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[Mission 2022] Insights SECURE SYNOPSIS: 19 February 2022

 

 

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. What were the factors and forces behind the rise of Bhakti movement in India? Throw light of nature of Bhakti movement in south India. (150 words, 10 marks)

Introduction

Bhakti was accepted as a means to attain moksha along with jnana and karma. The Bhakti Movement originated in the seventh-century in Tamil, South India (now parts of Tamil Nadu and Kerala), and spread northwards. It swept over east and north India from the 15th century onwards, reached its peak between the 15th and 17th century CE. The Bhakti Saints moved against the austerities propagated by the Buddhist and Jain schools and professed that ultimate devotion to god was the means to salvation.

Body:

Factors that led to the Bhakti movement:

Political:

  • It has been pointed out that as the popular bhakti movement could not take root in Northern India before the Turkish conquest because the socio-religious milieu was dominated by the Rajput-Brahman alliance which was hostile to any heterodox movement.
  • The Turkish conquests brought the supremacy of this alliance to an end.
  • The advent of Islam with the Turkish conquest also caused a setback to the power and prestige commanded by the Brahmans.
  • Thus, the way was paved for the growth of non-conformist movements, with anti-caste and anti-Brahminical ideology.
  • The Brahmans had always made the people believe that the images and idols in the temples were not just the symbols of God but were gods themselves who possessed divine power and who could be influenced by them (i.e. the Brahmans).
  • The Turks deprived the Brahmans of their temple wealth and state patronage. Thus the Brahmans suffered Both materially and ideologically.
  • The non-conformist sect of the nathpanthis was perhaps the first to gain from the declining power of the Rajput-Brahman alliance.
  • This sect seems to have reached its peak in the beginning of the Sultanate period.
  • The loss of power and influence by the Brahmans and the new political situation ultimately created conditions for the rise of the popular monotheistic movements and other bhakti movements in Northern India.

Socio-economic:

  • It has been argued that the bhakti movements of medieval India represented sentiments of the common people against feudal oppression.
  • According to this viewpoint, elements of revolutionary opposition to feudalism can be found in the poetry of the bhakti saints ranging from Kabir and Nanak to Chaitanya and Tulsidas.
  • It is in this sense that sometimes the medieval bhakti movements are an as Indian counterpart of the Protestant Reformation in Europe.
  • However, there is nothing in the poetry of the bhakti saints to suggest that they represented the class interests of the peasantry against the surplus-extracting feudal state.
  • The Vaishnava bhakti saints broke away from orthodox Brahminical order only to the extent that they believed in bhakti and religious equality.
  • Normally, they continued to subscribe to many basic principles of orthodox Brahmanism.
  • The more radical monotheistic saints rejected orthodox Brahminical religion altogether but even they did not call for the overthrow of the state and the ruling class.
  • For this reason, the bhakti movements cannot be regarded as Indian variant of European Protestant Reformation which was a far greater social upheaval linked to the decline of feudalism and the rise of capitalism

Religious:

  • Evils in the Hindu Society: Hindu society was full of many social anomalies like rigidity of caste system, irrelevant rituals and religious practices, blind faiths and social dogmas. Common men in general had developed an adverse attitude towards these social evils and were in need of a liberal form of religion where they could identify themselves with simple religious practices.
  • Complexity of religion: The high philosophy of the Vedas and Upanishads were very complicated for the common people. They wanted a simple way of worship, simple religious practices and simple social customs. Alternative was Bhakti marga—a simple way of devotion to get salvation from worldly life.
  • Role of Religious Reformers: The chief exponents of the movement were Shankara, Ramanuja, Kabir, Nanak, Shri Chaitanya, Mirabai, Ramananda, Namdev, Nimbarka, Madhava, Eknath, Surdas, Tulsidas, Tukaram, Vallabhacharya and Chandidas. They were the propounders of Bhakti movement and gave a call to the people to worship in the simplest possible way of devotion and love.
  • Challenge from Rival Religion: the impact of the Muslim rule and Islam put dread in the heart of Hindu masses. The Hindus had suffered a lot under some of the fanatic rulers. They wanted some solace to heal their despairing hearts.
  • Influence of Sufism: The Sufi saints of the Muslim community also inspired the movement. Some similar chords in the two evoked resonance.

Nature of Bhakti movement in south India

  • The Bhakti Movement was essentially founded in South India and later spread to the North during the late medieval period.
  • This Movement itself is a historical-spiritual phenomenon that crystallized in South India during Late Antiquity.
  • It was spearheaded by devotional mystics (later revered as Hindu saints) who extolled devotion and love to God as the chief means of spiritual perfection.
  • The Bhakti movement in South India was spearheaded by the sixty-three Nayanars (Shaivite devotees) and the twelve Alvars (Vaishnavaite devotees), who disregarded the austerities preached by Jainism and Buddhism but instead preached personal devotion to God as a means of salvation.
  • These saints, some of whom were also women, spoke and wrote in local languages like Tamil and Telugu and travelled widely to spread their message of love and devotion to everyone, irrespective of caste, colour and creed.
  • The  South  Indian bhakti saints were  critical  of  Buddhists and Jains who enjoyed a privileged status at the courts of South Indian kings at that time.  They  won  over  many  adherents  of  Buddhism  and  Jainism  both  of  which  by now had become rigid and  formal religions.

Bhakti Saints from South India

  • Shankaracharya, a great thinker, distinguished philosopher   and leader of the Hindu revivalist movement of the 9th century, who gave a new orientation to Hinduism.
  • He was born in Kaladi (kerala) and propounded the Advaita (Monism) philosophy and Nirgunabrahman (God without attributes)
  • Ramanuja (1017-1137) who hailed from modern Andhra Pradesh. He was a great Vaishnava teacher.
  • He popularised the cult of devotion to a personal God and emphasized that salvation can be achieved through the bhakti marga alone.
  • He redefined the Vedanta philosophy by laying greater stress on devotional worship to a personal God who constituted the supreme reality.
  • Vallabhacharya was another prominent Vaishnava saint from the south. He advocated a system of pure non-dualism. He glorified the intense love of Radha and Krishna.
  • He advocated a universal religion that did not believe in distinctions of caste, creed, sex, or nationality. He insisted on the complete identity of both soul and world with the supreme spirit. Hiss philosophy was known as shuddhadvaita or pure nondualism.
  • Madhvacharya, a Vaishnava saint from the south wrote as many as thirty-seven works on Vaishnavism.
  • His works mostly deal with the bhakti cult based on the concept of dualism (dvaita) as distinct from the monistic philosophy of Shankaracharya
  • Basavanna or Lord Basaveshwara was an Indian 12th-century statesman, philosopher, a poet and Lingayats saint in the Shiva-focussed Bhakti movement and a social reformer in Karnataka.
  • He was a philosopher and a social reformer, who fought against social evils of his time such as caste system and the ritual practices of Hinduism.
  • His teachings were based on rational, progressive social thoughts. His teachings and philosophy transcend all boundaries and address the universal and eternal.
  • Akkamahadevi:During the 12th century CE, Akkamahadevi, also known as Akka or Mahadevi, belonging to the southern region of Karnataka, established herself as an ardent devotee of Shiva whom she addressed as Chennamallikarjuna.

Conclusion:

Bhakti cult was out-of-the-box thoughts on religion. It was mainly against the common religious views, and most importantly, it was strongly against the caste system. With such long-lasting impacts, the religious depression of the medieval society was set aside. The teachings acted as a healing balm to the suppressed classes. A deep-rooted change came about to lay the foundations of a liberal and composite Indian society.

Value addition

Salient features of the Bhakti movement:

  • The Bhakti movement in many ways broke barriers of gender, class and caste.
  • At the same time, it shattered stereotypes associated with the perception of spiritualism; denounced orthodoxy and the rigid ritualistic practices of worship, and established a more personal and informal connection between the devotee and the divine.
  • During the Bhakti movement, the lower classes rose to a position of great importance.
  • The Bhakti movement gave equal importance to men and women which gave way to the importance of women in society.
  • The Alvars and Nayanars initiated a movement of protest against the caste system and the dominance of Brahmanas or at least attempted to reform the system. This is supported by the fact that bhaktas or disciples hailed from diverse social backgrounds ranging from Brahmanas to artisans and cultivators and even from castes considered “untouchable”
  • Ramananda opposed the caste system and chose his disciples from all sections of society irrespective of caste. His disciples included Kabir, a weaver; Ravidasa, he was a cobbler; Sena, he was a barber; thus, emphasizing the equality among people of all occupations and caste.
  • Sant Kabir aided the common people to shed age-old superstitions and attain salvation through Bhakti or pure devotion. He criticized all forms of worship of idols.
  • Guru Nanak condemned caste difference and rituals like bathing in holy rivers. His idea of religion was highly practical and strictly moral.
  • Nathpanthis, Siddhars and Yogis condemned the ritual and other aspects of orthodox religion and the social order, using simple, logical arguments. These groups became particularly popular among “low” castes.

 

2. Several walks of Indian life were greatly affected by the Turkish conquest. Throw light on its socio-cultural impact. (150 words, 10 marks)

Introduction

The establishment and expansion of the Delhi Sultanate led to the evolution of a powerful and efficient administrative system. At its zenith the authority of Delhi Sultan had extended as far south as Madurai. Although the Delhi Sultanate had disintegrated, their administrative system made a powerful impact on the Indian provincial kingdoms and later on the Mughal system of administration.

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Background

  • The Muslim invasions into India had ultimately resulted in the establishment of Delhi Sultanate which existed from A.D. 1206 to 1526.
  • Five different dynasties – the Slave, Khalji, Tughlaq, Sayyids and Lodis – ruled under the Delhi Sultanate.
  • The Delhi Sultanate was an Islamic state with its religion Islam.
  • The Sultans considered themselves as representatives of the Caliph.

Socio-cultural impact of Turkish conquest on India

  • Social-life: The Muslim nobles occupied high offices and very rarely the Hindu nobles were given high position in the government. The Hindus were considered zimmis or protected people for which they were forced to pay a tax called jiziya.
  • Local Administration: The provinces under the Delhi Sultanate were called iqtas. They were initially under the control of the nobles. But the governors of the provinces were called the muqtis or walis. They were to maintain law and order and collect the land revenue. The provinces were divided into shiqs and the next division was pargana.
  • Economy: After consolidating their position in India, the Delhi Sultans introduced reforms in the land revenue administration. The lands were classified into three categories:
  1. i) iqta land – lands assigned to officials as iqtas instead of payment for their services.
  2. ii) khalisa land – land under the direct control of the Sultan and the revenues collected were spent for the maintenance of royal court and royal household.
  • iii) inam land – land assigned or granted to religious leaders or religious institutions.
  1. iv) The peasantry paid one third of their produce as land revenue, and sometimes even one half of the produce.
  • Art and Architecture: The Turks introduced arches, domes, lofty towers or minarets and decorations using the Arabic script. They used the skill of the Indian stone cutters. They also added colour to their buildings by using marbles, red and yellow sand stones.
  1. i) The most magnificent building of the 13th century was the Qutub Minar which was founded by Aibek and completed by Iltutmish
  2. ii) Later, Alauddin Khalji added an entrance to the Qutub Minar called Alai Darwaza. The dome of this arch was built on scientific lines.
  • Music: New musical instruments such as sarangi and rabab were introduced during this period. Amir Khusrau introduced many new ragas such as ghora and sanam. He evolved a new style of light music known as qwalis by blending the Hindu and Iranian systems. The invention of sitar was also attributed to him.
  • Urbanization: During the Sultanate period, the process of urbanization gained momentum. A number of cities and towns had grown during this period. Lahore, Multan, Broach, Anhilwara, Laknauti, Daulatabad, Delhi and Jaunpur were important among them.

Conclusion

The Delhi Sultanate was an Islamic state with its religion Islam. The Sultans considered themselves as representatives of the Caliph. Not only they extended their rule over North India, but also they penetrated into the Deccan and South India. Their rule in India resulted in far-reaching changes in society, administration and cultural life.

 

3. The Mughal architecture evolved in a phased manner, reached its Zenith and attained its climax under Shahjahan. Elaborate. (150 words, 10 marks)

Introduction

Mughal architecture, building style that flourished in northern and central India under the patronage of the Mughal emperors from the mid-16th to the late 17th century. The Mughal period marked a striking revival of Islamic architecture in northern India. Under the patronage of the Mughal emperors, Persian, Turkish, Indian, and various provincial styles were fused to produce works of unusual quality and refinement.

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Important Features of Mughal Architecture:

  • Blend of Indian, Persian, and Turkish architectural style.
  • Different types of buildings, such as majestic gates (entrances), forts, mausoleums, palaces, mosques, sarais, etc.
  • Building material: Mostly, red sandstone and white marble were used.
  • Specific features such as the Charbagh style (garden layout) of the mausoleums, pronounced bulbous domes, slender turrets at the corners, broad gateways, beautiful calligraphy, arabesque, and geometric patterns on pillars and walls, and palace halls supported on pillars.
  • The arches, chhatri, and various styles of domes became hugely popular in the Indo-Islamic architecture and were further developed under the Mughals.
  • It became so widespread especially in north India that these can be seen further in the colonial architecture of Indo-Sarcenic style.

Evolution of Mughal Architecture

  • Babur
    • Due to his short reign (1526-1530), most of which was spent in wars, Babur could not leave any significant construction except the mosque of Kabuli Bagh at Panipat and Jama Masjid at Sambhal near Delhi.
    • Babur also built Ram Bagh, the first Mughal Garden in India (1528) in Charbagh Style located in Agra.
  • Humayun
    • Humayun succeeded Babur, but throughout his reign, he was constantly embroiled in a struggle with Sher Shah Suri.
    • He laid the foundation of the city named Dinpanah but could not finish it.
    • Humayun’s Tomb, also known as the precursor of the Taj Mahal was the first imposing structure of the Mughals which was built by his widow Hamida Begum and designed by Persian architect Mirak Mirza Ghiyas.
    • The mausoleum built upon a raised platform is a mix of Indian and Persian artistry using red sandstone and white marble.
    • It has a Persian Charbagh style. The tomb was declared as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1993.
    • The Taj Mahal is the climax and therefore perhaps the most famous monument built under the Charbagh layout.
  • Sher Shah Suri (Sur Dynasty):
    • He built the Quila-e-Quanah mosque of Old Fort in Delhi, Rohtas Fort in Pakistan, Sher Shah Suri Masjid in Patna in Afghan-style
    • He also built the famous Grand Trunk Road.
    • His period saw the transition from Lodhi style to the Mughal style of architecture.
  • Akbar:
    • The reign of Akbar (1556-1605) witnessed immense developments in Mughal art and architecture.
    • He built the city of Fatehpur Sikri which was the first planned city of the Mughals and served as his capital from 1571 to 1585.
    • BulandDarwaza (1576, built to commemorate Akbar’s victory over Gujarat kings), Jama Masjid, Diwan-i-aam, Diwan-i-khaas, Birbal’s house, Tomb of Saint Salim Chisthi are some of the important monuments in Fatehpur Sikri.
    • He also built the Govind Dev temple in Vrindavan.
  • Jahangir:
    • The prince had a special appreciation for the paintings over architecture.
    • He built the tomb of Itimad-ud-Daula (father of his wife Nur Jahan) displaying the world’s finest Pietra-dura works and completed Akbar’s tomb at Sikandra.
    • He also built the famous Shalimar Bagh in Srinagar, Moti Masjid at Lahore.
  • Shah Jahan:
    • He immortalized himself as he built the Taj Mahal in the memory of his late wife, Mumtaz Mahal.
    • He is rightly called ‘the prince of builders’ as the Mughal architecture reached its zenith under his reign.
    • He built Shahjahanabad, the 7th city of Delhi, today is known as Old Delhi.
    • He made extensive use of white marble as opposed to red sandstone which was preferred by his predecessors.
    • He also built the Jama Masjid in Delhi, Moti Masjid in the Agra Fort, and the Sheesh Mahal in the Lahore Fort brilliantly using pietra dura and complex mirror work.
  • Aurangzeb:
    • He preferred simplicity over the grandeur and repaired more mosques than he built.
    • Aurangzeb is also said to have destroyed numerous Hindu temples as well.
    • A beautiful pearl mosque in the Red Fort, Delhi, and the Bibi ka Maqbara in Aurangabad for his wife are only a few notable mentions in his long reign.
    • Thus, overall the Mughal architecture saw a decline in the Aurangzeb’s reign.

Conclusion

Thus, stating the seemingly obvious, Mughal architecture developed into a one of a kind architectural style which has withstood the test of time. It is appreciated widely by people all across the world due to its distant features as discussed above. It is up to us architects of India to carry forward and preserve our traditional styles of architecture and create something new that is looked upon with pride by our future generations.


General Studies – 2


 

4. Tribunals in India face a number of administrative constraints which add up to delays in disposal of cases and underutilisation of Indian tribunal system. Analyse. (150 words, 10 marks)

Introduction

Tribunal means a set or a bench upon which judge or judges sit and decide controversies between the parties and exercises judicial powers as distinguished from purely administrative functions. It is a quasi-judicial institution that is set up to deal with problems such as resolving administrative or tax-related disputes. Part XIV-A of the Constitution which consist of two articles 323A and 323B deals with these Tribunals  E.g.: National Green Tribunal, Central Administrative Tribunal etc

The Chief Justice of India N V Ramana had termed the state of tribunals and the thousands of litigants waiting for justice “pitiable”.

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Constraints faced by tribunals in India

  • The manner of appointment of its members, performance appraisal, career path for tribunal members, remuneration, terms of service, are all outside the oversight of the judiciary. This is the foremost problem with tribunalisation.
  • In India, executive interference in the functioning of tribunals is often seen in matters of appointment and removal of tribunal members, as well as in provision of finances, infrastructure, personnel and other resources required for day-to-day functioning of the tribunals.
  • Administrative tribunals, with their separate laws and procedures often made by themselves, puts a serious limitation upon the principles of Rule of Law.
  • Most of the tribunals do not enjoy the same amount of independence of the Executive as do the Courts and the judges.
  • Recently, the Chief Justice of India NV Ramana-led bench of the Supreme Court pulled up the central government for the rising number of vacancies in various law tribunals across the country. The bench asked the centre to “clear its stand” on the urgent need to fill these vacancies.
  • The civil and criminal courts have a uniform pattern of administering justice. A uniform code of procedure in administrative adjudication is not there.
  • Administrative tribunals are manned by administrators and technical heads who may not have the background of law or training of judicial work. At times they adopt summary procedures to deal with cases coming before them
  • In Chandra Kumar case, SC held that the appeals to such tribunals lies before the court and hence defeats the whole purpose of reducing burden of the superior courts.
  • Since the tribunals are mainly chaired by the retired judges who are appointed by the government, so the present judges in courts may favour government in certain matter to gain political patronage in appointment to such tribunals after retirement.
  • Lack of adequate infrastructure to work smoothly and perform the functions originally envisioned for them. There is a lack of understanding of the staffing requirements in tribunals.

National tribunal commission – a way forward

  • The idea of an NTC was first mooted by the Supreme Court in L. Chandra Kumar v. Union of India (1997).
  • NTC is envisaged to be an independent umbrella body to supervise the functioning of tribunals, appointment of and disciplinary proceedings against members, and to take care of administrative and infrastructural needs of the tribunals.
  • NTC will support uniform administration across all tribunals. It could set performance standards for the efficiency of tribunals and their own administrative processes.
  • Giving the NTC the authority to set members’ salaries, allowances, and other service conditions, subject to regulations, would help maintain tribunals’ independence.
  • The NTC could pave the way for the separation of the administrative and judicial functions carried out by various tribunals.
  • A ‘corporatised’ structure of NTC with a Board, a CEO and a Secretariat will allow it to scale up its services and provide requisite administrative support to all tribunals across the country.
  • NTC could function as an independent recruitment body to develop and operationalise the procedure for disciplinary proceedings and appointment of tribunal members.
  • An NTC will effectively be able to bring in uniformity in the appointment system meanwhile ensuring that it is independent and transparent.

Conclusion

The tribunalisation of justice was introduced to speed up the adjudication process, and they have been productive in their goal. The tribunals have carved out a distinct position in the Indian landscape by adjudicating several interesting issues. The independence of these tribunals was described as a fundamental feature of the Indian Constitution in the case of Rojer Mathew’s decision. This fundamental feature must be encapsulated and maintained in reality through the creation of the NTC, which will be solely responsible for choosing, monitoring, and removing appointees to make sure that the tribunals are occupied with men of honesty and great behaviour.

Value addition

Tribunals and their mandate

  • The original Constitution did not contain provisions with respect to tribunals.
  • The 42nd Amendment Act of 1976 added a new Part XIV- A to the Constitution.
  • This part is entitled as ‘Tribunals’ and consists of only two Articles–Article 323 A dealing with administrative tribunals and Article 323 B dealing with tribunals for other matters.
  • Article 323 A empowers the Parliament to provide for the establishment of administrative tribunals for the adjudication of disputes relating to recruitment and conditions of service of persons appointed to public services of the Centre, the states, local bodies, public corporations and other public authorities.
  • Under Article 323 B, the Parliament and the state legislatures are authorised to provide for the establishment of tribunals for the adjudication of disputes relating to the following matters:
    • Taxation
    • Foreign exchange, import and export
    • Industrial and labour
    • Land reforms
    • Ceiling on urban property
    • Elections to Parliament and state legislatures

Tribunals and judicial efficiency

  • Flexibility: Rigid procedures and evidence ordeals of courts are not followed, rather it goes by the principle of natural justice.
  • Less Expensive: Administrative justice ensures cheap and quick justice. Its procedures are simple and can be easily understood by a layman.
  • Relief to Courts: The tribunals perform an important and specialised role in justice mechanism. They take a load off the already overburdened courts. They hear disputes related to the environment, armed forces, tax and administrative issues.
  • Reduce pendency: To overcome the situation that arose due to the pendency of cases in various Courts, domestic tribunals and other Tribunals have been established under different Statutes, hereinafter referred to as the Tribunals.
  • Adequate Justice: In the fast-changing world of today, administrative tribunals are the most appropriated means of administrative action, and also the most effective means of giving fair justice to the individuals.
    • Lawyers, who are more concerned about aspects of law, find it difficult to adequately assess the needs of the modern welfare society
  • Efficiency: The Tribunals were set up to reduce the workload of courts, to expedite decisions and to provide a forum which would be manned by lawyers and experts in the areas falling under the jurisdiction of the Tribunal.

 

5. In the ongoing Sino-U.S feud, Australia and India need to convert their intent into action and capitalise on the innumerable opportunities available in different sectors. Examine. (150 words, 10 marks)

Introduction

With India’s clash in Galwan valley with China and Australia-China fallout due to covid, south China sea issues, there is an opportunity for India to work closely with Australia to reign the power politics played by China. Moreover, with US-China trade war, India and Australia can diversify trade and reduce dependence on China.

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India-Australia relations: Opportunities amid ongoing US-Sino feud

  • Convergence: Chinese aggression and assertive foreign policy are common concerns and has brought both the democracies closer. Both have shared interests in vision of a free, open, inclusive and rules-based Indo-Pacific region.
    • Both are part of QUAD, and also proposed Supply Chain Resilience Initiative.
    • Australia’s Pacific Step Up and India’s Forum for India-Pacific Islands Cooperation (FIPIC) reaffirm their cooperation in the South Pacific region.
  • Economic relations: Bilateral goods and services trade between two was $30.3 billion in 2018-19, and the level of two-way investment was $30.7 billion in 2018.
    • In 2018, Australia announced implementation of “An India Economic Strategy to 2035”, a vision document to shape India- Australia bilateral ties.
    • India is also preparing an Australia Economic Strategy Paper (AES) on similar lines.
    • This was after fallout of Australia and China.
  • Progress after fallout with China: Elevated the “2+2” engagement to the level of Foreign and Defence Ministers (from secretary level), where strategic discussions will be taking place every two years. India already has such mechanism with USA and Japan.
    • MOU on cooperation in the field of mining and processing of Critical and Strategic minerals.
    • Mutual Logistics Support Agreement was signed.
    • Joint declaration on shared vision for Maritime Cooperation in the Indo- Pacific region.
    • These developments must continue on faster pace.

Limitations of India-Australia ties

  • Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA) still remains inconclusive after 9 rounds of negotiations.
  • India opted out from Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP). Among other things, India and Australia could not agree regarding market access over agriculture and dairy products.
  • Australia’s economy is heavily dependent on China, with China being Australia’s largest trading partner, accounting for 26 % of its trade with the world.
  • The prospects for bilateral relationship are recognized in both countries as strategically useful, economically productive and aligned with each other’s new agenda.
    • However, it is recognized that the natural synergy has so far not been exploited fully.
    • Countries should conclude CECA at the earliest, to realize the economic opportunities.

Conclusion

Based on several commonalities and closely aligned values in principles of democracy, liberty, the rule of law, human rights, freedom of speech, free press and multiculturalism both must enhance the bilateral relationship by expanding engagement in various sectors like defence industry and commercial cyber activity etc.

 

6. Caste based census provides data that will help further streamline affirmative action and ensure the welfare measures reach the people who truly need it. Critically analyse. (150 words, 10 marks)

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.


General Studies – 3


 

7. Global competitiveness will be increasingly determined by the quality of science and technology, which in turn will depend on dynamicity of research and development ecosystem aided by budgetary allocation. Analyse. (150 words, 10 marks)

Introduction

India spends only 0.66 percent of its GDP on Research and Development as per latest figures. This is below the expenditure of countries like the US (2.8), China (2.1), Israel (4.3) and Korea (4.2). A quick analysis of the allocations to various R&D organisations in the recently presented 2022-23 budget shows continued stagnation. This does not augur well for the future.

Government expenditure, almost entirely the Central Government, is the driving force of R&D in India which is in contrast to the advanced countries where the private sector is the dominant and driving force of R&D spend.

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Link between R&D vis-a-vis nation’s development and competency

  • Research and Development of new products are key drivers of economic performance and social well-being. Solutions to diseases, new technology to overcome obstacles in various sectors are hallmark of having good ecosystem.
  • It is important to inculcate scientific temper among masses in order to fight superstitions, distorted truth and religious fanaticism that has been crippling India
  • Innovation and technological improvement have become essential to combat and adapt to climate change and promote sustainable development.
  • It is imperative for combating national security threats ranging from cyber warfare to autonomous military systems such as drones.
  • Investing in research and providing adequate incentives leads to creation of jobs, especially for the pool of engineers and researchers in the society. Under the ‘Make in India’ program, the government has targeted to create 100 million jobs from the manufacturing sector by 2022.

Improving R&D ecosystem in India

  • The growth in research and development (R&D) expenditure should be commensurate with the economy’s growth and should be targeted to reach at least 2% of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) by 2022.
  • The line ministries at the Centre could be mandated to allocate a certain percentage of their budget for research and innovation for developing and deploying technologies as per the priorities of the respective ministries.
  • To stimulate private sector’s investment in R&D from current 0.35% of GDP, it is suggested that a minimum percentage of turn-over of the company may be invested in R&D by medium and large enterprises registered in India.
  • To help and keep the industry enthused to invest in R&D, the weighted deduction provisions on R&D investment should continue.
  • The states can partner Centre to jointly fund research and innovation programmes through socially designed Central Sponsored Schemes (CSS).
  • The report also pitched for creating 30 dedicated R&D Exports Hub and a corpus of Rs 5,000 crore for funding mega projects with cross cutting themes which are of national interest.

Conclusion

There is a need for greater participation of State Governments and the private sector in overall R&D spending in India especially in application-oriented research and technology development. There is a need to encourage investor-led research. In this direction, the Science and Engineering Research Board (SERB) has already been established. It is a promising start that needs to expand with more resources and creative governance structures.

Value Addition

R&D Statistics

  • PhDs in STEM: In comparison to China, there are less than half Indian STEM Ph.D students in the US. Fewer students have been enrolling for such degrees either due to lucrative career options after master’s degree or rising work visa challenges.
    • However, there has been an increase in the no. of Ph.D enrolments in India. In 2014, 56.4% of total PhDs awarded were from science and technology disciplines.
  • Publications: According to SCOPOUS and Scientific Citation Index (SCI) data base growth rates of publications in India stand at 13.9% and 7.1% for the period 2009-2013 against the global average of 4.4% and 4.1%, respectively.
    • SCOPOUS has ranked India sixth in the world in the number of scientific publications, ahead of France, Spain and Italy during 2013.
  • Patents: According to WIPO, India is the seventh largest patent filing office in the world. However, India produces fewer patents per capita

 

8. Improper disposal of antibiotics by pharma companies is a serious matter of concern as it could lead to antibiotic resistance due to source pollution. Examine. (150 words, 10 marks)

Introduction

Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is the ability of a microorganism (like bacteria, viruses, and some parasites) to stop an antimicrobial (such as antibiotics, antivirals and antimalarials) from working against it. As a result, standard treatments become ineffective, infections persist and may spread to others.

Antibiotic resistance is specifically related to bacteria resisting an antibiotic against it while treating a bacterial infection.

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Reasons for growing antibiotic resistance

  • Effluent from pharma companies: Direct emissions from the pharma industry are a hotspot of antibiotic residues since they are discharged in larger concentrations than other indirect sources.
  • Antibiotic resistance occurs naturally, but misuse of antibiotics in humans and animals is accelerating the process. Poor infection prevention and control further accelerate it.
  • While in humans’ antibiotics are primarily used for treating patients, they are used as growth promoters in animals, often because they offer economic shortcuts that can replace hygienic practices.
  • In their quest for survival and propagation, common bugs develop a variety of mechanisms to develop antimicrobial resistance (AMR).
  • The indiscriminate use of antibiotics is the greatest driver in selection and propagation of resistant bugs. It has the potential to make fatal even minor infections.
  • Wrong diagnosis: Doctors sometimes prescribe antimicrobials “just in case,” or they prescribe broad-spectrum antimicrobials when a specific drug would be more suitable. Using these medications in this way increases the risk of AMR.
  • Inappropriate use: If a person does not complete a course of antimicrobial drugs, some microbes may survive and develop resistance to the drug. Also, antibiotics recommended by quacks or pharmacist contribute to magnify the issue.

Impact of Antibiotic resistance

  • Antibiotics have saved millions of lives till date. Unfortunately, they are now becoming ineffective as many infectious diseases have ceased to respond to antibiotics.
  • Antibiotic Resistance (AMR) occurs when bacteria develop the ability to defeat drugs which have been specifically designed to kill them.
  • Infections caused by such resistant germs are very difficult and often impossible to treat and it can affect humans at all stages of life.
  • AMR is occurring across the globe and is severely affecting the treatment of infectious diseases.
  • Even though antimicrobial resistance is a natural process, the misuse of antibiotics in humans and animals is accelerating the process.
  • A large number of infections such as tuberculosis, pneumonia and gonorrhoea are becoming very difficult to treat since the antibiotics used for their treatment are becoming less effective.
  • Globally, use of antibiotics in animals is expected to increase by 67% by 2030 from 2010 levels. The resistance to antibiotics in germs is a man-made disaster.
  • Irresponsible use of antibiotics is rampant in human health, animal health, fisheries, and agriculture.
  • Complex surgeries such as organ transplantation and cardiac bypass might become difficult to undertake because of untreatable infectious complications that may result post-surgery.

Conclusion

Antimicrobial resistance is a global crisis that threatens a century of progress in health and achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals. Unless the world acts urgently, antimicrobial resistance will have disastrous impact within a generation.

Value Addition

Global and local efforts and measures

  • The World Health Organization is also coordinating a global campaign “Handle with care” to raise awareness and encourage best practices for antibiotic use.
  • In India, the government has launched a National Action Plan on Antimicrobial Resistance (NAP-AMR) as well.
  • India’s NAP- National Action Plan to combat Antimicrobial Resistance goes hand in hand with the World Health Organization’s Global Action Plan (GAP) for AMR.
  • The Union health ministry’s Anti-Microbial Resistance awareness campaign urges people not to use medicines marked with a red vertical line, including antibiotics, without a doctor’s prescription.
  • In 2012, India’s medical societies adopted the Chennai Declaration, a set of national recommendations to promote antibiotic stewardship.
  • The government has also capped the maximum levels of drugs that can be used for growth promotion in meat and meat products.
  • On July 19, 2019, the Central Government banned the manufacture, sale and distribution of Colistin and its formulations for food producing animals, poultry, aqua farming and animal feed supplements with immediate effect to prevent AMR.

 

9. Privatisation of Public Sector Enterprises (PSE) is not always the panacea and must always be done strategically, while the proceeds from it must be utilised in an objective manner to create further assets. Comment. (150 words, 10 marks)

Introduction

Due to the poor performance of several PSEs and the consequent huge fiscal deficits, the issue of privatisation has come to the forefront. Privatisation is ought to infuse efficiency by bringing PSEs to the competition in the market.

The term ‘privatisation’ is used in different ways, ranging from transition to private legal forms’ to ‘partial or complete denationalization of assets.’ 

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In India, privatisation is sought to be achieved through two measures:

  • The disinvestment of the government’s equity in public sector undertakings.
  • The opening up of hitherto closed areas to private participation

Categories of public sector enterprises

  • Sick for long time and beyond redemption
  • Financially troubled but can be turned around
  • Profitable enterprises

Challenges in Privatisation

  • First, the number of Indian private firms which can buy out public sector firms are very few.
  • Their limited financial and managerial resources would be better utilised in taking over the large number of private firms up for sale through the bankruptcy process.
  • Then, these successful large corporates need to be encouraged to invest and grow both in brownfield and Greenfield modes in the domestic as well as international markets.
  • Sale at fair or lower than fair valuations to foreign entities, firms as well as funds, has adverse implications from the perspective of being ‘Atma Nirbhar’.
  • Again, Greenfield foreign investment is what India needs and not takeovers.
  • Public sector enterprises provide for reservations in recruitment.
  • With privatisation, this would end and unnecessarily generate social unrest.

Way Forward

For Sick for long time and beyond redemption

  • The Government should close these in a time-bound manner with a generous handshake for labour.
  • After selling machinery as scrap, there would be valuable land left.
  • Prudent disposal of these plots of lands in small amounts would yield large incomes in the coming years.
  • All this would need the creation of dedicated efficient capacity as the task is huge and challenging.
  • These enterprises may be taken away from their parent line Ministries and brought under one holding company.
  • This holding company should have the sole mandate of speedy liquidation and asset sale.

For financially troubled but can be turned around

  • Air India should ideally be made debt free and a new management should have freedom permitted under the law in personnel management to get investor interest.
  • As valuation rises, the Government could reduce its stake further and get more money.
  • If well handled, significant revenues would flow to the Government.

For Profitable enterprises

  • The Government can continue to reduce its shareholding by offloading shares and even reducing its stake to less than 51% while remaining the promoter and being in control.
  • Calibrated divestment to get maximum value should be the goal instead of being target driven to get a lower fiscal deficit number to please rating agencies.
  • In parallel, managements may be given longer and stable tenures, greater flexibility to achieve outcomes, and more confidence to take well-considered commercial risks.

Conclusion

The time has come to take a relook at privatisation. Simply pursuing this path, while utilising such proceeds for loan write-offs or populist giveaways in the election cycle will not do. A hunt for immediate revenue should not overshadow the long-term interest of the ordinary Indian.

 

10. Critically examine the potential of the Union Budget 2022-23 to create meaningful employment and long-term sustainable growth. (150 words, 10 marks)

Introduction

The Union budget 2022-23 strives to enact economic reforms for the country that is recovering from the pandemic and pave the pathway for its robust rise in the coming years. It speaks of an outlook for India@100 in preparation for a post-Covid world order. Union budget has demonstrated commitment towards supply-side reforms. It strives to initiate a dynamic growth engine that shall sustain itself. The Budget proposals on capital expenditure, MSME sector, and digital banking will boost growth and promote job creation.

Body

Background

  • India’s economic growth in the current year (2021-22) is estimated to be 9.2% of GDP, the highest among all large economies.
  • The revised Fiscal Deficit in the current year is estimated at 6.9% of GDP (Gross Domestic Product) as against 6.8% projected in the Budget Estimates.
  • According to data from the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE), India’s unemployment rate touched a four-month high of 7.9% in December 2021.

Budget 2022-23: Creating meaningful employment and growth

  • Boost to MSME sector: Budget continues to provide much-needed relief to the COVID-hit MSME sector. The revival of MSMEs is critical both from growth and employment perspective, and these measures are geared towards building a vibrant MSME sector.
    • There are a host of measures aimed at small business, ranging from credit guarantee schemes to improving the ease of doing business, that help MSMEs navigate economic uncertainty.
    • India’s MSME sector will be greatly benefited by the reservation of 68 per cent of the Defence Capital Budget for the domestic industry. Rs 7.5 lakh crore worth of public investment will give a new push to the economy and create new opportunities for small and other industries.
  • PM Gati Shakti: PM Gati Shakti will pull forward the economy and will lead to more jobs and opportunities for the youth.
    • It is a National Master Plan for Multimodal Connectivity in October 2021. This is a digital platform that aims to bring 16 Ministries including Railways and Roadways together for integrated planning and coordinated implementation of infrastructure connectivity projects.
  • Production Linked Incentive (PLI) Scheme for achieving Aatmanirbhar Bharat has received an excellent response, with potential to create 60 lakh new jobs and additional production of 30 lakh crore during next Keycap digit five years.
  • Benefitting farmers: Measures such as a special fund for encouraging new agriculture start-ups and package for food processing industry will help in increasing income of farmers.
  • Skill Development: Digital Ecosystem for Skilling and Livelihood (DESH-Stack e-portal) will be launched to empower citizens to skill, reskill or upskill through on-line training.
    • This will lead to meaningful jobs for the youth entering the workforce.
  • Sunrise Opportunities: Government contribution to be provided for R&D in Sunrise Opportunities like Artificial Intelligence, Geospatial Systems and Drones, Semiconductor and its eco-system, Space Economy, Genomics and Pharmaceuticals, Green Energy, and Clean Mobility Systems.
  • States as vehicles of development: The enhanced outlay for ‘Scheme for Financial Assistance to States for Capital Investment’:
    • From Rs. 10,000 crores in Budget Estimates to Rs. 15,000 crore in Revised Estimates for the current year.
    • Allocation of 1 lakh crore in 2022-23 to assist the states in catalysing overall investments in the economy: fifty-year interest-free loans, over and above normal borrowings.

Persisting issues

  • Take off of Gati Shakti and NIP requires huge efforts and investments from States and private sector. Mobilising resources is not spelt out in the budget.
  • Though opportunities exist for MSME sectors, issue of subsidising the dwarf industries that take away most subsidies still persists. These dwarfs employ less and take more incentives without growing up the ladder.
  • Though defence outlay is reserved for domestic industries their export potential is not guaranteed.
  • State governments were yet to get their GST arrears and Centre has not made them available to states on time.

Conclusion

The success of the budget can be assessed post-facto once the schemes kick in and take off in a large-scale manner. It has been called as the AatmanirbharBharatKaBudget, which brings with it new energy and strength to our development trajectory, especially at a time when we are courageously fighting a once-in-a-lifetime global pandemic. This Budget is supposed to bring more infra, more investment, more growth and more jobs taking India to newer heights.

 

Answer the following questions in 250 words:


General Studies – 1


 

11. Works of art give us an insight into how the society relates itself to its surroundings. Elaborate in light of Harappan art. (250 words,15 marks)

Introduction

The arts of the Indus Valley Civilisation (IVC) emerged during the second half of the third millennium BCE. The forms of art found from various sites of the civilisation include sculptures, seals, pottery, jewellery, terracotta figures, etc.

Body

Art in Harappan Civilisation

  • Stone Statues: Excellent examples of handling three-dimensional volumes, for example male torso figure in red sandstone and bust of a bearded man in soapstone.
  • Bronze Casting: Bronze statues were made using the ‘lost wax’ technique. Human as well as animal figures were common examples: Dancing Girl Statue, buffalo with its uplifted head, back and sweeping horns and the goat are of artistic merit.
  • Terracotta: Compared to the stone and bronze statues the terracotta representations of human form are crude in the Indus Valley. They are more realistic in Gujarat sites and Kalibangan.
    • Deities like bearded man, mother goddess and toy carts, animals were common.
  • Seales and tablets: Made of steatite, and occasionally of agate, chert, copper, faience and terracotta, with beautiful figures of animals, such as unicorn bull, rhinoceros, tiger, elephant, bison, goat, buffalo. Rendering of animals in various moods is remarkable, for example Pashupati Seal.
    • Commonly used for commercial purposes but usage for amulets for identity cards.
    • The standard Harappan seal was a square plaque 2×2 square inches, made from steatite. Every seal is engraved in a pictographic script.
    • Square or rectangular copper tablets, with an animal or a human figure on one side and an inscription on the other, or an inscription on both sides have also been found.
  • Pottery: It consists chiefly of very fine wheel made wares, very few being hand-made. Plain pottery is more common than painted ware.
    • Plain pottery is generally of red clay, with or without a fine red or grey slip. It includes knobbed ware, ornamented with rows of knobs.
    • The black painted ware has a fine coating of red slip on which geometric and animal designs are executed in glossy black paint.
    • Polychrome pottery is rare and mainly comprises small vases decorated with geometric patterns in red, black, and green, rarely white and yellow. Incised ware is also rare and the incised decoration was confined to the bases of the pans, always inside and to the dishes of offering stands.
    • Perforated pottery includes a large hole at the bottom and small holes all over the wall, and was probably used for straining beverages.
  • Beads and Ornaments: Produced from every conceivable material ranging from precious metals and gemstones to bone and baked clay, gold and semi-precious stones, copper bracelets and beads, gold earrings and head ornaments, faience pendants and buttons, and beads of steatite and gemstones.
    • The beads are in varying shapes—disc-shaped, cylindrical, spherical, barrel-shaped, and segmented. Some beads were made of two or more stones cemented together, some of stone with gold covers. Some were decorated by incising or painting and some had designs etched onto them.

Significance of the art and insights on Harappan Society

  • The sites of Indus Valley Civilisation (IVC) like Harappa and Mohenjodaro showcase excellent town planning as well, like houses, planned streets, public baths, drainage systems, storage facilities, etc.
    • Eg: The bath in Harappa shows the cleansing ritual of people.
  • They tell how the Indus Valley people used stone in construction. The artists and craftsmen of the Indus Valley were extremely skilled in a variety of crafts—metal casting, stone carving, making and painting pottery and making terracotta images using simplified motifs of animals, plants and birds.
  • They had public and private wells at most of their sites and their houses were often equipped with bathing areas and toilets. It shows the importance of cleanliness and hygiene.
  • They were also technologically very advanced in pyrotechnics and metallurgy. Their craftsmanship is evident in their beads, jewellery, pottery, seals as well as other artifacts made of metals and their alloys.
  • Their trade networks were also quite widespread. They had standardized weights and measures.
  • They often used standardized bricks in their architecture. Recent research has suggested that Harappan people were probably the first ones to introduce silk and lost-wax casting techniques.
  • No large-scale weapons have been discovered from the Harappan sites which also suggests that they did not indulge in warfare.

Conclusion

Their artistic versatility showed in the range of materials they used and the forms they made out of it. The patterns, motives and designs found on the articles shows the creativity that existed and judging from the excavated evidences, one can only conclude the people of Indus civilization were indeed true art patrons.

 

12. What is a Stupa? Discuss the main characteristics of a Stupa. Trace the development of Stupa architecture during post-Mauryan age. (250 words, 15 marks)

Introduction

The stupa (“stupa” is Sanskrit for heap) is an important form of Buddhist architecture, though it predates Buddhism. It is generally considered to be a sepulchral monument—a place of burial or a receptacle for religious objects. At its simplest, a stupa is a relic-filled mound-like or hemispheric structure used for meditation. From the Vedic time onwards, stupas were used as burial mounds in India.

In Buddhism, the earliest stupas contained portions of the Buddha’s ashes, and as a result, the stupa began to be associated with the body of the Buddha. Adding the Buddha’s ashes to the mound of dirt activated it with the energy of the Buddha himself.

Body:

Main characteristics of a Stupa

 

  • The main structure of the Great Stupa consisted of a flattened hemispherical dome, called an anda, placed atop a cylindrical base. Anda, represents the infinite dome of heaven and signifies the cycle of birth, death and rebirth.
  • The harmika, located at the summit of the anda, symbolized the zenith beyond life and death (nirvana). Its resemblance to a sacrificial altar was of particular significance for the attainment of nirvana required the sacrifice of the self and the world (what was below needed to be sacrificed to reach the top).
  • The parasol was always a distinguishing feature that implied royalty and dignity; it symbolized the sacred Tree of Life or enlightenment.
  • The three elements of the chattra at Sanchi represented the Three Jewels of Buddhism: the Buddha, the Dharma (the Law), and the Sangha (the community of monks).
  • Vedikas were repeated around the stupa and on the terrace on which the anda rested (medhi level). They served to demarcate the boundary of the sacred precinct with the secular world.
  • The stupa is capped by a wooden railing that encircled a pradakshina patha (circumambulatory walkway).
  • Sanchi, Sarnath, Amaravati and Bharhut stupas are the oldest examples of Early Buddhist stupa art. The Birth, Enlightenment, First Sermon and Great Departure are depicted using various motifs in these stupas.
  • The Jataka stories were depicted on the torans of Stupas. The Jataka stories are a method of teaching Buddhists the lessons of karma, samsara and dharma. The overall structure of the Jataka Tales is about the cycle of samsara that the Buddha had to experience before reaching enlightenment.

Development of Stupa architecture during post-Mauryan age

stupa

 

  • In the Post Mauryan period, stupas became larger and more decorative and wood and brickwork were replaced by stone.
  • Stupas were cylindrical drum shaped and octagon shaped pillars behind stupas without any decorations were also found.
  • Torans (gateways) was first used by the The torans were decorated with intricate figures and the patterns.
  • With the elaborations in stupa design, architects and sculptors had plenty of room to plan elaborations and carve out images on the Torans.
  • Jataka stories became part of stupa decoration. E.g.: In Bahrut, the tall images of Yakshaand Yakshini along with narratives are found. In one narrative relief, depicting Queen Mayadevi’s
  • Stupa-I at Sanchi has upper as well as lower pradakshinapatha, four toranas depicting jatakas. Advanced carving technique is used in these stupas.
  • With the rise in the construction of stupas in various parts of the country, regional stylistic variations also began to emerge.

Conclusion:

It is thus apparent that the stupa, which was conceived as a simple monument for the Buddha’s corporeal relics, has over time transformed in its form and nomenclature and resulted in various types of structures all over the world. In some regions, even supplementary structures like monasteries have come up alongside stupas, fuelling the inception of new Buddhist orders and sects. However, the core ideology of the stupa remains constant throughout each new development, as does its symbolism and several crucial architectural features. These characteristics must, therefore, be given due consideration and importance while designing any stupa project.

Value addition

Present Day Stupas:

  • The core ideology of the stupa is retained in terms of architectural design across millennia, and even to this day. However, the difference lies in the material used in the modern-day stupa.
  • For instance, the Sambodhi Chaithya is a stupa built with reinforced concrete on a platform supported by two interlocking arches.
  • Apart from this, stupa is also having access via Elevators.
  • Patliputra karuna Stupa is having glass facade, along with void stupa concept so people can see the holy relics along with ramp design for entrance instead of stairs which makes it barrier free for everyone.

 

13. Gender norms and patriarchal attitudes continue to govern the reproductive rights and contraception choices of women. Fostering better informed and healthier reproductive behaviour among women must be the way forward to address this issue. (250 words, 15 marks)

Introduction

Reproductive rights are legal rights and freedoms relating to reproduction and reproductive health that vary amongst countries around the world. Women’s reproductive rights may include some or all of the following: the right to legal and safe abortion; the right to birth control; freedom from coerced sterilization and contraception; the right to access good-quality reproductive healthcare; and the right to education and access in order to make free and informed reproductive choices.

However, the recognition of sexual and reproductive rights of women in the country still remains negligible. The major barrier is women’s lack of agency. The absence of reproductive and sexual rights has major and negative repercussions on women’s education, income and safety, leaving them “unable to shape their own futures”.

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Key findings from fifth round of our National Family and Health Survey (NFHS-5) regarding reproductive practices

  • There has been a more than 10 percentage-point increase in the use of contraception among currently married women aged 15-49 years: that is, from 53.5% in 2015-16 to 66.7% in 2019-20.
  • A significant jump has been observed in the use of condoms, which rose from 5.6% to 9.5%.
  • Female sterilization continues to be the most popular choice, with an adoption rate of 37.9% (NFHS-5), even many years after the inception of family planning as a concept in India.

Factors that affect reproductive rights and contraception choices of women

  • Early marriage, pressure for early childbearing, lack of decision-making power within the family, physical violence, and coercion in sexual and family relations lead to lower education and in turn poor incomes for females.
  • Continuous child-bearing due to lack of agency on her reproductive rights have made her mostly a house-wife, thereby making her dependent on spouse for finances.
  • Patriarchal mindsets and childbearing until requisite number of sons are born without proper spacing between children makes her physically weak and threatens her life.
  • The fear that educated women cannot be controlled by husband and his family further curbs her education rights.
  • Female sterilization is the most wide-spread method, with more than a third of India’s sexually-active population opting for it, despite the lower cost and safer procedure of male vasectomy.
  • Reproductive rights in India are understood only in the context of selective issues like child marriage, female foeticide, sex selection and menstrual health and hygiene issues

Measures needed

  • A focus  on  the  health  needs  of  women,  their  nutritional status,  the risk  of  early  marriage  and  child bearing is sensitive issue of concern and require urgent attention if condition of women has to be improved.
  • At the same  time, there  is  a  need  to  provide  health  care  information  to  the  grass  root  level  through awareness programme in the large scale.
  • There is a need for the proper legal framework to address and recognize the promotion and protection of reproductive rights of women in India.
  • There is a need to have access to appropriate, affordable and quality health care facilities and related services for women. Health programmes should focus more on women’s health including reproductive health.
  • There is a  urge to  have  legislation  as Reproductive  Rights (Protection) Act in order to protect and promote reproductive rights of women and to look after all the issues of reproductive  health  of women  whether  it  is  as  regard  to providing  medical  facilities  or  creating  awareness  or having health policies and programmes concerning women.
  • Therefore, it is a need of the hour that sexual and reproductive health become a priority at the policy level.
  • Fostering better informed and healthier reproductive behaviour among the country’s masses is a long-term endeavour that should not cease on account of a health emergency.

Conclusion

About 35 million women, girls and young people will need life-saving sexual and reproductive health services this year, as well as services to address gender-based violence, in humanitarian settings.


General Studies – 2


 

14. The pandemic has upended schooling. Hence, a well-planned and a holistic effort is required on the part of the government in order to negate long term negative impact on education. Discuss. (250 words, 15 marks)

 

Introduction

The coronavirus pandemic has shuttered educational institutions across the globe. Closure of schools, colleges and universities, shutdown of routine life of students and teachers, disruptions in education and the education ministry remaining incommunicado, have created an unprecedented situation and thrown many unexpected challenges to administrators, educators, teachers, parents and students. According to a United Nations report, India has become the country with the second longest COVID-19 pandemic-linked school closure in the world.

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Factors that have led to prolonged closure of schools in India

  • Widespread misinformation such as ‘the third wave would affect children’ made by influential individuals have scared parents.
  • Occasional incidents of children being hospitalised are shown repeatedly on television channels to sensationalize the matter and gain target rating point (TRP).
  • A small section of privileged parents is being treated as representatives of all parents.
  • Various surveys had indicated that poor and middle-class parents from all parts of the country want schools to be open. But they are not involved in decision-making, and hence it deprives children from marginalized backgrounds of their right to education.
  • The Government has not responded to misinformation timely and the matter of reopening schools has been politicized.
  • An essential inference has been highlighted that reveals the considerable preference given to the parents of privileged sections neglecting the holistic opinion of every section of the society. This has furthered the widening of educational inequities.
  • The experience of the second wave has shaken the trust of the average citizen in the Government.
  • The indifference of the government on the entire issue along with the silence of the stakeholders of education has assisted misinformation to grow further bringing huge losses in terms of learning and receiving quality education.
  • There has been a consistent lack of planning and discussion on the need to reopen the schools.

Impacts of school closure

  • School closure has had the worst impact on children who were already at a disadvantage.
  • The learning during the pandemic have been wrongly equated with completion of the syllabus.
  • The School Children’s Online and Offline Learning (SCHOOL) survey in India has shown that TV-based education programs are completely ineffective.

Holistic approach needed

  • To ensure that schools start functioning at full capacity,a structured approach of P-E-R-I: Prepare; Engage; Reimagine and Innovate needs to be adopted. Also, the necessary planning and perspective on the risk of COVID-19 are essential.
  • Engaging with key stakeholders including parents, and raising awareness about the importance of in-person education and the concept of holistic child development is required. It will help in countering any misinformation and bring learning on track.
  • Anganwadi, Pre-nursery, and nursery schools should be opened urgently and immediately to recover from learning and nutrition loss.
  • Special initiatives and socio-political engagement need to be started so that every single child who is in need of education or who has dropped out or has been pushed into child labour can return to in-person learning.
  • There is a need to revive school health services and institutionalize regular counselling and mental health services for school-age children.
  • There is a need to prepare a medium to long-term plan to compensate for the learning loss, with a focus on overall child development through strategic and innovative thinking.
  • Hesitation in reopening institutions is the symptom of a flawed education system and shows the value that is attached to school education. Hence, it is a socio-political responsibility to ensure the safe return of every child in the country.

Conclusion

Education is the key to upliftment of people from poverty, inequality and oppression. India’s demographic dividend is dependent on quality education at primary, secondary and high school levels. Focus must be on pedagogy and a safe and stimulating environment where wide range of learning experiences is offered to the children. Only when we align incentives of all stakeholders, and enable them while holding them accountable, can we shorten the distance between the nation’s current state of education and its aspirations.

 

15. A Uniform Civil Code (UCC) which is sourced upon the best traditions and harmonizes them with the modern constitutional values of India is an essential step in the overall development of the country. Critically examine. (250 words, 15 marks)

Introduction

A Uniform Civil Code is one that would provide for one law for the entire country, applicable to all religious communities in their personal matters such as marriage, divorce, inheritance, adoption etc. It proposes to replace the personal laws based on the scriptures and customs of each major religious community in the country with a common set of laws governing every citizen.

Article 44 of the Constitution lays down that the state shall endeavor to secure a Uniform Civil Code for the citizens throughout the territory of India.

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Background

  • While delivering a judgment legitimising the Portuguese Civil Code of 1867, the Supreme Court reportedly described Goa as a “shining example” with a Uniform Civil Code
  • The previous Chief Justice of India (CJI) S A Bobde recently lauded Goa’s Uniform Civil Code, and encouraged “intellectuals” indulging in “academic talk” to visit the state to learn more about it.
  • The Delhi High Court, in a very revolutionary decision, backed the need for a Uniform Civil Code observing that there is a need for a Code – ‘common to all’ in the country and asked the central government to take the necessary steps in this matter.

Time is ripe for UCC in India

  • Promotion of secularism: One set of laws to govern the personal matters of all citizens irrespective of religion is the cornerstone of true secularism. A secular republic needs a common law for all citizens rather than differentiated rules based on religious practices. It would help end gender discrimination on religious grounds and strengthens the secular fabric of the nation.
  • Protection of Vulnerable & Women’s Rights: It will protect the vulnerable sections of society. Women have been denied via personal laws in the name of socio cultural-religious traditions. Therefore UCC could bring all communities together to ensure Women the Right to a dignified life and control over their life as well as body.
  • Gender justice:The rights of women are usually limited under religious law, be it Hindu or Muslim. Many practices governed by religious tradition are at odds with the fundamental rights guaranteed in the Indian Constitution. Courts have also often said in their judgements that the government should move towards a uniform civil code including the judgement in the Shah Bano case.
  • Prevents religion-based discrimination: Personal laws differentiate between people on grounds of religion. A unified law having the same provisions regarding marital affairs would provide justice to those who feel discriminated against.
  • Ending unjust customs and traditions: A rational common and unified personal law will help eradicate many evil, unjust and irrational customs and traditions prevalent across the communities. For example, Law against Manual scavenging. It might have been a custom in the past but in a mature democracy like India, this custom cannot be justified.
  • Indian laws do follow a uniform code in most civil matters –Indian Contract Act, Civil Procedure Code, Sale of Goods Act, Transfer of Property Act, Partnership Act, Evidence Act etc. States, however, have made hundreds of amendments and therefore in certain matters, there is diversity even under these secular civil laws.
  • Justice Prathiba M Singh of Delhi HC stated that the modern Indian society was gradually becoming homogenous, the traditional barriers of religion, community and caste are slowly dissipating and thus UCC ought not to remain a mere hope.
  • Eases Administration: UCC would make it easy to administer the huge population base of India.

Challenges facing the passage of UCC:

  • Violation of fundamental rights:Religious bodies oppose uniform civil code on the ground that it would be interference into religious affairs which would violate fundamental rights guaranteed under article 25 of the constitution.
  • Reduces diversity:It would reduce the diversity of the nation by painting everyone in one colour. Tribals have their unique customs and traditions as per their culture. Replacing their customs and traditions with a unified law may lead to the identity crisis of the tribals. This may further lead to social tension.
  • Communal politics:It would be a tyranny to the minority and when implemented could bring a lot of unrest in the country.
  • Threat to Multiculturalism: Indian society has a unique identity in the form of its being multiculturalism, and unified law might do away with these unique characteristics of this nation.
  • Affects Majority as well: For example,  even Hindus themselves have separate Hindu laws for themselves. Thus, it is not merely a question for minorities but it also affects the majority.
  • Lacking Political Will: Bigger issues have been resolved by the BJP Government like Ayodhya Dispute, repeal of Article 370, so with adequate will from the political community, UCC could also be implemented
  • Sensitive and tough task – Such a code, in its true spirit, must be brought about by borrowing freely from different personal laws, making gradual changes in each, issuing judicial pronouncements assuring gender equality, and adopting expansive interpretations on marriage, maintenance, adoption, and succession by acknowledging the benefits that one community secures from the others. This task will be very demanding time and human resource wise. The government should be sensitive and unbiased at each step while dealing with the majority and minority communities. Otherwise, it might turn out to be more disastrous in a form of communal violence.
  • Time is not yet suitable for this reform – Considering a major opposition from Muslim community in India over this issue overlapping with controversies over beef, saffronization of school and college curriculum, love jihad, and the silence emanating from the top leadership on these controversies, there needs to be given sufficient time for instilling confidence in the community. Otherwise, these efforts towards common will be counterproductive leaving minority class particularly Muslims more insecure and vulnerable to get attracted towards fundamentalist and extremist ideologies.

Way forward

  • Major sensitization efforts are needed to reform current personal law reforms which should first be initiated by the communities themselves.
  • Current institutions need to be modernized, democratized and strengthened for this change. Sincere efforts towards women empowerment have to be taken for all women of all religions.
  • UCC can only emerge through an evolutionary process, which preserves India’s rich legal heritage, of which all the personal laws are equal constituents.
  • The social transformation from diverse civil code to uniformity shall be gradual and cannot happen in a day. Therefore, the government must adopt a piecemeal approach and no knee-jerk decisions.
  • There is  need  for deliberations and discussions among  members of various communities to reach a common ground.

Conclusion

The guiding principles of the Constitution itself visualize diversity and have tried to promote uniformity among peoples of different denominations.  A uniform law, although highly desirable but may be counterproductive to the unity and integrity of the nation. Hence, only those elements of customs and traditions should be brought into a unified law that causes injustice to individuals. In a democracy and rule of law, a gradual progressive change and order must be brought about.

 

16. India’s carefully calibrated policy towards Indo-pacific is centred on two pillars of strengthening engagement and stronger partnerships with likeminded countries. Elaborate. (250 words, 15 marks)

Introduction

Tide of international politics has shifted to Asia in general, and the Indo-Pacific in particular, with the economic rise of countries like India, China, Singapore, Vietnam, and Indonesia among others. The Indo-Pacific is a geopolitical construct which represents an integrated theatre that combines the Indian Ocean and the Pacific Ocean, and the land masses that surround them.

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About Indo- Pacific

  • It has gained relevance in the recent times due reasons such as presence of important sea lines of communication, maritime security concerns, rise of Asian Economy and China’s aggressive military and foreign policy.
  • Several regional and extra regional countries like India, Japan, USA, Australia, France etc have released policies focused on the Indo-Pacific acknowledging the strategic shift towards the region and to strengthen relations and to expand cooperation with Indo-Pacific countries

India’s calibrated policy towards Indo-Pacific

  • Peace and security in the Indian Ocean: Nearly 50% of India’s trade is centred in the Indo-Pacific Region and the Indian Ocean carries 90% of India’s trade and its energy sources.
    • India wants to assure freedom of navigation, secure choke points, resolve conflicts peacefully and address non-traditional security threats in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR).
  • SAGAR (Security and Growth for All in the Region): A holistic policy that aims to pursue and promote India’s geo-political, strategic and economic interests on the seas, particularly in the Indian Ocean.
  • Geo-political aspirations: To expand its own presence in the region, especially in Africa, the Middle East and Southeast Asia and maintain its role as a net security provider.
    • It is also teaming up with like-minded nations to contain China’s domination.
    • QUAD was formed with USA, Japan, Australia to ensure that China’s
  • Countering China: Ensuring that China does not gain a significant strategic foothold in the region.
  • Enhancing Trade and Investment Cooperation: by encouraging greater flow of goods, services, investment and technology between India and other countries in the region.
  • Promoting sustainable development: In the coming times, climate change is set to adversely affect India. Thus, India favours sustainable development of the region through development of blue economy.

Steps taken by India towards Indo-Pacific

  • Strengthening and preserving traditional roles in IOR o Security Provider: India has been the primary security provider for and strategic partner to most of its smaller neighbours like Maldives, Mauritius, Seychelles, and Sri Lanka.
  • First Responder: India’s navy is among the first to reach nations requiring humanitarian assistance or medical aid in times of crisis and disasters. E.g., Operation Vanilla at Madagascar.
  • Foreign Policy and Initiatives: Establishment of Indo-Pacific Division in 2019, involving in regional groupings like BIMSTEC, Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA), Mekong Ganga Cooperation and Forum for India-Pacific Islands cooperation for collaboration on multitude of subjects, and partnerships with countries through platforms like QUAD, ASEAN etc.
    • Initiatives like Indo Pacific Oceans’ Initiative, Indian Ocean Naval Symposium (increase maritime cooperation), Asia Africa Growth Corridor (for development and cooperation projects; quality infrastructure and institutional capacity) were taken up.

Challenges India face in the region

  • Limited Naval Capacity and Lack of military bases: With a meagre allocation of 15 percent of India’s military budget.
  • Slow pace of developments:g. since the release of the AAGC, there has been very little movement on this initiative. Challenges to trade due to tariff and non-tariff measures, poor infrastructure etc.
  • Balancing Continental and Maritime Strategies: Overemphasizing the Indo-Pacific runs the risk of antagonizing China. While the US and Australia are physically distant from China; India has to secure its continental margins with China and suitably allocate resources for the same.
  • Barriers to fruitful partnerships in the region: This includes lack of definitional consensus and differences in priorities with each nation having different political appetite and available resources for the Indian and Pacific Oceans.

Way forward

  • Enhancing engagements with non-traditional players: India should now look to other non-traditional players with great potential such as Micronesia to address shared interests in the region. E.g. Pacific island nations.
  • Strategic use of Island Territories: India in collaboration with its Indo-Pacific partners, must utilize the potential of island territories to extend its reach etc.
  • Innovative mechanisms such as QUAD+: g. Recent Quad Plus talks with South Korea, Vietnam and New Zealand, convened to address challenges brought about by the COVID-19 crisis in the Indo-Pacific region, are a step in the right direction


General Studies – 3


 

17. The monetary policy needs to maintain a balance between economic growth and high inflation. Why has the central bank kept the interest rates low? What is its impact? Examine the factors for the increasing rate of inflation in the economy and suggest steps that are needed to balance it. (250 words, 15 marks)

Introduction

India’s inflation based on the consumer price index quickened to 6.01% in January, breaching the central bank’s upper tolerance limit of 6%. Though the RBI had been expected to start normalising its pandemic-era policy stance in February’s monetary policy meeting and reaffirm its resolve to contain inflation, the central bank retained the status quo in order to support economic growth.

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Reasons to keep lower interest rates

  • Low interest rates are supposed to help spur growth. The theory is that low rates will encourage governments, businesses and consumers to borrow and spend more freely.
  • This will result in higher demand by consumers and investments by corporations, leading to higher GDP growth and job creation. This leads to a virtuous cycle in the economy—higher GDP growth and job creation will lead to increased income, which will lead to higher consumption and so on and so forth.
  • Maintaining price stability is the foremost objective of the monetary policy committee of RBI. However, during the pandemic, growth has taken centre stage and RBI has rightly cut interest rates.
  • But now it is taking a neutral stance in the wake of rising inflation.
  • Traditionally, raising interest rates can lead to decline in prices by making credit more expensive and this is the tool that RBI employs.
  • However, just raising interest rates to combat inflation may kill any incipient signs of recovery. So, RBI may prefer a wait-and-watch mode at least for now.

Impact of keeping interests rates low

  • Low rates are terrible for savers. A combination of high inflation and low rates will rapidly erode the value of money kept in a bank.
    • For much of last year, this has been exactly the case—the interest rates have been lower than inflation.
  • It has hit the retired and the poor, who primarily keep much of their money in bank fixed deposits and savings accounts.
  • Low real interest rates will not automatically increase investment, consumption or GDP growth.
    • Other factors come in like capacity utilisation may be too low for fresh investment in new factories.

Factors for the high rate of inflation in the Indian economy

  • Fuel prices: The government has increased taxation of energy to raise resources.
    • Since energy is used for all production, prices of all goods and services tend to rise and push up the rate of inflation.
    • Further, this is an indirect tax, it is regressive and impacts the poor disproportionately more. It also makes the RBI’s task of controlling inflation difficult.
  • Supply shortage: The lockdowns disrupted supplies and that added to shortages and price rise.
    • Prices of medicines and medical equipment rose dramatically.
    • Prices of items of day-to-day consumption also rose.
    • Fruits and vegetable prices rose since these items could not reach the urban markets.
  • International factors:  Most major economies have recovered and demand for inputs has increased while supplies have remained disrupted (like chips for automobiles).
    • So, commodity and input prices have risen (like in the case of metals).
    • Businesses claim increase in input costs underlies price rise.
  • Data collection and methodology: In April and May 2020, data on production and prices could not be collected due to the strict lockdown.
    • So, the current data on prices for April to July 2021 are not comparable with the same months of 2020.
    • As such, the official inflation figures for these months in 2021 do not reflect the true picture.
  • Weak Rupee: The weakening of the rupee also added to inflation.

Measures to keep the inflation under control

  • Commodity prices: GoI needs to remove supply side bottlenecks. For example, GoI can immediately offload 10-20% of its pulses stock with NAFED in the open market.
    • Stocks are currently at 14.6 lakh MT. This may immediately cool down pulses’ price.
  • Fuel prices: The prices of petrol, diesel and LPG has increased drastically crossing Rs 100/- and states/Centre are buck passing the responsibility of cutting taxes.
    • Bringing them under GST would reduce the prices by at least 30 rupees.
    • GST council must agree to this with haste.
  • Policy measures: Navigating out of this will need a fiscal stimulus to shore up consumer spending, an investment revival to increase the productive capacity of the economy, and a careful management of inflationary expectations.
    • Concomitantly, the government will also need to pursue redistribution of income to reduce the widening disparity.
    • This also calls for fiscal prudence to cut wasteful spending, find new revenue through asset sales, mining and spectrum auctions, and build investor confidence.

Conclusion

Economists have pointed at India’s K-shaped recovery where a few have benefitted while others have fallen sharply behind. Big companies have benefitted and increased market share, revenues and profits sharply. They have also taken advantage of low interest rates to decrease the cost of their borrowings. Small and medium companies, struggling with falling revenues and cash flows, have not been able to take advantage of the rates. Hence inflation must also be controlled while growth is focussed upon.

Inflation control is a legitimate objective of economic policy given the correlation between inflation and macro-economic stability. Inflation targeting is needed, in a nation where there are 21% poor people. However, this must be tweaked sufficiently to match the needs of an economy such as India.

 

18. Post de-regulation, the geospatial sector in the country is rightly positioned for investment. However, it needs the creation of an enabling ecosystem for its maximum potential to be utilised. Analyse. (250 words, 15 marks)

Introduction

Geospatial technologies is a term used to describe the range of modern tools contributing to the geographic mapping and analysis of the Earth and human societies.

India has a robust ecosystem in geospatial, with the Survey of India (SoI), the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), remote sensing application centres (RSAC)s, and the National Informatics Centre (NIC) in particular, and all ministries and departments, in general, using geospatial technology. However, the full benefits have yet to percolate to the public; neither is there much contribution to the nation’s GDP.

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Background

  • Till recently, the government had a near-monopoly regarding the collection, storage, use, sale, dissemination of geo-spatial data and mapping. This was because of concerns over internal as well as external security threats.
  • Only government-run agencies such as the Survey of India, Defence and Home Ministries were allowed to use geospatial data.
  • Whereas, the private companies needed approval from different departments of the government as well as the defence and Home Ministries. Then only, they were able to collect, create or disseminate geospatial data.
  • The lack of private participation led to the underdevelopment of the Geographic Information System (GIS) mapping.
  • The Kargil war highlighted the dependence on foreign data and the need for indigenous sources of data. Only, after the Kargil war, the government heavily invested in Geographic Information System (GIS) mapping.

De-regulation of geospatial sector

  • This system of acquiring licenses or permission has delayed projects for both private companies and government agencies.
  • The deregulation eliminates the requirement of permissions as well as scrutiny, even for security concerns.
  • Indian companies now can self-attest, conforming to government guidelines without actually having to be monitored by a government agency.
  • There is also a huge lack of data in the country which impedes planning for infrastructure, development and businesses which are data-based.
  • The mapping of the entire country, that too with high accuracy, by the Indian government alone could take decades. Therefore, opening up the sector and incentivising the private sector will speed up the process of mapping.
  • Large amounts of geo-spatial data are also available on global platforms, which makes the regulation of data that is freely available in other countries, untenable.

Limitations and hurdles in using geo-spatial data

  • Market size: Among the most prominent hurdles is the absence of a sizable geospatial market in India.
    • There is no demand for geospatial services and products on a scale linked to India’s potential and size.
  • Demand: This lack of demand is mainly a consequence of the lack of awareness among potential users in government and private sectors.
  • Skilled manpower: The other hurdle has been the lack of skilled manpower across the entire pyramid.
  • Data quality and sharing: The unavailability of foundation data, especially at high-resolution, is also a constraint.
    • The lack of clarity on data sharing and collaboration prevents co-creation and asset maximisation.
    • Additionally, there are still no ready-to-use solutions especially built to solve the problems of India.
  • No professional training: Though India has many who are trained in geospatial this is mostly either through a master’s level programme or on-job training.
    • Unlike the West, India lacks a strata of core professionals who understand geospatial end-to-end.

Conclusion

The geospatial sector in the country is rightly positioned for investment. However, clarity on the issues discussed and the creation of an enabling ecosystem are essential. By the time India celebrates the 10th anniversary of the liberalisation of this sector, it should have achieved the projected market volume and have Indian entrepreneurs stand out internationally.

 

19. With the imminent rollout of 5G services by the end of 2022, there are security implications that need be considered and addressed especially with respect to involvement of China. Examine. (250 words, 15 marks)

Introduction

Government named 13 cities that are likely to see the launch of 5G services in the country, next year. The Trials for 5G services that were scheduled to include the Chinese companies including Huawei and ZTE, were delayed on the back of modalities such as pricing and tenure. Post the ‘Doklam’ incident followed by tension along the Chinese border, there has been no further statement or clarification regarding 5G by GoI till this announcement.

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Current Affairs

Potential benefits of 5G

  • 5G is the next generation of mobile broadband that will eventually replace, or at least augment 4G LTE connection.
    • Department of Telecommunication (DoT) in 2017 setup a 5G steering committee headed by AJ Paulraj.
  • The committee submitted the report and suggest important steps. In 2018, India planned to start 5G services but it has not yet materialized.
  • Operate in the millimeter wave spectrum (30-300 GHz) which have the advantage of sending large amounts of data at very high speeds.
  • Operate in 3 bands, namely low, mid and high frequency spectrum.
  • Reduced latency will support new applications that leverage the power of 5G, the Internet of Things (IoT), and artificial intelligence.
  • Increased capacity on 5G networks can minimize the impact of load spikes, like those that take place during sporting events and news events.

Issues with roll out of 5G

  • Security issues: China is preparing to dominate the world by rolling out its 5G technology warfare across countries. By deploying the 5G in India without indigenisation of technology will make India vulnerable to China. This will make the data of individuals, groups or even security agencies at risk.
  • Risks: Risks associated with increased data transfers and the proliferation of poorly secured IoT devices that will appear alongside 5G.
    • If the implementation and use of 5G lead to a greater number of connections and a larger amount of data being transferred, it follows that the attack surface area will increase alongside it.
    • Greater use simply brings more opportunities for hackers to find a way in.
  • Privacy: 5G proponents tout the wonder of having all household appliances and systems connected to the internet wirelessly in order to give people remote access via cellphone or computer.
    • What is not considered is the power to eavesdrop on users without their knowledge when there is proliferation of electronic devices connected to internet and collecting data.
  • Huge investment needed: The introduction of 5G will involve a heavy upfront investment and have a long payback period. Thus, the viability of 5G after the introduction is a major challenge.

Conclusion

The shift from 4G to 5G is not incremental, but transformational. Skipping of 5G is not a choice India can afford. The economic impact of 5G in India is expected to be over $1 trillion by 2035 according to the report of KPMG. The Sooner the deployment of 5G in India is the better for India. India has to work on Indigenous 5G technology. This will also help bring down the cost of 5G technology and benefit the end users especially addressing the security and privacy risks.

 

20. The national hydrogen policy is a step in the right direction to harness the potential of green hydrogen but removing production bottlenecks and incentivising production can be game-changer for the energy security of India. Comment. (250 words, 15 marks)

Introduction

Green hydrogen — also referred to as ‘clean hydrogen’ — is produced by using electricity from renewable energy sources, such as solar or wind power, to split water into two hydrogen atoms and one oxygen atom through a process called electrolysis. The Union Government recently notified the green hydrogen and green ammonia policy aimed at boosting the domestic production of green hydrogen to 5 million tonnes by 2030 and making India an export hub for the clean fuel.

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Significance of Green Hydrogen: 

  • Green hydrogen energy is vital for India to meet its Nationally Determined Contribution (INDC)Targets and ensure regional and national energy security, access and availability.
  • Green Hydrogen can act as an energy storage option, which would be essential to meet intermittencies (of renewable energy) in the future.
  • In terms of mobility, for long distance mobilisations for either urban freight movement within cities and states or for passengers, Green Hydrogen can be used in railways, large ships, buses or trucks, etc.
  • India’s total hydrogen demand is expected to touch 11.7 million tonnes by 2029-30.
  • In 2021, the government announced the National Hydrogen Mission in order to promote the generation and adoption of cleaner energies, including green hydrogen.

The national hydrogen policy: a step in the right direction

  • The Centre’s new policy offers 25 years of free power transmission for any new renewable energy plants set up to supply power for green hydrogen production before July 2025.
  • This means that a green hydrogen producer will be able to set up a solar power plant in Rajasthan to supply renewable energy to a green hydrogen plant in Assam and would not be required to pay any inter-state transmission charges.
  • The move is likely going to make it more economical for key users of hydrogen and ammonia such as the oil refining, fertiliser and steel sectors to produce green hydrogen for their own use.
  • These sectors currently use grey hydrogen or grey ammonia produced using natural gas or naphtha.
  • The government is set to provide a single portal for all clearances required for setting up green hydrogen production as well as a facility for producers to bank any surplus renewable energy generated with discoms for upto 30 days and use it as required.
  • Under the policy port authorities will also provide land at applicable charges to green hydrogen and green ammonia producers to set up bunkers near ports for storage prior to export.
  • The policy will aid in India’s energy transition and achieving the target of becoming carbon neutral by 2070.

Limitations

  • One of the biggest challenges faced by the industry for using hydrogen commercially is the economic sustainability of extracting green or blue hydrogen.
  • The technology used in production and use of hydrogen like Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS)and hydrogen fuel cell technology are at nascent stage and are expensive which in turn increases the cost of production of hydrogen.
  • Maintenance costs for fuel cells post-completion of a plant can be costly.
  • The commercial usage of hydrogen as a fuel and in industries requires mammoth investment in R&D of such technology and infrastructure for production, storage, transportation and demand creation for hydrogen.

Way forward

  • As India is scaling up to the target of having 450 GW of renewable energy by 2030, aligning hydrogen production needs with broader electricity demand in the economy would be critical.
  • The industrial sectors like steel, refining, fertilizer & methanol sectors are attractive for Green Hydrogen adoption as Hydrogen is already being generated & consumed either as a chemical feedstock or a process input.
  • The public funding will have to lead the way in the development of green hydrogen, but the private sector has significant gains too to be made by securing its energy future.
  • India requires a manufacturing strategy that can leverage the existing strengths and mitigate threats by integrating with the global value chain.
  • The green hydrogen has been anointed the flag-bearer of India’s low-carbon transition as Hydrogen may be lighter than air, but it will take some heavy lifting to get the ecosystem in place.

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