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SECURE SYNOPSIS: 30 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: Salient features of world’s physical geography;

1.  Briefly describe the features of the islands of India. Andaman and Nicobar Islands have an untapped economic, geostrategic and cultural potential. Examine. (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 features of major islands of India and to mention about the potential of Andaman and Nicobar islands.

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:

Being by mentioning the major island group of India – The Andaman and Nicobar islands in the Bay of Bengal and Lakshadweep islands in the Arabian Sea.

Body:

Mention the features of both the islands. Such as their nature of formation, Major islands, composition and their unique features.

In the next part, add about levering the untapped potential of Andaman and Nicobar islands. How a proactive policy is needed at transforming the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, a tri-services command, as an economic hub and one of the key centers of its defence and security strategy.

A focused development plan for the Islands is expected to greatly enhance the country’s geopolitical leverage in the Indian Ocean Region.

Bring out potential challenges in achieving the above and suggest measures to overcome the same

Conclusion:

Summarize that the A&N Islands can play a key role in enhancing India’s regional engagement with the Bay of Bengal littorals.

Introduction:

The Andaman and Nicobar Islands are situated on the eastern side of the India’s mainland and is one of the prettiest islands chain of the Indian Ocean Region. These Islands are situated in Bay of Bengal and Andaman Sea.  These islands are very close to Southeast Asia. These islands are divided by Ten Degree Channel in two parts that is Andaman Islands and Nicobar Islands.    The total land area of these islands is about 8073km square. The Andaman Group has 325 islands (6170 km2) and Nicobar Group has only 24 islands (1765km2).

As the geopolitical importance of the Indo-Pacific increases, the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, located in the Bay of Bengal, will attain increased strategic significance.

Body:

Economic importance:

  • These islands are full of natural resources.
  • Fishing is the major source of income here.
  • The main agricultural crops are rice, red oilseeds, rubber, palm and cashew.
  • Small scale handicrafts industries are the major contributor of the economy of the people.
  • Above all the tourism has become the major industry here during the past few decades.
  • The lush green islands are full of floras and faunas.
  • Thousands of Indian and foreign tourists came to these islands every year.
  • According to Government of India information, Andaman and Nicobar Islands have notified 23 ports for various uses. The biggest and busiest port is Port Blair port.

Geostrategic importance:

  • Strategically located, the A&N Islands, larger than several island countries in themselves, are an asset in India’s defence and strategic calculus.
  • The Six Degree and Ten Degree Channels in the Andaman Sea which lead to the Malacca Strait are vital to the sea lanes of communication (SLOCs) along which flows global commerce, including energy trade, between Asia, Africa and the Pacific.
  • The A&N Islands are at the intersection of the Indian Ocean and the South China Sea, and further to the Pacific Ocean, an important fulcrum of the strategic concept of the Indo-Pacific.
  • The Andaman and Nicobar chain of islands could be used as a basis for Indian maritime power projection into the Indo-Pacific and even beyond into the south-west Pacific.
  • The Andaman and Nicobar Islands could be used for India’s Third Fleet and the trans-shipment hub at Car Nicobar, the northernmost island in the chain, could potentially be a strategic game changer, rivalling the ports of Singapore or Colombo.
  • India, Japan and the United States could also install sonar surveillance systems in the islands to track Chinese submarines in the Indian Ocean. Australia might also choose to take part in such an arrangement.
  • the Andaman and Nicobar Command (ANC) is an important marker of India’s strategic presence in the Eastern Indian Ocean. In recent years, the Bay of Bengal has emerged as a critical area of interest for China and Chinese companies have been setting up critical shipping and energy infrastructure in Bay states. In a bid to emphasise its regional pre-eminence, the Indian Navy has raised the tempo of naval operations in the Bay of Bengal.
  • Beyond active surveillance and submarine hunting, the Andaman and Nicobar Command (ANC) is an important marker of India’s strategic presence in the Eastern Indian Ocean.

Cultural potential:

  • Andaman and Nicobar Islands are famous for their ever green rain forest and wildlife for which the tourists hailing from different part of India and the world.
  • The varied tourist spots in the tranquil islands of Andaman and Nicobar are so spectacular that people from all over the globe gather at least once to witness its charm and grandeur.
  • Andaman and Nicobar Islands handicrafts industry is mainly dependent upon its shell crafts. The shell-crafted items of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands handicraft industry enjoy high demand worldwide.
  • Timber and woodwork also form an important sector in the handicraft industry.
  • Andaman & Nicobar Islands is a melting pot of Indian Culture. Andaman cuisine is heavily influenced by all the cultures that came into contact with the region. Like many other aspects of Andaman culture, the influence of the Hindu, Christian, Muslim, and Sikh religions in traditional food is very strong.

Conclusion:

The A&N Islands have played a key role in enhancing India’s regional engagement with the Bay of Bengal littorals. The GOI constituted the Island Development Agency (IDA) in 2017 for the development of islands.

 

Topic: Salient features of Indian Society, Diversity of India;

2. Without involving its indigenous communities, any conservation efforts to protect and conserve the Western Ghats is flawed. Analyze. (250 words)

Reference: The Hindu 

Why the question:

This article talks about community-involved conservation models and argues for the need of integrating forest tribes as part of conservation efforts of Western Ghats.

Key Demand of the question:

To bring out the relationship between conservation of Western Ghats and protecting the natural habitat of indigenous people.

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:

Briefly mention about indigenous communities and tribes of Western Ghats. Mention relevant facts and figures.

Body:

Give a backdrop of the conservation efforts on going in the Western Ghats. Need for conservation which is a World Heritage Site declared by the UNESCO.

Mention the Forest Rights Act of 2006 as to how it protects the interests of the forest tribes.

Mention the lacunas in the implementation of Forest Rights Act of 2006: recognition of the claims, inconsistency in the government’s approach in settling the claims, eviction of forest dwellers for conservation or developmental purposes etc.

Suggest measures of how to make the indigenous tribes an important part of conservation as well as developmental efforts. Involving communities living in the management and use of these resources, implementing the Forest Rights act at grassroots and Sustainable Use of Biodiversity etc.

Conclusion:

Underscore the importance of balancing the protection of indigenous communities as central to the conservation efforts.

Introduction:

The Western Ghats is one of the eight hotspots of biological diversity in the world and is spread across six states—Gujarat, Maharashtra, Goa, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Kerala. The hill ranges of the Western Ghats, a global biodiversity hotspot, extend along the west coast of India from the river Tapti in the north to the southern tip of India. Their positioning makes the Western Ghats biologically rich and biogeographically unique – a veritable treasure house of biodiversity.

Body:

Significance of Western Ghats:

  • Diversity of ecosystem: Ranging from tropical wet evergreen forests to montane grasslands containing numerous medicinal plants and important genetic resources such as the wild relatives of grains, fruit and spices. They also include the unique shola ecosystem which consists of montane grasslands interspersed with evergreen forest patches.
  • A significant water source:Approximately 245 million people live in the peninsular Indian states that receive most of their water supply from rivers originating in the Western Ghats.
  • Sustaining the livelihood:The soil and water of this region sustain the livelihoods of millions of people.
  • Influencer of weather pattern: Mediate the warm tropical climate of the region, presenting one of the best examples of the tropical monsoon system on the planet.
  • Natural barrier: The Ghats act as a key barrier, intercepting the rain-laden monsoon winds that sweep in from the south-west during late summer.

Need for conservation:

  • Mining: Unsustainable mining has increased vulnerability to landslides, damaged water sources and agriculture, thus negatively affected the livelihoods of the people living in those areas
  • Livestock Grazing: Livestock grazing within and bordering protected areas by high densities of livestock (cattle and goats) is a serious problem causing habitat degradation across the Western Ghats.
  • Human-wildlife conflict:Villagers living close to Bhadra Wildlife Sanctuary in the State of Karnataka, lose approximately 11 percent of their annual grain production to raiding elephants annually (CEPF).
  • Extraction of forest produce:Human communities living within and adjacent to protected areas in the Western Ghats are often dependent on extraction of NTFPs to meet a diversity of subsistence and commercial needs. With rising population and changing consumption patterns, sustainability of NTFP is a critical issue.
  • Encroachment by human settlements:Human settlements where legal and/or traditional rights of land ownership occur both within and outside protected areas all across the Western Ghats and represent a significant landscape level threat.
  • Pollution: The unrestricted use of agrochemicals in the vicinity of forests, particularly in tea and coffee estates, causes serious damage to aquatic and forest ecosystems.
  • Hydropower projects and Large dams: Large dam projects in Western Ghats have resulted in environmental and social disruption despite cost benefit analyses and environmental impact assessments being done by the government and companies
  • Deforestation:Conversion of forest land into agricultural land or for commercial purpose like tourism, illegal logging for timber have had significant negative effects on biodiversity.
  • Climate change:The changes in land use and deforestation have led to big variations in the duration and intensity of rainfalls. Climate change has been considered as a cause of floods in many regions in recent past.
  • Lack of knowledge: A major challenge to conservation efforts in Western Ghats is lack of complete understanding of distributional patterns, habitat requirements and conservation status of plants and animal species.
  • Development vs. Conservation: The biggest challenge in conservation of Western Ghats has been the development vs. conservation dilemma. A prime reason of states opposing recommendations on ESA has been the fear that conservation process would hamper economic development of the region and would also deprive a large number of people of their livelihood
  • Apathy of state governments: The environment ministry had made several attempts to finalise ESA for Western Ghats but the previous drafts lapsed due to no response from the states, which reflects poorly on the states and governance.

Government Efforts for Conservation:

  • Government has taken measures to conserve the fast declining biological diversity with the establishment of Protected Area network, tiger reserves and biosphere reserves. Nearly 10 per cent of the total area of Western Ghats is currently covered under protected areas
  • The government has also taken initiative to demarcate Ecologically Sensitive Areas (ESA.) These areas are not just about regulation of development but are also intimately linked to positive promotion of environment-friendly and socially inclusive development.
  • Establishing a Western Ghats Ecology Authority through a broad-based participatory process when it is put in place.
  • It specified a bottom to top approach for governance of the environment. It also called for Establishment of fully empowered Biodiversity Management Committees in all local bodies.

Way forward:

  • There is an urgent need to examine the mechanisms by which land use change affects biodiversity, which in turn will improve our understanding of how human-modified landscapes need to be managed in order to sustain and improve their biodiversity conservation value.
  • There is a need for better understanding of the role of biodiversity in ecosystem functions and related ecosystem services. This would also help in eliciting greater civil society support and enhanced political will to conserve the Western Ghats.
  • There is a need for policy changes that promote better management of human-wildlife conflict, financial incentives to encourage biodiversity-friendly farming and other incentive schemes such as payments for ecosystem services.
  • Land use policy and law enforcement should ensure that illegal hunting, deforestation, land use change and other human actions that contribute to livelihoods but hamper biodiversity conservation are kept in check.
  • A balance between conservation efforts and development should be sought and concerned state governments should come to a consensus for implementation of ESA in Western Ghats.

 

 


General Studies – 2


 

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

3. With the Australia-China trade war worsening and relations souring between the two countries, India has the opportunity to be a solution to Australian reliance on China. Examine. (250 words)

Reference: Indian Express 

Why the question:

The downward spiral of Australia’s relationship with China and a retaliatory measures taken by each other have put both countries head to head in a trade war. This article covers the same.

Key Demand of the question:

To explain the ongoing Sino-Australian dispute and how India can offer solution to Australian reliance on China.

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 the answer by giving context of the ongoing dispute between the two countries.

Body:

Mention the recent events that triggered the on-going disputes.

With relevant facts and figures mention about the dependence of Australia on China and how the country already reeling under the economic impact of Covid-19 is now further struggling due to the ongoing tariff war.

Mention the potential opportunities that India has in being a solution for Australia given that India too has an ongoing territorial dispute with Beijing. India is currently Australia’s fifth largest export partner and presents a lucrative option for Australian exporters to diversify, strategic political benefits, both countries are federal democracies, former British colonies, India’s and Australia strong relationship with the US and new economic policies under taken by India etc. Also, mention the limitations of the above.

Conclusion:

Conclude with a way forward.

Introduction:

The outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic led to a sharp deterioration in the US-China ties, a tangential impact on China’s relations with long-standing US ally, Australia, has been critical. Tensions between the two began to surface about eight months ago, in the aftermath of Australia’s public statement requesting an independent inquiry into the origins of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Body:

How India can be a solution to Australian reliance on China:

India and Australia have many converging interests. There is an opportunity to translate these converging interests and coalescing of values into a formidable partnership. There is the scope for partnership in diverse areas, including the most relevant challenge of climate change facing the planet. Post the tragedy of the bushfires, the debate on global warming, climate change and fossil fuels and the need for climate action is only going to intensify.

Potential areas of cooperation:

  • Water: Australia and India face some similar challenges in water resources management, particularly in managing over-allocation and water quality, while balancing the water needs of the community, industry and maintaining system flows. Both the nations can come together in finding a novel solution to this common problem.
  • Energy: Meeting the energy needs of 240 million people, which currently lack access to electricity, is a key priority for India. Australia is a natural partner for India in the energy sector as it is a world leader in energy and the sector contributes around 10% to Australia’s GDP.
  • Science and Technology: India and Australia have a strong track record of collaborating in research and innovation. The $84 million Australia-India Strategic Research Fund (AISRF) is Australia’s largest.

The other potential areas include:

  • Skills and higher education
  • Maritime technology and maritime security
  • Cybersecurity
  • Counterterrorism

Economic cooperation:

  • Indians are today the largest source of skilled migrants to Australia and the economic relationship between the two is already robust.
  • There is still scope for enhanced economic cooperation between the two countries and efforts in this direction are afoot.
  • The Government of India will be officially releasing the Australia Economic Strategy (AES). This will complement Australia’s India Economic Strategy 2035.
  • Post India’s decision to exit from the RCEP trade deal, India aims to strengthen economic ties with Australia.

Shared Values:

  • India and Australia have large English-speaking populations. Language is not a major barrier for the two nations.
  • India and Australia are both multicultural, federal democracies that believe in and respect the rule of law.

Challenges:

  • The region faces a range of traditional security challenges that relate to issues of trust in the form of China which has emerged as a regional power and has little faith in rule based order.
  • There are also a growing number of non-traditional and trans-boundary security challenges, including terrorism, natural disasters and pandemics.
  • Also, India faces unfavourable trade with Australia and despite opening talks for a comprehensive economic cooperation agreement in 2011, the agreement which would have significantly lowered the trade balance in favour of India, has remained elusive.

Way forward:

  • There is the need to elevate the ‘two plus two’ format talks between India and Australia, from the secretary level to the level of foreign and defence ministers.
  • That would signal that New Delhi recognises Canberra as important a partner as Washington and Tokyo.
  • This will help take the bilateral relations to the next stage.
  • India no longer sees Australia at the periphery of India’s vision but at the centre of its thoughts.
  • The opportunity as well as challenge is that the two nations are at very different levels of development. There can be converging and diverging interests.
  • Therefore, the future must be woven around the three pillars, which are economic relationship, geostrategic congruence and people-to-people ties, and the glue that can bind this is a sustained momentum.

 


General Studies – 3


 

Topic:   Disaster and disaster management;

4. Natural disasters generate significant fiscal risks, severely impacting developing countries. Prime Minister’s Ten Point Agenda on Disaster Risk Reduction majorly aims to address the same. Critically analyze. (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 analyze to what extent PM’s ten point agenda is effective in reducing fiscal risks associated with disasters.

Directive:

Critically analyze – When asked to analyze, 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. When ‘critically’ is suffixed or prefixed to a directive, one needs to look at the good and bad of the topic and give a fair judgment.

Structure of the answer:

Introduction:

Start by briefly writing about PM ten point agenda which seeks have a concrete ideas for prioritized implementation of Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction.

Body:

Mention the fiscal impact of natural disasters on developing countries with examples.

In short and an evaluated manner, analyze the major points for PM’s 10 point agenda. All development sectors must imbibe the principles of disaster risk management, Risk Coverage, Role of women, Investment in risk mapping, leveraging technology, harnessing social media ecosystem and capacity building of locals etc.

Bring out the positives aspect of the agenda such as think big and innovatively to widen the risk insurance cover, greater involvement and leadership of women, undertaking multi-hazard risk assessments and leveraging technology to enhance the efficiency etc.

Mention the drawback of ten point agenda such as: rhetorical in nature and no fixed framework to achieve it, Risk Coverage is done with existing schemes like PM-FBY, PM-JDY, PM-SBY and nothing new has been introduced etc.

Conclusion:

Conclude with a way forward.

Introduction:

Disasters have been increasing in frequency and intensity over the past few decades. This has been directly linked to the nature and extent of human activities taking place in erstwhile natural surroundings. The correlation between disaster prevention, mitigation, preparedness and relief with sustainable development policy in general is only too evident to be any longer overlooked. Disaster Risk Reduction has a pivotal role in supporting adaptation to climate change as well as sustainable development.

Body:

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has outlined a 10-point agenda for efforts towards disaster risk reduction, in an address he delivered at the Asian Ministerial Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction held in New Delhi.

Key Points include:

  • All development sectors must imbibe the principles of disaster risk management.
  • Work towards risk coverage for all-starting from poor households to SMEs to multinational corporations to nation-states.
  • Encourage greater involvement and leadership of women in disaster risk management.
  • Invest in risk mapping globally. For mapping risks related to hazards like earthquakes, we have accepted standards and parameters.
  • Leverage technology to enhance the efficiency of our disaster risk management efforts.
  • Develop a network of universities to work on disaster issues.
  • Utilise the opportunities provided by social media and mobile technologies.
  • Build on local capacity and initiative.
  • Opportunity to learn from a disaster must not be wasted. After every disaster there are papers on lessons that are rarely applied.
  • Bring about greater cohesion in the international response to disasters.

Challenges in Disaster Risk Reduction

  • Insufficient levels of implementationfor each monitored activity. For example, Disaster risk management plans or a risk sensitive building codes exist but they are not enforced because of a lack of government capacity or public awareness.
  • Lack of local capacitiesto implement disaster risk management. Weak capacity at the local levels undermines the implementation Disaster preparedness plans.
  • Absence of integration of climate change into Disaster risk management plans.
  • Divergence of obtaining political and economic commitmentsdue to other competing needs and priorities such as poverty reduction, social welfare, education etc. require greater attention and funding.
  • Poor coordination between stakeholders,there is inadequate access with respect to risk assessment, monitoring, early warning, disaster response and other Disaster related activities.
  • Insufficient investment in building disaster resilient strategies,also private sector are least contributors in the share of investment.

Way Forward

  • Disasters are no longer to be considered as occurrences that are to be managed through emergency response services. So, there is a need to foster a culture of prevention and identification of the key issues to be addressed especially in the development process.
  • The path ahead for managing disasters is to bring in a people-centered development strategy.
  • Strategies for disaster management should be accompanied by strong political will,keenness and commitment on the part of all concerned actors involved in the exercise.
  • Educating people in Disaster Risk Reduction is the need of the hour and it can be done through decentralised planning, implementation and monitoring and control.
  • The major strategies which should get prominence are institutionalising national systems and capacities,strengthening governance mechanisms at local level, building community resilience, reducing the vulnerabilities of the communities at risk and public private people partnerships etc.
  • Disaster Management has to embark upon a strategy aimed at holistic human development integrating the sustainable development goals,policies and practices that harness people’s strengths instead of vulnerabilities.

 

Topic:    Effects of liberalization on the economy, changes in industrial policy and their effects on industrial growth.

5. Geo-politics and geo-economics can never be truly separated. For India to be truly Atmanirbhar, India needs to focus on creating and fostering an environment of resilient supply chains that will enhance India’s position in the global supply chain. Comment. (250 words)

Reference: The Hindu 

Why the question:

A key lesson learnt by the world during the COVID-19 pandemic has been the importance of creating resilient supply chains that can withstand disruptions and ensure reliability for the global economy. This article emphasizes on it.

Key Demand of the question:

To develop a link between geo-politics and geo-economics and stress on the need to have resilient and self-reliant supply chains.

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:

Mention about the bottlenecks in supply chains which can either be natural due to disasters or manmade due to politics, breakdown etc.

Body:

Bring out the link between geopolitics and geo-economics. Substantiate with historical as well as recent examples as to how supply chains were disrupted because of geo-politics and bring out its impact.

Write about how having a resilient supply chains is vital to ensure the success of Atmanirbhar Bharat. Mention the obstacles that India faces such as, over reliance on imports in some sectors,  issues regarding data localisation, intellectual property rights, high tariffs, duplicative safety and security testing, price controls, being overly bureaucratic etc.

Suggest measures to strengthen India’s capacities to participate more vigorously without being prey to supply chain disruptions: engaging the Supply Chain Resilience Initiative (SCRI) of India, Japan and Australia, Supply chain needs to be diversified, infrastructure needs to be resilient and reliable and policies in the business environment also need to be reliable, levelling the playing field by abandoning discriminatory policies, enhancing transparency and predictability and its policies and lowering the cost of doing business and utilizing technologies such as blockchain etc.

Conclusion:

Conclude with a way forward.

Introduction:

Supply chain management is the management of the flow of goods and services and includes all processes that transform raw materials into final products. It involves the active streamlining of a business’s supply-side activities to maximize customer value and gain a competitive advantage in the marketplace.

Supply chain resilience (SCR) is an approach wherein a country instead of being dependent on just one or a few nations has diversified its supply risk across a range of supplying nations.

Unprecedented circumstances are upon us. As covid-19 mutates across the sphere, with governments unsure and citizens fretting, there is little doubt over the scale of the challenge that lies ahead. With a worldwide recession looming, the pandemic will test our collective resilience.

Body:

India’s vulnerabilities in SCM:

  • A large emerging economy such as India can ill-afford the shocks of disruption in supply chains.
  • Nor can it allow itself to be held hostage due to an over-reliance on imports.
  • SCR aims to reduce the dependency on a single nation.
  • It helps a country to ensure that it has diversified its supply risk across a clutch of supplying nations instead of being dependent on just one or a few.
  • In unanticipated events, natural and man-made, that disrupt supplies from a particular country or even intentional halts to trade, could adversely impact economic activity in the destination country.
  • For instance, the pandemic caused a breakdown in global supply chains in the automotive sector since most global manufacturers in China abruptly went offline.
  • For India, which imports 27% of its requirement of automotive parts from China, this quandary was a wake-up call, given the sudden shortage of braking components, electrical components, interiors and lighting fixtures.

Impacts on India:

  • In areas such as Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients for medicines such as paracetamol, India is fully dependent on China. In electronics, China accounts for 45% of India’s imports, the analysis showed.
  • Chinese supplies dominate segments of the Indian economy. Sectors that have been impacted by supply chain issues arising out of the pandemic include pharmaceuticals, automotive parts, electronics, shipping, chemicals and textiles.
  • Over time, if India enhances self-reliance or works with exporting nations other than China, it could build resilience into the economy’s supply networks.
  • Following the border tensions of India with China, partners such as Japan, Australia can offer alternative supply chains.

Way forward for India:

  • India needs to enhance self-reliance against China, so that it could build resilience into the economy’s supply networks. Economic measures are of real value in this regard.
  • Although India appears an attractive option for potential investors both as a market and as a manufacturing base, it needs to accelerate progress in ease of doing business and in skill building.
  • These will help in attracting investments from China and other attractive locations like Vietnam and the Philippines.
  • India must strengthen its strategy to boost manufacturing competitiveness and increase its share in world trade.
  • There is a certain and urgent need to create an infrastructure that raises the competitiveness of India’s exports.
  • India needs to push through long-pending legislation that aims to address the structural bottlenecks (in 4Ls: Land, Labour, Law, Liquidity) that continue to plague and hinder domestic competitiveness.
  • In spite of banning Chinese imports, India should tackle trade by trade.
  • India can lobby for a more liberalized service sector (India’s comparative advantage) in China.

 


General Studies – 4


 

Topic:  lessons from the lives and teachings of great leaders, reformers and administrators;

6. Which great leader or personality inspires you to stay morally upright? Why? (250 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 talk about the inspiration you draw from a great personality that defines your morally justified path.

Structure of the answer:

Introduction:

Start by introducing the personality or a relevant quote from the personality.

Body:

This is a very open ended. You should select a leader or personality who was known for his/her ethical standing, fortitude and moral courage.

It is vital that you mention the facets of the leader or personality with relevant instances form his life as to how he/she inspire you to stay on the right path.

Leaders and great personalities such as Mahatma Gandhi, Nelson Mandela, Gautama Buddha etc.

Conclusion:

Conclude by stating the necessity of learning from the lives of the great personalities to keep up morally upright.

Introduction:

A leader is the one, who maintains high levels of Integrity, accountability, empathy, humility, resilience, vision, influence, and positivity. The mark of a good leader are the Communication skills, ability to be resilient under difficult situations, Influences large number of people through a Vision, Delegates responsibilities and builds confidence among his fellow workers.

Body:

“If you light a lamp for somebody, it will also brighten your path”. The eminent personality that has inspired me the most in the context of ethical conduct in life is Gautama Buddha.

Buddha was a philosopher, mendicant, meditator, spiritual teacher, and religious leader who lived in Ancient India (c. 5th to 4th century BCE). He is revered as the founder of the world religion of Buddhism.

Buddha spoke about enlightenment that is knowledge to escape from the cycle of birth and death. Sufferings of human being can be ended and happiness can be brought only through pursuit of knowledge.

Besides, Buddhism prescribes for an eight-fold path for ethical conduct in life. It consists of Right Understanding, Right Thought, Right Speech, Right Action, Right Livelihood, Right Effort, Right Mindfulness and Right Concentration. Buddha also taught about five precepts – No Killing, No stealing, No sexual misconduct, No lying, No intoxicant. One of the most important teachings of Buddha is the ‘Middle Path’. In advocates a middle course between extreme self-denial and excessive pursuit of material pleasures.

Out of all the teachings of Buddha, the one I have tried to emulate is that of ‘Middle Path’. I have tried to strike a balance between hedonism and asceticism. Whenever I get into an ethical dilemma, I try to find a middle course of action. I also try to balance between the physical needs and mental well-being. I try avoiding extreme of human conduct.

For example, at one hand I try to be idealistic but on the other hand I try to bring in pragmatism whenever required without compromising ethical principles.

Conclusion:

”No person is a born leader, but one has to build on the fundamentals as mentioned above, to be a great leader”. Thus, it is evident that the roles and responsibilities of a Government leader are a lot more, and hence they are expected to be ‘top notch’ to fulfil the same and take the country forward.

Note: you can talk about any leader of your choice, please make sure that the answer reflects the values you have learnt from the leader.

 

Topic: Public/Civil service values and Ethics in Public administration: Status and problems; ethical concerns and dilemmas in government and private institutions;

7. The bureaucracy should not just aim to be ethical and efficient but also to create an environment that’s good for body and mind for its workers. 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:

To explain how bureaucracy, apart from being ethical and efficient must strive create a positive and healthy environment for its workers.

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 giving context how the work pressure and sedentary lifestyle of bureaucracy is adversely affecting the physical health of the civil servants.

Body:

Bring out the causes for the same. The internal pressure from higher ups, the external pressures from politicians, activists etc, cumbersome work, lack of vacations, lack of physical activity and high expectations to deliver on time etc.

Write about the impact of the above. Deteriorating physical health with obesity, blood pressure and diabetes, worsening mental health with anxiety and depression, negative work life balance, affected familial relationship etc.

Suggest measures to improve the same. Flexible deadlines, compulsory vacations, promoting yoga and meditation on a daily basis, concessions for gym, insulating civil servants from undue political pressure, regular health checkups etc.

Conclusion:

Summarize that a positive atmosphere at work will not only reduce stress but improve the efficiency of the workers.

Introduction:

A bureaucratic culture is a hierarchical and formal organization that has several levels where tasks, authority and responsibilities are delegated between departments, offices or people. This structure is held together by a central or main administration, and it has led to the development of modern civilization. A strict command and control structure is present at all times. Bureaucracies are meant to be orderly, fair and highly efficient.

Body:

The key issues and problems faced under a bureaucratic work culture are:

  • Bureaucratic environments are big on policies and procedures, and unfortunately, sometimes employees and even leaders forget to think for themselves.
  • Lack of Transparency: The lack of percolation of much of the information about organization’s decisions. Even personnel in supervisory roles are probably blindsided by unexpected announcements, new initiatives, and policy changes.
  • Coordinated action is very difficult: Departments have offices at different geographic units, and there is no accepted coordinator at all. This further reduces the capacity of coordinated action and responsiveness to local needs.
  • Lack of proper role and capacity building: Role of local governments tends to be unclear, resulting in conflict between political representatives and officials, which leads to further disempowerment.
  • Shortage of personnel: The availability of technical personnel is very patchy.
  • Focus on output and not on outcomes: Rigid departmental programmes frame all activities and officials define their roles in terms of implementing programmes rather than goals such as reducing malnutrition.
  • Failure of technology: Technology has also added to centralisation by strengthening linksbetween the State departments and the field offices, rather than links between the field officials and the community. Endless Paperwork and Red Tapism adds to failure of technology.
  • The basic flaws of excessive centralisation and authoritarianismhave only been strengthened. These problems are exacerbated by widespread corruption, which further reduces professionalism.

There’s a wider issue here of the nature of modern work, and the impact of stress on health over time. Employees suffering from anxiety and depression are often an indication of where the management, culture or day-to-day operations of an organisation aren’t what they should be.

The study by Harvard Medical School suggests higher levels of activity in the amygdala part of the brain, processing emotions associated with stress, encourages the production of more white blood cells and inflammation of the arteries – leading to heart attacks, angina and strokes.

Combinations of pressures from global competition, more uncertainty, heightened career expectations and digital working practices, have led to working lives running at new and unhealthy levels of intensity.

Dealing with a culture of stress and challenges to mental health is a question of leadership. Because the reality is that work is good for us: providing a positive routine, a daily sense of purpose and achievement and social environment. So there’s a healthy form of hardworking and an unhealthy one. Senior management in the civil service need to be thinking about how they can ensure staff are well protected and that working cultures are appropriate.

Way forward

  • Tactics for encouraging a positive mental health culture should be based around awareness of the range of causes of stress in a department.
  • Senior officials should be aware of the changing character of work roles. Processes should be in place to review workloads and work variety.
  • Employees need to feel a sense of control when it comes to their daily routines, and that support is available when this isn’t the case.
  • Measures to enhance accountability and autonomyto the community, such as the Right to Information Act, social audits, and public service guarantee acts in various States is necessary.
  • Provide opportunities for flexible working because small adjustments to work routines can be a release valve for growing pressures and a sense of a lack for control.
  • Establishing awareness and understanding is important, as is training for officials and staff on reducing stigma and discrimination.
  • Be conscious of those individuals most at risk of mental health problems: Conditions like anxiety and depression are more likely among those employees with existing long-term health problems such as diabetes or health issues involving pain.
  • Introduction of standing desks, standing meetings, or even walking meetings, to avert the risk of Karoshi phenomenon (affecting heart).
  • Top-Down approach:The bosses at the top should lead by example. Changes will automatically trickle down to the lowest level.
  • An effective multi-generational team will work within an environment that doesn’t intimidate and allows for ownership of the vision at all levels.
  • Make technology employee-friendly, increase their ease of use and educate employees about the advantages and benefits of how technology eases work.

Conclusion

Bureaucratic work culture is here to stay and the way forward is to bring in reforms to utilize it more effectively and efficiently.


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