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SECURE SYNOPSIS: 20 July 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.


General Studies – 1


 

Topic: History of the world will include events from 18th century such as industrial revolution, world wars, redrawal of national boundaries, colonization, decolonization, political philosophies like communism, capitalism, socialism etc.— their forms and effect on the society.,

1. The transition from apartheid to democracy in South Africa was largely peaceful in as much as there was no open civil war or large-scale bloodshed as international commentators had forecasted. Discuss the stellar role of Nelson Mandela in this. (250 words)

Reference: The Wire

Why this question

Nelson Mandela led the struggle against an inhuman political system in South Africa, and he skilfully piloted the transition from apartheid to democracy despite dire predictions that the country would descend into civil war.

Directive word

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.

Key demand of the question.

The question wants us to explain in detail the role played by Nelson Mandela by exemplifying his contributions to the struggle in South Africa.

Structure of the answer

Introduction:

Give a brief introduction about Nelson Mandela.

Body-

Discuss in points the contributions and the struggle of Nelson Mandela in decolonization and fight against Apartheid in South Africa.

Highlight how Mandela was influenced by Gandhiji’s principles of Non-violence.

How Mandela’s compassionate vision led to a non-violent struggle and avoided the Civil war in apartheid conditions. Under Mandela’s stewardship South Africa initiated the project of reconciling with the past rather than retributive justice.

Conclusion:

Based on your discussion, form a fair and a balanced conclusion.

Introduction

Nelson Mandela led the struggle against an inhuman political system in South Africa, and he skilfully piloted the transition from apartheid to democracy despite dire predictions that the country would descend into civil war.

Body

Apartheid: Brief Background

  • Apartheid was a system of institutionalized racial segregation that existed in South Africa from 1948s to early 1990s for Imperial gains.
  • It was characterized by authoritarian political culture based on baasskap (white supremacy).
  • The economic legacy and social effects of apartheid continue to the present day.
  • Under apartheid, non-white South Africans (a majority of the population) would be forced to live in separate areas from whites and use separate public facilities.
    • Contact between the two groups would be limited.
    • Despite strong and consistent opposition to apartheid within and outside of South Africa, its laws remained in effect for the better part of 50 years.
  • Social impact: By 1950, the government had banned marriages between whites and people of other races. In some cases, the legislation split families; parents could be classified as white, while their children were classified as coloured.
    • A series of Land Acts set aside more than 80 percent of the country’s land for the white minority, and “pass laws” required non-whites to carry documents authorizing their presence in restricted areas.
  • While non-whites were confined to squalid ghettoes with few decent educational and employment opportunities, whites were afforded the basic privileges of life in a democracy.

Role of Nelson Mandela

  • The primary organization leading the struggle against apartheid was the African National Congress (ANC). The ANC was founded in 1913 in response to the oppression of non-white South Africans at the hands of the white ruling class.
  • In 1943, Nelson Mandela—then a law student—joined the ANC and co-founded its youth division, the ANCYL.
  • Mandela and other young activists had begun to advocate for a mass campaign of agitation against apartheid. In 1949, the ANCYL gained control of the ANC and a year later Mandela was elected national president of the ANCYL.
  • In a 1955 article, Nelson Mandela—then a leading activist in the growing fight against apartheid—described the horrors of the system and the brutal means by which it was enforced.
  • During their nonviolent resistance, many protesters were rounded up and arrested as the government moved to outlaw any opposition. Mandela and several colleagues were arrested in the 1950s, but they were ultimately acquitted at the end of a long treason trial in 1961.
  • In response to this growing repression by security forces and the clampdown on nonviolent forms of dissent, Mandela and other ANC leaders decided that the movement should have an armed wing.
  • The armed wing of the ANC (Umkhonto we Sizwe, or Spear of the Nation) carried out acts of sabotage designed to destroy government property without killing civilians—detonating bombs to destroy government military installations, transportation infrastructure, and power plants.
  • In two trials in 1962 and 1963, Mandela was found guilty of inciting workers’ strikes and sabotage and conspiracy to violently overthrow the government.
  • He was sentenced to life in prison and spent the next 27 years of his life behind bars, often under brutal conditions.
  • Although he was side-lined from direct participation in the movement while in prison, Mandela became a symbol—both in South Africa and internationally—of the struggle against injustice.
  • De Klerk freed Nelson Mandela on February 11, 1990. A new constitution, which enfranchised blacks and other racial groups, took effect in 1994, and elections that year led to a coalition government with a non-white majority, marking the official end of the apartheid system.

Peaceful Transition to democracy

  • On the eve of South Africa’s first democratic elections in 1994, few observers thought that the day would pass without bloodshed.
  • A smooth transition toward democracy seemed very unlikely. Having been in a state of emergency from 1985 to 1990, the country had suffered from years of civil war­–like conditions.
  • In the early 1990s, the police force of the apartheid regime, white suprem­acists, and secessionist Zulus had massacred members of the African National Congress.
  • The elections were marked by the enthusiasm surrounding the universal right to vote for the first time and there were no major incidents that would have marred the momentous event.
  • The ANC won with 62 percent of the votes, and Nelson Mandela, freed four years before after twenty-seven years of imprisonment, became the first president of a democratic South Africa

Conclusion

The political and moral lesson to be drawn from Nelson Mandela is thus his determination to fight against oppression and injustice, his refusal to renounce his principles and values, and his unfailing courage to make difficult decisions and to speak the truth—a valuable lesson for the contemporary world.

 


General Studies – 2


 

Topic: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.

2. The existing law is inadequate to deter incidents of custodial torture. Critically analyze. (250 words)

Reference: The Hindu 

Why this question

Custodial torture is an inhuman and barbaric practice, which has been in vogue since ages, except in most of the modern liberal democracies, where it has been abolished. In this context it is important to discuss whether India also needs an anti-torture legislation or not. It is therefore essential to examine whether the existing law is inadequate to deter incidents of custodial torture.

Directive word

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. based on our discussion we have to form a concluding opinion on the issue.

Key demand of the question.

The question wants us to dig deeper into the issue of custodial torture in India and bring out the reasons as to why there is a need for an anti-torture legislation in India.

Structure of the answer

Introduction:

Mention about the huge pendency of cases in Indian courts of law and mention the prevalence of 3rd degree as an accepted form of custodial torture in India. Mention the alleged torture of a father-son duo in Sattankulam town in Tamil Nadu has once again given rise to the demand for a separate law against torture.

Body-

Discuss in points as to why custodial torture is an inhuman practice. E.g

  • The practice of custodial power is about men — and sometimes, women — who are in positions of power, even if for a brief while and over a limited terrain, having custody over a powerless person.
  • It is about the use of custodial opportunity to torture the captive’s body and mind.
  • And there, in that arena of wantonness, it becomes something of a sport for the human “Gods” that rule mere humans.
  • Custodial death, when not ‘natural’, is the extreme end-point of custodial torture.
  • The death penalty, notwithstanding ‘due process’, is a close kin to this lawless and heartless game etc.

Discuss why there is a need for an anti-torture legislation in India.

  • Torture is not defined in the Indian Penal Code, but the definitions of ‘hurt’ and ‘grievous hurt’ are clearly laid down.
  • India has practised and continues to practise the ‘third degree’ with impunity.
  • India has signed but not ratified the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.
  • Without such a law, there is no meaning to signing the Convention.
  • Mention about the lapsed bill.
  • Mention some Human Rights Commission reports which highlight custodial torture in India etc.

Conclusion:

Based on your discussion, form a fair and a balanced conclusion on the given issue.

Introduction

The alleged torture of a father-son duo in Sattankulam town in Tamil Nadu has once again given rise to the demand for a separate law against torture.

Body

Custodial Torture: Inhumane policing

  • Common Cause’s recent large national-level survey on the Status of Policing in India affirms the force’s easy camaraderie with violent means.
    • Three out of five personnel believe there is nothing wrong with beating up criminals and four out of five think it’s okay to bash them up to extract a confession.
    • One in five even believes that killing dangerous criminals is better than a legal trial.
  • These widely held attitudes show up how flimsy the orientation to working within the law is at training; how deep is the sub-culture of ferocious machismo; and how high the tolerance for illegality within the supervisory cadre is.

Need for anti-custodial torture legislation in India

  • Torture is not defined in the Indian Penal Code, but the definitions of ‘hurt’ and ‘grievous hurt’ are clearly laid down.
  • Though the definition of ‘hurt’ does not include mental torture, Indian courts have included psychic torture, environmental coercion, tiring interrogative prolixity, and overbearing and intimidatory methods, among others, in the ambit of torture.
  • Torture is an endemic characteristic of Indian policing. A commitment to eradicating it requires the police force as a whole to have zero tolerance for the practice besides a specific anti-torture law.
  • India took its time to sign on the 1984 UN Convention Against Torture and signed on only in 1997 even though the absolute prohibition against the use of torture has long been established as a worldwide But ratification, the next step, obligates countries to pass laws at home that reflect the articles in the UN law. For 22 years, ratification has been left pending.
  • The few sporadic attempts to pass a brand-new law have come to naught. In 2010, a weak and much criticised Prevention of Torture Bill lapsed. In 2016, the Law Commission drafted its own even more diluted version.
  • Meanwhile, the NHRC has consulted with civil society to make its own suggestions to the home ministry and there the matter lies — and has lain for a long time. In the meantime, Parliament has heard that for 2019, the NHRC has registered over 400 cases of alleged deaths in police custody and over 5,000 cases pertaining to deaths in judicial custody.
  • All these points to an urgent need for anti-torture bill in India.

Way Forward

  • Preventing torture needs old hands in the force to be reoriented, investigators to be skilled up with modern techniques of detection and forensic capacities across the country to be ramped up.
  • At present, the national infrastructure is sorely wanting. The long-delayed human rights courts need to be set up with specially trained judges in place.
  • Agencies like local legal aid authorities must have clear guidelines to assist where there are allegations of torture and be proactive and not continue with bureaucratic procedures that delay service.
  • There is a need for overseeing bodies like the many human rights commissions and police complaints authorities to do the same. It is not as some may imagine a mammoth task but rather one of making changes systematically down the line.

Conclusion

The temptation to use third-degree methods must be replaced with scientific skills. Thus, the need of the hour is to strike at the root cause of the problem and implement recommendations of various commissions to bring in necessary reforms.

 

Topic: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.

3. The struggle of the migrants in India is far from over as they still continue to be vulnerable and abandoned even after going back to their hometowns. Comment. (250 words)

Reference:  Indian Express

Why this question:

Even though Governments announced more than once that needy people will get ration even without a ration card, the fact is that the returnee migrant labourers who don’t have ration cards or their names have been struck off from ration cards because they were not staying in their village, are neither getting the regular quota of ration nor the free quota made available during the coronavirus crisis period.

Key demand of the question:

One must discuss why the lives of migrants are still vulnerable despite moving back to their hometowns and the government assurances. Discuss the reasons

Directive word:

Comment– here we have to express our knowledge and understanding of the issue and form an overall opinion there upon.

Structure of the answer:

Introduction:

Briefly explain the issue of Migrants in the country and the recent reverse migration that took place in India due to the pandemic.

Body:

To start with, explain the issues that are being faced despite Government assurance.

An interaction with around 200 migrant workers from Unnao, Sitapur, Varanasi, Lucknow, Kushinagar and Saharanpur districts in UP, gives a picture very different from what the government has been claiming. Not one of the workers surveyed in these districts has been approached by the government for skill mapping or for providing them guidance for any kind of livelihood options in their home state. Only one of them had received monetary support of Rs 1,000 twice, though about half of them were provided with the 35-kg ration kit — benefits promised to all the returning migrant workers. However, the cash benefit could be availed only by those who had used state-owned transport, which was near absent.

Discuss the various factors behind these issues – lack of political will, administrative hurdles, bureaucratic attitude, illiteracy, etc.

Provide the measures that needs to be taken up immediately and in long term to improve the lives of the migrants.

Conclusion:

Conclude by suggesting solutions and emphasize that migrant issues should be urgently looked into in the country.

Introduction

The critical vulnerabilities of Indian society that the COVID-19 pandemic has exposed are undoubtedly those laid bare by the humanitarian crisis that unfolded as the nation-wide lockdown took effect. The searing images of the endless ordeal of tens of thousands of famished and exhausted “migrant workers” trying to make their way back to their home villages to escape starvation in cities where they work, will endure long after the pandemic is over.

Body

Migrant crisis during pandemic

  • The world’s severest lockdown dealt a body blow to their insecure and fragile urban livelihoods, and many of them also faced imminent eviction.
  • With public transportation shut down, many began their long journeys on foot over distances that could span hundreds of miles.
  • A large number of them died of heat, exhaustion and starvation; and quite a few were killed in horrific accidents. Eg: Migrants killed on rail tracks and road accidents.
  • Extreme poverty and hunger: Without constant source of income or social security, it is the lowest strata of society that is the most affected.
    • Due to lockdown, most essential items were also unavailable for many and led to hunger problems.
  • The multitudes escaping Indian cities more than a century later, however, are mostly employed in an informal labour regime in industries and service sectors increasingly characterised by outsourcing and contracting-out arrangements.
  • The informal or the unorganised sector now accounts for nearly half of India’s GDP and 80 to 90 per cent of the labour force (including non-plantation agriculture).
  • Loss of wages: A report by the Stranded Workers Action Network, found the majority of them to be factory or construction workers on a daily wage.
    • The rest earned their daily wages as drivers, domestic workers, and self-employed workers — among them were street vendors and those engaged in zari embroidery work.

Factors that are responsible for the crisis

  • Political exclusion: The political class ignores them because they don’t count as votes, especially in the case of inter-state migrants.
  • Language barrier: Many migrants—especially those who relocate to a place where the local language and culture is different from that of their region of origin—also face harassment and political exclusion.
  • No say in the big decisions: The cities were built on the hard labour and exploitation of migrant workers, but they never entered the consciousness of the architects; instead, they are considered part of the problem in cities.
  • Unrepresented: Due to their mobile nature, they don’t find any place in the manifestos of trade unions. They spend their whole day on worksites and silently sneak into perilous shelters at night, without the cities even noticing them.
  • Bureaucratic apathy: The current crisis shows how the most vulnerable are the most excluded from the decision making. Even the support for migrants came late and was marred by shoddy implementation.

Measures to be taken

  • Non-farm employment: The government could try and make accessible non-farm employment closer to the migrants’ native places. This might require various forms of infrastructure upgrade in some of India’s most under-developed areas.
    • Atmanirbhar Bharat has a special component from migrants. Recently, housing was to be made available them under Awaas
    • Food security will be taken care once One Nation One Ration Card is implemented throughout the country.
  • Immediate relief for distressed: Cash transfers can protect traditional supply chains for essential goods. In Delhi, for example, the local government is setting up shelters and food distribution points to stop rural migration, though not at a fast-enough rate.
  • Easing migration: A more realistic route would be for the government itself to help ease the process of migration. This should be done in partnership with the private sector.
    • There are mechanisms across the world that can be examined for effectiveness in this regard.
    • One such would be the creation and management of dormitory-style housing.
    • This could be made from low-cost and pre-fabricated materials to a standard design. It must be ensured that the roll-out is rapid and the final product familiar to workers.
  • Prioritising dedicated transport options for migrants to prevent overcrowding, especially along high-intensity migration corridors.
  • Special Measures should also take into account the particular situation of migrant women, who are among those most economically vulnerable and impacted by the situation.
  • Community engagement and NGO participation: City governments must work more closely with community leaders and NGOs that work in informal settlements and other at-risk communities – both to better understand what’s happening on the ground and communicate key health messages.

Conclusion

Governments at all levels must ensure that any policy intervention must be inclusive of all and especially the most vulnerable sections of the society. The immediate concern should be to address the issue of poverty, hunger and unemployment. A good social security scheme backed by welfare measures for migrants will truly help achieve Atmanirbharta and India would finally tread the path of Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas and Sabka Vishwaas.

 


General Studies – 3


 

Topic: Major crops-cropping patterns in various parts of the country, – different types of irrigation and irrigation systems storage, transport and marketing of agricultural produce and issues and related constraints; e-technology in the aid of farmers.

4. Good seeds are catalysts for change in agriculture. Critically Analyse the potential of private companies which can help India emerge as an important seed producer and an exporter to World. (250 words)

Reference:  Indian Express 

Why this question:

Good seeds are catalysts for change in agriculture. The Green Revolution was ushered in by the import of 18,000 tonnes of high-yielding varieties of wheat seeds, Lerma Rojo and Sonora-64, and IR-8 rice seeds. Today, our granaries are full and India is atmanirbhar in staple crops, thanks to those seeds and the research conducted by the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) to improve them.

India can emerge as an important seed producer and a large exporter of seeds to many developing countries in South and South-east Asia as well as Africa. The country can produce very competitively-priced seeds for hybrid rice, hybrid corn, hybrid Bt HT cotton, and several vegetables including tomato, potato and okra, provided we set our regulatory system right.

Key demand of the question:

One must analyse how the private companies in India can help in providing Good seeds which are the key for flourishing agriculture. Further one must analyse the pros and cons of handing the responsibility of seed production to Private companies w.r.t to farmers and agricultural nation which India is.

Directive word:

Critically analyze – When asked to analyze, you have to examine methodically the structure or nature of the topic by separating it into component parts and present them as a whole in a summary. When ‘critically’ is suffixed or prefixed to a directive, one needs to look at the good and bad of the topic and give a fair judgement.

Structure of the answer:

Introduction:

write a few introductory lines about the importance of good seeds for agriculture and the prospects it holds.

Body:

Discuss the potential that the private seed companies hold in making India an important seed producer and a large exporter of seeds to many developing countries in South and South-east Asia as well as Africa.

Discuss the cons of giving complete seed development responsibilities vis-à-vis the farmers.

Provide measures that can help regulate this.

Conclusion:

based on your discussion, form a fair and a balanced conclusion on the given issue.

Introduction

India can emerge as an important seed producer and a large exporter of seeds to many developing countries in South and South-east Asia as well as Africa. The country can produce very competitively-priced seeds provided we set our regulatory system right.

Body

Importance of good seeds in agriculture

  • Quality seeds are India’s lifeline. Farming, food and the livelihood of over 60 per cent of the Indian population depend on them.
  • Seed is the basic and most critical input for sustainable agriculture. The response of all other inputs depends on quality of seeds to a large extent.
  • It is estimated that the direct contribution of quality seed alone to the total production is about 15 – 20% depending upon the crop and it can be further raised up to 45% with efficient management of other inputs. The developments in the seed industry in India, particularly in the last 30 years, are very significant.
  • A failed harvest has the potential to curtail our GDP and force millions of Indians into poverty and hunger until the next harvest.
  • Good seeds are catalysts for change in agriculture. The Green Revolution was ushered in by the import of 18,000 tonnes of high-yielding varieties of wheat seeds, Lerma Rojo and Sonora-64, and IR-8 rice seeds.
  • Overall, India depends on seeds to sustain life.

India’s emergence as seed producer: Role of private sector

  • The private sector has started to play a significant role in the seed industry over the last few years.
  • At present, the number of companies engaged in seed production or seed trade is of the order of 400 or 500.
  • However, the main focus of private seed companies has been on the high value low volume seeds and market for low value high volume seeds of cereals, pulses and oilseeds is still dominated by the public sector seed corporations.
  • Private sector companies have a significant place mainly in the case of maize and sunflower and cotton. Yet, in the case of vegetable seeds and planting materials of horticultural crops, the private sector is the dominant player.
  • As the private sector has not been enthusiastic about entering into seed production of high-volume low margin crops of wheat, paddy, other cereals, oilseeds and pulses, the public sector seed corporations will continue to remain dominant in cereals, pulses and oilseeds for many more years to come.
  • Former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee had taken a bold decision to allow Bt cotton in India in March 2002.
  • That decision made India the largest producer of cotton in the world and the second largest exporter of cotton by 2013-14.
  • But since 2014-15, there has been tussle between government and large seed companies, especially multinationals and their Indian joint ventures, on issues such as trait fees.
  • As a result, these companies have almost stopped introducing new generation of seeds, and now there is an “illegal” spread of Bt HT cotton in Maharashtra, 15-20 per cent of the area under the crop has been taken up by this counterfeit variety.
  • This is partly because our regulatory system is complex, and more so because the present government has ideological blinkers against modern science.

Way Forward

  • Enabling environment to encourage R&D, Seed production and distribution
  • The following recommendations of the stakeholders’ interface on GM food crops” held in New Delhi in May 2011 should be positively considered
    • BRAI – Biotechnology Regulatory Authority of India (BRAI) should be made operational soon.
    • Regulatory system needs to be efficient and fool proof without slowing down the release process
    • Transparent procedures for testing, clearance and monitoring GM Crops
  • Fiscal Incentives like Tax exemptions, Credit on soft terms, Duty free import of equipment for R&D and processing
  • Infrastructure building in PPP through nationwide mission mode approach like TUFS

 

Topic: Challenges to internal security through communication networks, role of media and social networking sites in internal security challenges.

5. Fake news is travelling much faster than the coronavirus in India. In the light of the spread of misinformation regarding COVID-19 on social media networks, analyse the apprehensions associated with the spread of fake news in the present context. Propose suitable measures to tackle it. (250 words).

Reference: The Hindu 

Why this question:

Misinformation linked to supposed cures for COVID-19 and misleading claims have proliferated on social media networks. A video clip showed hundreds of patients in an OPD not wearing masks or observing social distancing norms, waiting for their turn while a man claiming to be a doctor was begging for help. As the video went viral, Victoria Hospital authorities dismissed it and said that the incident happened in a hospital in North India and not in Bengaluru.

Key demand of the question:

One must analyze the apprehensions associated with the spread of fake news in the present context.

Directive:

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

Structure of the answer:

Introduction:

Define fake news.

Body:

Explain Fake News pandemic in India:

India is not an exception to the virus of fake news. The world too is struggling with the deluge of misinformation about the evolving pandemic. The fake news surrounding the origin of the virus, its subsequent spread and threats it poses have nearly engulfed every nation, although with varied intensity.

In the light of the pandemic, the social media platforms have witnessed:

  • Misleading claims on supposed cures and posts related to ‘treatments’ that are not proven.
  • Medicine sales pitches or claims of techniques to prevent exposure and infection that are either not proven and/or filled with a lot of misleading information.
  • Conspiracy theories about the outbreak.
  • Instructions for individuals to stock up on supplies and food.
  • The misinformation about the pandemic has been deadly. False reports have appeared in numerous countries.
  • an influential study by the Vaccine Confidence Project (VCP) found more than 240 million digital and social media messages globally on COVID-19 by mid-March, at an average of 3.08 million daily messages. A vast majority of these messages were found to be false or very misleading in their intent.

Discuss the concerns involved:

issue of panic buying, claims can cause confusion among the public, discrimination of vulnerable sections, mob lynching etc.

Conclusion:

Conclude with suitable measures to tackle the issue.

Introduction

The world has been battling a deluge of misinformation and influence operations for a long time now. In fact, society, today is experiencing something called an ‘information disorder’ where it has become extremely difficult to disambiguate truth from falsehood.

Fake news is a deliberate lie or a half-truth circulated with the intention to mislead or cause harm to a section of people. It is a type of yellow journalism that consists of deliberate misinformation or hoaxes spread via the traditional print, broadcasting news media, or via Internet-based social media.

Body

Apprehensions associated with the spreak of fake news

  • Creating fear and Panic: A small indiscretion of forwarding an unverified message can lead to loss of life or cause a serious disturbance of public order.
    • With governmental and public resources pushed to limits, it is incumbent upon the general public to perform diligence in their interactions with reference to the Pandemic.
    • On April 16, a group of villagers in Palghar district of Maharashtra dragged out three men out of their car and beat them to death on suspicion that they were thieves. The attack on the three took place amid a nationwide lockdown.
  • Communalizing the pandemic: The Tablighi incident during the coronavirus pandemic added fuel to already tense environment in Delhi and elsewhere. News regarding the same circulated widely on social media, unabated, further giving the pandemic a communal color.
  • False remedies such as distributing unchecked concoctions, medicines and herbs at egregious prices to unsuspicious innocent people online. It may lead to worsening the underlying conditions in people and endanger their lives.
    • Eg: Iran, a fake remedy of ingesting methanol has reportedly led to 300 deaths, and left many more sick.
  • Accountability issues: Challenges with respect to fixing the liability of intermediaries. It is also difficult to trace the origin of fake news circulation.

Measures to tackle misinformation

  • Strict Law enforcement: Section 505(1) of Indian Penal Code, 1860: The punishment for making, publishing or circulating any statement, rumour or report which may cause fear or alarm to the public, or to any section of the public.
    • Section 66D of Information Technology Act: Whoever, by means for any communication device or computer resource cheats by personating. Punishment includes imprisonment of for a term which may extend to three years and shall also be liable to fine which may extend to one lakh rupees.
    • Section 54 of the Disaster Management Act, 2005: Whoever makes or circulates a false alarm or warning as to disaster or its severity or magnitude, leading to panic. Punishment is Imprisonment which may extend to one year or with fine.
  • Ascertaining the source and origin of the message. If one is not sure of the authenticity and correctness of the message or its content, one may make attempts to be sure of the veracity of the matter before forwarding it to others.
  • Behavioural nudge: In this approach—known as “accuracy nudge intervention”—from social media companies could limit the spread of misinformation.
  • The world’s biggest social media companies, including Facebook, Google, Twitter and ByteDance, are exploring an industry-wide alliance to curb fake news on their platforms in India.
    • The proposed alliance — to be named the Information Trust Alliance (ITA) — will be a grouping of digital platforms and publishers, fact checkers, civil society and academia that will aim to control the spread of harmful content, including fake news and hate speech.
  • Facebook has announced that it currently has over 500 full-time employees and at least 3,500 external contractors who focus on election work, on top of the 30,000 people across the company focused on safety and security issues.
  • Use factchecking services, there are many reputed factchecking sites, which help people to verify claims made on social media or messages which have gone viral. Eg : Whatsapp checkpoint Tipline, The logical Indian.
  • The recent initiative of WhatsApp’s launching of a ‘Coronavirus Information Hub’ in partnership with International Fact-Checking Network (IFCN), World Health Organization (WHO), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) is an appreciable move.

Conclusion

The state and its different enforcement apparatus have to remain ever vigilant in the online and virtual worlds to protect individuals and society from the lurking dangers of an Infodemic, fake news and hate speech. This entails timely detection of content before it goes viral and causes widespread damage, taking it down with the help of social media platforms and intermediaries and tracing the sources of such mischief. Media outlets and the press also have an enhanced responsibility to make people aware and increase literacy about the menace of fake news and misinformation.

 


General Studies – 4


 

Topic: Dimensions of ethics.

6. Technological innovations which greatly influence human values are on the rise. In this light, Discuss the necessity of mainstreaming of ethics with technology. (250 words)

Reference: Ethics by Lexicon

Why this question:

The article highlights the need for Ethics in the time of technology. An external advisory council, the Advanced Technology External Advisory Council (ATEAC) — essentially an ethics council to guide new technologies was set up by Google in March last year, the article highlights failure of conception, planning and execution of ethics by the technology giant.

Demand of the question:

The answer must evaluate need of ethics in technology. One has to highlight that for the benefit of technology users, companies building technologies must make efforts to raise awareness of their potential human risks and be honest about how people’s data is used by their innovations.

Directive word:

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

Structure of the answer:

Introduction

Start by explaining the need for ethics in technology.

Body

Discuss what you understand by In technology ethics; issues arising from artificial intelligence, cybersecurity, information technology, biotechnology, and other emerging fields.

Technology ethics is the application of ethical thinking to the practical concerns of technology. The reason technology ethics is growing in prominence is that new technologies give us more power to act, which means that we have to make choices we didn’t have to make before. While in the past our actions were involuntarily constrained by our weakness, now, with so much technological power, we have to learn how to be voluntarily constrained by our judgment: our ethics.

One can throw light on Googles seven principles of ethics – (i) be socially beneficial, (ii) avoid creating or reinforcing unfair bias, (iii) be built and tested for safety, (iv) be accountable to people, (v) incorporate privacy design principles, (vi) uphold high standards of scientific excellence, (vii) be made available for uses that accord with these principles.

Conclusion

Conclude with what needs be done by Highlighting the need for technology ethics.

Introduction

We often see technology as a helping hand or better yet, a path to a better world. But before any of that, we have to lay down the ethics with in it so we can have a moral underground on where to start.

Techno ethics views technology and ethics as socially embedded enterprises and focuses on discovering the ethical use of technology, protecting against the misuse of technology, and devising common principles to guide new advances in technological development and application to benefit society.

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Technology Ethics: Definition

Technology ethics is the application of ethical thinking to the practical concerns of technology. The reason technology ethics is growing in prominence is that new technologies give us more power to act, which means that we have to make choices we didn’t have to make before. While in the past our actions were involuntarily constrained by our weakness, now, with so much technological power, we have to learn how to be voluntarily constrained by our judgment: our ethics.

Need to develop ethics with growing tech-innovation

  • For example, in the past few decades many new ethical questions have appeared because of innovations in medical, communications, and weapons technologies.
  • There used to be no need for brain death criteria, because we did not have the technological power to even ask the question of whether someone was dead when their brain lost functioning – they would have soon died in any case.
    • But with the development of artificial means of maintaining circulation and respiration this became a serious question.
  • Similarly, with communications technologies like social media we are still figuring out how to behave when we have access to so many people and so much information; and the recent problems with fake news reflect how quickly things can go wrong on social media if bad actors have access to the public.
  • Likewise with nuclear weapons, we never used to need to ask the question of how we should avoid a civilization-destroying nuclear war because it simply wasn’t possible, but once those weapons were invented, then we did need to ask that question, and answer it, because we were – and still are – at risk for global disaster.

Concerns with Technology and morality

  • As an example, take artificial intelligence which will make human lives more efficient.
    • But here we must not mistake efficiency for morality – just because something is more efficient does not mean that it is morally better.
    • For example, people can make more efficient weapons – more efficient at killing people and destroying things – but that does not mean they are good or will be used for good. Weapons always reflect a form of damage to the common good
  • Take for instance self-driving cars. It executes as per the algorithm it has been fed. Now, in a hypothetical situation the car has to decide whether to swerve left or right. But in either case there is collateral damage, say of a school bus with students or a pedestrian.
    • Can this decision be taken in a rational manner? It is not possible to choose whom to save or put a price on whose life as being more precious.
  • Another instance can be of the Genome editing technology using CRISPR. This will open a pandora’s box and scientists fear that, it may lead to eugeny and designer babies.
    • The world will be an even more unequal place, with Haves and Have-Nots.

Conclusion

As long as there is technological progress, technology ethics is not going to go away; in fact, questions surrounding technology and ethics will only grow in importance. As we travel this path into the future together, we will choose the kind of future we create. Given our growing technological power, we need to put more and more attention towards ethics if we want to live in a better future and not a worse one.

 

Topic: Contributions of moral thinkers and philosophers from India and world.

7. The life of Mahatma Gandhi is a perfect example of restraint, forgiveness  and magnanimity. Examine the relevance of these attributes in today’s world? (250 words)

Reference: mkgandhi.org

Key demand of the question:

One must discuss about the key human values of controlling one’s desires, forgiving other human beings and being generous. These were few of the important values which Gandhiji had imbibed and practiced throughout his life. Later one must talk about how important these values are in today’s fast developing world and chaos caused by the pandemic.

Directive word:

Examine – When you are asked to examine, you have to probe deeper into the topic, get into details, and find out the causes or implications if any. In the above case, discuss points as highlighted above.

Structure of the answer:

Introduction:

Start by highlighting a few virtues of Gandhiji’s life. Talk about how his life provides example of the following virtues: Restraint, Forgiveness and Magnanimity.

Body:

Define the values of Restraint, Forgiveness and Magnanimity and substantiate those by quoting examples from Gandhiji’s life about how he practiced.

Now discuss the importance of following these values in today’s world. Give examples from various dimensions

Conclusion:

Talk about how important it is to adopt and practice these values in present times. End with a balanced way forward.

Introduction

Mahatma Gandhi (1869 – 1948) was undoubtedly one of the greatest Indians of all times. Honoured as the father of the nation, he pioneered and practiced the principle of Satyagraha—resistance to tyranny through mass nonviolent civil disobedience. While leading nationwide campaigns to ease poverty, expand women’s rights, build religious and ethnic harmony and eliminate the injustices of the caste system, Gandhi supremely applied the principles of nonviolent civil disobedience, playing a key role in freeing India from foreign domination. Thus, he is the perfect example of restraint forgiveness and magnanimity.

Body

Restraint

A measure or condition that keeps someone or something under control. In this context it simply means moderate behaviour or self-control.

Gandhiji had once said that, “self-restraint should not be a conscious effort to drive away evil thoughts because that process is in itself a kind of indulgence. The best prescription is non-resistance, i.e. ignoring the existence of evil thoughts and a continuous pre-occupation with duties that lie in front of one”.

One can take example of the struggle he led in South Africa. Tolerance of the oppression and atrocities and at time harsh imprisonment is a testimony to the restraint and self-control exhibited by Gandhiji. He always went in the path of non-violence and no amount of despotism could change his stance.

Forgiveness

Genuine forgiveness is voluntary and unconditional since it is not motivated by pressure from a third party, nor is it dependent on the apology or recognition of wrongdoing on the part of the offender. Such unilateral measures, which have a strong Gandhian tenor about them, are based on a deep belief in the goodness of human beings and a notion of self that embraces the other.

It is more through an internal process that the forgiver is transformed, so also the forgiven, if he or she is able to receive the gift of forgiveness. The ultimate purpose of forgiveness is restoration of relationships and the reestablishment of connections with the community. Public apologies and seeking and granting of forgiveness create a new dimension to repairing fractured relationships.

Gandhian idea of non-violence is on the premise that having ill-conceived thoughts about others is also violence. Hence, he advocated that we must even forgive and love our enemies. Such was his idea of forgiveness. He said, one must appeal to the conscious of the wrong-doer and by doing so we will truly forgive them for their sins and there is an acceptance of non-violence as a core principle of life. This was demonstrated in many great Satyagrahas such as the Non-cooperation movement and Quit India movement.

Magnanimity

It is the virtue of being great of mind and heart. It encompasses, usually, a refusal to be petty, a willingness to face danger, and actions for noble purposes. Magnanimous comes from Latin magnus “great” and animus “soul,” so it literally describes someone who is big-hearted. A person can show that over-sized spirit by being noble or brave, or by easily forgiving others and not showing resentment.

Gandhiji was an embodiment of magnanimity. He every action and words exuberated this virtue. The picture of Gandhiji nursing a patient suffering from leprosy is a well-known one. Parchure Shastri wrote to Gandhiji asking for his permission to come and stay in his Ashram at Sevagram and even before Gandhiji could reply he had arrived. Gandhiji was in a dilemma.

Knowing that he was suffering from a highly infectious type of leprosy, he was debating within himself whether to allow him to reside in the Ashram where so many men, women and children were living and for whose health and welfare he was responsible. Gandhiji placed his predicament before the Ashramites at the morning prayers.

A neat cottage was hurriedly put up close to Gandhiji’s; he personally nursed him and supervised his diet. Parchure Shastri lived there for two years and recovered sufficiently to act as a priest at a marriage ceremony in Sevagram Ashram in 1940, at Gandhiji’s special request.

Relevance in contemporary times

  • Restraint
    • Nations are developing and acquiring advanced nuclear weapons under the guise of nuclear deterrence. For instance, North Korean nuclear plan poses a threat to the peace in Asia-Pacific. Restraint on nuclear proliferation and universal disarmament would lead to sustainable peace in the world.
    • In the realm of Policing, officials must act with restraint against criminals and wrong-doers instead of resorting to torturous methods to extract confession.
    • Eg: The Hyderabad encounter case in an example that shows non-restraint leads to dismantling the Rule of Law.
    • As individuals, one must have a moderated behaviour towards self-indulgence and try to overcome the need for instant gratification. Eg: Indulgence in food or video games etc.
  • Forgiveness
    • Indian constitution is an example which highlights the power of forgiveness and mercy. President of India has the power to pardon even the death sentence an all such punishments, while concurrent powers exist for Governor in case of life imprisonment.
    • At the societal level, radicalization has become a huge menace with more youths taking up militancy. Yet, the government has come up with deradicalization initiatives with amnesty and help youth in skill development and employment.
    • Same is true for insurgents who were given an opportunity to lay down arms and join the mainstream society, especially in the north-east. Even the naxal problem in the Red-corridor states were handled in the same manner.
  • Magnanimity
    • At the international level, the problems of anti-immigration, racism, refugee crisis and increasing protectionism must be dealt with benevolence.
    • Eg: Rohingyas are one of the most persecuted minorities who are also stateless. In such cases, neighbouring states must accommodate those who are fleeing violence.
    • India embraced Tibetians who fled their home country due to persecution from China.
    • During the Covid pandemic, many celebrities helped the stranded migrants in the cities, to reach to their native villages. Being charitable and empathetic also displays one’s magnanimous character.

Conclusion

The world today is facing humanitarian crisis of unprecedented scales. There is a dearth of morality and virtues that make us humane. To ensure global and universal peace, there is a need for harmony and solidarity among the people of the world. These virtues can aid in the attainment of the same.


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