand of the question:

One must in detail appreciate the contributions of Muslim Rulers to the Indian architecture and its development.

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 short highlight the evolution of Indian architecture.

Body:

Explain first the onset of Muslim rulers in India, discuss in what way they started to contribute to the Indian architecture. One can emphasize on rule of Mughal Dynasty from the 16th to 18th century extensively displays art forms, architectural styles that developed vigorously around that time. Then discuss the key features such as Persian and Indian styles were intelligently fused to create the works of quality and precision during their reign. Discuss the details of architecture with example ranging from forts to mosques to minarets. Give examples of key architectural marvels such as Taj Mahal etc, Qutub minar etc.

Conclusion:

Conclude with importance of such contributions and their relevance even today.

Introduction:

Mughal architecture, building style that flourished in northern and central India under the patronage of the Mughal emperors from the mid-16th to the late 17th century. The Mughal period marked a striking revival of Islamic architecture in northern India. Under the patronage of the Mughal emperors, Persian, Indian, and various provincial styles were fused to produce works of unusual quality and refinement.

Body:

Important Features of Mughal Architecture:

  • Blend of Indian, Persian, and Turkish architectural style.
  • Different types of buildings, such as majestic gates (entrances), forts, mausoleums, palaces, mosques, sarais, etc.
  • Building material: Mostly, red sandstone and white marble were used.
  • Specific features such as the Charbagh style (garden layout) of the mausoleums, pronounced bulbous domes, slender turrets at the corners, broad gateways, beautiful calligraphy, arabesque, and geometric patterns on pillars and walls, and palace halls supported on pillars.
  • The arches, chhatri, and various styles of domes became hugely popular in the Indo-Islamic architecture and were further developed under the Mughals.
  • It became so widespread especially in north India that these can be seen further in the colonial architecture of Indo-Sarcenic style.

Contributions:

  • Babur:
    • Due to his short reign (1526-1530), most of which was spent in wars, Babur could not leave any significant construction except the mosque of Kabuli Bagh at Panipat and Jama Masjid at Sambhal near Delhi.
    • Babur also built Ram Bagh, the first Mughal Garden in India (1528) in Charbagh Style located in Agra.
  • Humayun:
    • Humayun succeeded Babur, but throughout his reign, he was constantly embroiled in a struggle with Sher Shah Suri.
    • He laid the foundation of the city named Dinpanah but could not finish it.
    • Humayun’s Tomb, also known as the precursor of the Taj Mahal was the first imposing structure of the Mughals which was built by his widow Hamida Begum and designed by Persian architect Mirak Mirza Ghiyas.
    • The mausoleum built upon a raised platform is a mix of Indian and Persian artistry using red sandstone and white marble.
    • It has a Persian Charbagh style. The tomb was declared as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1993.
    • The Taj Mahal is the climax and therefore perhaps the most famous monument built under the Charbagh layout.
  • Sher Shah Suri (Sur Dynasty):
    • He built the Quila-e-Quanah mosque of Old Fort in Delhi, Rohtas Fort in Pakistan, Sher Shah Suri Masjid in Patna in Afghan-style
    • He also built the famous Grand Trunk Road.
    • His period saw the transition from Lodhi style to the Mughal style of architecture.
  • Akbar:
    • The reign of Akbar (1556-1605) witnessed immense developments in Mughal art and architecture.
    • He built the city of Fatehpur Sikri which was the first planned city of the Mughals and served as his capital from 1571 to 1585.
    • Buland Darwaza (1576, built to commemorate Akbar’s victory over Gujarat kings), Jama Masjid, Diwan-i-aam, Diwan-i-khaas, Birbal’s house, Tomb of Saint Salim Chisthi are some of the important monuments in Fatehpur Sikri.
    • He also built the Govind Dev temple in Vrindavan.
  • Jahangir:
    • The prince had a special appreciation for the paintings over architecture.
    • He built the tomb of Itimad-ud-Daula (father of his wife Nur Jahan) displaying the world’s finest Pietra-dura works and completed Akbar’s tomb at Sikandra.
    • He also built the famous Shalimar Bagh in Srinagar, Moti Masjid at Lahore.
  • Shah Jahan:
    • He immortalized himself as he built the Taj Mahal in the memory of his late wife, Mumtaz Mahal.
    • He is rightly called ‘the prince of builders’ as the Mughal architecture reached its zenith under his reign.
    • He built Shahjahanabad, the 7th city of Delhi, today is known as Old Delhi.
    • He made extensive use of white marble as opposed to red sandstone which was preferred by his predecessors.
    • He also built the Jama Masjid in Delhi, Moti Masjid in the Agra Fort, and the Sheesh Mahal in the Lahore Fort brilliantly using pietra dura and complex mirror work.
  • Aurangzeb:
    • He preferred simplicity over the grandeur and repaired more mosques than he built.
    • Aurangzeb is also said to have destroyed numerous Hindu temples as well.
    • A beautiful pearl mosque in the Red Fort, Delhi, and the Bibi ka Maqbara in Aurangabad for his wife are only a few notable mentions in his long reign.
    • Thus, overall the Mughal architecture saw a decline in the Aurangzeb’s reign.

Conclusion:

Thus, stating the seemingly obvious, Mughal architecture developed into a one of a kind architectural style which has withstood the test of time. It is appreciated widely by people all across the world due to its distant features as discussed above. It is up to us architects of India to carry forward and preserve our traditional styles of architecture and create something new that is looked upon with pride by our future generations.

 

Topic : Modern Indian history from about the middle of the eighteenth century until the present- significant events, personalities, issues.

2. Discuss the various aspects of social legislation introduced by the Britishers in the first half of the nineteenth century in India. (250 words)

Reference: India Before Independence By Bipin Chandra 

Why the question:

From a precautionary and indifferent attitude towards social issues in India, the British in the 19th century due to the efforts of Indian intelligentsia made serious efforts to bring about a change in the society of the country. Thus the question.

Key Demand of the question:

One must discuss the various social legislations enacted in India in 19th century for improving the conditions of the Indian society.

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:

Start by explaining what the pressing reasons were that led to such social legislations to come in place.

Body:

The question is direct, thus start discussing the various aspects of social legislation introduced by the Britishers –

  • William Bentinck enacted the Bengal Sati Regulation in 1829 to curb the inhuman practice of sati.
  • Female infanticide was rampant in the 19th century India. With respect to it, regulations prohibiting infanticide had been passed in 1895 and 1802. However, the efforts were seriously enforced by Bentinck and Hardings.
  • The Hindu Widows Remarriage Act was passed in 1856. It gave equality to women on the same footing as men to remarry on being widowed.
  • The Age of Consent Act was passed in 1891 which rose the marriageable age for women to 12.
  • A law passed in 1872 sanctioned inter-caste and inter-communal marriages etc.

Discuss such social legislations and explain their significance.

Conclusion:

Conclude with their importance.

Introduction:

Indian society underwent many changes after the British came to India. In the 19th century, certain social practices like female infanticide, child marriage, sati, polygamy and a rigid caste system became more prevalent. These practices were against human dignity and values. The British East India Company came to dominate India not through political strategy, intrigue and military forces but also through belief in the superiority of their text, literature and education system.

Body:

The various aspects of social legislation introduced by the Britishers in the first half of the nineteenth century in India are

  • The British brought new ideas such as liberty, equality, freedom and human rights, which appealed to some sections of our society and led to several reform movements in different parts of the country.
  • The deliberate British policy of non-interference in Indian social and cultural life underwent a significant change after 1813.
  • This was due to the material change in England in the form of Industrial revolution.
  • A number of missionary societies were formed and began to function.
  • The intent of the missionaries had been to locate and scrutinize the Hindu practices and to demolish their implicit social hegemony.
  • William Bentinck enacted the Bengal Sati Regulation in 1829 to curb the inhuman practice of sati.
  • Female infanticide was rampant in the 19th century India. With respect to it, British enacted laws against this practice in 1795, 1802 and 1804 and then in 1870.
  • In 1891, through the enactment of the Age of Consent Act, this was raised to 12 years. In 1930, through the Sharda Act, the minimum age was raised to 14 years. After independence, the limit was raised to 18 years in 1978.
  • The Hindu Widows Remarriage Act was passed in 1856. It gave equality to women on the same footing as men to remarry on being widowed.
  • Abolition of Slavery: This was another practice which came under British scanner. Hence, under Charter Act of 1833 slavery in India was abolished and under Act V of 1843 the practice of slavery got sacked by law and declared illegal. The Penal Code of 1860 also declared trade in slavery illegal.
  • A law passed in 1872 sanctioned inter-caste and inter-communal marriages.

Conclusion:

The policies of the British with the beginning of 19th century though helped in abolition of social evils prevalent at that time but gradually led to breach the socio-religious fabric of India since they were mainly focused and based on the English perception and attitude.

 

Topic : Salient features of world’s physical geography.

3. Explain the importance of ‘Myristica swamps’ in Western Ghats Ecosystem. (250 words)

Reference: Deccan Herald 

Why the question:

The question is based on the theme of ‘Myristica swamps’ in Western Ghats Ecosystem.

Key Demand of the question:

Explain the importance of ‘Myristica swamps’ in Western Ghats Ecosystem.

Directive:

Explain – Clarify the topic by giving 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:

First explain and define what ‘Myristica swamps’ in Western Ghats Ecosystem are.

Body:

Myristica swamps, which were once widespread across the Konkan coast, are now a fast-shrinking, fragmented, and endangered ecosystem restricted to small patches found in southern Kerala, Uttara Kannada district of Karnataka, Goa, and recently discovered in the northern Western Ghats of Maharashtra.

Discuss the key features such as –

  • The swamps play a key role in maintaining perennial stream flow and possess higher potential to store carbon than nearby non-swamp forests in the central Western Ghats of Karnataka.
  • They feature two threatened species of trees — Gymnocranthera canarica and Myristica fatua — belonging to the primitive Myristicaceae family.
  • Premium efforts should be given to conservation, say experts, suggesting that forest dwellers and farmers could earn carbon credits for preserving these ancient ecosystems.

Discuss the aspects and need for preserving and conserving such an ecosystem.

Conclusion:

Conclude with significance of Priority for conservation and the way forward.

Introduction:

Myristica swamps are a type of freshwater swamp forest predominantly composed of species of Myristica tree, the most primitive of the flowering plants on earth. These are found in two localities in India. The evergreen, water-tolerant trees have dense stilt roots and knee roots helping them stay erect in the thick, black, wet alluvial soil. Myristica swamps are found in the Uttara Kannada district of Karnataka State and in the southern parts of Kerala State.

The Hubbali Ankola railway line project, recently approved by National Board for Wildlife (NBWL) poses a serious threat to the Myristica Swamps in the Uttara Kannada district of Karnataka State.

Body:

western_ghats

Myristica Swamp:

  • This is a unique forest type found exclusively in the plains and low elevations of the southernmost part of the Western Ghats.
  • These swamps are more localized and are seen only in the poorly drained regions with a very long rainy season.
  • The trees form a fairly dense forest with a closed canopy.
  • It is restricted to the sluggish streams as fringing forest below 300m elevations.
  • The characteristic feature of this type is the abundance of species of Myristicaceae family, particularly two species which are not common under other conditions viz. Gymnacranthera farguhariana and Myristica fatua var. magnifica.
  • These species have very dense stilt roots, some of which sprout 6m above the soil.
  • The floor of this swamp is covered by looped knee-roots of Myristica species.

Importance of Myristica swamps:

  • Rich biodiversity:
    • The swamps are home to a rich diversity of flora and fauna are the vestiges of a pristine habitat that could yield precious information about evolutionary biology and climate change.
    • The swamps in Kerala provide habitat for a rich diversity of invertebrate and vertebrate species, including amphibians, reptiles and mammals.
    • A total of 65 tree species and 72 species of shrub- herb combine have been recorded from the swamps.
    • It is estimated that the wetlands contain 23 per cent of butterflies, 11 per cent of spiders, 8.4 per cent of fishes, more than 50 per cent of amphibians, more than 20 per cent of reptiles, 26.6 per cent of birds and 6.6 per cent of mammals in the whole of Kerala.
    • Of the animals recorded from the swamps, 16.3 per cent are endemic to the Western Ghats and 24.2 per cent of the vertebrates are Red Listed.
    • Species diversity and species abundance inside the swamps are significantly higher than that recorded from outside, for both reptiles and amphibians.
  • High watershed value:
    • When they are drained, filled or otherwise disturbed, their water holding capacity is lost, resulting in floods and erosion during the rainy season and dry streambeds the rest of the year.
    • This helps in strengthening the watershed of the area.
  • Carbon sequestration:
    • The swampy forests have higher aboveground biomass and carbon storage than neighbouring non-swampy forests.
    • With a higher ability to sequester carbon than non-swampy forests, these relict ecosystems have been “silently helping the globe in the removal of carbon” amid the backdrop of global warming
  • Flood control:
    • During heavy rains, they help in moderating floodwaters.
    • On the recent flooding of Kerala in 2018, despite highest rainfall and similar terrain, the regions with Myristica swamps handled the floods, while, locations such as Wayanad and Kodagu experienced a high level of damages, according to studies by Dr T V Ramachandra of Centre for Ecological Sciences at Indian Institute of Science, Bengaluru.
  • Conservation:
    • From conservation point of view, these fresh water swamp forest (4C/FS) described by Champion and Seth (1968) are unique in its biotic composition.

Threats faced:

  • These fragile primeval forests are a fast-disappearing and fragmented habitat confined to small patches—so much so that they are considered among the most endangered ecosystems of India.
  • Studies have shown that the swamps, which would have occupied large swathes of the thickly- wooded Western Ghats in the past, are now restricted to less than 200 hectares in the country.
  • These swamps, because of their location in low altitude, are under tremendous biotic pressure and their conservation is a challenging task and subjected to heavy degradation in various ways.
  • Over time, many of the patches of swamps in Kerala have been converted to paddy fields, arecanut plantations or settlements while others were submerged for irrigation projects.

Conclusion:

Given the higher biomass and carbon sequestration potential of the swamps, forest management policies need to be revised. There is an urgent need to conserve the remaining swamps. Premium efforts should be given to conservation, say experts, suggesting that forest dwellers and farmers could earn carbon credits for preserving these ancient ecosystems.

Saving the swamps will pave the way for researchers to unravel the secret lives of the flora and fauna inhabiting these enigmatic, archaic ecosystems—and in the process perhaps yield vital clues as to how life evolved in the Western Ghats in the face of a changing climate over thousands of millennia.

 

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.

4. Discuss in detail the challenges faced by the disabled during the pandemic. (250 words)

Reference: The Hindu 

Why the question:

The article highlights the dismal conditions and the challenges faced by the disabled during the pandemic.

Key Demand of the question:

Explain in detail the challenges faced by the disabled during the pandemic.

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:

Start by explaining how the pandemic has various implications for people with disabilities.

Body:

List down the various facets wherein the disabled face issues differently – Lack of employment opportunities, Medical needs, lack of access to service etc. The challenges faced by the differently-abled people point to a larger problem of invisibilisation of the struggles of persons with disability. People with disability have no representation in Parliament; hence, nobody cares to ensure the policies made for the differently-abled are intersectional in nature. Policies being framed seem to be oblivious to the needs of the specially-abled individuals.

Conclusion:

Suggest measures to be taken to resolve such issues being faced by the disabled, the government needs to step in with enhanced support for this vulnerable class of people. This could involve enhanced assistance for the differently-abled. Medical needs of this section should receive special attention. Policies being framed during the pandemic need to take into consideration the special needs.

Introduction:

India has about Twenty-six million or 2.21 per cent of India’s population is disabled as per Census 2011 while as per World Health Organization, 15 per cent of the world’s population is disabled. For persons with disabilities(PwDs), the pandemic and consequent lockdown have come with diverse challenges, from sourcing essential supplies to accessing medical treatment, exercising social distancing and much more. PwDs, including those with physical, sensory and cognitive limitations, are facing a hard time during this coronavirus crisis given that there is also lack of access to accurate information, social distancing and isolation norms. To make matters worse, PwDs with compromised immunity and chronic conditions tend to be at a higher risk of getting coronavirus.

Body:

According to a report by the National Centre for the Promotion of Employment for Disabled Persons (NCPEDP) — which includes results from a study of 1,067 people with disabilities (about 73% male, 27% female) — over 73% of those surveyed experienced serious difficulties due to the lockdown.

Major challenges faced:

  • The first is communication—getting information can be more difficult for people with vision, hearing, and even cognitive disabilities, as popular news sources may not be accessible, especially when information is changing quickly.
  • The second barrier involves adopting recommended public health strategies, such as social distancing and washing hands. For example, frequent hand-washing is not always feasible for people with certain types of physical disabilities.
  • The third, equitable access to health care, is a long-standing barrier worsened by COVID-19. This ranges from getting a coronavirus test to being seen in an emergency room. For instance, drive-up testing may be impossible if you rely on state mobility services.
  • There are also existing barriers in health care settings that are exacerbated as the industry aims to meet the surge of COVID-19 cases. For example, the use of personal protective equipment, including masks, can make communication more difficult for patients with hearing loss.
  • Additionally, the allocation of medical resources is a concern. There’s fear that medical resource allocation, including ventilators, may be discriminatory against patients with disabilities, and complaints have been filed in multiple states about these rationing policies.

Challenges faced by the disabled in particular during the pandemic:

  • People with visual impairment and blindness:
    • They depend upon touch for most of their daily activities.
    • They need to hold the hand of an escort to move around.
    • They cannot read the messages that the rest of the population can see.
    • They cannot practice social distancing unless there are innovative approaches like keeping a safe distance using a white cane.
  • Hearing impaired:
    • For the hearing impaired, especially those who are not literate, they cannot hear the message or read it.
    • Since many depend on lip-reading, they are compromised when the person giving a message is wearing a mask.
    • None of the messages in the media is using sign language interpreters. The physically disabled cannot reach a wash basin or may not be able to wash their hands vigorously.
  • Mental health issues:
    • People with mental health issues cannot comprehend the messages.
    • Children and adolescents with conditions like cerebral palsy or Down’s Syndrome need to be assisted in feeding.
    • people with disabilities have a higher risk of conditions such as diabetes and hypertension which are high-risk factors for COVID-19 mortality.
  • People with communication disabilities don’t know how to express their problems.
  • Other challenges faced:
    • They may not be eating properly and may experience higher stress because they are unable to understand what is happening all around them on which they have no control.
    • Women with disability have additional issues. They are vulnerable to exploitation and even more so during a pandemic.
    • Many of them have children without disability and are highly stressed as to how they can care for their children and family members because they are not supported to care for them.
    • Routine health needs that they have are also not provided as health centres or transportation facilities are not accessible.

Measures that can be taken:

  • By Government:
    • India has signed up to achieving sustainable development goals of which cornerstone is universal access to health and education and equity.
    • The government and the organisations working with people with disabilities have to make efforts to convert prevention and care messages on COVID into an accessible format.
    • Health facilities should prioritise the needs of people with disabilities over the rest of the population.
    • Decreasing waiting time in hospitals for them will reduce contact with other asymptomatic carriers of the novel coronavirus or frank cases.
    • Their medicine needs have to be provided for.
    • Mobile health teams can provide them services at home rather than they travel to hospitals.
    • A dedicated helpline can be set up for this so that the medical team can reach them.
    • They need to be assured of supplies of soap or sanitisers and tissues.
  • By Civil Society Organizations:
    • Technology-savvy professionals can help to make information available in an accessible format for people with disabilities.
    • Students with disabilities also need to be provided support so that they can keep up academically.
    • So the online teaching programmes for them should also be available in an accessible format.
    • Civil society should volunteer their time to provide this sort of support.
    • Since many of them will not be able to access professional carers during a lockdown, civil society volunteers should help.
    • Even for supporting cooking and other self-care activities volunteers should step in.
    • Inclusive society is the need of the hour.

Conclusion:

A country’s development is measured by its social support and inclusive policies. We need to set high standards and not succumb to the ‘might is right’ philosophy and abandon people with disability in this crisis.

 

Topic : population and associated issues, poverty and developmental issues, urbanization, their problems and their remedies. Issues relating to poverty and hunger.

5. With the double whammy of Monsoon and the pandemic, the conditions of the urban poor are more deplorable than that of their rural counterparts. Comment. (250 words)

Reference: Live Mint 

Why the question:

The question is about discussing and differentiating the conditions of urban poor women with those of rural counterparts amidst the double whammy of Monsoon and the impact of the pandemic.

Key Demand of the question:

One should discuss in depth how the conditions of the urban poor are more deplorable than that of their rural counterparts.

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:

In a few introductory lines explain the general conditions of urban poor in India.

Body:

First explain the double whammy – the coming of Monsoon and the existing pandemic; explain how the two have been affecting the urban poor the most. Give the case study of Mumbai; suggest how the conditions are deplorable. One has to present a comparison and contrast of the conditions of poor in urban India vs. rural India.

Conclusion:

Conclude with what needs to be done to overcome such an issue.

Introduction:

The cities in India are witnessing an unprecedented growth in terms of population, infrastructural development, economic growth as well as growth in terms of other similar dimensions. However, this development has failed to ensure a good quality of life for the urban poor. Indian cities have been vulnerable to multiple disasters like urban floods, urban heat islands, air pollution, inaccessibility of potable water etc.

Body:

Conditions of urban poor are deplorable because:

  • High vulnerability:
    • Indian cities are vulnerable to multiple disasters like urban floods, urban heat islands, air pollution, inaccessibility of potable water etc.
    • For instance, When the monsoon hits Mumbai this June, the city, which is already fighting the coronavirus pandemic, will be staring at another major challenge: vector-borne diseases.
    • People living in slum areas – ‘urban poor’ are also prone to suffer from waterborne diseases such as typhoid and cholera, as well as from more fatal ones like cancer and HIV/AIDS.
    • Also, women and children living in slums are prone to become victims of social evils like prostitution, beggary and child trafficking. Slum dwellers in general and regardless of gender, often become victims of such social evils.
  • Proliferation of slums: – land to people ratio in cities has been exacerbated. Also there is lack of hygenic and sanitation in slums leading to various health problem living there.
  • Non-inclusive development: Urban poor are not receiving the benefits of the development – rich are getting richer with development while poor are getting poorer. E.g. India is quite far behind in inclusivity index.
  • Degradation of environment and habitat: Urban commons like lake, urban forests, green areas in Cities are adversely affected due to the need for development, for instance, Aarey forests in Mumbai.
  • Development at the cost of poor: The peri-urban areas where tribes live are being occupied for establishments of industries without proper compensation and rehabilitation.
  • Hectic life: as per a survey people in mega cities are spend more time in office than home. Family life has been affected adversely.
  • Lastly, hunger, malnourishment, lack of quality education, high infant mortality, child marriage, child labour are some of the other social problems prevalent for urban poor.

Measures needed:

  • Poverty is the most significant reason behind the creation of slums. So, the issue of poverty must be addressed first by policymakers.
  • There is also a need for future policies to support the livelihoods of the urban poor by enabling urban informal-sector activities to flourish and develop. Slum policies should be integrated within broader, people-focused urban poverty reduction policies that address the various dimensions of poverty.
  • Easy geographical access to jobs through pro-poor transport should also be created.
  • Adequate data should be gathered by conducting various studies before the formulation of any policy.
  • There is also a need for investment in citywide infrastructure as a pre-condition for successful and affordable slum upgrading, which could also act as one strong mechanism for reversing the socio-economic exclusion of slum dwellers.
  • Steps should be taken such that a higher and more stable income be made accessible to slum dwellers through their employment in productive jobs. This is because employment opportunities in urban centres that pay well has the potential to generate a healthy and sustainable lifestyle in the slums.
  • Lastly, slums should be developed because developing slums also trigger local economic development, improve urban mobility and connectivity, and integrate the slums, which are enormous economically productive spheres, into the physical and socioeconomic fabric of the wider city.

Conclusion:

Local governments should develop strategies to prevent the formation of new slums. These should include access to affordable land, reasonably priced materials, employment opportunities and basic infrastructure and social services. Public investments must focus on providing access to basic services and infrastructure. Working with urban poor, cities need to invest in housing, water, sanitation, energy and urban services, such as garbage disposal. Developing cities requires local solutions. Local authorities need to be empowered with financial and human resources to deliver services and infrastructure to urban poor. Cities should draw up local long-term strategies for improving the lives of slum dwellers.

 

Topic : Human Values – lessons from the lives and teachings of great leaders, reformers and administrators; role of Family society and educational institutions in inculcating values.

6. Some people are of the opinion that values keep changing with time and situation, while others strongly believe that there are certain universal and eternal human values. What is your viewpoint? Discuss. (GS-4)

Reference: Ethics by Lexicon publications

Why the question:

The question is intended to ascertain if values are a constant, universal thing or they change with time.

Key Demand of the question:

One should discuss how and why values can change and that though they are sometimes universal the time factor adds its flavor and results in changing perspectives of values.

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 what you understand by values.

Body:

Discuss what constitutes values in an individual’s life. Values – They are the qualities and ideas that help guide our behaviour and define who we are. Our values come from our beliefs, and are formed by various means. Some examples of values are- achievement, bravery, carefulness, challenge, compassion, generosity, honesty, humor, kindness, knowledge, open-mindedness, perseverance, respect, self-control, etc. Explain why and how values change?  Factors responsible.

Conclusion:

Conclude that basic values do get wear and tear when they get accustomed to the external world. With the influence of the external world, the values do get altered from time-to-time. The individual might take up few more things that sound good to his senses. Repeated strokes of the rope might make mark on the hard stone. Similarly a long standing influence might alter the values of the individual drastically, changing him totally upside down to his basic instincts of life.

Introduction:

Values are essential components of organisational culture and instrumental in determining, guiding and informing behaviour.  However, a lot of times we don’t know exactly what they are. They are the qualities and ideas that help guide our behaviour and define who we are.

Body:

 Our values come from our beliefs, and are formed by various means. Some examples of values are- achievement, bravery, carefulness, challenge, compassion, generosity, honesty, humor, kindness, knowledge, open-mindedness, perseverance, respect, self-control, etc. There can be certain circumstances or situations or over a period of time when values do change.

Values do change:

  • Over the time, repeated positive engagement of values is likely to strengthen them. Our lives provide continual opportunities for the growth of certain values. Our lives also sometimes put constraints on certain values.
  • People’s values tend to change over time as well. Values that suited you as a child change as you become a young adult, which may further change as you become an old person.
  • They change because we want them to; or sometimes they change even if when we didn’t mean them to. We may have believed that something is wrong but now we might not be so sure that it’s true. We may have believed that we’d never do something; but then we do it and we decide that it’s okay to do it.
  • Over a period of time, new ethical issues have arisen and values have changed.
  • New knowledge about existing problems or techniques and completely new areas of work has also led to change in values.
  • There are a series of core values around which most people would agree. However even those are changing at least in the intensity. For e.g. say if we believe that that human life is sacred, but we do not feel the same intensity of this value when judging a terrorist who has killed thousands of innocent people.
  • “The man who never alters his opinion is like standing water, and breeds reptiles of the mind.” – English poet William Blake
  • We can often see resistance from parents and society as we are growing up. Our changing values sometimes conflict with our parents’ values, or our culture’s values and leads to this resistance. For example, women working at par with men, etc.
  • Large-scale, widespread changes in values have been observed across the world at different times and have been attributed to different factors like – education, the rising use of new technologies, political discourse that stresses universalism, benevolence values, social justice, equality, peace, environmentalism, etc.
  • We can see examples in day to day life of how people change their moral values for their own benefit.

Some values are universal and eternal

  • Values are universal but the motivation they provide to us is of differing degree. That doesn’t mean that values change.
  • Values as such do not change. Only their expression changes depending on circumstances and situations. In some cultures, as well as different circumstances, the priorities assigned to values change.
  • We can find values like peace, kindness, hard work, perseverance, etc. still relevant to the same degree as from age old times. They will still remain relevant even after we die.
  • Values are essential to build ourselves. We build ourselves to survive in the world and create a society. Since values needed to build a good society are constant or similar, values can be said to be constant, similar or universal as each of us tries to build a good society.
  • “Open your arms to change but don’t let go of your values.” – The 14th Dalai Lama. This tells us that good values are not supposed to change. They are eternal.

Conclusion

Values can and do change, though certain core values may be unaltered over a long period of time. These core values can be called as primarily values and the changing one’s secondary values. The changes which occur in secondary values are due to changes in knowledge, changes in social and cultural values and norms, and changes arising through an individual’s personal experience of life.

 

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.

7. What do you understand by social audit? Discuss its limitations and significance. (250 words)

Reference: Ethics by Lexicon Publications

Why the question:

The question aims at the concept of social audit and its significance and limitations.

Key Demand of the question:

Discuss what you understand by social audit; explain its limitations and significance.

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 what you understand by social audit. Discuss its origin and link with India.

Body:

Explain that Social audit has a special origin and huge impact on the governance of a society. Social audit can dramatically improve quality of service delivery and decision making. Discuss its significance to Important aspects of governance, transparency and accountability, e-governance- application, models, successes, limitations, and potential; citizens charters, transparency & accountability and institutional and other measures and point out the limitations associated with it.

Conclusion:

Form a concise and fair evaluation of scope of social auditing in India and provide some suggestions for institutionalizing the same.

Introduction:

Social auditing is a process by which an organization / government accounts for its social performance to its stakeholders and seeks to improve its future social performance. A social audit helps to narrow gaps between vision/goal and reality; and between efficiency and effectiveness. It allows us to measure, verify, report on and to improve the social performance of any government effort or organization.

Body:

Potential of Social Audits:

  • Helps assess the physical and financial gaps between needs and resources available for local development.
  • Creating awareness among beneficiaries and providers of local social and productive services.
  • Increasing efficacy and effectiveness of local development programmes.
  • Scrutiny of various policy decisions, keeping in view stakeholder’s interests and priorities, particularly of rural poor.
  • Estimation of the opportunity cost for stakeholders of not getting timely access to public services.

Impediments to institutionalizing social audits in India:

  • Lack of support from government machineries has side-lined social audits:
    • The lack of adequate administrative and political will in institutionalizing social audit to deter corruption has meant that social audits in many parts of the country are not independent from the influence of implementing agencies.
    • Social audit units, including village social audit facilitators, continue to face resistance and intimidation and find it difficult to even access primary records for verification.
    • Most Indian states have delayed conducting social audits, despite these being in place since 2006. They are held back by a lack of political will and entrenched vested interests.
  • There has been no delivery on legal accountability frameworks such as the Lokpal Bill and the Whistle Blowers Protection Bill
  • Lack of any legal proceedings for not following social audit principles: Unless there is a stringent penalty on authorities for not implementing social audit, they will not give up control because it reduces their kickbacks and authority
  • Lack of education among the common masses: Since common people are not that educated, they do not know their rights.
  • Untimely transfer of functionaries makes it difficult to have appropriate responsibility fixation
  • Lack of people participation: Most of the people still think themselves as being ruled by the politicians, while politicians think that they are the rulers. Due to this reason, common people do not get involved in the developmental activities
  • Timely meetings are not held.
  • No follow up: The analysis of administrative data on social audit findings in Andhra Pradesh suggests that follow-up and enforcement of punishments was weak
  • Corruption has not reduced: It hasn’t led to reduced corruption and improved MGNREGA delivery
  • Analysis of data from official audit reports of almost 100 mandals during 2006-10, however, shows that repeated social audits of MGNREGA projects did not reduce the number of corruption-related labour complaints, while there was a substantive rise in material-related complaints.
  • The impact of audits on other programme outcomes like employment generation, targeting of the SC/ST population was absent.
  • Failure of the social audit process to deter leakage of programme fund
  • Systematic and regular audits with beneficiary participation have not taken off in other parts of the country.
  • Problem of difference in work culture.

Way forward:

  • The system of social audits needs synergetic endorsement and a push by multiple authorities to establish an institutionalized framework which cannot be undermined by any vested interests.
  • Citizens groups need a campaign to strengthen social audits, and make real progress in holding the political executive and implementing agencies to account.
  • Organization of a mass campaign to increase public awareness about the meaning, scope, purpose and objectives of social audit.
  • Establishment of a team of social audit experts in each district who are responsible for training social audit committee members (stakeholders).
  • Implementation of training programmes on social auditing methods conducting and preparing social audit reports, and presentation at Gram Sabha.

Conclusion:

In an age where phrases such as open data and open government are used in any conversation around governance, social audits should serve as a critical point of reference. An open and transparent system involves the presence of real platforms for people to be informed by official statements and records, with an opportunity to compare that with ground realities.


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