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[Mission 2022] Insights SECURE SYNOPSIS: 6 November 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. Account for spatial and temporal variations in the temperature distribution on Earth and the reasons for it. (150 words, 10 marks)

 

Introduction

Temperature differs from one part of the world to the other. Since Insolation is the basic source of energy for the atmosphere, the distribution of insolation would determine the temperature of the earth. Thus latitude, altitude, distance from sea, features of the surface, nature of the landscape are some important factors that affect the distribution of temperature.

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Spatial variations in the temperature distribution on Earth

  • Horizontal Distribution of Temperature
    • The distribution of temperature across latitude over the Earth’s surface is known as the horizontal distribution of temperatures.
    • The horizontal distribution of temperature on Earth is shown by Isotherms. Isotherms are the line joining points that have an equal temperature.
    • When the isotherm map is analysed, it can be observed that the horizontal distribution of temperature is uneven.
  • Vertical Distribution of Temperature
    • The temperature in the troposphere decreases with increase in altitudes but the rate of decrease in temperature changes according to seasons.
    • The decrease of temperatures is known as vertical temperature gradient or normal lapse rate which is 1000 times more than the horizontal lapse rate.
    • The decrease of temperature upward in the atmosphere proves the fact that the atmosphere gets heat from the Earth surface through the process of conduction, radiation, and convection.
    • Hence, it is obvious that as the distance from the Earth’s surface (the source of direct heat energy to the atmosphere) increases (i.e. as the altitude increases), the air temperature decreases.

Temporal variations in the temperature distribution on Earth

  • Temperature Distribution in January
    • In January, there is winter in the Northern hemisphere and summers in the southern hemisphere.
    • The western margins of continents in January are much higher than the Eastern counterparts as the westerlies can carry high temperatures into the landmasses.
    • The temperature gradient is much closer to the Eastern margins of continents. The isotherms observe more steady behaviour in the southern hemisphere.
  • Temperature Distribution in July
    • During July, it is winter in the Southern hemisphere and summers in the Northern hemisphere. The isotherm behaviour is the opposite of what it was in January.
    • The isotherms are generally parallel to the latitudes in July.
    • The equatorial oceans record warmer temperatures more than 27 degrees Celsius.
    • More than 30 degrees Celsius is noticed over the land in the subtropical continent region of Asia, along the 30 ° N latitude.

Reasons for special and temporal variations in temperature distribution on Earth

  • Earth’s Distance from the Sun
  • The latitude of the place (The angle of Incidence or the Inclination of the Sun’s Rays)
  • The altitude of the place
  • Duration of sunshine
  • Differential heating of land and water
  • Distance from the sea
  • The air- mass circulation
  • The presence of warm and cold ocean currents
  • Local aspects

Conclusion

Thus, the temperature distribution determines the climate of a particular area. Global warming and climate change effects are altering the temperature distribution, thus affecting the climate across the globe.

 

2. Operation Cactus enhanced India’s prestige enormously and showed our efficiency and capability to mount a successful operation at short notice. Comment. (150 words, 10 marks)

Introduction

‘Operation Cactus’, the code name for India’s military intervention in the Maldives in 1988, following an attempted coup d’état against the government of President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom and his request for help, was spontaneous and swift.

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Background: Operation Cactus

  • More than 60 of PLOTE’s mercenaries landed in the Maldivian capital of Male and soon gained control of the city.
  • Then-President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, who was able to escape capture, requested military intervention from several countries, including India.
  • Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi responded to Gayoom’s call, dispatching paratroopers and naval warships to the island nation.
  • Operation Cactus started on the night of 3 November 1988, hours after the request for intervention.
  • The Indian paratroopers rescued the President and soon returned control of the capital to the Maldivian government.

Operation Cactus: India’s intervention and rationale

  • India’s intervention in the attempted coup became necessary as in the absence of Indian intervention, external powers would have been tempted to intervene or even to establish bases in Maldives.
  • Maldives being in India’s backyard would have been detrimental to India’s national interest.
  • India’s whole security prospects in Indian Ocean was at stake due to this incident.
  • Relations with Sri Lanka the same year was tense and hence could not risk two antagonistic governments as its neighbours in Indian Ocean. India, therefore, intervened with “Operation Cactus”.
  • It was carried out to preserve the security situation in the wider Indian Ocean Region, which would be under threat if the attempted coup in Maldives was successful. Maldives was also an import sea line of communication.
  • Indian extradited some of the mercenaries captured from the freighter in July 1989 to stand trial in the Maldives. Although they were all handed death sentences, President Gayoom commuted to life imprisonment under Indian pressure. This also earned huge credibility to India.

Success of the operation and its impact

  • Operation Cactus was testimony to the fact that India could play a role in ensuring security in Asia. The role was a precursor to India being a regional security provider in the Indian ocean region.
  • India’s swift, decisive action was hailed by the international community, ranging from US President Ronald Reagan to Margaret Thatcher.
  • Operation Cactus enhanced India’s prestige enormously and showed our efficiency and capability to mount a successful operation at short notice. There was universal acknowledgement of our role as a police force in the area.
  • One of the impacts of the development was close alignment on the security understanding between India and Maldives.
  • India has been helping in the capacity and capability development of the Maldivian armed forces. Since then, thousands of Maldivian National Defence Force (MNDF) personnel have been trained in India.

Conclusion

India’s foreign policy is about non-interference in sovereign countries’ internal affairs but in 1988 the Maldivian president requested India’s help through military intervention and as a responsible neighbour India was swift in its action and within the bounds of legality per the ICJ Nicaragua. Most importantly, nations like USA, UK and others recognized India’s clout and its importance in the Indian Ocean region. India’s stature on diplomatic pedestal was raised high after Operation Cactus, making it a responsible nation contributing to world peace and security.

 

3. Compare and contrast summer anticyclones and winter anticyclones. What is the impact of an anticyclone on the weather? (150 words, 10 marks)

Introduction

Anticyclones are the opposite of depressions – they are an area of high atmospheric pressure where the air is sinking. The sinking air spreads out when it reaches the ground, producing a divergence at the surface.

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Aloft, air rushes in to fill the void, creating a convergence aloft. Anticyclones, or highs, are also referred to as blocking highs because they tend to force areas of low pressure to travel around them.

For example: a hurricane (tropical cyclone) that encounters an area of high pressure will be deflected around the cyclone. Blocking highs have spared the East Coast of the United States from many hurricane strikes, pushing them out over the Atlantic Ocean.

The evolution of an anticyclone depends upon variables such as its size, intensity, and extent of moist convection, as well as the Coriolis force.

Characteristics of Summer AnticyclonesCharacteristics of Winter Anticyclones
Few or no clouds. Strong sunshine will make it hot.Cloudless Skies
Light windsTemperature drop, making the days cold and the nights even colder due to lack of cloud cover
Cooling of ground leading to morning mistFog and Frost forming at night
Warm moist air rising from the ground forming thunderstormsClod air from Asia bringing snow to the east of UK
Cloud cover over eastern England caused by light winds blowing over the cooler North Sea

Impact of Anticyclones on weather

  • In general, anticyclones are associated with fair weather. As the air sinks, it warms and dries. This produces clear skies and increases the air’s ability to transmit radiant energy.
  • High pressure systems have small pressure gradients (i.e. the air pressure doesn’t change rapidly).  This means that the winds are gentle. As the air sinks, it warms up, leading to warm and dry weather.
  • In the summer, this means high temperatures due to solar heating of the surface.
  • During the winter, this means low temperatures due to the radiation of heat from the surface into space.
  • Anticyclones often block the path of depressions, either slowing down the bad weather, or forcing it round the outside of the high pressure system. They are then called ‘Blocking Highs’.
  • Anticyclones are much larger than depressions and produce periods of settled and calm weather lasting many days or weeks.
  • As air descends, air pressure increases. When air hits the ground, it has to go somewhere. The earth’s rotation makes the air change direction. In the Northern Hemisphere the air is pushed clockwise. In the Southern Hemisphere the air is pushed anticlockwise.


General Studies – 2


 

4. Analyse the role of Co-operative societies as an economic driver towards national development. (150 words, 10 marks)

Introduction

A cooperative is an autonomous association of persons united voluntarily to meet their common economic, social and cultural needs and aspirations through a jointly-owned and democratically controlled. The need for profitability is balanced by the needs of the members and the wider interest of the community

The cooperative sector has a potential to turn India into a USD 5-trillion economy, Union Home and Cooperation Minister reiterated recently speaking at an event in Anand, Gujarat, to commemorate 75 years of dairy products giant Amul.

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role of Co-operative societies as an economic driver towards national development

  • India is an agricultural country and laid the foundation of World’s biggest cooperative movement in the world.
  • For instance, Amul deals with 16 million milk producers, 1,85,903 dairy cooperatives; 222 district cooperative milk unions; marketed by 28 state marketing federations.
  • There are over 8 lakh cooperatives of all shapes and sizes across sectors in India
  • In India, a Co-operative based economic development model is very relevant where each member works with a spirit of responsibility.
  • It provides agricultural credits and fundswhere state and private sectors have not been able to do very much.
  • It provides strategic inputsfor the agricultural-sector; consumer societies meet their consumption requirements at concessional rates.
  • It is an organization for the poor who wish to solve their problems collectively.
  • It softens the class conflictsand reduces the social cleavages.
  • Itreduces the bureaucratic evils and follies of political factions;
  • It overcomes the constraintsof agricultural development;
  • It creates a conducive environment for small and cottage industries.

Way forward:

  • The concept of social cooperatives builds on the idea of communities creating infrastructure by using local material and family labour.
  • These can be the village tank, paving the village road — with or without MGNREGA — finishing the last-mile construction of a canal network or even keeping watch on the contractor. The pandemic seems to have increased the significance of community effort.
  • Reducing vaccine hesitancy, providing food to those waiting outside hospitals and, most importantly, looking after orphaned children are imperatives crying out for the cooperative model.
  • Implementing the steps provided by the Vaidyanathan committee on credit cooperative societies.
  • The idea of cooperatives must take the agenda beyond agriculture, milk, credit and housing cooperatives
  • New areas are emerging with the advancement of technology and cooperative societies can play a huge role in making people familiar with those areas and technologies.
  • There is a need to create more cooperatives with women at the helm of it.
  • Principle of the cooperative movement is to unite everyone, even while remaining anonymous. The cooperative movement has the capacity to solve people’s problems.
  • However, there are irregularities in cooperatives and to check them there have to be rules and stricter implementation.

Value addition

A brief overview of cooperatives in India across sectors:

  • In agriculture, cooperative dairies, sugar mills, spinning mills etc are formed with the pooled resources of farmers who wish to process their produce.
  • The country has 1,94,195 cooperative dairy societies and 330 cooperative sugar mill operations.
  • In 2019-20, dairy cooperatives had procured 4.80 crore litres of milk from 1.7 crore members and had sold 3.7 crore litres of liquid milk per day. (Annual Report, National Dairy Development Board, 2019-20).
  • Cooperative sugar mills account for 35% of the sugar produced in the country.
  • In banking and finance, cooperative institutions are spread across rural and urban areas.
  • Village-level primary agricultural credit societies (PACSs) formed by farmer associations are the best example of grassroots-level credit flow.
  • These societies anticipate the credit demand of a village and make the demand to the district central cooperative banks (DCCBs).
  • State cooperative banks sit at the apex of the rural cooperative lending structure.
  • Given that PACSs are a collective of farmers, they have much more bargaining powers than an individual farmer pleading his case at a commercial bank.
  • There are also cooperative marketing societies in rural areas and cooperative housing societies in urban areas.

 

5. Critically examine the need and rationale behind conducting caste-based census in India. (150 words)

Introduction

Every Census in independent India from 1951 to 2011 has published data on Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, but not on other castes. Caste Has Important Position in Indian Society, while census data has been captured for Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, religions and linguistic profiles, there has been no profiling of all castes in India since 1931.

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The 2021 Census of India, the 16th Indian Census, will be taken in 2021. But the growing demands for a caste census from various sections of society have once again surfaced the issue like its immediate need and long-term repercussions.

Merits of Caste Census

  • Benefit in Policy Making:The purpose of a caste census is not merely geared to the reservation issue; a caste census would actually bring to the fore the large number of issues that any democratic country needs to attend to, particularly the number of people who are at the margins, or who are deprived, or the kind of occupations they pursue.
    • A caste census, which will generate exhaustive data will allow policymakers to develop better policies, implementation strategies,and will also enable a more rational debate on sensitive issues.
  • Enumerating the marginalized:A caste census would actually bring to the particular the number of people who are at the margins, or who are deprived, or the kind of occupations they pursue, or the kind of hold that institutions like caste have on them.
  • Also Reveal Privileged Section of Society:Caste is not only a source of disadvantage; it is also a very important source of privilege and advantage in our society.
    • We have to stop thinking of caste as being applicable to only disadvantaged people, poor people, people who are somehow lacking.
    • The opposite is even truer: caste has produced advantages for certain communities, and these also need to be recorded.
  • To Address Prevalent Inequalities:Unequal distribution of wealth, resources and education has meant an acute shortage of purchasing power among the majority of Indians.
    • As a democratic nation, we cannot forcibly overthrow the system,but we need to address it in a democratic, scientific and objective manner.
  • Constitutional Mandate:Our Constitution too favours conducting a caste census. Article 340 mandates the appointment of a commission to investigate the conditions of socially and educationally backward classes and make recommendations as to the steps that should be taken by governments.
  • Caste doesn’t marginalize:We need to do away with the idea of caste being applicable to only disadvantaged people, poor people, people who are somehow lacking.
  • Rids away caste rigidities:Counting of caste doesn’t necessarily perpetuate caste or the caste system. Myths of caste elitisms can be debunked through a caste census.
  • To Burst the Myths:There are a lot of myths which actually deprive a large number of people, particularly on the margins.
    • g.: In Karnataka, for a long time, there were claims that among the castes, the Lingayats are the most numerous.
    • But a lot of other studies have brought out that this may not be true, and these kinds of myths lead to the argument that given that this is a caste which is numerous, it has to be constantly placated. These myths can be debunked through a caste census.
  • Reduce Inclusion and Exclusion Errors:With accurate data of castes, most backward castes can be identified.
    • Some have benefited so much across the years, while there are people in this country who have not benefited at all.
  • The Supreme Court has time and again asked governmentsto provide the data related to castes; however, this has not been possible due to the non-availability of such data.
    • As a result, our national life suffers from mutual mistrust and misconceptions among different castes.
    • All such commissions have had to rely on data from the last caste census (1931).
  • Data for Policymaking:This information is absolutely necessary for any democratic policymaking.
  • Judicial backing:The courts in India have often emphatically said that it is important to have adequate data with regard to the reservation.

Associated Challenges with Caste Census

  • Repercussions of a Caste Census:Caste has an emotive element and thus there exist the political and social repercussions of a caste census.
    • There have been concerns that counting caste may help solidify or harden identities.
    • Due to these repercussions, nearly a decade after the SECC, a sizable amount of its data remains unreleased or released only in parts.
  • Caste Is Context-specific:Caste has never been a proxy for class or deprivation in India; it constitutes a distinct kind of embedded discrimination that often transcends class. For example: People with Dalit last names are less likely to be called for job interviews even when their qualifications are better than that of an upper-caste candidate.
    • They are also less likely to be accepted as tenants by landlords. Thus, difficult to measure.
    • Marriage to a well- educated, well-off Dalit man still sparks violent reprisals among the families of upper-caste women every day across the country.
  • 50% breach:It is argued that a Socio-Economic Caste Census is the only way to make a case to breach the 50% cap on reservation and rationalize the reservation matrix in the country.
  • Rising assertiveness:More the State ignores out caste, the more is the tendency to preserve caste, protect it. This has been observed in many states.
  • Chaos:Data gathering itself is a big problem because it can become very, very invasive. But we need to actually balance it with enabling people and asserting citizen equality.
  • Social friction:Caste identification can lead to friction amongst various classes.

Way Forward

  • India needs to bebold and decisive in tackling caste questions through data and statistics in the way the United States (US) does to tackle race issues, by collecting data around race, class, language, inter-race marriages, among other metrics.
    • This data provides a mirror to the State and society of the US in which they can see themselves and take decisions to do course corrections.
  • Creation of National Data Bank:The Sachar Committee Report recommended setting up a national data bank.
    • The Justice Rohini committeewas appointed in 2017 to look into the sub-categorisation of the OBC communities; however, in the absence of data, there can be no databank or any proper sub-categorisation.

Conclusion

With every passing day and increasing social awareness, the urgency to do away with the caste system is being sharply felt. Dr. BR Ambedkar stated that if India had to attain a place of pride among the comity of nations, caste would have to be annihilated first.

The most important thing is improving existing databases is more crucial to this than getting into the debate of whether to do a caste count or not. Accurate and timely data is central to India’s effort to tackle poverty. Poor data diminishes the efforts to design welfare programmes.

The 21st century is the right time to solve India’s caste question, which would otherwise extract a heavy price, not just sociologically, but also politically and economically, and make us fall behind in the development index.

 

6. A more transparent Judiciary can lead to efficient and accountable judicial System. In the larger public interest, do you think the Legal Information Management and Briefing System (LIMBS) should be made accessible to public? Comment. (150 words, 10 marks)

Introduction

Legal Information Management and Briefing System (LIMBS) is a web-based application created by the Department of Legal Affairs under the Ministry of Law and Justice. The idea is to make the legal data available at one single point and streamline the procedure of litigation matters conducted on behalf of Union of India. It is in line with Digital India to digitalise the details of court cases and bring various stakeholders on a single platform.

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Rationale behind LIMBS

  • LIMBS would help the government in achieving its objectives of “Minimum government, maximum governance”, “Digital India”, “Ease of doing business” and enhance the Transaction Capacity Governance of the government with an efficient legal framework for speedy resolution of disputes.
  • LIMBS reduces the huge expenditures involved in resolving the cases, saves time and makes the working of different departments under a ministry, efficient.
  • Once data are available in this form, several questions can be asked about the cases like the types of cases, financial implication etc
  • LIMBS is meant to improve the Union government’s handling of cases and would lead to some reduction of cases in courts.

Pros of making LIMBS accessible to public

  • A simple way to check the accuracy of the information available on LIMBS is to open up the entire database for public viewing so that citizens and academics can independently audit the working of LIMBS.
  • Not only is such transparency mandated by Section 4 of the Right to Information Act, 2005, which requires proactive disclosures of information by the government, but it would also be in line with the National Data Sharing and Accessibility Policy announced by the government many years ago.
  • Given that all the data in LIMBS pertains to litigation taking place in open courts, the data is most certainly not sensitive information.
  • The inexplicable and illegal decision of the Department of Legal Affairs to deny public access to LIMBS also means that academics attempting to understand the workings of the government through litigation data, are often required to build their own datasets from the judiciary’s websites.
  • This is a painful, time-consuming and expensive exercise because of the poor quality of judicial websites.
  • The transparency of the LIMBS database is not just a question of administrative efficiency but also a question of accountability of public funds spent on expensive government litigation.

Way forward

  • A multi-pronged approach needs to be adopted to tackle the issue of “government litigation”, depending on the kind of litigation.
  • A relook at the functioning of litigation-prone departments and formulating solutions unique to each department.
  • Robust internal dispute resolution mechanisms within each department as a means of addressing their grievances against the management.
  • The state must ensure that quasi-judicial authorities are judicially trained or create a separate class of judicial officers to discharge quasi-judicial functions.
  • Ministries and departments should conduct focused monitoring on pending cases particularly those pending for more than 10 years.
  • To further bring down pendency of cases in courts, both the Centre and states should withdraw “frivolous and ineffective cases”.
  • To discourage future litigations, the government should compulsorily introduce arbitration and mediation clauses in work contracts of its staff and public sector employees.
  • Learn from other countries like France who are following a model approach toward government ligation.
  • Data deficiency coupled with restricted access with regard to government litigation is a serious concern.
  • In addition to making the performance evaluation of panel counsels impossible, the lack of granular data on department-wise litigations makes it difficult to review the role of the courts in matters where the government is a party.
  • Given that government litigation is funded by the public exchequer the burden of disclosure should be even higher.


General Studies – 3


 

7. India must take into account concerns regarding ageing dams, and conduct timely safety reviews in order to ensure safety of the structures, and the safety of those who inhabit the areas downstream. Discuss. (150 words, 10 marks)

Introduction

Dams are one of the vital elements for the growth of the country’s economy. In India, over the years, dams have played an important role in fostering rapid and sustained agricultural and rural growth. Substantial investment has been done in building dams and related infrastructure.

India is ranked third in the world in terms of building large dams. Of the over 5,200 large dams built so far, about 1,100 large dams have already reached 50 years of age and some are older than 120 years. The number of such dams will increase to 4,400 by 2050. This means that 80% of the nation’s large dams face the prospect of becoming obsolete as they will be 50 years to over 150 years old.

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However, in the past, we have noticed the mismanagement of dams has led to disastrous floods. One of the key roles was played by dams and understanding their role in floods would pave the way for enhancing our readiness.

Consequences of ageing of dams

  • As dams age, soil replaces the water in the reservoirs. Therefore, the storage capacity cannot be claimed to be the same as it was in the 1900s and 1950s.
  • To make matters worse, studies show that the design of many of our reservoirs is flawed.
    • Case Study: In a paper, Supply-side Hydrology: Last gasp, Rohan D’Souza writes that the observed siltation rate in India’s iconic Bhakra dam is 139.86% higher than originally assumed.
    • At this rate, he wrote, “the Bhakra dam is now expected to function for merely 47 years, virtually halved from the original estimate of 88 years”.
  • Similarly, the actual siltation rate observed for the Hirakud, Maithan and Ghod dams are way higher at 141.67%, 808.64% and 426.59%, respectively. Studies in later years showed similar findings.
  • Almost every scholarly study on reservoir sedimentationshows that Indian reservoirs are designed with a poor understanding of sedimentation science.
  • The designs underestimate the rate of siltation and overestimate live storage capacity created.
  • Therefore, the storage space in Indian reservoirs is receding at a rate faster than anticipated.
  • Reservoirs are poised to become extinct in less than a few decades with untold consequences already under way.
  • In June 2018 the central government had approved the proposal for introduction of the Dam Safety Bill, 2018 which aims to develop uniform countrywide guidelines for ensuring the safety of dams.
  • Dam mismanagement also leads to flooding like in 2018 incident in Mullaperiyar dam between Kerala and Tamil Nadu.

Safety of Dams

  • The Union Cabinet approved the proposal for introduction of Dam Safety Bill, 2018 in the Parliament.
  • The objective of this Bill is to help develop a uniform, countrywide guidelines for ensuring the safety of dams.
  • The Bill provides for:
    • Proper surveillance, inspection, operation and maintenance of all specified dams in the country to ensure their safe functioning.
    • Constitution of a National Committee on Dam Safety which shall evolve dam safety policies and recommend necessary regulations.
    • Establishment of National Dam Safety Authority as a regulatory body which shall discharge functions to implement the policy, guidelines, and standards for dam safety in the country.
    • Constitution of a State Committee on Dam Safety by State Government.
  • All the institutions that are named in the dam safety bill are already functioning. The Dam Safety Bill will only give these institutions legal backing.
  • This bill will make sure that every state government follows a uniform policy laid down by it.
  • In the Dam Safety Bill, the provisions for the robust functioning of the dam have been laid. As of now, some of the dams have an operational manual. However, most are operating dams from experience. This bill will make it legally binding for all the dams to have a codified manual for the operation as per their need.

Way Forward

  • A Bill seeking to set up an institutional mechanism for surveillance, inspection, operation and maintenance of specified dams across the country has been passed by the Lok Sabha.
  • The provisions of the Bill are proposed to be applied to all damsin the country which have a height of more than 15 metres, or between 10 metres to 15 metres.
  • Among other things, the Bill also seeks to resolve the inter-state issues concerning maintenance and safety of dams as around 92% of dams in the country are on inter-state river basins.
  • The Bill also envisages setting up of a National Dam Safety Authority to be headed by an officer not below the rank of an Additional Secretary, to be appointed by the central government.
  • The main task of the National Dam Safety Authorityincludes implementing the policies formulated by the National Committee on Dam Safety, resolving issues between State Dam Safety Organisations (SDSOs), or between an SDSO and any dam owner in that state, specifying regulations for inspection and investigation of dams.
  • The NDSA will also provide accreditation to agenciesworking on construction, design, and alteration of dams.
  • Since the dam safety is dependent on many external factors, the environmentalists, and the environmental anglein this, needs to be taken.
  • There is a need to strengthen the state irrigation department and the Central Water Commission.
  • It should be ensured that the inspection of damsis done by the respective state governments.
  • State governments should follow the dam safety manual with precision. Especially, where human settlements are scattered all around, the building of dams has to be regulated as per the guidelines.
  • Creation of buffer zone has to be done to protect land near dams from encroachment.
  • However, the growth of population will lead to encroachment, and it would be physically impossible to shift people during calamity. Proper dissemination of information has to be done in the surrounding areas on a real-time basis and regular flushing of water should be carried downstream to keep the river beds dry. Hence, dam safety and proper village, town and city planning have to be integrated.
  • Ensuring “dam safety” should be a continuous exercise. The present catastrophe is more related to, how the dam should be operated when there is heavy rainfall and the water level has reached a critical level.

 

8. Organic methods can increase farm productivity and repair decades of environmental damage leading to improved food security. Comment. (150 words, 10 marks)

Introduction

According to FSSAI, organic farming is a system of farm design and management to create an ecosystem of agriculture production without the use of synthetic external inputs such as chemical fertilisers, pesticides and synthetic hormones or genetically modified organisms.

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Environmental Benefits of Organic Agriculture

  • Sustainability over the long term
    • Organic agriculture considers the medium- and long-term effect of agricultural interventions on the agro-ecosystem.
    • Organic agriculture takes a proactive approach as opposed to treating problems after they emerge.
  • Soil
    • Nutrient and energy cycling is increased and the retentive abilities of the soil for nutrients and water are enhanced, compensating for the non-use of mineral fertilizers.
    • Such management techniques also play an important role in soil erosion control.
  • Water
    • As the use of chemicals are prohibited in organic agriculture, they are replaced by organic fertilizers (e.g. compost, animal manure, green manure) and through the use of greater biodiversity (in terms of species cultivated and permanent vegetation), enhancing soil structure and water infiltration.
  • Air and climate change
    • Organic agriculture reduces non-renewable energy use by decreasing agrochemical needs.
    • Organic agriculture contributes to mitigating the greenhouse effect and global warming through its ability to sequester carbon in the soil.
  • Biodiversity
    • Organic farmers are both custodians and users of biodiversity at all levels.
    • The frequent use of under-utilized species, often as rotation crops to build soil fertility reduces erosion of agro-biodiversity, creating a healthier gene pool – the basis for future adaptation.
  • Genetically modified organisms
    • The use of GMOs within organic systems is not permitted during any stage of organic food production, processing or handling.
    • The organic label therefore provides an assurance that GMOs have not been used intentionally in the production and processing of the organic products.
  • Ecological services
    • The impact of organic agriculture on natural resources favours interactions within the agro-ecosystem that are vital for both agricultural production and nature conservation.
    • By opting for organic products, the consumer through his/her purchasing power promotes a less polluting agricultural system.
    • The hidden costs of agriculture to the environment in terms of natural resource degradation are reduced.

Conclusion

Natural farming is not a new concept in India, with farmers having tilled their land without the use of chemicals – largely relying on organic residues, cow dung, composts, etc. since time immemorial. This is also in sync with the Sustainable Development Goal 2 targeting ‘end hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture’.

Value addition

Government Initiatives to Promote Organic Farming

  • Mission Organic Value Chain Development for North East Region (MOVCD)
  • Paramparagat Krishi Vikas Yojana (PKVY)
  • Certification Schemes
    • Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI)is the food regulator in the country and is also responsible for regulating organic food in the domestic market and imports.
    • Participatory Guarantee System (PGS):PGS is a process of certifying organic products, which ensures that their production takes place in accordance with laid-down quality standards. PGS Green is given to chemical free produce under transition to ‘organic’ which takes 3 years. It is mainly for domestic purpose.
    • National Program for Organic Production (NPOP):NPOP grants organic farming certification through a process of third party certification for export purposes.
    • Soil Health Card Schemehas led to a decline of 8-10% in the use of chemical fertilizers and also raised productivity by 5-6%.
  • Agri-export Policy 2018
    • Focus on clustersand Marketing and promotion of “Produce of India” have positively impacted the organic farming in India
  • One District – One Product (ODOP)
    • The programme aims to encourage morevisibility and sale of indigenous and specialized products/crafts of Uttar Pradesh, generating employment at the district level.
    • The presence of aggregators is imperative to bring about economies of scale for the small and marginal farmers.
  • Zero Budget Natural Farming
    • Zero budget natural farmingis a method of chemical-free agriculture drawing from traditional Indian practices.

 

9. Protection of Dolphin is being given a national importance with the announcement of Project Dolphin. Discuss the significance of Dolphins in aquatic ecosystem and the threats they face. (150 words, 10 marks)

Introduction

During the Independence Day Speech of 2020, Prime Minister of India announced the government’s plan to launch a Project Dolphin. Project Dolphin would be on the lines of Project Tiger, which has helped increase the tiger population. Project Dolphin will involve conservation of dolphins & aquatic habitat through use of modern technology. It will not just protect dolphins, but will also promote a healthy river ecosystem.

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Significance of Dolphins in aquatic ecosystem

  • Dolphins are one of the oldest creatures in the world along with some species of turtles, crocodiles and sharks, according to the World Wildlife Fund (WWF).
  • Not only are dolphins a highly intelligent marine species, but they also play an important role in ecology.
  • Aquatic life is an indicator of the health of river ecosystems.
  • Dolphin is at the top of the food chain, protecting the species and its habitat will ensure conservation of aquatic lives of the river.
  • They eat other animals – mainly fish and squid – and are themselves a source of food for some sharks and other creatures.
  • Without dolphins, the animals they prey on would increase in number, and their predators wouldn’t have as much to eat.
  • This would disrupt the natural balance in the food chain and could negatively affect other wildlife and the health of the ocean environment.
  • When dolphins are found with a disease, such as immune system dysfunction, reproductive malformations or cancer, this shows us that something needs to be addressed, such as water pollution from agricultural, residential and industrial runoff.
  • Dolphin studies help protect other marine animals, and humans as well, since we eat some of the same sea foods and can also suffer effects of pollution.

Threats faced

  • Dolphins are under threat worldwide, mainly human generated threats.
  • Reducing numbers: Gangetic dolphins once lived in the Ganges-Brahmaputra-Meghna and Karnaphuli-Sangu river systems of Nepal, India, and Bangladesh, but are now mostly extinct from many of its early distribution ranges.
  • Today, their numbers have dwindled mainly because of direct killing, habitat fragmentation by dams and barrages and indiscriminate fishing.
  • Increasing pollution in the rivers has brought down the number over the years.
  • The human-created pollution that is affecting the world’s oceans is causing a wide variety of problems for dolphins, ranging from diseases to difficulty finding food.
  • Fishing lines, fish hooks, and discarded netting are one of the bigger threats to dolphins.
  • Dolphins often pursue the same fish species that commercial fishing ships are hunting and may get accidentally caught in their nets. They can also get tangled in discarded ropes and gear, causing a significant amount of marine mammal deaths each year.
  • Climate change is also impacting all species of dolphins due to reduced food availability and threat to habitats like lowered levels of river water, ocean acidification etc.

Way forward

  • Improved practices of local fishing communities, including enhanced spatial planning that identifies dolphin conservation areas should be promoted.
  • Research and surveys must be conducted on dolphin populations, migration patterns, causes of death, and threats to their habitats.
  • Disposable straws, cups, lids, utensils, bags, water bottles and other single use plastics make up a huge percentage of marine pollution. This must be reduced through legislative measures and education of people.
  • Chemical waste from home and industries ends up in the ocean. This causes the water pollution that can harm the marine species. The chemical pollution has been one of the main causes of the species extinction. Dispose of the waste properly to avoid the contamination.
  • Alongside research, importance should be on engaging the riparian communities by encouraging community-led biological monitoring.
  • Villages around the hot spot sites of dolphin occurrence will be developed as models for community-led conservation.
  • Knowledge and experience on dolphin conservation and coastal livelihoods shared with local communities, enhancing their capacities to support dolphin conservation efforts

 

10. India still has a long way to go to bridge the gender gap in access and use of financial services. Comment. (150 words, 10 marks)

Introduction

The gender gap refers to the difference between women and men as reflected in social, political, intellectual, cultural, or economic attainments or attitudes. According to the Global Gender Gap Report, it will take more than 200 years for economic gender equality to emerge, and 108 years to completely close the global gender gap across politics, health and education.

Financially including women can have a far-reaching impact on their households as well as the country’s economy. Women in emerging economies reinvest 90% of their earnings in human resources such as education, nutrition and health.

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Gender gap in access and use of financial services in India

  • Findings from All India Debt and Investment Survey (AIDIS) 2019
    • As per the survey, 80.7% of women in rural areas and 81% in urban areas had deposit accounts in banks.
    • 55% of women still don’t actively use their PMJDY accounts.
    • When it comes to adopting digital financial products like credit cards, debit cards, and payment wallets, the disparity between men and women is stark.
    • 20% of rural women have reported having debit or credit cards, compared to 64% of men.
    • There is a 17% gender gap in card ownership even in urban areas.
  • Credit front
    • The loan rejection rate for women-owned businesses is 2.5 times higher than for men.
    • Lack of collateral, difficult access to a guarantor, weak property rights and various cultural barriers collectively hinder them from availing loans for productive purposes.
    • The very anticipation of rejection discourages women from even applying for loans.
  • Mobile & internet usage
    • The slow adoption of digital financial services by Indian women is also on account of the gender gap in mobile ownership and mobile internet usage.
    • In India, the ownership of mobile phones by women is 20% less than that by men, and the usage of mobile internet is 50% less.
    • In addition, only 14% of women in India are found to own smartphones.
  • Socio-cultural factors
    • Certain cultural norms exclude some women from using formal financial services.
    • Women in low-income households often leave their phones at home while leaving for work, have low digital literacy, and do not have complete autonomy in using their phones.
    • Such adverse practices make phone-based transactions, transfers, and loan repayments a steep challenge for them.

Way forward:

  • As the experience with rural self-help groups shows, women are remarkably prompt at repaying loans and the government should step up the amounts and ease loan disbursement for women.
  • Policy measures could include addressing or reducing the amount of unpaid work and rebalancing it between men and women, supporting employer or state-funded provision of childcare, and interventions to address digital and financial inclusion.
  • There are three approaches we could adopt to effectively bridge the gender divide in achieving financial inclusion: Design gender-sensitive products, build a network of female banking correspondents, and publish gender-disaggregated data on financial inclusion.
  • Designing better products for women requires a client-centred approach, where providers start by identifying and understanding how women use and interact with money, financial products and technology.
  • Design elements like vernacular communication and voice and video enablers can reduce friction for women in their use of digital financial products.
  • To mobilize small savings, we must create awareness about banking products and deliver these to last-mile women users, for which a robust network of female banking correspondents (BC) would be a major help.
  • They are largely considered approachable by women customers, who would be willing to entrust them with sensitive financial information.
  • Lastly, the periodic publication of gender-sliced data on various parameters of financial inclusion can help in tracking the gender divide and also make a clear case for gender-sensitive products.

Answer the following questions in 250 words:


General Studies – 1


 

11. Mangrove swamps protect coastal areas from erosion, storm surge, and tsunamis. Mangroves in India are getting ecologically fragile and climatically vulnerable. Comment. (250 words)

Introduction

Mangroves are the characteristic littoral plant formation of tropical and subtropical sheltered coastlines. They exhibit remarkable capacity for salt water tolerance, strong wind velocity, varying tides and high temperature (FAO-1952). E.g.: Rhizopora, Avicenia, Bruguiera etc. Total cover of Mangroves in India is about 4,975 sq km as per latest State of Forest Report 2019.

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Ecological Services by Mangroves:

  • Mangrove plants have (additional) special roots such as prop roots, pneumatophores which help to impede water flow and thereby enhance the deposition of sediment in areas (where it is already occurring), stabilize the coastal shores, provide breeding ground for fishes.
  • Mangroves moderate monsoonal tidal floods and reduce inundation of coastal lowlands.
  • They prevent coastal soil erosion.
  • They protect coastal lands from tsunami, hurricanes and floods.
  • Mangroves enhance natural recycling of nutrients.
  • Mangrove supports numerous flora, avifauna and wild life.
  • Provide a safe and favourable environment for breeding, spawning, rearing of several fishes.
  • They supply woods, fire wood, medicinal plants and edible plants to local people.
  • They provide numerous employment opportunities to local communities and augments their livelihood.

Threats to Mangroves:  

A scientific study reported that 100 per cent of mangrove species, 92 per cent of mangrove associates, 60.8 per cent of algae, 23.8 per cent of invertebrates and 21.1 per cent of fish are under threat.

Natural forces due to climate change:

  • Sea-level rise: Mangrove systems do not keep pace with changing sea-level and fall
  • Extreme high water events: affect the position and health including through altered sediment elevation and sulphide soil toxicity
  • Storms: increase damage to mangroves through defoliation and tree mortality and they collapse
  • Precipitation: decreased rainfall and increased evaporation will increase salinity, decreasing net primary productivity, growth
  • Temperature: Changing species composition, Changing phenological patterns (e.g., timing of flowering and fruiting)
  • Ocean circulation patterns: affect mangrove propagule dispersal and the genetic structure of mangrove populations, with concomitant effects on mangrove community structure.

Anthropogenic activities:

  • Mangroves are being destroyed and facing severe threats due to urbanisation, industrialization, and discharge of domestic sewage, industrial effluents and pesticides.
  • Saltpans and aquaculture also pose major threat to the mangroves.
  • 40 per cent of mangrove forests in West Coast of India have been converted into farmlands and housing colonies over the last three decades.
  • Some of the mangrove species like Bruguiera cylindrica and Sonneratia acida are at the verge of extinction.
  • Due to shrimp farming, about 35,000 ha of mangroves have been lost in India.

Scientific Management of Mangroves

  • Nationwide mapping of the mangrove areas, by remote sensing techniques coupled with land surveys, and time series to assess the rate of degradation of the ecosystems.
  • Quantitative surveys of area, climatic regime, rate of growth of forest trees and seasonal variations of environmental parameters.
  • Inclusion of mangrove species under threat in the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) Red list. g. Sonneratia griffithii in India
  • Assessment of suitable sites for reserve forests. g.: Artificial regeneration through mangrove nurseries or aerial seeding.
  • Joint management of mangroves with local community participation.
  • Disease and pest control. g.: Crab cuts are prevented by painting hypocotyls in yellow or Placing seedlings inside bamboo containers.
  • Afforestation of degraded mangrove areas;
  • Study of management methods, the ecology of mangroves, their flora and fauna, their microbiology and the biochemistry of organic matter and sediments.
  • Mangroves for Future is a unique partner-led initiative for coastal ecosystem conservation. This project is being coordinated by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) covering, initially, eight countries (including India) in South Asia, South East Asia and Western Indian Ocean, for the protection of the mangroves.
  • The mangroves have been afforded protection under Category I (ecologically sensitive) of the CRZ.

Conclusion:

An increase of 54 sq. km in mangrove cover has been observed as notes in SFR 2019. There is a need to build on this progress for stabilization of low-lying coastal lands. Mangroves being natural filters of pollutants from water, it becomes even more necessary to conserve them.

Value addition

Characteristics:

  • Mangroves are salt tolerant trees, also called halophytes, which survive high salinity, tidal regimes, strong wind velocity, high temperature and muddy anaerobic soil – a combination of conditions hostile for other plants.
  • The mangrove ecosystems constitute a symbiotic link or bridge between terrestrial and marine ecosystems.
  • They are found in the inter-tidal zones of sheltered shore, estuaries, creeks, backwaters, lagoons, marshes and mud-flats.

Role and Significance of Mangroves

  • Mangroves moderate monsoonal tidal floods and reduce coastal inundation.
  • It prevents coastal soil erosion.
  • It supplies firewood, medicinal plants to local inhabitants.
  • They support numerous flora, avifauna and wildlife.
  • Mangroves support seashore and estuarine fisheries.
  • It protects inland agricultural lands, livestock and coastal lands from hurricane and tsunami effect.
  • Mangroves enhance natural recycling of nutrients.
  • Mangroves are flood buffers and they also help in stabilizing the climate by moderating temperature, humidity, wind and even waves
  • They are natural carbon sinks.

 

12. Compare and contrast, the continental drift theory, sea floor spreading theory and the plate tectonics theory. (250 words, 15 marks)

Introduction

Continents cover 29 per cent of the surface of the earth and the remainder is under oceanic waters. The positions of the continents and the ocean bodies, as we see them in the map, have not been the same in the past and it is now a well-accepted fact that oceans and continents will not continue to enjoy their present positions in times to come.

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Various theories have been proposed to substantiate the present locations of the continents and oceans.

 

sea_floor

 

Comparison: Continental Drift – See Floor Spreading – Plate Tectonics

Continental DriftSee Floor SpreadingPlate Tectonics
Explained byPut forward by Alfred Wegener in 1920sArthur Holmes explained Convectional Current Theory in the 1930s.

Based on convection current theory, Harry Hess explained See Floor Spreading in the 1940s

In 1967, McKenzie and Parker suggested the theory of plate tectonics. Morgan later outlined the theory in 1968
TheoryExplains the Movement of Continents onlyExplains the Movement of Oceanic Plates onlyExplains the Movement of Lithospheric plates that include both continents and oceans.
Forces for movementBuoyancy, gravity, pole-fleeing force, tidal currents, tides,Convection currents in the mantle drag crustal platesConvection currents in the mantle drag crustal plates
EvidenceApparent affinity of physical features, botanical evidence, fossil evidence, Tillite deposits, placer deposits, rocks of same age across different continents etc.Ocean bottom relief, Paleomagnetic rocks, distribution of earthquakes and volcanoes etc.Ocean bottom relief, Paleomagnetic rocks, distribution of earthquakes and volcanoes, gravitational anomalies at trenches, etc.
DrawbacksToo general with silly and sometimes illogical evidence.Doesn’t explain the movement of continental plates 

———————

AcceptanceDiscardedNot completeMost widely accepted
UsefulnessHelped in the evolution of convection current theory and seafloor spreading theoryHelped in the evolution of plate tectonics theoryHelped us understand various geographical features.

Conclusion

Thus, it is a combination of all these various forces which has led to formation of diversity of land and sea forms across the globe. It is a continuing process since the beginning of formation of earth and various activities like volcanoes, earthquakes, formation of new land masses stand testimony to these activities.

 

13. Denying individuals matrimonial and other rights that emanate from matrimony solely for their sexual orientation is unjust and unconstitutional. Comment. (250 words, 15 marks)

Introduction

The Centre has maintained an adversarial view towards allowing or legalising same-sex marriage, despite a landmark Supreme Court judgment that read down archaic laws criminalising homosexual relations. This will hinder the process of enlarging the rights of LGBTQ+ community in India and providing them dignity of life.

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Background: Matrimonial rights of same-sex couples

  • The Supreme Court in Navtej Singh Johar & Ors. vs Union of India (2018) declared that the application of Section 377 IPC to consensual homosexual behaviour was “unconstitutional”.
  • This Supreme Court judgment has been a great victory to the Indian LGBTQIA+ community in their quest for identity and dignity.
  • Recently, the court was hearing a clutch of pleas seeking legal recognition of same sex marriages under the Special Marriage Act and Foreign Marriage Act.
  • In response to this, the Centre has opposed the pleas, saying a marriage in India can be recognised only if it is between a “biological man” and a “biological woman” capable of producing children, strongly opposing the validation of same-sex marital unions.
  • There are many issues that concerns the LGBTQ+ communities including marriage and union, inheritance, adoption, rights under Marriage Acts among others.

Issues surrounding same-sex marriages in India

  • No legal recognition of same-sex marriage: Same-sex marriages are not legally recognized in India even though many countries like USA, UK have legalised it.
    • There is no recognition of union of transgenders, queer etc either.
    • All the rights under laws of Marriage such as protection against dowry, domestic violence etc are not realised by these individuals.
  • Disharmony of rights: Supreme Court, decriminalised sexual relationships between homosexual individuals, wherein their union is allowed.
    • But without recognizing such marriages of willing people, this right will not be substantial.
  • 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.
  • Likewise, homosexual couples are denied basic necessities that other heterosexual couples take for granted.
    • Same-sex couples cannot become each other’s medical proxy unless they legally make such a provision.
  • Inheritance: They do not naturally inherit the property of their partner after their death unless their right is preserved by a will, which again can be contested in court.
    • Even the simple process of setting up a joint bank account is tedious for queer couples

Measures needed to reform the institution of marriage

  • Revisions needed: Marriage, including religious marriages, cannot be exempt from reform and scrutiny.
    • g.: Through revisions to the Hindu Marriage Act, self-respect marriages were legalised in Tamil Nadu (and later Puducherry).
    • In the same way, the law must expand the institution of marriage to cover all gender and sexual identities, to meet the requirements of the LGBTQIA+ community.
  • Marriage of consenting adults: It is time for India to overhaul its marriage laws to allow marriage between consenting adults irrespective of sexual identity, gender or sex.
  • Creating behaviour change: Issues of marriage needs societal sanction but should not be subjected to societal morality. Politics must not play a role in this scenario.
    • The Supreme Court ruled that the “intimacies of marriage reside inside an inviolable core zone of private” and that “society has no role to play in influencing our choice of spouses”.
    • Likewise, same-sex marriage must be legalised and people must be made aware so that there is acceptance of such marriages and it is normalised.
  • Overhauling the definitions: The terms of bride and groom needs to be changed as per changing trends of the society. When same-sex unions are legalised, it must be applied to marriages as well.

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. India’s carefully calibrated strategy in the Central Asian region is guided by mutual reciprocal interests both in economic and strategic terms. However, the recent events have brought up new challenges to India interests. Analyse. (250 words, 15 marks)

Introduction

India’s relation with Central Asia has a long history. The two regions have shared deep cultural linkages with each other over two millennia in terms of people to people contact, trade, and commerce. The close trade and cultural linkages between the Indian subcontinent and Central Asia, whose beginnings can be traced to the Indus valley civilization, tapered after India’s partition in 1947 as New Delhi found itself without a direct land corridor to the region.

The recent dramatic developments in Afghanistan have thrown up renewed challenges for India’s regional and bilateral ties with Central Asia.

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India’s engagement in the CAR

  • India reset its ties with independent republics in Central Asia, a strategically critical region, post break-up of Soviet Region.
  • India provided financial aid to the region and established diplomatic relations.
  • The Strategic Partnership Agreements (SPA)was signed with Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan to stimulate defence cooperation and deepen trade relations.
  • New Delhi’s‘Connect Central Asia’ policy of 2012, aimed at furthering India’s political, economic, historical and cultural connections with the region.
  • India signed MoUs with Iran in 2015 to develop the Chabahar port in the Sistan-Baluchistan province that was in the doldrums from 2003.

Recent developments in India-CAR relations

  • The External Affairs Minister attended the 6th Foreign Ministers’ Conference on Interaction and Confidence-Building Measures in Asia (CICA) in Nur Sultan.
  • India extended a credit line of $200 millionfor the support of development projects and signed an memorandum of understanding (MoU) on High-Impact Community Development Projects (HICDP).
  • Incumbent EAM become the first Indian External Affairs Minister to visit
  • India supported efforts for a peaceful solution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia under the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe’s (OSCE) Minsk group.

Challenges faced by India in the relations with CAR

  • India’s efforts were stonewalled by Pakistan’s lack of willingness to allow India passage through its territory.
  • The growing geostrategic and security concerns regarding the BRI’s China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and the violation of India’s sovereignty is another challenge.
  • The Taliban re-establishing its supremacy over Afghanistan has also exposed the weaknesses of coalitions such as SCO.
  • The SCO has been used by most member countries for their own regional geostrategic and security interests, increasing the trust-deficit and divergence within the forum.

Way forward

  • Most of the Central Asian leaders view India’s Chabahar portas an opportunity to diversify their export markets and control China’s ambitions.
  • They have admitted New Delhi into theAshgabat Agreement, allowing India access to connectivity networks to facilitate trade and commercial interactions with both Central Asia and Eurasia, and also access the natural resources of the region.
  • Rising anti-Chinese sentimentswithin the region and security threats from the Taliban allow New Delhi and Central Asia to reimagine their engagement.
  • Central Asian countries have been keen to have India as a partner as they have sought to diversify their strategic ties.
  • India needs clear recalibration of its regional engagement with Central Asian countries.

Value addition

Significance of Central Asian countries to India

  • The Central Asian region (CAR) is considered to be the part of India’s “extended neighborhood.”
  • CAR has become the site of great power tussles over energy resources in the recent past.
  • The geostrategic position of CAR as an access point between Europe and Asia is of greater significance in terms of trade.
  • China’s deep inroads in the Central Asian republics in terms of investment is also a concern.

 

15. The COVID-19 pandemic has again stressed on the importance of the role of parents in supporting the early learning of young children which is well captured in National Early Childhood Care & Education (ECCE) Curriculum framework. Discuss the need and benefits of the same. (250 words, 15 marks)

Introduction

According to UNICEF, early childhood is defined as the period from conception through eight years of age. Early childhood care and education (ECCE) is more than preparation for primary school. It aims at the holistic development of a child’s social, emotional, cognitive and physical needs in order to build a solid and broad foundation for lifelong learning and wellbeing. Target 4.2 of SDG 4 aims that by 2030, to ensure that all girls and boys have access to quality early childhood development, care and pre-primary education.

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Need for ECCE

  • Early childhood is a time of remarkable growth with brain development at its peak.
  • It is crucial to the overall development of children, with impacts on their learning and even earning capabilities throughout their lifetimes.
  • Over 85% of a child’s cumulative brain development occurs prior to the age of 6, indicating the critical importance of appropriate care and stimulation of the brain in a child’s early years for healthy brain development and growth.
  • In a recent study by the Vidhi Centre for Legal Policy, 45% of the 650+ households surveyed in urban Maharashtra reported that they prioritise their older child’s education over ECE.
  • Studies have foundthat the act of making conversation with your child in the early years has significant gains on language skills they develop.
  • It is, therefore of the utmost importance that every child has access to quality early childhood care and education (ECCE).

Benefits of ECCE

  • The overall aim of ECCE will be to attain optimal outcomes in the domains of physical and motor development, cognitive development, socio-emotional-ethical development, cultural/artistic development, and the development of communication and early language, literacy, and numeracy.
  • It also includes a focus on developing social capacities, sensitivity, good behaviour, courtesy, ethics, personal and public cleanliness, teamwork and cooperation.
  • These years lay the foundations for her/ his learning and holistic development.
  • Children will be better prepared for primary school and will reach better education outcomes.
  • Quality ECCE also helps reduce repetition and drop-out rates.
  • Positive outcomes are even more pronounced among children from vulnerable groups.
  • It helps promote human resource development, gender equality and social cohesion, and to reduce the costs for later remedial programmes.
  • An overview of 56 studies across 23 countries found impacts on health, education, cognitive ability, and emotional development.

Way forward

  • For universal access to Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE), the Anganwadi Centres will be strengthened with high quality infrastructure, play equipment and well-trained Anganwadi workers/teachers.
  • Every Anganwadi must have a well-ventilated, well-designed, child-friendly and   well-constructed   building   with   an enriched   learning   Funds for this programme will be provided by the Central and State governments.
  • ECCE teacher trainingshould be added as a skill gap in the list of National Skill Development Corporation to ensure that easy investment is available to produce efficient ECCE teachers.
  • Universal access to quality early childhood educationis perhaps the best investment that India can make for our children’s and our nation’s future.
  • ECCE can also be introduced in Ashrams shalas in tribal-dominated areas in a phased manner.

 

16. Robust institutional mechanisms must be constituted in order to maintain the fine balance of public privacy and national security. Analyse this statement in the context of recent Pegasus controversy. (250 words, 15 marks)

Introduction

The Supreme Court’s much-awaited judgement in the Pegasus case is an important landmark in the history of the fight for the fundamental rights of citizens and institutional protection for them. Pegasus symbolised one of the most serious of such challenges. Revelations in the international media had pointed to extensive surveillance and hacking of citizens’ phones for the past many years with the help of a software from an Israeli company.

The Supreme Court of India has appointed a committee presided by Justice (Retd.) R V Raveendran to inquire into the Pegasus revelations.

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Background

  • When damning revelations emerged that many phones of journalists, activists and even doctors and court staff were targets of military-grade spyware designed not only to grab data but also take control of devices, the Government ought to have responded, as some nations did, with alarm and alacrity.
  • Instead, it resorted to a bald claim that illegal surveillance is not possible in India, and that the disclosure of whether or not a particular software suite was used by its agencies would compromise national security.

Balancing public privacy and national security

  • Article 21 under its ambit, provides Right to privacy. Though this right is not absolute, that does not give license to the government to abrogate the same under the pretext of national security.
  • Surveillance, or even the knowledge that one could be spied upon, affects the way individuals exercise their rights, warranting the Court’s intervention.
  • There is no omnibus prohibition on judicial review merely because the spectre of national security is being raised.
  • The Court deemed unacceptable the Government’s refusal to shed any light on a controversy that involves possible violation of citizens’ rights and made it clear that national security considerations cannot be used by the state “to get a free pass”.
  • The Court has approached the issue as one that raises an “Orwellian concern”, recognising that intrusive surveillance not only violates the right to privacy but also has a chilling effect on the freedom of the press.

Need for accountability

  • The Supreme Court’s decision to set up a committee under a former judge of the court, Justice R V Raveendran, to investigate the charges of illegal surveillance and hacking, under its own supervision, is welcome because it will hopefully bring out the truth and fix responsibility.
  • An important feature of the court’s decision is that it has rejected the government’s offer to set up a committee to probe the matter.
  • The government has been evasive and was unwilling to provide the information that the court wanted, and tried to hide behind the excuse of national security. The court has done well to reject this, and this should be relevant in other cases also where the government has tried to curb the rights of citizens.
  • The committee will also make recommendations for enactment of legal measures and other steps for better protection of rights.

Conclusion

The power of the state to snoop in the name of national security into the “sacred private space” of individuals could not be absolute as reiterated by the state. The Court-supervised panel appears to have the required expertise and independence, but its success in unravelling the truth may depend on how much information it can extract from the Government and its surveillance agencies.


General Studies – 3


 

17. Climate risks may become irreversible despite taking actions. Should the focus be also on adaptation along with mitigation? Critically comment. (250 words, 15 marks)

Introduction

Climate scientists argue that global warming is exacerbating extreme weather events. And natural disasters are often the source of health crises, particularly in fragile settings. Strengthening adaptation is a must in the face of climate change. This includes plans to protect the human health from air pollution, heat waves, floods, droughts and the degradation of water resources. At present, more than 7 million deaths occur worldwide every year due to air pollution.

Body

Climate actions should focus on adaptation also along with mitigation

  • The World Health Organization estimates that climate change is causing tens of thousands of deaths every year.
  • These deaths arise mainly from epidemics such as cholera, dengue and extreme weather events such as heat waves and floods.
  • Experts predict that by 2030, climate change will cause an additional 250,000 deaths each year from malaria, diarrhoeal disease, heat stress and undernutrition alone.
  • Certain groups have higher susceptibility to climate-sensitive health impacts owing to their age (children and elderly), gender (particularly pregnant women), social marginalization (associated in some areas with indigenous populations, poverty or migration status), or other health conditions like HIV. The socioeconomic costs of health problems caused by climate change are considerable.
  • Many infectious diseases, including water-borne ones, are highly sensitive to climate conditions.
  • climate change and air pollution share many major common sources (fossil fuel and biomass burning), climate-driven changes in weather patterns and higher carbon dioxide levels could also worsen air quality in many regions of the world.
  • Elevated CO2 levels in occupied buildings are a well-known indoor air quality concern, with studies reporting associations with declines in cognitive performance and increased risk of sick building syndrome in office workers and schoolchildren.
  • Climate change lengthens the transmission season and expands the geographical range of many diseases like malaria and dengue.
  • Climate change will bring new and emerging health issues, including heatwaves and other extreme events. Heat stress can make working conditions unbearable and increase the risk of cardiovascular, respiratory and renal diseases.
  • Additionally, it is estimated that 5 million people are displaced annually by climate or weather-related disasters, and these figures are expected to increase in the future. Climate-induced human mobility has a socioeconomic cost and can affect mental and physical health.
  • Malnutrition and undernutrition are highlighted as a concern for a number of developing countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America, which discussed the impacts of climate change on food security, particularly in relation to floods and drought. Climate change threatens food and nutrition security

Strengthening Adaptation measures are the way forward:

  • Adaptation means anticipating the adverse effects of climate change and taking appropriate action to prevent or minimise the damage they can cause. Mitigation is an intervention to reduce the emissions sources or enhance the sinks of greenhouse gases.
  • new building codes to adapt future climate change.
  • Developing drought tolerant crops and setting aside land corridors to help species migrate.
  • More secure facility locations and infrastructures
  • Landscape restoration (natural landscape) and reforestation
  • Flexible and diverse cultivation to be prepared for natural catastrophes
  • Research and development on possible catastrophes, temperature behavior, etc.
  • Preventive and precautionary measures (evacuation plans, health issues, etc.)
  • Moving on to more sustainable food production and healthier diets to improve the environment and reduce the burden of non-communicable diseases. One way to do this would be to promote diets rich in fruits and vegetables, including local in-season varieties.

Conclusion

Unprecedentedly, today, the world population is encountering unfamiliar human-induced changes in the lower and middle atmospheres and world-wide depletion of various other natural systems (e.g. soil fertility, aquifers, ocean fisheries, and biodiversity in general). Adaptation and Mitigation together will help in tackling the health impacts of Climate change.

Value addition

Measures undertaken in India towards combating climate change:

  • The National Adaptation Fund for Climate Change (NAFCC) is a Central Sector Scheme which was set up in the year 2015-16. The overall aim of NAFCC is to support concrete adaptation activities which mitigate the adverse effects of climate change. The projects related to adaptation in sectors such as agriculture, animal husbandry, water, forestry, tourism etc. are eligible for funding under NAFCC
  • National Action Plan on Climate Change (NAPCC): The Action plan covers eight major missions on Solar, Enhanced Energy Efficiency, Sustainable Habitat, Water, Sustaining the Himalayan Ecosystem, Green India, Sustainable Agriculture and Strategic Knowledge on Climate Change.
  • International Solar Alliance (ISA): ISA was jointly launched by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and the then President of France, Francois Hollande in Paris on the side-lines of CoP 21 in 2015. The vision and mission of the alliance is to provide a dedicated platform for cooperation among solar resource rich countries that lie completely or partial between the Tropics of Capricorn & Cancer.
  • State Action Plan on Climate Change (SAPCC): State governments have drafted climate strategies aligned with the eight National Missions under the NAPCC. The strategies focus on issues ranging from climate mitigation, energy efficiency, and resource conservation to climate adaptation.
  • FAME Scheme for E-mobility: Union Government in April 2015 launched Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of Hybrid and Electric vehicles (FAME) – India Scheme with an aim to boost sales of eco-friendly vehicles in the country. It is a part of the National Mission for Electric Mobility.
  • Atal Mission for Rejuvenation & Urban Transformation (AMRUT) for Smart Cities.
  • Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana: The scheme provides LPG connections to five crore below-poverty-line beneficiaries. The connections are given in the name of women beneficiaries to reduce their dependence on fossil fuels and conventional fuel like cow dung for cooking food, thus reducing air pollution.
  • UJALA scheme: The scheme was launched by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi in January 2015 with a target of replacing 77 crore incandescent lamps with LED bulbs. The usage of LED bulbs will not only result in reducing electricity bills but also help in environment protection.
  • Swachh Bharat Mission: Swachh Bharat Abhiyan (Clean India Movement) is a campaign that was launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on October 2, 2014. The campaign seeks to clean the streets, roads and infrastructure of the country’s 4041 statutory cities and towns.

 

18. Critically analyse the role of Financial Action Task Force (FATF) in implementing anti-money laundering and counter-terrorist financing (AML/CFT) measures to stop criminals and terrorists from abusing the financial system. (250 words, 15 marks)

Introduction

The Financial Action Task Force (FATF) is an inter-governmental body established in 1989 on the initiative of the G7 countries to develop policies to combat money laundering. In 2001, its mandate expanded to include terrorism financing. It monitors progress in implementing the FATF Recommendations through “peer reviews” (“mutual evaluations”) of member countries. The FATF Secretariat is housed at the OECD headquarters in Paris.

Owing to Pakistan’s failure in fully implementing all the action points, it was once again retained on the ‘grey list’ following the conclusion of the latest FATF plenary on October 2021.

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Role of the FATF:

  • The FATF has developed a series of Recommendations that are recognised as the international standard for combating of money laundering and the financing of terrorism and proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.
  • They form the basis for a co-ordinated response to these threats to the integrity of the financial system and help ensure a level playing field.
  • First issued in 1990, the FATF Recommendations were revised in 1996, 2001, 2003 and most recently in 2012 to ensure that they remain up to date and relevant, and they are intended to be of universal application.
  • The 2003 Forty Recommendations require states, among other things, to:
    • Implement relevant international conventions
    • Criminalise money laundering and enable authorities to confiscate the proceeds of money laundering
    • Implement customer due diligence (e.g., identity verification), record keeping and suspicious transaction reporting requirements for financial institutions and designated non-financial businesses and professions
    • Establish a financial intelligence unit to receive and disseminate suspicious transaction reports, and
    • Cooperate internationally in investigating and prosecuting money laundering
  • The FATF monitors the progress of its members in implementing necessary measures, reviews money laundering and terrorist financing techniques and counter-measures, and promotes the adoption and implementation of appropriate measures globally.
  • In collaboration with other international stakeholders, the FATF works to identify national-level vulnerabilities with the aim of protecting the international financial system from misuse.
  • The FATF’s decision making body, the FATF Plenary, meets three times per year.

Challenges faced by FATF:

  • First, the task of establishing a world-wide anti-money laundering network. This strategy is designed to expand and strengthen the regional bodies of the FATF.
  • The second major challenge confronting the FATF is how best to manage its agenda in order to ensure that its countermeasures remain up-to-date, comprehensive and effective. International co-operation between financial regulators and law enforcement has been identified as cardinal to this goal
  • Despite Pakistan’s failure to fulfil its task list, the FATF President has made it clear that they are not considering placing Pakistan on the ‘black list’, as they say it “continues to cooperate”.
  • In light of the developments in Afghanistan, and concerns over the growth of transnational terror groups such as al-Qaeda and ISIL, as well as JeM and LeT taking advantage of the Taliban takeover to build new safe havens and financing networks, there are higher chances of money laundering and its related effects.

Way forward

  • FATF must ensure that the investigation of Pakistan is not an open-ended process, and is brought to a credible and effective conclusion at the earliest.
  • FATF must keep its commitment from 2001, when it added terror financing to its mandate, to prevent all terror groups from accessing these funding networks.

Conclusion

The FATF is therefore a “policy-making body” which works to generate the necessary political will to bring about national legislative and regulatory reforms in these areas. As of now there are only two countries in the blacklist — Iran and North Korea — and seven on the grey list, including Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Syria and Yemen.

Value addition

Objectives of the FATF:

  • To set standards and promote effective implementation of legal, regulatory and operational measures for combating money laundering, terrorist financing.
  • To tackle other related threats to the integrity of the international financial system.
  • Act against illegal money.
  • Identify cash couriers.
  • Financial sanctions against designated terrorists.
  • Deprive designated persons of their resources.

FATF and India:

  • Recent proposal that Pakistan put back in the greylist could affect Pakistan’s credit rating. This will adversely impact its ability to raise loans from major international financial institutions to service existing debt.
  • This will become even more difficult as compared with the previous listing, given the adversarial relationship with the US and the latter’s influence in major financial institutions. Pakistan will not have adequate resources to fund terrorism
  • The decisions of the United Nations Financial Action Task Force (FATF)are about using the threat of economic punishment to move Pakistan away from funding terrorists operating against Afghanistan and India
  • Being on the grey list would mean that Pakistan’s transactions are closely monitored. This would further cripple the country’s economy as companies across the world would hesitate from doing business with Pakistan.
  • The International Monetary Fund and the World Bank too would avoid giving loans to Pakistan.

 

19. Discuss the benefits of 5G technology, its potential and challenges for implementation on a large scale in India (250 words, 15 marks)

Introduction

5G is the fifth generation mobile network. It’s a unified platform which is much more capable than previous mobile services with more capacity, lower latency, faster data delivery rate and better utilisation of spectrum. The standards for the usage of 5G are defined and driven by 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP).

Body:

Benefits of 5G technology:

  • A more Connected World:
    • 5G will provide the capacity and bandwidth as per the need of the user to accommodate technologies such as Internet of Things.
    • Thus, will help to incorporate Artificial Intelligence in our lives. It can also support Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality services.
  • Bringing Internet Connectivity Everywhere:
    • The speed of 5G will have ripple effects across many industries and geographies.
    • High speed internet access is critical to pushing rural industries — like farming and agriculture — to evolve.
    • 5G networks stand to unlock that innovation, but it’s highly dependent upon how it’s implemented.
  • Better Coverage in Densely Populated Areas:
    • Small cell deployments will be made more effective through high-speed internet, allowing lightweight, easy-to-mount network base stations to increase capacity and coverage in densely populated areas.
    • Though their range is much shorter, they will be able to alleviate overloaded networks in cities and other densely populated regions.
  • Networking as a Service:
    • Network slicing allows multiple virtual networks to be created on top of a shared physical infrastructure, so different types of applications and services will be able to run on shared infrastructure.
    • This enables telecommunications companies to provide networking on-demand in the same way that we currently access other services on-demand, creating a user experience that’s indistinguishable from a physically separated network.
  • radio access networks (RAN):
    • This is creating a new set of ecosystem players dominated by smaller and more innovative companies, which can make way for unknown companies from countries such as India, to emerge as mainstream mobile infrastructure technology providers for the world

The potential advantages it offers:

5G TECHNOLOGY

  • Industry 4.0:
  • The manufacturing industry is going through a digital revolution.
  • Within the context of Industry 4.0, manufacturers are becoming more efficient through the application of automation and data exchange to their existing factory processes to enable better integrated workflows and smarter manufacturing.
  • Industrial IoT technologies are streamlining and simplifying many manufacturing processes in revolutionary ways.
  • Mixed reality (MR) applications:
    • The MR Apps comprise augmented reality (AR) plus virtual reality (VR) apps.
    • Beyond the consumer market (think Pokémon Go), interesting applications are also likely to be found in industrial and medical contexts.
    • Remote medical procedures, engineering, public safety and field-service applications are all strong use case opportunities for the application of low latency 5G services.
  • Sports and entertainment:
    • A combination of VR and AR with ultra high-fidelity enabled by 5G could transform the way fans interact in these events.
    • Motorsports is ideal for VR in particular: equipped with their mobile device or headset, fans could be served information like lap or technical information about cars as they race on the track in a sport like Formula 1
  • Fixed wireless access:
    • Fixed wireless access could also be used to bring high bandwidth digital services to under-served rural areas.
    • Mobile operators will then be able to compete with wireline, satellite and cable companies, offering new revenue streams and faster RoI.
  • Autonomous vehicles:
  • The idea that much of the car, if not all of it, is controlled not by the driver but by technology.
  • 5G is critical to realize this as it will offer the connectivity and speed needed to deliver vast amounts of data to one another as well as other objects simultaneously.
  • 5G can provide a completely seamless mobile experience is a must so that cars can stay constantly connected.

Challenges:

  • Huge Investment Required: India needs a massive Rs 5 lakh crore ($70 billion) investment to bring in 5G.
  • Expensive spectrum: Indian spectrum prices are some of the highest in the world and the allocated quantity is well below global best practices, while 40% of the spectrum is lying unsold.
  • Lack of uniform policy framework: Delays due to complex procedures across states, non-uniformity of levies along with administrative approvals have impacted telecom service providers in rolling-out Optical Fiber Cables (OFC) and telecom towers.
  • Local Regulatory Issues: Many of the local rules and regulations are prohibiting the rapid and cost-effective roll-out of small cells in city centres where Fifth Generation (5G) is initially expected to be most in demand.
  • Debt scenario in the industry: According to ICRA, the collective debt of telecommunications service providers (TSPs) stands at Rs 4.2 lakh crore.
  • Low optical fiber penetration: India lacks a strong backhaul to transition to 5G. Backhaul is a network that connects cells sites to central exchange. As of now 80% of cell sites are connected through microwave backhaul, while under 20% sites are connected through fiber.
  • High Import of Equipments: Imports account for a 90 per cent of India’s telecom equipment market. However due to lack of local manufacturing and R&D, Indian telecom providers have no option other than to procure and deploy 5G technologies from foreign suppliers.
  • Security: According to the Global Cyber Security Index released by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), only about half of all the countries had a cybersecurity strategy or are in the process of developing one. The index, which was topped by Singapore at 0.925 saw India at 23rd position.
  • Possibility of increased digital divide: Initial deployment of 5G networks in dense urban areas could left behind rural areas due to commercial viability, may led to increase the digital divide.
  • Human exposure to radiofrequency electromagnetic fields: There has been concern about the said impact of these frequencies on health of human as well as on animals.

Way Forward:

  • Spectrum Policy: India’s spectrum allocation for public wireless services should be enhanced significantly. Also, the cost of spectrum relative to per capita GDP is high and should come down.
  • Create a Fifth Generation (5G) Program Office within Department of Telecommunications and an Oversight Committee.
  • New civil infrastructure like highways, roads, canals and utilities (gas, electricity, water) lines should be mandated to provide Common Telecom Infrastructure resources such as ducting and power junction boxes to support 5G infrastructure.
  • Security audits, a prerequisite for importing of equipment before deploying in Indian networks, needs to be simplified.
  • Favorable Taxation Policy: Reducing taxation and regulatory fees on revenues could contribute to further evolution of the tax framework.
  • Fifth Generation (5G) Pilot: Policy-makers may consider encouraging 5G pilots and test beds to test 5G technologies and use cases and to stimulate market engagement.
  • Support Fifth Generation (5G) investment: Indian government and regulators should ensure the long-term sustainability of the industry and its ability to fund the significant investment required for 5G network deployments.
  • Policy-makers may consider the use of licensed, unlicensed and shared spectrum to create a balanced spectrum ecosystem – one that encourages investment, makes efficient use of spectrum and promotes competition.
  • Where market failure has occurred, governments may consider stimulating investment in fibre networks and passive assets through setting up PPPs, investment funds and offering grant funds, etc.

Conclusion

The World Economic Forum predicts that by 2023 there will be a staggering 9.1 billion mobile subscriptions. 5G will act as the catalyst for Digital India—a watershed moment in digital transformation. India is at the cusp of a next generation of wireless technology 5G. It provides an opportunity for industry to reach out to global markets, and consumers to gain with the economies of scale. It can help in better service delivery, faster access to services and deeper penetration of digital services.

 

20. Around the world, major economies have been moving to embrace and launch central bank digital currencies (CBDCs). India must also explore CBDC after addressing concerns surrounding it. Analyse (250 words, 15 marks)

Introduction

A Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC), or national digital currency, is simply the digital form of a country’s fiat currency. Instead of printing paper currency or minting coins, the central bank issues electronic tokens. This token value is backed by the full faith and credit of the government.

The Reserve Bank of India is likely to soon kick off pilot projects to assess the viability of using digital currency to make wholesale and retail payments to help calibrate its strategy for introducing a full-scale central bank digital currency (CBDC).

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According to the Bank for International Settlements, more than 60 countries are currently experimenting with the CBDC. There are few Countries that already rolled out their national digital currency. Such as,

  • Swedenis conducting real-world trials of their digital currency (krona)
  • The Bahamasalready issued their digital currency “Sand Dollar” to all citizens
  • Chinastarted a trial run of their digital currency e- RMB amid pandemic. They plan to implement pan-China in 2022. This is the first national digital currency operated by a major economy.

Need for a CBDC:

  • The growth of cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin, Ethereum etc has raised challenges to fiat currencies.
  • Along with their other vulnerabilities made the central bank of each country explore the possibility of introducing their own digital currencies.
  • A 2021 BIS survey of central banks, which found that 86% were actively researching the potential for such currencies, 60% were experimenting with the technology, and 14% were deploying pilot projects.
  • The need for inter-bank settlement would disappear as it would be a central bank liability handed over from one person to another.

Potential of a CBDC:

  • An official digital currency would reduce the cost of currency management while enabling real-time payments without any inter-bank settlement.
  • India’s fairly high currency-to-GDP ratio holds out another benefit of CBDC — to the extent large cash usage can be replaced by CBDC, the cost of printing, transporting and storing paper currency can be substantially reduced.
  • As the currency in digital form, it can provide an efficient way for financial transaction. Further, digital currency also solves the challenges with Cash and coins. Cash and coins require expenses in storage and have inherent security risks like the recent heist in the RBI currency chest.
  • There are about 3,000 privately issued cryptocurrencies in the world. According to IMF, the key reason for considering national digital currency is to counter the growth of private forms of digital money.
  • There is a possibility of these companies going bankrupt without any protection. This will create a loss for both investor and creditor. But the National Digital currency has government backing in case of any financial crisis.
  • As the state-backed digital currency can provide investor/consumer protection, the private can confidently invest in the associated infrastructure without any doubts over its regulation. This will improve the services to people.
  • The national digital currency will be regulated by the RBI. So, there will be less volatility compared to other digital currencies.
  • Current RBI’s work on inflation targeting can be extended to national digital currency also. Since India is planning to ban other cryptocurrencies, the RBI can better regulate digital and fiat currency. Thus, upgrading to digital currency and balancing the macroeconomic stability.
  • With the introduction of CBDC in a nation, its central bank would be able to keep a track of the exact location of every unit of the currency, thereby curbing money laundering.
  • Criminal activities can be easily spotted and ended such as terror funding, money laundering, and so forth

Concerns posed:

  • India is already facing many cyber security threats. With the advent of digital currency, cyberattacks might increase and threaten digital theft like Mt Gox bankruptcy case.
  • According to the Digital Empowerment Foundation in 2018 report, around 90% of India’s population is digitally illiterate. So, without creating enough literary awareness introduction of digital currency will create a host of new challenges to the Indian economy.
  • Introduction of digital currency also creates various associated challenges in regulation, tracking investment and purchase, taxing individuals, etc.
  • The digital currency must collect certain basic information of an individual so that the person can prove that he’s the holder of that digital currency. This basic information can be sensitive ones such as the person’s identity, fingerprints etc.

Conclusion

There are crucial decisions to be made about the design of the currency with regards to how it will be issued, the degree of anonymity it will have, the kind of technology that is to be used, and so on. There is no doubt that the introduction of National Digital currency prevents the various threats associated with the private-owned cryptocurrencies and take India the next step as a digital economy. But the government has to create necessary safeguards before rolling out. India needs to move forward on introducing an official digital currency.

Value addition

Working of CBDC:

  • CBDCs use distributed ledger technology (DLT), which is typically deployed in a hybrid architecture i.e. existing central bank and payment infrastructure + DLT for movement, transparency, workflow and audit trail or tracing of funds (value).
  • This technology helps in efficiency (speed), security (encryptions) and also other aspects like smart contracts which execute buy and sell transactions based on a pre-defined criteria and opens up the possibility of ‘programmable’ money.
  • CBDC can be in different forms like token or account/ digital wallet form.
  • The underlying technology used for CBDCs can vary from DLT or a mix of existing payment rails and systems at one layer and DLT at the second layer. In order to keep track of money, banks need to store financial records, such as how much money a person has and what transactions they’ve made.
  • While digitising the money supply chain from central banks to commercial banks to consumers of wholesale and retail CBDCs, complimenting the existing infrastructure and investment is important.

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