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[Mission 2022] Insights SECURE SYNOPSIS: 4 June 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 quest improve tourism through better connectivity and improved infrastructure should not affect the integrity and safety of heritage monuments. Examine the role of heritage impact assessment in overcoming the above dichotomy (150 words, 10 marks)

Introduction

India’s cultural heritage and, in particular, its archaeological and built heritage is unparalleled in the world. India has one of the largest geo-political expanses and one of the greatest volume and diversity in heritage. This vast heritage repository of India is recognized globally as significant part of its unique cultural identity

The Supreme Court on Friday dismissed a batch of petitions against excavation and construction work by the Odisha government along the Puri Jagannath temple as part of the Puri Heritage Corridor Project, calling the pleas “frivolous”. The petitioners alleged that the construction work would damage the heritage site.

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Heritage monument and their importance: Threats faced

  • An initial survey indicates the total quantum of India’s built heritage and archaeological remains may roughly amount to a total of 400000 plus heritage structures across the country including the centrally protected monuments, state protected monuments, heritage buildings under various religious trusts, historic cities and archaeological sites.
  • Urban growth and modernisation are inevitable phenomena in the developing and developed countries, in which, cultural heritage properties as sensitive urban components may encounter irreparable losses.
  • In the context of UNESCO World Heritage, the uprising conflict between urban development policies and heritage conservation in recent years has drawn more attention to Heritage Impact Assessment (HIA).
  • Moreover, any construction work without scientific handling around heritage sites may lead to permanent damage to cultural sites. This may even be irreversible and hence may lead to loss of heritage sites.
  • India has a vast history and the sites are a testimony to the history and the richness of our past. Hence protection of monuments is of utmost importance.

Role of heritage impact assessment

  • HIA is an assessment tool to identify and analyse human-induced impacts on cultural heritage properties by the aim of maintaining a balance between cultural heritage protection and urban development needs towards sustainability.
  • Heritage Impact Assessment is a procedure to identify and analyse the potential impacts of human-induced threats on cultural heritage, and therefore, it supports better protection and management of heritage assets.
  • Effects on cultural heritage attributes from development or other changes may be adverse or beneficial. It is necessary to identify all changes on all attributes.
  • Changes arising from developments must also be assessed for their impact on integrity and authenticity. The property should have baseline statements regarding integrity and authenticity at the time of inscription.
  • Direct impacts are those that arise as a primary consequence of the proposed development or change of use. Direct impacts can result in the physical loss of part or all of an attribute, and/or changes to its setting – the surroundings in which a place is experienced, its local context, embracing present and past relationships to the adjacent landscape.
  • Indirect impacts occur as a secondary consequence of construction or operation of the development, and can result in physical loss or changes to the setting of an asset beyond the development footprint. For example, construction of related infrastructure such as roads or powerlines that are required to support the development.
  • Impact assessment is an iterative process. Results of data collection and evaluation should be fed back into the design process for the development, or proposals for change or for archaeological investigation.
  • Conservation is about managing sustainable change. Every reasonable effort should be made to avoid, eliminate or minimise adverse impacts on attributes

Conclusion

Any construction that may affect heritage sites must be preceded by thorough heritage assessment. The Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act (or AMASR Act) is an act of the Parliament of India that provides for the preservation of ancient and historical monuments. This needs to be suitably modified to ensure that heritage impact assessment is conducted in the right manner and heritage sites are conserved scientifically for generations to come.

 

2. The post-Cold War period of relative peace and stability in Europe, anchored in liberal internationalism, was an aberration rather than a norm in the continent’s long history of conflicts. Comment. (150 words, 10 marks)

Introduction

Europe’s situation today is very similar to what it was during the great power rivalry. The balance of power crisis then led to two world-wars. Today the imbalance has driven Russia to invade Ukraine while the NATO powers are supporting Ukraine from the outside. It was only during the brief period of post-cold-war era there was America dictated peace in Europe when Russia was in shambles.

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Conflicts of the past

  • There are similarities between events in Europe today and what happened in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
  • What triggered the great power security competition in the run-up to the First World War was the phenomenal rise of Wilhelmine Germany as a military and industrial power and the regional hegemons’ response to it.
  • When Otto von Bismarck became the Minister-President of Prussia in September 1862, there was no unified German state.
    • Prussia was part of the loose, ineffective German Confederation.
    • Bismarck adopted an aggressive foreign policy, fought and won three wars — with Denmark, Austria and France — destroyed the confederation, established a stronger and larger German Reich that replaced Prussia.
  • It was on the foundation Bismarck built that Wilhelmine Germany turned to weltpolitik in the early 20 century, seeking global domination.
  • This eventually led to the two world wars where millions were killed and economy of the world stood shattered.

Post Cold-war liberal internationalism: An aberration

  • The end of the Cold War was widely seen as ushering in a liberal world order.
  • Liberal states seemed to have triumphed over communism, liberal theories appeared vindicated while realism found itself in trouble, and liberal internationalist policies were expected to quickly realize liberal principles in all those parts of the world that had not yet fully embraced them.
  • It did not take long for these expectations to be frustrated. Even in the course of the 1990s, many of the policies designed to realize this vision—from democracy promotion through humanitarian intervention to neo-liberal economic policies—failed to achieve their aims.
  • There is significant overlap between the current debate on the crisis of liberal internationalism and American foreign policy—largely because the United States has been the leading liberal power in world politics during the twentieth century.
  • In addition, neo-liberal economic policies led in 2008 to a global financial crisi
  • Liberal internationalism, as observers widely agreed, was in crisis; some even argued that the liberal international ‘experiment has failed.

Conflicts of present vis-a-vis the past

  • Revisionist power: If Germany was seen as a revisionist power back, then, Vladimir Putin’s Russia is today’s revisionist power in Europe.
  • NATO vs Russia: If Germany felt insecure by the Triple Entente, Russia has constantly voiced concerns about the eastward expansion of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).
  • West vs Russia: If the Entente countries looked at the rise of Germany as a threat to European power balance, the western alliance continued to see modern Russia as a security challenge, even after the collapse of the Soviet Union.
    • While NATO’s expansion deepened Russia’s security concerns, driving it into aggressive moves, Russia’s aggression has strengthened NATO’s resolve to expand further into Russia’s neighbourhood.
  • But one major difference between the era of Wilhelmine Germany and modern Russia is that there were no well-defined international laws in the 19th and early 20th centuries.
    • The international system has evolved ever since. But its basic instincts, as realists would argue, have not changed much.
  • Putin’s Russia is not the first country that violated the sovereignty of a weaker power and flouted international laws in the “rules-based” order.
    • Nor will it be the last. As the Athenians told the Melians during the Peloponnesian War, “the strong do what they can and the weak suffer what they must”.

Conclusion

There will not be peace in Europe unless either Russia accepts its diminished role and goes into another spell of strategic retreat (like it did after the disintegration of the Soviet Union), or Europe and the West in general accommodate Russia’s security concerns. Both look unrealistic as of today. This means that even if the war in Ukraine comes to an end, the security contest in Europe would continue. The post-Cold War period of relative peace and stability in Europe, anchored in liberal internationalism, was an aberration rather than a norm in the continent’s long history of conflicts. And what makes the latest round of great power rivalry more dangerous is that there are nuclear weapons on both sides.

 

3. How does El-Nino impact affect the Indian Monsoon? Analyse the impact of the early arrival of Indian monsoon. (150 words, 10 marks)

Introduction

El Niño is a naturally occurring phenomenon that is linked to a periodic warming in sea surface temperatures across the central and east-central Equatorial Pacific. El Niño is Spanish for “the boy child,” which is often used to refer to Jesus Christ, and the phenomenon earned this name because it typically occurs in December around Christmas. El Niño occurs every 2-7 years, and can last anywhere between nine months and two years.

The southwest monsoon has arrived in Kerala three days before its normal onset date of June 1.

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El-Nino impact on Indian monsoon:

  • El Nino, characterized by warming of surface temperatures in the Pacific Ocean, is associated with lower than normal monsoon rainfall in India.
  • El Nino has been found to impact almost half the world triggering droughts in Australia, India, southern Africa and floods in Peru, Ecuador, the United States, the Gulf of Mexico, and the Colorado River basin.
  • El Nino affects the flow of moisture-bearing winds from the cooler oceans towards India, negatively impact the summer (south-west) monsoon.
  • After all, the south-west monsoon (June-September) accounts for over 70% of the country’s annual rainfall and irrigates over half of the crop land.
  • The rain-fed kharif crops are heavily dependent on the monsoon and the quantity of rainfall determines agricultural production.
  • El Niño years tend to be drier than average, but one of the strongest El Nino of the century (1997-98) produced a monsoon season with above-average rainfall for India.
  • Researchers also believe that even the location of the warming in the Pacific may possibly have an influence on the monsoon.

Impact of the early arrival of Indian monsoon:

  • The monsoon arrived earlier than normal in India, raising hopes that output of crops like rice and oilseeds will get a boost after a brutal heat wave hit winter-sown wheat and prompted the nation to restrict exports.
  • India is the second-biggest grower of wheat, rice, sugar and cotton, and the largest buyer of palm, soybean and sunflower oils.
  • The livelihood of millions of farmers in the country of about 1.4 billion people depends on rains brought by the winds from the Indian Ocean.
  • The farm sector is the main source of income for 60% of its population and accounts for 18% of the economy.
  • The monsoon is critical to India’s farm output and economic growth at a time when the country, where man-made systems like canals and tube wells irrigate only a part of the land, is battling soaring food prices.
  • Timely and normal rains are set to boost production outlook for monsoon-sown crops such as rice, soybeans and pulses and help in softening soaring inflation.
  • Bountiful rains would also fill reservoirs, which in turn would brighten prospects for winter crops, usually planted during October and November.
  • The early arrival of the south-west monsoon comes at a time when parts of Northwest India were experiencing extremely high maximum temperatures.

Conclusion

Early or late arrival of monsoon does not mean it would bring lesser or more rainfall. Earlier this year, IMD predicted a “normal” monsoon. It means the rainfall is likely to be in the range of 96-104 per cent of the long period average of the years 1971-2020. A good monsoon boosts crop output, while poor rains lead to drinking water shortages, lower harvests and higher imports of some commodities.

 


General Studies – 2


  

4. Examine as to how push towards digitisation has transformed India into a digitally empowered society and knowledge economy while promoting good governance. (150 words, 10 marks)

Introduction

Digitisation is basically associated with carrying out the functions and achieving the results of governance through the utilization of what has today come to be known as Information and Communications Technology. It is basically the application of ICT to the processes of Government functioning in order to bring about ‘Simple, Moral, Accountable, Responsive and Transparent’ (SMART) governance.

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Various factors that led to digitisation of India

  • Digital India: Digital India was launched with three clear objectives: –
    • To transform citizens’ lives, governance and democracy;
    • expand the digital economy, create jobs and attract investments;
    • make India the leader in the realm of technology — a provider rather than a consumer of technology.
    • The government’s increased focus to create a digitally empowered economy is forecast to benefit all sectors, wherein core digital sectors such as information technology & business process management, digital communication services and electronics manufacturing are likely to double their GDPs to US$ 355-435 billion by 2025.
    • In another report, McKinsey highlighted that the ‘Digital India’ initiative is expected to boost the country’s digital economy to US$ 1 trillion by 2025, up from US$ 200 billion in 2018.
  • Technology and IT sector: In 2020, the Indian technology sector accounted for 8% of India’s gross domestic product (GDP).
    • In addition, the sector remained a net employer with emphasis on digital upskilling. NASSCOM also estimated that the country’s digital talent pool is likely to exceed ~1.17 million employees in FY21, a 32% YoY surge.
  • Sakshar bharat Abhiyan: It was formulated in 2009 with the objective of achieving 80% literacy level at the national level, by focusing on adult women literacy.
  • Internet access and 4G in India: At the same time, private sector innovation has helped bring internet-enabled services to millions of consumers and made online usage more accessible.
    • For example, Reliance Jio’s strategy of bundling virtually free smartphones with mobile-service subscriptions has spurred innovation and competitive pricing. Data costs have plummeted by more than 95 percent since 2013 and fixed-line download speeds quadrupled between 2014 and 2017.
  • Aadhar: The government’s efforts to ramp up Aadhaar, the national biometric digital identity program, has played a major role. Aadhaar has enrolled 1.2 billion people since it was introduced in 2009, making it the single largest digital ID program in the world, hastening the spread of other digital services.

Impact of digitisation in India

  • Growth and employment: India has leapfrogged into a ‘mobile-first’ country and houses one of the largest mobile manufacturing factories in the world. Indian mobile plants servicing this new-age consumer have increased from two in 2014 to 127 in 2019.
    • Annually, over 225 million mobile phones are domestically produced.
    • This rapidly growing sector has created about 400,000 jobs during the last five years.
  • Reduction of leakage in social welfare scheme: The government has transferred more than Rs 17 lakh crore through DBT while saving Rs 2.2 lakh crore.
  • Start-up ecosystem: Today, India has the world’s fastest-growing and most vibrant startup ecosystem with close to 70,000 registered startups and around 100 unicorns, with a unicorn coming up every week. The growth trajectory of these start-ups was determined by their hard work, passion, ability to innovate and availability of capital.
  • GST collection: With GST and tax compliance, India has registered its highest ever collections. Revenue increased from Rs 22 lakh crore in FY 21 to Rs 27 lakh crore in FY 22 — a whopping 22 per cent growth.
  • Covid-response: Digital India played a significant role in India’s response to the pandemic. It ensured that the government could reach people in remote parts of the country.
    • Health, education and other essential services migrated swiftly to the online mode. It would not be an aberration to say that post-Covid, India emerged as a preeminent nation in the use of technology for governance.

Conclusion

The rapid digitalisation of the world along with a new focus on trust in the global supply chains for digital products and services presents tremendous opportunities for India and its youth. It is now up to all of us to engage in a collective “sabka prayas” to realise New India’s economic potential.

 

5. Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is a global health and development threat. What are the challenges in tackling it? How can they be overcome? (150 words, 10 marks)

Introduction

The WHO defines antimicrobial resistance (AMR) as a condition wherein microbes survive when exposed to the drug which would have normally caused them to die. It is the resistance acquired by any microorganism like bacteria, viruses, fungi, parasite, etc. against antimicrobial drugs (such as antibiotics, antifungals, antivirals, antimalarial, and anthelmintic) that are used to treat infections and is regarded as a major threat to public health across the globe.

Microorganisms that develop antimicrobial resistance are sometimes referred to as “superbugs”. As a result, standard treatments become ineffective, infections persist and may spread to others.

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Challenges in controlling AMR:

  • Antibiotic consumption in humans
    • Unnecessary and injudicious use of antibiotic fixed dose combinations could lead to emergence of bacterial strains resistant to multiple antibiotics.
  • Social factors
    • Self-medication.
    • Access to antibiotics without prescription.
    • Lack of knowledge about when to use antibiotics.
  • Cultural Activities
    • Mass bathing in rivers as part of religious mass gathering occasions.
  • Antibiotic Consumption in Food Animals
    • Antibiotics which are critical to human health are commonly used for growth promotion in poultry.
  • Pharmaceutical Industry Pollution
    • The wastewater effluents from the antibiotic manufacturing units contain a substantial amount of antibiotics, leading to contamination of rivers and lakes.
  • Environmental Sanitation
    • Untreated disposal of sewage water bodies – leading to contamination of rivers with antibiotic residues and antibiotic-resistant organisms.
  • Infection Control Practices in Healthcare Settings
    • A report on hand-washing practices of nurses and doctors found that only 31.8% of them washed hands after contact with patients.

Efforts to control AMR in India:

  • Burden of infectious disease (Bacterial infections) is high and healthcare spending is low.
  • The National Health Policy 2017 highlights the problem of antimicrobial resistance and calls for effective action to address it.
  • The Ministry of Health & Family Welfare (MoHFW) identified AMR as one of the top 10 priorities for the ministry’s collaborative work with WHO.
  • In 2012, India’s medical societies adopted the Chennai Declaration, a set of national recommendations to promote antibiotic stewardship.
  • India’s Red Line campaign demands that prescription-only antibiotics be marked with a red line, to discourage the over-the-counter sale of antibiotics.
  • National Policy for Containment of Antimicrobial Resistance 2011.
  • National Action Plan on AMR resistance 2017-2021.
  • India has instituted surveillance of the emergence of drug resistance in disease causing microbes in programmes on Tuberculosis, Vector Borne diseases, AIDS, etc.
  • Since March 2014 a separate Schedule H-1 has been incorporated in Drug and Cosmetic rules to regulate the sale of antimicrobials in the country.
  • The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) banned the use of antibiotics and several pharmacologically active substances in fisheries.
  • The government has also capped the maximum levels of drugs that can be used for growth promotion in meat and meat products.

Way forward

  • In addition to developing new antimicrobials, infection-control measures can reduce antibiotic use.
  • It is critical to ensure that all those who need an antimicrobial have access to it.
  • To track the spread of resistance in microbes, surveillance measures to identify these organisms need to encompass livestock, wastewater and farm run-offs.
  • We need sustained investments and global coordination to detect and combat new resistant strains on an ongoing basis.
  • International alignment and coordination are paramount in both policymaking and its implementation.
  • Solutions in clinical medicine must be integrated with improved surveillance of AMR in agriculture, animal health and the environment

Conclusion

Anti-Microbial Resistance is not a country specific issue but a global concern that is jeopardizing global health security. Antimicrobial resistance is one of the major public health problems. Reducing the incidence of infection through effective infection prevention and control.  As stated by WHO, making infection prevention and hand hygiene a national policy priority is need of the hour.

Value addition

International Efforts

  • A multi-sectoral $1 billion AMR Action Fund was launched in 2020 to support the development of new antibiotics.
  • Peru’s efforts on patient education to reduce unnecessary antibiotic prescriptions.
  • Australian regulatory reforms to influence prescriber behaviour.
  • Denmark’s reforms to prevent the use of antibiotics in livestock have not only led to a significant reduction in the prevalence of resistant microbes in animals, but also improved the efficiency of farming.
  • India proposed laws to curb the amount of active antibiotics released in pharmaceutical waste

 

6. Is it time to revisit the criteria for special category status (SCS) and include others into this exclusive category by excluding those who do not need such assistance any longer? Critically analyse. (150 words, 10 marks)

Introduction

Special Category Status (SCS) a classification given by the Centre to assist development of states that face geographical and socio-economic disadvantages. This classification was done on the recommendations of the Fifth Finance Commission in 1969. It was based on the Gadgil formula.

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Background: Objectives of SCS and reasons for implementation

  • The concept of a special category status was first introduced in 1969 when the fifth Finance Commission sought to provide certain disadvantaged states with preferential treatment in the form of central assistance and tax breaks, establishing special development boards, reservation in local government jobs, educational institutions, etc.
  • This formula was named after the then Deputy Chairman of the Planning Commission, Dr Gadgil Mukherjee and is related to the transfer of assistance to the states by centre under various schemes.
  • Initially, three states; Assam, Nagaland and Jammu & Kashmir were granted special status but from 1974-1979, five more states were added under the special category. These include Himachal Pradesh, Manipur, Meghalaya, Sikkim and Tripura.
  • In 1990, with the addition of Arunachal Pradesh and Mizoram, the states increased to 10. The state of Uttarakhand was given special category status in 2001.
  • But after the dissolution of the planning commission and the formation of NITI Aayog, the recommendations of the 14th Finance Commission were implemented which meant the discontinuation of the Gadgil formula-based grants.

Various criteria on which SCS is granted

  • The rationale for special status is that certain states, because of inherent features, have a low resource base and cannot mobilize resources for development.
  • The state which is facing the problem of resources crunch must get the benefit.
  • Main key criteria are:
    • Low per capita income
    • Non-viable nature of state finances
    • Economic and infrastructural backwardness
    • Presence of sizeable tribal population
    • Hilly and difficult terrain
    • Strategic location along international borders
    • Low population density
  • Must be economically backward with poor infrastructure.

 

Performance of states granted SCS over the years

  • States which are granted special category status enjoy several benefits.
  • These include :
    • Preferential treatment in getting central funds
    • Concession on excise duty to attract industries to the state
    • A significant 30% of the centre’s gross budget also goes special category states
    • These states can avail the benefit of debt-swapping and debt relief schemes
  • In the case of Centrally Sponsored Schemes and external aid, Special Category States get it in the ratio of 90% as grant, and 10% as loans.
  • Other states, however, get 30% of their funds as grants f) Special Category States also get tax breaks to attract investment
  • A Special Category Status catalyses the inflow of private investments and generates employment and additional revenue for the state.
    • Besides, the State can create more welfare-based schemes from the new savings since the Center bears 90% of the expenditure on all Centrally Sponsored Schemes.
    • Further, more grants from the Center helps in building state infrastructure and social-sector projects.
  • The Constitution of India does not include any provision for the categorization of any state as a Special Category Status state.
    • However, in the past, Central Planned Assistance were given to certain states on the ground that they are historically disadvantaged in comparison to others.

Issues with SCS status

  • 14th Finance Commission recommendation: The Commission did away with the ‘special category’ status for states, except for the North-eastern and three hill states.
  • NDA government which came to power at the Centre in 2014 has been saying that the 14th Finance Commission doesn’t provide for such treatment to Andhra Pradesh.
  • The Constitution never mentioned it: The commission appears to have been guided by the fact that the Constitution never categorized some states as special, treating all of them on an equal footing.
  • No power to allocate funds: the NITI Aayog, which has replaced the Planning Commission, has no powers to allocate funds. Therefore, the discretion that the ruling party at the Centre had to dole out special favors to states through the Plan panel, no longer exists.

Measures needed

  • The Constitution of India does not include any provision for the categorization of any state in India as a ‘special category state.
  • However, a wide range of provisions are available to as many as 10 states that have been listed under Articles 371, 371-A to 371-H, and 371-J.
  • Some of these states are Maharashtra and Gujarat, Nagaland, Assam, Manipur, Andhra Pradesh, Sikkim, Mizoram, Arunachal Pradesh and Telangana.
  • Moreover, if states are in need of additional support, Centre may give a special package on case-to-case basis.

Conclusion

The intention behind these provisions is to safeguard the interest and aspirations of certain backward regions or to protect cultural and economic interests of the tribal people or to deal with the disturbed law and order in some parts. However, such categorisation leads to States playing victim card for ulterior motives as well. Hence, special packages to states based on merit can be a good way forward. An independent committee with statutory backing and executive powers with representation from states and centre may make a recommendation in this regard.

 

7. Awarding of death penalty and its sentencing needs a relook in the light of recent supreme court judgement. Elaborate. (150 words, 10 marks)

Introduction

Capital punishment also called as death penalty is the execution of an offender sentenced to death after conviction by a court of law. The debate on whether to abolish the death penalty or not, has been raging in India and in several other countries for decades.

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Background

  • The Supreme Court’s recent judgment in Manoj and Ors. vs State of MPseeks to address this long-ignored yet critical aspect of death penalty sentencing.
  • This specific attempt in Manoj must be seen with the Court’s apparent discomfort over the last year with procedural unfairness in sentencing being carried out by the lower courts.

Rationale behind death penalty

  • The punishment is not arbitrarybecause, it comes out of a judicial process. To call it arbitrary, one has to necessarily prove the process as flawed.
  • It is being implemented in the “rarest of the rare” casesand the fact is during the last 13 years, only four people have been executed.
  • The hanging of Ajmal Kasab and Yakub Memon strongly affirms India’s commitment to the protection of life.
  • People criticise it on arbitrariness, irreversibility and human rightsand these are not valid arguments.
  • Its constitutionality is upheld, even in liberal democracies like U.S. It is not reflection of uncivilised society.
  • India’s neighbourhood is not peaceful, unlike Scandinavia. It is not in a group of countries, like European Union.
  • India has got troubled borders. Several forces are trying to destabilise the very idea of our Nation from across the Border.
  • The sacredness of life can only be seen to be protected, if those who take it away are proportionately punished.

Efficiency of death penalty

  • A study by the Centre of Death Penalty – at the National Law University Delhi (NLUD) — in 2015 analyzed data of 15 years to conclude that less than 5 per cent death penalties awarded by trial courts were confirmed by the time the cases passed the tests in high courts and the Supreme Court.
  • Another NLU Delhi study found that 162 death sentences were awarded across the country in 2018. Only 23 were confirmed by the high courts.
  • The Supreme Court heard 12 death penalty cases in 2018 but confirmed death penalty in only one case – of Nirbhaya gangrape and murder.
  • The Justice JS Verma committee, appointed after the Nirbhaya case, too had examined the efficiency of death penalty for rape. In its report, Justice Verma did not prescribe death penalty for rape for the lack of correlation in preventing the crime of rape or gangrape.

Death Penalty is not the panacea

  • It unfairly targets poor and marginalised, that means, those without money & power.
  • Executions occurred in around five cases for every 1 lakh murdersand it looks quite arbitrary. It depends on judges personal beliefs.
  • India’s murder rate has declinedcontinuously since 1991 and at present the lowest, except for 1963.
  • Punishment should not imitate crime.
  • As per the recent Death Penalty India Report by the National Law University, Delhi, the structural flaws in our criminal procedure and criminal justice system are most pronounced in death penalty cases.
  • Most of the civilised world abolished it. Death penalty has not deterred terrorism, murder or even theft.
  • From 200-2015, Supreme Court imposed 60 death sentences and subsequently admitted that it had erred in 15 of them. So, it clearly admitted that it has arbitrarily imposed the most extreme punishment.
  • The Police is not known for its probity or efficiency in our Country.
  • Delays in the Criminal Justice System disproportionately affects those, who suffer the tyranny of the uncertainty of their life.

Measures needed

  • Law Commission in its 262nd report submitted recently recommended the abolition of capital punishment for all crimes in India, except the crime of waging war against the nation or for terrorism-related offences.
  • It cited several factors to justify abolishing the death penalty, including its abolition by 140 other nations, its arbitrary and flawed application and its lack of any proven deterring effect on criminals.
  • Taking empirical lessons from the fate of Bachan Singh, the Supreme Court may have to now ask the more fundamental question posed and negatived in Bachan Singh — the question of the constitutional validity of death penalty.
  • The Court may have to revisit Bachan Singh itself in so far as it refused to declare the death penalty as violative of the right to life envisaged under Article 21 of the Constitution.
  • Across the world, 108 nations have abolished death penalty in law and 144 countries have done so in law or practice, according to the Amnesty Report of 2021.
  • In the Indian context, where judgmental error is quite frequent and the quality of adjudication is not ensured, what is required is a judicial abolition of death penalty.

Conclusion

As Law Commission said that it is the not right time of abolition experiment, the issue needs to be debated  and  researched  in  more  detail.  But,  capital  punishment  should  not  become  a  pent-up  of  society’s misplaced anger and sense of judgment. It is also against the reformative purpose of the Criminal Justice System and we must remember the words of Oscar Wilde, “Every saint has a past and every sinner a future.”

 

 


General Studies – 2


  

8. What are the objectives of National Asset Reconstruction Company Limited (NARCL)? Discuss the factors that are needed to ensure that NARCL will serve as effective and efficient bad bank. (150 words, 10 marks)

Introduction

The Reserve Bank of India on October 4, 2021 gave licence to the Rs 6,000 crore National Asset Reconstruction Company Ltd (NARCL), a move that will help kickstart operations of the bad bank. K V Kamath Committee also suggested setting up Bad bank to revive sectors such as Trade, Textile, NBFCs, Steel and construction, etc.

The National Assets Reconstruction Company Ltd (NARCL), the government-backed bad bank, has appointed former State Bank of India (SBI) official Natarajan Sundar as its managing director and chief executive.

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Objectives of NARCL

  • NARCL has been incorporated under the Companies Act and has applied to Reserve Bank of India for license as an Asset Reconstruction Company (ARC).
  • NARCL has been set up by banks to aggregate and consolidate stressed assets for their subsequent resolution.
  • NARCL will acquire fully provisioned stressed assets by making an offer to the lead bank in a consortium of lenders; once the offer is accepted, NARCL will engage with India Debt Resolution Company Ltd. (IDRCL) for management and resolution of the stressed assets.
  • In IDRCL, private entities will maintain 51 percent ownership, with the government holding the rest.

Factors needed for Effective functioning of NARCL

  • While there are 28 ARCs in the private sector, there was a need for government-backed receipts for big ticket resolutions.
  • The government guarantee for the proposed security receipts is a positive stepping stone for unlocking stressed assets’ value.
  • The upfront cash payment by the NARCL to banks will immediately be accretive for the profitability and capital of the banks, however the ability of the NARCL to resolve these assets in a time-bound manner will be critical for future provision writeback by banks
  • The whole idea is to ensure that these assets for which this whole set-up is being created, and the value that is locked in the assets is realised and comes back to the banks; they use it as a growth capital and the banking system becomes more robust
  • From the perspective of a commercial bank saddled with high NPA levels, it will help.
    • That’s because such a bank will get rid of all its toxic assets, which were eating up its profits, in one quick move.
    • When the recovery money is paid back, it will further improve the bank’s position.
    • Meanwhile, it can start lending again.
  • From the perspective of the government and the taxpayer, the situation is a little more muddled.
    • After all, whether it is recapitalising PSBs laden with bad loans or giving guarantees for security receipts, the money is coming from the taxpayers’ pocket.
    • While recapitalisation and such guarantees are often designated as “reforms”, they are band aids at best.
    • The only sustainable solution is to improve the lending operation in PSBs.
  • Lastly, the plan of bailing out commercial banks will collapse if the bad bank is unable to sell such impaired assets in the market.

Conclusion

While the objective of NARCL is a novel one, the success lies in its implementation and downstream reforms in banks in lending. The NARCL will have to deliver on the recovery front or risk being a dump yard. Dump yards do not facilitate redistribution of capital in an economy and therefore have a cost.

Value addition

About National Asset Reconstruction Company Ltd (NARCL)

  • It will be a five-year guarantee for the National Asset Reconstruction Company Limited (NARCL)-issued security receipts to banks.
  • Under the proposed mechanism, the NARCL will acquire assets by making an offer to the lead bank.
  • Private sector asset reconstruction (ARCs) firms may also be allowed to outbid the NARCL.
  • Separately, public and private lenders will combine forces to set up an India Debt Resolution Company (IDRC) that will manage these assets and try to raise their value for final resolution.
  • A 15% cash payment would be made to the banks based on some valuation and the rest will be given as security receipts.
  • Once the NARCL and the IDRC have finally resolved the asset, the balance 85% held as security receipts would be given to the banks.
  • If the bad bank is unable to sell the bad loan, or has to sell it at a loss, then the government guarantee will be invoked and the difference between what the commercial bank was supposed to get and what the bad bank was able to raise will be paid from the Rs 30,600 crore that has been provided by the government

 

9. What is a virtual private network (VPN)? Discuss its applications and security issues associated with it. (150 words, 10 marks)

Introduction

A VPN, or virtual private network, can give you a secure connection when you use the Internet. When you visit websites and access content, advertisers and other third-parties are keen to track your browsing habits. A Virtual Private Network can give you a greater level of privacy, protecting you and your online identity from prying eyes. It masks your IP address and secures your data through encryption. A VPN keeps your online activity private from third-parties by creating a secure connection between your device and the rest of the Internet..

Body

The new rules issued by the Indian Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-In) for Virtual Private Network providers could spell doom for the privacy of Indian internet users. Amidst strong pushback from various corners, the Central government tells the companies to either comply with rules or exit from India

Applications of VPN

  • VPN also ensures security by providing an encrypted tunnel between client and VPN server.
  • A VPN protects you by encrypting your internet connection, limiting the risk of getting your payment details stolen while using public Wi-Fi.
  • VPN protects the right to privacy by giving you back some control over your data and who gets to see it, log it, and monetize it.
  • Bandwidth throttling happens when your ISP attempts to reduce bandwidth congestion and regulate network traffic, and it has a direct impact on how fast your internet is. A VPN connection helps you avoid bandwidth throttling and slow connection speeds.
  • VPN is used to bypass many blocked sites.
  • VPN facilitates Anonymous browsing by hiding your ip address.
  • VPN also provides Threat Protection function that helps you identify malware-ridden files, stops you from landing on malicious websites, and blocks trackers and intrusive ads on the spot.
  • Also, most appropriate Search engine optimization(SEO) is done by analyzing the data from VPN providers which provide country-wise stats of browsing a particular product. This method of SEO is used widely my many internet marketing managers to form new strategies.
  • Download and upload files securely: with a VPN turned on, you can use P2P without your ISP slowing you down and stay safe at the same time. With a VPN, your IP stays hidden and your online traffic is encrypted so that no one can see or intercept it.

Security issues associated with VPN

  • Using a VPN to hide your browsing activities becomes pretty pointless if the provider is now the one who logs them instead of your ISP.
  • Unfortunately, that’s what happens when you pick a provider who keeps logs. You become exposed to severe VPN security risks simply because you no longer have control over your privacy.
  • A data leak is when you’re using a VPN to hide your traffic and IP address, but they still leak through the VPN tunnel. IP leaks, DNS leaks, and WebRTC leaks are all good examples of that. If they occur, they pretty much make using a VPN pointless.
  • A VPN provider can claim they respect your privacy and offer top-notch security in their marketing copy, while their Privacy Policy tells a completely different story.
  • If the VPN provider didn’t do their homework, they might have made serious mistakes when configuring the encryption the VPN will use. In fact, free VPNs are very likely to have faulty encryption.
  • If you’re not careful enough, you might end up dealing with serious VPN risks – like malware being injected into your device when you download a VPN client, which will start spying on your activities, spamming you with malicious ads, and stealing your personal and financial details.

Conclusion

The VPN regulations must be implemented only after a wide discussion and deliberations with multiple stakeholders to ensure the maximum productivity from VPN.

 

10. Biomass being a product of natural resources viz. land, water, air and sun’s energy, gives much hope as an alternative, reliable and renewable source of energy. Discuss. (150 words, 10 marks)

Introduction

Biomass is plant or animal material used as fuel to produce electricity or heat. Examples are wood, energy crops and waste from forests, yards, or farms. Biomass has always been an important energy source for the country considering the benefits it offers. The biomass materials used for power generation include bagasse, rice husk, straw, cotton stalk, coconut shells, soya husk, de-oiled cakes, coffee waste, jute wastes, groundnut shells, sawdust, etc.

Biomass-based energy is gaining attention of regulators and policy makers, as the country moves towards power generation that is not carbon-intensive.

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Scenario of biomass energy in India

  • About 32% of the total primary energy use in the country is still derived from biomass and more than 70% of the country’s population depends upon it for its energy needs.
  • As on 30.06.2021, a total capacity of 10170 MW has been installed in Biomass Power and Cogeneration Sector.
  • India has achieved the target of 10 gigawatts of biomass power before 2022 with the present installed capacity of 10.17 GW of biomass power.
  • However, unlike the solar and wind power targets, the central government has no plans to scale up the biomass power and cogeneration target for 2030, even as the sector has potential.

Potential

  • As per a recent study sponsored by MNRE, the current availability of biomass in India is estimated at about 750 million metric tonnes per year.
  • The Study indicated estimated surplus biomass availability at about 230 million metric tonnes per annum covering agricultural residues corresponding to a potential of about 28 GW.
  • This apart, about 14 GW additional power could be generated through bagasse based cogeneration in the country’s 550 Sugar mills, if these sugar mills were to adopt technically and economically optimal levels of cogeneration for extracting power from the bagasse produced by them.

Advantages offered by biomass energy

  • Meet energy demand: Bioenergy can help to meet the growing demand for energy within
    the country, especially in rural areas. Nearly 25% of its primary energy comes from biomass resources and close to 70% of rural population depend on biomass to meet their daily energy needs. Biomass can further help in meeting rural energy demands.
  • Climate change mitigation: Bioenergy provides important benefits compared to fossil fuels, in particular regarding GHG emissions. Biomass recycles carbon from the air and spares the use of fossil fuels, reducing the additional fossil carbon from the ground into the atmosphere.
  • Market growth: The market for renewable energy systems in rural and urban markets in India is set to grow exponentially. Despite this, bioenergy does not figure in most energy studies and is classified as ‘non-commercial’ energy. Plants like Jatropha, Neem and other wild plants are identified as the potential sources for biodiesel production in India.
  • Waste to energy: Biofuels can augment waste to wealth creation. Being a derivative of renewable biomass resources such as plastic, municipal solid waste, forestry residues, agricultural wastes, surplus food grains etc. it has huge potential to help the country achieve the renewable energy goal of 175 GW.
  • Income generation: Adopting biofuels as an alternative source of energy can significantly improve farmers’ income, generate employment opportunities etc.
  • Reduce imports:India’s energy demands met by imports are about 46.13% of total primary energy consumption. Bioenergy can help in reducing these imports and boost India’s energy security and self-reliance.

Various steps taken to harness biomass energy

  • 10 GW national target: Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) has set the national target is to achieve 10 GW of installed biomass power by 2022.
  • National Policy on Biofuels: The policy is aimed at taking forward the indicative target of achieving 20% blending of biofuels with fossil-based fuels by 2030.
  • Policy for biomass and bagasse cogeneration:MNRE has further developed a policy for biomass and bagasse cogeneration that will help in meeting India’s energy demands. It includes financial incentives and subsidies, both for biomass projects and sugar mills that use this technology.
  • Fiscal Incentives: Government gives 10 years Income tax holidays. Concessional customs and excise duty exemption for machinery and components for initial setting up of Biomass power projects. General sales tax exemption is available in certain States.
  • Waste to energy projects: Waste to energy projects are also being set up for generation of energy from urban, industrial and agricultural waste such as vegetable and other market wastes, slaughterhouse waste, agricultural residues and industrial wastes & effluents.
  • National Biomass Repository:MNRE also plans on creating a ‘National Biomass Repository’ through a nation-wide appraisal program which will help ensure availability of biofuels produced from domestic feedstock

Way forward

  • Utilising wastelands: There are about 63 million ha waste land in the country, out of which about 40 million ha area can be developed by undertaking plantations of Jatropha.
  • Reducing capital costs: Efforts must be made for reduction in the capital cost of biogas plants, development of materials and techniques.
  • Institutional support:Establishing institutional support for programme formulation and implementation is important to utilise established energy mechanisms.
  • Development of second-generation bi-fuels:Government must support and promote development of second-generation bio-fuels and related applications.
  • Establishing standards:It is important to lay down standards for various bio-energy components, products and systems.

Conclusion

Biomass in Indian energy matrix is very important for remote villages. Even with decades of experience in managing biomass power, still there exists lots of gaps in the supply chain. The main scope for interventions are in collection, improving design and engineering aspects, conducting feasibility studies and focused research and development.

 

Answer the following questions in 250 words:


General Studies – 1


 

11. Dr B.R Ambedkar’s thought on promoting democratic unity across linguistically and culturally diverse political units, as well as on pursuing domestic rights protections through institutions, offers valuable insights for the present-day governance. Comment. (250 words, 15 marks)

Introduction

The country has marked the beginning of the Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav to commemorate 75 years of Independence. It is imperative to reflect on Ambedkar in all his facets to grasp the gravity of his ideas, his role as a nation-builder and actions taken thereupon, to strengthen the social fabric and build a just society and stronger nation.

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Role of Babasaheb Ambedkar

  • As Social reformer
    • Ambedkar was the voice of the Depressed Classes on every platform.
    • As their representative at the Round Table Conference, he championed the cause of labour and improving the condition of peasants.
    • During the Bombay Assembly’s Poona session in 1937, he introduced a Bill to abolish the Khoti system of land tenure in Konkan.
    • In Bombay, the historic peasant march to the Council Hall in 1938 made him a popular leader of the peasants, workers, and the landless.
    • He was the first legislator in the country to introduce a Bill for abolishing the serfdom of agricultural tenants.
    • His essay titled ‘Small Holdings in India and their Remedies’ (1918) proposed industrialisation as the answer to India’s agricultural problem and is still relevant to contemporary debates.
    • As a member of the Bombay Assembly, Ambedkar opposed the introduction of the Industrial Disputes Bill, 1937, as it removed workers’ right to strike.
    • As a labour member, he advocated for “fair condition of life of labour” instead of securing “fair condition of work” and laid out the basic structure of the government’s labour policy.
    • He contributed to the reduction of working hours to 48 hours per week, lifting the ban on the employment of women for underground work in coal mines, introducing the provisions of overtime, paid leave and minimum wage.
    • He also helped to establish the principle of “equal pay for equal work” irrespective of sex and maternity benefits.

 

  • As chairman of Drafting Committee and first law minister of India
  • Ambedkar was appointed as the chairman of the constitution drafting committee on August 29, 1947.
  • He believed that the gap between different classes was important to equalize, otherwise it will be very difficult to maintain the unity of the country.
  • He emphasized on religious, gender and caste equality.
  • Ambedkar introduced the reservation system to create a social balance amongst the classes.
  • As chairman of the Constitution’s drafting committee, he took meticulous measures to build a just society through liberty, equality and fraternity.
  • His advocacy for universal adult franchise ensured that women had the right to vote immediately after Independence.
  • His advocacy of the Hindu Code Bill was a revolutionary measure towards ameliorating women’s plight by conferring on them the right to adopt and inherit.

 

Ambedkar’s role in promoting democratic unity and as champion of domestic rights

  • In Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar, we have not only a crusader against the caste system, a valiant fighter for the cause of the downtrodden in India but also an elder statesman and national leader whose contribution in the form of the Constitution of India will be cherished forever by posterity.
    • In fact his fight for human rights and as an emancipator of all those enslaved in the world gave him international recognition as a liberator of humanity from injustice, social and economic.
  • He favoured formation of unilingual States as against multilingual States for the very sound reasons that the former fosters the fellow-feeling which is the foundation of a stable and democratic State, while the latter with its enforced juxtaposition of two different linguistic groups leads to faction fights for leadership and discrimination in administration — factors which are incompatible with democracy.
  • He was a champion of democracy and strived for political and economic equality of people of India. Positive affirmative action in India was a result of his efforts towards equality.

Conclusion

Today, Ambedkar is revered nationally, and figures in the national pantheon as one of the makers of modern India, along with Gandhi, Nehru and Tagore. His birthday, April 14, has been christened as ‘Ambedkar Jayanti’ or ‘Bhim Jayanti’ and is celebrated as a public holiday. Babasaheb remains an inspiration for millions of Indians and proponents of equality and social justice across the globe.

 

12. Though the winds of change in 1960’s brought independence to a lot of African states, but the political turmoil that followed resulted in severe economic exploitation and backwardness. Analyse. (250 words, 15 marks)

Introduction

Between 1945 and 1960, three dozen new states in Asia and Africa achieved autonomy or outright independence from their European colonial rulers. There was no one process of decolonization. In some areas, it was peaceful, and orderly. In many others, independence was achieved only after a protracted revolution. A few newly independent countries acquired stable governments almost immediately; others were ruled by dictators or military juntas for decades, or endured long civil wars.

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Background

  •  The process of decolonization coincided with the new Cold War between the Soviet Union and the United States, and with the early development of the new United Nations.
  • Decolonization was often affected by superpower competition, and had a definite impact on the evolution of that competition.
  • It also significantly changed the pattern of international relations in a more general sense.
  • The creation of so many new countries, some of which occupied strategic locations, others of which possessed significant natural resources, and most of which were desperately poor, altered the composition of the United Nations and political complexity of every region of the globe.

Problems faced by independent African nations

  • Lack of manufacturing capacity: These new countries also lacked the manufacturing infrastructure to add value to their raw materials.
    • Rich as many African countries were in cash crops and minerals, they could not process these goods
    • g.: Kwame Nkrumah – the first prime minister and president of Ghana – knew, political independence without economic independence was meaningless.
  • Lack of infrastructure: One of the most pressing challenges African states faced at Independence was their lack of infrastructure.
    • European imperialists prided themselves on bringing civilization and developing Africa, but they left their former colonies with little in the way of infrastructure.
  • Lack of National Identity: The borders Africa’s new countries were left with were the ones drawn in Europe during the Scramble for Africa with no regard to the ethnic or social landscape on the ground.
  • Straight line countries: There was, before the arrival of Europeans, no such territory as ‘Nigeria’ or ‘Mali’, ‘Namibia’ or ‘Gabon’; these were arbitrarily made-up places designed to suit European priorities.
    • These nations pushed together ethnic groups that had over centuries usually had nothing to do with one another, spoke different languages, worshipped different religions and had long histories of rivalry and suspicion.
  • Series of military coups: Post-colonial West Africa has had more than its fair share of military coups. The 1960s were called the decade of coups in the sub-region.
    • E.g.: The coup syndrome began in Togo in January 1963, when the army deposed and killed President Sylvanus Olympio.
    • Nigerian army leader General Johnson Aguiyi-Ironsi seized power also in January 1966 and killed Prime Minister Tafawa Balewa.
  • Cold war: Cold War politics also presented an opportunity for factions that sought to challenge the new governments.
    • E.g.: In Angola, the international support that the government and rebel factions received in the Cold War led to a civil war that lasted nearly thirty years.

 

Impact of the above on African countries

  • Little regard for the National Constitution: As soon as a civilian government is overthrown, the military junta puts aside the Constitution, proscribes all political activities and rules by decree.
    • This is a very undemocratic behaviour on the part of the military rulers.
  • Human rights abuses: Military rulers have little regard for the rights and freedoms of the individual.
    • The arbitrary arrest, detention and killings of politicians and others connected with the ousted regime and massive destruction or looting of property are disturbing features of military rule.
  • The fallacy of rescuing the state: In the majority of the coups that have occurred, the military has sometimes deemed it a national and patriotic obligation to rescue the country from total collapse and restore lost national prestige.
    • But this is not always the case. Most military regimes have turned out to be more corrupt, oppressive and self-seeking than the civilian governments they toppled.
  • Pervasive poverty: Africa today is one of the most under developed continents and hosts the world poorest and starved population on earth.
  • Genocides: The worst genocides in history took place in Rwanda, where millions were killed.

Conclusion

In spite of the abundant natural resources that most African countries possess, they are still economically poor and under-developed. The living standards of the people are very low and basic social services are deplorable. The roots of the major socio-economic problems facing African countries today can be traced back to the colonial period and the influence of neo-colonialism.

 

13. Compare and contrast the Permanent Settlement and Mahalwari Settlement, introduced by the British. What were the impact of the new forms of revenue settlements introduced by the British? (250 words, 15 marks)

Introduction

Land revenue was one of the major sources of income for Britishers in India. There were broadly three types of land revenue policies in existence during the British rule in India.

Before independence, there were three major types of land tenure systems prevailing in the country:

  • The Zamindari System
  • The Mahalwari System
  • The Ryotwari System

Body:

Zamindari SystemMahalwari System
Under the Zamindari system, the land revenue was collected from the farmers by the intermediaries known as Zamindars.Under the Mahalwari system, the land revenue was collected from the farmers by the village headmen on behalf of the whole village.
Zamindari system was started by the Imperialist East India Company in 1793.In this system, the entire village is converted into one big unit called ‘Mahal’ and treated as one unit as far as payment of land revenue is concerned.
Lord Cornwallis entered into ‘Permanent Settlement’ with the landlords with a view to increase land revenue. Under this arrangement, the landlords were declared as zamindars with full proprietorship of the land.

The Zamindars were made responsible for the collection of the rent.

Mahalwari system was popularised by Lord William Bentinck in Agra and Awadh. It was later extended to Madhya Pradesh and Punjab.

The responsibility of collecting and depositing the rent lied with the village headmen.

The share of the government in the total rent collected by the zamindars was kept at 10/11th, and the balance going to zamindars.The Mahalwari system is found to be less exploitative than the Zamindari system.
The system was most prevalent in West Bengal, Bihar, Orrisa, UP, Andhra Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh.The system was prevalent in Agra, Awadh, Punjab, Orrisa and Madhya Pradesh.

Impact of British land revenue policies:

  • Pauperisation of the rural economy:The rural economy as a whole was affected. All the classes from zamindars to peasants were affected. Many lost their livelihoods due to loss of land and right to cultivate.
  • Shifting from food crops to cash crops:In order to meet the high revenue demand the farmers had to shift from food to cash corps like indigo, cotton, which led them to buy food grains at higher prices and sell the cash crops at low prices.
  • Food scarcity and famines:The shifting to cash crops and decreasing productivity of land badly affected the society in the form of famines. This led to many famines in India, causing death of millions.
  • Increase in money-lending: The land settlements introduced a market economy with cash payments of revenue. This led to an increase in money-lending activities, which put Indian peasants under debt, which were exploited by money lenders.
  • Led to inequalities: The Land tenure system led to increase in social inequalities. While rich defended their properties, the poor didn’t have any resources to do so. Further due to illiteracy they were exploited by money lenders for interests.
  • Handicrafts and industries affected:It impacted circular economy. The peasants and zamindars earlier had purchasing power to buy handicrafts. Loss of income of peasants affected the handicrafts industry too. Handicrafts men resorted to agriculture that further put pressure on land. The industries were affected due to lack of raw materials.
  • Impact on local administration: It deprived village panchayats of their two main functions: land settlements and judicial and executive functions. Thus the old politico-economic-social framework of village communities broke down.

Conclusion:

The overall impact of the all this was stagnation and deterioration of agriculture. It led to series of famines in 19th century. The unsustainable system led to series of peasant revolts. The miseries of the peasant were one of the important cause for the revolt.


General Studies – 2


 

14. Transition to green mobility is quickly picking up, which is an opportune time for India to take a lead in manufacturing of Electric Vehicles (EV). Examine the various measures taken by India in this regard. (250 words, 15 marks)

Introduction

An electric vehicle, uses one or more electric motors or traction motors for propulsion. An electric vehicle may be powered through self-contained battery, solar panels or an electric generator to convert fuel to electricity. India is among a handful of countries that supports the global EV30@30 campaign, which aims for at least 30 per cent new vehicle sales to be electric by 2030.

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Transition to Green Mobility is quickly picking up in India

  • As fuel prices skyrocket, there are rising concerns about the steep increase in the cost of running petrol and diesel vehicles. Electric vehicles seem to be coming into their own at last.
  • The Indian electric vehicle market was valued at USD 1,434.04 billion in 2021, and it is expected to reach USD 15,397.19 billion by 2027, registering a CAGR of 47.09% during the forecast period (2022-2027).
  • The National Electric Mobility Mission Plan (NEMMP) and Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of Hybrid & Electric Vehicles in India (FAME I and II) helped create the initial interest and exposure for electric mobility.
  • To promote the domestic electric vehicle industry, the Indian government has provided tax exemptions and subsidies to EV manufacturers and consumers.
  • In FY 2020, EV sales for two-wheelers in India increased by 21 percent. For EV buses, the sales for the same period increased by 50 percent. In contrast, the market for electric cars remained grim, registering a five percent decline.
  • In terms of penetration, EV sales accounts for barely 1.3 per cent of total vehicle sales in India during 20-21. However, the market is growing rapidly and is expected to be worth more.
  • India’s shift to shared, electric and connected mobility could help the country save nearly one giga-tonne of carbon dioxide emissions by 2030.

Various measures taken by the government to promote electric vehicles

  • Most recently, Government think-tank Niti Aayog has prepared a draft battery swapping policy, under which it has proposed offering incentives to electric vehicles (EVs) with swappable batteries, subsidies to companies manufacturing swappable batteries, a new battery-as-a-service business model, and standards for interoperable batteries, among other measures.
  • Government has set a target of electric vehicles making up 30 % of new sales of cars and two-wheelers by 2030.
  • To build a sustainable EV ecosystem initiative like –National Electric Mobility Mission Plan (NEMMP) and Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of (Hybrid &) Electric vehicles in India (FAME India) have been launched by India.
  • NEMMP was launched with an aim to achieve national fuel security by promoting hybrid and electric vehicles in the country.
  • FAME India Scheme was launched with the objective to support hybrid/electric vehicles market development and manufacturing ecosystem.
  • The Union power ministry categorized charging of batteries as a service, which will help charging stations operate without licenses.
  • Implementation of smart cities would also boost the growth of electric vehicle

Way Forward:

  • For EVs to contribute effectively, we need commensurate efforts in developing an entire ecosystem.
  • Need to shift the focus from subsidizing vehicles to subsidizing batteries because batteries make up 50% of EV costs.
  • Increasing focus on incentivizing electric two-wheelers because two-wheelers account for 76% of the vehicles in the country and consume most of the fuel.
  • A wide network of charging stations is imminent for attracting investment.
  • Work places in tech parks, Public bus depots, and Multiplexes are the potential places where charging points could be installed. In Bangalore, some malls have charging points in parking lots.
  • Corporates could invest in charging stations as Corporate Social Responsibility compliances.
  • Addressing technical concerns like AC versus DC charging stations, handling of peak demand, grid stability etc.
  • Private investment in battery manufacturing plants and developing low cost production technology is needed.
  • India is highly dependent on thermal sources, which account for about 65% of current capacity. As EV adoption increases, so should the contribution of renewables.
  • Need for a policy roadmap on electric vehicles so that investments can be planned.
  • Acquiring lithium fields in Bolivia, Australia, and Chile could become as important as buying oil fields as India needs raw material to make batteries for electric vehicles.
  • Providing waiver of road tax and registration fees, GST refunds and free parking spaces for EVs.

Value addition

Potential of EVs in India

  • Help tackle Climate change and air pollution:
    • India has committed to cutting its GHG emissions intensity by 33% to 35% percent below 2005 levels by 2030.
    • As per NITI Aayog’s report EVs will help in cutting down as much as 1 Gigatonne (GT) of carbon emissions by 2030.
    • Electric vehicles don’t produce emissions that contribute to climate change and smog than conventional vehicles.
    • All-electric vehicles produce zero direct emissions, which specifically helps improve air quality in urban areas.
    • According to a recent study by WHO, India is home to 14 out of 20 most polluted cities in the world. EVs will help in tackling this problem by reducing local concentrations of pollutants in cities.
    • Cost reduction from better electricity generating technologies. This has introduced the possibility of clean, low-carbon and inexpensive grids.
  • Energy security:
    • India imports oil to cover over 80 percent of its transport fuel.
    • Electric mobility will contribute to balancing energy demand, energy storage and environmental sustainability.
    • Electric vehicles could help diversify the energy needed to move people and goods thanks to their reliance on the wide mix of primary energy sources used in power generation, greatly improving energy security.
  • Cutting edge Battery Technology:
    • Advances in battery technology have led to higher energy densities, faster charging and reduced battery degradation from charging.
  • Innovation:
    • EVs manufacturing capacity will promote global scale and competitiveness.
  • Employment:

Promotion of EVs will facilitate employment growth in a sun-rise sector.

 

15. While gig work has become a necessity for both the workers and the platforms hiring them, regulation of the gig work remains vital to ensure that these classes of workers are given the same opportunities and protections as other employees covered under various labour laws in India. Comment. (250 words, 15 marks)

Introduction

According to the Oxford Internet Institute’s ‘Online Labor Index’, India leads the global gig economy with a 24% share of the online labor market. A gig economy is a free market system in which temporary positions are common and organizations contract with independent workers for short-term engagements Examples of gig employees in the workforce could include freelancers, independent contractors, project-based workers and temporary or part-time hires.

 

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Issues faced by gig economy workers

  • This workforce has limited employment rights like minimum wages, health benefits, sick leaves or even retirement benefits to fall back on.
  • Also, the payment is assured only on the completion of the project giving a sense of financial insecurity.
  • The lack of any kind of protection was also deterring several talented workers against participating in the economy
  • No stable and secure employment: These so-called jobs do not provide health insurance, nor pay for overtime with no sick leave.
  • Lack of income security: There is no room for wage negotiations, and unions are absent. In the gig economy, job creation should be seen as the provision of livelihoods for entrepreneurs.
  • Grievance redressal mechanism: For instance, when Ola and Uber started cutting back incentives, the drivers in Mumbai decided to go on ‘strike’.
    • But there was no clarity against whom they were striking. When the strikers agitated at a local transport commissioner’s office, he had to tell them that he did not regulate the hail-a-taxi business.
  • The Central government recently passed the social security code which could cover gig worker as well.
  • One of the key proposals includes the creation of a social security fund which is around 1 per cent of the aggregators’ annual turnover.
  • This fund would be used primarily for the welfare of the unorganized and the gig workforce

 

Regulation of gig economy

  • Constant upskilling and reskilling is required for such talents to stay industry relevant and market ready.
  • A categorical clarification could ensure that social security measures are provided to workers without compromising the touted qualities of platform work.
  • Countries must come together to set up a platform to extend their labour protection to the workforce who are working part-time in their country.
  • Companies employing the workforce on a temporary basis should also be made responsible to contribute to their insurance and social obligation other than just their tax commitment.
  • There is a need for a socio-legal acknowledgement of the heterogeneity of work in the gig economy, and the ascription of joint accountability to the State and platform companies for the delivery of social services.
  • In the Code on Social Security, 2020, platform workers are now eligible for benefits. Actualising these benefits will depend on the political will at the Central and State government-levels and how unions elicit political support.

 

Way forward

  • The government needs to come out with some more regulations to protect the workforce of the gig economy.
  • Also, at present, there is no mechanism to address the issue of redress of disputes.
  • It could also mean countries coming together to set up a platform to extend their labour protection to the workforce who are working part-time in their country.
  • Companies employing the workforce on a temporary basis should also be made responsible to contribute to their insurance and social obligation other than just their tax commitment.

 

Conclusion

The scope of the gig economy in a country like India is enormous. The government needs to come out with a comprehensive legislation to empower and motivate many to take this path. The gig economy and its workforce cannot be overlooked when we talk about the future of employment.

With a population of over 1.3 billion, and a majority of them below the age of 35, relying on the “gig economy” is perhaps the only way to create employment for a large semi-skilled and unskilled workforce. Therefore, it is important to hand-hold this sector and help it grow. We need policies and processes that give clarity to the way the sector should function.

Value addition

Statistics

  • Human resources firm TeamLease estimates that 13 lakh Indians joined the gig economy in the last half of 2018-19, registering a 30% growth compared to the first half of the fiscal year.
  • Better Place, a digital platform that does background verification and skill development in the informal sector, estimates that of the 21 lakh jobs that will be created in the metros in 2019-20, 14 lakh will be in the gig economy.
  • Food and e-commerce delivery will account for 8 lakh positions and drivers will account for nearly 6 lakh positions, says the report, based on 11 lakh profiles in over 1,000 companies.

Delhi, Bengaluru and other metros are expected to be the biggest drivers of this sector. And two-thirds of this workforce will be under the age of 40.

 

16. BRICS faces challenges arising from bilateral differences and diverse political systems. Discuss as to how broad vision of global issues and ideas of shared prosperity can help them achieve collective goals. (250 words, 15 marks)

Introduction

BRICS is the acronym coined for an association of five major emerging national economies that have similar economic development. The five countries are Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa. Together, BRICS accounts for about 40% of the world’s population and about 30% of the GDP (Gross Domestic Product), making it a critical economic engine.

It’s an emerging investment market and global power bloc. For India, BRICS is strategic especially in times where there is lot of geopolitical flux.

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Challenges within BRICS

  • Varied Political Structures and values: While Brazil, India and South Africa are democratic, China and Russia are not. Structure of financial systems, levels of income, education, inequality, health challenges also differ substantially within BRICS which makes it hard for them to speak with a unified voice and to co- ordinate action.
  • Relations with other countries: There is a rift between India and China. This is because of various reasons like Chinese aggression in Eastern Ladakh.
    • China and Russia have strained relations with the
    • On the other hand, the other BRICS member has a liberal approach with the west. This is also impacting the functioning.
  • Different geopolitical agenda: The Brasilia declaration notes shared perceptions on global economic and financial governance. However, their interpretation by each country depends on its national interest in specific circumstances.
    • g. on expansion of the UN Security Council, BRICS exposed its disunity yet again by sticking to the formulation that refuses to go beyond China and Russia supporting the “aspiration” of Brazil, India and South Africa “to play a greater role in the UN”.
    • Also the China-Pak axis will always be a hindrance for India to fully cooperate with China. China’s rejection of NSG membership to India is an example.
  • Diverging long-term economic goals of member countries: Though the five nations have greatly increased their combined economic heft since the turn of the century, the share is imbalanced.g. Brazil, Russia and South Africa’s shares of global output have actually shrunk since 2000.
    • Despite their combined population accounting for 40% of humanity, intra-BRICS trade still makes up just 15% of world trade.
    • Brazil also took India to WTO dispute resolution wrt sugar production.
  • Trade: Though BRICS seeks to deepen trade ties, Chinese domination of trade creates apprehensions in the minds of other countries that the Chinese economy may threaten their economies.

Overcoming challenges and measures needed

  • BRICS countries need to strengthen political mutual trust and security cooperation, maintain communication and coordination on major international and regional issues, accommodate each other’s core interests and major concerns, respect each other’s sovereignty, security and development interests, oppose hegemonism and power politics, and work together to build a global community of security for all.
  • BRICS countries should be contributors of common development. The COVID-19 pandemic threatens to derail the world economy.
  • The irresponsible macro-economic and monetary policies of certain countries have aggravated the uncertainties and imbalances of economic recovery.
  • Facing the rising tide of de-globalisation and the increase of unilateral sanctions and technology barriers, BRICS countries should enhance mutually-beneficial cooperation in supply chains, energy, food and financial resilience, take solid steps to implement the Global Development Initiative, foster an open world economy and create a favourable environment for common.
  • BRICS countries should firmly safeguard the international system, with the United Nations at its core and the international order underpinned by international law, and ensure that international affairs have participation by all, international rules are formulated by all, and development outcomes are shared by all.
  • We should explore the ‘BRICS plus’ cooperation at more levels, in more areas and in a wider scope.

 

Conclusion

A significant amount of convergence on economic issues is required for BRICS to work as a strong multilateral body that will have a significant effect on global governance. BRICS nations need to recalibrate their approach and to recommit to their founding ethos. BRICS must reaffirm their commitment to a multi-polar world that allows for sovereign equality and democratic decision making by doing so can they address the asymmetry of power within the group and in global governance generally.

They must build on the success of the NDB and invest in additional BRICS institutions. It will be useful for BRICS to develop an institutional research wing, along the lines of the OECD, offering solutions which are better suited to the developing world.

 

Value addition

About BRICS and areas of cooperation

  • Economic Cooperation: There are rapidly growing trade and investment flows between BRICS countries as well as economic cooperation activities across a range of sectors.
    • Agreements have been concluded in the areas of Economic and Trade Cooperation; Innovation Cooperation, Customs Cooperation; strategic cooperation between the BRICS Business Council , Contingent Reserve Agreement and the New Development Bank.
  • Reform of multilateral institutions: BRICS was founded on the desire to end the domination of the western world over institutions of global governance (IMF, World Bank, UN) and strengthen multilateralism.
  • Combat Terrorism: Terrorism is an international phenomenon impacting all parts of the world. Recent developments in Afghanistan stress the need to bridge the gap between rhetoric and action.
    • In this context, BRICS is attempting to shape its counter-terrorism strategy by crafting the BRICS Counter-Terrorism Action Plan.
    • It contains specific measures to fight radicalisation, terrorist financing and misuse of the Internet by terrorist groups.
  • Promoting technological and digital solutions for the Sustainable Development Goals: This will help to improve governance and will also prove beneficial in the current situations e.g. Global pandemic response.
  • Expanding people-to-people cooperation: This will improve gradually once all the travel restrictions are eased.

 


General Studies – 3


 

17. What are the factors that have aided the Unicorn boom in India over the recent past? Discuss the factors that are needed in order to ensure they succeed and become profitable, while contributing to job creation. (250 words, 15 marks)

Introduction

In the venture capital industry, the term unicorn refers to any startup that reaches the valuation of $1 billion. The term was first coined by venture capitalist Aileen Lee in 2013. Mostly, all the unicorns have brought a disruption in the field they belong to. Uber, for example, changed the way people commuted. Airbnb changed the way people planned their stay while travelling and Snapchat disrupted the usage of the social media network etc.

India’s tally of unicorns has reached 100 recently, which was told by PM in Mann ki Baat.

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Factors that have aided the Unicorn boom in India over the recent past

  • A huge population: The country has over 1.3 billion people, which provides a large market for these startups to tap into. India also has a burgeoning middle class with more disposable income than ever before.
  • A supportive government: The Indian government has been very supportive of the startup ecosystem. It has been implementing policies that provide a conducive environment for businesses to grow and raise funds.
  • The Indian government’s long-term strategies and concerted push through initiatives like Startup India and Digital India have joined forces with the embrace of digital finance, rise of Indian IT companies, large talent pool, increased expendable income of Indian middle class and availability of capital to significantly boost the growth of India’s startup ecosystem.
  • Increasing investment opportunities: The availability of capital has also increased, with more and more venture capitalists and private equity firms investing in Indian startups. In the first quarter of 2022, the number of Indian startups that have been funded hit a record high of 506, and the funds raised totaled to US$11.8 billion.
  • Besides these hardware-ish factors, the unicorn craze in India is also facilitated by the opportunities brought forth by the regulatory action on tech giants in China and the pandemic.
  • Last year’s unicorn boom coincided with Beijing’s crackdown on Chinese internet businesses, which alarmed investors and drove them to look for alternative geographies to invest their funds.
  • Simultaneously, COVID-19 compelled Indian customers to turn to online enterprises for their daily needs, ranging from food to medical services.
  • These factors have offered new opportunities for Indian startups and contributed to the growth of Indian technological firms, resulting in an increase in the number of unicorns.

Factors that are needed in order to ensure they succeed and become profitable, while contributing to job creation

  • The factors enabling the rise of unicorns comprise the availability of private equity funds, increasing Internet penetration and digital payments, more robust infrastructure and the rising pool of skilled talent.
  • Considering the focus on creating an Aatmanirbhar Bharat, however, the nation’s policymakers, risk-taking corporates and funding agencies need to foster a conducive climate for ensuring easier availability of domestic capita
  • As business models get more complex and interlinked, the regulators have to play a more proactive role in formulating appropriate regulations that encourage innovation and support emerging business models rather than hindering innovation.
  • Besides promoting local funding, the government and corporate entities may need to invest in a big way through leading academic institutions to de-risk start-up investments in the long run.
  • It appears that corporations and valuation experts overestimate the Indian economy’s potential to consume services by assuming exponential demand growth over longer time periods.
  • Firms spend a lot of money to offer huge discounts to clients in the hopes that people would become so used to these platforms that they will continue to use them even if the prices are raised. This could lead to cartelization and market monopoly on a long run.

Conclusion

By providing the “minicorns” (a start-up with $1 million-plus valuation) and “soonicorns” (funded by angel investors or venture capitalists and likely to soon join the unicorn club) the right regulatory ambience and local sources of funding, India can create a truly innovative and resilient economy.

With the ecosystem in place and the resilience of the industry apparent amid the pandemic, innovators and entrepreneurs are thus braced for a promising journey to create hundreds of Indian unicorns in the near future.

 

18. As the economy recovers from the impact of the pandemic, a coordinated policy response – fiscal, monetary, trade and industry – will be required for balancing the multiple macroeconomic policy objectives and achieve even growth. Analyse. 250 words, 15 marks)

Introduction

Pandemic shattered the upward growth of Indian economy, even though economic slow-down had seeped in even before covid-19 hit the world. At 8.7 per cent, the National Statistical Office’s latest estimate for GDP growth in 2021-22, while marginally lower than the 8.95 per cent projected in late February, is quite good given the headwinds the economy faced. The slower growth in 2021-22 was due to a downward revision of the estimates in the first two quarters of the year. However, these numbers need to be interpreted carefully, given the base effects of a 6.6 per cent contraction in 2020-21

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Coordinated policy response is the need of the hour

  • Managing the Elevated Inflation Levels: India is at the risk of inflation; it is at an elevated level which is why the RBI has been conservative.
    • India has to walk on a very fine line balancing the growth imperatives and inflation
    • The RBI has also adopted a policy to support economic growth.
    • It has increased the limit of ways and means advances to the states and has allowed them to borrow more amounts from the RBI.
  • Role of Government Policies: The growth projection also depends upon policies adopted by the government, especially the fiscal policy and monetary policies.
    • So far India has proved to adopt such policies more wisely as compared to other countries.
    • India implemented massive economic reforms in the year 2020 (Atmanirbhar Abhiyan) when the pandemic was at its peak.
    • Also, India has freed up a lot of sectors from the over regulation by the government interference which will be fruitful in better and faster economic growth.
  • Address the issues facing agricultural sector: It will have a direct impact on the welfare of nearly half the country’s workforce, increase in domestic demand, reduce the rural-urban earnings gap, migration, informality and unemployment, and therefore lead to better working conditions in the cities and a fall in commodity prices and reduced inflationary pressures.
  • Targeted Programmes for Employment Generation: Programmes like Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme must be reformed to ensure that rural unemployed find adequate employment on a more sustainable basis and there are increased opportunities for women and other socially disadvantaged groups.
  • Education and Skill Development: Government must ensure that the education, training and skill development system is aligned with the changing requirements of the economy.
    • It includes measures to integrate vocational education with formal education (NEP 2020), ensure greater participation of the private sector in skill development and wider use of the apprenticeship programmes by all enterprises.

Way forward

  • The government must spend where necessary at this time to alleviate the pain in the most troubled areas of the economy.
  • Announcing a credible target for the country’s consolidated debt over the next five years coupled with the setting up of an independent fiscal council to put forward on the quality of the budget would be very useful steps.
  • Budgetary resources can be expanded through asset sales, including parts of government enterprises and surplus government land.

Conclusion

India as the fifth largest economy in the world has to focus on growth recovery that is more sustainable and by just drawing satisfaction from just the growth numbers would not do much. India is slowly but surely on the path to economic recovery and investment is the way to sustain this growth momentum.

 

19. The sequestration of atmospheric carbon dioxide as organic carbon in the soil attracts attention as an alternate way to help stem the rate of greenhouse gas growth and associated changes in our climate. Elaborate. (250 words, 15 marks)

Introduction

Soil carbon sequestration is a process in which CO2 is removed from the atmosphere and stored in the soil carbon pool. This process is primarily mediated by plants through photosynthesis, with carbon stored in the form of SOC.

India’s forests and soil can potentially store an additional 7 billion tonnes of carbon, a new study has estimated. The world can potentially store 287 billion tonnes of additional carbon. Of this, 78 per cent is in forests and 22 per cent in soil, the analysis found.

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Soil carbon sequestration and its benefits

  • Since atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide have crossed 410 parts per millionand oceans are already turning acidic soil is a viable alternative for storing carbon.
  • Increasing soil carbon offers a range of co-benefits
  • Significant carbon pools on earth are found in the earth’s crust, oceans, atmosphere and land-based ecosystems. Soils contain roughly 2,344 Giga tonneof organic carbon, making this the largest terrestrial pool.
  • It’s thought that the earth beneath is holding up to three times as much carbon as is found in the atmosphere.
  • Planting more annual crops and reducing tillage are some of the ways that soil can be encouraged to hang on to more carbon.

Challenges involved

  • However still scientists do not know much knowledge about the soil as a carbon sink
  • Studies emphasise that a lot more research into soil composition and soil cycles is needed if world is going to rely on it to counterbalance global warming effects

Measures needed

  • Increasing Soil organic carbon through various methods can improve soil health, agricultural yield, food security, water quality, and reduce the need for chemicals.
  • Approaches to increase SOC include reducing soil erosion, no-till-farming, use of cover crops, nutrient management, applying manure and sludge, water harvesting and conservation, and agroforestry practices. These are the practices which are needed to revamp agriculture giving impetus to schemes like Soil health card, Paramparagat Krishi Vikas Yojana and sustain environment as well.
  • An increase of just 1 tonne of soil carbon pool of degraded cropland soils can increase crop yield by several kilograms per hectare.
  • Moreover, carbon sequestration in soils has the potential to offset GHG emissions from fossil fuels by up to 15% annually so India can keep its climate change commitments as well.
  • Many scientists say that regenerative agricultural practices can turn back the carbon clock, reducing atmospheric CO2 while also boosting soil productivity and increasing resilience to floods and drought. Such regenerative techniques include planting fields year-round in crops or other cover, and agroforestry that combines crops, trees, and animal husbandry.

Conclusion

SOC is a vital component of soil with important effects on the functioning of terrestrial ecosystems. Storage of SOC results from interactions among the dynamic ecological processes of photosynthesis, decomposition, and soil respiration. Human activities over the course of the last 150 years have led to changes in these processes and consequently to the depletion of SOC and the exacerbation of global climate change. But these human activities also now provide an opportunity for sequestering carbon back into soil. Future warming and elevated CO2, patterns of past land use, and land management strategies, along with the physical heterogeneity of landscapes are expected to produce complex patterns of SOC capacity in soil.

 

20. The Indian Ocean Region (IOR) experienced instability exacerbated by weak government structures and the littorals’ limited capacity in controlling the maritime domain. As security threats increased, the IOR experienced growing militarisation by regional and extra-regional powers. Evaluate India’s response in this region. (250 words, 15 marks)

Introduction

The IOR accounts for more than two-thirds of the world’s oil shipments. One-third of bulk cargo and more than half of container traffic pass through it. The safety of these sea routes is not only directly connected to our economic interests, but it also establishes India as a net security provider in the IOR.

With challenges such as piracy, aggressive China’s String of Pearls, terror threats like Mumbai attack and disasters, there is growing need for a stable IOR with India at its helm. Towards this end, India has been actively participating in IOR in various aspects.

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Growing instability and security issues in IOR

  • The Indian Ocean is an area of conflict. Some conflicts are internal and remain localised, but other local and regional conflicts are of global significance and are prone to foreign political and military interference.
    • Some notable conflict areas are Israel and Palestine, Iraq, Sudan, Afghanistan, Somalia, Sri Lanka and Pakistan.
  • Though the causes of these conflicts vary, many can be associated with weak or failed states, significant levels of poverty, poorly developed institutions, the absence of democracy, corruption, competition for scarce resources, interference by foreign powers, the global war on terror and what can be termed ‘turbulence’ in the Islamic world.
  • The region is home to continually evolving strategic developments including the competing rises of China and India, potential nuclear confrontation between India and Pakistan, the US interventions in Iraq and Afghanistan, Islamist terrorism, growing incidence of piracy in and around the Horn of Africa, and management of diminishing fishery resources.
    • Almost all the world’s major powers have deployed substantial military forces in the Indian Ocean region.
  • The US 5th Fleet is headquartered in Bahrain, and uses the island of Diego Garcia as a major air naval base and logistics hub for its Indian Ocean operations.
    • France maintains a significant presence in the north and southwest Indian Ocean quadrants, with naval bases in Djibouti, Reunion, and Abu Dhabi.

India’s response in IOR and multiple initiatives

  • Security and Growth for All (SAGAR) Policy: India’s SAGAR policy is an integrated regional framework, unveiled by Indian Prime Minister during a visit to Mauritius in March 2015. The pillars of SAGAR are:
    • The primary responsibility for peace, stability and prosperity in the IOR would be on those “who live in this region”.
  • Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA): The aim of IOR-ARC is to open the region based on four major components: trade liberalisation, trade and investment facilitation, economic and technical cooperation, and trade and investment dialogue.
    • It does not address defence and security cooperation directly as the aim of ‘open and free trade’ implies maritime security.
  • The ‘Indian Ocean Naval Symposium’ (IONS): IONS is a voluntary initiative that seeks to increase maritime co-operation among navies of the littoral states of the Indian Ocean Region.
    • The objectives of the IONS are to expand it to the next level of cooperation, create allied maritime agencies, establish a high degree of interoperability, share information to overcome common trans-national maritime threats and natural disasters, and maintain good order at sea.
    • The group has 35 members.
  • Indian Ocean Commission (COI): The COI (Commission de l’océan indien in French) is an intergovernmental organisation created in 1984 with the Comoros, Madagascar, Mauritius, France and the Seychelles as members.
    • Engaging with countries beyond our shores with the aim of building greater trust and promoting respect for maritime rules, norms and peaceful resolution of disputes is one of the goals.
  • India is working on a range of projects to improve maritime logistics in Sri Lanka, Maldives, Mauritius and Seychelles.

Conclusion

Indian occupies a central and strategic location in the Indian Ocean area. Its national and economic interests are inseparably linked up with Indian Ocean. Hence to keep the Indian Ocean as a zone of Peace free from superpower rivalry and increasing cooperation among littoral countries in the region has always been India’s foreign Policy’s goal for example Look East policy, Indian Ocean Rim Association for Regional Cooperation, BIMSTEC and Ganga-Mekong Cooperation etc.

Value addition

About IOR region

  • The region has 51 coastal and landlocked states, namely 26 Indian Ocean Rim (IOR) states, five Red Sea states, four Persian Gulf states, Saudi Arabia, France, Britain and 13 landlocked states.
  • Four critically important access waterways are the Suez Canal (Egypt), Bab el Mandeb (Djibouti-Yemen), Strait of Hormuz (Iran, Oman), and Strait of Malacca (Indonesia-Malaysia).
  • The region contains 1/3 of the world’s population, 25% of its landmass, 40% of the world’s oil and gas reserves.
  • A major concern of India in the Indian Ocean is energy. India is almost 70 per cent dependent on oil import, major part of which comes from gulf region.
  • The sea lanes in the Indian Ocean are considered among the most strategically important in the world. More than 80 % of the world’s seaborne trade in oil transits through Indian Ocean choke points, with 40 % passing through the Strait of Hormuz, 35 % through the Strait of Malacca and 8 % through the Bab el Mandab Strait.

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