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SECURE SYNOPSIS: 26 August 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, Role of women and women’s organization

1. In India, as in many other countries, the economic fallout of covid-19 has had a disproportionate effect on women, thus it’s time to realize that what’s good for gender parity is good for the economy. Analyse. (250 words)

Reference: Live Mint

Why the question:

The author of the article brings to us the dismal effect that Covid-19 had on women in the country and in what way it’s high time for us to realize that what’s good for gender parity is good for the economy.

Key Demand of the question:

Discuss in detail the need to recognize and acknowledge the fact that – “what’s good for gender parity is good for the economy.”

Directive:

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

Structure of the answer:

Introduction:

Discuss the effects of Covid-19 in general and explain in what way it has shown a disproportionate effect on women in the country.

Body:

Start by explaining key facts such as – Even before the Covid crisis, India’s quest for gender equality was stalling. Globally, female participation in the labour force is about two-thirds that of men. That number had hardly changed between 2014 and 2019.

Discuss then the several reasons, besides the underlying inequalities, for this disproportionate effect on women. A major factor is that coronavirus has significantly increased the burden of unpaid care. According to one survey, covid-19 has increased by 30% the time women in India spend on family responsibilities.

Explain the need for recognising gender parity to better the economy. Discuss the efforts of the government in this direction.

Conclusion:

Conclude with way forward.

Introduction:

As the COVID-19 pandemic sweeps through the globe leaving behind a trail of destruction, most countries are implementing different versions of lockdowns to facilitate social and physical distancing. The basic assumption underlying almost all these policy decisions during a crisis like this is that the effect of the pandemic is gender neutral. As the lockdowns impose stricter control on one’s mobility, they put women in abusive relationships at extremely high risk of damage from physical, sexual and emotional abuse.

Body

The World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report 2020 says men and women will have pay equality in 257 years. Of the 153 countries studied for the report, India ranks 112th on the overall Global Gender Gap Index. The economic gender gap runs particularly deep and has gotten significantly wider.

Issues faced by women:

Gender gap in India: Current Scenario

  • Globally, female participation in the labour force is about two-thirds that of men. That number had hardly changed between 2014 and 2019.
  • But, in India, where women made up just 20% of the workforce, going by data from the International Labour Organization, there was a slight decrease in female labour-force participation in that period.
  • Against this backdrop, covid-19 has been a gender-regressive shock. Women’s jobs and livelihoods have been more vulnerable to the pandemic.
  • Globally, the covid-related job loss rate for women is about 1.8 times higher than that of men, at 5.7% versus 3.1%, by our estimates.
  • In India, women’s share of job losses, considering only the covid impact on the industries in which they work, would have been 17%, but unemployment surveys suggest that they actually account for 23% of overall job losses.
  • India scores quite low in when it comes to gender inequality, according to latest UNDP Human development report, India is ranked 125 of 159 countries in the Gender Inequality Index (GII).
  • Wage gap: Research from India’ leading diversity and inclusion consulting firm Avtar Group shows that women are paid 34% less than men for performing the same job with the same qualifications.

Reasons for the same:

  • A major factor is that coronavirus has significantly increased the burden of unpaid care.
  • According to one survey, covid-19 has increased by 30% the time women in India spend on family responsibilities.
  • Unsurprisingly, therefore, women have dropped out of the workforce at a higher rate than is explained by market dynamics alone.
  • Lack of Economic Empowerment: Women are underrepresented in senior managerial position and overrepresented in low paying jobs. Oxford Survey shows that globally only 19% firms have a female senior manager.
  • Financial inclusion: with reduced capital available to support the micro-enterprises that are so often a pathway to work for women.
  • Access to productive capital: It is harder for women to access funds and capital for farming, starting a business or for other developmental works.
  • Secondary Education for women is lower than man in majority of countries while this stands at less than 80% in India.
  • Social norms and stereotypes: Classifying men as “bread winners” and women pursuing jobs as “career women” was reported by Oxford University Survey. It also highlighted that most of the unpaid work is seen as a women’s job.
  • Over half the respondents to a World Values Survey in many South Asian countries agreed that men have a greater right to a job than women when jobs are scarce—far higher than the one in six respondents who said the same in developed countries.

Measures to be taken:

  • While policies that support gender equality need to be tailored to national contexts, there are tried and tested measures that can be considered.
  • Policy measures could include addressing or reducing the amount of unpaid work and rebalancing it between men and women, supporting employer or state-funded provision of childcare, and interventions to address digital and financial inclusion.
  • Any drive for gender parity arguably starts with efforts to change entrenched, widespread attitudes about women’s role in society.
  • The family needs to adjust to the changing role of women and volunteer to share household work.
    • Unrealistic expectations can be detrimental to their physical and mental well-being.
  • Workplaces can do their bit by introducing part-time and flexi-time work facilities and work from home opportunities to avoid their burnout.
  • Policies that provide services, social protection and basic infrastructure, promote sharing of domestic and care work between men and women, and create more paid jobs in the care economy, are urgently needed to accelerate progress on women’s economic empowerment.
  • Ensuring basic infrastructure such as piped drinking water, LPG cylinders to all rural areas have helped reduce the burden of domestic responsibilities on women.

Conclusion:

This pandemic is not only challenging global health systems, but our commitment to equality and human dignity. With women’s interests and rights front and centre, we can get through this pandemic faster, and build more equal and resilient communities and societies that benefit everyone.

 


General Studies – 2


 

Topic : Structure, organization and functioning of the Executive and the Judiciary—Ministries and Departments of the Government; pressure groups and formal/informal associations and their role in the Polity. Statutory, regulatory and various quasi-judicial bodies.

2. While discussing the idea of Fiscal council, present arguments both in favour and against it, also explain its relevance in today’s times. (250 words)

Reference: The Hindu 

Why the question:

The editorial discusses the idea of a Fiscal Council in India.

Key Demand of the question:

Explain in detail the idea of fiscal council and present arguments both in favour and against it, also explain its relevance in today’s times.

Directive:

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

Structure of the answer:

Introduction:

In the current economic slowdown in the country owing to the COVID-19 pandemic and the consequent lockdown, economists opine that the government needs to borrow and spend more now in order to support vulnerable households and engineer an economic recovery.

Body:

First explain the idea of Fiscal council; The government can signal its virtue by establishing some new institutional mechanism for enforcing fiscal discipline, such as for example a fiscal council. It was first recommended by the Thirteenth Finance Commission and was subsequently endorsed by the Fourteenth Finance Commission and then by the FRBM (Fiscal Responsibility and Budget Management) Review Committee headed by N.K. Singh.

A fiscal council, at its core, is a permanent agency with a mandate to independently assess the government’s fiscal plans and projections against parameters of macroeconomic sustainability, and put out its findings in the public domain.

Discuss in detail its mandate, functions and present both pros and cons of it.

Conclusion:

The best way forward is to start small and scale it up if it proves to be a positive experience.

Introduction:

Fiscal councils are independent public institutions aimed at strengthening commitments to sustainable public finances through various functions, including public assessments of fiscal plans and performance, and the evaluation or provision of macroeconomic and budgetary forecasts. Fiscal councils are now part of the institutional fiscal apparatus of over 50 countries, including several emerging and developing economies.

Covid-19 pandemic has made fiscal council more relevant for India as the government needs to borrow and spend more now in order to support vulnerable households and engineer economic recovery.

Body:

Fiscal_Council

Relevance of fiscal council in today’s times:

  • The fiscal situation in India has been under severe stress even before COVID-19 and the novel coronavirus pandemic has only worsened it.
  • The fiscal deficit of the Centre in 2019-20 as estimated by the Controller General of Accounts (CGA) was 4.6%, 0.8 percentage point higher than the revised estimate.
  • For the current year, even without any additional fiscal stimulus, the deficit is estimated at about 7% of GDP as against 3.5% estimated in the Budget due to a sharp decline in revenues.
  • The consolidated deficit of the Union and States could be as high as 12% of GDP and the overall debt could go up to 85%.
  • When off Budget liabilities are considered, the situation looks even more alarming.
  • Various cesses and surcharges are becoming disproportionate proportion of overall divisible revenue.
  • There should be some mechanism to ensure that the basic spirit of the devolution process should not be undercut by clever financial engineering or taking recourse to traditions.
  • There is a need for coordination between the finance commission as well as the GST Council. GST Council has no clue of what the Finance Commission is doing and Finance Commission has even lesser clue of what the GST Council is doing.
  • Also, for state government liabilities, Article 293 (3) provides a constitutional check over borrowings. But there is no such restriction on the Centre.

Advantages of having a fiscal council:

  • First, an unbiased report to Parliament helps to raise the level of debate and brings in greater transparency and accountability.
  • Second, costing of various policies and programmes can help to promote transparency over the political cycle to discourage populist shifts in fiscal policy and improve accountability.
  • Third, scientific estimates of the cost of programmes and assessment of forecasts could help in raising public awareness about their fiscal implications and make people understand the nature of budgetary constraint.
  • Finally, the Council will work as a conscience keeper in monitoring rule-based policies, and in raising awareness and the level of debate within and outside Parliament.
  • According to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), there were 36 countries with independent fiscal institution (IFI)s in 2014 and more have been established since.
  • Although their common agenda has been to function as watchdogs, there is considerable diversity in their structure and functions.
  • A study by the IMF, documents that the existence of independent fiscal institution (IFI)s is associated with stronger primary balances.
  • Countries with IFIs tend to have more accurate macroeconomic and budgetary forecasts.
  • IFIs are likely to raise public awareness and raise the level of public debate on fiscal policy.

Lessons from other countries:

  • In Belgium, the government is legally required to adopt the macroeconomic forecasts of the Federal Planning Bureau and this has significantly helped to reduce bias in these estimates.
  • In Chile, the existence of two independent bodies on Trend GDP and Reference Copper Price has greatly helped to improve Budget forecasts.
  • In the U.K., the Office for Budget Responsibility has been important in restoring fiscal sustainability.
  • Cross-country evidence shows that fiscal councils exert a strong influence on fiscal performances, particularly when they have formal guarantees of independence.

Way forward:

  • When the markets fail, governments have to intervene.
  • Whenever governments seem obstructed, it is here that we need systems and institutions to ensure checks and balances.
  • In that respect, a Fiscal Council is an important institution needed to complement the rule-based fiscal policy.
  • The 14th Finance Commission recommended that an independent Fiscal Council should be established through an amendment to the FRBM Act, by inserting a new Section mandating the establishment of an independent Fiscal Council to undertake ex ante assessment of budget proposals and to ensure their consistency with fiscal policy and Rules.

 

Topic : India and its neighborhood- relations.

3. Can India be the economic engine of the neighborhood in the current conditions?  Discuss in detail the idea of India taking lead in the south Asian region. (250 words )

Reference: Hindustan Times 

Why the question:

The article talks about the importance of India in the South Asian region.

Key Demand of the question:

One must explain whether it is possible for India to become an economic engine of the neighborhood in the current conditions. One has to focus on the regional aspects and India’s role in it.

Directive:

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

Structure of the answer:

Introduction:

Briefly explain the context of the question.

Body:

Explain in what way with the privilege of being the region’s largest economy by far comes the power to make a difference. Covid-19 has presented India with an unprecedented opportunity to help restructure its economy and reshape regional cooperation and integration towards a more sustainable path.

Discuss the effects of Pandemic in the current conditions. Explain how it has impacted overall economy in the region.                

Explain the need for reorientation of India’s Neighbourhood First policy in such context. Take hints from the article and elucidate.

Conclusion:

Conclude on the note that India can fuel its own national recovery by being the economic engine of the neighborhood.

Introduction:

South Asia, one of the world’s most populous regions, is also affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. While there are many differences amongst the countries of the region, there are also common features which impact the health of its people, some of them a result of our shared cultural and geopolitical history. The collective experience of dealing with COVID-19 may provide important lessons, which transcend national boundaries.

Body:

In the wake of the rapid spread of Coronavirus infections across countries including South Asia, Indian Prime Minister held a conference of the leaders of South Asian nations to discuss coordination and strategy to combat the advance of the disease. India should remember that it can fuel its own national recovery by being the economic engine of the neighbourhood.

Reasons why India should be the economic engine of South-Asia:

  • There are dire warnings of a “pandemic depression” with growth projections worldwide revised heavily downward, and an estimated 42 million people within South Asia out of 100 million worldwide already driven back to extreme poverty.
  • The ongoing global slowdown is projected to hit South Asia’s major export earnings — business services, textiles, transport equipment, labour and tourism, severely.
  • This is compounded by a 22% decline in remittances to South Asia mainly from the Gulf, serious problems of finance and capital, as well as what the World Health Organization has termed “supply nationalism” severely disrupting global supply chains.
  • China is using Covid-19 diplomacy to take several strategic initiatives vis-à-vis India’s neighbours in South Asia that require a commensurate response.

Measures needed for India to take the lead in the south Asian region:

  • India could leverage regional trade, connectivity and investment, and strengthen the South Asian Free Trade Agreement as a game-changer for the region.
  • One step that could dramatically galvanise economic energies would be to lower barriers to intra-regional food trade and encourage regional supply chains.
  • the South Asian Free Trade Agreement trade policy measure should be supplemented by a series of trade facilitation measures that could uplift Prime Minister’s call for self-reliance from the national to a regional level as an extension of India’s Neighbourhood First policy.
  • These range from offers of freer transit trade through the region, the development of supply and logistic chains, digital data interchange, single-window and digitised clearance systems, risk assessment and minimisation measures, wider use of trade lines of credit (presently abysmally low), denser connectivity, smoother cross-border inspections, and reduced transaction costs, using technology as a force multiplier.
  • Further, India could take the lead is in the sectors of health and food security.
  • regional food security is another area that India could take a major initiative in with an eye to the future.
  • Measures in this area could include using its ample food reserves of 83 million MT to put in place a South Asian food safety net to deal with crises augmenting access to the SAARC Food Bank that currently stands at less than 500,000 MT.
  • India could provide an ecological blueprint for South Asia with a focus on the protection of biodiversity and dealing with the climate crisis. The linkage between pandemics and ecology also needs to be acknowledged.
  • India can increase the convening capacity of sub-regional initiatives such as the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation.
  • The border regions can be effective partners in shaping India’s regional engagement by steering sectoral regional dialogues on cross-border trade, transport and health.

Conclusion:

SAARC has the potential to transform the South Asian Region. Measures that India takes to combat the disease could be compromised if all countries in South Asia are not on the same page. As members of this region, we must come together in such times. Smaller economies are hit harder, so we must coordinate. With Indian leadership, there will be no doubt we will see immediate and impactful outcome. At various levels, governments and people are trying their best to combat it. South Asia, which is home to a significant number of the global population should leave no stone unturned to ensure our people are healthy.

 

Topic : GS-2: Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.

GS-3: food security

4. With State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World (SOFI) report showing that India retains the dubious distinction of being the country with the largest population of food insecure people, critically analyse the underlying gaps to such a condition of food security in the country. (250 words)

Reference: The Hindu 

Why the question:

Data from the latest edition of the State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World (SOFI) report show that India retains the dubious distinction of being the country with the largest population of food insecure people. Thus the question.

Key Demand of the question:

One has to critically analyse the gaps present in the food security system of the country and suggest solutions to address the same.

Directive:

Critically 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. 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:

Briefly quote the report and its findings first.

Body:

Estimates presented in the report which was released by several United Nations organisations show that the prevalence of food insecurity increased by 3.8 percentage points in India between 2014 and 2019, By 2019, 6.2 crore more people were living with food insecurity than the number in 2014.

The SOFI report, which is published annually, presents the most authoritative evaluation of hunger and food insecurity in the world. Since 2017, SOFI presents two key measures of food insecurity: the conventional measure called the Prevalence of Undernourishment (PoU) and a new measure called the Prevalence of Moderate and Severe Food Insecurity (PMSFI).

Discuss the issues and the underlying gaps that have led to this condition in detail.

Conclusion:

Conclude with what needs to be done and suggest solutions.

Introduction:

“Food Security” is one of crucial factors of development and poverty alleviation around the globe The right to food is a principle of international human rights law. Food security, as defined by the United Nations’ Committee on World Food Security(CFS), is the condition in which all people, at all times, have physical, social and economic access to sufficient safe and nutritious food that meets their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life. Our current understanding of food security includes the four dimensions of access, availability, utilisation and stability.

Data from the latest edition of the State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World (SOFI) report show that India retains the dubious distinction of being the country with the largest population of food insecure people.

Body:

Grim findings of SOFI report with respect to India:

  • Estimates presented in the report which was released by several United Nations organisations show that the prevalence of food insecurity increased by 3.8 percentage points in India between 2014 and 2019.
  • By 2019, 6.2 crore more people were living with food insecurity than the number in 2014.
  • These estimates show that while 8% of India’s population suffered from moderate or severe food insecurity in 2014-16, the proportion rose to 31.6% in 2017-19.
  • The number of food insecure people grew from 42.65 crore in 2014-16 to 48.86 crore in 2017-19.
  • India accounted for 22% of the global burden of food insecurity, the highest for any country, in 2017-19.
  • It is also noteworthy that while the PMSFI increased in India by 3.7 percentage points during this period, it fell by 0.5 percentage points in the rest of South Asia.
  • India has not released the latest National Sample Survey Office (NSSO) consumption expenditure survey data for 2017-18.
  • As a result, conventional measures of poverty and food consumption are not available for recent years.
  • Lack of availability of data from this consumption survey also has implications for the FAO’s PoU estimates for India.
  • Because of a lack of regular availability of consumption survey data from most countries, the FAO uses supply-wise data on per capita food availability to measure changes in average per capita calorie intake.

The underlying gaps to food security in India:

  • Economic distress:
    • The significant rise in food insecurity, as shown by these data, is a clear manifestation of the overall economic distress during this period marked by a deepening agrarian crisis, falling investments across sectors and shrinking employment opportunities.
    • The latest PLFS data have shown that the unemployment rates in the recent years have been higher than in the last four decades.
    • It is widely believed that demonetisation and introduction of the Goods and Services Tax were two prime causes of economic distress during this period.
  • NFSA issues:
    • The NSFA does not guarantee universal right to food: Targeted –Restricts the right to food to only 75% of rural and 50% of urban population in India
    • Act would not apply in times of “war, flood, drought, fire, cyclone or earthquake”. This a highly problematic clause given that food is becomes utmost necessary during these circumstances
    • The Act focuses primarily on distribution of rice and wheat and fails to address the ‘utilization’ dimension of food security.
    • Given that a major reason for micronutrient deficiency in India is because of a cereal-based diet; the NSFA does not address the issue of malnutrition and nutritional deficiency adequately.
    • Under the National Food Security Act, the identification of beneficiaries is to be completed by State Governments. As per findings of Comptroller and Auditor General in 2016, a massive 49 % of the beneficiaries were yet to be identified by the State Governments.
  • Quality issues:
    • Inadequate distribution of food through public distribution mechanism, food adulterations in distributed food
    • Beneficiaries have complained of receiving poor quality food grains.
  • Issues with procurement:
    • Open-ended Procurement: All incoming grains accepted even if buffer stock is filled creating a shortage in the open market.
    • The recent implementation of Nation food security act would only increase the quantum of procurement resulting in higher prices for grains.
    • The gap between required and existing storage capacity.
    • The open market operations (OMO) are much less compared to what is needed to liquidate the excessive stocks.
  • Issues with storage:
    • Inadequate storage capacity with FCI.
    • Food grains rotting or damaging on the CAP or Cover & Plinth storage.
    • The money locked in these excessive stocks (beyond the buffer norm) is more than Rs 1 lakh crore.
  • Issues with allocation of food grains:
    • Inaccurate identification of beneficiaries.
    • Illicit Fair Price shops: The shop owners have created a large number of bogus cards or ghost cards (cards for non-existent people) to sell food grains in the open market.
  • Issues with transportation:
    • Leakages in food grains distribution to be reduced as most leakages in PDS takes place in initial stages.
  • Climate Change:
    • Higher temperatures and unreliable rainfall makes farming difficult. Climate change not only impacts crop but also livestock, forestry, fisheries and aquaculture, and can cause grave social and economic consequences in the form of reduced incomes, eroded livelihoods, trade disruption and adverse health impacts.
  • Lack of access to remote areas:
    • For the tribal communities, habitation in remote difficult terrains and practice of subsistence farming has led to significant economic backwardness.
  • Increase in rural-to-urban migration, large proportion of informal workforce resulting in unplanned growth of slums which lack in the basic health and hygiene facilities, insufficient housing and increased food insecurity.
  • Overpopulation, poverty, lack of education and gender inequality.
  • Corruption:
    • Diverting the grains to open market to get better margin, selling poor quality grains at ration shops, irregular opening of the shops adds to the issue of food insecurity.

Important recommendations made by Shantha Kumar Committee.:

  • Reduce the number of beneficiaries under the Food Security Act—from the current 67 per cent to 40 per cent.
  • While the poor under the Antyodaya category should keep getting the maximum food subsidy, for others, the issue price should be fixed at, say, 50 per cent of the procurement price (as was done under Atal Bihari Vajpayee for the BPL category)
  • Allow private players to procure and store food grains.
  • Stop bonuses on minimum support price (MSP) paid by states to farmers, and adopt cash transfer system so that MSP and food subsidy amounts can be directly transferred to the accounts of farmers and food security beneficiaries.
  • Limit the procurement of rice particularly in the north-western states of Punjab and Haryana where the groundwater table is depleting fast, and invite private sector participation in grain management
  • FCI should involve itself in full-fledged grains procurement only in those states which are poor in procurement. In the case of those states which are performing well, like Haryana, Punjab, Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and Odisha, the states should do the procurement.
  • Abolishing levy rice: Under levy rice policy, government buys certain percentage of rice (varies from 25 to 75 per cent in states) from the mills compulsorily, which is called levy rice. Mills are allowed to sell only the remainder in the open market.
  • Deregulate fertiliser sector and provide cash fertiliser subsidy of Rs 7,000 per hectare to farmers.
  • Outsource of stocking of grains: The committee calls for setting up of negotiable warehouse receipt (NWR) system. In the new system, farmers can deposit their produce in these registered warehouses and get 80 per cent of the advance from bank against their produce on the basis of MSP.
  • Clear and transparent liquidation policy for buffer stock: FCI should be given greater flexibility in doing business; it should offload surplus stock in open market or export, as per need.
  • Cooperative societies play an important role in food security in India especially in the southern and western parts of the country. The cooperative societies set up shops to sell low priced goods to poor people. The cooperatives should be encouraged.
  • Fostering rural-urban economic linkages can be an important step towards ensuring food security by-
    • enhancing and diversifying rural employment opportunities, especially for women and youth,
    • enabling the poor to better manage risks through social protection,
    • leveraging remittances for investments in the rural sector as a viable means for improving livelihoods

Way forward:

  • It is critical for India to conduct a national survey on food insecurity to assess the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on food security of different sections of the population.
  • The right to food is a well-established principle of international human rights law. It has evolved to include an obligation for state parties to respect, protect, and fulfil their citizens’ right to food security.
  • As a state party to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, India has the obligation to ensure the right to be free from hunger and the right to adequate food.
  • India needs to adopt a policy that brings together diverse issues such as inequality, food diversity, indigenous rights and environmental justice to ensure sustainable food security.

 

Topic : GS-2: Important aspects of governance, transparency and accountability, e-governance applications, models, successes, limitations, and potential; citizens charters, transparency & accountability and institutional and other measures.

GS-3: Achievements of Indians in science & technology; indigenization of technology and developing new technology.

5. Sustaining innovation in the country requires partnership of the government with the tech-solution providers for better governance solutions. Comment. (250 words)

Reference: Financial Express 

Why the question:

The article explains a globally-competitive tech-solutions/app ecosystem can’t be sustained without government partnership.

Key Demand of the question:

Explain in what way Sustaining innovation in the country requires partnership of the government with the tech-solution providers for better governance solutions.

Directive:

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

Structure of the answer:

Introduction:

Briefly explain the role of technology solution providers in providing for better governance solutions.

Body:

Briefly talk about Indian start-ups first. Discuss the actions of the government in this direction.

Discuss what the government should do to make the innovation paradigm of the country more sustainable. The government needs to help build start-ups in the field of health-tech, agri-tech, ed-tech, etc. It also needs to promote innovations in new technologies like artificial intelligence, machine learning, Blockchain, mixed reality, and robotics.

Quote examples to justify better.

Conclusion:

Conclude with importance of recognising role of technology solution providers in better governance systems for the country.

Introduction:

India was ranked 52 among 130-odd economies in the recently released Global Innovation Index 2019. Nevertheless, its performance was commended as it topped the Central and South Asian region for the ninth consecutive year and its growth — from 81st rank in 2015 to 52nd this year — is the fastest by any major economy. What is also significant is that India continues to outperform on innovation relative to its gross domestic product (GDP).

Body:

Indian Startup Ecosystem:

  • India is home to the world’s third largest startup ecosystem, having added over 1,300 tech startups in 2019.
  • India now hosts 24 unicorns—a term to describe startups valued at $1 billion—the third-highest number of unicorns in a single country in the world.
  • The volume of investments in startups also grew.
  • Startups created 60,000 direct jobs in 2019 alone.
  • The start-up landscape in the country is becoming the epitome of innovation, with companies bringing out solutions that are aimed at solving locally relevant issues.
  • Startups can act as vehicles for socio-economic development and transformation.
  • India has immense potential both in terms of technological innovation and implementation of business models.
  • In light of the current economic environment, IPOs from India into the US could emerge over the next 12 to 18 months.

Key areas that need emphasis:

  • Funding:
    • The funding scenario is still in nascent stage in India.
    • Researchers need to depend upon Government funding which has been very low. Our investment in R&D is a paltry 0.7 per cent of GDP.
    • Private funding is abysmal in India, whereas there is only transfer of innovations from their home countries.
    • FDI in India has focused on setting up back-end offices for R & D centers in developed countries.
  • Poor R&D:
    • Insufficient scientific research in India’s private sector seems to be part of the problem. The large pharmaceutical sector, for example, remains dominated by the fabrication of generic products rather than original formulations.
    • As per UNESCO Institute of Statistics data, India spends 0.8% in GDP on R&D, which is notably less than China’s 2% or the 2.7% of the US 0r 4.2% of Israel.
    • Physical as well as other enabling infrastructure is missing to help in research capabilities.
  • Policies:
    • Government is the single largest enabler for the innovation ecosystem.
    • Government’s role in encouraging R&D and helping companies start is vital to ensuring success.
    • Weak industry-academia linkage: Unlike western countries, there is disconnect between industry needs and academics creating a vacuum in research and innovation.
    • Issues regarding Intellectual Property rights (IPR): Weak enforcement of IPR rules prevent the development of innovation ecosystem in the nation.
    • There is a severe backlog and high rate of pendency for domestic patent applications. According to reports there is a backlog of almost 2 lakh patents pending examination due to manpower shortages.
  • Bureaucratic inefficiencies:
    • Firstly, there are a large number of procedures to be followed and clearances to be obtained to start and operate a business.
    • Secondly, each of these procedures can take an inordinately large amount of time.
    • Policymakers should invest in human intellectual capital and create a knowledge-based economy.
  • Weak Education System:
    • Indian education system is very weak especially when it comes to educating about entrepreneurship.
    • Students hardly get to know about entrepreneurship during their school studies.
    • Finding a team with right approach could be challenging for entrepreneurs especially when they are looking for people of non-tech skills.
    • Today, Israel spends 7 per cent of its GDP on education.
    • A large section of the country’s public research is concentrated in national research centres such as the S. N. Bose Center, the Raman Research Institute and organizations such as the Indian Association for the Cultivation of Science. In comparison, research at universities has been neglected.
  • Corruption:
    • While under no circumstances, corruption can be justified, it is a bitter truth that it is rampant in many government departments.
    • Even private sector is not spared by bribes, unwarranted objections.
    • The urge to make illegal money, immense misuse of power, frivolous publications and patents, faulty promotion policies, victimization for speaking against wrong or corrupt practices in the management, sycophancy, and brain drain
  • Labour:
    • Lack of manufacturing capability in India has been attributed to red tapism and corruption, but the low productivity of labour is also a big factor.
    • Stringent labour laws governing lay-off of employees make it very difficult to fire workers in case of non-performance or during times of financial distress when it becomes imperative to lay-off workers to maintain the financial viability of the business operations.
  • Ecosystem Limited to Big Cities:
    • The startup ecosystem in India is limited to big cities including Bangalore, Delhi, Bangalore, Pune and Chennai etc.
    • There are very few resources that are actually working toward strengthening the startup ecosystem.

Way forward:

  • The Economic Survey recommends doubling national expenditures on R&D with most of the increase coming from the private sector and universities.
  • There is a need to encourage investor-led research.
  • The government needs to help build start-ups in the field of health-tech, agri-tech, ed-tech, etc.
  • It also needs to promote innovations in new technologies like artificial intelligence, machine learning, blockchain, mixed reality, and robotics.
  • In this direction, the Science and Engineering Research Board (SERB) has already been established. It is a promising start that needs to expand with more resources and creative governance structures.
  • R & D should focus on technology and extension services that are directly related to common people.
  • Engage private sector, state government and Indian Diaspora.
  • The private sector should be incentivised to undertake and support R&D through CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) funds.
  • Some states have started incorporating such solutions for better governance.
  • Agra partnered with the start-up Gaia and Microsoft to create a corona dashboard for the city, and Mumbai did the same, too; many governments and city administrations purchased drones from Garuda, a Chennai-based company, to sanitise large areas.
  • Apart from providing initial capital and facilitating incubation programmes—these have been going on for long now—governments at all levels need to hire start-ups through contracts for faster or better government-service delivery.
  • A globally-competitive tech-solutions/app ecosystem can’t be sustained without government partnership.

 


General Studies – 4


 

Topic : Ethics and Human Interface: Essence, determinants and consequences of Ethics in-human actions; dimensions of ethics; ethics – in private and public relationships. Human Values – lessons from the lives and teachings of great leaders, reformers and administrators; role of Family society and educational institutions in inculcating values.

6. With examples from your own life explain how educational institutions have helped you shape your morality? (250 words)

Reference: Ethics, Integrity and Aptitude by Lexicon Publications

Why the question:

The question is based on the contributions of educational institution in shaping the morality of an individual.

Key Demand of the question:

Explain in detail the ethical values that you consider significant and then elaborate how the educational institution provided you them.

Directive:

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

Structure of the answer:

Introduction:

Define what you understand by Morality.

Body:

Morality of a person is set of values she is inclined to protect and uphold. These values get wholesome inputs when she is in school and colleges. Educational institution plays the most crucial role in the shaping of the morality of any person. It is not merely due to the very nature of educational institution, but also it’s the timing of involvement in our life. Its influence during the formative years is a long-lasting one. The discrimination between what is right what is wrong becomes an active exercise when we entre in school. School, in that context, is a first genuine social place for a child — values like honesty, togetherness, compassion, perseverance etc.

Give real time examples from your personal experience.

Conclusion:

Conclude with way forward.

Introduction:

Education is the architecture of the soul. Nelson Mandela said “Education is the most powerful weapon we can use to change the world” However it is important how it is spread and in what manner. Every Human takes birth as pure heart and pristine spirit/soul. But with time, desire, outside environment, cultural influences, insane practices make human Mephistophelian and eccentric.

Body:

Role of educational institutions in value education:

  • Education in its aims, curriculum and methods is linked with values. It is through education that society seeks to preserve and promote its cherished values.
  • Whatever is learnt and imbibed will determine to how students will live out their lives in future.
  • Educational institutions provide a structured environment where children learn values of cooperation, hard work etc.
  • Punctuality, Commitment, Sincerity, Sharing, Caring, Fairness, Helping, Independence, Responsibility, Humility, Pride need to be inculcated in a child.
  • Lessons of Honesty, Social Justice, Sensitising children with empathy towards vulnerable sections of the society.
  • Teaching Gender Equality, Respect for elders, Truthfulness, Tolerance, Peace, Love for nature & mankind, Positive Attitude, Spirituality, Nationalist feelings, Patriotism, Discipline etc.

You can quote your own examples and experiences to substantiate the above points.

Conclusion:

“The aim of education is the knowledge, not facts but of values.” –William Ralph. Schools and colleges must ensure that strong value system is in place right from the childhood through timely ethical education. Value education is the first step for a peaceful and happy society.

 

Topic: Case Study

7. You reside in a village notorious for instances of honor killing. You have known some of you schoolmates being the victims. In this scenario, one of your friends comes to you seeking help. This time the case is reverse. The father of the boy had threatened to commit suicide if he marries a girl from a supposedly lower caste. His mother too is bedridden after knowing this. Their disagreement to for the marriage is solely based on the girl being from a

Lower caste. The parents are also under tremendous pressure from society.

The boy is now under tremendous pressure from the other people from the society, as he will be considered the reason of his parents’ death if he chooses to stick with his decision of marrying that girl. He also has two school-going younger siblings. You personally have always believed that the caste discrimination must go and have always fought against it. You otherwise share a cordial relationship with the boy and also with his parents.

Analyse the situation with ethical angles involved in it. (250 words)

Why the question: Case Study

Key Demand of the question:

The question is a case study based on caste discrimination and associated honor killing.

Directive:

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

Structure of the answer:

Introduction:

Start by briefing the case; introduce the issue and ethical angles involved.

Body:

List down the facts in the case and the associated challenges like – honor killing, schoolmates being victim, family pressure, caste system etc.

The case presented to us is depicts a dilemma between ideological stand against the social situation. History of honor killing makes the case more sensitive. The strict ideological stand may hamper the life of the friend too.

Discuss the possible steps that you would take.

Conclusion:

Conclude with a fair and balanced solution to the given situation.

Introduction:

India’s caste system is the world’s one of the longest surviving vertical social hierarchies. It encompasses a complex ordering of social groups on the basis of descent. The groups at the bottom like untouchables or Dalits are considered ‘lesser human beings’, ‘impure’ and ‘polluting’ to other caste groups, it involves gross violations of civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights.

Body:

Ethical issues and values involved in the case:

  • Social inequality and caste discrimination
  • The evil of honor killing
  • Stigma attached with inter-caste marriages in our society
  • Empathy and compassion for weaker section
  • Peace and harmony in society
  • Lack of tolerance
  • Injustice meted out to youths who marry different caste partner

In the above situation, I would take following steps in this regard:

  • First of all, I would try and talk to my friend’s father and explain the situation. Further, I would persuade him by explaining the pros and cons of the wedding of my friend with other caste girl.
  • Bring the matter into the notice of village panchayat. The elderly and educated from the village namely the panchayat president, School Headmaster and other like-minded people together and develop a good social capital. Being influential in the village and can persuade other villagers.
  • Evoke empathy and compassion for Dalit community in people by highlighting their backwardness and emotional vulnerability.
  • Take a strong stand and make it clear that he will not budge from his position.
  • Request the police to strengthen the security to handle any untoward incidents of inter-community clash, honour killing etc.
  • I would request a few NGOs who are working for the rights of dalits to help out my friend.
  • I also would request them to create awareness among the villagers against caste discrimination and ills against the inter-caste marriages etc. by being an active part of it.

Conclusion:

Social oppression of Dalit community is a harsh reality in our society. The lack of awareness of the safeguards available to them adds more to the problem. India’s battle against caste discrimination remains tragically incomplete, casting an aspersion on our status as a civilised liberal democracy. It is to be ensured that the steps taken to undo the harm done by such medieval practices are made more effective and do not create further inequality in the society.


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