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SECURE SYNOPSIS: 21 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: Indian culture will cover the salient aspects of Art Forms, Literature and Architecture from ancient to modern times.,

1. India’s north-eastern region is a mosaic of cultures. In this light, Discuss the features and significance of important festivals and dances of the people of India’s north-eastern region. (250 words)

Reference: The Hindu The Hindu 

Why this question

The many festivals in North East India highlight the region’s rich indigenous culture with folk songs, tribal dances, food, and crafts. However, the pandemic has brought a halt to many of the festivals this year.

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 various important festivals of the North-East India and their significance in the lives of the people.

Structure of the answer

Introduction:

Give a brief introduction about festivals of the north-east India. The numerous tribes and sub tribes that populate remote North East India have many rich traditions and faiths, expressed most colourfully in festivals. The festivals held by regional tribes in India’s remotest regions provide a fascinating insight into their unique beliefs and traditions, and are the glue that keeps many tribal communities together.

Body-

Discuss in points the different important festivals and their significance in the lives of the people.

Each festival is a chance to showcase the unique culture, dance and music of the state and its people, and although most are reasonably new events, they are staged to promote and preserve ancient traditions at risk of dying out as young people increasingly leave their remote villages to find work and education in towns and cities

By far the biggest and most well-known celebration is the Hornbill Festival which takes place in Nagaland each year, but there are many others around the region.

  • Aoling Festival
  • Reh Festival
  • Sekrenyi Festival
  • Ziro Festival of Music, Arunachal Pradesh
  • And so on.

Also, talk about the importance from the point of view of tourism potential and economic importance of the festivals. Talk a few words about the issue of pandemic halting the festivals and impacts on the lives of the people.

Conclusion:

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

Introduction:

North-east India is known for its natural beauty and greenery. However, what is most impressive and attractive about this part of India is its unique cultural trends and practices. The festivals held by regional tribes in India’s remotest regions provide a fascinating insight into their unique beliefs and traditions, and are the glue that keeps many tribal communities together. The numerous tribes and sub tribes that populate remote North East India have many rich traditions and faiths, expressed most colourfully in festivals.

The famed Hornbill Festival in Nagaland is unlikely to be held this year in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. The 10-day Hornbill Festival that usually starts on December 1 celebrates the culture and heritage of different tribes of the State. It is attended by lakhs of people from across India and abroad.

Body:

Few of the major festivals are:

  • Hornbill Festival, Nagaland:
    • The Hornbill Festival is perhaps the most famous and largest of the North East India festivals, and its certainly Nagaland’s huge draw card.
    • Named after the state’s most admired bird, the festival showcases the heritage of the 16 tribes there, which in addition to dancing show off their hunting and waring skills.
  • The Aoling Festival of the Konyak Tribe, Nagaland:
    • Once deadly headhunters, the fascinating Konyak tribe now lives peacefully, spending most of their time practicing agriculture, drinking local alcohol, smoking opium and occasionally hunting.
    • After having completed the sowing of seeds each year, the tribe celebrates their most important festival, the Aoling Festival, which marks the beginning of ​the spring season and a new year.
  • Moatsu Festival, Nagaland:
    • Celebrated by the Ao tribes of Nagaland, the Moatsu Festival is a time of great rejoicing as the planting season comes to an end.
    • All activities are associated with the harvest.
  • Bihu Festival, Assam:
    • Assam also has three major cultural festivals a year, all known as Bihu, that mark a particular period on the agricultural calendar.
    • The biggest and most colorful of the three is Bohaag Bihu (also known as Rongali Bihu), which is celebrated at seeding time in spring with plenty of singing and dancing. It also marks the start of the new year there.
    • Kaati Bihu, at the completion of paddy transplanting, is a relatively solemn occasion involving the lighting of lamps to guide souls to heaven.
    • The end of the harvest season is marked by Maagh Bihu (also known as Bhogali Bihu), with bonfires feasting, buffalo fights, and pot breaking.
  • Ambubachi Mela, Assam:
    • A usual Tantric fertility festival, the Ambubachi Mela marks the menstruation period of the Goddess Kamakhya.
    • Her temple is closed for three days while she menstruates and reopens on the fourth day, with a rush of devotees who come to receive bits of cloth that are supposedly soaked with her menstrual fluid.
    • It’s considered to be extremely auspicious and powerful.
    • The festival attracts numerous Tantric sadhus (holy men) from India and abroad.
    • The festival is also popular for its rural crafts fair.
  • Majuli Festival, Assam:
    • People who have been a part of Majuli festival often describe it as one of the most pleasing and beautiful festivals of Northeast India.
    • Celebrated at Garamur, on the banks of the river Luit, the Majuli Festival is a four-day long festival which highlights the exclusive Neo-Vaishnavite culture of the Majuli region in particular, and of Assam as a whole.
  • Wangala Festival, Meghalaya:
    • The Wangala Festival is the biggest harvest festival of the Garo tribe in Meghalaya.
    • Held in honor of the Sun God of fertility, the festival marks the end of the sowing season and agricultural year.
    • It’s celebrated by the beating of drums, blowing horns, and traditional dancing.
    • The highlight is the sound of 100 drums (nagaras) being beaten together.
    • Hence, the alternative name for the festival — the 100 Drum Wangala Festival.
  • Nongkrem Dance Festival, Meghalaya:
    • The annual Nongkrem Dance Festival is a five-day harvest thanksgiving festival of the Khasi tribe.
    • The traditional dance is performed by young men and women dressed up in exquisite attire.
  • Losar Festival, Arunachal Pradesh:
    • One of the most significant festivals of the Buddhist Community in Tawang, Losar commemorates the advent of the new year.
    • The word Losar is derived from two Tibetan words, ‘lo’ which means ‘year’ and ‘sar’ which means ‘new’.
  • Myoko Festival, Arunachal Pradesh:
    • The festival is celebrated among three communities in Ziro — Diibo-Hija, Hari-Bulla, and Hong of Apatani plateau — on a rotational basis.
    • It includes rituals for prosperity, fertility, purification, and sacrifice performed by the village shaman or priest, and many interesting cultural elements such as folk performances and processions.
  • Dree Festival, Arunachal Pradesh:
    • Dree is an agricultural festival of the Apatani tribe. It’s celebrated by sacrificial offerings and prayers to the gods who protect the crops.
    • Folk songs, traditional dances, and other cultural performances have also become a part of the modern-day festivities.
  • Torgya Festival, Arunachal Pradesh:
    • A three-day monastery festival, Torgya is observed by the Monpa tribe of Arunachal Pradesh.
    • The rituals, including the performance of sacred dances by brightly costumed monks in the monastery’s courtyard, are supposed to ward off evil spirits and bring prosperity to the tribe.
  • Mopin Festival, Arunachal Pradesh:
    • Mopin is the harvest festival of the hospitable Galo tribe, focused on the worship of goddess Mopin.
    • It’s celebrated to drive away evil spirits, and for acquiring prosperity and wealth.
    • An indigenous folk dance called Popir, performed by young women, is a highlight of the festival.
    • Traditional rice wine (apong), prepared by Galo women, is also served.
  • Saga Dawa, Sikkim:
    • It is celebrated as a very auspicious occasion in the Tibetan lunar month.
    • Also known as the Triple Blessed Festival, Saga Dawa is supposed to be the Month of Merits for Tibetan Buddhists.
  • Kharchi Puja, Tripura:
    • One of most renowned pujas in Tripura, Kharchi Puja is a sacred procedure of offering reverence to the Mother Earth.
    • The Kharchi Puja continues for seven days and the people of Tripura with utmost dedication offer worship to the Fourteen Deities who are worshipped during Kharchi Puja.
  • Cheiraoba, Manipur:
    • The Manipuri New Year of the Meiteis is celebrated as Meetei Cheiraoba or Sajibu Cheiraoba sometime in March or April.
    • Falling on the first day of the month of Sajibu, Cheiraoba ushers in new beginnings and is celebrated with extensive feasting preparations while also engaging in traditional rites and rituals.
    • What’s perhaps the most exciting and unique aspect of this yet another New Year Festival is the climbing of the Cheiraoching peak.
    • It is believed that the ascent up the peak also prepares individuals for such great rise in their lives.
  • Chapchar Kut, Mizoram:
    • Chapchar Kut is a harvest festival named after the bamboo that has been cut and is drying for burning and subsequent cultivation.
    • The traditional bamboo dance performed by women (while men sit on the ground and beat bamboo sticks against each other), called cheraw, is a big part of the festival.
    • Different styles of tribal dance performances take place amidst symbol clashes and beats of drums.

Apart from these religio-cultural festivals, there are many secular festivals too like that Ziro Festival of Music in Arunachal Pradesh, Anthorium Festival in Mizoram, Shillong Autumn Festival in Meghalaya, Behdienkhlam in Meghalaya and innumerable other festivals. Each festival is a testimony to the diversity of the North-Eastern India.

Conclusion:

Each festival is a chance to showcase the unique culture, dance and music of the state and its people, and although most are reasonably new events, they are staged to promote and preserve ancient traditions at risk of dying out as young people increasingly leave their remote villages to find work and education in towns and cities.

 


General Studies – 2


 

Topic: Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources. Issues relating to poverty and hunger.

2. COVID-19 is both a crisis and an opportunity for health-care reform as well as understanding the interplay of health outcomes with social and economic support interventions, and limitations of law enforcement in managing epidemics. Critically analyze. (250 words)

Reference: The Hindu 

Why this question

Mumbai, Delhi, Chennai, Ahmedabad and Bengaluru are among India’s major metropolitan agglomerations and are also the current foci of the pandemic within the country. This points to both the speed and the scale of the epidemic moving within densely populated areas as well as success in the way sustained municipal efforts and community participation can together blunt the spread of the virus. The case of Dharavi is an example. If innovations to help manage the current crisis are suitably capitalised on, they can enable India to move far ahead in health-care delivery and related outcomes.

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 lacunae of public healthcare in India and provide solutions as to how the current crisis can be turned into an opportunity.

Structure of the answer

Introduction:

Mention about the pandemic situation in India and failure of the healthcare facilities.

Mumbai, Delhi, Chennai, Ahmedabad and Bengaluru are among India’s major metropolitan agglomerations and are also the current foci of the pandemic within the country. This points to both the speed and the scale of the epidemic moving within densely populated areas. the overall case numbers have moved steadily past the million mark and India is now third in global case standings. Despite this position, and the daily accretion of new infections that are upwards of 30,000 in the past few days, the distribution of cases also presents itself as the world’s biggest opportunity to intervene and blunt the global toll of the epidemic.

Body-

Discuss in points the lacunae in the healthcare system of India.

Using the points from the article, discuss how the pandemic situation can be used to revamp the healthcare system in India.

Conclusion:

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

Introduction:

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

Despite the challenges, India did well recently and the Director-General of World Health Organization (WHO) acknowledged the success of Mumbai’s densely populated Dharavi slum in containing the COVID-19 pandemic.

Body

Current Status of Healthcare System

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

Pandemic scenario in India:

  • Mumbai, Delhi, Chennai, Ahmedabad and Bengaluru are among India’s major metropolitan agglomerations.
  • This points to both the speed and the scale of the epidemic moving within densely populated areas.
  • After nearly 100 days of the first 14-hour janata curfew, the Minister of Health highlighted how 49 districts out of the 733 in India accounted for 80% of the nearly eight lakh cases with eight States accounting for 90% of all the incident cases.
  • Numbers have moved steadily past the million mark and India is now third in global case standings.
  • There are on average roughly 250 cases per district in about 700 districts
  • Many of these districts may be closer to having no cases.
  • Others may be at a significantly higher incidence.

The low numbers in a large number of districts present officials the opportunity of stemming the epidemic and preventing morbidity, mortality and economic distress in a significant way. COVID-19 can be an opportunity to improve our healthcare system. The following steps can be taken up in this regard:

  • At the ground level:
    • Disaggregate the COVID-19 tracking mechanisms and the national level tables and graphs that are updated daily
    • Encouraging the District Magistrates to use the full range of social support schemes available in support of the District Health Officer and team. To be able to prevent anyone from facing situations of hunger or economic distress.
    • Health as a reliable career opportunity should be promoted for emerging talents in educational institutions in tier 2 and tier 3 towns in many districts in India by training them both in terms of training and nurturing ambitions.
  • Strengthening the testing:
    • Scaling up the testing capacity in the district by coopting science departments of college and university. Chemistry and zoology-allied departments such as microbiology and biochemistry can lend their laboratory services to carry out basic polymerase chain reaction (PCR)-based tests.
    • Increased testing stems the tide of morbidity and mortality and it is seen that Incidence rates have risen wherever testing has been constrained.
  • Chance for biotech:
    • Without compromising the standards or rigor of evidence needed for regulatory and manufacturing approval: The emphasis should be to encourage innovators and entrepreneurs to bring out and scale up their products.
    • The world is increasingly looking at personalised diagnostics and therapeutics.
  • Increasing spending:
    • There is an immediate need to increase the public spending to 2.5% of GDP, despite that being lower than global average of 5.4%.
    • India should take cue from other developing countries like Thailand to work towards providing Universal Health Coverage. UHC includes three components: Population coverage, disease coverage and cost coverage.
  • Telemedicine and ICT:
    • Leveraging the benefits of Information Technology like computer and mobile-phone based e-health and m-health initiatives to improve quality of healthcare service delivery.
    • Start-ups are investing in healthcare sector from process automation to diagnostics to low-cost innovations.
    • Policy and regulatory support should be provided to make healthcare accessible and affordable

Conclusion:

COVID-19 is both a crisis and an opportunity for health-care reform as well as understanding the interplay of health outcomes with social and economic support interventions and limitations of law enforcement in managing epidemics. Innovations in managing the COVID-19 pandemic can help India revolutionize care delivery and related outcomes.

India needs a holistic approach to tackle problems in healthcare industry. This includes the active collaboration of all stakeholders viz. public, private sectors, and individuals. A more dynamic and pro-active approach is needed to handle the dual disease burden. A universal access to health makes the nation fit and healthy, aiding better to achieve the demographic dividend.

 

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

3. Covid can be a catalyst for change to ensure a more sustainable & equitable world. Comment. (250 words)

Reference:  The Print

Why this question:

The coronavirus has shone a spotlight on inequalities of all kinds. It poses maximum risk to the health of the most vulnerable, and its social and economic impact is concentrated on those who are least able to cope. Unless we act now, 100 million more people could be pushed into extreme poverty, and we could see famines of historic proportions.

Key demand of the question:

One must discuss how the High levels of inequality have created the global fragility that is being exposed and exploited during the Covid-19 pandemic. What needs to be done in this regard to ensure the global unity through a new social contract.

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 inequality and other issues being faced in the world due to the pandemic.

Body:

To start with, explain the issues that are being faced as a fallout of the pandemic.

  • more than 50 per cent of 20-year-olds in countries with very high human development are in higher education. In low human development countries, that figure is 3 per cent.
  • Even more shocking, nearly 17 per cent of the children born 20 years ago in those countries have already died.
  • The anger fueling recent social movements, from the BlackLivesMatter and anti-racism campaign that has spread around the world in the aftermath of George Floyd’s killing, to the #MeToo movement, which featured a chorus of brave women calling out the powerful men who have abused them, is yet another sign of utter disillusionment with the status quo.
  • And the two seismic shifts of our age – the digital revolution and the climate crisis – threaten to entrench inequality and injustice even more deeply.

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

  • Covid-19 is a human tragedy. But it has also created a generational opportunity to build a more equal and sustainable world, based on two central ideas: a new social contract, and a new global deal.
  • A new social contract will link together governments, their people, civil society organisations, businesses and others in common causes.
  • Education and digital technology must act as the two great enablers and equalisers, by providing lifelong opportunities on how to learn, to adapt and take on new skills in the knowledge economy.
  • We need fair taxation on income and wealth, and a new generation of social protection policies, with safety nets that include universal health coverage and the possibility of a universal basic income extended to everyone.

Discuss what new role can the global institutions like UN, WHO can play in future.

Conclusion:

Conclude with a balanced way forward.

Introduction:

COVID-19 pandemic is set to drastically alter geopolitics and human society. The pandemic is unprecedented and has led to radical uncertainty. COVID-19 would change the world and reshape the human society. The pandemic has shone a spotlight on inequalities of all kinds. It poses maximum risk to the health of the most vulnerable, and its social and economic impact is concentrated on those who are least able to cope.

Body:

Challenges being faced across the globe:

  • It is estimated that around 100 million more people could be pushed into extreme poverty, and we could see famines of historic proportions.
  • Between 1980 and 2016, the world’s richest 1 per cent have captured 27 per cent of the total cumulative growth in income.
  • Multiple inequalities intersect and reinforce each other across the generations, defining the lives and expectations of millions of people before they are even born.
  • For instance, more than 50 per cent of 20-year-olds in countries with very high human development are in higher education. In low human development countries, that figure is 3 per cent. Even more shocking, nearly 17 per cent of the children born 20 years ago in those countries have already died.
  • The anger fueling recent social movements, from the BlackLivesMatter and anti-racism campaign that has spread around the world in the aftermath of George Floyd’s killing, to the #MeToo movement, which featured a chorus of brave women calling out the powerful men who have abused them, is yet another sign of utter disillusionment with the status quo.
  • And the two seismic shifts of our age – the digital revolution and the climate crisis – threaten to entrench inequality and injustice even more deeply.

COVID as a catalyst for change:

  • Covid-19, a human tragedy, has also created a generational opportunity to build a more equal and sustainable world, based on two central ideas:
  • A new social contract:
    • A new social contract will link together governments, their people, civil society organisations, businesses and others in common causes.
    • Education and digital technology must act as the two great enablers and equalisers, by providing lifelong opportunities on how to learn, to adapt and take on new skills in the knowledge economy.
    • fair taxation on income and wealth, and a new generation of social protection policies, with safety nets that include universal health coverage and the possibility of a universal basic income extended to everyone.
  • A new global deal:
    • To make the new social contract possible, we need a new global deal to ensure that power, wealth and opportunities are shared more broadly and fairly at the international level.
    • The new global deal must be based on a fair model of globalisation, on the rights and dignity of every human being, on living in balance with nature, on respect for the rights of future generations, and on success measured in human rather than economic terms.
    • We need global governance that is based on full, inclusive and equal participation in global institutions.
    • Developing countries must have a stronger voice, from the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) to the boards of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Bank and beyond.
    • We need a more inclusive and balanced multilateral trading system that enables developing countries to move up global value chains.
    • Reform of the debt architecture and access to affordable credit must create fiscal space to generate investment in a green, equitable economy.

Conclusion:

The COVID-19 pandemic is unprecedented, involving as it does far too many variables. The very complexity of the novel coronavirus leads to radical uncertainty. Hence, it unlikely that the world will ever be the same again. Thus, there is a need for the global community to work together by taking all the countries into confidence and supporting them. The new global deal and the new social contract will put the world back on track to realise the promise of the Paris Agreement on Climate Change and achieve the Sustainable Development Goals — the globally-agreed vision of peace and prosperity to be achieved by 2030. Together we stand, divided we fall – the adage holds perfectly apt for the coming times.

 


General Studies – 3


 

Topic: Science and Technology- developments and their applications and effects in everyday life.

4. What do you understand by Case fatality rate? Explain its significance in tracking a pandemic and the reasons for low case fatality rate in India. (250 words)

Reference: The Hindu , The Print

Why this question:

The case fatality rate (CFR) in India, which has been falling steadily, has for the first time dipped below the 2.5% mark to reach 2.49%. It was 3.2% in the second week of May. Virologists have assessed reasons ranging from a young population to the better health-seeking behaviour seen in southern India.

Key demand of the question:

One must define case fatality rate and talk about the importance of the same. Discuss the various factors that have led to low Case fatality rate. One must also provide the measures for further reduction of the same.

Directive word:

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

Structure of the answer:

Introduction:

Define the term Case fatality rate-

  • Case fatality rate, also called case fatality risk or case fatality ratio, in epidemiology, the proportion of people who die from a specified disease among all individuals diagnosed with the disease over a certain period of time.

Body:

Discuss the importance of tracking the case fatality rate during a pandemic.

  • Case fatality rate typically is used as a measure of disease severity and is often used for prognosis (predicting disease course or outcome), where comparatively high rates are indicative of relatively poor outcomes.
  • It also can be used to evaluate the effect of new treatments, with measures decreasing as treatments improve.

Explain the various factors that have led to low Case Fatality Rate in India vis-à-vis other countries.

  • One of the reasons for the dip in case fatality rate could be ascribed to the increased number of fresh cases detected daily.
  • There could be biological reasons for it.
  • Young population (75% below 45 years);
  • exposure to other infections making innate immunity stronger
  • genetic background
  • and so on.

Also talk about the poor medical facilities, reduced access to supportive healthcare, lack of incessant testing and illiteracy about the health and existing co-morbidities are few of the reasons for existing fatalities.

Provide measures that can help further reduce the Case Fatality rare.

Conclusion:

Provide a good way forward.

Introduction:

Case fatality rate (CFR), also called case fatality risk or case fatality ratio, in epidemiology, the proportion of people who die from a specified disease among all individuals diagnosed with the disease over a certain period of time.

The case fatality rate (CFR) in India for the COVID-19 pandemic, which has been falling steadily, has for the first time dipped below the 2.5% mark to reach 2.49%. It was 3.2% in the second week of May. As on July 20, the world average case fatality rate is around 4.2%, and the U.K. has the highest at about 15.4%, closely followed by Italy at 14.4%.

Body:

Significance of CFR in tracking the pandemic:

  • Case fatality rate is calculated by dividing the number of deaths from a specified disease over a defined period of time by the number of individuals diagnosed with the disease during that time; the resulting ratio is then multiplied by 100 to yield a percentage.
  • Case fatality rate typically is used as a measure of disease severity and is often used for prognosis (predicting disease course or outcome), where comparatively high rates are indicative of relatively poor outcomes.
  • It also can be used to evaluate the effect of new treatments, with measures decreasing as treatments improve.
  • Case fatality rates are not constant; they can vary between populations and over time, depending on the interplay between the causative agent of disease, the host, and the environment as well as available treatments and quality of patient care.

Factors for low CFR in India:

  • One of the reasons for the dip in case fatality rate could be ascribed to the increased number of fresh cases detected daily.
  • Young population (75% below 45 years), exposure to other infections making innate immunity stronger and genetic background are some of the reasons.
  • The median age is 26.8 years in India and so a vast majority of India’s population is relatively young, in 2011, 8.6% (104 million) were above 60 years of age, thus increasing the chances of altering the case fatality rate during the course of the pandemic.
  • A better health-seeking behaviour seen in southern India.
  • A large number of Indians in their 30s and 40s have at least one risk factor such as hypertension, diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, which could increase the chances of death from COVID-19. However, those co-morbidities become important when one develops severe disease and pneumonia. If most people in India are able to restrict the infection early, co-morbidities will have a much smaller role.
  • Despite the number of cases detected crossing one million, India may still be in the late early stage of the pandemic as new cases are mainly reported only from large cities and towns.
  • One more factor that could sharply alter case fatality rate is the state of preparedness and enhanced capacity to handle cases when they suddenly surge. This was seen in Mumbai, Bengaluru and Delhi, where well-equipped hospitals were stretched beyond their capacities to handle the surge.
  • The health-seeking behaviour of people could also play a pivotal role in altering the case fatality rate. It has been generally seen that people in some States, particularly in the southern States, seek medical intervention quite early during any disease.
  • Besides the good quality of care, the early health-seeking behaviour has been particularly good in Kerala, which has so far reported only 43 deaths and has a case fatality rate of just 0.34% compared with 4.4% in Gujarat, which is the highest in India.
  • Delhi and Gujarat were found to be under-reporting COVID-19 deaths, and lack of good tracking and recording of COVID-19 deaths, particularly when deaths do not occur in hospitals, could alter the low case fatality rate seen in India.

Measures that can help further reduce the Case Fatality rate:

  • The National Health Policy (NHP), 2017, clearly articulates the need for enhanced government financing of health but it also requires us to look at the other elements of the health ecosystem.
  • These issues include medical education and its quality, greater self-reliance in terms of medicines, medical devices and diagnostics and also streamlining regulatory pathways.
  • Fast and free testing, expansive tracing technology, and mandatory isolation of the most severe cases and suitable response in managing beds, doctors and nurses, material and medical equipment are some of the most important measures needed.

Conclusion:

In summary, CFR measures the severity of a particular infectious disease within a particular environment at a specific time. New disease outbreaks (such as COVID-19) can lead to significantly higher CFR in the first wave, but a lower CFR in subsequent peaks due to ‘herd immunity’ in addition to the development of potential vaccinations and effective treatments. However, if vaccinations and treatments are not in place before a second peak, then the CFR will remain as high (if not higher), unless strict measures are brought in place promptly.

 

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:

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. Fake news is written and published with the intent to mislead in order to gain financially or politically, often with sensationalist, exaggerated, or patently false headlines that grab attention.

Recently, 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.

Body:

Reasons for rise of fake news:

Challenges in curbing fake news:

  • The novel coronavirus, however, has opened up an entirely different problem: the life-endangering consequences of supposed cures, misleading claims, snake-oil sales pitches and conspiracy theories about the outbreak
  • In the age of the internet (WhatsApp, Facebook, Twitter,) it is a serious problem as rumors, morphed images, click-baits, motivated stories, unverified information, planted stories for various interests spread easily among 35 crore internet users in India
  • In Iran, a fake remedy of ingesting methanol has reportedly led to 300 deaths, and left many more sick.
  • Posts related to ‘treatments’ that are not proven, techniques to prevent exposure and infection that are either not proven and/or filled with a lot of misleading information, and instruction for individuals to stock up on supplies and food
  • Two types of danger are posed by inaccurate information on the virus: that it “could incite fear or panic,” and “the potential for individuals to do harmful things in hope of ‘curing the illness’ or ‘preventing’ the illness.” 

Technical challenges to curb fake news:

  • Messaging platforms act as mere conduits for encrypted information. They deny decrypting or intercepting messages sent through their platforms.
  • Traceability would undermine end-to-end encryption, weaken consumer privacy and cybersecurity.
  • Since WhatsApp users converse outside Indian boundaries, the storage of a foreign user’s data could come with its own jurisdiction issues.
  • Asking a foreign company to establish an entity in India is only asking for greater control without clearly identifying the potential harm.
  • WhatsApp’s decision to restrict forwarding of messages to five users may only have limited impact in curtailing rumours.

Suitable measures needed:

  • The Bureau of Police Research and Development (BPRD), a think-tank under the Union Home Ministry has published guidelines to aid law enforcement agencies to identify fake news and videos.
  • 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.
  • Facebook has placed authoritative coronavirus information at the top of news feeds and intensified its efforts to remove harmful content, including through the use of third-party fact checkers.
  • a public health crisis is an easier arena than politics to set policies and to take a harder line on questionable content.
  • AFP and other media companies, including Reuters and the Associated Press, work with Facebook’s fact checking program, under which content rated false is downgraded in news feeds so that fewer people see it
  • Educating the end-users to be more discerning consumers of news by informing them of verification tools so that they can ascertain the accuracy of a news item before sharing it.
  • Press Council of India, a regulatory body, can warn, admonish or censure the newspaper, the news agency, the editor or the journalist or disapprove the conduct of the editor or the journalist if it finds that a newspaper or a news agency has violated journalistic ethics.
  • A better and more effective approach to limit the influence of hoaxes on WhatsApp and other platforms is to increase media literacy.
  • The government should bring out a policy framework on the possible harm due to the internet messaging platforms to engage at a deeper level.
  • Government of India could partner with local news groups to further educate citizens on how to identify real news from fake news.
  • Imposing hefty fines, like in Germany the Social media companies face fines of up to €50m if they persistently fail to remove illegal content from their sites.

Conclusion

Government should have a mechanism for immediately issuing of notice against sites/people/agencies involved in spreading fake news. Secondly, Social media websites should be made accountable of such activities so that it becomes their responsibility to have better control over the spread of fake news. Finally, ordinary consumers of news can play a big role by, first, waking up to the reality that all they read on WhatsApp and Twitter is not the gospel truth, and then, by refusing to pass on what they cannot independently verify with other sources.

 

Topic: Security challenges and their management in border areas – linkages of organized crime with terrorism.

6. With reduced levels of violent incidents and overall death tolls, the security situation in the Northeast India has indubitably improved. Critically evaluate if the Northeast India is poised for “Lasting Peace”. (250 words)

Reference: idsa.in

Why this question:

Almost all major insurgent groups in the Northeast have abjured violence and are engaged in peace talks with the Government of India. This has raised hopes that all contentious issues that plunged the region into decades of violence and poverty will finally be resolved, ushering in all-round peace and development. However, the indeterminate nature of the peace talks, active cadres of anti-talk factions, poor implementation of ceasefire rules and persistent anti-foreigner sentiments can potentially damage the fragile peace achieved in the region.

Demand of the question:

The answer must evaluate how the security related incidents have been on the decline in the previously insurgency infested North-East India. Discuss the reasons and substantiate as to why it has reduced. However, one must also discuss the challenges which might hamper the peace in North east India. Finally provide the measures needed to ensure peace in North East India.

Directive word:

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

Structure of the answer:

Introduction

Start by explaining the importance of NER in general. Talk about the security challenges that North East India has been facing since Independence.

Body

Discuss how there has been reduction in the security incidents.

  • During the past few years, violence levels in the Northeast have reduced with many insurgent groups either entering into ceasefire agreements with the government or signing peace accords and subsequently disbanding themselves.
  • This trend of insurgent groups abjuring violence and participating in peace parleys was witnessed last year as well when the National Socialist Council of Nagalim – Khango (NSCN-Khango) re-entered into a ceasefire agreement with the Union government and participated in the Naga peace talks.
  • Similarly, the National Liberation Front of Twipra – Subir Debbarma (NLFT-SD) too agreed last year to renounce violence and enter the national mainstream.

Also discuss however there are challenges in preserving the peace in North East.

  • Indeterminate Peace Talks
  • Indulgence in Criminal Activities
  • Poor Implementation of Ceasefire Agreements
  • Active Insurgent Groups in Myanmar
  • Anti-CAA Agitation

Provide measures to ensure the peace in North East.

Conclusion

Conclude with what needs be done to ensure long lasting peace in the North East India.

Introduction:

North-East Indian region has been witnessing many challenges like the ethnic insurgencies and violent struggles since Independence. Starting with the Naga insurgency in 1956, various ethnic groups including the Meiteis, Mizos, Tripuris and Assamese have successively risen to assert their distinct identities and political aspirations. Past efforts by the government to negotiate peace with insurgent groups and accommodate their aspirations within the constitutional framework of the Indian Union failed to usher in lasting peace due to three main reasons.

Body:

Strategic importance of North-East India:

  • Northeast India has an extraordinarily important international strategic dimension and is a vital part of the nation’s defence architecture.
  • The region is at the crossroads of India and Southeast Asia. It is a bridgehead between India and the vibrant economies of Southeast Asia, including southern China.
  • Economic Significance: North East is endowed with huge natural resource (oil, gas, coal, hydro, fertile land, etc) which can be harnessed for nation development

However, in the recent past, almost all major insurgent groups in the Northeast have abjured violence and are engaged in peace talks with the Government of India. This has raised hopes that all contentious issues that plunged the region into decades of violence and poverty will finally be resolved, ushering in all-round peace and development.

Source: “Insurgency in Northeast”, Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India, 2020.

Positive developments in North-East India w.r.t to Internal Security:

  • The Northeast has witnessed several positive developments which seem to harbinger peace in the region.
  • To begin with, the decades-old Bodo insurgency came to an end with the signing of a Memorandum of Settlement (MoS) by the National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB) in January 2020 and complete disbandment of its armed cadres two months later in March.
  • Further, on January 23, at least 644 cadres belonging to eight different militant outfits including the United Liberation Front of Assam-Independent (ULFA-I), the NDFB, the Kamtapur Liberation Organisation (KLO) and the Rabha National Liberation Front (RNLF) surrendered in Assam.
  • This trend of insurgent groups abjuring violence and participating in peace parleys was witnessed last year as well when the National Socialist Council of Nagalim – Khango (NSCN-Khango) re-entered into a ceasefire agreement with the Union government and participated in the Naga peace talks.
  • Similarly, the National Liberation Front of Twipra – Subir Debbarma (NLFT-SD) too agreed last year to renounce violence and enter the national mainstream.
  • Today, almost all the major insurgent groups in the region, except the Meitei insurgents, have entered into a ceasefire or Suspension of Operation (SoO) agreements with the Union and/or state governments. They are engaged in peace talks with some even disbanding their armed cadres.
  • In fact, during the past few years, violence levels in the Northeast have reduced with many insurgent groups either entering into ceasefire agreements with the government or signing peace accords and subsequently disbanding themselves.

The Government reports have reported that four main factors have contributed to compelling the various insurgent groups to give up violence and engage in peace talks. These are loss of safe sanctuaries, sustained counter-insurgency operations, appeals by civil society groups to shun violence, and largescale out-migration of youth from the region.

Despite the improvement in security situation in the Northeast, there remain a number of issues that have the potential to increase the level of violence in the region. The key issues that could hamper the “long-lasting peace” in North-East India are:

  • Indeterminate Peace Talks:
    • The Union government has been engaged in peace negotiations with several insurgent groups in the region, but not much success has been achieved against some of them.
    • For instance, the Naga peace talks have gone on for 18 years without any solution in sight.
    • India cannot go beyond the framework of the Constitution even if it recognises the unique history of the Nagas.
    • For its part, the NSCN (I-M) has had its own red lines. It could not altogether give up on its demand for sovereignty and a united Nagalim without anything concrete to show in return.
  • Indulgence in Criminal Activities:
    • Another fall out of the protracted peace talks is that the insurgents staying in designated camps feel increasingly demoralised and frustrated, as the absence of final settlement prevents a clear roadmap for their proper rehabilitation.
    • Although the Government has revised its surrender and rehabilitation policy, but again in the absence of timely disbursement of funds many cadres leave the camps and go back to their villages.
    • Unfortunately, it has been observed that many among them resort to criminal activities such as kidnapping for ransom and human trafficking to supplement their income.
  • Poor Implementation of Ceasefire Agreements:
    • Failure of the Union government to properly implement the ceasefire agreements has resulted in numerous turf wars and armed rivalries between the insurgent groups.
    • Much of the violence reported in Manipur, Nagaland and Assam are because of fratricidal killings and attacks carried out by the insurgent groups.
  • Active Insurgent Groups in Myanmar:
    • It is reported that currently around 2000-3000 insurgent cadres belonging to the ULFA-I and Meitei separatist outfits are still hiding at different locations in Myanmar.
    • It is further reported that some like the UNLF and PREPAK are providing logistical support to the Arakan Army in Myanmar, which in turn allows them to build training camps in their strongholds in Rakhine and Chin states.
  • Anti-CAA Agitation:
    • Last but not least, the implementation of the Citizenship Amendment Act, 2019 (CAA) in Assam’s non-scheduled areas has generated resentment against the Union government.
    • It has provided an issue for insurgent groups such as the ULFA-I to mobilise and recruit youth.
    • Another negative fallout of the agitation against CAA is the fear of the rise of Islamic radicalism in the state.

Way forward:

  • Empowering people by maximizing self-governance and participatory development through grass-root planning to promote inclusive development.
  • Decentralization with alertness, improving administrative efficiency, pro-people governance and coping up with regional aspirations
  • Stringent law and fast criminal justice system for quick disposal of insurgents’ attack cases.
  • Greater coordination between central forces and state forces for better tactical response.
  • Creation of development opportunities for the rural areas through enhancing productivity in agriculture and allied activities such as animal husbandry, horticulture, floriculture, fisheries and generation of livelihood options through rural non-farm employment.
  • Enhance communication and connectivity, infrastructure improvement for better integration of the region with the mainland.
  • Enhancing the skills and competencies of the people and building the capacities for institutions within the Government and outside.
  • Creating a hospitable investment climate to encourage investment by the private sector particularly for infrastructure.
  • Greater cultural interaction with the rest of the country and socio-economic development that includes a holistic inclusive development.

 


General Studies – 4


 

Topic: Emotional intelligence-concepts, and their utilities and application in administration and governance.

7. What do you understand by an “emotional storm”? Discuss its relevance for public servants in current challenging times and means to overcome it. (250 words)

Reference: psychologytoday.comnewharbinger.com

Key demand of the question:

One must discuss what is meant by an emotional storm. Now discuss the impacts its poses on civil servants in their professional course and implications of the same. Finally discuss the measures or techniques to overcome the same.

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 defining what is an emotional storm. An “emotional storm” means that you experience intensely difficult thoughts and feelings. They are so strong they are like a mighty storm, and they can easily overpower you.

Body:

Discuss how the emotional storms can affect the professionalism of public servants. Also talk about the implications of the same on the various stakeholders.

You can add a case study or an example to show how emotional storms can affect the work of public servants.

Highlight the importance of being emotionally intelligent for public servants.

Provide measures about how to ground oneself during the emotional storm.

  • 5 Steps to Ride Out Emotional Storms: Preparing, Facing, Accepting, Floating, Persisting.

Conclusion:

Talk about how important it is to adopt and practice emotional intelligence in these challenging times.

Introduction:

An “emotional storm” means that you experience intensely difficult thoughts and feelings. They are so strong they are like a mighty storm, and they can easily overpower you. It usually comes about when you face many crises and feel as if you were overwhelmed.

Body:

Relevance for public servants:

Emotions can “strike” us in response to many events – a catastrophic illness, sudden job loss, political upheaval – and we may experience more long term “storm systems” with feelings such as chronic anxiety. Difficulties regulating your emotions can often lead to all sorts of other problems in your life.

As public servants work in a mostly tense and stressful environment, they will be more prone to such emotional storms. This is especially common in the events of natural disasters like floods, earthquakes, cyclones or pandemics like the current COVID-19 as well as due to personal life events and everyday stresses like public riots may trigger one.

Some of the effects of emotional storm can be:

  • feeling intense irritability, anger that is hard to control, panic/anxiety attacks, or feelings of emptiness.
  • One may also find it hard to concentrate, or find themselves focusing on negative things.

The duty and service of civil servants is highly imperative during such crises times. With the effects of emotional storm as mentioned above, they cannot perform their duties objectively. Researches have shown that civil servants with high levels of emotional intelligence are more motivated to serve the public. These public sector workers also show greater job satisfaction, organizational commitment, and better quality of service.

Measures to ground oneself during the emotional storm:

  • Learn to distinguish between primary and secondary emotions. Learning the difference between “primary” and “secondary” emotions is an important step in learning to regulate your emotions.
  • Learning where your emotional responses come from can help you regulate them. For example, a reaction to an external event might be how you respond to losing a loved one. Or, it might be a reaction to being criticized for something.
  • Distract yourself from strong emotions. Sometimes, people experiencing an emotional storm may engage in extreme or damaging behaviors. Creating a productive distraction for yourself will help channel your emotional energy into healthy behaviors.
  • Learn assertive communication. Sometimes, unchecked emotions can override your ability to express your needs, thoughts, and feelings. Learning to express yourself assertively can help you state your needs, thoughts, and feelings in an open and honest way
  • Learn to listen. Active listening is an important communication skill. It can help you avoid emotional storms by keeping you focused on what the other person is saying, not what you might read into the situation
  • Learn self-soothing behaviors. Self-soothing can help reassure you that you will make it through this emotional storm. Self-soothing behaviors are actions that you take to comfort and be kind to yourself. Activities like listening to calming music, eating a comforting meal, Take a warm bath or a hot shower etc.
  • Learn to embrace uncertainty. The fear of uncertainty can set off emotional storms. An intolerance of uncertainty can lead you to constantly worry or try to predict the future. It may make you overly reliant on reassurance from others. It might even keep you from doing things you would otherwise enjoy.
  • Practice gratitude. Allow yourself to recognize what is good in your life. Take time daily to journal at least 5 things you are grateful for that day.

Conclusion:

Emotional intelligence positively influences the motivation of public service workers, which in turn increases the level of their affective commitment. Thus, emotional intelligence becomes an imperative trait for civil servants who deal with public at large day in and day out.


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