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[Mission 2022] Insights SECURE SYNOPSIS: 09 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


 

1. In the 1960’s, the African experience was one of struggle for liberation, for freedom from colonialism and against racial prejudice. Comment (150 words, 10 marks)

Introduction

After the war the imperial powers were under strong international pressure to decolonize. In Southern Africa, however, the transfer of power to an African majority was greatly complicated by the presence of entrenched white settlers.

In most former English and French colonies, independence came relatively peacefully. But the transition from colonial governments did not always lead to peace. Internal conflicts within the newly independent countries and the continued resistance of the colonial powers in southern Africa often forced large numbers of innocent people to flee civil strife and repressive new regimes.

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Phases of Decolonization

  • After an initial phase from 1945 to about 1958, in which white power seemed to be consolidated, decolonization proceeded in three stages:
    • first, the relatively peaceful achievement by 1968 of independence by those territories under direct British rule (the High Commission territories became Lesotho, Botswana, and Swaziland, and Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland became Zambia and Malawi);
    • second, the far bloodier struggle for independence in the Portuguese colonies and in Southern Rhodesia (from 1965 Rhodesia, which achieved independence as Zimbabwe in 1980); and,
    • third, the denouement in South West Africa (which in 1990 achieved independence as Namibia) and in South Africa, where the Black majority took power after non-racial, democratic elections in 1994.

Struggles for racial equality in South Africa

  • Consolidation by Whites: Paradoxically, World War II and the rise of more radical African political movements initially consolidated white rule in Southern Africa.
    • Problems also occurred in countries where European settlers wanted to stay in control.
    • This happened in Algeria, Zimbabwe and South Africa and in each case cost many lives and much bitterness between the two groups
  • Apartheid: In South Africa, the apartheid policy was to entrench itself in power, to promote Afrikaner concerns, and to protect white supremacy.
    • Controls over African labour mobility were tightened, and the colour bar in employment was extended.
    • From 1959 chiefly authorities in the rural reserves (renamed “Bantu homelands” or Bantustans) were given increased powers and granted limited self-government, though they remained subject to white control.
  • Black opposition to apartheid policies in the 1950s was led by the ANC in alliance with other opposition organizations consisting of radical whites, Coloureds, and Indians.
    • In 1955 this Congress Alliance drew up the Freedom Charter, a program of non-racial social democracy.
  • It was especially difficult in South Africa where, from 1948 to 1990, the white government used a system by keeping the local Africans out of power through denial of the vote.
  • Once Apartheid was abolished, free elections were held and in 1994 Nelson Mandela (sentenced to life imprisonment by the Apartheid government on June 12, 1964) became the first black President of South Africa.

Conclusion

Although Africa was free by the beginning of the 1980s, civil wars erupted almost immediately due to the fact that the borders of the new states were drawn in such a way that hostile tribes were lumped within the same nation. As a consequence, colonial divide and rule policy, a legacy of political instability, religious and tribal conflicts have led to impoverishment and oppression.

 

2. Without taking the impacts of climate change into consideration, today’s urban development gains may be wiped out tomorrow. Examine. (150 words, 10 marks)

Introduction

The IPCC fifth Assessment Report (IPCC, 2015) predicts India and other tropical countries to have increased impacts of climate change particularly increased cyclone events, storm surges and extreme rainfall. Several Indian cities are in coastal areas or geographically vulnerable regions prone to natural hazards. And the urban poor that settle in environmentally vulnerable areas of cities with limited access to basic services are particularly vulnerable to impacts of climate change and natural hazards.

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Impact of climate change on modern cities

  • The built environment of cities accounts for 70 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions while consuming two-thirds of the world’s energy, according to C40 Cities.
    • From infrastructure failures to food and resource shortages to deaths, the effects of climate change are vast
  • Rising global temperatures causes sea levels to rise, increases the number of extreme weather events such as floods, droughts and storms, and increases the spread of tropical diseases.
    • All these have costly impacts on cities’ basic services, infrastructure, housing, human livelihoods and health.
  • With extra heat, the actual built environment of a city is affected. Past power grids failing, excessive heat can cause asphalt to melt, rail tracks to expand and airports to hold planes due to tarmacs being too hot.
  • Floodwaters can wash away roads, erode bayous and river banks, and push through bridges. And flooding from natural disasters isn’t expected to slow.
  • The pandemic that hit the world, is also said to be an effect of climate change as barriers between humans and pathogens are narrowing with deforestation.
    • Covid-19 like events will only worsen and the most affected are cities due to their dense populations.
  • Coastal flooding, sea-level rise, and cyclones are discussed less often despite India’s long coastline and highly vulnerable coastal cities and infrastructure.

Measures in place to tackle climate change in cities

  • Front-runners in this space have been cities such as Ahmedabad, which has had a Heat Action Plan (HAP) since 2010, its success evident from reduced heat mortality.
  • Combining infrastructural interventions (for example, painting roofs white) and behavioural aspects (building public awareness on managing heat), the model has now been scaled up to 17 cities across the country.
  • Nature-based solutions such as mangrove restoration in coastal Tamil Nadu and urban wetland management in Bengaluru have demonstrated how restoring ecosystem health can sustain human systems as well.
    • For example, urban parks provide cooling benefits and wetlands regulate urban floods.
  • In India, there are several successful initiatives on climate actions at city level that are yielding good results such as public transport systems in Ahmedabad, solid waste management in Surat, green spaces in Chandigarh, and improvements in energy efficiency such as adoption of LED streetlights in many cities

Steps to address climate change in cities

  • Climate action plans at city level should be implementable and should have necessary financial, institutional and policy support and should have clear cut short and long term implementable action.
  • The financing needs for climate actions is best taken by mainstreaming climate change risks in urban development planning itself, as a first stage, the master plan development process should consider the hazard, risk and vulnerability.
  • A key step will be collecting data and creating city-level greenhouse gas emissions inventories and identifying hotspots.
    • This will help the government prioritize actions and strategies for climate mitigation.
  • Instead of compartmentalised approach, cross-sector approach is needed.
    • Such a systemic approach promotes outcomes that would not arise otherwise, such as the synergies between public transport sites and housing locations.
    • And importantly, it complements and reinforces existing renewable and energy efficiency policies.
  • On the institutional angle, it would be important to empower the Urban Local Bodies (ULBs) to take climate actions.
  • Long term visionary policy is needed to tackle climate change with political commitment.
    • E.g. On September 23, Maharashtra’s Environment Minister announced that 43 cities across the State will join the UN-backed ‘Race to Zero’ global campaign, which aims to create jobs while meeting goals of climate change and sustainable development.

Conclusion

India is becoming increasingly urban. Its cities or city-like villages are sites where the twin challenges of climate change and inclusive development will be won or lost.  While gloom and doom dominate climate reportage, a range of solutions with co-benefits for climate action and development exists. How to leverage these solutions and equip our city planners and citizens to implement them is what we should focus on.

 

3. The acceptance of Partition in 1947 was only the final act of a process of step-by-step concession to the League’s intransigent championing of a sovereign Muslim state. Elucidate. (150 words, 10 marks)

Introduction

In the 19th century when Indian nationalism grew, it was essentially anti-colonial in tone and anti-British in texture, but not tinted with any religious fervour, howsoever predominant the Hindu voice in the all-India Congress. It was rightly monolithic, meaning that Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs and all other communities were swept by anti-colonial nationalist feelings, the common platform being anti-colonialism and anti-British.

Over time, British policy of Divide and Rule created huge fault lines in the society leading to communal feelings that ultimately resulted in the partition.

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Chronology of events leading to partition

  • Cripps Mission: Autonomy of Muslim majority provinces was accepted in 1942 at the time of the Cripps Mission.
  • Talks with Jinnah: Gandhiji went a step further and accepted the right of self-determination of Muslim majority provinces in his talks with Jinnah in 1944.
  • Cabinet mission plan: In June 1946, Congress conceded the possibility of Muslim majority provinces (which formed Group B and C of the Cabinet Mission Plan) setting up a separate Constituent Assembly, but opposed compulsory grouping and upheld the right of NWFP and Assam not to join their groups if they so wished.
    • But by the end of the year, Nehru said he would accept the ruling of the Federal Court on whether grouping was compulsory or optional.
  • Compulsory grouping: The Congress accepted without demur the clarification by the British Cabinet in December, 1946 that grouping was compulsory.
  • CWC resolution: Congress officially referred to Partition in early March 1947 when a resolution was passed in the Congress Working Committee that Punjab (and by implication Bengal) must be partitioned if the country was divided.
  • The final act of surrender to the League’s demands was in June 1947 when Congress ended up accepting Partition under the 3rd June Plan.

Analysis

  • Nehru, Patel and Gandhiji in 1947 were only accepting what had become inevitable because of the long- term failure of the Congress to draw in the Muslim masses into the national movement and stem the surging waves of Muslim communalism, which, especially since 1937, had been beating with increasing fury.
  • This failure was revealed with stark clarity by the 1946 elections in which the League won 90 per cent Muslim seats.
  • Though the war against Jinnah was lost by early 1946, defeat was conceded only after the final battle was mercilessly aged on the streets of Calcutta and Rawalpindi and the village lanes of Noakhali and Bihar.
  • The Congress leaders felt by June 1947 that only an immediate transfer of power could forestall the spread of Direct Action and communal disturbances.
  • The virtual collapse of the Interim Government made Pakistan appear to be an unavoidable reality.

Conclusion

There was an additional consideration in accepting immediate transfer of power to two dominions. The prospect of balkanisation was ruled out as the provinces and princes were not given the option to be independent— the latter were, in fact, much to their chagrin, cajoled and coerced into joining one or the other dominion. This was no mean achievement. Princely states standing out would have meant a graver blow to Indian unity than Pakistan was.

The acceptance of Partition in 1947 was, thus, only the final act of a process of step-by-step concession to the League’s intransigent championing of a sovereign Muslim state.


General Studies – 2


 

4. In a democracy, citizens are the rulers of the government and are thus, owners of all the information on public records. Debate in the light of dilution of RTI act, 2005. (150 words, 10 marks)

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.

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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.

 

6. The SVAMVITA scheme is the resulting product when policy making for local bodies meets modern technology and economic prudence. Elaborate. (150 words, 10 marks)

Introduction

On the Panchayati Raj Diwas on April 24 2020, the prime minister launched the ‘Swamitva Yojna’, or the ownership scheme, to map residential land ownership in the rural sector with the help of modern technology like drones.

The Prime Minister will distribute e-property cards to 1,71,000 beneficiaries under the SVAMITVA scheme in Madhya Pradesh.

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About SVAMITVA Scheme: Key Features

  • SVAMITVA, or Survey of Villages Abadi and Mapping with Improvised Technology in Village Areas, is a central scheme of the Ministry of Panchayati Raj that aims to provide property rights to residents in rural areas.
  • Objective: The scheme will pave the way for using property as a financial asset by villagers for taking loans and other financial benefits, like in urban areas.
  • Implementing Agency: The Panchayats of the rural areas were expecting the launch of this scheme for a long time.
  • Technology: For the demarcation of inhabited land, the latest surveying method is Drone’s technology.

Issues of land and property in rural areas

  • Several villagers in the rural areas don’t have papers proving ownership of their land.
  • In most states, survey and measurement of the populated areas in the villages has not been done for the purpose of attestation/verification of properties.
  • When people do not have land papers, the chances of disputes get increased in rural area
    • This scheme will fill this gap and make the people aware of their ownership of land in rural areas.
  • Swamitva Yojana is aimed to fill the above gap to provide ownership rights to people in the villages.
  • As the property record of a village will be managed at the Panchayat level, the collection of taxes from the local landowners will also be done at this level only and collected money will be used for the benefit of the local area and people.

Significance of the scheme to rural population

  • It is expected to go a long way in settling property rights in rural hinterlands and likely to become a tool for empowerment and entitlement, reducing social strife on account of discord over properties.
  • The delivery of property rights through an official document will enable villagers to access bank finance using their property as collateral.
  • The residential land in villages will be measured using drones to create a non-disputable record.
    • It is the latest technology for surveying and measuring of land.
    • Drones will draw a digital map of every property falling within the geographical limits of a village and demarcate the boundaries of every revenue area.
  • The property records for a village will also be maintained at the Panchayat level, allowing for the collection of associated taxes from the owners.
    • The money generated from these local taxes will be used to build rural infrastructure and facilities.
  • Freeing the residential properties including land of title disputes and the creation of an official record is likely to result in appreciation in the market value of the properties.
  • The accurate property records can be used for facilitating tax collection, new building and structure plan, issuing of permits and for thwarting attempts at property grabbing.

Conclusion

The scheme will go a long way in achieving social justice and securing the lives of rural people by providing them definite legal assurance of their land ownership. The scheme has also provided a boost to the ecosystem of drone manufacturing in the country. Ultimately, the scheme will help in creation of survey infrastructure and GIS maps that can be leveraged by any department; and, supporting preparation of better-quality Gram Panchayat Development Plan (GPDP) by making use of GIS maps.

Value Addition

Challenges in implementation of scheme

  • The scheme does not spell out how to resolve existing disputes on land in the rural areas.
  • There is a lack of grievance redressal mechanism and villagers have no means to place their objections or bring notice to the authorities regarding any discrepancies.
  • The scheme has not addressed the level of reliability of the drone survey, as accuracy rate may vary.
  • Before implementation, people must be apprised of the scheme thoroughly and made aware of their rights and benefits accruing out of it.
  • Without the cooperation of the people and their acceptance, the scheme will be difficult to implement.

 

7. Amrut 2.0 is a renewed approach towards making the country water secure. Elaborate. (150 words, 10 marks)

Introduction

AMRUT was launched as the first water focused Mission in 2015, with a total Mission outlay of ₹1,00,000 crore. The Mission caters to 500 major cities covering 60% of the urban population.

Now, taking the transformations further, AMRUT2.0 aims to make around 4,700 towns / cities ‘water secure’. It will build upon the progress of AMRUT to address water needs, rejuvenate water bodies, better manage aquifers, reuse treated wastewater, thereby promoting circular economy of water. The total outlay of AMRUT 2.0 is ₹2,97,000 crores, including central share of ₹76,760 crores

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AMRUT 2.0: Salient features

  • The Objective of AMRUT 2.0 is to provide 100% coverage of water supply to all households in around 4,700 ULBs, by providing 2.68 crore urban household tap connections, thereby benefitting around 10.7 crores people.
  • It will provide 100% coverage of sewerage and septage in 500 AMRUT cities, by providing 2.64 crore sewer connections/ septage connections.
  • Rejuvenation of water bodies and urban aquifer management will be undertaken to augment sustainable fresh water supply.
  • Recycle and reuse of treated wastewater is expected to cater to 20% of total water needs of the cities and 40% of industrial demand.
  • Under the Mission, fresh water bodies will be protected from getting polluted to make natural resources sustainable.

Water issues plaguing the nation

  • India has 4 % of the world’s freshwater which has to cater to 17 % of the world’s population.
  • As per NITI Aayog report (CWMI) released in June 2019, India is facing the worst-ever water crisis in history.
  • Approximately 600 million people or roughly around 45 % of the population in India is facing high to severe water stress.
  • As per the report, 21 Indian cities will run out of their main source of water i.e. groundwater by 2020.
  • Nearly 40 % of the population will have absolutely no access to drinking water by 2030 and 6 % of India’s GDP will be lost by 2050 due to the water crisis.

Addressing above issues through AMRUT 2.0

  • The mission will upscale from 500 cities covered under AMRUT with 1 lakh+ population to all 4,372 cities, covering 100% urban India.
  • It will promote circular economy of water through formulation of City Water Balance Plan for each city, focusing on recycle/reuse of treated sewage, rejuvenation of water bodies and water conservation.
  • Digital economy will be promoted through being a Paperless Mission.
  • Pey Jal Survekshan will be conducted in cities to ascertain equitable distribution of water, reuse of wastewater and mapping of water bodies w.r.t. quantity and quality of water through a challenge process.
  • Technology Sub-Mission for water will leverage latest global technologies in the field of water.
  • The Mission seeks to promote Aatmanirbhar Bharat through encouraging Startups and Entrepreneurs. It will lead to promotion of GIG economy and on-boarding of youth & women.
  • Urban Water Information System through NRSC will be developed, leading to Aquifer Management system.
  • Information, Education and Communication campaign will spread awareness among masses about conservation of water.
  • Target based capacity building program will be conducted for all stakeholders including contractors, plumbers, plant operators, students, women and other stakeholders.

Conclusion

Decentralised approach, with a key focus on water conservation, source sustainability, storage and reuse wherever possible. A participatory approach is needed in water governance. AMRUT 2.0 has a reform agenda, with focus on strengthening of urban local bodies and water security of the cities. This is the need of the hour.

Value Addition

Amrut Phase-I

  • 14 crore water tap connections have been provided taking total connections to 4.14 crore in AMRUT cities.
  • Credit rating work has been completed in 470 cities. Of which, 164 cities have received Investable Grade Rating (IGR), including 36 cities with rating of A- or above.
  • Rs 3,840 crore has been raised through Municipal Bonds by 10 ULBs. The Online Building Permission System has been implemented in 2,471 cities including 455 AMRUT cities.
  • This reform has helped improve India’s rank in Ease of Doing Business in construction permits to 27 in Doing Business Report (DBR) 2020 of World Bank from 181 in 2018.
  • 89 lakh conventional streetlights have been replaced with energy efficient LED lights, leading to estimated energy savings of 195 crore units per annum & reduction in CO2 emission by 15.6 lakh tons per annum.


General Studies – 3


 

8. In the context of Supreme court ruling on fire-crackers, can green crackers lead its way to an alternative and clean replacement of conventional firecrackers? Comment (150 words, 10 marks)

Introduction

In October 2018, in a landmark judgment, the Supreme Court of India mandated the use of green crackers for Deepavali, prescribing specific norms for the manufacture. Last year, ‘green crackers’ were made available in markets, though the reach has been limited. These are milder avatars of traditional firecrackers in terms of the sound and smoke generated when burnt. Thus, making it important for us to have an understanding of what are Green Crackers.

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Green crackers: Overview

  • Indian Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) has developed green crackers, which are new and improved formulations of the previous sound-emitting crackers and other fireworks.
  • These crackers are named as follows: –
    • Safe Water Releaser (SWAS), which minimises Potassium Nitrate and Sulphur use, but matches the sound intensity of conventional crackers;
    • Safe Minimal Aluminium (SAFAL), where Aluminium use is low and
    • Safe Thermite Crackers (STAR) with low Sulphur and Potassium Nitrate.
  • These crackers are to be identified using unique QR codes to guide consumers.
  • The Supreme Court had also previously ordered that the Petroleum and Explosives Safety Organisation should certify the composition of fireworks only after being assured that they were not made of banned chemicals.

Benefits of green crackers

  • They are less harmful and less dangerous than the conventional ones. They are the crackers with reduced emission and decibel level.
  • They are known as ‘green’ firecrackers because they have a chemical formulation that produces water molecules, which substantially reduces emission levels and absorbs dust.
  • It promises a reduction in particulate matters and harmful gases, like nitrous oxide and sulphur oxide, by 30- 35 per cent.
  • The green crackers will be 25-30 per cent cheaper to manufacture and manufacturers would not have to make any changes in their facilities.
  • Components in firecrackers are replaced with others that are less dangerous and less harmful to the atmosphere.
  • Broadly, it avoids the use of ash or filler materials and use charcoal as per specifications by Petroleum and Explosives Safety Organisation (PESO).

Challenges in implementation and transition to green crackers

  • The petitioners belonging to cracker industry argue that out of about 2,000 manufacturers, only 120 had the capacity and inclination to work with the court to green the crackers;
  • The claim that cracker industry provides jobs to many and there is no alternate livelihood option, needs to be resolved.
  • Evidently, the new cracker formulations have not had many takers. Firecrackers are not labelled with information on the person responsible for legal compliance, as ordered by the court.
  • At the recent hearing, the Supreme Court Bench of Justices M.R. Shah and A.S. Bopanna took on record the CBI report and noted that there had been a “flagrant violation” of previous orders.
    • It took note of the large volume of crackers burnt almost every day.
  • The fixing of accountability, as to which law implementing body will ensure prevention of burning crackers is still missing.

Conclusion

Sudden transition may affect people’s jobs, but this is needed for sustainability of the planet as well as to preserve people’s health. Government in tandem with all stakeholders must ensure that conventional crackers are banned completely and make sure it is implemented. This way, manufacturers will be forced to switch to green crackers, who can then employ the same people by providing essential skills to their existing workers.

 

9. Microfinance is not a financial system but a tool to alleviate poverty from the country and bring social change. Analyse. (150 words, 10 marks)

Introduction

Micro financing is the delivery of financial services to poor and low income households with limited access to formal financial institutions. It can also be described as banking for the underprivileged. Microfinance institutions (MFIs) came into being in the 90s as banks’ reluctance to lend to those without credit history provided an opportunity to those willing to take risk and organize rural communities.  According to Mohammed Yunus (founder of Grameen Bank in Bangladesh) access to credit was a human right, essential for the poor to create self-employment and income.

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Issues with lending credit to poor and rural households

  • According to World Bank’s Global Financial Inclusion Survey (2012), only 35% of adults in India had access to a formal bank account and only 8% borrowed from institutional and formal sources.
  • As per Census 2011, only 58.7% of households are availing banking services in the country.
    • However, as compared with previous Census 2001, availing of banking services increased significantly largely on account of increase in banking services in rural areas.
  • At present, only about 5% of India’s 6 lakh villages have bank branches.
    • There are 296 under-banked districts in states with below-par banking services.
  • In a diverse country like India, financial inclusion is a critical part of the development process. Since independence, the combined efforts of successive governments, regulatory institutions, and the civil society have helped in increasing the financial-inclusion net in the country.
    • Thus, there exists both a great need and the potential to tap into the unbanked population and bring them into the financial net.
    • Microfinance institutions are a way to do the same.

Role of microfinance

  • Empowerment of women: About 95 percent of some loan products extended by microfinance institutions are given to women, as well as those with disabilities, those who are unemployed, and even those who simply beg to meet their basic needs.
  • Poverty alleviation: They provide easy credit and offer small loans to customers, without any collateral.
    • Microfinance disrupts the cycle of poverty by making more money available. It creates the possibility of future investments.
  • Savings in rural households: It helps the poor and marginalised section of the society by making them aware of the financial instruments available for their help and also helps in developing a culture of saving.
    • Families benefiting from microloans are more likely to provide better and continued education for their children.
  • Creating employment: Microfinance is also able to let entrepreneurs in impoverished communities and developing countries create new employment opportunities for others.

Way forward:

  • There is a need for MFIs to consider adopting more flexible operating models, providing skills training and offering services such as portability of accounts to provide greater access for a longer duration of time.
  • A diversified menu of micro loan products linked to sustainable income generation activities via micro enterprises or a creation of community-based pooled enterprise could possibly make it more attractive and compatible with the requirements of women.
  • In addition, linking such developmental initiatives to an institution to nurture, monitor and handhold those activities in the formative stages is crucial for sustainability.

Conclusion:

As per the World Bank estimates, more than 500 million people have improved their economic conditions via microfinance-related entities. Strengthening the credit check and debt collection processes and educating the villagers about products and consequences is important. A model to retain and recycle within the target population could possibly lead to a sustained route for poverty alleviation.

 

10. The menace of Left-wing extremism which is the single largest internal security threat in India is on a decline. It is indeed a welcome news but the Maoist threat remains a potent challenge to be overcome. Discuss. (150 words, 10 marks)

Introduction

Left Wing Extremism (LWE) movement has its roots in the Naxalbari area West Bengal in the 1960’s.These Maoists insurgents started running a parallel system of administration in parts of central and Eastern India. They kill civilians, destroy public buildings and extract ransom from businessmen. In the recent years, however, LWE movement is showing decline, because of the shift in the approach of the successive Governments. The recent statement by Home Minister noted that the geographical influence of the Maoists has reduced from 96 districts in 10 States in 2010 to 41 now.

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Maoist threat remains a potent challenge:

  • LWE still poses multiple challenges such as ‘radicalization of youth’; hindering the development initiatives; threat to the political stability of LWE areas; etc
  • The Maoist insurgency still has potency in South Bastarin Chhattisgarh, the Andhra-Odisha border and in some districts in Jharkhand.
  • These States must focus on expansive welfare and infrastructure building even as security forces try to weaken the Maoists.
  • Frequent skirmishes and attacks have not only affected the security forces but also left many tribal civilians caught in the crossfire.
  • A purely security-driven approach fraught with human rights’ violations has only added to the alienation among the poor in these areas.

Measures needed by government to tackle the Maoist insurgency:

  • Modernizing the police force: The scheme focuses on strengthening police infrastructure by construction of secure police stations, training centers, police housing (residential) and equipping police stations with required mobility, modern weaponry, communication equipment and forensic set-up etc.
    • On the administrative side, changes include separation of investigation from law and order, specialized wings for Social and Cyber Crimes are initiated in several states.
    • Various technological reforms are pushed including modernization of the control room, fast tracking Crime and Criminal Tracking Network and System (CCTNS), pushing for National Intelligence Grid (NATGRID) and pushing for incorporation of new technology into policing
  • Social Integration:State Governments have surrender and rehabilitation policy, while the Central Government supplements the efforts of the State Governments through the Security Related Expenditure (SRE) Scheme for LWE affected States.
    • Additional incentives are given for surrendering with weapons/ammunition.
    • The surrenderers are also impartedvocational training with a monthly stipend for a maximum period of 36 months.
    • Skill Development: Skill Development in 34 Districts affected by Left Wing Extremism” under implementation from 2011-12 aimsto establish ITIs and Skill Development Centers in LWE affected districts.
  • Infrastructure Development:Road Connectivity, communication needs to be rapidly scaled up in LWE affected districts. g.: Mobile towers being set up in remote areas.
  • Community policing improves interface with citizens and makes police more sensitive. E.g. (i) Janamaithri Suraksha Padhathi, Kerala (ii) Friends of Police Movement (FOP), Tamil Nadu (iii) Suraksha Setu – Safe City Surat Project
  • Improve communication network: There should be sharing of information & knowledge to improve the functioning of police force.
  • Better Surveillance and Monitoringwith standardization, deployment and integration of private security surveillance system.

Conclusion

The Union government and the States must continue to learn from successes such as the expansion of welfare and rights paradigms in limiting the movement and failures that have led to the continuing spiral of violence in select districts. Through a holistic approach focusing on development and security related interventions, the LWE problem can be successfully tackled.

 

Answer the following questions in 250 words:


General Studies – 1


 

11. The cold war played itself out in many domains and theatres across the world which had a lot of implications. Discuss. (250 words, 15 marks)

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.

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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

 

12. India’s Global Gender Gap Index rating, 2021 indicates that the phenomena of ‘motherhood penalty’ strongly prevails in the employment sector. Examine the causes for the same and suggest some measures to address this issue. (250 words, 15 marks)

Introduction

India has slid 28 spots to rank at 140 among 156 countries on the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap index. The pandemic causing a disproportionate impact on women jeopardises rolling back the little progress made in the last decades—forcing more women to drop off the workforce and leaving them vulnerable to domestic violence.

Amongst women, mothers are discriminated the most as employers consider them as less competent. This is being termed as motherhood penalty.

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Motherhood penalty: Definition

  • Among women, mothers face higher discrimination than non-mothers.
  • Some employers perceive the former as being less competent and committed than the latter, and hold them to much higher professional standards.
  • Mothers are also hired and promoted less often, and generally receive lower salaries. This is called the ‘motherhood penalty’.
  • The motherhood penalty in India has been documented by Das and Zumbyte (2017) using regression analysis to establish an increasingly negative relationship between the probability of Indian women getting employed and the presence of a young child in their households.
  • Bedi et al (2018) conducted a field experiment in India, under which they sent fake CVs for service-sector jobs with some selected at random to include mothers, and found a motherhood penalty evident in the call-back rates.
  • Mothers are employed less than non-mothers, implying that this penalty plays a significant role in low Indian female labour force participation, which according to World Bank data for 2020 is only 20.3%.

Gender dap and discrimination

  • High gender divide: The gender gap in the country has widened, with only 62.5% of it closed and especially low gender parity in political empowerment and economic participation and opportunity.
  • Wage gap: Women are paid considerably less than men, with some research showing that the gender pay gap between women and men in the same jobs with equivalent qualifications can be as much as 34%.
  • Labour force participation: India, as of 2020, has the lowest female labour force participation rate among South Asian nations, with four out of five women neither working nor looking for jobs.
  • High Job loss: According to Oxfam, 17 million women in India lost their jobs in April 2020, with their unemployment rate rising far higher than that among men.
  • Lesser opportunities for women: Women were found to be seven times more likely to lose their jobs during the lockdown phases, and if rendered unemployed, were 11 times more likely to remain jobless than their male counterparts.
  • Uneven domestic responsibility: Potential reasons for this include the increased burden of domestic responsibilities that Indian women typically had to bear, in terms of not just household chores but extra time needed for elderly care and children’s studies, with schools shut.
  • Even pre-pandemic, a Time Use Survey conducted by the National Sample Survey Office showed that women spent nearly 4.5 hours on childcare and other care-giving responsibilities, in contrast with the meagre 0.88 hours for men.

Measures to overcome gender gap and motherhood penalty

  • Behavioral Nudge: For instance, by using taxes to incentivize fairly sharing child-care responsibilities, or by encouraging women and girls to enter traditionally male-dominated sectors such as the armed forces and information technology. g., Supreme Court in India declared that women could now hold commanding positions in Army.
    • Paternity leaves for men, to share the responsibility of child rearing.
    • Incentivizing companies to employ women, and reach 50% target.
  • Strong laws and policies wrt equal pay for equal work, maternity benefits are needed to promote women’s representation in economy.
  • Maternity and paternity: . An amendment to the Act in 2017 increased paid maternity leave from 12 to 26 weeks. Though well-meaning, this unfortunately fortifies notions of care-giving being primarily the onus of the woman, and thus reinforces and raises the risk of women being subject to the motherhood penalty.
    • An explicit law for mandatory paternity benefits will go a long way towards equalizing gender roles and reducing employer bias
  • Better work conditions: The provision and strengthening of childcare facilities for working mothers are very important.
    • The Maternity Benefit Act mandates the setting up of creche facilities for organizations with over 50 employees.
    • A better policy measure would be to provide mothers in need of childcare with a monthly allowance. This will also help mothers working from home.
  • Political Representation: India has provided 33% reservation for women in the Panchayats and Local Bodies. Capacity Building and training can increase their capabilities further.

Conclusion

Gender equality is a human right which entitles all persons irrespective of their gender to live with dignity and with freedom. Gender equality is also a precondition for development and reducing of poverty. Gender shouldn’t be an unreasonable determining factor curbing the potential of women.

 

13. Analyse the role played by the Chinese Communist Party from its birth in 1921, to 1949 when the party emerged victorious in the Chinese Revolution. 250 words, 15 marks)

Introduction

The Civil War in China from 1927 to 1949 was a result of the fall of the monarchical system in 1912. Without a structured form of government, the country was in chaos. Warlords, military men who controlled specific regions of China, were vying for power and had taken over the country.

Inspired by the Russian Revolution, the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) was founded in 1921 on the principles of Marxism-Leninism. Tensions between the Communist party and the nationalist Kuomintang(KMT), its primary rival, erupted into a civil war won by the Communists in 1949.

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The role of CCP prior to 1927

  • The CCP was founded as both a political party and a revolutionary movement in 1921 by revolutionaries such as Li Dazhao and Chen Duxiu.
  • Those two men and others had come out of the May Fourth Movement (1919) and had turned to Marxism after the Bolshevik victory in the Russian Revolution of 1917.
  • In the turmoil of 1920s China, CCP members such as Mao Zedong, Liu Shaoqi, and Li Lisan began organizing labour unions in the cities.
  • The CCP joined with the Nationalist Party in 1924, and the alliance proved enormously successful at first. This alliance took the expedition of 1926–27 to rid the nation of the warlords that prevented the formation of a strong central government.
  • This collaboration lasted until the “White Terror” of 1927, when the Nationalists turned on the Communists, killing them or purging them from the party.
  • After the Nationalists under Chiang Kai-shek (Jiang Jieshi) turned violently against the communists and ousted them from Shanghai, the CCP was driven underground.

CCP under Mao’s leadership

  • Mao was driven to the countryside, where they were so successful in winning peasant support that in 1931 the Chinese Soviet Republic, with a population of some 10 million, was set up in southern China.
  • That entity was soon destroyed by the military campaigns of the Nationalists, however, and Mao and the remnants of his forces escaped in the Long March (1934–35) to Yan’an in northern China.
  • It was during the march that Mao achieved the leadership position in the CCP that he held until his death in 1976.
  • The Second Sino-Japanese War caused a pause in the conflict between the CPC and the KMT.
    • After the Japanese invaded Manchuria in 1931, the Government of the Republic of China (ROC) faced the triple threat of Japanese invasion, Communist uprising, and warlord insurrections.
    • Frustrated by the focus of the Nationalist leader Chiang Kai-shek on internal threats instead of the Japanese assault, a group of generals abducted Chiang in 1937 and forced him to reconsider cooperation with the Communist army.
  • The Second United Front was established between the CPC and the KMT to tackle the invasion.
    • Despite their formal alliance, the CPC used the opportunity to expand and carve out independent bases of operations to prepare for the coming war with the KMT.
  • By the end of the war (1945), the party controlled base areas of some 100 million people and had an experienced army and a workable political program of alliance between peasants, workers, the middle class, and small capitalists.
  • Mao Zedong became the Chairman of the Chinese Communist Party in 1945. From 1945 until 1949, the war had been reduced to two parties; the CPC and the KMT.

The period of 1945-1949: Civil War

  • In 1945, the leaders of the Nationalist and Communist parties, Chiang Kai-shek and Mao Zedong, met for a series of talks on the formation of a post-war government.
    • Both agreed on the importance of democracy, a unified military, and equality for all Chinese political parties.
  • The truce was tenuous, however, and, in spite of repeated efforts by U.S. General George Marshall to broker an agreement, by 1946 the two sides were fighting an all-out civil war.
  • Years of mistrust between the two sides thwarted efforts to form a coalition government.
  • As the civil war gained strength from 1947 to 1949, eventual Communist victory seemed more and more likely.
  • Although the Communists did not hold any major cities after World War II, they had strong grassroots support, superior military organization and morale, and large stocks of weapons seized from Japanese supplies in Manchuria.
  • Years of corruption and mismanagement had eroded popular support for the Nationalist Government.
  • Early in 1947, the nationalist Government was already looking to the island province of Taiwan, off the coast of Fujian Province, as a potential point of retreat.
  • In October of 1949, after a string of military victories, Mao Zedong proclaimed the establishment of the PRC; Chiang and his forces fled to Taiwan to regroup and plan for their efforts to retake the mainland.

Conclusion

The CCP was isolated for many years from the west due to ideological differences. Until the 1970s, the United States continued to recognize the Republic of China, located on Taiwan, as China’s true government and supported that government’s holding the Chinese seat in the United Nations.


General Studies – 2


 

14. When we build back from the devastating impact of the pandemic, resilient health systems must be the bedrock of emergency preparedness and health infrastructure. Elaborate. (250 words, 15 marks)

Introduction

The world is at a crossroads. Almost two years since Sars-CoV-2 was detected, some countries globally are returning to normal, including India. Many more countries, including several in the World Health Organization’s South-East Asia Region, continue to respond to the pandemic aggressively, battling new and more transmissible variants.

The devastating effect of covid-19, especially during second wave, is a grim reminder of the poor health infrastructure in the country.

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Various lacunas present in healthcare system of India

  • Doctor shortage: There is a massive shortage of medical staff, infrastructure and last mile connectivity in rural areas. g.: Doctor : Population 1:1800 and 78% doctors cater to urban India (population of 30%).
    • Data from the National Health Profile-2019, the total number of hospital beds in the country was 7,13,986 which translates to 0.55 beds per 1000 population.
  • Out of pocket expenditure high: Even the poor are forced to opt for private healthcare, and, hence, pay from their own pockets. As a result, an estimated 63 million people fall into poverty due to health expenditure, annually.
  • Absence of primary care: In the northern States there are hardly any sub-centres and primary health centres are practically non-existent. First mile connectivity to a primary healthcare centre is broken. For e.g., in Uttar Pradesh there is one PHC for every 28 villages.
  • Dependency on import: Compounding the problem of poor health infrastructure and low spending, especially in the current COVID-19 environment that has caused significant disruptions to the global supply chains, is India’s dependence on medical devices imports.
  • As per IMA data, India’s medical devices imports were around Rs 39,000 crore in FY2019, having seen a growth of 24 per cent from the previous year.
  • Oxygen cylinders shortage: In October 2020, the government placed an order for 162 oxygen production units of which 33 were operational during April-May 2021. During second wave, there was a shortage of cylinders and containers to transport it.
  • Vaccine shortage: The vaccine roll-out had raised hopes. However, 3 months into the vaccination drive it became clear that India lacked the capacity to produce adequate vaccine to ensure coverage to 60% of its population. India saw one of the most devastating second wave of covid.
  • Drug shortage and black marketing of remdesivir and tocilizumab, which are recommended drugs in mild to severe cases of covid-19 were common cries for help.
  • Lack of ventilators: In large cities such as Mumbai, Delhi, Bangalore, people struggled to get ICU beds with ventilators. There was chaos in allocation of beds and the most vulnerable patients were unable to get treated which goes against the Right to Live under Article 21.
  • Rural medical practitioners (RMPs), who provide 80% of outpatient care, have no formal qualifications for it. People fall prey for quacks, often leading to grave disabilities and loss of life.

Measures needed to build a robust healthcare system

  • Prioritize primary health care: The current approach requires re-emphasizing the missing priority on PHCs and CHCs for developing comprehensive primary care.
    • Achieving comprehensive primary care requires a paradigm shift from disease-control vertical programmes to community-led, people-oriented primary care.
  • Low cost healthcare: It is relevant to develop low-cost primary care service delivery models involving nurses and allied health professionals which can lower the burden on the public health system marked by the stress of a low doctor-strength.
  • Task force and collaboration : The triple helix model of innovation,e., bringing together the government, academia and industry, now more than ever. To this end, the Government of India has established a ‘COVID-19 Taskforce’ with the objective of mapping together various technological advancements related to COVID-19 in public R&D labs, academia, start-ups, and industries.
    • The task force has already identified over 500 entities in the fields of medicines, ventilators, protective gear, among others.
    • India has seen the benefits of such collaborations in the past – in 2014, the Rotavac vaccine was developed under the leadership of Dr M K Bhan, as part of an international consortium that included India’s Department of Biotechnology and other partners from academia and industry.
  • India lacks the required number of public health professionals. The shortage is severe in many parts of the country, especially poorer states like Odisha, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan.
    • The focus should be to train a pool of social workers, psychiatrists, counsellors with public health orientation who could then transform the primary healthcare delivery system in the country.
    • Ayush doctors can prescribe Allopathy medicines after a bridge course.
  • Along with Ayushmaan Bharat (PMJAY), focus must be laid on strengthening the primary health centres with basic diagnostics and services, with district hospitals equipped with multi-specialty capabilities and services to people. Especially for the poor who cannot afford quality health care in private hospitals.
  • Better integration of health emergency and disaster risk management strategies, as well as public health emergency preparedness and response capacities, with PHC services.
  • Leveraging the potential of traditional systems of medicine, as well as key innovations in digital and disruptive health technology.

Conclusion

Especially in times of Pandemics like Covid-19, the significance and loopholes of Indian public health sector are led bare. It gives an opportunity to reform and rehaul the healthcare sector to be better equipped for future emergencies. It calls for a people-centred, decentralized public health system that socializes the cost of healthcare.

This is a once-in-a-century opportunity to strengthen and transform health systems, accelerating a health and economic recovery that is more equitable, resilient and sustainable for all.

 

15. Judiciary, as the guardian of Rule of Law, is entrusted with the extraordinary power to punish misconduct aimed at undermining its authority or bringing the institution into disrepute, whether outside or inside the courts. Comment. (250 words, 15 marks)

Introduction

Contempt of court, often referred to simply as “contempt”, is the offence of being disobedient to or disrespectful toward a court of law and its officers in the form of behaviour that opposes or defies the authority, justice and dignity of the court. A similar attitude towards a legislative body is termed contempt of Parliament.

Body

Contempt of court can be of two kinds:

  • Civil, that is the wilful disobedience of a court order or judgment or wilful breach of an undertaking given to a court.
  • Criminal, that is written or spoken words or any act that scandalises the court or lowers its authority or prejudices or interferes with the due course of a judicial proceeding or interferes/obstructs the administration of justice.

Constitutional and statutory basis of contempt of court

  • Article 129 and 215 of the Constitution of India empowers the Supreme Court and High Court respectively to punish people for their respective contempt.
    • Art 129: The Supreme Court shall be a court of record and shall have all the powers of such a court including the power to punish for contempt of itself
  • Section 10 of The Contempt of Courts Act of 1971 defines the power of the High Court to punish contempt of its subordinate courts.
  • The Constitution also includes contempt of court as a reasonable restriction to the freedom of speech and expression under Article 19, along with elements like public order and defamation.

Judiciary and contempt of the court

  • Contempt of court, as a concept, seeks to protect judicial institutions from motivated attacks and unwarranted criticism, and as a legal mechanism to punish those who lower its authority.
    • E.g. In the Prashant Bhushan in August 2020, Supreme Court found him guilty of contempt for publishing tweets against judiciary.
    •  In the tweets, the lawyer had commented on Chief Justice of India SA Bobde and about the general functioning of the court under the last four chief justices.
    • The court said it found the tweets prima facie contempt.
  • Rationale behind the provision: It is to ensure that the court’s orders are implemented.
    • To sustain the independent nature of the judiciary itself.
  • Uphold rule of law: While the judiciary issues orders, they are implemented by the government or private parties.
    • If the courts are unable to enforce their orders, then the rule of law itself will come to grinding halt.
  • The power to punish for contempt is a constitutional power vested with this court which cannot be taken away even by a legislative enactment.
  • The power can also be used when people file frivolous petitions with vested interests, wasting the precious time of the judiciary.
    • E.g.: The apex court was hearing an application filed by Mr. Daiya seeking recall of the apex court’s 2017 judgement by which it had imposed costs of ₹25 lakh on it for filing 64 PILs over the years without any success and “repeatedly misusing” the jurisdiction of the top court.
    • By not paying the amount, the petitioner was found guilty of the contempt of the court.

Conclusion

The reason why the concept of contempt exists is to insulate the institution from unfair criticism and prevent a fall in the judiciary’s reputation in the public eye. Fair and accurate reporting of judicial proceedings will not amount to contempt of court. Nor is any fair criticism on the merits of a judicial order after a case is heard and disposed of. Hence, the power of contempt is a necessity for judiciary to function and uphold the rule of law.

Value addition

Criticism of contempt of court

  • Extremely wide jurisdiction with broad definition.
  • Terms like scandalizing the court can be interpreted very loosely to prevent valid criticism of conduct of judges and judiciary
  • Against civil liberties of freedom of speech and expression which is a fundamental right.
  • While Article 19 provides contempt as a restriction on freedom of speech, a democracy does not prevent valid criticism.
  • Reasonableness must be maintained even in restrictions. Over sensitiveness of courts to criticism will lead to loss of this right.
  • While truth and good faith are added as valid defences, in practice this is not being upheld.
  • In times of social media, where unregulated commentary is seen, courts pursuing all comments will waste precious time.

 

16. Outer space is becoming an extension of the terrestrial geopolitical competition. Interventions led by U.N Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space are urgently needed, so that domain of space is used only for peaceful purposes. Examine (250 words, 15 marks)

Introduction

The Outer Space Treaty, formally the Treaty on Principles Governing the Activities of States in the Exploration and Use of Outer Space, including the Moon and Other Celestial Bodies, is a treaty that forms the basis of international space law. There is proliferation of space exploratory missions today, raising issues of space debris, weaponization and also space dominance turning space into tragedy of commons problem.

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Outerspace: Extension of geopolitical competition

  • Astropolitics: The US has traditionally dominated outer space in the commercial domain. Its military competition with Russia set the norms in the security field.
    • China’s emergence as a major space power — in both civilian and military is reshaping astropolitics.
  • China factor: The dramatic expansion of Chinese space capabilities and Beijing’s ambition to dominate outer space have lent a new urgency for democratic powers to come together to secure their national interests as well as promote sustainable order in the skies
  • No global rules: Space is a commons, where any nation’s decision to test an anti-satellite weapon, in the process creating gobs of junk, is unpunishable.
  • Multiple entities and debris: Both private and government satellite owners have an incentive to protect their equipment while it’s operating—but not thereafter.
    • Space junk is pollution, and as we have learned on earth there must be a clear line of responsibility for pollution, or public spaces will be ruined.
  • National and commercial interests are increasingly tied to space in political, economic and military arenas.
    • Beyond fanciful notions of solar energy satellites, fusion energy and orbiting hotels, contemporary political issues such as nuclear non-proliferation, economic development, cybersecurity and human rights are also intimately tied to outer space.

International rules and space governance

  • In 1959, the UN General Assembly established the Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (COPUOS) in Resolution 1472 (XIV). This committee identified areas for international cooperation in the peaceful uses of outer space
  • Outer Space Treaty of 1967: India is a party to the Outer Space Treaty.
    • The treaty prohibits countries from placing into orbit around the Earth “any objects carrying nuclear weapons or any other kinds of weapons of mass destruction”.
    • It also prohibits the stationing of such weapons on celestial bodies, like the moon, or in outer space.
    • The moon and other celestial bodies shall be used by all state parties to the treaty exclusively for peaceful purposes.
  • Although these treaties ban the placement of weapons of mass destruction in space, they do not prevent states from placing other types of weapons in space.
    • As a result, many states argue that existing treaties are insufficient for safeguarding outer space as “the common heritage of mankind.”
  • The international community has been debating for the need to introduce transparency and confidence-building measures in outer space activities (TCBMS).
    • In this regard, European Union has also prepared a draft code of conduct (CoC).
    • However, major powers are yet to agree on the idea of establishing a CoC conduct.
  • Another important idea that has been put on the table jointly by Russia and China is the Prevention of the Placement of Weapons in Outer Space (PPWT) instead of only Weapon of Mass Destruction which is resisted by US and the EU.

India’s approach to space activities: Way forward

  • India’s space programme has today matured to a great extent with reasonable launch capabilities and a range of satellites including for ISR and remote sensing.
  • Given the maturity of its space programme, India has begun to pay greater attention to space exploration including through its Moon and Mars missions.
  • India is also planning to do a crewed space mission called ‘Gaganyaan’, scheduled for 2022.
  • While India’s space programme has been developing a military profile, the most significant has been the demonstration of India’s anti-satellite (ASAT) capability in March 2019.
  • Delhi must legislate a strong regulatory framework to promote India’s space activity and protect its international interests.
  • India should take a hard look at the emerging challenges to the current space order, review some of its past political assumptions about the nature of outer space and contribute to the development of new global norms that will strengthen the essence of the Outer Space Treaty.

Conclusion

As outer space becomes a location for lucrative business as well as a site of military competition between states, the salience of space cooperation needs to increase in the coming years. The scale of the challenges and opportunities in outer space, however, demand more urgent and sweeping reform. That can only be mandated by the highest political level. India would prefer to see some movement on global governance issues because it has stakes in a peaceful outer space both for economic and security reasons.


General Studies – 3


 

17. There exist serious concerns about unsafe handling of used electronics and e-waste, in developing countries, that results in harm to human health and the environment. Analyse to what extent e-waste management rules, 2016 help in safe handling and disposing of e-wate. (250 words, 15 marks)

Introduction

The Union environment ministry in March 2016 had notified the E-Waste Management Rules 2016 replacing the 2011 version. With this, the Indian government has taken a key step to combat this most lethal form of pollution from electronic devices.

Electronic waste is discarded electronic or electrical equipment and devices. Used electronics that are intended for reuse, salvage, resale, disposal, or recycling are also referred to as e-waste.

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Background

  • According to the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), India generated more than 10 lakh tonnes of e-waste in 2019-20, an increase from 7 lakh tonnes in 2017-18. Against this, the e-waste dismantling capacity has not been increased from 82 lakh tonnes since 2017-18.
  • In 2018, the Ministry of Environment had told the tribunal that 95% of e-waste in India is recycled by the informal sector and scrap dealers unscientifically dispose of it by burning or dissolving it in acids.
  • India’s e-waste generation has risen nearly 43 per cent between FY18 and FY20.
  • The pandemic-induced increase in use of electronic devices is set to accentuate this problem in the near future.
  • Seelampur in Delhi is the largest e-waste dismantling centre of India. Adults as well as children spend 8–10 hours daily extracting reusable components and precious metals like copper, gold and various functional parts from the devices.

Factors leading to high amount of e-waste generation

  • Growth in the IT and communication sectors has enhanced the usage of the electronic equipment exponentially.
  • Faster upgradation of electronic product is forcing consumers to discard old electronic products very quickly, which, in turn, adds to e-waste to the solid waste stream.
  • The producers/manufacturers do not have adequate information on their website regarding e-waste management.
  • Customer care representatives do not have inkling about any take back or recycling programme and even if they have set up collection centres, they are simply not enough for a geographically vast country like India.
  • Improper enforcement of the existing laws is another hurdle.
    • Eg: The Cobalt-60 radiation tragedy at Mayapuri in Delhi in which one person lost his life and six persons were admitted to hospital served as a wakeup call drawing attention to the mounting quantity of hazardous waste including e-waste in the country while revealing systemic problems on the issue of waste disposal.
  • India being a vast country, setting up collection mechanism is a big challenge. If any of the brands try individually to reach out to all corners of the country, it will economically not be sustainable or feasible.

Measures to control and minimise the cause of e-waste production

  • Industry collaboration: The ASSOCHAM report (2017) suggests that the government may look at collaborating with the industry to draw out formal/standard operating procedures and a phased approach towards the agenda of reducing e-wastes to the lowest.
    • South Korea, one of the largest producers of electronics managed to recycle 21 per cent of the total 0.8 million tonnes of e-waste that it produced in 2015, said the study.
  • Extended Producer Responsibility: The government has implemented the E-waste (Management) Rules (2016) which enforces the Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR).
    • Under EPR principle the producers have been made responsible to collect a certain percentage of E-waste generated from their goods once they have reached their “end-of-life”.
  • E-waste recycling business model: Just as green power entered electricity generation as a business, e-waste disposal can be a business: this has been demonstrated by companies like Attero.
    • The threat of generating e-waste should not diminish our national ambitions in digitising the country and e-enabling the citizens.
  • Separate Legislation: In order to tackle the issue of e-waste handling and management in an effective and meaningful manner, the government may consider the desirability of bringing a separate legislation on e-waste instead of handling it under the Environment Protection Act.
    • Such legislation may call for establishing a central authority or a central public sector undertaking having experts from IT field and other technical domains possessing knowledge of e-waste disposal, management and recycling techniques and its own e-waste collection centre/ recycling plants with state-of-art technologies, in all major cities of the country.

Conclusion

E-waste management is a great challenge for governments of many developing countries such as India. This is becoming a huge public health issue and is exponentially increasing by the day. In order to separately collect, effectively treat, and dispose of e-waste, as well as divert it from conventional landfills and open burning, it is essential to integrate the informal sector with the formal sector. The competent authorities in developing and transition countries need to establish mechanisms for handling and treatment of e-waste in a safe and sustainable manner.

Value Addition

E-waste management rules

  • The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change notified the E-Waste Management Rules, 2016 in supersession of the E-waste (Management & Handling) Rules, 2011.
  • Over 21 products (Schedule-I) were included under the purview of the rule. It included Compact Fluorescent Lamp (CFL) and other mercury containing lamps, as well as other such equipment.
  • For the first time, the rules brought the producers under Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR), along with targets. Producers have been made responsible for the collection of E-waste and for its exchange.
  • Various producers can have a separate Producer Responsibility Organisation (PRO) and ensure collection of E-waste, as well as its disposal in an environmentally sound manner.
  • Deposit Refund Scheme has been introduced as an additional economic instrument wherein the producer charges an additional amount as a deposit at the time of sale of the electrical and electronic equipment and returns it to the consumer along with interest when the end-of-life electrical and electronic equipment is returned.
  • The role of State Governments has been also introduced to ensure safety, health and skill development of the workers involved in dismantling and recycling operations.
  • A provision of penalty for violation of rules has also been introduced.
  • Urban Local Bodies (Municipal Committee/Council/Corporation) have been assigned the duty to collect and channelize the orphan products to authorized dismantlers or recyclers.
  • Allocation of proper space to existing and upcoming industrial units for e-waste dismantling and recycling.

 

18. What is the purpose of setting up of National Asset Reconstruction Company Limited (NARCL) and why is it termed as Bad Bank? Discuss the factors that are essential for effective functioning of Asset Reconstruction Company (250 words, 15 marks)

Introduction

The Reserve Bank of India on October 4 gave licence to the Rs 6,000 crore National Asset Reconstruction Company Ltd (NARCL), a move that will help kickstart operations of the bad bank. K V Kamath Committee also suggested setting up Bad bank to revive sectors such as Trade, Textile, NBFCs, Steel and construction, etc.

Body

Overview on Non-Performing Assets and need for bad bank

  • Scheduled commercial banks (SCBs) were carrying NPAs worth Rs 8.96 lakh crore on their balance sheet at the end of March 2020.
  • Likely resurgence in NPAs: With Covid-related stress, Indian banks are expected to see a resurgence in their non-performing loans from Rs. 8.34-lakh crore in end-FY21 to ₹10-11 lakh crore by end of this fiscal.
  • Declining performance of IBC: The IBC of late is following the law of diminishing returns—after the initial success of selling a few big steel mills and other good assets, where the lenders recovered well over 50% of their dues, things have gone downhill.
    • In some high-profile cases, such as Videocon, Ruchi Soya and Jet Airways, the lenders have hardly recovered 5-6% of their dues.
  • Pending cases: Also, too many cases and too few NCLT judges have meant pile-ups and most resolutions taking twice the time limit originally set under the IBC.
  • Problem with existing ARCs: Also, the asset construction route has also run into issues. Here too the recoveries have slowed and the ARCs are also facing capital issues.
    • Their security receipts are being downgraded by rating agencies as the recovery expectations move downwards.

About National Asset Reconstruction Company Ltd (NARCL)

  • It will be a five-year guarantee for the National Asset Reconstruction Company Limited (NARCL)-issued security receipts to banks.
  • Under the proposed mechanism, the NARCL will acquire assets by making an offer to the lead bank.
  • Private sector asset reconstruction (ARCs) firms may also be allowed to outbid the NARCL.
  • Separately, public and private lenders will combine forces to set up an India Debt Resolution Company (IDRC) that will manage these assets and try to raise their value for final resolution.
  • A 15% cash payment would be made to the banks based on some valuation and the rest will be given as security receipts.
  • Once the NARCL and the IDRC have finally resolved the asset, the balance 85% held as security receipts would be given to the banks.
  • If the bad bank is unable to sell the bad loan, or has to sell it at a loss, then the government guarantee will be invoked and the difference between what the commercial bank was supposed to get and what the bad bank was able to raise will be paid from the Rs 30,600 crore that has been provided by the government

NARCL Role: Effective functioning

  • While there are 28 ARCs in the private sector, there was a need for government-backed receipts for big ticket resolutions.
  • The government guarantee for the proposed security receipts is a positive stepping stone for unlocking stressed assets’ value.
  • The upfront cash payment by the NARCL to banks will immediately be accretive for the profitability and capital of the banks, however the ability of the NARCL to resolve these assets in a time-bound manner will be critical for future provision writeback by banks
  • The whole idea is to ensure that these assets for which this whole set-up is being created, and the value that is locked in the assets is realised and comes back to the banks; they use it as a growth capital and the banking system becomes more robust
  • From the perspective of a commercial bank saddled with high NPA levels, it will help.
    • That’s because such a bank will get rid of all its toxic assets, which were eating up its profits, in one quick move.
    • When the recovery money is paid back, it will further improve the bank’s position.
    • Meanwhile, it can start lending again.
  • From the perspective of the government and the taxpayer, the situation is a little more muddled.
    • After all, whether it is recapitalising PSBs laden with bad loans or giving guarantees for security receipts, the money is coming from the taxpayers’ pocket.
    • While recapitalisation and such guarantees are often designated as “reforms”, they are band aids at best.
    • The only sustainable solution is to improve the lending operation in PSBs.
  • Lastly, the plan of bailing out commercial banks will collapse if the bad bank is unable to sell such impaired assets in the market.

Conclusion

While the objective of NARCL is a novel one, the success lies in its implementation and downstream reforms in banks in lending. The NARCL will have to deliver on the recovery front or risk being a dump yard. Dump yards do not facilitate redistribution of capital in an economy and therefore have a cost.

 

19. Although India has signed information exchange agreements with various countries, but the chronic problem of tax evasion via tax havens resulting in money laundering remains unsolved. Examine. (250 words, 15 marks)

Introduction

International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) has leaked an offshore financial record, which is the most voluminous ever, called the Pandora papers. There are at least 380 persons of Indian nationality in the Pandora Papers.

Earlier in 2016, Panama papers had also created a lot of buzz, however no concrete action could be taken against those whose names appeared in the leak.

Body

Findings of Pandora Papers

  • The Pandora Papers reveal how the rich, the famous and the notorious, set up complex multi-layered trust structures for estate planning, in jurisdictions which are loosely regulated for tax purposes, but characterised by air-tight secrecy laws.
  • The purposes for which trusts are set up are many, and some genuine too. But a scrutiny of the papers also shows how the objective of many is two-fold:
    • to hide their real identities and distance themselves from the offshore entities so that it becomes near impossible for the tax authorities to reach them and,
    • to safeguard investments — cash, shareholdings, real estate, art, aircraft, and yachts — from creditors and law enforcers.
  • The Pandora Papers investigation shows how businesses have created a new normal after countries have been forced to tighten the screws on such offshore entities with rising concerns of money laundering, terrorism funding, and tax evasion.
  • The Pandora Papers pierce the corporate veil and reveal how trusts are prolifically used as a vehicle in conjunction with offshore companies set up for the sole purpose of holding investments and other assets by business families and ultra-rich individuals.
  • The trusts can be set up in known tax havens such Samoa, Belize, Panama, and the British Virgin Islands, or in Singapore or New Zealand which offer relative tax advantages, or even South Dakota in the US, the biggest economy.

Quest for tax havens: Impact

  • Evading scrutiny: Though trusts are recognized as legal entities in India, trusts are also used by some as secret vehicles to park ill-gotten money, hide incomes to evade taxes, protect wealth from law enforcers,
  • Vehicle for economic offences: Trusts can insulate from creditors to whom huge moneys are due, and at times to use it for criminal activities.
  • Avoid tax in the guise of planning: Businesspersons avoid their NRI children being taxed on income from their assets by transferring all the assets to a trust.
    • There are certain grey areas of taxation where the Income-Tax Department is in contestation with offshore trusts.
    • After The Black Money (Undisclosed Foreign Income and Assets) and Imposition of Tax Act, 2015, came into existence, resident Indians — if they are ‘settlors’, ‘trustees’, or ‘beneficiaries’ — have to report their foreign financial interests and assets.
    • NRIs are not required to do so, this provision is exploited.
  • Secrecy and laundering: Overseas trusts offer remarkable secrecy because of stringent privacy laws in the jurisdiction they operate in. This paves way for money laundering, round-tripping of money among other things.

Checks and balances in India

  • Non-disclosure of an overseas asset will be of interest to authorities and regulators in India.
  • Floating these companies and depending on the reason for which they are put to use, could also violate, individually or jointly, the Foreign Exchange Management Act, the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, the Black Money (Undisclosed Foreign Income and Assets) and Imposition of Tax Act, the Prevention of Corruption Act and the Income-Tax Act.
  • Also, the Income Tax department will probe if there has been ‘round tripping’ of funds i.e. routing of funds invested in offshore entities back to India, and where required, refer the cases to the Enforcement Directorate.
  • It will also see if the offshore entities have declared all their incomes and assets to the Income Tax
  • GAAR (General Anti Avoidance Rule): It is an anti-tax avoidance law under Income Tax Act, 1961 of India and is framed by the Department of Revenue under the Ministry of Finance.
  • Common Reporting Standard (CRS): It is an information standard for the Automatic Exchange Of Information (AEOI) regarding bank accounts on a global level, between tax authorities with the objective of combating tax evasion.

Conclusion

The data is a shot in the arm for government of India as well, which was reeling without adequate information about black money abroad. The Government must constitute an inter-department investigation team to look into the veracity of the leaked papers.

 

20. In this era of global politics when Chinese belligerence is heightening, India and the world must recognise how the BRI is aiming to reshape the global order in fundamental ways and address it. Analyse. (250 words, 15 marks)

Introduction

China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), launched in 2013 by President Xi Jinping during official visits to Kazakhstan and Indonesia, is among the world’s most ambitious infrastructure projects ever conceived. It is a union of development and investment initiatives that would stretch from East Asia to Europe, and in the process significantly expand China’s economic and political influence in these massive regions.

Body

 

India’s concerns regarding China’s BRI

India has opposed BRI citing grounds of territorial sovereignty.

  • Growing Assertion: China’s BRI stands on the pillars of both geopolitical and economic motivations. It runs parallel to China’s growing assertiveness in its bilateral relations, as seen in its increasingly hawkish actions in its immediate region and beyond.
  • Debt-trap in neighbourhood: The story of Sri Lanka’s hambantota, for example, being saddled by the burden of unsustainable debt to China is well-documented.
    • In 2018, former Malaysian President Mahathir Mohamad suspended work on certain BRI ventures in his country over concerns of mounting debts to China.
    • All these areas are India’s very own backyard and it has security implications for India.
  • CPEC: India’s objection to the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is that it runs through parts of Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (PoK), and this has led to the Indian government’s decision to stay away from the BRI summit in the past.
  • Connecting to Gwadar: The ultimate aim is to connect from Xinjiang to Gwadar, through CPEC. This will ensure that China overcomes the Malacca dilemma and secures an alternate path. India’s leverage in the Indian ocean will be lost.
  • Military deployment: The fact that the Chinese have begun to deploy 30,000 security personnel to protect the projects along the CPEC route makes it an active player in the politics of the Indian sub-continent. Clearly, this is a case of double standards.

Concerns of the world over BRI and recent developments

  • Chinese led globalisation: BRI runs “counter” to the agenda of liberalising trade and “pushed the balance of power in favour of subsidised Chinese companies”.
  • Debt crisis: When these emerging debt crises in BRI countries materialize, they will undermine global economic growth and macroeconomic stability at a time when the COVID-19 pandemic has already led to the sharpest global economic contraction since the Great Depression.
    • Debt crises also have the potential to increase the risk of a financial crisis.
    • Sri Lanka, the Maldives, and Malaysia had second thoughts on some of the infrastructure projects over fears of a “debt trap”, and allegations of corruption in BRI projects became election issues.
  • Anti-competitive: The EU and USA have contested that BRO is anti-competitive. BRI creates unfair advantages for Chinese companies, leaving U.S. and other foreign companies unable to compete in a number of BRI countries.
  • Critics of the BRI say it is designed to bolster China’s political and military influence, bringing little reward to other nations, and warn that it could be used to spread technologies capable of spying on Western interests.

Steps taken by India and other to counter BRI

  • India has tried to convince countries that the BRI is a plan to dominate Asia, warning of what some analysts have called a “String of Pearls” geoeconomics strategy whereby China creates unsustainable debt burdens for its Indian Ocean neighbours in order to seize control of regional choke points.
  • BRI will make China’s claims of South China sea more aggressive. India has convinced the QUAD to reign in efforts regarding the same. ASEAN is also pushing for code of conduct in south China sea.
  • Asia-Africa Growth corridor: The aim of the Asia-Africa Growth Corridor is to develop infrastructure and digital connectivity in Africa through Indo-Japan collaboration.
    • It is touted as a counter move to China’s BRI in African region.
  • The Blue Dot Network formed by the US, Japan and Australia was intended to counter China’s BRI.
  • G-7 plan:  The infrastructure plan is being led by United States president Joe Biden.
    • The Build Back Better World (B3W) initiative, will provide a transparent infrastructure partnership to help narrow the $40 trillion, the leaders at the G7 summit hoped.
    • The B3W plan discussed by the US, Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Japan and Italy calls for spending hundreds of billions of dollars in collaboration with the private sector while adhering to climate standards and labour practices.

Conclusion

Any connectivity initiative must be based on universally recognized international norms. They must follow principles of openness, transparency and financial responsibility and must be pursued in a manner that respects sovereignty, equality and territorial integrity of nations. India must ensure cooperation of like-minded nations to counter BRI’s aggressive strategy and provide viable alternatives to nations.

 Value Addition

Overview: BRI

  • The plan, initially named ‘One Belt, One Road’, is two-pronged: the overland Silk Road Economic Belt, and the Maritime Silk Road.
  • On land, Beijing aims to connect the country’s underdeveloped hinterland to Europe through Central Asia; the maritime component will build ports and railways to connect the fast-growing Southeast Asian region to China’s southern provinces.
  • More than 60 countries—home to nothing less than two-thirds of the world’s population—have signed on to BRI projects, or else have indicated an interest.
  • Morgan Stanley has predicted that China’s overall expenses over the entire duration of the BRI could reach $1.2–1.3 trillion by 2027

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