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[Mission 2022] SECURE SYNOPSIS: 14 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.


General Studies – 1


 

Topic: Social empowerment, communalism, regionalism & secularism.

1. What is your understanding of India’s civilisational heritage? How can it play a part in uniting Indians and giving a sense of fraternity to all citizens? (250 words)

Difficulty level: Tough

Reference: The Hindu

Why the question:

India’s civilisational heritage must be treated as a matter of pride — as one that unites every Indian.

Key Demand of the question:

To write about India’s civilisational heritage and its role in uniting Indians.

Structure of the answer:

Introduction: 

Begin by defining India’s civilisational heritage.

Body:

First, mention the major aspects of India’s civilisational heritage and how it has evolved throughput the course of history.

Next, write about its role in promoting unity among masses – breaking stereotype, bridging gaps, sense of solidarity etc.

Conclusion:

Conclude by summarising.

Introduction

Indian civilisation has always been dynamic, not static. Settlers and traders came to India from the land and sea routes. India’s isolation was never complete, from the most ancient times. This resulted in the development of a complex pattern of civilisation, demonstrated so clearly in the intangible art and cultural traditions ranging from Ancient to Modern India, whether in the dancing Buddhas of the Gandharva school of art which was strongly influenced by the Greeks, to the great tangible heritage seen in the temples of North and South India.

Body

major aspects of India’s civilisational heritage and its evolution

  • Nearly all the artistic remains of ancient India are of a religious nature, or were at least made for religious purposes.
  • Secular art certainly existed, although most of the existing sculpture and paintings demonstrating this secular art have since vanished. In fact, very few paintings have survived from ancient times.
  • Literary references prove beyond question that painting was a very developed art in ancient India.
    • This is amply demonstrated in the existing murals of our cave temples. For want of other evidence, an analysis and interpretation of the legacy of this period is based on information from our ancient texts as well as surviving architectural and sculptural remains.
  • From a historical perspective, the Indus Valley Civilisation or the Harappan Culture as it is more recently called, was the most extensive of our ancient civilisation.
    • Political continuity between the Harappan culture and the later Aryan culture was prevented by the timeframe between the decline of the former and rise of the latter civilisation.
  • The Aryan period saw the development of Vedic literature as well as the stories of the Puranas. These are not entirely mythical events since it contents references to historical events.
    • The earliest literary source was the Rig Veda and the two epics, the Ramayana and the Mahabharata.
  • Their narration of events was challenged by Europeans positivism of the 19th century. The Positivists argued that every narrative must be supported by historical evidence. The relationship between myth, legend and fact in interpretation of our history has always been difficult to explain to sceptical Western audiences.
    • Perhaps it may never be possible to sift fact from fiction though certain historical events such as the battle of Kurukshetra, can be supported by historical evidence.
  • Culturally, however, the period of the later Vedic literature saw Indian philosophy and thought evolving in the direction which it has followed ever since. It marked the beginning of the great period of India’s culture where the pattern of her society, religion, literature and art gradually assumed something of its present shape.
  • India’s ancient culture did not perish with the coming of Muslim invaders, unlike the fate of ancient Persian culture and civilisation Temple architecture from the 6th century show some Greek influence while later the construction of the roof of the temple which had moved from wood to stone showed some Muslim influence.
    • This is apparent from a study of the temple architecture in the North which had the Indo-Aryan style with a rounded top and curved outline and the Dravidian style which was in the shape of a rectangular pyramid. However, some rigidity did come in to protect the earlier culture.
  • The invasion by the Turks, Persians and the Afghans brought in trade, a new style of culture and a new language, apart from a new religion. With the end of Turkish rule and rise of the Mughals who came from Samarkand, there evolved a distinct Indo-Islamic style of art and culture, of which the Taj Mahal remains the most splendid example.

Role of India’s civilisational heritage

  • India’s diverse heritage can unite the Indian diaspora in different countries and show solidarity especially in global arena. Eg: When India was sanctioned due to nuclear testing, many in US supported India. This goes true for Kargil war as well.
  • People who follow different ideologies and comprehensive doctrines can come together to resolve issues that plague Indian community and society and agree towards common values.
  • Such civilisational heritage can also bridge gaps between communities and reduce the events of communalism and tensions between various religious groups.
  • It also helps build fraternity in the country, as the citizens can be collectively proud about the rich heritage owned by India.
  • It has the potential to boost soft power abroad and harness the same to attract many tourists in India.

Conclusion

Having traced this legacy from ancient times, one can only marvel at how events shape history and historical interpretations. The global contribution of our cultural and civilisational heritage is increasingly recognised and respected internationally. We have a responsibility to understand, nurture, strengthen and conserve this heritage for our future generations.

 

Topic: Salient features of world’s physical geography.

2. Explain in detail various landforms of glaciation and their significance. Analyse the threats posed by black carbon to glaciers? (250 words)

Difficulty level: Easy

Reference: Insights on India

Why the question: Why the question: 

The question is part of the static syllabus of General studies paper – 1.

Key Demand of the question:

To write the various forms of glacial landforms and the impact of black carbon on glaciers.

Directive word: 

Analyse – When asked to analyse, you must examine methodically the structure or nature of the topic by separating it into component parts and present them in a summary.

Structure of the answer:

Introduction: 

Begin by describing glaciers and its types.

Body:

In the first part, write about the erosional landforms created by the glaciers.

Next, write about the depositional landforms created by the glaciers.

Next, the significance of glacial landforms in geomorphic process, economy and ecology.

Finally, write about Black carbon – its heat trapping properties and its impact on glaciers – cite recent examples to substantiate its impact.

Conclusion:

Mention a way forward to protect the glaciers from the effects of black carbon.

Introduction

A glacier is a large mass of ice that is persistently moving under its own weight over the land or as linear flows down the slopes of mountains in broad trough-like valleys. Glaciers are formed in the areas where the accumulation of snow exceeds its ablation (melting and sublimation) over many years, often centuries. Glaciers move under the influence of the force of gravity.

Body

accumulation

Key features of glacial landforms:

Erosional Landforms:

  • Cirque:
    • Cirques are horseshoe shaped, deep, long and wide troughs or basins with very steep to vertically dropping high walls at its head as well as sides.
    • Cirques are often found along the head of Glacial Valley
    • The accumulated ice cuts these cirques while moving down the mountain tops.
    • After the glacier melts, water fills these cirques, and they are known as cirque lake.
  • Horns:
    • Horns form through head-ward erosion of the cirque walls.
    • If three or more radiating glaciers cut headward until their cirques meet, high, sharp pointed and steep-sided peaks called horns form.
  • Aretes:
    • Arete is a narrow ridge of rock which separates two valleys.
    • Aretes are typically formed when two glacial cirques erode head-wards towards one another
    • The divides between Cirque side walls or head walls get narrow because of progressive erosion and turn into serrated or saw-toothed ridges referred to as aretes with very sharp crest and a zig-zag outline.
  • Glacial Valleys:
    • Glaciated valleys are trough-like and U-shaped with wide, flat floors and relatively smooth, and steep sides.
    • When the glacier disappears, and water fills the deep narrow sections of the valley, a ribbon lake is formed.
  • Fjords/Fiords:
    • A fjord or fiord is a long, narrow and steep-sided inlet created by a glacier
    • They are formed where the lower end of a very deep glacial trough is filled with sea water
    • Fjords are common in Norway, Chile, and New Zealand etc.
  • Hanging Valleys:
    • A hanging valley is a tributary valley that is higher than the main valley. Hanging valleys are common along glaciated fjords and U-shaped valleys.
    • The main valley is eroded much more rapidly than the tributary valleys as it contains a much larger glacier
    • After the ice has melted tributary valley, therefore, hangs above the main valley
    • The faces of divides or spurs of such hanging valleys opening into main glacial valleys are quite often truncated to give them an appearance like triangular facets.
    • Often, waterfalls form at or near the outlet of the upper valley
    • Thus, the hanging valley may form a natural head of water for generating hydroelectric power

Depositional Landforms:

  • Outwash plains:
    • An outwash plain is a plain at the foot of the glacial mountain
    • They are made up of fluvioglacial sediments, washed out from the terminal moraines by the streams and channels of the stagnant ice mass.
    • As it flows, the glacier grinds the underlying rock surface and carries the debris along.
  • Moraines:
    • The unassorted coarse and fine debris dropped by the melting glaciers is called glacial till.
    • The long ridges of deposits of these glacial till is called as Moraines
    • Depending on its position, moraines are classified into be ground, lateral, medial and terminal moraine.
  • Eskers:
    • An esker is a long, winding sinuous ridge of stratified sand and gravel
    • Eskers are frequently several kilometres long and, because of their peculiar uniform shape, are somewhat like railway embankments
    • When glaciers melt in summer, the water flows on the surface of the ice or seeps down along the margins or even moves through holes in the ice.
    • These waters accumulate beneath the glacier and flow like streams in a channel beneath the ice.
    • Such streams flow over the ground with ice forming its banks.
  • Drumlins:
    • Drumlins are smooth oval shaped ridge-like features composed mainly of glacial till with some masses of gravel and sand.
    • The drumlins form due to the dumping of rock debris beneath heavily loaded ice through fissures in the glacier.
    • The long axes of drumlins are parallel to the direction of ice movement.
    • They may measure up to 1000m in length and 30-35 m or so in height.
    • One end of the drumlins facing the glacier called the stoss

Significance of Glaciers:

  • Glaciers and Thermo (heat) Haline (salt) Circulation:
    • The melting fresh water from glaciers alters the ocean, not only by directly contributing to the global sea level rise, but also because it pushes down the heavier salt water, thereby changing the currents in the ocean.
  • Glaciers and winds:
    • As the planet’s air conditioner, the polar ice caps impact weather and climate dynamics, such as the jet stream.
  • Glaciers and climate change:
    • Glaciers are also early indicators of climate changes that will have a somewhat more delayed impact on other parts of the Earth system. Glaciers are sentinels of climate change.
  • Glaciers provide drinking water:
    • People living in arid climates near mountains often rely on glacial melt for their water for part of the year. e.g.: Ganges, Yangtze
  • Glaciers irrigate crops:
    • In Switzerland’s Rhone Valley, farmers have irrigated their crops for hundreds of years by channelling meltwater from glaciers to their fields.
  • Glaciers help generate hydroelectric power:
    • Scientists and engineers in Norway, central Europe, Canada, New Zealand, and South America have worked together to tap into glacial resources, using electricity that has been generated in part by damming glacial meltwater.

Threats posed by Black Carbon:

  • Black carbon results from the incomplete combustion of fossil fuels and biomass. BC is produced both naturally and by human activities as a result of the incomplete combustion of fossil fuels, biofuels, and biomass. Primary sources include emissions from diesel engines, cook stoves, wood burning and forest fires.
  • The fine particles absorb light and about a million times more energy than carbon dioxide.
  • It is said to be the second largest contributor to climate change after CO2. But unlike CO2, which can stay in the atmosphere for years together, black carbon is short-lived and remains in the atmosphere only for days to weeks before it descends as rain or snow.
  • Black carbon absorbs solar energy and warms the atmosphere. When it falls to earth with precipitation, it darkens the surface of snow and ice, reducing their albedo (the reflecting power of a surface), warming the snow, and hastening melting.
  • India is the second largest emitter of black carbon in the world, with emissions expected to increase dramatically in the coming decades, says an April 2019 study in the journal Atmospheric Research, with the Indo Gangetic plains said to be the largest contributor.

Conclusion

Glaciers are one of the most visible icons of the “cryosphere”, the cold parts of the world where temperatures fall below the freezing point of water, a natural tipping point that profoundly changes the environment. From the Andes to the Himalayas, the loss of mountain glaciers is a real concern.

value addition

Glaciation generally gives rise to erosional features in the highlands and depositional features on the lowlands, though these processes are not mutually exclusive because a glacier plays a combined role of erosion, transportation and deposition throughout its course. It erodes its valley by two processes viz. plucking & abrasion.

  • Plucking → Glacier freezes the joints & beds of underlying rocks, tears out individual blocks & drags them away.
  • Abrasion → Glacier scratches, scrapes, polishes & scours the valley floor with the debris frozen into it.

 

 


General Studies – 2


 

Topic: issues and challenges pertaining to the federal structure

3. Tensions over centralisation in certain spheres of governance has adversely affected centre-state relations in the recent past. Do you agree the view that there has been a rise of unitary tendencies? Critically analyse. (250 words)

Difficulty level: Tough

Reference: Insights on India

Why the question:

The question is part of the static syllabus of General studies paper – 2.

Key Demand of the question:

To write about the centralising tendency witnessed in India and suggests steps to overcome it.

Directive word: 

Critically analyze – When asked to analyse, you must examine methodically the structure or nature of the topic by separating it into component parts and present them in a summary. When ‘critically’ is suffixed or prefixed to a directive, one needs to look at the good and bad of the topic and give a balanced judgment on the topic.

Structure of the answer:

Introduction: 

Begin by defining federalism.

Body:

First, write about the various tensions in the centre-state relations in the recent past. Cite examples to substantiate.

Next, mention the centralising tendencies witnessed in India prior to the pandemic – monetary share of the States in Centrally Sponsored Schemes (CSS), the terms of reference of the 15th Finance Commission, imposition of demonetisation without adequate consultation with the States, institutionalisation of the Goods and Services Tax (GST), outsourcing of the statutory functions under the Smart Cities Mission, a delay in transfer of GST compensation, ‘One Nation One Ration’,

Next, write about the other side. Mention the various facets that have promoted federalism in the recent past.

Conclusion:

Conclude by giving a balanced opinion.

Introduction

India is a federal state where the Centre and the State are the Cooperating units of the polity. Yet India is an asymmetrical federalism, with the balance of power tilting in the favour of the Centre. Article 256 deals with Union-state relation and State’s obligation while Article 365 mandates the state governments to follow and implement the directions of the Central government. Changing dynamics of party system is shaping the trajectory of Federalism from cooperative to confrontationalist.

 

Body

Centre-state relations: Amidst centralisation

  • State’s dwindling resources: The findings suggest that recent changes in India’s fiscal architecture, including the Goods and Services Tax (GST) regime, and increase in state shares for the Centrally Sponsored Schemes (CSSs) had placed state finances in a precarious position, even prior to the crisis.
  • Increasing dependency on Centre: The dependency of states on the Centre for revenues has increased, with the share of the revenue from own sources declining from 55% in 2014-15 to 50.5% in 2020-21.
    • While part of this is inherent in India’s fiscal structure, wherein states are the big spenders and the Centre controls the purse strings, the situation has been exacerbated by the introduction of the GST.
    • Barring a few exceptions, such as petroleum products, property tax, and alcohol excise, indirect taxes have, to a large degree, been subsumed under the GST regime, eroding the ability of states to raise their own revenues.
  • Shortfall in devolution: Adding to state woes is the significant divergence in past periods between the amount of GST compensation owed and the actual payments made, including for states such as Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Jharkhand that need greater fiscal support.
    • Even before Covid-19 hit, 11 states estimated a revenue growth rate below the estimated 14% level, implying higher amounts will be owed as GST compensation.
    • With the bulk of the states’ GST coming from goods such as electronics, fashion, and entertainment — all of which have been impacted by the pandemic — these revenues are likely to decline further.

Rising unitary tendencies

  • Article 355 enjoins the Union to “… ensure that the government of every State is carried on in accordance with the provisions of this Constitution”.
    • Example: When State governments raised concerns about the NPR, the Union insisted that States are under a constitutional duty to implement laws passed by Parliament.
  • Centrally sponsored Schemes: CSS is the biggest component of Central Assistance to state plans (CA), where states don’t have much flexibility.
  • Enforcement of International Treaties and Agreements. This provision enables the central government to fulfil its international obligations (Art. 253). The Lokpal and the Lokayuktas Bill, 2011 was introduced in the Parliament through the provisions of this particular article.
  • Article 200: Reservation of state Bills by Governor for President’s assent.
  • Article 256 mentions that the executive power of every state shall be so exercised as to ensure compliance with laws made by Parliament and any existing laws, which apply in that state, and the executive power of the Union shall extend to the giving of such directions to a state as may appear to the Government of India to be necessary for that purpose.
  • Several issues such as trust deficit and shrinkage of divisible pools plague Centre-State relations. Together, they make total cooperation difficult.
  • On one hand the Centre has increased the States’ share of the divisible pool but in reality States are getting a lesser share.
    • For instance, as per the 16th FC recommendations, many south states are on the losing side of their share of tax resources.
    • The allocation towards various social welfare schemes has also come down, affecting the States’ health in turn.
  • Inter-State water disputes like the Mahadayi issue between Goa and Karnataka, Mahanadi water disputes (Odisha and Chhattisgarh) requires cooperation from all quarters (centre and riparian states).

 

Strengthening of Indian federal polity

  • Legislative/Administrative
    • Separation of Power: Schedule 7 of Constitution provides strict delineation of powers between center and state. (Except during emergencies which comes under judicial review)
    • Article 131 of the Constitution, which gives the Supreme Court exclusive jurisdiction to hear cases between states and the Centre. Eg: Chhattisgarh moved SC against NIA Act in Jan 2020.
    • Coalition governments: It has increased states’ bargaining power.
  • Political
    • In relation to the imposition of President’s rule under Article 356 of the Constitution, federalism is far more mature.
  • Financial
    • GST Council: Passing of GST is a shining example of cooperative federalism where States and Centre have ceded their power to tax and come up with a single tax system to realize the dream of one Economic India with ‘One Nation, One Market’.
    • Majority decisions have been based on consensus till now, while states gave 2/3rd of votes.
    • Since 10th FC, state’s share has been continuously increasing till 14th FC by devolving 42%.
  • Other Areas
    • NITI Aayog: Replacing the erstwhile Planning Commission, the Aayog is promoting bottom-up approach to development planning.
    • Sabka Saath Sabka Vikas involves State’s as equal partners of development. There is a move towards competitive and cooperative

 

Conclusion and way forward

  • Strengthening of Inter-State Council: Over the year multiple committees have recommended strengthening of Interstate Council where the concurrent list subjects can be debated and discussed, balancing Centre state powers. There is far less institutional space to settle inter-state frictions therefore a constitutional institution like ISC can be a way forward.
  • Autonomy to states: Centre should form model laws with enough space for states to maneuver. Centre should give enough budgetary support to states so as to avoid budgetary burden. There should be least interference in the state subjects.
  • Democratic Decentralization of administration and strengthening governments at all levels in true spirit. Power should be decentralized based on the principle of subsidiarity.

While in certain areas, it might warrant greater powers to the Union(defence, currency etc), on the development front (education, health etc.) the Centre should respect the autonomy of the other two levels of government and consciously avoid the tendency to centralize powers and functions.

 

Topic: Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the Centre and States and the performance of these schemes; mechanisms, laws, institutions and Bodies constituted for the protection and betterment of these vulnerable sections.

4. Evaluate the performance of Member of Parliament Local Area Development Scheme (MPLADS). The issue underutilisation and misutilisation of MPLADS funds poses some serious question to the viability of the scheme in the future. Analyse. (250 words)

Difficulty level: Moderate

Reference: Down to Earth

Why the question:

Several irregularities in the utilisation of funds disbursed under the MPLAD programme were highlighted by an MPLAD committee member during a recent meeting held in Delhi.

Key Demand of the question:

To write about the successes and limitations of MPLADS and its viability in the long run.

Directive word: 

Evaluate – When you are asked to evaluate, you have to pass a sound judgement about the truth of the given statement in the question or the topic based on evidence.  You must appraise the worth of the statement in question. There is scope for forming an opinion here.

Structure of the answer:

Introduction: 

Begin by stating the objectives of MPLAD scheme.

Body:

First, in brief, write about the major achievements of MPLADS – creation of durable community assets, effective development of each constituency and quick works etc.

Next, write about the major shortcomings of MPLADS – underutilisation and misutilisation, lack of accountability, lapse of funds etc.

Conclusion:

Conclude by stating your opinion on the future viability of the scheme.

Introduction

The Members of Parliament Local Area Development Scheme (MPLADS) was launched in December, 1993, to provide a mechanism for the Members of Parliament to recommend works of developmental nature for creation of durable community assets and for provision of basic facilities including community infrastructure, based on locally felt needs. The MPLADS is a Central Sector Scheme which is fully funded by Government of India. The annual MPLADS fund entitlement per MP constituency is Rs. 5 crore.

Several irregularities in the utilisation of funds disbursed under the MPLAD programme were highlighted by an MPLAD committee member during a recent meeting held in Delhi. The committee, made for fund monitoring of Rajya Sabha members, has 10 members, with representatives from most major political parties.

Body

Challenges in MPLADS

  • Since its inception in 1993, MPLADS has attracted increasing scholarly and media attention focusing on the various ways in which its politicised nature leads to the underutilisation of funds or the misallocation of funds over space and time.
  • MPs in the run-up to an election allocate significantly more funds than at other times to projects that eventually end up incomplete.
  • TheComptroller and Auditor-General of India (CAG) has time and again flagged instances of financial mismanagement and artificial inflation of amounts spent.
  • Within MPLADS, the automatic ‘rollover’ of unspent MPLADS funds from one year to the next enables politicians to concentrate their project recommendations before anticipated election dates, which is associated with higher project failure rates.
  • MPLADS is not governed by any statutory law and is subject to the whims and fancies of the government of the day.
  • MPLADS encroaches upon the domain of local self-governing institutions and thereby violates Part IX and IX-A of the Constitution.
  • The scheme faces conflict with Doctrine of Separation of Powers as MPs are involved in executive functions.

Way forward

  • There is a need to eliminate the automatic rollover provision.
  • In addition, providing information to voters on the efforts of incumbents, or lack thereof, with regard to the progress of specific public works projects could incentivize newly elected MPs to follow through on the proposals made by their predecessors.
  • Political parties could also help by encouraging competent incumbents to stand for election again in the same constituency which could have beneficial effects on any future discretionary spending programmes.
  • More broadly, policies that minimise discretion and that require more stringent and standardised criteria for the approval of project proposals could also reduce the negative effect of democratic elections on public service provision.
  • This could also reduce negative effects of demands by the public for greater accountability and transparency from lawmakers to design programmes to benefit the public instead of supporting the interests of incumbent politicians.

Value addition:

Objectives:

  • To enable MPs to recommend works of developmental nature with emphasis on the creation of durable community assets based on the locally felt needs to be taken up in their Constituencies.
  • Lok Sabha Members can recommend works within their constituencies and elected Members of Rajya Sabha can recommend works within the State they are elected from.
  • Nominated Members of both the Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha can recommend works anywhere in the country.
  • To create durable assets of national priorities viz. drinking water, primary education, public health, sanitation and roads, etc.

Features for effective development of each constituency

  • An MP knows the developmental and welfare issues of his constituency better than anyone else.
  • The MPLADS has enabled MPs to play a leadership role in the developmental process of his constituency and sort out its day-to-day problems.
  • It is one of the ways government funds are transferred to the grassroots with precision.
  • Local MPs can channel fund for specific needs of local communities, whether it is to tar a road, install streetlights or water pumps, or bolster local school and healthcare infrastructure.
  • Besides capacity building in the local economy, these works also offer jobs to local people.
  • The pork barrel policy of State and Union Governments often leads to skewed development and regional imbalance. The ruling party channels public money to particular constituencies based on political considerations, at the expense of broader public interests. The elected opposition legislators of those constituencies fall victim to this pork barrel politics.
  • MPLADS has been an antidote to the above favouritism. The Scheme provided opposition MPs some chance to cater to the developmental needs of their constituency. 
  • Of the MPLADS corpus, 15% has been earmarked for the development of Scheduled Castes and 5% for the Scheduled Tribes. Around ₹20 lakh of the MPLADS fund per annum has been allotted for the welfare of differently abled people.

 

 


General Studies – 3


 

Topic: Science and Technology- developments and their applications and effects in everyday life.

5. What is crypto lending? How does crypto lending further complicate the crypto currency paradigm? Discuss the measures that are needed to overcome the complications. (250 words)

Difficulty level: Easy

Reference: Indian Express

Why the question:

Crypto lending is essentially banking – for the crypto world. Just as customers at traditional banks earn interest on their savings in dollars or pounds, crypto users that deposit their bitcoin or ether at crypto lenders also earn money, usually in cryptocurrency.

Key Demand of the question:

To write about crypto lending, its complications and measures needed to prevent its misuse.

Directive:

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

Structure of the answer:

Introduction: 

Begin the answer by writing about crypto lending.

Body:

In the first part, write about the growth of cryptocurrency and emergence of crypto lending.

Next, write about the complications associated with crypto lending – crypto lenders aren’t overseen by financial regulators, volatility, security risks etc.

Next, write the measures that are needed to overcome the complications.

Conclusion:

Conclude with a way forward.

Introduction

Crypto lending is essentially banking – for the crypto world. Just as customers at traditional banks earn interest on their savings in dollars or pounds, crypto users that deposit their bitcoin or ether at crypto lenders also earn money, usually in cryptocurrency.

Despite the benefits of crypto lending, these are relatively new lending methods compared to established and highly regulated lending systems. They, therefore, carry their fair share of risks and uncertainties.

Body

About crypto-lending

  • High returns: While savings at traditional banks offer paltry returns due to historically low interest rates, crypto lenders offer much higher returns – at the very top end as much as 20%, though rates depend on the tokens being deposited.
  • Lending for a fee: Crypto lenders make money by lending – also for a fee, typically between 5%-10% – digital tokens to investors or crypto companies, who might use the tokens for speculation, hedging or as working capital. The lenders profit from the spread between the interest they pay on deposits and that charged on loans.
  • Crypto lending has boomed over the past two years, along as decentralised finance, or “DeFi,” platforms. DeFi and crypto lending both tout a vision of financial services where lenders and borrowers bypass the traditional financial firms that act as gatekeepers for loans or other products.
  • Easy access and no hassles: The sites say they are easier to access than banks, too, with prospective clients facing less paperwork when lending or borrowing crypto.
  • Budding industry: The total value of crypto at DeFi sites soared to a record $110 billion in November, up five-fold from a year earlier and reflecting record highs for bitcoin, according to industry site DeFi Pulse.

Issues with crypto-lending

Risk of Platform Insolvency: Unlike traditional regulated banks, crypto lenders aren’t overseen by financial regulators – so there are few rules on the capital they must hold, or transparency over their reserves.

That means that customers who hold their crypto at the platforms could lose access to their funds.

Eg: Celsius paused withdrawals.

Crypto lenders also face other risks, from volatility in crypto markets than can hit the value of savings to tech failures and hacks.

Loan Counterparty Risk: Counterparty risks have to do with external parties that centralized (CeFi) crypto lending providers lend to. Centralized crypto lending platforms usually disclose what they can do with crypto deposits in their contracts. Usually, they lend them to hedge funds, cryptocurrency exchanges, and other institutional investors via over-the-counter (OTC) transactions or online.

However, this exposes lending platforms to the risk of insolvency if the counterparty to these trades fails to return borrowed cryptocurrencies.

This, in turn, exposes lenders to default risks.

Custody & Security Concerns: Cyber-attacks and security breaches are not new to cryptocurrencies; crypto lending platforms are not different. Although there have been cyber-attacks on crypto lending platforms, there hasn’t been a loss of actual cryptos, only private data.

Therefore, at any given time, the risk of default, counterpart bankruptcy, and theft hangs in the balance for investors.

Smart Contract Technology Failures: Smart contracts are also used to automate crypto lending processes. They regulate what happens with your cryptocurrencies when certain actions—like interest payments or collateral liquidations—are taken. Since developers design these software codes, they may contain security or functionality flaws that seriously cost investors.

Unclear Cryptocurrency Lending Regulations: Cryptocurrency regulations are nowhere as advanced as the technology itself, resulting in a lack of investors’ confidence in any crypto lending product. If your assets disappear, you cannot take legal action.

  • Regulators in many jurisdictions have started taxing cryptos, and there’s no telling how that would affect cryptocurrency lending overall. When governments start paying direct attention to this new market, it’s impossible to predict how positively or negatively laws would affect investors’ funds.

Conclusion

Crypto lending isn’t something one dabbles into blindly, as risks are involved. While some of these are hard-wired into the crypto space and cannot be entirely avoided at the moment, others are more manageable. Both borrowers and investors must conduct exhaustive personal research and test and try out multiple lending platforms to diversify the risks or conclude on selected trusted platforms to work with.

 

Topic: Security challenges and their management in border areas – linkages of organized crime with terrorism.

6. What are the various measures taken by government to fight drug menace in the country? How can the country’s fight against illicit drugs be made more effective? (250 words)

Difficulty level: Moderate.

Reference: Indian Express

Why the question:

Over the past few years, several countries have been turning away from prohibitionist drug strategies and are introducing alternative policies instead.

Key Demand of the question:

To write the various measures to fight illicit drugs and steps needed to make it more effective.

Structure of the answer:

Introduction: 

Begin by giving statisitics related drug crime in India.

Body:

First, mention the various steps taken against drug menace in India – Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act of 1985, National Action Plan for Drug Demand Reduction, Ngo works etc.

Next, write about the limitations of the above measures.

Next, suggest changes which are needed to the above to make the nations fight against drugs more robust and effective.

Conclusion:

Conclude with a way forward.

Introduction

India is wedged between the world’s two largest areas of illicit opium production, the Golden Crescent and the Golden Triangle.  This proximity has traditionally been viewed as a source of vulnerability, since it has made India both a destination and a transit route for opiates produced in these regions.  the lockdown restrictions during Covid-19 have accelerated drug trafficking using the Internet. The drug trafficking scenario in India is largely attributed to various external and internal factors.

Body

Measures taken by the government to tackle drug menace in India

Government of India has devised a well laid out strategy to ensure inter agency coordination and revamp the prosecution mechanism to end the menace of drug trafficking.

  • There is zero tolerance policy followed by Government of India against narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances trade.
  • Strong Legislation: Accordingly, the Narcotics Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act (NDPS) was enacted in 1985.
    • Under this act, cultivation, manufacturing, transportation, export and import of all narcotics drugs and psychotropic substances is prohibited except for medicinal and scientific purposes and as authorised by the government.
    • The Act provides for rigorous punishment for any person violating this act and if a person is caught peddling drugs for the second time, death penalty could be awarded to the offender.
    • In addition, the government of India has also enacted the Prevention of Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act in 1988, which allows detention of persons suspected to be involved in illicit trafficking of drugs.
  • The Government has taken several policy and other initiatives to deal with drug trafficking problem.
  • It constituted Narco-Coordination Centre (NCORD) in November, 2016 and revived the scheme of “Financial Assistance to States for Narcotics Control”.
  • In 2017, the government approved new Reward Guidelines with increased quantum of reward for interdiction or seizure of different illicit drugs.
  • Global Cooperation: For effective coordination with foreign countries, India has signed 37 Bilateral Agreements/Memoranda of Understanding.
  • Narcotics Control Bureau has been provided funds for developing a new software i.e. Seizure Information Management System (SIMS) which will create a complete online database of drug offences and offenders.
  • The government has constituted a fund called “National Fund for Control of Drug Abuse” to meet the expenditure incurred in connection with combating illicit traffic in Narcotic Drugs; rehabilitating addicts, and educating public against drug abuse, etc.
  • The government is also conducting National Drug Abuse Survey to measure trends of drug abuse in India through Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment with the help of National Drug Dependence Treatment Centre of AIIMS.
  • Pro-active border patrol: For instances, in 2009, the BSF seized 23 kg of heroin along with 12 pistols and several rounds of ammunition in Punjab. In the same year, consignments of 58 kg of heroin, 10 kg of hashish as well as pistols and RDX were seized by the BSF along Rajasthan border.
  • Cooperation with neighbours: India is a signatory to the SAARC Convention on Narcotics Drugs and Psychotropic substances, 1993.
    • India is also a party to the Pentalateral Cooperation on Drug Control, which focuses on the prevention of illicit trade of precursor and other chemicals used for the manufacture of heroin.

Ways to make drug fight menace more effective:

  • Combating misinformation on the impact of the use of cannabis products is crucial.
  • Awareness-raising and communication efforts that disseminate scientific information without stigmatizing people.
  • Increasing the capacity of law enforcement agencies to address drug trafficking over the darknet remains a priority.
  • Joint responses by Governments and the private sector can involve controlling and removing advertisements and listings of illegal drugs on the Internet.
  • Continuously update scientific standards to keep abreast of the acceleration of Internet-based services.
  • Prevention and solid support are the ways in which drug abuse can be dealt with.
  • Prevention programmes involving families, schools and the immediate communities are important in this regard.
  • Government must notify minimum standards for running de-addiction centres.
  • Fast track courts.
  • Integrating drug de-addiction centre’s with rehabilitation centres.
  • Unlicensed centres and those committing human rights violations must be liable to closure.
  • A chapter on the impact of drug abuse should be included in school curriculum so that children understand how addiction destroys lives of people.
  • Focused sensitisation programmes on drug abuse in schools and a substance abuse policy could go a long way in curbing the menace.
  • Parents must consult specialists in case there is change in behaviour of their children as it could be signs of drug abuse.

Conclusion

Prevention of drug trafficking has to be accorded greater priority. At present it forms part of the larger mandate of the border guarding forces to ‘prevent smuggling and any other illegal activity’. Special measures need to be formulated to check trafficking of drugs through the borders. Various domestic laws enacted for the control of drug trafficking should be implemented stringently and severe punishments should be accorded to drug stockists.

 

 


General Studies – 4


 

Topic: Attitude: content, structure, function; its influence and relation with thought and behaviour; moral and political attitudes;

7. What are the ways to deal with cognitive dissonance? (150 Words)

Difficulty Level: Moderate

Why the question:

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

Key Demand of the question:

To write about cognitive dissonance and ways to deal with it.

Structure of the answer:

Introduction:

Begin by defining cognitive dissonance.

Body:

Next, mention the various reasons why cognitive dissonance occurs and the potential implications of it. Cite examples of substantiate.

Next, mention the ways to deal and adapt for cognitive dissonance.

Conclusion:

Conclude by stressing on the way to manage cognitive dissonance.

Introduction

Cognitive dissonance is a phenomenon in which a person experiences psychological distress due to conflicting thoughts or beliefs. It is the mental stress or uneasiness experienced by an individual who holds two or more contradictory views, ideas, or values at the same time, or is confronted by new information that conflicts with existing beliefs, ideas, or values. It means people prefer their attitude and behaviour to be aligned in the same direction.

In order to reduce this tension, people may change their attitudes to reflect their other beliefs or actual behaviours.

Body

Festinger’s (1957) cognitive dissonance theory suggests that we have an inner drive to hold all our attitudes and behavior in harmony and avoid disharmony (or dissonance). This is known as the principle of cognitive consistency. When there is an inconsistency between attitudes or behaviors (dissonance), something must change to eliminate the dissonance.

Festinger hypothesized three main ways in which a person could reduce dissonance:

  1. change one of the dissonant cognitions, such as changing one’s attitude;
  2. add consonant cognitions to reduce overall inconsistency, such as seeking information to explain one’s inconsistent behavior; and
  3. diminish the importance of cognition in dissonant situations, such as trivializing the dissonant behavior or the importance of the attitude.

Ways to eliminate Cognitive Dissonance:

  • Denying and rejecting
    • Rejection comes easy when a dissonant activity is oft-repeated.
    • For instance, each time you eat meat while on a vegan diet creates more or less the same amount of cognitive dissonance, but the more often you do it, the easier it gets to handle the conflict
    • People frequently reduce cognitive dissonance by discounting and dismissing information that contradicts their beliefs.
    • They may cut off access to new information that refutes their pre-existing ideas and only remain open to data that support their beliefs. This is called “confirmation bias.”
  • Convincing Self Or Others
    • The easiest way for a person to reduce their cognitive dissonance is to convince oneself that there is no conflict.
    • A person suffering from cognitive dissonance may reach out to and find support from other people who hold similar opinions or matching ideologies, and join their group.
    • They may try persuading others that all fresh information is agenda-driven and fallacious.
  • Rationalizing The Behaviour
    • Rationalizing is the process of applying logic to a situation. To reduce cognitive dissonance, a person may rationalize their actions by inventing implausible (and sometimes ridiculous) excuses.
    • Despite knowing that smoking causes cancer, a smoker may rationalize the habit by claiming they only smoke once or twice a day and only when they are stressed at work.
  • Reconciling The Differences
    • This involves resolving the differences causing mental discomfort. The person may accept the validity of pre-existing beliefs and change their behavior consistent with their views.
    • Long-term goals to eliminate dissonance are more likely to necessitate the use of elaborate strategies like transcendence and attitude change.
    • Alternatively, it could lead them to abandon their established beliefs and form new ones.

Conclusion

A civil servant should always follow the constitutional moral values, code of conduct of services and act within ethical framework of public service in any case of cognitive dissonance.


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