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SECURE SYNOPSIS: 25 June 2020


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


 

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

1. What is the Arctic heatwave? Discuss its impact on the overall health of the region. (250 words)

Reference: Indian Express

Why the question:

The article talks about the Arctic heat waves and its impact in multiple ways.

Key Demand of the question:

The question is straight forward and is about the arctic heat wave and its effect on the environment.

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:

The Arctic Circle has recorded temperatures reaching over 38 degrees Celsius in the Siberian town of Verkhoyansk, likely an all-time high. According to the BBC, while the record still needs to be verified, the temperatures seem to have been 18 degree Celsius higher than normal in June.

Body:

Start by explaining the fact that Siberia’s triple-digit heat wave and wildfires are a glimpse into the future of the Arctic.

List the factors responsible for such heat wave presence in the Arctic – In northern latitudes during the summer, there is near-continuous sunlight — even at night. That allows heat to accumulate faster than in areas that experience sunsets and can cool off in the evening. Another factor this year was the lack of snow. One of the overarching trends behind the heat wave and the wildfires is climate change etc.

Discuss what needs to be done to prevent and mitigate such disasters.

Explain the possible impact of it on local vegetation, ecology, human health and economy in detail.

Conclusion:

Conclude with way forward.

Introduction

The Arctic Circle has recorded temperatures reaching over 38 degrees Celsius in the Siberian town of Verkhoyansk, likely an all-time high. The temperatures seem to have been 18 degree Celsius higher than normal in June.

These higher temperatures are pushing the world towards what might be the hottest year on record, despite a fall in emissions due to the coronavirus lockdown.

Body

What is a heat wave?

A heat wave is a period of unusually hot weather that typically lasts two or more days. To be considered a heat wave, the temperatures have to be outside the historical averages for a given area.

heat_wave

Arctic Heat wave phenomenon

As a rule, heat waves are related to unusual jet stream patterns, and the Siberian heat wave is no different. A persistent northward swing of the jet stream has placed the area under what meteorologists call a “ridge.” When the jet stream swings northward like this, it allows warmer air into the region, raising the surface temperature.

  • In the mid-high northern latitudes, there is unstable weather under the influence of the polar jet stream.
  • This rapid current of air high above drags weather in a conveyor belt from west to east, with alternating patches of cold and warm air, low and high pressure.
    • But, sometimes the weather patterns get stuck, creating a stable period of weather, like a heatwave.
  • A combination of factors—such as a high pressure system with a clear sky and the sun being very high, extremely long daylight hours and short warm nights—have contributed to the Siberian temperature spike.
  • The rising temperatures to large-scale wind patterns that blasted the Arctic with heat, the absence of sea ice, and human-induced climate change, are major reasons for the current heatwave.

Impact of heatwave on the region

Heat wave occurrences in the Artic region have already started to threaten local vegetation, ecology, human health and economy.

  • Effect on Ecosystem: The immediate effect of the heat wave will be increased wildfires. Siberia has seen “zombie fires” reignited from deep smouldering embers in peatland.
    • This results in, releasing particulate air pollution and more carbon in 18 months than in the past 16 years.
  • Global Ramifications
    • Persistently warm weather, especially if coupled with wildfires, causes permafrost to thaw faster, which in turn exacerbates global warming by releasing large amounts of methane, a potent greenhouse gas that’s 28 times stronger than carbon dioxide.
    • Methane that originates in the Arctic does not stay in the Arctic. It has global ramifications.
    • The warming Arctic adds fuel to the warming of the whole planet.
  • Effect on Human Health: The health impacts of Heat Waves typically involve dehydration, heat cramps, heat exhaustion and/or heat stroke. The signs and symptoms are as follows:
    • Heat Cramps: Ederna (swelling) and Syncope (Fainting) generally accompanied by fever below 39*C i.e.102*F.
    • Heat Exhaustion: Fatigue, weakness, dizziness, headache, nausea, vomiting, muscle cramps and sweating.
    • Heat Stroke: Body temperatures of 40*C i.e. 104*F or more along with delirium, seizures or coma. This is a potentially fatal condition.
  • Permafrost thaw and Infrastructure collapse: When permafrost thaws under homes and bridges, infrastructure can sink, tilt and collapse.
    • As temperatures rise, the surface layer gets deeper and structures embedded in it start to fail as the ground beneath them expands and contracts.
    • Eg : Near Norilsk, Russia, thawing permafrost was blamed for an oil tank collapse in late May 2020 that spilled thousands of tons of oil into a river.
  • Ice caps melting: As temperatures rise in spring, sea ice melts, exposing the dark ocean underneath, which absorbs even more solar radiation, increasing warming of the region, which melts even more ice.
    • This is a positive feedback loop which is often referred to as the ice-albedo feedback mechanism.
    • Arctic Polar bears were seen near human habitation salvaging food due to ice caps melting and unbearable heat in the Siberian region.

Conclusion

The record-breaking temperatures seen this summer in the Arctic are not a “one-off”. They are part of a long-term trend that was predicted by climate models decades ago. Today, we’re seeing the results, with permafrost thaw and sea ice and ice sheet melting. The Arctic has sometimes been described as the canary in the coal mine for climate breakdown. This calls for all the more reason to adhere commitments to Paris Climate deal.

 

Topic : Indian Constitution—historical underpinnings, evolution, features, amendments, significant provisions and basic structure.

2. 45 years ago to the day what is considered as the biggest blot on Indian democracy- emergency was imposed. Have we as a nation done enough since then to ensure that institutions have been strengthened to withstand such an assault on the freedom of the people? Critically analyse. (250 words)

Reference: Indian Express 

Why the question:

This day 45 years ago in 1975 Emergency was proclaimed and imposed in India which even today remains as the biggest blot on the Indian democracy. Thus the context of the question.

Key Demand of the question:

The question aims to analyse if we as a nation have done enough since then to ensure that institutions have been strengthened to withstand such an assault on the freedom of the people.

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:

Narrate briefly the historical background and situation of emergency imposed in 1975.

Body:

40 years ago to the day, what is considered as the biggest blot on Indian democracy was imposed on the people. The internal emergency which was proclaimed by then congress government including suspension of fundamental rights is considered one of the most traumatic periods for the fledgling democracy. This time period is also seen as the coming of the age of the Indian democracy. But, later the Indian parliament passed amendments to the constitution, the 44th amendment, to ensure that the future governments will not find it easy to impose another emergency in the country. 

Explain the ills of such an undemocratic act. Discuss how it led to transformative changes in the system like – gave the beginning of the end of dominance by a single political party at the centre in India.

The Emergency propelled several political leaders long in political wilderness straight into office, and introduced the idea of an ‘opposition’ leader in the ruling structure. An enduring lesson India’s political classes imbibed silently was on the importance of keeping control over state media and the retention of the Emergency clause in the Constitution.

Conclusion:

Conclude that India has now become a more mature democracy; however democracy is always a work in progress.

Introduction

Most commemorate the Emergency on June 26 as a reminder of the bleak 21 months when democracy was derailed. The Emergency came into effect on June 25 at 11.45 pm when then President, Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed under Article 352(1), signed the proclamation, even though he was alerted that it would be constitutionally untenable.

Body

Emergency era: Background

The socio-economic condition of India was in a dire state following the 1971 Bangladesh Liberation War and the staggering influx of refugees. The US Government, too, stopped all aids to India leading to an increase in commodity pricing and general distress among the people.

  • Catalyst: In 1974, a student agitation by the Bihar Chatra Sangharsh Samiti received the support of Gandhian socialist Jayaprakash Narayan, referred to as JP, against the Bihar government.
    • Meanwhile, in Patna, JP called for “total revolution,” asking students, peasants, and labour unions to non-violently transform Indian society. He also demanded the dissolution of the state government, but this was not accepted by Centre.
  • Court Case: Raj Narain filed cases of election fraud and use of state machinery for election in the Allahabad High Court. Allahabad High Court found Indira Gandhi guilty and declared her election null and void and unseated her from her seat in the Lok Sabha.
    • Indira Gandhi challenged this in Supreme Court. But the Apex court upheld the High Court judgement.
  • Grounds of Emergency declaration: The goal of the 21-month-long Emergency in the country was to control “internal disturbance”.
    • Indira Gandhi justified her steps in terms of national interest, primarily based on three grounds.
    • India’s security and democracy, rapid economic development and upliftment of the underprivileged and intervention of powers from abroad which could destabilise and weaken India.
  • Censorship: All the newspapers in the country were asked to take permission before publishing any anything by the Press Advisor.
  • Opposition stifled: Most of Indira Gandhi’s political opponents were imprisoned.
  • Human Rights Violation: Several other human rights violations were reported from the time, such as detention of peaceful protestors, custodial torture and mass-sterilization camps.

Changes post Emergency era to strengthen institutions

  • 44th Constitutional Amendment: It aimed to undo many changes done by 42nd Amendment and ensure that emergency was not declared on dubious grounds.
    • This loose and vague wording of “internal disturbance” was exploited when government declared the emergency on June 25, 1975, effectively suspending fundamental rights and division of powers.
    • The word “internal disturbance” was removed and instead “armed rebellion” was inserted. Internal disturbance not amounting to armed rebellion would not be a ground for the issue of a Proclamation.
    • Right of the media to report freely and without censorship the proceedings in Parliament and the State Legislatures.
  • The Janata Party included a provision stating that the cabinet ministers must give, in writing, the advice to the president to declare Emergency.
    • The amendments post-Emergency have ensured that Emergency can no longer be imposed in a nonchalant manner
  • Judiciary as protector of rights: Even during emergency, Article 20, 21 cannot be suspended and this was upheld. Judiciary also struck down the MISA Act (The Maintenance of Internal Security Act).
  • Coalition era: Post emergency was the breakdown of the
  • The 44th Amendment Act 1978 reversed the provision made by 42nd amendment act that allowed the government to amend the constitution on its wish by Article 368. 44th Amendment Act nullified this unjustified power to the government.
  • The right to liberty is further strengthened by the provision that law for preventive detention cannot authorise, in any case, detention for a longer period than two months, unless an Advisory Board has reported that there is sufficient cause for such detention.

Shortcomings

  • Dominance of Archaic Laws:
    • India is a young nation but it is still ruled by old laws.
    • For example, the police is governed by such colonial-era statutes as the Police Act of 1861, which predates independence by nearly a century.
    • The archaic laws are inadequate in addressing contemporary challenges. Like the Sedition Act – ideally such a law must be repealed in an era of free speech. Yet this is being used extensively to suppress dissent.
  • Lowering Standards of Parliamentary Scrutiny: In order to ensure that Parliament discharges its law-making responsibilities effectively, the concept of Department-related Standing Committees was introduced in March 1993.
    • These committees are meant to scrutinize legislation pertaining to specific ministries.
    • However, the majority of the bills were passed by the Parliament through a voice vote, without much debating and without referring them to the parliamentary committees.
    • For example, RTI Amendment Act (2019), UAPA Amendment Act (2019) – which have huge implications on civil liberties, were passed without referring them to the Parliamentary committee.
  • One party dominant system: Like the Congress system of yester years, there is once again dominance of one single party in the Parliament. Major decisions are being passed without adequate debates and discussions.
  • Weakened Opposition in India: Democracy works on the principle of checks and balances.
    • It is these checks and balances that prevent democracy from turning into majoritarianism.
    • In Parliamentary system, these checks and balances are provided by the opposition party.
    • However, the majority of a single party in the Lok Sabha has diminished the role of an effective opposition in the Parliament.

Conclusion

The 21 months of the Emergency had a lasting impact on India. Moreover, the Constitution was amended in an autocratic manner, particularly in the 42nd amendment as the government enjoyed a huge majority in parliament. This must serve as a reminder for the current institutions to ensure the integrity of the Parliament and other constitutional bodies are maintained. Democracy must be upheld and made more representative, with proper checks and balances on power politics.

 

Topic : Functions and responsibilities of the Union and the States.

3. What is arbitrary use of law? Discuss various forms of arbitrary use of power in the country with suitable examples. (250 words)

Reference: The Hindu 

Why the question:

The article presents to us the case of Denial of bail to a pregnant woman and thus exposing us to the fact of arbitrary use of power and threats from it.

Key Demand of the question:

The question asks us the arbitrary use of law and its manifestations in various ways.

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:

There was a recent arrest and denial of bail to a pregnant woman for participating in protest against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019. This incident reflects virus of arbitrary use of power amidst corona virus.

Body:

Explain what is arbitrary use of law? –  It implies absence or selective use of law. Basic feature of arbitrariness is to be at the mercy of the whim or fancy of someone else. For ex., biased treatment of police when people violates law, police excesses like seizing driving license for small violations etc.

Then move onto explain the different forms of it – Political enslavement, Arbitrary exercise of social power, Capitalist arbitrary use of power etc.

Discuss the negatives of such arbitrary use of power; explain what needs to be done.

Conclusion:

Conclude by suggesting solutions to prevent such arbitrary use of power and state that arbitrary usage of power has no place in democratic country like India which violates basic freedom of citizens.

Introduction

The denial of bail to a pregnant student-activist, arrested for creating disorder on an ‘unprecedented scale’ when all she appeared to have done was actively participate, like many others, in a protest against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019, proposed by the government.This has evoked debate on arbitrary use of power to crush peaceful protests and dissent in the country.

Body

Arbitrary use of law: Meaning

  • Arbitrary use of power, is implied by the absence or selective use of law. It is deeply troublesome, when exercised by a democratically elected government.
  • Frequent arbitrariness in the political domain leads to tyranny, quite like when persistently present in the social sphere, it leads to slavery. Either way, it tramples upon basic freedoms.
  • Individuals, communities or citizens cannot function freely without a stable set of expectations. By stabilising expectations, laws enable significant freedoms, even as they restrict some others.
    • Eg: Knowing that a person is legally eligible to drive on the left of the road, gives a sense of security and freedom to drive without risking a headlong collision and regulate his actions i.e. increases the predictability of leading life.
  • Laws enable our actions and interactions to become broadly predictable. Many of our freedoms require that the arbitrary, by which is meant ‘unpredictable, random or unexpected’ does not throw us off balance. The arbitrary blocks freedom.
  • When power is exercised arbitrarily by the state, a person is made to act not in accordance with a legitimate, general rule but at the pleasure of state officials.
    • The most extreme example of this is political enslavement, when an entire people are colonised, subjected to the will of the colonisers, where laws, good or bad, flow from the like and dislike of colonial masters.

Forms of arbitrary use of power in India

  • Political enslavement: This occurs in places where there is lack of representation of people. A whimsical and arbitrary use of power ensues when there is authoritarianism in the country. Eg: Arab spring was a result of such abuse of power and it’s ramifications on the people.
    • In India, for instance, NSA (National Security Act) has come under wide criticism for its misuse by the authorities. Experts describe the validity of the Act even during peacetime as ‘anachronism’.
  • Capitalist arbitrary use of power: Unbridled capitalism is marked by an absence of laws to regulate labour; workers can be hired or fired at the will of the employer and no fixed hours of work exist.
    • Unregulated wage-labour works pretty much like slavery.
    • Post pandemic crisis, many states were considering increasing the working hour limits in the factory, thereby overriding the Factory Act.
    • This will lead to exploitation of people and is manifest injustice to the lower strata of the economy.
  • Arbitrary use of social power: Though slavery in its older form does not exist, modern slavery is still perpetuated due to arbitrary use of power. This is true in case of most unorganized sector workers who do not have any social security benefits and are at the mercy of their employers.
    • For eg: Exploitation of workers such as harassment, non-payment of wages, sexual assault on women continues to occur and goes unnoticed.
  • Loss of freedom
    • During the Emergency, Opposition leaders were thrown in jail on the false charge of conspiring against the state and thereafter a small crack unit began to arbitrarily control the activity of anyone politically significant.
    • Internet shutdown: Ironically, a new report from Brookings Institute shows that India has the dubious position of reporting the highest number of incidents involving the government-mandated shutdown of internet access while it also runs Digital India Programme.
      • Increasingly governments are resorting to shutting down the internet as the go-to solution for maintaining law and order like in case protests emanating from Citizenship Amendment Act, Ayodhya dispute judgement etc.
      • These shutdowns curb free speech online and have other multidimensional implications.
    • The grounds of preventive detention, to be used in very rare cases, must likewise assume that the suspicion of offence is well-grounded, based on available evidence, on relevant information that satisfies any objective observer, and not on mischievous allegations.
  • Stifling legitimate dissent: The Right to Dissent is an important addition of expressing one’s view, and on many of its most important constituent elements. It will enable practitioners and citizens to claim their rights and participate more effectively in the project of democracy.
    • Eg: The quick arrest of academicians, human rights activists’ journalists and thinkers by the Maharashtra police in connection with the Bhima-Koregaon violence started discussion on dissent in democracy
    • The blanket labelling of dissent as anti-national or anti-democratic strikes at the heart of our commitment to protect constitutional values and the promotion of deliberative democracy. Eg: Arresting peaceful protestors of Citzenship Amendment Act

Conclusion

There is an inverse relation between arbitrary political power and freedom. Even democracies contain authoritarian spaces within them where the law can be used to continuously harass opponents. Post-emergency India restored faith in democracy. This must be upheld by those in power, ensuring the sanctity of the freedom that was gained from the colonisers.

 

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

4. Recent reforms for food security taken by the government have both positives and negatives and there is a need for more structural reforms to increase resilience of farmers”. Comment.  (250 words)

Reference: The Hindu 

Why the question:

COVID-19 forced government to announce various agrarian reforms. Thus the context of the question.

Key Demand of the question:

One has to analyse the recent food security and agrarian reforms taken by the government and their impact.

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:

Discuss the dimensions of Agricultural crisis, food security and recent reforms. One can start by quoting relevant facts/statistics.

Body:

Discuss first the announced reforms – Amendments have been made to the Essential Commodities Act, 1955. The Finance Minister has urged States to dismantle the Agricultural Produce Market Committees. The Finance Minister has urged States to dismantle the Agricultural Produce Market Committees. Explain the need for such reforms, what has been the impact of the lockdown. Highlight the status of food security in India; explain the threats to food security in India. Provide for a detailed analysis of steps taken by government for food security

Conclusion:

Suggest what should be the way forward.

Introduction

The world observed World Hunger Day on May 28, 2020. India was ranked 102 out of 117 qualifying countries on the Global Hunger Index. Although agriculture accounts for around 17% of India’s GDP, nearly 50% of the country’s population depends on farm-based income.

Body

Reforms taken by the government regarding agriculture and food security

The recent fund allocation of Rs 1 lakh crore under the third tranche of Atmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan underpins the importance of infrastructural development in the agriculture sector and allied activities, especially in local supply systems.

  • One nation one market reform: The Essential Commodities Act, 1955, will be amended to de-regulate cereals, edible oils, oilseeds, pulses, onion, and potato.
    • Reforms in the Agri-Marketing are to be given serious concern to provide adequate choice to farmers for selling their produce at fair prices.
    • APMC laws will be amended, so that farmers will be free to sell their produce anywhere, even to private players directly.
    • This will encourage more private mandis to be set up, where farmers will get better price for their crops without being victim to cartelization.
  • Contract Farming: Laws to bring in Contract farming can help establish forward and backward linkage for agriculture and realisation of better farm incomes. It will help with modern technology adoption as well.
    • The above three reforms will create all India market for farmers to sell their produce.
  • One Nation One Ration Card: Government is also in process of implementing One Nation One Ration Card that will help the migrants immensely in accessing their benefits all over India and have food security during the time of crisis.
  • Agri-Infrastructure: The agricultural cooperative societies, farmer producer organizations (FPOs), and start-ups will be given funds worth ₹1 lakh crores to encourage farm-gate infrastructure.
    • This is to develop cold chain storage and other post-harvest management infrastructure at the farm gate and aggregation points.
    • Given that the lack of adequate cold-storage facilities continues to extract a high price on farmers and the agrarian economy by way of post-harvest losses, especially in perishables, the targeted outlay is a welcome step.
  • Hike in MSP: The government has hiked the MSP of 14 kharif crops. This is on top of the last season MSP when kharif crops were given 1.5 times the production cost as minimum support price.

 Advantages of the reforms

  • Laws to bring in Contract farming can help establish forward and backward linkage for agriculture and realisation of better farm incomes. It will help with modern technology adoption as well.
  • Bee-keeping and fisheries (aquaculture and mariculture) will be given impetus to ensure alternate sources of income during non-agricultural season.
  • Infrastructure such as cold storage and Kisan Rail will help in preservation of perishables and maintain quality during transport.
  • While the concept of One Nation, One Ration Card has potential, people are concerned about immediate relief for the hungry.
  • Just as rabi crops were set to be harvested, unseasonal rain and hail arrived at the beginning of the year. Parts of the country reeled under a pernicious locust invasion. Looming loans could push farmers into a tailspin of poverty.

 Shortcomings

  • Repackaging of existing schemes: The third tranche of reforms for Agri-sector was replete with additions to existing schemes or reiterations of the government’s commitment to certain programmes.
  • Political scientists pointed out that while the governance reforms of Essential commodities Act and agricultural marketing are good long-term measures, yet the much-spoken Jan Dhan, Aadhaar and Mobile trinity was not of much use to address the distress of the poor.
  • No immediate relief to farmers: The missing item from the third tranche were measures which could provide immediate relief to farmers that have been hit hard by the curbs on movement and transport of goods.
    • There is no component of compensation in the package either.
  • Agri-Economists like Ashok Gulati have criticised government for not raising the PM-KISAN money to 10,000 to aid farmers for the coming cropping season.
  • Law must not be repealed: The Economic Survey 2020, had recommended jettisoning the “anachronistic” Essential commodities Act (ECA).
    • But the law has nonetheless remained a vital tool in the government’s armoury for protecting consumers from irrational volatility in the prices of essentials by tamping down on black marketeers and hoarders.

Structural Reforms needed for nutrition and resilience of farmers

  • Exempt from cess/tax: Farmer produce should be exempted from any market fee and other cesses as they will not be using the services of the APMC market yards.
  • E-NAM can flourish if grading and dispute settlement mechanisms are put in place.
  • Private mandis with modern infrastructure need to be promoted in competition with APMCs.
  • Another reform pertains to the possibility of another legislation to promote contract farming and linking it to futures commodity markets.
  • Public Distribution System: On the PDS front, we need to move towards cash transfers that can be withdrawn from anywhere in the country.
  • Growth and prosperity: Agriculture still engages India’s largest workforce, with nearly 48% population.
    • And it may be the only sector that registers a respectable growth this year as almost all other major sectors may plummet into negative territory.
    • This will help absorb the shock of the coronavirus on extreme poverty and malnutrition.
    • With majority migrant workers returning back to their native states, it is time to focus on “Doubling farm income” with even more vigour.
  • Better inter-state movement of agricultural commodities will help in creating linkage between deficit and surplus states. Meanwhile it’ll help revive the supply chains and the ancillary activities in the process (transport, warehousing etc.)
  • The Reserve Bank of India announced an extension of the moratorium on loan EMIs by three months. Steps must be taken that more farmers borrow from institution to reap the benefits.

Conclusion

The farm sector has been the worst hit and the same time also the most essential and crucial sector of the economy that needs handholding. Nations food security is of utmost importance, when India is reeling under hunger even with high food grain production. The recent reforms must ensure that hunger and malnutrition is tackled effectively, while farmer get better income for their produce with adequate handholding.

 

Topic : Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources. Science and Technology- developments and their applications and effects in everyday life. Achievements of Indians in science & technology; indigenization of technology and developing new technology.

5. Do you agree to the fact that the current Corona crisis is a great opportunity to re-invent healthcare delivery in India through telemedicine? Debate. (250 words)

Reference: Financial Express 

Why the question:

The article talks about establishment of Swasth platform; a digital platform for Covid-19 care.

Key Demand of the question:

One must discuss in what way the current Corona crisis is a great opportunity to re-invent healthcare delivery in India through telemedicine.

Directive:

Debate – Weigh up to what extent something is true. Persuade the reader of your argument by citing relevant research but also remember to point out any flaws and counter- arguments as well. Conclude by stating clearly how far you agree with the original proposition.

Structure of the answer:

Introduction:

Discuss the current conditions of the health sector in the country.

Body:

Explain what you understand by Telemedicine, how it can help take Indian health system to next level and address the current distress facing the sector.

Highlight that telemedicine and such technologies can together the best of resources in the country to provide free healthcare to bring quick relief during the crisis.

Quote the case study of Swasth – it facilitates seamless, remote interaction between registered medical practitioners and patients through multiple modes of video and telephony. It deploys AI based triaging to determine the care required, culminating in a digitally signed prescription and treatment advice. Along with the free consultations, Swasth will also provide services like home quarantine assistance, diagnostics, pharmacies, hospital bed discovery and booking assistance at a subsidized cost.

Conclusion:

Conclude with importance and relevance of technologies to crisis situations such as that of COVID-19.

Introduction

The current Covid-19 pandemic which has affected more than 10 million people worldwide has manifestly exposed the crisis in global health systems. In India, the pandemic exposed the chinks in the healthcare system such as lack of Critical Care units, hospital beds and healthcare workers to patient ratio leaving them overwhelmed.

Body

Current Status of Healthcare System

  • India’s expenditure on the health sector has risen meagerly from 1.2 per cent of the GDP in 2013-14 to4 per cent in 2017-18. The National Health Policy 2017 had aimed for this to be 2.5% of GDP.
  • There is a massive shortage of medical staff, infrastructure and last mile connectivity in rural areas. Eg: Doctor: Population 1:1800 and 78% doctors cater to urban India (population of 30%).
  • Massive shortages in the supply of services (human resources, hospitals and diagnostic centres in the private/public sector) which are made worse by grossly inequitable availability between and within States.
    • For example, even a well-placed State such as Tamil Nadu has an over 30% shortage of medical and non-medical professionals in government facilities.
  • Absence of primary care: In the northern States there are hardly any sub-centres and primary health centres are practically non-existent. First mile connectivity to a primary healthcare centre is broken. For eg, in Uttar Pradesh there is one PHC for every 28 villages.
  • Out of pocket expenditure high: Even the poor are forced to opt for private healthcare, and, hence, pay from their own pockets. As a result, an estimated 63 million people fall into poverty due to health expenditure, annually.

Re-inventing healthcare systems with Telemedicine

Telemedicine: Telemedicine allows health care professionals to evaluate, diagnose and treat patients at a distance using telecommunications technology.

  • The shortage of doctors is limiting face-to-face consultations among patients. Secondly, India also has a shortage of hospital beds, which makes hospitalization tricky. Telemedicine will reduce the time of consultations and improve the quality of healthcare services in urban as well as rural areas, removing many of infrastructural challenges.
  • Telemedicine is a sector that bridges the healthcare gap between rural India and urban India.
  • In rural India, where the access to medical facilities, specialist’s opinion and advance healthcare amenities are limited, telemedicine acts as a healthcare provider bringing access to the specialist doctors to these areas.
  • The advantages are peculiar in the current context, when putting distance between people is paramount, as tele consultations are not barred even when health care professionals and patients may have to be quarantined.
  • The advancement of telecommunication capabilities over the years has made the transmission of images and sound files (heart and lung sounds, coughs) faster and simpler.
    • Pilot telemedicine experiments in ophthalmology and psychiatry have proven to be of immense benefit to the communities.
  • Telemedicine has advantages like: Reduced travel expenses of patients, time saving, easy access to specialized doctors, decreases the load of missed appointments and cancellations for healthcare providers, increasing patient load and revenue for hospitals, improving follow up and health outcome, increased reach to inaccessible areas.

Case Study: Swasth

A coalition of over 100 healthcare specialists have come together to launch Swasth, a nationwide telemedicine platform for Corona care, which digitally connects citizens to the best doctors and wellness providers. The mobile app-based service leverages India’s technology prowess to deliver equal and affordable healthcare to 1.3 billion people, cutting across geographical and income divides.

  • This indigenous digital healthcare system is being launched at a time when the Covid-19 pandemic has challenged traditional service providers.
  • Swasth facilitates seamless, remote interaction between registered medical practitioners and patients through multiple modes of video and telephony.
  • It deploys AI based triaging to determine the care required, culminating in a digitally signed prescription and treatment advice.
  • Along with the free consultations, Swasth will also provide services like home quarantine assistance, diagnostics, pharmacies, hospital bed discovery and booking assistance at a subsidised cost.
  • All doctors on the Swasth platform are duly verified and undergo specially designed training programmes on tele-consultation and Covid-19 clinical protocols.
  • Swasth is in full compliance with the industry-accepted cybersecurity norms for healthcare platforms.
  • It uses a defence-in-depth approach to ensure that data is securely transmitted, stored, managed and accessed.
  • Currently, the app supports consultation in Hindi, English and Gujarati and will be expanded to 25 Indian languages.

Thus, technology plays a crucial role in fight against COVID-19. The pandemic has contributed to the understanding of various ways in which available technologies can be put to better use and presented people with multiple opportunities to harness these devices, techniques and methods to get on with life in the time of lockdown.

Conclusion

Among the primary uses of technology is telemedicine that can help reach patients where access to medical care is difficult. While unleashing the full potential of telemedicine to help people, experts and government agencies must be mindful of the possible inadequacies of the medium, and securing sensitive medical information; such cognisance should guide the use of the technology.

 

Topic: Issues Relating to Development and Management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.

6. What is Yukti 2.0? How will it benefit the higher education system of India? Discuss. (250 words)

Reference: Times Of India 

Why the question:

Recently Union HRD Minister virtually launched ‘YUKTI 2.0’ platform for Higher Education Institutes in New Delhi. Thus the question.

Key Demand of the question:

One has to discuss the prospects of Innovations to educate youth to fight against COVID

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 Yukti 2.0 is.

Body:

Earlier, the Minister had launched the YUKTI (Young India combating COVID with Knowledge, technology

And Innovation) web portal on 11 April,  2020. The portal intends to cover the different dimensions of COVID-19 challenges in a very holistic and comprehensive way.

Its main objective is to ensure that Students, teachers and researchers in higher educational institutions are getting appropriate support to meet the requirements needed to advance their technologies and innovations.

Explain the significance of the portal that it will prove to be a milestone towards promoting

Innovations and entrepreneurship culture in our higher education system and involve youth in nation building.

Conclusion:

Conclude with importance that it will also help the government to identify bottlenecks and formulate appropriate policies to strengthen the innovation ecosystem in the country.

Introduction

The Ministry of Human Resources and Development has launched an initiative ‘YUKTI 2.0’ to help systematically assimilate technologies having commercial potential and information related to incubated start-ups in higher education institutions.

Body

Yukti 2.0

In line with the mission of making Bharat ‘Atmanirbhar’, YUKTI 2.0 initiative is a very important step in that direction. It will help youngster who have innovative start-up ideas, to convert it into enterprises. The portal database will provide the state of the innovation ecosystem of our higher educational institutions.

Benefits to higher education system in India

  • Creation of Database: The Ministry has invited students, faculty members, startups and other stakeholders of higher education institutions to register on the YUKTI portal and share their technologies and innovations.
  • Benefits of Database:
    • Database shared will be showcased to the investor community such as businessmen, farmers and industrialists i.e. students will be able to sell their ideas.
      • However, preliminary innovations won’t be showcased on YUKTI 2.0 but only those which have commercialisation potential.
    • It will provide a clear picture of the state of the innovation ecosystem of our higher educational institutions.
    • It will help the government to identify bottlenecks and formulate appropriate policies to strengthen the innovation ecosystem in the country.
    • Further, it will offer innovative and cost-effective solutions to the problems faced by the country.
  • Earlier the Human Resources Ministry conduct Smart Hackathon, to build solutions/prototype to most testing challenges facing the country such as sanitation, healthcare access, hunger among others.
    • This is an extension of the same idea, with more beneficial advantages. It will aid the youngsters to pursue their ideas to reality and acts as a platform for investors to invest in such ideas.
  • Collaborative Platform: It will also help as a platform for collaboration of ideas between colleges and academic institutions. Students can work on similar ideas, with better inputs from different institutions.
  • Nation Building: This portal will prove to be a milestone towards promoting innovations and entrepreneurship culture in our higher education system and involving youth in nation building.
  • Better Intellectual Property regulation will be an outcome of such a portal. India’s patented ideas will increase which will have commercial benefits helping the country create niche products.

Conclusion

The portal intends to cover the different dimensions of COVID-19 challenges in a very holistic and comprehensive way. Through this portal, the Ministry of Human Resource Development will endeavour to ensure that students, teachers and researchers in higher educational institutions are getting appropriate support to meet the requirements needed to advance their technologies and innovations.

 

Topic : ethical issues in international relations

7. Examine the principles of Panchsheel Treaty in the context of international ethics and discuss their relevance in today’s time. (250 words)

Reference: Ethics, Integrity and Aptitude by Lexicon publications

Why the question:

The question is premised on the theme of Panchsheel Treaty and its ethical relevance in today’s time.

Key Demand of the question:

One has to examine the principles of Panchsheel Treaty in the context of international ethics and discuss their relevance in today’s time.

Directive:

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

Structure of the answer:

Introduction:

The Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence, known as the Panchsheel Treaty: Non-interference in others internal affairs and respect for each other’s territorial unity integrity and sovereignty are a set of principles to govern relations between states. 

Body:

The question is straightforward and there isn’t much to deliberate upon it.

List down the 5 principles of the Panchsheel treaty; explain how they are relevant even today. Looking at the world order in the 21st century, how does one view Panchsheel? We live in a world, different from the world of fifty years ago in many respects, and yet bedeviled still by interference, intolerance, aggression and conflict. Panchsheel can provide the ideological foundation for this developing paradigm of international interaction, allowing all nations to work towards peace and prosperity in cooperation, while maintaining their national identity, spirit and character.

Conclusion:

Conclude by reasserting its importance.

Introduction

Panchsheel was born fifty years ago in response to a world asking for a new set of principles for the conduct of international relations that would reflect the aspirations of all nations to co-exist and prosper together in peace and harmony.

Fifty years later, on the golden anniversary of Panchsheel, the chord that was struck in 1954 still rings pure and true in a world yet seeking the lodestar that will guide it into the harbour of peaceful co-existence

Body

Panchsheel, or the Five Principles of Peaceful Co-existence, were first formally enunciated in the Agreement on Trade and Intercourse between the Tibet region of China and India signed on April 29, 1954, which stated, in its preamble, that the two Governments “have resolved to enter into the present Agreement based on the following principles: –

  1. Mutual respect for each other’s territorial integrity and sovereignty
  2. Mutual non-aggression
  3. Mutual non-interference
  4. Equality and mutual benefit
  5. Peaceful co-existence.

Significance of Panchsheel Principles in International Ethics

  • Panchsheel, as envisioned by its creators, gave substance to the voice of newly established countries who were seeking the space to consolidate their hard-won independence, as it provided an alternative ideology dedicated to peace and development of all as the basis for international interaction, whether bilateral or multilateral.
  • This vision caught the imagination of the peoples of Asia and the world. Panchsheel was incorporated into the Ten Principles of International Peace and Cooperation enunciated in the Declaration issued by the April 1955 Bandung Conference of 29 Afro-Asian countries.
  • The idea of Non-Alignment was mooted with these principles in mind.

Relevance in contemporary times

  • Panchsheel was developed in the context of a post-colonial world where many were seeking an alternative ideology dedicated to international peace.
  • Fifty years later, the world is now searching for an alternative to the adversarial constructs that dominated the Cold War era.
    • In what is touted as the new Cold War between USA and China, Panchsheel becomes even more relevant.
    • With China’s dominance and it’s “middle kingdom complex”, principle of non-aggression is more relevant.
    • Especially recent aggressive posturing in South China Sea and Ladakh’s Galwan Valley is a case in point.
  • Countries all over the world are focusing on creating extended and mutually supportive arrangements, and attempting to define a new economic, social and political world order in the context of globalisation, non-traditional security threats and the quest for multi-polarisation.
  • India’s neighbourhood policy is a good example of Panchsheel Principles in practice.
    • Eg: The Land Boundary agreement with Bangladesh and exchange of enclaves.
    • India also has given billions of Lines of Credit in a non-reciprocative manner to Srilanka, Bangladesh, Bhutan and Nepal.
  • Spillover in economy: The BCIM (Bangladesh-China-India-Myanmar) economic corridor was an example of implementing Panchsheel. China was willing to work on similar lines jointly with other countries for the greater benefit of the people of the region.
  • Accommodating bilateral interests: For instance, both India and China need to accommodate and be sensitive to each other’s concerns and aspirations and see each other as equal partners for development.
    • They must focus on mutual complementarities to realise the untapped potential of this strategic and cooperative partnership.

The downside is that, Panchsheel was supposed to be an antithesis for the traditional balance-of-power doctrine and competitive security. However, India and China had competitive security issues on the borders and these fell within the balance-of-power politics. Panchsheel was actually a code of behaviour, but the rhetoric of value blurred the distinction between interests and values.

Conclusion

The adoption of Panchsheel is regarded as historic as it will help in creating an area of peace, which as circumstances permit can be enlarged thus lessening the chances of war and strengthening the cause of peace all over the world. The adherence of these values can help re-imagine the fissured world and forge a global cooperation.


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