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SECURE SYNOPSIS: 26 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 – 1


 

Topic: Role of women

1. “There is a need to shift from tokenism and ensure women a central rather than a peripheral role in the police.” Discuss. (250 words)

Reference: Tribune India  

Why the question:

The editorial talks about the key role that women can play in Police.

Key Demand of the question:

Discuss in detail the need to shift from tokenism and ensure women a central rather than a peripheral role in the police.

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:

The role of women in the police has been steadily increasing, though at a slow pace. We acknowledge the hitherto unrecognized but steady contribution of our women police personnel, who apart from performing their professional obligations; have also been championing the cause of women’s empowerment. The induction of women in the police has helped in empowering them and reducing crime against them.

Body:

The answer body must have the following aspects covered:

  • Need for a gender-diverse police force: enhanced role of women in police – create a safe and secure environment for women, enhance wellbeing of others, perform the unique role of women etc.
  • Concerns related to representation of women in police: Low representation: Only 13% of total state police force is women, Lack of women in leadership and cutting-edge positions, Marginal role in overall law enforcement, Gender-specific issues are overlooked and neglected etc.

Conclusion:

Conclude with suitable way forward.  

Introduction:

The India Justice Report 2019 compiled by a group of sectoral experts, ranging from human rights groups to legal policy groups, show that women account for seven per cent of India’s 2.4 million police personnel. This number is expected to rise, with many States and Union Territories providing for 30% (and more) reservation for women in the police in specific ranks. Current data reveal that most women in the police are concentrated in the lower ranks. It continues to be known as the police force. And being a force, it places a premium on exaggerated masculinity and valor more than on service.

Body:

Women in numbers in police force- The Case study of Himachal Pradesh:

  • In 1975, the first regular batch of 28 lady constable recruits was inducted and since then, our women personnel have gone on to become an integral part of our police force with a strength of 15 IPS officers, eight HPS officers and 2,352 non-gazetted officers.
  • Today, women account for 13 per cent of Himachal Pradesh police force.
  • Himachal Pradesh is one of the seven states — the others being Bihar, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Sikkim, Tamil Nadu and Uttarakhand — where the percentage of women cops is higher than 10.
  • In 2009, the Union Home Ministry set a target of 33 per cent for women in the police force and Himachal Pradesh hopes to get there fast enough, if not be the first.
  • The state already has 20 per cent reservation for women at the constable level.

The barriers that hinder the growth of women in Police services are:

  • Gender Apathy:
    • The police department suffers from gender apathy as evident through the absence of separate toilets, changing rooms for women, and separate accommodation for women, and other facilities and child-care support, in addition to persistent and widespread gender bias.
  • Gender stereotyping:
    • Decisions on deployment of women are not free of gender stereotyping restricting women from leading operational positions. This biasness is not limited only from male colleague sometimes female superiors too consider them weak, less willing to work and less tough.
  • Lower priority tasks allotted:
    • There appears to be a tendency to sideline women, or give them policing tasks that are physically less demanding, or relegate them to desk duty, or make them work on crimes against women alone.
  • Allocated only Women related cases:
    • Women police persons are relegated to dealing with crimes against women and accompanying women prisoners the concept works against the interests of women as it segregates them.
  • Women recruited at lower levels:
    • Current data reveal that most women in the police are concentrated in the lower ranks reflecting the dearth of females at key operational positions.

Rationale behind increasing the women power in Policing:

  • A gender-diverse force is necessary to create a safe and secure environment for women and to achieve the larger national development goals.
  • Women are more sensitive to the sufferings of others and have greater concern for the well-being of others.
  • They often approach and solve problems from a different perspective than their male counterparts.
  • It is widely recognized that women cops play a crucial role in responding to and preventing gender violence and crime against women and children.
  • The induction of women and their increased representation in the force have not only helped women at large feel empowered, but also helped reduce crime against them, especially the ones committed on women who had come to accept them as their fate.

Measures needed to overcome:

  • Increased Recruitment:
    • There is a need to have more women in the field in executive postings – from constables to inspectors and higher ranks.
    • Departments should undertake special recruitment drives in every district to ensure geographical diversity.
  • Better Training:
    • Women in the constabulary must get the training, support and confidence needed to put them on a par in every sense with their male counterparts.
    • Resource centres for mentoring, creating awareness about opportunities and prospects, and helping with career planning and training and coping with workplace challenges are essential.
  • Safe workspace:
    • Police departments must also ensure safe working spaces for women and adopt a zero-tolerance policy towards discrimination and harassment, in order to make policing a viable career option for women.
    • Departments must operationalise the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act of 2013.
  • Gender sensitivity:
    • A common gender-neutral cadre needs to be created for all ranks so that promotional opportunities are evenly available.
    • Women do have some special needs, like during and post pregnancies, which need to be catered to. They shouldn’t be shunted to non-executive postings. The force needs to encourage more women to be in the field.
  • Higher funding:
    • Most State police departments have received funds under the Modernisation of State Police Forces Scheme for providing separate toilets and changing rooms for women, and for constructing separate accommodation for women with attached toilets in all police stations and units. Police departments must ensure the best use of this fund.
  • Spreading awareness and sensitization:
    • The police should reach out to the media and educational institutions to spread awareness about opportunities for women in the police.
    • While women have a role in making up for the lack of training and sensitization of the force in general in dealing with crimes against women they should not be ghettoised into dealing only with such crimes.

Conclusion:

The discourse on mainstreaming women in the police by making policing inclusive, non-discriminatory and efficient in India is missing in policy circles. Leading to the vicious cycle of non-reporting and non-action, perpetuating the culture of silence. Desk work too must be allocated evenly among men and women. For women in police to perform to their full potential, it would take sustained increase in their strength, meaningful networking within themselves and an institutionalized support system in the current social realities. Then, they will be the women that they are, the police officers that they are. It will allow them to be their authentic selves, agents of change. To achieve. To lead. To serve the people.

 

 


General Studies – 2


 

Topic: Functions and responsibilities of the Union and the States, issues and challenges pertaining to the federal structure, devolution of powers and finances up to local levels and challenges therein.

2.The Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi (Amendment) Bill, 2021 needs to fit in with constitution for healthier governance in the Union territory. Elucidate. (250 words)

Reference:  Indian Express

Why the question:

The question is in the backdrop of recently passed bill of the Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi (Amendment) Bill, 2021.

Key Demand of the question:

One must explain in what way the NCR of Delhi bill is not in congruence with the constitution leading to dissonance with constitution.

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:

Start with the background of the Bill.

Body:

Present in detail the critical analysis of the Government of NCT of Delhi (Amendment) Bill, 2021.

Contents of the Bill: Amendments to Article 239AA – Re-positioning the Government: Expression “Government” referred to in any law to be made by Legislative Assembly in Delhi shall mean “Lieutenant Governor”. Check on executive action.

Present the criticisms against the Bill – Violation of separation of power, Undemocratic precedence, May induce administrative chaos, Violation of Doctrine of pith and substance etc.

Support your arguments with suitable observations of the Supreme Court.

 Conclusion:

Conclude with way forward.

Introduction:

The Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi (Amendment) Bill, 2021 was introduced in Lok Sabha on March 15, 2021.  The Bill amends the Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi Act, 1991.

The Act provides a framework for the functioning of the Legislative Assembly and the government of the National Capital Territory (NCT) of Delhi.  The Bill amends certain powers and responsibilities of the Legislative Assembly and the Lieutenant Governor.

Body:

Provisions of the new Amendment:

  • Restriction on laws passed by the Assembly: The Bill provides that the term “government” referred to in any law made by the Legislative Assembly will imply Lieutenant Governor (LG).
  • Rules of Procedure of the Assembly: The Act allows the Legislative Assembly to make Rules to regulate the procedure and conduct of business in the Assembly. The Bill provides that such Rules must be consistent with the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in the Lok Sabha.
  • Inquiry by the Assembly into administrative decisions: The Bill prohibits the Legislative Assembly from making any rule to enable itself or its Committees to: (i) consider the matters of day-to-day administration of the NCT of Delhi and (ii) conduct any inquiry in relation to administrative decisions. Further, the Bill provides that all such rules made before its enactment will be void.
  • Assent to Bills: The Act requires the LG to reserve certain Bills passed by the Legislative Assembly for the consideration of the President. These Bills are those: (i) which may diminish the powers of the High Court of Delhi, (ii) which the President may direct to be reserved, (iii) dealing with the salaries and allowances of the Speaker, Deputy Speaker, and members of the Assembly and the Ministers, or (iv) relating to official languages of the Assembly or the NCT of Delhi.
  • The Bill requires the LG to also reserve those Bills for the President which incidentally cover any of the matters outside the purview of the powers of the Legislative Assembly.
  • LG’s opinion for executive actions: The Act specifies that all executive action by the government, whether taken on the advice of the Ministers or otherwise, must be taken in the name of the LG. The Bill adds that on certain matters, as specified by the LG, his opinion must be obtained before taking any executive action on the decisions of the Minister/ Council of Ministers.

Criticism of the Bill:

  • While purporting to implement the Supreme court judgement in 2018, the Bill has, in fact, planted several curbs on the functioning of the legislative assembly of Delhi as well as its council of ministers.
  • The amendment contradicts the right of the legislature to frame rules for the conduct of its own proceedings. It is the privilege inherent in every legislature to conduct its own proceedings as per the rules made by it.
  • Another amendment, if passed, has very serious consequences. It says that the Delhi assembly shall not make rules to enable itself or its committees to consider matters of day-to-day administration.
  • It further says that no rule shall be made by the assembly to conduct inquiries in relation to administrative decisions and if such a rule exists now, it will become void after this amendment comes into force.
  • Every democratic legislature has the inherent right to scrutinise the decisions taken by the executive, which flows from the executive being responsible to the legislature.
  • Executive accountability is the essence of the parliamentary system of government, which is a part of the basic structure of the constitution.
  • The Bill also requires the government to obtain the LG’s opinion on decisions before executive action is taken, which runs counter to the constitutional bench’s specific interpretation on the need to inform but not to have to wait for a return of the LG’s opinion, something which could take days, or never come.
  • This amendment nullifies the decision of the Supreme Court which has clearly held that the elected government of Delhi can take all decisions within its jurisdiction and execute them without obtaining the concurrence of the LG.

Conclusion:

The Supreme Court had adopted the principles of democracy and balanced federalism as the basis for its decision to give unfettered freedom to the elected government to carry out its decisions. The above amendment Bill while nullifying the decision of the Supreme Court does not attempt to change its basis. On the contrary, as the statement of objects and reasons indicates, the Bill tries to define the responsibilities of the elected government and the LG in line with the constitutional scheme of governance of the NCT of Delhi.

 

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

3. Precise implementation of reservation policies in India is hampered due to the multiple Constitutional amendments, state-level legislation and legal uncertainties and infirmities about court judgments. Critically analyse. (250 words)

Reference:  Business-standard.com

Why the question:

The question is premised on the recent observation made by the apex court – A more divisive society and economic disasters ahead if reservations above 50 per cent are deemed legal by the Supreme Court.

Key Demand of the question:

One is

Directive:

Critically 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. 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 with brief background of coming of reservation system in the country.

Body:

The answer body must have the following aspects covered:

·         Explain the evolution of Reservation Policy in India.

·        Then discuss the Issues with Reservation Policy in India – Overlapping, Violation of ceiling provision, Complex implementation, Issues in identifying creamy layer, Politically and emotionally sensitive issue etc.

  • Discuss the policies of the government in this direction from past to present.

Conclusion:

Conclude that India needs to gradually wean itself off all forms of reservations while providing adequate financial support to those who are socially and educationally backward.

Introduction:

Affirmative action to the socially weaker section was deemed necessary due to the historical injustice suffered by few communities in India, by virtue of their birth. The provisions of Article 15 (4) of the Indian Constitution enabled reservations for the socially and educationally backward. Reservations were initially intended to last for 10 years but have been subsequently extended every 10 years.

Body:

Reservation Policy in India:

  • In exercise of the powers conferred by Article 340 of the Constitution, the President appointed a backward class commission in December 1978 under the chairmanship of B. P. Mandal.
  • The Mandal Commission concluded that India’s population consisted of approximately 52 percent OBCs, therefore 27% government jobs should be reserved for them.
  • In the Indra Sawhney Case of 1992, the Supreme Court while upholding the 27 percent quota for backward classes, struck down the government notification reserving 10% government jobs for economically backward classes among the higher castes.
  • Supreme Court in the same case also upheld the principle that the combined reservation beneficiaries should not exceed 50 percent of India’s population.
  • The concept of ‘creamy layer’ also gained currency through this judgment and provision that reservation for backward classes should be confined to initial appointments only and not extend to promotions.
  • The Supreme Court in Nagaraj v. Union of India 2006 case while upholding the constitutional validity of Art 16(4A) held that any such reservation policy in order to be constitutionally valid shall satisfy the following three constitutional requirements:
    • The SC and ST community should be socially and educationally backward.
    • The SC and ST communities are not adequately represented in Public employment.
    • Such reservation policy shall not affect the overall efficiency in the administration.
  • In Jarnail Singh case, Supreme Court notified the Centre to consider cream layer even for the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe community. It also removed the requirement of produced quantifiable data to prove backwardness.

Multiple issues with Reservation Policy:

  • Tamil Nadu and Karnataka agreed with Maharashtra that the 50% ceiling limit on reservation introduced in the Indira Sawhney judgment by a nine-judge Bench of the apex court was not “cast in stone”.
  • Over the years, several States such as Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu have crossed the rubicon and passed laws which allow reservation to over 60%.
    • Eg: The Maharashtra State Reservation for Socially and Educationally Backward Classes (SEBC) Act of 2018, which provides 12% to 13% quota benefits for the Maratha community
  • Moreover, the Centre also implemented additional reservation to the Economically Weaker Section on the basis of income and property, under 103rd Constitution Amendment Act. Accordingly, the provision for 10% reservation to the EWS was implemented by the Government in January 2019.
  • On the other hand, States such as Haryana, Andhra Pradesh have passed laws to provide 75% job reservation to locals in private sector as well on the basis of residence.
  • Current reservation system is highly inefficient. Reservations can only benefit less than 1 per cent SCs, while creating an illusion that all are benefited. SCs in India are about 22 crores, but reserved jobs for them would be only a few lakhs. So very few will get the benefit of reservations, and even these will be mostly from the ‘creamy layer’.
  • Our politicians use reservations for their vote bank politics. So, the real purpose of reservations is not to benefit the SCs/OBCs but to benefit the politicians.
  • Caste reservations have further perpetuated the caste system, instead of helping in destroying it. Caste is a feudal institution, which has to be destroyed if India is to progress, but reservations further entrench it.

Conclusion:

India needs to rethink its reservation policy and based on just one indicator of either caste or income. A multiplicity of factor plays a role, and a deprivation index must be captured based on weights to these parameters. Moreover, uniform minimum reservation policy in education, jobs, promotions must be envisaged rather than giving leeway to states, which would base the reservation policy on political expediency rather than on sound rationale. Eventually, current reservation system must end and support to build a strong human capital must be the target of the government in India.

 

 


General Studies – 3


 

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

4. What are  Amartya Sen and Bhagwati models of development? Discuss in detail and bring out the differences with suitable examples. (250 words)

Reference:  The Hindu

Why the question:

The article explains how the political emphasis on welfare interventions is insufficient to address the emerging developmental issues in the State of Tamil Nadu.

Key Demand of the question:

Discuss in detail the Amartya Sen and Bhagwati models of development.

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 Sen Bhagwati Debate currently being witnessed.

Body:

The answer body must explain the viewpoints of the two economists –  Sen is a Nobel Prize winner in economics. In the book ‘An Uncertain Glory: India and its Contradictions’, Sen and Drèze prescribe state-led redistributive efforts as the solution to India’s problems. Sen believes that India should invest more in its social infrastructure to boost the productivity of its people and thereby raise growth. Investing in health and education to improve human capabilities is central to Sen’s scheme of things.

Jagdish N. Bhagwati is a University Professor of Economics, Law, and International Relations at Columbia University and former Adviser to the Director-General of GATT. In ‘Why Growth Matters: How Economic Growth in India Reduced Poverty and the Lessons for Other Developing Countries’, Bhagwati and Panagariya hold up growth as the panacea for all of India’s ills.

Compare and contrast the two.

Conclusion:

Conclude with importance of the two.

Introduction:

The debate between professors Jagdish Bhagwati and Amartya Sen as to what exactly India’s right development path is, has continued unabated. The dispute was whether social welfare and health and education were best served by rapid economic growth, which was the view from Bhagwati’s corner, or whether social equity and health and education lay the groundwork for rapid growth, which was Sen’s thesis.

Body:

Jagdish Bhagwati and his co-author Prof. Arvind Panagariya, in their new book, India’s Tryst with Destiny, suggest that growth is critical for the generation of resources that can then be used for tackling poverty and engendering development. This is the essence of Bhagwatinomics!

Conversely, Amartya Sen, with his co-author Jean Dreze, in their new book Uncertain Glory: India and its Contradictions, strongly supports active participation by the State in the provision of healthcare, education, and the development of social and physical human capital so that there can be eradication of ill health, anomie and illiteracy. Thereby, development will occur. This is the essence of Senology!

This debate between Bhagwatinomists and Senologists is nothing new. However, both are liberal, neoclassical economists, who support deregulation and disapprove of existing subsidies.

Sen says growth depends on creating a dynamic workforce capable of learning on the job, which needs health and education. Bhagwati believes laissez-faire growth will raise incomes sufficiently for the workforce to be able to invest in their own health and education.

Bhagwati was a strong votary of the Gujarat model and Sen, the Kerala model. Bhagwati described the Gujarat model as a metaphor for a primarily growth and private entrepreneurship driven development and the Kerala model for a primarily redistribution and state-driven development.

In a broad sense, the Gujarat model privileges growth and infrastructure development. The underlying logic was that growth and industrial development will play a bigger role in reducing poverty.

The Kerala model, on the other hand, privileged a rights-based approach to development with a strong emphasis on social and human development. It involves high social spending resulting in growth — as a role model for other states to follow. Sen is of the view that the Gujarat development model suffered from weaknesses on the social side and could not be considered a success.

Sen had proposed a multidimensional approach to measuring poverty than based on consumption alone. He also developed the capability approach, along with the likes of Nussbaum, a concept that inspired the creation of the UN’s Human Development Index.

The capability approach brings in various factors, including individual freedoms, which were excluded from welfare economics earlier.

Shortcomings of Bhagvati & Sen:

  • Both Bhagwati and Sen haven’t paid enough attention to key flaws in India’s record in implementing government programmes.
  • India is a country where public delivery mechanisms have not worked well and to compare this system with countries in Asia — such as Korea, Taiwan and Thailand — is a flawed approach
  • Besides, Sen hasn’t delved deep into issues related to labour reforms or financing of political parties, issues that are crucial in determining the way our democracy functions.
  • Biggest paradox in these models of development is the highest unemployment rate in Kerala with lowest poverty ratio and lowest unemployment rate in Gujarat with higher poverty ratio.

There is no doubt that even after more than two decades of economic reforms, an unacceptably large number of Indians are deprived of decent healthcare, nutrition and education. Ethically, this raises many disturbing questions about the nature of Indian society and polity. What’s more worrying is that the high growth rates in the ‘boom’ years of 2004-08 did not significantly raise the employment rate, a fact accepted even by the Planning Commission.

Conclusion:

The focus should be on development rather than growth. The problem of jobless growth must be tackled with development in the social infrastructure, promotion of MSMEs. Karnataka model of development and Tamil Nadu model of development models are being vouched as alternate models of development.

 

Topic: GS-2: Functions and responsibilities of the Union and the States, issues and challenges pertaining to the federal structure, devolution of powers and finances up to local levels and challenges therein.

 GS-3: Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization, of resources, growth, development and employment.

5. India needs a stout tax system to augment the utilization of financial resources and minimize the mistrust in the aspects of fiscal federalism. Elaborate. (250 words)

Reference:  Live Mint

Why the question:

The article presents an analysis of trends in fiscal federalism in India.

Key Demand of the question:

Discuss the need for a robust tax system to strengthen the utilization of financial resources and minimize the mistrust in the aspects of fiscal federalism.

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 with brief context of the question.

Body:

The answer body must have the following aspects covered:

  • Trends in fiscal federalism in India; Widening scope of devolutions: Number of taxes included in the divisible pool has increased since 1951, and the States have been allocated a growing share of the taxes collected in the divisible pool. In 2000, as a result of a constitutional amendment, all taxes collected by the Union government were made shareable with states.
  • Issues with the fiscal federalism in India – Lack of adequate devolution, Stagnant tax revenues.
  • Suggest solutions to address the issues.

Conclusion:

Conclude that a buoyant tax system: can ease the battle for resources in our federal system, and hopefully minimize the mistrust that has grown in recent years between the Centre and states. 

Introduction:

The slowdown in GDP growth in 2020-’21 on account of the Covid-19 lockdown has resulted in considerable revenue losses for both the Central and state governments. Several state governments reported huge shortfall in their revenue collection during the first two months of 2020-’21. The fiscal stress on state governments due to revenue loss will be further aggravated by the decline in tax devolution by the Union government. Lower tax collection by the Union government would mean lower devolution to states.

Body:

Federalism in the time of pandemic: Challenges to fiscal federalism

  • Fiscal woes: The economic slowdown prior to the Covid-19 outbreak resulted in lower revenues for both the Union and state governments, as evident from their budgets.
    • The Union government’s revised estimates of tax collections (net of devolution to states) for 2019-’20 were about 8.8% lower than its 2019-’20 budget estimates.
    • GST revenues were lower by 7.7% and devolution to states by 18.9%.
    • An examination of the 2020-’21 budgets of 26 states show as similar trend.
    • The 2019-’20 revised estimates of devolution are lower by 15.6% as compared to the 2019-’20 budget estimates, their own tax revenues being lower by 4.6% while total revenue receipts by about 4.3%.
  • State’s dwindling resources: The findings suggest that recent changes in India’s fiscal architecture, including the Goods and Services Tax (GST) regime, and increase in state shares for the Centrally Sponsored Schemes (CSSs) had placed state finances in a precarious position, even prior to the crisis.
  • Struggling for fiscal space: The announcement by Prime Minister Narendra Modi of the Rs 20-lakh crore Aatmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan (Self-reliant India Campaign) package left many scrambling with the fiscal maths.
    • Even for additional borrowing under Article 293(3), states will be required to obtain the permission of the Union government.
  • Increasing dependency on Centre: The dependency of states on the Centre for revenues has increased, with the share of the revenue from own sources declining from 55% in 2014-15 to 50.5% in 2020-21.
    • While part of this is inherent in India’s fiscal structure, wherein states are the big spenders and the Centre controls the purse strings, the situation has been exacerbated by the introduction of the GST.
    • Barring a few exceptions, such as petroleum products, property tax, and alcohol excise, indirect taxes have, to a large degree, been subsumed under the GST regime, eroding the ability of states to raise their own revenues.
  • Stagnant Tax-to-GDP ratio:
    • The country’s inability to increase its share of taxes as a proportion of GDP over the past three decades means that Indian fiscal federalism has been reduced to a zero-sum game.
    • The country’s tax pie has not been increasing as a proportion of gross domestic product (GDP). India’s tax-to-GDP ratio has been stagnant for many years now.
  • Shortfall in devolution: Adding to state woes is the significant divergence in past periods between the amount of GST compensation owed and the actual payments made, including for states such as Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Jharkhand that need greater fiscal support.
    • Even before Covid-19 hit, 11 states estimated a revenue growth rate below the estimated 14% level, implying higher amounts will be owed as GST compensation.
    • With the bulk of the states’ GST coming from goods such as electronics, fashion, and entertainment — all of which have been impacted by the pandemic — these revenues are likely to decline further.
  • Different Post-lockdown agenda: For instance, when Kerala took a decision to allow restaurants to open based on its own risk assessment, the state was pressured by the Centre to cancel such permit.
  • 15th FC Devolution was reduced to 41% from 42% and three states including Karnataka and Telangana saw decrease in the total amount being devolved since last time. Special grant recommendations to these states was not accepted by the Centre.

However, it is India’s elastic federal structural that has made the pandemic fight stronger, with all the states working as a united force under the guidelines of the Centre at apex.

Way-Forward

To sum up, for a large federal country of a mind-boggling diversity, India’s ability to fight Covid-19 pandemic largely rests on how well it manages its Centre-state relation.

  • When compared with other large federal countries such as the US, the country has done very well to minimize the frictions and provide a sense of direction to the states.
  • However, tackling Covid-19 as seen from the experience of other countries would require a differential and agile response across states and the Centre has at best to play the role of a mentor in providing leadership and resource support.
  • The rigid approach as evident in lockdown phase would prove a major hurdle. States must be cleared their dues and be given ample fiscal space to ensure economy is revived.
  • States must be allowed to lead in terms of reviving economy, generating income support, jobs while contain the virus at the same time.
  • The next big change will come when the current Centre-state relationship gets redefined in a way that enables the 28 states to become federal in the true sense – as self-sustaining economic territories in matters of energy, water, food production and waste recycling.
  • Our economic geography of production, transport and communication has to change – it has to become distributive rather than being focused towards the Centre.
  • Centrally distributed funds will need to be directed specifically to build the capacities of each state.
    • The instruments will enable them to embark on a sustainable economic recovery whose base is widely distributed across the various panchayats and districts of each state.
    • Driving distributive recovery will be energy, transport, supply chains, public administration, rule of law, agriculture and rural development.
  • a buoyant tax system can ease the battle for resources in our federal system, and hopefully minimize the mistrust that has grown in recent years between the Centre and states.
  • The 15th Finance Commission has thus recommended a slew of fiscal reforms to increase the tax-to-GDP ratio, especially through an overhaul of the goods and services tax.
  • In short, the real cooperative federalism which the Centre has been espousing for many years is now put on test and the Centre must ensure states are given full cooperation to battle the challenge.

 

Topic: Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment.

6. Account for new threats associated with water pollution and indiscriminate exploitation of natural resources. (250 words)

Reference:  The Hindu

Why the question:

The editorial explains that while we are still in the grip of the COVID-19 pandemic, which is airborne, we have forgotten that another such blight could well come from contaminated water.

Key Demand of the question:

One is expected to highlight the new threats associated with water pollution and indiscriminate exploitation of natural resources.

Directive:

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

Structure of the answer:

Introduction:

Over 70% of India’s surface and groundwater is contaminated by human and other waste and is likely to carry viruses. Indiscriminate human activity is often the reason for environmental degradation and pandemics. The practice of keeping animals locked together for mass production of meat produces an artificial environment that can birth mutations in erstwhile dormant viruses.

Body:

The answer body must have the following aspects covered:

  • Threats of water pollution and indiscriminate exploitation of natural resources; Polluted water sources as a source of viruses, Artificial environments as hubs of mutation, Discharge of pollutants in the natural sources, Non-renewable in nature, growing population pressure etc.
  • Then explain the challenges in checking pollution of water; cost of purifiers, wastage, doing away with essential minerals etc.

Conclusion:

Suggest way forward.

Introduction:

Water Pollution refers to the deterioration of physical (such as colour, odour, turbidity, taste, temperature), chemical (such as acidity, alkalinity, salinity, etc.), and biological (presence of bacteria, coliform MPN, algae, etc.) characteristics of water through natural and anthropogenic processes to such an extent that it becomes harmful to human beings, plants, and animal communities.

NITI Aayog and WaterAid, amongst others, have found that over 70% of India’s surface and groundwater is contaminated by human and other waste and is likely to carry viruses. According to a World Bank Report – Quality Unknown: The Invisible Water Crisis in 2019, heavily polluted water is reducing economic growth by up to a third in some countries.

Body:

Extent of pollution of water sources across Globe:

  • There are two unpolluted fresh water sources left in India. The first is the water lying below our forests; the second is the aquifers that lie below the floodplains of rivers.
  • India’s 14 major, 55 minor and several hundred small rivers receive millions of liters of sewage, industrial and agricultural wastes.
  • The most polluting source for rivers is the city sewage and industrial waste discharge. Presently, a very small portion of the wastewater generated is treated; the rest is discharged as it is into our water bodies. Due to this, pollutants enter rivers, lakes, and groundwater.
  • Such water, which ultimately ends up in our households, is often highly contaminated and carries disease-causing microbes.
  • Agricultural run-off, or the water from the fields that drains into rivers, is another major water pollutant as it contains fertilizers and pesticides.
  • In England, Wales and Scotland, several wastewater samples were tested and were found to carry traces of SARS-CoV-2.
  • Remnants of the virus have also been detected in raw sewage across Sydney.
  • Research at the University of Stirling in Scotland indicates that the SARS-CoV-2 virus can spread through sewage water.

Causes of water pollution:

  • Sewage and wastewater
    • Inadequate sewage collection and treatment are sources of water pollution.
    • According to the United Nations, more than 80% of the worldwide wastewater goes back in the environment without being treated or reused.
  • Urbanization and deforestation
    • Even though it does not have a direct impact on water quality, urbanization and deforestation have a lot of indirect effects.
    • For instance, cutting down trees and concreting over large areas generates an acceleration of flows which does not give enough time for water to infiltrate and be purified by the ground.
  • Agriculture
    • Agriculture has an impact on water pollution due to the use of chemicals such as fertilizers, pesticides, fungicides, herbicides or insecticides running off in the water, as well as livestock excrement, manure and methane (greenhouse effect).
    • Regarding aquaculture, pollution is directly in the water, as excess food and fertilizers are causing dystrophication.
  • Industries
    • Industries produce a lot of waste containing toxic chemicals and pollutants.
    • A huge amount of the industrial waste is drained in the fresh water which then flows into canals, rivers and eventually in the sea.
    • Another source of water pollution is the burning of fossil fuels, causing air pollution like acid rain which then flows to streams, lakes, and other stretches of water.
  • Marine dumping
    • Every day, garbage such as plastic, paper, aluminium, food, glass, or rubber are deposited into the sea.
    • These items take weeks to hundreds of years to decompose, and thus they are a major cause for water pollution.
  • Radioactive waste
    • Generated – among others – by power plants and uranium mining, radioactive waste can linger in the environment for thousands of years.
    • When these substances are released accidentally or disposed improperly, they threaten groundwater, surface water, as well as marine resources.

Threats posed by water pollution:

  • On Human health:
  • Domestic and hospital sewage contain many undesirable pathogenic microorganisms, and its disposal into water without proper treatment may cause an outbreak of serious diseases, such as typhoid, cholera, etc.
  • Metals like lead, zinc, arsenic, copper, mercury and cadmium in industrial wastewaters adversely affect humans and other animals.
  • Consumption of such arsenic polluted water leads to accumulation of arsenic in the body parts like blood, nails and hairs causing skin lesions, rough skin, dry and thickening of the skin and ultimately skin cancer.
  • Mercury compounds in wastewater are converted by bacterial action into extremely toxic methyl mercury, which can cause numbness of limbs, lips and tongue, deafness, blurring of vision and mental derangement.
  • Pollution of water bodies by mercury causes Minamata (neurological syndrome) disease in humans.
  • Lead causes lead poisoning (Lead interferes with a variety of body processes and is toxic to many organs and tissues).
  • The compounds of lead cause anaemia, headache, loss of muscle power and bluish line around the gum.
  • Water contaminated with cadmium can cause itai disease also called ouch-ouch disease (a painful disease of bones and joints) and cancer of lungs and liver.
  • On the Environment
  • Micro-organisms involved in biodegradation of organic matter in sewage waste consume a lot of oxygen and make water oxygen deficient killing fish and other aquatic creatures.
  • Presence of large amounts of nutrients in water results in algal bloom(excessive growth of planktonic algae. This leads to ageing of lakes.
  • A few toxic substances, often present in industrial wastewaters, can undergo biological magnification (Biomagnification) in the aquatic food chain. This phenomenon is well-known for mercury and DDT.
  • High concentrations of DDT disturb calcium metabolism in birds, which causes thinning of eggshell and their premature breaking, eventually causing a decline in bird populations.
  • New species invasion: Eutrophication may cause the ecosystem competitive by transforming the normal limiting nutrient to abundant level. This cause shifting in species composition of the ecosystem.
  • Loss of coral reefs: Occurs due to decrease in water transparency (increased turbidity).
  • Affects navigation due to increased turbidity; creates colour (yellow, green, red), smell and water treatment problems; increases biomass of inedible toxic phytoplankton, benthic and epiphytic algae and bloom of gelatinous zooplankton.
  • On Aquatic Ecosystem
  • Polluted water reduces Dissolved Oxygen (DO) content, thereby, eliminates sensitive organisms like plankton, molluscs and fish etc.
  • However, a few tolerant species like Tubifex (annelid worm)and some insect larvae may survive in highly polluted water with low DO content. Such species are recognized as indicator species for polluted water.
  • Biocides, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs)and heavy metals directly eliminate sensitive aquatic organisms.
  • Hot waters discharged from industries, when added to water bodies, lowers its DO content.

Measures needed:

  • Treatment of sewage water and industrial effluents should be done before releasing them into water bodies.
  • Hot water should be left to cool off before its release from the power plants.
  • Domestic cleaning (of clothes and utensils) should be prohibited in water bodies which supply drinking water such as tanks, streams, and rivers
  • Excessive use of fertilizers and pesticides should be avoided.
  • Organic farming and efficient use of animal residues as fertilizers should be encouraged.
  • Water hyacinth (an aquatic weed) can purify water by absorbing toxic materials and a number of heavy metals from water.
  • Oil spills in water can be cleaned with the help of bigoli – a byproduct of paper industry resembling sawdust, oil zapper microorganisms.

Way forward:

  • Tapping and Recycling waste water resources
  • Need of national Water policy, on lines of Rajasthan – 1st state to implement sewage water policy
  • Extraction of by-products: such as salt, nitrogen, phosphorous will be useful for local businesses.
  • Industrial applications: for cooling purposes in power stations, industrial machinery etc; Singapore uses reclaimed water called ‘NEWater’ to serve 30% of its needs.
  • Role of government, municipalities: need to enforce stricter norms regarding dumping of wastewater, improve process for treatment of wastewater.
  • Improve infrastructure: setting up more wastewater treatment plants in every municipality funding them through municipality bonds.
  • Cultural change: the culture of wasting water needs to be changed through educational campaigns.
  • New technology: like sequencing batch reactor – C-TECH technology that was adopted in Navi Mumbai, meets the standards of EUROPEAN UNION in terms of treated water quality.
  • A paradigm shift from “use and throw – linear” to a “use, treat, and reuse – circular” approach is needed to manage wastewater.
  • Investment in wastewater treatment has associated risks as well. It is therefore important to understand the underlying social, political, technical, and financial factors that will drive, facilitate, and sustain wastewater management interventions in India.

Conclusion:

Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 6 specifically focuses on water and sanitation, with Target 3 addressing water quality, but the availability of water is a cross-cutting issue upon which every aspect of development hinges. Put simply, water is life, and without a sustained commitment to improving and benefiting from effective wastewater management, that precious resource, and the billions of lives it nourishes, is in peril.

 

Topic: Food processing Industry

7. Explain the Scope and Significance of Food Processing Industries in India. (250 words)

Reference:  Indian economy by Uma Kapila

Why the question:

The question is straightforward from the static portions of GS paper III.

Key Demand of the question:

Explain the Scope and Significance of Food Processing Industries in India.

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:

The food processing industry in India is increasingly seen as a potential source for driving the rural economy as it brings about synergy between the consumer, industry and the farmer.

Body:

To start with, explain the importance of food processing industry. Food processing activity is still at a nascent stage in India with low penetration. List down the importance of food processing industry  – Holds the potential of reducing enormous wastage of agricultural produce in the absence of processing technologies and cold chain facility, is labour-intensive industry, lead to increase in farm income etc. Discuss the conditions favorable for food processing. Highlight the importance of it.

Conclusion:

Conclude with significance of it to Indian economy.

Introduction:

Food processing generally includes the basic preparation of foods, the alteration of a food product (usually raw) into another form (as in making preserves from fruit), and preservation and packaging techniques. Food processing typically takes harvested crops or animal products and uses these to produce long shelf-life food products.

It includes the process of value addition to produce products through methods such as preservation, addition of food additives, drying etc. with a view to preserve food substances in an effective manner, enhance their shelf life and quality.

Body:

Scope of FPI in India:

  • India is the world’s second largest producer of fruits & vegetables after China but hardly 2% of the produce is processed.
  • India is among the top 5 countries in the production of coffee, tobacco, spices, seeds etc. With such a huge raw material base, we can easily become the leading supplier of food items in the world.
  • In spite of a large production base, the level of processing is low (less than 10%). Approximately 2% of fruits and vegetables, 8% marine, 35% milk, 6% poultry are processed. Lack of adequate processable varieties continues to pose a significant challenge to this sector.
  • Economic Survey 2020: During the last 6 years ending 2017-18, Food Processing Industries sector has been growing at an average annual growth rate of around 5.06 per cent.
    • Employment: According to the Annual Survey of Industries for 2016-17, the total number of persons engaged in registered food processing sector was 54 lakhs. (whereas unregistered FPOs supports 51.11 lakh workers)
  • Farmer Beneficiaries: The SAMPADA scheme is estimated to benefit about 37 lakh farmers and generate about 5.6 lakh direct/ indirect employment (ES 2020 data).
  • Curbing Distress Migration: Provides employment in rural areas, hence reduces migration from rural to urban. Resolves issues of urbanization.

Government Initiatives to boost the FPI:

  • The Ministry of Food Processing Industries (MoFPI) is implementing PMKSY (Pradhan Mantri Kisan SAMPADA Yojana). The objective of PMKSY is to supplement agriculture, modernize processing and decrease agri-waste.
    • Mega Food Parks.
    • Integrated Cold Chain, Value Addition and Preservation Infrastructure.
    • Creation/Expansion of Food Processing/Preservation Capacities.
    • Infrastructure for Agro Processing Clusters.
    • Scheme for Creation of Backward and Forward Linkages.
  • Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) policy: FDI up to 100%, under the automatic route is allowed in food processing industries.
  • Agri Export Zones: To give thrust to export of agro products, new concept of Agri Export Zones was brought in 2001. APEDA has been nominated as the Nodal Agency to coordinate the efforts
    • cluster approach of identifying the potential products;
    • the geographical region in which these products are grown;
    • Adopting an end-to-end approach of integrating the entire process right from the stage of production till it reaches the market (farm to market).

Significance of the food processing industries:

The Food Processing Industry (FPI) is of enormous significance as it provides vital linkages and synergies that it promotes between the two pillars of the economy, i.e. agriculture and industry.

  • Employment Opportunities: Food processing industries can absorb a major share of workers from the agriculture sector, who face disguised unemployment. It can lead to better productivity and GDP growth.
  • Prevents Wastage: Nearly one-third of the food that is produced each year goes uneaten, costing the global economy over $940 billion as per report by World Resources Institute (WRI)
    • India is biggest producer of numerous fruits and vegetable. Most of these are perishable and have very low shelf life. This is the major reason for high percentage of wastage. Their shelf life can be increased through food processing.
  • Value Addition: Products such as tomato sauce, roasted nuts, de-hydrated fruits are in high demand.
  • Reduce malnutrition: Processed foods when fortified with vitamins and minerals can reduce the nutritional gap in the population.
  • Boosts Trade and Earns Foreign exchange: It is an important source of foreign exchange. For e.g. Indian Basmati rice is in great demand in Middle Eastern countries.
  • Make in India: Food processing is one of the six superstar sectors under the GoI’s, Make in India initiative and has the potential to transform India as a leading food processing destination of the World.
  • Curbing Food Inflation: Processing increases the shelf life of the food thus keeping supplies in tune with the demand thereby controlling food-inflation.
    • For e.g. Frozen peas/ corn are available throughout the year.
    • Similarly, canned onions under Operation Greens can achieve price stability.
  • Doubling of farmers’ income: With contract farming, farmers can get better technological inputs from industries as well. There is income security and proportionate value for produce. They are also protected against price shocks.
  • Crop-diversification: Food processing will require different types of inputs thus creating an incentive for the farmer to grow and diversify crops.

Impediments faced by FPI:

Conclusion:

Food processing has a promising future, provided adequate government support is there. Food is the biggest expense for an urban Indian household. About 35 % of the total consumption expenditure of households is generally spent on food. As mentioned, food processing has numerous advantages which are specific to Indian context. It has the capacity to lift millions out of undernutrition. Government has its work cut out to develop industry in a way which takes care of small scale industry along with attracting big ticket domestic and foreign investments.


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