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[Mission 2022] Insights SECURE SYNOPSIS: 24 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.


General Studies – 1


 

Topic: Indian culture will cover the salient aspects of Art Forms, literature and Architecture from ancient to modern times.

1. The crafts of India have been part of its culture since time immemorial but the roots of these crafts are on a decline. Substantial efforts are needed for their preservation. Comment. (250 words)

Difficulty level: Moderate

Reference: Indian art and culture – Nitin Singhania.

Why the question:

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

Key Demand of the question:

To write about the steps needed for preservation of crafts in India.

Directive word: 

Comment– here we must express our knowledge and understanding of the issue and form an overall opinion thereupon.

Structure of the answer:

Introduction: 

Begin by write about the rich crafts of India since ancient age.

Body:

In the first part, write the declining crafts of India and the reasons therefor. Cite examples to substantiate your points.

Next, mention the efforts and steps that are needed for the preservation of crafts in India – protecting livelihoods, promotion, knowledge transfer etc.

Conclusion:

Conclude by writing a way forward.

Introduction

Handicrafts are still today a vibrant aspect of Indian culture and society. Handicraft is rightly described as craft of the people and in India it is not just an industry as the word is commonly understood but is the aesthetic expression of the artisans which not only fulfils the daily needs of the people but also satisfies their aesthetic desire. Crafts have been interwoven with the culture of the people in India from the beginning of human history. Crafts have been an integral part of daily life in villages, towns, courts and religious establishments. There are approximately 70 lakh handicraft artisans in the country, which includes  20  lakh  artisans  related  to  the carpet  sector,  practicing  more  than  500 types of crafts.

Body

Challenges faced by Handicrafts industry:

  • Low productivity: The sector’s informal nature and the low education of most artisans create issues such as:
    • Unorganized production: As a largely unorganized sector, handicrafts faces problems such as a paucity of professional infrastructure such as work sheds, storage space, shipping and packing facilities.
    • Low education: Many crafts require the entire household to participate in production in some capacity. In many cases, crafts also serve as a seasonal source of income for agricultural households.
    • Outdated production methods: Artisans may also lack the financial capability to upgrade technology in production, or undergo necessary training on a regular basis, as would be available to them in a formal work setting. This compromises the quality of their products and raises the cost of production.
  • Inadequate inputs:There are three main issues:
    • Lack of quality raw materials: Rural artisans often lack access to quality raw materials. Due to the low volumes required, they have low bargaining power and are forced to buy sub-standard materials at a higher price.
    • Lack of funding: Craft producers suffer greatly from lack of working capital and access to credit and loan facilities. Banks cite poor recovery rates, wrong utilization of funds, lack of marketing facilities for finished products and lack of education on part of the borrowers as reasons for the low proportion of loans made to artisans.
    • Design inputs:Due to the breakdown of the historic artisan-consumer relationship, and the increasing urbanization and globalization of markets for crafts, artisans have difficulty understanding how to tailor their products to changing demands.
  • Information asymmetry:Due to their low education, artisans often cannot identify potential new markets for their products, nor do they understand the requirements for interacting with these markets.
  • Fragmented value chain:
    • Lack of market linkages: While consumers of crafts products are increasingly becoming urbanized, crafts continue to be sold through local markets; artisans have few opportunities to reach new consumers through relevant retail platforms such as department stores and shopping malls.
    • Dominance of middlemen: Although middlemen are necessary to enable effective market linkages, they often, if not always, exploit artisans by paying them a fraction of their fair wages.
    • Lack of aggregation:Crafts production typically takes places in scattered clusters in rural areas, while markets are usually in urban centers. Currently, there is a lack of organized systems to efficiently aggregate goods from small producers, carry out quality checks, store approved goods in warehouses, and supply them to wholesalers and retailers in urban areas.
  • Impact of the pandemic: Hit hard by the lockdown imposed in the wake of COVID-19, artistes across India suffered due to non-receipt of any orders since the outbreak of the dreaded virus.

Way forward:

  • All industrial policy aimed at promoting particular sectors aren’t without risks. But the externality-generating attributes —employment, exports, social transformation —of the apparel sector, India’s potential comparative advantage in it, and the narrow window of opportunity, make the risk worth taking.
  • Skill upgradation and development in handicraft   sector   is   an   excellent approach   for   development   of   artisans, poverty reduction and providing income generation   which   would   also   help   in achievement of sustainable development goals.
  • Access to economic independence through the    handicraft    sector    can address the livelihood issues and would lead to income generation in rural areas.
  • In order to meet these challenges, a package   for   garments   and made-ups sectors can be provided.
  • GI tags, Handloom India tagscan add credibility and protect the artisans from fake product manufacturers.
  • Women embroiderers are making ingenious versions of masks, while Kashmiri leather artisans, normally fabricating bags and totes, have turned their hand to PPE outfits and gloves.
  • Since synthetic, stainless steel and glass surfaces have been found to carry the virus for longer, it is an opportunity for artisans working in paper, brass, fibre, wood and resin. This includes packaging – an area of huge potential growth.
  • With online shopping gaining ground, the artistes must be taught with the help of the government in training them to sell their goods through e-commerce platforms.
  • NGOs, crafts cooperatives, designers, merchandisers, entrepreneurs and artisan families– normally working in their own narrow silos – are brainstorming together in new collaborations and discussions.
  • Zoom, WhatsApp groups, and webinarsare pulsing with the word ‘crafts’ and ‘craftspeople’ in ways that haven’t happened for decades.

 

Topic: Indian culture will cover the salient aspects of Art Forms, literature and Architecture from ancient to modern times.

2. Examine the reasons as to why the Indian handicrafts that had made the country famous, collapsed under the colonial rule. (250 words)

Difficulty level: Easy

Reference: Indian art and culture – Nitin Singhania.

Why the question:

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

Key Demand of the question:

To write about the reasons for decline of Indian handicrafts under British rule.

Directive word: 

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

Structure of the answer:

Introduction: 

Begin by giving context about flourishing Indian handicrafts before arrival of British.

Body:

Write the reasons for collapse of handicrafts under colonial rule – introduction of British made goods and ignorance of Indian Handicrafts Industries, policy of De-industrialization, transformed India to a mere exporter of raw materials for the upcoming modern industries in Britain etc.

Conclusion:

Conclude by summarising long term impact of ruining of Indian handicraft.

Introduction

The systemic ruin of Indian handicraft industries at the expense of Industrially revolutionizing Britain in which political force was misused to cause economic misery via discriminatory taxation, forceful coercion of artisans and market capturing via mercantalistic policies caused the demise of traditional Handicraft industries. Paul Bairoch, the economic historian estimated that India’s share of manufacturing output in the world was as high as 19.7% in 1800. In a span of 60 years, it plummeted to 8.6% (in 1860) and to 1.4%  in 1913.

Body

Reasons for collapse of Indian handicrafts during colonial rule

  • Impact of Industrial Revolution: Machine made textile goods of Britain, did the great damage to this Indian industry since 1750. Consequent upon industrial revolution in textile industry there had been massive growth of British imports in India and the domination of British cloth in the Indian market did the havoc; it created large scale unemployment as well as unbelievable drop in wages among the spinners and weavers. Cotton industry, jute handloom weaving of Bengal, woolen manufactures of Kashmir, silk manufacture of Bengal, hand-paper industry, glass industry, lac, bangles, etc.
  • Raw Material Shortage: The process of de-industrialization of India began with the gradual disappearance of raw material for Indian artisans which was taken away to feed English machines and consequently moving manufactured products from the list of India’s exports and the remarkable growth of manufactures in the list of her imports mainly from Britain. That is why it is said that Britain “inundated the very mother country of cotton with cottons”, thereby eclipsing India’s traditional handicraft industries.
    • For example the British exported raw materials, like cotton, indigo for the textile industries in Lancashire. As a result, the prices of the raw materials soared high and cost of the handicrafts increased.
  • Discriminatory Taxation: C. Dutt held that the tariff policy pursued by the British Government as the leading cause or ‘the first among equals’ towards the decay of handicrafts. This tariff policy came to be known as ‘one­-way free trade’ policy which preached that what was good for England was considered to be good for India. To put her manufacturing industries on a sound footing at home, England pursued the policy of protection through the imposition of import duties. But for India, she preached the gospel of free trade.
    • g.: British manufacturers were levied an 85% tax for importing Indian hand woven calico (chintz) and 44% for importing Indian muslin under the British Raj. On the other hand, British textiles were only imposed with a 5% import tax in India.
  • Loss of Native states: The main source or rather the entire source of demandfor the products of these handicrafts came from the royal courts, and the urban aristocrats. With the abolition of the royal court, one source of demand for the products of these crafts dried up. The new ‘aristocracy’ preferred imported goods.
  • Competition from machine-made goods: In terms of quality, though machine-made goods could not compete in quality with the products of the urban weaver, in the matter of lower priceand deep respect for goods bearing foreign trademark (i.e., change in tastes) he was hopelessly beaten by machine-made goods.
  • Price fixing and buyer monopolies:They bound local weaver into contracts and that made them sell exclusively to British. The prices were low and exploitative and artisans could recover only 80% cost of production. It pushed the artisans toward indebtedness and eventual poverty.
  • Coercing the artisans:The services and the labour of the craftsmen were hired at very low wages. It was impossible for the craftsmen to adopt their traditional profession. So they were force to abandon those crafts. The worst affected were the weavers of Bengal and textile industry of Bengal was virtually closed. It was said that the thumbs of the weavers were cut off. Actually it meant that thousands of weavers were made jobless due to closure of weaving industry.
  • Acceleration of ruin by railways: Introduction of railways opened a new era for the transport system in India. But the railways served the political and economic interest of the British to a larger extent. Through railways the machine products of Britain found it much easier to enter into the rural India.
  • No efforts to re-industrialise India:There was no attempt for growth of modern industry to take the place of the cottage Industries. As a result, the handicraftsman and artisans had no scope to find suitable employment according to their skill. Rather, they were compelled to switch over to agriculture for employment.

The above mentioned factors point to the nature of British rule and their mercantilist policies which caused the ruining of industries in India. However there are others factors as well that led to their decline such as:

  • No efforts were made to explore markets for products. India’s foreign trade was in the hands of foreigners. This meant that the Indian artisans and producers were at the mercy of foreign merchants so far as sales or demand propagation in overseas markets were concerned.
  • Guild organization in India was definitely very weak. Finally, she did not possess a class of industrial entrepreneurs.

Conclusion

Though there are some internal factors the led to de-industrialization of India, but the Indian economy had been systematically slaughtered by the British Government and in the process, traditional handicraft industries slipped away to their demise and the process of de-industrialization proved to be a process of pure immiseriation for the several million persons. The only bright side to it was that the ruin coupled with other miseries heaped upon India led to the emergency of economic nationalism India and economic critique becomes a potent weapon in the arsenal of the nationalists.

 


General Studies – 2


 

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

3. Women have been historically under-represented in higher academic sciences. It is pertinent to promote and retain women in science, thereby making science inclusive and sensitive. Comment. (250 words)

Difficulty level: Moderate

Reference: Indian Express

Why the question:

Historically, academies have been male bastions with the significant exclusion of women scientists, irrespective of their contributions and work. Efforts to ensure gender equity should not be limited to the academies. All stakeholders must get involved.

Key Demand of the question:

To write about how higher academic sciences could be made more inclusive and sensitive.

Directive word: 

Comment– here we must express our knowledge and understanding of the issue and form an overall opinion thereupon.

Structure of the answer:

Introduction: 

Begin by giving a statistic about the representation of women in higher academic sciences.

Body:

In the first part, mention how historically gender norms and patriarchal attitudes continue to affect women in academic sciences.

Next, write about the measures that are needed make higher science inclusive and sensitive – promoting awareness, giving choice, continuous academic support, re-inclusion after a break, policy support etc.

Conclusion:

Conclude by writing a way forward.

Introduction

Science, technology, engineering, and medicine –together known as ‘STEM’ fields –suffer from lack of women, especially in India. In school exam results, we hear of how girls have outshone boys, but when it comes to those who take up research in later life, the number of women is minuscule. This means that many of our best brains that showed the maximum potential do not pick research as a career.

Since independence, successive governments in India have taken many steps in bringing gender empowerment. However, various developmental indices reflect that still, a lot needs to be done in this regard. One such area of improvement is increasing gender participation in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) fields.

Body

India tops world rankings in producing female graduates in STEM with 43% but employs only 14% of them. In comparison, Sweden produces 35% female STEM graduates and employs 34% of them.

Status of Women in STEM Fields

  • About 43% of STEM graduates in India may be women, which is the highest in the world, but women’s share in STEM jobs in India is a mere 14%.
  • Most of the women STEM graduates in India either pursue another career or do not work at all. Women across the world face the ‘leaky pipeline’ problem in STEM fields.
  • Women leave the workforce, due to the absence of supportive institutional structures during pregnancy, safety issues in fieldwork and the workplace.
  • The STEM field is so perpetuated with gender stereotypes. It has a very strong male-dominated culture. Further, there is a lack of role models for girls and women.
  • Not just societal norms but issues related to poor education and healthcare access are responsible for a lesser number of women in these fields.

Reasons for this gender gap

  • When highly qualified women drop out of the workforce, it results in considerable depletion of national resources in science and technology.
  • Stereotypes encountered by girls to the family-caring responsibilities.
  • Patriarchal society.
  • Women face bias when choosing a career.
  • Women continue to face the same kind of discrimination at work as they face in society.
  • According to a recent Accenture research report, the gender pay gap in India is as high as 67 percent.
  • Various studies have found that girls excel at mathematics and science-oriented subjects in school, but boys often believe they can do better, which shapes their choices in higher studies.
  • In 2015, an analysis of PISA scores by OECD found that the difference in math scores between high-achieving boys and girls was the equivalent of about half a year at school.
  • But when comparing boys and girls who reported similar levels of self-confidence and anxiety about mathematics, the gender gap in performance disappeared — when girls were more anxious, they tended to perform poorly.

Government Initiatives so far to bridge the gender gap in STEM: 

  • Vigyan Jyoti scheme:
    • Announced in the 2017 budget for the Ministry of Science and Technology.
    • The scheme aims to arrange for girl students of classes 9, 10 and 11 meet women scientists, with the IITs and the Indian Institutes of Science Education and Research.
    • It is intended to create a level-playing field for the meritorious girls in high school to pursue Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) in their higher education
    • It also offers exposure for girl students from the rural background to help to plan their journey from school to a job of their choice in the field of science.
  • GATI Scheme:
    • The Gender Advancement for Transforming Institutions (GATI) will develop a comprehensive Charter and a framework for assessing Gender Equality in STEM.
  • Inspire-MANAK (Million Minds Augmenting National Aspiration and Knowledge)
    • Attract talented young boys and girls to study science and pursue research as a career.
  • Unnat Bharat Abhiyan programme
    • Launched by the Ministry of Human Resource Development in 2014.
    • Connect India’s elite institutes with local communities and address their developmental challenges with appropriate technological interventions.
  • Indo-US fellowship for women in science, technology, engineering, mathematics and medicine to participate in international collaborative research in premier institutions in America
  • Women-centric programmes under the Knowledge Involvement in Research Advancement through Nurturing (KIRAN)initiative
  • Bio-technology Career Advancement and Reorientation (Bio-Care)

Way Forward

  • Promote gender equality as an explicit human right.
  • Identify and eliminate practices that create systemic and structural impediments to the advancement of women in science.
  • Support the empowerment of women to enable them to flourish in the scientific profession.
  • Identify potential risks and hindrances to women in their pursuit of science and implement strategies to eliminate them.
  • Engage with the Government of India, scientific institutions and the civil society to promote and support gender equality in general, and in science in particular.
  • Replicating ISRO Model:The role of women engineers in the launch of the Indian Space Research Organisation’s second moon mission, Chandrayaan-2 shows that how social shackles pertaining to women are loosening. Thus, there is a need for emulating ISRO’s model in STEM fields.
  • Bringing Behavioural Change:Subdued gender participation emanates from social-economic issues, which can be treated by bringing behavioural change. For this, the contributions of women in the STEM sector should be highlighted in textbooks. This may motivate the next generation of girls to be leaders in the STEM sector.
  • Women’s participation in STEM should be encouraged from primary school level rather only in higher studies.
  • Awareness about gender inequality and its outcome has to be increased and the community should be supportive and understanding of career prospects for women.
  • Companies can provide more internship opportunities for women and give STEM scholarships to meritorious yet economically backward girls.
  • India’s forthcoming Science, Technology, and Innovation Policy (STIP) should focus on the thrust on gender equity and inclusion. Digital India too provides an opportunity to impart education in the STEM field to women.

Conclusion

A research report by McKinsey said that narrowing the gender gap in STEM can lead to an increase of $12-28 trillion in the global economy. Thus, India should look at Gender equality as an essential facet of the development perspective.

 

 


General Studies – 3


 

Topic: Major crops-cropping patterns in various parts of the country, – different types of irrigation and irrigation systems storage, transport and marketing of agricultural produce and issues and related constraints; e-technology in the aid of farmers.

4. The transformation of Indian agriculture towards chemical free, natural farming needs a structured a roadmap with government as an active partner to generate demand, sustain production and manage supply chains. Discuss. (250 words)

Difficulty level: Moderate

Reference: Indian Express

Why the question:

In her budget speech, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman reaffirmed the Centre’s commitment to natural, chemical-free, organic and zero-budget farming. It is the third time in the last four budget speeches where (zero budget) natural farming finds a mention.

Key Demand of the question:

To write about the measures needed to transform Indian agriculture towards natural farming.

Directive word: 

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

Structure of the answer:

Introduction: 

Begin the answer by defining natural farming and its features.

Body:

Firstly, give brief about the drawbacks and limitations of conventional farming and advantages of natural farming over it.

Next, mention the steps that are required to achieve this transformation towards chemical free, natural farming – promoting natural farming in rainfed areas, insurance penetration and promote microenterprises that produce inputs for chemical-free agriculture etc.

Conclusion:

Conclude by writing a way forward to leverage natural farming in India.

Introduction

Zero Budget Natural Farming (ZBNF) is a set of farming methods, and also a grassroots peasant movement, which has spread to various states in India. It has attained wide success in southern India, especially the southern Indian state of Karnataka where it first evolved.  The movement in Karnataka state was born out of collaboration between Mr Subhash Palekar, who put together the ZBNF practices, and the state farmers association Karnataka Rajya Raitha Sangha (KRRS).

Body

 

About Zero budget natural farming

  • The “four wheels” of ZBNF are ‘Jiwamrita’, ‘Bijamrita’, ‘Mulching’ and ‘Waaphasa’.
  • Jiwamrita is a fermented mixture of cow dung and urine (of desi breeds), jaggery, pulses flour, water and soil from the farm bund. This isn’t a fertiliser, but just a source of some 500 crore micro-organisms that can convert all the necessary “non-available” nutrients into “available” form.
  • Bijamritais a mix of desi cow dung and urine, water, bund soil and lime that is used as a seed treatment solution prior to sowing.
  • Mulching, or covering the plants with a layer of dried straw or fallen leaves, is meant to conserve soil moisture and keep the temperature around the roots at 25-32 degrees Celsius, which allows the microorganisms to do their job.
  • Waaphasa, or providing water to maintain the required moisture-air balance, also achieves the same objective.
  • Palekar also advocates the use of special ‘Agniastra’, ‘Bramhastra’ and ‘Neemastra’ concoctions again based on desi cow urine and dung, plus pulp from leaves of neem, white datura, papaya, guava and pomegranates for controlling pest and disease attacks.

Need for a structured roadmap to Natural farming

  • ZBNF has innumerable benefits to the farmers.
  • ZBNF can also help in prevent over-extraction of groundwater, enable aquifer recharge, and eventually contribute to increasing water table levels.
  • Zero budget natural farming requires only 10% water and 10% electricity than what is required under chemical and organic farming.
  • It might help to reduce the leaching of nitrogen and phosphorousfrom the soil into groundwater or surface water, and eventually into rivers and oceans.
  • The Finance Minister reaffirmed the Centre’s commitment to natural, chemical-free, organic and zero-budget farming. It is the third time in the last four budget speeches where natural farming finds a mention.
  • However, there have been no specific allocations have been made to the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare in lieu of Natural farming.
  • The currently-operational schemes such as the Paramparagat Krishi Vikas Yojana and the National Project on Organic Farming did not find any mention in the budget.

Structured roadmap for ZBNF

  • Focus on promoting natural farming in rainfed areas beyond the Gangetic basin where around 50% of India’s farmers in rainfed regions use only a third of the fertilisers per hectare compared to the areas where irrigation is prevalent. The shift to chemical-free farming will be easier in these regions.
  • Enabling automatic enrolment of farmers transitioning to chemical-free farming into the government’s crop insurance scheme, PM Fasal Bima Yojana (PMFBY) as any new transistions in agriculture raises farmer’s risks.
  • Promoting microenterprises that produce inputs for chemical-free agriculture thereby curbing the lack of readily available natural inputs to farmers.
  • Leveraging NGOs and champion farmers who have been promoting and practising sustainable agriculture across the country.
  • Beyond evolving the curriculum in agricultural universities, upskill the agriculture extension workers on sustainable agriculture practices.
  • Leveraging community institutions for awareness generation, inspiration, and social support.
  • The government should facilitate an ecosystem in which farmers learn from and support each other while making the transition.
  • Support monitoring and impact studies to ensure an informed approach to scaling up sustainable agriculture.
  • Dovetailing the ambition on millet promotion with the aim to promote sustainable agriculture.

Conclusion

The implementation of this project at scale will impact a multitude of stakeholders, and also help India progress towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) set by the United Nations (UN) to facilitate the post-2015 development agenda. Agricultural scientists in India have to rework their entire strategy so that farming is in consonance with nature. The dominant paradigm of chemical-based agriculture has failed and regenerative agriculture is the emerging new science.

 

Topic: money laundering and its prevention.

5. What influence does money laundering have on economic development? Examine the recent steps taken by India to counter money laundering. (250 words)

Difficulty level: Moderate

Reference: The HinduInsights on India

Why the question:

The government on Wednesday informed the Supreme Court that ₹18,000 crore was confiscated under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) from fugitive businessmen Vijay Mallya, Nirav Modi and Mehul Choksi, and returned to banks.

Key Demand of the question:

To write about the adverse effects of money laundering on economic development and steps taken to counter it.

Directive word: 

Examine – When asked to ‘Examine’, we must investigate the topic (content words) in detail, inspect it, investigate it and establish the key facts and issues related to the topic in question. While doing so we should explain why these facts and issues are important and their implications.

Structure of the answer:

Introduction: 

Begin by defining money laundering.

Body:

First, mention in brief as to how money laundering works and its impact on economic development of the nation – economic vulnerability, integrity of the banking and financial services, increased volatility of international capital flows and exchange rates due to unanticipated cross-border asset transfers, increased crimes etc.

Next, write about the statutory and institutional measures that have been developed to tackle the menace of money laundering. Write about their effectiveness in dealing with the menace of money laundering.

Conclusion:

Conclude by writing a way forward to further make anti-money laundering measures more robust.

Introduction

Money laundering is the process of creating the appearance that large amounts of money obtained from criminal activity, such as drug trafficking or terrorist activity, originated from a legitimate source. The money from the illicit activity is considered dirty, and the process “launders” the money to make it look clean.

The Center informed the Supreme Court that the total proceeds of crime in PMLA cases pending before the top court is ₹67,000 crore. Centre also told that the number of PMLA cases investigated by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) has varied in five years, from 111 to 981 in 2015-16 and 2020-21, respectively.

Body:

 

 

Impact of Money laundering on economic development

  • Money laundering harms financial sector institutions critical to economic growth. Money laundering promotes crime and corruption that slows economic growth and decreases productivity in the real sector economy.
  • Money laundering can damage a country’s financial sector’s soundness and financial institutions’ stability, such as banks. The negative consequences, commonly defined as reputational, operational, legal, and concentration risks, are interrelated, and each has certain costs.
  • As it becomes difficult for the government to generate income from the related transactions, which are frequent in the informal economy, it decreases tax revenues, which causes a serious negative impact on the economy.
  • Money laundering criminals use shell companies because shell companies are commercial companies that appear legitimate but are actually controlled by criminals.
  • This increases the potential for monetary instability due to improper allocation of resources from artificial distortions in asset prices. It also provides a way to avoid taxation and thus deprive the country of income.
  • Money launderers threaten the economies of many countries through privatization. These criminal organizations may surpass legitimate buyers of former state-owned businesses.
  • When illegal revenues are invested in this way, criminals increase their potential to commit more criminal activity and corruption and deprive the country of what it should be a legal, market-based, tax-paying enterprise.
  • Seeing a country as a money-laundering haven is likely to attract criminals and encourage corruption.
  • Foreign financial institutions can limit their transactions with institutions from money laundering heavens, stop their investments, make transactions more expensive, and be subject to extra scrutiny.

Efforts of Government of India to address money laundering:

Statutory framework:

In India, before the enactment of Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002 (PMLA) the major statutes that incorporated measures to address the problem of money laundering were:

  • PMLA Act:
    • It prescribes obligation of banking companies, financial institutions and intermediaries for verification and maintenance of records of the identity of all its clients and also of all transactions and for furnishing information of such transactions in prescribed form to the Financial Intelligence Unit-India (FIU-IND).
    • It empowers the Director of FIU-IND to impose fine on banking company, financial institution or intermediary if they or any of its officers fails to comply with the provisions of the Act as indicated above.
    • PMLA envisages setting up of an Adjudicating Authority to exercise jurisdiction, power and authority conferred by it essentially to confirm attachment or order confiscation of attached properties.
  • The Black money (undisclosed foreign income and assets) and Imposition of Tax Act, 2015:
    • To deal with the menace of the black money existing in the form of undisclosed foreign income and assets by setting out the procedure for dealing with such income and assets.
  • Benami Transactions (Prohibition) Amendment Bill, 2015:
    • It aims to expand the definition of Benami Transactions and specifies the penalty to be imposed on a person entering into a Benami transaction.

Institutional framework:

 

  • Enforcement directorate:
    • PMLA empowers certain officers of the Directorate of Enforcement to carry out investigations in cases involving offence of money laundering and also to attach the property involved in money laundering.
  • Financial Intelligence Unit:
    • It was established in India in 2004 as the central national agency responsible for receiving, processing, analyzing and disseminating information relating to suspect financial transactions.
    • FIU-IND is also responsible for coordinating and strengthening efforts of national and international intelligence, investigation and enforcement agencies in pursuing the global efforts against money laundering and related crimes.
    • FIU-IND is an independent body reporting directly to the Economic Intelligence Council (EIC) headed by the Finance Minister.

Way forward

  • Bringing KYC norms into cryptocurrencies.
  • Bringing Japan Model where they are provided with licenses and can be easily traceable.
  • Adhering to FATF guidelines regarding cryptocurrency.
  • Need to expand capabilities on ways to probe virtual assets and regulate virtual asset provides to prevent money laundering.
  • A multi-agency or multi-disciplinary agency to work with public and private partnership is key tackling criminal finances.
  • Strengthening information exchange to dismantle networks.
  • Enforcing new technologies in criminal finance networks.
  • Enacting Data Protection Laws, hiring ‘’White Caps’’ and enabling web audits of money transfer by banks.
  • Financial stability board: Global watchdog that runs financial regulation for G-20 economies for regulating digital currencies.
  • United Kingdom: Its Legal to operate currencies but have to register with financial conduct authority and also assure the anti-money laundering and counter terrorism standards.
  • South Korea: Here it’s not a legal tender but use of anonymous bank accounts for virtual coin trading is prohibited.

Conclusion

The evolving threats of money laundering supported by the emerging technologies need to be addressed with the equally advanced Anti-Money Laundering mechanisms like big data and artificial intelligence. Both international and domestic stakeholders need to come together by strengthening data sharing mechanisms amongst them to effectively eliminate the problem of money laundering.

Value addition

Evolving threats of Money laundering:

  • Criminals open online accounts with digital currency exchanges, which accept fiat currency from traditional bank accounts. Then, they start a ‘cleansing’ process (mixing and layering), i.e., moving money into the cryptocurrency system by using mixers, tumblers, and chain hopping (also called cross-currency). Money is moved from one cryptocurrency into another, across digital currency exchanges — the less-regulated the better — to create a money trail that is almost impossible to track.
  • According to the “Cryptocurrency Anti-Money Laundering Report,”criminals also use theft and gambling to launder cryptocurrencies.
  • Since it doesn’t have regulatory authority, it is easy to trade between countries and can cause money laundering in disguise of trading.
  • Cryptocurrency is highly encrypted and cannot be traced easily.
  • Creation of Dark Web or Dark Marketwhich cause it to exploit users through hacking.
  • Increasing proliferation of new non-cash payment methods such as prepaid cards, internet payments, and mobile paymentshas opened up new gateways for money launderers.
  • The rapid speed of transactions, coupled with minimal face-to-face interactionbetween the person initiating the transaction and the service provider, makes these new payment modes vulnerable to money laundering activities.
  • Money launderers are also taking advantage of the increased need for financial institutions to identify and onboard their customers online.
  • Trade-Based Money Laundering takes advantage of trade systems complexity, mostly in international contexts where the involvement of multiple parties and jurisdictions make CDD processes and AML checks more challenging.

 

Topic: Disaster and disaster management.

6. Enumerate the causes for the rising instances of forest fires in India. What measures are needed to mitigate the adverse impacts of forest fires? (250 words)

Difficulty level: Moderate

Reference: Down to Earth

Why the question:

The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) February 23, 2022, called on global governments to adopt a new ‘Fire Ready Formula,’ as it warned that incidences of wildfires would rise in the future.

Key Demand of the question:

To write about causes of forest fires in India and measures need to mitigate them.

Structure of the answer:

Introduction:

Start by defining forest fires and statistic regarding rising instances of forest fires in India.

Body:

Draw a small illustrative diagram showing major forest fire prone areas.

Discuss first the reasons of forest fires; Thunderstorms are the most likely natural cause for forest fires. Slash and burn techniques etc. The reasons are mainly manmade, particularly in cases where people visit forests and leave burning bidis, cigarette stubs or other inflammable materials.

Next, explain the concerns posed by it. Explain why they are difficult to control.

Next, discuss the efforts that are needed to be taken in this direction.

Conclusion:

Conclude with way forward.

Introduction

Forest fires are considered as one of the most widespread hazards in a forested landscape. They have a serious threat to forest and its flora and fauna. Forest fires essentially are ‘quasi-natural’, which means that they are not entirely caused by natural reasons (like volcanoes, earthquakes and tropical storms), but are caused by human activities as well. In India’s case, a combination of hot weather, oxygen and dry vegetation is a potent recipe for forest fires.

Body

Forest fires: A regular phenomenon in India

  • Every year large areas of forests are affected by fires of varying intensity and extent.
  • Since the start of 2021, there has been a series of forest fires in Himachal Pradesh, Nagaland-Manipur border, Odisha, Madhya Pradesh, and Gujarat, including in wildlife sanctuaries.
  • At least 5,291 forest fires were recorded in Odisha between February 22 and March 1, 2021 — the highest in the country for the same period, according to FSI biennial report.
  • Telangana recorded the second-highest fires in the country at 1,527 during the same period, followed by Madhya Pradesh (1,507) and Andhra Pradesh (1,292), according to FSI data.
  • Around 95 percent of the forest fires in India are on account of human activity.
  • Around 21 percent of the total forest cover is highly to extremely fire prone, adds the latest forest survey.
  • Based on the forest inventory records, 40% of forests in India are exposed to occasional fires, 7.49% to moderately frequent fires and 2.405 to high incidence levels while 35.71% of India’s forests have not yet been exposed to fires of any real significance.

Reasons for increasing frequency of forest fires

  • Forest fires can be caused by a number of natural causes, but officials say many major fires in India are triggered mainly by human activities.
  • Emerging studies link climate change to rising instances of fires globally, especially the massive fires of the Amazon forests in Brazil and in Australia in the last two years.
  • Fires of longer duration, increasing intensity, higher frequency and highly inflammable nature are all being linked to climate change.
  • In India, forest fires are most commonly reported during March and April, when the ground has large quantities of dry wood, logs, dead leaves, stumps, dry grass and weeds that can make forests easily go up in flames if there is a trigger.
  • Under natural circumstances, extreme heat and dryness, friction created by rubbing of branches with each other also have been known to initiate fire.
  • In Uttarakhand, the lack of soil moisture too is being seen as a key factor.
  • In two consecutive monsoon seasons (2019 and 2020), rainfall has been deficient by 18% and 20% of the seasonal average, respectively.

Measures to control forest fires

  • Forest fire line: Successive Five-Year Plans have provided funds for forests fighting. During the British period, fire was prevented in the summer through removal of forest litter all along the forest boundary. This was called “Forest Fire Line”.
    • This line used to prevent fire breaking into the forest from one compartment to another.
    • The collected litter was burnt in isolation.
  • Firebreaks: Generally, the fire spreads only if there is continuous supply of fuel (Dry vegetation) along its path. The best way to control a forest fire is therefore, to prevent it from spreading, which can be done by creating firebreaksin the shape of small clearings of ditches in the forests.
  • Forest Survey of India monitors forest fire events through satellites on two platforms– MODIS and SNPP-VIIRS, both in collaboration with the U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO).
    • While the SNPP-VIIRS identifies, alerts and tracks fire incidents on real time data at 375X375 sq meter pixel, the older version MODIS detects it in the range of 1kmX1km.
    • Forest fire suppression relies very heavily on “dry” firefighting techniques because of poor water availability.
  • Integrated forest protection: The main objective is to control forest fires and strengthen the forest protection. The works like Fireline clearing,assistance to Joint Forest Managemencommittees, creating water bodies, purchase of vehicles and communication equipment, purchase of firefighting tools, etc., needs to be undertaken.
  • Prevention of human-caused firesthrough education and environmental modification. It will include silvicultural activities, engineering works, people participation, and education and enforcement. It is proposed that more emphasis be given to people participation through Joint Forest Fire Management for fire prevention.
  • Prompt detection of fires through a well-coordinated network of observation points, efficient ground patrolling, and communication networks. Remote sensing technology is to be given due importance in fire detection. For successful fire management and administration, a National Fire Danger Rating System (NFDRS) and Fire Forecasting System are to be developed in the country.
  • Introducing a forest fuel modification system at strategic points.
  • National Action Plan on Forest Fires (NAPFF): It was launched in 2018 to minimize forest fires by informing, enabling and empowering forest fringe communities and incentivizing them to work with the State Forest Departments.

Conclusion

It is important to prevent the lungs of the nation from ravages of fire. With climate change and global warming on the rise, India must prevent human-made disaster to ensure our carbon sinks are protected.

 


General Studies – 4


 

Topic: Public/Civil service values and Ethics in Public administration: Status and problems; ethical concerns and dilemmas in government and private institutions;

7. Why is probity in governance considered to be an exception rather than being a norm in the modern day administration?  (150 words)

Difficulty level: Tough

Why the question:

The question is part of the static syllabus of General studies paper – 4 and part of ‘Abstract Thursdays’ in Mission-2022 Secure.

Key Demand of the question:

To write about why probity is such a rare occurrence in governance.

Structure of the answer:

Introduction: 

Begin by defining probity in governance.

Body:

First, with examples mentions why civil servants with strong moral principles are rare and mention the factors that make civil servants compromise their integrity.

Next, mention steps that must be taken to improve and promote probity in governance.

Conclusion:

Conclude by suggesting measures to make these measures more robust and effective.

Introduction

Probity is “the quality or condition of having strong moral principles, integrity, good character, honesty, decency”. It is the act of adhering to the highest principles and ideals rather than avoiding corrupt or dishonest conduct. It balances service to the community against the self-interest of individuals.

Body

Probity is an exception rather than a norm

  • It is the lack of probity in public life that resulted in increasing cases of misallocation of public funds like 2G scam, taking grafts for delivery of public services to citizens, inclusion of fake beneficiaries, use of public power for the personal interest and nepotism.
  • There is no recognition of good work in civil services.
  • Honest and brave officers are threatened with suspension and humiliation.
  • Today, our bureaucracy is twenty times more bureaucratic, our deference to the chain of command more cringing and decorous, our worship of paper more entrenched.
  • To quote Hyman Rickover, “If you are going to sin, sin against God, not the bureaucracy. God will forgive you but the bureaucracy won’t.”
  • An administration certainly needs guardrails in the form of non-negotiable rules. Without such rails, the system can stray badly. But necessitating a dozen signatures where a few can do, is a criminal surfeit of supervisory controls.
  • Similarly, we have a colossal army of paper-pushing subordinates churning out work of frivolous value leading to redtapism.
  • Corruption, favouritism, criminalisation of governance, self-centred functionaries etc. are on the rise.

Measures to ensure probity

  • Statutory Code of Values and Ethics for Public Services– It should be expressed in simple language, easily understandable and should lay down fundamental values that ought to govern the conduct of public servants. For example, British Civil Services Code.
  • Ethical framework –Need for an ethical framework that should provide for prevention and guidance, investigation, disciplinary action, and prosecution.
  • Ethical Guidance –It should include training in ethics, awareness and development of essential skill for ethical analysis and moral judgement.
  • Sanction and punishment –Violation and breaches of the Code of Ethics should invite sanction and punishment under the disciplinary rules. A simplified disciplinary regime should be put in place which, while following the principle of natural justice, may speedily and summarily decide cases and take punitive action against delinquent employees.
  • Independent office of Ethics Commissioner– Need to create such an independent office on the US pattern to provide leadership in ethics and values. Ethics Commissioner should issue and interpret rules which govern standards of conduct and conflict of interest.

Conclusion

Integrity and probity in public life demand that those elected or appointed to public office are themselves imbued with a sense of responsibility to the society that puts them there; that the decisions they take should always be solely in terms of the public interest and not to gain benefits for themselves, family, friends or associates; that they act with honesty and integrity by not allowing their private interests to conflict with their public responsibilities; and that the behaviour must always be able to stand up to the closest public scrutiny. Similarly, civil society and institutions have a crucial role to play by calling to account those who will flout the rules and by refusing to tolerate any but the highest standard of behaviour in those who they elect or appoint to serve the public interest.

Value addition

Concept of Probity

  • Probity is confirmed integrity. It is usually regarded as being incorruptible.
  • It is the quality of having strong moral principles and strictly following them, such as honesty, uprightness, transparency and incorruptibility.
  • Probity in Governance is concerned with the propriety and character of various organs of the government as to whether these uphold the procedural uprightness, regardless of the individuals manning these institutions.
  • It involves adopting an ethical and transparent approach, allowing the process to withstand scrutiny.
  • Probity goes further than the avoidance of being dishonest because it is determined by intangibles like personal and societal values.
  • Probity has been described as a risk management approach ensuring procedural integrity.
  • It is concerned with procedures, processes and systems rather than outcomes. The principles of probity, ethics and good governance operate on many levels – from, the individual, to the organization and on to the ‘watch-dog’.

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