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SECURE SYNOPSIS: 29 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:  Important Geophysical phenomena such as earthquakes, Tsunami, Volcanic activity, cyclone etc;

1. What is a heat wave? What is the criteria for conditions to be classified as a heat wave? Does Urban Heat Island Effect play a part in aggravating heat wave conditions? Examine. Mention ways to mitigate heat wave conditions. (250 words)

Reference: ndma.gov.in

Why the question:

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

Key Demand of the question:

To mention about the criteria for heat wave and to examine the role of Urban Heat Island effect in heat wave condition.

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 defining a heat wave.

Body:

In the first part of the body, start by mentioning the criteria for a heat wave: in temperature for plains, coastal areas and hilly areas. The criteria for a severe heat wave.

In the next part, start by defining Urban Heat Island effect. Mention the Urban Island heat effect aggravates the heat wave conditions. The result of lower vegetation levels, higher amounts of “hardscape,” heat from buildings and vehicles, and reduced air flow between tall buildings as well as other physical alternations to the natural environment), leads to temperatures in urban areas as high as 10 degree greater than neighboring rural areas. During periods of extremely high heat these differences can be life-threatening.

Mention ways to mitigate heath wave conditions in the short term and long term: Short term measures such as issuing proper guidelines and warning, green rating of buildings, structural changes in the buildings, improving the lifestyle of people etc.

Long term measures such as combating climate change, increasing vegetation and green cities, implementing the guidelines of UN-Habitat-III etc.

Conclusion:

Stress upon the need to act with utmost urgency given the increasing instances of heat waves.

Introduction:

Heat wave is a period of abnormally high temperatures, more than the normal maximum temperature that occurs during the pre-monsoon (April to June) summer season.

According to Indian Meteorological Department, Heat wave is considered if maximum temperature of a station reaches at least 40°C or more for Plains, 37°C or more for coastal stations and at least 30°C or more for Hilly regions.

Body:

heat_wave

Urban Heat Islands and Heat waves:

  • An urban heat island is an area that is substantially warmer than its suburban and rural surroundings.
  • This warming effect depends on various factors—a city’s weather conditions, its geophysical characteristics, and the heat from its buildings, vehicles, and inhabitants.
  • The effect is more severe at night than in the daytime, and intensifies during heat waves. It can operate on different scales: It might occur around a single building, in a neighborhood, or citywide.
  • Due to the phenomenon, the gap between the daytime maximum temperature and the nighttime maximum temperature in major cities has been declining over the years.
  • Or, in other words, hot cities are not only getting hotter, but retaining more heat after dark.
  • Rapid urbanization is resulting in dramatic land-use changes.
  • Over the past four decades, the built-up area in Delhi increased by 30.6 percent, while cultivated areas decreased by 22.8 percent and dense forest by 5.3 percent.
  • Mumbai, the financial capital of India, became almost entirely paved and concretized in the span of 40 years.
  • In Kolkata, vegetated areas decreased from 33.6 percent of the city to 7.4 percent between 1980 and 2010.
  • In Chennai, the built-up area tripled between 1991 and 2016, while vegetation decreased by 12 percent.
  • Urban heat islands can affect the severity and duration of heat waves.
  • Death rates during heat waves are often much higher in cities than in their outlying areas, because of the effect.

Factors of urban heat island that exacerbate Heat waves:

  • Covering soil with concrete or asphalt prevents water from evaporating from the soil.
  • Since evaporation is a cooling process—it takes energy to evaporate water—reducing evaporation warms the ground.
  • In addition, urban surfaces tend to absorb more sunlight than do soil or vegetated surfaces and convert that sunlight to heat.
  • Thus, it is not a surprise that urbanization turns many cities to heat islands.
  • Other contributing factors are sick bodies of water, pollution, and economic activity relying on dirty sources of energy.
  • Black carbon aerosol, or soot—from vehicular emissions and the burning of coal and wood for cooking in poor households (especially in urban slums)—absorbs large amounts of solar radiation, trapping heat.
  • Growth in air conditioning as temperatures rise compounds the problem

Impacts:

  • As urban heat islands become more intense, the use of water as well as electricity is likely to go up. That will worsen already acute water shortages in Indian cities.
  • In addition to the other risks to the urban population, urban heat islands also degrade the quality of air and water.
  • Increased energy demand (for cooling) means more air pollution from power plants and more carbon emissions.
  • Higher surface temperatures also lead to ozone formation.
  • When water flows over hot roofs and paved surfaces, that water heats up before it reaches bodies of water, affecting the health of local ecosystems as well as increasing evaporation.

Measures to mitigate heat waves:

  • Switching to lighter-colored paving or porous green roads and cool roofs, to reflect more solar radiation.
  • For instance, after a severe 2010 heat wave, the city of Ahmedabad implemented a Heat Action Plan, including a cool-roofs program; research has shown this plan has prevented thousands of deaths.
  • Cities could increase their share of tree cover, which is significantly lower than what’s required to maintain an ecological balance.
  • People in urban areas could be encouraged to grow climbing plants and curtains of vegetation outside their windows.
  • Greenbelts around cities, for wind paths, would allow the passage of exhaust heat from urban air conditioners and automobiles.
  • Finally, air-quality standards should be enforced rigorously and continuously—not just when air pollution reaches hazardous levels.

Way forward:

  • In 2016, the National Disaster Management Agency prepared guidelines for state governments to formulate action plans for the prevention and management of heat waves, outlining four key strategies:
    • Forecasting heat waves and enabling an early warning system
    • Building capacity of healthcare professionals to deal with heat wave-related emergencies
    • Community outreach through various media
    • Inter-agency cooperation as well as engagement with other civil society organizations in the region.
  • Scientific Approach:
    • Climate data from the last 15-20 years can be correlated with the mortality and morbidity data to prepare a heat stress index and city-specific threshold.
    • Vulnerable areas and population could be identified by using GIS and satellite imagery for targeted actions.
  • Advance implementation of local Heat Action Plans, plus effective inter-agency coordination is a vital response which the government can deploy in order to protect vulnerable groups.
  • This will require identification of “heat hot spots”, analysis of meteorological data and allocation of resources to crisis-prone areas.
  • The India Cooling Action Plan must emphasize the urgency and need for better planning, zoning and building regulations to prevent Urban Heat Islands.
  • Provision of public messaging (radio, TV), mobile phone-based text messages, automated phone calls and alerts.
  • Promotion of traditional adaptation practices, such as staying indoors and wearing comfortable clothes.
  • Popularization of simple design features such as shaded windows, underground water storage tanks and insulating housing materials.

 


General Studies – 2


 

Topic:  India and its neighborhood- relations;

2. The dichotomy of Afghanistan is that its path to the peace process is marred with violence and instability. Examine. (250 words)

Reference: The Hindu 

Why the question:

With the Afghan government and the Taliban preparing to resume talks in Doha next week, one of the pressing problems Afghanistan is facing remains unaddressed — the surging violence.

Key Demand of the question:

To examine the nature of peace deal and obstacles to it that is in development between The U.S, The Afghan government and The Taliban.

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 giving the context regarding the tri-partite peace deal that is happening between The U.S, Afghan Government and Taliban.

Body:

Elaborate upon the nature of the landmark deal with the U.S in February, 2020.

The Afghan government started negotiating with Taliban in September, 2020 to find a peaceful resolution to the conflict.

Mention the obstacles to the peace process such as surging violence, targeted killing of journalists,the instability in the democratically elected government of Afghanistan, Lack of consensus over a ceasefire, impending withdrawal of U.S troops and regime change in America etc.

Mention the impact of the above Afghan peace process and all the stakeholders in the process as well as neighboring countries.

Conclusion:

Conclude with a way forward.

Introduction:

Terrorism in Afghanistan and violence by Taliban is in a state of turmoil and moving closer to becoming a failed state. 2020 was one of the bloodiest in Afghanistan’s 19-year-long conflict. A fragile and violent atmosphere in Afghanistan would be a fertile breeding ground for the terrorism and Insurgence which would directly affect India’s security.

Body:

Fragile situation in Afghanistan:

  • In February 2020, U.S.-Taliban agreement where the Americans promised to withdraw troops in return for the insurgents’ assurance that they would not allow terrorist groups such as al-Qaeda to operate from Afghan soil.
  • In September 2020, the Afghan government and the Taliban began peace talks for the first time in Doha.
  • Despite these diplomatic openings, both sides have continued their attacks.
  • Violence surged by 50%, according to the U.S. Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction.

Importance of Afghanistan for India:

  • Afghanistan serves India’s security and economic interests.
  • Afghanistan is tied to India’s vision of being a regional leader and a great power, coupled with its competition with China over resources and its need to counter Pakistani influence.
  • India’s ability to mentor a nascent democracy will go a long way to demonstrate to the world that India is indeed a major power, especially a responsible one.
  • The pipeline project TAPI (Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India), which seeks to connect an energy-rich Central to South Asia, will only see the light of the day if stability is established in Afghanistan.
  • India’s interest in Afghanistan relates to its need to reduce Pakistani influence in the region.
  • New Delhi needs Kabul to get a better view of Islamabad and hence it is pertinent that it fosters positive relations.
  • For access to the landlocked Central Asian countries that border Afghanistan.
  • The country is home to resource deposits worth one trillion dollars, according to the US Geological Survey.

India’s Afghan Policy: Challenges

  • There can be no military solution for the Afghanistan problem unless it has a political objective.
  • India has reiterated its support to “Afghan-owned, Afghan-led” policy and stayed out of multi-party talks with Taliban and other nations.
    • There is a glaring gap between the claim that the peace process in Afghanistan should be Afghan-owned and Afghan-led, repeated in the joint India-US statement during Trump’s visit, and direct negotiations between the US and the Taliban culminating in an agreement.
  • No troops: India has steadfastly refused to send troops to fight the war there. Its focus, instead, is infrastructure and capacity building. The Indian stamp is visible all around the country, whether in the form of big ticket government initiatives or soft power.
  • US-Taliban Peace Deal
    • The point of the U.S.-Taliban deal was not peace rather it was to try and cover up an ignominious exit for the U.S., driven by an election-bound president who feels no responsibility toward that country or to the broader region.
    • In the long run, if the Taliban are back in Kabul, India’s infrastructure investments in Afghanistan will be at the risk of being seized.
    • Besides, New Delhi will lose a friendly government in Kabul. Worse, Islamabad’s close partners may be in office once again.
    • More importantly, groups like the LeT and JeM, which are UN designated terrorist organisations, are not mentioned, which leaves India exposed.
  • If combating terrorism is a shared responsibility of the international community, as is now accepted in umpteen declarations, why the Taliban has not been asked to forswear all violence outside Afghanistan is unfortunate
  • Indian Dilemma:
    • Should India reconsider its current policy that a lasting political settlement in Afghanistan must come through an “Afghan-led, Afghan-owned and Afghan controlled process” (considering that the elected Afghan Government is hardly in control of the peace process).
    • Should India, consider the option of entering into direct talks with the Taliban. But, If India does so, it would constitute a major departure from its consistent policy of dealing only with recognised governments.

Possible future course for India:

  • New Delhi must move swiftly to regain the upper hand in the narrative in Afghanistan.
  • The following should assure India a leading position in Afghanistan’s regional formulation:
    • India’s assistance of more than $3 billion in projects
    • trade of about $1 billion
    • a $20 billion projected development expenditure of an alternate route through Chahbahar
  • India’s support to the Afghan National Army, bureaucrats, doctors and other professionals for training
  • Three major projects include the Afghan Parliament, the Zaranj-Delaram Highway, and the Afghanistan-India Friendship Dam (Salma dam).
  • These and other hundreds of small development projects have cemented India’s position there, regardless of Pakistan’s attempts to undermine it.
  • So, it would be a mistake, at this point, if India’s support is only to Kabul or the Ghani government.
  • The Indian government must strive to endure that its aid and assistance is broad-based, to centres outside the capital (Kabul) as well.
  • This should be the case even if some lie in areas held by the Taliban.
  • India must also pursue opportunities to fulfil its role in the peace efforts in Afghanistan, starting with efforts to bridge the Ghani-Abdullah divide.
  • An understanding between Iran and the U.S. on Afghanistan is necessary for lasting peace as well, and India could play a mediatory part.
  • India should also use the UN’s call for a pause in conflicts during the novel coronavirus pandemic, to ensure a hold on hostilities with Pakistan.
  • Above all, New Delhi must consider the appointment of a special envoy, as it has been done in the past, to deal with its efforts in Afghanistan.

Conclusion:

The key to a lasting peace depends largely on the outcome of talks between the Taliban and the Afghan government, rather than between the insurgents and Washington. India being one of the trusted neighbours for Afghanistan, should take a greater role in bringing peace to the region.

 

Topic:  Issues relating to poverty and hunger;

3. India’s ambitious National Nutrition Mission – POSHAN Abhiyaan is in need of a realignment to achieve more desirable outcomes. Substantiate. (250 words) 

Reference: Live Mint

Why the question:

According to the NFHS-5 data, while some improvement has been made in the nutritional status of the country, there still a long way to go achieve all desired targets.

Key Demand of the question:

To bring out the shortcomings of POSHAN Abhiyaan and suggest measure to make it more holistic and successful.

Directive:

Substantiate – When you are asked to Substantiate, you have to pass a sound judgement about the truth of the given statement in the question or the topic based on evidences.  You have to appraise the worth of the statement in question using suitable case studies or/ and examples.

Structure of the answer:

Introduction:

Begin the answer by writing about The Prime Minister’s Overarching Scheme for Holistic Nutrition or POSHAN Abhiyaan or National Nutrition Mission (NNM), which was launched as flagship programme to improve nutritional outcomes.

Body:

In the first part, mention the broad aims and objectives of the POSHAN Abhiyaan which were set at the inception the scheme.

In the next part, bring out the performance of NNM, in the various aspects such as Child stunting, child underweight and Anaemia. Mention the shortfalls from the desired outcomes as envisaged by the government.

Suggest measures which are needed in order to ensure the success of POSHAN Abhiyaan, such as, Prioritizing and close monitoring non performing districts, following a village based approach rather than district based, ensuring that the disruptions caused by the pandemic are overcome at the earliest, learning the failures and successes at local level in the past three years and making food security central to developmental agenda etc.

Conclusion:

Finish the answer by mentioning how POSHAN Abhiyaan seeks to have Jan Andolan to end malnutrition and first step towards it is the convergence of the policies of Central, State and Local Governments.

Introduction:

Malnutrition refers to deficiencies, excesses or imbalances in a person’s intake of energy and/or nutrients. India’s National Family Health Surveys (NFHS) show that there has been a decline in child malnutrition numbers in the country.

The covid-19 pandemic has disrupted optimal care for children, especially those who are malnourished, a Unicef report said. This may increase the overall severe and acute burden and massive disruptions in continuity of food availability and livelihood.

Body:

Malnutrition situation in India:

  • An average girl child aged less than 5 years is healthier than her male peers. However, over a period of time they grow into undernourished women in India.
  • Malnutrition and anemia are common among Indian adults.
  • A quarter of women of reproductive age in India are undernourished, with a body mass index (BMI) of less than 18.5 kg/m (Source: NFHS 4 2015-16).
  • Both malnutrition and anemia have increased among women since 1998-99.
  • 33% of married women and 28% of men are too thin, according to the body mass index (BMI), an indicator derived from height and weight measurements.
  • Underweight is most common among the poor, the rural population, adults who have no education and scheduled castes and scheduled tribes.
  • 2% of women and 24.3% of men suffer from anemia, and have lower than normal levels of blood hemoglobin.
  • Anemia has increased in ever-married women from 1998-99. Among pregnant women, anemia has increased from 50% to almost 58%.

Salient features of POSHAN:

  • The Abhiyaan targets to reduce stunting, undernutrition, anemia (among young children, women and adolescent girls) and reduce low birth weight by 2%, 2%, 3% and 2% per annum respectively.
  • The target of the mission is to bring down stunting among children in the age group 0-6 years from 38.4% to 25% by 2022.
  • POSHAN Abhiyaan aims to ensure service delivery and interventions by use of technology, behavioural change through convergence and lays-down specific targets to be achieved across different monitoring parameters.
  • Under the Abhiyaan, Swasth Bharat Preraks will be deployed one in each district for coordinating with district officials and enabling fast and efficient execution of the Abhiyaan across the country. Swasth Bharat Preraks would function as catalyst for fast tracking the implementation of the Abhiyaan.

Pros of POSHAN Abhiyan:

  • Complete approach towards malnutrition: The programme through use of technology, a targeted approach and convergence strives to reduce the level of stunting, under-nutrition, anemia and low birth weight in children, also focus on adolescent girls, pregnant women and lactating mothers, thus holistically addressing malnutrition.
  • It targets to reduce level of under-nutrition and other related problems by ensuring convergence of various nutrition related schemes and provide performance based incentives to states and community nutrition and health workers, facilitating a focus on results.
  • It will monitor and review implementation of all such schemes and utilize existing structural arrangements of line ministries wherever available.
  • Its large component involves gradual scaling-up of the interventions supported by ongoing World Bank assisted Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) Systems Strengthening and Nutrition Improvement Project (ISSNIP) to all districts in the country by 2022.
  • Union Government has signed $200 million loan agreement with World Bank for National Nutrition Mission (POSHAN Abhiyaan) for 315 districts across all states and union territories.
  • The World Bank loan will be used for improving coverage and quality of ICDS nutrition services to pregnant and lactating women and children under 3 years of age.
  • It will be also used for project in improving skills and capacities of ICDS staff and community nutrition workers, instituting mechanisms of community mobilization and behaviour change communication, strengthening systems of citizen engagement and grievance redress.
  • It will be also used for establishing mobile technology based tools for improved monitoring and management of services for better outreach to beneficiaries during critical 1,000-day window for nutrition impact.
  • POSHAN Convergence Matrix looks at deploying a multi-pronged approach to mobilize the masses towards creating a nutritionally aware society.
  • Community based events at anganwadi centres to engage the beneficiaries and their families towards nutritional awareness; sustained mass media, multimedia, outdoor campaigns; mobilization of all frontline functionaries; SHGs and volunteers towards nutrition are the methods to be adopted. The aim is to generate a Jan Andolan towards Nutrition.
  • Thus the POSHAN Abhiyan is to bring all of us together, put accountability and responsibilities on all stakeholders to help the country accomplish its desired potential in terms of its demographic dividend.

Challenges towards POSHAN Abhiyan:

  • Challenges with data:
    • Lack of credible data on a year-year basis. For example, there has been a 10-year gap between NFHS 3 and NFHS 4.
    • Further, there is confusion and inability to cope with measurement procedures among poorly trained Anganwadi workers and thus data on malnutrition may not be accurate.
    • Lack of adequate access to food: Due to ineffective functioning (corruption and leakages) of the public distribution system (PDS), access to food is a major problem. Loss of food grains in warehouses (due to rotting and theft) further aggravates the problem.
  • Issues with ICDS:
    • Major issues with ICDS are the supply of quality food and its uniform distribution.
    • Also, Anganwadi workers are unable to play an effective role in attending to the problem of malnutrition because of low wages and inadequate training.
  • Cereal-based Diet:
    • A major reason for micronutrient deficiency in India is because of a cereal-based diet. However, even the National Food Security Act does not address the issue of nutritional deficiency adequately.
    • Further, food fortification has also been inadequate.
  • Social-economic and Cultural challenges:
    • Major challenges in implementing nutritional programmes are socio-cultural factors such as caste. For example, Hausla Poshan Yojana, a plan to provide nutritious food to pregnant women and malnourished children in Uttar Pradesh failed to even start because some women beneficiaries allegedly refused to consume the food prepared by Anganwadi workers belonging to the SC community.
    • Illiteracy among women and gender biases is also a challenge
  • Lack of nutritional and health awareness:
    • Lack of awareness, ignorance of healthy diets, unhealthy feeding and caring practices, poor breastfeeding practice are major challenges in reducing malnutrition
  • Sanitation and hygiene:
    • Lack of sanitation is also an important challenge in reducing malnutrition. Poor sanitary conditions caused by open-defecation and other issues lead to the incidence of diarrhoeal diseases which make children susceptible to stunting
  • Financial Constraints:
    • Budgetary allocations of many schemes have decreased over time. Further, the money allocated has remained unspent in many states.

Way forward:

  • To address the problem of child under-nutrition, and disease there should be early life-cycle interventions targeting the first 1,000 days of a child’s life.
  • ICDS, Mid day Meal and PDS should be re-worked upon for greater effectiveness. Public-Private partnership in this domain should be encouraged. This would ensure that leakages, space and other constraints of lack of hygiene, delay in supply of food etc do not hinder delivering nutritious food.
  • It is important to extend the food fortification of staples. Public-private partnerships can help leverage the appropriate technology for scaling up food fortification interventions. Further, the focus should be on incorporating nutritious food and diversify the diet.
  • It is important to target multiple contributing factors, for example, water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH). The focus should not only be on building toilets but bringing about a behavioural change among people
  • Agricultural policy should be aligned with nutrition policy with incentives provided for encouraging the production of nutrient-rich and local crops for self-consumption.
  • It is important to have sufficient information and reliable, updated data for effective interventions. It is thus necessary to collect and maintain real-time data on various nutrition indicators.

Conclusion:

Adequate nutrition is important for women not only because it helps them be productive members of society but also because of the direct effect maternal nutrition has on the health and development of the next generation. There is also increasing concern about the possibility that maternal malnutrition may contribute to the growing burden of cardiovascular and other non-communicable diseases of adults in less developed countries. Finally, maternal malnutrition’s toll on maternal and infant survival stands in the way of countries’ work toward key global development goals including SDG-2.

 

 


General Studies – 3


 

Topic:  Disaster and disaster management;

4. Disaster risk governance at the national, regional and global levels is vital to the management of disaster risk reduction in all sectors and ensuring the coherence of national and local frameworks of laws, regulations and public policies. Comment. (250 words)

Reference: ndma.gov.in

Why the question:

The question is part of the static syllabus of General studies paper – 3.

Key Demand of the question:

To develop a link between governance and risk reduction during a disaster.

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 roles and responsibilities in governance that guide, encourage and incentivize the public and private sectors to take action and address disaster risk.

Body:

Mention about how disaster risk governance at the national, regional and global levels is of great importance for an effective and efficient management of disaster risk. Clear vision, plans, competence, guidance and coordination within and across sectors, as well as participation of relevant stakeholders, are needed.

Elaborate upon strengthening disaster risk governance for prevention, mitigation, preparedness, response, recovery and rehabilitation. Stress on the need for collaboration and partnership across mechanisms and institutions for the implementation of instruments relevant to disaster risk reduction and sustainable development.

Substantiate the above with examples.

Conclusion:

Complete the answer by highlighting the role that governance can play in mitigating disaster risk.

Introduction:

In the context of increasing global interdependence, concerted international cooperation, an enabling international environment and means of implementation are needed to stimulate and contribute to developing the knowledge, capacities and motivation for disaster risk reduction at all levels, in particular for developing countries.

Body:

Policies and practices for disaster risk management should be based on an understanding of disaster risk in all its dimensions of vulnerability, capacity, exposure of persons and assets, hazard characteristics and the environment. Such knowledge can be leveraged for the purpose of pre-disaster risk assessment, for prevention and mitigation and for the development and implementation of appropriate preparedness and effective response to disasters.

At National and Local levels:

  • To promote the collection, analysis, management and use of relevant data and practical information and ensure its dissemination, taking into account the needs of different categories of users, as appropriate;
  • To encourage the use of and strengthening of baselines and periodically assess disaster risks, vulnerability, capacity, exposure, hazard characteristics and their possible sequential effects;
  • To develop, periodically update and disseminate, as appropriate, location-based disaster risk information, including risk maps, to decision makers, the general public and communities.
  • To systematically evaluate, record, share and publicly account for disaster losses and understand the economic, social, health, education, environmental and cultural heritage impacts.
  • To make non-sensitive hazard-exposure, vulnerability, risk, disaster and loss-disaggregated information freely available and accessible, as appropriate;
  • To promote real time access to reliable data, make use of space and in situ information, including geographic information systems (GIS), and use information and communications technology innovations;
  • To build the knowledge of government officials at all levels, civil society, communities and volunteers, as well as the private sector, through sharing experiences, lessons learned, good practices. And to promote investments in the field of disaster management
  • To promote and improve dialogue and cooperation among scientific and technological communities, to facilitate a science policy interface for effective decision-making in disaster risk management;
  • To ensure the use of traditional, indigenous and local knowledge and practices, as appropriate, to complement scientific knowledge in disaster risk assessment and the development and implementation of policies, strategies, plans and programmes of specific sectors, with a cross-sectoral approach, which should be tailored to localities and to the context;

At Global and regional levels:

  • To enhance the development and dissemination of science-based methodologies and tools to record and share disaster losses and relevant disaggregated data and statistics, as well as to strengthen disaster risk modelling, assessment, mapping, monitoring and multi hazard early warning systems;
  • To promote the conduct of comprehensive surveys on multi-hazard disaster risks and the development of regional disaster risk assessments and maps, including climate change scenarios;
  • To promote and enhance, through international cooperation, including technology transfer, access to and the sharing and use of non-sensitive data and information, as appropriate, communications and geospatial and space-based technologies and related services; maintain and strengthen in situ and remotely-sensed earth and climate observations; and strengthen the utilization of media, including social media, traditional media, big data and mobile phone networks, to support national measures for successful disaster risk communication, as appropriate and in accordance with national laws;
  • To promote common efforts in partnership with the scientific and technological community, academia and the private sector to establish, disseminate and share good practices internationally;
  • To support the development of local, national, regional and global user-friendly systems and services for the exchange of information on good practices, cost-effective and easy-to-use disaster risk reduction technologies and lessons learned on policies, plans and measures for disaster risk reduction;
  • To develop effective global and regional campaigns as instruments for public awareness and education, building on the existing ones (for example, the “One million safe schools and hospitals” initiative; the “Making Cities Resilient: My city is getting ready” campaign; the United Nations Sasakawa Award for Disaster Risk Reduction; and the annual United Nations International Day for Disaster Reduction),
  • To encourage the availability of copyrighted and patented materials, including through negotiated concessions, as appropriate;
  • To enhance access to and support for innovation and technology, as well as in long-term, multi-hazard and solution-driven research and development in the field of disaster risk management.

Conclusion:

India has been traditionally vulnerable to natural disasters on account of its unique geo-climatic conditions. Floods, droughts, cyclones, earthquakes and landslides have been a recurrent phenomenon in the country. India has adopted the Sendai framework for disaster risk reduction and the first country to have drawn a national and local strategy with a short term goal achievement target set for 2020.

 

Topic:  Security challenges and their management in border areas;

5. A two-front conflict presents the Indian military with two dilemmas — of resources and strategy. India needs to be prepared and equipped to handle both the dilemmas in the light of recent events. Comment. (250 words)

Reference: The Hindu

Why the question:

A greater likelihood of conflict along the western border possibly triggered by a major terror attack emanating from Pakistan. The Chinese intrusions in Ladakh in May this year, the resultant violence have now made the two front military threat more apparent and real.

Key Demand of the question:

To suggest measures to prepare India for two front war by augmenting its resources and re-aligning it strategy.

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:

Begin by laying context of the possibility of two front war on Western and Norther borders of India.

Body:

Highlight the issues that India is facing with Pakistan and China on the westerns and northern borders respectively. Draw a simple and representative map for better illustration.

Bring out the changes witnessed in the recent years which have the possibility of two front war more apparent – Pulwama attacks, increased cross border shelling, abrogation of article 370 and terrorist infiltration on western side. The Galwan valley clashes and confrontation between Indian army and the PLA army and failure to break the dead lock, strong jingoism in Chinese state media etc. Joint military exercise between Pakistan and China adding further fuel.

Suggest measures as to how India can mobilize it resources and develop a proper strategy to be prepared in case a war breaks out on both fronts. Managing the quantum of resources on the primary front, whether to opt for an offensive or defensive strategy, development of a doctrine and the capability to deal with this contingency, capacity building of armed forces, engaging in diplomacy with other neighbors and reaching out to Kashmir.

Conclusion:

Surmise by mentioning though the threat remains distant possibility but it is better to prepared than to be sorry in order to avoid the horrors of 1962.

Introduction:

A two-front war occurs, when opposing forces encounter on two geographically separate fronts. The forces of two or more allied parties usually simultaneously engage an opponent in order to increase their chances of success.

The possibility of a two-front war with Pakistan and China has been debated in the past. The ongoing standoff with China in eastern Ladakh has brought India closer to that reality.

Body:

Earlier, India felt that it could avoid any military action from China through political and diplomatic action. The threat from China has become more real than it was in the past after the Ladakh clashes and some are seeing this as a failure of Indian diplomacy.

Challenges:

  • Disengagement is not possiblebecause of the Chinese actions. This is also because India has become more assertive and vocal in terms of what it believes to be its own role in the region, how it defines its parameters, the debate on Article 370, Aksai Chin, etc.
    • It means that both the LoC and the LAC will be equally volatile.
  • China’s regimebelieves its time has come and that India is taking certain steps that are important to be countered in real time.
  • New dynamic on the LAC:There will be a greater militarisation along the LAC.
    • The old protocols and agreements that guided the conduct of soldiers on both sides have all broken down.
    • So, greater distrust is going to now be the new normal for the next few years.
  • The size of India’s defence budget is decreasing, which is also a challenge.

India’s strengths and weaknesses:

In case of a two-front conflict or threat, if the primary threat is from China, that presents a much greater challenge to India.

  • Over the years, India has built extremely strong defences along the border. The Air Force has a geographical advantage over the PLA Air Force. Our Navy has a significant edge over the PLA Navy in the Indian Ocean.
  • Technological advantage of China: The PLA also has a technology edge in some very critical areas like ballistic missile, electronic warfare, cyber, air defence, etc., which are going to play a significant role in future warfare.
  • There are shortfalls in Indian infrastructure along the northern borders.

Strategic significance of Depsang plains:

  • Chinese troops continue to block Indian Army patrols in the Depsang Plains. Siachen is the closest point of ‘collusivity’ between China and Pakistan.
  • Siachen is important but geographically it is very difficult to carry out major military operations across the Saltoro Ridge in Siachen.
  • Depsang is strategically importantbecause it gives access to Siachen, it’s an area where we have the DS-DBO road which is a vital link to the northern areas of Ladakh and to the DBO airfield.

China- Pakistan economic corridor:

  • The more China feels vulnerable in the CPEC, the more open and explicit its policies have become vis-à-vis India. This has also allowed India to be more open about its policies with China.
  • In Indian foreign policy Pakistan is seen as part of a larger China problem.

The indo-pacific geopolitics:

  • Chinese aggression: However, we are also seeing that China is facing an intense backlash across the world post COVID-19, post the kind of aggressive postures it has adopted.
  • Now that is a challenge faced by India, Japan, Australia, the U.S. and Europe. 
  • So, the Indo-Pacific is becoming much contested.
  • So, there are opportunities there as well for India to build relationships with countries, which are threatened by China in the post Covid-19 world.

Significance of increased military cooperation, exercises, logistic agreements 

  • Quad has been revived, the Australians have been invited to Malabar, and the U.S.-India relationship has achieved a new dynamic with all the foundation agreements now being signed.
  • Unlike in the past, where relationships were seen as constraining India’s strategic autonomy, now the argument is that these relationships enhance India’s space to manoeuvre vis-a-vis China in particular.
  • The Chinese have been very sensitive about the Quad and Indo-Pacific.
  • Ultimately, India will have to fight its own battles. But with partners it will be a value addition.

Way forward:

  • Civil-military dialogue: At the strategic level, there needs to be greater dialogue between the civil and military leaderships to see how this can be bridged.
    • Unfortunately, our current state of civil-military relationship and the structures don’t encourage an open dialogue between the military leadership and the political leadership.
  • India has to mind that China is now a very important player in the global matrix. Indian diplomacy and military thinking will have to evolve more rapidly.

 


General Studies – 4


 

Topic:  laws, rules, regulations and conscience as sources of ethical guidance;

6. By placing a moral compass, we create a clear vision of the mental processes that point us in an ethical direction. Elaborate. (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:

Using the metaphor of the moral compass to describe conscience, our inner sense of right and wrong offers a framework to guide our actions.

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:

Start by describing what you understand by moral compass (conscience) which governs the actions you take in day to day life.

Body:

Elaborate on how the moral compass aids in deciding what right from is wrong. Use examples to substantiate your points.

One way is to treat others the way you want to be treated.

Next way, to use Rights Theory that obligates us to respect the rights of others and live up to our obligations towards them.

Another way is to utilitarian perspective to do maximum good for maximum people.

Conclusion:

Completed the answer by bring out how the moral compass prevents us acting purely from self-interest and helps us live a life of integrity.

Introduction:

Moral compass is a term used to describe our inner sense of right and wrong offers a framework to guide our actions. Conscience is inner moral sense of a person which guides him/her to regulate his behaviour. Voice of conscience corresponds to an inner voice that judges your behaviour. Voice of conscience is the source of ethical decision making for many.

Body:

Conscience can be defined as something within each of us that tells us what is right and what is wrong. Therefore, if one uses his/her conscience when making decisions it would be guided by what is the right thing to do and what is wrong.

The traditional test is to apply ethical decision-making methods such as Rights Theory that obligates us to respect the rights of others and live up to our obligations towards them. Another approach is to evaluate the possible benefits and harms of alternative courses of action on stakeholders who may be affected by our possible actions and choose the one that maximizes net benefits.

  • Our conscience is our inner guide and it helps you figure out how to make good choices. As we grow up, we learn right from wrong. Our conscience is the thought and feeling we have that tells us whether something is a right or wrong thing to do or say. Thus voice of Conscience is a consistent guide to ethical decision making.
  • A person can prepare himself/herself to heed to the voice of conscience by:
  • Pausing and thinking about the dimensions of issue.
  • Practicing the power of silence.
  • Meditating and prayer.
  • Freeing oneself from external influences and selfish interests.
  • A human being always comes across ethical dilemmas in the decision making the process. Voice of Conscience acts as the guide for taking correct decisions when we have to choose between competing sets of principles in a given, usually undesirable or perplexing, situation. Example: Helping accident victim on your way to an interview.
  • The voice of conscience of an individual help in analyzing the situation from different perspectives and help in taking the right decision.
  • Voice of Conscience helps in avoiding Conflicts of interest for better decision making. It can help in deciding between personal gains and public welfare.
  • Voice of Conscience is our ability to make a practical decision in light of ethical values and principles.
  • Voice of Conscience is a person’s moral compass of right and wrong as well as the consciousness of one’s actions. Expressions such as ‘gut feeling’ and ‘guilt’ are often applied in conjunction with a conscience.
  • The voice of conscience might suggest different principles and different behaviours to different situations. But it for a moment help individual from not doing wrong based on universal values.

Conclusion:

Acting purely from self-interest, at best, keeps us parallel to the original position and can turn our compass south if our actions do harm to others. We avoid going in that direction by living a life of integrity. We also need to understand and appreciate why we should consider the needs of others before acting. We could simply go back to The Golden Rule: Treat others the way you want to be treated. None of us, presumably, wants to be disrespected so we should treat others respectfully.

 

Topic:  Information sharing and transparency in government;

7. Most of the leading media companies are owned by large conglomerates that are still controlled by the founding families and that invest in a vast array of industries other than media. What are its ramifications and possible solutions to those ramifications? (150 words)

Why the question:

India is one of the biggest media markets in the world. However, the concentration of ownership of media shows that a handful of people own and control Indian media.

Key Demand of the question:

To bring out the impact of concertation of media power in the hands of few and to suggest measures to address it.

Structure of the answer:

Introduction:

Begin by mentioning how, the production of media content and its distribution are becoming increasingly combined and concentrated in the hands of a few which is leading to weakening of the fourth pillar of democracy.

Body:

Mention in detail the ramification of concertation of media in the hands of few major business houses such as biased news, one sided agenda, threats to pluralism, Patches of transparency and secrecy, Political leverage and politicization of news, rewarding or punishing media outlets through the allocation or non-allocation of advertising and violence against journalists etc.

Suggest steps to prevent such ramifications like framework law on overarching regulation on media houses, compulsory disclaimer on interests in media houses by politicians, preventing politicization of news by holding news channels accountable for their content, promoting free and fair independent journalism, protecting independent journalists from backlash from authorities or the powerful etc.

Conclusion:

Touch on the importance of free and fair media in a democracy as your conclusion.

Introduction:

India is one of the biggest media markets in the world. However, the concentration of ownership of media shows that a handful of people own and control Indian media. Research captures ownership structures and reflects on media pluralism. This is an important initiative to strengthen media ownership transparency which is fundamental to media’s credibility and its relationship with audiences.

Currently, India ranks an abysmal 138 out of 180 in the Press Freedom Index — the position not having changed much for over a decade. The Media Ownership Monitor indicates rather the opposite – a significant trend towards concentration and, ultimately, control of content and public opinion.

Body:

It is undisputed that media has the most potent influence on public opinion. It is thus the responsibility of the media to keep the citizens informed of the state of governance. As the Code of Ethics and Broadcasting Standards of the News Broadcasters Association (NBA) also recognizes, media is meant to expose the lapses in the government and to give the public a sense of involvement in the process of governance.

But there are many issues which vitiates against this role of media.

  • Censorship Begins from Within

Insecurity has become an acute ailment afflicting media professionals. Journalists have lost the courage to speak up or write about any issue that owners and managements do not want them to, including the issue of their own unstable working conditions.

  • Balancing Freedom of Trade and Freedom of Speech

Freedom of speech and expression plays a pivotal role in opinion building and consequently political configurations in a representative democracy. The concentration of media ownership has been a growing concern.

  • Media Control

The consequence of ‘Big Corporate’ and Politicians strengthening association with media network is a clear loss of heterogeneity in the dissemination of information and opinions. Media plurality in a multicultural country like India will diminish.

  • Rising Issue of Paid News

According to Press Council of India (PCI), paid news is “any news or analysis appearing in any media (print & electronic) for a price in cash or kind as consideration”. It refers to propaganda in favour of a candidate masquerading as news reports or articles for a price in cash or kind as consideration. The news is much like an advertisement, but without the ‘ad tag’.

  • Regulatory flaws

The high level of concentration comes as a result of considerable gaps in the regulatory framework to safeguard media pluralism and prevent media concentration.

Neither specific means to measure nor thresholds to limit ownership concentration in print, television and the online sector are in place. The patches of regulation that exist do not seem to be properly implemented Law in India does not regulate cross-media concentration either.

Consequently, regardless of seeming diversity and plurality of supply, the Indian media landscape is comprised of highly concentrated market segments.

Way forward:

  • Legislation: Although India has the Press Council of India and specific regulations, the country needs more detailed law regarding the media to protect not only the freedom of expression and speech but also journalists’ safety.
  • Strengthening justice system: Strengthening the courts, the police, and the justice system, and the rule of law is important to provide adequate protection for journalists.
  • Better regulation: Efforts must be made to enable regulations that would lower the barriers to media ownership and reduce concentration of media ownership.
  • Independent agencies: There is a need to establish independent press councils, media watch groups, Ombudsmen, and other media self‐regulatory bodies autonomous from the government.
  • Incentivise: Government must Institute awards and other forms of recognition for excellence in watchdog reporting.

Conclusion:

India is the biggest democracy in the world and the press and media play an important role in keeping the democracy thriving. Media should be neutral in airing views, as it is a vital link between government and Indian citizens. Media is thus necessary for smooth functioning of democracy.

India is at the cusp of both economic and social change and it is vital that we, as citizens, remain informed and aware of the happenings in the country. When we consume independent media, we are broadening their circulation and giving them a platform. A platform, that is vital towards sustainable, good governance.


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