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SECURE SYNOPSIS: 18 November 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: Bilateral, Regional and Global Groupings and Agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests.

1. India’s opting out of RCEP appears more debatable in terms of its economic rationale. Comment. (250 words)

Reference: The Hindu

Why the question:

The question is amidst the recent opting out of RCEP by India.

Key Demand of the question:

Analyse in detail the India’s position in RCEP and the rationale behind it.

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:

Present brief background of RCEP; The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) was signed on 15.11.2020 by 15 countries led by China, Japan, South Korea, Australia, New Zealand and the 10-state ASEAN grouping.

Body:

Start by addressing the fact that India recently opted out of it, present the reasons – the economic factors; Protecting its economy from burgeoning trade deficits with a majority of the 15 RCEP members. It had cited the grouping’s refusal to accede to its requests on safeguards as a deal breaker.

Present the significance; RCEP members now account for about 30% of the global GDP and a third of the world’s population. The timing of the accord presents a unique opportunity to support economic recovery, inclusive development and job creation.

Discuss both pros and cons.

Conclusion:

Suggest way forward.

Introduction:

Recently, the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) was signed into existence by 15 countries led by China, Japan, South Korea, Australia, New Zealand and the 10-state ASEAN grouping, creating one of the world’s largest trading blocs. The countries involved account for almost half of the world’s population, over a quarter of world exports, and make up around 30% of the global Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

India had been a part of negotiations for almost nine years till it pulled out in November 2019, stating that inadequate safeguards and lowering of customs duties will adversely impact its manufacturing, agriculture and dairy sectors.

Body:

Reasons for India’s Withdrawal:

  • Non-acceptance of Auto-trigger Mechanism: To deal with the imminent rise in imports, India had been seeking an auto-trigger mechanism. Auto-trigger Mechanism would have allowed India to raise tariffs on products in instances where imports cross a certain threshold. However, other countries in the RCEP were against this proposal.
  • Unfavourable Balance of Trade:Though trade has increased the post-Free Trade Agreement with South Korea, ASEAN countries and Japan, imports have risen faster than exports from India. According to a paper published by NITI Aayog, India has a bilateral trade deficit with 11 out of 15 member countries of RCEP.
  • China factor: India fears that the RCEP pact will enable China to dump its products at lower prices and finally capture the market. India’s trade deficit with RCEP countries stood at $105 billion, out of which China alone accounted for $52 billion.
  • Rules of Origin:Rules of origin are the criteria used to determine the national source of a product. India was concerned about a “possible circumvention” of rules of origin. The deal did not have sufficient safeguards to prevent routing of the products.
  • Vulnerable domestic sectors: India’s vulnerable agriculture and dairy sectors will be exposed to vagaries of global trade. For instance, the dairy industry is expected to face stiff competition from Australia and New Zealand.
  • Issue of Market Access: RCEP also lacked clear assurance over market access issues in countries such as China and non-tariff barriers on Indian companies.
  • IPR provisions: Japan and South Korea are proposing intellectual property provisions referred to as TRIPS-plus, which go far beyond the obligations under the WTO’s agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS).

Reasons for India to Review: 

  • Global Economic Stagnation due to Covid-19: With global trade and the economy facing a steep decline due to Covid-19 pandemic, RCEP can serve as a bulwark in containing the free fall of the global economy and re-energising economic activity.
  • Further, the RCEP presents a unique opportunity to support India’s economic recovery, inclusive development and job creation even as it helps strengthen regional supply chains.
  • Need For Economic Realism: India should deter seeing RCEP only from the Chinese perspective. India should acknowledge that the trade bloc represents 30% of the global economy and world population, touching over 2.2 billion people, and staying out of RCEP may result in suboptimal economic growth without leveraging Asia-Pacific demand.
  • In this regard, India can draw inspiration from Japan & Australia, as they chose to bury their geopolitical differences with China to prioritise what they collectively see as a mutually beneficial trading compact.
  • Strategic Need:It is not just because gains from trade are significant, but the RCEP’s membership is a prerequisite to having a say in shaping RCEP’s rules.   This is necessary to safeguard India’s interests and the interests of several countries that are too small to stand up to the largest member, China.
  • Impact on India’s Act East Policy: There are concerns that India’s decision would impact its bilateral trade ties with RCEP member nations, as they may be more inclined to focus on bolstering economic ties within the bloc.

Way forward:

  • Joining RCEP: It has the option of joining the agreement without having to wait 18 months as stipulated for new members in the terms of the pact, since India is an original negotiating participant of RCEP.
  • Strengthen Existing Agreements: The trade and investment agreements with ASEAN, Japan and Korea, as well as its bilateral arrangements with Malaysia and Singaporemust be strengthened.
  • Marketing Products: The marketing of Indian products to existing favourable markets, as well as other countries where India has a low export presence.
  • The Indian industry, which has a business in these markets, can benefit from targeted promotional strategies given that Indian products are competitive and favoured there.
  • Export Diversification:Increasing the exports in Africa, a rapidly growing continent which enjoys almost 9% of the export share, as well as Latin America, currently at a low 3%. West Asia has also been an expanding market where India enjoys synergies.
  • Deeper Economic Reforms:Must be initiated particularly in market factors of land, labour and capital. It will provide the much-needed impetus to overall manufacturing investments. For domestic manufacturing, lowering costs of doing business, building the right infrastructure, ensuring faster and more efficient trade facilitation at the borders, etc.
  • External Integration Strategy: The country needs to keep its interests on the table. The road to further expansion of its exports to RCEP member nations is very much still open, given that India already has trade and investment agreements with 12 of them.

Conclusion:

Utilising existing agreements better while proactively exploring new opportunities in other geographies will diversify both our markets as well as our export basket. Given the global economic scenario in present times and the near future, it would be in India’s interest to dispassionately review its position on RCEP and carry out structural reforms that will help India to mitigate some of the repercussions arising from the RCEP.

 

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

2. Fake news is a big problem that gets easily transferred due to misuse of latest technologies, resulting in many untoward incidents, in this context discuss the need to have a mechanism to address the misinformation being caused due to fake news in the country. (250 words)

Reference: Hindustan Times 

Why the question:

The Supreme Court on Tuesday asked the Centre to explain its “mechanism” against fake news and bigotry on air, and to create one if it did not already exist. Thus the question.

Key Demand of the question:

Explain the menace of fake news in the country and discuss the need to have a mechanism to address the misinformation being caused due to fake news in the country.

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 and explain what fake news is.

Body:

Fake news is news, stories or hoaxes created to deliberately misinform or deceive readers. Fake news, defined by the New York Times as “a made-up story with an intention to deceive”.

Explain first who is to blame for this fake news problem? Is it a policy issue or is it due to the lackadaisical approach by the social media companies or is it a combination of both?

Analyse the causative factors that have led to spread of fake news in the country.

Present case studies like that of Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind. Discuss the ill-effects of it.

Explain the importance and urgency of having a mechanism to address the misinformation being caused due to fake news in the country.

Conclusion:

Suggest the need for having a mechanism to address the issue and conclude.

Introduction:

Fake news is news, stories or hoaxes created to deliberately misinform or deceive readers. Usually, these stories are created to either influence people’s views, push a political agenda or cause confusion and can often be a profitable business for online publishers. Ex: Muzzafarnagar riots of 2013: fake video fueled communal passions.

Recently, the Supreme Court has asked the Centre to provide information on the existing legal mechanisms to deal with complaints about the content on television channels. Further it has asked the Centre to create an authority to check fake news and bigotry on air.

Body:

Causes of Spread of Fake News in India:

  • Erosion of Media Ethics: News media is no longer seen as an arbitrator of the ‘real news’. Media is alleged to be echo-chamber of the dominant political class.

Thus News Media has lost credibility due to complicit and motivated reporting,                                 which has become a source of fake news.

  • Social Media: The advent of social media has decentralized the creation and propagation of fake news.

The sheer vastness of the internet (over 35 crore users in India) and social media users (an estimated over 20 crore WhatsApp users alone) makes tracing the origin of fake news almost impossible.

                Ex: There have been multiple instances of pictures from the Syrian and   the Iraqi civil wars being passed off as from the Kashmir conflict with the intention of fueling unrest and backing insurgencies.

  • Polarization of society: Increasing divide in the society on ideological lines has made the job of spreading fake news easier.
  • Lack of legislation: There is no specific law to deal with fake news in India. Free publication or broadcast of news in India flows from the fundamental right to freedom of expression as enshrined under Article 19 of the Constitution.
  • Confirmation Bias: Studies have confirmed that people don’t care about finding the ‘truth’ behind a news item and instead look for evidence to support their preferred narrative.

Ex: Following the Kerala floods in 2018 there was a surge of misinformation          on social media related to the relief efforts.

Laws and Regulation to Curb Fake News in India:

  • Press Council of India:It is a regulatory body which can warn, admonish or censure the newspaper, the news agency, the editor or the journalist or disapprove the conduct of the editor or the journalist if it finds that a newspaper or a news agency has violated journalistic ethics.
  • News Broadcasters Association: It represents the private television news and current affairs broadcasters. The self-regulatory body probes complaints against electronic media.
  • Indian Broadcast Foundation:It looks into the complaints against contents aired by channels.
  • Broadcasting Content Complaint Council: It admits complaints against TV broadcasters for objectionable TV content and fake news.
  • Indian Penal Code: Section 153 (wantonly giving provocation with intent to cause riot) and Section 295 (injuring or defiling a place of worship with intent to insult the religion of any class) can be invoked to guard against fake news.
  • Information Technology Act 2000: According to the Section 66 of the act, if any person, dishonestly or fraudulently, does any act referred to in Section 43 (damage to computer, computer system), shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which may extend to three years or with fine which may extend to five lakh rupees or with both.
  • Civil or Criminal Case for Defamation: It is another resort against fake news for individuals and groups hurt by the fake news. IPC Section 499 (defamation) and Section 500 (whoever defames another shall be punished with simple imprisonment for a term which may extend to two years, or with fine, or with both) provide for a defamation suit.
  • Fake news has existed since the dawn of the printing press but in the age of the internet and social media, it has found a tremendous application. Manipulation of algorithms of social media and search engines is a global trend now.
  • Misinformation and disinformation spread in the media is becoming a serious social challenge. It is leading to the poisonous atmosphere on the web and causing riots and lynchings on the road.

Measures Needed:

  • The current response to fake news primarily revolves around three prongs — rebuttal, removal of the fake news item and educating the public.
    • Rebuttal:It is a form of fact-checking wherein the fake news is debunked by pointing out errors like mismatch, malicious editing and misattribution.
    • Removal of Fake news:Technical companies like Facebook and YouTube uses algorithms to proactively remove fake news from their platforms.
    • Also, WhatsApp has put a limit on forwarding messages, so as to limit the spread to fake news.
  • Education and Awareness: The government must take the initiative to make all sections of the population aware of the realities of this information war and evolve a consensus to fight this war. It must also take strict action against the fake news providers.
    • Ex: Italy has experimentally added ‘recognizing fake news’ in school syllabus. India should also seriously emphasize cybersecurity, internet education, fake news education in the academic curriculum at all levels.
  • Strict Regulation: News being spread using chatbots and other automated pieces of software should automatically be selected for special screening.
  • Bring out policy-: The government should bring out a draft seeking opinion from stakeholders regarding issues of controlling fake news. Any future guidelines on ‘fake news’ should target ‘fake news’ and not try to regulate media in the name of ‘fake news’.
  • Regulatory mechanism:The PCI needs to be reformed and empowered in a way so as to enable it to strike a balance between the freedom of media and speech on the one hand, and right to know on the other.
  • Government should have independent agency: to verify the data being circulated in social and other media. The agency should be tasked with presenting real facts and figures.
  • An ombudsman Institution:To receive complaints on fake news and initiate immediate action. 
  • Accountability of Social Media:Social media websites should be made accountable of such activities so that it becomes their responsibility to have better control over the spread of fake news.
  • Using Artificial Intelligence: The artificial intelligence technologies, particularly machine learning and natural language processing, might be leveraged to combat the fake news problem. AI technologies hold promise for significantly automating parts of the procedure human fact checkers use today to determine if a story is real or a hoax.

 Conclusion

Fake news affects free speech and informed choices of citizens of the country, leading to the hijacking of democracy. Hence it is extremely important that there is a collective effort from all the stake holders involved to tackle this menace comprehensively.

 

Topic: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.

3. Will designating three capitals for the State of Andhra Pradesh promote ‘distributed development’? Analyse the concept of having multiple state capitals. (250 words)

Reference: The Hindu 

Why the question:

The editorial throws light upon the question “Will designating three capitals for the State of Andhra Pradesh promote ‘distributed development’”

Key Demand of the question:

Analyse the issues and concerns associated with having multiple state capitals for an Indian State.

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:

The Andhra Pradesh government, in its previous session, proposed a three-capital plan for the state. As per the Andhra Pradesh Decentralisation and Inclusive Development of All Regions Bill, 2020, the State will have Visakhapatnam, Amravati and Kurnool respectively as the executive, legislative and judicial capitals of the State.

Body:

Start by elaborating the issues involved; the matter has become contentious and the Bill is facing myriad legal and procedural challenges. The proposal is set to replace the ambitious plan (of the previous government) of building Amravati as a world-class Greenfield capital city.

Discuss the origin of the concept of three capitals, explain the challenges involved. The proposed three-capital plan claims to produce decentralized growth, but it should also be ensured that it achieves the primary goal of decentralized development, irrespective of how the functionalized multiple-capital plan plays out.

Conclusion:

Suggest what should be the way forward and conclude.

Introduction:

The Andhra Pradesh Legislative Assembly passed the AP Decentralization and Inclusive Development of All Regions Bill, 2020 that intended to give shape to state government’s plan of having three-capital concept — executive capital in Visakhapatnam, legislative in Amaravati and judicial in Kurnool. Addressing the State Legislature through video conferencing from Raj Bhavan to formally mark the beginning of the Budget session of the Andhra Pradesh Assembly recently, the Governor said, under the three-capital concept, Decentralization of administration and inclusive development of all regions of the state was the key principle.

Body:

kurnool

Rationale behind 3 capitals:

  • The government says it is against building one mega capital while neglecting other parts of the state. Three capitals ensure equal development of different regions of the state.
  • Decentralization has been the central theme in recommendations of all major committees that were set up to suggest a suitable location for the capital of Andhra Pradesh.
  • The other argument in favor is it sits in line with various reports like- Sribagh pact, which happened between Rayalaseema and coastal Andhra in 1937, where it was decided that if high court is in coastal Andhra, capital should be in Rayalaseema. but after the formation of Andhra Pradesh, it was left out and Hyderabad became the capital.
  • Even the Justice SriKrishna committee, which was set up to decide the capital region for AP recommended having high court and other institutions in different regions.
  • And a secretariat in Vizag can help in the development of regions like Vizianagaram and Srikakulam, which consists of most of the tribal and rural areas and are the most backward regions of the state.
  • This may bring health and educational access to the region and may prevent uddanam like incidents, where several people are suffering from chronic kidney disease.
  • Kurnool having a high court is like doing Justice to the district or even entire Rayalaseema, as it is the most backward region when compared with coastal Andhra and Telangana with Hyderabad at the time of bifurcation.
  • The concept of two capital cities is not uncommon: nearly 15 countries across the world have multiple capitals. For instance, Bolivia, Georgia and the Netherlands have two capitals! South Africa has three capitals — Bloemfontein, Cape Town, and Pretoria — that house it’s judicial, legislative and executive branches.
  • Examples of Indian States/UTs with ‘Second’ Capital:
    • Kerala: where high court is in Kochi and the legislature and Secretariat in Thiruvananthapuram. And in Uttarakhand and Lucknow.
    • Maharashtra: The winter session of the state legislature is held in Nagpur. It doesn’t have any legal status as a capital.”
    • Himachal Pradesh: As of now, the winter session of the state legislature is held in Dharamshala.

Benefits of having multiple state capitals:

  • It widens the space for representative democracy.
  • The Upper house act as a check on hasty actions by Legislative Assembly.
  • They provide a forum for academicians and intellectuals to contribute to the legislative process.
  • Academicians and intellectuals may not be suitable for the nature of electoral politics in Legislative Assembly.
  • It provides a mechanism for a more serious appraisal of legislation.
  • It would allow for more debate and sharing of work between the Houses.
  • To act as a check on hasty actions by the popularly elected House.
  • To ensure that individuals who might not be cut out for the rough-and-tumble of direct elections too are able to contribute to the legislative process.
  • Having a second chamber would allow for more debate and sharing of work between the Houses.

Challenges of multiple state capitals concept:

  • In a parliamentary system of government, executive and legislature are 2 sides of a coin.
  • One should realize that these 3 organs, most of the time have to work in resonance as most of their work is interlinked.
  • For example, a policy or a bill is made by the cabinet in Secretariat in Vizag and the bill has to be passed in the legislature in Amaravati and if any conflict arises it has to be given judgment in the high court situated in Kurnool. It will result in the traveling cost not only for the public authorities but also for a common person, for example, a person in Kurnool has to travel about 700 km to get work done in Secretariat in Vizag. So a single capital not only reduces the cost but also time is taken to get the work done.
  • Coordinating between seats of legislature and executive in separate cities will be easier said than done, and with the government offering no specifics of a plan, officers and common people alike fear a logistics nightmare.
  • The proposal to have the legislature and executive at different places will lead to an unnecessary drain of resources for the state given that the ministers who perform both executive, as well as, legislative functions will need to constantly move between the two capitals at the expense of the state resources.
  • Another counter-argument is strengthening the local bodies, both in urban and rural areas. If the government’s goal is to decentralize development, the best way possible is the financial strengthening of the local bodies, granting more money to execute their functions in the 11th and 12th schedule of the Indian constitution. This not only results in the development of even remote areas but also improve governance, as it increases the participation of common people in the development process.
  • People mostly farmers of 29 villages, who gave farmland in and around previously selected Amaravati region, to the previous government in land pooling, where they are expecting to get in return land and commercial building. Now they feel cheated after backing out of the previously proposed single capital.
  • This may result in people from other regions being skeptical (doubt) of the government’s Promises in the future, making it very difficult in the land acquisition or pooling for any development process.

Way forward:

  • Given the advances in communications technology, it is not important to locate everyone in the same place. We also have multiple judiciary benches in some states for the sake of efficiency.
  • Decentralization in the State should take place by empowering the local governments i.e. the Panchayats and Municipal Corporations which were constituted after the enactment of the 73rd and the 74th Constitutional Amendment Act.
  • Multiple capitals should not be used as an instrument for the development of the region.
  • The development of the region can be brought by making an investment in the manufacturing and service sectors, bringing different policies benefiting the farmers and ease of doing business, development of the infrastructure, development of the social-cultural institutions such as universities, hospitals, etc.

 


General Studies – 3


 

Topic:  Awareness in the fields of IT, Space, Computers, robotics, Nano-technology, biotechnology and issues relating to intellectual property rights.

4. With the rapid pace of technology blurring boundaries, there is dire need of a policy framework to define the boundaries of the technology. Do you agree? Analyse. (250 words)

Reference: The Hindu 

Why the question:

The article explains that with the rapid pace of technology blurring boundaries, a holistic policy framework is must.

Key Demand of the question:

One has to explain the importance of a policy framework to define the boundaries of the technology.

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:

As technology has evolved in the latter part of the 20th century and the early part of the 21st century, the traditional boundaries between goods and services have blurred. By virtue of Moore’s law, computing capabilities have surged faster than capabilities in traditional industries.

Body:

Explain data as a new currency. Information is the new currency powering economies. The expansion of computing power has driven the pace of information gathering and analysis.

 The new currency drives processes and decision-making across a wide array of products and services, making them more efficient and value accretive for consumers.

Suggest the policy that needs to be adopted.

Conclusion:

Concluded with way forward.

Introduction:

As technology has evolved in the latter part of the 20th century and the early part of the 21st century, the traditional boundaries between goods and services have blurred.

Body:

Status of technology adoption:

  • Ccomputing capabilities: have surged faster than capabilities in traditional industries. These information-based technologies have been widely adopted across a broad range of industries and products that traditionally have not been perceived as electronic or software-based.

Ex: A modern electric vehicle has close to 100 million lines of code, which is more than that used by a Boeing 787 or the Chrome browser.

  • Quality and performance: A conventional “metal-based” industrial product, information and electronics are becoming all-pervasive, ensuring that we set boundaries to control quality or the uptime of the equipment.
  • Digitization of markets: There is increasing digitization and electrification of industrial activities, products and services, influencing the evolving skill sets in industry.
  • Efficacy and control: This revolution is taking place across products, as information availability drives efficiency and creates value for customers by providing greater control over the product and its surrounding environment.

Need for a policy framework:

  • Combined approach: As governments have focused on improving the lives of people, they have looked at economic development and industry as catalysts to progress.
  • Working in silos: To address the needs of various stakeholders, governments have tended to build specialized departments and designed policies that govern those areas. However, over time, as each of these departments grew, they have tended to operate in silos.
  • Blurred boundaries: The recent developments in technology have, however, blurred standard boundaries that dictate policy framework in most governments. As technology is driving an increasing share of the value add coming from digitization and data analytics in products and services across industry segments, there needs to be a way of encouraging capital formation by way of intangibles in traditionally tangible industries.

Ex: If you look at the automobile industry, policies are governed by the Heavy Industries and the Surface Transport Ministries, respectively.

However, increasing electrification and digitization of the automobile are not covered by industrial policies that govern the Electronics and Information Technology Ministry.

  • Overlapping policies: This departmentalization of policies is facing a challenge from technology that very often blurs the boundaries served by different policies.

Way forward

  • There is a need to have a holistic view of policies for economic development as technology is becoming a significant enabler in most industries.
  • A change in policy framework regarding economic development that enables various ministries to work together is essential.
  • There is increasingly a need for inter-departmental cooperation and synergy not only in policy framework but also in deployment.
    • Ex: Drones that could serve different sectors, including agriculture would require a lot of inter-departmental clearances outside of the department of Agriculture.
  • A sufficiently empowered policy clearing cell could ensure a holistic view on policy across departments of government, at the State and the Centre
  • A nourishing ecosystem for industry, including the hard infrastructure and softer areas such as education, skilling, technical institutions, laboratories, testing centres, etc., has to be cultivated.
  • The creation of clusters of companies in adjacent but complementary areas could constitute an ecosystem that encourages multi and cross-disciplinary learning and spur innovation and economic development.
  • It is important to include intangibles such as software, research and development or even servicing of products even in traditional manufacturing companies to encourage innovation and technological development.

Conclusion:

In this evolving policy framework, it is important that there is close cooperation and alignment between the Centre and State to ensure effective implementation on the ground. Some of these thoughts could help us navigate through an ecosystem that is changing with technology.

 

Topic : Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization, of resources, growth, development and employment

5. Account for the status of women workforce in India. Discuss the impact of COVID-19 pandemic and new labour codes on them. (250 words)

Reference: The Hindu 

Why the question:

The article talks about declining female labour force participation.

Key Demand of the question:

Account for the status of women workforce in India. Discuss the impact of COVID-19 pandemic and new labour codes on them.

Directive:

Account – Weigh up to what extent something is true. Persuade the reader of your argument by citing relevant research but also remember to point out any flaws and counter- arguments as well. Conclude by stating clearly how far you are in agreement with the original proposition.

Structure of the answer:

Introduction:

The nearly fifty years since the Committee on the Status of Women in India (CSWI) submitted the report ‘Towards Equality’ to the United Nations (UN). It focused on women-sensitive policymaking in India, providing a fresh perspective on gender equality.

Body:

Comment on the aspects of women workforce in the country; present statistics to justify the status.

The recently released Periodic Labour Force Survey (PLFS), 2018-19 indicates a dramatic fall in absolute employment for men, and more so women, who faced a decline in labour participation rates (from 2011 to 2019) in rural areas from 35.8% to 26.4%, and stagnation in urban areas at around 20.4%.

Present the effect of Covid-19 on labour participation of women.  

Conclusion:

Conclude with what needs to be done. Suggest solutions to address the concerns.

Introduction:

The World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report 2020 ranked India at 149th position out of 153 countries on Economic participation and opportunity. According to the WEF report, raising women’s participation in the labour force can increase India’s GDP significantly. A working woman creates a lot more employment in the economy thus providing a source of livelihood for others.

The declining women’s labour force participation, gender pay-gap, high rates of informal work with lack of social security are seen as impediments to the goal of gender equality and the empowerment of women in India.

Status of women workforce in India:

  • India’s female employment trends do not resonate with its high economic growth and rise in female schooling.
  • Between 2004 and 2018 — unlike the shrinking gender gap in educational attainment — the gender gap in workforce participation did not, demonstrating one of the lowest labour participation rates for women, which have been consistently declining since 1950.
  • The recently released Periodic Labour Force Survey (PLFS), 2018-19 indicates a dramatic fall in absolute employment for men, and more so women, who faced a decline in labour participation rates (from 2011 to 2019) in rural areas from 35.8% to 26.4%, and stagnation in urban areas at around 20.4%.
  • The gender wage gap is the highest in Asia, with women 34% below men (for equal qualification and work), according to a 2019 Oxfam report. This stifles women’s labour force participation, despite the guarantees of India’s Equal Remuneration Act, 1976.
  • Women also disproportionately populate India’s informal economy, and are concentrated in low-paid, highly precarious jobs.
  • Agriculture employs nearly 60% of women, who form the bulk of landless labourers in an almost completely informal sector, with no credit access, subsidies, little equipment, and abysmal asset ownership.

According to IndiaSpend, only about 13% of women tillers owned their land in 2019.

  • Manufacturing employs (almost completely informally) only around 14% of the female labour force.
  • The service sectorsees women disproportionately involved in care-work. According to the National Sample Survey (NSS) 2005, over 60% of the 4.75 million domestic workers are women.

Impact of COVID-19 and new labour codes on women workforce:

  • COVID-19 impact: The Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE) showed that 39% of women lost their jobs in April and May compared to 29% of men, corroborating the UN’s fears of COVID-19’s compounding impact on already low-paid and insecurely-employed poor women.
  • India’s unequal gender division of household work has also worsened during the pandemic. Women spend (an unpaid) three times (as per NSS) or even six times (as per OECD) more time than men in household work.
  • New labour codes impact– The labour reforms disregard women’s work conditions.
  • The codes acknowledge neither the gender wage gap nor non-payment of wages and bonuses.
  • Ignores informal women workers in terms of social security, insurance, provident fund, maternity benefits, or gratuity.
  • There is no protection against sexual harassment at workplace.
  • Maternity benefits remain unchanged from the 2017 amendment.

Way forward

  • Recognizing the contribution of women: As we emerge from the lockdown, it is very important to begin by redrawing our picture of the rural labour market by including the contribution of women.
  • Generate women-specific employment with proper conditions.
  • The immediate or short-run provision of employment of women can be through an expansion of the NREGS.
  • On the other hand, a medium and long term plan needs to generate women-specific employment in skilled occupations and in businesses and new enterprises.
  • Proposed expansion of health infrastructure: Women who already play a significant role in health care at the grass-root level, must be recognized as workers and paid a fair wage.
  • Expansion of rural infrastructure: announced by the Indian government recently specific attention must be paid to safe and easy transport for women from their homes to workplaces.
  • Reduce the drudgery of care work:
    • As the lockdown is lifted, economic activity is growing but the young and old women still remain at home. 
    • Further, as the COVID-19 infection spreads, given a higher likelihood of cases among men than women, the burden on women as earners and carers is likely to rise. 
  • Addressing structural issues which keep women away from the workforce is a must.
  • Policy decisions need to articulate gendered concerns during public health emergencies because gender-sensitive pandemic planning may substantially mitigate these concerns.

Conclusion:

There is no, one size fits all strategy as multiple issues are plaguing women workforce participation in India. If women’s workforce participation in India is realized to its full potential and given India’s demographic dividend, it can easily achieve the target of $5trillion economy.

 

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.

6. In what possible ways can technology make Indian agriculture more intellectually satisfying and economically rewarding? Elaborate. (250 words)

Reference: The Hindu

Why the question:

Civil Aviation Ministry and Directorate General of Civil Aviation have granted conditional permission to the International Crops Research Institute for the deployment of drones for agricultural research activities.

Key Demand of the question:

Discuss the role of technology in making agriculture more prospective for the country.

Directive:

Elaborate – 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:

Present statistics depicting importance of agriculture to Indian economy.

Body:

Discuss why there is need to develop agriculture technologically.

Explain what it means to make agriculture intellectually satisfying and economically rewarding – talk about engaging more youth, making agriculture sector more attractive, creating more jobs etc.

Present the efforts of the government in this direction in the recent times.

Conclusion:

Conclude by re-emphasizing the importance of agriculture and its development to the Indian economy.

Introduction:

Indian agriculture is characterized by Inefficiency of input use (fertilizers, water), low yields, disguised unemployment, over or under production, inefficient supply chain and marketing. Technological inventions like ICT, Internet of Things(IoT), artificial intelligence, precision farming etc can aid in addressing these age old problems.

Body:

Technology and agriculture in India:

  • Artificial Intelligence in farming: In India, pilot project of ICRISAT’s (AI) for Earth grant is implemented in the state of Andhra Pradesh to plant the right crops, where farmers have always relied on traditional knowledge to decide when to plant and what crop to plant.
  • Meghdoot: This app will help farmers by providing forecast relating to temperature, humidity, rainfall, wind speed and direction, and how to take care of the crops and livestock.
  • KisanSuvidha and PusaKrishi Mobile App: The application provides information related to market prices, seeds, pesticides, fertilizers, weather and agricultural machinery, etc. This helps farmers make informed decisions to sell produce at the right price and right time.
  • Solar-powered water pumps: These pumps use the abundant solar power available to pump water from the ground. These provide an energy-efficient way. Hence, reduce cost of production and increase profits for farmer.
  • Cold storage chain technology: Per capita availability of fruits and vegetables is quite low because of post-harvest losses which account for about 25% to 30% of production. But, adoption of cold storage chain technology for perishable and other perishable allied agri – commodities have helped to reduce wastages and improve the gains to farmers and consumers substantially.
  • Information and Communication Technology (ICT): e-choupal is an example of efficient supply chain system empowering the farmerswith timely and relevant information enabling them to get better returns on their investment.
  • Use ofspace technology: for various programmes such as Forecasting Agricultural Output using Space, Agro-meteorology and Land-based Observations project, National Agricultural Drought Assessment and Monitoring System, geo tagging of infrastructure and assets created under Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana, and Crop Insurance.
    • Ex: GPS mapping and GPS enabled services are help in the field of documentation about yield, moisture, etc.

Challenges in spread of technology to farmers:

  • Lack of digital infrastructure: Internet, electricity is must for exploiting these technologies and Indian rural areas lack such infrastructure.
  • Insufficiency & Illiteracy: In rural areas, insufficient connectivity, along with lack of basic computer knowledge, high costs for services and literacy hinder rapid development of electronic-agriculture. Low technological understanding among farmersmeans less adoption of such technologies.
  • Skilled manpower to provide extension services in these technologies is lacking.
  • Unorganized development: Long back initiatives had been made to introduce IT services to the agricultural community. But there is a lot of red-tapism and duplication of efforts.
  • Local languages: Regional language fonts and mechanisms for synchronization of the content provides a challenge that needs to be met with careful planning.
  • Power Supply: In most of the rural India, power supply is not available for long hours. This will reduce the usefulness of the intended services.
  • As per FICCII’s “Knowledge Paper on Indian farm equipment sector” Farm equipments use in India stands at about 40-45 percent. This is still low when compared to countries such as the US (95percent), Brazil (75 percent) and China (57percent).

Way forward:

  • Promoting innovation and skill development: Agricultural Universities should modify curriculum to impart training in these technologies to generate skilled manpower.
  • Skill development programmes in rural areas to promote skilling in these technologies.
  • Establishing agriculture innovation fund at central and state levels to fund R&D in 4.0 technologies.
  • Legal and Policy support: Existing schemes in irrigation, extension services, mechanization should be remodeled to include these emerging technologies.
    • Data security and cyber security legal framework and institutions to enforce them need to be established.
  • Cloud based data centres, digital stack of technologies which can be used by entrepreneurs, farmers directly can be created.
  • Promoting FPO’s – Farmer Producer organizations to overcome land fragmentation issues.
  • Use of Public Private Partnerships(PPP): Ex– Andhra Pradesh tie up with Microsoft to use Artificial Intelligence sowing app.

Conclusion:

We need a new phase in Indian agriculture which will be defined by innovation and technology; an age where we will look to balance productivity and economics with social and environmental considerations. This age will usher in an era of unprecedented productivity and prosperity for farmers.

 

 


General Studies -4


 

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

7. “To be persuasive we must be believable; to be believable we must be credible; to be credible we must be truthful.” Discuss in the light of relevance of the virtue of truth in Public administration. (250 words)

Reference: Ethics, Integrity and Aptitude by Lexicon Publications

Why the question:

The question is based on the importance of the virtue of Truth in general and in particular to Public administration.

Key Demand of the question:

One is expected to explain the statement in question elaborately with suitable examples and substantiate the importance of Truth.

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 definition of the virtue of “Truth”.

Body:

In the answer body first briefly explain the meaning of the statement.

The statement is given by Edward R. Murrow. It suggests that when a person is truthful, we generally consider him/her as good and ethical person. This improves the credibility of person i.e. the quality of being trusted and believed in.

Explain the importance – Trust has honesty at its foundation. Trust accelerates and eases the persuasion process significantly.

One can present the case of Mahatma Gandhi; explain the importance of Truth as a virtue through his viewpoint.

Then give examples to justify the relevance of truth in public administration and better governance.

Conclusion:

Conclude with importance of Truth as one of the key virtues for a successful public administration.

Introduction:

“In the happiness of his subjects lies the happiness of the king” – Kautilya.

Kautilya though a pragmatic thinker emphasized ethical administration (Dharmaneeti/ Dharma paripalana) which is a sine qua non in stable, happy and peaceful society. Public administration is a profession that offers unusually array of opportunities to make moral or immoral decisions, to make ethical or unethical choices, to do good or evil things to the people. Hence, virtue of truth and honesty become extremely important in the smooth functioning of public administration.

Body

Importance of truth in public administration:

  • Creating credibility (Building trust): People generally do not trust dishonest civil servants. Building trust and confidence requires an environment where there is a premium on honesty, transparency, openness, boldness, fairness and justice.
  • Leadership:  A true leader will always lead by own example. If a leader is honest, sincere and committed to the task assigned to him, he would be able to persuade the people he is serving towards a goal.
    • Ex: With the credibility he garnered, Officer Armstrong Pame was able to raise funds and labour from public and build a 100km road without the central government help.
  • Ensures Compassion: A truthful leader has compassion for the poor, the disabled and the weaker segment of the society. All great administrators and leaders of society like Mahathma Gandhiji, Nelson Mandela etc have been compassionate people which is why they could connect to the masses as they trusted the leaders.
  • Transparency: Honest civil servants make all their decisions in a transparent manner. Transparency makes sure that people know exactly what is going on and what is the rationale of the decisions taken by the civil servant and leaves no room for ambiguity in the mind of the people.
  • Responsiveness: An honest civil servant is responsive to people’s grievances. Responsiveness helps the civil servant connect with people and pare down the communication gap and builds trust in the public administration.
  • Rationality and Law: A nation having law-abidance citizens always grow and prosper, so it becomes utmost essential for law enforcers to follow the law and rules to govern and guide. Honest civil servant has deepest respect for the law and its enforcement.

Conclusion:

Honesty or absolute integrity, truthfulness and hard work without indulgences form an inherent part of the life a civil servant whose sole objective is to efficiently deliver services to the public.


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