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SECURE SYNOPSIS: 8 July 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. Greater choice for women over their sexual and reproductive rights will lead to a healthier and productive society. Comment. What steps should be taken in our society in this regard? (15M)

Reference: The Hindu

Why the question?

Celebration of World Population Day 2021

Key demand of the question: Greater reproductive rights for women in India and the challenges in ensuring this.

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: Give any relevant data pertaining to the question. Ex: Total Fertility Rate (TFR) in India or identify the essential aspects of what you understand by greater autonomy for women in terms of sexual and reproductive rights (Ex: Access to contraceptives, respect for bodily autonomy etc)

Body

  1. Bring out the positive relationship between greater choice for women over their sexual and reproductive rights and how it will lead to a healthier and productive society. Ex: It will lead to stabilization of population growth further, will lead to reduction in Maternal Mortality rate brought about by early marriages etc
  2. Identify the challenges in our country preventing greater choice for women in this domain. Ex: Social norms.
  3. Suggest steps to overcome the challenges posed by social norms and any other challenges you might have identified in your answer.

Conclusion

Briefly highlight the urgency in ensuring we reach this goal. Ex: To meet the Sustainable development, women empowerment and inclusive growth in the society.

Introduction

The journey of women’s emancipation in India has been truly dynamic with women participating in nationalist movements, to being pushed into the domestic household space, to their resurgence as super-women today; women in our country have seen it all. It has been 70 years since India got independence and there cannot be a more right time to analyse the position and ‘space’ that women in India enjoy today.

Body

However, the recognition of sexual and reproductive rights of women in the country still remains negligible. Reproductive rights in India are understood only in the context of selective issues like child marriage, female foeticide, sex selection and menstrual health and hygiene issues.

This is reflected in election manifestos of various parties where political parties have promised to make registration of marriages compulsory, implement the laws prohibiting child marriages, provide reproductive and menstrual health services to all women across India, make marital rape an offence and to ensure strict implementation of the Pre-conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques (Prohibition of Sex Selection) Act (PCPNDT) Act.

Challenges

  • According to UNICEF India and World Bank data, India counts among the highest number of maternal deaths worldwide. India witnesses 45,000 maternal deaths every year, coming to an average of one maternal death every 12 minutes.
  • Unsafe abortions are the third leading cause of maternal deaths in India. Researches have shown that half the pregnancies in India are unintended and about a third result in abortion. Only 22% of abortions are done through public or private health facilities.
  • Lack of access to safe abortion clinics, particularly public hospitals, and stigma and attitudes toward women, especially young, unmarried women seeking abortion, contribute to this.
  • Doctors refuse to perform abortions on young women or demand that they get consent from their parents or spouses despite no such requirement by law. This forces many women to turn to clandestine and often unsafe abortions.
  • The Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, 1971 provides for termination only up to 20 weeks.If an unwanted pregnancy has proceeded beyond 20 weeks, women have to approach a medical board and courts to seek permission for termination, which is extremely difficult and cumbersome.
  • The law does not accommodate non-medical concerns over the economic costs of raising a child, effects on career decisions, or any other personal considerations.
  • The silence around unsafe abortion leads to deaths of women and hides important problems that lie at the intersection of these concerns, such as the formidable barriers for adolescent girls to access reproductive health services, including abortion services.

 Judicial Rescue

The Supreme Court has been extremely progressive on women’s reproductive rights.

  • By decriminalising adultery and homosexuality (Navtej Johar judgment) the court has held clearly, that women have a right to sexual autonomy, which is an important facet of their right to personal liberty.
  • The Puttaswamy judgment specifically recognised the Constitutional right of women to make reproductive choices, as a part of personal liberty under Article 21 of the Indian Constitution.
  • In the case of Independent Thought v. Union of India in the context of reproductive rights of girls SC held, “the human rights of a girl child are very much alive and kicking whether she is married or not and deserve recognition and acceptance”.

These judgments have an important bearing on the sexual and reproductive rights of women. The right to safe abortion is an important facet of their right to bodily integrity, right to life and equality and needs to be protected.

Way Forward

  • Sexual and reproductive rights in India must include:
  • A concern with maternal deaths,
  • Access to maternal care to safe abortions,
  • Access to contraceptives,
  • Recognition of adolescent sexuality,
  • Prohibition of forced medical procedures such as forced sterilisations
  • Removal of stigma and discrimination against women, girls and LGBTI persons on the basis of their gender, sexuality and access to treatment,
  • The MTP Act needs to be reformed comprehensively so, that it can be more inclusive and sensitive towards the plight of married women who are forced to conceive and carry a pregnancy to term against their will. It should also include the economic burden a woman has to undertake in raising a child.
  • Access to legal and safe abortion is an integral dimension of sexual and reproductive equality, a public health issue, and must be seen as a crucial element in the contemporary debates on democracy that seeks to provide the just society that abhors all sort of discrimination.
  • The responsibility also lies with civil society and development actors to bring up these issues for public debate and in demands.

Over the years, women have made great strides in many areas with notable progress in reducing gender gaps. Yet realities of women and girls getting trafficked, maternal health, deaths related to abortion every year has hit hard against all the development that has taken place, even negating it sometimes.

Conclusion

As in the words of Swami Vivekananda “It is impossible to think about the welfare of the world unless the condition of women is improved. It is impossible for a bird to fly on only one wing.”

 

 


General Studies – 2


 

2. Discuss the role played by judiciary in alleviating the distress faced by the migrants since the pandemic hit our country. (15M)

Reference: The Hindu

Why the question?

A slew of directives passed by the courts in India in recent times to alleviate the distress caused to migrant workers

Key demand of the question:

Judiciary’s effort in dealing with migrant woes since the pandemic hit

Directive

Discuss:

Throw light on various perspectives and present a logical argument.

Structure of the answer

Introduction:

Give any relevant data with regards to impact of pandemic induced lockdown on migrants in our country.

Body

List out the various directives given by the courts in India to alleviate the distress. Ex: food and travel arrangements insisted on by the court, identity proof should not be insisted upon by the governments since the labourers might not be able to furnish it, court called upon the State governments to arrange transportation for workers who need to return to their homes etc

Conclusion

Briefly mention what systems are needed to be put in place to give effect to these guidelines

Introduction

The coronavirus pandemic has exposed emerging India’s underbelly — the migrant workers. The Supreme Court on June 29 pronounced its judgment in the migrant labourers case. The case was initiated last year after the national lockdown was announced on March 24. Noting the difficulties being faced by the migrant labour population, the bench has emphasized the need for immediate government support for the stranded migrant labourer families.

Body

Issues faced by the migrant labourers:

  • Migrant workers formone-fourth of India’s population.
  • They are not able to get jobs that may satisfy their basic needs.
  • There is a large number of such migrants who do not possess any card. This is because of poverty and lack of education. 
  • The work on the National Database for Unorganised Workers (NDUW) portalhas not been completed. It was ordered to be completed in 2018.
  • NDUW portal is a ₹45.39 crore project to register and identify migrant workers and unorganised labourers to ensure their rights, welfare and food security.

Role played by Judiciary in alleviating the distress of migrant labourers:

  • The court has laid down numerous guidelinesto provide relief to workers and efficiently tackle the problem till the threat of COVID-19 subsides.
  • In the orders pronounced in May 2021that dry ration be provided to migrants who want to return to their homes.
  • The Bench directed that “wide publicity” should be given to welfare schemes for migrant workers, including locations of community kitchens, so that needy persons would benefit.
  • Noting that the central government’s Aatmanirbhar scheme ensured providing of dry rations only to migrant workers covered under the Food Security Act, that is, people with ration cards, the court observed that the unorganised labourers, wandering from one place of work to another in mega cities, could not be expected to have ration cards.
  • In this direction, the SC has asked the States to file affidavits indicating the mechanism by which the state’s plan to distribute dry ration to migrant workers who do not possess a ration card.
  • Further, the court said that identity proof should not be insistedupon by the governments since the labourers might not be able to furnish it.
  • The court called upon the State governments to arrange transportation for workerswho need to return to their homes.
  • The Supreme Court fixedJuly 31 as the deadline for the States to implement the ‘One nation One Ration Card’
  • Under this scheme, the States are to complete the registration of migrant workers in order to provide dry ration to them
  • The top court also directed the State governments to run community kitchensfor migrant workers.
  • In the order passed on June 29,the court affirmed the Right to Food under Article 21 of the Constitution.
  • In furtherance of this, the court asked the States to formulate their own schemes and issue food grains to migrants.
  • This is an indispensable step to keep more than a fourth of the population of the country safe and healthy during the pandemic.
  • The court directed the Ministry of Labour and Employment to ensure that the National Database for Unorganised Workers is updated by July 31.
  • Finally, the top courtrecognised the need for direct cash benefit transfer to workers in the unorganised sector. But it did not issue any guidelines for the same, as the workers need to be covered by the States themselves.
  • The Bench directed the States/Union Territories to register establishments and license contractors under the Inter¬State Migrant Workmen (Regulation of Employment and Conditions of Service) Act, 1979 and ensure that they provided the authorities complete details of the workers employed with them.

Challenges in implementation of directives of Hon’ble SC:

  • It is unlikely that a standardised system can be developed by states for implementing the ONORC scheme within the deadline prescribed by the court.
  • Many States do not have the necessary infrastructure to run and maintain community kitchens on such a large scale.
  • Migrant workers keep moving in search of employment, and therefore it is difficult to cover all of them under state government schemes.

Way forward:

  • The Supreme Court has given a purposive declaration in the case, but the bulk of the judgment seems declaratory rather than mandatory.
  • In order to efficiently implement the orders of the court, the State governments need to work with the Centre closely.
  • With the third wave of COVID-19 infections looming, it is imperative to ensure that government machinery works to its full potential and robust systems are developed to withstand the challenges.
  • The five ‘R’s — Recognise, Register, Responsibility, Ration card, and Residence, could help alleviate the crisis faced by the migrant labourers to great extent.
    • First, recognise them. The attitude of all stakeholders towards the migrants must change. It is the job of the state and central governments, the district administration and the local self-government bodies to recognise the existence and dignity of migrant labourers.
    • Secondly, register them. The local administrations must register all the new and old migrants living in their cities. The states must maintain a register of all migrant labourers. They must ask all migrant labourers coming from any part of India to first enrol themselves with the local municipality. This will allow the workers to seek help in the times of crisis such as these.
    • Third is responsibility. The governments must look at the migrant labourers as their responsibility. the states will have to take up the issues of migrants on priority and provide them with some sort of temporary identity card. Before doing anything to help the migrants, the states must accept their importance. Since they are primarily serving the interests of the state, their well-being is the responsibility of the state governments.
    • Fourth ‘R’ that can help migrants is their ration cards and the public distribution system (PDS). The migrant labourers lose access to the PDS once they move out of their native places for work. For last couple of years, various governments have been trying to squeeze the number of beneficiaries of the PDS.
    • The last one is residence. The central and state governments must jointly think about the migrants’ housing problem.

 

3. Enumerate the essential features of Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act. Analyze the need for such a law in a democratic country such as India (15M)

Reference: The Hindu

Why the question?

Death of activist Father Stan Swamy who was arrested under the provisions of the act

Key demand of the question:

Debate the necessity of the act in a democratic country such as India

Directive

Analyze:

Throw light on the negatives and positives in an objective and scientific manner

Structure of the answer

Introduction

Mention the basic objective of the act in a brief manner

Body

  1. List the essential features of the act in a precise manner.
  2. Debate the necessity of the act: Positives (to maintain public order, security and integrity of the country, to deal with emerging security challenges etc), Negatives (violation of doctrine of presumption of innocence, thwarting FR’s such as Right to speech, dilutes the democratic character of our country etc)
  3. Suggest ways to reduce the apprehensions caused by the act.
  4. Highlight any judgments given by the SC on this act or even recommendations made by committees or commissions such as Law Commission wherever necessary in this answer

Conclusion

Provide an opinion on this matter based on the arguments made by you.

Introduction

The Unlawful Activities Prevention Amendment (UAPA) Bill is an anti-terror legislation that seeks to designate an individual as a “terrorist”. There has been a sharp surge in the state’s use of this provision in a sweeping range of alleged offences — against tribals in Chhattisgarh, those using social media through proxy servers in Jammu and Kashmir; and journalists in Manipur among others.

According to data provided by the Ministry of Home Affairs in Parliament in March, a total of 1126 cases were registered under UAPA in 2019, a sharp rise from 897 in 2015. By ruling that “terrorist activity” cannot be broadly defined to include ordinary penal offences, the three Delhi High Court orders granting bail recently to three student-activists.

Body:

Key Features of the UAPA Act:

  • It empowers the government to designate individuals as terrorists if the person commits or participates in acts of terrorism, prepares for terrorism, promotes terrorism or is otherwise involved in terrorism.
  • This has been done as it is seen that when a terrorist organization is banned, its members form a new organization to spread terrorism.
  • The bill also empowers the Director-General, National Investigation Agency (NIA) to grant approval of seizure or attachment of property when the case is being investigated by the agency.
  • Under the existing Act, the investigating officer is required to obtain the prior approval of the Director General of Police (DGP) to seize properties that bear any connection to terrorism.
  • It has been seen that many times a terror accused own properties in different states. In such cases, seeking approval of DGPs of different states becomes very difficult, and the delay caused by the same may enable the accused to transfer properties.
  • It empowers the officers of the NIA — of the rank of Inspector or above, to investigate cases.
  • The existing Act provides for investigation of cases to be conducted by officers of the rank of Deputy Superintendent or Assistant Commissioner of Police or above.
  • No changes being made in arrest or bail provisions. Also, the provision that the burden of proof is on the investigating agency and not on the accused, has not been changed.
  • The International Convention for Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism (2005) has also been added in the Second Schedule through the Amendment.

Impact on Fundamental rights:

  • It allows the central government to name an individual as a terrorist if it “believes” without any formal judicial process, which is against the principles of natural justice.
  • The name of such a person will be included in the ‘Fourth Schedule’ proposed to be added in the parent Act. The only statutory remedy available to such a person is to make an application before the Central Government for de-notification, which will be considered by a Review Committee constituted by the Government itself.
  • An official designation as a terrorist will be akin to ‘civil death’ for a person, with social boycott, expulsion from job, hounding by media, and perhaps attack from self-proclaimed vigilante groups following.
  • The Amendment poses threat to different viewpoints and goes against the freedom of speech and expression of an individual.
  • The law could target minorities or a section of people thereby affecting their cultural rights.
  • Provisions of the UAPA have an extremely wide ambit, which makes it possible to use them against not just criminals and terrorists, but even authors, academics, lawyers for alleged terrorists, and human rights activists.

Indefinite Imprisonment without Trial: Even if the person is eventually acquitted of the charges, the delays in conducting judicial proceedings mean the case may only get heard several years after their arrest – failure to get bail means they have to spend the entire time in jail.

  • The Act also interferes with the privacy and liberty of individuals contravening the provisions which protect against arbitrary or unlawful interference with a person’s privacy and home.
  • The Act allows for searches, seizures and arrests based on the ‘personal knowledge’ of the police officers without a written validation from a superior judicial authority.

Liberty v/s National Security:

  • This law is aimed at effective prevention of unlawful activities associations in India.
  • Its main objective is to make powers available for dealing with activities directed against the integrity and sovereignty of India.
  • But there must be a distinction between an individual and an organisation, and it must be kept in mind that the Constitution guarantees the former the right to life and liberty.
  • Benjamin Franklin said: “Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.”

Way forward:

  • There is a need to undertake structural changes to provide transparency in the proceedings to make UAPA act more accountable.
  • Proper justification must be provided for the seizure of the properties and assets of an individual.
  • The bill must ensure judicial solutions to the wrongly accused to safeguard the individual’s dignity, freedom and equality in the society.
  • The government must also rethink regarding the issues pertaining to the rights of life and liberty, and to federalism.

Conclusion

In civilised nations, from whom India has taken its Constitution and its laws, the criminal justice system is about the rights of the accused. That is also the foundation of our justice system. The very idea of the UAPA and the decision to start naming people terrorists without securing a conviction from a court of law, goes against the principles of natural justice.

 

4. Critically examine if the government has adhered to its stated objective of ‘Minimum government-Maximum governance’. (15M)

Reference: The Hindu

Why the question?

Recent cabinet reshuffle

Key demand of the question:

Debating whether the government is adhering to ‘Minimum government-Maximum governance’ principle

Directive

Critically examine: When asked to ‘Examine’, we have to look into the topic (content words) in detail, inspect it, investigate it and establish the key facts and issues related to the topic in question. While doing so we should explain why these facts and issues are important and their implications. 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

Define what you understand by ‘Minimum government-Maximum governance’ in a brief manner

Body

  1. List out the various steps taken by the government to realize the goal: setting up of NITI AYOG, allocating similar ministries under one cabinet minister, combining various ministries with similarities, easing of compliance in various sectors, privatizing public sector enterprises etc
  2. List the areas where this has not been met: the size of the government is still large, quality of governance is still inadequate, delay in decision-making on crucial projects etc
  3. Suggest suitable way forward in this situation

Conclusion

Summarize the importance of Minimum government-maximum governance in the Indian scenario in a brief manner.

Introduction

‘Minimum government, maximum governance’ is the dictum the present government has been professing since it came to power. It refers to reducing the role of government where it is in excess (minimum government) and making a citizen friendly and accountable government (maximum governance). The objective is to make government efficient and inclusive, reduce red-tapism thereby improving ease of doing business etc.

Body

Minimum government

  • Easing of approval and clearances (like single window clearance).
  • Replacement of planning commission with NITI Aayog having only advisory and think-tank role.
  • Encouragement to PPP by government (like in road construction and public utilities).
  • Allowing self-certification in many compliances in manufacturing industry and in environmental regulations.

Maximum governance

  • Adoption of transparency, objectivity and accountability in service delivery like through e-governance.
  • Inclusion of citizen charter, grievance redressal and Sevottam model in government functioning.
  • New health and education policies focusing on Outcomes based approach.
  • Linking the ration cards with Aadhar has resulted into more than 2 crore bogus ration cards.

Issues in having multiple ministries and departments

  • there are 41 ministries at present in the Government of India
  • Almost full strength (78/81) of the Council of Ministers with the recent reshuffle.
  • Duplication of work
  • Wastage of public money
  • Inefficiency as the work doesn’t gets demarcated clearly. This results into lack of accountability.
  • Lack of coordination results into delays and red-tapism.
  • Hinders the process of service delivery to citizens.
  • More Capital Expenditure than Revenue.
  • Overstaffing at the headquarters for most institutions and ministries, and shortage at the field level.
  • Lack of mobility between different arms of the civil services

Steps taken in this regard by present government

  • Merger of external affairs ministry and overseas affair ministry.
  • Merger of ministry of urban development with ministry of housing and poverty alleviation.
  • Abolition of FIPB.
  • Ease of Doing Business for all
  • Creating a Right to Education Act
  • Liberalising Agriculture
  • Decentralising Governance
  • Ensuring Autonomy for Institutions

Given the disadvantages mentioned above, multiple ministries/departments do leads to maximum government. However, the two things aren’t one and the same. At times having multiple departments helps in better analysis of policy and its implementation. Also, given the diversity and size of country having multiple departments helps in horizontal division of power, thereby, reducing work burden.

Way forward to ensure good governance with dictum of Minimum Government and maximum Governance:

The focus areas of Government should be to

  • reduce the decision making layers to the minimum while allowing for faster means of information sharing/dissemination
  • simplification of procedures
  • identification and repeal of obsolete/archaic laws/rules
  • identification and shortening of various forms
  • leveraging technology to bring in transparency in public interface
  • accountable methods for effective delivery of goods/services
  • a robust public grievance redress system.

Conclusion

Good governance also demands respect for human rights, rule of law, strengthening of democracy, promoting transparency and capacity in public administration. The responsiveness of the state and its institutions to the needs and aspirations of the people, and inclusive citizenship are imperative to good governance.

 

5. The hasty pullout of USA from Afghanistan might push the country to the brink of civil war. In this context, discuss the role regional countries can play; with particular focus on India to prevent this situation. (15M)

Reference: The HinduThe Hindu

Why the question?

Pullout of US from Afghanistan

Key demand of the question:

Challenges brought about by the hasty pullout of USA from Afghanistan and the role of various regional players in ensuring peace in the region.

Directive

Discuss:

Throw light on various perspectives and present a logical argument.

Structure of the answer

Introduction:

Give detail about the presence of US in Afghanistan and its impact on the latter in a brief manner

Body

  1. Give details of the US pullout and the consequences of this in the recent past (Ex: Increase in Taliban attacks on Afghan forces, weak position of Afghan government in dealing with this belligerence from Taliban)
  2. List the importance of preventing a civil war in the region from the perspective of all the regional countries involved with special focus on India.
  3. In the face of this situation, what role countries in the region should play to prevent a civil war? These countries should include- China, Pakistan, Russia, India etc
  4. The measures could include- initiating a dialogue process between Afghan government and Taliban and pushing for an earlier resolution, pressure on Taliban to rescind its violent moves in recent times, providing support to Afghan government etc

Conclusion

Summarize the role of regional players in ensuring peace in this region

Introduction

American troops are set to withdraw from the country by September 11 this year, but the shadow of re-engagement looms, raising security concerns beyond South Asia. The resurgence of Taliban is a huge concern not only for Kabul but for regions in South Asia and beyond.

The Taliban militants have seized dozens of districts in recent weeks and are now thought to control about a third of the country, ahead of the withdrawal of US and Western troops from Afghanistan by September 11.

Body

Background

  • The US signed the Doha agreement in February 2020, dangling a “carrot” of full withdrawal, hoping the Taliban would agree to be part of an interim government.
  • The flawed peace process, which offered a clear, early edge to the Taliban, caused a deadlock in the Doha process.
  • Unlike Iraq, there was clear political support for the US forces to remain in Afghanistan.
  • But the US chose to shed the “occupier” tag and distance itself from grievances against governance and harm to civilians over the past 20 years.

Role regional countries can play in maintaining peace and security:

Possible future course for India:

  • New Delhi must move swiftly to regain the upper hand in the narrative in Afghanistan.
  • The following should assure India a leading position in Afghanistan’s regional formulation:
    • India’s assistance of more than $3 billion in projects
    • trade of about $1 billion
    • a $20 billion projected development expenditure of an alternate route through Chahbahar
  • India’s support to the Afghan National Army, bureaucrats, doctors and other professionals for training
  • The Indian government must strive to endure that its aid and assistance is broad-based, to centres outside the capital (Kabul) as well.
  • This should be the case even if some lie in areas held by the Taliban.
  • India must also pursue opportunities to fulfil its role in the peace efforts in Afghanistan.
  • An understanding between Iran and the U.S. on Afghanistan is necessary for lasting peace as well, and India could play a mediatory part.
  • India should also use the UN’s call for a pause in conflicts during the novel coronavirus pandemic, to ensure a hold on hostilities with Pakistan.
  • Above all, New Delhi must consider the appointment of a special envoy, as it has been done in the past, to deal with its efforts in Afghanistan.
  • India’s engagement should be conditional on Taliban joining the mainstream politics.
  • India should not give legitimacy to a government in exile (Taliban’s political office is based in Doha) in its own neighbourhood.
  • New Delhi should, using its regional clout as well as its deep ties with both the U.S. and Russia, strive for what Mr. Jaishankar called “double peace”, both inside Afghanistan and in the region.

China’s role:

  • China should expand its role in the region to actively use its unique influence over Pakistan and advance its investment interests in Afghanistan
  • China can be encouraged to spur economic development in Afghanistan, which would be simultaneously beneficial for China.
  • Most importantly, it is in China’s best interest to stabilize Pakistan.
  • While China may be unwilling to deal with Pakistan in a multilateral forum, it could certainly be encouraged to work with Pakistan bilaterally to achieve stability where their economic interests lie.

Iran’s role:

  • Iran has vital interests in being a dominant player in Afghanistan, and has become significantly more involved in the region.
  • Iran’s potentially beneficial role in the region must be weighed against the destabilizing role it could play if its tensions with the U.S. and NATO countries were to escalate.
  • Iran should be looking to be fully integrated into the wider regional strategy for stabilization, without which it is unlikely to cooperate.

Russia’s role:

  • Working with Russia to alleviate fears of U.S. domination in Central Asia is key to ensuring greater cooperation on Afghanistan.
  • Dialogue with the Central Asian states to make them understand the benefits of cooperation is similarly vital.
  • Russia and the Central Asian states must be brought to dialogue with one another to alleviate national security fears and move forward with developing the Northern Distribution Network and other trade routes.

Saudi Arabia’s Role:

  • Saudi Arabia can lead negotiations with the Taliban, and exercise influence over Pakistan
  • Saudi Arabia has also played a role in brokering talks with the Taliban and claims that it has almost been able to fully cut-off funding for al-Qaeda and its affiliates flowing from private Saudi sources.
  • Saudi Arabia is also a major investor in and ally of Pakistan, and can leverage this role to convince Pakistan to do more to resolve regional issues, while also getting the “softer” and less ideologically-committed elements within the Taliban to agree to negotiate

Conclusion

Despite the withdrawal, the looming shadow of US-NATO will remain with a focus on preventing Afghanistan from becoming a safe haven. US-NATO have chosen Afghan forces, under a democratic government, as their local allies and have assured funding up to 2024. While US-NATO may focus on their specific objectives in Afghanistan 2.0, it is certain that the Taliban-ISKP-Pakistan combine will unleash much more violence.

 

 


General Studies – 3


 

6. Enlist the major sources which contribute to the rise of Nitrogen Dioxide in the environment. Discuss the threats posed by this and suggest suitable measures to overcome this. (15M)

Reference: The Hindu

Why the question?

Recent publication of Greenpeace report by Delhi Key demand of the question: Comprehensive strategy to combat the pollution caused by NO2 in the country

Directive

Discuss:

Throw light on various perspectives and present a logical argument.

Structure of the answer

Introduction

Briefly highlight the data published in the report

Body

  1. List the numerous sources in the society which is leading to rise in NO2. Ex: tobacco smoke and gas-, wood-, oil-, kerosene- and coal-burning appliances such as stoves, ovens, space and water heaters and fireplaces, particularly unflued or poorly maintained appliances, road traffic
  2. Highlight the various threats posed by NO2: Increased inflammation of the airways; Worsened cough and wheezing, reduced lung function; increased asthma attacks; and. greater likelihood of emergency department and hospital admissions.
  3. Suggest suitable strategies in tackling these threats fuel switching, fuel pre-treatment, combustion (or chemical process) modification, flue (or tail) gas Denitrification.

Conclusion

Highlight the urgency in preventing this pollution at the earliest. You can talk about any government programmes in this regard

Introduction

Nitrogen dioxide (NO2) is a highly reactive gas, and is representative of a group of other highly reactive gases known collectively as nitrogen oxides (NOx). These gases, especially nitrogen dioxide, are products of vehicle, power plant, and off-road equipment emissions caused by fuels burning at high heat.

Nitrogen dioxide, when prevalent in the air, appears as a reddish-brown haze. Nitrogen dioxide and other nitrogen oxides react with other chemicals in the air to form other pollutants, known as secondary pollutants. These secondary pollutants include ozone, particulate matter, acid rain, and other toxic chemicals.

A new report from Greenpeace India revealed that nitrogen dioxide(NO2) pollution increased in all eight most populous State capitals studied. Among Mumbai, Delhi, Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Chennai, Kolkata, Jaipur and Lucknow, Delhi saw the most dramatic increase between April 2020 and April 2021.

Body

Major Sources of Nitrogen Dioxide in environment:

  • On a global scale, emissions of nitrogen oxides from natural sources far outweigh those generated by human activities. Natural sources include intrusion of stratospheric nitrogen oxides, bacterial and volcanic action, and lightning.
  • In urban outdoor air, the presence of NO2 is mainly due to traffic. Nitric oxide (NO), which is emitted by motor vehicles or other combustion processes, combines with oxygen in the atmosphere, producing NO2.
  • NO2 primarily gets in the air from the burning of fuel.
  • Nitrogen dioxide comes from vehicles, power plants, industrial emissions and off-road sources such as construction, lawn and gardening equipment. All of these sources burn fossil fuels.
  • Indoor NO2 is produced mainly by unvented heaters and gas stoves, tobacco smoking etc.

Threats posed:

Health effects

  • Breathing air with a high concentration of NO2 can irritate airways in the human respiratory system.
  • Such exposures over short periods can aggravate respiratory diseases, particularly asthma, leading to respiratory symptoms (such as coughing, wheezing or difficulty breathing), hospital admissions and visits to emergency rooms.
  • Longer exposures to elevated concentrations of NO2 may contribute to the development of asthma and potentially increase susceptibility to respiratory infections.
  • People with asthma, as well as children and the elderly are generally at greater risk for the health effects of NO2.
  • NO2 along with other NOx reacts with other chemicals in the air to form both particulate matter and ozone. Both of these are also harmful when inhaled due to effects on the respiratory system.

Environmental effects

  • NO2 and other NOx interact with water, oxygen and other chemicals in the atmosphere to form acid rain. Acid rain harms sensitive ecosystems such as lakes and forests.
  • The nitrate particles that result from NOx make the air hazy and difficult to see though. This affects the many national parks that we visit for the view.
  • NOx in the atmosphere contributes to nutrient pollution in coastal waters.

Measures needed:

  • For industrial purposes:
    • The most cost-effective methods of reducing emissions of NOx are the use of low-NOx burners and the use of low nitrogen fuels such as natural gas.
    • Natural gas has the added advantage of emitting almost no particulate matter or sulfur dioxide when used as fuel.
    • Other cost-effective approaches to emissions control include combustion modifications.
    • These can reduce NOx emissions by up to 50% at reasonable cost.
    • Flue gas treatment systems can achieve greater emissions reductions, but at a much higher cost.
  • For transportation and commute:
    • Carpool or use public transportation.
    • When air quality is healthy, bike or walk instead of driving.
    • Combine errands to reduce vehicle trips.
    • Limit engine idling.
    • When refuelling, avoid spilling fuel. Tighten gas cap securely.
    • Keep your car, boat, and other engines tuned up.
    • Inflate car tires to the recommended pressure.
    • Conserve energy at home and at work

Way forward:

  • Governments, local administration and city planners must initiate the transition from privately owned vehicles to an efficient, clean and safe public transport system that is run on clean energy.
  • National and regional rules to reduce emissions of NO2 and NOx should be formulated and implemented strictly, which will help state and local governments meet the National Ambient Air Quality Standard (NAAQS).
  • Areas where the air quality does not meet the national NO2 standards must be identified. For these areas, state, local, and tribal governments develop plans to reduce the amount of NO2 in the air.

 

 


General Studies – 4


 

7. ‘Politics without principles’ is one of the greatest challenges the world is facing in the present times. Elucidate. Suggest measures to overcome this (15M)

Reference: Ethics

Why the question?

Rise in politics without principle in democracies world over.

Key demand of the question:

Comprehensively throw light on the declining quality of politics world over and suggesting solutions to overcome them

Directive

Elucidate:

Detailed explanations

Structure of the answer

Introduction

Highlight the importance of principles in the field of politics in a brief manner

Body

  1. List the various instances where politics is practiced across the world without principles: US pullout of Afghanistan in a hasty manner, politicians giving their support to majoritarianism in their speeches (Hungary’s government stand on LGBT rights), coalition built in Israel with the sole purpose of keeping the ex-PM out of power, apathy towards minorities in their countries or on issues like refugee crisis and climate change etc
  2. List the factors fuelling this situation
  3. Suggest some measures to overcome them. You can quote any global or national examples in this regard here

Conclusion

Highlight the need to reverse this trend at the earliest.

Introduction

Political leaders’ actions and deeds have a great impact on the minds of the people. In a democratic and developing country like India a leader involved in any misfeasance should be ignored by the people and the party would meet its Waterloo as the Congress had to face in the general elections.

Body

Politics without principles

  • Corruption is at high level where things are just on papers and citizens’ entitlements do not reach the common people.
  • Leaders with criminal background are ruling the country leading to the problems of destitution, poor infrastructure and poor health.
  • The main victims are the poor people who are living a miserable life and all credit goes to the dirty politics.
  • Political leaders support reservation system to fill their vote bank that is completely disastrous for Indian democracy.
  • Politics without ethics is enhancing communalism and destroying the very existence of democracy.
  • Corruption is hurting economy and is leading to misuse of funds like in cases 2G scam, Coalgate etc. in UPA regime, and Kargil Coffin scam during the BJP government.
  • The fight for power is strong, and sometimes there is no other option than to use some tactics for getting hegemony over the opponents.
  • In the growth paths, especially in industrialization process, there are parties who will create blockheads that cannot be eliminated by simple ways.

Ethical choices changes with the social frames where the rule fittest will survive works. It is the same way in politics.

Way Forward

  • Politicians are at the helm of the ship that our nation is. It is upon them to steer our country into the tempest or away from it. They wield a vast amount of power which if used ethically can help a common man benefit and the country grow into a developed nation.
  • They should stop neglecting the needs of their people and become a lot more altruistic.
  • The politicians in their defence may say that the fight for staying in power is a difficult one and they have to use such tactics to get an upper hand on their opponents, but the sad truth is something else.
  • Even though there exist several bodies that are tasked with keeping a vigilant eye to keep the unethical activities in check, the not so virtuous ideas have crept deep inside the souls of our politicians and condensed with it.
  • It is a difficult task to eradicate such an evil existence since it is a result of the choices that the politicians take and live with.
  • We as responsible citizens can only use the best of our knowledge to bring into power the least corrupt and the most responsible leader that our collective intellect can decide upon and prevent actual narrow-minded selfish politicians from being in power and prevent unethical politics. At present we have very limited options, but we can always hope for a better future.

Conclusion

As and when the word politics comes, the word ethics disappears. In politics, all the leaders and parties are craving for power and want it by any means whether it is legal or illegal. It is causing a lot more harm to the country and especially the poor people. Sometimes it is necessary to use the tactics to face the unethical ways of opponents but it can never justify the use of unethical means in politics. Play it fair and take the actions for the welfare of the common people. After all it is the very basis purpose of politics and the parties.


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