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
Reference: Insights on India
Soil is a relatively thin layer of unconsolidated mineral and organic material on the immediate surface of the earth. Soil is a mixture of organic matter, minerals, gases, liquids, and organisms that together support life. Pedogenesis or soil development is the process of soil formation as regulated by the effects of place, environment, and history.
- Active factors
- precipitation or rainfall
- Passive factors
- Relief (topography)
- Parent material
- Alluvial Soil:
- These are formed by the deposition of sediments by rivers.
- They are rich in humus and very fertile. These soils are renewed every year.
- This soil is well-drained and poorly drained with an immature profile in undulating areas. This soil has potash deficiency.
- The colour of soil varies from light grey to ash.
- This soil is suited for Rice, maize, wheat, sugarcane, oilseeds etc.
- They are found in Great Northern plain, lower valleys of Narmada and Tapti and Northern Gujarat.
- This soil is divided into Khadar Soil (New) and Bhangar Soil (Old).
- Black or Regur Soil:
- These soils are made up of volcanic rocks and lava-flow.
- It is concentrated over Deccan Lava Tract which includes parts of Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu.
- It consists of Lime, Iron, Magnesium and also Potash but lacks in Phosphorus, Nitrogen and Organic matter.
- It has high water retaining capacity and good for the cotton cultivation, Tobacco, citrus fruits, castor, and linseed.
- Red Soil:
- These are derived from weathering of ancient metamorphic rocks of Deccan Plateau.
- The presence of ferric oxides makes the colour of soil red. The top layer of the soil is red and horizon below is yellowish.
- Generally, these soils are deficient in phosphate, lime, magnesia, humus and nitrogen.
- This soil is good for the cultivation of wheat, cotton, pulses, tobacco, millets, orchards, potato, and oilseeds.
- They cover almost the whole of Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Karnataka, Maharashtra and parts of Orissa.
- Laterite Soil:
- These soft, when they are wet and ‘hard and cloddy’ on drying.
- These soils are formed due to intense leaching and are well developed on the summits of hills and uplands.
- They are commonly found in Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh and hilly areas of Orissa and Assam.
- These are poor in organic matter, nitrogen, potassium, lime and potash.
- These iron and aluminium rich soils are suitable for the cultivation of rice, ragi, sugarcane and cashew nuts.
- Mountain Soil:
- These soils are formed as a result of the accumulation of organic matter derived from forest growth.
- They are found in Himalayan region and vary in different regions according to altitude.
- Tea is grown in those areas which receive sufficient rainfall.
- These soils are immature and dark brown in colour.
- This soil has very low humus and it is acidic in nature.
- The orchards, fodder, legumes are grown in this soil.
- Desert Soil:
- This soil is deposited by wind action and mainly found in the arid and semi-arid areas like Rajasthan, West of the Aravallis, Northern Gujarat, Saurashtra, Kachchh, Western parts of Haryana and southern part of Punjab.
- They are sandy with low organic matter.
- It has low soluble salts and moisture with very low retaining capacity. If irrigated these soil give a high agricultural return.
- These suitable less water requiring crops like Bajra, pulses, fodder, and guar.
- As evaporation is in excess of rainfall, the soil has a high salt content and saline layer forms a hard crust.
- Peaty and Marshy Soils:
- This soil originates from the areas where adequate drainage is not possible.
- It is rich in organic matter and has high salinity.
- They are deficient in potash and phosphate.
- These mainly found in Sunderbans delta, Kottayam, and Alappuzha districts of Kerala, Rann of Kachchh, deltas of Mahanadi etc.
- Saline and Alkaline Soils:
- Theses also called as Reh, Usar, Kallar, Rakar, Thur and Chopan.
- These are mainly found in Rajasthan, Haryana, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Maharashtra.
- Sodium chloride and sodium sulphate are present in this soil.
- It is suitable for leguminous crops.
The need of the hour is to educate farmers in other regions as well about what they can do to improve the health of their nutrient-depleted soil by following practices such as crop rotation, and using organic manure boosters such as cow dung and dried leaves.
Reference: Insights on India
Child marriage usually refers to a social phenomenon practiced in some societies in India, where a young child (usually a girl below the age of fifteen) is married to an adult man. A second form of practice of child marriage is that in which the parents of the two children (the girl and boy) arrange a future marriage.
Recent analysis by UNICEF points out that one in three of the world’s child brides live in India. It has also warned India against the increase in child marriages owing to the adversaries of COVID-19.
The factors that encourage its subsistence are usually a combination of poverty, the lack of education, continued perpetration of patriarchal relations that encourage and facilitate gender inequalities, and cultural perspectives that encourage the phenomenon to thrive.
- Lack of education:A big determinant of the age of marriage is education. Around 45% of women with no education and 40% with primary education married before the age of 18, according to NFHS-4.
- Seen as a Burden:Economically, child marriages work as mechanisms that are quick income earners. A girl child is seen as a leeway to a large dowry, to be given to her family upon her marriage.
- Poverty: In terms of economic status, women from poor households tend to marry earlier. While more than 30% of women from the lowest two wealth quintiles were married by the age of 18, the corresponding figure in the richest quintile was 8%.
- Social background:Child marriages are more prevalent in rural areas and among Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes.
- Trafficking: Poor families are tempted to sell their girls not just into marriage, but into prostitution, as the transaction enables large sums of money to benefit the girl’s family and harms the girl. There is apathy towards their girls and the money by selling their girls is used for the benefit of their sons
Measures to curb child marriage
- It is one of the most effective strategiesto protect children against marriage.
- When girls are able to stay in school an attitudinal change can also occur towards their opportunities within the community.
Congregating child protection workers:
- One way of keeping a check on child marriages during the pandemicwould be to ensure that there is a strong cohort of child protection workers among essential health workers.
- India has a robust system of grassroots workerswho have done commendable work in ensuring that health and other social security services reach people on in these dire times.
- If such workers were incorporated into the system, they couldkeep a check on girl children at risk of early marriage and take steps to avert these.
- This could be in the form of awareness counsellingand helping some benefits reach the family concerned.
Gender sensitization programs:
- Gender training programs should be spread throughout the district for police and NGOs. Government of India along with organizations like UNICEF and NGOs should make the efforts for the implementation of the convergent national strategy, which includes:
- Capacity-building on laws, support mechanisms such as a child marriage telephone hotlineshould be implemented in true letter and spirit. E.g.: Odisha Child Marriage Resistance Forum.
- Imparting Life skills, protection skills, higher education and employment opportunitiesshould be ensured to each and every girl child.
- Primary and secondary education for girls should be promoted.
- Working with influential leaders, oaths and pledges, counselling, folk and traditional media.
- Government’s partnerships with civil society organizations and communitiesare key to supporting community mobilization efforts and mindset changes and partnerships with the media are very important for raising awareness of child marriage.
- programs and sectors at all levels should be converged, in particular with education and social protection schemes and programmes.
- Government of India has already enacted laws like Child marriage prohibition act 2006 and started many initiatives like Beti Bachao Beti Padhao, Sukanya Samriddhi Yojanato incentivize the people to give equal treatment to their daughters as their sons.
- Conditional Cash Transfer schemesaddresses issues more towards the individual rather than the household, which is the focus of the government.
- Certain national schemes, is, related to maternity benefits and the survival and education of the girl child which addresses the problem of child marriage directly or indirectly. E.g.: Dhanalakshmi, Rajiv Gandhi Scheme for Empowerment of Adolescent girls (SABLA)
- CCTs have benefits of legal protection of the marriage as well as ensuring education of girls.
Transformative and well-resourced measures that increase access to education, health and overall girl’s empowerment will not just help in eliminating child marriage but also lead to the long-term positive health and education outcomes thus help India reach its SDG targets by 2030.
General Studies – 2
Reference: The Hindu
Over the last nine years, India has sought to “protect children from offences of sexual assault, sexual harassment and pornography” through the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act (POCSO). But POCSO has not been without controversy or deficiency. The recent Allahabad High Court verdict that a penetrative sexual assault on a 10-year-old boy by an offender did not amount to an aggravated form of the crime appears to be per incuriam, that is, a ruling handed down without due regard to the law and facts.
Implications of judgement
- The Allahabad High Court’s view that a particular act amounting to a penetrative sexual act does not attract the punishment prescribed for its aggravated form will have on lower courts trying similar cases.
- The Supreme Court’s broader interpretation of the POCSO Act seems to be an error correction made by the High Courts that narrowly interpretated the words ‘touch’, ‘physical contact’ and ‘skin to skin contact’.
- In this regard, the verdict in Sonu Kushwaha vs State of U.P. has to be reviewed as it seems to be based on an error of law.
Need to expand and for better implementation of POCSO act
- According to the National Crime Records Bureau(NCRB) data of 2016, the conviction rate in POCSO cases is 29.6% while pendency is as high as 89%. The prescribed time period of two months for trial in such cases is hardly complied with.
- As per the NCRB data of 2016, less than three per cent of child rape cases that came up before the courts ended in convictions.
- The appalling lack of infrastructure and manpower in the criminal justice system.
- Most districts continue to try cases of child sexual abuse in regular sessions courts, designated as special courts for the sake of compliance
- Investigations are regularly botched up by an understaffed, poorly trained, overburdened police force which has little to no forensic support.
- The fact that the ordinance reduces the time given to the police to file a charge sheet, and to the court to decide appeals against sentencing, displays a complete lack of understanding about the issues on the ground.
- Given the unavailability or unreliability of age-related documents in most parts of the country, reliance is placed on ossification tests to prove the age of the victim in cases under the POCSO.
Reforming POCSO Act
- There is an urgent need to reform and revise our laws to account for various developments such as recent ruling of Allahabad court.
- Problems related to implementation of POCSO Act such as lack of adequate special courts, lack of sensitization for investigators and prosecutors in dealing with child victims, poor rate of convictions etc. need to be resolved urgently.
- The Supreme Court direction to set up special courts within 60 days of the order in each district having more than 100 pending cases under the act must be complied with urgently.
- Fast track courts and Special trial courts (already in provision of POCSO Act) to provide justice at the earliest to the victims. Instead of death penalty, a combination of heavy financial penalty, life imprisonment with no provision of parole can act as deterrent.
- Awareness and sensitization of people is equally important to prevent the crime itself.
- Providing sex-education to children, which is neglected in India. This makes them more aware of the various protective laws like POCSO, good touch-bad touch etc.
- Orientation programme and intensive courses may also be organized for police personnel and forensic experts for building their capacities in their respective roles on a regular basis.
- any institution housing children or coming in regular contact with children, including schools, creches, sports academies or any other facility for children must ensure a police verification and background check on periodic basis of every staff.
- Measures to protect their physical and virtual identity should be in place.
- To safeguard their emotional and mental wellbeing, prevention and protection from sexual offences and reporting mechanisms, including Childline helpline services through toll free number – 1098.
At the very least, the Union government must frame guidelines to direct effective and purposeful prosecution in cases which are not covered by the POCSO. With growing international jurisprudence around these issues, and in line with the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, India must revise its legal and procedural methods related to POCSO Act.
Additional information: Background
- The recent Allahabad High Court verdict that a penetrative sexual assault on a 10-year-old boy by an offender did not amount to an aggravated form of the crimeappears to be per incuriam, that is, a ruling handed down without due regard to the law and facts.
- The offence that was proven in the trial, and endorsed without demur by the High Court, involved the child being made to perform an oral sexual act.
- The Court agrees that it was a “penetrative sexual assault” as defined by the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, as the accused had put his member into the victim’s mouth.
- However, it did not amount to “aggravated penetrative sexual assault”, a crime punishable with a minimum prison term of 10 years that can go up to life.
Reference: Live Mint
The Constituent Assembly, constituted in 1946,was scripting a collective vision of the future of the country. Between December 1946 and 1949, the Assembly met for 165 days and debated extensively and drafted the documents, which laid the foundation for our Constitution.
“Constitutional morality” means adherence to the core principles of the constitutional democracy. The scope of the definition of Constitutional Morality is not limited only to following the constitutional provisions literally but vast enough to ensure the ultimate aim of the Constitution, a socio-juridical scenario providing an opportunity to unfold the full personhood of every citizen, for whom and by whom the Constitution exists.
It provides a principled understanding for unfolding the work of governance. It specifies norms for institutions to survive and an expectation of behaviour that will meet not just the text but the soul of the Constitution. It also makes the governing institutions and representatives accountable.
Constitutional Morality is scarcely a new concept. It is written largely in the Constitution itself like in the section of Fundamental Rights (Article 12 to 35), Directive Principle of State Policy (Article 36 to 51), Preamble and Fundamental duties.
The sources of constitutional morality are (1) Text of the Constitution; (2) Constitutional Assembly debates; (3) Events that took place during the framing of the Constitution; and (4) Case Law History.
Changing contours of Constitutional Morality
Constitutional morality means adherence to the core principles of constitutional democracy. However, it is not limited only to following the constitutional provisions literally but is based on values like individual autonomy and liberty; equality without discrimination; recognition of identity with dignity; the right to privacy.
For instance, In Supreme Court’s Sabarimala verdict religious freedom, gender equality and the right of women to worship guaranteed under Article 14, 21 and 25 of the Constitution was reinstated which struck down the practice of banning entry of women of a certain age to the Sabarimala temple in Kerala as unconstitutional. The Supreme Court bypassed the “doctrine of essentiality” to uphold the Constitutional morality. Constitutional morality here went against social morality that discriminates against women based on biological reasons like menstruation.
Other instances in which the Supreme Court has upheld the constitutional morality,
- In Kesavananda Bharati Case, the Supreme Court restricted the power of the Parliament to violate the Basic Structure of the Constitution.
- In the Naz Foundation case, the Supreme Court opined that only Constitutional Morality should prevail and not Public Morality.
- In Lt Governor of Delhi case, SC proclaimed constitutional morality as a governing ideas that “highlight the need to preserve the trust of people in the institution of democracy.
- In Navtej Singh Johar v. Union of India, the SC provided a framework to reaffirm the rights of LGBTQ and all gender non-conforming people to their dignity, life, liberty, and identity.
Thus, Constitutional morality ensures the establishment of rule of law in the land while integrating the changing aspirations and ideals of the society. It recognises plurality and diversity in society and tries to make individuals and communities in the society more inclusive in their functioning by constantly providing the scope for improvement and reforms, as envisaged by our Constitution.
General Studies – 3
Reference: Hindustan Times
The November 2008 Mumbai attacks, also referred to as the 26/11 attacks, prompted the central government to critically heighten its counter-terrorism operations and re-examine several aspects of its already straining ties with Pakistan. It is 13 years since the series of dreadful terror attacks in Mumbai when 10 members of the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), a jihadist outfit based in Pakistan, carried out 12 coordinated attacks leaving 166 dead and lasting as many as four days across major locations.
Improvements in India’s counterterrorism mechanisms
- The major domestic response to Mumbai has been an emphasis on streamlined coordination between agencies across state and federal lines.
- A new National Investigation Agency (NIA) was created with aim of the NIA is to empower a federal agency to investigate major crimes such as terrorism and organized crime without having to be asked to do so by the states.
- India’s security apparatus has been reinforced with the establishment of Multi-Agency Coordination Centres (MACCs) and Subsidiary Multi-Agency Coordination Centres (SMACCs).
- An infusion of funding and personnel into the overall security apparatus has also been promised, and the NSG has been deployed throughout the country to offer a quicker response to future attacks
- One significant reform undertaken post-26/11 was the clear designation of coastal security responsibilities to different agencies like Indian Navy (beyond 12 NM), Coast Guard ( 5-12 NM) and Marine Police (Baseline to 5 NM).
- Coordination between various agencies has improved, joint exercises are being regularly conducted to familiarise with the standard operating procedures (SOPs), and the levels of surveillance has been enhanced as well.
- Coastal mapping has also been undertaken by the states towards improving awareness about the coastal areas. For instance, ISRO in collaboration with the West Bengal state police has also developed a coastal information system with the dual aims of creating a digital database, and creating a framework for the visualisation and analysis of coastal geospatial data.
- After successful proof-of-concept trials by the Indian Navy and the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) of a satellite-based tracking system using GSAT-6 satellite, and subsequent successful field trials, close to 5,000 mechanised boats in Tamil Nadu are been progressively fitted with the indigenously developed satellite-based transponder systems.
- Some states have already initiated concerted steps to ramp up their cyber capabilities.
- Besides enacting cyber legislations, the government has also undertaken organisational measures by establishing new centres for cyber security such as the National Critical Information Infrastructure Protection Centre and the National Cyber Coordination Centre; creating a division covering Cyber and Information Security within the Ministry of Home Affairs; and improving institutional capacity building through training of personnel and generating awareness.
- India has also fought hard to cut off the terror finance to rogue nations with the global support like FATF.
Challenges that India is still facing
- Terrorist groups are making effective use of technology, social media and other innovative tactics not only to evade arrest and prosecution but to disseminate their propaganda and recruit foot soldiers.
- The impact of social media on the spread of terrorism can be seen in the conflict in Kashmir, where there is a growing trend of increased radicalisation especially amongst the youth.
- The multiple challenges emanating from the cyber domain include interference in elections through the use of propaganda in social media, fake news leading to panic, and digital disruption of energy assets and transportation systems.
- Recognising the difficulty of militarily defeating state forces, terrorists are aiming to create spectacle through lone-wolf attacks and suicide missions.
- Funding of the terror outfits are being done through the money from drug peddling, dark web, cryptocurrency and money laundering activities.
- India also suffers from inadequate inter-agency coordination which, in turn, leads to lack of effective intelligence monitoring and security response.
- To improve the level of coordination, inter-operability amongst the agencies must be enhanced.
- This can be complemented with a comprehensive integrated border management system to guard the border areas where infiltrations take place.
- Enabling timely transportation of security forces during terrorist attacks
- India must integrate all its resources for deployment to combat any future contingency. Essential equipment and weapons systems must be acquired.
- Terrorism has moved beyond the physical space to the digital space. In this context, the gathering of intelligence needs to become multi-faceted as well.
- India’s security forces must create effective counter-narratives and build an environment that does not lead to marginalisation and radicalisation as is increasingly seen in the case of homegrown jihadis in the Valley.
- Radicalism must be dealt with by intelligently balancing “soft” and “hard” approaches.
- India should build robust systems to ensure uninterrupted and safe operations of the country’s digital infrastructure.
- Collaboration between government, media and public to raise awareness about anti-terrorism.
- At a global level, India can use its UNSC membership to get the CCIT ratified at UN.
As the manifestations of terrorism continue to change rapidly and become increasingly technology-centric, State forces responsible for the country’s counterterrorism response will have to adapt to these shifts and build the resilience of India’s security ecosystem.
Answer the following questions in 250 words:
General Studies – 1
Flash drought is defined in two ways, either as a short-lived yet severe event where soil moisture completely depletes or a multi-week period of rapid intensification toward drought. It is characterized by a period of rapid drought intensification with impacts on agriculture, water resources, ecosystems, and the human environment.
According to the paper published recently in Nature Communications, India is a hotspot for flash droughts and this could have major implications on the country’s crop production.
Flash drought vis-à-vis Conventional drought
- Conventional droughtis caused by a decline in precipitation, while flash drought occurs when low precipitation is accompanied by abnormally high temperatures (e.g., heat waves), high winds, and/or changes in radiation. (increased evapotranspiration)
- According to the IMD, drought is a consequence of the natural reduction in the amount of precipitation for a long period of time.
- Conventional drought can occur throughout the year at any location, whereas flash drought typically occurs during warm seasons.
Measures needed to tackle flash droughts
- The need of the hour is to consider the flash-drought prediction ahead of timeusing operational meteorological forecasts from India Meteorological Department.
- This will help manage irrigation water demands and avoid considerable losses in agriculture.
- To predict the future flash droughts, usage of a Community Earth System Model which simulates the summer monsoon precipitation, sea surface temperature, role of El Nino Southern Oscillation, and air temperature over India.
- The role of greenhouse gas emissions, industrial aerosols, and land-use/land-cover change must be examined.
- The frequency of concurrent hot and dry extremesis projected to rise by about five-fold, causing an approximately seven-fold increase in flash droughts like 1979 by the end of the 21st century.
- The increased frequency of flash droughtscan have deleterious implications for crop production, irrigation demands and groundwater abstraction in India.
- The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) launched the Integrated Drylands Development Programme (IDDP) with the overall goal to strengthen resilience by working on the twin vulnerabilities of poverty and unsustainable land management in the drylands.
- The United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR) developed a Drought Risk Reduction frameworkthat takes an integrated development approach and provides a comprehensive framework for both higher-level and local action.
- The Integrated Drought Management Programme (IDMP) and its partners have adopted three pillars of drought management:
- Drought monitoring and early warning systemsto determine drought status.
- Vulnerability and impact assessment to determine who and what are at risk and why.
- Mitigation, drought preparedness, and response to set out actions and measures to mitigate drought impacts and to prepare to respond to drought emergencies.
- There is a need for a more organized and common conceptual frameworkfor assessing drought risk and for analysing the “Benefits of Action and Costs of Inaction” (BACI).
- The framework is set out within the model for the overall process of developing a National Drought Management Policy, which was codified by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and the Global Water Partnership (GWP) in their 2014 National Drought Management Policy Guidelines.
General Studies – 2
7. The Pre-Legislative Consultation Policy supports the growing expectations of a transparent government and resolves contentious issues on which government is seeking to build consensus. Examine. (250 words)
Reference: The Hindu
Pre-Legislative Consultation is a process through which citizens engage with the government by providing feedback and comments on policies and draft bills. A draft bill is a proposal made to the Parliament to become a law. It is this draft bill that is placed before the public for their feedback. The Union Government has listed 29 Bills to be tabled in the winter session of Parliament.
In 2014, the Pre-Legislative Consultation Policy was adopted, mandating a host of rules, including that whenever the Government makes any law, it must place a draft version of it in the public domain for at least 30 days.
Pre – legislative consultation policy 2014
- The policy also says that along with the draft, a note explaining the law in simple language and justifying the proposal, its financial implication, impact on the environment and fundamental rights, a study on the social and financial costs of the bill, etc. should be uploaded.
- The respective departments should also upload the summary of all the feedback that they receive on the circulated draft.
- It aimed to create an institutionalised space for public participation in law-making processes.
Importance of Pre-legislative consultation policy 2014
- This policy provides a forum for citizens and relevant stakeholders to interact with the policymakers in the executive during the initial stages of law-making.
- Protests in the recent past over laws such as the farm laws, the RTI Amendment Act, the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Act, etc. have all highlighted that there is discontent among relevant stakeholders and the public at large since they were not looped in while framing such laws.
- Public consultations enhance transparency, increase accountability and could result in the building of an informed Government where citizens are treated as partners and not as subjects.
- For example, concerns raised by civil society members (#SaveTheInternet campaign) were addressed by the Telecom Regulatory Authority in its framing of the net neutrality rules after extensive consultation and deliberation processes adopted by them.
Performance of Pre-legislative consultation policy 2014
- During the 16th Lok Sabha (May 2014 to May 2019) 186 bills were introduced in Parliament, of which 142 saw no consultation prior to introduction.
- From the 44 bills placed in the public domain for receipt of comments, 24 did not adhere to the 30-day deadline.
- During the 17th Lok Sabha (June 2019 to present), 115 bills were introduced in Parliament, of which 85 saw no consultation prior to introduction.
- From the 30 bills placed in public domain for receipt of comment, 16 of them did not adhere to the 30-day deadline.
- Though it is required that the mandates of an approved policy be heeded by all Government departments, the absence of a statutory or constitutional right has watered down its effect.
- The effective implementation of the policy requires subsequent amendments in executive procedural guidelines like the Manual of Parliamentary Procedures and Handbook on Writing Cabinet Notes.
- The main issues being faced by the government are in terms of awareness of the Pre-legislative consultation process.
- At times consultations are put out in the public domain but there are no responses from the citizens.
- On the other hand, large volumes of feedback are often not processed because of internal capacity constraints.
- The effective implementation of the policy requires subsequent amendments in executive procedural guidelines like the Manual of Parliamentary Procedures and Handbook on Writing Cabinet Notes.
- Incorporation of pre-legislative consultation in the procedures of the Cabinet, Lok Sabha, Rajya Sabha etc. should be prioritized.
- Similarly, it must be required of ministers while introducing the bill to place an addendum note on the details of the pre-legislative consultation.
- Empowering citizens with a right to participate in pre-legislative consultations through a statutory and constitutional commitment could be a gamechanger.
- Importance of Consultation:
- Inclusive, regular and meaningful consultation between national governments and stakeholders – including civil society – is essential for SDG implementation and accountability.
- It provides opportunities for diverse voices to be heard on issues that matter to citizens, allowing people to share their knowledge, insight and experience to advance implementation.
- Solutions and laws reflect real needs and provide more forward-looking solutions
- Increased legitimacy of proposed changes and enhanced compliance in implementation
- Increased confidence in government institutions and trust amongst partners
- Establishment of a cross-sector dialogue and information sharing
- Less conflicts amongst different groups and between the private sector and government agencies
- Partnership, ownership and responsibility in implementation
- More effective and forward-looking harmonization and simplification efforts.
- From protests against laws redefining citizenship and Agri-marketing to suspicions over the safety of the Covid-19 vaccine and leaks about internal differences over economic policy, government appears to be suffering from a severe case of hubris.
- The implacable and strident tone of the farmer protests after nine rounds of talks, multiple concessions, and a Supreme Court-mandated committee are good examples of the current dissonance between the governed and the government.
- Despite the progressive intent of the laws, the roughshod manner in which they were passed has detracted from their merits.
- Appearing first as Ordinances, the government leveraged its brute majority in Parliament to rush through the Bills in a monsoon session, truncated by Covid-19 with the minimum of debate.
- Later, when farmers hunkered down on Delhi’s borders, the government claimed that it had held extensive pre-legislative discussions with farm lobbies and then wielded the security agencies against key protestors.
- Now, the agriculture ministry has admitted in reply to an application under the Right to Information Act that it has no record of such consultations. Examples such as this do not encourage trust in the government.
- The upshot has been that, despite assurances that the minimum support price would remain and that the laws amended to remove the administrative restraints on contractual appeals in court, the farmers are disinclined to take the government at its word.
- This trust deficit had manifested in nationwide protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act, of which Delhi’s Shaheen Bagh became a potent symbol.
- Both protests have demonstrated that the absence of a meaningful opposition party does not preclude the citizenry from mobilizing on its own initiative when it perceives its interests are at stake.
- In the case of the Covid-19 vaccine drive, the relatively poor turnout in several states points to distrust over the approval granted to Bharat Biotech’s candidate Covaxin because Phase III clinical trials had not been completed.
- The fact that this vaccine is administered after the recipient signs a consent form is unlikely to instill confidence in a large majority of the population that is ill-equipped to comprehend the risks embedded in clinical trials.
- Now, it transpires from the minutes of the Subject Expert Committee (SEC) meetings, which were released by the Central Drugs Standard Control Organization, that the SEC initially expressed reservations about Covaxin but approved it just two days later without explanation.
- The trust deficit appears to be manifesting itself within government too.
8. Community kitchens have emerged as an empirical solution to feed those in need and an adequate food security measure. It is about time to have a national policy for community kitchens. Analyse. (250 words).
Reference: The Hindu
A Community Kitchen is a group of people who meet on a regular basis to plan, cook and share healthy, affordable meals. Community Kitchens Groups are for everyone, and can be run anywhere there is a kitchen (churches, schools, neighbourhood houses, community health services, workplaces, Men’s Sheds etc.).
The Food Ministry recently formed a group of eight State Food Secretaries to create the framework for a community kitchens scheme.
Importance of Community kitchens in India
- In India, many states like Tamil Nadu, Odisha, Delhi, and Jharkhand have already been running community kitchens that serve meals at subsidized rates in hygienic conditions.
- COVID – 19 global pandemic has resulted in a national lockdown leaving a large number of people vulnerable to hunger.
- Those worst hit by this unprecedented pandemic and lockdown were daily wage labourers, migrants, homeless, the poor and many who form the floating population.
- Community kitchens have emerged as an empirical solution to feed those in need.
- The main idea behind community kitchen is to provide cheap and nutritious, and often free food to people who cannot afford it.
- Community Kitchens run by SHG Women provided food to the most poor and vulnerable in Rural Areas during the COVID-19 lockdown.
- 10,000 community kitchens were set up across five states of Bihar, Jharkhand, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh and Odisha, to name a few. These kitchens spread across 75 different districts have been providing meals twice a day to nearly 70,000 individuals who are vulnerable and needy.
Rationale behind National policy for community kitchens
- Food and Agriculture Report, 2018 stated that India houses 195.9 million of the 821 million undernourished people in the world, accounting for approximately 24% of the world’s hungry.
- Prevalence of undernourishment in India is 14.8%, higher than both the global and Asian average.
- The most alarming figure revealed is that approximately 4500 children die every day under the age of five years in our country resulting from hunger and malnutrition, amounting to over three lakh deaths every year owing to hunger, of children alone.
- Various schemes to combat hunger, malnutrition and the resulting starvation are in place. But, in reality, effective implementation of the schemes was unclear and fairly limited.
- In the interest of justice and for entitlement of nutritious food, which has been held as a basic fundamental and human right, in both national and international law, alike, the establishment of community kitchens may be directed as an added mechanism for provision of nutritious food.
- Community kitchens help achieve the intent of holistically combating eradication of hunger, malnutrition and starvation in the country, and diseases, illnesses and deaths resulting thereof.
- Community kitchens help in the following
- increase access to healthy meals
- help the community to develop life skills such as growing of fresh food, budgeting, meal planning, cooking and social skills
- support members of the community to connect and start new friendships
- Article 47 of Indian Constitution states that it is the duty of the State to raise the level of nutrition and standard of living of its people as a primary responsibility
The community kitchens could play a vital role in mitigating the problem of malnutrition and lowering the deaths due to hunger as these community kitchens provide healthy meals for free at prices lower than the market price. Community kitchen is already a successful plan in various other states of the country.
General Studies – 3
9. An ‘Unicorn revolution’ is being witnessed as India is fast emerging as a hotbed for investments into startups. However, there needs to be right regulatory direction and policy support to ensure they realise their potential amidst the hype. Examine. (250 words)
Reference: The Hindu
In the venture capital industry, the term unicorn refers to any startup that reaches the valuation of $1 billion. The term was first coined by venture capitalist Aileen Lee in 2013. Mostly, all the unicorns have brought a disruption in the field they belong to. Uber, for example, changed the way people commuted. Airbnb changed the way people planned their stay while travelling and Snapchat disrupted the usage of the social media network etc.
India currently stands third in the global list of the number of companies that have attained unicorn status.
Challenges faced by unicorns in India
- Capital: For running a company from being startup to unicorn, a significant amount of working capital is required. Many startups, especially at early stages, are bootstrapped, i.e. self-funded through the founders’ own savings, or using capital from friends and family.
- Complex regulatory environment: The government of India has introduced policies that aim to ease the business environment for startups.
- However, the present regulatory framework in which startups/unicorns operate is widely seen as difficult, inefficient and unpredictable.
- Bureaucratic process: Companies in India often feel encumbered by bureaucratic processes, which appear to lack underlying standards.
- They have insufficient possibilities to find information, and there is little planning security about how long processes can take.
- In addition, regulations can suddenly change or startups receive random notices.
- As a result, startups have to find frustrating workarounds, waste valuable time or pivot their business model.
- A further challenge for startups is to take their products to the market as Indian markets appear difficult to penetrate.
- Competitive landscape: Often, many firms are already present and many more enter the market, including copycats.
- A second reason is that startups are at a disadvantage compared to large companies.
- Huge uncertainty: Recently, the biggest-ever initial public offering (IPO) in India fell flat on its face on the first day of its listing in the stock exchange, with shares being traded at prices less than 27% of the IPO price.
- On the one hand, this is due to the fact that big market players are more capable of dealing with bureaucratic regulations.
- On the other hand, public procurement is seen as weak and government prefers to sign contracts with established companies.
- For many job-seekers, joining a startup as an employee is not an attractive career option, due to the inherent risk that the startup might fail.
Need for proper regulatory mechanism
- The factors enabling the rise of unicorns comprise the availability of private equity funds, increasing Internet penetration and digital payments, more robust infrastructure and the rising pool of skilled talent.
- Considering the focus on creating an Aatmanirbhar Bharat, however, the nation’s policymakers, risk-taking corporates and funding agencies need to foster a conducive climate for ensuring easier availability of domestic capita
- As business models get more complex and interlinked, the regulators have to play a more proactive role in formulating appropriate regulations that encourage innovation and support emerging business models rather than hindering innovation.
- Besides promoting local funding, the government and corporate entities may need to invest in a big way through leading academic institutions to de-risk start-up investments in the long run.
- It appears that corporations and valuation experts overestimate the Indian economy’s potential to consume services by assuming exponential demand growth over longer time periods.
- Firms spend a lot of money to offer huge discounts to clients in the hopes that people would become so used to these platforms that they will continue to use them even if the prices are raised. This could lead to cartelization and market monopoly on a long run.
By providing the “minicorns” (a start-up with $1 million-plus valuation) and “soonicorns” (funded by angel investors or venture capitalists and likely to soon join the unicorn club) the right regulatory ambience and local sources of funding, India can create a truly innovative and resilient economy.
Benefits of a unicorn
- The Indian start-up ecosystem is nothing short of a revolution with $106-billion worth of value-creation by 44 unicorns, in turn creating 4 million direct and indirect jobs.
- Start-ups have helped women entrepreneurs to contribute immensely to the start-up ecosystem
- It’s increasingly seen as a sign that the Indian economy is reaching a turning point and that its entrepreneurial culture is maturing.
- Ancillary industries rise up creating more avenues of innovation, growth and employment.
- The unicorns like ola, flipkart which are consumer centric have created an alternate gig economy for workers, which gives them much needed felixibility.
- Due to competition among unicorns, consumers are benefited through competitive pricing.
- It has created an ecosystem in cities such as Bengaluru and Delhi, which has paved way for more capital and investments flowing into the nation.
10. The Char Dham road project presents a conflict between developmental and security considerations on one hand and environmental concerns on the other. How can all three be balanced? Analyse. (250 words).
Reference: The Hindu
The Char Dham road project, inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2016, is an ambitious attempt to widen nearly 900 kilometres of hill roads at the cost of ₹12,000 crore. The project, which will be executed by the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways (MoRTH), aims to provide all-weather connectivity to the four major shrines of Yamunotri, Gangotri, Kedarnath and Badrinath.
- Considering the fragile nature of Himalayas, in 2018, it was challenged by an NGO for its potential impact on the Himalayan ecology.
- The Ministry of Defence (MoD) filed an appeal for a double-lane road with an even higher road width to meet the requirement of the army.
- Subsequently, Min of Road Transport and highways (MoRTH) amended its 2018 circular and raised the 5.5m width limit to 10m.
- The Supreme Court (SC), in 2020, after consultation with the high-powered committee (HPC) and on the basis of MoRTH guidelines, said that the width of the roads cannot exceed 5.5 m.
Challenges posed by developmental projects in Himalayas
- Most of the development work in the Himalayas is being carried out without an understanding of its fragility, seismicity, glacial behaviour, climatic changes and their collective destructive power.
- The flash floods due to the burst of an artificial lake created by a huge landslide (rock, frozen mud and ice) in Rishi Ganga, inside Nanda Devi Sanctuary, is the one such warning given by the Himalayas to the blind supporters of “development” in the fragile mountains.
- Similarly, the Char Dham project will significantly reinforce mass wasting processes and erosion rates given the steepness of the slopes, earthquake activity and erosivity of increased monsoonal precipitation.
- The unique Himalayan landscape with steep slopes and sharp gradients is not amenable to human engineering.
- For instance, during the monsoons, owing to the massive hill-cutting for the Char Dham road project, several landslides have occurred in the region. The recent floods in the Dhauli Ganga, Rishi Ganga and Alaknanda rivers claimed over 200 lives.
- As a mountain system, the Himalayas have had earthquakes, avalanches, landslides, soil erosion, forest fires and floods, and these are its natural expressions, parts of its being.
- Road and hydro projects are being operated in the Himalayas with practically no rigorous research on the ecological history of the area, cost-benefit analysis and many other aspects including displacement of communities, destruction of biodiversity, agricultural land, pastures as well as the cultural heritage of the area.
- Disaster-resilient, safe and stable infrastructure is the only solution for commuting by road in the hills.
- The need of the hour is to keep the scale of human-induced disturbances to the minimum level possible.
- Industries across sectors must come together on a common platform to address the issues concerning economic development and environment protection.
- Policies need to be simplified to create an ecosystem for new sustainable businesses to flourish.
- Good environmental governance which limits exploitation of natural resources to sustainable levels.
- We need to strengthen participatory processes such as public hearings in the environmental and forest clearance process.
- Strict environmental regulation and Environmental Impact Assessment may reduce environmental damage significantly.
- Regions and countries can benefit from the knowledge of indigenous people and their understanding of large ecosystems.
- The linkage of biodiversity and environmental sustainability highlights the critical need to integrate biodiversity considerations in global decision-making.
Development remains the greatest pursuit as well as a challenge, faced by humanity. However, despite the unprecedented economic and social progress that has been made over the last century, poverty, famine and environmental degradation still persist on a global scale. Moreover, environmental deterioration and climate change have started to show irrevocable damages to the developmental progress made so far. Thus, development goals must be pursued without breaching environment regulations.