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[Mission 2022] SECURE SYNOPSIS: 22 October 2021

 

 

NOTE: Please remember that following ‘answers’ are NOT ‘model answers’. They are NOT synopsis too if we go by definition of the term. What we are providing is content that both meets demand of the question and at the same time gives you extra points in the form of background information.


General Studies – 1


 

Topic: Important Geophysical phenomena such as earthquakes, Tsunami, Volcanic activity, cyclone etc.

1. Discuss the factors that cause earthquakes. Why are Earthquakes more common in certain parts of the world than others? (250 words)

Difficulty level: Moderate

Reference: Insights on India

Why the question:

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

Key Demand of the question:

To write about causes of earthquakes and to account for its distribution.

Directive word: 

Discuss – This is an all-encompassing directive – you must debate on paper by going through the details of the issues concerned by examining each one of them. You must give reasons for both for and against arguments.

Structure of the answer:

Introduction: 

Begin by defining an Earthquake.

Body:

In first part, write about the various natural as well as anthropogenic causes that cause earthquakes.

Next, give a brief about how some regions are more prone to earthquakes than the others. Account for reasons for the same.

Conclusion:

Conclude by writing about the importance of preparedness to deal with earthquakes.

Introduction

Earthquakes are the result of sudden movement along faults within the Earth. The movement releases stored-up ‘elastic strain’ energy in the form of seismic waves, which propagate through the Earth and cause the ground surface to shake. Such movement on the faults is generally a response to long-term deformation and the build-up of stress.

Body

Factors that cause earthquakes

  • The Earth’s crust consists of seven large lithospheric plates and numerous smaller plates. These plates move towards each other (a convergent boundary), apart (a divergent boundary) or past each other (a transform boundary).
  • Earthquakes are caused by a sudden release of stress along faults in the earth’s crust.
  • The continuous motion of tectonic plates causes a steady build-up of pressure in the rock strata on both sides of a fault until the stress is sufficiently great that it is released in a sudden, jerky movement. Earthquakes caused by plate tectonics are called tectonic quakes.
  • Induced quakes are caused by human activity, like tunnel construction, filling reservoirs and implementing geothermal or fracking projects. The earthquakes that occur in the areas of large reservoirs are referred to as reservoir induced earthquakes.
  • Volcanic quakes are associated with active volcanism. They are generally not as powerful as tectonic quakes and often occur relatively near the surface. Consequently, they are usually only felt in the vicinity of the hypocenter.
  • Collapse quakes can be triggered by such phenomena as cave-ins, mostly in karst areas or close to mining facilities, as a result of subsidence.
  • Ground shaking may also occur due to the explosion of chemical or nuclear devices. Such tremors are called explosion earthquakes.

Why Earthquakes more common in certain parts of the world than others

  • Over 90% of earthquakes – including almost all of the largest and most destructive ones – happen at or near so-called plate boundaries, where the 15 or so major subdivisions (“plates”) of the Earth’s crust and uppermost mantle move towards, alongside, or away from each other.
  • Most of the plates’ movement is focused at these boundaries, so large earthquakes far away from these boundaries are much less common.
  • Earthquakes can strike any location at any time, but history shows they occur in the same general patterns year after year, principally in three large zones of the earth:
    • Circum-Pacific seismic belt: The world’s greatest earthquake belt is found along the rim of the Pacific Ocean, where about 81 per cent of our planet’s largest earthquakes occur. It is also known as “Ring of Fire”.
    • Alpine earthquake belt: It extends from Java to Sumatra through the Himalayas, the Mediterranean, and out into the Atlantic. This belt accounts for about 17 percent of the world’s largest earthquakes.
    • Submerged mid-Atlantic Ridge: The ridge marks where two tectonic plates are spreading apart (a divergent plate boundary).

Conclusion

Unlike other disasters, the damages caused by earthquakes are more devastating. Since it also destroys most of the transport and communication links, providing timely relief to the victims becomes difficult. It is not possible to prevent the occurrence of an earthquake; hence, the next best option is to emphasis on disaster preparedness and mitigation rather than curative measures.

 

Topic: Important Geophysical phenomena such as earthquakes, Tsunami, Volcanic activity, cyclone etc.

2. What is a Tsunami? Explain the difference between a tsunami wave and a tidal wave. (250 words)

Difficulty level: Moderate

Reference: Insights on India

Why the question:

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

Key Demand of the question:

To explain the process of Tsunami and how it is caused. In the later part, to differentiate between a Tsunami Wave and tidal wave.

Directive word: 

Explain – Clarify the topic by giving a detailed account as to how and why it occurred, or what is the context. You must be defining key terms wherever appropriate and substantiate with relevant associated facts.

Structure of the answer:

Introduction: 

Define Tsunami and briefly mention a few examples of Tsunamis witnessed.

Body:

Draw a simple illustrative diagram and explain the phenomenon of the Tsunami. In the explanation, talk about how the wave is formed, propagates (including Shoaling effect) and the destruction caused by it at the end.

In the second part, differentiate between Tsunami Wave and Tidal wave on Wave Speed, Wave period, wavelength, Origin etc.

Conclusion:

Conclude by throwing light on Indian preparedness in the early warning mechanism of Tsunamis.

Introduction

Tsunami means a “harbour wave” in literal translation and comes from the Japanese characters for harbour (tsu) and wave (nami). A tsunami also called seismic sea waves, is one of the most powerful and destructive natural forces. It is a series of extremely long waves caused by a large and sudden displacement of the ocean due to earthquake, volcanic eruptions etc. When they reach the coast, they can cause dangerous coastal flooding and powerful currents that can last for several hours or days.

Body

Characteristics:

  • Tsunamis are giant waves caused by earthquakes or volcanic eruptions under the sea. Out in the depths of the ocean, tsunami waves do not dramatically increase in height.
  • But as the waves travel inland, they build up to higher and higher heights as the depth of the ocean decreases.
  • The speed of tsunami waves depends on ocean depth rather than the distance from the source of the wave.
  • Tsunami waves may travel as fast as jet planes over deep waters, only slowing down when reaching shallow waters.
  • While tsunamis are often referred to as tidal waves, this name is discouraged by oceanographers because tides have little to do with these giant waves.

 

Difference between a tsunami and tidal wave:

 Tidal wavesTsunami waves
 AboutTidal waves are waves created by the gravitational forces of the sun or moon, and cause changes in the level of water bodies.Tsunami is a series of water waves caused by the displacement of large bodies of water. They generally have low amplitude but a high (a few hundred km long) wavelength. Tsunamis generally go unnoticed at sea but prominent in shallow waters or land.
CauseTidal waves are caused due to the gravitational force exerted by the sun and the moon.Tsunamis are generated by earthquakes, erupting submarine volcanoes or due to any gas bubble erupting in the sea or ocean.
IntensityThe intensity of a changing tide is noticeable only in certain parts where it’s high enough (As high as 55 feet in the Bay of Fundy, Canada).Tsunamis can have wavelengths of up to 200 kilometres and can travel over 800 kilometres per hour. When tsunamis approach shallow water near land masses, the speed decreases, and the amplitude increases very rapidly.
LocationTidal waves are phenomena seen most at coastal areas.A majority of tsunamis (80%) occur in the Pacific Ocean but can occur in any large body of water if the underlying causes are present.
FrequencyTidal waves occur daily at a coastal area.Tsunamis occur only when there is seismic disturbance in large water bodies.

Conclusion

India is much safer against tsunami threat than it was in 2004, thanks to the state-of-the-art tsunami early warning system established at Indian National Centre for Ocean Information System (INCOIS).

From absolutely no warning capability or for that matter any public knowledge of tsunamis in the Indian Ocean, we have reached a stage where we can detect large under sea earthquakes in real-time and provide a tsunami warning in 10 – 20 minutes after the earthquake occurrence. However, the best of warning systems could fail, if communities are not prepared, if they do not understand the official and natural warning signs of a tsunami, and if they do not take appropriate and timely response.

Value addition

Causes:

Tsunamis are ocean waves triggered by:

  • Large earthquakes that occur near or under the ocean
  • Volcanic eruptions
  • Submarine landslides
  • Onshore landslides in which large volumes of debris fall into the water 

 

 


General Studies – 2


 

Topic: Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.

3. While India reaches the great landmark of 100 crore vaccine doses, we still have a long way to go in order to cover our entire population. Analyse. (250 words)

Difficulty level: Easy

Reference: Indian ExpressThe Hindu

Why the question:

India reached 100 crore Covid-19 doses, which is the fastest rate of vaccination, not just in India, but possibly anywhere in the world.

Key Demand of the question:

Directive word: 

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

Structure of the answer:

Introduction: 

Begin by stating that India achieved a landmark 59.29 lakh daily doses on an average which is a commendable step in the public health space.

Body:

Mention the need to cover second doses of much of our population and also to cover other age bracket population such as under 18 and kids. Also, mention the need to maintain the momentum of present vaccination drives. Further highlight the role of states in giving impetus to vaccination drives and also mention about the potential of increased export of vaccines by domestic companies once the local vaccinations are fully covered.

Conclusion:

Conclude by stating that given the research statistics of a higher prevention mortality rate of fully vaccinated population, India must continue the positive trajectory of its vaccination targets.

Introduction

India has completed vaccination of 100 crore doses on October 21, 2021, in just about nine months since starting vaccination. This has been a tremendous journey in dealing with COVID-19, especially when we recall how things stood in early 2020.

This is the fastest rate of vaccination, not just in India, but possibly anywhere in the world. China has administered almost twice the number of doses to its citizens but it had also started out much earlier than anyone else.

Body

Need to achieve higher targets and milestones

  • If the task is to vaccinate the entire adult population of about 94 crore, India has just about crossed the halfway mark in terms of total doses.
  • Eventually, the entire population would need to be vaccinated. Vaccines for people under the age of 18 years are just being approved.
  • If the entire population of about 135 crore is taken into account, then an even smaller fraction of the job has been completed.
  • India also has to remain open to the possibility of providing booster doses from sometime next year. Eg: Most frontline workers received their vaccine in January and February. They will at the worst risk due to waning of immunity.
  • As of now, India looks all set to vaccinate about 70-80% of its adult population by the end of this year. The discussion on booster doses in India, the frequency, timing etc  is still to begin, but it is likely that the cycle of vaccinating everyone would repeat next year.
  • Government must ensure that people in public spaces continue to wear masks and maintain physical distancing.

Measures to be taken by the government

  • India’s vaccine drive is an example of what India can achieve if the citizens and the Government come together with a common goal in the spirit of Jan Bhagidari. This cooperation and coordination must continue to exist and state governments can ensure that people get vaccinated at the earliest.
  • Equitable distribution of vaccinations must continue and all adult population group should get their second dose through tracking.
  • Government must approve trials of vaccination in children like in the USA and start with 12+ age population to get vaccine coverage. This will resume the disrupted education in India, in a safe manner.
  • All Ministries of the Government came together to facilitate the vaccine makers and remove any bottlenecks as a result of our ‘whole of Government’ approach.
  • In a country of the scale of India, it is not enough to just produce. Focus has to be on last mile delivery and seamless logistics.

Conclusion

Vaccinations have enabled a situation where people can return to their normal lives, and usual economic activity can resume. But lack of Covid-appropriate behaviour can very quickly nullify these gains. Several countries, with high vaccination coverage, have already experienced the slide back into a situation of lockdowns and travel restrictions, with China being the latest example. India’s success in its vaccination drive has also demonstrated to the whole world that ‘democracy can deliver’

 

 


General Studies – 3


 

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

4. Elaborate on the significance of crypto assets in the present global financial dynamics and the need for its regulation in the Indian markets. (250 words)

Difficulty level: Moderate

Reference: Live Mint

Why the question:

India is emerging as a cryptocurrency hub in the recent times.

Key Demand of the question:

To bring out the key potential of crypto assets and blockchain technology and the need for a smart regulation of the same.

Directive word: 

ElaborateGive a detailed account as to how and why it occurred, or what is the context. You must be defining key terms wherever appropriate and substantiate with relevant associated facts.

Structure of the answer:

Introduction: 

Begin by highlighting some of the benefits of crypto assets that they make finance more inclusive and decentralized.

Body:

First bring out the trend of major financial institutions and investors adding cryptocurrency as part of their assets and also the high accountability mechanisms associated with the blockchain technology and its applicability, scalability and security in the Banking, Finance and Insurance sectors.

Next, stress on the need for a robust and smart regulatory mechanism such as safeguards against mis selling, Investor protection, introduction of KYC norms for crypto asset holders to avoid money laundering, clarifying the tax regime on crypto assets etc

Conclusion:

Conclude by stating that the benefits of crypto assets and blockchain technology can be reaped constructively only with a robust regulatory regime.

Introduction

Cryptocurrencies are digital currencies in which encryption techniques are used to regulate the generation of units of currency and verify the transfer of funds, operating independently of a central bank. It is based on the blockchain technology.

Body

Significance of Crypto assets

  • Establish India as an integral part of the new financial ecosystem: 
    • Large global financial institutions and investors are adding crypto assets to their portfolios.
    • Domestic crypto markets in India and the global opportunities are synergistic.
    • Finance firms, banks, fintech and crypto startups can tap into the huge growth of the industry.
    • Software technology parks (STPs) and special economic zones (SEZs) enabled the IT services boom.
    • Creative ‘crypto export zone’ schemes can incubate clusters of excellence and create world-class financial services firms and unicorns.
  • Capitalize on new technology and services opportunities: 
    • Banking, financial services and insurance customers form the biggest chunk of India’s IT services.
    • Blockchain application development, its scalability, security and analytics are their next growth opportunities.
    • To cater to this demand, there is a need for a large talent pool with expertise in the crypto tech stacks.
  • Gain optionality on financial innovation: 
    • There is a burst of technology innovation and business models around blockchains.
    • There are several interesting applications, but new killer apps will emerge.
    • The impact of new technologies is overestimated in the short term, but underestimated in the long term.

Key regulatory concerns about crypto assets

  • Investor protections:
    • Investor protection has been a top priority for Indian regulators.
    • Crypto assets are seen as high-risk, speculative assets. Investor education, guidelines against mis selling and other safeguards are needed.
  • Sidestepping current regulations:
    • Some crypto assets may allow individuals to bypass securities issuance laws. That’s a potential risk to capital markets.
    • Crypto assets may be used to avoid capital controls. That’s a potential risk to macroeconomic stability.
    • If crypto holders have to declare their holdings above a particular level in their tax forms, such concerns can be mitigated.
  • Illicit transfers:
    • Anonymous transfers of crypto assets may weaken anti-money laundering laws or combating the financing of terrorism rules.
    • That’s a potential national security issue. Robust know-your-customer (KYC) norms are the solution here.
    • Also, a blockchain may bring more transparency for financial transfers as all its transactions can be examined.
    • India is a part of the G20 Financial Action Task Force (FATF), and the crypto industry players should adhere to FATF’s recommendations.

Regulation of cryptocurrency:

  • Smart regulation is preferable, as a ban on something that is based on a technology of distributed ledger cannot be implemented for all practical purposes.
  • Even in China, where cryptocurrencies have been banned and the Internet is controlled, trading in cryptocurrencies has been low but not non-existent, as an India inter-ministerial committee found out. g.: Japan regulated use of cryptocurrency.
  • SC Garg committee encouragingly batted for an official digital currency as well as for the promotion of the underlying blockchain technology. Yet went ahead for banning other cryptocurrencies.
  • Regulation must be done at the point of exchange where it is easy to monitor.
  • The Supreme Court held that an outright ban on virtual currencies would be a disproportionate measure by the government since ma­ny less intrusive measures are available.
  • It is worth remembering that virtual currency transactions do not operate in a complete regulatory vacuum.
    • Several existing laws such as the Consumer Protection Act, Information Technology Act, Foreign Exchange Management Act, PMLA, besides tax, deposit-related and criminal laws apply to the virtual currency domain just as they apply to any other economic activity.
  • In fact, action has already been taken in India under many of these laws against errant persons and entities operating in the virtual currency domain.
  • The government must resist the idea of a ban and push for smart regulation.

Conclusion:

Rather than impose bans, it would be more pragmatic to institute awareness campaigns to alert investors to specific risks, and to monitor trades for fraud and scams. Fintech industry needs to jointly work with the RBI and the government on a constructive policy framework for cryptocurrencies in India.

 

Topic: Effects of liberalization on the economy, changes in industrial policy and their effects on industrial growth.

5. Critically analyse the rationale behind divestment and strategic sale of Public Sector Units (PSUs) and its possible macroeconomic impacts. (250 words)

Difficulty level: Tough

Reference: The Hindu

Why the question:

In this year’s Budget, the government unveiled a bold new disinvestment policy that envisages a bare minimum presence of government-owned businesses even in the strategic sectors.

Key Demand of the question:

To understand why Governments go for sale of government owned businesses, including transfer of management and control and the economic repercussions of the move.

Directive word: 

Critically analyze – When asked to analyze, you must examine methodically the structure or nature of the topic by separating it into component parts and present them in a summary. When ‘critically’ is suffixed or prefixed to a directive, one needs to look at the good and bad of the topic and give a balanced judgment on the topic.

Structure of the answer:

Introduction: 

Begin by mentioning the recent sale of Air India by the government to the Tata group.

Body:

First, mention the intent behind divestment/strategic sale such as greater administrative efficiency of private management, getting rid of loss-making units, rationalisation of resources and manpower etc. On the contrast also bring out the reasons for low performance of PSUs such as lack of commercial autonomy, lower pecuniary benefits etc.

Next, highlight the macroeconomic impacts such as fiscal stimulus in the economy, more resources with the Government for investment in infrastructure projects, loss of jobs etc

Conclusion:

Conclude by stating that divestment/strategic sale must be taken up with utmost caution and only where it is absolutely prudent else it may lead to loss of assets and revenue of the government in the long run.

Introduction

Disinvestment, or divestment, refers to the act of a business or government selling or liquidating an asset or subsidiary or the process of dilution of a government’s stake in a PSU (Public Sector Undertaking).

Earlier this month, the Tata Group emerged as the winning bidder for Air India, the debt-laden national carrier.

Body

Background

  • In this year’s Budget, the government unveiled a bold new disinvestment policy that envisages a bare minimum presence of government-owned businesses even in the strategic sectors.
  • The government is also pursuing the sale of its entire stake in public sector firms such as BPCL, Shipping Corporation of India, IDBI Bank, two other public sector banks and one general insurance company this financial year alone.
  • As part of the ‘Aatmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan’ package, the government in May 2020 had announced that there will be a maximum of four public sector companies in the strategic sectors, and state-owned firms in other segments will eventually be privatised.

Rationale behind divestment and strategic sale of PSU’s

  • Financing economic recovery: There is a pressure on the government to raise resources to support the economic recovery and meet expectations of higher outlays for healthcare.
    • The increase in public spending in the upcoming Budget will have to be financed to a large extent by garnering disinvestment proceeds and monetising assets.
  • Minimum government Maximum governance: To eliminate the need for the government’s involvement in non-strategic areas.
    • Government must not to business, is the rationale behind the divestment.
    • Government presence distorts competitive dynamics for private players.
  • Raising efficiency: To diversify the ownership of PSU for enhancing efficiency of individual enterprise. Eg Hindustan Zinc is the world’s second-largest zinc-lead miner and one of the top 10 silver producers. It benefitted from the privatisation.
  • Better economic potential under private players: Economic potential of such entities may be better discovered in the hands of the strategic investors due to various factors,g. infusion of capital, technology up-gradation and efficient management practices
  • Better utilization of taxpayer money: Loss making PSU’s results in consumers and taxpayers bearing the brunt of inefficient PSU operations. Instead, government can use the same resources into areas that directly benefit people.

Macroeconomic impact

  • Government has mostly used disinvestment for fiscal reasons rather than growth objectives.
  • Process of disinvestment is not favoured socially as it is against the interests of socially disadvantaged people.
  • Over the years the policy of divestment has increasingly become a tool to raise resources to cover the fiscal deficit with little focus on market discipline or strategic objective.
  • Sometimes with the emergence of private monopolies consumer welfare will be reduced.
  • Mere change of ownership from public to private does not ensure higher efficiency and productivity.
  • It may lead to retrenchment of workers who will be deprived of the means of their livelihood.
  • Private sector governed as they are by profit motive has a tendency to use capital intensive techniques which will worsen unemployment problem in India.
  • Loss making units don’t attract investment so easily.

Way Forward

  • Monetization of PSU assets instead of disinvestment which yield more.
  • Define the priority sectors for the government based on its strategic interests.
  • Investment in PSUs has to be in terms of generation of adequate social and strategic returns.
  • It should be time bound programme.
  • The government ownership is required for sectors with strategic relevance such as defence, natural resources, etc. The government should, exit non-strategic sectors such as hotels, soaps, airlines, travel agencies and the manufacture and sale of alcohol.
  • The government should look into strengthening the regulatory framework that ensures efficient market conditions.
  • Instead of creating PSUs, the government should create regulations that would ease the entry of new players. The regulations should also ensure that the basic necessities of the consumers are met.
  • Allowing both domestic and foreign buyers to bid freely for stakes.

Value Addition

Types of Disinvestments

  • Minority Disinvestment: A minority disinvestment is one such that, at the end of it, the government retains a majority stake in the company, typically greater than 51%, thus ensuring management control.
  • Majority Disinvestment: A majority disinvestment is one in which the government, post disinvestment, retains a minority stake in the company i.e. it sells off a majority stake.
  • Complete Privatisation:  Complete privatisation is a form of majority disinvestment wherein 100% control of the company is passed on to a buyer. Examples of this include 18 hotel properties of ITDC and 3 hotel properties of HCI.

 

Topic: Awareness in the fields of IT, Space, Computers, robotics, Nano-technology, biotechnology and issues relating to intellectual property rights.

6. Compare Gene editing with that of Genetic modification. Discuss the potential benefits and risks associated with Genetic modification in crops. (250 words)

Difficulty level: Easy

Reference: The Hindu

Why the question:

Scientists at the Indian Agricultural Research Institute are in the process of developing resilient and high-yield rice varieties using such gene editing techniques, which have already been approved by many countries, and they hope to have such rice varieties in the hands of the Indian farmers by 2024.

Key Demand of the question:

To understand the concept of Genetic editing and modification and associated pros and cons.

Directive word: 

Discuss – This is an all-encompassing directive – you must debate on paper by going through the details of the issues concerned by examining each one of them. You must give reasons for both for and against arguments.

Structure of the answer:

Introduction: 

Begin by defining Genetic modification (GM) and Gene Editing and highlight the difference between the two.

Body:

First, mention about the various benefits such as drought/salinity resistant, pest resistant, higher yield, better nutrition etc with few examples.

Next, mention about the anticipated threats such as expected or harmful genetic changes, inadvertent transfer of genes from one GM plant or animal to another plant or animal etc.

Conclusion:

Conclude by stating that in the context of present Food Security needs, more research and regulations are to be brought out in order to roll out safe GM crops.

Introduction

Genetically engineered and genetically modified are often used interchangeably when referring to varieties of crops developed by means other than traditional breeding. Genetic modification refers to a range of methods (such as selection, hybridization, and induced mutation) used to alter the genetic composition of domesticated plants and animals to achieve a desired result. Genetic engineering is one type of genetic modification that involves the intentional introduction of a targeted change in a plant, animal, or microbial gene sequence to achieve a specific result.

Body

Difference between Gene Editing and Genetic Modification

  • To create genetically modified crops and animals, scientists will typically remove the preferred gene from one organism and randomly introduce it into another organism.
  • A well-known genetically modified type of crop is Bt corn and cotton, where a bacterial gene was introduced that produces insecticidal toxins into the part of the plant where the insect eats, causing death to the insect.
  • Genome editing (also called gene editing) is a group of technologies that give scientists the ability to change an organism’s DNA. These technologies allow genetic material to be added, removed, or altered at particular locations in the genome.
  • CRISPR (Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeat) is a common method, or tool, of gene editing. The science behind CRISPR is detailed and complex, but it is a naturally occurring enzyme in bacteria that allows scientists to edit DNA with precision.
  • Gene editing helps create resilient, high-yield rice without foreign DNA
  • There are many pros to gene editing. It’s editing is less expensive, easier to use, and more accurate than genetic modification.
  • This is creating opportunities by allowing the technology to expand to new startup biotechnology companies and academic scientists, outside of the traditional multinational corporations that dominate the genetically modified crops.

Advantages of GM Crops other than pest resistance:

  • Food Security: Given the increased growth of global population and increased urbanisation, GM crops offer one of the promising solutions to meet the world’s food security needs. DMH-11’s yield is 25% higher than the best non-GM seeds available in India. However, activists went ballistic and the government has backed off.
  • Improved Stress Tolerance: Genes that give greater tolerance of stress, such as drought, low temperatures or salt in the soil, can also be inserted into crops. This can extend their range and open up new areas for food production.
  • Faster Growth: Crops can be altered to make them grow faster, so that they can be cultivated and harvested in areas with shorter growing seasons. This again can extend the range of a food crop into new areas or perhaps allow two harvests in areas where only one is currently practical.
  • More Nutritious Crops: Plants and animals can be engineered to produce larger amounts of essential vitamins and minerals, such as iron, helping to solve nutrition problems in some parts of the world. They can also be altered to change the amounts of protein, carbohydrates, and saturated and unsaturated fats that they contain. This could lead to the production of foods designed specifically for a healthy diet for all consumers.
  • Resistance to Herbicides: Crops can be modified to be resistant to specific herbicides, making it much easier to control troublesome weeds. Farmers can simply apply the weed killer to a crop field, killing the unwanted plants and leaving the food crop unaffected. For example, GM oilseed rapeseed – the source of canola oil – is resistant to one chemical that’s widely used to control weeds.
  • Economic benefits: GM crops can increase yield and thus income. Genetically modified foods have a longer shelf life. This improves how long they last and stay fresh during transportation and storage. India imported about ₹80,000 crore worth of edible oils last year, and the bill keeps growing.
  • Case study: Bt Brinjal: Bt brinjal was approved by the GEAC in 2009 but, under pressure from activists, the government disallowed its planting. Bangladesh, using the same GEAC report, went ahead. Today, about 17% of the country’s brinjal farmers grow Bt brinjal, which has reduced pesticide costs for GM crop farmers by 61%. The Bangladeshi Bt brinjal farmer’s net returns per hectare are six times his non-Bt counterpart’s per year.
  • Environmental Benefits:
    • In 2017, 189.8 million hectares of biotech crops were planted in 24 countries (and consumed in 67).
    • To achieve the same yield standards, more than 300 million acres of conventional crops would have been needed.
    • According to UK consultancy firm PG Economics, the first 20 years of biotech crops (1996-2016) have seen a reduction of pesticide spraying by 671.2 million kg and the environmental footprint associated with pesticide use by 18.4%.
    • The figures for 2016: The drop in release of greenhouse gas emissions was equivalent to removing 16.75 million cars from the roads; the direct global farm income benefit from GM crops was $18.2 billion, equal to an average increase in income of $102 per hectare.
    • And in these 23 years of GM agriculture, there has not been a single authenticated health hazard case specific to it.

Concerns/Challenges associated with GM Crops:

  • Human Health Risks:
    • Potential impact on human health including allergens and transfer of antibiotic resistance markers.
    • The impact of growing GM crops poses risks to human health as their resistance to antibiotics can turn medicines ineffective and may result in the formation of new toxins and allergens.
    • Toxins produced by GM crops can not only affect non target organisms but also pose the danger of unintentionally introducing allergens and other anti-nutrition factors in foods.
  • Bio safety concerns:
    • They can reduce species diversity.
    • For example, Insect-resistant plants might harm insects that are not their intended target and thus result in destruction of that particular species.
    • Cross-pollination in GM crops paves the way for herbicide-resistant super weeds that can further threaten the sustenance of other crops and pests because of its uncontrolled growth
    • GM technology could also allow the transfer of genes from one crop to another, creating “super weeds”, which will be immune to common control methods.
    • Viral genes added to crops to confer resistance might be transferred to other viral pathogens, which can lead to new and more virulent virus strains.
  • Implications on Farmers and Consumers:
    • Critics claim that patent laws give developers of the GM crops a dangerous degree of control over the food supply. The concern is over domination of world food production by a few companies
    • National Institute of Agricultural Economics and Policy Research’s anticipation that Bt brinjal’s high yield and increased shelf life will benefit consumers and farmers owing to cut in retail price of brinjals ignores the scenario that companies might charge premium prices for Bt brinjal seeds, in which case farmers may not benefit at all.
  • Economic Concerns:
    • Introduction of a GM crop to market is a lengthy and costly process. It has not resulted in high yields as promised.
    • For instance, the highest yields in mustard are from the five countries which do not grow GM mustard — U.K., France, Poland, Germany and Czech Republic — and not from the GM-growing U.S. or Canada.
  • Inefficient Regulatory system:
    • Seeing the lapses in the regulatory system and irregularities in the assessment of Bt brinjal (in terms of labelling and unapproved and illegal sowing of GM crops) Parliamentary Standing Committee on Agriculture and the Committee on Science & Technology, Environment and Forests recommended:
    • A thorough probe by a team of eminent independent scientists and environmentalists for commercialization of GM crops.
    • Endorsed labelling GM foods to protect a consumer’s right to know.
  • Ethical Concerns:
    • Violation of natural organisms’ intrinsic values by mixing among species.
    • There have also been objections to consuming animal genes in plants

Way Forward:

  • The government must take decisions on GM technologies on the basis of scientific evidence.
  • Need to start cultivating an environment of openness and transparency to allay genuine fears
  • The government should adopt a participatory approach to bring together all stakeholders to develop regulatory protocols that restore trust in the process.
  • There is a significant uncertainty over their safety, so precautionary principle is that country shall wait till a broader scientific consensus is achieved.
  • Need for better policy, pricing and to rationalize the input costs
  • GEAC needs to be a transparent body. it should put it in the public domain that on what grounds it has approved GM mustard
  • There has to be strong liability laws if there are any environmental hazards or if something goes wrong in future
  • Agriculture is a state subject therefore, it is important for the Centre to take into consideration the views of State Governments as well.
  • The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has rightly pointed out in 2004, “Science cannot declare any technology completely risk free. Genetically engineered crops can reduce some environmental risks associated with conventional agriculture, but will also introduce new challenges that must be addressed”.

 

 


General Studies – 4


 

Topic: Case Study

7. Since the start of the pandemic, many states have announced varying forms of assistance to help children who lost parents to Covid-19. These measures include monthly aid, fixed deposits, assistance with educational fees and, in some states, counselling support. Apart from the Rs 10 lakh fixed deposit, the central government’s PM Cares for Children scheme also assures minors who lost both parents (or one surviving parent), or legal guardians during the pandemic a monthly stipend after turning 18, and free education and health insurance.

But the fine print of these measures means that large numbers of children who need assistance may not get it, or at least not when they need it. In some states, children are only eligible if the deaths occurred within specific periods – for instance, 1st March 2020 to 1st June 2021 being a reference time period. Most of these states’ measures are focussed on orphans. This leaves out the more than 92,000 children who lost a single parent in India. Even where aid is available, children are frustrated by how long they will have to wait to access it.

In the above scenario, you are posted as a District Magistrate and approached for financial help for a boy in his studies. The boy lost his father to Covid-19 who was the sole breadwinner in the family. His mother is a paralysed woman and completely bed ridden. Being the only child without any family assets or help from relatives, he is being forced to quit school and work as a waiter in a nearby hotel with a meagre pay and food.

With the intention of helping him, when you ask for more details, it is brought to your attention that his father passed away 10th June 2021, which is well beyond the cut-off date notified by the government for compensation and assistance for orphaned. Moreover, the compensation in your state is only for those children who lost both parents to covid-19.

What is your course of action? (250 words)

Difficulty level: Moderate

Structure of the answer:

Introduction:

In brief, mention the facts of the case and the major ethical issues involved along with the stakeholders.

Body:

Mention the various alternatives in front of you and evaluate their pros and cons.

Select the best alternative which solves the issue and is ethically justified. Give solutions for any cons that arise from the possible solution.

Conclusion:

Stress on the importance of compassion in Civil Servants especially in the light of the above case.

Introduction

The pandemic has wreaked havoc across the globe with many families being broken due to loss of their loved ones. The pandemic has further pulled many families into the vicious cycle of poverty, destitution due to loss of breadwinners and making the children vulnerable. In these times of despair, the Governments have taken up responsibility to tend to the needs of orphan children who have lost their parents.

Body

The above case mentions a similar situation as described above. The boy has lost his sole breadwinner of the family – his dad – and his mother is paralyzed. This has left the boy vulnerable to child labour and other forms of danger like trafficking, organ harvest racket etc. as he must go to work to tend to need of the family. As there is redtapism leading to delay in the disbursal of the funds promised to the child, it is upon the District Magistrate (DM) to act swiftly to take care of needs of the child and family.

Short term measures

  • If the mother is too sick, then I would enroll her to the government hospital and place the kids in the shelter home or NGOs taking care of the orphan children.
  • Else, I would ensure that the child and his family are covered under the “Antyodaya Anna Yojana”, so that the family doesn’t go hungry.
  • I will ensure that the boy is not into child labour by enrolling him to the Government school where Mid-day meal scheme takes care of his hunger and nutritional needs as well as his educational needs.
  • In the meanwhile, I would also inform few of the Civil Society Organizations, NGOs to help the boy and his family for immediate needs.

Long term measures

  • As a DM, I would ensure that the plight of this boy and several other such children are made known to my higher-ups, so that there are amends in the schemes.

Conclusion

                The pandemic has been a hurricane uprooting many families across the globe. The need of the hour is for the society to be more compassionate towards the sufferings of the people. The State must be inclusive in its programmes and should have a feedback loop to understand the needs of the people and respond quickly.


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