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.
General Studies – 1
Topic: Indian culture will cover the salient aspects of Art Forms, literature and Architecture from ancient to modern times.
1. The COVID-19 pandemic has had a crushing impact of on the Indian craft sector. In this light, discuss the Role of handicrafts in Indian Economy. What are the specific challenges that they face and how can they be addressed? (250 words)
Why this question:
Hit hard by the lockdown imposed in the wake of COVID-19, artistes from Etikoppaka, a small village famous for toy making, are looking to the government for support. Most of the artisans have not received any orders since the outbreak of the dreaded virus. The question is about discussing the importance of Indian handicrafts and its contribution to the economy, the challenges it faces and the solutions to it.
Key demand of the question:
One has to bring out the significant place the handicraft industry holds in contributing to the economy and in what way it is facing challenges on various fronts.
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:
Highlight some facts on the Indian handicrafts industry with its importance. Talk about how the covid-19 pandemic has halted their income and affected their livelihoods.
Start by stating how our country is gifted with a rich range of beautiful handicrafts. Almost every state of the country has its unique handicrafts. These products are a part and parcel of the culture of the concerned communities. Passed on from generation to generation, these handicrafts have the potential of sustaining the artisans economically.
Explain in detail role of handicrafts in the Indian economy.
What are the specific challenges with a focus on covid19 induced difficulties ?
How can these challenges be addressed?
Conclude that skill up gradation and development in handicraft sector is an excellent approach for development of artisans, poverty reduction and providing income generation which would also help in achievement of sustainable development goals and thus contribute majorly to the economy.
Handicrafts are still today a vibrant aspect of Indian culture and society. Handicraft is rightly described as craft of the people and in India it is not just an industry as the word is commonly understood but is the aesthetic expression of the artisans which not only fulfils the daily needs of the people but also satisfies their aesthetic desire.
Hit hard by the lockdown imposed in the wake of COVID-19, artistes from Etikoppaka, a small village famous for toy making, are looking to the government for support. Most of the artisans have not received any orders since the outbreak of the dreaded virus.
Impact of the pandemic on the Handicraft artisans:
- The COVID-19 pandemic has had a crushing impact of on the Indian crafts sector.
- For months, craftspeople have been without markets, sales, orders or prospects.
- They lack the wherewithal to buy food for their families, let alone make payments for wages and raw material.
- The future of traditional crafts markets and bazaars is bleak.
- The projected global recession will mean that fewer people will have cash in their pockets to buy handicrafts
- For instance, about 250 to 300 families from the village, located near the banks of the Varaha river, about 80 km from Visakhapatnam, have been dependent on the profession for over 40 decades.
- The Etikoppaka toys, made by these artistes, had a huge demand and they had enough work on hand, but the pandemic pushed them into a deep financial crisis.
Role of Handicrafts in Indian Economy:
- The Handicrafts Sector plays a significant & important role in the country’s economy.
- Crafts have been interwoven with the culture of the people in India from the beginning of human history. Crafts have been an integral part of daily life in villages, towns, courts and religious establishments.
- There are approximately 70 lakh handicraft artisans in the country, which includes 20 lakh artisans related to the carpet sector, practicing more than 500 types of crafts.
- Textiles and handicrafts have been a key source of employment.
- As per the latest available Annual Survey of Industries data, number of persons employed in the organized Textile and Wearing Apparel Sector is around 26,48,238 in 2015-16 and 26,91,280 in 2016-17.
- Further the handloom sector provides direct and indirect employment to 43 lakh weavers and allied workers. There are 68.86 lakh handicraft artisans.
- The handloom and handicrafts sector together provide about 111 lakh employment both in the organized and unorganized sector.
- Textile and apparel exports have been reported at around USD 39 -40 bn in the last four years.
- As per trade data, exports have been reported at USD 26.63 bn during April to December 2018 which is an increase of 2.5 per cent over the previous corresponding period.
Challenges faced by Handicrafts industry:
- Low productivity: The sector’s informal nature and the low education of most artisans create issues such as:
- Unorganized production: As a largely unorganized sector, handicrafts faces problems such as a paucity of professional infrastructure such as work sheds, storage space, shipping and packing facilities.
- Low education: Many crafts require the entire household to participate in production in some capacity. In many cases, crafts also serve as a seasonal source of income for agricultural households.
- Outdated production methods: Artisans may also lack the financial capability to upgrade technology in production, or undergo necessary training on a regular basis, as would be available to them in a formal work setting. This compromises the quality of their products and raises the cost of production.
- Inadequate inputs: There are three main issues:
- Lack of quality raw materials: Rural artisans often lack access to quality raw materials. Due to the low volumes required, they have low bargaining power and are forced to buy sub-standard materials at a higher price.
- Lack of funding: Craft producers suffer greatly from lack of working capital and access to credit and loan facilities. Banks cite poor recovery rates, wrong utilization of funds, lack of marketing facilities for finished products and lack of education on part of the borrowers as reasons for the low proportion of loans made to artisans.
- Design inputs: Due to the breakdown of the historic artisan-consumer relationship, and the increasing urbanization and globalization of markets for crafts, artisans have difficulty understanding how to tailor their products to changing demands.
- Information asymmetry: Due to their low education, artisans often cannot identify potential new markets for their products, nor do they understand the requirements for interacting with these markets.
- Fragmented value chain:
- Lack of market linkages: While consumers of crafts products are increasingly becoming urbanized, crafts continue to be sold through local markets; artisans have few opportunities to reach new consumers through relevant retail platforms such as department stores and shopping malls.
- Dominance of middlemen: Although middlemen are necessary to enable effective market linkages, they often, if not always, exploit artisans by paying them a fraction of their fair wages.
- Lack of aggregation: Crafts production typically takes places in scattered clusters in rural areas, while markets are usually in urban centers. Currently, there is a lack of organized systems to efficiently aggregate goods from small producers, carry out quality checks, store approved goods in warehouses, and supply them to wholesalers and retailers in urban areas.
- All industrial policy aimed at promoting particular sectors aren’t without risks. But the externality-generating attributes —employment, exports, social transformation —of the apparel sector, India’s potential comparative advantage in it, and the narrow window of opportunity, make the risk worth taking.
- Skill upgradation and development in handicraft sector is an excellent approach for development of artisans, poverty reduction and providing income generation which would also help in achievement of sustainable development goals.
- Access to economic independence through the handicraft sector can address the livelihood issues and would lead to income generation in rural areas.
- In order to meet these challenges, a package for garments and made-ups sectors can be provided.
- GI tags, Handloom India tags can add credibility and protect the artisans from fake product manufacturers.
- Women embroiderers are making ingenious versions of masks, while Kashmiri leather artisans, normally fabricating bags and totes, have turned their hand to PPE outfits and gloves.
- Since synthetic, stainless steel and glass surfaces have been found to carry the virus for longer, it is an opportunity for artisans working in paper, brass, fibre, wood and resin. This includes packaging – an area of huge potential growth.
- With online shopping gaining ground, the artistes must be taught with the help of the government in training them to sell their goods through e-commerce platforms.
- NGOs, crafts cooperatives, designers, merchandisers, entrepreneurs and artisan families – normally working in their own narrow silos – are brainstorming together in new collaborations and discussions.
- Zoom, WhatsApp groups, and webinars are pulsing with the word ‘crafts’ and ‘craftspeople’ in ways that haven’t happened for decades.
Topic: urbanization, their problems and their remedies. Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human 11 Resources. Issues relating to poverty and hunger.
Reference: Hindustan Times
Why this question:
The Covid-19 pandemic has upended the world as we know it. In the subsequent blame game, dense cities occupy pole position. Prima facie, this looks like a fair accusation given the extent of the outbreak in Mumbai, Delhi, New York and London. However, a more granular look at the data suggests that this is not accurate.
Key demand of the question:
The answer must how its not just the high density and agglomeration effects of the big cities which are making them vulnerable to pandemics.
Critically Discuss– this is an all-encompassing directive which mandates us to write in detail about the key demand of the question. we also have to discuss about the related and important aspects of the question in order to bring out a complete picture of the issue in hand.
Structure of the answer
The ongoing crisis is creating changes that could end up dividing society into pre- and post-COVID-19 days. Give a brief about how people are being pushed into poverty and need for a social security net in the form of basic income.
Discuss how the big cities have borne the brunt of the pandemic due to the high population density and agglomeration effects. Give examples for the same. Further argue that this is not just the only reason for rising numbers. Show how poor urban policies and poor socio-economic conditions of the urban poor have also added to the chaos. A recent study on metropolitan counties in the United States (US) suggests that socio-economic factors and levels of education were better at explaining outcomes related to mortality and spread of infection. Discuss about the measures.
Give a way forward for better urbanization.
The Covid-19 pandemic has upended the world as we know it. In the subsequent blame game, dense cities occupy pole position. Prima facie, this looks like a fair accusation given the extent of the outbreak in Mumbai, Delhi, New York and London.
Reasons for big cities to be vulnerable to pandemics:
- High densities and agglomeration effects, the secret sauce of successful big cities, are precisely what make them vulnerable to threats such as pandemics.
- Social interactions are higher in cities, and an infected person is likely to come in contact with a larger number of people, say while commuting on a train, thus hastening the spread of the disease in cities such as Mumbai and New York.
- A recent study on metropolitan counties in the United States (US) suggests that socio-economic factors and levels of education were better at explaining outcomes related to mortality and spread of infection.
However, not all big cities have not been so vulnerable:
- Seoul, with a population density of 16,000 persons per square kilometre, had far fewer cases than New York. Taipei, whose density is comparable to New York, did not suffer from a serious outbreak.
- Other Asian megacities such as Hanoi, Hong Kong and Bangkok have done well too.
- In New York itself, Manhattan, the densest of the five boroughs has the lowest number of infections.
- Data suggests that in terms of share of population with Covid-19, rural counties such as Trousdale in Tennessee, with one in eight people, outstripped New York with one in 44.
- A World Bank study of the outbreak in China shows that population densities in cities are not correlated to the spread of the virus.
- Very dense cities such as Beijing, Shanghai and Tianjin have remained relatively unscathed.
- Dense urban areas may, in fact, have benefited from better public awareness and consequent behavioural adaptation, such as wearing masks, due to the immediacy of the threat.
- The suite of measures they undertook includes aggressive testing, tracing, isolation, clear communications, hand hygiene and extensive mask-wearing.
Conditions of urban poor are deplorable because:
- High vulnerability:
- Indian cities are vulnerable to multiple disasters like urban floods, urban heat islands, air pollution, inaccessibility of potable water etc.
- For instance, When the monsoon hits Mumbai this June, the city, which is already fighting the coronavirus pandemic, will be staring at another major challenge: vector-borne diseases.
- People living in slum areas – ‘urban poor’ are also prone to suffer from waterborne diseases such as typhoid and cholera, as well as from more fatal ones like cancer and HIV/AIDS.
- Also, women and children living in slums are prone to become victims of social evils like prostitution, beggary and child trafficking. Slum dwellers in general and regardless of gender, often become victims of such social evils.
- Proliferation of slums: – land to people ratio in cities has been exacerbated. Also there is lack of hygienic and sanitation in slums leading to various health problem living there.
- Non-inclusive development: Urban poor are not receiving the benefits of the development – rich are getting richer with development while poor are getting poorer. E.g. India is quite far behind in inclusivity index.
- Degradation of environment and habitat: Urban commons like lake, urban forests, green areas in Cities are adversely affected due to the need for development, for instance, Aarey forests in Mumbai.
- Development at the cost of poor: The peri-urban areas where tribes live are being occupied for establishments of industries without proper compensation and rehabilitation.
- Hectic life: as per a survey people in mega cities are spend more time in office than home. Family life has been affected adversely.
- Lastly, hunger, malnourishment, lack of quality education, high infant mortality, child marriage, child labour are some of the other social problems prevalent for urban poor.
- Poverty is the most significant reason behind the creation of slums. So, the issue of poverty must be addressed first by policymakers.
- There is also a need for future policies to support the livelihoods of the urban poor by enabling urban informal-sector activities to flourish and develop. Slum policies should be integrated within broader, people-focused urban poverty reduction policies that address the various dimensions of poverty.
- Easy geographical access to jobs through pro-poor transport should also be created.
- Adequate data should be gathered by conducting various studies before the formulation of any policy.
- There is also a need for investment in citywide infrastructure as a pre-condition for successful and affordable slum upgrading, which could also act as one strong mechanism for reversing the socio-economic exclusion of slum dwellers.
- Steps should be taken such that a higher and more stable income be made accessible to slum dwellers through their employment in productive jobs. This is because employment opportunities in urban centres that pay well has the potential to generate a healthy and sustainable lifestyle in the slums.
- Lastly, slums should be developed because developing slums also trigger local economic development, improve urban mobility and connectivity, and integrate the slums, which are enormous economically productive spheres, into the physical and socioeconomic fabric of the wider city.
Every crisis is an opportunity to rebuild better. Instead of calls for de-urbanisation, building resilient cities is the need of the hour. The more immediate policy responses that will earn large dividends in India include: One, addressing crowding by increasing per-capita consumption of floor area by drastically reducing regulatory barriers to construction. Two, administratively, the crisis has taught us that a pandemic response cannot be federally-mandated and requires a decentralised, proximal, and accountable response. To enable this, city leaders need to be empowered. Three, social protection systems need to be redesigned to protect the poor and vulnerable in urban areas, in addition to the current focus on rural settlements. Four, countries such as India with large out-of-pocket expenditures on private health care must restore the balance between health care and robust public health that focuses on improving health outcomes for all — only a capable State can deliver the latter.
General Studies – 2
Topic: India and its neighbourhood- relations.
Reference: Indian Express
Key demand of the question:
Iran’s decision to drop India from a plan to build a rail link from the strategic Chabahar port to Zahedan on the Afghan border is a wake-up call for Delhi.
Critically analyze- here we have to examine methodically the structure or nature of the topic by separating it into component parts, and present them as a whole in a summary.
Structure of the answer:
write a few introductory lines about how Iran recently dropped India from its plan to build a rail link from the strategic Chabahar port to Zahedan on the Afghan border.
Discuss the strategic importance of Chahbahar port to India.
Highlight how Chabahar will not be the first time delays in the completion of ambitious infrastructure projects undertaken by India in the region have inflicted setbacks on India’s strategic goals.
Discuss the reasons behind such delays.
- India dragged its feet on building the rail link from Chabahar to Zahedan.
- The delays were over contract disagreements.
- then the fear of US sanctions.
- Later, after the US provided a “carve-out” to India on the port and the rail link, the difficulty under the sanctions regime in finding international suppliers for material
Discuss the strategic implications of this for India
Provide the immediate measures that India must take to further avoid such mishaps in future.
based on your discussion, form a fair and a balanced conclusion on the given issue.
Chahbahar, which is located 72 kilometres west of Pakistan’s Gwadar port, holds immense strategic and economic significance for India. Chahbahar port is a seaport located in southeastern Iran, on the Gulf of Oman. It serves as Iran’s only oceanic port and consists of two ports Shahid Kalantari and Shahid Beheshti and ten berths. The US recognised the importance of Chahbahar and exempted Indian firms involved in the port from sanctions
Recently, Iran has decided to proceed with the Chahbahar rail line construction on its own, citing delays from the Indian side in beginning and funding the project. The development of the port, and the link overland through Iran to the Afghan border, was supposed to be India’s answer to Pakistan’s denial of the trading route through Wagah to Khyber Pass into Afghanistan and beyond, to Central Asia.
Significance of the port for India:
- Chahbahar Port is of particular significance to India because of its location as it is the only oceanic port of Iran that can be accessed from the western coast of India bypassing Pakistan.
- In short, it is an unobtrusive gateway to Afghanistan and Central Asia. Pakistan denies overland transit facility to India through its soil and India’s commerce with Afghanistan and Central Asia gets hampered.
- Herein lays the elevated strategic importance of Chahbahar port for India as it can open new frontiers of engagement with the region bringing in shared prosperity.
- Chahbahar port can be used by India to launch humanitarian operations in Afghanistan and also in Horn of Africa regions.
- The Zaranj-Delaram highway constructed by India can be an access point to four major cities in Afghanistan namely Kabul, Heart, Kandahar, and Mazar-e-sharif which can be accessed via the Garland highway in Afghanistan.
- Keeping this geostrategic significance India s transport minister has termed the port as ‘a gateway to golden opportunities’.
- Chabahar’s geopolitical significance rises considerably as it is also a gateway to INSTC (International North-south Transport Corridor).
- It will boost India’s presence in the region and hence this strategic project has been pursued by India in the right earnest.
- Chahbahar port will also act as a check for increasing Chinese presence in the Arabian Sea as China is heavily involved in the construction of the Gwadar, a deep sea port in the Balochistan area of Pakistan. The location of Chahbahar and Gwadar ports in close vicinity of each other underlines the intense competition between India and China in the region with Pakistan siding with the Chinese. India’s spirited efforts in development of Chahbahar port underscores the point that on the strategic chessboard of geopolitical competition India is not to be left far behind.
- The chances of an extension of ties to Indian Iran military cooperation is also possible and will be highly beneficial to counter Chinese navy in the Indian ocean too.
- Costs of imports of products like iron ore, oil, sugar, and rice to India will be significantly lowered. A study commissioned by the Ministry of Commerce has found that cost of imports via Chahbahar port along with INSTC is 30% cheaper than those via Mediterranean-Suez route.
- Economic ties between India and Afghanistan which were in limbo due to political uncertainty will significantly improve once Chahbahar is completely operationalized. India will link Chahbahar port to Zaranj-Delaram highway in Afghanistan and is keen on developing a rail link there with the cooperation of Iran.
- India will also be developing various industries (aluminum and urea plants) in the Chahbahar Economic Zone.
Reasons for Iran dropping India:
- Despite several site visits by IRCON engineers and preparations by Iranian railways, India never began the work, worrying that it could attract sanctions by the USA.
- India has already zeroed out its oil imports from Iran due to USA sanctions.
- The USA had provided a sanctions waiver for the Chahbahar port and the rail line but it was difficult to find equipment suppliers and partners due to worries of being targeted by the USA.
- The ‘Comprehensive Plan for Cooperation between Iran and China’ which is a 25-year and USD 400 billion strategic partnership deal is another reason.
- Both nations are close to finalising the deal, which will include Chinese involvement in Chabahar’s duty-free zone, an oil refinery nearby and possibly a larger role in Chahbahar port as well.
- The cooperation will extend from investments in infrastructure, manufacturing and upgrading energy and transport facilities, to refurbishing ports, refineries and other installations and will commit Iranian oil and gas supplies to China during that period.
- Iran proposed a tie-up between the Chinese-run Pakistani port at Gwadar and Chahbahar in 2019 and offered interests to China in the Bandar-e-Jask port 350 km away from Chahbahar, as well as in the Chahbahar duty-free zone.
- It will be important to operationalise the port quickly and smoothen the route to Afghanistan.
- Keeping timelines and delivery of New Delhi’s commitments will be key to the port becoming a regional hub for transit trade, steel and petrochemicals.
- It will be necessary to encourage Afghan companies to use the route more.
- Given all the competing interests over Chahbahar, it will require sustained and nuanced diplomacy to stay ahead in this game.
- As an emerging power, India cannot remain confined to South Asia and a peaceful extended neighbourhood (Iran-Afghanistan) is not only good for trade and energy security but also plays a vital role in India’s aspirations of becoming a superpower.
General Studies – 3
Topic: Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment.
Reference: The Hindu
Why this question:
Scientists have warned that oceans are likely to rise as much as 1.3 metres by 2100 if the Earth’s surface warms another 3.5 degrees Celsius.
Key demand of the question:
One must discuss in detail the increasing Global warming has led to the melting of the icesheets in Antarctica, Greenland and Arctic leading to rise in sea levels. Further one must explain the ill effects it poses to humans, biodiversity etc. Provide the measures that needs to be taken.
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:
In brief explain the scenario of how global warming and increasing emission of GHGs has led to rise in earth’s mean temperature.
Explain the process of how ice sheet melting and the factors that are leading to rise in sealevel water rise.
Explain in detail the effects of this melting of ice sheets.
- This will redraw the planet’s coastlines.
- About ten percent of the world’s population today live on land less than five metres above the high tide line, who will be climate migrants.
Discuss the initiatives taken across Globe to curb these ill-effects.
Suggest measures on how to control the ice sheet melting.
Conclude with a way forward.
Sea level rise (SLR) is one of the most severe impacts of climate change, with rising waters threatening to inundate small-island nations and coastal regions by the end of the century. Scientists have warned that oceans are likely to rise as much as 1.3 metres by 2100 if the Earth’s surface warms another 3.5 degrees Celsius. By 2300, ice sheets covering West Antarctica and Greenland will have shed trillions of tonnes in mass. Sea levels could then go up by more than five metres under that temperature scenario.
Importance of Ice sheets:
- The Antarctic and Greenland ice sheets contain more than 99 percent of the freshwater ice on Earth.
- This region stores about 70% of the world’s fresh water in the form of snow and ice.
- The average annual temperature ranges from about -10°C on the Antarctic coast to -60°C at the highest points of the interior.
- Its immense ice sheet is upto 4.8 km thick and contains 90% of the world’s fresh water; enough to raise the sea levels by around 60 meters, if it were to melt completely.
- The presence of the high ice sheet and the polar location make Antarctica a powerful heat sink that strongly affects the climate of the whole Earth.
- It modulates exchanges of heat, moisture, and gases between the atmosphere and ocean and, forces the formation of cold oceanic bottom waters that spread out under the world’s oceans. Alterations to this system are likely to affect climate all over the planet.
- Large high-altitude plateaus on the ice caps alter storm tracks and create cold downslope winds close to the ice surface.
Factors that are aggravating melting of ice sheets covering West Antarctica and Greenland:
- Anthropogenic activity is at the root of this phenomenon. Specifically, since the industrial revolution, carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions have raised temperatures even higher in the poles.
- Burning of fossil fuels has resulted in the build-up of greenhouse gases influencing the warming trend because they trap heat in the atmosphere.
- Oil and gas drilling that emits methane which is the main constituent of natural gas is another contributor.
- Methane is more damaging to environment than carbon dioxide, locking in heat more efficiently and escalating global warming.
- Deforestation, on the rise, across the globe, has a lot of negative effects like a rise in sea levels.
- In summer, Ice breaking ships that head to the north in the Arctic Ocean leave trails of open waters, leaving the oceans with lesser ability to reflect back sun rays.
- Consequently, water gets heated up and melts more ice. This is also contributing to Global Warming.
Challenges posed by the sea-level rise:
- Seas and oceans:
- The Greenland and West Antarctic ice sheets hold enough frozen water to lift oceans about 13 metres. East Antarctica, which is more stable, holds another 50 metres’ worth.
- Melting glaciers add to rising global sea levels, which in turn increases coastal erosion.
- The Greenland ice sheet is disappearing four times faster than in 2003 and already contributes 20% of current sea level rise.
- Storm surge gets elevated as warming air and ocean temperatures create more frequent and intense coastal storms like hurricanes and typhoons.
- The ocean currents get influenced, as massive amounts of very cold glacial-melt water entering warmer ocean waters slows down ocean currents.
- Climate and weather patterns:
- As permafrost thaws, the trapped carbon inside it is released to the atmosphere in the form of methane, a powerful greenhouse gas.
- This process leads to more climate change and is an example of a positive feedback loop, which happens when warming causes changes that lead to even more warming.
- The Arctic is warming twice as fast as anywhere on earth, and research shows the polar vortex is appearing outside of the Arctic more frequently because of changes to the jet stream, caused by a combination of warming air and ocean temperatures in the Arctic and the tropics.
- The glacial melt in Antarctica and Greenland is changing the circulation of the Atlantic Ocean and has been linked to more destructive storms and hurricanes around the planet.
- Urban areas and cities
- Most of the people found to be at risk from coastal events live in Asia residing in countries like China, Bangladesh, India, Vietnam, Indonesia, Thailand, the Philippines and Japan.
- Very large fractions of coastal populations in these countries will be inundated.
- Other than Asia and the Netherlands, there are 20 countries (13 of which are small island nations) in which more than a tenth of their population are expected to reside below the high tide line by 2100, and this is with deep cuts to emissions.
- Coastal cities, such as Alexandria, Ho Chi Minh City, Basra and Shanghai are among the most vulnerable and large portions of Mumbai and Kolkata will be fully submerged by 2050.
- The effects on the economy, coastal communities, infrastructure and land will be immense and people living along the coast will be forced to move inland, probably to nearby towns and cities.
- Humans and wildlife:
- Industries that thrive on vibrant fisheries will be affected as warmer waters change where and when fish spawn.
- Coastal communities will suffer as flooding becomes more frequent and storms become more intense.
- In the Arctic, as sea ice melts, wildlife like walrus are losing their home and polar bears are spending more time on land, causing higher rates of conflict between people and bears.
- The habitats of several marine and terrestrial species are changing which results in the imbalance of the food chain.
- When permafrost melts, the land above it sinks or changes shape. Sinking land can damage buildings and infrastructure such as roads, airports, and water and sewer pipes and also affects ecosystems.
Global measures undertaken:
- The International Cryosphere Climate Initiative (ICCI) was launched in 2009. is a network of senior policy experts and researchers working with governments and organizations to create, shape and implement initiatives designed to preserve as much of the Earth’s cryosphere as possible.
- To prevent the severe effects of climate change, the UN signed the Paris agreement in 2016, an international treaty designed to keep the average global temperature well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels until greenhouse gas emissions are reduced.
- 2019 UN Climate Action Summit saw some commitment from countries to advance their Carbon Neutrality efforts.
- India has worked towards International Solar Alliance which is a step forward in consciously trying to reduce the amount of greenhouse gas emissions.
- International instruments such as The Antarctic Treaty and the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) that aims for the protection of the continent’s ocean wildlife.
- Climate policy is consistent with the 1.5°C goal could cost upto 6. 3 trillion dollars per year globally. But the cost likely outweighs the consequences of inaction. If global temperatures rise more than 1.5 °C, humankind will have to make adaptations that will make a serious dent on the world’s economy and reduce food security and biodiversity.
- Delaying action any further will need nations to remove CO2 at an unmanageable magnitude that current technology and resources cannot achieve.
- 2020 is a critical year for climate change. Countries will meet to renegotiate their commitments at the UN Climate change conference in Glasgow in November 2020. But extensive actions must be taken to avert a future crisis.
- There are some changes that are needed to chip away the emissions. These include:
- Establishing vehicle emission standards and investing in public transportation that runs on electricity.
- Pricing carbon, i.e., making major polluters pay for their emissions. This provides an incentive for major emitters to reduce their output.
- Phasing out coal power plants.
- With renewable energy technology becoming increasingly affordable, Solar power and Wind turbines are needed to phase out coal plants. However, it is important to note that these changes on a global scale will not be cheap.
- While immediate action is needed to save the earth, it is not too late to do something about it either.
- It may be important to revisit the commitments of global climate change before it is too late, as the changes that have already set in due to climate change might continue to cause damage for a several decades, even if solid measures are taken to contain the changes.
- Incremental changes no longer enough to stall devastating effects of climate change. The need of the hour is rapid and transformational changes.
Topic: Challenges to internal security through communication networks, role of media and social networking sites in internal security challenges, basics of cyber security.
Why this question
A Twitter hack affecting top politicians and celebrities in the United States has helped a Bitcoin wallet receive over $100,000 via at least 300 transactions.
Key demand of the question
The question expects us to discuss about the social engineering attacks, the challenges posed by it in the growing connected world. One must also discuss about the measures needed from the various stakeholders to ensure cybersecurity and lastly how prepared India is in this front and measures needed.
Discuss – Your discussion should bring out the life and teachings of their life and discuss their relevance in the current age
Structure of the answer
Explain what is meant by Coordinated Social engineering attack – Social engineering is an attack vector that relies heavily on human interaction and often involves manipulating people into breaking normal security procedures and best practices in order to gain access to systems, networks or physical locations, or for financial gain. Give a few examples.
Deliberate on the implications of the security incidents on various areas. Then talk about the measures needed to tackle Social engineering attacks by various stakeholders. Brief about the various measures taken by India in fighting against such cybersecurity threat incidents. What else should be done?
Conclude with a way forward.
Social engineering is the term used for a broad range of malicious activities accomplished through human interactions. It uses psychological manipulation to trick users into making security mistakes or giving away sensitive information. It refers to manipulative acts performed by hackers to get people to give up confidential information, or perform actions that may compromise their computer system.
Recently, a Twitter hack affecting top politicians and celebrities in the United States has helped a Bitcoin wallet receive over $100,000 via at least 300 transactions. Terming the massive widespread hacking attack of Twitter accounts as “a coordinated social engineering attack“, it included bogus tweets from technology moguls, politicians and celebrities including Barack Obama, Joe Biden, Mike Bloomberg, Jeff Bezos, Bill Gates, Elon Musk, Kanye West and his wife, Kim Kardashian West.
- Social engineering is one form of cyber-attack that is often used to gain an initial entry point into an organisation.
- Social engineering is highly effective as it exploits human vulnerabilities which, unlike computer vulnerabilities, are difficult to pinpoint and fix.
- Social engineering attacks happen in one or more steps.
- A perpetrator first investigates the intended victim to gather necessary background information, such as potential points of entry and weak security protocols, needed to proceed with the attack.
- Then, the attacker moves to gain the victim’s trust and provide stimuli for subsequent actions that break security practices, such as revealing sensitive information or granting access to critical resources.
- What makes social engineering especially dangerous is that it relies on human error, rather than vulnerabilities in software and operating systems.
- Mistakes made by legitimate users are much less predictable, making them harder to identify and thwart than a malware-based intrusion.
Some of the most common methods of social engineering are:
- Sending emails or posts on social media that get people to click on attachments, click on links, or go to a website.
- Getting people to give up passwords or information.
- Enticing people to give access to computers and devices through a compromised USB Drive.
- Including links to compromised sites in search results or ads on legitimate websites
- The implications are huge given the fact that the most powerful and popular accounts have been hacked.
- Given the influence Twitter has over political conversations globally, and in the US in particular, the verified handles of so many politicians being compromised at the same time does not augur well for the platform.
- The incident is also critical because it has happened in an election year.
- Last elections, the conversation in the US was also about social media being manipulated for political gain.
- Train and train again when it comes to security awareness.
- Review existing processes, procedures and separation of duties for financial transfers and other important transactions.
- Don’t open emails and attachments from suspicious sources – If you don’t know the sender in question, you don’t need to answer an email.
- Use multifactor authentication – One of the most valuable pieces of information attackers seek are user credentials. Using multifactor authentication helps ensure your account’s protection in the event of system compromise.
- Be wary of tempting offers – If an offer sounds too enticing, think twice before accepting it as fact.
- Keep your antivirus/antimalware software updated – Make sure automatic updates are engaged, or make it a habit to download the latest signatures first thing each day.
- Review, refine and test your incident management and phishing reporting systems.
India’s preparedness for Cybersecurity:
- Information Technology Act, 2000: The act regulates use of computers, computer systems, computer networks and also data and information in electronic format.
- Strategies under National Cyber Policy, 2013
- Creating a secure cyber ecosystem and creating mechanisms for security threats and responses to the same through national systems and processes.
- National Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-in) functions as the nodal agency for coordination of all cyber security efforts, emergency responses, and crisis management.
- Securing e-governance by implementing global best practices, and wider use of Public Key Infrastructure.
- Protection and resilience of critical information infrastructure with the National Critical Information Infrastructure Protection Centre (NCIIPC) operating as the nodal agency.
- Cyber Surakshit Bharat Initiative: It was launched in 2018 with an aim to spread awareness about cybercrime and building capacity for safety measures for Chief Information Security Officers (CISOs) and frontline IT staff across all government departments.
- National Cyber Security Coordination Centre (NCCC): In 2017, the NCCC was developed. Its mandate is to scan internet traffic and communication metadata (which are little snippets of information hidden inside each communication) coming into the country to detect real-time cyber threats.
- Cyber Swachhata Kendra: In 2017, this platform was introduced for internet users to clean their computers and devices by wiping out viruses and malware.
- International cooperation: Looking forward to becoming a secure cyber ecosystem, India has joined hands with several developed countries like the United States, Singapore, Japan, etc. These agreements will help India to challenge even more sophisticated cyber threats.
Cyber awareness must be spread and there should be multi-stakeholder approach- technological inputs, legal inputs, strengthening law enforcements, systems and then dealing with trans-border crime involves lot of international cooperation.
General Studies – 4
Topic: Attitude: content, structure, function; its influence and relation with thought and behavior; moral and political attitudes; social influence and persuasion.
Why this question:
History has shown that epidemics and pandemics tend to provoke xenophobia and stigma. This was the case with diseases such as Ebola and MERS and it is now the case with COVID-19. An increasing number of news reports document instances of stereotyping, harassment and bullying directed at people perceived to be of certain vulnerable sections following the spread of the new coronavirus.
Structure of the answer:
Define what is stereotyping. The give a brief about how the pandemic has further intensified the stereotyping in society. Talk about how Groups labelled COVID-19 superspreaders represent some of the most vulnerable categories in Indian society.
discuss how the various kinds of stereotyping has begun since the pandemic began. Substantiate it with examples like Superspreaders especially the vulnerable sections of society.
E.g.: a number of groups are labelled superspreaders. Prominent examples of such groups include those who attended the Tablighi Jamaat religious congregation in Delhi, workers providing essential services (vegetable/fruit vendors, pharmacists, garbage collectors, grocery and milk sellers, bus conductors), and migrant workers returning to their hometowns. In the category of essential workers, the vegetable vendors in Ahmedabad city and the Koyambedu vegetable market in Chennai have received significant media attention.
Explain the ramifications of such stereotyping on such people and how it defeats the entire fight against the pandemic.
E.g. : Research documents a range of negative consequences (direct and indirect) associated with negative stereotyping, such as discrimination and hostility, negative attitudes, and a lingering effect of lack of self-control and aggression. Such outcomes are already visible in India. Incidents of people, particularly Muslims, being harassed for their suspected affiliation with Tablighi Jamaat have been reported. The Orissa High Court, in its order early May (which was stayed by the Supreme Court), required migrants, returning from other parts of the country, test negative before they were allowed to enter the State, without specifying who would pay for the cost of tests and the fate of those who would test positive.
Provide measures that are needed to overcome these challenges.
Give a balanced conclusion as to how this needs to be overcome to fight the pandemic in a holistic and effective manner.
Stereotyping is a situation when one judges an individual or a group of people based on his/her own and others opinions and experiences. Stereotypes are characteristics imposed upon groups of people because of their race, nationality, and sexual orientation. Stereotypes are not always accurate and even if positive, can be harmful.
The COVID-19 pandemic has further intensified the stereotyping in society. There are many groups labelled COVID-19 superspreaders, who represent some of the most vulnerable categories in Indian society.
In the recent days, there have been many instances where individuals and groups of individuals have been stereotyped. In the discourse on COVID-19 in India, there are signs of superspreader becoming such a negative label. This has mostly been the vulnerable categories of the society.
For instance, they include various individuals like a Sikh religious guru in Punjab returning from an affected country, a person who runs a private technical school in Odisha, an employee of a reputed firm in NOIDA, a fruit vendor in Vadodara, a police officer in Jammu, a truck driver in Vijayawada, and a housekeeping staff at a hotel in Bengaluru. Examples of groups include those who attended the Tablighi Jamaat religious congregation in Delhi, workers providing essential services (vegetable/fruit vendors, pharmacists, garbage collectors, grocery and milk sellers, bus conductors), and migrant workers returning to their hometowns.
Stereotyping a group will have undesirable consequences for its individual members, if the label carries negative evaluation.
The negative fallouts of stereotyping:
- Negative consequences (direct and indirect) associated with negative stereotyping, such as discrimination and hostility, negative attitudes, and a lingering effect of lack of self-control and aggression. Such outcomes are already visible in India.
- Incidents of people, particularly Muslims, being harassed for their suspected affiliation with Tablighi Jamaat have been reported.
- The Orissa High Court, in its order early May (which was stayed by the Supreme Court), required migrants, returning from other parts of the country, test negative before they were allowed to enter the State, without specifying who would pay for the cost of tests and the fate of those who would test positive.
- the Kerala Chief Minister expressed concerns over rising infections in Kerala after the State borders were reopened, but suggested that “it was wrong to dub expatriates as super spreaders”.
- A local newspaper in Ahmedabad had a headline, “Ahmedabad, beware of super spreaders” while reporting that the number of vegetable vendors and kirana store owners testing positive for COVID-19 in Ahmedabad had been on the rise.
- The Dadra and Nagar Haveli and Daman and Diu administration banned vegetable vendors from Gujarat to enter the Union Territory with the fear of vegetable vendors being superspreaders.
- These vulnerable groups are less likely to have access to good health care, more vulnerable to economic shocks caused by the illness, and little voice in the political process to defend their rights.
Need for addressing the stereotyping:
- Decades of research show discrimination is associated with poorer health and mental health among LGBTQ, Asian American, African American, American Indian, Alaska Native, Muslim American and Latin populations.
- Stigmatized groups are particularly vulnerable during epidemics and pandemics — and it can put them and others at increased risk.
- That’s because stigma can lead people to hide symptoms of illness to avoid discrimination. They may not seek health care when they need it and may further isolate themselves, which comes with its own health risks.
- stigmatized groups are more likely to be un- or underinsured, to have difficulty accessing culturally appropriate care, and to face bias in health-care systems, all of which ultimately compound the difficulty of containing the spread of viruses.
Way forward to reduce the stereotyping:
- Spread the facts: People are more susceptible to biases and stereotypes when they lack accurate information. Clear, concise and culturally appropriate communication — in multiple forms and in multiple languages — is needed to reach broad segments of the population, with particular focus on marginalized communities.
- Engage social influencers: Faith leaders, business leaders, elected officials and celebrities can be very effective in modeling appropriate communication and denouncing efforts to link epidemics with specific geographic areas and populations.
- Amplify the voices of people with lived experience with coronavirus: Most people who contract the virus recover, and it can be reassuring to the public to hear their experiences, particularly when these individuals reflect the diversity of our communities.
- Portray different ethnic groups in public information materials: Images of diverse communities working together to reduce risk can powerfully communicate messages of solidarity and shared commitments to health and well-being.
- Promote ethical journalism: Media reports which focus on individual behavior and infected individuals’ “responsibility” for having and spreading the virus can stigmatize these individuals. News consumers should insist on responsible media reports that emphasize prevention practices, symptoms to look for and when to seek care.
- Correct myths, rumors and stereotypes, and challenge those whose language promotes bias: We all have a responsibility to correct stigmatizing language, and to challenge myths. No elected official should use language linking any epidemic to a particular people or geographic region, and challenging such language is a civic responsibility. Similarly, separating fact from rumor is important in an era when people are distrustful of information sources.
Bias, stigma and discrimination are public health threats. They damage the health, mental health and well-being of stigmatized groups. They also make it harder to contain current and future epidemics. We all share responsibility for good public health practice. Just as we know to wash our hands and maintain appropriate social distance, we should practice good behaviors when it comes to embracing and valuing diverse peoples and communities.
Topic: Public/Civil service values and Ethics in Public administration: Status and problems; ethical concerns and dilemmas in government and private institutions; laws, rules, regulations and conscience as sources of ethical guidance; accountability and ethical governance; strengthening of ethical and moral values in governance; ethical issues in international relations and funding; corporate governance.
Reference: Ethics by Lexicon
Why this question:
The question is to examine the role of Social influence on public service.
Key demand of the question:
The answer must explain what is social influence, its reach, effect on public services.
Discuss – This is an all-encompassing directive – you have to debate on paper by going through t give reasons for the details of the issues concerned by examining each one of them. You have to both for and against arguments.
Structure of the answer:
Briefly state what you understand by social influence.
Discuss the following aspects:
How does social influence affect behaviour? – Social influence occurs when a person’s emotions, opinions or behaviours are affected by others intentionally or unintentionally. Social influence takes many forms and can be seen in conformity, socialization, peer pressure, obedience, leadership, persuasion, sales, and marketing.
Quote examples to justify – Our beliefs, attitudes, and behaviours are influenced by many things, and often produce automated behaviour. Principles of social influence, or the ways in which we are influenced, include the reciprocity principle, commitment and consistency, social proof, liking, authority, and scarcity.
Then relate it to public services.
Conclude with whether social influence is good or bad for public services, form a balanced opinion.
Social influence occurs when a person’s emotions, opinions, or behaviours are affected by others. Social influence takes many forms and can be seen in conformity, socialization, peer pressure, obedience, leadership, persuasion, sales, and marketing.
Growing concerns about the use of coercive and other manipulative psychological techniques underline the need to improve understanding of the ethics of social influence.
- Persuasion is symbolic process in which communicators try to convince other people through transmission of a message to change their attitudes or behaviours.
- Persuasion can occur through appeals to reason or appeals to emotion. For example, school-based substance abuse prevention programs using the social influences model consistently produce better results than programs emphasizing only health information.
- They are used to appeal to a person’s attitude, behavior and cognition. Advertisements are the robust examples of persuasion.
- The Social Media is playing a major role today in persuading people for both good and bad deeds.
- The government has also utilized this tool for the success of the initiatives like Swachh Bharat Abhiyaan- cleanliness drives; Ujjwala Yojana’s Give it up campaign; Disclosing excess income campaign; Beti Bachao Beti Padhao by making parents understand it is necessary to protect and educate a girl child.
- Compliance is when an individual changes his or her behavior in response to an explicit or implicit request made by another person.
- Compliance is often referred to as an active form of social influence in that it is usually intentionally initiated by a person.
- It is also conceptualized as an external form of social influence in that its focus is a change in overt behavior.
- Although compliance may sometimes occur as a result of changes in people’s internal beliefs and/or feelings, such internal changes are not the primary goal of compliance, nor are they necessarily required for the request to be successful.
- Example: following the traffic rules, paying taxes on time.
- Conformity refers to when people adjust their behaviours, attitudes, feelings, and/or beliefs to fit to a group norm.
- Conformity is generally regarded as a passive form of influence in that members of the group do not actively attempt to influence others.
- People merely observe the actions of group members and adjust their behaviours and/or views accordingly. The focus of conformity can be either external (overt behaviours) or internal (beliefs and feelings) in nature.
- Main factor that influences conformity is social norms. Social norms are the expected behaviour within a specific culture or society.
- Example: Treating all genders equally; Coming from a poor background, helps sensitive about the concerns of poor more than just studying their problems; If other officers are corrupt, then I it may tempt an honest officer also to be corrupt.
- Obedience is a change in behavior as a result of a direct command from an authority figure.
- Obedience is an active form of influence in that it is usually directly initiated by an authority figure and is typically external in that overt behaviours are generally the focus of commands.
- Example: Respecting elders; an employee will follow the orders of his supervisors in order to please them.
Thus, there are many things that influence behaviour in people, whether that be their own beliefs and opinions or other people being around them at the time.