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SECURE SYNOPSIS: 11 March 2021


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


General Studies – 2


 

Topic: Representation of People Act

1. Discuss the virtues and shortcomings of the concept of “One nation, One election” for Indian polity. (250 words)

Reference:  Indian polity by Lakshmikant

Why the question:

The question is from the static portions of GS paper II, part Indian polity and theme elections.  

Key Demand of the question:

One must evaluate the pros and cons of the concept of “One nation, One election” for Indian polity.

Directive:

Discuss – This is an all-encompassing directive – you have to debate on paper by going through the details of the issues concerned by examining each one of them. You have to give reasons for both for and against arguments.

Structure of the answer:

Introduction:

Explain first what is ‘One Nation, One Election’.

Body:

It refers to holding elections to Lok Sabha, State Legislative Assemblies, Panchayats and Urban local bodies simultaneously, once in five year.

Discuss the concerns with existing election system (frequent elections); Massive expenditure, Policy paralysis, Impact on delivery of essential services, Burden on crucial manpower , pressure on political parties etc. 

Then talk about the benefits of simultaneous elections such as – Governance and consistency, Reduced Expenditure of Money and Administration, Continuity in policies and programmes, Efficiency of Governance etc.

Conclusion:

Conclude with significance.

Introduction:

Simultaneous elections refer to holding elections to Lok Sabha, State Legislative Assemblies, Panchayats and Urban local bodies simultaneously, once in five years. The idea of holding elections simultaneously is in news after it got a push from Prime Minister and ex-President of India. However, political parties are divided on the issue of holding simultaneous elections

The political parties of Kashmir recently impressed upon the Election Commission of India (ECI) to hold the assembly polls in Jammu and Kashmir simultaneously with the upcoming Lok Sabha elections

Body:

The Law Commission of India has also proposed holding simultaneous state and general elections and has sought public opinion on its recommendations regarding the same. Simultaneous elections were held in India during the first two decades of independence.

Merits of Simultaneous elections:

  • Governance and consistency:
    • The ruling parties will be able to focus on legislation and governance rather than having to be in campaign mode forever.
    • Parties and workers spending too much time and money in electioneering can make use of the time for social work and to take people-oriented programmes to the grassroots.
    • To overcome the “policy paralysis and governance deficit” associated with imposition of the Model Code of Conduct at election time which leads to putting on hold all developmental activities on that area and also affects the bureaucracy’s functioning.
  • Reduced Expenditure of Money and Administration:
    • The entire State and District level administrative and security machinery will be busy with the conduct of elections twice in a period of five years as per the current practice.
    • Expenditure can be reduced by conducting simultaneous elections.
    • It is felt that crucial manpower is often deployed on election duties for a prolonged period of time. If simultaneous elections are held, then this manpower would be made available for other important tasks.
    • For instance, for the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, which was held along with 4 state assemblies saw the deployment of 1077 in situ companies and 1349 mobile companies of Central Armed Police Force (CAPF).
  • Continuity in policies and programmes:
    • Will limit the disruption to normal public life associated with elections, such as increased traffic and noise pollution.
    • Large numbers of teachers are involved in the electoral process which causes maximum harm to the education sector.
  • Efficiency of Governance:
    • Simultaneous elections can bring the much-needed operational efficiency in this exercise.
    • Populist measures by governments will reduce.
  • Curbs Vices:
    • During frequent elections there is increase in “vices” such as communalism, casteism, corruption and crony capitalism.
    • Simultaneous elections can also be a means to curb corruption and build a more conducive socio-economic ecosystem.
    • The impact of black money on the voters will be reduced as all elections are held at a time.

Challenges to simultaneous elections:

  • Illiteracy:
    • Not all voters are highly educated to know who to vote for. They may get confused and may not know whether they are voting for candidates contesting assembly or parliament elections.
    • IDFC study says that there is 77% chance that the Indian voter will vote for the same party for both the state and centre, when elections are held simultaneously.
    • Evidence from Brazil, Argentina, Canada, Germany, the US and Europe supports the idea that elections that are held simultaneously produce greater alignment between national and regional election outcomes.
  • Functional issues:
    • Frequent elections bring the politicians back to the voters, create jobs and prevent the mixing of local and national issues in the minds of the voters.
    • There is a dearth of enough security and administrative officials to conduct simultaneous free and fair elections throughout the country in one go.
  • Changes in Constitution and Legislations:
    • The following constitutional changes need to be made:
    • Amendments needed in the following articles:
      • Article 83 which deals with the duration of Houses of Parliament need an amendment
      • Article 85 (on dissolution of Lok Sabha by the president)
      • Article 172 (relating to the duration of state legislatures)
      • Article 174 (relating to dissolution of state assemblies)
      • Article 356 (on President’s Rule).
    • The Representation of People Act, 1951 Act would have to be amended to build in provisions for stability of tenure for both parliament and assemblies. This should include the following crucial elements:
    • Restructuring the powers and functions of the ECI to facilitate procedures required for simultaneous elections
    • A definition of simultaneous election can be added to section 2 of the 1951 act
    • Articles 83 and 172 along with articles with articles 14 and 15 of the 1951 act be appropriately amended to incorporate the provision regarding remainder of the term i.e.., post mid elections, the new loksabha/assembly so constituted shall be only for the remainder of the term of the previous loksabha or assembly and not for a fresh term of five years.
  • Constructive vote of no confidence:
    • The 170th law commission report suggested a new rule i.e., rule 198-A has to be added to rules of procedure and conduct of business in Lok Sabha and similar amendment to such rules in the state legislatures.
    • The report suggested introduction of motion of no confidence in the incumbent government along with a motion of confidence in the alternative government.
    • To avoid premature dissolution of the house/state assemble in case of Hung parliament /assembly and to advance simultaneous elections the rigour of anti-defection law laid under in tenth schedule be removed as an exception.
  • Local and national issues will get mixed up distorting priorities.
  • The terms of different state governments are ending on separate dates and years.
  • Spirit of Constitution:
    • One nation, one election” would make sense if India were a unitary state. So “one nation, one election” is anti-democratic.
    • Simultaneous elections threaten the federal character of our democracy.
    • Frequent elections act as checks and balances on the functioning of elected representatives.

Way forward:

  • Any changes must require both a constitutional amendment and judicial approval that they do not violate the “basic structure” of the Constitution.
  • A focused group of constitutional experts, think tanks, government officials and representatives of political parties should be formed to work out appropriate implementation related details.
  • Other alternatives should be explored to reduce election related expenses like
    • State funding of elections
    • Decriminalisation of politics
    • Bringing in transparency in political funding
    • Setting up National Electoral Fund to which all donors can contribute.
  • One year one election as suggested by Election Commission can be executed by amending Section 15 of the RP Act 1951. If the six-month stipulation is extended to nine or 10 months, elections to all states, whose term is expiring in one year, can be held together.
  • The Law Commission of India in its report of 1999 has dealt with the problem of premature and frequent elections. It had recommended an amendment of this rule on the lines of the German Constitution, which provides that the leader of the party who wants to replace the chancellor has to move the no-confidence motion along with the confidence motion. If the motions succeed, the president appoints him as the chancellor.
    • If such an amendment to Rule 198 is made, the Lok Sabha would avoid premature dissolution without diluting the cardinal principle of democracy that is a government with the consent of the peoples’ representatives with periodical elections.
    • It will also be consistent with the notion of collective responsibility of the government to the House as mentioned in Article 75 (3) of the Constitution.

Conclusion:

Election Commission’s idea of “one year one election” will better suited as it will require fewer amendments to the constitution, it will respect the essence of the exercise of popular will, unlike one nation one election which prioritizes economic costs of elections over the exercise itself, it will avoid clubbing of national and state issues, it will not disturb federalism much, not much issues generated by emergencies like need to hold by-election etc. will be addressed by this option.

 

Topic: Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests.

2. Discuss the possible benefits and associated concerns with India’s membership of the Quad.  (250 words)

Reference:  The Hindu

Why the question:

The article evaluates the possible benefits and associated concerns with India’s membership of the Quad. Thus the question.

Key Demand of the question:

Evaluate the possible benefits and associated concerns with India’s membership of the Quad.

Directive:

Discuss – This is an all-encompassing directive – you have to debate on paper by going through the details of the issues concerned by examining each one of them. You have to give reasons for both for and against arguments.

Structure of the answer:

Introduction:

Start with brief background of Quad.

Body:

The Quad was born out of the crisis that followed the Tsunami in December 2004. India’s humanitarian and disaster relief effort in the Indian Ocean was coordinated with the three other naval powers engaged in similar efforts — U.S., Australia and Japan.

Since then the idea of the Indo-Pacific as a larger maritime strategic community, and the Quad as an effective instrument in it, has gained credence among the four nations.

Discuss the significance of it in detail; The Quad grouping primary objectives include connectivity, sustainable development, counter-terrorism, non-proliferation and maritime and cybersecurity, with a view to promoting peace, stability and prosperity in an increasingly inter-connected Indo-Pacific region.

Discuss the challenges too and suggest measures to overcome the dilemmas that lie before India owing to such concerns.

Conclusion:

Conclude with its importance for India.

Introduction:

The past year has seen the revival of the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue, a mechanism which enables dialogue between four major democracies within the Indo-Pacific region, Australia, Japan, India, and the US, on issues of regional security. Known more colloquially as “the Quad”- its revival signals an important development within the Indo-Pacific, and reflects a convergence of strategic interests between four major democracies of the region.

Body:

Quad: Significance

  • The Quad first emerged as a cooperative response to the devastation of the 2004 tsunami, with the navies of India, Australia, Japan, and the US engaged in the coordinated delivery of humanitarian and disaster relief.
  • In 2007, Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, an early advocate of the Indo-Pacific, took steps to formalise the grouping through an initial summit and joint naval exercises in the Bay of Bengal.
  • Underscored by principles of openness, freedom of movement, and respect for the rules-based international order, the Quad builds on a complex and overlapping web of bilateral and trilateral alliances and partnerships between the four nations.
  • Its revival, albeit at officials’ level only, offers a constructive platform for embedding core principles into the narrative of the emerging regional order, while building the trust and confidence needed to support cooperative initiatives between the nations involved, and others.

Benefits of the Quad:

  • In the current scenario, given Chinese intransigence and our misreading of their imperialist-expansionist intent, Sino-Indian tensions are likely to persist.
  • If India is not to cede ground physically or diplomatically, it must muster all elements of its “comprehensive national power”, including the maritime, and create a strong negotiating position.
  • Apart from the balance of forces on land favouring China, there is also the Beijing-Islamabad Axis that awaits activation.
  • Keeping tensions confined to the Himalayan arena is, therefore, not only militarily advantageous to China but a continental focus also helps to keep India contained in a “South-Asia box”.
  • It is also time to seek an enlargement of this grouping into a partnership of the like-minded.
  • Other nations feeling the brunt of Chinese brawn may be willing to join an “Indo-Pacific concord” to maintain peace and tranquillity and to ensure observance of the UN Law of the Seas.
  • News of Australia being re-invited to participate in the Quad deserves a conditional welcome, given Canberra’s past inconsistency and political flip-flops.

Associated concerns:

  • Any ambition to formalise the Quad as a substantive manifestation of a free and open Indo-Pacific is likely to encounter difficulties. The future of the Quad beyond its current consultative format is not certain.
  • Given the complex array of interests at play across the dynamic region, key partners are more likely to preference loose coalitions based on dialogue and cooperation over more fixed, institutionalised formats.
  • The opportunity to discuss emerging regional issues, from piracy to maritime pollution and disaster management, through such a platform should be done as it is not on their agenda yet.
  • At the same time, assuring ASEAN of its role and relevance to Indo-Pacific, including through established dialogue mechanisms like the EAS needs to be done. Else Quad cannot be successful.
  • Engaging others, including China, in dialogue about the Indo-Pacific project through such mechanisms will be integral to realising the long-term vision for a stable and inclusive region.

Conclusion:

The time for ambivalence is over and while India will have to fight its own territorial battles with determination, this is the moment to seek external balancing. It is also time to seek an enlargement of this grouping into a partnership of the like-minded.

 

Topic: Representation of People Act

3. Discuss the need for reforms in the electoral politics of India . (250 words)

Reference:  Indian polity by Lakshmikant

Why the question:

The question is from the static portions of GS paper II, part Indian polity and theme elections. 

Key Demand of the question:

Discuss the need for reforms in the electoral politics of India.

Directive:

Discuss – This is an all-encompassing directive – you have to debate on paper by going through the details of the issues concerned by examining each one of them. You have to give reasons for both for and against arguments.

Structure of the answer:

Introduction:

Talk about significance of elections to Indian democracy first.

Body:

India is a vibrant democracy with people electing their representatives at several levels beginning from local bodies & panchayats to the Parliament.

Elections in India (world’s second-most populous country) seek overwhelming popular participation, where electoral candidates try to woo the voters by promising long-term reforms, such as better governance, greater socioeconomic equity, poverty alleviation, etc.

However, corrupt politicians with criminal records, caste- and religion-based politics, and allegations of vote-buying; have defeated the very purpose of such democratic process.

Discuss in detail the issues and then suggest reforms accordingly.

Conclusion:

Conclude with way forward.

Introduction:

India is a vibrant democracy with people electing their representatives at several levels beginning from local bodies and panchayats to the Parliament. Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu has termed Indian experience with democracy as a remarkable success story. However, he also pointed out two distortions which need to be addressed urgently and those are use of enormous money power in politics and elections and the increasing attempts to entice the voters with short term benefits at the cost of long term goals of basic amenities, infrastructure, quality education, healthcare, growth and job opportunities etc

Body:

Electoral reforms refer to the initiatives undertaken with an objective to strengthen the electoral processes. They are necessary due to the dynamism displayed in the politics of India. Bringing about reforms from time to time is necessary in order to establish India as a democratic republic as outlined in the preamble and other constitutional principles.

Need for electoral reforms:

  • Criminalizationof politics: 40% of LS and 23% of RS MPs have criminal background.
  • Money and muscle powerstill influencing election outcomes.
  • Electoral participationis only 66% in 16th LS elections. So, there is need to increase electoral participation.
  • Women constitute only 11.3% in the 16th LS.
  • Role of EC – more Powers should be awarded. Appointments to EC need to be more transparent.
  • Political funding – Highly non-transparent and corruption prone zone.
  • Victimization of voters – through booth and constituency profiling.

System of election financing in India:

The system is two-tiered – based on parties and candidates. The parties are required to disclose income but not expenditure, while it’s the other way round for candidates.

  • The parties, whose main source of income comes from donations by individuals and corporations, use loopholes in the law to avoid disclosing identities of even the big individual donors. As regards corporate donations, despite the availability of tax breaks, most of it is done off-the-books mainly to avoid reprisals in case the opposing party wins.
  • On the other hand, the candidates grossly underreport expenditure while actually spending far higher than the legal limits allow. Most of the illegal spending by candidates comes from the assistance given to them by their parties which carry greater financial heft, and have no ceiling on expenditure.

Measures needed:

  • Prescribe a ceiling for political parties’ expenditure, like that for the candidates.
  • Consider state funding of political parties(not elections) with independent audit and a complete ban on private donations.
  • Enforce internal democracy and transparency in the workingof the political parties. Bring them under the RTI.
  • Set up an independent national election fundwhere all tax-free donations could be made. It could be operated by the ECI or any other independent body.
  • Accept the ECI’s proposal to legally empower it to cancel elections where credible evidence of abuse of money has been found.
  • Debar personsagainst whom cases of heinous offences are pending in courts from contesting elections.
  • Empower the ECI to de-register those political parties which have not contested any election for 10 years and yet benefited from tax exemptions.
  • Make paid news an electoral offence with two years’ imprisonment by declaring it a “corrupt practice” (Sec 100 RP Act) and “undue influence” (Sec 123(2)).

Election commission of India (ECI) suggestions:

  • Election commissioners should be given the security of tenure similar to chief election commissioner.
  • ECI should have contempt power same as the court in India. Frequent contempt affects the dignity of the institution.
  • There should be transparency in the funding of political parties.
  • ECI should be given the power to make rules under Representation of people act 1951.
  • ECI should have the power to audit the accounts of political parties.
  • Election to the legislative assembly and to the parliament should be conducted simultaneously.
  • Debar the candidate from contesting election if the criminal cases are pending against him.
  • Make paid news an offence.
  • Do not allow one candidate to contest from more than one constituency.

The law commission of India’s suggestions:

  • The political parties should be brought under the ambit of the RTI.
  • There should be internal democracy in political parties.
  • greater financial accountability of parties
  • opening party affairs to public
  • experimenting with State Funding of election model to check black money in elections; among others.

The government has taken following actions as per the recommendations of ECI and law commission-

  • NOTA was introduced to provide an alternative to the voters.
  • Limitation on funding to political parties, Electoral bond was introduced to improve the transparency in electoral funding.

However, on Govt’s part, except for the recent proposal for electoral bonds and the ceiling on cash donations from anonymous sources, the Parliament has rejected other proposals with following excuses:

  • Under vindictive politics candidates often try to sabotage the rival candidates with false complaints
  • EC cannot be a body at par with the judiciary to try for contempt
  • suggesting RoPA to be more than sufficient a measure to tame erring legislators etc.

Way Forward:

  • We have a very successful experience with democracy over the last 70 years but Vice- President’s concerns are also very genuine.
  • Political parties have to rise on this occasion and maintain self-discipline.
  • There are many instances where people have rejected money and freebies but instead of people rejecting, the political parties should compete with each other on this issue.
  • Legislation will also not do much.
  • Need to educate people more and more to not indulge in this.
  • There should be limits on spending of political parties too.

Conclusion:

However, there is a need of more innovative reforms to ensure – internal democracy, financial accountability in parties. A slew of reforms like use of vote- totalizer machines to protect voters’ privacy, simultaneous elections, penal provisions for compliance of Sec 29C, statutory backing to MCC, bringing political parties in RTI ambit, further increasing transparency in pol-funding, measures to increase political participation, etc. are needed for a strengthening our democracy.

 

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

4. In the current Covid times discuss India’s prioritization strategy regarding vaccination and related experience so far with the immunization of health care workers (HCW). (250 words)

Reference:  Indian Express

Why the question:

The article talks about the vaccination drive in the current Covid times that India has undertaken.

Key Demand of the question:

Discuss India’s prioritization strategy regarding vaccination and related experience so far with the immunization of health care workers (HCW).

Directive:

Discuss – This is an all-encompassing directive – you have to debate on paper by going through the details of the issues concerned by examining each one of them. You have to give reasons for both for and against arguments.

Structure of the answer:

Introduction:

Start with brief background of the context in question.

Body:

Explain how Global COVID-19 vaccine trackers point to the relatively low population level full vaccination coverage in India, 0.28 per cent currently. India’s achievements in COVID-19 vaccination are indeed large in terms of absolute numbers being vaccinated but should not bring a false sense of security of achieving herd immunity quickly enough, which is a function of both coverage and vaccine efficacy.

Explain the key focus areas, which can help India achieve the desired comprehensive coverage and vaccine equity.

Conclusion:

Conclude with solutions.

Introduction:

Vaccination is an important pillar in the multi-pronged strategy to the pandemic response. India’s prioritisation strategy rightly focused on protecting the healthcare and other frontline workers first and hence the seemingly low coverage till this point. The situation is further exacerbated by      the epidemiological situation in at least half a dozen states that are witnessing a spike in fresh infections.

Body:

Vaccine coverage across the globe:

  • Beginning January 16, COVID-19 vaccination in India has crossed 20 million with an overall target of vaccinating 250 million people by July.
  • Global COVID-19 vaccine trackers point to the relatively low population level full vaccination coverage in India, 0.28 per cent currently.
  • In the final analysis, that is the crucial factor which will lead to the progress of the pandemic slowing down at national and sub-national levels.
  • Among countries or entities with large populations as well as those with some of the highest incidence and mortality, the coverage in the US, UK, Brazil, France and Italy is respectively 9.35 per cent, 1.68 per cent, 1.27 per cent, 2.86 per cent and 2.74 per cent.
  • Israel leads with a figure of 41.85 per cent.

Immunisation scenario of health care workers (HCW):

  • With a target of immunising about 0.3 million HCW on the first day (January 16) across 2,934 sites, 10 million HCW should have received the first dose in about 30 days (mid-February).
  • However, 7 million were vaccinated with the first dose till March 8, with considerable variation across states.
  • This does point to a modicum of vaccine hesitancy in some states and/or within the states, that too among a group who actually have some of the highest risks.
  • The other emerging concern is about two-thirds of HCW turning up for their second dose on the due date (weeks).
  • This may in part be attributed to the WHO’s current position that the vaccines can be more effective when given apart in a 6-12-week window; India’s policy prescribes a 4-6 weeks’ interval.

Measures needed to strengthen the immunization:

  • Rapid appraisals to develop a layered understanding of the prevailing opinions, motivations, behaviours and attitudes of key stakeholders within their organisational and socio-cultural matrix.
  • Equally important shall be the elucidation of the contents of rumours and social media content, including political and socio-cultural factors.
  • The opening up of the immunisation programme to private providers with capping of prices is an important and welcome step, one that had been recommended for some time now by experts and state programme leaderships.
  • ensuring vaccine supply, fixing technological glitches and responding to cases of Adverse Effects Following Immunisation (AEFI) are imperative for sustainability of vaccination drive.
  • A critical ingredient of success shall be taking user feedback to improve programme responsiveness and according greater flexibility to state and district level programme managers.
  • These will also need to be backed up with communication messages as well as proactive responses to issues of hesitancy, rumours and misinformation that the social media shall amplify.
  • With substantial vaccine stocks available and nearly all sectors of the economy open now, India may also consider expanding the scope of the definition of frontline workers and prioritising their immunisation.

Conclusion:

India’s achievements in COVID-19 vaccination are indeed large in terms of absolute numbers being vaccinated but should not bring a false sense of security of achieving herd immunity quickly enough, which is a function of both coverage and vaccine efficacy. India’s depth in vaccine manufacturing capacities and resilience of the immunisation programme should help in achieving vaccine equity as well.

 

 


General Studies – 3


 

Topic: Major crops-cropping patterns in various parts of the country, – different types of irrigation and irrigation systems storage, transport and marketing of agricultural produce and issues and related constraints; e-technology in the aid of farmers.

5. Explain the major constraints being faced by our farmers and account for the need of an agricultural regulatory system that would help and aid farmers to achieve better productivity, competitiveness, and income.  (250 words)

Reference:  The Hindu

Why the question:

The question is in the backdrop of World Bank’s enabling the Business of Agriculture (EBA) 2019 report.

Key Demand of the question:

Present the major constraints being faced by our farmers and account for the need of an agricultural regulatory system that would help and aid farmers to achieve better productivity, competitiveness, and income.

Directive:

Explain – Clarify the topic by giving a detailed account as to how and why it occurred, or what is the particular context. You must be defining key terms where ever appropriate, and substantiate with relevant associated facts.

Structure of the answer:

Introduction:

Explain briefly the context of the question.

Body:

Discuss the constraints first – The small landholding farmers across India face various constraints in carrying out farming activities. They include constraints in accessing agricultural inputs, markets, finance, human resources, and information, which are critical for increasing farmers’ competitiveness.

The existing institutional set up that controls farm production often fails to ease these constraints for the farmers.

Explain the need for regulatory framework. Discuss what needs to be done.

Conclusion:

Governments must enact laws and regulations that influence farmers’ access to agricultural inputs, cost of production, farmers’ participation in agricultural markets and value chains, the competitiveness of farmers, and private investment in the farming sector. 

Introduction:

The intense debates around the recently enacted farm laws have brought to light the issue of developing a sound regulatory framework to promote India’s agricultural growth — and in keeping pace with the changing times. While the country is divided on the need for the three new farm laws, the fact remains that farmers, mainly smallholders, across India continue to face various constraints in carrying out farming activities.

Body:

Constraints faced by Farmers in India:

  • Poor policy and Planning: In the past, Government strategy primarily focused on raising agricultural output and improving food security rather than recognising the need to raise farmer’s income,
  • Absence of direct measure to promote farmers’ welfare.
  • Declining average size of farm holdings: Increasing demographic pressure, disguised employment in agriculture and conversion of agricultural land for alternative uses, have drastically reduced the average land holding.
  • Dependence on rainfall and climate: Indian agriculture is heavily dependent on monsoon and ever-increasing global temperature has made agriculture more prone to extreme weather events.
  • Collapsing farm prices: Low global prices have affected exports and the cheaper imports have hurt domestic prices in the country.
  • Lack of easy credit to agriculture and dependence on money lenders.
  • Fragmented supply chains: Large gaps in storage, Cold chains and Limited connectivity. There is also an absence of marketing infrastructure
  • Lack of Mechanisation: Introduction of latest technology has been limited due to various reasons like accessibility for credit and low awareness.
  • Crop production is always at risk because of pests and diseases.
  • Shortage of inputs like seeds and irrigation facilities.

Need of an agricultural regulatory system that would help and aid farmers:

  • Rapid development in agriculture sector including infrastructure, technological interventions, farmer friendly policies and institutional mechanisms can increase the agricultural growth and farmers’ income.
  • Technology can help to reduce ‘yield gaps’ and thus improve productivity.
  • The water-use efficiency can be improved significantly with better use of technologies that include drip irrigation.
  • Ashok Dalwai Committee noted the below areas of reform:
    • Increase in productivity of crops
    • Increase in production of livestock
    • Improvement in the efficiency of input use (cost saving)
    • Increase in crop intensity
    • Diversification towards high-value crops
    • Improved price realization by farmers
    • The shift of cultivators to non-farm jobs
  • Improvements in allied sectors: Many small farmers cannot leave agriculture because of a lack of opportunities in the non-farm sector. Hence, allied sectors like horticulture, food processing, poultry etc needs to be pushed.
  • Cooperative Farming and Contract Farming: In this context, consolidation of land holdings also becomes important to raise farmer incomes. Farmers can voluntarily come together and pool land to gain the benefits of size. Through consolidation, farmers can reap the economies of scale both in input procurement and output marketing.
  • There is a need to make a shift from rice and wheat-centric policies to millet, pulses, fruits, vegetables, livestock and fish.
  • The creation of a competitive, stable and unified national market is needed for farmers to get better prices.

Conclusion:

The future of world agriculture and food production is expected to increasingly depend on middle-income countries such as China, India, Brazil, and Indonesia, just like the high-income countries dictating the fortunes of global agriculture in the past five decades. To make the best use of this great opportunity, India needs to put in place an agricultural regulatory system that would make it easier for its farmers to conduct agricultural activities, thereby improving their productivity, competitiveness, and income.

 

Topic: Disaster and disaster management.

6. The incidents of fire disaster cannot be called fate as it is lack of preparedness at various regulatory and organizational levels. Elucidate. (250 words)

Reference:  The Hindu

Why the question:

The Editorial explains that Safety training and technological fixes can cut the massive death toll from fires each year.

Key Demand of the question:

The answer must talk about the lacunae in the fire safety measures in the country and suggest way forward to address the same.

Directive:

Elucidate – Give a detailed account as to how and why it occurred, or what is the particular context. You must be defining key terms where ever appropriate, and substantiate with relevant associated facts.

Structure of the answer:

Introduction:

One can start with some shocking fact related to fire incidents in the country.

Body:

The answer body must have the following aspects covered:

Explain in what way fire incidents are not mere accidents in our country.

Discuss the causes of Fire Accidents in India; Violation of safety norms and lack of standardization and regulation, High rise buildings are more prone to fire accidents, unclear provisions of fire safety audits etc.

Then suggest what need to be done to ensure preparedness to such incidents.

Conclusion:

Conclude with way forward.

Introduction:

In India, although there are many rules and regulations, codes and standards related to fire safety, these are seldom followed. Laxity in fire safety measures caused major fires in many buildings. The blaze in the Eastern Railway headquarters in Kolkata recently, which killed at least nine people, is particularly egregious because it took place in a modern multi-storeyed special building.

Body:

Fire Accidents in India:

  • The death toll from accidental fires, as per NCRB data for 2019, stands at a staggering 10,915.
  • Of those who died, 62% were women.
  • Maharashtra and Gujarat, the two most highly urbanised states, account for about 30% of the country’s fire accident deaths.
  • According to India Risk Surveys 2018, outbreak of fire poses risks to business continuity and operations and ranks India at 3rd position in fire incidents, especially in Northern and Western regions of India.

Lacunae in Fire Safety preparedness in India:

  • Every instance of fire brings to the fore the problem of adopting an incremental approach to safety.
  • Violation of safety norms and lack of standardisation and regulation is a major cause of fire accidents, as large scale construction of false roofs in commercial buildings and multiplexes is against the national building construction code.
  • smoke alarms and sprinkler systems are an inexpensive early warning and intervention measure, but are not universally adopted.
  • High rise buildings are more prone to fire accidents as they lack an adequate in-built fire protection system that makes salvaging operations difficult.
  • Poorly stored goods, even though they are not flammable, helps to spread fire and hinder fire fighters gain access to the seat of the fire or reduce the effectiveness of sprinkler systems.
  • Unclear provisions of fire safety audit in terms of scope, objective, methodology and periodicity of a fire safety audit.
  • Lack of adequate resources, preparedness and poor fire services fail to ensure fire safety cover to the population.
  • Lack of awareness about the safety arrangements before purchasing or hiring a flat in an apartment or before starting an institution.
  • Faulty Wiring: PUF (polyurethane foam) used for plastic insulation carries a high risk of accidental fire as most of the times it is exposed to electrical wiring which on becoming heated due to overloading or short circuit catches fire immediately.
  • Official certifications that are not worth the paper they are printed on substitute for actual enforcement.

Measures needed:

  • Modernisation of Fire safety equipment: the government should provide financial support and assistance in augmenting and modernising the fire departments
  • Proper designing of electrical fittings and regular maintenance of wiring (at least once in a year).
  • Building awareness among citizens about fire prevention and protection measures by organising firefighting workshop once in six months in localities/Mohallas/schools with the involvement of local councillors/elected representatives.
  • Safety drills for offices and multi-storeyed residential buildings will eliminate uncertainty and confusion among people on what must be done when disaster actually strikes.
  • Fire service departments should audit critical fire prone installations (like high rise buildings, multiplexes in congested areas) periodically (once in six months) and take appropriate actions against erring establishments.
  • Proper demarcation of entry and exit points in crowded buildings, installation of firefighting equipment and their regular maintenance, periodic renewal of No-objection certificates by building owners in order to ensure fire preparedness.
  • There is a need to review the progress of the Model Bill of 2019 to Provide for the Maintenance of Fire and Emergency Services of a State, which aimed at modernisation.
  • Using the Kolkata railway building as a test case, the Centre should report on whether it met the fire safety norms prescribed in the National Building Codes.

Way forward:

  • Fire service is a state subject and has been included as municipal function in the XII schedule of the Constitution. The municipal corporations and local bodies are responsible for providing fire services in many states.
  • All State governments should require mandatory compliance with such safety features for any institution handling patients or giving care.
  • Certification of facilities through third-party audit should be made compulsory to eliminate conflicts of interest involving official agencies.
  • The institutions should also be insured for the highest levels of public liability.
  • At a broader level, governments must shed their indifference and work to make all spaces safe.
  • In private, public or commercial buildings, official agencies tend to favour tokenism rather than high standards for the safety of occupants and visitors.
  • They are ever-willing to “regularise” deviations in construction over time. It is time to fix responsibility for deadly accidents on a single official agency.

 

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

7. India needs to reassure that some protectionism clauses are not permanent and must insulate the Indo-US relationship from disagreements over tariffs and non-tariff barriers.  Comment. (250 words)

Reference:  Business Standard 

Why the question:

The opinion from Business standard talks about dealing with Tariff complaints. The World Trade Organization’s (WTO’s) India review shows protectionism has alienated partners.

Key Demand of the question:

Explain how India needs to reassure that some protectionism clauses are not permanent and must insulate the Indo-US relationship from disagreements over tariffs and non-tariff barriers. 

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 with brief highlights of the report in support of the answer.

Body:

Explain first the Key concerns about India’s trade protectionism policy:

  • Non-tariff barrier: lack of clarity in agricultural policy (food-grain policy in particular) was raised by Australia and New Zealand.
  • Absence of reform in sugar procurement as a key concern was raised by Brazil.
  • Tariff barrier: Rise in simple average MFN applied tariff rate from 13.5% in 2015 to 17.6% in 2019.
  • Rising duties on smartphones and assistance for domestic producers in steel by
  • Anti-dumping and safeguard measures in spite of a bilateral free trade agreement by South Korea.
  • Lack of trade openness and integration into global value chains by the European Union.
  • Frequent tariff changes disrupted planned investment by Taiwan in India.

Suggest what should be India’s way ahead to address the above concerns.

Conclusion:

Thus, conclude that India needs to reassure that some protectionism clauses are not permanent and must insulate the Indo-US relationship from disagreements over tariffs and non-tariff barriers.

Introduction:

The recently released minutes of the meeting at the World Trade Organization (WTO) to discuss India’s latest trade policy clearly show that concerns about its recent turn towards protectionism and import substitution are rife among its trading partners.

Body:

With India’s Aatmanirbharta on the unveil, many trading partners have become uneasy with our trade policy. India and USA, in particular have many issues in trade even though they are strategic partners and converge on political interests.

Indo-USA issues with respect to trade

  • Tariffs: Bilateral tensions have increased over each side’s tariff policies. These include the US 25% steel and 10% aluminum tariffs and retaliatory measures by India.
    • According to US, market barriers in Indian market include both tariff and non-tariff barriers, as well as multiple practices and regulations that disadvantage foreign companies.
    • India is considering challenging the US tariff increases in the World Trade Organization (WTO).
    • USTR had called India “a very high-tariff nation” and criticized tariff imbalances.
  • Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) Programme: The US had decided to withdraw duty-free benefits to Indian exporters under the GSP programme. This was a reaction to India’s e-commerce policy that was not agreeable to companies like Amazon.
  • The two sides differ on how to balance IP protection to incentivize innovation and support other policy goals, such as access to medicines.
  • India remains on the “Special 301” Priority Watch List for 2018, based on such concerns as its treatment of patents, infringement rates, and protection of trade secrets.

Way Forward

  • In the backdrop of the global economic slowdown, where India’s global exports have fallen consistently, it is important for the country to diversify and strengthen bilateral relations with other markets.
  • It has set its sights on “large developed markets”, improved access to which would help its industry and services sectors.
  • These include the US, which has, over the last two decades, become a crucial trading partner in terms of both goods and services.
  • US administration appeared to suggest that while no deal was imminent, work on a longer-term agreement was progressing well, and that his personal chemistry with Prime Minister Narendra Modi might help.
  • India and the US could begin with some “low-hanging fruit” to indicate their willingness for a deeper economic commitment.
  • This includes the US reinstating India’s benefits under the GSP programme, and India doing away with duties on motorcycles.

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