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[Mission 2022] SECURE SYNOPSIS: 23 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.

Answer the following questions in 150 words:


General Studies – 1


 

1. Explain in detail various landforms of glaciation and their significance. Analyse the threats posed by black carbon to glaciers? (150 words, 10 marks)

Introduction

A glacier is a large mass of ice that is persistently moving under its own weight over the land or as linear flows down the slopes of mountains in broad trough-like valleys. Glaciers are formed in the areas where the accumulation of snow exceeds its ablation (melting and sublimation) over many years, often centuries. Glaciers move under the influence of the force of gravity.

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Key features of glacial landforms:

Erosional Landforms:

  • Cirque:
    • Cirques are horseshoe shaped, deep, long and wide troughs or basins with very steep to vertically dropping high walls at its head as well as sides.
    • Cirques are often found along the head of Glacial Valley
    • The accumulated ice cuts these cirques while moving down the mountain tops.
    • After the glacier melts, water fills these cirques, and they are known as cirque lake.
  • Horns:
    • Horns form through head-ward erosion of the cirque walls.
    • If three or more radiating glaciers cut headward until their cirques meet, high, sharp pointed and steep-sided peaks called horns form.
  • Aretes:
    • Arete is a narrow ridge of rock which separates two valleys.
    • Aretes are typically formed when two glacial cirques erode head-wards towards one another
    • The divides between Cirque side walls or head walls get narrow because of progressive erosion and turn into serrated or saw-toothed ridges referred to as aretes with very sharp crest and a zig-zag outline.
  • Glacial Valleys:
    • Glaciated valleys are trough-like and U-shaped with wide, flat floors and relatively smooth, and steep sides.
    • When the glacier disappears, and water fills the deep narrow sections of the valley, a ribbon lake is formed.
  • Fjords/Fiords:
    • A fjord or fiord is a long, narrow and steep-sided inlet created by a glacier
    • They are formed where the lower end of a very deep glacial trough is filled with sea water
    • Fjords are common in Norway, Chile, and New Zealand etc.
  • Hanging Valleys:
    • A hanging valley is a tributary valley that is higher than the main valley. Hanging valleys are common along glaciated fjords and U-shaped valleys.
    • The main valley is eroded much more rapidly than the tributary valleys as it contains a much larger glacier
    • After the ice has melted tributary valley, therefore, hangs above the main valley
    • The faces of divides or spurs of such hanging valleys opening into main glacial valleys are quite often truncated to give them an appearance like triangular facets.
    • Often, waterfalls form at or near the outlet of the upper valley
    • Thus, the hanging valley may form a natural head of water for generating hydroelectric power

Depositional Landforms:

  • Outwash plains:
    • An outwash plain is a plain at the foot of the glacial mountain
    • They are made up of fluvioglacial sediments, washed out from the terminal moraines by the streams and channels of the stagnant ice mass.
    • As it flows, the glacier grinds the underlying rock surface and carries the debris along.
  • Moraines:
    • The unassorted coarse and fine debris dropped by the melting glaciers is called glacial till.
    • The long ridges of deposits of these glacial till is called as Moraines
    • Depending on its position, moraines are classified into be ground, lateral, medial and terminal moraine.
  • Eskers:
    • An esker is a long, winding sinuous ridge of stratified sand and gravel
    • Eskers are frequently several kilometres long and, because of their peculiar uniform shape, are somewhat like railway embankments
    • When glaciers melt in summer, the water flows on the surface of the ice or seeps down along the margins or even moves through holes in the ice.
    • These waters accumulate beneath the glacier and flow like streams in a channel beneath the ice.
    • Such streams flow over the ground with ice forming its banks.
  • Drumlins:
    • Drumlins are smooth oval shaped ridge-like features composed mainly of glacial till with some masses of gravel and sand.
    • The drumlins form due to the dumping of rock debris beneath heavily loaded ice through fissures in the glacier.
    • The long axes of drumlins are parallel to the direction of ice movement.
    • They may measure up to 1000m in length and 30-35 m or so in height.
    • One end of the drumlins facing the glacier called the stoss

Significance of Glaciers:

  • Glaciers and Thermo (heat) Haline (salt) Circulation:
    • The melting fresh water from glaciers alters the ocean, not only by directly contributing to the global sea level rise, but also because it pushes down the heavier salt water, thereby changing the currents in the ocean.
  • Glaciers and winds:
    • As the planet’s air conditioner, the polar ice caps impact weather and climate dynamics, such as the jet stream.
  • Glaciers and climate change:
    • Glaciers are also early indicators of climate changes that will have a somewhat more delayed impact on other parts of the Earth system. Glaciers are sentinels of climate change.
  • Glaciers provide drinking water:
    • People living in arid climates near mountains often rely on glacial melt for their water for part of the year. e.g.: Ganges, Yangtze
  • Glaciers irrigate crops:
    • In Switzerland’s Rhone Valley, farmers have irrigated their crops for hundreds of years by channelling meltwater from glaciers to their fields.
  • Glaciers help generate hydroelectric power:
    • Scientists and engineers in Norway, central Europe, Canada, New Zealand, and South America have worked together to tap into glacial resources, using electricity that has been generated in part by damming glacial meltwater.

Threats posed by Black Carbon:

  • Black carbon results from the incomplete combustion of fossil fuels and biomass. BC is produced both naturally and by human activities as a result of the incomplete combustion of fossil fuels, biofuels, and biomass. Primary sources include emissions from diesel engines, cook stoves, wood burning and forest fires.
  • The fine particles absorb light and about a million times more energy than carbon dioxide.
  • It is said to be the second largest contributor to climate change after CO2. But unlike CO2, which can stay in the atmosphere for years together, black carbon is short-lived and remains in the atmosphere only for days to weeks before it descends as rain or snow.
  • Black carbon absorbs solar energy and warms the atmosphere. When it falls to earth with precipitation, it darkens the surface of snow and ice, reducing their albedo (the reflecting power of a surface), warming the snow, and hastening melting.
  • India is the second largest emitter of black carbon in the world, with emissions expected to increase dramatically in the coming decades, says an April 2019 study in the journal Atmospheric Research, with the Indo Gangetic plains said to be the largest contributor.

Conclusion

Glaciers are one of the most visible icons of the “cryosphere”, the cold parts of the world where temperatures fall below the freezing point of water, a natural tipping point that profoundly changes the environment. From the Andes to the Himalayas, the loss of mountain glaciers is a real concern.

value addition

Glaciation generally gives rise to erosional features in the highlands and depositional features on the lowlands, though these processes are not mutually exclusive because a glacier plays a combined role of erosion, transportation and deposition throughout its course. It erodes its valley by two processes viz. plucking & abrasion.

  • Plucking → Glacier freezes the joints & beds of underlying rocks, tears out individual blocks & drags them away.
  • Abrasion → Glacier scratches, scrapes, polishes & scours the valley floor with the debris frozen into it.

 

2. Sir Syed Ahmad Khan was a reformer, educationist and a moderniser within the Muslim community in the late nineteenth century. Discuss. (150 words, 10 marks)

Introduction

Sir Syed Ahmed khan was a teacher, politician, social reformer etc and founder of Aligarh Muslim university. He has often been criticised as the father of Two nation theory which led to the formation of two separate nations i.e. India and Pakistan. It is erroneously believed by some historians that the Hindu-Muslim divide in India was the by-product of the two-nation theory which supposedly had its origin in Sir Syed’s ideology.

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current affairs

Social Reformer: 

  • He also pushed for social reforms and was a champion of democratic ideals and freedom of speech.
  • He was against religious intolerance, ignorance and irrationalism. He denounced purdah, polygamy and easy divorce.
  • Tahzebul Akhlaq(Social Reformer in English),a magazine founded by him, tried to awaken people’s consciousness on social and religious issues in a very expressive prose.

Educationist: 

  • Sir Syed is, first and foremost, known for his pioneering role in transforming the educational opportunities for Muslims.
  • Sir Syed realised that Muslims could only make progress if they took to modern education. For this he started the Aligarh movement.
  • In 1877, he founded the Muhammadan Anglo Oriental College on the pattern of Oxford and Cambridge universities. The college later grew into Aligarh Muslim University.

Moderniser:

  • His systemic movement aimed at reforming the social, political and educational aspects of the Muslim community.
  • The Aligarh Movement helped in the Muslim revival. It gave them a common language— Urdu.
  • The movement undertook to modernise Muslim’s education by adapting English as a medium of learning and western education rather than just focusing on traditional teachings.
  • Sir Syed established the Scientific Society in 1864,in Aligarh to translate Western works into Indian languages to prepare the Muslims to accept Western education and to inculcate scientific temperament among the Muslims.

Conclusion:

Throughout his life, Syed Ahmad Khan remonstrated against the practices of purdah, polygamy, easy divorce and many other fallacies in his community. His main priority was advancement of modern western education, in Muslim society. He believed that his community can only enhance their status and progress when the Muslims accept western scientific knowledge and culture. In AD 1864, he established the Translation Society at Aligarh. It was later renamed the Scientific Society.

Value addition

Critical of National Movement:

  • In his later years Sir Syed encouraged the Indian Muslims not to join the National Movement. He felt that education and not politics was needed by them.
  • In a way he encouraged the forces of communalism and separatism at this stage.

Belief in multiculturalism:

  • Sir Syed believed in a multiculturalism under which all cultural communities must be entitled to equal status under state.
  • The view that people must be incorporated not merely as citizens but also members of distinct communities possessing multiple identities is one of the most cherished norms of liberal democratic traditions. This means rejection of “melting pot” and acceptance of “salad bowl” theory where integration rather than assimilation is the preferred choice.
  • Thus, under Article 29of the Indian Constitution, distinct cultural communities are entitled to preservation of their distinct language, script and culture.

 

3. The continental system which was designed to subjugate Britain economically had fundamental flaws which ultimately led to the downfall of Napoleon. Examine. (150 words, 10 marks)

Introduction

Continental System, in the Napoleonic wars, the blockade designed by Napoleon to paralyze Great Britain through the destruction of British commerce. The decrees of Berlin and Milan proclaimed a blockade: neutrals and French allies were not to trade with the British. However, it proved largely ineffective and eventually led to Napoleon’s fall.

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The Continental System had some success in hurting British trade and economic interests. By some estimates, British trade declined by as much as fifty percent. It also benefited some parts of the French manufacturing sector by acting essentially as a protective tariff, making British imports unavailable or unaffordable in France and its territories. This stimulated the growth of some local manufacturing and many French capitalists and industrialists made large profits as a result of the embargo on British goods.

Flaws in the Continental System

  • It killed many trade based industries and deeply hurt the economies of major French ports such as Marseilles. Moreover, the Continental System could not be strictly enforced.
  • It was an impossible scheme. Every country was not expected to bear the innumerable stresses by following this scheme.
  • French navy was not so powerful to control the vast sea.
  • Most of the European countries including France depended British goods and they could not possibly live without these goods. But after the supply of these articles was stopped, people had to face great difficulties and they began to oppose this scheme vehemently. In 1807 Napoleon himself purchased fifty thousand overcoats from Great Britain through Holland at the time of the battle of Eyleau.
  • The smuggling of goods became widespread in the entire Europe and Napoleon could not check this black marketing due to his weak navy.
  • Portugal and Spain also did not join this scheme and extended their cooperation to England.

Conclusion

Napoleon’s ambition to implement the continental system dragged him to the peninsular war which he called “an ulcer that destroyed me”. The Portuguese and Spaniards turned and united against him at the battle of Trafalgar. This defeat proved to the world that Napoleon could be defeated, over 20,000 of his soldiers surrendered and it also weakened Napoleon’s military strength. This led to the downfall of Napoleon in 1815 . Thus, the continental system entangled Napoleon into disastrous Moscow campaign which was the turning point in his military and political career in France and Europe.


General Studies – 2


 

4. India has set itself in the right direction of principle of gender equality enshrined in the Indian Constitution by allowing permanent commissioning of women in the armed forces. Comment. (150 words, 10 marks)

Introduction

The Centre on September 8 told the Supreme Court that it had taken a decision to allow women entry into the National Defence Academy (NDA), so far, a male bastion for recruitment into the Armed Forces. When this decision comes through formally on paper, women can prepare for a career in the Armed Forces immediately after Class 12.

Recently, PM announcement to allow girls for admission in Sainik School is a welcome move that will prepare girls for equal roles & life in the military.

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Background

  • The apex court had ordered on March 17 last year that women officers be given the same option of converting their short service commission to permanent commission as male officers.
  • Several untenable reasons have been touted for years to deny women parity in the forces. These range from protecting women’s honour and lack of gender sensitivity among male soldiers to needing to lower standards for women officers.
  • All of this was called as hogwash by the Supreme Court. Women in the forces have repeatedly proved themselves to be equally capable as their male colleagues when given same opportunities.
  • Plus, a woman officer or cadet is fully aware of the risks involved in her profession. Only a patriarchal mindset feels the need to shield her.
  • Therefore, the Centre and the services’ decision is a welcome change in attitude towards women in the armed forces who have long been at the receiving end of patriarchal mores.

Achieving gender parity in armed forces: Timeline

  • The first batch of women officers was given commission in the Navy in 1992. It has taken close to 30 years for women to be given direct permanent commission.
  • The Army, Air Force and Navy began inducting women as short-service commission (SSC) officers in 1992.
  • This was the first time when women were allowed to join the military outside the medical stream.
  • They were commissioned for a period of five years in certain chosen streams such as Army Education Corps, Corps of Signals, Intelligence Corps, and Corps of Engineers.
    • Recruits under the Women Special Entry Scheme (WSES) had a shorter pre-commission training period than their male counterparts who were commissioned under the Short Service Commission (SSC) scheme.
    • In 2006, the WSES scheme was replaced with the SSC scheme, which was extended to women officers. They were commissioned for a period of 10 years, extendable up to 14 years.
    • Serving WSES officers were given the option to move to the new SSC scheme or to continue under the erstwhile WSES.
    • They were to be, however, restricted to roles in streams specified earlier, which excluded combat arms such as infantry and armoured corps.
  • One of the turning points for women in the military came in 2015 when Indian Air Force (IAF) decided to induct them into the fighter stream.
  • In Secretary, Ministry of Defence vs Babita Puniya & Ors: the Court pointed out the “significant role” played by women since their induction in the army in 1992.
    • So extending permanent positions to women SSC officers is a step forward in bringing equality of opportunity in the army.
  • In early 2021, the Indian Navy deployed four women officers on warships after a gap of almost 25 years.
  • India’s only aircraft carrier INS Vikramaditya and fleet tanker INS Shakti are the warships that have been assigned their first women crews since the late 1990s.
  • In May 2021, the Army inducted the first batch of women into the Corps of Military Police, the first time that women joined the military in the non-officer cadre.
  • In the recent judgement, SC allowed women to sit for National Defence Academy (NDA) exam as the current policy is based on “gender discrimination”.

Conclusion

SC upheld the right to equality in the Constitution for the spirit of the order is the principle of non-discrimination. Gender cannot serve as the basis for inequitable and unequal treatment in any sphere, including in defence forces. There is a bigger need in shift to take place in the culture, norms, and values of the rank and file of the Army, which will be the responsibility of the senior military and political leadership.

 

5. Despite being a major agrarian economy, India ranks at 101 out of 116 in the Global Hunger Index. Discuss the cause of such poor performance of India on the Global Hunger Index. (150 words, 10 marks)

Introduction

The Global Hunger Index launched recently ranked India at 101 position out of a total 116 countries. India is also among the 31 countries where hunger has been identified as serious. India ranked 94 among 107 countries in the Global Hunger Index (GHI) released last year. India is currently behind its neighbours Pakistan, Bangladesh and Nepal.

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India’s performance:

  • India is among the 31 countries where hunger has been identified as serious.
  • Only 15 countries fare worse than India.
  • Some of these include Afghanistan (103), Nigeria (103), Congo (105), Mozambique (106), Sierra Leone (106), Timor-Leste (108), Haiti (109), Liberia (110), Madagascar (111) and Somalia (116).
  • India was also behind most of the neighbouring countries.
  • Pakistan was placed at 92 rank, Nepal at 76 and Bangladesh also at 76.

The main cause for such high levels of child stunting and wasting in India:

  • Poor maternal health: South Asian babies show very high levels of wasting very early in their lives, within the first six months. This reflects the poor state of maternal health.
  • Mothers are too young, too short, too thin and too undernourished themselves, before they get pregnant, during pregnancy, and then after giving birth, during breast-feeding.
  • Poor sanitation is another major cause of child wasting and stunting.
  • Poverty: Almost 50 million households in India are dependent on these small and marginal holdings.
  • Livelihood loss: The rural livelihoods loss after COVID and lack of income opportunities other than the farm sector have contributed heavily to the growing joblessness in rural areas.

Measures needed:

  • Governments, private actors, and NGOs should carefully coordinate their responses to overlapping food and health crises and work with community organizations to make sure interventions are culturally acceptable, reach the most vulnerable, and preserve local ecosystems.
  • Food should be priced not only by its weight or volume but also by its nutrient density, its freedom from contamination, and its contribution to ecosystem services and social justice.
  • Governments should expand access to maternal and child health care, as well as education on healthy diets and child feeding practices.
  • Supporting smallholder farmers in becoming sustainable and diversified producers; governments and NGOs must seek to improve those farmers’ access to agricultural inputs and extension services, coupling local and indigenous agricultural knowledge with new technologies.
  • Existing human rights-based multilateral mechanisms and international standards—such as the Committee on World Food Security—must be strengthened to support inclusive policy making and sustainable food systems.

Conclusion

Prioritizing early childhood nutrition is key to ensuring India’s development rests on strong and steady shoulders. India’s ability to harness long-term demographic dividends rests on it prioritizing nutrition in its health agenda, and reforming the institutional framework through which interventions are delivered.

Value addition:

The GHI score is calculated on four indicators –undernourishment; child wasting (the share of children under the age of five who are wasted i.e. who have low weight for their height, reflecting acute undernutrition); child stunting (children under the age of five who have low height for their age, reflecting chronic undernutrition) and child mortality (the mortality rate of children under the age of five).

India’s effort to achieve food security:

  • Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS), with its network of 1.4 million Anganwadi Centers, reaching almost 100 million beneficiaries who include pregnant and nursing mothers and children up to 6 years;
  • Mid-day meals (MDM) that reach almost 120 million children in schools; and
  • Public Distribution System (PDS) that reaches over 800 million people under the National Food Security Act.
  • The recently announced flagship program of the Ministry of Women and Child Development will be anchored through the National Nutrition Mission (NNM), or Poshan Abhiyaan, with its own specific budget of ₹9,046 crore and a proposed World Bank loan of $200 million, to ensure convergence among the various programmes of the government.
  • Additionally, NITI Aayog has worked on a National Nutrition Strategy (NNS), isolated the 100 most backward districts for stunting and prioritised those for interventions.
  • The National Nutrition Strategy (NNS) has set very ambitious targets for 2022 and the Poshan Abhiyaan has also specified three-year targets to reduce stunting, under-nutrition and low birth weight by 2% each year, and to reduce anemia by 3% each year.
  • IYCF (Infant and Young child feeding), Food and Nutrition, Immunization, Institutional Delivery, WASH(Water, Sanitation and Hygiene), De-worming, ORS-Zinc, Food Fortification, Dietary Diversification, Adolescent Nutrition, Maternal Health and Nutrition, ECCE(Early Childhood care and Education), Convergence, ICT-RTM(Information and Communication. Technology enabled Real Time Monitoring), Capacity Building.

 

6. A vibrant civil society contributes to strengthening of government accountability and rule of law. Analyse. (150 words, 10 marks)

Introduction

Civil Society Organizations can be defined to include all non-market and non-state organizations outside of the family in which people organize themselves to pursue shared interests in the public domain”.

Examples include community-based organizations and village associations, environmental groups, women’s rights groups, farmers’ associations, faith-based organizations, labour unions, co-operatives, professional associations, chambers of commerce, independent research institutes and the not-for-profit media.

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Need for an active civil society:

  • Citizens have the right to scrutinise the work of their representatives.
  • To publicise acts such as infringement of civil liberties and failure of governments to provide a reasonable standard of life for the citizens.
  • Article 19 of the constitution provides for the democratic right to protest as part of the freedom of expression.
  • The right to participate in an activity should not be restricted to politics and elections alone.
  • Without this right, democracy becomes an illusion.
  • So civil society cannot be conceptualised independent of the state.

Civil society’s functional contribution to good governance

  • Watchdog: against violation of human rights and governing deficiencies.
  • Advocate: of the weaker sections’ point of view.
  • Agitator: on behalf of aggrieved citizens.
  • Educator: of citizens on their rights, entitlements and responsibilities and the government about the pulse of the people.
  • Service provider: to areas and people not reached by official efforts or as government’s agent.
  • Mobilizer: of public opinion for or against a programme or policy.
  • The ways include: Right to Information Act, Consumer Protection Act, Citizens Charters, Whistle-blower protection, e-governance, Democratic Decentralisation, Public Interest Litigation, etc

Role of Civil Society:

  • In a large developing country like India, there are numerous gaps left by the government in the development process. These are the gaps that civil societies try to fill in modern India.
  • Supplementing the government effort to provide health care to citizens, and by raising awareness in society about issues like child and maternal malnutrition
  • A number of NGO’s like Childline India Foundation, World Vision, Arambh India have played important role in raising awareness on child sexual abuse.
  • In the last 20 years, a very large number of NGOs in India have been active in the area of environmental protection.
  • The NGOs have often been helped by the judiciary whenever the government of the day has proved unresponsive.
  • The engagement of civil society and the media in educating citizens about the evils of corruption, raising their awareness levels and securing their participation by giving them a ‘voice’.
  • Civil society can influence policy and project formulation through membership of committees and submission of memoranda.

Conclusion

Pressure groups, NGOs and CSOs form the backbone of democracy. The state must respect the articulation of the politics of voice and not just the politics of the vote. The promises of democracy can only be realised through collective action in civil society. A democratic state needs a democratic civil society and a democratic civil society also needs a democratic state. They mutually reinforce each other.

 

7. The recent announcement of spring-cleaning exercise by the government to weed out all unnecessary paper work and compliances to relook into existing bureaucratic processes has been long pending. Comment (150 words, 10 marks)

Introduction

Red Tapism refers to excessive regulation or rigid conformity to formal rules that is considered redundant and bureaucratic and hinders action or decision-making. In other words, these are burdensome rules, providing no added value. It includes unnecessary paperwork, obtaining licenses, having multiple people or committees approve a decision and various low-level rules that make conducting one’s affairs slower, more difficult.

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Consequences of Red Tapism

  • Citizen dissatisfaction: Red tape indeed negatively affects citizen satisfaction. Citizens remain dissatisfied due to delayed government processing and cost associated with it. Most of the time citizen’s problems remain unresolved due to red Tapism, leading to a sense of loss of trust in the government’s process.
  • Scheme implementation: Every new governmental scheme gets roadblocks in terms of red Tapism that eventually kills the larger objective by which it was launched. Delayed release of funds, lack of proper monitoring etc. are common associated issues attached to Red Tapism that make policies ineffective.
  • Corruption: A World Bank study found that the higher the level of red Tapism, the higher the level of corruption. Bureaucracy invariably breeds corruption and lowers growth by complicating the normal flow of businesses. Paying a bribe to speed up the handling of the procedure is a typical example of Red Tapism associated corruption.
  • Increased cost of doing business:Red tape is costly, not just in time and money spent filling out forms but also in terms of reduced productivity and innovation in business. This is particularly burdensome to smaller businesses and may even discourage people from starting up a new business.
  • Governance: Due to Red Tapism variable enforcement of contracts and delayed administration lead to delayed justice, especially to the poor. The burden of red tape requirements prevent many to enjoy their rights due to delayed governance and delayed distribution of welfare measures. For example, delayed wage payments under MGNREGA impact timely benefits to por.

Measures to reduce Red Tapism

  • Reforming laws: Reducing administrative burdens should be a part of making good laws. This objective also contributes to making administrative cultures more responsible and service-oriented. For example, Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code has helped in reducing Red Tapism regarding insolvency of a business unit, enhancing overall business sentiments. Further many redundant laws have been scrapped, making India achieving a 63rd spot in World bank’s Ease of doing business.
  • Involving states: Governments also need to consider ways in which sub-national levels of government can be incorporated into the administrative simplification and regulatory quality process. Administrative simplification programmes have focused primarily on regulations emanating from the central government. However lower levels of government can be responsible for imposing significant administrative burdens and requirements on businesses and citizens.
  • Reduce the paperwork: Computers have already made many of the government services faster. It is a way forward to decrease the red tape. Capacity building in IT and communications is required at all the levels of the government, top to bottom. For example, the government has launched National Investment Promotion and Facilitation Agency known as Invest India that helps investors looking for investment, to reduce red Tapism. Another such initiative is paperless green clearance that will reduce paperwork and is environmentally friendly.
  • Skill development: There are officials who are not skilled enough to make government processing faster. It is important to train them properly on the subjects and appoint skilled people.
  • Incentives:A lot of government employees at the lower level (Group-C and Group D) are underpaid. They find no incentive to work efficiently. Efforts must be made to honour workers for their good work and punishing for not achieving timely efficiency.

Conclusion

Red Tapism hinders good governance and the country’s economic progress. It leads to a culture of corruption and inefficiency. Efforts must be made to make rules and regulations simple with emphasis on reducing delays in government work culture.


General Studies – 3


 

8. The banking sector is overburdened with compliance burden. In this context, discuss the role and the areas of focus, of the second Regulatory Review Authority (RRA 2.0). (150 words, 10 marks)

Introduction

The Reserve Bank of India has set up a Regulations Review Authority (RRA 2.0), initially for a period of one year from May 01, 2021. The RRA will review the regulatory prescriptions internally as well as by seeking suggestions from the RBI regulated entities and other stakeholders on their simplification and ease of implementation.

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Role and Area of focus of RRA 2.0

  • The RRA 2.0 will focus on streamlining regulatory instructions and reducing the compliance burden of regulated entities by simplifying procedures and reducing reporting requirements, wherever possible.
  • It shall intend to make regulatory and supervisory instructions more effective by removing redundancies and duplication, if any.
  • It will look to reduce the compliance burden on regulated entities by streamlining the reporting mechanism, revoking obsolete instructions if necessary and obviating paper-based submission of returns wherever possible.
  • It will also be tasked with obtaining feedback from regulated entities on simplification of procedures and enhancement of ease of compliance.
  • It will examine and suggest the changes required in the dissemination process of RBI circulars and instructions.

Challenges faced due to compliance burden of banking sector

  • Mandatory fund raising via bonds:Recent data from the central bank and Securities and Exchange Board of India (Sebi) corroborates the fact that the country’s overall bank lending pie has reduced for creamy well-rated companies.
  • Corporate current account closures: This decision adversely affected customers who lost out on the superior services of smaller but more efficient private and foreign banks, while lenders lost good business. Even public sector banks (PSBs) were affected, as they would be required to surrender accounts of government entities if no RBI relaxation is forthcoming.
  • Priority Sector Lending: Being obliged to lend ₹40 of every ₹100 to lower yielding and ever riskier priority-sector assets, commercial banks have lost market share to nimbler fintech and non-bank financial firms.

Way forward

  • The RRA and regulators need to extend the bond market fund-sourcing benefit to all investment-grade companies and also consider progressive relaxation of the stipulated 25% reservation mandate to ensure a level playing field for all participants.
  • The RRA could suggest better digital information sharing and monitoring mechanisms among banks to enforce credit discipline, even if businesses are allowed to operate multiple current accounts.
  • The RRA could revisit the priority-sector lending norms to reduce directed sub-targets and overall targets for banks and/or lower the credit-risk weightages on specific short tenor, self-liquidating bank facilities.
  • For instance, reduced risk weights on MSME bill-financing through TReDS exchanges can lower capital consumption for banks and also enhance credit flows across the priority manufacturing ecosystem.
  • The RRA should tackle evolving technology and market challenges by drawing up regulatory templates that encompass:
    • a digital banking framework for universal and wholesale bank licences;
    • a blueprint for a central bank digital currency as fiat money;
    • a special dispensation, put in place jointly with the Centre after a feasibility study, that would allow profit-oriented crude-oil-price hedging by oil companies, which along with tax cuts could help cool fuel prices in India;
    • a policy of light regulation for the launch of prescribed banking services by neo-banks, fintech firms and other technology companies.

 

9. Due to our high dependence on fossil fuels, it is high time for India to relook into its energy policies and shift greater focus towards nuclear energy. Analyse the potential as well as challenges of mainstreaming nuclear energy as a source of power. (150 words, 10 marks)

Introduction

Nuclear Energy plays a critical role in achieving sustainable economic and social development. Modern civilization heavily depends on energy for daily activities. Energy is like a lifeline for the sustenance and progress of the entire world. Nuclear energy plays a vital role in the world economy by generating jobs, income and facilitating trade on a massive scale.

Expanded use of nuclear technologies offered immense potential to meet important development needs. In fact, to satisfy energy demands and to mitigate the threat of climate change — two of the 21st century’s greatest challenges — there are major opportunities for expansion of nuclear energy.

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Background:

  • Bill Gates’ TerraPower, a nuclear company, has just announced an agreement with private funders and the State of Wyoming, U.S.
  • The agreement involves establishment of its Natrium fast reactor demonstration project in the state of Wyoming.
  • The project is carried out on the belief that small, factory-built, modular reactors will be cheaper and safer.

Potential of nuclear energy as a source of power:

  • Thorium and Uranium reserves: India has vast reserves of Thorium that can fuel India’s nuclear energy provided appropriate technology. India’s thorium deposits, estimated at 360,000 tonnes, and natural uranium deposits at 70,000 tonnes. The country’s thorium reserves make up 25% of the global reserves.
  • Energy poverty: Although India is the 3rdlargest producer of electricity, about 20 % of the population of the country does not have access to electricity today. The per capita consumption of electricity is very low at about 1,181 kWh per annum, about half of the world average and way below that of advanced countries. There exist shortages in energy and peak power in the range 10-15%.
  • Energy demand:Nuclear energy is a critical part for India’s future energy security. As we know India’s annual energy demand is expected to rise to 800 GW by 2032, it is very important to consider every source of energy in the optimum energy mix.
  • Energy efficiency: Quantities of nuclear fuel needed are considerably less than thermal power plants. For instance, 10000 MW generation by coal will need 30-35 million tons of coal, but nuclear fuel needed will be only 300-350 tons.
  • Economic growth:Rapid economic growth is also critical to achieve developmental objectives and poverty alleviation. A sustained economic growth of about 8 to 10% is needed over the next few decades. As electricity is a key driver for economic growth, it is necessary that there is a massive augmentation in electricity capacity, apart from transmissions and distribution systems.
  • Decrease in Energy Supply:Energy supply has been negatively affected by changing weather patterns. As water reservoirs decreases due to lower precipitation and increased evaporation, capacity for electricity production from hydropower and other water-intensive generation technologies may decline.
  • Climate change:Due to its emission-free nature, nuclear energy can contribute to global efforts under the Paris Agreement. India’s Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) has outlined goals to reduce the carbon emissions intensity of its economy by 33-35% by 2030 as well as increase the clean energy electricity capacity to 40% of the total installed capacity in the same period.

Challenges of mainstreaming nuclear energy as a source of power:

  • In the case of Nuclear Reactors, there is a concern over their safety. The 2011 Fukushima Daiichi accident in Japan is a testimony to the havoc that can be created by a nuclear leak.
  • Pursuant to this, the nuclear industry came to a standstill except in Russia, China and India. However, a revival was seen with global warming becoming ever more apparent.
  • The commercial nuclear supply can lead to proliferation of Nuclear weapons. The fast breeder reactors have a risk of the turning of inert uranium to plutonium, and then using the plutonium as fuel. However, plutonium is a nuclear explosive which can be used for developing a bomb.
  • The recent reports that China is building two more fast reactors have immediately provoked international concerns about China’s possible weapons plutonium production.
  • The opponents of TerraPower believe that China will be encouraged in its efforts to develop fast breeder reactors and may even want to buy them from Mr. Gates.
  • Furthermore, in some major markets, nuclear power lacks a favourable policy and financing frameworkthat recognise its contributions to climate change mitigation and sustainable development.
  • Without such a framework, nuclear power may struggle to deliver on its full potential, even as the world remains as dependent on fossil fuels as it was three decades ago.
  • Nuclear power generation is not as clean as it is often considered. This is demonstrated in the case of Kudankulam. People have been protesting for decades as they worry that the hot water dispatched from the plant will affect the marine life of the surrounding water sources and subsequently their livelihood.
  • To build nuclear reactors, it requires huge amounts of land. This would displace local communities who may not want to leave. Further, it is not easy to rehabilitate them and provide them with appropriate compensation.

Conclusion

Nuclear power can help to improve energy security. For a rapidly developing economy such as India, it can make a vitally important contribution to growth. Besides, nuclear power can also reduce the impact of volatile fossil fuel prices and mitigate the effects of climate change. India needs to come up with a durable energy strategy to meet present and future energy demands of its population and industries.

 

10. Making of an effective flood risk management strategy and its implementation require active participation and role of the flood prone local community. Examine. (150 words, 10 marks)

Introduction

India has been traditionally vulnerable to the natural disasters on the account of its unique geo-climatic conditions. In recent years, extreme rainfall events leading to flooding are becoming common, particularly in the Western Ghats and Kerala. World Meteorological Organization, in its report ‘The Global Climate in 2015–2019,’ concluded, “While tropical cyclones are responsible for many of the world’s most destructive floods, there have been many other instances of major flooding since 2015.

Triggered by heavy rains in the south-west tip of the Indian peninsula, the recent Kerala inundation has revived memories of a deluge in 2018.

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Floods in India:

  • India is one of the most flood-affected nations in the world, after Bangladesh.
  • Floods constitute 52% of all natural disasters in India, and the costliest as well, with over 63% of all damages attributed to it.
  • The economic losses due to this destruction was 0.43% of GDP.
  • The damages translate to 2.68% of the Centre’s total expenditure every year.

Rationale behind Community Participation in flood management

  • The same plan, regardless of the regional characteristics, is implemented or imposed everywhere.
  • Local knowledge, experiences, skills, resources and techniques are not given due importance. Rather external resources and techniques are proposed to be utilized.
  • Negligence about local cultural instincts and heritage.
  • Prioritisation is decided by an outsider and not the stakeholders or the community itself.
  • Local community does not have any information about the disaster management plans for their area and the role of different sectors in helping the community during disasters.
  • Feelings of coordination and self-belonging to the society are developed.
  • Local geo-climatic and socio-cultural characteristics get attention of the people in development and disaster management.
  • Local initiatives begin and community provides assistance to the executing agencies involved in disaster management.
  • There is exchange of knowledge, information, skills and techniques between the community and the experts involved from outside.
  • Community comes forward to put forward its ideas for selection of appropriate programmes suitable to their locality and society.
  • Community can monitor the quality of works being done in its locality. It will also generate a sense of responsibility among the community.
  • It will lead to capacity building of the community on issues of disaster-safe developmental activities.

Way forward

  • Decentralization would not only increase responsiveness to local needs and preferences, but also bring wider  economic  and  social
  • The policies  of  decentralization focus   on building a governance framework emphasizing a more   participatory, democratic, and responsible mechanism.
  • Despite the numerous advantages of decentralization, public policies for decentralization still face constraints in reality.
  • We should reach for region-specific solutions that involve actions within the ambit of local administrative control

Conclusion

There is a need for coordination in the Community-Based Approach among all the stakeholders. This bottom-up, participatory approach can make community members more receptive of new knowledge and information presented to them.

Answer the following questions in 250 words:


General Studies – 1


 

11. World War-I fuelled the Russian Revolution and hastened the inevitable collapse of an outdated monarchy unsuitable to compete in the modern world. Comment. (250 words, 15 marks)

Introduction

In 1913, Tsar Nicholas II celebrated the tercentenary of Romanov rule in Russia. He and his dynasty ruled over a huge empire, stretching from central Europe to the Pacific Ocean and from the Arctic to the borders of Afghanistan.

Just five years after the celebrations, Nicholas and his family would be dead, executed by the Bolsheviks, while his empire would be defeated in the World War and wracked by revolutions, civil wars and foreign interventions.

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World War I fuelled the Russian revolution

During the war: 1914-1916

  • At Tannenberg and the First Battle of the Masurian Lakes, in 1914, Russia lost two entire armies (over 250,000 men).
  • This failed Russian advance into East Prussia did disrupt Germany’s Schlieffen Plan and thus probably prevented the fall of Paris, but it also signalled the beginning of an unrelenting Russian retreat on the northern sector of the Eastern Front.
  • By the middle of 1915 all of Russian Poland and Lithuania, and most of Latvia, were overrun by the German army.
  • Fortunately for the Russians, they did better in 1916. The supply of rifles and artillery shells to the Eastern Front was vastly improved, and in the Brusilov Offensive of June 1916, Russia achieved significant victories over the Austrians
  • However, the country’s political and economic problems were greatly exacerbated by the war. Many factors – including the militarisation of industry and crises in food supply – threatened disaster on the home front.
  • Added to this cocktail were rumours that the tsarina, Alexandra, and her favourite, the infamous Rasputin, were German spies.
  • The rumours were unfounded, but by November 1916 influential critics of the regime were asking whether Russia’s misfortunes – including 1,700,000 military dead and 5,000,000 wounded – were a consequence of ‘stupidity or treason’.

1917: From February to October

  • Food riots, demonstrations and a mutiny at the Petrograd Garrison in February 1917 forced Nicholas II to abdicate as war still continued.
  • A Provisional Government led by liberals and moderate socialists was proclaimed, and its leaders hoped now to pursue the war more effectively.
  • Real power in Russia after the February Revolution, however, lay with the socialist leaders of the Petrograd (later All-Russian) Soviet of Workers’ and Soldiers’ Deputies, who were elected by popular mandate (unlike the ministers of the Provisional Government).
  • Against this background, the war minister Kerensky of the Provisional Government hoped to strengthen Russia’s hand with a new Russian offensive on the Eastern Front in June.
  • Anarchist and Bolshevik agitators played their own part in destroying the Russian Army’s ability to fight.
  • Many anti-war radicals, along with the Bolshevik leader, Vladimir Lenin, were ferried home from exile in Switzerland in April 1917, courtesy of the German General Staff.
  • The summer offensive was a disaster. Peasant soldiers deserted enmasse to join the revolution, and fraternisation with the enemy became common.
  • Meanwhile, in an attempt to restore order and resist the German counter-offensive, most of the generals and forces of the political right threw their weight behind a plan for a military coup, under the Russian Army’s commander-in-chief, General Kornilov.
  • The coup failed and the generals and the conservatives who had backed Kornilov felt betrayed by Kerensky
  • The only winners were the Bolsheviks, with Lenin at their head, who were able to topple Kerensky and take power in the October Revolution of 1917- without significant resistance from either the government or the army.

Conclusion

Thus, we can see that the turn of events for a liberal rule from 1905 got entangled with the Russia’s entry into WW-1. The events in WW-1 inturn aggravated the Russian revolution.

 

12. Deltas are incredibly diverse and ecologically as well as economically important ecosystems. Analyse the threats posed by anthropogenic activities to deltas. (250 words, 15 marks)

Introduction

A river delta is a low-lying plain or landform that occurs at the mouth of a river near where it flows into an ocean or another larger body of water. It is a “depositional feature” of a river in its senile or old stage. These are wetlands that form as rivers empty their water and sediment into another body of water, such as an ocean, lake, or another river. Deltas’ greatest importance to human activities, fish and wildlife lay in their characteristic highly fertile soil and dense, diverse vegetation.

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Importance of deltas

  • River deltas are important in human civilization, as they are major agricultural production centers and population centers.
  • They can provide coastline defense and can impact drinking water supply.
  • The Mississippi River Delta, for example, buffers the impact of potentially strong hurricanes in the Gulf of Mexico.
  • River deltas boast some of the most biodiverse systems on the planet.
  • As such, it is essential that these unique and beautiful havens of biodiversity remain as healthy habitat for the many species of plants, animals, insects, and fish — some rare, threatened or endangered — which call them home.

Threats posed by anthropogenic activities to deltas

  • Human activities in both deltas and the river basins upstream of deltas can radically alter delta environments.
  • Upstream land use change such as anti-erosion agricultural practicesand hydrological engineering such as dam construction in the basins feeding deltas have reduced river sediment delivery to many deltas in recent decades.
  • This change means that there is less sediment available to maintain delta landforms, and compensate for erosion and sea level rise, causing some deltas to start losing land.
  • Declines in river sediment delivery are projected to continue in the coming decades.
  • The extensive anthropogenic activities in deltas also interfere with geomorphological and ecological delta processes.
  • People living on deltas often construct flood defences which prevent sedimentation from floods on deltas, and therefore means that sediment deposition can’t compensate for subsidence and erosion.
  • In addition to interference with delta aggradation, pumping of groundwater, oil, and gas, and constructing infrastructure all accelerate subsidence, increasing relative sea level rise.
  • Anthropogenic activities can also destabilise river channels through sand mining, and cause saltwater intrusion.
  • There are small-scale efforts to correct these issues, improve delta environments and increase environmental sustainability through sedimentation enhancing strategies.

Conclusion

Thus there is a delicate struggle between preserving natural ecosystems and using the planet’s resources that must be maintained on the deltas of the world.

 

13. For the Indian LGBTQIA+ community, a truly inclusive society remains a distant dream. Comment. (250 words, 15 marks)

Introduction

A recent advisory from the National Medical Commission (NMC) emphasising the need to avoid derogatory references to the LGBTQIA+ community in medical textbooks or teaching methods has underscored the value of institutional awareness on issues concerning queer and trans people. The advisory came after the Madras High Court voiced concern over “unscientific and derogatory information” in some textbooks.

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Background

  • The Delhi High Court’s verdict in Naz Foundation vs Government of NCT of Delhi (2009) was a landmark in the law of sexuality and equality jurisprudence in India.
  • The court held that Section 377 offended the guarantee of equality enshrined in Article 14 of the Constitution, because it creates an unreasonable classification and targets homosexuals as a class.
  • In a retrograde step, the Supreme Court, in Suresh Kumar Koushal vs Naz Foundation (2013), reinstated Section 377 to the IPC.
  • However, the Supreme Court in Navtej Singh Johar & Ors. vs Union of India (2018) declared that the application of Section 377 of IPC to consensual homosexual behaviour was “unconstitutional”.
  • This Supreme Court judgment has been a great victory to the Indian individual in his quest for identity and dignity.

Issues faced by LGBTQIA+ community in India

  • No legal recognition of marriage: Same-sex marriages are not legally recognized in India even though many countries like USA, UK have legalised it.
  • Issue of rights: The rights enjoyed by opposite-sex couples are not enjoyed by same-sex couples. They are prohibited from those rights.
    • For example, the lack of a legal structure around their relationship became increasingly stark when they tried to bring each other on as nominees in insurance and financial plans, just as a married couples did.
  • Lack of family support: Lack of communication between LGBT children and the parents often leads to conflict in the family.
    • Many LGBT youths are placed in foster care or end up in juvenile detention or on the streets.
    • Most often than not, LGBTQ children from poor families are abandoned. They end up begging as there is no avenue for education or employment.
    • In some parts, secret honour killings are planned so that the only way for a young gay man to survive is to run away in the cover of the night to some city, with no money or social support.
  • Sanctioned rape: In other parts, lesbian women are subjected to family-sanctioned corrective rapes, which are often perpetrated by their own family members.
    • Village medics and quacks often prescribe rape to cure lesbians of homosexuality. Refusal to marry brings more physical abuse
  • Education and health: The LGBTQ children are abandoned and marginalised, who end up being isolated by the rest of the society. They are denied the fundamental right of education as well as health.

Way Forward

  • The LGTBQ community needs an anti-discrimination law that empowers them to build productive lives and relationships irrespective of gender identity or sexual orientation and place the onus to change on state and society and not the individual.
  • Police must not harass sexual minorities. There must be changes to the police conduct rules to provide for punishing erring police personnel in this regard.
  • Government bodies, especially related to Health, and Law and Order need to be sensitised and made aware about the changed position of law to ensure that the LGBTQ community is not denied public services or harassed for their sexual orientation.
  • Enumerating sexual orientation and gender identity in non-discrimination and anti-bullying policies is an important step toward acknowledging diversity, protecting vulnerable students.
  • Training school staff empowers them to respond when they encounter abuse. Younger generations of Indians will grow up knowing of criminalisation as a thing of the past, and that will be a boon to their basic rights.
  • In 2014, the Supreme Court issued a sweeping judgment in NALSA v. India, which held that transgender people should be legally recognised according to their gender identity, enjoy all fundamental rights, and receive special benefits in education and employment. This must be implemented and enforced.

Conclusion

The queer and gender non-conforming people have found an ally in the court, but they would need greater effort on the part of the authorities at various levels, if their rights are to be protected. In any case, any change in law in terms of recognising same-sex relations or understanding self-identification of gender must be complemented by an attitudinal change in society at large.

Government must sensitise the general public and officials, to reduce and finally eliminate the stigma associated with LGBTQ+ community through the mass media and the official channels. School and university students too should be sensitised about the diversity of sexuality to deconstruct the myth of heteronormativity. Heteronormativity is the root cause of hetero-sexism and homophobia.


General Studies – 2


 

14. Tracing the development of “One-China Policy”, analyse as to how the civic nationalism of Taiwan is in conflict with the Chinese Communist Party’s nationalist legitimacy. What role did U.S play in this issue? (250 words, 15 marks)

Introduction

The One-China policy refers to the policy or view that there is only one state called “China”, despite the existence of two governments that claim to be “China”. As a policy, this means that countries seeking diplomatic relations with the People’s Republic of China (PRC, Mainland China) must break official relations with the Republic of China (ROC, Taiwan) and vice versa. The One China policy is different from the “One China principle”, which is the principle that insists both Taiwan and mainland China are inalienable parts of a single “China”.

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The development of “One-China Policy”

  • Taiwan is the unfinished business of China’s liberation under the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) in 1949.
  • The Guomindang (KMT) forces under Chiang Kai-shek lost the 1945-49 civil war to the CCP forces under Mao Zedong.
  • Chiang retreated to the island of Taiwan and set up a regime that claimed authority over the whole of China and pledged to recover the mainland eventually.

Conflict of the civic nationalism of Taiwan with the Chinese Communist Party’s nationalist legitimacy

  • The Guomindang (KMT) forces under Chiang Kai-shek lost the 1945-49 civil war to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) in 1949. forces under Mao Zedong.
  • Chiang retreated to the island of Taiwan and set up a regime that claimed authority over the whole of China and pledged to recover the mainland eventually.
  • The CCP in turn pledged to reclaim what it regarded as a “renegade” province and achieve the final reunification of China.
  • Taiwan could not be occupied militarily by the newly established People’s Republic of China (PRC) as it became a military ally of the United States during the Korean War of 1950-53.
  • This phase came to an end with the U.S. recognising the PRC as the legitimate government of China in 1979, ending its official relationship with Taiwan and abrogating its mutual defence treaty with the island.
  • Taiwan business entities have invested heavily in mainland China and the two economies have become increasingly integrated.
  • Between 1991 and 2020, the stock of Taiwanese capital invested in China reached U.S. $188.5 billion and bilateral trade in 2019 was U.S. $150 billion, about 15% of Taiwan’s GDP.
  • By the same token, China is capable of inflicting acute economic pain on Taiwan through coercive policies if the island is seen to drift towards an independent status.

Role of USA

  • The U.S. does not support a declaration of independence by Taiwan.
  • It has gradually reversed the policy of avoiding official-level engagements with the Taiwan government.
  • Successive governments have had on and off relations with Taiwan.
  • S. defence personnel have been, unannounced, training with their Taiwanese counterparts for some time.
  • Recently, a U.S. nuclear-powered submarine reportedly ran into an “unidentified object” while in the South China Sea.

Way forward:

  • It is understandable that Taiwan is not the priority of India’s foreign policy as the present government is interested in big power diplomacy. But India should not neglect Taiwan at the cost of its national interests.
  • Even as India launches its “Act East” policy and ambitious initiatives such as “Make in India”, it is time to highlight the importance of Taiwan for an emerging India and bring the India-Taiwan relationship into focus.
  • As India becomes more and more important in Taiwan’s policy, it is time for Indian policy makers to review India’s Taiwan policy and fashion a new approach.
  • Greater cooperation between India and Taiwan could prove critical in helping New Delhi and Taipei achieve their economic goals at home and their strategic aims in the region.
  • It is time to acknowledge the importance of India-Taiwan relations. India should consider its own interests not the third party’s ones, when it thinks of developing relations with Taiwan or other countries.

 

15. India and Israel’s ties have become significantly much stronger in the recent years. Though the defence trade deals forms the bedrock of their partnership, both states can have mutual benefits by formalising a Free Trade Agreement (FTA). Analyse. (250 words, 15 marks)

Introduction

Israel and India are exploring to open new vistas of partnership in the world of finance, including collaboration between market regulators and allowing Israeli investment in corporate bonds, taking advantage of a favourable climate in both countries.

Most recently, India is making emergency military purchases from several countries including Israel to bolster the military’s capabilities amid border tensions with China in eastern Ladakh.

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Bedrock of India – Israel Partnership

  • Defence relations between India and Israel are longstanding.
  • The strategic communication between the two countries began during the Sino-India War of 1962 when PM Jawaharlal Nehru wrote his Israeli counterpart David Ben-Gurion for shipments of arms and ammunition.
  • This has been a rising graph since then.
  • India is the largest arms buyer from Israel; trade is to the tune of approximately $600 million.
  • In 2019, India signed the biggest weapons deal in Israeli defence history, which is nearly $2 billion.
  • This will provide India with an advanced defence system of medium-range surface-to-air missiles, launchers and communications technology.
  • However, the depth and cooperation in the India-Israel bilateral ties doesn’t end here. The ambit of India-Israel defence cooperation has widened to include other domains like economy, agriculture, etc.; however, the cornerstone remains Israeli arms sales to India

FTA between India & Israel will be a big step forward

  • India and Israel recently agreed to resume negotiations on a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) from next month as the two sides are confident to conclude the long-pending deal by June 2022.
  • The Indo-Israeli trade rose from $200 million in 1992 to approx. $5.8 billion in 2018.
  • It is expected that once the FTA is in place, the annual trade volume between the two nations would be raised threefold i.e., up to $15 billion.
  • This FTA will also open the gates to those products which are not yet exported due to low competitiveness.
  • Efficient use of technology in water management and agriculture is one of the aspects that Israel has been very keen on introducing to the Indian market.
  • Other areas that could witness immense growth include energy (particularly from renewable sources), healthcare and medical devices, pharmaceuticals, IT, and aviation.
  • There is a huge list of products that Israel does substantially import, but not from India.
  • These include products like milk powder, animal feed preparations, methanol, etc. Such products should be identified to have a greater excess to the markets.
  • Other sectors where Indo-Israeli cooperation is possible is software, plastics, packaging, and textiles.
  • The Israeli companies are also contemplating investing in India for diagnostic centers, power generation, telecom and high value agricultural projects.
  • All this would act as a catalyst for promoting further investments to mutual advantage.

Conclusion

For too long, India has, under the guise of maintaining its strategic autonomy, shied away from explicit friendships in the international scenario. The India-Israel relationship must continue to expand. What just needs to be done away with is the normative posturing of the relationship which could potentially endanger India’s international relations and also its domestic situation.

 

16. Analyse the need for a Non-Personal Data Governance Framework in order to harness useful data for public good. (250 words, 15 marks)

Introduction

Non-personal data (NPD) refers to any set of data which does not contain personally identifiable information. This means that no individual or living person can be identified by looking at such data. For example, while order details collected by a food delivery service will have the name, age, gender, and other contact information of an individual, it will become non-personal data if the identifiers such as name and contact information are taken out. NPD includes anonymised data like climate trends collected by a weather app, or commuter patterns gathered by a cab aggregator.

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Need for a Non-Personal Data Governance Framework:

  • Unlike personal data, which contains explicit information about a person’s name, age, gender, sexual orientation, biometrics and other genetic details, non-personal data is more likely to be in an anonymised form.
  • Even when personal data has been anonymised, the possibility of harm to the original data principal exists as no anonymisation technique is perfect.
  • Therefore, it is necessary to address privacy concerns arising from possible re-identification of anonymised personal data, to ensure no harm is caused due to such processing.
  • For instance, non-personal data which is derived from sensitive personal data (such as health, caste or tribe) which bears a risk of re-identification or data which bears risk of collective harm to a group.
  • However, in certain categories such as data related to national security or strategic interests such as locations of government laboratories or research facilities, even if provided in anonymised form can be dangerous.
  • Though any data that cannot identify individuals is understood as NPD, this could cover a vast array of information, including companies’ intellectual property (IP) or confidential information.
  • Non-personal data has economic value, which should be leveraged for the financial benefit of Indian companies.
  • Aggregated data is a collective resource, which should be unlocked for better governance. Traffic patterns gathered by cab aggregators, for instance, can help in better traffic management.
  • Besides the economic argument, there have been suggestions that data must be shared for good governance and planning.
  • NITI Aayog’s AI strategy also suggested that corporates may be required to share data for social good.

Way forward

  • The Gopalakrishnan committee for NPD was formed by India’s ministry of electronics and information technology (MeitY) in September 2020. The ministry’s circular highlighted both the economic and social aspects of the arguments.
  • India needs an overarching policy framework for data governance rather than being blindsided by discrete uni-dimensional instrumentalities based on simple binaries that may lead to cracks and overlaps.
  • Regulation must be clear, and concise to provide certainty to its market participants, and must demarcate roles and responsibilities of participants in the regulatory framework.
  • In May 2019, the European Union came out with a regulation framework for the free flow of non-personal data in the European Union, in which it suggested that member states of the union would cooperate with each other when it came to data sharing.
  • Such data, the EU had then ruled would be shared by member states without any hindrances, and that they must inform the “commission any draft act which introduces a new data localisation requirement or makes changes to an existing data localisation requirement”.
  • The governance of NPD presents complex, new considerations that are distinct from the concerns relevant to personal data regulation. Given this complexity, the Government should consider holding a wide public consultation that will help bring different perspectives to the table.


General Studies – 3


 

17. The Climate finance has remained skewed towards mitigation, without ensuring a balance between adaptation and mitigation. Discuss the various mechanisms to achieve Climate finance. (250 words, 15 marks)

Introduction

Climate finance refers to local, national or transnational financing – drawn from public, private and alternative sources of financing -that seeks to support mitigation and adaptation actions that will address climate change. Climate finance is needed for mitigation, because large-scale investments are required to significantly reduce emissions. Climate finance is equally important for adaptation, as significant financial resources are needed to adapt to the adverse effects and reduce the impacts of a changing climate.

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Climate finance has remained skewed towards mitigation

  • Climate finance has also remained skewed towards mitigation, despite the repeated calls for maintaining a balance between adaptation and mitigation.
  • The 2016 Adaptation Gap Report of the UN Environment Programme had noted that the annual costs of adaptation in developing countries could range from $140 to $300 billion annually by 2030 and rise to $500 billion by 2050.
  • According to OECD, currently available adaptation finance is significantly lower than the needs expressed in the Nationally Determined Contributions submitted by developing countries.

Various mechanisms to achieve Climate finance

  • Multilateral funds: The largest multilateral climate funds are the Climate Investment Funds (CIFs), Green Climate Fund (GCF), Adaptation Fund (AF), and Global Environment Facility (GEF).
  • Funds provided by developed country governments from national budgets. Includes Assessed and Voluntary contributions.
  • Sources that contribute to national budgets, dependent on national decisions. E.g.: Domestic carbon taxes, Phase out of fossil fuel subsidies
  • Sources that contribute to national budgets, dependent on international agreements. E.g.: Financial transactions tax, Border carbon cost levelling Carbon exports optimization tax
  • Funds collected internationally pursuant to an international agreement. E.g.: Carbon pricing for international aviation
  • Leveraged private sector funds
  • Non-concessional loans

Conclusion

There still doesn’t exist an operational definition of what counts as “climate finance” or “new and additional”. Clarifying these definitional and accounting issues in a consultative way, with an eye on post-2025 actions, would go a long way towards increasing trust and scaling up collective action.

Delivering on climate finance is fundamental to trust in the multilateral process. Regrettably, while developing countries will continue to pressure developed countries to live up to their promises, the history of climate negotiations is not in their favour.

 

18. Good governance needs holistic planning and seamless coordination of various infrastructural entities for effective outcomes. Analyse how the recently launched Gati Shakthi scheme imbibes this approach to good governance in infrastructure. (250 words, 15 marks)

Introduction

On India’s 75th Independence Day, Prime Minister of India that the Centre will launch ‘PM Gati Shakti Master Plan’, a Rs. 100 lakh-crore project for developing ‘holistic infrastructure’. It will make a foundation for holistic infrastructure and give an integrated pathway to our economy.

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Key features of Gati Shakthi scheme

  • The Gati Shakti National Master Plan is expected to deploy a geo-spatial digital platform that will provide real-time information on infrastructure projects across 16 ministries.
  • The Gati Shakti scheme will subsume the Rs 110 lakh crore National Infrastructure Pipelinethat was launched in 2019.
  • The use of digital technologies to map infrastructure facilities has been lacking in India, and with the availability now of relevant data and satellite information, the launch of such a portal catapults the country towards a modern infrastructure process system.
  • The plan envisions a targeted approach to the completion of industrial parks, with an end date of 2024-25.
  • As many as 109 pharma and medical device clusters, 90 textile parks (or clusters), 197 food parks and agro-processing centres, 11 industrial corridors and two defence corridors are envisaged for integration through transport facilities.

How Gati Shakthi scheme helps in good governance in infrastructure

  • It is a significant step forward for the country’s logistics, where inefficiencies result in an estimated cost burden of 13-14% of gross domestic product (GDP), compared to 6-8% in more competitive economies.
  • Greater visibility in core areas such as railways, shipping and roads and highways should serve to feed the development of facilities in an integrated manner.
  • With a single portal including multi-layer levels of data, decision-making and various implementation processes can be streamlined and made both efficient and timely.
  • The initiative builds upon the government’s previous actions and policies to promote infrastructure.
  • Public-private partnerships have been redesigned and include new models such as toll-operate-transfer and a hybrid annuity model.
  • Access to finance has opened up through innovative mechanisms such as infrastructure and real estate investment trusts and development finance institutions.
  • Gati Shakti is expected to facilitate the planning, implementation, monitoring and administration of transport infrastructure projects so that they do not suffer delays.
  • Time savings will lead to monetary savings, which can be ploughed back into the social sector, among others in need.
  • For industry, the availability of detailed data on the facilities at a particular location would save a lot of time and effort in taking investment decisions.
  • A plug-and-play model for industrial parks, as promised through the scheme, has long been a request of Indian industry so that approvals and clearances are pre-obtained for an enterprise to start functioning expeditiously.

Conclusion

Thus, Gati Shakti ensures Indian infrastructure’s embrace of digital technology, which will improve overall project execution and efficiency. Gains in productivity for India’s economy promise to be significant, as also the lowering of logistical costs for industry. This is yet another transformative move of the kind we have come to expect from this government.

 

19. The convergence of technology and terrorism represents the worst kind of feedback loop between the real and the virtual. States, meanwhile, are struggling to respond to this convergence and to balance the imperatives of national security and the freedoms afforded in cyberspace. Critically Analyse. (250 words, 15 marks)

Introduction

Technology has as much potential to exacerbate as it does to mitigate the risks of terrorism. What takes place in the digital space is merely symptomatic of structural and governance challenges in the physical space. Extremists have repeatedly proven to be early adopters and adapters of technology since the 1990s when the internet flickered to life in the public domain. But as governments seek to counter terrorism online and by other technological means, it is worth remembering that tech is simply a tool: one that is open to use, misuse, and abuse by all who wield it on both sides of the law.

Body

How internet/technology has been a potent pillar of support for terrorists

  • Innovations in computing and telecommunications—like widespread internet access, end-to-end encryption, and virtual private network (VPN) usage—have made new types of operations possible for a higher number of radicalized individuals.
  • For instance, The Islamic State best capitalized on the new technologically driven landscape by remotely inspiring and directing attacks.
  • On the radicalization side, online platforms offer more opportunities to become radicalized and accelerate the speed with which radicalized individuals mobilize.
  • Once radicalized, terrorists have used the internet for communication and operational planning.
  • The end-to-end encrypted messengers—like WhatsApp and Telegram—afford their users privacy by scrambling data sent from the sending device, through the cell tower and server, to the receiving device.
  • In terrorist applications, these encrypted messaging services allow for unprecedented operational security, limiting law enforcement’s ability to view or disrupt these communiques.
  • The diffusion of modern technologies – be they 3-D printing, cyber capabilities, drone technologies or robotics – means that, more than any other time in the past, ordinary individuals and small groups have access to weapons of mass violence previously monopolized by the state.
  • This open technological revolution is arming the terrorists of tomorrow.

Measures needed

  • States should opt for state-of-the-art technology, better technology and skillful deployment of technology against malign actors
  • There is a need for stronger key disclosure laws which compel suspects to surrender their passwords.
  • The need of the hour is placing a renewed emphasis on defensive counterterrorism measures. While continuing to work to prevent attacks, law enforcement should also explore new ways to mitigate attacks’ effectiveness.
  • While the government’s ability to disrupt accessible terror is limited, it can consider the availability of these technologies as a factor in determining high-risk locations.
  • This increased awareness can be used to better target preventative efforts and assist officials in finetuning their threat assessments.
  • Large social media and technology companies, like Facebook and Microsoft, must increasingly take up their role and responsibility in the countering of terrorism.

Conclusion

Innovative technology speaks to our imagination. And imagination is good to keep us from preparing only for threats that are already known. But in thinking about which threats we should prepare for; it is adamant that we assess the feasibility and proportionality of scenarios next to their possibility. If we can strike the right balance here, we are most effective in making this digital age a safe one for all.

 

20. Although the Indian pharmaceutical industry has emerged as the third global producer in the generic medicine manufacturing, many regulations are still archaic. Elaborate on the reforms needed in the pharmaceutical industry to meet the present-day needs. (250 words, 15 marks)

Introduction

The Indian pharmaceutical industry is one of the major contributors to the Indian economy and it is the world’s third-largest industry by volume. The Indian pharmaceutical industry’s success can be credited to its world-class capabilities in formulation development, entrepreneurial abilities of its people, and the vision of its business leaders to establish India’s footprint in the United States and other large international markets.

Body

According to the Economic Survey of 2020-21, the Indian pharmaceuticals sector is expected to expand multifold and become a $ 130 billion industry by 2030, while medicine spending is projected to grow rapidly too, leading India to become one of the top 10 countries in terms of such expenditure.

Regulations governing the Pharma industry:

  • The Drugs and Cosmetics Act (DCA) of 1940, read together with the Drugs and Cosmetics Rules of 1945, are the primary legislations governing the import, manufacture, distribution and sale of drugs and cosmetics in India.
  • In addition, there are other industry-specific rules and regulations around medical devices, prices of essential notified drugs, narcotic and psychotropic drugs and substances, development of new drugs and undertaking clinical trials.
  • However, with the advancement of research and development, innovation and technology, as well as challenges such as the covid pandemic, the pre-independence era DCA and regulatory framework governing the sector in general need to keep pace, so as to provide a conducive and business-friendly environment for further growth and foreign investment in the sector.

Reforms needed:

  • The New Drugs, Cosmetics and Medical Devices Act 
    • This development is a good move forward, the task at hand is of great significance for India as well as the rest of the world, given the country’s importance in the global pharmaceutical industry, and the new committee has its work cut out in a relatively short time frame.
    • The aspects which needs to be looked into are as follows
  • Digital health:
    • New-age technologies and internet-based business models such as e-pharmacies are major drivers of growth.
    • However, specific regulations for such business models are necessary to provide a clear and predictable regulatory framework that would aid further investment in this segment.
  • Medical devices:
    • While the Medical Devices Rules of 2017 govern medical devices, there is still dependence on the DCA and the Central Drugs Standard Control Organization (CDSCO) regulates both drugs and medical devices.
    • There have been efforts in the past to enact a separate legislation governing medical devices and the newly set-up committee could consider adopting a similar approach in the proposed legislation.
  • Licensing issues:
    • One of the conditions under various licences issued under the DCA is a requirement for fresh licences if there is a change in the constitution of the firm operating under earlier issuances.
    • However, what constitutes a change in constitution is not explained, often leading to contradictory interpretations by regulators in different states.
    • Such ambiguity impacts merger and acquisition modalities and timelines in this sector, and so clarity on this aspect may be provided in the proposed bill.
  • Sandbox regime:
    • Regulators across the globe are considering novel ways in which the startup ecosystem can be encouraged, and regulators in this sector could also adopt the approach of providing a ‘sandbox’ for innovation that’s backed by a suitable regulatory regime around it.
  • Foreign direct investment:
    • FDI inflows continue to be of utmost importance for the growth of the sector and India’s economy at large.
    • Our regulatory regime for FDI in this sector limits overseas investment in brownfield pharmaceutical ventures to 74% of equity under the automatic route and also features sector-specific conditions such as no ‘non-compete’ restrictions that are likely to have a knock-on impact on FDI inflows.
    • While FDI-norm reforms may not squarely fall within the purview of the proposed bill, it is another area that the committee may consider with a view to pushing for further relaxations in this area to boost investment.

Conclusion:

The affordability of healthcare is an issue of concern even in India, and people here would welcome some clarity on the principles of fair pricing vis-à-vis medical products. It is important that the accused companies are given a good hearing. The Government of India has taken up a number of initiatives to create an ecosystem that fosters manufacturing in pharma industries.

Value addition:

India’s potential to be the “pharmacy of the world”

  • Potential of Pharma sector: The Indian pharmaceutical industry, valued at $41 billion, is expected to grow to $65 billion by 2024 and $120-130 billion by 2030, noted the new Economic survey.
  • Rise in exports: During April-October 2020, India’s pharmaceutical exports of $ 11.1 billion witnessed a growth of 18 percent against $ 9.4 billion in the year-ago period.
  • Positive growth: Drug formulations, biologicals have consistently registered positive growth and the highest increase in absolute terms in recent months.
    • This led to a rise in its share to 7.1 percent in April-November 2020 from 5 percent in April-November 2019, making it the second-largest exported commodity among the top 10 export commodities.
    • This shows that India has the potential to be the ‘pharmacy of the world’”, the survey said.
  • In 1969, Indian pharmaceuticals had a 5 per cent share of the market in India, and global pharma had a 95 per cent share. By 2020, it was the reverse, with Indian pharma having an almost 85 per cent share and global, 15 per cent.
  • Significant advantage: The availability of a significant raw material base and skilled workforce have enabled India to emerge as an international manufacturing hub for generic medicines.
  • Further, India is the only country with the largest number of USFDA compliant pharma plants (more than 262 including APIs) outside of the US.
  • Capacity: The COVID-19 pandemic has shown that India can not only innovate but also rapidly distribute time-critical drugs to every part of the globe that needs it.
  • Global leader: Presently, over 80% of the antiretroviral drugs used globally to combat AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome) are supplied by Indian pharmaceutical firms.

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