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Insights SECURE SYNOPSIS: 8 May 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


 

1. What are the Gandhian methods to deal with rising intolerance and instances of mob lynching? Also, explain its relevance in the contemporary times. (250 words)

Reference: Modern Indian history by Spectrum Publications

Introduction

Intolerance in various forms such as lynching, communalism, rioting etc is dividing our society and tearing into our social fabric. Gandhiji’s political contributions offered us Independence but his ideologies enlighten India as well as the world even today after so many years. More than ever, we need to inculcate these values today.

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Gandhian principles and approach

  • Non-violence and Truth: These principles are needed more than ever. Truth can dispel hate speech, fake news that leads to mob lynching as seen in various cases. Non-violence on the other hand can prevent lynching and rising clashes between communities altogether such as the Delhi riots in February 2020.
  • Satyagraha: Gandhi ji called his overall method of nonviolent action Satyagraha. It means the exercise of the purest soul-force against all injustice, oppression and exploitation. It is a method of securing rights by personal suffering and not inflicting injury on others.
    • Instances of Republic day violence by farmer protests in 2021 would be avoided if Non-violent Satyagraha was adhered to as in the case of Non-cooperation and Civil disobedience movements during freedom struggle.
  • Trusteeship: Trusteeship is a socio-economic philosophy that was propounded by Gandhi ji. It provides a means by which the wealthy people would be the trustees of trusts that looked after the welfare of the people in general.
    • The dichotomy between rich and poor can be bridged if every individual considers himself are a trustee and helps those in need.

Relevance in contemporary times

  • World Peace: Non-Violence is a key component of Gandhianism, which was the great weapon used by Gandhiji during the freedom movement of India against British Raj.
  • Gandhiji believed non-violence and tolerance require a great level of courage and patience. In a world that is moving through the phases of war marred by violence and terrorism, there is a significant requirement of Gandhian idea of non-violence more and more today than the past days.
  • Classless Society: As the Caste system is still prevalent in the Indian society, the Gandhian philosophy is useful to create a casteless society where everyone is treated equally irrespective of their caste.
  • Gandhian Socialism: Gandhian view of socialism is not political but more social in its approach, as Gandhiji thought of a society with no poverty, no hunger, no unemployment and education and health for all. These values reduce conflict and strife and will lead to prosperity for all.

Conclusion

These Gandhian ideologies will continue to act as the lighthouse for Indian policy makers. From poverty alleviation to Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan and universal health care (Ayushman Bharat) to skill India programs everywhere the core inspiration comes from Gandhianism.

 


General Studies – 2


 

2. Examine the ways of enhancing cooperation between India and ASEAN.(250 words)

Reference: The Hindu

Introduction

India’s relationship with ASEAN has emerged as a key cornerstone of our foreign policy. The relationship has evolved from the ‘Look East Policy’ enunciated in early 1990s, to Strategic Partnership in 2012. Since 2014, India is espousing ‘Act East Policy’ that has enhanced the partnership further.

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India-ASEAN relations

  • Free Trade Agreement: India signed a FTA in goods in 2009 and an FTA in services and investments in 2014 with ASEAN.
  • Apart from this, India has a Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA) with various countries of the ASEAN region which has resulted in concessional trade and a rise in investments.
  • India’s investment in ASEAN during the same period has been more than $40 billion.
  • Trade between India and ASEAN stood at $65.04 billion in 2015-16 and comprises 10.12 per cent of India’s total trade with the world.
  • Connectivity is another important issue of convergence, with India working toward formalizing its transit agreements and establishing better connectivity infrastructure with this region through land, water, and air, example- India-Myanmar-Thailand Trilateral Highway and the Kaladan Multimodal Project.
  • Security: ASEAN platform allows India to discuss non-traditional security issues in Indian Ocean Region (IOR) like piracy, illegal migration, and trafficking of drugs, arms, and human, maritime terrorism, etc. which can only be resolved on a multilateral level.
  • India has also scored several diplomatic successes at ARF, including maintaining ties after its nuclear test of 1998, isolating Pakistan during the Kargil War, and lobbying against Pakistan’s entry in the forum till 2002.
  • The aggressive rise of China, both economically and militarily, has caused suspicion among the countries in the region. This provides an opportunity to India which seeks to balance China and gain cooperation in the region.

Enhancing India-Asean relation further

  • The recent loss of US market by the ASEAN nations can be compensated with the domestic demand in India which has been increasing with the rise of middle class in the country.
  • In terms of security challenges, both ASEAN and India are faced with grave vulnerabilities with regard to terrorism and it is in their common interest to work together to build peace and security in the region.
  • With the withdrawal of US troops from strategic locations in the region, ASEAN countries justifiably perceive India, with the largest Naval forces in the Indian Ocean and nuclear capabilities, a strategic partner to balance China’s growing power in the region.
  • While East Asia is on the verge of entering a phase of lower share of working age population India is entering a phase with a higher share of working age population which can prove to be a human resource base for East Asia.
  • Along with East Asian specialization in manufactures, India’s strength in services could result in a formidable strategic combination which may be mutually beneficial for both the sides.
  • India has welcomed the Indo-Pacific document by ASEAN and is pushing for early conclusion of code of conduct on South China Sea by ASEAN and China.

Conclusion

The region has become strategically important for India due to its growing importance in the world politics. And for India to be a regional power as it claims to be, continuing to enhance its relations with ASEAN in all spheres must be a priority.

 

3. Government ads have often been regarded as misuse of taxpayer’s money for attracting the appearance of political parties. Deliberate in the light of relevant SC rulings. Also reckon the recommendations made by the Twentieth Law Commission to address the issue of paid news and political advertisements. (250 words)

Reference: Times of India

Introduction

India is a nation that is perpetually in the state of election and campaigning. This leads to high level broadcast of advertisements to capture vote bank. In this regard, the SC ruling in 2015 is a landmark judgement that has huge repercussion on paid news and political advertisements as well.

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Supreme Court ruling on government advertisements

  • In a landmark judgment, the Supreme Court has barred using pictures in government advertisements.
  • Except for the pictures of President, Prime Minister and Chief Justice of India, no pictures of anyone else can be used in government ads as the court felt that it is encouraging personality cults at the government expense.
  • Holding that the government advertisements in connection with an event along with the photograph of a state or party functionary has a tendency of associating that individual with the achievements sought to highlighted, the court has said that such media blitz has a potential of developing the personality cult around such state functionary.
  • Exception is given only in the case of the president, prime minister and Chief Justice of the country who may themselves decide the question.
  • The court has further said that the advertisements issued to commemorate the anniversaries of acknowledged personalities like the Father of the Nation would carry the photograph of the departed leader.
  • The judgment was based on petitions filed by NGOs. Two NGOs had approached the court seeking directions to restrain the central and state governments from using public funds on government advertisements that were primarily intended to project individual functionaries of the government or the party in power.
  • The regulations are based on the recommendations of a committee headed by eminent academician Professor N Madhava Menon, which was formed by the court last year. The Court accepted all but three of its suggestions.
  • It refused to appoint an ombudsman to deal with complaints of violations, instead asking the Centre to form a three-member panel to ensure compliance and giving it the liberty to nominate the members.
  • It also refused to order special audits and did not restrict the government from issuing ads on the eve of elections.

The court said there was no need for a curb on government ads on election eve. However, it said such ads should be given with fairness and even dispensation to the media. In this regard, question of paid news must be evaluated.

Recommendation by Twentieth Law Commission on Paid news

  • The definitions of “paying for news”, “receiving payment for news” and “political advertisement” should be inserted in the Representation of the People Act, 1951.
  • Making paid news an electoral offence will lead to disqualification.
  • Disclosure provisions for all forms of media: The purpose of disclosure is twofold; first, to help the public identify the nature of the content (paid content or editorial content); and second, to keep the track of transactions between the candidates and the media. A new section should be inserted in the RPA to deal with the non-disclosure of interests in political advertising.

Conclusion

Publication of government ads carrying photographs have the potential of promoting a personality cult and the image of one or a few individuals which is a direct antithesis of democratic functioning. Thus, the judgement ensures that tax payer money is used judiciously.

 

 


General Studies – 3


 

4. Biomedical waste generation during Covid times has added to the concerns of heath management. In light of the situation, enumerate the issues related to biomedical waste generation and suggest measures to overcome the challenge. (250 words)

Reference: Live Mint

Introduction

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic in India, Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), Ministry of Environment, Forest & Climate has published guidelines for the management of waste generated during treatment/diagnosis/quarantine of COVID-19 patients. If waste management is not given due importance, the crisis may amplify and lead to more transmission and contamination of public places.

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Issues related to biomedical waste generation

  • Health risk: This waste has created new biomedical waste crisis and posing a health risk to sanitation workers and garbage collectors. E.g. Over 40 sanitation workers have tested positive for COVID-19 and 15 have lost their lives in Delhi.
  • Lack of segregation: Municipalities pick up COVID-19 biomedical waste from houses, but it often has other household waste mixed in it. This decreases the efficiency of the incinerators at waste treatment plants as it results in greater emissions and unburnt ash.
  • Large volume of waste generated: Before the COVID-19 outbreak, there was 500 grams of biomedical waste per bed daily. Now, it is between 2.5kg to 4kg per bed and a large COVID-19 facility can generate 1800 to 2200 kg of biomedical waste per day.
  • Overburdened disposal Capacity: PPE are being used everywhere, from hotels to hospitals, railway stations to airports, crematoriums to burial grounds so, the disposal mechanisms available in the cities are not equipped to deal with this huge volume.
  • Investment in incinerators is also a problem, as this infection (COVID-19) is episodic, the machines may not be useful once cases start decreasing.

Key guidelines for Covid-19 biomedical waste management

  • Procedure of Disposal: The biomedical waste must be segregated in coloured bags (Yellow, Red, White and Blue) according to the category of the waste. It can be stored up till 48hrs after which it is either needed to be treated at insitu site or collected by the worker from CBMWTF.
  • Collection and segregation of waste: Use dedicated trolleys and collection bins in COVID-19 isolation wards and label “COVID-19 Waste” to be pasted on these items.
    • Depute dedicated sanitation workers separately for biomedical waste and general solid waste so that waste can be collected and transferred timely to temporary waste storage area.
  • Transportation and disposal of waste: COVID-19 garbage is collected and taken in a separate vehicle for proper disposal as biomedical waste either to a CBWTF or a waste-to-energy plant, where it is then either incinerated, autoclaved (sterilised for shredding and recycling) or burnt to produce energy.
  • Quantification and tracking the movement of COVID-19 waste needed to be carried out by all quarantine centres though the CPCB’s biomedical waste tracking mobile application called COVID19BWM.
  • Role of nodal authorities – Designated trained nodal officers for biomedical waste management in hospitals must be made responsible for training waste handlers about infection prevention measures.
  • Record maintenance and monitoring: Maintain and update bio-medical waste management register and record for operation of incineration, hydro or autoclaving etc, also review and monitor the activities related to biomedical waste management through committee.
  • Establish GPS and Bar-coding facility at Common biomedical waste treatment facility.

Conclusion

The Centre should incentivise start-ups and Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) offering solutions for Covid-19 waste segregation and treatment. There should be constant and regular monitoring by the central and state PCBs, Health Departments in the states/UTs and by the high-level task team at Central level with further coordination by CPCB.

 

5. What is meant by waiver of patent rights over COVID-19 vaccine? Examine it significance and practical challenges associated with it. (250 words)

Reference: Indian Express

Introduction

The United States on Wednesday announced support for waiving intellectual property protection for Covid-19 vaccines, saying extraordinary circumstances call for extraordinary measures. United States Trade Representative Katherine Tai said the US will pursue “text-based negotiations” on the waiver at the World Trade Organization (WTO).

The US support for an IP waiver stems from a proposal by India and South Africa in the WTO last year. That proposal had, however, called for a waiver on all Covid interventions, including testing diagnostics and novel therapeutics.

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Patent rights waiver: Meaning

  • The IP waiver might open up space for production of Covid vaccines with emergency use authorisations (EUA) — such as those developed by Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca, Novavax, Johnson & Johnson and Bharat Biotech — on a larger scale in middle-income countries.
  • Most production is currently concentrated in high-income countries; production by middle-income countries has been happening through licensing or technology transfer agreements.
  • Most analysts expect this to take at least a few months; it is likely the agreement will be targeted by the WTO’s next ministerial conference in end-November.
  • Countries including Canada, South Korea, and Bangladesh have shown interest in making Covid vaccines if they can get a patent waiver, Prof Reddy said.

Significance in the wake of pandemic

  • A lifting of patent will allow the recipes to be shared and there will no longer be an embargo — basically once the formula is shared, any company which possesses the required technology and infrastructure can produce vaccines.
  • This will lead to cheaper and more generic versions of Covid vaccines. It will also mean two things — vaccines will be more affordable and this will be a big step in overcoming vaccine shortage.
  • At a time when many people across India are struggling to get vaccines and shortages are being reported from many states, there is a unanimous agreement on the fact that there is a need to scale up production.
  • An important talking point in recent times has also been the need to have more equitable distribution of the vaccine doses available.
  • For instance, the United States has been reportedly sitting on tens of millions of AstraZeneca vaccines even when Pfizer and Moderna are estimated to deliver 400 million doses by the end of May and 600 million by the end of July.
  • Combined with the 20 million doses Johnson & Johnson is also expected to deliver this month, the United States may have an excess of over 80 million doses.

Challenges associated

  • Pharma companies including Pfizer and AstraZeneca had opposed the proposed waiver — saying eliminating IP protections would “undermine the global response to the pandemic”, including the ongoing efforts to tackle new variants.
  • It could also create confusion that could potentially undermine public confidence in vaccine safety and create a barrier to information sharing, they had said. And, “most importantly, eliminating protections would not speed up production.”
  • Microsoft founder Bill Gates has expressed reservations against tweaking IP rules and sharing Covid-19 vaccine technologies. As there must be proper regulatory process and capacity to make safe vaccines in developing nations.
  • The International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers & Associations (IFPMA) has pointed to other “real challenges” in scaling up production and distribution of Covid-19 vaccines.
  • These include trade barriers, bottlenecks in supply chains, scarcity of raw materials and ingredients in the supply chain, and the unwillingness of rich countries to share doses with poorer nations.
  • The scarcity of raw materials has been a growing issue for ramping up production; several manufacturers have been relying on specific suppliers, and alternatives are limited.
  • Also, countries like the US had blocked exports of critical raw materials used in the production of some Covid-19 vaccines using regulations like the American Defence Production Act.

Conclusion

Waiving IP protections alone isn’t enough to make vaccines available around the world. The countries must work with each other to expand manufacturing capabilities and support international vaccines. It’s important for both Indian manufacturers and the government to address concerns of patent holders to make sure that India’s vaccination drive is not compromised in any way.

 

6. Discuss the concept of economic diplomacy and how it has changed over the time in the context of India. (250 words)

Reference: orfonline.org

Introduction

Economic diplomacy is broadly defined as the aspect of diplomacy that focuses on international economic relations. In the post-Second World War context, this has usually meant promoting national trade, investment and technology interests through aggressive bilateral negotiations and pushing the same interests in multilateral institutions, such as the World Trade Organisation and the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development.

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Economic diplomacy in India

  • A new dimension was added to India’s development cooperation framework around 2005 with the start of its first substantive lines of credit (LoCs) into Africa with a modest sum of US$ 500 million.
  • With soft interest rates that included a grant element ranging from 24.31 percent to 37.48 percent backed by a sovereign guarantee, these LoCs contributed to the development of urban transport, irrigation and power transmission infrastructure in several African countries.
  • India’s economic diplomacy also extended to its neighbourhood, with large LoCs being announced for Bangladesh and Sri Lanka in particular.
  • By the end of 2019, India had committed as much as US$ 25.46 billion in LoCs to a range of countries and also started to offer Buyer’s Credit to the tune of US$ 2.67 billion to encourage these countries to purchase Indian products.
  • At the same time, ambitious but often delayed connectivity projects in the neighbourhood — spanning road, rail and river transport networks along with oil pipelines and power transmission grids — finally started to take shape under the direct supervision of the prime minister.
  • India leveraged its satellite capabilities to offer education and health services through the e-VidyaBharti and e-ArogyaBharti programmes across the African continent and expanded the ITEC programme to provide 12,000 fully-funded training slots in courses ranging from cybersecurity and climate change to entrepreneurship and education.
  • A more dynamic and responsive approach to development cooperation enabled India to engage in exceptional medical diplomacy in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Medical teams were despatched to the Maldives, Nepal and Kuwait, and emergency consignments of medicines like paracetamol and hydroxychloroquine were sent to over 90 countries.
  • This medical dimension of India’s economic diplomacy toolkit got a further boost as the manufacturing infrastructure of the Serum Institute of India allowed the country to launch its ‘Vaccine Maitri’ initiative to supply COVID-19 vaccines bilaterally on grant and commercial basis, and multilaterally through the Covax programme.

Conclusion

India’s positions on these and other new areas of economic diplomacy will be followed closely not just by competing countries but also by partners in the developing world who count on India’s advocacy to protect their own vital interests. To capture the regional power, India must increase the extent and depth of its economic diplomacy especially with its neighbours.

 


General Studies – 4


 

7. With the extensive development of artificial intelligence, hitches of machine ethics ascend in many frameworks. Elaborate. (250 words)

Reference: plato.stanford.edu

Introduction

We often see technology as a helping hand or better yet, a path to a better world. But before any of that, we have to lay down the ethics with in it so we can have a moral underground on where to start. This is especially true with Artifical intelligence.

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Techno ethics views technology and ethics as socially embedded enterprises and focuses on discovering the ethical use of technology, protecting against the misuse of technology, and devising common principles to guide new advances in technological development and application to benefit society.

Background: Rapid development of AI

  • In just the last decade, AI has evolved with unprecedented velocity — from beating human champions at Jeopardy (a game) in 2011, to vanquishing the world’s number one player of Go, to decoding proteins.
  • Already, AI has helped increase crop yields, raised business productivity, improved access to credit and made cancer detection faster and more precise.
  • It could contribute more than $15 trillion to the world economy by 2030, adding 14% to global GDP. Google has identified over 2,600 use cases of “AI for good” worldwide.
  • As AI is evolving, it is raising some new ethical and legal questions. AI works by analysing data that is fed into it and draws conclusions based on what it has learned or been trained to do.
  • Though it has many benefits, it may pose a threat to humans, data privacy, and the potential outcomes of the decisions. To curb the chances of such outcomes, organisations and policymakers are crafting recommendations about ensuring the responsible and ethical use of AI.

Need for value-based global AI governance framework

  • First, algorithms, whether static or of the machine-learning sort, are not value-free. The data underlying them and the formulae that make them function, think, and transform over time embody the biases of history and that of their designers.
  • This means that algorithms should be subordinated to the same kind of universal ethics regime that governs human and state behaviour: something similar to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
  • Artificial intelligence will make human lives more efficient.
    • But here we must not mistake efficiency for morality – just because something is more efficient does not mean that it is morally better.
    • For example, people can make more efficient weapons – more efficient at killing people and destroying things – but that does not mean they are good or will be used for good. Weapons always reflect a form of damage to the common good.
    • As the realms of unexplored areas of AI progresses, existing regulation will become obsolete.
  • The challenge today is that several AI applications have been used by consumers or organisations only for them to later realise that the project was not ethically fit. An example is the development of a fully autonomous AI-controlled weapon system which is drawing criticism from various nations across the globe and the UN itself.
  • Another challenge arises from a data protection perspective because AI models are fed with data sets for their training and learning. This data is often obtained from usage history and data tracking that may compromise an individual’s identity
  • Another example, for instance are self-driving cars. It executes as per the algorithm it has been fed. Now, in a hypothetical situation the car has to decide whether to swerve left or right. But in either case there is collateral damage, say of a school bus with students or a pedestrian.
    • Can this decision be taken in a rational manner? It is not possible to choose whom to save or put a price on whose life as being more precious.

Conclusion

Any new technology that changes our businesses or society for the better often has a potential dark side that is viewed with suspicion and mistrust. The disruptive potential of AI poses looming risks around ethics, transparency, and security, hence the need for greater governance. AI will be used safely only once governance and policies have been framed, mandating its use.


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