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SECURE SYNOPSIS: 28 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: Social empowerment; Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.

1. The relationship between the level of education and early marriage of women is well established in breaking the cycle of poverty, ill health, as well as the inter-generational cycle of malnutrition. Critically examine. (250 words).

Reference: Indian Express 

Why this question?

India’s Maternal Mortality Ratio (MMR) stands at 122 as per the latest Sample Registration System (SRS) bulletin from last year — a significant decline from an MMR of 556 in 1990. A parallel decrease in the prevalence of child marriage is also noted — 58 per cent in 1970-80 to 21 per cent by 2015-16.

However, despite these positive developments, intrauterine growth restriction and poor birth outcome for gestational age and low birth weight (LBW) remain a grave concern, with three out of 10 children being LBW and a neonatal mortality rate of 23/1000 live births. Early marriage and early pregnancy play a central role in this grim scenario.

Key demand of the question:

One must discuss about the importance of how a well-educated woman’s chances of making informed decisions and exercising greater agency in the household helps in breaking the cycle of poverty, ill health, as well as malnutrition. However, there are challenges in ensuring the education of the women, leading to breakdown of the virtuous cycle of good health and empowerment.

Directive Word:

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

Introduction:

write a few introductory lines about India’s MMR, intrauterine growth restriction and poor birth outcome for gestational age and low birth weight (LBW) remain a grave concern for the women of India.

Body:

Discuss in points the impacts of the early marriage on women.

Now discuss How education of women leads to calculated choices and in turn helps in breaking the cycle of poverty, ill health, as well as the inter-generational cycle of malnutrition

Provide measures that is needed to strive for empowerment of women.

Conclusion:

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

Introduction

A well-educated woman’s chances of making informed decisions and exercising greater agency in the household is monumental in breaking the cycle of poverty, ill health, as well as malnutrition. This is corroborated with the data related to women’s health and marriage.

Body

Background

  • Evidence as per UNICEF, suggests that early marriage limits knowledge, skills, resources, mobility, autonomy, and social support of young girls and those who lack this are extremely vulnerable to physical and sexual violence and psychological and economic abuse.
  • The chance of receiving quality education is a distant reality for the child bride and higher levels of dropout from the school are a very common phenomenon.
  • Girls who are married at an early age are also likely to report an early pregnancy with considerable exposure to the risk of violence.
  • Negative consequences of child marriage on the physical health and mental wellbeing of the child bride are vividly demonstrated.

 Linkage between education and early marriage

  • The relationship between the level of education and early marriage is well established.
  • With no education, 44.7 per cent women are married before 18 years.
  • This drops to 39.7 per cent with primary education, 23.2 per cent with secondary education and 2.9 per cent with higher education.
  • A significant decrease in the prevalence of child marriage is noted — 58 per cent in 1970-80 to 21 per cent by 2015-16.
  • India’s Maternal Mortality Ratio (MMR) stands at 122 as per the latest Sample Registration System (SRS) bulletin from last year — a significant decline from an MMR of 556 in 1990.
  • However, despite these positive developments, intrauterine growth restriction and poor birth outcome for gestational age and low birth weight (LBW) remain a grave concern, with three out of 10 children being LBW and a neonatal mortality rate of 23/1000 live births. Early marriage and early pregnancy play a central role in this grim scenario.
  • Marriage age and malnutrition: Following infancy, adolescence (10-19 years) is the last “window of opportunity” for attaining optimum height.
    • Entering pregnancy at this stage, often under societal pressure, hinders attaining optimum height and prevents full growth of reproductive organs resulting in higher chances of obstructed labour and mortality.
    • Poor maternal height (<145 cms) is reported to be one of the highest risk factors associated with chronic child undernutrition.
    • Prevalence of malnutrition among children born to adolescent mothers is 11 per cent higher than among the others.
  • With higher levels of education, women are also empowered to take decisions within the family and better equipped to inculcate safe sex, family planning and safe abortion practices.

Way Forward

  • Along with increasing the age of marriage, efforts need to be directed to delay the age of conception.
  • Schemes such as universal registration of marriage could be vital in providing newly married couples with timely information on family planning and family care.
  • Moreover, if the registration is linked with Aadhaar, it can facilitate support to women to enter pregnancy well-nourished and at the right time.
  • According to the 1978 amendment of the Child Marriage Restraint Act, and Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, the minimum age of marriage is 18 years for girls and 21 years for boys.
  • The Task Force responsible for reviewing the age of marriage should recognise the diversities that may hamper its implementation.
  • Ensuring delayed marriage and pregnancy depends not just on the legal age but requires concerted efforts to keep girls in school for longer, as well as enabling them to complete higher education or vocational training.

 Conclusion

Combating violence and eradicating child marriage are very necessary to ensure human rights protection for the women. Provision for better education may help delay the age at marriage and empower women. At the same time, the government needs to urgently establish crisis center to provide treatment and recognize violence against women as a public health problem as it has negative consequences on women’s health and wellbeing.

 


General Studies – 2


 

Topic: Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the Centre and States and the performance of these schemes; mechanisms, laws, institutions and Bodies constituted for the protection and betterment of these vulnerable sections.

2. Covid-19 may make it too ambitious and unrealistic for India to achieve its aim of eradicating tuberculosis (TB) by 2025. Critically analyse. (250 words)

Reference: Live Mint

Why this question:

Covid-19 may make it difficult for India to achieve its aim of eradicating tuberculosis (TB) by 2025. The notification of TB cases has sharply declined in January-June, compared to the same period in 2019, according to real-time data available with the Union health ministry, indicating that the pandemic has severely hit TB notification services. While 914,000 TB cases were reported between January and June, 1.25 million cases came into light in the same period in 2019, representing a 26% fall in case notifications, showed government data.

Key demand of the question:

The question expects us to discuss in detail the current scenario of tuberculosis prevalence in India, the efforts being taken by the government in this direction to eliminate it by 2025. You must critically analyse using facts and figures and justify whether the goal set by the government of India is achievable in near future.

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:

Re- assert the importance of TB elimination in India.

Body:

Explain Briefly the current status of TB in India – use the facts from the article.

Then justify how eliminating TB by 2025 is a laudable vision, but difficult to achieve, considering the complexities of managing the situation, which requires equitable high quality of care to every person from diagnosis to treatment, cutting the transmission rapidly with a combined strategy of early diagnosis treatment of latent tuberculosis infection (LTB) and improving socioeconomic conditions.

Highlight the features and lacuna of National Strategic Plan prepared by the center in 2017.

What needs to be done – leveraging private partnership, increased political will, financial resources and increasing research to develop new ways to diagnose etc.

Conclusion:

Conclude with optimism that such a goal is not unachievable if right set of actions are taken.

Introduction:

Tuberculosis (TB) remains the biggest killer disease in India, outnumbering all other infectious diseases put together — this despite our battle against it from 1962, when the National TB Programme (NTP) was launched. According to the World Health Organization’sGlobal Tuberculosis Report 2018“, India accounted for 27% of the 10 million people, who had developed TB in 2017, besides making up 32% of global TB deaths among HIV-negative people, and 27% of combined TB deaths. Covid-19 may make it difficult for India to achieve its aim of eradicating tuberculosis (TB) by 2025.

Body:

Tuberculosis scenario in India during the COVID pandemic lockdown:

  • From April to June, 340,000 TB patients were notified to govt, down 47.6% compared to April-June 2019.
  • While 914,000 TB cases were reported between January and June, 1.25 million cases came into light in the same period in 2019, representing a 26% fall in case notifications, showed government data. Private sector notifications have dipped by 106,729 cases, or 30%.
  • Close to 340,000 TB patients were notified to the government during the nationwide lockdown from April to June, down 47.6% compared to April-June 2019, when 648,000 patients were notified.
  • Private sector notifications dipped to 86,470 cases, compared to 186,000 in April-June 2019, the data showed.
  • As TB and covid have common symptoms, it may have given rise to fears of stigma for both diseases, affecting early reporting.
  • during the peak of the lockdown in April, TB notifications saw a major dip—only 80,725 TB patients were notified in India as compared to 221,632 cases reported in April 2019, which is a huge dip of 63% cases notified to the government.
  • Notifications from the private sector also plunged during that time—from 65,598 cases in April 2019 to 17,883 cases in April this year, a drop of 72%.

India’s efforts to eliminate TB:

  • In 2018, Indian government launched Joint Effort for Elimination of Tuberculosis (JEET), to increase the reporting of TB cases by the private sector.
  • National Strategic Plan (NSP) for TB Elimination (2017-2025) was launched in 2017. The government also called for the elimination of TB by 2025, five years prior to the international target (2030).
    • The NSP plans to provide incentives to private providers for following the standard protocols for diagnosis and treatment as well as for notifying the government of cases.
    • Further, patients referred to the government will receive a cash transfer to compensate them for the direct and indirect costs of undergoing treatment and as an incentive to complete treatment.
  • Nikshay,” (2012) an online tuberculosis reporting system for medical practitioners and clinical establishments was set up. The aim is to increase the reporting of tuberculosis, especially from the private sector.
  • In 1992, the WHO devised the Directly Observed Treatment-Short Course (DOTS) strategy and advised all countries to adopt the strategy to combat the menace of tuberculosis. The DOTS strategy is based on 5 pillars:
    • political commitment and continued funding for TB control programs
    • diagnosis by sputum smear examinations
    • uninterrupted supply of high-quality anti-TB drugs
    • drug intake under direct observation
    • accurate reporting and recording of all registered cases
  • The Indian government has been implementing Programmatic Management of Drug Resistant TB (PMDT) services, for the management of multi-drug resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB) and TB-HIV collaborative activities for TB-HIV

Challenges to achieve TB free India by 2025:

  • Poor socio-economic conditions:
    • Poverty remains a stark reality in India with associated problems of hunger, undernourishment and poor and unhygienic living conditions.
    • According to GTB Report, 2018, a majority of TB patients (6lakhs) in India are attributable to undernourishment.
  • Underreporting and misdiagnosis:
    • According to GTB Report 2018, India is one of the major contributors to under-reporting and under-diagnosis of TB cases in the world, accounting for 26% of the 3.6 million global gap in the reporting of tuberculosis cases.
    • Biomarkers and other diagnostics that identify individuals at highest risk of progression to disease are inadequate.
  • Treatment:
    • Inequitable access to quality diagnosis and treatment remains a major issue in combating tuberculosis. Further, the private sector which contributes a major part of TB care is fragmented, made up of diverse types of healthcare providers, and largely unregulated.
    • Standard TB treatment is not followed uniformly across the private sector, resulting in the rise of drug resistance.
  • Follow-up treatment:
    • Though the reporting of TB cases has increased lately, the reporting of treatment outcomes has not been robust.
    • The absence of consistent follow-up of treatment regimens and outcomes may result in relapse of cases and MDR-TB and XDR-TB. India has already been facing the problem of increasing MDR-TB cases
  • Drugs:
    • The drugs used to treat TB, especially multidrug-resistant-TB, are decades old. It is only recently that Bedaquiline and Delamanid (drugs to treat MDR-TB) has been made available. However, access to such drugs remains low.
  • Funds:
    • The RNCTP remains inadequately funded. There has been a growing gap between the allocation of funds and the minimum investment required to reach the goals of the national strategic plan to address tuberculosis.
  • Issues with RNCTP:
    • Weak implementation of RNCTP at state level is another major concern. The Joint Monitoring Mission report of 2015 pointed out that the RNCTP failed to achieve both the main goals of NSP 2012-2017- Providing universal access to early diagnosis and treatment and improving case detection.
    • Major issues with RNCTP include: human resource crunch, payment delays, procurement delays and drug stock-outs
  • R&D:
    • R&D for new methods and technologies to detect the different modes of TB, new vaccines, and new drugs and shorter drug regimens have been slow, as compared to other such diseases like HIV/AIDS.
  • Social Stigma:
    • According to a study which assessed social stigma associated with TB in Bangladesh, Colombia, India, India had the highest social stigma index.
    • Patients often hesitate to seek treatment or deny their condition altogether for fear of social discrimination and stigmatization.

Way forward:

  • It is important to address the social conditions and factors which contribute to and increase vulnerability to tuberculosis. Concerted efforts should be made to address the issues of undernourishment, diabetes, alcohol and tobacco use.
  • Increased political will, financial resources and increasing research to develop new ways to diagnose, treat and prevent TB will help achieve the goal.
  • Private sector engagement in combating TB needs to be strengthened. The private sector should also be incentivised to report TB cases. Example: The Kochi Model– Increasing TB cases reporting from private sector
  • There is an urgent need for cost-effective point-of-care devices that can be deployed for TB diagnosis in different settings across India.
  • Universal access to drug, susceptibility testing at diagnosis to ensure that all patients are given appropriate treatment, including access to second-line treatment for drug-resistant TB.
  • To ensure public participation — a missing element in the RNTCP —in public-private participation mode.
  • Mass awareness campaigns like ‘TB Harega Desh Jeetega’ can play an important role in breaking social taboos regarding TB.

Conclusion:

India has the highest TB burden in the world. Given our inter-connected world and the airborne spread of TB, we need collective global action. Ending TB in India will have massive global impact in addition to saving the lives of tens of millions of India’s people over the next 25 years. Even if ending TB by 2025 is not complete, pulling the TB curve down by 2025 and sustaining the decline ever after is a possibility.

 

Topic: India and its neighbourhood- relations.

3. The story of bilateral ties between India and Sri Lanka is the story of ups and downs. The pandemic presents an opportune time for Sri Lanka and India to nourish the roots of the relationship using modern toolkits, but leveraging age-old wisdom and experience. Examine. (250 words)

Reference: The Hindu 

Why this question:

The unique India-Sri Lanka relationship, de jure, is between equals as sovereign nations. But it’s asymmetric in terms of geographic size, population, military and economic power, on the one hand, and social indicators and geographical location, on the other. It is steeped in myth and legend, and influenced by religious, cultural and social affinities. This is an opportune time for Sri Lanka and India to nourish the roots of the relationship using modern toolkits, but leveraging age-old wisdom and experience.

Key demand of the question:

The question is straightforward and aims to examine the bilateral ties between India and SriLanka. One must talk about the historical hits and misses in the bilateral ties. Further, one must discuss how the pandemic presents an opportunity in strengthening the ties using modern tools.

Directive:

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

Structure of the answer:

Introduction:

Start with an introduction talking about the bilateral ties between India and SL.

India and Sri Lanka, despite having past common colonial experiences, have certain strategic imperatives, and differing policies dictated by national interests, at times conflicting with each  other.

Body:

Taking cue from the article, explain the highs of bilateral ties since Independence.

Talk about the irritants that are still persisting in the bilateral ties.

What are the prospective and potential areas of co-operation and common interests.

Discuss how the pandemic provides an opportune time to overcome the same.

Conclusion:

Conclude with a balanced way forward.

Introduction:

The relationship between India and Sri Lanka is more than 2,500 years old.  Both countries have a legacy of intellectual, cultural, religious and linguistic interaction. In recent years, the relationship has been marked by close contacts at all levels. Trade and investment have grown and there is cooperation in   the   fields   of   development, education, culture   and   defence.   Both   countries   share   a   broad understanding on major issues of international interest.  In recent years, significant progress in implementation of developmental assistance projects for Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) and disadvantaged sections of the population in Sri Lanka has helped further cement the bonds of friendship between the two countries.

Body:

Uniqueness of India-Sri Lanka bilateral ties:

  • The India-Sri Lanka relationship, de jure, is between equals as sovereign nations.
  • However, the relationship is asymmetric in terms of geographic size, population, military and economic power, on the one hand, and also social indicators and geographical location, on the other.
  • The relationship is also steeped in myth and legend, and influenced by religious, cultural and social affinities.
  • Hardships of COVID-19 present an opportune time for Sri Lanka and India to nourish the roots of the relationship using modern toolkits, but leveraging age-old wisdom and experience.

Evolution of the ties:

  • Historical times:
    • The advent of Buddhism in Sri Lanka during the time of Emperor Ashoka was the result of cross-border discourse.
    • For many centuries, later on, the ancient capital city of Anuradhapura housed an international community that included traders from India, China, Rome, Arabia, and Persia.
    • Buddhist temples in Sri Lanka also contain shrines for Hindu deities.
  • Colonial era:
    • Labor from south India was brought to Sri Lanka to work in plantations.
    • The Indian freedom struggle had its influence on Sri Lanka as well. There was cross-border support for the revival of culture, tradition, local languages, spiritual practices and philosophies, and education.
    • Both countries transformed into modern nations with constitutional and institutionalized governance under colonial rule.
    • Process engineering by colonial powers for identification and categorization of people was a factor in the emergence of separatist ideologies based on ethnicity, language, and religion.
    • This mindset is now ingrained and accentuated in politics. Episodic instances of communal hostility are referenced often to suit tactical political gain.
  • Contemporary times:
    • Sri Lanka’s strategic location makes it apparent that not only economic fortunes but the security of both countries are inextricably linked. Therefore, the calamity in one country can adversely impact the other.
    • Currently, freedom of navigation in the Indo-Pacific together with a rules-based international order and peaceful settlement of disputes are of common interest.

Issues and Conflicts:

  • In recent years, China has extended billions of dollars of loans to the Sri Lankan government for new infrastructure projects, which is not good for India’s strategic depth in Indian Ocean Region.
  • Sri Lanka also handed over the strategic port of Hambantota, which is expected to play a key role in China’s Belt and Road Initiative, to China on a 99-year lease.
  • The opposition parties and trade unions in Sri Lanka have already dubbed the port deal as a sellout of their country’s national assets to China.
  • China has also supplied arms as well as provide huge loans to Sri Lanka for its development.
  • China also invested sufficiently in the infrastructure of Sri Lanka, which included building of Colombo international container terminal by China Harbor Corporation.
  • However, the relation between Sri Lanka and India are improving. In order to allay Indian concerns that the Hambantota port will not be used for military purposes, the Sri Lankan government has sought to limit China’s role to running commercial operations at the port while it retains oversight of security operations.
  • The two countries have signed civil nuclear cooperation agreement which is Sri Lanka’s first nuclear partnership with any country.
  • India is also investing into Sri Lanka’s infrastructure development in the Northern and Eastern provinces.
  • India is also planning to build Trincomalee Port to counterweight the Chinese developments at Hambantota Port.

Measures needed to strengthen the bilateral ties during the pandemic:

  • As both countries have a democratic setup there is scope for broadening and deepening the ties.
  • Both countries should try to work out a permanent solution to the issue of fishermen through bilateral engagements.
  • Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) must be signed to improve the economic cooperation between both countries.
  • India needs to focus more on its traditional and cultural ties to improve relations with Sri Lanka.
  • Starting of ferry services between India and Sri Lanka can improve people to people linkages.
  • Mutual recognition of each other’s concerns and interests can improve the relationship between both countries.

Way forward:

  • The socio-economic development of Sri Lanka has remained linked to India.
  • Though robust partnerships with other countries have been often sought in line with the non-alliance foreign policies of both countries, such efforts must be bounded by an atmosphere needed for peace, prosperity, and stability.
  • Sri Lanka can also encourage Indian entrepreneurs to make Colombo another business hub for them, as logistical capacities and facilities for rest and recreation keep improving in Sri Lanka.
  • Integrating the two countries but with special and differential treatment for Sri Lanka due to economic asymmetries can be fast-tracked for this purpose.
  • There is immense potential for both countries to accentuate or create complementariness, using locational and human resource potential, for harnessing benefits in the modern value chains.
  • Robust partnerships across the economic and social spectrum can also promote people-to-people bonhomie.

 


General Studies – 3


 

Topic: Achievements of Indians in science & technology; indigenization of technology and developing new technology. Awareness in the fields of IT, Space, Computers, robotics, nano-technology, bio-technology and issues relating to intellectual property rights.

4. Discuss the contribution of A P J Abdul Kalam to indigenisation and development of new technology in India? (250 words)

Reference: The Wire

Why this question:

A.P.J. Abdul Kalam was a man of many parts. Best known for the good nature he brought to the office of the president, he was also an author and inspirational speaker, a poet in Tamil, an amateur musician and polymath. Most of all, however, he was a scientist with a flair for inventiveness, adaptation and administration – qualities that propelled him to the frontlines of the national imagination when the rocketry that he devoted most of his professional life to helped India reach for the skies. July 27, 2020, is the occasion of Kalam’s fifth death anniversary.

Key demand of the question:

The question is a straightforward one. One must discuss the contributions of “Missile Man of India” – Dr. Kalam.

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:

Briefly introduce about Dr. Kalam.

Body:

The question is straightforward.

Discuss the contributions of Dr. Kalam as a scientist in rocket development, missile development, nuclear programme of India, director of ISRO and DRDO and finally as “People’s President of India” and to the student community of India.

Highlight his varied interests in music, writing as well.

Conclusion:

Conclude with the values that we need to imbibe from the Great man’s life.

Introduction:

Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam was a man of many parts. Best known for the good nature he brought to the office of the president, he was also an author and inspirational speaker, a poet in Tamil, an amateur musician and polymath. Most of all, however, he was a scientist with a flair for inventiveness, adaptation and administration – qualities that propelled him to the frontlines of the national imagination when the rocketry that he devoted most of his professional life to helped India reach for the skies. Kalam was 11th President of India from 2002 to 2007.

Body:

  • Contributions to DRDO:
    • Dr Kalam started his career at DRDO after graduating from the Madras Institute of Technology.
    • He joined the Aeronautical Development Establishment (ADE) of the Defence Research and Development Organisation as a scientist after becoming a member of the Defence Research and Development Service (DRDS).
    • Kalam apparently started his career by designing a small hovercraft at DRDO.
    • In 1965, Kalam independently started work on an expandable rocket project at the institution, and in 1969 he received the government’s approval and expanded the programme to include more engineers.
    • During his tenure at DRDO, Kalam directed two projects namely Project Devil and Project Valiant, which aimed at developing ballistic missiles from the technology of SLV programme.
    • Kalam also played an instrumental role in developing missiles like Agni and Prithvi under the Integrated Guided Missile Development Programme (IGMDP) of which he was the chief executive.
    • Kalam is also credited with playing a major role in the Pokhran-II nuclear tests, which were carried out during his stint as the Chief Scientific Adviser to the Prime Minister and Secretary of the Defence Research and Development Organisation from July 1992 to December 1999.
  • Contributions to ISRO:
    • Dr Kalam was part of the Indian National Committee for Space Research (INCOSPAR), which was set up by Dr. Vikram Sarabhai, father of Indian space programme.
    • INCOSPAR, the team of rocket engineers of which Kalam was a part, set up the Thumba Equatorial Rocket Launching Station (TERLS) that is used by ISRO to launch sounding rockets even today.
    • Kalam was also the project director of India’s first Satellite Launch Vehicle (SLV-III) which successfully deployed the Rohini satellite in near-earth orbit. Kalam has also played a contributory role in the development of Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV).
  • An Inspiration to The Youth of New India:
    • Kalam had always tried to inspire the younger generation through the medium of his powerful speeches.
    • In fact, some of his decisions have also been the result of his own youthful passion.
    • For example, his decision to no longer live a comfortable life as the President of India and take up the very ambitious venture of teaching and imparting his knowledge to students, the younger generation, was clearly a youthful act.
  • Other interests:
    • A vegetarian, Dr. Kalam had the prowess of reciting the holy book Quran and the Bhagavad Gita with equal ease.
    • Through a third person’s view, Dr. Kalam was a man of peace. He loved classical music and used to play the Veena with utmost poise. He used to write Tamil poems which were famed to move the reader.
    • As if it wasn’t already enough, Dr. Kalam was a voracious reader as well. He even authored many books like India 2020: A Vision for the New Millennium, Wings of Fire, Ignited Minds: Unleashing the Power within India, Transcendence: My Spiritual Experiences with Pramukh Swamiji, A Manifesto for Change: A Sequel to India 2020.

Conclusion:

Whether it was his advocacy of nuclear weapons, his conversion – but only after leaving Rashtrapati Bhavan – to the cause of the abolition of the death penalty, his occasionally indifferent poetry, and his embarrassing fondness for getting audiences to repeat his homilies in unison, there was always a side of Kalam even his admirers may not have found appealing. But it was impossible to remain unmoved in his presence, his face often set to a stern expression like a schoolteacher who has struck upon an epiphany, his neatly partitioned mane of silver hair staying obediently out of the way. The success of the SLV-3 fetched him a Padma Bhushan in 1981; excellence at the DRDO, the Padma Vibhushan in 1990; and ultimately the Bharat Ratna in 1997.

 

Topic: Achievements of Indians in science & technology; indigenization of technology and developing new technology. Awareness in the fields of IT, Space, Computers, robotics, nano-technology, bio-technology and issues relating to intellectual property rights.

5. What are Spywares and stalkerwares? Discuss their implications of the onslaught of cyber-crimes and vulnerabilities in the cyber landscape during the pandemic. Provide measures for the same. (250 words).

Reference: Indian Express 

Why this question

Global cyber-security leader Avast has in a note warned that there was a 51 per cent increase in the use of spyware and stalkerware during the lockdown period from March to June. The usage of these apps, the company had in its note said, increased during lockdown in the backdrop of heightened domestic violence cases.

With this, the onslaught of cyber-crimes and vulnerabilities in the cyber landscape are increasing by the day. Security flaws in videoconferencing tools, along with malware, ransomware attacks on digital payments systems have already surfaced. The sudden thrust towards digitisation involving the new internet users particularly from rural and semi-urban population are most susceptible to data breaches and frauds like phishing and skimming. Levels of online activity that challenge the confidentiality, integrity, and availability (CIA) of network traffic are accelerating.

Key demand of the question

The question expects us to explain the concepts of Spyware and stalkerware. One must discuss the increasing implications of the same at cybersecurity during the pandemic. Provide the measures to safeguard people from such dangers.

Directive word

Directive:

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

Structure of the answer:

Introduction:

In brief narrate the recent attack by the spywares during the pandemic.

Body:

Explain the terms spyware and stalkerware.

Discuss the threats such cyber-attacks pose to people.

Explain the associated risk factors in detail and methods to tackle them.

Conclusion:

Conclude with way forward.

Introduction:

Spyware is software that is installed on a computing device without the end user’s knowledge. Any software can be classified as spyware if it is downloaded without the user’s authorization. Spyware is controversial because even when it is installed for relatively innocuous reasons, it can violate the end user’s privacy and has the potential to be abused.

On the other hand, in most cases, a stalker ware app can be installed only when someone has physical access to the digitally connected device. Though the app works in a manner similar to spyware apps, it goes a step ahead and also gives out the location of the device to a master device which controls the stalker ware app.

Body:

Spy and stalkerware apps, like viruses and other malware, infect devices that are connected to the internet. Global cyber-security leader Avast has in a note warned that there was a 51 per cent increase in the use of spyware and stalkerware during the lockdown period from March to June.

Implications of the onslaught of cyber-crimes and vulnerabilities in the cyber landscape during the pandemic:

  • The COVID-19 pandemic has, almost overnight, forced us to adapt to a whole new working environment.
  • With lockdowns in place, both organizations and employees have come to terms with working remotely or working from home.
  • With remote working likely to become a more common feature of corporate work culture in the lockdown period, we need to be better prepared to ward off cyber threats.
  • Increased usage of internet by everyone due to various lockdown measures in place. This provides enough opportunities for cyber criminals.
  • Cybercriminals are even taking new approaches to old tactics by exploiting the COVID-19 situation to send phishing emails with dangerous links that are disguised to be from government agencies, employers and even the World Health Organization.
  • For instance, there might be an email message, which appears to be from your company officials, that asks you to open a link to a new company policy pertaining to COVID-19.
  • However, clicking on the attachment or the embedded link might download malware onto the device.
  • Such fraudulent emails and text messages (or even WhatsApp messages) are being increasingly used to trick consumers into opening malicious links that can not only corrupt their device but also hack into their personal data.
  • More than 4,000 fraudulent portals emerged within two months, and on a typical day in April 2020, Google alone blocked 240 million spam messages and 18 million phishing scams.
  • Users are consuming more apps than before for purposes ranging from online dating to ecommerce and banking transactions.
  • Children are spending more time online for education and entertainment. An increase in online time increases the risk of exposure to cyber threats.
  • There is a greater need than ever to protect one’s data and identity in the online world.

Measures to tackle spywares:

  • Regular Data Backup: This helps restore the last saved data and minimise data loss. Ransomware also attacks servers; hence it is important to have a backup on a disconnected hard drive or external device on the pre-defined regular basis.
  • To prevent infiltration of malware, having password protected tools to identify and filter certain file extensions like “.exe” or “. Zip”, are essential. Emails that appear suspicious should also be filtered at the exchange level.
  • User awareness: Awareness among users needs to be created to avoid opening the unsolicited attachment. Malware is typically designed to mimic identities of people that users interact with on a regular basis either on a personal or professional level.
  • Regular patch and upgrades: To prevent leaks or vulnerabilities in software, ensure to regularly update the software versions and apply patches released by the vendor. These patches and version are often released to wrestle with known or newly discovered exploits and can prevent known signatures of these malware, Trojans or ransomware to enter the system.
  • Install and run anti-malware and firewall software. When selecting software, choose a program that offers tools for detecting, quarantining, and removing multiple types of malware.
  • The combination of anti-malware software and a firewall will ensure that all incoming and existing data gets scanned for malware and that malware can be safely removed once detected.
  • Keep software and operating systems up to date with current vulnerability patches. These patches are often released to patch bugs or other security flaws that could be exploited by attackers.
  • Be vigilant when downloading files, programs, attachments, etc. Downloads that seem strange or are from an unfamiliar source often contain malware.

Conclusion:

The Government of India has come up with initiatives like National Cybersecurity policy 2013, CERT-In, Cyber Swachhata Kendra           to fight against such cyber threats. Cybersecurity becomes imperative in the wake of Government’s push for Digital India.

 

Topic: Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation.

6. With an avalanche of PPE suits, masks and sanitiser bottles in our landfills brought about by Covid, the war against single-use plastic has been reversed. Discuss in detail the underlying causes of such a situation and suggest solutions. (250 words)

Reference: The Hindu 

Why this question?

Fanning the fear of infection, companies are trying to sneak single-use plastics back into the economy. This might yet be the worst fallout of the pandemic. Thanks to an avalanche of PPE suits, masks and sanitiser bottles in our landfills brought about by Covid, the war against single-use plastic has been reversed. These products are no doubt beneficial during a medical emergency of such scale, but what we’re seeing now is how companies are exploiting yet another crisis.

Key demand of the question:

One must debate upon the increasing single-use plastic in the garb of pandemic. Discuss the reasons for the same and the solutions to overcome the same.

Directive:

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

Structure of the answer:

Introduction:

In brief state some key facts to set the context of the question.

Body:

The answer must detail upon what ails India when it comes to meaningful action on reducing plastic waste.

With high usage of the safety kits, sanitizers, etc. the single use plastic are making a quiet comeback in large scale.

Discuss the various reasons for the same.

Suggest solutions specific to the problems.

Conclusion:

Conclude with way forward.

Introduction:

Single Use plastic is a form of plastic that is disposable, which is only used once and then has to be thrown away or recycled. The single-use plastic items include plastic bags, water bottles, soda bottles, straws, plastic plates, cups, most food packaging and coffee stirrers. The single-use plastic products also prevent the spread of infection. Instruments such as syringes, applicators, drug tests, bandages and wraps are often made to be disposable. Also, single-use plastic products have been enlisted in the fight against food waste, keeping food and water fresher for longer and reducing the potential for contamination.

Fanning the fear of infection, companies are trying to sneak single-use plastics back into the economy. This might yet be the worst fallout of the pandemic. Increased usage of PPE suits, masks and sanitiser bottles in our landfills brought about by Covid, the war against single-use plastic has been reversed.

Body:

The underlying causes for increasing single-use plastic:

  • Lack of segregation:
    • Plastic waste in drains or in landfills comprises of the least recyclable material — this is multi-layered packaging (food stuff of all kinds), sachets (gutkha, shampoo, etc) and plastic bags.
    • multilayered plastic or sachets cannot be recycled — they can be sent to cement plants for energy recovery or used in road construction. But it nearly impossible to first segregate; collect and then transport these empty, soiled packages.
  • Increasing bio-medical waste:
    • The PPE suits, masks and sanitiser bottles are increasing to great extents in our landfills brought about by Covid.
    • These products are no doubt beneficial during a medical emergency of such scale, but pose grave dangers to biodiversity and environment.
    • The present dumping of biomedical waste, most of it plastic, is bound to lead to bigger health hazards.
  • Safety concerns:
    • The plastic carry bag has made its comeback worldwide as supermarkets have banned reusable bags and biggies like Starbucks have discontinued reusable cups.
    • While the possible concerns surrounding restaurant take-outs, now that we are a few months into the pandemic it is time to look up facts and make our own judgements.
  • Plastic industries lobby:
    • In March this year, The Plastics Industry Association in the US wrote to the country’s Department of Health and Human Services asking them to publicly declare the ‘health and safety benefits seen in single-use plastics’ and ‘speak out against bans on these products as a public safety risk and help stop the rush to ban these products.’
    • This is just one example of several other bodies in every country pushing their plastic agenda.
    • There are many such organisations in India too that are ensuring that plastic makes a comeback by building fear in our minds.
    • A recent piece in The New York Times quoted an oft-cited study by researchers at the University of Arizona and Loma Linda University. The study found that reusable plastic bags can contain bacteria and that users don’t wash reusable bags very often.
    • “The study was funded, however, by the American Chemistry Council, which represents major plastics and chemicals manufacturers. The study recommends that shoppers simply wash their reusable bags, not replace them,” states the report.
  • Violation of international laws:
    • More than 25 countries dumped 1,21,000 metric tonne of plastic waste in India after recycling companies “slyly” imported it. This drew a sharp response from environment activists who said it may hamper the country’s initiatives to reduce plastic pollution.

Solutions needed:

  • While the debate around reusable bags and paper packaging being contagious is still on, we of course need to be careful no matter what we use but, most importantly, not blindly follow Whatsapp forwards or random experiments on social media.
  • Proper plastic waste management will only happen if there is good municipal waste management. EPR provisions will have to be designed for this reality.
  • we must be more focused on recycling than bans, given almost 40% of the plastic waste generated in the country remains uncollected
  • To increase recycling, we must improve segregation of waste at source and improve the collection and transportation of segregated wastes.
  • Multi-Layered Plastics contain several polymers, they can’t be recycled. At best, they can be incinerated in cement plants, used as a refuse-derived fuel (RFD), used in road construction or for making down-cycled products.
  • plastic waste management can’t be treated as separate from solid waste management.
  • Along with banning thin plastic carry-bags, the government should also promote options like textile or paper bags.
  • A combination of economic and regulatory tools is required to incentivise quick entry of alternatives in a viable manner.

Global practices to tackle single-use plastic:

  • Globally, plastic waste regulation is about better segregation, collection, and then disposal.
  • The focus is not so much on the end-of-the-life reuse/recycling. This is the reason why, globally, more than 90% of the plastics are not recycled.
  • Sweden, which is considered to have one of the best plastic waste management systems. Its plastic recycling rate is meagre, as it burns most of its plastic waste to generate electricity.
  • Other developed countries, like the US, have outsourced plastic pollution. They consume a lot and then ship the waste to developing countries like China, India and now Africa.

Way forward:

  • Design for recycling. Instead of using multiple polymers in packaging like multilayered plastics, they should be shifting to single polymers that will aide recycling. This can be done quickly.
  • Reduce the weight of packaging and the need for packaging. There is a vast scope to reduce plastic consumption here. This is again a short- to medium-term goal.
  • Start developing, substituting plastic with alternatives. This is something that they need to start working immediately, but this is a medium- to long-term goal.
  • Start working closely with the local authorities to ensure littering is minimised and the collection of segregated plastics is maximised. This will reduce visible pollution, enhance recycling and end-of-life use.
  • The plastic life cycle eventually is “from oil to oil” or “from oil to ash (incineration).” So, we will have to develop state-of-the-art facilities for energy recovery and conversion.

 


General Studies – 4


 

Topic: Human Values – lessons from the lives and teachings of great leaders, reformers and administrators;

7. “You cannot change your future, but you can change your habits, and surely your habits will change your future.” Explain the meaning of quote and importance of perseverance in life. (250 words)

Key demand of the question.

The question wants us to explain the meaning of quote. In the next part, one must define perseverance and talk about its importance in one’s life.

Structure of the answer

Introduction-

Briefly introduce the quote and talk a few words about Dr. Kalam who gave the quote.

Body-

Explain the meaning of the quote and what it means to you in your life.

You can quote examples and case studies to substantiate your arguments.

Define the word ‘perseverance’ and talk about its importance in one’s life.

Conclusion–

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

Introduction:

The above quote was given by Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam, fondly known as “People’s President” of India. He was not only the greatest testimony of Leadership, Integrity and Simplicity but one who was respected by people of India irrespective of their religion, caste & creed. The above quote exemplifies the importance of habits in one’s life and the persistence of those habits in life which can definitely help an individual grow to the great heights in life.

Body:

Our health, knowledge, relationships, and reputation and how others perceive us and interact with us etc. all depend on who we are. Or rather, on who we decide to be. And one reason why it is so hard to change habits is that long-term habits have become an inherent part of our identity.

Habits, according to Aristotle, link to character, and character is the place where we may read off whether a person exhibits a virtue or a vice. For instance, the repetition of virtuous actions over time – say acting with prudence – results in the agent becoming enlightened in the ways of living well. Habits, according to Aristotle, link to character, and character is the place where we may read off whether a person exhibits a virtue or a vice. For instance, the repetition of virtuous actions over time – say acting with prudence – results in the agent becoming enlightened in the ways of living well. Habits, according to Aristotle, link to character, and character is the place where we may read off whether a person exhibits a virtue or a vice. For instance, the repetition of virtuous actions over time – say acting with prudence – results in the agent becoming enlightened in the ways of living well. Habits, according to Aristotle, link to character, and character is the place where we may read off whether a person exhibits a virtue or a vice. For instance, the repetition of virtuous actions over time – say acting with prudence – results in the agent becoming enlightened in the ways of living well.

Being born as a poor person is not a sin, but however, if one doesn’t work hard to achieve things in life and die the same way, then it is definitely a sin. One must always persevere to gain great heights in life, one must dream and try to work in alignment to achieve that dream. The power of changing one’s life lies within himself/herself. Many great examples like Dr. Ambedkar, Dr. Kalam, P.V. Sindhu, Manjhi- the mountain man are testimonies to the fact that perseverance and grit will help one succeed in life.

Perseverance corresponds to persistence in doing something despite difficulty or delay in achieving success. It is the quality that allows someone to continue trying to do something even though it is difficult. It is the relentless and constant effort for achieving something. This quality in public service has its own importance as changes in societies or communities are very slow and require continuous efforts on the part of system.

E.g.: Gandhiji’s adherence to the values of non-violence and truth; Fight against corruption in our society.

Habits, according to Aristotle, link to character, and character is the place where we may read off whether a person exhibits a virtue or a vice. For instance, the repetition of virtuous actions over time – say acting with prudence – results in the agent becoming enlightened in the ways of living well. Habits, according to Aristotle, link to character, and character is the place where we may read off whether a person exhibits a virtue or a vice. For instance, the repetition of virtuous actions over time – say acting with prudence – results in the agent becoming enlightened in the ways of living well.

Perseverance is a very important character trait for you to be successful in life. It means determination at working hard regardless of any odds or obstacles that may exist. It is to insist and to be firm on getting something done and not giving up.

In life we will not always have things going our way all the time, sometimes we will falter or fail at completing a task or getting what we want. However, by persevering and sticking to the task we will eventually overcome and be successful.

For example, if Thomas Edison, the American Inventor, who invented the electric light bulb, had given up the first time he failed; maybe this marvellous invention might not have been a possibility as early as 1879.

Conclusion:

A positive outlook to life and a confident attitude with the required changes for a bright future should be the mantra for a happy life.


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