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SECURE SYNOPSIS: 22 December 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 soils and Indian Vegetation

1. The soils of India are as diverse as itself. Explain the factors responsible for its Pedogenesis. (250 words).

Reference: Class-XI NCERT: India Physical Environment.

Why the question:

The question is part of the static syllabus of General studies paper – 1.

Key Demand of the question:

To explain the factors responsible for the formation of soil.

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 mentioning about the diversity of soils in India and their profile across major regions they are found in.

Body:

Talk about reasons for diversity in the Indian soil profile and some important characteristics and crops sown in each soil briefly. A small map of major soil regions of India could be drawn for better presentation purpose.

Then in detail mention about the various factors responsible for (Pedogenesis) soil formation in India. Explain about factors such as Parent Material, Relief. Climate and Natural Vegetation. Substantiate your answer with relevant examples.

Conclusion:

Complete the answer by stressing on the importance of diversity in the soil profile of India.

Introduction:

Pedogenesis (from the Greek pedo or pedon, meaning ‘soil, earth,’ and genesis, meaning ‘origin, birth’) (also termed soil development, soil evolution, soil formation, and soil genesis) is the process of soil formation as regulated by the effects of place, environment, and history.

Body:

  • Different Types of Soil in India
  • There are eight types of soils categorized by ICAR but some Indian Soil like – Karewa soil, Sub-Montane Soil, Snowfield, Grey/Brown Soil are all sub-types of main Indian Soil.
    • Alluvial soil
      • The alluvial soil occurs mainly in the Satluj- Ganga- Brahmaputra Plains.
      • They are also found in the valleys of the Narmada, Tapi, and the Eastern and Western coastal plains.
      • These soils are mainly derived from the debris brown from the Himalayas.
      • This soil is well-drained and poorly drained with an immature profile in undulating areas.
      • This soil has a phosphorous deficiency.
      • The color of soil varies from light grey to ash.
      • This soil is suited for Rice, maize, wheat, sugarcane, oilseeds, etc.
      • This soil is divided into
      • Khadar Soil (New): the khadar soils are enriched with fresh silts. They are low lying, frequently inundated by floods during the rainy season. It occupies the flood plains of rivers. The khaddar tracts called as kankar are rich in concentration.
      • Bhangar Soil (Old): This soil lies above the flood level. It is well-drained but because of the calcium carbonate nodules, the texture of soil varies from the loamy soil to clayey soil.
    • Red Soil
      • This soil developed on Archean granite occupies the second largest area of the country.
      • They are mainly found in the Peninsula from Tamil Nadu in the south to Bundelkhand in the north and Raj Mahal in the east to Kathiawad in the west.
      • This soil is also known as the omnibus group.
      • The presence of ferric oxides makes the colour of soil red.
      • The top layer of the soil is red and the horizon below is yellowish.
      • Generally, these soils are deficient in phosphate, lime, magnesia, humus and nitrogen.
      • This soil is good for the cultivation of wheat, cotton, pulses, tobacco, millets, orchards, potato and oilseeds.
    • Black or Regur Soil
      • Black soil is also known cotton soil and internationally it is known as ‘Tropical Chernozems’.
      • This is the third largest group in India.
      • This soil is formed from rocks of cretaceous lava.
      • This stretches over the parts of Gujarat, Maharashtra, Western parts of Madhya Pradesh, North- Western Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand up to Raj Mahal hills.
      • The soil is rich in iron, lime, calcium, potash, magnesium, and aluminum.
      • It has high water retaining capacity and good for cotton cultivation, Tobacco, citrus fruits, castor, and linseed.
    • Desert Soil
      • This soil is deposited by wind action and mainly found in the arid and semi-arid areas like Rajasthan, West of the Aravallis, Northern Gujarat, Saurashtra, Kachchh, Western parts of Haryana and southern part of Punjab.
      • They are sandy with low organic matter. It has low soluble salts and moisture with very low retaining capacity.
      • If irrigated these soils give a high agricultural return. These are suitable for less water-intensive crops like Bajra, pulses, fodder, and guar.
    • Laterite Soil
      • These soft, when they are wet and ‘hard and cloddy’ on drying.
      • These are found mainly in the hills of the Western Ghats, Raj Mahal hills, Eastern Ghats, Satpura, Vindhya, Odisha, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, West Bengal, North Cachar Hills and the Garo hills.
      • These are poor in organic matter, nitrogen, potassium, lime and potash.
      • These iron and aluminum rich soils are suitable for the cultivation of rice, ragi, sugarcane, and cashew nuts.
    • Mountain Soil
      • These soils have less developed soil profile and are mainly found in the valleys and hill slopes of Himalayas.
      • These soils are immature and dark brown.
      • This soil has very low humus and it is acidic.
      • The orchards, fodder, legumes are grown in this soil.
    • Red and Black Soil
      • These are developed over the granite, gneiss, and quartzite of the Precambrian and Archean era.
      • This soil performs well if irrigated. Generally, this soil has very little productivity.
    • Grey and Brown Soil
      • These soils are found in Rajasthan and Gujarat. It is formed by the weathering of granite, quartzite and gneiss.
      • These loose, friable soils contain iron- oxide (hematite and limonite)
    • Submontane Soil
      • These are formed by the deposition of eroded material from Shiwaliks and the lesser Himalayas.
      • These are found in the Tarai region of the submontane stretching from Jammu and Kashmir to Assam.
      • The soil supports a luxuriant growth of forest and more prone to soil erosion.
    • Snowfields
      • This soil was found under the snow and glaciers at the highest peak of greater Himalayas, Karakoram, Ladakh, and Zaskar.
      • This soil is immature and unsuitable for crops.
    • Karewa Soil
      • Karewa soils are the lacustrine deposits in the Kashmir valleys and Bhadarwah valley.
      • The fine silt, clay, and boulder gravels are the composition of Karewa soil.
      • They are characterized with the fossils.
      • These soils are mainly devoted to the cultivation of saffron, almonds, apple, walnut, etc.
    • Peaty and Marshy Soils
      • This soil originates from the areas where adequate drainage is not possible.
      • It is rich in organic matter and has high salinity.
      • They are deficient in potash and phosphate.
      • These are mainly found in Sundarbans delta, Kottayam, and Alappuzha districts of Kerala, Rann of Kachchh, deltas of Mahanadi, etc.
    • Saline and Alkaline Soils
      • These are also called Reh, Usar, Kallar, Rakar, Thur, and Chopan.
      • These are mainly found in Rajasthan, Haryana, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, and Maharashtra.
      • Sodium chloride and sodium sulphate are present in this soil.
      • It is suitable for leguminous crops.

    • Factors responsible for its Pedogenesis:
      • Climate:
        • It plays a very important role in the genesis of a soil.
        • On the global scale, there is an obvious correlation between major soil types and the Köppen climatic classification systems major climatic types.
        • At regional and local scales, climate becomes less important in soil formation.
        • Instead, pedogenesis is more influenced by factors like parent material, topography, vegetation, and time.
        • The two most important climatic variables influencing soil formation are temperature and moisture.
        • Temperature has a direct influence on the weathering of bedrock to produce mineral particles.
        • Rates of bedrock weathering generally increase with higher temperatures.
        • Temperature also influences the activity of soil microorganisms, the frequency and magnitude of soil chemical reactions, and the rate of plant growth.
        • Moisture levels in most soils are primarily controlled by the addition of water via precipitation minus the losses due to evapotranspiration.
        • If additions of water from precipitation surpass losses from evapotranspiration, moisture levels in a soil tend to be high.
        • If the water loss due to evapotranspiration exceeds inputs from precipitation, moisture levels in a soil tend to be low.
        • High moisture availability in a soil promotes the weathering of bedrock and sediments, chemical reactions, and plant growth.
        • The availability of moisture also has an influence on soil pH and the decomposition of organic matter.
      • Living Organisms
        • It has a role in a number of processes involved in pedogenesis including organic matter accumulation, profile mixing, and biogeochemical nutrient cycling.
        • Under equilibrium conditions, vegetation and soil are closely linked with each other through nutrient cycling.
        • The cycling of nitrogen and carbon in soils is almost completely controlled by the presence of animals and plants.
        • Through litterfall and the process of decomposition, organisms add humus and nutrients to the soil which influences soil structure and fertility.
        • Surface vegetation also protects the upper layers of a soil from erosion by way of binding the soils surface and reducing the speed of moving wind and water across the ground surface.
      • Parent Material
        • It refers to the rock and mineral materials from which the soils develop.
        • These materials can be derived from residual sediment due to the weathering of bedrock or from sediment transported into an area by way of the erosive forces of wind, water, or ice.
        • Pedogenesis is often faster on transported sediments because the weathering of parent material usually takes a long period of time.
        • The influence of parent material on pedogenesis is usually related to soil texture, soil chemistry, and nutrient cycling.
      • Topography
        • It generally modifies the development of soil on a local or regional scale.
        • Pedogenesis is primarily influenced by topography’s effect on microclimate and drainage.
        • Soils developing on moderate to gentle slopes are often better drained than soils found at the bottom of valleys.
        • Good drainage enhances a number of pedogenic processes of illuviation and eluviation that are responsible for the development of soil horizons.
        • Under conditions of poor drainage, soils tend to be immature.
        • Steep topographic gradients inhibit the development of soils because of erosion.
        • Erosion can retard the development through the continued removal of surface sediments.
        • Soil microclimate is also influenced by topography.
        • In the Northern Hemisphere, south facing slopes tend to be warmer and drier than north facing slopes.
        • This difference results in the soils of the two areas being different in terms of depth, texture, biological activity, and soil profile development.
      • Time
        • It influences the temporal consequences of all of the factors described above.
        • Many soil processes become steady state overtime when a soil reaches maturity.
        • Pedogenic processes in young soils are usually under active modification through negative and positive feedback mechanisms in attempt to achieve equilibrium.

      • Principal Pedogenic Processes
      • A large number of processes are responsible for the formation of soils.
      • This fact is evident by the large number of different types of soils that have been classified by soil scientists
      • There are five main principal pedogenic processes acting on soils.
      • These processes are laterization, podzolization, calcification, salinization, and gleization.
        • Laterization
          • It is a pedogenic process common to soils found in tropical and subtropical environments.
          • High temperatures and heavy precipitation result in the rapid weathering of rocks and minerals.
          • Movements of large amounts of water through the soil cause eluviation and leaching to occur.
          • Almost all of the byproducts of weathering, very simple small compounds or nutrient ions, are translocated out of the soil profile by leaching if not taken up by plants for nutrition.
          • The two exceptions to this process are iron and aluminum compounds.
          • Iron oxides give tropical soils their unique reddish coloring.
          • Heavy leaching also causes these soils to have an acidic pH because of the net loss of base cations.
        • Podzolization
          • It is associated with humid cold mid-latitude climates and coniferous vegetation.
          • Decomposition of coniferous litter and heavy summer precipitation create a soil solution that is strongly acidic.
          • This acidic soil solution enhances the processes of eluviation and leaching causing the removal of soluble base cations and aluminum and iron compounds from the A horizon.
          • This process creates a sub-layer in the A horizon that is white to gray in color and composed of silica sand.
        • Calcification
          • It occurs when evapotranspiration exceeds precipitation causing the upward movement of dissolved alkaline salts from the groundwater.
          • At the same time, the movement of rain water causes a downward movement of the salts.
          • The net result is the deposition of the translocated cations in the B horizon. In some cases, these deposits can form a hard layer called caliche.
          • The most common substance involved in this process is calcium carbonate. Calcification is common in the prairie grasslands.
        • Salinization is a process that functions in the similar way to calcification. It differs from calcification in that the salt deposits occur at or very near the soil surface. Salinization also takes place in much drier climates.
        • Gleization is a pedogenic process associated with poor drainage. This process involves the accumulations of organic matter in the upper layers of the soil. In lower horizons, mineral layers are stained blue-gray because of the chemical reduction of iron.

 

Topic:  Indian soils and Indian Vegetation

2. Due to varied climatic conditions, India has a wide range of natural vegetation. Elaborate on the different types of vegetation in India. What are the major threats to vegetation in India? (250 words).

Reference: Class-XI NCERT: India Physical Environment.

Why the question:

The question is part of the static syllabus of General studies paper – 1.

Key Demand of the question:

To mention in detail about different types of vegetation in India and to identify major threats to Indian vegetation.

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:

Begin by talking about how the varied climatic conditions has given rise to wide range of natural vegetation.

Body:

Mention about the different types of vegetation present in India. Draw a simple representative map of India highlighting major vegetation in India.

Explain in detail, the types of vegetation. Account for the major climatic factors responsible for it, the major features of each vegetation and major flora – fauna found there.

In the next part, bring out the major threats to Indian vegetation such as deforestation, mining, over grazing, climate change and invasive species etc. Cite some facts from recently released Indian State of Forests Report 2019 to substantiate above.

Conclusion:

Conclude with a way forward on how to safeguard the Indian vegetation.

Introduction:

The natural vegetation is the endowments of nature. They grow naturally by following the climatic variables. The types of natural vegetation differ according to precipitation, soil, climate, and topography. The cultivated crops and fruits, orchards form part of vegetation, but not natural vegetation.

Body:

  • State of Forest Report 2019
    • India is among few countries in the world where forest cover is consistently increasing.
    • The total forest and tree cover of the country is 80.73 million hectare which is 24.56 percent of the geographical area of the country.
    • Compared to the assessment of 2017, there is an increase of 5,188 sq. km in the total forest and tree cover of the country.
    • Out of this, the increase in the forest cover has been observed as 3,976 sq. km and that in tree cover is 1,212 sq. km; Range increase in forest cover has been observed in open forest followed by very dense forest and moderately dense forest and the top three states showing increase in forest cover are Karnataka (1,025 sq. km) followed by Andhra Pradesh (990 sq. km) and Kerala (823 sq. km).”
  • Natural Vegetation of India
    • India is bestowed with a wide range of flora and fauna. Due to a diverse geographical and climatic condition, an extensive range of natural vegetation grows in India.
  • Types of Natural Vegetation in India
    • Tropical Evergreen Rain Forests
    • Deciduous or Monsoon Type of Forests
    • Dry Deciduous Forests
    • Mountain Forests
    • Tidal or Mangrove Forests
    • Semi-Desert and Desert Vegetations
  • Tropical Evergreen Rain forests
    • The Tropical Evergreen rain forests are found in the areas where precipitation is more than 200 cm.
    • They are largely found in the Northeastern regions of Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya, Assam, Nagaland, the Western Ghats, the Tarai areas of the Himalayas, and the Andaman groups of Islands.
    • They are also found in the hills of Khasi and Jaintia.
    • The trees in this area have intense growth.
    • The major trees found in this area are Sandal Wood, Rosewood, Garjan, Mahogany, and bamboo.
    • It has copious vegetation of all kinds – trees, shrubs, and creepers giving it a multilayered structure.
    • The elephants, monkey, lemur are the common animals found in these areas.
  • Deciduous or Monsoon type of forests
    • The Deciduous forests are found on the lower slope of the Himalayas, West Bengal, Chhattisgarh, Bihar, Orissa, Karnataka, Maharashtra Jharkhand, and the adjoining areas.
    • The precipitation in this area is between 100 cm and 200 cm.
    • Teak is the dominant species seen in the area.
    • Along with that Deodar, Blue Gum, Pal Ash, Sal, Sandalwood, Ebony, Arjun, Khair, and Bamboo are also seen.
    • The trees in this forest shed their leaves during dry winter and dry summer.
    • Based on the availability of water, these forests are again divided into moist and dry deciduous.
  • Dry deciduous forests
    • These forests grow in areas where the precipitation is between 50 cm and 100 cm.
    • These are mainly seen in the areas of the Central Deccan plateau, Punjab, Haryana, parts of Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, and South-east of Rajasthan.
  • Mountain Forests/Montane Forests
    • Montane forests are those found in mountains.
    • Mountain forests differ significantly along the slopes of the mountain.
    • On the foothills of the Himalayas until a height of 1500 meters, evergreen trees like Sal, teak, and bamboo grow copiously.
    • On the higher slope, temperate conifer trees like pine, fir, and oak grow.
    • At the higher elevation of the Himalayas, rhododendrons and junipers are found.
    • Further, then these vegetation zones, alpine grasslands appear up to the snowfield.
  • Tidal or Mangrove forests
    • The tidal or mangrove forests grow by the side of the coast and on the edges of the deltas
    • Ex: the deltas of the Cauvery, Krishna, Mahanadi, Godavari, and Ganga.
    • In West Bengal, these forests are known as ‘Sundarbans’.
    • The ‘Sundari’ is the most major tree in these forests.
    • The important trees of the tidal forests are Hogla, Garan, Pasur, etc.
    • This forest is an important factor in the timber industry as they provide timber and firewood.
    • Palm and coconut trees beautify the coastal strip.
  • Semi-deserts and Deserts vegetations
    • This area receives rainfall of less than 50 cm.
    • Thorny bushes, acacia, and Babul are found in this vegetation region.
    • The Indian wild date is generally found here.
    • They have long roots and thick flesh.
    • The plants found in this region store water in their stem to endure during the drought.
    • These vegetation are found in parts of Gujarat’s, Punjab, and Rajasthan.

  • Major threats to vegetation in India:
    • Encroachments:
      • Organized encroachment of forest land started as early as 1950s.
      • The direct impact of encroachment is habitat loss, besides the existence of constant threat on the forests by the fringe people.
      • In addition to their involvement directly in the illegal activities they provide shelter for the unscrupulous offenders of the plains who are engaged in all kinds of illegal activities.
    • Cattle grazing:
      • Grazing by cattle in forest, although not rampant as elsewhere in the country, is identified as a threat to biodiversity.
      • The grazing not only removes the biomass and competes with wild herbivores, but also spread contagious diseases to wild animals.
      • Intensive grazing will lead to domination of a single or a few species, changing the species composition of natural vegetation.
      • Cattle grazing speeds up the invasion of weeds.
    • Collection of Fire Wood:
      • Firewood collection directly poses threat in the form of removal of biomass, which affects microhabitat of flora and fauna, and indirectly leads to extensive fire and other illegal activities.
      • The proximity of settlements to the forests is the main factor, which determines the intensity of firewood collection.
      • The firewood collection leads to degradation of habitats which subsequently alters the species composition and vegetation types.
    • Man-Animal Conflict:
      • A major problem associated with the conservation of wild animals especially the herbivores like elephants in India is that of crop depredation and man-slaughter.
      • Animals such as elephants, gaur, sambar, wild boar and birds like peacock, cause extensive damage to the crops.
      • This phenomenon has registered significant increase in recent years due to habitat fragmentation and degradation of natural forests and corridors.
      • Almost all the Protected Areas and Non-Protected Areas contain a large number of settlements either inside or on the periphery.
      • This leads to degradation of surrounding habitats.
      • The traditional tolerances among the people who live inside the forests or its adjacent areas are fast disappearing and people have become increasingly antagonistic.
      • As a result, the people tend to kill the animals either by poisoning or by other means, like keeping crackers in fruits, etc.
    • Poaching:
      • The abundance of wild animals and high demand for their products in the clandestine, market pose threat to wild animals.
      • Herbivores like gaur, sambar, chital etc are being poached for their meat.
      • A lot of other not so spectacular species of animals ranging from reptiles to birds as well as plants and medicinal herbs are all part of the illegal wildlife trade.
      • The major impact of poaching is species loss and change in their demography apart from extensive fire and other illicit activities.
    • Illegal and unsustainable/unscientific collection of Non-Timber Forest Produce:
      • Non-Timber Forest Produce (NTFP) collection is one of the major livelihoods of the local people.
      • The NTFP consist of a variety of products, which are sources of food, fibre, manure, construction materials, cosmetics and cultural products.
      • The users of NTFP range from local individuals to multinational companies. With the development of modern techniques, the number of products and uses based on NTFP has increased by many folds.
      • This market driven utilization became instrumental in their unsustainable exploitation and resulted in degrading the natural vegetation.
    • Mining:
      • Mining is also a severe threat to the biodiversity.
      • Sand mining is prevalent in the central and southern parts.
      • It is a threat to the stability of a landscape, which results in land sliding and lowering of water table.
      • The removal of habitat will endanger the survival of riparian species since most of them occupied a very narrow habitat niche.
    • Mass Tourism and Pilgrimage:
      • Mass Tourism and Pilgrimage are considered to be one of the major and increasing threats to biodiversity conservation.
      • Approximately 13 million people visit forest areas annually either as pilgrims or visitors.
      • Among all the Protected Areas in India, Periyar Tiger Reserve receives a maximum number of tourists.
      • The large influx of people into the forests in short duration makes severe changes to habitat.
      • The major impact of tourism and pilgrimage is littering and over-utilization of resources such as soil erosion; fire, disturbance to wild animals for feeding, ranging etc are also reported due to a large number of pilgrims and unruly behavior of visitors.
    • Forest Fires:
      • Fire is one of the major threats facing the forests of India.
      • People who are engaged in grazing livestock often burn the area to get fresh shoots for their cattle, during lean season.
      • Apart from this, those who are involved in illicit activities such as ganja cultivation, poaching, tree felling, NTFP collection and very often the ignorant tourists and pilgrims are also responsible for big forest fires.
      • The effect of fire depends on the type of vegetation, frequency and intensity of fire and season of burning.
      • Fire causes extensive damage in deciduous forests and grasslands due to heavy fuel load.
    • Illicit Felling:
    • Tree felling is one of the severe threats to biodiversity conservation in the state.
    • The primary effect of tree felling on bio diversity is the removal of biomass and loss of habitat for many epiphytic and arboreal species.
    • Tree felling leads to soil erosion and change of the soil properties.
    • In some cases, people involved in tree falling set fire to the forests.
    • Invasive species:
      • These are non-indigenous or non-native plants and animals that adversely affect the habitats and bio regions they invade economically, environmentally and ecologically.
      • Examples of plant invasion include Water hyacinth (Elchornia crassipes) and Lantana (Lantana Camara).

 


General Studies – 2


 

Topic:  India and its neighborhood- relations.

3. A ‘constitutional coup’ is brewing in Nepal. Analyse the impact of the turmoil in the Himalayan nation with an emphasis on bilateral relations with India. (250 words)

Reference: The Hindu 

Why the question:

Nepal PM Oli on Sunday sprang a surprise and got the President to dissolve Parliament, a controversial move amidst a prolonged tussle for power, creating a political turmoil.

Key Demand of the question:

Anlaysing the impact the current political crisis can have nascent democracy as well as bilateral relations with India.

Directive:

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

Structure of the answer:

Introduction:

Start the answer by giving the context of recent developments in Nepal leading to a political crisis.

Body:

Elaborate on the crisis, the unprecedented situation and what it means for the democracy. The non-provision of the dissolution in the constitution and the legal challenge it faces, which makes it the ‘constitutional coup’.

Examine in detail the impact this crisis can have on Nepal such as instability in Nepal, question its democratic credentials, from a slowing economy to the increasing coronavirus crisis.

Emphasize how this could impact Indo-Nepalese bilateral relations with a possible breakup in the Communist Party of Nepal (UML) and possible change in top leadership and uncertainty in lead up to the elections in 2021.

Conclusion:

Conclude with a way forward.

Introduction:

Nepal is an important neighbor of India and occupies special significance in its foreign policy because of the geographic, historical, cultural and economic linkages/ties that span centuries. India and Nepal share similar ties in terms of Hinduism and Buddhism with Buddha’s birthplace Lumbini located in present day Nepal.

Body:

  • Nepal Prime Minister recommendation to dissolve Parliament, has pushed the young democracy into an unprecedented constitutional crisis and political turmoil.
  • Nepal’s 2015 Constitution allows the dissolution of the House before its five-year term ends only if there is a hung assembly and no party manages to form a government. Since the President has cleared his recommendation, the issue will now be decided by the Supreme Court.
  • Nepal would be pushed back to political instability, at a time of multiple challenges, from a slowing economy to the coronavirus crisis.
  • Reason for dispute between India & Nepal:
    • Over Lipulekh pass:
      • Lipulekh pass is located atop the Kalapani at a tri-junction between India, China and Nepal.
      • Lipulekh pass is an ancient route made for trade and pilgrimage purposes by Bhutiya people. The route was closed by India following the Indo-China war of 1962.
      • The Indo-Nepal border dispute over Lipulekh dates back to 1997 when for the first time Nepal raise objections against the decision of India and China to open Lipulekh pass for travelling to Mansarovar.
      • However, lately in the beginning of May 2020, India reopened the route for Kailash Mansarovar pilgrimage after constructing 22 km long road on the pass.
      • Lipulekh pass opens from Gunji village.
      • Nepal claims that the village and the road is its territory.
      • On the other hand, India and China signed a trade treaty in 1954 declaring Lipulekh pass as the Indian gateway.
      • Moreover, both the countries signed another treaty in 2015 for trading through Lipulekh Pass.
      • However, this time Nepal protested against the move staking claim over Kalapani area.
    • Over Kalapani:
      • India’s Indo-Tibetan Border Police has been controlling the Kalapani and nearby areas since the Indo-China war of 1962.
      • Though treaty of Sugauli clearly mentions about the Kali River and its location in Nepal, there were a few subsequent maps drawn by British surveyors which show the origin of Kali river from different places.
      • This digression from the treaty led to territorial disputes between India and Nepal.
      • Even the size of Kalapani is different in various sources
      • Indian Government claims that a ridgeline located towards the east of Kalapani territory is a part of the Indian Union. The treaty of Sugauli mentions nothing about this ridgeline.
      • Nepali Government claims that towards the west of Kalapani flows the main Kali river which falls in its territory. As per the Treaty of Sugauli, the Kali River is located in Nepal’s western border that it shares with India. The treaty was signed between Nepal and British East India Company in 1816.
    • Prospects of India-Nepal Relations:
      • Trade and economy:
        • India is Nepal’s largest trade partner and the largest source of foreign investments, besides providing transit for almost the entire third country trade of Nepal.
        • Indian firms engage in manufacturing, services (banking, insurance, dry port), power sector and tourism industries etc.
      • Connectivity:
        • Nepal being a landlocked country, it is surrounded by India from three sides and one side is open towards Tibet which has very limited vehicular access.
        • India-Nepal has undertaken various connectivity programs to enhance people-to-people linkages and promote economic growth and development.
        • MOUs have been signed between both the governments for laying electric rail track linking Kathmandu with Raxaul in India.
        • India is looking to develop the inland waterways for the movement of cargo, within the framework of trade and transit arrangements, providing additional access to sea for Nepal calling it linking Sagarmath (Mt. Everest) with Sagar (Indian Ocean).
      • Development Assistance:
        • Government of India provides development assistance to Nepal, focusing on creation of infrastructure at the grass-root level.
        • The areas assistance include infrastructure, health, water resources, and education and rural & community development.
      • Defence Cooperation:
        • Bilateral defence cooperation includes assistance to Nepalese Army in its modernization through provision of equipment and training.
        • The Gorkha Regiments of the Indian Army are raised partly by recruitment from hill districts of Nepal.
        • India from 2011, every year undertakes joint military exercise with Nepal known as Surya Kiran.
      • Cultural:
        • There have been initiatives to promote people-to-people contacts in the area of art & culture, academics and media with different local bodies of Nepal.
        • India has signed three sister-city agreements for twinning of Kathmandu-Varanasi, Lumbini-Bodhgaya and Janakpur-Ayodhya.
      • Humanitarian Assistance:
        • Nepal lies in sensitive ecological fragile zone which is prone to earthquakes, floods causing massive damage to both life and money, whereby it remains the biggest recipient of India’s humanitarian assistance.
      • Indian Community:
        • Huge number of Indians lives in Nepal, these include businessmen, traders, doctors, engineers and labourers (including seasonal/migratory in the construction sector).
      • Multilateral Partnership:
        • India and Nepal shares multiple multilateral forums such as BBIN (Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, and Nepal), BIMSTEC (Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation) NAM, and SAARC (South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation) etc.
      • Other challenges:
        • Internal Security is a major concern for India; Indo-Nepal border is virtually open and lightly policed which is exploited by terrorist outfits and insurgent groups from North Eastern part of India eg. supply of trained cadres, fake Indian currency.
        • Overtime trust deficit has widened between India-Nepal because of the Indian reputation for delaying implementation of various projects.
        • Nepal over the years has witnessed chronic political instability, including a 10-year violent insurgency, damaging Nepal’s development and economy.
        • There is anti-India feeling among certain ethnic groups in Nepal which emanates from the perception that India indulges too much in Nepal and tinkers with their political sovereignty.
        • The establishment of diplomatic relations between Nepal and China and its growing influence in Nepal has resulted in declining traditional leverage of India in Nepal.
      • Way forward:
        • On border issue:
          • The two countries have managed to settle about 98% of the common border.
          • More than 8,500 boundary pillars have been installed reflecting the agreed alignment.
          • As both countries are laying claim to the same piece of land, the time has come for both countries to sit for talks to solve this issue.
        • Completion of the ongoing process of updating the 1950 Treaty of Peace and Friendship:
          • India must recognise that as in all other developing economies, Nepal’s aspirational young population is also looking beyond the open Indian border for opportunities, and its desire to turn his “land-locked” country into a “land-linked” country with a merchant navy must be considered positively.
          • People-to-people inter-dependence must lead the relationship along with civil society and business-commercial level interactions.
          • India’s major foray should be in innovation and technology transfer, multidisciplinary dialogues, educational and technical institutions, local and global migration management and skills and capacity-building.
          • India needs to finish the infrastructure projects on time for instance Pancheswar project has been pending for over 20 years now.
          • Nepal could be the fountainhead of climate change knowledge and connect to India’s larger dynamics of the management of the ecology of hills and mountains.
          • Effective delivery on the pending projects, the remaining ICPs, the five railway connections, postal road network in the Terai and the petroleum pipeline so that connectivity is enhanced and the idea of ‘inclusive development and prosperity’ assumes reality.
          • India should maintain the policy of keeping away from internal affairs of Nepal, meanwhile in the spirit of friendship India should guide the nation towards more inclusive rhetoric.
          • With its immense strategic relevance in the Indian context as Indian security concern, stable and secure Nepal is one requisite which India can’t afford to overlook.
          • India needs to formulate a comprehensive and long-term Nepal policy.

 

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

4. The mutations in SARS-COV2 virus strains must be treated with utmost caution not with panic. Examine. (250 words)

Reference: The Hindu Indian Express 

Why the question:

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson placed London and its surrounding areas under lockdown after a mutation to the virus, believed to increase its transmissibility, was discovered. India also put in temporary travel ban with flights coming in from the U.K.

Key Demand of the question:

To explain the latest mutations in the SARS-COV2 virus and to prepare response to deal with such mutations.

Directive:

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

Structure of the answer:

Introduction:

Start by explaining the context with respect to mutations in the Covid-19 virus as seem in majorly in London and U.K.

Body:

Mention why there is concern over the new mutated strain as it is 70% more easily transmitted, highly contagious and possibility of new characteristics in the virus.

This could be a serious issue. However, it could be handled with proactive response and abundant caution. Also, mention that mutations are common in viruses and there have already been more than 20 mutations of SARS-COV2 but none of them concerning. Moreover, vaccine efficacy might not be affected by the mutations.

Mention how we need to continue the good practices of testing, tracing and isolating and safe practices of wearing masks and using sanitizers. Suspending travel from U.K was a proactive measure.

Conclusion:

Conclude with a way forward that prevention and precaution are the way to go unless masses are vaccinated.

Introduction:

A mutated variant of the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV2 has been associated with recent infections in England. The question being raised is whether the mutation could affect people’s response to vaccines – and scientists say this is unlikely. The virus has undergone several mutations since it first infected humans, which scientists say is neither unexpected nor a cause for panic.

Body:

  • Coronavirus
    • Coronaviruses are a specific family of viruses, with some of them causing less-severe damage, such as the common cold and others causing respiratory and intestinal diseases.
    • A coronavirus has many “regularly arranged” protrusions on its surface, because of which the entire virus particle looks like an emperor’s crown, hence the name “coronavirus”.
    • It is an RNA virus with ribonucleic acid (RNA) as its genetic material instead of deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA). That means the virus blends with its host’s DNA and can mutate rapidly.
    • Due to this property of rapid mutation, coronaviruses can be quite different from one another.
    • These can affect humans as well as mammals including pigs, cattle, cats, dogs, martens, camels, hedgehogs and some birds.
    • There are four common disease-causing coronaviruses, while the two other are the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) coronavirus and the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) coronavirus, both of which can cause severe respiratory diseases.
    • In the newly identified coronavirus, a direct link with the disease has not been established yet. It was speculated that it was related to the SARS epidemic of 2002.
    • World Health Organization (WHO) has said that further investigations and research are required to determine the source, modes of transmission and extent of infection caused by the new virus.
  • Why do viruses mutate?
    • A mutation just means a difference; a letter changes in the genome.
    • Mutations in viruses are a natural part of evolution.
    • The pressure on the virus to evolve is increased by the fact that so many millions of people have now been infected.
  • Covid-19 mutant strain
    • It has been named VUI-202012/01 (the first “Variant Under Investigation” in December 2020) and is defined by a set of 17 changes or mutations.
    • As of Dec 13, a total of 1,108 cases with this new variant had been identified, predominantly in the south and east of England where cases have been rising.
  • How harmful is the new COVID-19 strain?
    • This new variant is showing some 17 changes in the genome, this is a very large change.
    • Due to this change, the transmissibility of this virus has also changed and is 70% more infectious compared to the earlier variant.
    • There is a high possibility that the new strain is still in the UK as it has not been detected in other parts of Europe.
  • Is a mutation in the spike protein particularly significant?
    • In general, there would be more concern about a mutation in the spike region than other regions of the coronavirus genome.
    • It is the coronavirus spike protein that binds to a human protein to initiate the process of infection.
    • So, changes here could possibly affect how the virus behaves in terms of its ability to infect, or cause severe disease, or escape the immune response made by vaccines.
    • Through the pandemic, over 4,000 mutations have been detected in the spike region.
    • This one appeared initially in Brazil in April, in a small proportion of cases.
    • There is no data to indicate severity or faster spread.
  • What can it mean for people’s response to coronavirus vaccines?
    • Several coronavirus vaccines are designed to create antibodies targeting the spike protein.
    • But the vaccines target multiple regions on the spike, while a mutation refers to a change in a single point.
    • So, if there is one mutation, it does not mean vaccines would not work. But changes in the virus will be tracked around the world because there is now unprecedented sequencing capacity and data sharing.
  • Should we worry about these changes?
    • Mutations will keep happening and the new virus variants will survive or disappear depending upon our immune response and their ability to multiply and transmit.
    • But all SARS-CoV-2 strains are genetically similar to one another, and scientists do not expect these mutations to have a significant impact on their ability to cause more severe disease than what has been observed so far.
    • For instance, a different strain may be more transmissible, but cause less disease.
    • Bottom line is that we need to monitor, but at present, there is no evidence that the new strain in UK is more transmissible nor severe nor resistant to treatment or vaccination
  • SARS-COV2 virus strains treated with utmost caution not with panic:
    • The scale of the infections in this pandemic may be quickly generating diversity in the new coronavirus. Still, a vast majority of people worldwide have yet to be infected, and that has made scientists hopeful.
    • In a population that’s still mostly naive, the virus just doesn’t need to do that yet. But it’s something we want to watch out for in the long term, especially as we start getting more people vaccinated.
    • It could be handled with proactive response and abundant caution
    • Need to continue the good practices of testing, tracing and isolating and safe practices of wearing masks and using sanitizers.
    • Suspending travel from U.K was a proactive measure.

Conclusion:

Prevention and precaution are the way to go unless masses are vaccinated. Immunizing about 60% of a population within about a year and keeping the number of cases down while that happens will help minimize the chances of the virus mutating significantly scientists will need to closely track the evolving virus to spot mutations that may give it an edge over vaccines.

 


General Studies – 3


 

Topic:  Achievements of Indians in science & technology;

5. Ramanujan’s legacy is original, prolific, diverse, and transcends time. Elucidate. (250 words)

Reference: The Hindu

Why the question:

This article captures the journey, acheivements and genius of Srinivas Ramanujan.

Key Demand of the question:

To highlight the numerous achievements of Srinivas Ramanujan.

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 write an introduction about the Indian mathematician Srinivasa Ramanujan.

Body:

Bring out the novel contributions of Srinivasa Ramanujan in the fields of pure mathematics, mathematical analysis, number theory, infinite series, and continued fractions, including solutions to mathematical problems then considered unsolvable.

Talk about how his original and highly unconventional results, such as the Ramanujan prime, the Ramanujan theta function, partition formulae and mock theta functions, have opened entire new areas of work and inspired a vast amount of further research.

Conclusion:

Summarize by mentioning how the legacy of Ramanujan transcends time and is immortal.

Introduction:

Ramanujan was a gift to mathematics and science. Many of the cryptic formulas he recorded in his shabby notebooks have powered the science of our present and future

Body:

  • Contributions:
    • In the mathematical community, it was no surprise that Ramanujan’s work was being expanded actively eight decades after his demise: many of Ramanujan’s findings anticipated research areas by many years.
    • Ramanujan, who specialized in pure mathematics.
    • He excelled in mathematics, he neglected other subjects and could not complete his pre-university course.
    • By 1908 he gave up studies, but not his research in mathematics.
    • He initiated contact with the British mathematician G.H. Hardy under whose insistence Ramanujan travelled to England in early 1914.
    • His partnering with Hardy was productive: Ramanujan published more than 20 research papers between 1914 and 1919.
    • During his stay, he was awarded a doctorate and made Fellow of Royal Society.
    • When he returned to India in 1919, he was “…with a scientific standing and reputation such as no Indian has enjoyed before”.
    • However, Ramanujan did not record proofs of his results: that work would be taken up by future generations of mathematicians.
    • Ramanujan’s work was in number theory, infinite series, analysis (theoretical underpinnings of calculus) and a few other areas in pure mathematics.
    • Specifically, as G.H. Hardy wrote, these subjects were “…the applications of elliptic functions to the theory of numbers, the theory of continued fractions and… the theory of partitions”.
    • A few significant contributions were multiple formulae to calculate pi with great accuracy to billions of digits (22/7 is only an approximation to pi), partition functions (a partition is a way to represent a positive integer — for example, 1+1+1+1 is a partition of 4, 1+3 is another partition of 4, and so on), modular forms and hypergeometric series (the terms in every consecutive pair in the series form rational functions).
    • The Ramanujan conjecture in general form asserts that a generic cuspidal automorphic irreducible unitary representation of a reductive group over a global field should be locally tempered everywhere
    • The conjecture inspired the development of theory of Galois representation that was employed in Andrew Wiles’ proof of Fermat’s last theorem published in 1995.
    • In recent years, Ramanujan’s works and their extensions have found applications in signal processing to identify periodic information, akin to Fourier analysis.
    • Mock theta functions have found applications in the study of black holes in astrophysics.
    • But to look for applications of his works is exactly how not to appreciate Ramanujan.
  • Power of intuition and insight
    • Ramanujan was always precocious in his mathematical talent.
    • And by virtue of working alone on problems and theorems that were advanced for his age during adolescence, day after day, hour after hour, he developed an incredible power of intuition and insight.
    • The problems he worked on were from a book by one Carr.
    • Ramanujan is remembered in many ways. His birthday (today is his 133rd birth anniversary) is celebrated as National Mathematics Day in India.
    • The Ramanujan Journal publishes advancements in the areas that Ramanujan contributed to.
    • His home in Kumbakonam in Tamil Nadu has been converted to a museum by SASTRA University.

Conclusion:

Ramanujan’s greatness is not that he was a poor man who travelled to England and did research. It is that he was prolific and that his works were diverse, original and transcended time; and all this while he surmounted many odds coming from indigence. Ramanujan’s works, especially to mathematicians, are of enduring elegance.

 


General Studies – 4


 

Topic: ethical concerns and dilemmas in government and private institutions;

6. At times, the overburdened nature of public service leads to moral muteness. Comment. (150 words)

Reference: Ethics, Integrity and Aptitude by Lexicon Publications.

Why the question:

The question is part of the static syllabus of General studies paper – 4.

Key Demand of the question:

To bring out the impact of immense burden and deadlines in public service leading morally questionable actions or inactions.

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:

Start by defining moral muteness and how it occurs because immense burden of public service.

Body:

Write about how the cumbersome processes of public service gives very little time for moral reasoning and hence there may the conflict between making the right decision and getting the work done.

Substantiate the above the examples.

Give out the ways in which we can address above issue.

Conclusion:

Conclude by bottom lining that no matter how small or big decision is, it must be morally justified.

Introduction:

A public service is a service which is provided by government to people living within its jurisdiction, either directly (through the public sector) or by financing private provision of services. Likewise Moral muteness occurs when people witness unethical behavior and choose not to say anything

Body:

  • Importance of Public service:
    • Maintaining the country’s infrastructure, protecting the environment, strengthening the economy, and ensuring access to education were also considered important government priorities.
  • Characteristics of Public service:
    • They have four defining characteristics.
      • They exist for reasons of policy;
      • they provide services to the public;
      • they are redistributive; and they act as a trust.
      • They consequently operate differently from production for profit, in their priorities, costs, capacity and outputs.
    • The seven Public Sector Values are:
      • human rights.
    • Overburdened nature of public service leads to moral muteness:
      • Cumbersome processes of public service give very little time for moral reasoning and hence there may the conflict between making the right decision and getting the work done.
      • Red Tapism
      • Lack of Public officials to complete the assigned task
      • Irregularity of the public officials
      • Corruption in public service
      • Lack of dedication of public officials
      • These above made the overburdening nature of the public service
      • Which will ultimately lead to lack of moral capacity, lack of moral courage, lack of moral responsibility and moral accountability
      • These finally lead to Moral muteness some times
    • Way Forward:
      • Imparting value-based code of ethics
      • Encouraging moral reasoning
      • Reducing cumbersome processes of public service using e- governance
      • Giving value-based training for public officials

 

Topic: Codes of Ethics, Codes of Conduct;

7. Value-Based Code of Ethics is the need of hour in public as well as corporate organizations. How do you institutionalize compliance to the value based code of ethics? (150 words)

Reference: Ethics, Integrity and Aptitude by Lexicon Publications.

Why the question:

The question is part of the static syllabus of General studies paper – 4.

Key Demand of the question:

To stress on the importance of value based code of ethics and the way to make its compliance more acceptable.

Structure of the answer:

Introduction:

Start by defining value-based code of ethics and need for it.

Body:

Mention about the need for a value-based code of ethics addresses a core value system of the organisation. Emphasize how it may outline standards of responsible conduct as they relate to the larger public good and the environment. Value-based ethical codes may require a greater degree of self-regulation than compliance-based codes.

In the next part, bring out steps which can institutionalize compliance and ensure continuity to compliance. Suggest measures such as considering the needs of their employees, comprehensive compliance training program, people-centric approach and informed decision-making etc.

Conclusion:

Complete the answer by highlighting the importance of compliance to value based code of ethics.

Introduction:

A value-based code of ethics addresses a company’s core value system. It may outline standards of responsible conduct as they relate to the larger public good and the environment. Value-based ethical codes may require a greater degree of self-regulation than compliance-based codes.

Body:

  • Code of ethics:
    • Act with integrity, competence, diligence, respect and in an ethical manner with the public, clients, prospective clients, employers, employees, colleagues in the investment profession, and other participants in the global capital markets.
    • Place the integrity of the investment profession and the interests of clients above their own personal interests.
    • Use reasonable care and exercise independent professional judgment when conducting investment analysis, making investment recommendations, taking investment actions, and engaging in other professional activities.
    • Practice and encourage others to practice in a professional and ethical manner that will reflect credit on themselves and the profession.
    • Promote the integrity and viability of the global capital markets for the ultimate benefit of society.
    • Maintain and improve their professional competence and strive to maintain and improve the competence of other investment professionals.

 

  • Value-Based Code of Ethics is the need of hour in public as well as corporate organizations
    • Workplace compliance training has a reputation for being a tedious chore.
    • Any mention of the dreaded and abstract term of compliance typically induces a bout of eye-rolling, followed by a severe case of feigned interest.
    • This common reaction to obeying vital laws, regulations and behavioral expectations is most prevalent in organizations that fail to consider the needs of their employees during the compliance process and tend to focus on regulatory obligations; a narrow-minded approach that often leads to the implementation of complex, uninspiring and laborious policies.
    • This worrying trend applies to all aspects of a company’s comprehensive compliance training program, including its all-important code of conduct, which can be defined as: a statement of business guidelines meant to inform day-to-day decision making and prevent behavior that does not fall in line with the company’s mission and greater objectives.
    • But the truth is that a corporate code of conduct is much more than a box-checking exercise that satisfies a legal requirement; it forms the backbone of an organization’s culture, brand and identity.

 

  • Defining and developing a values-based code of ethics
    • To embed an ethical risk-aware organization, initiatives must begin and thrive internally, with employees committed to building and owning corporate culture, before they become apparent to external stakeholders. Otherwise, codes of conduct, ethics policies, compliance measures and articulated values just become boxes to check and words on the wall without efforts to instill an ethical culture in the daily actions of the company.
    • Compliance and HR departments should strive to develop an ethical code that clarifies their organization’s mission, values, and principles by linking them with standards of professional conduct that employees can buy into.
    • This forward-thinking, values-based approach to compliance engenders an environment, and ultimately a culture, in which employees’ time and humanity feel respected and recognized, making them more likely to treat the company with respect and comply with rules and regulations.
    • The development and execution of an engaging code of conduct training is vital in terms of impacting employee behavior and embedding the code into the company psyche.
    • Rather than focusing on stuffy rules and legal policies, training should be linked to the company values that are lived and breathed throughout the organization and based on real-life scenarios.
    • This people-centric approach makes it more relatable, helping participants to understand how it can facilitate informed decision-making.
    • A values-based code of conduct helps to form an essential part of compliance culture, which is led from the top, reinforced by middle management, and nurtured at the foundation.
  • Embedding a values-based code of conduct into an organization
    • Writing a values-based code of conduct statement and proactively promoting it from the top down are just the first steps on the path to establishing it within an organization.
    • However, without relatable training programs that empower employees to own the code, and reinforce the information conveyed through it, it will be considered another piece of useless red tape.
    • To achieve compliance, training programs should reflect the complex situations employees face every day.
    • A scenario-based approach allows participants to walk through interactive simulations of real-life scenarios evoking real emotion, which facilitates better decision-making in the future.
    • When decisions are made based on feelings and experiences, employees are more likely to retain vital information.
    • Organizational ethics and compliance shouldn’t just rely on effective training and communication; it also requires frank conversations to address related issues.
    • Learning-centric technology combined with face-to-face dialogue promote a rich discussion, more robust conversation and better perspective-taking.
    • By implementing a campaign-based approach to ethics and compliance learning, an organization will be well-placed to embed corporate values and expectations of conduct into the fabric of its culture.
    • The code of ethics needs to be part of the employees’ workflow and must be easily accessibly dynamic and meaningful.
    • This will build confidence in the organization’s commitment to developing a healthy compliance culture and help employees to make ethical decisions or understand ethical dilemmas they might experience.

Conclusion:

This, in turn, will help to improve levels of compliance, increase productivity and build a lasting culture of integrity.


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