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SECURE SYNOPSIS: 10 September 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 – 2


 

Topic : Functions and responsibilities of the Union and the States, issues and challenges pertaining to the federal structure, devolution of powers and finances up to local levels and challenges therein.

1. Discuss the challenges in a democratic form of governance and suggests ways to strengthen the democratic governance structure in India.(250 words)

Reference: The Hindu 

Why the question:

The article brings to us the fact that Strong local governance remains the unfinished agenda to make India’s democracy strong and deep.

Key Demand of the question:

The question is direct and aims to discuss the challenges in a democratic form of governance and suggests ways to strengthen the democratic governance structure in India.

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:

Start by discussing the challenges in a democratic form of governance.

Body:

Explain one by one, challenges in representative democracies – Money as a factor in elections, Quality of elected representatives, process flaws, multi-party systems etc.

Explain then the fact that ; Given the above-discussed challenges to representative democracy, it is tempting to abandon political parties and parliaments and revert to direct forms of democracy where every decision can be put directly to all citizens to vote on. New Internet technologies could provide relevant tools to make this possible. However, there are challenges with respect to direct democracy as well. If all voters have not understood what is at stake, they cannot decide well and they could be guided by emotions rather than objective facts and figures. Complex issues, where many interests collide, must be resolved by reason, not settled by the numbers.

Conclusion:

Conclude with suitable solutions.

Introduction:

                Democracy means rule by the people to ensure that every citizen takes part in the decision making process either directly or indirectly through elected representatives. India is the largest democracy in the world. In the last more than 6 decades it has worked successfully well to some extent. But in modern India it has to face many challenges that need to be tackled in order to ensure true democracy.

Body:

Challenges in a democratic form of governance:

  • National integration: remains the fundamental problem of political development. National integration means political, social, and cultural binding, a feeling of oneness by the people of a country.
    • A critical study of the nature of Indian politics indicates that national integration is under threat owing to various factors mainly, the role of caste, regionalism, or demand for creation of small states. Communalism, reservation, politics of language, the problem of minorities, backward classes, violence, political opportunism, socio-cultural conflicts, terrorism are glaring problems posing a big threat invariably haunting the spirit of democracy.
  • Poor parliamentary performance: In recent years, there have been quite some serious contemplation and debates about the decline of Parliament’s authority and its disengagements, in resolving, pervasive inequalities within society on the basis of caste, class, and gender thus limiting representation of citizens and the credibility of the judicial system.
    • Disruptions of parliament sessions, suspension of question hour, passage of bills without discussion or debate
  • Disparities: Although the development process in the country aims at the growth and development of all regions, the very presence of regional disparities and imbalances in per capita income, literacy rates, state of health, education, continue to remain unabated.
  • The values of democracy, civil liberties, secularism, equality of all citizens irrespective of religion, caste, region or gender notwithstanding, are often targeted by communal forces at different levels. Recent riots in North-East Delhi is an example of the same malaise that is plaguing the country.
  • Issues in judiciary: judicial system is the cornerstone of India’s democratic polity, rapidly losing its credibility. It is presently mired in a multiple administrative and functional implications- both externally and internally and thus causing a massive and alarming threat to its credibility and utility to the nation.
    • On one hand, the increasing politicization of appointments in the highest court of the land has eroded the independence of the judiciary, on the other; the vast number of cases pending in the Supreme Court as well as the other lower courts have defeated the very purpose of reliability over judiciary in general. Ex: Retired judges taking up posts in executive and legislature.
    • In recent years, scandals about lack of integrity have besmirched the reputation of the judiciary. The sub­ordinate judiciary works in appalling conditions. Any reform undertaken must be in its totality rather than in isolation.
  • Mere conducting elections periodically does not prove that India is a republic and has sufficiently effective democracy. It is the way elections are held, the quality of people elected, their performances, and accountability that make our democracy effective.
    • In the current scenario, the widespread delusion in the political system is well perceptible. Poverty, unemployment, illiteracy levels indicate the inefficiency of the Indian political system. Even after seven decades of independence, people are deprived of basic amenities in life.
  • Media Issues: It is often hailed as the fourth estate, but the time has come when some introspection on the Indian media is equally warranted. It remains a common perception amongst the people that Media has become irresponsible and partisan to certain sections, vociferous enough and calling the shots in day to day politics.
    • Under the Constitution of India, freedom of the media is part of the freedom of speech guaranteed by Article 19 (1) (a). However, no freedom can be absolute, and reasonable restrictions can be placed over it. One of the basic tasks of the media is to provide factual and objective information to the people groping in dark to a search of it, enabling them to form rational opinions, recognized as a sine qua non in a democracy.
    • As always, the role and performance of Media, have often raised many doubts and questioned frequently by people. Although avenues of media have increased manifold with a large share of the space being occupied by social media. Yet in the era of paid news, sensationalism, fake news, etc. have gained perpetuity alarmingly in a system, sans any regulatory measures to rein it.
  • women’s representation: has been the most controversial and highly debatable in the political scenario. The state-sponsored ‘empowerment through representation’ remains the main theme of women’s politics, despite having marginal representation in state and national legislatures and also in another political arena throughout India.
    • Often women’s reservations were vehemently opposed sans any reasoning, thus consequently curtailing, the issue to its unwarranted size. These movements, NGOs and the civil society initiatives termed the 73rd and 74th constitutional amendments as indispensable for the survival of Indian democracy. Yet efforts on the part of the state were inadequate to keep democratic pressures under control.
    • A complex practice often adhered to by system i.e., the interweaving of caste, community, and gender discrimination in society and interventionist policies acquired by the state forced the movement to remain state-centric. However, the state’s women’s movement affected enormously the autonomous dynamics of such politics. Instead, the state intervened in the processes of identity formation and selectively opened the representative arena to different social sections.
  • Regionalism and sub-regionalism: are inevitable in a vast and plural country like India. It is apparent and axiomatic that regionalism has posed a serious threat to national unity and its integrity.
    • Indian democracy has been struggling with regionalism which is primarily an outcome of regional disparities and imbalances in development. To be sure, regionalism is firmly rooted in India’s manifold diversity of languages, cultures, tribes, communities, religions and so on, and encouraged by the regional concentration of those identity markers, and fuelled by a sense of regional deprivation.
    • The politics in these states soon acquired a complex character and the state was unable to respond to it from within the democratic framework. Despite, all the grand ideas of taking power to the doorsteps of the ordinary citizens, the local government has been found wanting in its compliance.

Ways to strengthen the democratic governance structure in India:

  • The electorate should be imparted with the knowledge of political consciousness. They should be made fully aware of their rights and privileges through organising programmes such as conferences, seminars, workshops, symposia etc.
  • The illiterate masses of India should be provide proper education so that they can sensibly vote for the right leaders. The USA, Britain, Germany and Japan are successful democratic countries and gave progressed in every sphere because the masses are literate.
  • There must be a complete ban on Opinion Polls as they cannot be scientifically relied upon.
  • The media must also play its important role bringing about true facts and maintaining the true spirit of right to speech and expression.
  • The politicians should also respect the true spirit of democracy by playing their crucial role not as a master but as servant of the represented. They should refrain from corruption caste and communal politics.
  • The citizens should elect leaders with good moral values and integrity.
  • People should be guided to choose their true representatives. They should not be influenced by anyone in this respect. Individuals should learn tolerance and compromise and understand that freedom is not unbridled but dependent on not harming another individual’s well being.
  • Democracy demands from the common man a certain level of ability and character, like rational conducts, an intelligent understanding of public affair, independent justice and unselfish devotion to public interest.
  • The Directive Principles of State Policies must necessarily made justiciable rights just like fundamental rights of part III of the Indian Constitution.
  • People should not allow communalism, separatism, casteism, terrorism, etc to raise their heads. They are a threat to democracy.
  • The government, the NGOs and the people together should work collectively for the economic development of the nation.
  • Changes should come through peaceful, democratic and constitutional means. The talented youth of today should be politically educated so that they can become effective leaders of tomorrow.
  • Legislatures and Judiciary should keep track of what is going on around the world as far as some of the sensitive human rights related issues are concerned such as same sex marriages, abolition of death penalties, etc. and try to keep pace with the changing world around us.
  • Finally, it is the duty of the elected representatives be it ruling or opposing, to be a role model for the youths who are going to take over their responsiblities in future. They should do away with the practice of blame game, indecent and violent behaviour in the four corners of the Parliament and Legislatures towards each others.

 Conclusion:

Democratic reforms are to be brought about principally through political practice. Therefore, the main focus of political reforms should be on ways to strengthen democratic practice. Any proposal for political reforms should think not only about what is a good solution but also about who will implement it and how it will be implemented.

 

Topic : Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests, Indian diaspora. India and its neighborhood- relations.

2. In the recent times there has been a growing perception that India has abandoned the policy of non-alignment, have we really abandoned NAM? Discuss the ongoing dynamics of foreign politics and suggest way forward. (250 words)

Reference: The Hindu

Why the question:

India’s External Affairs Minister, S. Jaishankar, has stated recently that non-alignment as a foreign policy was a concept of relevance in a specific era and a particular context (Cold War era), though the independence of action enshrined in it remains a factor of continuity in India’s foreign policy. This statement seems to strengthen the growing perception that India has abandoned the policy of non-alignment. Thus the question.

Key Demand of the question:

Discuss in detail the relevance of NAM to India’s foreign policy as of today while bringing out the changing dynamics of 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:

Briefly discuss the background of NAM.

Body:

Non-alignment policy gained traction during the Cold War era. It meant not seeking to formally align with or against the two politico-military blocs led by the United States or the Soviet Union. It meant remaining independent or neutral and retaining autonomy of policy for the country.

Discuss then if the relevance of NAM is diminishing in today’s times.

Explain what India’s geo-strategic objectives are, what its associated challenges are and how they ought to be addressed.

Conclusion:

Conclude with what should be the way forward for India, what should be the status of NAM in the current context. 

Introduction: 

Non-Aligned Movement is an idea that emerged in 1950. NAM is the second-largest platform globally in terms of country membership after the UN. It currently has more than 120 members. Azerbaijan is the president of the grouping from 2019-2022 and the meet is being organised under the leadership of President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev. The title of the summit is “We stand together against COVID-19”. Indian Prime minister Narendra Modi will participate in a video conference meeting of non-alignment movement (NAM) on COVID crisis. 

Body:

NAM’s authority is slowly eroding:

  • Non-alignment was a policy fashioned during the Cold War, to retain an autonomy of policy (not equidistance) between two politico-military blocs. The Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) provided a platform for newly independent developing nations to join together to protect this autonomy. It was a disparate group from many continents, with varying degrees of proximity to, and dependence on, one or the other bloc; and broadly united around NAM’s flagship campaigns for de-colonisation, universal nuclear disarmament and against apartheid.
  • One of the blocs was disbanded at the end of the Cold War. De-colonisation was largely complete by then, the apartheid regime in South Africa was being dismantled and the campaign for universal nuclear disarmament was going nowhere. Freed from the shackles of the Cold War, the NAM countries were able to diversify their network of relationships across the erstwhile east-west divide. Non-alignment lost its relevance, and NAM its original raison d’être.
  • For a few years now, non-alignment has not been projected by our policymakers as a tenet of India’s foreign policy. However, we have not yet found a universally accepted successor as a signature tune for our foreign policy. Successive formulations have been coined and rejected. Strategic autonomy was one, which soon acquired a connotation similar to non-alignment, with an anti-U.S. tint.
  • Multi-alignment has not found universal favour, since it may convey the impression of opportunism, whereas we seek strategic convergences. Seeking issue-based partnerships or coalitions is a description that has not stuck.
  • NAM could not push for reforms in the global bodies like UN, IMF, WTO. Thus, it has dissuaded many developing countries from pursuing it.
  • Disputes within the Global South countries. Example: India-Pak, Iran-Iraq. This has paved way for the blocs to enter alliances.
  • Inability to find solution to the West-Asian crisis. Withdrawal of one of the founder members- Egypt, after the Arab Spring.
  • Most of the members are economically weak; hence they have no say in world politics or economy.
  • NAM today has grown into a forum where developing nations could blame all their problems on the big powers.
  • NAM’s reason to exist ended in 1989, with the collapse of the Soviet Union, and the end of the Cold War. The world was left with a single superpower, the US, but quickly became multipolar, with China and India emerging as strong magnetic forces in their own right.
  • Between 2014 and 2020, two NAM summits were held, in 2016 (Venezuela) and 2019 (Azerbaijan) respectively. At both these summits, India was represented by its vice president.
  • Azerbaijan summit in May 2020 was the first time PM Modi is taking part in a NAM meeting since taking 2014 when he first became the Prime Minister. The last time any Indian PM participated at Tehran NAM meet was 2012 with the then PM Manmohan Singh was present. 

Significance of NAM in present day foreign policy: 

  • Among the 120 permanent members of the NAM, India is perfectly positioned to emerge as the group’s leader owing to its democratic values and the size of its population and economy. Further, India’s credentials as one of the three founding countries of the NAM, alongside Egypt and erstwhile Yugoslavia, also act in its favor.
  • As the world expects the emergence of a new global order in the aftermath of COVID-19, emerging middle powers like India are set to play an important role. This is something which India can use in its favor in the face of limitations of the existing international system and pitch a new template of globalization, based on fairness, equality, and humanity.
  • Need for international institutions to promote human welfare alongside economic growth, and highlights India’s championing of such initiatives through the International Day of Yoga, the International Solar Alliance, and the Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure. Here NAM can be very vital for India to achieve the same.
  • Further, the rhetoric of a “new cold war” between the United States and China is gaining momentum. In the likelihood of such a scenario, the focus will be back on the NAM — a core collective of middle powers of the world — to play a balancing role. In all likelihood, New Delhi with its current position in the global world order would be keen to lead this middle power balancing through leadership of the NAM within the ambit of South-South cooperation.
  • NAM would help call upon the international community and the WHO to focus on building health-capacity in developing countries in the aftermath of the global pandemic and US quitting WHO. It could also ensure equitable, affordable and timely access to health products and technologies for all.
    • The NAM leaders announced creation of a task force to identify requirements of member countries through a common database reflecting their basic medical, social and humanitarian needs in the fight against COVID-19.
  • NAM can help promote global solidarity. NAM has often been the world’s moral voice. To retain this role, NAM must remain inclusive.

Way forward: 

  • There are now new kinds of alignments, more likely to be defined by economics and geography than by ideology. To be aligned is now a virtue, a sign of good leadership. Countries, especially small ones, can and should aim for multiple alignments of their interests. There is now no country in the world that can claim to be non-aligned.
  • India must take note of the growing proximity between the NAM member countries and China. India cannot take on China in the economic department, in the foreseeable future, to be able to aid and assist needy Third World nations as much. India revert to the post-Independence geo-political dynamics, where it spoke for the Third World as a whole, and was accepted as their voice, by all concerned.
  • New Delhi needs to begin by carefully delineating political and economic components to Third World nations, and devise strategies that are not only nation-centric but also group-centric.
  • India will acquire a larger global profile next year, when it commences a two-year term on the UN Security Council. The strategic choices that it makes in its bilateral partnerships will be important to chart a course for the future.
  • India’s transition as a nuclear weapon state embroiled it in strategic deterrence; its disinterest in South-South cooperation and its disengagement from the struggle against inequalities and injustice in international economic relations reflected its retreat from the centre stage to the shade to focus on self-interests by aligning with the West, especially the US.
  • As the U.S. confronts the challenge to its dominance from China, classical balance of power considerations would dictate a modicum of accommodation with Russia. There was an analogous logic in the Richard Nixon-Henry Kissinger outreach to China in 1971, when the Soviet Union was the more formidable rival. The political lessons from the current pandemic could help reawaken that historical memory. Equally, the U.S. could acknowledge that India’s development of trade routes through Iran would also serve its strategic interest of finding routes to Afghanistan and Central Asia, bypassing Pakistan and Russia, respectively. 

Conclusion: 

India is a large and globalised economy with “big stakes in all parts of the world”. Its foreign policy must focus on a pragmatic assessment of India’s interests and the best means to secure them — including partnerships and coalitions — against current and potential threats. Though cold war is history but with newly emerging trends in geo-politics, a newer, reformed NAM 2.0 can be looked at to continue NAM as our foreign policy.

Topic : Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources. Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.

3. COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted perils of illiteracy. In this context discuss the need for the country to have a mass movement for literacy. Also bring out the key highlights of Padhna Likhna Abhiyan. (250 words)

Reference: Indian Express 

Why the question:

The article highlights the need for a Mass movement for literacy.

Key Demand of the question:

Discuss I detail how COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted perils of illiteracy and then explain the need for the country to have a mass movement for literacy. Also bring out the key highlights of Padhna Likhna Abhiyan.

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:

Discuss some key facts related to literacy in India and its status.

Body:

Start by highlighting the impact of covid-19 on literacy in the country.

Explain that though we have witnessed steady progress in the attainment of literacy, the COVID-19 pandemic is a stark reminder of the need for revamping the teaching process. We must make adult literacy an integral part of our COVID-19 recovery plan.

Discuss why there is a need for mass movement in the country.

To tackle the literacy-related challenges in the post-COVID-19 world, the ministry of education, under the guidance of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, is about to launch a new scheme for adult education, the Padhna Likhna Abhiyan. The focus of the scheme will be on the Basic Literacy component in a four months cycle — priority will be given to the 112 Aspirational Districts identified by the NITI Aayog.

Conclusion:

Conclude with importance of recognising the significance of literacy for our country.

Introduction: 

                Literacy is the beginning of lifelong learning, a prerequisite for accessing other human rights. It has the power to change the lives of millions of people who have received adequate formal education. But, mere attainment of literacy skills is not enough — such skills should be functional so that the youth and adults can use their ability to read and write to actively participate in the dynamic digitised world. Also, literacy should help in active participation in political, social, cultural, and economic activities.

Body:

Literacy under threat due to covid-19:

  • The COVID-19 pandemic has led to unprecedented levels of disruption to education, impacting over 90% of the world’s student population: 1.54 billion children, including 743 million girls. Our Save Our Education report revealed that once the crisis is over, nearly 10 million children may never return to school.
  • Despite the efforts of governments and organisations to address the ongoing crisis, some 500 million children – often the poorest and most marginalised – have no access to distance learning. Even if children can access distance learning materials, many do not have literate parents who can help them.
  • After six months of deep disruption, education stands on fragile ground everywhere. Without remedial measures, this crisis will magnify the educational failures that already existed before it.
  • According to UNESCO, the COVID-19 crisis revealed the unpreparedness of education systems, infrastructure, educators and learners for distance learning, and the fragility of adult literacy programmes. It hit hardest those who were already marginalized, including 773 million non-literate adults and young people – two-thirds of whom are women and 617 million children and adolescents who were failing to acquire basic reading and numeracy skills even before the crisis.

Need for the country to have a mass movement for literacy:

  • Mahatma Gandhi emphasised the need for universal Basic education for all children and adult education with a moral component to be added to adult education. Mass illiteracy according to him was India’s ‘Sin and shame’.
  • lliteracy affects an individual in all areas of their life. An illiterate individual cannot read and write, and thus cannot join the workforce or may work as unskilled labour, lack awareness to make an informed decision which affects them and their community. Further, children of illiterate parents do not receive the same education as children of educated parents. Even if they go to the same school, children of illiterate parents lack the kind of awareness educated parents can give to their children. Hence, illiteracy becomes a vicious cycle affecting the social and economic development of India.
  • Illiteracy in India is because of a complex web of social and economic divide in the country. Economic disparities, gender discrimination, caste discrimination, and technological barriers lead to illiteracy in India. India has the largest population of illiterate adults, which further contribute to this vicious cycle of illiteracy in India.
  • According to the 2005 UNESCO Global Education Monitoring Report, which incorporates the 2001 census, India ranked 106 out of 127 countries surveyed in terms of literacy. India ranks 123 out of 135 countries in terms of female literacy rate.
  • There is a strong relationship between illiteracy and poverty. Literacy is defined as the “ability to read and write”. Thus, an illiterate person, who cannot read or write, is unable to get a skilled job and is forced to take up an unskilled job. This has an impact on his wages, the standard of living and ultimately his ability to provide proper education to his children.
  • The COVID-19 crisis challenges the achievement of Target 4.6 of SDG by 2030 – “ensure that all youth and a substantial proportion of adults, both men and women, achieve literacy and numeracy”. The pandemic has underlined the importance of literacy — low literacy levels may cause deep distress to the nation.
  • The COVID-19 infodemic has highlighted that poor literacy among a population is an underestimated part public health problem. Globally literacy is already seen as a crucial tool for the prevention of non-communicable diseases with investments in education and communication sought to be sustainable, long-term measures starting early in the life course.
  • About three decades ago, the adult male literacy rate in India was almost twice that for adult females. While this gap has narrowed substantially over the years, adult male literacy rate still surpasses the adult female literacy rate by 17 percentage points.
  • Literacy followed up with skilling will help India reap the benefits of demographic dividends across time and space.

Padhna Likhna Abhiyan:

  • The government’s new literacy scheme, ‘Padhna Likhna Abhiyan’, will be a leap forward for achieving the goal of total literacy by 2030.
  • The principal target of the programme is to impart functional literacy and numeracy to 57 lakh non-literate and non-numerate adults in both rural and urban areas across the country in the age group of 15 years and above.
  • This target mostly comprises women, scheduled castes, scheduled tribes, minorities and other disadvantaged groups. In the scheme, among others, priority will be given to districts with female literacy rates less than 60 per cent as per latest census.
  • The focus of the scheme will be on the Basic Literacy component in a four months cycle — priority will be given to the 112 Aspirational Districts identified by the NITI Aayog.
  • The scheme shall have a flexible approach and will involve innovative methodologies such as involving school and college students and other volunteers such as those from the NSS and NYKS, for imparting basic literacy.
  • Massive literacy drives/projects will be implemented in tribal and forest areas, slums, minority pockets/villages/blocks, prisons, etc. The potential of digital technology will be harnessed for improving access and quality through the creation of digital e-material, mobile apps etc.
  • To ensure the full outreach of the Padhna Likhna Abhiyan, efforts will be made to converge the programme with existing programmes of Rural Development, Health, Social Justice, Tribal Development, Women and Child Development, Panchayati Raj Institutions, NGOs, and Corporate Social Responsibility.
  • It calls upon all stakeholders, including state governments, civil society organizations, corporate bodies, intelligentsia and fellow citizens, to join hands in transforming India to a fully literate society making the country “Saakshar Bharat-Aatmanirbhar Bharat” (literate India, self-reliant India)

Way forward:

  • Literacy promotion played a key part in the endeavours of illustrious leaders like Mahatma Gandhi, Rabindranath Tagore, Jawaharlal Nehru etc, who created a conducive atmosphere for the development of the mass literacy movement in India.
  • The country has made earnest efforts to impart functional literacy and numeracy to adults in the age group of 15 years and above in both rural and urban areas through projects and programmes such as the Farmer’s Functional Literacy Project (FFLP), Functional Literacy for Adult Women (FLAW), National Adult Education Programme (NAEP), Rural Functional Literacy Project (RFLP), Mass Programme of Functional Literacy (MPFL) and National Literacy Mission (NLM).
  • The Saakshar Bharat project ran across 404 districts in 26 states and one Union Territory, covering 1.64 lakh gram panchayats. More than 10 crore learners appeared for the Basic literacy Assessment Tests conducted by the National Institute of Open Schooling from August 2010 to March 2018. A massive 7.64 crore learners (5.38 crore female, 2.26 crore males) passed the assessment tests and were certified as literate. But, still, India has a sizeable number of illiterates, which means the target of achieving 100 per cent literacy by 2030 remains a challenging one.
  • Inclusive Education: The RTE Act (2009) has resulted in increased enrolment of children in schools, but the Act is applicable for children between 6-14 years of age. Children, especially girl children, who drop out of school after 14 years of age, find it almost impossible to continue their education. The purview of the Act must be increased to make education accessible to every individual.
  • Increased investment in government schools: Due to lack of funds, the government schools are unable to invest in providing basic facilities to children. Lack of functioning toilets, hand-washing area, and drinking water compels children, especially girl children to drop out of school. On the other hand, private schools with high-end facilities charge exorbitant fee making it impossible for those from the marginalised communities to access services. Increasing government expenditure in public schools will make them more accessible.
  • Vocational Training: Often school education alone does not provide the skills required to enter the workforce. The current system of rote learning without practical training affects the quality of education and fails to develop employable skill sets. Thus, vocational training is important to fill this gap. Carpentry, plumbing, stitching, and nursing are some of the skills which can help individuals seek fulfilling employment.
  • Teacher training: The education system cannot be enhanced without trained and educated teachers. Lack of qualified teachers in both public and private schools impact learning outcomes of children. There is a need for drastic changes to ensure that schools hire qualified teachers, availability of qualified teachers, and opportunities for individuals to be trained as teachers.
  • Changing social norms: Social norms play a huge role in determining the growth of a country. Regressive social norms result in girls dropping out schools or children not being sent to school at all, and this creates a vicious cycle of illiteracy and patriarchal norms for even future generations.

Conclusion:

As a nation, India must aim to conquer the hurdles posed by illiteracy, not only to preserve its economic vigour but also to ensure that every individual has a full range of opportunities for personal fulfilment and participation in society. For older adults and the elderly in particular, literacy plays an essential role in enabling them to remain in or rejoin the work force, to contribute to society through volunteerism and civic participation, and to live full, independent, and productive lives through their later years.

 


General Studies – 3


 

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

4. Increased focus on horticulture crops in the country will be a win-win formula as it will help increase farm income and support nutritional security. Comment. (250 words)

Reference: Financial Express

Why the question:

The article presents to us a detailed picture of Indian horticulture and its current status.

Key Demand of the question:

Explain the importance of horticulture and in what way diversification in this sector may increase farm income and support nutritional security.

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:

The area under horticulture crops increased to 25.5 million hectare in 2018-19, which is 20% of the total area under food grain, and produced 314 million tonnes. However, the area under total food grain declined from 129 million hectare in 2016-17 to 124 million hectare in 2018-19.

Body:

Horticulture crops are characterized by high-value crops, higher productivity per unit of area and lower requirement of irrigation and input cost.

Start explaining in what way increased focus on horticulture crops could be a win-win formula both at the top level as well as the bottom level for the government to accomplish its endeavor in nutritional security as well as increasing farmers’ income.

Discuss the efforts of the government in this direction; The NHM, a centrally-sponsored scheme, was launched in 2005-06 with one of its major objectives being to increase horticulture production and doubling farmers’ income. Horticulture production in India has more than doubled approximately from 146 million tonnes in 2001-02 to 314 million tonnes in 2018-19 whereas the production of foodgrain increased from 213 million tonnes to 285 million tonnes during the same period.

India is now self-sufficient in foodgrain production and is the largest global producer of farm products like pulses, jute, buffalo meat, milk, and poultry. It is also is the second-largest producer of several horticulture products, especially fruit and vegetables.

Conclusion:

Conclude with importance of the sector to overall economy of the country.

Introduction:

                Within the agriculture sector, the horticulture sector is widely recognised as the most rapidly growing sector. It has been rightly called as the silent revolution because of its varied achievements. The Indian agricultural land covers area of 140 million hectares out of which, 17% of area is dedicated to horticultural crops that contributes to 30% of total agricultural GDP.

Body:
Horticulture crops and increase in farm income:

  • The NHM, a centrally-sponsored scheme, was launched in 2005-06 with one of its major objectives being to increase horticulture production and doubling farmers’ income.
  • Horticulture production in India has more than doubled approximately from 146 million tonnes in 2001-02 to 314 million tonnes in 2018-19 whereas the production of foodgrain increased from 213 million tonnes to 285 million tonnes during the same period.
  • India is now self-sufficient in foodgrain production and is the largest global producer of farm products like pulses, jute, buffalo meat, milk, and poultry. It is also is the second-largest producer of several horticulture products, especially fruit and vegetables.
  • Just before the launch of the NHM, the production of horticulture crop was approximately 167 million tonnes, using only 9.7% of the cropped area (18.5 million hectare); the total foodgrain production was 198 million tones, covering 63%(120 million hectare) of total crop area of the country.
  • In 2012-13, total horticulture production at 269 million tonnes, surpassed total foodgrain production at 257 million tonnes.
  • The area under horticulture crops increased to 25.5 million hectare in 2018-19, which is 20% of the total area under foodgrain, and produced 314 million tonnes. However, the area under total foodgrain declined from 129 million hectare in 2016-17 to 124 million hectare in 2018-19.
  • The most notable factor behind this is that the productivity of horticulture has increased from 8.8 tonnes per hectare in 2001-02 to 12.3 tonnes per hectare in 2018-19. The productivity of total foodgrain increased from 1.7 tonnes per hectare to 2.3 tonnes during the same period.
  • Horticulture crops are characterised by high-value crops, higher productivity per unit of area and lower requirement of irrigation and input cost.
  • According to National Accounts Statistics 2019, the value of horticulture crops was Rs 4.7 lakh crore in 2011-12 at constant prices, which increased to Rs 5.5 lakh crore in 2017-18. The total value of all crops was Rs 11.9 lakh crore in 2011-12 and increased to Rs 13.2 lakh crore in 2017-18.
  • The share of horticulture crops in relation to the value of all agricultural crops increased from 39% in 2011-12 to 42% during the same period.
  • Another important point of note is that share of value of export earnings from horticultural crops has been higher than the export value of total foodgrain. The total export value of horticultural crops includes crops such as spices, cashew, cashew nut shell liquid, fruits-vegetable seeds, fresh fruits, vegetable oil, fresh vegetable, processed vegetable, processed fruits and juice, floriculture products, tea, coffee, Ayush and herbal products, and cocoa products.
  • The export of foodgrain crops consists of Basmati rice, non-basmati rice, other cereals, pulses and wheat. The total value of agricultural export was approximately Rs 29,700 crore in 2001-02, which increased to Rs 2.75 lakh crore in 2018-19.
  • Similarly, the value of horticultural export too increased from approximately Rs 8,000 crore to Rs 63,700 crore, and the value of foodgrain export increased from Rs 5,000 crore to Rs 58,600 crore during the same period. The value of export of horticultural products is much higher than the value of exports of foodgrain in the total agricultural export value, except for the year 2007-08.
  • Horticultural production  is relatively easy for unskilled people and it can play an important role in poverty alleviation programs  and  food  security  initiatives  by providing  work  and  income
  • In a nutshell, horticulture production contributes more to crop production despite much lower land use and lower input cost.

Horticulture crops and increase in nutritional security:

  • Horticultural crops  are  some  of  the  main components  of  a  healthy    The constituents  obtained  by  the  human  body from  fruits  and  vegetables  include  water, carbohydrates, fats, proteins, fiber, minerals organic  acids,  pigments,  vitamins  and antioxidants, among others.
  • Fruits and  vegetables  improve  nutrient absorption  in  a  diet  high  in  phytate  (whole grains, seeds, pulses) .
  • From human  nutrition  point  of  view horticulture  is  most  important  to  our  daily living. Many  of  the  horticulture  crops  and their  products  find  place  in  our  meals  and diet. Fruits  and  vegetables  are recognized  as  protective  foods  as  they  are necessary  for the  maintenance  of  human health.
  • Regular eating  of  a  vegetable  rich  diet  has positive  effects  on  health  since phytonutriceuticals of vegetables can provide safety to the human body from several types of  chronic  ”
  • Horticultural interventions  to enhance food  safety at farm  level combined with  extensive  nutrition  and  food  safety education  can offer  a long  term  food  based strategy  to  control  and  eliminate micronutrient  malnutrition  in  the  resource poor
  • Fruits and vegetables also contain certain specialized chemicals called enzymes. These are important in fruits because of the chemical changes that they initiate

Way forward:

  • Revisiting zones for different crops keeping into account the hanging climate particularly in the hills.
  • Ensuring availability of  quality  seed including hybrid of vegetables, flowers and planting material of  ruit trees for better quality and produce.
  • Diversification of Horticultural   crops   along with     other     activities     like     bee     keeping mushroom  cultivation,  backyard  poultry,  sericulture, fish culture etc.,
  • Post-harvest management   of   horticultural crops through grading, packaging, and on farm primary   processing   for   value   addition   and product development.
  • Introduction of potential new varieties, and replacing the old and low productive varieties. Rejuvenation of old and unproductive orchards.
  • Promotion of organic   farming   practices   in vegetables and fruits production and suitable marketing   must   be   done   for   the   organic produce.
  • Popularisation of local    /    indigenous    or underutilized horticultural crops and promoting cultivation of flowers and medicinal plants.
  • Promoting intercropping with    vegetables, flowers, medicinal and aromatic plants and short duration fruit crops.
  • Promotion of contract farming and buy back arrangement for encouraging farmers to adopt horti based farming.
  • Promotion of horti tourism in states like J&K, HP, Uttarakhand, and North eastern states.

Conclusion:

                The growth of  horticultural  crops  is economically  rewarding.  This  sector  is expected to  grow and  contribute to food and nutritional  security,  provided,  the  sector  is nurtured  with  focused  infrastructure development  and  has  a  conducive  policy environment.

 

 


General Studies – 4


 

Topic : Public/Civil service values and Ethics in Public administration: Status and problems; ethical concerns and dilemmas in government and private institutions; laws, rules, regulations and conscience as sources of ethical guidance; accountability and ethical governance; strengthening of ethical and moral values in governance; ethical issues in international relations and funding; corporate governance.

5. All the discourse of ethics ultimately is another side of bureaucratic incompetence. Analyze. (250 words)

Reference: Ethics, Integrity and aptitude by G SubbaRao and P N Chowdhary

Why the question:

The question talks about the relation between Ethical discourse and Bureaucratic incompetence.

Key Demand of the question:

Discuss in detail with relevant example in what way discourse of ethics ultimately is another facet of bureaucratic incompetence.

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 explaining what you understand by bureaucratic Incompetence.

Body:

Bureaucracy is the administrative structure and set of regulations in place to control (rationalize, render effective and professionalize) activities, usually in large organizations and government. The bureaucracy act as the most visible part of the government which mainly participate in proper implementation of programmes and policies for better governance.

The ideal-typical bureaucracy is characterized by hierarchical organization, delineated lines of authority  in a fixed area of activity, action taken on the basis of and recorded in written rules, bureaucratic officials need expert training, rules are implemented by neutral officials,career advancement depends on technical qualifications judged by organization, not individuals.

Due to these rigid rules the bureaucracy has suffered from many lacunas such as red-tapism, lack of professionalism, lack of transparency and accountability. The organizational inefficiency has reduced the very purpose of bureaucrats.

However, bureaucracy is not just about rationality, duties; etc, moral aspect of bureaucracy is also there. Over a period of time it has been analysed that only laws and rules are not sufficient to govern the society, they have limitations too, thus the discourse of ethics came into being.

Conclusion:

Conclude with need to recognise the perfect harmony between ethics and bureaucracy to ensure better governance.

Introduction:

                Bureaucratic incompetence means a lack of the ability or the failure to apply the knowledge, skills or judgement relevant to the practice of the profession of a nature or to an extent that requires a resolution or remediation.

Body:

“Honesty requires time”

                Bureaucracy is a concept in sociology and political science referring to the way that the administrative execution and enforcement of legal rules are socially organized. It is represented by standardized procedure (rule following) that instructs the execution of the processes provided within the body, formal division of powers, hierarchy, and relationships. Four structural concepts are central to any definition of bureaucracy: a well-defined division of administrative labor among persons and offices, a personnel system with consistent patterns of recruitment and stable linear careers, a hierarchy among offices, such that the authority and status are differentially distributed among actors, and formal and informal networks that connect organizational actors to one another through flows of information and patterns of cooperation.

Now, as seen above, rule following is one of the corner stone bureaucracy. But following all rules means, more tine is consumed in the process of decision making? More time in decision making has impact of opportunity costs which in turn has impact on bureaucratic competence.

If we take the example of Uttrakhand floods which disrupted normal life and caused an acute shortage of food. The officials started procuring food from wherever possible they could. But the sellers were charging exorbitant amounts up to 100-200% times that they would have charged in normal times.

Now, as an officer, you have faced with two situations. You either pay the exorbitant amount, which you clearly know that it is unethical and immoral and procure food for the starving or you follow the code of ethics and cause delay in procurement. Following ethics here will lead to incompetence on the part of the officer.

But we must also remember, that ethics is not just a single situation or event. It is the way of life. At times we may have to overlook some rules but it must be followed up with addressing the consequences arising out of it.

The problem with our fast system is that it often leads us to act selfishly. One example is of what happens when we receive too much change back from a cashier: Although the immediate reaction might be to take the extra cash, thinking about it for an extra second will probably lead you to change your mind. In other words, the fast system takes the lead, and tells us to be self-serving. But the slow system often kicks in—hopefully not too late!—and, realizing the behavior can’t be justified, we correct our first impulse.

So, we can surmise from above scenario that a middle path must be chosen. The discourse on the ethics must be emphasized upon but at the same time attention should be given to capacity building of civil servants in order to improve their competency.

Conclusion:

Circumventing ethics to increase efficiency is no way desirable and will lead to moral muteness in the bureaucracy. There has to be a blend of perfect harmony between ethics and bureaucracy to ensure better governance.

                 

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. Has our nation lost its moral compass? In the context of suicide prevention day today, analyse critically the role of Indian society as a key factor driving the suicides in the country. (250 words)

Reference: Indian Express 

Why the question:

Today happens to be world suicide prevention day and thus the context of the question.

Key Demand of the question:

The question talks about the role of society and the factors the society contributes morally ethically while often the moral compass in our country is seen to be diminishing.

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:

One can start with key facts related to suicides and their rates in the country.

Body:

Explain that instead of compassion and empathy for the grieving family and friends, and respect for the deceased person’s dignity and privacy, vast sections of our citizenry have been blinded into a frenzied attack on his colleagues, friends and relatives and, if that was not enough, the person’s character for good measure.

Discuss in what way our society has lost the moral compass, explain with suitable case studies such as one of Sushant Singh Rajput.

Analyse with suitable substantiation in what way society contributes majorly to Suicide rates in the country.

Conclusion:

Conclude with need to align back the moral compass of the society and suggest methods for the same.

Introduction:

                India accounts for 17.8 percent of all reported suicide cases. According to the National Crime Bureau, India reported 381 suicides daily for the year 2019. India has one of the highest rate of suicide in the world. All this points to a collective failure of society in suicide prevention.

Coronavirus is a public health concern as it has hit many people in India and the world. It has been overwhelming for some people and has sparked anxiety, nervousness, paranoia, stress and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), besides panic attacks. The combined impact of the worst epidemic to infect people, an unprecedented downturn in our economy and a brooding conflict with a neighbour against whom we are no match, can affect our rational minds.

Body:

Lost moral compass of a polarized society- An analysis:

The malignant growth of hate and othering that is convulsing this country to the extent that we have become inured to the sheer extent and inhumanity of the cruelty sweeping our land. The litany is seemingly endless, from migrant workers being run over by trucks and trains while they trudge home in the blistering sun, to babies asphyxiating in government hospitals because the management forgot to renew the tender to replenish oxygen, men burned alive simply because of their religion, women lynched because they are suspected of being witches, under-trials summarily executed by the police in fake encounters, children raped by those employed to care for them, and young couples murdered by their own families for falling in love.

The suicide of a celebrated actor, and that of the tens of thousands of other Indians who die every month at their own hands, is the culmination of a combination of factors which have seeds in the rotting soil of our society, from the stifling prejudices which crush our freedoms, to violence, marginalisation, grinding poverty, and, most of all, the absence of a compassionate state.

Hate and resentment closely co-habit with despair and hopelessness. Consider, for example, that one-third of the world’s female suicide deaths and one-quarter of male suicide deaths occur in India, and that suicide is the single leading cause of death in young Indians. Or consider that India ranks near the bottom of the league of countries in the World Happiness Report 2020, alongside Afghanistan, South Sudan and Yemen.

There has been manifold increase in trolling, abusing, misogyny, Islamophobia, Homophobia etc on social media. Hidden behind the cloak of anonymity that the internet provides, they end up affecting the mental health of vulnerable people and cause them mental agony. All this points towards misdirected morality of the country.

Role of Indian society as a key factor driving the suicide:

Sometimes hypercompetitive environment like cities can be desperately alienating. This is a generation hooked on social media and engulfed by Fear Of Missing Out. No one is leading a fantasy life, least of all those consumed with living up to the pressures of mainstream culture and middle-class convention. But this false narrative of ‘perfection’ created by the society is extremely stressful.

It doesn’t help that our mythologies conclude with the triumph of good over evil and our movies with happily-ever-afters. The messaging is anyone straying from the (only) path to a good life — studying hard, finding professional success and creating a family — is doomed to failure. But beneath all this smug certainty, people are struggling hard with conformity. So for some, it’s shattering to discover, after valiantly achieving bourgeois perfection, that they’re too emotionally complex to survive this straitjacketed existence. A suicide becomes a final reclamation of selfhood, after a sad and short life of stressful striving.

The conformist attitudes of society is one more thing that needs to be talked about. Anybody who shows divergence with respect to the conformist attitudes of the society is excluded or looked down upon. This creates additional pressure for an individual to love up to the aspirations of the society. Even family puts pressure on an individual to live up to the conformist values which often drive suicides.

Society also helps prevent suicide:

Society and culture play an enormous role in dictating how people respond to and view mental health and suicide. Culture influences the way in which we define and experience mental health and mental illness, our ability to access care and the nature of the care we seek, the quality of the interaction between provider and patient in the health care system, and our response to intervention and treatment. Cultural variables have a far-ranging impact on suicide. They shape risk and protective factors as well as the availability and types of treatment that might intervene to lessen suicide.

The role of every sector of society – schools, community, religious leaders, social welfare agencies, judicial system and most importantly, family, friends or even colleagues, is vital in reaching out to prevent suicides.

The most important thing is to listen. You shouldn’t shut depressed people out if they come to you to share their thoughts or problems. Sit and listen. Sometimes it’s better not to advise. So many people have been or are suffering in silence. Why? Not because they aren’t willing to talk but because there are no listening.

The relationship of power to suicide in these contexts is extremely complex; the power a certain group has on a macro-social level must be disentangled from individuals’ perceived personal and interpersonal control, economic power, and self-perception of the ability to foster change.

Conclusion:

Suicide is not caused by any one person or one reason. What you should do is learn to recognise the signs and act so that if you come across someone in need of help, you will be cognizant of the situation and lend a hand. We should come together as a society, with a strong moral commitment and compassion to those suffering with mental health.


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