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[Mission 2022] SECURE SYNOPSIS: 01 October 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: History of the world will include events from 18th century such as industrial revolution, world wars, redrawal of national boundaries, colonization, decolonization, political philosophies like communism, capitalism, socialism etc.— their forms and effect on the society.

1. The cold war played itself out in many domains and theatres across the world which had a lot of implications. Discuss. (250 words)

Difficulty level: Tough

Reference: History of modern world by Jain & Mathur

Why the question:

The question is part of the static syllabus of General studies paper – 1 and mentioned as part of Mission-2022 Secure timetable.

Key Demand of the question:

There were different arenas (Korea, Vietnam, etc.) of the cold war. Apart from these different arenas, mention the different fields (ex: space race, sports) in which the cold war played out.

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:

Begin your answer by writing briefly what the primary cause of the cold war was.

Body:

First write about the “hot” aspects of the war, the different places where the two superpowers technically battled each other (Korea, Vietnam etc.). Proceed to write about the different fields in which the cold war ended up playing out – sports, space race, weapons race etc.

Write about the impact of the above.

Conclusion:

You can conclude by highlighting how in recent years a new cold war may be brewing, this time between USA and China.

Introduction

Cold war was a sequence of events after the World War II (1939-45) till the disintegration of the USSR in 1991, whereby the two super powers, USA and USSR, competed for hegemony in domains of economy, science and technology, politics and military. Each side adopted policies to strengthen itself and weaken the other falling short of an actual war.

Body

Various domains of cold war

  • Ideologies: Nations in the Soviet and Chinese spheres were governed by They also featured command economies, in which production and distribution is rigidly controlled by the government.
    • US-led block was the capitalist block which stood for liberal values of democracy and freedom. They saw communism as a threat to the liberal world.
  • NATO vs Warsaw Pact: US formed NATO (1949) after the West Berlin Blockade because the capitalist bloc found itself unprepared for a military conflict.
    • Warsaw pact (1955) was initiated by USSR in response to NATO admitting West Germany.
    • It was signed by USSR and all satellite states except Yugoslavia.
    • Under Warsaw Pact, the members promised to defend each other against any attack from outside and the armies of all members came under overall control of Moscow.
  • Arms race began in earnest when USSR developed the Atomic Bomb in 1949.
    • Thereafter, US planned and produced the much more powerful Hydrogen Bomb.
    • By 1953, USSR also caught up and developed the Hydrogen Bomb.
  • Space race: Space exploration served as another dramatic arena for Cold War competition. Russia launched its first satellite in 1957, called Sputnik.
    • In 1959, the Soviet space program took another step forward with the launch of Luna 2, the first space probe to hit the moon.
    • In April 1961, the Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin became the first person to orbit Earth, traveling in the capsule-like spacecraft Vostok 1.
    • December 1968 saw the launch of Apollo 8, the first manned space mission to orbit the moon. By landing on the moon, the United States effectively “won” the space race that had begun with Sputnik’s launch in 1957.

Cold War manifestation across the world

  • Berlin Wall erection and blockade: After WWII, Germany was divided into the Soviet-occupied, communist East and the Ally-occupied, democratic West.
    • Though this division was initially administrative, the nation split into separate states (West Germany and East Germany) in 1949.
    • Immediately preceding the division of Germany was the year-long Berlin blockade. The aim of the blockade was to starve the West Germans, but this was overcome by Allies through airlifting supplies.
    • Berlin Wall was erected, which was called the descent of the iron curtain and start of cold war.
  • Korean War of 1950- 1953: After World War II, Korea was divided into the Soviet-backed North and US-backed South.
    • A Northern invasion of the South sparked the Korean War (1950-53), in which the South was supported by a US-led UN coalition.
    • Just when this coalition had taken most of the Korean Peninsula, China joined the USSR in support of the North, driving the Americans back southward to the 38th parallel; this line has served as the boundary between the two Koreas ever since.
  • Vietnam War: The most prolonged and destructive Cold War conflict was the Vietnam War (1954-75). Post war the nation was divided into the communist, USSR/China-backed North and non-communist, US-backed South.
    • The US resorted to brutal campaigns of carpet bombing (area bombing) and defoliation (destruction of foliage, typically with napalm or herbicides).
    • Yet even these extreme measures failed.
    • The US ultimately withdrew, North Vietnam invaded the South, and the nation was Millions had been killed
  • Cuban Missile Crisis: The apex of Cold War tension was the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962, when the US discovered that Russia was building nuclear launch sites in Cuba.
    • President Kennedy ordered a naval blockade of the island, and for a few days nuclear war seemed imminent. reunited under communist
    • An agreement was reached, however, in which Khrushchev removed the weapons from Cuba in exchange for the American removal of warheads in Turkey, as well as a guarantee against future American invasion of Cuba
  • Afghan invasion by Soviet: The foremost conflict of the late Cold War was the Soviet War in Afghanistan (1979-89), in which Soviet forces attempted to defend the reigning communist government of Afghanistan from anti-communist guerrillas.
    • The guerrillas, furnished with weapons and funding provided by the US and sympathetic Muslim nations, maintained a bloody stalemate throughout the conflict (such that this war has been dubbed the “Soviet Vietnam”).
    • The guerrillas toppled the communist government a few years after the Soviet withdrawal.

Conclusion

The cold war was a period of hostilities between nations who were aligned with the two blocs. Post-cold-war American supremacy remained for a long time, making it a unipolar world. Today Russia is no longer a major threat to USA. China’s rise in the past two decades is a simmering conflict in the waiting. The friction between USA and China has been touted as the Cold war 2.0

 

Topic: History of the world will include events from 18th century such as industrial revolution, world wars, redrawal of national boundaries, colonization, decolonization, political philosophies like communism, capitalism, socialism etc.— their forms and effect on the society.

2. Did the non-aligned countries play any role in reducing Cold War conflicts? As one of the founding members of the Non-Aligned Movement, what responsibility did India shoulder? Critically examine. (250 words)

Difficulty level: Moderate

Reference: Mastering Modern World History by Norman Lowe, NCERT Class 12 Contemporary World Politics

Why the question:

The question is part of the static syllabus of General studies paper – 1 and mentioned as part of Mission-2022 Secure timetable.

Key Demand of the question:

Highlight nature of engagement of NAM countries with the superpowers. Evaluate the role played by India, as a member of NAM.

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:

Introduce NAM, and the background in which it emerged.

Body:

Elaborate on the role played by NAM in easing tensions between the superpowers by citing examples. Note how NAM did not practise isolationism or neutrality.

Proceed to write the role played by India as part of NAM, and evaluate it (mention some of the criticisms of India’s role).

Conclusion:

End your answer noting that India continues to embrace NAM, mentioning PM Modi’s attendance at the 2020 summit and him referring to NAM as the “world’s moral voice”.

Introduction

The Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) was created and founded during the collapse of the colonial system and the independence struggles of the peoples of Africa, Asia, Latin America and other regions of the world and at the height of the Cold War. Throughout its history, the Movement of Non-Aligned Countries has played a fundamental role in the preservation of world peace and security.

Body

Role of NAM countries in reducing cold war conflicts

  • In middle of the cold war, NAM ensured that peoples being oppressed by foreign occupation and domination can exercise their inalienable right to self-determination and independence.
  • South-South Cooperation: NAM acted as a protector for the small countries against the western hegemony. The third world nations and newly independent countries supported each other in their quest for development.
  • NIEO: During the 1970s and 1980s, the Movement of Non-Aligned Countries played a key role in the struggle for the establishment of a new international economic order(NIEO) that allowed all the peoples of the world to make use of their wealth and natural resources and provided a wide platform for a fundamental change in international economic relations and the economic emancipation of the countries of the South.
  • Disarmament: The Non-aligned Movement repeatedly comes out for maintenance of peace, ‘the cessation of arms race and the peaceful coexistence of all States.

India’s contribution to NAM

  • As a leader of NAM, India’s response to the cold war power politics was two-fold:
    • India steered itself away from the great power politics, positioning itself as an ‘interested observer’.
    • It raised its voice against the newly decolonized nations from joining the either bloc.
  • During the cold war, India made a, concerted effort to activate those regional & international organizations, which were not a part of the alliances led by US & USSR, thus maintaining the spirit of NAM.
  • In the General Assembly, India submitted a draft resolution declaring that the use of nuclear weapons would be against the charter of the United Nations and crime against humanity and should therefore be prohibited.
  • Non-alignment has been an influential tenet of India’s foreign policy since its emergence from decolonization.
  • It was based on a realistic assessment of India’s geopolitical situation.
  • Nehru, one of the chief architects of NAM intended to give India room to manoeuvre according to its own interests rather than allowing it to become confined within the limitations of the cold-war alliance.

Critical analysis

  • India’s inclination towards erstwhile USSR created confusions in smaller members. It led to the weakening of NAM and small nations drifted towards either US or USSR.
  • The signing of Friendship Treaty with Soviet Union was a major Faultline and India was considered anti-west for a long time.
  • However, with the end of cold war power politics and emergence of Unipolar World, non-alignment, both as an international movement as well as the core of India’s foreign policy, has lost some of its relevance & importance.
  • The NAM countries did not have any concrete initiative in the context of crisis in Syria & Libya.
  • Many ‘non-aligned’ countries, including India are continuing NAM as a historical legacy and have re-oriented their foreign policy towards strengthening engagements with major powers, such as USA, Russia & China, for their domestic development agenda.
  • The sparse attendance by heads of government/State at 17th NAM Summit (Venezuela) is the key evidence of the crisis of relevance of NAM.
  • According to C. Raja Mohan NAM is in the state of ‘COMA’. It is passing through the crisis of identity and relevance.

Conclusion

Non alignment as a foreign policy is very much alive even today in India’s foreign policy. The strategic autonomy approach is a manifestation of the same. The NAM platform is still the biggest arena of developing nations. Hence it becomes relevant to mobilize international public opinion against terrorism, weapons of mass destruction (WMDs), nuclear proliferation, ecological imbalance, safeguarding interests of developing countries in WTO (World Trade Organization) etc.

Value Addition

  • The basic concept for the group originated in 1955 during discussions that took place at the Asia-Africa Bandung Conference held in Indonesia.
  • The Non-Aligned Movement was founded and held its first conference (the Belgrade Conference) in 1961 under the leadership of Josip Broz Tito of Yugoslavia, Gamal Abdel Nasser of Egypt, Jawaharlal Nehru of India, Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana, and Sukarno of Indonesia.
  • NAM does not have a formal constitution or permanent secretariat, and its administration is non-hierarchical and rotational. Decisions are made by consensus, which requires substantial agreement, but not unanimity.
  • It has 120 members as of April 2018 comprising 53 countries from Africa, 39 from Asia, 26 from Latin America and the Caribbean and 2 from Europe (Belarus, Azerbaijan). There are 17 countries and 10 international organizations that are Observers at NAM.

 

Topic: Social empowerment, communalism, regionalism & secularism.

3. The deeply entrenched communalism and casteism permeates as occasional outbursts of violence against the poor and vulnerable. Analyse. (250 words)

Difficulty level: Moderate

Reference: Indian Express

Why the question:

The video footage of a photographer hired by the administration stomping on the body of a man during an eviction drive in Assam’s Darrang district was brutal enough to make one think it wasn’t real.

Key Demand of the question:

To write about the how communalism and casteism lead to violence and its impact.

Directive word: 

Analyse – When asked to analyse, you must examine methodically the structure or nature of the topic by separating it into component parts and present them in a summary.

Structure of the answer:

Introduction: 

Start by defining communalism and casteism.

Body:

First, discuss the reasons contributing to Communalism; Vested political interests, Rise of communal organisations, Politicization of local problems, religious fundamentalism and how they lead to violence etc. Cite examples to substantiate your points.

Next, explain how in Indian societal setup caste a form of social stratification leads to discrimination, exploitation, intolerance and leads to violence. Cite examples to substantiate your points.

Next, discuss the impact of communal and caste violence on Indian society; impact on social fabric, economy, polity etc.

Conclusion:

Suggest way forward for eradicating communalism and casteism in India.

Introduction

Communalism is an aggressive political ideology linked to religion. In the Indian context, is most commonly perceived as a phenomenon of religious differences between groups that often lead to tension, and even rioting between them. In its not so violent manifestation, communalism amounts to discrimination against a religious group in matters such as employment or education.

Caste system or casteism can be defined as affinity for hereditary endogamous group, having a common name, common traditional occupation, common culture, relatively rigid in matters of mobility, distinctiveness of status and forming a single homogenous community.

Body

Reasons for communalism

  • Historical factors: British policy of divide and rule led them to focus on using religion to divide India. Hindus and Muslims were propped against each other for vested interests.
  • Political factors: The political factors include religion-based politics, identity politics, partiality of political leaders towards their communities, communal speeches and hate speech by party leaders and politicians during elections (though steps have been taken against the same recently, still they continue unabated) etc.
    • The Mandir-Masjid politics, Babri masjid demolition, et, can be considered an outcome of this process.
    • In India, the politics of opportunism, is the biggest cause of communalism.
  • Food preferences: The issue of beef consumption and transportation has been a contentious issue in India and has triggered communal outbreaks in various parts of the country.
  • Social factors: Minority Concentration Areas, as identified by the government, are relatively backward and falling behind the national average in terms of socioeconomic and basic amenities indicators.
    • This has also been systematically documented even in 2006 report by the Sachar Committee.
    • These vulnerabilities and unfortunate realities are commonly misused to fan communalism and attain political ends.

Caste as a thorn in societal cohesion

  • Dalit violence: Increasing trend of caste-based violence are related to instances of inter-caste marriage and assertion of basic rights by Dalits including land rights, freedom of expression, access to justice, access to education etc.
    • g. A group of Dalits were attacked in Una, Gujarat when they had participated in the movement for demand of land ownership for the Dalits.
    • Hathras Gang rape of a Dalit woman was touted as caste based violence.
  • Manual scavenging: Manual scavenging eventually became a caste-based occupation, which involves the removal of untreated human excreta from bucket toilets or pit latrines. Even today, this practice is prevalent, even if outlawed by the government.
    • As on Dec 2020, 340 people had died while cleaning sewers and septic tanks in the past five years.
  • Untouchability: Though abolished under Constitution, Untouchability is more visible in the districts where local deities hold the sway.
    • Eg: In Shimla, Kullu, Sirmaur and Kinnaur, Dalits are still not allowed to enter temples or touch the deities.
  • Exploitation: The segmentation of the society into caste, prevents true binding of society. This segmentation can be leveraged to create more divisions, thereby allowing the societal disintegration.

Impact of communal and caste violence on Indian society

  • The caste system and religion based identity is a significant social system in India. One’s caste/religion affects their options regarding marriage, employment, education, economies, mobility, housing and politics, among others.
  • Hindered national unity: The caste system and religion developed a parochial feeling and made the people unduly conscious of their own castes/religion.
    • Many a time caste/communal interests were given priority over national interest.
    • Thus the whole system stood against the very concept of national unity.
  • Hinders democracy: Democracy presupposes human equality, but the caste system believed in inequality and there was a hierarchical arrangement.
    • Today caste has manifested into a subject to gain political benefits, like reservation in educational colleges, government jobs etc.
  • Lowered women’s status: The practice of Sati, child marriage etc  were result of caste system. Women were treated as second-class citizens. This patriarchal behaviour is still prevalent today.
  • Violence and conflict: Dalit atrocities, sexual assault on lower caste women etc are result of such discrimination and exploitation which are in turn a result of caste and communal identities deeply entrenched in Indian society

Conclusion

Government must encourage and support civil society and NGOs to run projects that help create communal awareness, build stronger community relation and cultivating values of communal harmony in next generation. A pro-active approach by National Foundation for Communal Harmony (NFCH), the body responsible for promoting communal harmony is needed. Finally, there is need to reform in present criminal justice system, speedy trials and adequate compensation to the victims of caste/communal, may act as deterrent.

 

 


General Studies – 3


 

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

4. In reference to start-ups, what is a Unicorn? With the right regulatory ambience and local sources of funding, India can create a truly innovative and resilient economy amidst the Unicorn boom of 2021. Examine. (250 words)

Difficulty level: Tough

Reference: Live Mint

Why the question:

The year 2021 has witnessed the emergence of 28 new unicorns till date, averaging three unicorns per month and the number includes 10 new unicorns in the edtech and fintech sectors, equivalent to the past three years combined.

Key Demand of the question:

To write about potential benefits proper regulation and funding of Unicorns to the Indian economy,

Directive word: 

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

Structure of the answer:

Introduction: 

Begin by defining a Unicorn and give context about the rapid rise of unicorns in India in 2021.

Body:

First, in brief, give reasons for the unicorn boom in India.

Next, write about the need for proper regulatory mechanism – mention the issues these unicorns face, policy based, scrutiny based, compliance based etc.

Next, write about facilitating proper funding for start-ups to turn Unicorns and sustain that position.

Mention, how Unicorns will benefit job creation, growth, technological advancement etc.

Conclusion:

Conclude with a way forward.

Introduction

In the venture capital industry, the term unicorn refers to any startup that reaches the valuation of $1 billion. The term was first coined by venture capitalist Aileen Lee in 2013. Mostly, all the unicorns have brought a disruption in the field they belong to. Uber, for example, changed the way people commuted. Airbnb changed the way people planned their stay while travelling and Snapchat disrupted the usage of the social media network etc.

India currently stands third in the global list of the number of companies that have attained unicorn status.

Body

Challenges faced by unicorns in India

  • Capital: For running a company from being startup to unicorn, a significant amount of working capital is required. Many startups, especially at early stages, are bootstrapped, i.e. self-funded through the founders’ own savings, or using capital from friends and family.
  • Complex regulatory environment: The government of India has introduced policies that aim to ease the business environment for startups.
    • However, the present regulatory framework in which startups/unicorns operate is widely seen as difficult, inefficient and unpredictable.
  • Bureaucratic process: Companies in India often feel encumbered by bureaucratic processes, which appear to lack underlying standards.
    • They have insufficient possibilities to find information, and there is little planning security about how long processes can take.
    • In addition, regulations can suddenly change or startups receive random notices.
    • As a result, startups have to find frustrating workarounds, waste valuable time or pivot their business model.
  • A further challenge for startups is to take their products to the market as Indian markets appear difficult to penetrate.
    • One reason is the competitive landscape: Often, many firms are already present and many more enter the market, including copycats.
    • A second reason is that startups are at a disadvantage compared to large companies.
  • On the one hand, this is due to the fact that big market players are more capable of dealing with bureaucratic regulations.
    • On the other hand, public procurement is seen as weak and government prefers to sign contracts with established companies.
  • For many job-seekers, joining a startup as an employee is not an attractive career option, due to the inherent risk that the startup might fail.

Need for proper regulatory mechanism

  • The factors enabling the rise of unicorns comprise the availability of private equity funds, increasing Internet penetration and digital payments, more robust infrastructure and the rising pool of skilled talent.
  • Considering the focus on creating an Aatmanirbhar Bharat, however, the nation’s policymakers, risk-taking corporates and funding agencies need to foster a conducive climate for ensuring easier availability of domestic capita
  • As business models get more complex and interlinked, the regulators have to play a more proactive role in formulating appropriate regulations that encourage innovation and support emerging business models rather than hindering innovation.
  • Besides promoting local funding, the government and corporate entities may need to invest in a big way through leading academic institutions to de-risk start-up investments in the long run.

Benefits of a unicorn

  • The Indian start-up ecosystem is nothing short of a revolution with $106-billion worth of value-creation by 44 unicorns, in turn creating 4 million direct and indirect jobs.
  • Start-ups have helped women entrepreneurs to contribute immensely to the start-up ecosystem
  • It’s increasingly seen as a sign that the Indian economy is reaching a turning point and that its entrepreneurial culture is maturing.
  • Ancillary industries rise up creating more avenues of innovation, growth and employment.
  • The unicorns like ola, flipkart which are consumer centric have created an alternate gig economy for workers, which gives them much needed felixibility.
  • Due to competition among unicorns, consumers are benefited through competitive pricing.
  • It has created an ecosystem in cities such as Bengaluru and Delhi, which has paved way for more capital and investments flowing into the nation.

Conclusion

By providing the “minicorns” (a start-up with $1 million-plus valuation) and “soonicorns” (funded by angel investors or venture capitalists and likely to soon join the unicorn club) the right regulatory ambience and local sources of funding, India can create a truly innovative and resilient economy.

 

Topic: Disaster and disaster management.

5. Overstretched drainage, unplanned construction, no regard to the natural buffers and rejuvenating ecosystems, all together make urban floods a man-made disaster. Comment. (250 words)

Difficulty level: Easy

Reference: Live Mint

Why the question:

Floods have begun to afflict a widening expanse of India with rising intensity and frequency. Urban infrastructure is under severe pressure and it’s unclear if we are prepared for worse.

Key Demand of the question:

To write about the various causes of urban flooding and suggest measures to overcome them.

Directive word: 

Comment– here we must express our knowledge and understanding of the issue and form an overall opinion thereupon.

Structure of the answer:

Introduction: 

Begin by giving context about rising instances of urban floods in India with examples.

Body:

First, write about the various anthropogenic reasons for urban flood – lack of urban water draininge and sanitation infrastructure, lack of urban governance in this field, illegal constructions, encroachments of lakes etc.

Mention how these are exacerbated in combination of natural factors.

Suggest more mitigation measures – in policy planning, retrofitting, creation of natural buffers – to address the issue

Conclusion:

Conclude with a way forward

Introduction

As the incidence of climate variability and extreme weather events increases, urban flooding becomes more and more common. While the untimely heavy rains can be attributed to climate variability, the urban flooding is largely due to an unplanned urbanisation.

Recently, torrential rains that took place in Hyderabad have caused massive urban floods. In many Indian cities, the urban floods have become a frequent phenomenon in recent years. Overburdened drainage, unregulated construction, no regard to the natural topography and hydro-geomorphology all make urban floods a man-made disaster.

Body:

  • Causes for the rise in urban floods
  • Inadequate Drainage Infrastructure:Cities like Hyderabad, Mumbai rely on a century-old drainage system, covering only a small part of the core city.
    • In the last 20 years, the Indian cities have grown manifold with its original built-up area.
    • As the city grew beyond its original limits, not much was done to address the absence of adequate drainage systems.
  • Terrain Alteration:Lasting irreversible damage has been done to the city by property builders, property owners, and public agencies by flattening terrain and altering natural drainage routes.
  • Reducing Seepage:Indian cities are becoming increasingly impervious to water, not just because of increasing built up but also because of the nature of materials used (hard, non-porous construction material that makes the soil impervious).
  • Lax Implementation:Even with provisions of rainwater harvesting, sustainable urban drainage systems, etc, in regulatory mechanisms like the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA), adoption at user end as well as enforcement agencies remains weak.
  • Encroaching Natural Spaces:The number of wetlands has reduced to 123 in 2018 from 644 in 1956.
    • Green cover is only 9 per cent, which ideally should have been at least 33 per cent.
    • Need for Holistic Engagement:Urban floods of this scale cannot be contained by the municipal authorities alone. Floods cannot be managed without concerted and focused investments of energy and resources.
      • The Metropolitan Development Authorities, National Disaster Management Authority, State revenue and irrigation departments along with municipal corporations should be involved in such work together.
      • Such investments can only be done in a mission mode organisation with active participation of civil society organisations at the metropolitan scale.
    • Developing Sponge Cities:The idea of a sponge city is to make cities more permeable so as to hold and use the water which falls upon it.
      • Sponge cities absorb the rain water, which is then naturally filtered by the soil and allowed to reach urban aquifers.
      • This allows for the extraction of water from the ground through urban or peri-urban wells.
      • This water can be treated easily and used for city water supply.
  • Wetland Policy: There is a need to start paying attention to the management of wetlands by involving local communities.
    • Without doubt, terrain alteration needs to be strictly regulated and a ban on any further alteration of terrain needs to be introduced.
    • To improve the city’s capacity to absorb water, new porous materials and technologies must be encouraged or mandated across scales.
    • Examples of these technologies are bioswales and retention systems, permeable material for roads and pavement, drainage systems which allow storm water to trickle into the ground, green roofs and harvesting systems in buildings.
  • Drainage Planning: Watershed management and emergency drainage plan should be clearly enunciated in policy and law.
    • Urban watersheds are micro ecological drainage systems, shaped by contours of terrain.
    • Detailed documentation of these must be held by agencies which are not bound by municipal jurisdictions; instead, there is a need to consider natural boundaries such as watersheds instead of governance boundaries like electoral wards for shaping a drainage plan.
  • Water Sensitive Urban Design: These methods take into consideration the topography, types of surfaces (permeable or impervious), natural drainage and leave very less impact on the environment.
    • Vulnerability analyses and risk assessments should form part and parcel of city master plans.
    • In a changing climate, the drainage infrastructure (especially storm water drainage) has to be built considering the new ‘normal’.
    • Tools such as predictive precipitation modelling can help do that and are also able to link it with the adaptive capacity of urban land use.

Conclusion:

These can all be delivered effectively through an urban mission along the lines of the Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation (AMRUT)National Heritage City Development and Augmentation Yojana (HRIDAY) and Smart Cities Mission. Urban Flood management will not just help control recurring floods but also respond to other fault lines, provide for water security, more green spaces, and will make the city resilient and sustainable

 

 


General Studies – 4


 

Topic: Information sharing and transparency in government, Right to Information;

6. Public’s right for accurate and reliable government information has never been stronger than now, as the country struggle to overcome the COVID-19 pandemic, rebuild communities and institutions. Elucidate with respect to the recent changes to RTI Act, 2005. (150 words)

Difficulty level: Moderate

Reference: Ethics, Integrity and Aptitude by Lexicon Publications.

Why the question:

The question is part of the static syllabus of General studies paper – 4.

Key Demand of the question:

Bring out the key issues regarding the balance between transparency and secrecy, the right of the public to know and touch upon the recent amendments to RTI act, 2005.

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:

Begin the answer by right of citizen that the information and data that the government holds.

Body:

In the first part of the body, mention importance of transparency in public records. The right of the public to know the affairs of the government especially in the pandemic.

Weigh down the balance between transparency and need to maintain the secrecy for the functioning of the government.

Bring out the recent changes to RTI act, 2005 and debate upon Amendments adopted with haste and without much scrutiny and discussion have diluted the RTI Act and reduced transparency in public dealing. At the same time, the amended Act has hit at citizens’ rights and have strengthened hands of the government of the day. Officials, now, are going to be reluctant to give information about the ruling dispensation.

Conclusion:

Conclude with a balanced way forward.

Introduction

2020 marked 15 years of the enactment of the Right to Information (RTI) law, which has empowered millions to assert their citizenship and show truth to power. A report by the Satark Nagrik Sangathan and the Centre for Equity Studies has pointed out that more than 2.2 lakh Right to information cases are pending at the Central and State Information Commissions (ICs), which are the final courts of appeal under the RTI Act, 2005. The report was released on the occasion of completion of the 15 years of Right to Information (RTI) Act.

Body:

Recent Amendment: Right to Information (Amendment) Act, 2019:

  • It provided that the Chief Information Commissioner and an Information Commissioner (of Centre as well as States) shall hold office for such term as prescribed by the Central Government. Before this amendment, their term was fixed for 5 years.
  • It provided that the salary, allowances and other service conditions of the Chief Information Commissioner and an Information Commissioner (of Centre as well as States) shall be such as prescribed by the Central Government.
  • The RTI (Amendment) Act, 2019 was criticized on grounds of diluting the law and giving more powers to the central government.

Dilution of the RTI Act:

  • The worst blow to the RTI regime has come in the form of a persistent and concerted attack on the transparency watchdogs set up under the law.
  • Information Commissions at the Centre and in the States are the final adjudicators empowered to act against violations of the legislation.
  • In 2019, regressive amendments were made to the RTI Act which did away with statutory protection of fixed tenure and high status conferred on the commissioners.
  • Despite stiff opposition within and outside Parliament, the government pushed the RTI (Amendment) Act which allows the Central government to determine the tenure and salaries of all Information Commissioners, signaling that directions to disclose inconvenient information could invite adverse consequences.
  • The functioning of commissions has been severely impeded by governments not appointing Information Commissioners in a timely manner.
  • Vacancies in Information Commissions lead to large backlogs of appeals/complaints and long delays in the disposal of cases, effectively frustrating the people’s right to know.
  • Since May 2014, not a single commissioner of the Central Information Commission (CIC) has been appointed without citizens having to approach courts.
  • Despite Supreme Court orders to fill all vacancies, six out of 11 posts of commissioners are currently vacant in the CIC, including that of the chief.
  • The CIC is headless for the fifth time in the last six years! State governments appear to have adopted a similar strategy.
  • Eight State Information Commissions are functioning without a chief. Two commissions Tripura and Jharkhand are totally defunct with no commissioners.

Important limitations that need urgent attention:

  • The assessment found that on average, the CIC takes 388 days (more than one year) to dispose of an appeal/complaint from the date that it was filed before the commission.
  • The highest number of pending appeals, with over 59,000 cases were in Maharashtra, followed by Uttar Pradesh and the Central Information Commissions (CIC).
  • The report found that the Government officials face hardly any punishment for violating the law.
  • Penalties were imposed in only 2.2% of cases that were disposed of, despite previous analysis showing a rate of about 59% violations which should have triggered the process of penalty imposition.

Conclusion:

The right to question is the hallmark of a democracy. Any attack on the RTI law, which has empowered citizens to question those in power, is an attack on the foundation of our democratic republic. It is a clear reflection of the lack of political will of governments to be answerable to the people of the country. As the RTI law completes 15 years, it is again time for those whom it empowers the citizens to assert themselves and protect their fundamental right to information, which they attained after a long struggle.

 

Topic: Case Study.

7.  As the Chief Project Officer, you have been given an emergency grant for re-construction of the bridge that collapsed due to recent flash floods in the area surrounding Malgudi. Although it is a small project for you but it is vital one as it is a sole way in and out of the rural hamlet of Malgudi. After the collapse, people of Malgudi are forced to navigate the river in an un-safe means for reaching to jobs, hospitals and educational institutes etc.

The instruction from the higher ups is to get the project completed at the earliest as well as ensure highest level of quality so that bridge remains strong for a long time irrespective of the weather conditions.

As it is a small project, you need to assign, just one engineer to it. Most of the engineers under you are involved in other major projects and you have two engineers who are relatively less burdened – Mr Swami and Mr Rajam. Both are similar in the quality of work. Mr Swami is known for his honesty and uprightness in the department but his efficiency is low. He has missed many deadlines in the past. On the other hand, Mr Rajam, is a highly efficient worker and known for doing high quality work on time but in the past, he had some allegations of corruption against him and many have complained against his nexus with the contractors.

With the bridge needing to be constructed at the earliest, who will you appoint as the engineer for this project? (250 words)

Difficulty level: Easy

Why the question:

The question is part of the static syllabus of General studies paper – 4 and part of ‘Case Study Fridays’ in Mission-2022 Secure.

Structure of the answer:

Introduction: 

Start by giving the context of choosing between an effective but dishonest guy or an honest but ineffective individual.

Bring out the key stakeholders in the above case study and major ethical dilemmas present

Body:

In the body, analyse the case of Mr Rajam, who is highly productive but integrity is questionable. Bring forward both the short term and long-term consequences of put Mr Rajam in charge of the Malgudi bridge project.

Then take up the case of Mr Swami, who is known for his honesty but is not efficient and prone to missing deadlines. Bring forward both the short term and long-term consequences of put Mr Swami in charge of the Malgudi bridge project.

Conclusion:

Follow this up with ethical reasoning and justify who you will choose for the project.

Introduction

The bridge is the only connection for the hamlet of Malgudi to the outer world. Being the chief Project officer, it is vital that this responsibility is handled with utmost importance and due diligence. The case presents an ethical dilemma of choosing between two engineers, one who is honest but slightly inefficient, the other who is highly efficient yet allegedly corrupt.

Body

Stakeholders

  • Myself and my reputation as chief project officer
  • The two engineers
  • The people of Malgudi
  • The state government

Ethical  issues involved

  • Dilemma of whether to choose a person with impeccable integrity (Mr swami), but falls short of work done; or to choose a dishonest person (Mr Rajam) but get the work done.
  • Gandhiji’s ‘Purity of means’ versus Machiavelli’s ‘Ends justify the means’.

Course of action: Appointment of engineer

  • Appointing Mr Rajam
    • Merits: The work will be done, as he is efficient. I will also be recognized for the swift work done, as Mr Rajam is known for his fast work.
    • Demerits:  Mr Rajam’s integrity is questionable. There have been many instances, where due to corrupt engineers, the contract was given to cronies. This led to loss of precious lives, as such bridges/buildings have collapsed. Further, government funds will be misused and the vicious cycle of officer-crony nexus will continue perpetually.
  • Appointing Mr Swami
    • Merits: Mr Swami, can be entrusted with work and he will do it as per instructions. There won’t be any doubt of misuse of funds. Though, inefficient, this can be corrected through supervision and constant updates. However, dishonesty has no antidote as the person is inherently immoral.
    • Demerits: Work may be stalled, and speed is a factor for Malgudi as its connection to the world is at stake.

Despite the demerits in appointing Mr swami, he will be the right choice. As Gandhiji said, “By sowing seeds of babool, one cannot expect rose flowers”. Mr Rajam’s work will be shoddy and will put lots of lives at stake. But with Mr Swami, efficiency can be taken care by myself while I can entrust him with the work without the fear of being misled. Only right means lead to right destination, as per Gandhi. The bridge so built, will be sustainable for a long time to come and benefit the future generations well.

Conclusion

One may think fulfilment of ends is the real reward. Ends will after all justify means. Gandhi maintained a moral means is almost an end in itself because virtue is its own reward. Also, all focus and energies may get disproportionately concentrated on the ends, which is unforeseeable. Gandhi said means are foreseeable, ends are not. Thus, means can be controlled, managed and guaranteed. “If one takes care of the means the end will take care of itself.”


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