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SECURE SYNOPSIS: 6 October 2020


NOTE: Please remember that following ‘answers’ are NOT ‘model answers’. They are NOT synopsis too if we go by definition of the term. What we are providing is content that both meets demand of the question and at the same time gives you extra points in the form of background information.


General Studies – 1


 

Topic: Indian culture will cover the salient aspects of Art Forms, literature and Architecture from ancient to modern times.

1. Discuss the key features and significance of folk dance of North Eastern India. (250 words)

Reference: Indian Art and culture by Nitin Singhania , www.culturalindia.net

Why the question:

The question is from the static portions of GS paper I. theme Art and Culture.

Key Demand of the question:

One must discuss in detail the key features and significance of folk dance of North Eastern 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 explaining how dance and festivals are manifestation of creativity and are among the oldest art forms practised in India.

Body:

The seven sister states of India are known for their cultural extensity. These multilingual states are very much intricate in exhibiting their culture through their folk dance, the key features range from thanking nature, harvest festivals, animal representations etc. Explain with examples that the folk dances capture the movements of everyday life as well as animals and birds.

One can draw a map and show different forms of folk dance of all sister states.

Conclusion:

Conclude with their significance.

Introduction:

Northeast India comprises of eight states, which includes the state of Sikkim and the seven sister states – Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Manipur, Nagaland and Tripura. Folk dances in these states are often performed during festivals or to celebrate life. Dance is an important aspect in the lives of people living in this part of the country and hence many age-old dance forms are still practiced and kept alive.

Body:

Features of folk dance of North Eastern India:

  • Depiction of good over evil:
    • Ex: Bardo Chham is performed by the Sherdukpen tribe of Arunachal Pradesh. The dancers wear masks of 12 different animals and perform to the beats of many percussion instruments. Sherdukpen tribe believes that there are 12 different evil forces and they all appear in different months to mar the happiness of the community. The masks represent evil forces and the main objective of this art form is to ward off these evil forces.
  • Performed before harvesting crops:
    • Ponung is one of the most important folk dances of Arunachal Pradesh. Performed before the harvest of staple crops, it has women dancers.
    • Shad Suk Mynsiem of Meghalaya is a dance festival which is celebrated after every successful harvest.
  • Performed during various festivals:
    • Ex: Bihu forms the most important part of the Bihu festival celebration. The dance is performed by young men and women, accompanied by the playing of pipes & drums.
    • Buiya dance performed by the Digaru Mishmis of Arunachal Pradesh, is the main attraction of many tribal festivals.
    • Hojagiri dance of Tripura is performed during festivals, such as ‘Laxmi Puja’, ‘Durga Puja’ and the third day of ‘Dusshera’.
  • Celebration of nature:
    • Ex: Bagurumba is believed to have been inspired from nature, it can be further classified into different dance forms – each inspired from elements of nature like animals, plants, birds, insects, water, air and so on.
  • To relax and rejuvenate:
    • Ex: Jhumur is the dance is performed by the tribal people who work in tea estates of Assam. It is often their only recreational activity and this certainly rejuvenates them after a long and tiring day.
  • Showcase of rich tradition and culture:
    • Ex: Ojapali dacne of Assam.
    • Cheraw Dance of Mizoram.
  • Paying respects to the deity worshipped by the tribe:
    • Ex: Nongkram Dance of Meghalya.
  • Celebration of victory over an enemy:
    • Ex: Chang Lo dance of Nagaland.
  • To celebrate weddings:
    • Maruni is the main attraction of Sikkim weddings.

Significance of folk dance of North Eastern India:

  • Folk Dances are an integral part of India’s tradition and culture, and it goes without saying that their significance was, is and shall always be immense.
  • Folk Dances form a part of our country’s unique identity.
  • These forms and expressions of Indian Art gain India love, fame and respect in foreign lands.
  • Folk Dances are also considered a part of our history and their tales can often reveal a lot about the periods these dances have developed through.
  • These dances are also excellent forms of exercise and can be a very useful combination of dance and physical exercise, to gain one physical fitness as well as creative satisfaction.
  • Folk Dances can bring harmony. When dancers get together, often holding hands to dance, it brings a feeling of unity and harmony within their group. This can be very beneficial for the peace of the land.
  • When people perform Folk Dances together, they get to know and love their land deeper.
  • NE Folk Dances are appreciated and admired all over the world, and can bring their dancers name, fame and fortune.

Conclusion:

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

 

 


General Studies – 2


 

Topic: Issues relating to poverty and hunger. Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation

2. Discuss how the concept of Nutrition Gardens at grassroots can prove to be a sustainable model for food security and diversity. (250 words)

Reference: fao.org

Why the question:

The question is based on the concept of nutrition gardens and their contributions in sustainable nutritional security.

Key Demand of the question:

Explain what Nutrition Gardens are and explain their possible positive role at the grassroots levels to ensure food security and nutritional security.

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:

Define first what you understand by Nutrition Gardens.

Body:

Broadly state the conditions of food and nutrition security in the country. India may be the world’s second largest producer of food, but it has its second largest undernourished population. Further, more than half of women in India suffer from anemia, which is one of the reasons for the high rate of low-birth weight babies. An unbalanced diet and lack of food is directly linked to high rates of stunting, excessive weight, and death in children fewer than five years of age.

Then move on to discuss the concept and in what way Community and nutrition gardens can play an important role in enhancing national food security and dietary diversity to combat malnutrition.

Discuss the importance of having then at grassroots, quote case studies if possible.

Conclusion:

Conclude with significance.

Introduction:

                India has a rich heritage of indigenous fruits and vegetables. They are not only rich in minerals and vitamins but also, contribute in a big way in maintaining health, overcoming hunger and malnutrition. Among the rural community, their consumption is very low due to lack of purchasing power, ignorance and other factors including unavailability. Cultivation of these crops by gardening in a systematic manner in small pieces of land available in households is known as “Nutrition Garden”.  The nutrition garden ensures access to healthy diet with adequate macro and micronutrients at doorstep.

Body:

Need for Nutritional Gardens:

  • The expert committee of Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) recommends that every individual should consume at least 300 g vegetables and 100 g fresh fruits /day (green leaf vegetables – 50 g, other vegetables 200 g, roots and tubers -50 g ).  Pregnant women should consume 100 g leaf vegetables/day.
  • Vegetables are in culture since ancient times and are grown worldwide today in almost 200 countries. A world vegetable survey showed that 402 vegetable crops are cultivated worldwide, representing 69 families and 230 genera.
  • Vegetables are grown on large and small farms, on good and marginal lands, in urban and rural areas and by large commercial growers and small subsistence farmers, as well as in home gardens. Short productin cycle of vegetables allow multiple cropping and a significant volume of vegetables grown worldwide are produced in small plots.
  • According to FAO statistics, the production of vegetables in the world in 2009 was almost 1010 million tons. Asia produces and consumes more than 70% of the world’s vegetables. China has always been a large contributer and currently produces over 50%  of the world’s vegetables. India is the second largest producer of vegetables in the world but at almost a six-fold lower level than China.
  • Home gardens once used to be a cornerstone of traditional Indian farming systems, but over the time, they have slowly begun to lose their importance in people’s eyes as a relic of old-fashioned customs. But now, their importance is being recognized once again.
  • Home gardens can be taken on many forms, from a few plants in containers to large garden plots in the backyard. Beyond the reward of homegrown produce, gardens provide an easy access to fresh and nutritious vegetables, besides the health, environmental and enjoyment advantages for the gardener. The benefits of a home garden make the physical exertion and costs of gardening worth the effort.

Nutrition Gardens and food security and diversity:

  • It is widely recognized that intervention on food security should also take into account concern underlying nutritional security so as to ensure food and nutritional security to millions of people in Asia where traditional food basket is cereal dominated.
  • Lack of availability of different ingredients of food to the needy is one of the major causes of malnutrition, other factors being low purchasing power, ignorance, large family size, lack of sanitation, hygiene and inability to absorb.
  • The intake of protective foods like pulses, vegetables, milk and fruits are very low which leads to many nutritional deficiency disorders.
  • Promotion of local plants is an appropriate strategy for increasing vegetable consumption in a particular region. Many local plants have antioxidative, antimutagenicity and anti-inflammatory properties.
  • Nutrition awareness programmes stress the need for inclusion of locally available fruits and vegetables like papaya, mango, guava and leaf vegetables  in their daily diet.
  • The main purpose of a nutrition garden is to provide the family daily with fresh vegetables rich in nutrients and energy. A scientifically laid out nutrition garden helps to meet the entire requirements of fruits and vegetables for a family all the year round.
  • Establishment of nutrition garden is advocated as a means of preventing malnutrition. Ex: Among 250 tribal families and five tribal villages of Udaipur district, Rajasthan it was found that it is a low cost sustainable approach for reducing malnutrition, increasing awareness of vegetable production, increasing working hours and achieving food, nutrition and economic security for tribal families.
  • In order to ensure a healthy diet, fruits and vegetables are to be grown systematically in a small piece of land available in a home which is known as nutrition garden. This is important in rural areas where people have limited income and poor access to markets.
  • Location specific programmes like promotion of nutrition gardens will play a major role in solving malnutrition problem. The concept of nutrition garden aims at continuous supply of vegetables to cater the daily needs of the family from the available area utilizing household wastes including water other organic matter.
  • The development and maintenance of nutrition garden is a collective effort of family members led by a woman or housewife. Ex: A study in two villages of Udham Singh Nagar district of U.P. to assess the impact of nutrition garden on the nutrient intake of families. The result showed that the mean nutrient uptake in both villages improved after establishing nutrition garden and it is an effective measure to ensure household food security, health and nutrition.

Other advantages of nutrition gardening:

  • Nutrition gardening is the best means of recreation and exercise.
  • Helps in lowering down the family budget for vegetable.
  • Ideal medium for training children through gardens, in beauty and order.
  • Secures enough vegetables within the means of all classes at very cheap rate.
  • The cost of raising vegetables utilizing family labour is affordable and it gives a special appeal to palate.
  • Provides fresh vegetables free from infection from unsanitary markets

Way forward and Conclusion:

  • Though India is the second largest producer of fruits and vegetables, their consumption is meagre especially among the rural population. Now-a-days people are more health conscious and good food shall be our medicine.
  • Increased consumption of fruits and vegetables is one of the easiest and cheapest ways of enhancing health. Asia and Africa are blessed with diverse climatic condition and an array of fruits and vegetables are cultivated in different parts of the continents.
  • Many underutilized fruits and vegetables, which are rich sources of phytochemicals are to be cultivated in backyard nutrition gardens.
  • There is an increasing demand for indigenous, location specific underutilized vegetables and fruits throughout the world. Backyard nutrition gardening is a low cost sustainable approach for mitigating malnutrition especially in rural households.
  • Home gardening contributes to household food security by providing direct access to food that can be harvested, prepared and fed to family members, often on a daily basis.
  • Even very poor, landless or near landless people can also practice gardening on small patches of homestead land, vacant lots or in containers. Gardening may be done with virtually no economic resources, using locally available planting materials, green manures, “live” fencing and indigenous methods of pest control. Thus, home gardening is a production system that fits well in family farming system.

 

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.

3. Critically examine the youth under-representation in Indian parliament. What are the hurdles for youth participation? Discuss and suggest solutions. (250 words)

Reference: Deccan Herald

Why the question:

The article brings to us the numbers related to youth participation in the Indian parliament and the concerns associated.

Key Demand of the question:

One must critically examine the youth under-representation in Indian parliament and discuss the underlying causes for it. And also suggest solutions to address the same.

Directive:

Critically examine – When asked to ‘Examine’, we have to look into the topic (content words) in detail, inspect it, investigate it and establish the key facts and issues related to the topic in question. While doing so we should explain why these facts and issues are important and their implications. When ‘critically’ is suffixed or prefixed to a directive, one needs to look at the good and bad of the topic and give a fair judgment.

Structure of the answer:

Introduction:

Start by discussing key statistics that show the lower participation of youth in the Indian parliament and legislatures.

Body:

Start by discussing the need to get more youth in parliament and legislatures.

Explain that India is young. Its leaders are not. The country’s median age is 29. The average parliamentarian is 55. This is the directly elected Lok Sabha (LS) member. Indirectly elected Rajya Sabha members are still older, average age 63. About 65% of our population is below 35. Only 22% of the LS members are under 45.

Discuss what are the possible hurdles for youth participation in our country and how do we overcome it.

Conclusion:

Suggest way forward and conclude with the need to address the challenge of youth under representation.

Introduction:

                The topic of youth participation in politics has found its place on the global agenda, with new attention directed to the question of how to elect more young people to national parliaments and other political positions. Promoting the participation of young people in political life is becoming a higher priority worldwide. Over one third of the 169 targets established as part of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) relate to young people and the importance of their empowerment, participation and well-being.

Body:

Youth Representation in Indian parliament:

  • The country’s median age is 29. The average parliamentarian is 55. This is the directly elected Lok Sabha (LS) member. Indirectly elected Rajya Sabha members are still older, average age 63. About 65% of our population is below 35. Only 22% of the LS members are under 45.
  • The global situation, despite healthy youth representation in several national parliaments, isn’t much different – median age 31, average parliamentarian age 53, about 28% young parliamentarians. But that doesn’t make youth under-representation in Indian parliament and state legislatures any less curious.
  • The new Chancellor of Austria, Sebastian Kurz, is just 31. The new Prime Minister of New Zealand, Jacinda Ardern, is just 37, and also the world’s youngest female leader. Tony Blair and David Cameron both became Prime Minister at the stately age of 43. Emmanuel Macron, himself 39, is now the President of France. The average life expectancy of a political party, globally, is just 43 years —as voters grow tired of decrepit political parties, such parties are embracing new blood and empowering it, to survive.
  • In comparison, in India, political parties seem frozen, preferring to continue with their allegiance to seniority and hierarchy. In 2014, the current Parliament had just 12 MPs under 30, with only 53% of its members under 55; while the average age of an MP was typically above 50 (54 for the BJP, 57 for the Congress in 2014).
  • As our population continues to grow younger (our median age is 25), our Parliament continues to grow older. The first Lok Sabha had an average age of 46.5 years, which rose to 51.4 years by the 10th Lok Sabha.
  • India is young. Its leaders are not. 

Hurdles for Youth Participation:

  • Political leaders reaching an age beyond retirement continue to hold on to power. Meanwhile, others seek to hold on to a seat until their progeny is ready to take it. A consequence of this is that most political parties in India have become family businesses. Political empowerment, it seems, is the domain of the elderly.
  • Most major political parties have youth and student wings. But their growth, in politics, is seemingly capped. While the adoption of an informal age of 75 for politicians to retire in some political parties is a welcome development, much more needs to be done.
  • Youth participation in politics, for now, is dependent on wealth, legacy and connections. There are other ways to empower young, aspiring individuals.
  • The enthusiasm among major political parties is another matter. Less than a tenth of the LS candidates the BJP and the Congress fielded in 2019 were under 40.
  • They believe the youth, having not seen enough of life, are unprepared for the demands of top-flight politics.
  • They fear that Indian electors, raised to respect grey, will not take young candidates seriously.
  • Key party decision makers, typically veterans, do not want to yield space.
  • Young politicians may also lack the name recognition and the access to crucial networks needed to gain attention, be nominated by political parties and become viable candidates.
  • Many young people – because they are just beginning their professional careers or because unemployment among youth is high – simply lack the financial resources required to run a traditional political campaign.
  • The decline in inner-party democracy, rising campaign spending and rotational reservation in municipal, panchayat and mayoral elections, have created barriers to upward movement for aspiring young politicians. 

Way forward:

  • Political parties, however, can help overcome all of these barriers by actively raising awareness about the benefits of electing young representatives, recruiting more young aspiring parliamentarians and supporting their campaigns. Emerging academic research suggests that a latent core of young people could be encouraged to run for political office.
  • One option to nudge political parties into backing young candidates amidst such pushbacks is to consider legally-backed youth quotas. These could be in the form of either seats exclusively (and rotationally) reserved for youth or a specified proportion of young candidates all registered parties contesting an election must field.
  • A second option is to promote inner party democracy. If it unfolds in the manner it should, one can expect more youth to rise through the party ranks, assert themselves in party fora, and lay stronger claims on party tickets.
    • A number of countries like Morocco, Pakistan, Kenya and Ecuador set aside seats in their legislature for youth leaders.
  • A radical option is to consider the proportional representation (PR) system, a system that is associated with, among other things, better youth representation.
  • The PR system idea has implications for the wider electoral system, needs many complex angles to be debated and resolved, and has little traction currently. Tying youth participation to the PR system idea then is risky.
  • Our political structure ideally should offer multiple avenues for political empowerment. Municipal and panchayat polls should give rise to leaders who have experience at the ground level. Such leaders, after some experience, should be able to run for state and eventually the central legislative seats
  • Countries like Ecuador, El Salvador, Senegal, Uganda and Burundi have lowered the minimum age for candidacy in all legislative elections to 18. In Bosnia, if no candidate receives a majority in the election, Article 13.7 of its election law awards the seat to the youngest candidate.
  • Kenya saw the National Democratic Institute facilitate a Young Political Leadership Academy since 2001, with young politicians across party lines receiving skills training on negotiation and advocacy, along with projects to implement in their parties.
  • UNDP implemented a national youth civic education campaign, with $2.6 million of funding, which sought to increase civic knowledge and skills, and change attitudes towards the nomination of youth leaders in politics.

Conclusion:

Political parties need to actively consider reservation for aspiring youth from non-political backgrounds in certain positions, along with rolling out initiatives to induct professionals into mainstream politics. Younger politicians understand what a youthful India needs and what their aspirations are. Political parties should be encouraged to provide space for such leaders to grow on merit.

 

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

4. Elucidate how India’s Anganwadi system is getting some things right despite its many flaws. (250 words)

Reference: The Hindu 

Why the question:

The question aims to analyse the positives of the Indian Anganwadi system.

Key Demand of the question:

One must discuss in what way India’s Anganwadi system is getting some things right despite its many flaws.

Directive:

Elucidate – Give 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:

Briefly narrate the background of Indian Anganwadi system.

Body:

Anganwadi is a type of rural child care centre in India. They were started by the Indian government in 1975 as part of the Integrated Child Development Services program to combat child hunger and malnutrition. Anganwadi means “courtyard shelter” in Hindi and other Indian languages.

Discuss their importance and significance in the development of children. Explain their positives over time.

Conclusion:

Conclude with their importance.

Introduction:

                The Integrated Child Development Service (ICDS) Scheme providing for supplementary nutrition, immunization and pre-school education to the children is a popular flagship programme of the government. Launched in 1975, it is one of the world’s largest programmes providing for an integrated package of services for the holistic development of the child. ICDS is a centrally sponsored scheme implemented by state governments and union territories. The scheme is universal covering all the districts of the country.

The Scheme has been renamed as Anganwadi Services.

Body:

Objectives of Anganwadi services:

  • To improve the nutritional and health status of children in the age-group 0-6 years;
  • To lay the foundation for proper psychological, physical and social development of the child;
  • To reduce the incidence of mortality, morbidity, malnutrition and school dropout;
  • To achieve effective co-ordination of policy and implementation amongst the various departments to promote child development; and
  • To enhance the capability of the mother to look after the normal health and nutritional needs of the child through proper nutrition and health education.

Beneficiaries:

  • Children in the age group of 0-6 years
  • Pregnant women and
  • Lactating mothers

Services under ICDS:

The ICDS Scheme offers a package of six services, viz.

  • Supplementary Nutrition
  • Pre-school non-formal education
  • Nutrition & health education
  • Immunization
  • Health check-up and
  • Referral services

Successes of Anganwadi system:

  • ICDS programme has expanded tremendously over the 30 years of its operation to cover almost all the development blocks in the country. It offers a wide range of health, nutrition and education related services to children, women and adolescent girls.
  • ICDS is intended to target the needs of the poorest and the undernourished, as well as the age groups that represent a significant window of opportunity for nutrition investments (i.e. children under three years of age, pregnant and lactating mother).
  • The services targeted at young children and mothers are immunization, regular health check-ups and supplementary feeding as well as nutrition and health education to improve the childcare and feeding practices.
  • Preschool education is also provided to the children of age between three to six years. Realizing the impact and positive role of AWCs in solving the nutrition problems of children, the erstwhile Planning Commission felt a need to periodically update the data on child nutrition to assess the effectiveness of ICDS in delivering the intended services.
  • Since the child nutrition data are routinely generated by the service delivery system, a quick test/check study to ascertain the reliability of data reported by ICDS’s MIS was designed.
  • The ICDS programme today covers 8.4 crore children of age below 6 years and 1.91 crore pregnant and lactating mothers through 7,066 projects and 13.42 lakh operational AWCs. This is against a total number of 16.45 crore children in the age group 0-6 years (2011 Census).
  • ICDS was launched on October 2, 1975, with about 5,000 anganwadis. Close to half a century later, with about 1.4 million anganwadis in 7,000 blocks and around 2.8 million frontline personnel.
  • Over the years, Anganwadi Services Scheme under Umbrella ICDS has evolved with differential approaches across the States and there are many examples of innovative and successful models implemented by the State Government. Ex: Bal Sanjeevini of Maharashtra, Parveshotsav (Anganwadi Chalo Abhiyan) of Rajasthan etc.
  • India’s Anganwadis serve as a lifeline to many children, specifically those belonging to underprivileged sections of the society. According to the National Family Health Survey (NFHS-4) for 2015-16, among children under six years of age benefitting from ICDS services, 59.1 per cent and 39.8 per cent live in rural and urban areas, respectively.
  • In urban areas, such benefit accrues to slum residents and poor neighbourhoods. According to the NFHS-4 report, every three out of five children under six years of age from Scheduled Castes (SC) and Scheduled Tribes (ST) households use at least one service from Anganwadis.

Shortcomings of Anganwadi system:

  • The reduction in the proportion of undernourished children in India over the past decade has been modest and slower than what has been achieved in other countries with comparable socioeconomic indicators.
  • While aggregate levels of undernutrition are shockingly high, the picture is further exacerbated by the significant inequalities across states and socioeconomic groups – girls, rural areas, the poorest and scheduled tribes and castes are the worst affected – and these inequalities appear to be increasing.
  • Child malnutrition is mostly the result of high levels of exposure to infection and inappropriate infant and young child feeding and caring practices, and has its origins almost entirely during the first two to three years of life.
  • The ICDS program, while successful in many ways, has not made a significant dent in child malnutrition. This is mostly due to the priority that the program has placed on food supplementation, targeting mostly children after the age of three when malnutrition has already set in.
  • The Comprehensive National Nutritional Survey (CNNS) report released in 2019 echoes a similar impression with the prevalence of undernutrition among children of pre-school age (0-4 years age) being higher among children from rural areas, SC and ST households, and households from lower wealth quintiles.
    • In addition, the prevalence of anaemia among adolescents of 10-19 years of age is another disturbing feature, with a greater disadvantage for girl children.
  • According to a Centre for Policy Research (CPR) report, only one in three Anganwadis was functioning from their own buildings and rest were community owned or rented or open spaces as on the end of March 2018.
    • It also highlighted that 12% of all Anganwadis in India were functioning in kutcha (mud) buildings, with the highest number being in Aurnachal Pradesh (100%), followed by Manipur (68%), West Bengal (37%), Jammu and Kashmir (35%), Madhya Pradesh (27% per cent), Karnataka (26%), Jharkhand (22%), and Bihar (20%). Worse, not all the Anganwadis have drinking water or toilet facilities in their premises.

Way forward:

  • The NEP 2020 has mandated child friendly, well-designed, well-constructed and properly ventilated premise in Anganwadis to facilitate a conducive environment for imparting education in the formative years.
  • It has prescribed that the first five years of education for a child of 3–8 years will constitute the foundational stage for education. It emphasises on Quality Child Care and Education (QCCE) in these formative years, especially below six years of age, when most of the child’s cognitive and intelligence develop.
  • Anganwadi centers serve as an exclusive site with a reasonable spread all over the country. But there should be greater focus and emphasis on the most vulnerable communities in districts with the highest levels of child malnutrition, poverty and school dropouts.
  • Till date, Panchayats remain distant from the management of Anganwadis in any formal manner. The NITI Aayog also pointed out the need for local self-governments – Panchayats and Urban Local Bodies (ULBs) – to promote, monitor and sustain nutrition initiatives to ensure better convergence at the grassroots.
  • The ICDS program should be redirected towards the younger children (0-3 years) and the most vulnerable population segments in those states and districts where the prevalence of undernutrition is higher.
  • The ICDS program should aim at:
    • Improving mothers’ feeding and caring behaviour with emphasis on infant and young child feeding and maternal nutrition during pregnancy and lactation.
  • Improving household water and sanitation.
  • Stregthening the referral to the health system with emphasis on prevention and control of common child diseases including acute malnutrition.
  • Providing micronutrients.
  • Involving charitable institutions, philanthropists and corporates to adopt the Anganwadi centers, especially in high focus districts, will be helpful in complementing state effort. Provision of resources and involvement of multiple stakeholders may hold the key to a better outcome for India’s frontline national child care system.

Conclusion:

                The NEP 2020 has identified the Anganwadi centers as focal points for imparting education to children below six years. This undoubtedly needs massive investment to develop the infrastructure of existing centers, both in term of physical infrastructure and human resources, and also provide the necessary equipment to make these centers adapt to undertake training and education through ICE modes. This may be crucial to continue ECCC during times of pandemics or natural disasters.

 

 


General Studies – 3


 

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.

5. What is Human Challenge Trials (HCT)? Are human challenge trials ethical? Explain. (250 words)

Reference: Deccan Herald

Why the question:

The article presents to us a detailed analysis of HCTs and their ethicality.

Key Demand of the question:

Explain what Human challenge trials are; discuss the ethical issues involved in it.

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:

Start by defining what HCTs are.

Body:

Explain that in HCT, volunteers are deliberately exposed to the virus. This shortens the time frame by eliminating the chance factor of infection. The participant’s body is ‘challenged’ by the pathogen in controlled situations.  HCTs have been conducted for diseases like malaria, dengue, etc. and WHO has already published an ethical framework. The controversy in the Covid-19 vaccine is that, unlike malaria, there is no available treatment. The dilemma is ethical i.e. deliberately infecting a participant with a virus and the ability of the participant to consent to it, if done voluntarily.

Discuss the pros and cons, elaborate on the ethical angles involved and suggest your opinion.

Conclusion:

Conclude with fair and balanced approach.

Introduction:

Human challenge trials are trials in which participants are intentionally challenged (whether or not they have been vaccinated) with an infectious disease organism. This challenge organism may be close to wild-type and pathogenic, adapted and/or attenuated from wild-type with less or no pathogenicity, or genetically modified in some manner.

Body:

Purpose of HCT:

  • HCT are considered as a model by which “challenge-protection” can be evaluated and they represent one possible approach for vaccine development.
  • A vaccine developer may conduct human challenge trials to accomplish one or more of a number of aims. The aims of the study determine which clinical phase the study is in. Human challenge trials are often a type of efficacy-indicating study, but most would not be considered to be pivotal efficacy studies.
  • to gain useful information to aid in the development of a vaccine. Several challenge trials might often be performed during the course of vaccine development.
  • characterization of the challenge stock and model system: titration, symptoms, kinetics, shedding, transmissibility
  • clearer understanding of the pathogenesis of and immunity to the organism in order to guide decisions on what (type and/or quantity) immune responses a vaccine might need to elicit in order to protect against that disease.
  • identification of potential immune correlates of protection (ICPs, which would then require validation in a traditional efficacy study).

Ethical concerns in HCT:

  • Generally, vaccine development takes years. In Phase three, the vaccine is tested on a large group of diverse people, who then go about their daily lives and are monitored. They may or may not get infected. This prolongs the trials. Because of the infectious nature of Covid-19, people are taking extra precautions and are less likely to get the virus or may take a longer time to be exposed to it. So, Phase three methods could take years.
  • Phase three trials could be conducted on high-risk people in densely populated areas, or healthcare workers. But since the risk is not absent, it might not be correct to test on people in densely populated areas. They live there because of larger systemic injustices. The risks could also compromise an already compromised health force.
  • Therefore, Human Challenge Trials (HCT) have emerged as a controversial solution. In HCT, volunteers are deliberately exposed to the virus. This shortens the time frame by eliminating the chance factor of infection. The participant’s body is ‘challenged’ by the pathogen in controlled situations.
  • HCTs have been conducted for diseases like malaria, dengue, etc and WHO has already published an ethical framework. The controversy in the Covid-19 vaccine is that, unlike malaria, there is no available treatment. The dilemma is ethical i.e. deliberately infecting a participant with a virus and the ability of the participant to consent to it, if done voluntarily.
  • Medical professionals follow the ‘first do no harm’ So, can they infect a healthy person? The answer can be yes if we see it through the utilitarian lens. Simply put, utilitarianism means the greatest good for the greatest number.
  • Since a large number of participants may not get infected in traditional Phase three trials, the sample size has to be extremely large. In HCT, a small number can be tested as all of them will be 100% infected. So, both the time and the number of people needed is less. The faster we can test a vaccine, the more lives we can save.
  • Other lenses can be altruism and choice. Many people work in high-risk professions due to their inherent altruistic tendencies. They have a need to serve others and derive value from it. Many NGOs working in conflict zones have such people working in them e.g. Doctors Without Borders (MSF). We must respect their choices. Are HCT participants different from these people?
  • If a person has volunteered (without any coercion, economic or otherwise), and has been informed and understands the risks, but still chooses to participate, then we can say that it is a choice made freely.
  • Therefore, HCT trials are probably the most ethical way to fast-track Phase three. One Day Sooner is an international movement advocating for HCT for Covid-19 vaccines. Around 36,000 people have already volunteered, showing that people will volunteer.
  • HCT also gains importance as the US FDA is considering granting emergency approvals for Covid-19 vaccines, and there are legitimate fears that safety standards could be reduced.
  • In the international vaccine race, both China and Russia are hoping to be the first to produce a commercial vaccine. Given the lack of transparency in both China and Russia, the vaccine’s viability and safety cannot be certain unless data is shared and verified.

Conclusion:

Ethics in clinical trials include the precept of “minimizing risks to subjects and maximizing benefits”. Review of the proposed human challenge study by an independent ethics committee is essential. By their nature (i.e. intentional infection of humans with disease-causing organisms), human challenge trials would seem to contradict this basic precept. Further, clinical trials should be designed and conducted in a manner that minimizes risks to human subjects while maximizing the potential for benefit. Consideration must be given to both potential individual risks and benefits, as well as to potential societal benefits and risks, such as release into the environment of a pathogen that might not otherwise be present.

 

6. The GST compensation issue has been a bone of contention between the centre and state governments threatening to undermine both India’s fiscal federalism and Centre-State relations, In this context discuss the role of GST council. (250 words)

Reference: The Hindu 

Why the question:

The scheduled meeting of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) council is the context of the question.

Key Demand of the question:

One has to discuss in detail the role of GST council.

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 with the fact that many states have accepted the proposal made by the Central Government while many others have rejected it. In this background, the GST compensation issue could be put to vote in the GST Council meeting.

Body:

In the answer body elaborate upon the functions of GST council.

As per Article 279A (1) of the amended Constitution, the GST Council had to be constituted by the President within 60 days of the commencement of Article 279A.

As per Article 279A of the amended Constitution, the GST Council would be a joint forum of the Centre and the States. Discuss the mandate of it in detail.

Conclusion:

Conclude as to how the issues can be resolved and the threat to federalism can be overcome.

Introduction:

                In 2017, the Centre made a promise to the States that a certain minimum amount of GST revenues will be guaranteed to every State for every year until 2022. This reimbursement was to be funded by a special cess called the GST compensation cess. Creation of the GST Council in 2017 was hailed as a great example of cooperative federalism. The states had agreed to join in the reform even as it involved sacrificing their fiscal autonomy. There was a clear commitment of the Centre on the issue of compensation and the method of recouping the loss.

Body:

Present Status:

  • The Centre had estimated the states’ total loss of GST revenue at Rs 3 lakh crore, of which, Rs 65,000 crore was expected to accrue from the compensation cess.
  • Of the remaining Rs 2.35 lakh crore, the loss due to an “Act of God” — the pandemic — was estimated at Rs 1.28 lakh crore.
  • In the recent GST Council meet, the Union government had presented the states with two options.
  • The first option was to provide states a special window to borrow Rs 97,000 crore from the RBI, which was later revised to Rs 1.1 lakh crore.
  • Under this option, both the interest payments and the repayments would be made from future collections of the compensation cess.
  • In the second option, the entire shortfall of Rs 2.35 lakh crore could be borrowed from the market and the states would have to bear the interest costs, but the repayments would be adjusted against future collections of the cess.
  • While some states have opted for first option, some have rejected both the options and have stated that it is the Centre’s responsibility to compensate the states, and therefore, it should borrow.

GST compensation: A bone of contention

  • In the last few years, the Centre deliberately mis-allocated nearly ₹3 lakh crore collected through various cesses, to reduce the States’ share of tax revenues. The Centre’s dishonesty has eroded its credibility with the States and widened the trust deficit.
  • The CAG audit report findings about the Centre incorrectly parking compensation cess collections in the Consolidated Fund of India, over the first two years of GST implementation, are also likely to be raised by some Opposition-ruled States.
  • The GST Council has 31 States and Union Territories represented. The Council was set up in 2017 as a new financial institution with the enormous economic responsibility of directing policy for half of all tax revenues of the country. Sadly, this vital institution, like many others, has dwindled rapidly into yet another avenue for political power play.
  • Twenty members of the GST Council that have agreed to the Centre’s proposal are governed by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) or a BJP alliance. The 11 States that have opposed the Centre’s plan are all governed by the Opposition. The 11 opposing States account for a greater share of overall GST revenues than the 20 supporting States. But it does not matter since every State, large or small, has equal weight in the GST Council. Twelve votes can veto a proposal in the GST council.

Way forward:

  • A combination of additional revenues and borrowing by the Centre can help resolve the GST compensation issue amicably.
  • The Centre could borrow on behalf of the cess fund. The tenure of the cess could be extended beyond five years until the cess collected is sufficient to pay off this debt and interest on it.
  • The GST Council, which is a constitutional body with representation of the Centre and all the States, should find a practical solution.
    • Economic logic suggests that the Centre, and not the States, is best positioned to raise additional resources to bridge the GST compensation gap. State governments don’t have the powers to levy direct taxes or indirect taxes to earn additional revenues. A State’s finances are not in the hands of the State government any more.
  • But the Centre has multiple alternative revenue streams. It is true that COVID-19 has ravaged the economy and strained government finances. But even in this severe economic slowdown, the Centre can find some new and creative options for tax revenues that are not available to the States.
  • Purely for illustrative purposes, one such revenue opportunity can be through increased taxation of capital market transactions. Between April and June, when economic activity in the nation had come to a complete standstill, India’s stock markets experienced its highest activity levels in its history, with a 75% increase in transactions vis-a-vis last year.
  • The stock market rose 30% in this period and a minority few profited handsomely. In all likelihood, this buoyant stock market activity did not create one extra job in the real economy. The Centre can levy a higher tax on such speculative stock market trading to earn additional revenues during these difficult times, which will also not hurt the economy like an increase in GST rates or cess will do.
  • A five-fold increase in the securities transaction tax from its current minuscule levels of 0.025% can potentially generate an additional ₹50,000 crore of revenue for the Centre, which can be very handy in these times. Contrary to belief and fearmongering by stock market participants, 15 years of data show there is no evidence that, in India, raising securities transaction taxes adversely impacts stock market activity or the overall economy.
  • The larger point is that such options for new revenue generation are not available for the States. In these dire economic conditions, the Centre has many more avenues to raise additional resources than the States. A combination of additional revenues and borrowing by the Centre can help resolve the GST compensation issue amicably.

Conclusion:

The economic argument is crystal clear that it is more prudent for the Centre to use its much greater ammunition to raise additional tax revenues and/or to borrow to keep its GST promise. It makes no economic sense for the States, regardless of which party is in power, to increase their borrowing at the behest of the Centre. States will be forced to borrow anyway for their own expenditure. The credibility of the GST Council and the larger idea of cooperative federalism can still be salvaged if, in today’s meeting, the Centre can shed its cussedness and end this impasse by committing to raise resources to plug the GST compensation gap.

 

Topic: Case study

7. Once Ravi goes to market with his mother for celebratory shopping. There he finds that most of the shopkeepers have employed children as attendants and are being treated harshly. Ravi gets very touched by seeing all this and argues with one of the shopkeepers on this issue. His mother tells him to stop and explains that the shopkeeper will remove the child and child may have no earning source for family. (250 words)

(a) What should Ravi do in consonance with moral quality in this situation?

(b) Discuss limitations of various possible actions that Ravi is supposed to take. 

Why the question:

The question is a case study based on ethical dilemma involving the factor of child labour.

Key Demand of the question:

Explain the issue of child labour in general, discuss the grave concerns associated with it and suggest what needs to be done to overcome 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:

Start by explaining and identifying the key stakeholders in the case study.

Body:

Child labour has become a common problem in society. Many children are forced to work because of poverty. Especially where adult unemployment is very high and there is no social security, families are forced to push their children to work in order to survive.

Explain the available options; pros and cons – By seeing the pathetic condition of the child naturally one will take firm action against the employee as per the Child Labour Prevention Act but this action has many limitations.

Due to applicability of laws the employee will remove the child from job and he will end up in vicious cycle of poverty again. The parents may force him to work in more hazardous place for earning which may not be as visible as the shop.

Secondly, if he takes legal action then police may take action against his parents, which may deteriorate the situation further.  Thirdly providing better employment to parents and schooling to child may not be feasible for the individual.

Conclusion:

Conclude with solutions that may range from special govt. programs to schemes that focus on doing away with child labour and help ensure betterment of such poor children.

Introduction:

The term “child labour” is often defined as work that deprives children of their childhood, their potential and their dignity, and that is harmful to physical and mental development. It refers to work that:

  • is mentally, physically, socially or morally dangerous and harmful to children; and/or
  • Interferes with their schooling by: depriving them of the opportunity to attend school; obliging them to leave school prematurely; or requiring them to attempt to combine school attendance with excessively long and heavy work.

Body:

  1. Ravi should first try and reason with the shop keeper and ask him to stop using child labour. Then he needs to persuade his mother that Child labor is an evil which affects both the physical and mental well being of children and that it will be his obligation as a citizen and a human to stop this.

If the shopkeeper doesn’t agree, then Ravi has the moral obligation to report this to the local police station, so that they can intervene and rescue the children. Also, book the shopkeeper under provisions of Child and Adolescent Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act, 1986. This will not only hold the shopkeeper accountable but also send out a message to others who indulge in this practice.

Moreover, irresepective of the shopkeer voluntarily ends the employment of child labor or he reports it to the police, Ravi should ensure that the Children are not affected by this.

Hence he needs to contact the NGO’s dealing with Child Labor and make sure the education and welfare of the children is streamlined. In absence of which the children may be forced to seek employment elsewhere.

After all this, Ravi should do a regular follow up on the progress of the children rescued from the evil of child labour.

  1. The limitations of possible actions that Ravi may take are:
  • The shopkeeper may out rightly refuse to let the children go and end this practice.
  • Ravi’s mother may not allow his to get involved fearing his safety.
  • The police may refuse to action against the shopkeeper.
  • In case of penal action against the shopkeeper, there maybe retribution form Shopkeepers side against Ravi.
  • The children even if rescued may again seek employment if no adequate facilities and means of livelihood are provided.

Conclusion:

Hence, not only Ravi has to ensure that Children are rescued he needs to make sure holistic and complete rehabilitation of children happens. Along with it, he needs to watch out for the safety of his and his family.


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