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SECURE SYNOPSIS: 17 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 Heritage and Culture from ancient to modern times.

1. Indian Culture and heritage has from time to time fostered empowerment to women through eternities. Discuss the above statement in the context of Indian festivals with suitable examples. (250 words)

Reference: Times of India 

Why the question:

The Prime Minister has greeted people of Odisha on the special festival of Raja Parba. It is Odisha’s 3-day festival celebrating the onset of Monsoon and earth’s Womanhood i.e., Mother Earth undergoes menstruation. Thus the context of the question.

Key Demand of the question:

One has to explain in detail as to how the Indian culture and heritage from time to time has fostered empowerment to women through ages.

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:

Talk about Indian heritage and culture.

Body:

One has to bring out in the answer body as to in what way Indian heritage supports womanhood and is centred on women empowerment.

Best way to answer such questions is by quoting examples across the religions and regions of the country where the festivals are women centric and promote their empowerment. festivals such as Raja Parba of Odisha, Ambubachi Mela at Kamakhya Temple Assam, Thripputhu at Chenganur Mahadeva Temple Kerala etc.

Conclusion:

Conclude with significance of such rich heritage and importance of its culture.

Introduction

Our scriptures worship women as the embodiment of Shakti and exhort, as captured in the shloka “Yatra Naryasthu Pujyanthe Ramanthe Thathra Devatha” (यत्रनार्यस्तुपूज्यन्तेरमन्तेतत्रदे वता:), that societies where women are respected, inturn prosper. This has been the culture and heritage of India regarding women empowerment.

However, today gender inequality and discrimination are widespread in Indian society. All too often, women and girls are discriminated against in health, education, political representation, labour market, etc.—with negative consequences for development of their capabilities and their freedom of choice.

Body

Indian culture fostered empowerment of women

  • Indian women have enjoyed a position of respect and reverence in ancient Indian society. Ardhanareshwar – a half male-half female representation of Lord Shiva – captures the equality between men and women.
  • The Rigveda identified many women sages as treasures of knowledge and foresight: the prophetess Gargi, who questioned the origin of all existence in her Vedic hymns and the great Maitreyi, who rejected half her husband’s wealth in favour of spiritual knowledge.
  • The long philosophical conversations between sage Agasthya and his highly educated wife Lopamudra are legendary.
  • Men in ancient Indian society were identified with their mothers, Yashoda-Nandan, Kaushalya-Nandan, Gandhari-Putra, as well as their wives/consorts, Janaki-Raman, Radha-Krishna.
  • Early Tamil literature speaks of the woman as the first farmer. In charge of the family’s food needs, she had to dig the soil, sow seeds and make sure the members were fed. She grew crops and harvested when the men folk went out hunting.

Indian Festivals and women empowerment

  • Attukal Pongala festival is a huge gathering of millions of Indian women at the Attukal Temple of Thiruvananthapuram, who prepare rice in red pots for the Goddess.
  • Aadi Perukku or Aadi monsoon festival is mostly observed by women from Tamil Nadu, pay tribute to waters of lakes, rivers and its properties. Mulaipari is an important ritual of the festival along with Kummi folk dance by Tamil women in circle.
  • Ambubachi mela: The Kamakhya Temple is known to be one of the 52 shakti peethas of goddess Shakti. Though the chamber does not house an idol or image of the goddess, there is a natural spring that resembles the womb of the goddess.
    • The temple remains closed for three days and is opened to the public on the fourth day of the fair.
    • The three days when the temple is closed for pilgrims is considered to be the time of the year when the goddess menstruates.
    • It’s an auspicious period when women pray for fertility and celebrate the childbearing capabilities of women.
    • Such festivals can evoke awareness and remove the stigma and taboo surrounding menstruation among adolescent girls and women.
  • Bathukamma festival: The ‘Bathukammas’ are basically the cone shaped flower stack, at street corners and temples in the city. Women and young girls dance around these Bathukammas.
    • This floral festival is to pray to the Goddess for health and achievements of each family. The word Bathukamma means- ‘Mother Goddess come to life’.
    • The festival represents the culture and identity of people of Telangana and involves the worship of Maha Gauri – “Life Giver” in form of Gauri Devi (patron goddess of womanhood)
  • Raja Parba: The word Raja itself in Odia means menstruation and it’s a conjecture that mother Earth goes for three days long menstrual cycle during this period.
    • So, in this occasion no activities like tilling, construction or any other that hurts mother Earth are done.
    • These three days of the menstrual cycle of earth ends in the fourth day with Basumati Gaadhua which means the bathing of mother Earth.
    • In this eve people worship mother Earth by bathing pieces of stone as it’s a replica and pray for a prosperous agricultural year in the days to come.
    • Significance: It is an acknowledgement of the fact that the society had no taboo regarding the menstruation of women in past days.
      • It was treated as normal in the society where today women are kept in segregated place during their periods and are not allowed to enter a temple treating them impure.

These festivals are an avenue for women to express themselves and get involved into the festivities of the community. It also highlights that gender inequality has become entrenched only in the later period. Indian culture has a tradition of worshipping Goddesses, which only goes on to show that in the ancient times women were respected and treated on par with men.

Since such positive mythological insights about gender equality are readily available and deeply understood in Indian society, these can be used as part of a revolutionary BADLAV (Beti Apni Dhan Laxmi Aur Vijay Laxmi) programme for the following, as recommended by Economic Survey 2019 to induce behaviour change.

  1. a) to explicitly state the new norm of gender equality,
  2. b) to focus attention on all those who adopt the new norm, and
  3. c) to continuously reinforce the norm over time.

Conclusion

These festivals must become examples and ideas for utilising the power of role models from Indian mythology to create the social norm that “women are equal to men.” Indian culture and tradition itself have given sanction for women empowerment and it must be used for the requisite behavioural nudge to foster empowerment and shun discrimination.

 

Topic: India and its neighborhood- relations.

2. Do you think Delhi must have a long-term plan to deal with flexing of muscle by Beijing at the Line of Actual Control? Critically analyse. (250 words)

Reference: Indian Express 

Why the question:

The question is amidst the recent face-off between India and China where 20 Army personnel were killed in a clash with Chinese troops in eastern Ladakh this week.

Key Demand of the question:

One has to explain the need of a long term plan to deal with the issues associated with China on the LAC.

Directive:

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

Structure of the answer:

Introduction:

Start by explaining the current context between India and China along the LAC.

Body:

Firstly, explain in what way the military-technological balance between India and China is vast and rapidly growing. China out produces out-innovates and out-strategizes India on a daily basis.  Discuss the historical background briefly. Explain that Growing power differential is what lies behind China’s assertion in Ladakh. Between Doklam, a few years ago, and the current volatility at the LAC with China, it is important to understand these situations as part of a broader picture about global politics, the reality of China’s capacities and broad spectrum tactical options, and India’s own strategic goals and capabilities and options. Suggest what India should do, what should be its long term plan.

Conclusion:

Conclude with way ahead.

Introduction

Tensions flared up on India-China Border in Eastern Ladakh’s Galwan Valley region as Indian Army and China’s PLA suffered casualties in a violent faceoff on 15th June. Indian and Chinese soldiers were in an eye ball to eye ball standoff in the region for over a month now. Indian Army said that there was loss of 20 lives on the Indian side.

Body

In the past few years, India-China relations have gone through a tumultuous phase which include a series of disputes b/w the two countries, including the Doklam standoff, Beijing’s shielding to Pakistan and India’s principled and consistent stand at CPEC (China-Pakistan Economic corridor). On the other hand, India’s acceptance of the USA’s concept of the ‘Indo-Pacific’ and revival of the ‘Quad’ reflects the state of decline in Sino-India relationship.

Why the current stand-off?

  • The current standoff between India and China on the banks of Pangong-tso and the massive build-up of Chinese troops on the other side of the LAC indicate a shift in policy from an ‘inch-by-inch’ intrusion to an all-out aggressive posturing.
  • Infrastructure Development along the LAC: In the past decade, India has worked hard to strengthen its position on the border and its presence along the LAC.
    • India is close to completing a major upgrade of border roads, including a strategic military-use road that connects an airfield at Dalut Beg Oldie in the northern tip of the western sector with the villages of Shyok and Darbuk toward the south.
    • Completed in 2019, this “DS-DBO road” greatly facilitates the lateral movement of Indian forces along the western sector, reducing travel time by 40%.
  • Chinese dominance and deterrence posture in the DBO sector is an effort by the PLA to prevent India from executing its plan for rapid border infrastructure development.
    • It will significantly improve India’s capacity to rapidly deploy in the area near the LAC in Ladakh.
    • This prospect worries China.
  • Since the border has never been clearly demarcated, it leads to contested perspectives.
  • The standoff between India and China near the Pangong-tso that started in early May 2020 has resulted in a full-scale troop mobilisation by both countries along the LAC in Ladakh.

Previous Arrangements

  • Past agreements signed:
    • 1993: Maintenance of Peace and Tranquillity Along the LAC
    • 1996: CBMs in the Military Field Along the LAC
    • 2005: Modalities for the Implementation of CBMs in the Military Field Along the LAC
    • 2012: Establishment of a Working Mechanism for Consultation and Coordination on India-China Border Affairs
    • 2013: Border Defence Cooperation Agreement
  • In 2005, in signing the agreement on the Political Parameters and Guiding Principle for the Settlement of the India-China Boundary Question, China accepted under its Article VII that “In reaching the boundary settlement, the two sides will safeguard due interests of their settled populations in border areas.

Long-term plan needed to deal with China

  • The spectrum within which a boundary settlement could realistically be sought is an LAC-plus solution at one end, and a Package Proposal without Tawang on the other.
  • If the ‘plus’ on the Indian side could be, LAC demarcation as international boundary, while China could settle, for only free access to Tawang for its pilgrims, then there could be a meeting ground somewhere in the middle of the spectrum.
  • It would seem more realistic that the two sides should settle for more CBMs (Confidence Building Measures) to maintain peace and tranquility on the Sino-Indian border.
  • The clarification of the LAC which the Chinese have so far resisted, after having agreed to do so earlier, could be a starting point
  • In the world of realpolitik, based on practical rather than moral or ideological considerations, a velvet glove is effective when it is backed up by an iron fist.
    • Economic might and cultural influence work best when reinforced with courage to deal with a bully.
    • India must pursue aggressive infrastructure development and be prepared with defence arrangements to protect territorial integrity.
  • A fresh Ladakh policy must be charted, which should include suggestions from local communities including ones who live in the frontier regions. We also need to bridge the void between frontier villages and the local administration.

War is not a solution

  • Material costs of limited war for both parties far outweigh potential gains
    • For China, conflict on the border with India would diminish its ability to meet security challenges in the South China Sea, thus making it vulnerable to the United States, which Beijing considers its primary security competitor.
    • It seems unlikely that Beijing would want to risk a two-front war.
    • Additionally, reputational damages suffered due to COVID-19 and pre-existing fears surrounding China’s rise will all temper Beijing’s pre-emptive use of military force.
  • For India, the primary security challenge remains Pakistan-based terrorist infiltration on the Kashmir border.
    • More importantly, beyond the protection of vital strategic points, the vast tracts of disputed land along the LAC do not hold any important material resources such as oil, precious mineral reserves.
    • The benefits of territorial aggrandizement are therefore, limited to deterrence value and the natural terrain offers few advantages to offensive forces.

Conclusion

The current crisis unfolding along the LAC appears on one level to be a continuation of the trends witnessed in foregoing years. But this time, the latest encounters are occurring at multiple locations along the LAC which suggests a high degree of Chinese premeditation and approval for its military’s activities from the very top. India must be proactive to resist any Chinese transgressions and at the same time utilise its diplomatic skills to tone down the tensions.

 

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

3. Discuss the effects of COVID-19 lockdown on the urban mobility. (250 words)

Reference: Indian Express 

Why the question:

Even as policymakers and experts have come up with standard operating procedures for public transportation while combating COVID-19, it is not going to be an easy ride for passengers who grapple with social distancing and going contactless in a mode that is used to being crowded and infrequent. Thus the question.

Key Demand of the question:

One has to bring out the relevance and importance of public transit system and the challenges it is facing across the world amidst the Covid-19 lockdown.

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 a few introductory lines explain what urban mobility is and why is it very important.

Body:

Public transport is the backbone of cities, providing an essential service to keep cities moving, particularly in times of pandemics. The key objective for public transport operators therefore has to be maintaining a minimum service. Discuss why urban mobility becomes challenging with the lockdown, explain the critical concerns involved. Present the case of India – Central to India’s lockdown to control the spread of COVID-19 was a complete shutdown of the transport system. Now, as the country emerges from the lockdown, a proper ramping up of the transport system is needed. This should not be done in haste, however. Account for suggestions that can be taken forward to ensure urban mobility in such tough times.

Conclusion:

Conclude that there is need to address the challenges in urban mobility and that can be achieved only through a well-researched, scientifically designed public transport policy.

Introduction

COVID-19 has had a disruptive impact on the way we live and move around, on cities and society as a whole. Cities need to steer ‘Mobility as a Service’ that can be accessed by commuters. Pedestrians, bicyclists, e-bikers, all must be accommodated alongside public transit.

Commute is a huge part of urban sustenance and living without which India cannot hope for revival of economic growth back to the same trajectory.

Body

Covid-19 disease’ primary mechanism of contagion is contact and proximity. The very key factor that led to the success of cities — people congregating in close proximity to one another for social and economic benefits — is now emerging as an unexpected source of serious health risk.

Effects of covid-19 lockdown on urban mobility

The urban transportation landscape is likely to undergo significant changes due to the ongoing COVID-19 crisis. Increased risks associated with crowded places combined with social distancing measures in public and shared transport are likely to affect modal choices of commuters.

  • Fearing crowd infections, commuters prefer travelling in private modes like two-wheelers.
    • Cities like Delhi, that resumed services nearly four weeks ago, observed less ridership than the allowed 20 passengers per bus, despite the limited frequencies on many routes.
    • Although bus crowding is seen in some cities such as Mumbai, it is temporary and due to a lack of alternatives.
  • Congestion due to Increasing use of personal vehicles: Already, in parts of China, car-use in the still recovering economy has surpassed pre-Covid levels as commuters shun public transit to maintain social-distancing.
    • They appear willing to accept traffic congestion and longer travel times in the process.
    • The collapse of oil prices has only served to increase the appeal of personal car-use.
    • If this reverse migration away from public transit to personal cars continues, cities will become unliveable due to congestion and unhealthy air.
  • Automobile sector: The most immediate and visible effect of COVID-19 in the traditional automotive sector is the standstill of many OEM and supplier factories, which will likely produce 7.5 million fewer vehicles in 2020.
  • Public Operators cash strapped: Public-transit ridership has fallen 70 to 90 percent in major cities across the world, and the operators are burdened with uncertainty and the potential need to implement and control strict hygiene protocols—such as compulsory face masks and health checks for passengers, or restricting the number of riders in trains and stations to comply with space requirements.
  • Local taxis and car-pooling: Ride hailers have also experienced declines of up to 60 to 70 percent, and many micro mobility and carpooling players have suspended their services.
    • Eg: Ola, Uber had to stop pool rides after lockdown resumption. Many migrant drivers had not returned back to cities while also suffering loss of income.

Steps to be taken to ensure safe mobility

  • Safety Protocols: Social Distancing, wearing mask and thermal screening must become compulsory in all public transport systems.
    • The Delhi Metro Rail Corporation has released guidelines to tackle several social distancing and sanitisation concerns, and to address the possibility of viral transmission through tokens, push buttons on lifts, and handrails at the station elevators.
    • Other metro rail systems are also expected to follow similar guidelines.
  • Non-motorised transport should be encouraged and touchless and cashless technologies should be adopted to curb COVID-19 transmission on public transit networks, according to a Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs (MoHUA) advisory on public transport for States, cities and Metro rail companies.
    • Eg: To reduce human interface, cashless systems like BHIM, PhonePe should be used as well as the National Common Mobility Card should be quickly rolled out.
    • Fastag will prove to be visionary in this regard.
    • Promotion of non-motorised transport is essential to prevent an increase in the use of private vehicles.
    • Improved cycling and walking infrastructure combined with increased public awareness are required to achieve sustainable urban mobility.
  • Infrastructure: Investments in public transport and non-motorised transport will have to be prioritized over infrastructure for private vehicles. Eg: Dedicated bi-cycle lanes around the city
  • Focus on demand moderation efforts like work from home and staggered working hours should be adopted.
  • The first is to employ staff to wipe the handgrips at frequent intervals, constantly moving from end to end in the train.
    • Any handgrips in buses also need to be cleaned often.
    • Another is to give wet sanitising wipes to every traveller entering a metro rail coach with a suggestion to have it in their palms before touching or gripping anything.
    • Wipe disposal bins will be needed in the coaches.
  • Maintaining hygiene: Offering contact-less wash basins with soap dispensers at the platform level could be effective. Signs on hand hygiene vis-a-vis touching surfaces are needed.

Conclusion

As in the rest of the world, the post-recovery period in India too is likely to see a rise in home-based work and schooling, walking, cycling and the use of public transport. More so because of India’s high-density urban agglomerations and its vast numbers of low- and middle-income urban families for whom public transport often provides a lifeline. This is a good time to build upon the lessons of this crisis and rethink the new normal.

 

Topic: Transport and Marketing of agricultural produce and issues and related Constraints

4. Critically examine the role that private sector investments can play in aggregating the prosperity of Indian Agriculture thus Doubling Farmers Income (DFI). (250 words)

Reference: pib.gov.in

Why the question:

Union Minister of Agriculture & Farmers’ Welfare Sri Narendra Singh Tomar has emphasized on increasing private investment in the field of agriculture recently amidst the current testing times.

Key Demand of the question:

In detail explain the role that private sector investment can play in aggregating the prosperity of Indian Agriculture thus Doubling Farmers Income (DFI).

Directive:

Critically 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. 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 judgment.

Structure of the answer:

Introduction:

In short, highlight the significance of Agriculture in general to the Indian economy. Indian Agriculture sector forms the backbone of Indian Economic growth with almost 16% of contribution to GDP growth every year.

Body:

Explain in what way it is the largest economic sector in India as it provides employment to almost half of Indian workforce. The main reason for increasing private investment in Indian agriculture sector is that it will increase prosperity of agriculture sector. Explain the needs of investment in the sector in detail, list the requirements and underlying reasons. Discuss what will be the positive consequences of increasing the private sector investments.

Conclusion:

Conclude that Agriculture Marketing has long been advocated as the silver weapon to deal with fractured Indian Agriculture sector and its time that sufficient investments are brought to fore and progress is made.

Introduction

There is often ambivalence about the private sector in agriculture. But successful agricultural growth and transformations are inconceivable without a dynamic private sector serving and driving agriculture, farming and agri-food value chains. The private sector plays decisive roles in India’s agricultural transformation today, fostering productivity improvements and creating jobs and value in supply chains “from farm to fork”.

Body

Role of private sector investments in Agriculture

  • Technological innovation: Private agribusiness companies are at the forefront of heavy investment in agricultural R&D and technological innovation.
    • Eg: Trithi Robotics uses drone technology to allow farmers to monitor crops remotely.
  • Seed and high yield varieties: Private sector innovations are dominant in plant genetics and seed (particularly hybrids and biotech traits).
  • Farm products: They also lead in seed treatment, agricultural chemicals, biologicals, plant growth regulation, animal genetics and health, biofuels, machinery, irrigation, soil analysis and data-intensive precision farming tools.
  • Research: Private agricultural research, in turn, has flourished over the years. As it is funded from sales proceeds, the research naturally focuses on market opportunities and farmers’ preferences.
    • Surveys sponsored by the Syngenta Foundation in 2011 showed that at that time 71 companies were active in research and agricultural product development in India; 22 in seeds, 19 in agrochemicals, ten each in fertilizer solutions and mechanization (including irrigation), and ten in other endeavors, including agronomic research on specific crops.
  • Dairy sector: The private sector’s milk processing capacity grew steadily since deregulation, and in 2012-2013 was 70 percent greater than that of cooperatives.
  • Food processing sector: Sales of the private processing sector and food services industry are growing rapidly. Performance and market shares of the formal food processing industry exceed those of the more traditional “unorganized”.
    • The food processing, wholesale and retail industry offers choice and convenience to consumers. In turn increases demand for quality farm produce, creating a symbiotiv relation.
    • It creates jobs, investment opportunities, intra-industry linkages and opportunities to link farmers to markets.
  • Supply chain: The private sector is the main actor in the current transformation of food supply chains.
    • As a direct buyer and seller, the government accounts for seven percent of the national food economy (25 percent in grains).

Impact on doubling Farmer’s income

  • Increase in income: Farmers captured substantial economic gains from yield increases in these settings and crops. This helped in investing for higher productivity, mechanization of farms among others.
  • Better inputs: Private research has helped India increase exports of crops, technology, and agricultural inputs such as agrochemicals and machinery.
  • Higher productivity: Private sector R&D has benefited not only the better-off but also poorer farmers.
    • This is evidenced, for example, by the spread of improved, privately developed seeds to poor areas, the uptake of vegetable production by many marginal farmers using proprietary seed, and the creation of rural employment that accompanies agricultural intensification.
  • Formalization and access to finance: The progressive formalization of dairy value chains has also improved farmers’ access to finance.
    • Input suppliers, off-takers and financial institutions are willing to lend to farmers against the prospect of steady incomes and loan repayment capacity linked to milk sales.
  • Backward integration of farmers in food processing: Both parties will benefit: farmers from steady sources of income and the scope for modernization and diversification of their operations, and processors from supplies of the right kinds and quality of raw material at the right time. This will increase in doubling farm income by 2022.
  • Additional employment opportunities: Workers benefit from employment growth in labor-intensive food processing industries – particularly in low-wage locations in poorer and relatively more agricultural states.
    • This fosters poverty reduction and the agricultural transformation through non-farm jobs.

Conclusion

The private sector will continue to drive India’s agricultural transformation. To do its job well – creating value innovatively, 8 competitively and profitably – it needs implicit governmental guidance and enabling support. The government’s challenge is to supply this in the best possible way

 

Topic: Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization, of resources, growth, development and employment.

5. Discuss the trends of recession faced by India in the past and explain how the upcoming recession is different from the past downturns? (250 words)

Reference: Business Today 

Why the question:

The article brings to us a detailed view of Recessions faced by India in the past and the one possibly that India would face owing to multiple factors.

Key Demand of the question:

Student must explain the trends of recession faced by India in the past and explain how the upcoming recession is different from the past downturns.

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 you understand by Recession. Define and clarify upon the concept of Recession in the introduction. Recession is generally defined as a fall in the overall economic activity for two consecutive quarters (six months) accompanied by a decline in income, sales and employment. 

Body:

Start by explaining the trends – Since independence, India has witnessed four recessions. As per Reserve Bank of India (RBI), the recessions occurred in 1958, 1966, 1973 and 1980. Throw light on India’s past recessions; discuss the causes that led to such situations, explain how India handled them and recovered out of it. Take hints from the article and draw upon the trends of the past, explain the upcoming recession too. The current recession staring at India brings a new set of challenges. The crisis has emerged out of the blue as the country is in a lockdown, severely hampering economic activity. For India this is estimated to be the worst ever contraction of GDP growth.

Conclusion:

Conclude with way forward.

Introduction

The NBER defines a recession as a significant decline in economic activity spread across the economy, lasting more than a few months, normally visible in real GDP, real income, employment, industrial production, and wholesale-retail sales.

Recessions are visible in industrial production, employment, real income, and wholesale-retail trade. The working definition of a recession is two consecutive quarters of negative economic growth as measured by a country’s gross domestic product (GDP)

Body

India’s past recessions

  • 1958 – Balance of Payment (BoP) crisis : Weak monsoon adversely affected agricultural production, which led to increase in prices.
    • During 1957-58, India encountered its first drop in economic growth when a negative GDP growth of 1.2 per cent was recorded.
    • The reason behind it was a ballooning import bill which swelled by more than 50 per cent between 1955 and 1957
  • 1966 – Severe Drought : India which had fought wars with China in 1962 and more recently with Pakistan in 1965 was in a recovery stage.
    • The very next year, two severe droughts affected Indian economy (during 1966 & 1967).
    • In FY1966, due to drought, food grain production fell 20 per cent.
  • 1973 – Energy Crisis: In 1973, world witnessed its first energy crisis as the Organisation of Arab Petroleum Exporting Countries (OAPEC) proclaimed an oil embargo.
    • It targeted nations that were supporting Israel during the ongoing “yom kippur” war.
    • As a result, in a short while, oil prices shot up 400 per cent from $3 to $12.
    • Consequently, India’s oil import bill rose from $414 million in 1972-73 to $900 million till 1973-74.
    • This was twice the amount of foreign exchange reserves present at that time.
  • 1980 – Oil Shock leading to BoP crisis: The world witnessed a second oil shock during 1979-80 because of Iranian Revolution.
    • It occurred due to a decrease in oil production and led to increase in oil prices.
    • During this time, India’s exports also took a hit as it contracted by 8%, which led to a balance of payment crisis. India import bill doubled and hence BOP crisis was caused.

Current slump in economic growth due to pandemic

The current recession staring at India brings a new set of challenges. The crisis has emerged out of the blue as the country is in a lockdown, severely hampering economic activity.

  • Unprecedented contraction: For India this is estimated to be the worst ever contraction of GDP growth.
  • Negative GDP: RBI in its MPC meet acknowledged that this year’s GDP will be in negative territory but refrained from giving any numbers.
    • However other agencies predict a sharp contraction in the range of 5%-6.8% in FY21, with the bulk of the fall estimated to be in Q1 of FY21 when quarterly GDP may contract by nearly half.
  • Efficacy of Stimulus: India’s 20 lakg crore stimulus is only the 15th largest in the world
    • It costs Indian government just 1% of the GDP, while the top economies have invested 4-5% of GDP.
    • It does no resolve immediate issues of credit for the poor and the farmers, which may impact future food security and nutrition in the country.
  • Poverty: India has an estimated 812 million poor people, which could increase to 915 million, due to the impact of COVID pandemic
  • Impact on economic demand- The rise in unemployment and fall in incomes could lead to reduced spending and consumption.
    • As per the latest report of Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE), India’s unemployment rate surged to 11% for the week ended May 3.
    • Many people in agriculture sector would be affected by falling prices due to decline in demand in urban areas over time.
  • Uncertainty over the disease– as the number of cases continue to increase and consequently the lockdown was extended twice.
    • With 80% asymptomatic patients and lack of vaccination, the magnitude of the crisis at hand still remains uncertain for the government.
  • Constrained financial resources– as public finances at both central and state levels have been under considerable strain. It makes it difficult for the government to put more cash in the hands of the distressed.

Way Forward

  • Policies to support firms: includes providing grants and wage subsidies to firms to minimize layoffs and supporting micro and small enterprises through measures such as tax exemptions, delays, or waivers targeted to small firms, soft loans, and grants.
  • Active labor market programs to facilitate the transition of workers who have lost jobs that are not coming back into training or new jobs.
  • Increase in coverage of existing safety net programs to new beneficiaries based on geography (e.g. the areas with the highest levels of community transmission and/or economic disruptions), or sector of employment, or focusing on at-risk categories (e.g. families with young children, pre-existing health conditions, and elderly family members).

 

Topic : ethical issues in international relations

6. Discuss in detail the role and significance of morality in international politics. (250 words)

Reference: oxfordbibliographies.com

Why the question:

The question is based on the theme of morality in international politics.

Key Demand of the question:

The question is straightforward and is about discussing the role of morality in international politics and its 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:

International ethics is an area of international relations theory which concerns the extent and scope of ethical obligations between states in an era of globalization

Body:

Start by explaining what is International Morality? –  International Morality consists of moral principles which are endorsed by a number of nations. The rules of customary International Law reflect International Morality. One of the major sources and sanctions of International Law has been International Morality. International Morality acts as a factor or limitation of international relations. It acts as a limitation on National Power. But at the same time it can enable a nation to project and justify its policies as policies based on moral principles. As such, it is essential for us to examine the nature of International Morality in international relations. Give examples from the current global politics that showcase the importance and significance of Morality in the international politics.

Conclusion:

Conclude by suggesting the importance and need of it in the era of global politics.

Introduction

International Morality consists of moral principles which are endorsed by a number of nations. The rules of customary International Law reflect International Morality. International Morality acts as a factor or limitation on National Power. But at the same time, it can enable a nation to project and justify its policies as policies based on moral principles. Eg: Attack on Rohingyas was called as Ethnic Cleansing by UN, but Myanmar held that it was attack against illegal Arakan terror group.

Body

Role of International Politics

International Morality is a factor which influences the role of international decision makers and acts as a limiting factor of national power.

  • Three Dimensions of Role of International Morality:
    • Protection of Human Life in Peace: International Politics can be defined as a process of continuous efforts for maintaining and increasing the power of one’s own nation and for keeping in check or reducing the power of other nations.
      • Previously, nations could adopt any method for securing this objective. They could use mass or selected killings as a means.
      • But today, under the pressure of International Morality, no nation can resort to such means. Eg: War crimes committed during Srilankan Civil wars are being investigated. As recently as 2020, American involvement in Civilian deaths in Afghanistan is being probed as war crime.
      • Now moral limitations act as strong barriers against immoral means. Respect for human life is now a sacred principle of international living.
    • Protection of Human Life in War: Even during a war, nations continue to respect the right to life of the civilians and non-combatants. Eg: Treatment of Prisoner of Wars is according to Geneva Convention
    • Moral Condemnation of War: The avoidance of war itself, became an aim of statecraft in late 19th century. The two Hague Peace Conferences of 1899 and 1907, the League of Nations of 1914, the Kellogg-Briand Pact of 1928 and the United Nations, all have accepted the avoidance of war as an objective.

Significance of morality in International Politics

  • Rights and Responsibilities: The UN Peacekeeping mission is based on the principle of universal peace. This is the responsibility of the Security Council and all the nations to maintain universal peace. India believes in this ideology and has been the largest cumulative troop contributing nation.
  • Equality: International morality and ethics aim at “Peaceful World”, “Respect for All” & “Equality” while forming international organizations, declarations & forums. E.g.: The demand for equality in IMF & UNO shows the demand of adhering to ethics in a way.
  • Resolving Tensions: International Morality helps to avoid the “Ego Clash” & “Ideological Clash” between two or more nations.
    • For instance, the dispute between India & Pakistan relations can be resolved if both take a decision based on ethics, and upholding the people’s wishes in the disputed region.
  • Solidarity: Natural disasters and refugee crisis situations require a more compassionate view of the global community. These are not isolated events and rather, the duty of every global citizen to help in the times of crisis. – Aid during natural disasters (Nepal earthquake) or India provided rescue, relief and medical help to Mozambique during Cyclone Idai.
  • Human rights: Adherence to human rights is vital after the Declaration of Human Rights in the UN Charter. Eg- lack of ethics in the international relation has been the cause of wars & genocide many times in history (Rwanda and Burundi). The holocaust during the second world war would not take place, if international community stopped it collectively.

Conclusion

International morality may be elaborated as, that which enables one to participate more actively in shaping and building good international community. The vision of international community that every country has and reality of an international community provides us with food for thought, on what ought to be the nature and purpose of investing in international morality to build an ideal international community.

 

Topic: Public/Civil service values and Ethics in Public administration: Status and problems; ethical concerns and dilemmas in government and private institutions; laws, rules, regulations and conscience as sources of ethical guidance; accountability and ethical governance; strengthening of ethical and moral values in governance; ethical issues in international relations and funding; corporate governance.

7. Despite its many benefits, biotechnology has provoked ethical controversies across the world; do you still think biotechnology can play to be a significant force in improving the quality of people’s lives in the 21st century? Elucidate. (250 words)

Reference: BIOTECHNOLOGY AND ETHICS – Ethics by Lexicon publications

Why the question:

The question is based on the premise of ethical controversies across the world involved with respect to the flied of Biotechnology and its applications.

Key Demand of the question:

Answer must explain the controversies related to the use of biotechnology and its applications. And in what way they can be resolved.

Directive:

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

Structure of the answer:

Introduction:

Biotechnology, at its core, is about understanding life and using this knowledge to benefit people. Many see Biotechnology as a significant force in improving the quality of people’s lives in the 21st century.

Body:

Despite its many benefits, biotechnology has provoked ethical controversies such as issues associated with aspects like cloning, clinical trials, animal rights, designer babies; Liberty is a moral concern for those who fear that biotechnology will give some people tyrannical power over others. Justice is a moral concern for people who anticipate that biotechnology will be so expensive that only the richest individuals will benefit from it so that the rich will have an unjust advantage over the poor etc. Suggest measures to overcome the issues and challenges posed by the use of biotechnology.

Conclusion:

Conclude that issues can be dealt with sense of morality and ethics.

Introduction

In the seventeenth century the philosophers Francis Bacon (1561–1626) and René Descartes (1596–1650) advocated a new way of doing science that would have the power to conquer nature for human benefit.

In the contemporary world biotechnology is providing the technology for controlling and changing living nature, including human nature. However, because biotechnological power over the living world offers not only the promise for doing good but also an opportunity for doing evil, this has provoked an ethical debate over the modern scientific project for the mastery of nature through technology.

Body

Ethical Issues surrounding Biotechnology

  • Safety and Clinical trials: Safety is a moral concern for opponents of biotechnology who worry that its power disrupts the complex balance in living nature in ways that are likely to be harmful.
    • Individuals such as Jeremy Rifkin (1977) and groups such as Greenpeace have warned that genetically modified crops and foods could endanger human health as well as the health of the environment.
    • Critics of medical biotechnology fear that biotechnology medicine alters the human body and mind in radical ways that could produce harmful consequences—perhaps far into the future—in ways that are hard to foresee.
  • Bioterrorism: Security is hugely important, and public fears over terrorism are unlikely to diminish.
    • Eg: The accusations against China regarding Coronavirus is that, the novel virus was lab created entity to wreak havoc in United States, as it’s a challenge for China’s rising status.
  • Privacy: Protecting patient privacy is a growing concern, thanks to technology that is making it possible to decode the human genome.
    • But as scientists become adept at deciphering a person’s genetic composition, it is increasingly likely that compromising information about a person’s future health is going to become available.
    • Eg: For instance, it may become possible to know that a 5-year-old is going to develop serious heart disease later in life, but does a prospective employer have the right to know that? How will this knowledge affect the individual’s ability to obtain a job, insurance, or a mortgage?
  • Gene editing and its repercussions
    • Eg: He Jiankui, an independent Chinese researcher, triggered global controversy over claims that his experiments produced the world’s first genetically altered babies using CRISPR/Cas9 gene editing technology.
    • Concerns over ‘Designer Babies’: Engineering human embryos raises the prospect of designer babies, where embryos are altered for social rather than medical reasons e.g. to increase height or intelligence.
  • Liberty: Liberty is a moral concern for those who fear that biotechnology will give some people tyrannical power over others.
    • The history of eugenics, in which governments used coercion to eliminate those judged to be biologically “unfit,” illustrates the danger of encroachments on liberty.
  • Affordability and unequal world: It’s certainly an economic issue if biologics are priced so high that some patients are priced out of the market.
    • It will create a world of haves and havenots, leading to conflicts.
  • Ecological impacts: A ‘gene drive’ can propagate a set of genes with negative traits throughout a population which may lead to disappearance of whole targeted population with severe ecological consequences.
  • Difficulty in regulation: The precise genetic modifications obtained through biotechnology makes it more difficult to identify a genetically modified organism once outside the lab and also to regulate such organisms in the market.

At the same time biotechnology has potential solutions to the 21st century problems faced by human beings and the planet in general.

Role of biotechnology in 21st century

Biotechnology harnesses cellular and bio-molecular processes to develop technologies and products that help improve our lives and the health of our planet.

  • Heal the world
    • Reducing rates of infectious disease.
    • Saving millions of children’s lives.
    • Changing the odds of serious, life-threatening conditions affecting millions around the world.
    • Tailoring treatments to individuals to minimize health risks and side effects.
    • Creating more precise tools for disease detection.
    • Cleaning the ecosystem.
  • Fuel the world
    • Reducing the use of and reliance on petrochemicals.
    • Using biofuels to cut greenhouse gas emissions.
    • Decreasing water usage and waste generation.
    • Tapping into the full potential of traditional biomass waste products.
  • Feed the world
    • Generating higher crop yields with fewer inputs.
    • Lowering volumes of agricultural chemicals required by crops-limiting the run-off of these products into the environment.
    • Developing crops with enhanced nutrition profiles that solve vitamin and nutrient deficiencies.

Way Forward

  • Promoting Wellbeing: Research must be designed to increase human health and wellbeing. Early stage and uncertain applications must minimize risk.
  • Transparency: Researchers must fully disclose information about benefits, risks, and implications to stakeholders.
  • Due Care: Clinical research involving human patients must proceed cautiously and conservatively, only upon full evaluation of evidence, and under strict supervision.
  • Responsible Science: Research must adhere to the highest experimental and analytical standards.
  • Equity: Benefits & burdens of the research must be broadly and equitably accessible.
  • Transnational Cooperation: Researchers must commit to international collaboration to harmonize regulation of the application of genome editing technologies.

Conclusion

The scope of bioethics can expand with biotechnology, including cloning, gene therapy, life extension, human genetic engineering, astroethics and life in space, and manipulation of basic biology through altered DNA, XNA and proteins. These developments will affect future evolution, and may require new principles that address life at its core, such as biotic ethics that values life itself at its basic biological processes and structures, and seeks their propagation.


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