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[Mission 2022] Insights SECURE SYNOPSIS: 09 April 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


 

1. Elaborate upon the features of Nagara style of architecture. Throw light on the essential attributes of Kalinga sub-style of Nagara architecture. (150 words, 10 marks)

Introduction

Nagara style is one of the styles of temple architecture. It is the temple construction style of North India. Nagara style is associated with the land between the Himalayas and Vindhyas. The Nagara style has its origin in the structural temples of the Guptas period The major example of the temple of Nagara Style is Sun Temple at Modhera, Kandariya Mahadeva Temple at Khajuraho, Jagannath Temple at Puri, etc.

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Various features of Nagara style of architecture

  • The cruciform ground plan and curvilinear mountain-peak like tower are the two most fundamental features of Nagara style.
  • The temples of Nagara style generally have a square plan with a number of graduated projections in the middle of each face which give the structure a cruciform shape in the exterior.
  • In Nagara style, the Shikhara remains the most prominent element of the temple and the gateway is usually modest or even absent.
  • In this style, temples have elaborated boundary, less emphasised.
  • The entire temple is built on high stone platform called Jagati
  • Generally, they do not have large enclosures and entrances.
  • The temple has only one peak or shikhara above the Garbagriha.
  • There was a Kalasha placed on the Shikara of a temple.
  • Sikhara(the tower) slowly bending inwards and capped by a spheroid plate with ribs around the edge (Amalaka) give the height.
  • Temples of Nagara styles are categorized on the basis of the shape of the Shikhara. They are – Rekha Prasad, Phamsana, and Valabhi.

The essential attributes of Kalinga sub-style of Nagara architecture

  • Kalinga Nagara style of temple architecture comes from Odisha.
  • In Kalinga style, the temple comprises two major parts namely – Garbha Griha and the Mandapa placed in the same axis, which was further divided on the basis of ornamental projections.
  • In the later period, there was also an addition of more Mandapas such as Bhoga Deula meant for Bhoga offering and Natya Deula for the Dance performances.
  • On rare occasions, we do also see an independent Torana or a gateway erected in front of the temple.
  • For instance, the Mukteshwar temple from Bhubaneshwar is flanked by a free-standing Torana.
  • The Torana is nothing but a thick arch balanced on two free-standing pillars.
  • Stylistically speaking the Kalinga Nagara style comprises three typologies i.e. Rekha DeulaPidha Deulaand Khakhra Deula.
  • All these were well-practiced and bear the finest of them specimens.

Conclusion

Nagara style is seen from the Himalaya to the north of Bijapur district in the South, from the Punjab in the west to Bengal to the east. Therefore, there are local variations and ramifications in the formal development of the style in the different regions. However, the cruciform plan and the curvilinear tower are common

 

2. Critically examine the limitations of the Indian model of secularism? Do you think that there should be changes to the model to accommodate changing needs of the society? (150 words, 10 marks)

Introduction

Secularism is the “indifference to, or rejection or exclusion of, religion and religious considerations.” As a philosophy, secularism seeks to interpret life on principles taken solely from the material world, without recourse to religion. In political terms, secularism is the principle of the separation of government institutions and persons mandated to represent the state from religious institution and religious dignitaries. Under a brief definition, secularism means that governments should remain neutral on the matter of religion and should not enforce nor prohibit the free exercise of religion, leaving religious choice to the liberty of the people.

The High Court of Karnataka has not been able to settle the hijab issue. Its judgment has further provoked the hijab-wearing college students in Udupi, who have now approached the Supreme Court of India to contest the order.

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Secularism in India

  • Secularism has been discussed in India primarily as a state policy towards religious groups.
  • The debate on secularism began by pointing to the difference of the Indian variation to its Western counterpart, either by pointing to an idea of a ‘principled distance’ or samadharma samabhava, where all religions are treated as equal.
  • Our Constitution acquire its secular character from the words in the Preamble, collective reading of many of its provisions, particularly the various fundamental rights.

Limitations of Indian Secularism

  • Uniform Civil Code:
    • No progress has been made in the evolution of a uniform Civil Code.
    • There are deep religious sentiments prevailing among different religious communities.
    • It limits the path to a truly secular society in India
  • Politics and Religion:
    • The Supreme Court had observed in the Bommai case that if religion is not separated from politics, the religion of the ruling party tends to become the state religion.
    • During the time of elections most of the political parties completely forget the noble ideal of secularism and woo the voters on communal or cast lines.
  • Communalism:
    • Increasing violence between people of different communities or religions.
    • Rise of fringe elements threatens India’s history of communal harmony and peace.
    • Instances like demolition of the Babri Masjid, anti-Sikh riots in Delhi and other places in 1984 are on the rise.
  • Rise of fundamentalism and obscurantism:
    • Religious entities have taken up the radicalisation of youths to promote their religion.
    • This poses grave threat to the harmony and security of the nations.
  • Failure of the Government in Evolving a Just Economic Order:
    • The failure of the government to evolve a just economic order and eliminate poverty also is a setback to secularism.
  • Cultural Symbols and Secularism:
    • Many public rituals like Bhoomi puja, breaking of coconuts on inaugural occasions, performing of ‘aarti’ and applying ‘tilak’ are perceived by Hindus as cultural or nationalistic expressions, but to non-Hindus these are manifestations of Hindu culture.
    • Such rituals are performed even on state functions and therefore, create unnecessary misgivings about the neutrality of the State.
  • Schools today have become havens of social isolation where children of similar economic and social backgrounds are unaware of the kind of social diversity that exists outside their little worlds.

Yes, changes are needed in Indian Secularism and the way forward

  • Since secularism has been declared as a part of the basic structure of the Constitution, governments must be made accountable for implementing it.
  • Define the word “minority”. The concept of secularism is based on recognition and protection of minorities. The two cannot be separated.
  • Setting up of a commission on secularism for ensuring adherence to the constitutional mandate on secularism.
  • Separation of religion from politics. It is of such urgency that no time should be wasted in bringing this about.
  • It is the duty of the secular and democratic forces to rally behind those political forces that really profess and practice secularism.
  • In a secular state, religion is expected to be a purely personal and private matter and is not supposed to have anything to do with the governance of the country.

Conclusion

Supreme Court rulings over the years have also ensured that the secular ethos of India is maintained, and that religion does not interfere or impinge upon the fundamental rights guaranteed to the individuals. Indian secularism is a unique concept that has been adopted and devised keeping in mind the unique needs and characteristics of the Indian culture. It denotes the core principles of tolerance and respect that have been ingrained into the Indian conscience since millennia.

 

3. Political inaction on the issue of communalism leads to deterioration of the social fabric of our country. Evaluate the statement in the light of recent events. (150 words, 10 marks)

Introduction

Communalism is basically an ideology which consists of three elements:

  • A belief that people who follow the same religion have common secular interests i.e. they have same political, economic and social interests. So, here socio- political communalities arise.
  • A notion that, in a multi-religious society like India, these common secular interests of one religion is dissimilar and divergent from the interests of the follower of another religion.
  • The interests of the follower of the different religion or of different ‘communities’ are seen to be completely incompatible, antagonist and hostile.

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Factors responsible for growth of Communalism in India:

  • A Legacy of Past:
    • On the basis of the “Two Nation” theory of Jinnah, India was partitioned. Communal politics had played its nasty game during the immediate past of independent India. The “Divide and Rule” policy of the British Government served their colonial interest. The partition of India was the ultimate outcome of their politics.
  • Presence of Communal Parties:
    • Religion in India has become an important agency of political socialization and it is also reflected in the ideology of a number of political parties. A number of communal and sectarian political parties and organisations are present in India. Muslim League, Jamaat—Islami, Hindu Mahasabha, Akali Dal, Vishwa Hindu Parishad are directly or indirectly responsible for the emergence of communalism.
  • Isolation of Muslims:
    • Indian Muslims have developed a tendency of isolationism even long after the creation of Pakistan. They remain aloof from the mainstream of national politics. Most of them are not interested to take part in the secular-nationalistic politics of the country. They insist on to be treated as a separate entity.
  • Poverty:
    • Mass poverty and unemployment create a sense of frustration among the people. It generates backwardness, illiteracy, ignorance, etc. The unemployed youth of both the communities can be easily trapped by religious fundamentalists and fanatics. They are used by them to cause communal riots. The weak economic status often breeds communalism.
  • Hindu Chauvinism:
    • The growths of Hindu chauvinistic attitudes have further strengthened the communal tensions in India. The Hindu religious groups like Shiv Sena, Hindu Mahasabha, Viswa Hindu Parisad often pressurize the government to take steps suitable to the interest of Hindus. They consider each Muslim as pro-Pakistani and anti-national. To face the possible challenge of other communal forces, they encourage the growth of Hindu communalism.
  • Social Cause:
    • The two major communities of India have been suspicious towards each other. The Muslims complain of the threat of Hindu cultural invasion upon their lives and have become more assertive of their rights. Either due to ignorance or insecurity, they do not fully accept the need of family planning and help in increasing population.
  • Communalization of Politics:
    • Electoral politics in India has become more expensive and competitive. Different political parties are not hesitating to use any means, fair or foul, for electoral victory. They even create communal tensions and try to take political advantage out of it. Concessions are granted to various minority groups for appeasing them.
  • Cross-Border factors:
    • Communal tensions in India sometimes are highly intensified due to the rule of two neighbouring theocratic countries. These countries try to create communal problems in the border states. The communal problems of Punjab and Jammu Kashmir are caused due to provocation of Pakistan. So long as this cross-border factor is not removed, communal problems are likely to stay in India.
  • Failure of Government:
    • Both the Union and the State Governments often fail to prevent communalism in the country. Due to lack of prior information, they fail to take any preventive measures. So the communal violence can easily take innocent lives and destroys property. The post-Godhra riot in Gujarat shows the inefficiency of the government to control the communal riot. Failure of immediate and effective steps has been a cause of the continuance of communalism.

Ramification of Communalism:

  • Genocides: With mass killings, the real sufferers are the poor, who lose their house, their near and dear ones, their lives, their livelihood, etc. It violates the human rights from all direction. Sometimes children lose their parents and will become orphan for a lifetime.
  • Ghettoization and refugee problem are other dimensions of communalism induced violence, whether its inter country or intra country.
  • Sudden increase in violence against any particular community causes mass exodus and stampede which in turn kills many number of people. For example, this was seen in the case of Bangalore in 2012, with respect to people from North eastern states, which was stimulated by a rumour.
  • Apart from having effect on the society, it is also a threat to Indian constitutional values, which promotes secularism and religious tolerance. In that case, citizens don’t fulfil their fundamental duties towards the nation.
  • It becomes a threat for the unity and integrity of the nation as a whole. It promotes only the feeling of hatred in all directions, dividing the society on communal lines.
  • Minorities are viewed with suspicion by all, including state authorities like police, para-military forces, army, intelligence agencies, etc. There have been many instances when people from such community have been harassed and detained and finally have been released by court orders guilt free. For this, there is no provision for compensation of such victims, about their livelihood incomes forgone, against social stigmas and emotional trauma of the families.
  • Barrier for development: Communal activities occurring frequently do harm the human resource and economy of the country. And then again it takes years for the people and the affected regions to come out the traumas of such violence, having deep impact on minds of those who have faced it. They feel emotionally broken and insecure.
  • Terrorism and Secessionism: As seen during the Khalistan movement in Punjab.

Steps to be taken to prevent communalism

  • Economic:
    • Poverty is one of the major factors for communal violence. Poverty alleviation measures are thus important for promoting communal harmony.
    • Eradicating the problem of unemployment among the youths, illiteracy and poverty and that too with honesty and without any discrimination.
    • Reducing educational and economic backwardness of minorities like Muslims.
    • This can uplift their socio-economic status and reduce their deprivation compared to Hindus
  • Social:
    • The religious leaders and preachers should promote rational and practical things through religion promoting peace and security.
    • Children in schools must be taught through textbooks and pamphlets to maintain brotherhood and respect for all religions
    • Creating awareness in the society about the ill effects of communism through mass media
  • Political:
    • Political communism should be avoided recent Supreme court’s directives
    • Identification and mapping of riot prone areas. For Example, Delhi police used drones to monitor to maintain vigil during communal festivals
    • Media, movies and other cultural platforms can be influential in promoting peace and harmony.
    • Social Media should be monitored for violent and repulsive content and taken off immediately.
  • Recommendations of Committee on National Integration
    • Joint celebration of community festivals
    • Observing restraint by Hindus while taking processions before the mosques
    • Formation of peace and brotherhood communities at local level to prevent anti-social elements from engaging in communal riots
    • Respect for religious customs, rituals and practices

Conclusion

In a vast country like India which is made up of diverse cultures, backgrounds, religions, identities etc. it really requires to maintain a sense of equality among its citizen to provide a meaning to the term democracy. The core reason behind all these discrimination are based on the nature of unacceptance of diversities. We tend to commit heinous crimes to eradicate the population which chooses a different set of traditions to follow. But these intolerance can lead India to get collapsed from being a secular country to communal. And India is known to the world by the term “diversity”. It is beautiful when the people irrespective of their differences are co-existing.

 

 


General Studies – 2


 

4. Critically analyse the role that the Dam Safety Act, 2021, will play in addressing the issues concerning the safety of major dams all over the country. (150 words, 10 marks)

Introduction

The Dam Safety Act, 2021 provides for the surveillance, inspection, operation and maintenance of all specified dams across the country. It aims to interfere and regulate the entire functioning of dams including its safety.

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Extra information: Provisions of the bill

  • Surveillance of dams: 
    • The Bill provides for the surveillance, inspection, operation, and maintenance of all specified dams across the country. 
    • These are dams with height more than 15 metres, or height between 10 metres to 15 metres with certain design and structural conditions.
  • The National Committee on Dam Safety (NCDS):
    • Its functions include evolving policies and recommending regulations regarding dam safety standards; 
    • It will be chaired by the National Water Commissioner.
  • The National Dam Safety Authority:
    • Its functions include implementing policies of the National Committee, providing technical assistance to State Dam Safety Organisations (SDSOs), and resolving matters between SDSOs of states or between a SDSO and any dam owner in that state.
  • A State Committee on Dam Safety & State Dam Safety Organisation.  
    • These bodies will be responsible for the surveillance, inspection, and monitoring the operation and maintenance of dams within their jurisdiction.
  • Hazard classification
    • The Bill provides for regular inspection and hazard classification of dams. It also provides for drawing up emergency action plans and comprehensive dam safety reviews by an independent panel of experts. There is provision for an emergency flood warning system to address the safety concerns of downstream inhabitants.
  • Obligation of Dam Owners:
    • Dam owners are required to provide resources for timely repair and maintenance of the dam structure along with related machinery.
  • Penal Provisions:
    • The Bill has penal provisions involving offences and penalties, for ensuring compliance with the provisions.

Pros of the act

  • The Bill will help all the States and Union Territories of India to adopt uniform dam safety procedures. These procedures will not only protect the dams but also human life, livestock and property.
  • Dam owners will have to provide a dam safety unit in each dam.
  • The dam safety unit will be required to inspect the dam before and after the monsoon session, and also during and after natural disasters such as earthquakes and floods.
  • The bill requires dam owners to prepare emergency action plans. Risk-assessment studies will also have to be undertaken by owners, regularly.
  • At specified, regular intervals, and in the event of either a modification to the dam’s structure or a natural event that may impact the structure, dam owners will have to produce a comprehensive safety evaluation by experts.

Issues in the act

  • Huge workload: National Dam Safety Authority will have to look after more than 5,000 dams across all over India. So it will face a huge workload.
  • Water is a state subject: Many states view the Dam safety bill as encroaching upon the States domain to manage their dams, and violating the principles of federalism enshrined in the Constitution.
  • Against federalism: Act is a legislation passed by the Union through brute majority to blatantly usurp the States’ power.
  • Centre’s control: Act usurped the power of the State governments and placed the operation of specified dams under the control of the Centre.
  • Specified dam: Certain terms including the word ‘dam’ in the Act, had been deliberately defined vaguely to give unbridled power to the Centre to treat any dam as a ‘specified dam’. If this definitions were followed, almost all dams in the country would fall under the purview of the Act.
  • Entry 56 of Union list: The power of the Centre under Entry 56 of Union list was only with respect to inter-State rivers or river valleys and nothing more. Entry 56 cannot be stretched to include dams and embankments exclusively within the control of the States.
  • Power over the subject ‘interstate river and river valley’ cannot be confused with the control over dams.

Way Forward

  • Dam safety is dependent on many external factors. So, the government has to consult environmentalists and take the environmental angle for the Dam Safety Bill.
  • The government should consider the selection of a dam on the basis of age, as this is the major issue.
  • The government has to strengthen the functioning and coordination of state irrigation departments and the Central Water Commission.
  • Considering climate change, the government has to think about the issue of water carefully and proactively. So, local factors, such as climate and catchment areas, need to be taken into consideration. Further, there is a need to integrate urban-rural planning with dam safety.
  • A Standing Committee recommended a penal provision for dam failures on authorities. The government has to incorporate this into law. Along with that, the government has to increase the capacity building of locals and associated institutions.

 

5. Examine the factors behind increasing cases of farmer suicides. What are the policy measures that are needed to prevent them? (150 words, 10 marks)

Introduction

The National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) data reveals that 3,58,164 people engaged in the farming profession have committed suicide in India from 1995 to 2019. Several socio-economic factors have enabled an environment vulnerable to distress in the agricultural belts of the nation. Unable to cope with mounting debt and the inability to take care of their families, many choose to end their lives.

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Factors behind increasing cases of farmer suicides

  • Plummeting incomes, mounting debt, and high interest rates (particularly of non-institutional sources) have pushed the peasantry towards deprivation
  • The high debt burdenwas the primary reason behind 75% of farmer suicides.
  • Large chunk of persons were underemployed or disguisedly unemployedduring 2016–17 in Punjab.
  • The mismatch between farm inputs and output prices, crop failures, and unfavourable terms of trade between prices paid and received by the farmers have contributed fairly to declining farm incomes.
  • Cost of cultivation:
    • The MSP of wheat and paddy increased at the rate of 2% per annum while the cost of cultivation increased at the rate of 7.9% during the last one and a half decades.
  • With a growth rate of around 1.6% (during 2012–17) and the stress on natural resources, thefarm sector is trapped in a vicious circle of crisis. Expectedly, small farmers are the worst sufferers.
  • Due to the declining water table, the cost of irrigation structures has increased as the farmershave to replace centrifugal pumps by costly submersible pumps.
  • The farmers are being exploited by tradersand dealers providing them spurious seeds and agrochemicals.
  • Agriculture in Punjab suffers from mono-crop culture of mainly wheat and paddy.With this cropping pattern, farming itself is becoming an unviable occupation, due to rising fixed and variable input costs, and low remuneration leading to falling profit margins.
  • Cost of inputs:
    • Variable costs increase due to rising prices of inputs like fertilisers, pesticides, weedicides, diesel etc.
    • Fixed costs like installation and deepening of submersible pumps due to the dipping water table increase the financial woes of farmers.
    • For a small and marginal farmer, it is economically unviable to make such investments, especially by borrowing from informal sources at high rates of interest
  • Data Anomaly:
    • Existing studies have analysed the intensity of farmer suicides in isolation, i.e. without comparing farmer suicides with those by other professionals

Policy measures needed to prevent farmer suicides

  • The “Scheme for Debt Swapping of Borrowers” should be made more effective for converting the non-institutional debt into institutional debt.
  • The AMSCs should be set up at every village to provide custom-hiring services to small farmers on a priority basis.
  • Quality farm inputslike seed, fertilisers, and pesticides must be supplied to the farmers at subsidised prices.
  • Rationalisation of subsidies, especially in favour of small farmers may control appreciating farm costs and making small farming viable.
  • For alternative employment, the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme should be effectively implementedby ensuring stipulated annual employment of 100 days, rather than the existing 30 days, to each family in the state.
  • Identifying and developing crop niches that will encourage allied activities in appropriate agro-climatic zones of the state, and developing cooperative primary processingand marketing units for crops and activities in these zones can help improve the economic well-being of the farmers.
  • Effective irrigation facilities should be provided. Drip and sprinkle irrigation should be popularized. Canals should be built to reach deep into villages.
  • Using Information technologies and electronic media (like DD Kisan channel) to spread awareness about government schemes and monsoon predictions.
  • Skill Development of farmers, so that they can develop alternative sources of income. Government should initiate alternative employment generation programmes.
  • Land pooling, where lands of small farmers can be pooled into a larger piece, and benefits can be maximized.
  • Effective implementation of various government schemes like pradhan mantri krishi sinchai yojana, pradhan mantri fasal bima yojana and Soil Health Card scheme

 

6. The burden of non-communicable diseases (NCD) is enormous on the health care system of the nation. Analyse the role that AYUSH can play in addressing the issue of burgeoning NCDs. (150 words, 10 marks)

Introduction

Non communicable diseases (NCDs), also known as chronic diseases, tend to be of long duration and are the result of a combination of genetic, physiological, environmental and behaviours factors. The main types of NCDs are cardiovascular diseases (like heart attacks and stroke), cancers, chronic respiratory diseases (such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and asthma) and diabetes.

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Burden of NCDs

  • Rise of deaths during productive years (30-70 years)
  • Loss of demographic dividend
  • NCDs can become bigger problem than being malnourished
  • NCDs threaten progress towards the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which includes a target of reducing premature deaths from NCDs by one-third by 2030.
  • Poverty is closely linked with NCDs. The rapid rise in NCDs is predicted to impede poverty reduction initiatives in low-income countries, particularly by increasing household costs associated with health care.
  • Vulnerable and socially disadvantaged people get sicker and die sooner than people of higher social positions, especially because they are at greater risk of being exposed to harmful products, such as tobacco, or unhealthy dietary practices, and have limited access to health services.
  • In low-resource settings, health-care costs for NCDs quickly drain household resources. The exorbitant costs of NCDs, including often lengthy and expensive treatment and loss of breadwinners, force millions of people into poverty annually and stifle development.

Role that AYUSH can play in addressing the issue of burgeoning NCDs

  • Unlike modern medicine, AYUSH follows a more holistic approach, with the objective of promoting overall well-being instead of focussing on curing illness alone.
  • Such an approach assumes greater significance in the case of non-communicable diseaseswhich are difficult to treat once they have developed into chronic conditions.
  • Internationally, greater scientific evidence is becoming available regarding the health impact of alternative systems of medicine, especially Yoga.
  • It has been proved beyond doubt that timely  interventions  in  pre-diabetic  and  pre-hypertensive  conditions  with alternative  medicines  can  result  in  regression of diseases and restoration of health.
  • Yoga is effective not only in prevention and control but also in the treatment of diseases. The whole world today is adopting Yoga for a healthier lifestyle.

Way forward

  • It is important to gather scientific evidence for the safety and efficacy of AYUSH medicines and practices.
  • Work towards capacity building and developing a critical mass of competent professionals in the AYUSH sector through quality education and training at national and international levels.
  • True integration of traditional and modern systems is the need of the hour. This would require a concerted strategy for facilitating meaningful cross-learning and collaboration between the modern and traditional systems on equal terms.
  • The Chinese experience of integrating Traditional Chinese Medicine with Western medicine makes for a good example.
  • An Indian parallel could envision the integration of education, research, and practice of both systems at all levels. This can include training of AYUSH practitioners in modern medicine through curriculum changes and vice versa.
  • Need to ensure substantial groundwork with respect to the prerequisites of an effective integration.
  • Building a strong traditional medicine evidence corpus.
  • Standardizing and regulating AYUSH practices and qualifications.
  • Delineating the relative strengths, weaknesses, and role of each system in an integrated framework.
  • Negotiating the philosophical and conceptual divergences between systems.
  • Addressing the unique issues associated with research into AYUSH techniques.
  • An integrated framework should create a middle path — fusing the two systems, while still permitting some autonomy for each.
  • Accordingly, a medium- and long-term plan for seamless integration should be developed expeditiously in view of the massive drive for achieving universal health care already underway in the country and considering the vast potential of AYUSH to contribute to this cause.

Conclusion

The strategies to tackle the covid pandemic and Non-communicable disease burden need to evolve. Increasing testing and tracing capabilities, lowering the load of the healthcare system; all of us have to play our part and put efforts individually as well as in a community.

 

 


General Studies – 3


 

7. Food processing industry in India is increasingly seen as a potential source for driving the rural economy as it brings about synergy between the consumer, industry and agriculture. Elaborate. (150 words, 10 marks)

Introduction

Food processing generally includes the basic preparation of foods, the alteration of a food product (usually raw) into another form (as in making preserves from fruit), and preservation and packaging techniques. Food processing typically takes harvested crops or animal products and uses these to produce long shelf-life food products.

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Significance of the food processing industries as a potential source for driving the rural economy:

The Food Processing Industry (FPI) is of enormous significance as it provides vital linkages and synergies that it promotes between the two pillars of the economy, i.e. agriculture and industry.

  • Employment Opportunities: Food processing industries can absorb a major share of workers from the agriculture sector, who face disguised unemployment. It can lead to better productivity and GDP growth.
  • Doubling of farmers’ income: With contract farming, farmers can get better technological inputs from industries as well. There is income security and proportionate value for produce. They are also protected against price shocks.
  • Crop-diversification: Food processing will require different types of inputs thus creating an incentive for the farmer to grow and diversify crops.
  • Farmer Beneficiaries: The SAMPADA scheme is estimated to benefit about 37 lakh farmers and generate about 5.6 lakh direct/ indirect employment (ES 2020 data).
  • Curbing Distress Migration: Provides employment in rural areas, hence reduces migration from rural to urban. Resolves issues of urbanization.
  • Prevents Wastage: Nearly one-third of the food that is produced each year goes uneaten, costing the global economy over $940 billion as per report by World Resources Institute (WRI)
    • India is biggest producer of numerous fruits and vegetable. Most of these are perishable and have very low shelf life. This is the major reason for high percentage of wastage. Their shelf life can be increased through food processing.
  • Value Addition: Products such as tomato sauce, roasted nuts, de-hydrated fruits are in high demand.
  • Reduce malnutrition: Processed foods when fortified with vitamins and minerals can reduce the nutritional gap in the population.
  • Boosts Trade and Earns Foreign exchange: It is an important source of foreign exchange. For e.g. Indian Basmati rice is in great demand in Middle Eastern countries.
  • Make in India: Food processing is one of the six superstar sectors under the GoI’s, Make in India initiative and has the potential to transform India as a leading food processing destination of the World.
  • Curbing Food Inflation: Processing increases the shelf life of the food thus keeping supplies in tune with the demand thereby controlling food-inflation.
    • For e.g. Frozen peas/ corn are available throughout the year.
    • Similarly, canned onions under Operation Greens can achieve price stability.

Challenges facing food processing industry in India

  • Demand of processed food is mainly restricted to urban areas of India.
  • Major problems are listed below:
    • Small and dispersed marketable surplus due to fragmented holdings
    • Low farm productivity due to lack of mechanization,
    • High seasonality of raw materials
    • Perishability and lack of proper intermediation (supply chain) result in lack of availability of raw material.
    • This in turn, impedes food processing and its exports.
  • More than 30% of the produce from farm gate is lost due to inadequate cold chain infrastructure.
  • The NITI Aayog cited a study that estimated annual post-harvest losses close to Rs 90,000 crore.
  • Lack of all-weather roads and connectivity make supply erratic.
  • The food processing industry has a high concentration of unorganised segments, representing almost 75% across all product categories. Thus, causes the inefficiencies in the existing production system.
  • Further, most processing in India can be classified as primary processing, which has lower value-addition compared to secondary processing.
  • Due to this, despite India being one of the largest producers of agricultural commodities in the world, agricultural exports as a share of GDP are fairly low in India relative to the rest of the world.

Solutions to address the challenges

  • The Ministry of Food Processing Industries (MoFPI) is implementing PMKSY (Pradhan Mantri Kisan SAMPADA Yojana). The objective of PMKSY is to supplement agriculture, modernize processing and decrease agri-waste.
    • Mega Food Parks.
    • Integrated Cold Chain, Value Addition and Preservation Infrastructure.
    • Creation/Expansion of Food Processing/Preservation Capacities.
    • Infrastructure for Agro Processing Clusters.
    • Scheme for Creation of Backward and Forward Linkages.
  • Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) policy: FDI up to 100%, under the automatic route is allowed in food processing industries.
  • Agri Export Zones: To give thrust to export of agro products, new concept of Agri Export Zones was brought in 2001. APEDA has been nominated as the Nodal Agency to coordinate the efforts
    • cluster approach of identifying the potential products;
    • the geographical region in which these products are grown;
    • Adopting an end-to-end approach of integrating the entire process right from the stage of production till it reaches the market (farm to market).

Conclusion

Food processing has a promising future, provided adequate government support is there. Food is the biggest expense for an urban Indian household. About 35 % of the total consumption expenditure of households is generally spent on food. As mentioned, food processing has numerous advantages which are specific to Indian context. It has the capacity to lift millions out of undernutrition. Government has its work cut out to develop industry in a way which takes care of small scale industry along with attracting big ticket domestic and foreign investments.

 

8. Examine as to why despite high growth rate and good prospects, the MSMEs have faced certain constraints that have obstructed its way of achieving its true potential. (150 words, 10 marks)

Introduction

Micro, Small & Medium enterprises (MSME) termed as “engine of growth “for India, has played a prominent role in the development of the country in terms of creating employment opportunities. The Covid-19 pandemic has left its impact on all sectors of the economy but nowhere is the hurt as much as the Medium, Small and Micro Enterprises (MSMEs) of India.

The government, in conjunction with the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), has now launched a series of measures to alleviate their distress.

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Potential of India’s MSME sector:

  • Contribution to GDP: The share of MSMEs in the country’s gross value added is estimated to be about 32%.
  • Leveraging Exports: It also contributes about 40% to total exports and 45% to manufacturing output.
  • Employment Opportunities: It employs 60 million people, creates 1.3 million jobs every year and produces more than 8000 quality products for the Indian and international markets.
  • Diversity: There are approximately 30 million MSME Units in India and is quite diverse in terms of its size, level of technology employed, range of products and services provided and target markets.
  • Fostering Inclusive Growth: MSME is constructing inclusive growth in numerous ways through promoting non- agricultural livelihood at least cost, unbiased regional development, large female participation, and providing a protection against deflation.

The challenges and concerns associated with the growth of MSME sector:

  • Access to Credit:
    • According to Economic Survey (2017-18), MSME sector faces a major problem in terms of getting adequate credit for expansion of business activities.
    • The Survey had pointed out that the MSME received only 17.4 per cent of the total credit outstanding.
    • Most banks are reluctant to lend to MSMEs because from the perspective of bankers, inexperience of these enterprises, poor financials, lack of collaterals and infrastructure.
    • According to a 2018 report by the International Finance Corporation, the formal banking system supplies less than one-third (or about Rs 11 lakh crore) of the credit MSME credit need that it can potentially fund
    • most of the MSME funding comes from informal sources and this fact is crucial because it explains why the Reserve Bank of India’s efforts to push more liquidity towards the MSMEs have had a limited impact.
  • Poor Infrastructure:
    • With poor infrastructure, MSMEs’ production capacity is very low while production cost is very high.
  • Access to modern Technology:
    • The lack of technological know-how and financial constraints limits the access to modern technology and consequently the technological adoption remains low.
  • Access to markets:
    • MSMEs have poor access to markets. Their advertisement and sales promotion are comparatively weaker than that of the multinational companies and other big companies.
    • The ineffective advertisement and poor marketing channels makes it difficult for them to compete with large companies.
  • Legal hurdles:
    • Getting statutory clearances related to power, environment, labour are major hurdles.
    • Laws related to the all aspects of manufacturing and service concern are very complex and compliance with these laws are difficult.
  • Lack of skilled manpower:
    • The training and development programs in respect of MSME`S development has been. Thus, there has been a constant crunch of skilled manpower in MSMEs

Other issues:

  • Low ICT usage.
  • Low market penetration.
  • Quality assurance/certification.
  • IPR related issues.
  • Quality assurance/certification.
  • Standardization of products and proper marketing channels to penetrate new markets.

Measures needed:

  • Recently, The Union Cabinet approved a USD 808 million or Rs 6,062.45 crore, World Bank assisted programme on “Raising and Accelerating MSME Performance” (RAMP).
  • Government of India and banks should design plans and measures to widen easy, hassle-free access to credit.
  • The RBI should bring stringent norms for Non-Performing Assets (NPA) and it will help curbing loan defaulters and motivate potential good debts. Further, according to critics, the Credit Guarantee Scheme for MSME (CGTMSE) run by SIDBI is a growing contingent liability and needs to be examined with urgency
  • Government should provide enhanced development and upgradation of existing rail & road network and other infrastructure facilities in less developed and rural areas to boost growth and development of MSMEs
  • There should proper research and development in respect of innovative method of production and service rendering. Further, the government should promote and subsidise the technical know-how to Micro and small enterprises.
  • Government should encourage procurement programme, credit and performance ratings and extensive marketing support to revive the growth of sick units.
  • Skill development and imparting training to MSME workers is a crucial step to increase the productivity of the sector. The government should emphasise predominantly on skill development and training programs
  • With Aatmanirbhar Bharat, the Centre has taken several steps redefining MSMEs, credit access, subordinate debt, preference in government tenders towards ‘energising the MSME sector’.
  • It has also launched the MSME Udyam portal for registration, though this is not mandatory. Information asymmetry on government schemes and incentives on registration must be addressed.
  • MSMEs need to be better integrated into the digital economy to expand their market access, diversify their customer base and solidify their supply chain.
  • Industry and the Indian economy along with MSMEs would reap the benefits of leveraging technology, that will have positive ripple effects on the nation’s GDP and the creation of more jobs.

Way forward:

  • The traditional concept of apprenticeship, which involves part-time work and is a widely accepted skilling practice, especially in weaving, handicraft and manufacturing units, does not find mention in India’s wage-protection rule-books. This oversight can be fixed via coverage by either the wage code or social security code rules, or perhaps the Shops and Establishments Act rules, as deemed appropriate
  • Efforts need to focus on quality manufacturing, with the use of automation to enhance operations, and the exploration of new markets through e-commerce.
  • This would require a holistic approach of hand-holding existing manufacturers in the sector, equipping both managers and their workforces with appropriate skills, and educating them on new technologies and standardization norms, even as we expose them to new market avenues and instil confidence in them that the country’s ecosystem would assist them in their expansion plans.
  • New MSMEs, especially, should be encouraged to start off with this advantage.
  • Skilling plans in accordance with sector-wise requirements will enable us to create appropriate job opportunities not just in India but also across the globe, as various developed economies need skilled manpower in a swathe of industries that cover manufacturing, software and healthcare.
  • Indian policies need to be revisited so that discrepancies are removed and we encourage small units to take advantage of e-com platforms.

Conclusion:       

Thus, Indian MSME sector is the backbone of the national economic structure and acts as a bulwark for Indian economy, providing resilience to ward off global economic shocks and adversities. Given the important role played by the sector in the economy, issues faced by it must be addressed on an urgent basis to revive the economy battered by the pandemic. Apart from the fiscal stimulus, the sector requires a political-economy approach that prioritizes MSME interests. India needs to ease the regulatory burden of small units and aid their survival through fiscal support. Above all, they need a level-playing field vis-à-vis big businesses.

Value addition

Impact of COVID on MSME sector:

  • A recently conducted survey finds that production in SMEs has fallen from an average of 75% to 13%.
  • With 110 million employed by Indian SMEs, it is crucial to ensure adequate institutional support, failing which we might see an even larger impact on livelihoods.
  • SMEs also account for a third of India’s GDP, 45% of manufacturing output and 48% of exports and hence are crucial to manufacturing and export competitiveness.
  • With SMEs’ operational challenges exacerbated by Covid-19, it is all the more important to focus on this sector.
  • SMEs will be vital in absorbing a significant proportion of the 600 million entrants to the labour market in EMEs by 2030.
  • With a large proportion of these entrants bound to be from India, it is imperative that the Union and state governments ensure financial and institutional support for SMEs.
  • In terms of location, SMEs are relatively evenly distributed in comparison to larger organisations.
  • Rural areas account for 45%, while the remaining are in urban areas. Hence, SMEs are well-poised to address poverty in both the cities and villages.
  • Although the proportion of urban poverty has declined over the years, it has increased in absolute terms.
  • In 2018, Kolkata, Delhi, and Mumbai had anywhere between 42-55% of their population living in slums. This number is certain to have increased in the pandemic.

 

9. Harnessing green hydrogen’s potential will play a key role in tackling critical energy challenges and also in ensuring non-fossil fuel-based energy. Discuss. (150 words, 10 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.

Green hydrogen is an emerging option that will help reduce India’s vulnerability to such price shocks. This was reiterated by Union Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari when he drove to Parliament in a hydrogen-powered car.

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Significance of Green Hydrogen in tackling energy challenges

  • It is a clean-burning molecule, which can decarbonize a range of sectors including iron and steel, chemicals, and transportation.
  • Renewable energy that cannot be stored or used by the grid can be channelled to produce hydrogen.
  • India is the world’s fourth largest energy consuming country (behind China, the United States and the European Union), according to the IEA’s forecast, and will overtake the European Union to become the world’s third energy consumer by the year 2030.
  • Realising the impending threats to economies, the Summit will see several innovative proposals from all over the world in order to reduce dependence on use of fossil fuels.
  • The scale of interest for ‘plucking the low hanging fruit’ can be gauged by the fact that even oil-producing nations such as Saudi Arabia where the day temperature soars to over 50° C in summer, is prioritising plans to manufacture this source of energy by utilising ‘idle-land-banks’ for solar and wind energy generation.
  • It is working to establish a mega $5 billion ‘Green hydrogen’ manufacturing unit covering a land-size as large as that of Belgium, in the northern-western part of the country.
  • India is also gradually unveiling its plans. The Indian Railways have announced the country’s first experiment of a hydrogen-fuel cell technology-based train by retrofitting an existing diesel engine; this will run under Northern Railway on the 89 km stretch between Sonepat and Jind.
  • The project will not only ensure diesel savings to the tune of several lakhs annually but will also prevent the emission of 0.72 kilo tons of particulate matter and 11.12 kilo tons of carbon per annum.

Challenges

  • The ‘production cost’ of ‘Green hydrogen’ has been considered to be a prime obstacle.
  • According to studies by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IREA), the production cost of this ‘green source of energy’ is expected to be around $1.5 per kilogram (for nations having perpetual sunshine and vast unused land), by the year 2030; by adopting various conservative measures.
  • The global population is growing at a rate of 1.1%, adding about 83 million human heads every year on the planet.
  • As a result, the International Energy Agency (IEA) forecasts the additional power demand to be to the tune of 25%-30% by the year 2040.
  • Thus, power generation by ‘net-zero’ emission will be the best solution to achieve the target of expert guidelines on global warming to remain under 1.5° C.
  • This will also be a leap forward in minimising our dependence on conventional fossil fuel; in 2018, 8.7 million people died prematurely as result of air pollution from fossil fuels.
  • India has made good progress in decarbonization growing the share of renewable energy, energy efficiency & fuel transition.
  • There is growing interest and hype for using hydrogen in multiple applications such as Hydrogen-based Agro vehicles, Hydrogen-powered passenger trains, Hydrogen in aviation etc.

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.
  • Enforcing time-bound mid- and long-term policies would inspire the private sector to invest more in green hydrogen.
  • India should aim to produce 4-6 million tonnes of green hydrogen per annum by the end of the decade and export at least 2 million tonnes per annum.

 

10. Noise pollution is a growing problem which impacts both human health and the environment. Examine. What steps are needed to check noise pollution in India? (150 words, 10 marks)

Introduction

Noise pollution is generally defined as regular exposure to elevated sound levels that may lead to adverse effects in humans or other living organisms. According to the World Health Organization, noise above 65 decibels (dB) is defined as noise pollution. To be precise, noise becomes harmful when it exceeds 75 decibels (dB) and is painful above 120 dB.

A recent report commissioned by the United Nations Environment Programme shows that  a subset of 61 cities and the range of dB (decibel) levels that have been measured. Delhi, Jaipur, Kolkata, Asansol and Moradabad are the five Indian cities mentioned in this list and Moradabad in Uttar Pradesh was shown as having a dB range from 29 to 114. At a maximum value of 114, it was the second-most-noisiest city in the list.

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Impact on Human health

  • Hypertensionis, in this case, a direct result of noise pollution caused elevated blood levels for a longer period of time.
  • Hearing losscan be directly caused by noise pollution, whether listening to loud music in your headphones or being exposed to loud drilling noises at work, heavy air or land traffic, or separate incidents in which noise levels reach dangerous intervals, such as around140 dB for adult or 120 dB for children.
  • Sleep disturbancesare usually caused by constant air or land traffic at night, and they are a serious condition in that they can affect everyday performance and lead to serious diseases.
  • Child development. Children appear to be more sensitive to noise pollution, and a number of noise-pollution-related diseases and dysfunctions are known to affect children, from hearing impairment to psychological and physical effects. Also, children who regularly use music players at high volumes are at risk of developing hearing dysfunctions. In 2001, it was estimated that 12.5% of American children between the ages of 6 to 19 years had impaired hearing in one or both ears
  • Various cardiovascular dysfunctions. Elevated blood pressure caused by noise pollution, especially during the night, can lead to various cardiovascular diseases.
  • Dementiaisn’t necessarily caused by noise pollution, but its onset can be favored or compounded by noise pollution.
  • Psychological dysfunctionsand noise annoyance. Noise annoyance is, in fact, a recognized name for an emotional reaction that can have an immediate impact.

Impact on Environment

  • Our oceans are no longer quiet. Thousands of oil drills, sonars, seismic survey devices, coastal recreational watercraft and shipping vessels are now populating our waters, and that is a serious cause of noise pollution for marine life.
  • Whales are among the most affected, as their hearing helps them orient themselves, feed and communicate.
  • Noise pollution thus interferes with cetaceans’ (whales and dolphins) feeding habits, reproductive patterns and migration routes, and can even cause hemorrhage and death.
  • Other than marine life, land animals are also affected by noise pollution in the form of traffic, firecrackers etc., and birds are especially affected by the increased air traffic.

Steps to check noise pollution

  • International bodies like the WHO agree that awareness of noise pollution is essential to beat this invisible enemy.
  • For example: avoid very noisy leisure activities, opt for alternatives means of transport such as bicycles or electric vehicles over taking the car, do your housework at recommended times, insulate homes with noise-absorbing materials, etc.
  • Educating the younger generation is also an essential aspect of environmental education.
  • Governments can also take measures to ensure correct noise managementand reduce noise pollution.
  • For example: protecting certain areas — parts of the countryside, areas of natural interest, city parks, etc. — from noise, establishing regulations that include preventive and corrective measures —
  • mandatory separation between residential zones and sources of noise like airports, fines for exceeding noise limits, etc.,
  • installing noise insulation in new buildings, creating pedestrian areas where traffic is only allowed to enter to offload goods at certain times.
  • replacing traditional asphalt with more efficient options that can reduce traffic noise by up to 3 dB, among others.

Conclusion

Although noise pollution may seem harmless, it, in fact, has far-reaching consequences. The adverse effects on the health of the environment are quite severe. Not only is the local wildlife affected by pollution but humans also face a number of problems due to it.

 

11. A regime of social security must be installed to meet the basic needs of migrant workers with strategic policy guidance for inter-State coordination. Comment. (250 words, 15 marks)

Introduction

The migrants’ crisis left India shocked by their plight of walking hundreds of kilometres, facing hunger, exhaustion and violence, to get to the safety of their home villages. After the two covid waves, the crisis compelled policy-makers to make certain provisions for them in the schemes announced for the assistance of the poor.

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Govt efforts

The Government ramped up the One Nation One Ration Card (ONORC) project, announced the Affordable Rental Housing Complexes (ARHC) scheme, set up the e-Shram portal and began to draft a migration policy.

Challenges despite Govt efforts

  • Repeated surveys have found that the incomes of migrant households continue to be lower than pre-pandemic levels, even after returning to cities.
  • Migrants are finding less work and their children eating less.
  • The post-1991 poverty alleviation of almost 300 million Indians, driven by migration out of farm work, is being undone.
  • Despite this, a cohesive migration policy guidance remains elusive.

Advantages of providing social protection

  • Investment in social protection is not charity, it is an investment in workers’ productivityand in equitable growth.
  • Providing social protection is, as the UN mooted in 2009 when it spelt out the social protection floor (SPF)initiative after the global financial crisis, the surest way out of a crisis by boosting demand at the bottom of the pyramid.
  • The report of the Advisory Committee of the ILO, in which India was represented by its labour secretary, provides a strong rationale for institutinga universal SPF during economic crises.
  • As a result, all constituents of the ILO adoptedRecommendation 202 on social protection floors at the International Labour Conference in 2012.

Inadequate provisions by government

  • The Unorganised Workers’ Social Security Act,was approved by Parliament in December 2008.
  • But it lacks the mandatory elements of the NCEUS’s proposals and included neither a National Minimum Social Security Package, nor the provision for mandatory registration.
  • Estimates show that the central government’s expenditure on all major social protection programmes declined from 1.96 per cent of GDP in 2008-09 to 1.6 per cent in 2013-14and to only 1.28 per cent in 2019-20.

Way forward

  • Role of Centre: migrants would be well served if the Centre played a proactive role by offering strategic policy guidance and a platform for inter-State coordination. State-level political economy constraints make the Centre’s role particularly crucial in addressing issues of inter-State migrant workers at ‘destination States’.
  • The National Commission for Enterprises in the Unorganised Sector had pointed out that the circular migrant workers were a disadvantaged segment among informal workers.
  • Comprehensive law:The NCEUS had advocated a comprehensive law for the protection of the rights of all informal workers, including migrants, home workers, and domestic workers.
  • Universal registration:NCEUS had also recommended a universal registration mechanism based on self-declaration, with the issuance of a smart social security card, and a National Minimum Social Security Package.
  • Guaranteed social security/social protection:We need the provision of a minimum level of guaranteed social security/social protection for all informal workers and their households within a definite time frame.
  • More public spending:Guaranteed social protection would involve a clear framework and a commitment to greater public resources being spent on social protection as a large class of workers in India do not have an identifiable employer and a contributory social insurance framework will not work for them.
  • Recommendation 202:Government should embrace ILO’s Recommendation 202 and work towards these in a time-bound manner.
  • The NITI Aayog’s Draft Policy on Migrant Workers is a positive step forward in articulating policy priorities and indicating suitable institutional frameworks, and deserves a speedy release.

Conclusion

To end the silent, painful, and enduring crisis for the workers, as well as the crisis for the economy, the government must urgently recognise the right to social security, embedded both in the Indian Constitution and international covenants. Strategic initiatives to provide migrants safety nets regardless of location as well as bolster their ability to migrate safely and affordably must keep up the momentum towards migrant-supportive policy.

 

12. Groundwater plays a major role in both hydrologic and human systems. The existing approach for utilising groundwater is flawed and unsustainable. Hence, there is need to have a new paradigm for groundwater management. Discuss. (250 words, 15 marks)

Introduction

With an annual groundwater extraction of 248.69 billion cubic meters (2017), India is among the largest users of groundwater in the world. Almost 89% of the groundwater extracted is used for irrigation and the rest for domestic and industrial use (9% and 2%). India is on the threshold of a very serious groundwater crisis, which needs mitigation both in the fields and at the policy corridors of the country.

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Importance of Groundwater

  • Groundwater helps reduce the risk of temporary water shortage and caters to the needs of arid and semiarid regions.
  • Due to its high storage capacity, groundwater is more resilient to the effects of climate change than surface water.
  • More than 90 percent of groundwater in India is used for irrigated agriculture.
  • The remainder — 24 billion cubic meters — supplies 85 percent of the country’s drinking water.
  • Roughly 80 percent of India’s 1.35 billion residents depend on groundwater for both drinking and irrigation.
  • Current statistics also show that nearly 50% of urban water supply comes from groundwater.

Problems with groundwater depletion

  • Lowering of the water table
  • Reduction of water in streams and lakes
  • Land subsidence: A lack of groundwater limits biodiversity and dangerous sinkholes result from depleted aquifers.
  • Increased costs for the user
  • Deterioration of water quality
  • Saltwater contamination can occur.
  • Crop production decrease from lack of water availability (40% of global food production relies on groundwater).
  • Groundwater depletion interrupts the ‘natural’ water cycle putting disproportionately more water into the sea.
  • As large aquifers are depleted, food supply and people will suffer.

Measures needed

  • The government should develop policies to determine which crops should be grown in which region according to the water availability, which “has not been the focus.” For instance, Punjab has a semi-arid climate but it grows rice, which depletes groundwater and is “highly unsustainable.”
  • The traditional flood irrigation in India accounts for huge water loss through evapotranspiration. Drip irrigation and sprinkler irrigation must be used for efficient utilisation of water.
  • There should be restrictions to cut off the access to groundwater in areas identified as “critical” and “dark zones”, where the water table is overused or very low.
  • There is a need to treat water as common resource rather than private property to prevent its overexploitation
  • Problems and issues such as water logging, salinity, agricultural toxins, and industrial effluents, all need to be properly looked into.
  • Government has initiated schemes like DRIP programme, more drop per crop, Krishi Sinchai Yojana to ensure economical water use practices in agriculture.
  • Bottom-up approach by empowering the local community to become active participants in managing groundwater.
  • Creating regulatory options at the community level such as panchayat is also one among the feasible solutions.
  • Traditional methods of water conservation should be encouraged to minimize the depletion of water resources.
  • Artificial recharge of tube wells, water reuse, afforestation, scientific methods of agriculture should also be done.

Conclusion

Sustainable management of groundwater in India is vital for tackling growing challenges related to water availability. The effective answer to the groundwater crisis is to integrate conservation and development activities, from water extraction to water management, at the local level; making communities aware and involving them fully is therefore critical for success.

 

13. Marital rape has no place in modern social jurisprudence and is inconsistent with the constitutional rights of women. It is long overdue to criminalise martial rape in India. Critically analyse. (250 words, 15 marks)

Introduction

Marital rape is the act of sexual intercourse with one’s spouse without the consent of the other spouse. Although it was once widely unrecognized by law and society as wrong or as a crime, it is now recognized as rape by many societies around the world. Criminal Law in India has been amended multiple times for the protection of the women. However, the non-criminalization of marital rape in India undermines the dignity and human rights of women.

Over the last several months, arguments challenging the constitutionality of the marital rape exception in Section 375 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) had gripped the Delhi High Court. While the judgment in those petitions is still awaited, in one clean swoop Justice M. Nagaprasanna of the Karnataka High Court on March 23, 2022, in the case of Hrishikesh Sahoo vs State of Karnataka, pronounced the end of the marital rape exception.

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Current scenario:

  • Marital rape has been impeached in more than 100 countries but, unfortunately, India is one of the only 36 countries where marital rape is still not criminalized.
  • In 2013, the UN Committee on Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) recommended that the Indian government should criminalize marital rape.
  • The JS Verma committee set up in the aftermath of nationwide protests over the December 16, 2012 gang rape case had also recommended the same.
  • As per the NCRB report, in India, a woman is raped every 16 minutes, and every four minutes, she experiences cruelty at the hands of her in-laws.
  • An analysis of National Family Health Survey (NFHS) 2015-16 data indicates that an estimated 99.1 per cent of sexual violence cases go unreported and that the average Indian woman is 17 times more likely to face sexual violence from her husband than from others.

Marital Rape: inconsistent with the law as well as the constitutional rights of women:

  • Rape laws in our country continue with the patriarchal outlook of considering women to be the property of men post marriage, with no autonomy or agency over their bodies.
  • They deny married women equal protection of the laws guaranteed by the Indian constitution.
  • Lawmakers fail to understand that a marriage should not be viewed as a licence for a husband to forcibly rape his wife with impunity. A married woman has the same right to control her own body as does an unmarried woman.
  • The concept of marital rape in India is the epitome of what we call an “implied consent”.
  • Marriage between a man and a woman here implies that both have consented to sexual intercourse and it cannot be otherwise.
  • The centre argues that criminalising marital rape would destabilise the institution of marriage and be an easy tool for harassing the husbands.
  • It has cited the observations of the SC and various HCs on growing misuse of Section 498A (harassment caused to a married woman by her husband and in-laws) of IPC.
  • The Indian Penal Code, 1860, also communicates the same. Section 375 defines the offence of rape with the help of six descriptions. One of the exceptions to this offence is “Sexual intercourse or sexual acts by a man with his own wife, the wife not being under 15 years of age, is not rape”.
  • Earlier, Section 375 (Exception) created a classification not only between consent given by a married and unmarried woman, but also between married females below 15 years of age and over 15 years old. This was rightfully struck down by SC and made it 18 years.

Need to criminalize Marital Rape in India

  • The SC judgment was only a small step towards striking down the legalisation of marital rape.
  • It is high time that the legislature should take cognisance of this legal infirmity and bring marital rape within the purview of rape laws by eliminating Section 375 (Exception) of IPC.
  • By removing this law, women will be safer from abusive spouses, can receive the help needed to recover from marital rape and can save themselves from domestic violence and sexual abuse.
  • Indian women deserve to be treated equally, and an individual’s human rights do not deserve to be ignored by anyone, including by their spouse.

Conclusion

Rape is rape, irrespective of the identity of the perpetrator, and age of the survivor. A woman who is raped by a stranger, lives with a memory of a horrible attack; a woman who is raped by her husband lives with her rapist. Our penal laws, handed down from the British, have by and large remained untouched even after 73 years of independence. But English laws have been amended and marital rape was criminalised way back in 1991. No Indian government has, however, so far shown an active interest in remedying this problem.

Value Addition: Important cases and Committee reports

  • The government defended exception to marital rape in Independent Thought v. Union of India (2017) saying it against the institution of marriage.
  • However, rejecting this claim, the Supreme Court observed, “Marriage is not institutional but personal – nothing can destroy the ‘institution’ of marriage except a statute that makes marriage illegal and punishable.”
  • In Joseph Shine v. Union of India (2018), the Supreme Court held that the offence of adultery was unconstitutional because it was founded on the principle that a woman is her husband’s property after marriage.

Way forward:

  • What constitutes marital rape and marital non-rape needs to be defined precisely before a view on its criminalisation is taken.
  • Defining marital rape would call for a broad based consensus of the society.
  • States should intervene in the matter, since criminal law is on the concurrent list and implemented by states —and given the vast diversity in cultures across states.
  • Factors like literacy, lack of financial empowerment of the majority of females, mindset of the society, vast diversity, poverty, etc., should be considered carefully before taking any decision.
  • The need for “moral and social awareness” to stop such an act.
  • The recent privacy judgment by the Supreme Court is also set to play an important role. The right to bodily integrity is a crucial facet of Article 21.
  • Timely medical care and rehabilitation, skill development and employment for facilitating economic independence of victims.
  • Need for undertaking both legal and social reforms to deal with the menace of marital rape

 

 


General Studies – 2


14. Criminal Procedure (Identification) Bill, 2022 which provides legal sanction for police to obtain physical and biological samples of convicts and detainees for making investigation of crime more efficient and expeditious raises concerns about privacy and misuse. Critically analyse. (250 words, 15 marks)

Introduction

The Criminal Procedure (Identification) Bill, 2022 was introduced in the Lok Sabha. It seeks to replace the Identification of Prisoners Act, 1920 which regulates how the police can gather data from convicted or suspected criminals. The objective of the bill is to ensure more efficient and expeditious investigation of crime by the use of modern technology.

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Key Provisions of Criminal Procedure (Identification) Bill, 2022

  • It seeks to repeal the Identification of Prisoners Act 1920. The said Act, in its present form, provides access to a limited category of persons whose body measurements can be taken.
  • It authorises law enforcement agencies to collect, store and analyse physical and biological samples of convicts and other persons for the purposes of identification and investigation in criminal matters.
  • The Bill also authorises police to record signatures, handwriting or other behavioural attributes referred to in section 53 or section 53A of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973,for the purposes of analysis.
  • As per the Bill, any person convicted, arrested or held under any preventive detention law will be required to provide “measurements”to a police officer or a prison official.
  • Any state government of Union Territory administration may notify an appropriate agency tocollect, preserve and share the measurements of a person of interest in their respective jurisdictions.
  • Resistance to or refusal to allow the taking of measurements under this Act shall be deemed to be an offence under section 186 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).

Need for and significance of the Bill:

  • The bill makes provisions for the use of modern techniquesto capture and record appropriate body measurements.
  • The Bill states that it is necessary to expand the “ambit of persons” whose measurements can be taken as this will help investigating agencies gather sufficient legally admissible evidence and establish the crime of the accused person.
  • The Bill will not only help investigation agencies but also increase prosecution. There is also a chance of an increase in conviction rates in courts through this.
  • It is expected to minimise the threat from organised crime, cybercriminals and terrorists who are proficient in identity thefts and identity frauds.

 

  • The bill will help to check serious national and global threats posed by them.

Shortcomings of the bill

  • The proposed law considerably expands its scope and reach.
  • It violates Article 20 (3) of the Constitutionthat safeguards the rights of citizens by providing that “no person accused of an offence shall be compelled to be a witness against himself”.
  • The Bill implied use of force in collection of biological information, could also lead to narco analysis and brain mapping.
  • The proposed law, that also provides for retaining the people’s measurements for 75 years from the date of collection, was in “violation of the Right to be Forgottenenshrined in the Right to Life under Article 21 of the Constitution”.
  • The phrase ‘biological samples’ is not described further, hence, it could involve bodily invasions such as drawing of blood and hair, collection of DNA samples. These are acts that currently require the written sanction of a magistrate.
  • The Bill proposes to collect samples even from protestors engaged in political protests. It infringes upon the right to privacy.

Way forward

  • The need of the hour is a strong data protection law,with stringent punishment for breaches, should be in place.
  • The bill must be referred to a Standing Committee for deeper scrutinybefore it is enacted into law, as now pre-legislative consultation was done.
  • Measures need to be taken for better implementation of the lawas well.
  • There is a need to have more experts to collect measurementsfrom the scene of crime, more forensic labs, and equipment to analyse them to identify possible accused involved in a criminal case.
  • Thetraining of the investigation officers, prosecutors, judicial officers and collaboration with doctors and forensic experts need to be prioritised too.

 

15. Examine the issues that have hindered the performance and autonomy of Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and the role of judiciary in ensuring that CBI does not act as a “caged parrot”. (250 words, 15 marks)

Introduction

The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) is the premier investigating agency of India. Operating under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions, the CBI is headed by the Director.

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Why CBI was called as caged parrot?

  • Politicisationof the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI)has been a work in progress for years.
  • It has often been used by the government of the day to cover up wrongdoing, keep coalition allies in line and political opponents at bay.
  • Corruption and politically biased: This was highlighted in Supreme Court criticism for being a caged parrot speaking in its master’s voice.
  • CBI has been accused of becoming ‘handmaiden’ to the party in power, as a result high profile cases are not treated seriously.
  • Since CBI is run by central police officials on deputation hence chances of getting influenced by governmentwas visible in the hope of better future postings.

Issues that have hindered the working of CBI

  • The agency is dependent on the home ministryfor staffing, since many of its investigators come from the Indian Police Service.
  • The agency depends on the law ministryfor lawyers and also lacks functional autonomy to some extent.
  • The CBI, run by IPS officers on deputation, is also susceptible to the government’s ability to manipulate the senior officers, because they are dependent on the Central government for future postings.
  • Another great constraint on the CBI is its dependence on State governmentsfor invoking its authority to investigate cases in a State, even when such investigation targets a Central government employee.
  • Since police is a State subjectunder the Constitution, and the CBI acts as per the procedure prescribed by the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC), which makes it a police agency, the CBI needs the consent of the State government in question before it can make its presence in that State. This is a cumbersome procedure and has led to some ridiculous situations.
  • It has been accused of enormous delays in concluding investigations – For example, the inertia in its probe against the high dignitaries in Jain hawala diaries case of the 1990s.
  • Improving the image of the agency is one of the biggest challenges till now as the agency has been criticised for its mismanagement of several cases involving prominent politicians and mishandling of several sensitive cases like Bofors scandal; Hawala scandal, Sant Singh Chatwal case, Bhopal gas tragedy, 2008 Noida double murder case of Aarushi Talwar.
  • CBI is exempted from the provisions of the Right to Information Act, thus, lacking public accountability.
  • A major cause of the shortfall is the government’s sheer mismanagement of CBI’s workforce, through a system of inefficient, and inexplicably biased, recruitment policies – used to bring in favoured officers, possibly to the detriment of the organisation.
  • The powers and jurisdiction of members of the CBI for investigation are subject to the consent of the State Govt., thus limiting the extent of investigation by CBI.
  • Prior approval of Central Government to conduct inquiry or investigation on the employees of the Central Government, of the level of Joint Secretary and above is a big obstacle in combating corruption at higher levels of bureaucracy.

Reforms needed

  • Ensure that CBI operates under a formal, modern legal framework that has been written for a contemporary investigative agency.
  • The Second Administrative Reforms Commission (2007) suggested that a new law should be enacted to govern the working of the CBI.
  • Parliamentary standing committee (2007) recommended that a separate act should be promulgated in tune with requirement with time to ensure credibility and impartiality.
  • The 19th and 24th reports of the parliamentary standing committees (2007 and 2008)recommended that the need of the hour is to strengthen the CBI in terms of legal mandate, infrastructure and resources.
  • It is high time that the CBI is vested with the required legal mandate and is given pan-India jurisdiction. It must have inherent powers to investigate corruption cases against officers of All India Services irrespective of the assignments they are holding or the state they are serving in.
  • Besides appointing the head of the CBI through a collegium, as recommended by the Lokpal Act, the government must ensure financial autonomy for the outfit.
  • It is also possible to consider granting the CBI and other federal investigation agencies the kind of autonomy that the Comptroller and Auditor General enjoysas he is only accountable to Parliament.
  • A new CBI Actshould be promulgated that ensures the autonomy of CBI while at the same time improving the quality of supervision. The new Act must specify criminal culpability for government interference.
  • One of the demands that has been before Supreme Court, and in line with international best practices, is for the CBI to develop its own dedicated cadre of officers who are not bothered about deputation and abrupt transfers.
  • more efficient parliamentary oversight overthe federal criminal and intelligence agencies could be a way forward to ensure better accountability, despite concerns regarding political misuse of the oversight.

Conclusion

Delink the CBI from the administrative control of the government – As long as the government of the day has the power to transfer and post officials of its choice in the CBI, the investigating agency will not enjoy autonomy and will be unable to investigate cases freely. Providing statutory status through legislation equivalent to that provided to the Comptroller & Auditor General and the Election Commission will help maintain the independence of the institution.

 

16. The relaxation of AFSPA is welcome, but gradual efforts should be made towards its repeal by ensuring that law and order is maintained by normal means in disturbed areas. Examine. (250 words, 15 marks)

Introduction

The Armed Forces Special Powers Act commonly (AFSPA) came in to force decades ago in the context of increasing violence in the North Eastern states. Passed in 1958 for North East and in 1990 for Jammu and Kashmir , the law gives armed forces necessary powers to control disturbed areas which are designated by the govt.

AFSPA, which gives sweeping powers to the armed forces, has been fully or partially withdrawn from parts of three Northeast states — Assam, Nagaland and Manipur. Still, AFSPA remains in force in parts of these three states as well as in parts of Arunachal Pradesh and Jammu & Kashmir.

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AFSPA – a draconian act

  • It has been dubbed as a license to kill. The main criticism of the Act is directed against the provisions of Section 4, which gives the armed forces the power to open fire and even cause death, if prohibitory orders are violated.
  • Human rights activists object on the grounds that these provisions give the security forces unbridled powers to arrest, search, seize and even shoot to kill.
  • Activists accuse the security forces of having destroyed homes and entire villages merely on the suspicion that insurgents were hiding there. They point out that Section 4 empowers the armed forces to arrest citizens without warrant and keep them in custody for several days.
  • They also object to Section 6, which protects security forces personnel from prosecution except with the prior sanction of the central government. Critics say this provision has on many occasions led to even non-commissioned officers brazenly opening fire on crowds without having to justify their action.
  • Critics say the act has failed to contain terrorism and restore normalcy in disturbed areas, as the number of armed groups has gone up after the act was established. Many even hold it responsible for the spiralling violence in areas it is in force.
  • The decision of the government to declare a particular area ‘disturbed’ cannot be challenged in a court of law. Hence, several cases of human rights violations go unnoticed.

Should AFSPA be repealed?

  • The Army clearly sees AFSPA as a capstone enabling Act that gives it the powers necessary to conduct counter-insurgency operations efficiently.
  • If AFSPA is repealed or diluted, it is the army leadership’s considered view that the performance of battalions in counter-insurgency operations will be adversely affected and the terrorists or insurgents will seize the initiative.
  • Many argue that removal of the act will lead to demoralising the armed forces and see militants motivating locals to file lawsuits against the army.
  • Also, the forces are aware that they cannot afford to fail when called upon to safeguard the country’s integrity. Hence, they require the minimum legislation that is essential to ensure efficient utilization of combat capability.
  • AFSPA is necessary to maintain law and order in disturbed areas, otherwise things will go haywire. The law also dissuades advancement of terrorist activities in these areas.
  • Also, extraordinary situations require special handling.

Way forward

  • Security forces should be very careful while operating in the Northeast and must not give any chance to the militants to exploit the situation.
  • Indiscriminate arrests and harassment of people out of frustration for not being able to locate the real culprits should be avoided. All good actions of the force get nullified with one wrong action.
  • Any person, including the supervisory staff, found guilty of violating law should be severely dealt with.
  • The law is not defective, but it is its implementation that has to be managed properly.
  • The local people have to be convinced with proper planning and strategy.

Conclusion

The practical problems encountered in ensuring transparency in counter-insurgency operations must be overcome by innovative measures. The army must be completely transparent in investigating allegations of violations of human rights and bringing the violators to speedy justice. Exemplary punishment must be meted out where the charges are proved.

Value addition

Key features of act

  • In simple terms, AFSPA gives armed forces the power to maintain public order in “disturbed areas”.
  • They have the authority to prohibit a gathering of five or more persons in an area, can use force or even open fire after giving due warning if they feel a person is in contravention of the law.
  • If reasonable suspicion exists, the army can also arrest a person without a warrant; enter or search premises without a warrant; and ban the possession of firearms.
  • Under the provisions of the AFSPA armed forces are empowered with immunity from being prosecuted to open fire , enter and search without warrant and arrest any person who has committed a cognizable offence.
  • As of now this act is in force in Jammu and Kashmir , Assam , Nagaland and parts of Arunachal Pradesh and Manipur.

Expert recommendations

  • A committee headed by Justice Jeevan Reddy was appointed in 2004 to review AFSPA. Though the committee found that the powers conferred under the Act are not absolute, it nevertheless concluded that the Act should be repealed.
  • However, it recommended that essential provisions of the Act be inserted into the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act of 1967.
  • The Second Administrative Reforms Commission headed by then Union law minister M Veerappa Moily also recommended that AFSPA should be repealedand its essential provisions should be incorporated in the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA).

 


General Studies – 3


17. Tariff competitiveness offered by the solar and wind power projects are major factor determining its profitability and extent of investment in it. Discuss the steps that are needed to ensure tariff competitiveness of solar and wind power. (250 words, 15 marks)

Introduction

The complex tariff structure for solar and wind power projects makes them less lucrative to attract investments and capital. This directly affects the renewable energy targets set by India. The switch from a single to a two-part tariff structure for renewables has to be made right now as we are at the cusp of ramping up our renewable generation and it takes time for matters to get streamlined as we have seen in the past.

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Existing tariff structure for power

  • Power generation tariffs in India comprise two parts.
    • The first part is a fixed component – the cost that a generator incurs. This is not linked to the amount of power generated.
    • The second part varies with the quantum of generation.
  • The two-part tariff has been in vogue since 1992. It applies to thermal and hydro generation.
  • It does not apply to renewable generation — solar, wind, and also nuclear.
  • With a single part tariff for renewable generation, the entire cost is variable and at Rs 2.5 per unit for solar generation, it is not the cheapest source.
  • There are several NTPC coal-fired pit head plants whose variable costs are far lower, for example, Simhadri (Rs 1.36), Korba (Rs 1.36), Sipat (Rs 1.43), Vindhyachal (Rs 1.70), and Talcher (Rs 2.00).
  • The renewable sector has been given a “must run” status. This means that any generation from renewables needs to be dispatched first. The logic is that if we do not use the sun’s rays or for that matter the wind velocity, it is lost forever. The state load dispatch centres (SLDCs) are under instructions to adhere to this principle.
  • SLDCs often flout the principle of “must run”, since the distribution companies would save money by asking the renewable generator to back down while keeping the tap on for a coal-based generation.

Tariff competitiveness affecting solar and wind power

  • Profitability: Tariffs should be such, that it incentivises the power generators and distributors to keep continuing the usage of renewables. India has promised zero carbon emissions by 2070 and profitability to generators of renewables is the key.
  • Investment potential: A good tariff policy can help attract investments and capital from big global players. This can also lead to better technological know-how and employment generation. But an uncertain tariff can dampen such investment opportunities.
  • Adoption: A good tariff structure can affect generation, distribution and consumption. Even end customers should be incentivised to use renewables, especially big industries.
  • Losses mitigation: There must be a mechanism to have a hybrid model so that any losses due to natural causes can be mitigated.

Conclusion and way forward

  • Two-part tariff for solar: The solution to this problem is to apply a two-part tariff for solar and wind generators as we do for hydro plants today.
  • Lowest variable cost: The overriding principle is that the percentage allocated as variable cost should ensure that renewable generation has the lowest variable cost so that there is no violation of the “must-run” principle.
  • At the same time, the fixed cost component should not be kept so high that it hurts the consumers.
  • A fine balance between the proportion of the fixed and variable costs will have to be maintained.
  • It would also ensure a certain minimum return to developers even if they are not generating during certain hours, as in the case of coal and hydro plants.
  • Proper environment: If we are serious about having a renewable generating capacity of 450-500 GW by 2030, we need to create a proper environment and ensure adequate returns to invite fresh investments into renewable generation.

 

18. What is metaverse? Discuss the potential applications of metaverse. What are factors that needs to be considered for creation of a seamless and accessible metaverse ecosystem in India? (250 words, 15 marks)

Introduction

The term “metaverse” is used to describe the vision whereby the internet will evolve into a virtual world. The idea was first conceptualised in 1992 by the American novelist Neal Stephenson in his science fiction classic, Snow Crash. It foresees the internet as a 3D virtual living space, where individuals dip in and out, interacting with one another in real time.

The metaverse is a form of mixed reality that is fast becoming commonplace in everyday tech products. The combination of augmented and virtual reality will not only introduce digital elements in the real world, but it will also merge Internet with the virtual world.

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Potential of Metaverse

  • Metaverse will incorporate current Meta products, like WhatsApp and Messenger, but also offer plenty of new tools like virtual homes, offices, and ecommerce opportunities for businesses and content creators.
  • In Meta’s metaverse imagining, users will have complete creative control over their virtual worlds, designing everything from waterfront homes to space stations where you can work collaboratively, chat with friends, or study.
  • Using VR, AR, and our current tech tools, the metaverse will combine both the physical and digital worlds.
  • Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg believes augmented reality glasses will eventually be as widespread as smartphones. If that is the case, this will be a very big market.
  • Huge scope in the development of software applications to support the meta-verse ecosystem.
  • Heightened sales of physical goods and services will be linked to the virtual ecosystem in the future.
  • Immersive Learning is a training methodology that uses Virtual Reality (VR) to simulate real-world scenarios and train students in a safe and engaging immersive training environment.
  • Decentralized commerce (dCommerce) in-world transactions to happen peer-to-peer.
  • Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs) – the claim of ownership for a unique, non-interchangeable digital asset that is stored on a blockchain – may be widely adopted.

Factors that needs to be considered for creation of a seamless and accessible metaverse ecosystem in India:

  • To achieve this, we will need to agree on a set of open standards that govern its essential aspects, ensuring interoperability across environments.
  • We may ultimately need to pass regulation to ensure that other aspects of the metaverse—the devices we use to interface with it, the payment systems that drive its economy and the portals that connect the virtual world to the physical—comply with open protocols framed to ensure that we are not locked into any single device or service provider.
  • India needs to put in place regulations that encourage the development of these new virtual environments while ensuring that they can still function in an open, interoperable manner.
  • The government’s involvement in Metaverse is also a significant aspect as it may change the whole dynamic of the Metaverse since cryptocurrency is one of its driving forces.
  • The metaverse is being seen as the Internet 2.0 and for a smooth transition to it, new tech infrastructure needs to be created and protocols written. Today’s internet as a file-sharing protocol will need to be re-imagined for the metaverse.
  • If this is the next evolution of internet technology, we should ensure that the many features it is likely to offer are deployed to our advantage.
  • Educating visitors about what constitutes potentially criminal behaviour would help mitigate harassment, too.
  • India’s digital payments platforms, on the other hand, have demonstrated that they can operate at population scale—processing 10 billion transactions a month without breaking a sweat.
  • Digital Indiaand the components under it such as – Aadhar, Digital Health IDs and Digital Payments System, therefore, is the preparatory infrastructure that is needed for the transition to a digital economy and to the metaverse.

Conclusion

A new iteration of the internet is being worked on and this will have massive implications for society. Marketing, communications, and branding professionals will face new challenges but also new opportunities. This new era of the metaverse will unleash amazing creativity and open up new frontiers and horizons for brands and businesses.

India was a relatively late adopter of the internet, and, as a result, was unable to take advantage of its many features until much later. We have an extraordinary opportunity now to actively participate in the development of the metaverse. We would do well to dive right in.

 

19. The Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) has to carefully balance the recovery phase of economic growth and manage rising inflationary tendencies in the uncertain geopolitical climate. Examine. (250 words, 15 marks)

Introduction

The term ‘Monetary Policy’ is the Reserve Bank of India’s policy pertaining to the deployment of monetary resources under its control for the purpose of achieving GDP growth and lowering the inflation rate. The Reserve Bank of India Act 1934 empowers the RBI to make the monetary policy.

Body

Objective of monetary policy

The objectives of monetary policy include ensuring inflation targeting and price stability, full employment and stable economic growth.

Current situation of Indian Economy

  • Rising inflation: 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%.
  • 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 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.

 

20. Analyse the potential of hydroelectric power in meeting India’s energy security targets? What are the associated risks which affect hydro power generation? (250 words, 15 marks)

Introduction

Hydroelectric power projects basically generate electricity from flowing water.  Pumped storage hydro (PSH) plants are storage systems based on hydropower operations between two or more reservoirs (upper and lower) with an elevation difference. PSH plants are highly useful options for the integration of Renewable Energy power with the power system. India is blessed with immense amount of hydro-electric potential and ranks 5th in terms of exploitable hydro-potential on global scenario.

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India’s Energy scenario

  • As of December 2021, the installed generation capacity of the country stood at 393GW.
  • It comprises 235GW of thermal, 151GW of renewable (wind, solar, hydro and biomass) and 78GW of nuclear.
  • India saw its peak electricity demand surpass 200GW in 2021.
  • India is the third largest producer and consumer of electricity globally, with annual electricity production of around 1,200-1,300TWh and one of the largest synchronous power grids.

Potential of hydroelectric power in meeting India’s energy security targets

  • In India, PSH potential of about 120GW has been identified at about 120 sites.
  • Only nine plants with an installed capacity of 4,785MW have been commissioned so far, and three with a capacity of 2.7GW are under construction.
  • Apart from these, about 17 PSH projects with a capacity of 16.5GW in different states are under various stages of implementation.
  • Pumped storage schemes use domestically produced material and even the electrical mechanical parts are made in India, so PSH plants can serve the aims of Aatmanirbhar Bharat.

Associated risks which affect hydro power generation

  • Generation of Hydro power depends on the availability of water. When water is not available in the lean season, in summer and in drought year the generation drops.
  • Other issues like social impact, where lot of people get displaced, livelihood and resources are affected. There are environmental impacts, Disaster related impacts.
  • Most of the new projects are coming up in Himalayan region which is vulnerable to disaster in terms of earth quake, landslides, erosion, and flash floods. In the era of climate change there are glacial lake outburst flood (GLOF)which is because of the lakes which are created by the melting of glaciers which consists of boulders and silt.
  • There are issues of generation performance. 89% of India’s installed capacity does not generate power at the promised level.
  • There is the issue of Siltation and maintenance of Hydro power projects. Silt reduces the storage capacity and proportionally the power generation also goes down.
  • Hydro power projects do not consume fuel and it is assumed that there is no carbon foot print which is not correct. The World Commission on Damshas shown how the power generated particularly in tropical countries generates Methane. In one molecule of Methane there is 22 times more potent Green House Gas than CO2.
  • Hydro power projects involve deforestation which reduces the carbon sinks and thereby putting back more carbon into the atmosphere.
  • With climate change on the rise, the frequency and intensity of Droughts will increase in the coming years. The rainfall patterns are changing. This will impact the power generation capacity of the Hydro power projects.
  • Every Hydro power projects are plagued by cost and time overruns. The reason is lack in the appraisal mechanism particularly geological appraisal.
  • Hydro and PSH projects are a state government legislative subject, and require the support of many policymakers, including the MoP, MoEF&CC and electricity regulators, apart from state governments.

Way forward

  • There is a need to appraise the projects properly, have proper Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA)and proper public consultation process.
  • We should maintain the catchment area properly if not the rainfall which comes as flash floods damages the project.
  • Micro-hydel projects may also be promoted, as these have less of an adverse social and environmental impact on local communities.
  • Large, ‘smart’ hydropower projects may be developed, taking into account the economic, environmental and social concerns of local and downstream communities, in addition to national economic benefits.
  • Technical provisions in smart projects can minimize the impacts on aquatic life and terrestrial ecosystems.
  • India is using more of ground water and this reduces the surface water flow in the downstream area. All these factors should be taken into account while assessing the generation of Hydro power projects.
  • For prioritizing projects, in addition to capital cost and energy supplied, PSH developers and policymakers should consider factors that include the location of the project, duration of storage, availability of a pre-feasibility report, detailed surveys, investigations and project reports, etc, and the cost of the energy supplied, as well as the value of the flexibility assured by it.
  • An appropriate policy framework that lets costs and benefits be shared can increase the overall value for primary and end consumers.

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