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[Mission 2022] SECURE SYNOPSIS: 21 May 2022

 

NOTE: Please remember that following ‘answers’ are NOT ‘model answers’. They are NOT synopsis too if we go by definition of the term. What we are providing is content that both meets demand of the question and at the same time gives you extra points in the form of background information.

Answer the following questions in 150 words:


General Studies – 1


 

1. The Quit India Movement was nothing short of a radical revolution. Elucidate. (150 words, 10 marks)

Introduction

The Quit India Movement, also known as ‘August Kranti’, was a freedom movement led by Mahatma Gandhi. It began on 8th August, 1942 and turned out to be one of the most popular and powerful mass movements for independence. The immediate trigger for the movement was the failure of Cripps Mission and its offerings.

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Quit India movement was nothing short of a radical revolution:

  • Social radicalism of Gandhi:
    • In a sharp contrast to Non-cooperation movement, where Gandhi withdrew after Chauri Chaura incident, in Quit India movement he not only refused to condemn the people’s resort to violence but unequivocally held government responsible for it.
    • Though the need for non-violence was always reiterated, Gandhi’s mantra of Do or Die represents the militant mood of Gandhi.
    • Gandhi also gave a call to all sections of the people, the princes, the Jaghirdars, the Zamindars, the propertied and moneyed classes, who derive their wealth and property from the workers in the fields and factories and elsewhere, to whom eventually power and authority belong.
    • This  indicates Gandhi’s social radicalism and shift in the philosophy of the Congress, by now people with the goals of socialism and communism have become a part of the broad-based Congress organization.
    • Mahatma Gandhi refused to condemn the violence of the masses and held the government responsible for this violence.
  • The spontaneous participation of the massesin the Quit India movement made it one of the most popular mass movements.
    • Even before the formal launching of the movement, the government in a single sweep arrested all the top leaders of the Congress. This led to spontaneous outburst of mass anger against the arrest of leaders. 
  • This historic movement placed the demand for independence on the immediate agendaof the national movement.
    • The spirit unleashed was carried further by Indian National Army of Subhas Chandra Bose. After ‘Quit India’ there could be no retreat. Independence was no longer a matter of bargain. It accelerated and sustained the urge for freedom and enabled India to achieve freedom in 1947.
  • The movement had a local impact in some areas, especially at Satara in Maharashtra, Talcher in Odisha, and Midnapore.
    • In Tamluk and Contai subdivisions of Midnapore in West Bengal, the local populace were successful in establishing parallel governments, which continued to function.
  • QIM surpassed all previous mass movements organized by Congress in its level of anti-British militancy.
    • Gandhi’s slogan of “Do or Die” stirred the emotions of people across the country.
    • It exhibited people’s fighting spirit and their longing for freedom. It also demonstrated determined attitude of Indian masses of accepting nothing less than the realization of freedom.
    • People devised a variety of ways of expressing their anger. In some places, huge crowds attacked police stations, post offices, courts, railway stations and other symbols of a government authority.
  • It was a historic event. It was not merely a movement against foreign occupation but also awakening of Indian masses.
    • The history of this movement is full of unsung heroes. There are untold stories of farmers, factory workers, journalists, artists, students, educationists, religious saints and Dalits.
  • Quit India movement was unique in the sense that it saw women participation where they not only participated as equals but also led the movement. There was Matangini Hazra, who lead a procession of 6,000 people, mostly women, to ransack a local police station.

Conclusion

Quit India Movement was a watershed movement in the sense, that it prepared the ground for future politics in India. It is in the Quit India Movement that freedom struggle was owned by “We the People” who fought for India’s freedom.

 

2. Trace the evolution of Mughal architecture under various Mughal emperors with a special emphasis on architectural development under Shahjahan. (150 words, 10 marks)

Introduction

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

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Important Features of Mughal Architecture:

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

Evolution of Mughal Architecture

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

Conclusion

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

 

3. What are the causes of inequality in the Indian society? Enumerate various steps that are needed ensure an equitable society. (150 words, 10 marks)

Introduction

In India there are many types of inequality but can be mainly categorised as economic and social inequality. The other types such as political and gender inequalities are extensions of socio-economic inequalities.

If we look at our own growth dividend from 1980 to 2016, a 66% share is estimated to have gone to the top 10%, 23% to the middle 40%, and the bottom 50%’s gain has been a measly 10%. This is a worrying statistic, showcasing gross inequality in India.

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Causes of Inequality in India

  • Historical reasons: Discrimination against certain sections of the society since historic times. This has affected their choice, opportunity, and accessibility to education, employment and health. Though policies like Reservation have been implemented since Independence, they were successful only in the economic and political sphere that too to a limited section of people but failed largely in social upliftment.
  • Gender inequality: Females were always treated to be subordinate and weaker to males. Girl education is considered to be a burden on the family and women have limited choices in employment.
    • Women comprise over 42 per cent of the agricultural labour force in the country, yet they own less than 2 percent of its farm land according to the India Human Development Survey (IHDS).
  • Large-scale informal employment: 80% of the Indian labour force is employed in the informal sector.
    • Informal sector jobs are more insecure without regular pay and social security benefits.
    • This increases the wage gap between formal and informal sectors.
    • A huge proportion of the population is still dependent on agriculture but the share of agriculture to the total GDP is falling.
  • Inter-state inequalities: Growth has been different across sectors and regions. For examples, Green Revolution has disproportionately benefitted Western and Southern India when compared to Eastern India.
  • Globalization: Studies show that globalization and opening up the economy has benefited the rich more than the poor, thus raising the inequality.
    • Global platforms like WTO have resulted in increased trade competitiveness affecting the returns of local investors and producers.
  • According to the paper by famous Economist Thomas Piketty, tax progressivity which is a tool to contain the rise in inequality was progressively reduced.
    • Wage inequality dispersion also increased in many sectors, as privatizations removed government-set pay scales, which were less unequal.
  • Lack of skill development and jobless growth: There is also no inclusive growth and the welfare schemes have not trickled down and benefitted the most vulnerable in the nation.

Steps needed to ensure equitable society

  • Constitutional Provision: Enforcement of Constitutional Guarantee of equality as enshrined in fundamental rights. Articles 14, 15 and 16 form part of a scheme of the Constitutional Right to Equality. Article 15 and 16 are incidents of guarantees of Equality, and gives effect to Article 14.
  • Women Empowerment: For gender equality policies like affirmative action by reserving seats in legislatures, increasing reservation at Local self-government both at Urban and village level to 50% in all states, strict implementation of The Equal Remuneration act,1976 to remove wage gap, making education curriculum gender sensitive, raising awareness about women right, changing social norms through schemes like Beti Bachao Beti Padhao etc.
  • Progressive Taxes: Additional public resources for public services by progressive taxes on wealthy more and by increasing the effective taxation on corporations, more importantly broadening the tax base through better monitoring of financial transactions.
  • Economic Policies: By ensuring universal access to public funded high-quality services like public health and education, social security benefits, employment guarantee schemes; inequality can be reduced to great extent.
  • Employment Generation: The failure to grow manufacturing sectors like Textile, Clothing, automobiles, consumer goods etc. is the important reason of rising inequalities.
    • The Labor-intensive manufacturing has the potential to absorb millions of people who are leaving farming while service sector tends to benefit majorly urban middle class.

Conclusion

Inequality is corrosively divisive. A high level of inequality is anti-growth because the losers are prone to lack of trust and violence. Once it is clear that the dividends of economic growth are going to a relatively small group, opposition to growth can spring up. This can add to the existing fault lines in the society. The only way ahead is inclusive growth while ensuring Sabka Saath and Sabka Vikas in letter and spirit.

 


General Studies – 2


  

4. Critically analyse India’s efforts towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030. What course corrections are required to meet the targets? (150 words, 10 marks)

Introduction

The Index for Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) evaluates progress of states and Union Territories (UTs) on various parameters including health, education, gender, economic growth, institutions, climate change and environment. First launched in December 2018, the index has become the primary tool for monitoring progress on the SDGs in India. It has also fostered competition among the states and UTs by ranking them on the global goals.

All the States managed to score above 50 points in SDG implementation, with 13 States featuring in the ‘Performer’ category and 15 in the ‘Front Runner’ category (the second-highest position) in NITI Aayog’s 2020-21 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) India Index.

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Progress of Indian States in achieving SGD Goals

  • India stepped into the ‘Front Runner’ category with a score of 66 points, though it dropped two ranks in the ordinal scale.
  • However, our neighbouring countries performed better than us.
  • The country’s overall SDG score improved by 6 points — from 60 in 2019 to 66 in 2020-21 — on accounts of improvement in performance in providing facilities including clean water and sanitation, affordable and clean energy among others.
  • While Kerala retained its rank as the top with a score of 75, Himachal Pradesh and Tamil Nadu both took the second spot with a score of 74. Bihar, Jharkhand and Assam were the worst performing states in this year’s India index.
  • Chandigarh maintained its top spot among the UTs with a score of 79, followed by Delhi (68).
  • Mizoram, Haryana and Uttarakhand are the top gainers in 2020-21 in terms of improvement in score from 2019, with an increase of 12, 10 and 8 points, respectively.
  • While in 2019, 10 states/UTs belonged to the category of front-runners (score in the range 65-99, including both), 12 more states/UTs find themselves in this category in 2020-21.
  • Uttarakhand, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Mizoram, Punjab, Haryana, Tripura, Delhi, Lakshadweep, Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh graduated to the category of front-runners (scores between 65 and 99, including both).

Challenges persisting

  • SDGs on eradication of poverty and hunger, measures related to the availability of affordable, clean energy in particular, showed improvements across several States and Union Territories. The campaign to improve the access of households to electricity and clean cooking fuel has been shown to be an important factor.
  • While this is cause for cheer, the Index reveals that there has been a major decline in the areas of industry, innovation and infrastructure besides decent work and economic growth, again made worse by the lockdowns imposed by the governments seeking to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • But the stark differences between the southern and western States on the one hand and the north-central and eastern States on the other in their performance on the SDGs, point to persisting socio-economic and governance disparities.
  • These, if left unaddressed, will exacerbate federal challenges and outcomes, as seen in the public health challenges during the second wave across some of the worse-off States.

Course corrections needed

  • Many others, such as ‘no poverty’, ‘quality education’, ‘decent work and economic growth’, ‘industry, innovation and infrastructure’, and ‘climate action’, need a lot more work so that the country can be pulled up to the ‘Front Runner’ category from the ‘Performer’ category.
  • Partnership is the key to achieve this.
  • The current level of collaboration with States, UTs, civil society organisations and businesses should be further enhanced by overlooking any differences in political ideologies.
  • There is a need to aggressively implement SDG localisation efforts at the district, panchayat and village levels so that implementation feedback from the field is available, besides enabling true internalisation of the SDGs by the community.
  • Only work at the community level can make SDGs truly achievable and deliverable.

Conclusion

India’s push in the right direction in achieving Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) related to clean energy, urban development and health has helped it improve its overall SDG score from 60 in 2019 to 66 in 2021. India must continue to aggressively take up the goals as a challenge for New India by 2030.

 

5. Lok Adalats were established to make justice accessible and affordable to all. Analyse the performance of Lok Adalats in achieving their stated objectives. (150 words, 10 marks)

Introduction

The word ‘Lok Adalat’ means ‘People’s Court’. This system is based on Gandhian principles. It is one of the components of ADR (Alternative Dispute Resolution) system. As the Indian courts are overburdened with the backlog of cases and the regular courts are to decide the cases involving a lengthy, expensive and tedious procedure. The court takes years together to settle even petty cases. The Lok Adalat, therefore, provides alternative resolution or devise for expeditious and inexpensive justice.

The Lok Adalat is a forum where the cases (or disputes) which are pending in a court or which are at pre-litigation stage (not yet brought before a court) are compromised or settled in an amicable manner.

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Evolution of Lok Adalat in India

  • The first Lok Adalat camp in the post-independence era was organised in Gujarat in 1982.
    • This initiative proved very successful in the settlement of disputes. Consequently, the institution of Lok Adalat started spreading to other parts of the country
  • In view of its growing popularity, there arose a demand for providing a statutory backing to this institution and the awards given by Lok Adalats.
  • Hence, the institution of Lok Adalat has been given statutory status under the Legal Services Authorities Act, 1987.

Statutory provisions and other features of Lok Adalat

The Act makes the following provisions relating to the organisation and functioning of the Lok Adalats:

  • The State Legal Services Authority or the District Legal Services Authority or the Supreme Court Legal Services Committee or the High Court Legal Services Committee or the Taluk Legal Services Committee may organise Lok Adalats at such intervals and places and for exercising such jurisdiction and for such areas as it thinks fit.
  • Every Lok Adalat organised for an area shall consist of such number of serving or retired judicial officers and other persons of the area as may be specified by the agency organizing such Lok Adalat.
    • Generally, a Lok Adalat consists of a judicial officer as the chairman and a lawyer (advocate) and a social worker as members.
  • A Lok Adalat shall have jurisdiction to determine and to arrive at a compromise or settlement between the parties to a dispute in respect of:
    • any case pending before any court; or
    • any matter which is falling within the jurisdiction of any court and is not brought before such court.
  • Thus, the Lok Adalat can deal with not only the cases pending before a court but also with the disputes at pre-litigation stage.
  • The various matters such as Matri-monial/Family Disputes, Criminal (Compoundable Offences) cases, Land Acquisition cases, Labour disputes, Workmen’s compensation cases, Bank Recovery cases, Pension cases etc.
  • In Lok Adalat proceedings, there are no victors and vanquished and, thus, no rancour.
  • The experiment of ‘Lok Adalat’ as an alternate mode of dispute settlement has come to be accepted in India, as a viable, economic, efficient and informal one.
  • Any case pending before the court can be referred to the Lok Adalat for settlement if:
    • the parties thereof agree to settle the dispute in the Lok Adalat; or
    • one of the parties thereof makes an application to the court, for referring the case to the Lok Adalat; or
    • the court is satisfied that the matter is an appropriate one to be taken cognizance of by the Lok Adalat. In the case of a pre-litigation dispute, the matter can be referred to the Lok Adalat for settlement by the agency organizing the Lok Adalat, on receipt of an application from any one of the parties to the dispute.
  • The Lok Adalat shall have the same powers as are vested in a Civil Court under the Code of Civil Procedure (1908), while trying a suit in respect of the following matters: (a) the summoning and enforcing the attendance of any witness examining him on oath; (b) the discovery and production of any document; (c) the reception of evidence on affidavits; (d) the requisitioning of any public record or document from any court or office; and (e) such other matters as may be prescribed.
  • An award of a Lok Adalat shall be deemed to be a decree of a Civil Court or an order of any other court. Every award made by a Lok Adalat shall be final and binding on all the parties to the dispute. No appeal shall lie to any court against the award of the Lok Adalat.

Advantages of Lok Adalat

  • There is no court fee and if the court fee is already paid the amount will be refunded if the dispute is settled at Lok Adalat. In other words, it is less expensive.
  • The basic features of Lok Adalat are the procedural flexibility and speedy trial of the disputes.
  • There is no strict application of procedural laws like the Civil Procedure Code and the Evidence Act while assessing the claim by Lok Adalat.
  • Parties are free to discuss their differences of opinion without any fear of disclosure before any law courts.
  • The parties to the dispute can directly interact with the judge through their counsel, which is not possible in regular courts of law.

Shortcomings in the performance of Lok Adalat

  • In various parts of the country political groups have established rival courts that challenge both the legitimacy and efficacy of the official courts.
    • In the state of Bihar, for example, the Maoist Communist Centre, a group of militant revolutionaries, have established their own courts (Jan Adalats) in several rural sectors of the state.
  • The courts function often in a brutal manner, lacking any sort of due process and levying punishments ranging from hefty fines to public floggings to the serving of limbs to beheadings
  • The judges neither are without training in the law nor are they paid for their services. The police frequently work in tandem with the judges.
  • Sparse records are kept of the cases, and judgments are delivered orally and not kept in writing.
  • Litigants typically do not have representation and most decisions are rendered in a single sitting, with no provision for appeal and little choice but to follow the “court’s” order.
  • In many parts of India, local strongmen (dadas) sit as settlers’ disputes among rich people.
  • In some places, senior police officers may be arbiters of dispute The vernacular press refers too many of these phenomena as panchayats (pejoratively).
  • A master plan for judicial care cannot succeed without sufficient financial resource. An annual amount of Rs.6 crore is being allocated to NALSA for the execution of its policies.
  • Lack of awareness is the main impendent in effective ‘legal aid’.
  • The major obstacle to the legal aid movement in India is the lack of legal awareness. People are still not aware of their basic rights due to which the legal aid movement has not achieved its goal yet. It is absence of legal awareness which leads to exploitation and deprivation of rights and benefits of the poor.

Conclusion

Lok Adalat has a positive contributory role in the administration of justice. It supplements the efforts and work of the courts. Area of contribution chosen for the purpose specially concerns and helps the common man, the poor, backward and the needy-most sections of the society. Lok Adalat play a very important role to advance and strengthen “equal access to justice”, the heart of the Constitution of India, a reality. This Indian contribution to world ADR jurisprudence needs to be taken full advantage of. Maximum number of Lok Adalats need to be organized to achieve the Gandhian Principle of Gram Swaraj and “access to justice for all”.

 

6. Hunger and malnutrition have a negative and a disproportionate impact on various socio-economic indicators. Examine the causes and suggest long term solutions to address this issue. (150 words, 10 marks)

Introduction

India has 5,772,472 children below five years affected by severe wasting, the most in the world, alerted UNICEF. It had been reported in 2017 by the National Health Survey that approximately 19 crore people in the country were compelled to sleep on an empty stomach every night.

Underweight is most common among the poor, the rural population, adults who have no education and scheduled castes and scheduled tribes. Hence it clear that hunger and malnutrition is also a direct consequence of socio-economic status of people in India.

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Malnutrition in India

  • India, currently has the largest number of undernourished people in the worlde. around 195 million.
  • Nearly 47 million or 4 out of 10 children in India do not meet their full human potential because of chronic undernutrition or stunting.
  • 9% of children under 5 years are stunted and 20.8% are wasted, compared to the Asia average of 22.7% and 9.4% respectively.
  • Rate of overweight and obesity continues to rise, affecting almost a fifth of the adults, at 21.6% of women and 17.8% of men.
  • Inequities in food and health systems increase inequalities in nutrition outcomes that in turn can lead to more inequity, perpetuating a vicious cycle.

Causes of hunger and malnutrition in India

  • Poverty: Poverty restricts the food choices and has been the causative factor of hunger related deaths.
    • If the persistent high prices of food items and the regional disparities in terms of development, especially the backwardness among the hilly and tribal areas also taken into account, the percentage of people who cannot afford balanced nutrition will be much higher in India.
  • Poor access to safe drinking water: Safe and tap drinking water is still a luxury in many parts of rural India and urban slums/shanties. Unsafe water causes water borne diseases and children are prone to it more than adults.
  • Issues with agriculture: The change from multi to mono cropping systems limits the diversity of agricultural products.
    • Inclination towards cash crops and changing food habits result in malnutrition, undernutrition and even micro-nutrient deficiencies.
    • Local cuisine such as millets are not being consumed causing nutrient deficiencies and anaemia.
  • Food wastage: Food wastage is also an emerging challenge that undermines the efforts to end hunger and malnutrition. According to the FAO, the global volume of food wastage is estimated at 6 billion tonnes of primary product equivalents.
  • Poor health services: The relationship between poverty and access to health care can be seen as part of a larger cycle, where poverty leads to ill health and ill health maintains poverty.
  • Insufficient education and training: In developing countries, children do not have access to basic education because of inequalities that originate in sex, health and cultural identity. It has been revealed in reports that illiteracy and lack of education are common factor that lead to poverty and in turn hunger.
  • Covid-19 impact: The momentum set by this entire nutrition movement was disturbed once Covid lockdowns led to the shutting of schools, Anganwadi centres, Nutritional Rehabilitation Centres.
    • Further, frontline workers had to be engaged in Covid-related work that took precedence over their daily duties, which entailed identifying, referring and monitoring children suffering from severe acute malnutrition and moderate acute malnutrition among other nutrition-strengthening activities.
  • States tried to cope to the best of their abilities by replacing hot-cooked meals with dry ration or cash transfers.
  • Moreover, indirect forces triggered by the pandemic such as disruption in food systems, dried-up income sources, job losses and consequent financial hardships also mean that access to nutrient-rich food might have reduced among economically vulnerable people.

Measures needed to tackle hunger

  • Agriculture-Nutrition linkage schemes have the potential for greater impact in dealing with malnutrition and thus, needs greater emphasis.
    • Recognising the importance of this link, the Ministry for Women and Child Development launched the Bharatiya Poshan Krishi Kosh in 2019.
    • There is a need to promote schemes directed to nutrition-agriculture link activities in rural areas. However, implementation remains the key.
  • Early fund disbursement: The government needs to ensure early disbursement of funds and optimum utilisation of funds in schemes linked to nutrition.
  • Underutilisation of Resources: It has been pointed out many a times that expenditure made under many nutrition-based schemes is considerably lower than what was allocated under them. Thus, emphasis needs to be on implementation.
  • Convergence with other Schemes: Nutrition goes beyond just food, with economic, health, water, sanitation, gender perspectives and social norms contributing to better nutrition. This is why the proper implementation of other schemes can also contribute to better nutrition.
    • The convergence of Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, Jal Jeevan Mission with schemes pertaining to nutrition, will bring holistic changes to India’s nutrition scenario.
  • Mid-Day Meal Scheme: The Mid-Day Meal Scheme aims to enhance the nutrition of school children by providing a balanced diet in schools.
    • By including milk and eggs in each states’ menu, preparing a menu based on climatic conditions, local foods etc. can help in providing the right nutrition to children in different States.

Conclusion

Welfare measures must continue to reach the most vulnerable population and children and mothers must be at the centre of the focus to target hunger and malnutrition. Achieving zero hunger requires agriculture and food systems to become more efficient, sustainable, climate-smart and nutritionsensitive. It is important to look at the future of food production to achieve the zero-hunger goal. Human resource capacity building is the key as is access to education and health services and empowering the poor through partnerships.

Value Addition

Government welfare measures

  • Eat Right India: An outreach activity organised by the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) for citizens to nudge them towards eating right.
  • Pradhan Mantri Matru Vandana Yojana: A centrally sponsored scheme executed by the Ministry of Women and Child Development, is a maternity benefit programme being implemented in all districts of the country with effect from 1st January, 2017.
  • Food Fortification: Food Fortification or Food Enrichment is the addition of key vitamins and minerals such as iron, iodine, zinc, Vitamin A & D to staple foods such as rice, milk and salt to improve their nutritional content.
  • National Food Security Act, 2013: It legally entitled up to 75% of the rural population and 50% of the urban population to receive subsidized food grains under the Targeted Public Distribution System.
  • Mission Indradhanush: It targets children under 2 years of age and pregnant women for immunization against 12 Vaccine-Preventable Diseases (VPD).
  • Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) Scheme: Launched on 2nd October, 1975, the ICDS Scheme offers a package of six services to children in the age group of 0-6 years, pregnant women and lactating mothers.
    • Supplementary Nutrition,
    • Pre-school non-formal education,
    • Nutrition & health education,
    • Immunization,
    • Health check-up and
    • Referral services.
  • POSHAN Abhiyaan: Also called National Nutrition Mission, was launched by the government on the occasion of the International Women’s Day on 8th March, 2018.
  • The Abhiyaan targets to reduce Stunting, undernutrition, Anaemia (among young children, women and adolescent girls) and reduce low birth weight by 2%, 2%, 3% and 2% per annum respectively.
  • It also targets to bring down stunting among children in the age group 0-6 years from 4% to 25% by 2022.

 

7. Cultural heritage between India and Nepal can be a key political and strategic opportunity for both countries to re-define relations and bolster them. Discuss. (150 words, 10 marks)

Introduction

The Indian Prime Minister travelled to Lumbini in Nepal to participate in a ceremony to lay the foundation stone for a Buddhist cultural centre that coincided with Buddha Purnima. This visit is focused on bringing soft power to the centre stage of India-Nepal relations while also marking India’s formal presence at the holy site that’s barely 10 km away from the border.

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Recent developments in india-nepal bilateral relations

  • China’s rising influence in Nepal’s economy, politics and society impacting India’s traditionally dominant influence.
    • Nepal has joined China’s Belt and Road Initiative
  • Border dispute: The disagreements between India and Nepal over the border dispute is over the regions which includes Kalapani, Lipulekh, Limpiyadhura (all three in Uttarakhand) and Susta (Bihar).
    • Kalapani area is the largest territorial dispute between Nepal and India consisting of at least 37,000 hectares of land in the High Himalayas.
    • It is a tri-junction between India, China and Nepal which is of strategic significance in South Asian diplomacy
    • Anti-India rhetoric is running high in Nepal Nepal’s aggressive stance over border disputes.
  • Nepal’s discontent in bilateral trade due to huge trade deficit that it incurs.
  • Distrust towards India as a result of India’s big brother attitude, lackadaisical approach towards revising the Treaty of Peace and Friendship 1950 and its approach of dealing with river treaties.
  • Unrestricted cross-border movement of people which hinders national security, Nepal’s domestic industry, local livelihood and law and order.
  • Nepal internal politics: also pose problems as political parties flip from pro-India positions to anti-India positions.

Various ways in which cultural heritage can be leveraged to reset indo-nepal relation

  • People-to-people relations: Since time immemorial, people-to-people relations between Nepal and India have remained unique mainly because it is based on the twin pillars of an open border system and people-to-people contacts of kinship.
    • The anti-India rhetoric can be overturned by these contacts and soft power.
  • Open border: Because of the open border system, the citizens of these countries cross over the Nepal-India border for livelihood opportunities apart from marriages; familial ties; cultural, social, and economic security; and even political affairs.
    • Also, the over 80 percent Hindu population in both countries integrate the people.
    • This can become a strong starting point to rekindle relations with Nepal.
  • Religious tourism: From Pashupathinath to Kashi Vishwanath and Buddhist heritage, both nations share common religions and holy places. Such cultural ties can be used to build a strong friendship that is sustainable.
  • Congenial environment: It also needs to create a congenial environment in the country to enable India to complete its projects in Nepal on time.
    • Nepal could further attract Indian investment in the hydropower sector in the Himalayan River system.
    • Also, Indian companies in Nepal should be given adequate protection in the country.
    • These technical issues can be solved by leveraging cultural and kinship ties.
  • Multilateral platforms and connectivity: The focus should be given to more air, road, train, and waterways connectivity, apart from playing an active role in several important multilateral forums such as BBIN (Bangladesh, Bhutan, India and Nepal), BIMSTEC, NAM, and SAARC to serve their common interests.

Measures that are required to bolster ties between india and nepal.

  • India should provide an alternative narrative for India-Nepal ties, one that takes into account longstanding people-to-people ties and cultural connect.
  • India should focus on fructifying the potential of hydropower cooperation, which has remained untapped largely due to differing perceptions.
  • India should maintain the policy of keeping away from internal affairs of Nepal, meanwhile in the spirit of friendship India should guide the nation towards more inclusive rhetoric.
  • The urgent need today is to pause the rhetoric on territorial nationalism and lay the groundwork for a quiet dialogue where both sides need to display sensitivity as they explore the terms of a reset of the “special relationship”.
  • A normal relationship where India can be a generous partner will be a better foundation for “neighbourhood first” in the 21st century.

Conclusion

Since Nepal’s dependence on India is more than India’s dependence on Nepal, it is all the more necessary to balance such relations. To increase India’s dependence on Nepal, it is necessary to place the increase in trade and economic activities at the forefront. Interdependence between Nepal and India is the secret to reset the relations between the neighbours.

Value addition

Indo-Nepal relations: background

Economic: India is the largest trading partner of Nepal (Bilateral trade –US$ 8.27 bn) and provides employment to 8mn Nepalese.

Defence: India assists the Nepal Army in its modernization (More than 30,000 Nepalese Gorkhas are presently serving in the Indian Army), Military exercises like Surya Kiran to boost interoperability.

Water resource: Kosi TreatyMahakali Treaty to discuss issues relating to cooperation in water resources, flood management etc.

 Energy: Power Exchange Agreement for meeting the power requirements in the border areas, Cross-border oil product pipeline from Motihari(Bihar) to Amlekhganj (Nepal).

Connectivity projects: Raxaul-Kathmandu Railway project, BBIN

Education: India provides scholarships to Nepalese students for various courses.

Culture: Strong historical and cultural links in terms of religion, language, cuisine, movies etc

 

 


General Studies – 3


  

8. Examine the impact that Industry 4.0 will have on India. Suggest measures that are needed to maximise benefits and minimise losses due to Industry 4.0. (150 words, 10 marks)

Introduction

The Fourth Industrial Revolution (IR 4.0) is a term that describes present technological age. It is the fourth industrial era since the inception of the initial Industrial Revolution of the 18th century. The key elements of the fourth revolution are the fusion of technologies ranging from the physical, digital to biological spheres. Prime Minister gave an institutional shape to the expression by launching the Centre for Fourth Industrial Revolution in India.

As described by the founder and executive chairman of World Economic Forum, Klaus Schwab, “the fourth industrial revolution is a technological revolution that will fundamentally alter the way we live, work and relate to one another”.

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Possible Impact of IR4.0 on India:

  • For India, the Fourth Industrial Revolution brings tremendous opportunities to leapfrog many stages of development, hastening its journey towards becoming a developed economy.
  • It can play a major role in alleviating poverty.
  • Better and low-cost health care can be achieved through the implementation of AI-driven diagnostics, personalized treatment, early identification of potential pandemics, and imaging diagnostics, among others.
  • Enhancing farmer’s income by providing them with the latest technologies, improvement in crop yield through real-time advisory, advanced detection of pest attacks, and prediction of crop prices to inform sowing practices.
  • It will strengthen infrastructure and improve connectivity to the very last village.
  • Artificial intelligence can be used to empower and enable specially-abled people.
  • It will improve ease of living and ease of doing business using smart technologies.
  • Recently, India has announced her drone policy, which will play an important role in security, traffic and mapping.
  • Increased automation means more efficient products and processes, faster growth
  • It gives a boost for small scale industries as production gets automatic and cheap
  • India provides a potentially huge market access.
  • There is the very appealing demographic dividend with Indian youth representing approximately 20% of the global workforce by 2020. With more than 50 per cent of its population is under the age of 27, India can play a pivotal role in shaping the global fourth Industrial revolution in a responsible, scalable and inclusive manner.
  • There is a rising middle class
  • India is expected to become the fifth largest consumer market in two decades. Within this context, any form of consumption, entrepreneurship, startup or industry, can be viewed as a scaling opportunity.
  • India also has a robust start-up scene, which reportedly has more firms than anywhere else in the world except for the US and the United Kingdom (UK).
  • With one of the youngest labour forces in the world, a sizeable technical aptitude, the second largest number of internet users on mobile devices and the second largest English speaking population, India is well positioned to enhance its global leadership in a post fourth industrial revolution era.
  • The 4IR may further fuel supply-side miracles as above, paving the way for new avenues in economic growth, supported by the internet of things as a whole new experience of interconnectedness.

Challenges posed by IR 4.0:

  • Studies conducted by the World Bank, Oxford University, etc. on the relative global positioning of our country in the 4IR reveal that India is lagging in technology integration and adequate capital investment needed.
  • In spite of low automation and a young workforce, absolute job losses will be the second highest in the world due to 4IR.
  • Thus, without technology integration, India may lag in productivity as is expected to be achieved through 4IR.
  • India may be adding 138 million new workers in its workforce in due course, which is likely the highest in the world, and it may be a challenge to step up its growth rate to compensate for both high job loss and high incremental workforce.
  • If the country has to grow, it may have to invest heavily in adoption of new technology and reskilling/redeployment of a large share of its current workforce.
  • The threats for India in the Fourth Industrial Revolution may be that the shift of manufacturing towards consumption centres may shrink the net exports, resulting in huge job losses in the manufacturing sector.
  • Machine learning and AI may wipe out most of human analytics and programming-based high-end outsourcing jobs in India known as Knowledge Process Outsourcing.
  • Stiff competition from other countries, high unemployment levels and high incidences of poverty etc.
  • 0 is likely to increase inequality in India as the spread of machines increases markets and disrupts labour markets.
  • Inequality represents the greatest societal concern associated with the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
  • The largest beneficiaries of innovation tend to be the providers of intellectual and physical capital the innovators, shareholders, and investors which explains the rising gap in wealth between those dependent on capital versus labour.

Way forward

  • Governments, businesses and civil society organisations should put together an ecosystem for massive upskilling of the workforce.
  • India needs to prepare itself for a period of information and digital abundance, adapt itself to the scorching pace of innovation and learn to collaborate on scale, quickly transform the idea into a breakthrough innovation, shift from a system of time-bound education to a mode of continuous learning and create more employment opportunities than what new and disruptive technologies take away.
  • There is a need for good quality education to make India’s youth a productive asset.
  • Access to finance commensurate with maturity of the business model and beginning stage of the start-up lifecycle is extremely important to scale innovations.
  • Corporates will have a key role in championing this on-going movement, leveraging the ART Model – Alliances, Relationships enabled through Technology.

Conclusion

It is imperative for jurisdictions to continuously adapt to a new, fast-changing environment to understand what they are regulating and to be more transparent in public engagement and policymaking. The countries also need commitment to upskill the labour force in digital technology and to look at the changing threats to national and international security.

 

9. Examine the various obstacles to an energy secure India. How can the government ensure energy security while honouring its net zero commitments? (150 words, 10 marks)

Introduction

Climate sustainability is integral to India’s economic policy while energy security also is equally important in this transitional phase. The energy transition will also have far-reaching implications for energy security, and the ripple effects of unfolding events in Ukraine are a sobering reminder of its relevance.

Clean energy appears to be the future for the power needs of humanity across the globe as reliance of fossil fuels continues to diminish. However, the road to clean energy is not straight forward and here is where the government must rely on calculated measure to balance energy security and net-zero commitments.

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Background

At the 26th Conference of Parties (CoP26), Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi declared a five-fold strategy — termed as the panchamrita — to achieve the feat of clean energy and net-zero emissions by 2070. These five points include:

  • India will get its non-fossil energy capacity to 500 gigawatts (GW) by 2030
  • India will meet 50 per cent of its energy requirements from renewable energy by 2030
  • India will reduce the total projected carbon emissions by one billion tonnes from now onwards till 2030
  • By 2030, India will reduce the carbon intensity of its economy by less than 45 per cent
  • So, by the year 2070, India will achieve the target of Net Zero.

Obstacles to an energy secure India

  • The country’s demand for energy is set to double by 2040, and its electricity demand may
  • Indian oil consumption is expected to grow faster than that of any other major economy (including China). This makes further improving energy security a key priority for India’s economy.
  • India’s oil demand is expected to reach 6 million barrels per day (bpd) by 2024 from 4.4 million bpd in 2017, but its domestic production is expected to rise only marginally, making the country more reliant on crude imports and more vulnerable to supply disruption in the Middle East.
  • India’s oil refining capacity is expected to rise to 5.7 million bpd by 2024, making it a very attractive market for refinery investment.

Ensuring energy security while honouring its net zero commitments

  • Focus on Energy Efficiency: Will need energy efficient buildings, lighting, appliances and industrial practicesto meet the net-zero goal.
  • Increased usage of Biofuels: Can help reduce emissions from light commercial vehicles, tractors in agriculture.
    • In aviation, the only practical solution for reducing emissions is greater use of biofuels, until hydrogen technology gains scale.
  • Transition towards Electric vehicles: This will further help curb the carbon emissions and move towards cleaner fuel. Vehicular emissions are one of the biggest sources of GHG.
  • Carbon Sequestration: India willhave to rely on natural and man-made carbon sinks to soak up those emissions. Trees can capture 0.9 billion tons; the country will need carbon capture technologies to sequester the rest.
  • Carbon Pricing:
    • India, which already taxes coal and petroleum fuels, should consider putting a tax on emissions to drive change.
  • Deploying lower-carbon Energy: There are four main types of low-carbon energy: wind, solar, hydro or nuclear power. The first three are renewable, which means these are good for the environment – as natural resources are used (such as wind or sun) to produce electricity.
    • Deploying lower carbon energy would help address both domestic and international climate challenges while simultaneously improving the economic well-being of India’s citizens.
  • Mainstreaming Renewable energy: India’s energy mix is dominated by coal powered electric generation stations as of now.
    • The need of the hour is increasing the share of renewable energy in this energy mix.

Conclusion and way forward

  • Given the massive shifts underway in India’s energy system, we would benefit from taking stock of our actions and focusing on near-term transitions.
  • This will allow us to meet and even over-comply with our 2030 target while also ensuring concomitant developmental benefits, such as developing a vibrant renewable industry.
  • We can start putting in place the policies and institutions necessary to move us in the right direction for the longer-term and also better understand, through modelling and other studies, the implications of net-zero scenarios before making a net-zero pledge.
  • It would also be in India’s interest to link any future pledge to the achievement of near-term action by industrialised countries.
  • That would be fair and consistent with the principles of the UNFCCC and also enhance the feasibility of our own actions through, for example, increasing availability and reducing costs of new mitigation technologies.

There appears to be no turning back on the path of decarbonized economic growth for India. The recent Union budget has made this sufficiently clear. The scale of the challenge is also balanced by an opportunity. It’s the execution that will now determine the pace at which we proceed along that path.

Value addition

India on path to achieve carbon neutrality

  • Exceeding the NDC commitment: India is on track (as reports/documents show) to meet and exceed the NDC commitment to achieve 40% electric power installed capacity from non-fossil fuel-based sources by 2030.
  • Reduction in emission intensity of GDP: Against the voluntary declaration for reducing the emission intensity of GDP by 20%-25% by 2020, India has reduced it by 24% between 2005-2016.
  • More importantly, we achieved these targets with around 2% out of the S.$100 billion committed to developing nations in Copenhagen (2009), realised by 2015.
  • Renewable energy expansion: India is implementing one of the most extensive renewable energy expansion programmes to achieve 175 GW of renewable energy capacity by 2022 and 450 GW by 2030.
  • Investment in green measures: As part of the fiscal stimulus after the pandemic, the Government announced several green measures, including:
  • $26.5-billion investment in biogas and cleaner fuels,
  • $3.5 billion in incentives for producing efficient solar photovoltaic (PV)
  • and advanced chemistry cell battery, and $780 million towards an afforestation programme.
  • India’s contribution to global emissions is well below its equitable share of the worldwide carbon budget by any equity criterion.

 

10. India is very frequently prone Landslides, yet the steps towards mitigation and prevention have not yielded desired results. Critically analyse. (150 words, 10 marks)

Introduction

landslide is defined as the movement of a mass of rock, debris, or earth down a slope. Landslides are a type of “mass wasting,” which denotes any down-slope movement of soil and rock under the direct influence of gravity.

Floods and landslides have killed three persons and affected more than 56,000 people across eight districts of Assam since May 14.

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Measures undertaken to control landslides

  • National Landslide Risk Management Strategy which addresses all the components of landslide disaster risk reduction and management was released in 2019.
  • The Geological Survey of India (GSI) has done a national landslide susceptibility mappingfor 85% of the entire 4,20,000 square km landslide-prone area in the country. The areas have been divided into different zones according to the propensity of the disaster.
  • Improvement in early warning systems, monitoring and susceptibility zoning can reduce the damage caused by landslides.
  • National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) Guidelines on Landslide Hazard Management (2009)
    • Delineating areas susceptible to landslide hazards
    • Encouraging implementation of successful landslide remediation and mitigation technologies.
    • Developing institutional capacity and training for geoscientists, engineers, and planners is necessary for the effective management of the landslide hazard.
  • National Institute of Disaster Management (NIDM), a premier institute that provides Capacity Building support to various National and State level agencies in the field of Disaster Management & Disaster Risk Reduction has been set up.

Reasons why impact of landslides are still high despite the above measures

  • Lack of correct data and poor data collection strategies.
  • The CAG reported the lack of communication systems which aggravated the problems. For instance, during the Uttarakhand landslides
  • The issue of coordination and administration at different levels is still lingering.
  • Poor predictability: The appropriate interpretation of the meteorological forecast is still lacking.
  • Lack of awareness among the people.
  • faulty evacuation strategies in landslide-prone areas
  • Limited resources & Financial constraints
  • use of obsolete technology for landslide management.
  • The inappropriate hill area development including unscientific construction of roads, tunnels, hydroelectric projects do a lot of damage to the natural balance of the structures.
  • Illegal encroachment of the rivers is still not contained through appropriate actions.
  • Weak environmental impact assessment regime is in part responsible for increases problems.
  • There is a lack of scientific analysis of landslide events and inventory of data analysis which makes mistakes recurring.

Way forward

  • Structural measures:
    • Stopping Jhum cultivation.
    • Store Excess water in catchments areas to reduce the fury of flash floods, recharge the ground water and improve the environment. Dig runoff collection ponds in the catchments.
    • Grow fuel / fodder trees in all of the common lands.
    • Plantation in barren areas, especially on slopes, with grass cover is an important component of integrated watershed management programme.
    • Grazing should be restricted. The grasses of industrial importance should also be planted so that there is some economic return to the farmers as well.
    • Use the surface vegetative cover to protect the land from raindrop’s beating action, bind the soil particles and decrease the velocity of flowing water.
    • Construction of engineering structures like buttress beams, retaining walls, geogids, nailings, anchors to stabilise the slopes.
  • Non-structural measures:
    • Environmental Impact Assessment of the infrastructure projects before commencing the work.
    • Declaration of eco-sensitive zones where mining and other industrial activities are banned. Eco-tourism should be promoted.
    • Hazard mapping of the region to identify the most vulnerable zones and take measures to safeguard it.
    • Local Disaster Management force for quick relief and safety of the people affected by landslides.
    • Teaching people about landslides & ways to mitigate.
    • Constructing a permanent assessment team comprising scientists & geologists for better mitigation and adaptation techniques.
    • Involving the local people for sustainable development of Himalayas

Conclusion

Himalayas are of vital importance to India in terms of climate, monsoon, water source and a natural barrier safeguarding the peninsula. The National Mission for Sustaining the Himalayan Ecosystem under NAPCC is a step ahead to address a variety of issues Himalayas is facing today.

 

Answer the following questions in 250 words:


General Studies – 1


 

11. The open yet restricted rivalry that developed after World War II between the United States and the Soviet Union and their respective allies, was waged on political, economic, and propaganda fronts and had only limited recourse to weapons. Analyse. (250 words, 15 marks)

Introduction

The Cold War was a period of geopolitical tension between the United States and the Soviet Union and their respective allies, the Western Bloc and the Eastern Bloc, which began following World War II. The Cold War never escalated to the point of direct confrontation between the US and the USSR aside from the nuclear arms race. Thus, the struggle for world dominance was primarily waged through propaganda campaigns, espionage, proxy wars, athletic rivalry at the Olympics, and the Space Race. The Cold War ended in 1991, after the collapse and dissolution of the Soviet Union.

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Various arenas where Cold War was played out

  • Two blocs: The political and economic systems of the capitalist USA and communist USSR were ideologically incompatible. Both sides wanted to affirm their model and force countries around the world to conform to their ideologies.
    • Western bloc included western Europe while USSR had under its fold the eastern Europe.
  • Berlin blockade: The Western powers envisioned a booming capitalist Germany that contributed to world trade
    • While, Stalin, on the other hand, wanted to destroy the German economy and ensure that Germany could never become powerful again.
    • This eventually took turn to Berlin Blockade, where Stalin to block all road and rail access to the western part of Berlin from June 24, 1948
  • Alliances: The western alliance was formalised into an organisation, the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO), which came into existence in April 1949.
    • It was an association of twelve states which declared that armed attack on any one of them in Europe or North America would be regarded as an attack on all of them.
    • Each of these states would be obliged to help the other.
    • While, the eastern alliance, known as the Warsaw Pact, was led by the Soviet Union.
    • It was created in 1955 and its principal function was to counter NATO’s forces in Europe.

Weaponised aspects of the cold war

  • Korean War and Propaganda: In 1950, Korea was divided into two zones: the communist north, and the capitalist democratic south. In a bid to contain the spread of communism to South Korea, the US sent troops to the country. The Chinese responded by sending their own troops to the border.
    • This war however ended in a stalemate, while till present both North & South Korea are still at war.
  • Vietnam War: The Vietnam War was an extremely long and costly conflict that pitted North Vietnam against South Vietnam and the United States in the 1960s.
    • The Soviet Union sent money and supplied weapons to the communist forces. By 1975, the US was forced to withdraw, and the North seized control of the South.
  • Afghanistan War: In the 1980s, just as the United States had done in Vietnam, the Soviet Union intervened in Afghanistan
    • In response, the US supported the Mujahideen (Afghani guerrillas) against the USSR, by sending them money and weapons
    • The USSR was unsuccessful in its efforts to turn the country into a communist state during the Afghan War, and the Taliban, a US-funded Islamic extremist group, eventually claimed power in the region.
  • Space Race: The space race was a series of technological advancements that were exhibits of superiority in spaceflight, each nation trying to outdo the other.
    • The origins of the space race lie in the nuclear arms race between the two nations after the Second World War when ballistic missiles were being developed
    • On 4 October 1957, the Soviets launched Sputnik, the world’s first satellite, into orbit. On 20 July 1969, the US successfully landed on the moon, thanks to the Apollo 11 space mission.
  • Nuclear arms race: The Americans believed that the Soviets had caught up technologically, which led to a nuclear arms race.
    • The two superpowers tried amassed nuclear weapons, both sides fearing they might fall behind in research and production.
    • Over 55,000 nuclear warheads were produced during the Cold War, with the US spending an estimated $5.8 trillion on nuclear weapons, laboratories, reactors, bombers, submarines, missiles, and silos
    • Nuclear warfare eventually became a deterrent rather than a weapon
  • Cuban missile crisis: In 1962, the Soviet Union began to secretly install missiles in communist Cuba, in easy striking distance of the US
    • The confrontation that followed became known as the Cuban missile crisis. The US and USSR were on the brink of nuclear war.
    • Eventually, an agreement was arrived at, which showed that the two countries were extremely wary of using nuclear missiles against each other, both fearing mutual annihilation.

Conclusion

The Cold War began to break down properly in the late 1980s, during Mikhail Gorbachev’s administration. In 1989, the Berlin Wall, the symbol of the Iron Curtain, was torn down by Germans on both sides as they sought to unify Germany. At the same time, waves of anti-communist feeling spread throughout the Eastern Bloc.The end of the Cold War was finally marked by the dissolution of the Soviet Union into fifteen newly independent nations in 1991. The USSR became the Russian Federation and no longer had a communist leader.

 

12. Analyse the role of public health engineering in ensuring clean water and sanitation as well as addressing the growing demands for water consumption and preservation in India. (250 words, 15 marks)

Introduction

Public health/environmental engineering science is the application of science and engineering principles that provide a better environment, to give healthy water, air and land for human habitation and other living things, and to rehabilitate polluted areas. In addition, it focuses on finding appropriate solutions in the field of public health, such as arthropod-related diseases, and in enforcing laws that promote adequate sanitation in urban, rural, and recreational areas. It can play an important and significant role in solving environmental health issues.

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Importance of Public health engineering

  • It guides us on how our developmental and daily activities affect the environment and how we are affected by changes in environmental conditions.
  • It guides us to create a pollution free environment (which includes clean air, water, land and food) by adopting various methods of prevention and control of pollution.
  • It guides our natural resources such as water, forests, minerals and fossil fuels to be utilized in an efficient way, with maximum utility and minimum waste by adopting conservation and recycling strategies.
  • Adopts the above three characteristics, namely, knowing one’s environmental impact, prevention and control of pollution, and efficiently utilizing resources efficiently in daily activities to lead the general public in an environmentally friendly way.
  • It allows industries to operate in an environmentally friendly mode by adopting clean and efficient technology and installing pollution control systems.

Role of Public health engineering in India

  • In India, public health engineering is executed by the Public Works Department or by health officials.
  • Public health engineering’s combination of engineering and public health skills can also enable contextualised decision-making regarding water management in India.
  • For example, wastewater management systems, especially decentralised and onsite systems, have to be designed based on hydro-geological data and observations of climate patterns.
  • Given the population growth, diminishing resources and risky exploitation of natural resources, various State governments and not-for-profit organisations are looking to hire environmental engineers through whom public health problems can be addressed.
  • India aims to supply 55 litres of water per person per day by 2024 under its Jal Jeevan Mission to install functional household tap connections.
  • In this regard, expansion of the pipeline network, identification of sustainable sources of water which have water available year-round, installation of online systems for monitoring the quantity and quality of supply, and collection and treatment of wastewater become increasingly important.
  • The goal of reaching every rural household with functional tap water can be achieved in a sustainable and resilient manner only if the cadre of public health engineers is expanded and strengthened.

Conclusion

Thus, there is need for developing teaching and training of public health engineering or environmental engineering as an interdisciplinary subject. Public health institutes can play an important and significant role in this regard by engaging themselves in initiating specialized programs in this domain.

 

13. Explain the phenomenon of deglobalisation that is being witnesses across the world. What are the causes for it? Are there any positives for the Indian society in deglobalisation? (250 words, 15 marks)

Introduction

The term de-globalisation is used by economic and market commentators to highlight the trend of several countries wanting to go back to economic and trade policies that put their national interests first. These policies often take the form of tariffs or quantitative barriers that impede free movement of people, products and services among countries. The idea behind all this protectionism is to shield local manufacturing by making imports costlier.

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Background

  • The COVID-19 pandemic is driving the world economy to retreat from global economic integration.
  • Policymakers and business leaders are now questioning whether global supply chains have been stretched too far.
  • In an environment where alliances are uncertain and international cooperation is absent, they are also asking whether they should reduce their economic interdependence.
  • National security and public health concerns are providing new rationales for protectionism, especially for medical gear and food, and an emphasis on domestic sourcing.

Factors contributing to deglobalisation

  • Right wing politics in West: A surge in populist politics in Europe and the US has ridden a wave of opposition to globalized economies and international institutions such as the World Trade Organization (WTO) and NATO.
  • Brexit: Leaving the European Union (EU) is written into the constitutions of populist parties in countries such as Poland and Hungary.
  • Delegitimization of International Organizations: The United Nations (UN) is widely viewed as weak and deadlocked, and populist movements tend to ridicule the notion of belonging to an international community of nations.
    • International organizations have seen their reputations suffer, either condemned as too powerful or too weak.
    • The World Health Organization (WHO) struggled to drive an efficient response to the COVID19 pandemic, in large part due to uncooperative governments.
  • Lockdown of national borders: The COVID-19 pandemic illustrates the danger of relying on global supply chains for essential medical supplies, while climate change demands reductions in the enormous carbon footprint of international trade.
    • India came up with self-sufficient ‘Atmanirbharta’ concept and so did many other nations.
    • Nations like Japan and India have joined hands to from SCRI – Supply Chain Resilience Initiative.

Positives of deglobalisation

  • Increased manufacturing: Atmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyaan will provide impetus for indigenous manufacturing and becoming self-reliant in products, so that dependency mainly on China is reduced.
  • Reduce income inequality: Deglobalization is successful if the goal is to reduce income inequality (the Gini coefficient falls by .005) and to increase the share of manufacturing in the Indian economy.
    • It also means that more jobs will be available for youth who are entering the work force.
  • India’s share in global trade: India, while protecting its national interests, has an opportunity to redefine the contours of global trade. Companies whose factories and units are in China, can be attracted towards India, which also offers alternative supply chain.
  • Trade agreement with UK and EU: With Brexit, India can renew its attempt to arrive at a free trade agreement with UK and reign in the trade opportunities. Similarly, India and EU have been negotiating a trade agreement that will propel the trade.
    • India, with its much-hyped demographic dividend, offers unparalleled markets to EU investors and an enabling FTA can accrue wide ranging economic gains to all stakeholders.
  • Pharmacy of the world: India stands to gain by becoming generic drug manufacturer, as well as vaccines and become net distributors of the same. India must focus on manufacturing API’s by reducing dependency on China and increase its production.

Negative Impact of deglobalisation on Indian society

  • Impact on food security: Indonesia, the world’s top producer of palm oil which was indicted for driving destruction of its tropical forests, has now sent shock waves as it has banned exports of this cooking oil.
    • Ukraine is a supplier of wheat and the war has led to severe shortage in the globe. Same is the case with sunflower oil.
    • This impacts the food security in India.
  • High energy costs: It is fuelled partly because of the sanctions on Russian oil and gas that are driving the world to leapfrog to wind and solar.
    • But it is a fact that much of the rare earth minerals that will be needed to power this new energy future from petro to electro are controlled by the same countries that are in the non-democracy camp, from China to Russia.
    • India’s antagonism with China makes it harder for India in obtaining Lithium to achieve its FAME targets.
  • Reduced income: While a retreat into protectionism may improve income equality in some countries, it will reduce incomes of both the poor and the rich and poverty headcounts will be increased.
  • Political instability will rise in a majority of countries and the probability of interstate war will increase.
    • These results suggest that it would be far better to deal with the negative aspects of globalization directly by improving trade adjustment assistance, providing more secure access to health care, and negotiating new international agreements that benefit all countries
  • Migration: De-globalisation with respect to the mobility of services and people can impact both the export of services, and the trend of Indians migrating abroad for higher education and jobs.
  • Climate change cooperation impacted: We are closing borders; shutting doors of global trade and, worse, dividing and polarising the world into camps of good versus evil. This, please remember, is happening at a time when climate change needs us to come together to cooperate and act globally.

 

Conclusion

Globalisation is likely to have peaked amid the rise of populism and protectionism as well as social and environmental challenges. The shifting trend from globalisation to regionalisation/localisation is creating opportunities in regional/local markets including mid- and small-caps. At the same time, deglobalisation also entails more political/geopolitical uncertainty, which could lead to market volatility.

In a world where global trade and commerce is inevitable, protectionist policies of a few nations will only cause severe inequality. A middle ground is the need of the hour and a gated globalization could be the preferred option, with India paving the path for other nations to follow, in the decades to come.

 


General Studies – 2


 

14. When we build back from the devastating impact of the pandemic, resilient health systems must be the bedrock of emergency preparedness and health infrastructure. Elaborate. (250 words, 15 marks)

Introduction

The world is at a crossroads. Almost two years since Sars-CoV-2 was detected, some countries globally are returning to normal, including India. Many more countries, including several in the World Health Organization’s South-East Asia Region, continue to respond to the pandemic aggressively, battling new and more transmissible variants.

The devastating effect of covid-19, especially during second wave, is a grim reminder of the poor health infrastructure in the country.

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Various lacunas present in healthcare system of India

  • Doctor shortage: There is a massive shortage of medical staff, infrastructure and last mile connectivity in rural areas. g.: Doctor : Population 1:1800 and 78% doctors cater to urban India (population of 30%).
    • Data from the National Health Profile-2019, the total number of hospital beds in the country was 7,13,986 which translates to 0.55 beds per 1000 population.
  • Out of pocket expenditure high: Even the poor are forced to opt for private healthcare, and, hence, pay from their own pockets. As a result, an estimated 63 million people fall into poverty due to health expenditure, annually.
  • Absence of primary care: In the northern States there are hardly any sub-centres and primary health centres are practically non-existent. First mile connectivity to a primary healthcare centre is broken. For e.g., in Uttar Pradesh there is one PHC for every 28 villages.
  • Dependency on import: Compounding the problem of poor health infrastructure and low spending, especially in the current COVID-19 environment that has caused significant disruptions to the global supply chains, is India’s dependence on medical devices imports.
  • As per IMA data, India’s medical devices imports were around Rs 39,000 crore in FY2019, having seen a growth of 24 per cent from the previous year.
  • Oxygen cylinders shortage: In October 2020, the government placed an order for 162 oxygen production units of which 33 were operational during April-May 2021. During second wave, there was a shortage of cylinders and containers to transport it.
  • Vaccine shortage: The vaccine roll-out had raised hopes. However, 3 months into the vaccination drive it became clear that India lacked the capacity to produce adequate vaccine to ensure coverage to 60% of its population. India saw one of the most devastating second wave of covid.
  • Drug shortage and black marketing of remdesivir and tocilizumab, which are recommended drugs in mild to severe cases of covid-19 were common cries for help.
  • Lack of ventilators: In large cities such as Mumbai, Delhi, Bangalore, people struggled to get ICU beds with ventilators. There was chaos in allocation of beds and the most vulnerable patients were unable to get treated which goes against the Right to Live under Article 21.
  • Rural medical practitioners (RMPs), who provide 80% of outpatient care, have no formal qualifications for it. People fall prey for quacks, often leading to grave disabilities and loss of life.

Measures needed to build a robust healthcare system

  • Prioritize primary health care: The current approach requires re-emphasizing the missing priority on PHCs and CHCs for developing comprehensive primary care.
    • Achieving comprehensive primary care requires a paradigm shift from disease-control vertical programmes to community-led, people-oriented primary care.
  • Low cost healthcare: It is relevant to develop low-cost primary care service delivery models involving nurses and allied health professionals which can lower the burden on the public health system marked by the stress of a low doctor-strength.
  • Task force and collaboration : The triple helix model of innovation,e., bringing together the government, academia and industry, now more than ever. To this end, the Government of India has established a ‘COVID-19 Taskforce’ with the objective of mapping together various technological advancements related to COVID-19 in public R&D labs, academia, start-ups, and industries.
    • The task force has already identified over 500 entities in the fields of medicines, ventilators, protective gear, among others.
    • India has seen the benefits of such collaborations in the past – in 2014, the Rotavac vaccine was developed under the leadership of Dr M K Bhan, as part of an international consortium that included India’s Department of Biotechnology and other partners from academia and industry.
  • India lacks the required number of public health professionals. The shortage is severe in many parts of the country, especially poorer states like Odisha, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan.
    • The focus should be to train a pool of social workers, psychiatrists, counsellors with public health orientation who could then transform the primary healthcare delivery system in the country.
    • Ayush doctors can prescribe Allopathy medicines after a bridge course.
  • Along with Ayushmaan Bharat (PMJAY), focus must be laid on strengthening the primary health centres with basic diagnostics and services, with district hospitals equipped with multi-specialty capabilities and services to people. Especially for the poor who cannot afford quality health care in private hospitals.
  • Better integration of health emergency and disaster risk management strategies, as well as public health emergency preparedness and response capacities, with PHC services.
  • Leveraging the potential of traditional systems of medicine, as well as key innovations in digital and disruptive health technology.

Conclusion

Especially in times of Pandemics like Covid-19, the significance and loopholes of Indian public health sector are led bare. It gives an opportunity to reform and rehaul the healthcare sector to be better equipped for future emergencies. It calls for a people-centred, decentralized public health system that socializes the cost of healthcare.

This is a once-in-a-century opportunity to strengthen and transform health systems, accelerating a health and economic recovery that is more equitable, resilient and sustainable for all.

 

15. While some believe that judicial activism is necessary for the protection of public interest, others are of the opinion that as a judicial function, courts are required to interpret law and not make them. Examine. (250 words, 15 marks)

Introduction

The Constitution, under various provisions, has clearly drawn the line between Legislature and the Judiciary to maintain their independence in their respective functioning. Article 121 and 211 forbid the legislature from discussing the conduct of any judge in the discharge of his duties, while Articles 122 and 212, on the other hand, prevent the courts from sitting in judgment over the internal proceedings of the legislature. In recent times, there have been criticism levelled against judicial activism, calling it adventurism and overreach.

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Judicial activism needed in legislative vacuum

  • Upholds Constitutional morality: An important case which employed this concept in an innovative manner was the Naz Foundation Case which used the concept of constitutional morality to strike down Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code and decriminalize homosexuality.
    • The Delhi High Court had said that “In our scheme of things, constitutional morality must outweigh the argument of public morality, even if it be the majoritarian view.”
  • Executive lacks Political gumption: Justice Chandrachud’s view in the Sabarimala judgement, he held that women should be allowed entry in the Sabarimala temple against popularly held religious beliefs.
    • Political parties and governments did not take a stand or repeal discriminatory laws in fear of losing support base of masses.
  • To protect fundamental rights: Triple Talaq in 2017 was banned as being ultra vires to fundamental rights of Muslim women. This legislation would not have been accepted if it had come from the executive or through the Parliament.
    • Right to privacy also became Fundamental right under Article 21
  • Most trusted institution: A People’s Survey of India report noted that Indians had 80% trust in the Supreme court. Though not an elected body, the apex court is significant to uphold rule of law.
    • Eg: Whistle Blowers Act against corrupt officials and politicians was given under Article 142, until Parliament made a law on the subject.

Demerits of Judicial activism

  • Unelected body: Judiciary being the unelected body, does not enjoy the “General Will” of the people. Judicial restraint is more apt for such an institution rather than dictation a legislation. Eg: Ban on liquor sale on highways led to backlash as well as spurious means to overcome the dictum
  • Lack of expertise: Judiciary lacks both time and resources to enact legislation. Sometimes practical difficulties of such enactments are not known to the courts.
    • Eg: Ban on BS-IV vehicles from April 2020 which had to be extended many times.
  • Against Constitution’s Mandate: Judicial Review is a basic structure of the Constitution; however enacting legislation is not. Courts can look into the validity of the law, but not necessarily make a law.
  • Unaccountable: Politicians remain “accountable” to the people in at least some sense, because they depend upon them in order to continue in office after five years.
    • Judges who are insulated from any external control are accountable only to themselves
  • Judicial adventurism: Subhash Kashinath Mahajan v. State of Maharashtra (2018): the court amended the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989, by annulling Section 18 which said that no anticipatory bail will be granted to persons accused under the Act.
    • There was widespread protest and opposition to this from all quarters. Finally, the law brought in to undo this was also upheld in the court.

Conclusion

Each organ of our democracy must function within its own sphere and must not take over what is assigned to the others. Judicial activism must also function within the limits of the judicial process because the courts are the only forum for those wronged by administrative excesses and executive arbitrariness. Hence legislation enacted by Judiciary must be in the rare cases as mentioned above

 

16. Unresolved issues, unstable economic relations and varying domestic politics are affecting the relationships of various south Asian countries with India. Analyse. What steps are needed so that there can be a collective response to these challenges? (250 words, 15 marks)

Introduction

“Neighbourhood First” has been a cardinal component of India’s foreign policy. Unless India manages its periphery well in the subcontinent, its pursuit of a more significant role in the Asian region and the world will remain suboptimal.

Recurrent political or economic crises in neighbouring countries draw India back into the subcontinent and constrain its ability to deal with larger regional and global issues. Moreover, adversaries like China seek to keep India tethered in the subcontinent.

 

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Unresolved issues in  South Asia

  • Bangladesh: The domestic political rhetoric in India about illegal Bangladeshi migrants and their alleged involvement in communal riots has had a negative resonance in the country and cast a shadow on our relations.
    • It is essential to ensure that the compulsions of domestic politics do not affect India’s      foreign policy adversely.
  • Pakistan: With Pakistan too, India has historical adversity dating back to Independence and Partition and also the four wars that the former lost.
    • Even more critical to the restoration of normalcy in bilateral ties is terrorism.
    • Fuelling separatist tendencies in Kashmir and state sponsored terror attacks (Pulwama, Uri) have led to nonstarter of diplomatic relations.
  • Nepal: In the Indo-Nepal ties, the Kalapani boundary dispute is a major issue.
    • In 2019, Nepal released a new political map claiming Kalapani, Limpiyadhura and Lipulekh of Uttarakhand and the area of Susta (West Champaran district, Bihar) as part of Nepal’s territory.
  • Sri Lanka: Killing of Indian fishermen by the Sri Lankan Navy is a lingering issue between these two nations.
    • In 2019 and 2020, a total of 284 Indian fishermen were arrested and a total of 53 Indian boats were confiscated by the Sri Lankan authorities.

The recent political instability in Pakistan, the economic crisis in Sri Lanka, the ’India Out’ campaign in Maldives and China’s growing footprint in Nepal are other major challenges for India.

Varying domestic politics in the neighbourhood

  • After weeks of protests, Sri Lankan Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa stepped down this month, but that is not the only big political non-electoral change in the neighbourhood in 2021-22.
  • A month ago, no confidence motion was passed against Imran Khan’s government in Pakistan and a new government was formed uprooting the former.
  • In Myanmar, military coup overthrew the democratic government.
  • Afghanistan’s Taliban takeover will mark one year this August 2023.

India’s response to shift in geo-politics

  • A Revised Foreign & Security Policy: Being the largest and most powerful country in the subcontinent, India’s security perimeter goes beyond its national borders, a strong Indian foreign and security policy must ascertain that its neighbourhood remains peaceful, stable, and benign, and no hostile presence can entrench itself anywhere in the subcontinent and threaten India’s security.
    • The challenge for Indian foreign policy lies in creating effective and enduring incentives for our neighbours to remain sensitive to India’s security interests and use India’s more powerful economy to become an engine of growth for them.
    • India shall emerge for its neighbours as a net security provider for the region.
  • Lesser Interventions: To deal with the increasing engagement of the smaller neighbours with external partners India should not clearly articulate red lines with each country as it would openly invite charges of disrespect of the sovereignty of neighbours.
    • A better way would be to intervene less in the internal political affairs of its neighbours and subtly make it known that what India will never accept is the physical presence of a hostile foreign power in a manner that would adversely impact its security especially in a case of open borders.
  • Taking Advantage of Political Shifts: There are significant shifts taking place in the neighbourhood. There is a leadership change in Pakistan, which offers the prospect of reviving the India-Pakistan engagement.
    • The objectives should be modest, these include the resumption of bilateral dialogue in a format similar to the earlier comprehensive dialogue template.
    • It is in India’s interest to promote regional economic integration, and SAARC is the one important available platform for that purpose.
    • BIMSTEC should not be looked upon as an alternative to SAARC but should pursue it on its own merits.
  • Cross-Border Connectivity: To bring into use its proximity with the other countries, India requires efficient cross-border connectivity both in terms of infrastructure and procedures to allow the smooth and seamless transit of goods and peoples.
  • Opening More to Trade: The economic and technological power of India is a vast and expanding market.
    • Even if this market were opened up fully to whatever our neighbours can produce and sell, this would constitute only a small fraction of India’s market but would mean a great deal for them.
  • Transportation: Given its much more developed land and maritime transport system, India should develop its role as the partner of choice for trade and transportation.

Conclusion

India’s immediate neighbourhood directly impacts it geopolitically, geo-strategically and geo-economically because of its vicinity. Thus, working with them is important for India to rise as a superpower. Emphasis must be on sustainable and inclusive development. India’s neighbourhood first policy, SAGAR initiative etc. are critical for this.

 


General Studies – 3


 

17. Balancing between food security and ensuring better returns to farmers through exports is a delicate act. Do you think that the recent ban on export of wheat by the government is a right decision? Analyse. (250 words, 15 marks)

Introduction

The Government has banned wheat exports with effect from May 13, with some minor exceptions for those who have irrevocable letters of credit or where the governments of importing countries request the Indian government for food security purpose. The rationale was that wheat stocks were depleting as well as high food inflation. The move is said to help the poor man battle food inflation.

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Reasons for ban on wheat exports from India

  • Government stock depletion: The anticipated production levels were not fulfilled and the fear of low wheat stocks due to less procurement paved way for this decision.
  • Crop damage due to heat wave: The fall has been caused due to low wheat production after high temperatures in March resulted in the shrivelling of wheat grains, thus impacting the quantity of the crop.
  • Keeping domestic prices in check: India’s ban on wheat exports is not a crisis-driven reaction but top keep food inflation in check as wheat prices were soaring and poor people were affected badly.
    • The move to ban the export of wheat was prompted by rising inflation, (WPI) in India has moved up from26 per cent at the start of 2022 to 14.55 now.
    • Retail inflation, too, hit an eight-year high of 7.79 per cent in April, driven by rising food and fuel prices.
  • Food security of neighbours: This move is being done to manage overall food security of the country and to need the support of the neighbouring and vulnerable nations.

Implications of the ban

  • Farmers exports hindered: India’s sudden decision to ban wheat exports with immediate effect citing food security may prove costly for its farmers. Many of them have held back their crop in the hopes of getting higher prices in the coming weeks.
    • There was an expectation of a MEP (minimum export price below which shipments cannot happen) or a tariff and not a complete ban on private export. This may hurt farmers who have stocked their wheat crop and were hoping to reap gains from higher prices.
  • Falling prices and farmer income impacted: The impact of this decision is already being seen in wheat mandis (wholesale markets), which have seen a fall of Rs 50-100 per quintal on average since the morning of May 14, 2022.
    • Not all wheat gets procured from the government at MSP and hence most farmers who sell in open market are affected badly.
    • Farmers may now be forced to sell to government procurement agencies at MSP, much below than what they were getting currently.
  • Lost opportunity to capture global market: India had earlier hoped to export 10 million tonnes of wheat and capture the global market made available after the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
    • It had forecast a record output of 111 million tonnes.
    • The sudden decision comes on the heels of an expected sharp fall in government wheat stocks.

Conclusion

With domestic cereal price inflation still on the rise, the current export ban could also be long lasting, if global food prices remain elevated. Earlier, India had banned wheat exports in February 2007 and maintained a status quo for over four years before lifting it in September 2011, due to record output and to free up storage space.

If India’s wheat ban leads to higher price of substitutes like rice, then there could be upward pressure on other food prices. India must not continue the ban for long time and must focus on improving food security and inflation through other monetary policy measures.

 

 

18. Niche banking will lead to Indian financial sector getting some niche and specialised players of global and Indian origin and create a focus on specific areas, which will help industries as well as the banking sector become more competitive and innovative. Elaborate. (250 words, 15 marks)

Introduction

Niche banks are banks that have a specific purpose, focused on a particular subset of the population.  A niche bank’s entire operations, marketing, and product mix are all developed to cater to the target market’s preferences. Small Finance Banks and Payments Bank are Niche Banks whose concept first came in the year 2007

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Niche banks

What exactly constitutes a “niche” is not set in stone. There are a number of Verticals a bank could focus on, for example:

  • Specific Demographics:A bank could target specific portions of the populace, like pensioners or young adults
  • Specific Industry: A bank could have chosen its product mix to meet the needs of specific industries, such as offering loans and payments with the specific purpose of buying real estate or offering services for workers in the gig economy
  • Specific Community: A bank could build up their products to address specific communities or be entirely based in that community, for example, local banks servicing unbanked and underbanked people

Evaluation of Niche banks

  • The issuance of licences to Payments Banks and Small Finance Banks (SFBs) has helped achieve last-mile connectivity in the financial inclusion drive  by lending more to micro, small and medium enterprises.
  • For instance, SFBs had mobilised deposits of ₹82,488 crore and extended credit of ₹90,576 crore to small and marginal farmers, and MSMEs (micro small & medium enterprises) by the end of FY 2019-20.
  • Niche banks have managed to stick to their stated objective of improving financial inclusion by lending more to micro, small and medium enterprises.
  • SFBs have also seen a rapid rise in their deposit base. Since microfinance institutions were largely the entities which converted to small finance banks, their focus has been to get access to cheaper funding by raising deposits.
  • There has been rise in the number of Payment Banks and small finance bank branches.

Challenges faced by Niche banks

  • Niche banks have to compete with existing public sector banks and RRBs.
  • Micro Finance Institution (MFI)/NBFC are specialised in micro lending operations with limited exposure to banking operations; that means they have to hire, train talent from the banking industry.
  • The cost of deposit mobilisation will be higher for niche banks as they cover rural and underserved segment.
  • Niche banks especially payment banks are required to invest minimum 75 per cent of its “demand deposit balances” into government securities. This limits their ability to earn from the deposit base as well.
  • Experience from Jan Dhan Yojana has shown that many such no-frill accounts have remained dormant, thus affecting the viability of the banks.
  • Medium of operation for these banks is the internet. India is struggling with very low internet speeds, which hinders the growth of these banks.

Way forward

  • There is a need for niche banking to cater to the specific and varied requirements of different customers and borrowers.
  • The perception and trust of people in new systems is of utmost importance. There will be a need for creation of awareness through proper communication strategy and depositor education.
  • Essentially, these specialised banks would ease the access to finance in areas such as RAM (retail, agriculture, MSMEs), infrastructure financing, wholesale banking (mid and large corporates) and investment banking (merchant banking and financial advisory services).
  • The niche banking reforms should focus on the need for higher individual deposit insurance and effective orderly resolution regimes to mitigate moral hazard and systemic risks with least cost to the public exchequer.
  • While promoting niche banks, the government should tighten the loose ends by allowing them to build diversified loan portfolios and have cross-holdings to mitigate concentration/market risks
  • Further, Government should establish sector-wise regulatorsbestowing more powers to deal effectively with wilful defaulters, and paving the way for the corporate bond market (shift from bank-led economy) to create a responsive banking system in a dynamic real economy.
  • Risk management can be more specific and the neo-banks can leverage the technology to further (digital) financial inclusion and finance higher growth of aspirational new India.

 

19. Evaluate the various measures initiated towards tiger conservation and protection in India which has resulted in steady increase in population of tigers. What are the key learnings from these measures towards conservation efforts of other species? (250 words, 15 marks)

Introduction

Any hydrocarbon fuel that is produced from an organic matter (living or once living material) in a short period of time (days, weeks, or even months) is considered a biofuel. Globally, biofuels have caught the attention in last decade and it is imperative to keep up with the pace of developments in the field of biofuels. Biofuels in India are of strategic importance as it augers well with the ongoing initiatives of the Government and offers great opportunity to integrate with the ambitious targets of doubling of Farmers Income, Import Reduction, Employment Generation, Waste to Wealth Creation.

Biofuels programme in India has been largely impacted due to the sustained and quantum non-availability of domestic feedstock for biofuel production which needs to be addressed.

 

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National biofuel policy: Objectives

  • The Policy categorises biofuels as “Basic Biofuels” viz. First Generation (1G) bioethanol & biodiesel and “Advanced Biofuels” – Second Generation (2G) ethanol, Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) to drop-in fuels, Third Generation (3G) biofuels, bio-CNG etc. to enable extension of appropriate financial and fiscal incentives under each category.
  • The Policy expands the scope of raw material for ethanol production by allowing use of Sugarcane Juice, Sugar containing materials like Sugar Beet, Sweet Sorghum, Starch containing materials like Corn, Cassava, Damaged food grains like wheat, broken rice, Rotten Potatoes, unfit for human consumption for ethanol production.
  • Farmers are at a risk of not getting appropriate price for their produce during the surplus production phase. Taking this into account, the Policy allows use of surplus food grains for production of ethanol for blending with petrol with the approval of National Biofuel Coordination Committee.
  • With a thrust on Advanced Biofuels, the Policy indicates a viability gap funding scheme for 2G ethanol Bio refineries of Rs.5000 crore in 6 years in addition to additional tax incentives, higher purchase price as compared to 1G biofuels.
  • The Policy encourages setting up of supply chain mechanisms for biodiesel production from non-edible oilseeds, Used Cooking Oil, short gestation crops.

 

Role of biofuel policy in promoting biofuels

 

  • Reduce Import Dependency: One crore lit of E10 saves Rs.28 crore of forex at current rates. The ethanol supply year 2017-18 is likely to see a supply of around 150 crore litres of ethanol which will result in savings of over Rs.4000 crore of forex.
  • Cleaner Environment: One crore lit of E-10 saves around 20,000 ton of CO2 emissions. For the ethanol supply year 2017-18, there will be lesser emissions of CO2 to the tune of 30 lakh ton. By reducing crop burning & conversion of agricultural residues/wastes to biofuels there will be further reduction in Green House Gas emissions.
  • Health benefits: Prolonged reuse of Cooking Oil for preparing food, particularly in deep-frying is a potential health hazard and can lead to many diseases. Used Cooking Oil is a potential feedstock for biodiesel and its use for making biodiesel will prevent diversion of used cooking oil in the food industry.
  • MSW Management: It is estimated that, annually 62 MMT of Municipal Solid Waste gets generated in India. There are technologies available which can convert waste/plastic, MSW to drop in fuels. One ton of such waste has the potential to provide around 20% of drop in fuels.
  • Infrastructural Investment in Rural Areas: It is estimated that, one 100klpd bio refinery will require around Rs.800 crore capital investment. At present Oil Marketing Companies are in the process of setting up twelve 2G bio refineries with an investment of around Rs.10,000 crore. Further addition of 2G bio refineries across the Country will spur infrastructural investment in the rural areas.
  • Employment Generation: One 100klpd 2G bio refinery can contribute 1200 jobs in Plant Operations, Village Level Entrepreneurs and Supply Chain Management.
  • Additional Income to Farmers: By adopting 2G technologies, agricultural residues/waste which otherwise are burnt by the farmers can be converted to ethanol and can fetch a price for these waste if a market is developed for the same. Also, farmers are at a risk of not getting appropriate price for their produce during the surplus production phase. Thus conversion of surplus grains and agricultural biomass can help in price stabilization

 

Conclusion and way forward

  • Promotion of the use of biofuels in transportation in the countries like India will help in reducing the crude import bill.
  • Biofuels can help in rural and agricultural development in the form of new cash crops.
  • Efforts for producing sustainable biofuels should be made by ensuring use of wastelands and municipal wastes that get generated in cities.
  • A properly designed and implemented biofuel solution can provide both food and energy.
  • A community-based biodiesel distribution programme that benefits local economies, from the farmers growing the feedstock to local businesses producing and distributing the fuel to the end consumer, can be tried.

 

Value addition

Issues with biofuels

  • Efficiency: Fossil Fuels produce more energy than some of the biofuels. E.g. 1 gallon of ethanol produces less energy as compared to 1 gallon of gasoline (a fossil fuel).
  • Cost: Pumping fossil fuels from the ground is a difficult and expensive process leading to high costs. Production of biofuels require land, this impacts cost of biofuels as well as that of food crops. Also, though growing engineered biofuel crops can benefit farmers commercially but the excess number of such crops can also lead to loss of biodiversity.
  • Food shortages: There is concern that using valuable cropland to grow fuel crops could have an impact on the cost of food and could possibly lead to food shortages.
  • Water use: Massive quantities of water are required for proper irrigation of biofuel crops as well as to manufacture the fuel, which could strain local and regional water resources.

 

 

20. Adopting biofuels as an alternative source of energy can significantly improve farmers’ income, generate employment opportunities and reduce imports. Examine the role of National Biofuel Policy in promoting biofuels in the nation. (250 words, 15 marks)

Introduction

Any hydrocarbon fuel that is produced from an organic matter (living or once living material) in a short period of time (days, weeks, or even months) is considered a biofuel. Globally, biofuels have caught the attention in last decade and it is imperative to keep up with the pace of developments in the field of biofuels. Biofuels in India are of strategic importance as it augers well with the ongoing initiatives of the Government and offers great opportunity to integrate with the ambitious targets of doubling of Farmers Income, Import Reduction, Employment Generation, Waste to Wealth Creation.

Biofuels programme in India has been largely impacted due to the sustained and quantum non-availability of domestic feedstock for biofuel production which needs to be addressed.

 

Body

National biofuel policy: Objectives

  • The Policy categorises biofuels as “Basic Biofuels” viz. First Generation (1G) bioethanol & biodiesel and “Advanced Biofuels” – Second Generation (2G) ethanol, Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) to drop-in fuels, Third Generation (3G) biofuels, bio-CNG etc. to enable extension of appropriate financial and fiscal incentives under each category.
  • The Policy expands the scope of raw material for ethanol production by allowing use of Sugarcane Juice, Sugar containing materials like Sugar Beet, Sweet Sorghum, Starch containing materials like Corn, Cassava, Damaged food grains like wheat, broken rice, Rotten Potatoes, unfit for human consumption for ethanol production.
  • Farmers are at a risk of not getting appropriate price for their produce during the surplus production phase. Taking this into account, the Policy allows use of surplus food grains for production of ethanol for blending with petrol with the approval of National Biofuel Coordination Committee.
  • With a thrust on Advanced Biofuels, the Policy indicates a viability gap funding scheme for 2G ethanol Bio refineries of Rs.5000 crore in 6 years in addition to additional tax incentives, higher purchase price as compared to 1G biofuels.
  • The Policy encourages setting up of supply chain mechanisms for biodiesel production from non-edible oilseeds, Used Cooking Oil, short gestation crops.

 

Role of biofuel policy in promoting biofuels

 

  • Reduce Import Dependency: One crore lit of E10 saves Rs.28 crore of forex at current rates. The ethanol supply year 2017-18 is likely to see a supply of around 150 crore litres of ethanol which will result in savings of over Rs.4000 crore of forex.
  • Cleaner Environment: One crore lit of E-10 saves around 20,000 ton of CO2 emissions. For the ethanol supply year 2017-18, there will be lesser emissions of CO2 to the tune of 30 lakh ton. By reducing crop burning & conversion of agricultural residues/wastes to biofuels there will be further reduction in Green House Gas emissions.
  • Health benefits: Prolonged reuse of Cooking Oil for preparing food, particularly in deep-frying is a potential health hazard and can lead to many diseases. Used Cooking Oil is a potential feedstock for biodiesel and its use for making biodiesel will prevent diversion of used cooking oil in the food industry.
  • MSW Management: It is estimated that, annually 62 MMT of Municipal Solid Waste gets generated in India. There are technologies available which can convert waste/plastic, MSW to drop in fuels. One ton of such waste has the potential to provide around 20% of drop in fuels.
  • Infrastructural Investment in Rural Areas: It is estimated that, one 100klpd bio refinery will require around Rs.800 crore capital investment. At present Oil Marketing Companies are in the process of setting up twelve 2G bio refineries with an investment of around Rs.10,000 crore. Further addition of 2G bio refineries across the Country will spur infrastructural investment in the rural areas.
  • Employment Generation: One 100klpd 2G bio refinery can contribute 1200 jobs in Plant Operations, Village Level Entrepreneurs and Supply Chain Management.
  • Additional Income to Farmers: By adopting 2G technologies, agricultural residues/waste which otherwise are burnt by the farmers can be converted to ethanol and can fetch a price for these waste if a market is developed for the same. Also, farmers are at a risk of not getting appropriate price for their produce during the surplus production phase. Thus conversion of surplus grains and agricultural biomass can help in price stabilization

 

Conclusion and way forward

  • Promotion of the use of biofuels in transportation in the countries like India will help in reducing the crude import bill.
  • Biofuels can help in rural and agricultural development in the form of new cash crops.
  • Efforts for producing sustainable biofuels should be made by ensuring use of wastelands and municipal wastes that get generated in cities.
  • A properly designed and implemented biofuel solution can provide both food and energy.
  • A community-based biodiesel distribution programme that benefits local economies, from the farmers growing the feedstock to local businesses producing and distributing the fuel to the end consumer, can be tried.

 

Value addition

Issues with biofuels

  • Efficiency: Fossil Fuels produce more energy than some of the biofuels. E.g. 1 gallon of ethanol produces less energy as compared to 1 gallon of gasoline (a fossil fuel).
  • Cost: Pumping fossil fuels from the ground is a difficult and expensive process leading to high costs. Production of biofuels require land, this impacts cost of biofuels as well as that of food crops. Also, though growing engineered biofuel crops can benefit farmers commercially but the excess number of such crops can also lead to loss of biodiversity.
  • Food shortages: There is concern that using valuable cropland to grow fuel crops could have an impact on the cost of food and could possibly lead to food shortages.
  • Water use: Massive quantities of water are required for proper irrigation of biofuel crops as well as to manufacture the fuel, which could strain local and regional water resources.