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SECURE SYNOPSIS: 29 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 : population and associated issues, poverty and developmental issues, urbanization, their problems and their remedies.

1. Discuss the role of fertility as a component of population dynamics. Highlight the features and precincts of various measures of fertility in India. (250 words)

Reference: Down to Earth 

Why the question:

The question is about discussing the significance of fertility as a component of population dynamics.

Key Demand of the question:

One must discuss the relevance of fertility as part of population dynamics and one must discuss the limitations of different measures of fertility.

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:

First present a brief introduction on fertility as component of population dynamics.

Body:

The answer body must discuss the following dimensions in detail –

  • Start by explaining various measure of fertility rate.
  • Then present Characteristics of various measures of fertility in India.
  • Discuss in detail the Limitations of measures of fertility in India.

Conclusion:

Conclude with way forward.

Introduction:

Fertility, one of the three components of population dynamics, the others being mortality and migration, holds a very important place in any population study. A positive force in population dynamics, fertility is responsible for biological replacement and continuation of human society. Fertility levels determine the age structure of a population, which in turn governs the social, economic and demographic characteristics of the population. The government’s Sample Registration System in 22 states shows that TFR for India declined to 2.2 in 2017 after being stable at 2.3 between 2013 and 2016.

Body:

Role of fertility in population dynamics:

  • The term “total fertility rate” describes the total number of children the average women in a population is likely to have based on current birth rates throughout her life.
  • A TFR of 2.1 is known as the replacement rate. Generally speaking, when the TFR is greater than 2.1, the population in a given area will increase, and when it is less than 2.1, the population in a given area will eventually decrease, though it may take some time because factors such as age structure, emigration, or immigration must be considered.
  • if there are numerous women of childbearing age and a relatively small number of older individuals within a given society, the death rate will be low, so even though the TFR is below the replacement rate, the population may remain stable or even increase slightly. This trend cannot last indefinitely but could persist for decades.
  • Tracking fertility rates allows for more efficient and beneficial planning and resource allocation within a particular region. If a country experiences unusually high sustained fertility rates, it may need to build additional schools or expand access to affordable child care.
  • Conversely, sustained low fertility rates may signify a rapidly aging population, which may place an undue burden on the economy through increasing health care and social security costs.

Various measures of fertility in India:

Fertility measures are devices to quantify the fertility performance of a population over a period of time. These measures are used to compare fertility behaviour of different populations, and to examine the trends in fertility of a population over a period of time. These measures can be grouped into two categories, viz., the direct measures and the indirect measures.

Direct Measures:

  • Crude Birth Rate (CBR):
    • It is one of the most commonly used measures of fertility because of its simplicity in concept and measurement. It is the ratio between the total registered live births in a population during a calendar year and the mid-year population.
    • CBR is only a crude measure and suffers from various limitations. Since both the numerator and denominator in the equation stated above get affected through births, CBR tends to underplay changes in fertility. Further, in the computation of CBR, total population of an area is taken in the denominator. It is, however, important to note that every individual in the population (of all ages and sexes) is not exposed to the risk of reproduction.
  • General Fertility Rate (GFR):
    • It is an improvement over CBR, therefore, takes into account only female population in the childbearing age groups or repro­ductive span (i.e., 15 to 44 or 49 years). GFR is, thus, defined as the ratio between the total live births and number of women in the reproductive age span.
    • Though a refinement over CBR, GFR also suffers from certain limitations. The measure considers entire female population in the reproductive ages as a homogeneous group, whereas the fecundity of women is not uniform over the period. Thus, GFR is also a crude rate.
  • Age-Specific Fertility Rate (ASFR):
    • ASFR can be worked out for single year age data as well as for broad age groups. Usually, the reproductive age span is divided into five-year age groups, numbering six or seven depending upon the upper limit of the reproductive age span.
  • Total Fertility Rate (TFR):
    • It refers to the total number of children a woman will produce during her childbearing age span, if she is subjected to a fertility schedule as prescribed by the age-specific fertility rates. The TFR together with the ASFR can be further used to construct several measures that are useful in the study of fertility changes

Indirect Measures:

In addition to the direct measures discussed above, there are several indirect measures of fertility, which are useful particularly when data on live births are not readily available, or are not reliable. These measures arrive at estimates of fertility indirectly using data on age-sex structure, and marital status cross-classified by age and sex. Child Women Ratio and Female Mean Age at Marriage are most commonly used indirect measures. Child Women Ratio (CWR) is defined as the number of children under five years of age, per 100 women in the repro­ductive ages.

Conclusion:

The Economic survey 2016-17 highlighted lack of population dynamics currently taken into consideration by policymakers when it showed that Welfare spending in India suffers from misallocation – the districts with the poorest are the ones that suffer from the greatest shortfall of funds in social programs. We need to account for demographic dynamics in our policy.

 

Topic : India and its neighborhood- relations.  Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests.

2. Do you think time has come for India to realize and work on better and meaningful engagements with Taiwan? Explain and give your opinion. (250 words)

Reference: Hindustan Times 

Why the question:

The article emphasizes on the fact that it’s time for India to now engage with Taiwan more meaningfully.

Key Demand of the question:

Discuss in detail the need to engage with Taiwan for New Delhi given the current circumstances.

Directive:

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

Structure of the answer:

Introduction:

Explain briefly the relations of India with Taiwan from past to present.

Body:

Start discussing the China factor – The India-China border stand-off in the Galwan Valley, following China’s incursion into Indian Territory, is a reminder of India’s perennial problems with China.

Explain how this situation is a chance to both India and Taiwan to introspect on their policies and reach out to each other.

Discuss the importance of Taiwan to India – Taiwan is already a part of the United States’ Indo-Pacific vision. It is an important geographical entity in the Indo-Pacific region. India’s vision of the Indo-Pacific is inclusive and it must encourage the participation of Taiwan and other like-minded countries. India is already a major focus country in Tsai Ing-wen’s New Southbound Policy, launched in 2016. Under this, Taiwan aims to increase its international profile by expanding political, economic, and people-to-people linkages.

Conclusion:

Conclude with way ahead.

Introduction:

The bilateral relations between India and Taiwan have improved since the 1990s despite both nations not maintaining official diplomatic relations. India recognises only the People’s Republic of China (in mainland China) and not the Republic of China’s claims of being the legitimate government of Mainland China, Hong Kong, and Macau – a conflict that emerged after the Chinese Civil War (1945–49). However, India’s economic & Commercial links as well as people-to-people contacts with Taiwan have expanded in recent years.

Body:

Highlights of India-Taiwan bilateral relations:

  • In the last few years, there has been upgradation of the bilateral investment agreement, promotion of major Taiwanese investments, expanding parliamentary exchanges and facilitating track-two dialogues on regional issues.
  • Taiwan’s relations with India have increased in breadth — spanning trade, research and academia — as well depth — trade ties amounted to $7.5 billion in 2019, up from $1 billion in 2000.
  • The Taiwanese government has a representative office, the Taipei Economic and Cultural Center in India (TECC), responsible for facilitating collaboration on education, tourism, culture, the media, and economic development.
  • Taiwan’s increased investments have occurred in the face of cultural challenges, bureaucratic hurdles, and pressure on India from domestic producers.

Need to work on bettering of India-Taiwan relations:

  • China’s hegemony:
    • The India-China border stand-off in the Galwan Valley, following China’s incursion into Indian territory, is a reminder of India’s perennial problems with China.
    • The recent violent clashes are an indication of Beijing’s hardline approach towards India.
    • The clashes have confirmed is that this is not just about differing perceptions of the boundary, but China’s blatant attempts to change the status quo.
    • This is in clear violation of the Agreement on the Maintenance of Peace and Tranquility along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in the India-China border areas signed in 1993.
  • Reducing dependence on China:
    • Enhancing Taiwan-India relations is consistent with the Taiwanese government’s efforts to decrease economic reliance on China and with Taiwan’s New Southbound Policy (NSP), which improves upon the efforts of several of her predecessors.
    • Taiwanese businesses are increasingly interested in shifting business ties from China to India and policies that facilitate such cooperation could provide mutual benefits.
  • Geo- Strategic:
    • The unfolding dynamic around Taiwan will have significant consequences for India’s Act East Policy and its emerging role in the Indo-Pacific Region.
    • Strengthening Taiwan-India ties within the rubric of the NSP also overlaps with Taiwan’s relationships with Australia, United States, and Japan.
    • Because these three countries, along with India, have formed an Indo-Pacific entente cordiale called the “Quad” to maintain a rules-based order in the region, Taiwan-India ties can benefit from the positive synergy of collaboration in areas of trade, research, and even defense.
    • Moreover, India and Taiwan may see a convergence of security interests that could be further developed through interactions between the strategic communities on both sides.
    • A stronger relationship between India and Taiwan could increase tourism, improve research and development, and promote educational ties, all of which are mutually beneficial.
    • For the first time, Taiwan has officially started looking towards the six South Asian countries — Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. India is a steering wheel for Taiwan’s deepening engagement in the South Asian region.
  • Geo-Economic:
    • The unfolding trade war between the US and China is compelling Taiwan to accelerate its plans to move its large manufacturing bases away from China to Southeast Asia and India.
    • For India to promote industrial production and create jobs, the Taiwan connection with its impressive small and medium enterprises is more than opportune.
    • Taiwan’s GDP is about $600 billion and twice the size of Pakistan’s economy. And few entities in the international system are today as eager and capable of boosting India’s domestic economic agenda.
  • Talent and technology:
    • Taiwan has embarked on a big mission to attract skilled workers. With a declining birth rate and growing emigration, Taiwan’s industry, education, and technology development could do with Indian engineers and scientists.
    • The synergy in human resources provides the basis for massive collaborations between the universities, research institutions and technology enclaves in the two countries.

Concerns in the relations:

  • India does not have formal diplomatic ties with Taiwan yet as it adheres to the One-China policy.
  • India’s China policy and its focus on stabilising relations with Beijing have led to the marginalisation of Taiwan.
  • When China protested the visit of an all-women parliamentarians’ delegation from Taiwan to India in 2018, the momentum in India-Taiwan ties further slowed down.
  • Taiwan has been an excellent example of containing the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. Yet, Beijing has been unjustly blocking Taipei’s participation at the WHO. India too has not tried to engage Taiwan in dealing with the pandemic. Through its response to Covid-19, the island nation has shown that it is beneficial to engage with it.
  • Taiwan’s possible role in the emerging Indo-Pacific order has been under-appreciated.

Way forward:

  • It’s true that India does indeed adhere to the ‘One China’ principle. But that shouldn’t stop us from expanding appropriate relations with Taiwan which enjoys de facto sovereignty.
  • India’s foreign policy priorities, particularly with regard to the Indo-Pacific, should accommodate Taiwan.
  • Along with military preparedness and aligning interests with key countries, Taiwan needs to be included prominently in its long-term strategy towards China.
  • Broad support from the Taiwanese public is necessary for increasing trade and people-to-people contacts, as well as for pushing Taiwan’s ruling parties to increase ties with India.

Conclusion:

The ties with Taiwan should not be solely viewed through China’s lens, the current border clashes with China has given a chance to both India and Taiwan to introspect on their policies and reach out to each other. India can no longer just rely on the transactional and need-based policies of major powers. It has to explore more options. This makes sense when Taiwan is willing to strengthen ties with India and even domestic debate is tilting in favour of this. It is high time India engages Taiwan bilaterally and also positions India-Taiwan ties in the regional context.

 

Topic : Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests, Indian diaspora.

3. Analyze the likely impact of the U.S Visa ban both on American and Indian economies and the bilateral relationship between the two countries. (250 words)

Reference: The Hindu 

Why the question:

The U.S. administration has halted the processing and issuance of non-immigrant work visas, thus the context of the question.

Key Demand of the question:

The article analyzes the likely impact of the policy measure both on American and Indian economies and the bilateral relationship between the two countries. Thus one has to provide for detailed analysis of the same.

Directive:

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

Structure of the answer:

Introduction:

In short explain the current situation.

Body:

Discus the impact of such a decision on America and on India separately; The U.S. firms or others with U.S. operations who rely on skilled foreign nationals working in the U.S. will be unable to make new hires as long as the ban stands.

Talk about its effects on Indian corporates, Industry, Indian IT majors building up their order books as they limp back through an economic recovery in India is likely to be seriously undermined by this move.

Conclusion:

The Indian government response has been muted, limited to highlighting the importance of highly-skilled Indian professionals to imparting a competitive edge to the U.S. economy.

Introduction:

The White House recently made a proclamation halting the processing and issuance of non-immigrant work visas of several types, with the stated aim of this sweeping policy being to stop foreign workers snagging American jobs, especially at a time of deep economic distress brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. The important questions on this latest policy shift by Mr. Trump on immigration relate to whether it will muddy the waters of the U.S.-India relationship

Body:

Who will be affected?

The order by the Donald Trump administration includes

  • H-1B visa for skilled workers – a large proportion of which goes to Indian nationals,
  • H4 visa – the dependents of the H-1B seek this.
  • H-2B visa– issued to seasonal workers in the landscaping and hospitality industries.
  • L-1 visa – for intra-company transfers
  • L-2 visa– the dependents of the L-1 visa holders.
  • J-1 visa– for students on work-study summer programmes and related occupations.

Impacts on Indian Economy:

Negatives:

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  • Service exports affected:
    • The major services exports from India to the U.S. are in the telecommunications, computer and information services, research and development, and travel sectors.
  • Indian IT companies:
    • Indian IT companies are amongst the biggest beneficiaries of the US H-1B visa regime.
    • Since 1990s, Indian IT companies have utilised a huge share of the total number of visas issued each year.
    • As of April 1, 2020, the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) had received about 2.5 lakh H-1B work visa applications.
    • Indians had applied for as many as 1.84 lakh or 67% of the total H-1B work visas for the current financial year ending March 2021.
    • Apart from the suspension, the executive order has also made sweeping changes to the H-1B work visa norms.
    • So, the visa issuance will no longer be decided by the currently prevalent lottery system.
  • Personal and Professional challenges:
    • There are several unfortunate people who travelled outside the US before the lockdown to apply for a new H1B visa so that they can return to join their jobs
    • Due to Covid-19, a large number of individuals working or staying in the US are stranded in India. They might not be able to come back until the end of this year.
    • This will prolong their separation from family members and also make it significantly harder for them to hold onto their US-based jobs

Positives:

  • Opportunities for local Indians in USA:
    • Indian IT companies also offer subcontracts to Indian nationals already present in the US with valid H-1B visas.
    • g. Bangalore-based Wipro spends as much as 20% of its revenue to subcontract Indian workers with valid H-1B visas
    • In all, the changes are largely disadvantageous to the Indian IT companies.
  • Probable Increase in Remittances:
    • With this ban, already employed skilled workers from India may get higher salaries which in turn would increase inflow of remittances.
  • Addressing Brain Drain:
    • Newly graduated skilled workers would seek opportunities in India itself, thereby addressing the issue of brain drain.
  • Enhanced Self-Reliance:
    • India desperately needs the skilled workforce to work within the country in order to become more self-reliant and to realise the dream of Make in India and the 5 trillion-dollar economy.

Impacts on USA economy:

Positives:

  • Strengthens local employment:
    • S has the potential to shore up the flagging economy and open up more jobs for U.S. persons.
    • The overall unemployment rate in the USA nearly quadrupled between February and May of 2020, producing some of the most extreme unemployment rates ever recorded.
  • Protects domestic workers against significant employment threat:
    • The move intends to protect the domestic workers who had been impacted due to a contraction in the economy in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.
    • The entry of additional workers through the H-1B, H-2B, J, and L non-immigrant visa programmes presents a significant threat to employment opportunities for domestic workers by undercutting their jobs.

Negatives:

  • Affects USA tech industry:
    • It’s true that most of the H-1B visa holders are Indian, and the vast majority are employed by US tech titans, not Indian companies. In 2019, of the 388,403 H-1Bs, 72% were from India. This would cripple the US Tech industry as opined by Tech leaders.
    • Companies such as TCS, Infosys, Wipro and Cognizant are the biggest beneficiaries of the visa along with the US tech firms such as Google, Facebook and Amazon.
    • Prolonged ban will have an impact on the tech supply chain in the US as these companies will not have the ability to move resources at the back of the ban.
  • Loss of skilled workers:
    • High-skilled Indian professionals bring important skill sets, bridge technological gaps and impart a competitive edge to the US economy
    • They have also been a critical component of the workforce that is at the forefront of providing COVID-19 related assistance in key sectors, including health, information technology and financial services
  • Legal challenges:
    • Multiple lawsuits are likely to be filed as several US employers depend on high-skilled H1B workers, especially in healthcare and technology

Impacts on India-US Bilateral relations:

  • The ban on work visa would muddy the relations between India and USA.
  • The most important foundations of this special friendship between India and America are our people-to-people relations, be it professionals or students, Indian diaspora in America has been the biggest contributor to this.
  • People-to-people linkages and trade & economic cooperation, especially in technology and innovation sectors, are an important dimension of the US-India partnership
  • The gaping hole in America first policy was the fact that the number of jobs purportedly saved from immigrants for U.S. persons was relatively small compared to the number of jobs going to foreign nationals who enter the U.S. on non-immigrant visas.
  • Despite the work visa ban, which is to protect U.S. persons from loss of livelihoods to foreign nationals, it is still unclear that tangible economic benefits of this sort can be achieved at this juncture.
  • The H-1B programme in particular plays a crucial role in addressing the shortage of healthcare professionals while also providing other key sectors of economy with talent from around the world to not only fill jobs but create new ones.
  • Legal immigration is a positive for the American economy and visa programs allow American companies to secure qualified, legal labour throughout the world which will not be the same after the move.

Conclusion:

The long-term implications of the executive order are also causing concerns. As the Google CEO rightly said, immigrants have played a crucial role in making the USA a global leader in cutting edge technology. Suspending the visas will only weaken the USA’s economy and its health care workforce at a time when there is a need to strengthen the both. Politics should not trump smart policy and the ingenuity of migrant workers should be harnessed to revive an economy in dire straits.

 

Topic Important International institutions, agencies and fora- their structure, mandate

4. Present the principles and purposes of the U N Charter. (250 words)

Reference: The Hindu 

Why the question:

Commemorative declaration marking the 75th anniversary of the signing of the U.N. Charter has been delayed. Thus the question.

Key Demand of the question:

The question is straightforward and one must present the principles and purposes of the U N Charter in detail.

Directive:

Present – A similar instruction to ‘explain’ whereby you are asked to show the workings of something, making use of definite examples and statistics if appropriate to add weight to your explanation.

Structure of the answer:

Introduction:

Briefly state the history of coming of UN charter into action. The Charter was signed in San Francisco on June 26, 1945 and came into force on October 24, 1945.

Body:

Discuss the objectives of the UN Charter – Conceived above all as a means to save future generations from the scourge of war, the Charter calls for the organization to maintain international peace and security; promote social progress and better standards of life; strengthen international law; and promote human rights.

Explain the principles of it in detail.

Conclusion:

Conclude with importance.

Introduction:

The United Nations (UN) is an international organization founded in 1945. It is currently made up of 193 Member States. The UN Charter of 1945 is the foundational treaty of the United Nations, as an inter-governmental organization. The Statute of the International Court of Justice is an integral part of the Charter. In a battle of and for words, a commemorative declaration marking the 75th anniversary of the signing of the U.N. Charter was delayed as member states could not reach an agreement on phraseology.

Body:

The UN Charter articulated a commitment to uphold human rights of citizens and outlined a broad set of principles relating to achieving ‘higher standards of living’, addressing ‘economic, social, health, and related problems,’ and ‘universal respect for, and observance of, human rights and fundamental freedoms for all without distinction as to race, sex, language, or religion.’ As a charter, it is a constituent treaty, and all members are bound by its articles. Furthermore, Article 103 of the Charter states that obligations to the United Nations prevail over all other treaty obligations. The Charter consists of a preamble and a series of articles grouped into chapters.

The Purposes of the United Nations are:

  • To maintain international peace and security, and to that end: to take effective collective measures for the prevention and removal of threats to the peace, and for the suppression of acts of aggression or other breaches of the peace, and to bring about by peaceful means, and in conformity with the principles of justice and international law, adjustment or settlement of international disputes or situations which might lead to a breach of the peace;
  • To develop friendly relations among nations based on respect for the principle of equal rights and self-determination of peoples, and to take other appropriate measures to strengthen universal peace;
  • To achieve international co-operation in solving international problems of an economic, social, cultural, or humanitarian character, and in promoting and encouraging respect for human rights and for fundamental freedoms for all without distinction as to race, sex, language, or religion; and
  • To be a centre for harmonizing the actions of nations in the attainment of these common ends.

Principles of the UN Charter:

The Organization and its Members, in pursuit of the Purposes stated in Article 1, shall act in accordance with the following Principles:

  • The Organization is based on the principle of the sovereign equality of all its Members.
  • All Members, in order to ensure, to all of them the rights and benefits resulting from membership, shall fulfill in good faith the obligations assumed by them in accordance with the present Charter.
  • All Members shall settle their international disputes by peaceful means in such a manner that international peace and security, and justice, are not endangered.
  • All Members shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state, or in any other manner inconsistent with the Purposes of the United Nations.
  • All Members shall give the United Nations every assistance in any action it takes in accordance with the present Charter, and shall refrain from giving assistance to any state against which the United Nations is taking preventive or enforcement action.
  • The Organization shall ensure that states which are not Members of the United Nations act in accordance with these Principles so far as may be necessary for the maintenance of international peace and security.
  • Nothing contained in the present Charter shall authorize the United Nations to intervene in matters which are essentially within the domestic jurisdiction of any state or shall require the Members to submit such matters to settlement under the present Charter; but this principle shall not prejudice the application of enforcement measures under Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter.

Conclusion:

Most countries in the world have now ratified the Charter. The United Nations Charter (1945) is thus, both a multilateral treaty and the constituent instrument of the United Nations. The Charter of the United Nations is a solid structure upon which we can build a better world. With this Charter the world can look forward to the time when all worthy human beings may be permitted to live decently as free people.

 

Topic : Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment.

5. Elucidate the significance of the Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) process in the Indian context. Also high spot the apprehensions related with it. (250 words)

Reference: The Hindu 

Why the question:

Student unions from several universities and colleges from across India have petitioned Union Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar to put the draft of the proposed Environment Impact Assessment Notification 2020 on hold.

Key Demand of the question:

One has to discuss the significance of the Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) process in the Indian context. Also bring out the concerns associated with it.

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:

Environment Impact Assessment in India is statutorily backed by the Environment Protection Act, 1986 which contains various provisions on EIA methodology and process.

Body:

Discuss the process of EIA in brief. It is an important process for evaluating the likely environmental impact of a proposed project. It is a process whereby people’s views are taken into consideration for granting final approval to any developmental project or activity. It is basically, a decision-making tool to decide whether the project should be approved or not.

Explain the challenges and concerns associated.

Conclusion:

Conclude with its significance.

Introduction:

Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) is an important management tool for ensuring optimal use of natural resources for sustainable development. It covers developmental sectors such as industries, thermal power projects, mining schemes etc.  EIA has now been made mandatory under the Environmental (Protection Act, 1986) for 29 categories of developmental activities involving investments of Rs. 50 crores and above.

Body:

Recent amendments to EIA:

  • The EIA 2020, which is open to public comments until June 30, is a proposed update to the existing EIA 2006 that prescribes the procedure for industries to assess the ecological and environmental impact of their proposed activity and the mechanism whereby these would be assessed by expert committees appointed by the Ministry.
  • The key points of dispute with the proposed draft are that it shortens the period of public consultation hearings to a maximum of 40 days, and reduces from 30 to 20 days the time provided for the public to submit their responses during a public hearing for any application seeking environmental clearance.
  • Crucially, the draft also institutionalises “violation” projects. Under a provision issued in 2017, it allows projects that have come up flouting environmental norms to be reviewed by a committee of experts and, if they so decreed, legalise the project after paying a fine.
  • The proposed norms also allow the declaration of some areas as “economically sensitive areas” without a public hearing or environmental clearance, and several “red” and “orange”-classified toxic industries could now operate as close as 0-5 km from a Protected Area in “callous disregard” for forests.
  • Finally, the increased validity of the environment clearances for mining projects (50 years versus 30 years currently) and river valley projects (15 years versus 10 years currently) raises the risk of irreversible environmental, social and health consequences on account of the project remaining unnoticed for long.

Objectives of EIA:

  • To identify, predict and evaluate the economic, environmental and social impact of development activities.
  • To provide information on the environmental consequences for decision making.
  • To promote environmentally sound and sustainable development through the identification of appropriate alternatives and mitigation measures.
  • To identify and quantify emission sources and determine the significance of impacts on sensitive receivers and potential affected uses.
  • To identify and quantify any potential losses or damage to flora, fauna and natural habitats.

Significance of EIA:

  • EIA reports are a critical component of India’s environmental decision-making process.
  • It acts as a detailed study of the potential impacts of proposed projects.
  • It helps in predicting environmental impacts at an early stage in project planning and design.
  • Based on these reports, the Environment Ministry or other relevant regulatory bodies may or may not grant approval to a project.
  • The EIA reports are also important to define measures that the project could take in order to contain or offset project impacts.
  • EIA-based approvals for most projects also involve the process of conducting public hearings, so that who are likely to be affected can be taken on board before approving the project.
  • EIA links environment with development. The goal is to ensure environmentally safe and sustainable development.

Apprehensions related to EIA:

  • Environmental decision-making processes for development projects are supposed to use the best available scientific knowledge to ensure that development does not lead to negative impacts.
  • But there are compromised decision-making on development and infrastructure projects.
  • Sometimes the EIA reports lack the expected degrees of honesty, owing to bias, corruption, exaggeration and wrong claims.
  • There are several projects with significant environmental impacts that are exempted from the notification either because they are not listed in schedule I, or their investments are less than what is provided for in the notification.
  • Public comments are not considered at an early stage, which often leads to conflict at a later stage of project clearance. Many projects with significant environmental and social impacts are approved without mandatory public consultation.
  • One of the biggest concerns with the environmental clearance process is related to the quality of EIA report that are being carried out.
  • There are so many cases of fraudulent EIA studies where erroneous data has been used, same facts used for two totally different places etc.
  • There are many instances of missing or misleading information which understate the potential impact of the projects.
  • It has been found that the team formed for conducting EIA studies is lacking the expertise in various fields such as environmentalists, wildlife experts, Anthropologists and Social Scientists.
  • Lack of awareness among the local people about the process of EIA, its significance for them, their own rights and responsibilities.
  • Most of the time EIA reports are unavailable in local languages, thus local people are unable to decipher the reports, and are misled by the proponents

Way Forward:

  • Independent EIA Authority and Sector wide EIAs needed.
  • Creation of a centralized baseline data bank.
  • Dissemination of all information related to projects from notification to clearance to local communities and general public.
  • All those projects where there is likely to be a significant alternation of ecosystems need to go through the process of environmental clearance, without exception.
  • No industrial developmental activity should be permitted in ecologically sensitive areas.
  • Public hearings should be applicable to all hitherto exempt categories of projects which have environmental impacts.
  • The focus of EIA needs to shift from utilization and exploitation of natural resources to conservation of natural resources.
  • The present executive committees should be replaced by expert’s people from various stakeholder groups, who are reputed in environmental and other relevant fields.
  • The EIA notification needs to build within it an automatic withdrawal of clearance if the conditions of clearance are being violated and introduce more stringent punishment for noncompliance. At present the EIA notification limits itself to the stage when environmental clearance is granted.
  • The composition of the NGT needs to be changed to include more judicial authorities from the field of environment.
  • Citizen should be able to access the authority for redressal of all violation of the EIA notification as well as issues relating to non-compliance.
  • NGOs, civil society groups and local communities need to build their capacities to use the EIA notification towards better decision making on projects.

Conclusion:

An EIA should not be used just as a means for obtaining an environmental clearance; rather, project proponents should use it as a management tool to assess the soundness of a project plan.  The focus of EIA needs to shift from utilization and exploitation of natural resources to conservation of natural resources.

 

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

6. Discuss the ‘guns, germs and steel’ crisis that India is facing and suggest measures to address the same. (250 words)

Reference:  The Hindu 

Why the question:

The article narrates in detail on the ‘Guns, Germs and the steel crisis’ There are Chinese “guns” on the borders. There are coronavirus “germs” in our bodies. There are “steel” makers and other businesses on the verge of bankruptcy.

Key Demand of the question:

Explain the crisis India is facing in detail and suggest suitable solutions to address the same.

Directive:

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

Structure of the answer:

Introduction:

Briefly explain the crisis and why it’s a big concern to India.

Body:

Explain that this is the gravest confluence of military, health and economic crises threatening our nation in more than a generation. Each of these would qualify as an independent, large crisis by itself, warranting a specific resolution.

Discuss what needs to be done to overcome this challenge.

Conclusion:

Conclude with solutions to address the issue.

Introduction:

The ‘guns, germs and steel’ is the title of Jared Diamond’s classic book on the evolution of societies and nations, “Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies”. India is said to be going through the ‘guns, germs and steel’ crisis. It is used as a euphemism due to the fact that India is currently tackling a bloody, military border crisis with Chinese (Chinese “guns”) on the borders. To add to that the coronavirus “germs” are spreading rampantly in India and there are “steel” makers and other businesses on the verge of bankruptcy. Each of these would qualify as an independent, large crisis by itself, warranting a specific resolution.

Body:

This is the gravest confluence of military, health and economic crises threatening our nation in more than a generation.

Military standoff with China – “Guns crisis”:

  • Standing up to a military threat by a superpower neighbour will pose an inevitable drain on the finances of the government.
  • India’s war against Pakistan in Kargil in May 1999 provides hints of the financial burden of a military threat.
  • India’s defence expenditure in the war year shot up by nearly 20% from the previous year.
  • It also forced the then government to increase India’s defence budget for the next financial year to 2.7% of nominal GDP, the highest in decades.
  • China is a far mightier power than Pakistan.
  • In the current stand-off, India is bound to assert its rights, which will necessitate higher expenditure.
  • India’s defence budget has been whittled down to just 2% of GDP for the financial year 2021.
  • China’s defence budget is nearly four times larger.
  • In all likelihood, the Chinese conflict will stretch central government finances by an additional one to two percentage points of GDP, as India wards off the current threat and shores up its defence preparedness.

Health care – “Germs crisis”:

  • The health pandemic has exposed India’s woefully inadequate health infrastructure.
  • The combined public health expenditure of States and the central government in India is a mere 1.5% of GDP, compared to China’s at 3% and America’s at 9%.
  • With COVID-19 expected to linger on until a suitable vaccine is available at large, there is no option other than to significantly ramp up India’s health expenditure.
  • Many public health experts are of the opinion that the central government will need additional funds of the equivalent of at least one percentage point of GDP to continue the fight against COVID-19.

Dwindling Economy – “Steel crisis”:

  • The extreme national lockdown has thrown India’s economy into utter disarray.
  • India’s economy has four major drivers — people’s spending on consumption, government spending, investment and external trade.
  • Spending by people is the largest contributor to India’s economic growth every year. For every ₹100 in incremental GDP, ₹60 to ₹70 comes from people’s consumption spending. The lockdown shut off people from spending for two full months, which will contract India’s economy for the first time in nearly five decades, regardless of a strong agriculture performance.
  • Even prior to COVID-19 when the global economy was robust, India’s trade levels had fallen from 55% of nominal GDP in 2014 to 40% in 2020. Now, with the global economy in tatters, trade is not a viable alternative to offset the loss from consumption.
  • Investment is also not a viable option at this stage since the demand for goods and services has fallen dramatically.
  • The Chinese military threat calls for immediate and strategic action by our defence and foreign affairs establishments.
  • The COVID-19 health epidemic is here to stay and needs constant monitoring by the Health Ministry and local administration.
  • The economic collapse is an enormous challenge that needs to be overcome with prudent policy.

Measures needed to overcome the crisis:

  • The Chinese military threat calls for immediate and strategic action by our defence and foreign affairs establishments.
  • The COVID-19 health epidemic needs constant monitoring by the Health Ministry and local administration.
  • The economic collapse is an enormous challenge that needs to be overcome with prudent policy.
  • The common thread across these is that its resolution requires significant financial resources.
  • The government needs to spend an additional eight percentage points of GDP while revenues will be lower by two percentage points of GDP, a combined gap of 10% of GDP.
  • Potential new sources of revenue such as a wealth tax or a large capital gains tax are ideas worth exploring for the medium term but will not be of much immediate help.
  • To fulfil its obligation, the government needs is to borrow copiously.

Conclusion:

It is possible that with rising debt levels, international ratings agencies will likely downgrade India’s investment rating to “junk”, which will then trigger panic among foreign investors. However, care must be taken that this is avoided. India thus faces a tough “Dasharatha” dilemma — save the country’s borders, citizens and economy or prevent a “junk” rating. The government’s choices are either to be bold and embark on a rescue mission, or do nothing and hope the situation resolves itself.

 

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

7. How realistic is the target of 5 trillion economy for India now? Given the current crisis India is facing? Explain. (250 words)

Reference: Indian Express  

Why the question:

The question is amidst the challenges the Indian economy is facing owing to the COVID-19 situation across the world.

Key Demand of the question:

One has to analyse the possibilities of achieving the dream of 5 trillion economy for India amidst the current situation.

Directive:

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

Structure of the answer:

Introduction:

Define the goal of 5 trillion economy of India. India is, currently, a $2.8 trillion economy; to reach the $5 trillion mark by 2024, the economy would require nominal growth in dollar terms of over 12% a year.

Body:

Explain how the goal can still be achieved given the fact that the current situation has led to several long impending reforms and they along with several others which are in pipeline can make it possible. But the concern should not only be quantitative achievement but also inclusion and more equitable growth.

Discuss the existing concerns and challenges and suggest solutions to address them.

Conclusion:

Conclude with a fair and balanced opinion.

Introduction:

The Indian government has set itself a big target, namely, that the Indian economy will have an aggregate income or gross domestic product (GDP) of $5 trillion by 2024-25. India’s GDP is currently estimated at around USD 2.8 trillion. Stating that the economy is in a bad shape, former Reserve Bank of India (RBI) governor C Rangarajan recently said reaching the $5-trillion Gross Domestic Product (GDP) target by 2025 is “simply out of question” at the current growth rate.

Body:

Current challenges faced by the Indian Economy:

  • In the last financial year 2018-19, India recorded growth at a mere 6.8 per cent, which was a five-year record low. The country is still in the middle of an economic slowdown, plagued by demand woes and low private investments.
  • India’s economic growth crashed to a 69-quarter low of 3.1 per cent in Q4 of 2019-20. For the entire year, the growth rate was down to 4.2 per cent, an eleven-year low.
  • Some of the problems staring in the face are the problems of widening inequality, agricultural stress, high unemployment, low human development record, rotting financial system, environmental degradation, communal strife and low manufacturing growth.
  • Inequality will greatly increase and there will be 113 billionaires by 2024 from 104 in 2019. Ultra high net worth individuals will reach 10,354 by 2024 from 5,986 in 2019. According to OXFAM, India’s one per cent owns 73 per cent of the wealth.
  • Rural stress cannot be wished away and only if farmers’ incomes double during this period can some relief be expected. Much has to be done to relieve agriculture of its deep-rooted malaise.
  • There has been a slowdown in manufacturing growth and exports over the last few years. India needs more FDI to go into manufacturing, but foreign investors have become more discerning.
  • The financial system is not in order also as the recent collapse of Yes Bank amply shows. The bigwigs siphoned off crores of public money for their own benefit. There is a serious problem of governance in the banking sector. Lending by public sector banks is still not back to normal.
  • Most big cities have huge number of slum clusters. Unless the government’s affordable housing project really takes off, India will not be on par with developed countries regarding its urban infrastructure.
  • Poor human capital:
    • India has a rank of 129 out of 189 countries according to Human Development Index (2019).
    • India accounts for 28 per cent of the 1.3 billion multi-dimensional poor in the world. One third of the children are undernourished and half the pregnant women are anemic.
    • The undernourished children grow up to be incapable of handling school curriculum and drop out and remain poor throughout life.
    • Anemic women are susceptible to problems during childbirth. India’s high maternal mortality rate shows it.

Possibility of $5 trillion economy:

  • The experts are of the view that for India to reach $5 trillion mark, the economy would have to grow at over 11.5 per cent.
  • Experts opine that the target could get pushed forward by at least two years even if the economy were to grow by an optimistic 7.5% a year after FY21.
  • This is based on the assumption of 4.5 per cent inflation rate that the economic survey for 2019-20 talked about, in order to achieve the GDP target.
  • This also assumes an exchange rate of Rs 75 to the dollar, around which the rupee is currently hovering.
  • The Economic Survey of 2018-19 says the economy needs to grow by eight per cent, assuming inflation rate at four per cent (the target given by the Monetary Policy Framework) to get to the $5 trillion mark by 2024-25.

Measures needed:

  • The Economic Survey 2019-20 extols the virtues of wealth creation; everyone knows how vital it is to make a country prosperous and rich. India’s rich have benefited from crony capitalism, and through their connections in power centres, they have accumulated wealth.
  • Rural wages have to rise and rural indebtedness has to be resolved.
  • Non-farm jobs have to increase to give employment to women. Only with higher incomes can rural demand rise.
  • Infrastructure development as an enabler for growth, creating new and upgrading existing infra projects with Rs 111 lakh crore investment will be key to raising India’s competitiveness and achieving USD 5 trillion economy goal by 2025.
  • Infrastructure creation is also labour absorbing, which boosts employment and income generation in the economy and further spurs domestic demand. Improved infrastructure capacities also create efficiency gains through improved logistics and networks, which would improve the competitiveness of the economy.
  • Investing in cities’ housing is very important at this juncture for attracting investment.
  • The government has to have many more welfare schemes for women in order to promote gender equality and empowerment and increase their earning power to reduce the hold of patriarchy.
  • From being the most dangerous country for women, the government should ensure safety for women by spending on lighting the streets and having more police patrolling.
  • Last but not the least, there should be communal harmony and the government has to support the minority communities fully by spending on their education, training and job creation. India has to dispel the impression of becoming a majoritarian state.

Conclusion:

With strong measures and executions, the centre can manage to achieve its targets. This task would be achieved by one-year delay if the economy remains flat or contracts by five per cent in the current financial year. However, if it contracts by seven per cent, it would still be a two-year delay to meet the prime minister’s goal of making India a $5 trillion economy by 2024-25.


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