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[Mission 2023] Insights SECURE SYNOPSIS: 23 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: Indian culture will cover the salient aspects of Art Forms, literature and Architecture from ancient to modern times.

1. Examine the causes and consequences of Vijayanagara-Bahamani conflict. (250 words)

Difficulty level: Easy

Reference: Insights on IndiaInsights on India

Why the question:

The question is part of the static syllabus of General studies paper – 1 and mentioned as part of Mission-2023 Secure timetable.

Key Demand of the question:

To write about causes and consequences of Vijaynagara-Bahamani conflict.

Directive word:

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

Structure of the answer:

Introduction: 

Begin by giving context of the contemporary rise of Vijayanagara empire and Bahamani kingdom.

Body:

First, write about the various causes behind the Vijayanagara-Bahamani conflict – imperial ambitions, economic considerations, control over trade, mutual animosity etc.

Next, write about consequences of the conflict – long drawn out, wars of attrition, drain on economic resources etc.

Conclusion:

Conclude by summarising.

Introduction

The Vijayanagar Kingdom (later, Vijayanagar Empire) was established in the year 1346 A.D, around the same time as Bahman Shah founded the Sultanate. The Vijayanagar Empire had considerable hold in South India in areas including the Tamil country and that of the Cheras (Kerala). However, it continued to face a constant threat in areas north of the Tungabhadra River in the shape of the Bahmani Sultanate. Unfortunately, this period in history is remembered more for the wars that marked the nature of the relations between the Vijayanagar Empire and the Bahmani Sultanate rather than for the developments they brought about for the region in which they were present.

Body

Various causes behind the Vijayanagara-Bahamani conflict

  • Economic reasons
    • Possession of Tungabhadra Doab: The territory between the rivers Tungabhadra and Krishna known as Tungabhadra Doab was very fertile. Each kingdom wanted to possess it.
    • Control of Krishna-Godavri Delta: This delta had two-fold significance. One, it was very fertile. Two, it had several important ports through which profitable trade was carried with several foreign countries like Ceylon, Indonesia, Malaya and Burma, etc. Both the powers wanted to have their supremacy over this territory.
    • Capture of Konkan or Western Coastal strip: This was also a very fertile area and had important ports like Goa which were important outlets for foreign trade. Goa was especially important for the import of horses from Iran and Iraq. On account of these reasons, both the powers had their eyes on this area.
  • Political reasons: Both the powers desired to extend their kingdom. Each considered the other as a danger to its existence.
  • Religious: Ever since the conquest of Deccan by Malik Kafur, the vanquished Hindu rulers had nursed a feeling of deep resentment against the Muslim oppressors. This had resulted in the emergence of a great Hindu empire of Vijayanagara in the Deccan. On the contrary, the Bahmani rulers were Muslims. So, there was a religious rivalry between the two kingdoms.
  • Failure of diplomacy on the part of Rama Raya: Sadasiva Raya (1542-70), the ruler of Vijayanagara was a very weak ruler and he played into the hands of his powerful minister Rama Raya. For a while, Rama Raya was able to make use of the rivalry of the five Muslim powers in the Deccan and weakened their power. But ultimately this policy failed and these states unified in the name of Islam.

Consequences of the conflict

  • Firstly, the frequent wars with the Bahmani Sultanate made Vijayanagar require a standing army at all times.
  • For the purpose of maintaining an army, which was remunerated in cash, there was a rise in the rate of taxation.
  • Also, the Vijayanagar kings believed that their losses to the Bahmani Sultans occurred due to inferior nature of their horses and in order to improve their army, the Vijayanagar Empire started procuring imported horses from the Arabs and later from the Portuguese.
    • This created a heavy burden on the state exchequer and was also responsible for a high taxation rate.
  • The high rate of taxation is known to have caused widespread discontent among the peasantry and owing to this a number of villages revolted against the empire itself however, these conflicts were localized and never made a major threat to suzerainty of the Vijayanagar Empire.
  • Within the fragmented nature of the Vijayanagar Empire every magnate looked to increase his power with respect to the neighbouring overlords.
  • These conflicts within the Vijayanagar Empire did play an important role in the empire’s defeat at the hands of the Bahmani Sultans as the forces of the empire needed to be divided in order to keep a check on the growing power of the nayakas.
  • The revolts in the provinces were frequent and needed to be kept in control in order to maintain supremacy of the central rule.
  • The Bahmani’s faced problems of their own in the form of a divided nobility within the Sultanate.
    • The nobles comprised of people from two different ethnic groups who were involved in a power struggle. One group of nobles comprised of the Turks, Afghans, and Persians who were generally Shias while the other group of Muslims from the Deccan region was traditionally Sunnis.
    • The rival factions had within them racial and religious differences that weakened the Sultanate and led to its downfall.
  • The conflict also led to the execution of Mahmud Gawan who was a brilliant statesman and held the tarafs present in the Bahmani Sultanate together.This set off the events that ultimately led to the division of the Sultanate

Conclusion

The conflict between the two kingdoms, which, at the surface, looks like a struggle for the protection of the Hindu identity turns out to be a complex battle for establishing political supremacy over the region. The two kingdoms established at almost the same time led to the consolidation of the region, making it free of multiple kingdoms fighting amongst each other and thereby stabilizing the region.

 

Topic: geographical features and their location-changes in critical geographical features (including water-bodies and ice-caps) and in flora and fauna and the effects of such changes.

2. Depleting and decreasing status of water resources may be one of the most critical resource issues of the 21st century. Critically analyse the issues and challenges in interlinking of rivers in India as a measure to overcome water crisis. (250 words)

Difficulty level: Moderate

Reference: Down to EarthInsights on India

Why the question:

Environmental groups in Karnataka have criticised the project to link the Bedti and Varada rivers in Karnataka, calling it ‘unscientific’ and a ‘waste of public money’. Thousands of people had protested the project June 14, 2022.

Key Demand of the question:

To analyse if interlinking of river in India is a sustainable water management practice.

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 the answer by giving context.

Body:

First, write about the growing water crisis in the country and its impact.

Next, write about the National River Linking Project (NRLP) formally known as the National Perspective Plan, envisages the transfer of water from water ‘surplus’ basins where there is flooding, to water ‘deficit’ basins where there is drought/scarcity, through inter-basin water transfer projects.

Briefly present the history behind River Interlinking in the country. Present the scope of the project and then critically evaluate the concerns posed by it as well as its benefits.

Conclusion:

Conclude with a fair and balanced opinion.

Introduction

The river interlinking project aims to link India’s rivers by a network of reservoirs and canals that will allow for their water capacities to be shared and redistributed. Some experts claim that this is an engineered panacea that will reduce persistent floods in some parts and water shortages in other parts besides facilitating the generation of hydroelectricity for an increasingly power hungry country.

Environmental groups in Karnataka have criticised the project to link the Bedti and Varada rivers in Karnataka, calling it ‘unscientific’ and a ‘waste of public money’. Thousands of people had protested the project recently.

Body

Opportunities arising out of River linking projects

  • India receives most of its rain during monsoon season from June to September, most of it falls in northern and eastern part of India, the amount of rainfall in southern and western part are comparatively low. It will be these places which will have shortage of water. Interlinking of rivers will help these areas to have water throughout the year.
  • This will cut farmers dependence on monsoon rains by bringing millions of hectares of cultivatable land under irrigation.
  • Crop productivity would increase and so would revenues for the State.
  • Even one bad monsoon has a direct and debilitating economic impact.
  • The river linking project will ease the water shortages in western and southern India while mitigating the impacts of recurrent floods in eastern India.
  • The Ganga Basin, Brahmaputra basin sees floods almost every year. In order to avoid this, the water from these areas has to be diverted to other areas where there is scarcity of water. This can be achieved by linking the rivers. There is a two way advantage with this – floods will be controlled and scarcity of water will be reduced.
  • Simultaneous floods and droughts continue to wreak havoc, destroying the lives and livelihoods of millions.
  • India needs clean energy to fuel its development processes, and river water can be leveraged for this.
  • Fulfilling water needs impact socio-economic life of people which will help end poverty.
  • Need for interlinking of rivers to prevent inter-state water disputes.
  • Potential benefits to transportation through navigation, as well as broadening income sources in rural areas through fishing.

Challenges posed

  • The idea that river linking would allow us to cope with flood in the north east and shortage of water in the Deccan is the positive aspect as pointed earlier but misleading one too.
  • This floods come at the time when most parts of the country run short of water, we need to hold the water somewhere to use it in dry season but the amount of flowing in the short period of time in Brahmaputra and Ganga is so huge to store and use it later.
  • Variability in rainfall is high which is the main source in the country, flood and drought simultaneously within the states of Bihar and Maharashtra.
  • Irrigation potential from interlinking rivers will have limited impact. The net national irrigated area from big dams has decreased and India’s irrigated area has gone up primarily due to groundwater.
  • Interlinking of rivers is a very expensive proposal. The amount required for these projects is so huge that government will have to take loans from the foreign sources which would increase the burden on the government and country will fall in a debt trap.
  • The river interlinking project will adversely affect land, forests, biodiversity, rivers and the livelihood of millions of people.
  • The Ken-Betwa link threatens about 200 sq. km of the Panna tiger reserve.
  • Interlinking of rivers will lead to destruction of forests, wetlands and local water bodies, which are major groundwater recharge mechanisms.
  • Less than positive experience that other countries have, like diversion of Amu Darya and the Syr Darya or the Australia’s experiments in its Murray Darling basin.
  • It causes massive displacement of people. Huge burden on the government to deal with the issue of rehabilitation of displaced people.
  • Due to interlinking of rivers, there will be decrease in the amount of fresh water entering seas and this will cause a serious threat to the marine life.
  • The Shah committee pointed out that the linking of rivers will affect natural supply of nutrients for agricultural lands through curtailing flooding of downstream areas.

Way forward

  • To look at water as a strategic resource for development.
  • Environment is one issue where anyone of us should be concerned about.
  • Best practices done by China and neighbouring countries needs to be looked upon.
  • The biggest, cheapest, most benign, possibly fastest and most decentralized storage option for India is the groundwater
  • Invest in water conservation, more efficient irrigation and better farm practices.
  • Recycling of water for internal usage as that of Israel.
  • We need a mandatory enforceable river policy aimed at treating rivers as national treasure.
  • Accumulation of silt in huge quantities, particularly the Ganga and its tributaries. These rivers need to be desilted.
  • River linking in the south and other parts which was undertaken in the past has been going well so such model needs to be taken forward.
  • Planting trees on the river banks is one way of bringing life back to the rivers.
  • Forest catchments will need to be restored, wastewater from industries and towns will need to be treated, sand mining need to be stopped.
  • Need to build the responsibility, capability and accountability in our water management institutions to revive our rivers.
  • The judicious use of canal water, growing crops that are appropriate to a region, encouraging drip irrigation and reviving traditional systems such as tanks.

Conclusion

The river linking project is a great challenge and an opportunity to address the water issues arising out of climate change. The long-term solution to water scarcity lies in making the IRL project work by building a network of dams and canals across the length and breadth of the country. However, interlinking has to take place after a detailed study so that does not cause any problem to the environment or aquatic life.

 

 


General Studies – 2


 

Topic: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.

3. How does infrastructure play a role in transformation of economy leading to economic development? Discuss the policies of the government aimed at providing major infrastructural push in the recent years. (250 words)

Difficulty level: Moderate

Reference: Live Mint

Why the question:

India’s march towards a $5 trillion economy hinges on infrastructure. India should have a truly robust system of monitoring projects that’s fed with timely and useful data

Key Demand of the question:

To write about the role of infra in the economy and recent steps to promote infra.

Directive word:

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

Structure of the answer:

Introduction: 

Start by giving defining the role of infrastructure in development.

Body:

First, write about the role of infra in development – it takes economy away from low-productivity agriculture and towards higher productivity manufacturing and services. Substantiate with facts and examples.

Next, write about major infrastructural push provided by the government in the recent years – National Monetisation Pipeline, Gati Shakti scheme etc. Also, mention their objectives, pros and cons.

Conclusion:

Conclude by summarising the importance of infra.

Introduction

Infrastructure sector is a key driver for the Indian economy. The sector is highly responsible for propelling India’s overall development and enjoys intense focus from Government for initiating policies that would ensure time-bound creation of world class infrastructure in the country. Infrastructure sector includes power, bridges, dams, roads, and urban infrastructure development.

Basic infrastructure facilities in the country provide the foundation of growth. In the absence of adequate infrastructure, the economy operates at a suboptimal level and remains distant from its potential and frontier growth trajectory.

Body

Background

The infrastructure sector will be the key to overall economic growth and macroeconomic stability, the Survey said emphasising that the year after the crisis (2021-22) will require sustained and calibrated measures to facilitate the process of economic recovery and enable the economy to get back on its long-term growth trajectory.

Role of infrastructure in transformation of economy leading to economic development

  • Foundation for growth:
    • Basic infrastructure facilities in the country provide the foundation of growth.
    • In the absence of adequate infrastructure, the economy operates at a suboptimal level and remains distant from its potential and frontier growth trajectory.
  • Increases employment:
    • Infrastructure development such as road construction, real estate, railway construction, etc. is labour intensive, leading to increase in employment opportunities in formal and informal sectors and thus, fuelling domestic demand.
  • Raises Farmer’s Income:
    • Investment in infrastructure would play critical role in ensuring doubling of farmers income through focus on increased irrigation infrastructure and storage, processing and marketing infrastructure.
  • Health and Well-being:
    • Infrastructure development of superior healthcare facilities, electronic health records and better equipped health infrastructure at primary levels. (Telemedicine)
  • Reduces Logistic Cost:
    • Building world class roads, railways, ports, inland water ways, will cut down logistic costs and improve competitiveness and promote exports.
    • This would bring more revenues to government and may promote socio – economic development.

Major Policies on Infrastructure

  • Government of India has launched National Infrastructure Pipeline (NIP)in 2019, wherein it has planned to invest about INR 102 lakh crores on infrastructure projects by 2024-25.
  • In 2020, NITI Aayog and Quality Council of India (QCI) launched the ‘National Program and Project Management Policy Framework’ (NPMPF).
  • The government of India has launched the National Monetisation Pipeline (NMP), a roadmap for asset monetisation of various brownfield infrastructure assets across sectors.
  • NMP will help in evolving a common framework for monetisation of core assets. The NMP estimates aggregate monetisation potential of Rs 6 lakh crores through core assets of the Central Government, over a four-year period, from FY 2022 to FY 2025.
  • Union budget 2021-22 gave a massive push to infrastructure sector by allotting Rs 233083 crore to enhance transport infrastructure and through National Infrastructure Pipeline (NIP) a Rs 111 lakh crore plan for financial year 2019-25.

Way forward

  • Rs 111 trillion National Infrastructure Pipeline for 2020-2025 will be a game-changer for the Indian economy. Sectors like energy, roads, urban infrastructure, railways have a lion’s share in it that will help boost growth.
  • To boost private investment in infra sector, it said the government has set up the Public Private Partnership Appraisal Committee (PPPAC) for appraisal of PPP projects.
  • Revamping of the proposed VGF scheme will attract more PPP projects and facilitate the private investment in social sectors (Health, Education, Waste Water, Solid Waste Management, Water Supply etc.)
  • The Aatmanirbhar Bharat has brought manufacturing at centre stage and emphasized its significance in driving India’s growth and creating jobs.

 

Topic: Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests.

4. The BRICS are at a turbulent crossroads as renewed great power competition intersects with countervailing tendencies in the emerging multipolar arena. Analyse. What course corrections are required to ensure deeper collaboration among the BRICS nations? (250 words)

Difficulty level: Tough

Reference: Indian ExpressInsights on India

Why the question:

Russia’s conflict with Ukraine has complicated the agenda of the two-day BRICS summit that begins on Thursday.

Key Demand of the question:

To write about the issues among the BRICS countries in the present day and measures needed to overcome them.

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 giving aims and objectives of BRICS.

Body:

In the first part, write about the various issues among the BRICS member countries which has brough them at a crossroad. Mention the current limitations of the BRICS bloc and hindrances to achieve its potential.

Next, mention the course corrections that are required – the role of trade and connectivity that can lead to collective economic benefits to the BRICS countries especially in the face of global economic turmoil, political consultation, deeper engagement over key areas etc.

Conclusion:

Conclude with a way forward and diplomatic steps needed to be taken in this regard.

Introduction

Russia’s conflict with Ukraine has complicated the agenda of the two-day BRICS summit that begins on Thursday. The focus of the Beijing-hosted virtual summit will be centred on the conflict and the association’s future. The leaders of BRICS countries — Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa — will navigate the crucial dilemma of evolving a common stance on the Russian-Ukraine conflict.

Body

BRICS at turbulent crossroads

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Ukraine crisis with Russia: The primary agenda of BRICS was rebalancing an international system dominated by the West.
    • However, the Ukraine crisis could act as a distraction from that primary agenda.
    • The geopolitical considerations of its members can come in the way of attaining the grouping’s original goal.

Overcoming the problems

  • Create institutional arrangement: Challenging the economic might of the West in the near future might be close to impossible. Despite the group comprising China, India and Russia, intra-BRICS trade accounts for less than 20 per cent of global trade.
    • BRICS is far from having its own payment mechanisms, international messaging systems or cards.
    • The Ukraine crisis should drive home the need to create institutional arrangements that can cushion against similar financial turbulence in the future.
  • Recalibrate structure and expand: BRICS requires a recalibration of its structure and agenda. Creating financial mechanisms and technological institutions could turn BRICS into a G20 for developing nations.
    • It’s time to revisit the idea of expanding the grouping by inviting new members.
    • This could also impart new vigour to the BRICS’s developmental goals.
  • Economic cooperation between India and China: Economic cooperation between India and China is vital for the success of any future BRICS endeavour. The border conflict has created a mistrust of China in India.
  • In the current situation, New Delhi is unlikely to take an anti-West stance.
  • India, unlike China, is neither a UN Security Council member nor does it have major sticking points with the West.At the same time, India is not a part of the Western camp.
  • That does open up the possibility of New Delhi taking a more proactive position in BRICS.The two powers need to come together for the sake of global governance reform.

Conclusion

The Ukraine crisis could be an occasion for the leaders of BRICS nations to commit themselves to the original goal of the bloc. It’s an opportunity they shouldn’t let go of. 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.

Value Addition

Significance of BRICS

  • Economically, militarily, technologically, socially and culturally, BRICS nations represent a powerful bloc.
  • 40 per cent of the world’s population: They have an estimated combined population of 3.23 billion people, which is over 40 per cent of the world’s population.
  • 25 per cent of global GDP: They account for over more than a quarter of the world’s land area over three continents, and for more than 25 per cent of the global GDP.
  • Two fastest growing large economies: The grouping comprises two of the fastest-growing nations, India and China.
  • It has proved its mettle to an extent by establishing the BRICS New Development Bank (NDB) and the Contingency Reserve Arrangement (CRA).

 

 


General Studies – 3


 

Topic: Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization, of resources, growth, development and employment.

5. What is depreciation of Indian rupee? Examine the factors behind its recent depreciation and its impact on the economy in general. (250 words)

Difficulty level: Moderate

Reference: Indian Express , Insights on India

Why the question:

The Indian currency is facing one of the toughest fights of its life. In the crosshairs of a triple-barrelled gun of capital outflows, higher crude oil prices and widening.

Key Demand of the question: 

To write about the causes for depreciation of rupee, its impact and measures needed to counter it.

Directive word: 

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

Structure of the answer:

Introduction:

Begin by explaining the concept of depreciation of rupee.

Body:

First, write about the causes behind the recent depreciation – rising interest rates in USA, flight of capital has taken place from developing countries like India, portfolio investors tend to withdraw from these markets, Increasing crude oil prices and Ukraine crisis etc.

Next, discuss the impact of falling rupee value on inflation, cad, price of essential imports etc.

Next, write about the various steps that are required to counter it.

Conclusion:

Conclude with a way forward.

Introduction

Currency depreciation is a fall in the value of a currency in a floating exchange rate system. Rupee depreciation means that the rupee has become less valuable with respect to the dollar.

In the crosshairs of a triple-barrelled gun of capital outflows, higher crude oil prices and widening Current Account Deficit (CAD), the domestic unit yet again hit a new low of 78.29 against the US dollar. So far this year, the rupee has fallen about 5%, while the dollar index—pegged to a basket of six currencies—has shot up 10%.

Body

Various factors behind the depreciation of Indian rupee

  • Sell-off of the Equity: A sell-off in the global equity markets which was triggered by the hike in interest rates by the U.S. Federal Reserve (central bank), the war in Europe and growth concerns in China due to the Covid-19 surge, led to the rupee depreciation.
    • With the US Federal Reserve hiking rates by 50 basis points, there has been a sell-off in global markets as investors have rushed to the dollar.
  • Outflow of Dollar: The outflow of dollars is a result of high crude prices and the correction in equity markets is also causing adverse flow of dollars.
    • In India, foreign portfolio investors have pulled out around $5.8 billion since the beginning of this financial year as per data from Kotak, exerting downward pressure on the currency.
  • Tightening of Monetary Policy: Steps taken by RBI to tighten the monetary policy to counter rising inflation has also led to depreciation.
  • Trade deficit: here is also the pressure owing to the rising trade deficit — in April the deficit stood at $20 billion, up from $18.7 billion in March. In fact, according to analysts, the current account deficit is likely to be at its highest level since the crisis of 2013.

Impact on the Indian economy of falling rupee

  • The current account deficit is bound to widen, depleting foreign exchange reserves and weakening the rupee.
  • With higher landed prices of crude oil and other crucial imports, the economy is definitely inching towards cost-push inflation.
    • Cost-push inflation (also known as wage-push inflation) occurs when overall prices increase (inflation) due to increases in the cost of wages and raw materials.
  • Companies may not be allowed to fully pass on the burden of high costs to consumers, which, in turn, affects government dividend earnings, raising questions about budgeted fiscal deficits.
  • Depreciation in rupee is a double-edged sword for the Reserve Bank of India.
    • Weaker rupee should theoretically give a boost to India’s exports, but in an environment of uncertainty and weak global demand, a fall in the external value of rupee may not translate into higher exports.
  • Inflation: It poses risk of imported inflation, and may make it difficult for the central bank to maintain interest rates at a record low for longer.
    • India meets more than two-thirds of its domestic oil requirements through imports.
    • India is also one of the top importers of edible oils.
    • A weaker currency will further escalate imported edible oil prices and lead to a higher food inflation.

Measures required to counter the depreciation

  • Curbing imports of non-essential goods will lessen the demand for Dollars and promoting export will help in increasing the flow of Dollars into the country, thus, helps in control rupee depreciation.
  • The Masala Bond is directly pegged to the Indian currency. If Indian borrowers issue more rupee denominated Masala Bonds, this would increase liquidity in the market or increase in the rupee stock against few currencies in the market and this would help in supporting the rupee.
  • External Commercial Borrowing (ECB) is a type of loan in foreign currencies, made by non-resident lenders. Thus, easing conditions of ECB’s helps in receiving more loans in foreign currencies would increase the inflow of forex, leading to rupee appreciation.
  • The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has been intervening to soften the currency’s slide — the fall in its foreign exchange reserves suggests that is the case. This reduces the volatility of the currency.

Conclusion

Considering that the rupee is overvalued, the central bank should allow the currency to slide, allowing it to find its own level, intervening only to smoothen excess volatility. Currency depreciation will act as an automatic stabiliser. It will help ease current account pressures by curbing imports, but more importantly, it will help boost exports  a critical driver of the country’s economy at the current juncture.

 

Topic: Infrastructure: Energy, Ports, Roads, Airports, Railways etc.

6. Nuclear energy is proven, scalable and reliable, and its expanded use will be essential for many countries to achieve their decarbonization goals. Do you think its benefits outweigh the risks posed by it? Comment. (250 words)

Difficulty level: Moderate

Reference: Live MintInsights on India

Why the question:

As energy security becomes a growing source of angst, it’s clear that large-scale reliable use of renewable resources remain a distant reality in many countries. That has given a controversial but almost perfect alternative a comeback chance: nuclear.

Key Demand of the question:

To write about potential and limitations of nuclear energy in India.

Directive word: 

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

Structure of the answer:

Introduction: 

Start with prospects of Nuclear energy in general.

Body:

First, write about the potential of nuclear energy in India and India’s progress so far with respect to it as well its role in energy security of India.

Next, write about risks associated with nuclear energy and highlight with examples why we shouldn’t depend completely on nuclear. Cite examples to substantiate.

Conclusion:

Conclude by writing a balanced opinion about nuclear energy.

Introduction

Nuclear Energy plays a critical role in achieving sustainable economic and social development. Modern civilization heavily depends on energy for daily activities. Energy is like a lifeline for the sustenance and progress of the entire world. Nuclear energy plays a vital role in the world economy by generating jobs, income and facilitating trade on a massive scale.

Expanded use of nuclear technologies offered immense potential to meet important development needs. In fact, to satisfy energy demands and to mitigate the threat of climate change — two of the 21st century’s greatest challenges — there are major opportunities for expansion of nuclear energy.

Body

Potential & benefits of nuclear energy as a source of power:

  • Thorium and Uranium reserves: India has vast reserves of Thorium that can fuel India’s nuclear energy provided appropriate technology. India’s thorium deposits, estimated at 360,000 tonnes, and natural uranium deposits at 70,000 tonnes. The country’s thorium reserves make up 25% of the global reserves.
  • Energy poverty: Although India is the 3rdlargest producer of electricity, about 20 % of the population of the country does not have access to electricity today. The per capita consumption of electricity is very low at about 1,181 kWh per annum, about half of the world average and way below that of advanced countries. There exist shortages in energy and peak power in the range 10-15%.
  • Energy demand:Nuclear energy is a critical part for India’s future energy security. As we know India’s annual energy demand is expected to rise to 800 GW by 2032, it is very important to consider every source of energy in the optimum energy mix.
  • Energy efficiency: Quantities of nuclear fuel needed are considerably less than thermal power plants. For instance, 10000 MW generation by coal will need 30-35 million tons of coal, but nuclear fuel needed will be only 300-350 tons.
  • Economic growth:Rapid economic growth is also critical to achieve developmental objectives and poverty alleviation. A sustained economic growth of about 8 to 10% is needed over the next few decades. As electricity is a key driver for economic growth, it is necessary that there is a massive augmentation in electricity capacity, apart from transmissions and distribution systems.
  • Decrease in Energy Supply:Energy supply has been negatively affected by changing weather patterns. As water reservoirs decreases due to lower precipitation and increased evaporation, capacity for electricity production from hydropower and other water-intensive generation technologies may decline.
  • Climate change:Due to its emission-free nature, nuclear energy can contribute to global efforts under the Paris Agreement. India’s Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) has outlined goals to reduce the carbon emissions intensity of its economy by 33-35% by 2030 as well as increase the clean energy electricity capacity to 40% of the total installed capacity in the same period.

Risks posed by Nuclear Energy:

  • India’s domestic Uranium Reserve can support only 10000 MW of energy. So our future potential depends upon development of third stage of Nuclear Program.
  • Otherwise, there will be again overdependence upon imported Uranium as it is case with Oil currently. Hence, long term strategy will be only determined when third stage is functional.
  • Current Nuclear reactors consume significant amount of water. So, most of upcoming plants will be set up near sea coasts.
  • It will put pressure on the coastline as India’s Western coastline is home to fragile ecology of Western Ghats.
  • Further, till now only 21 plants have been operational. There are long gestation periods which increase costs of the plant significantly. Only a Nuclear Industry revolution in the future in nuclear energy can make this achievable.
  • New safeguard requirements post Fukushima disaster, has pushed per MW costs of nuclear reactors significantly higher in comparison to Thermal, solar and wind plants.
  • Jaitapur plant in Maharashtra (AREVA) is expected to cost 21 crore/ MW in comparison other sources cost 8-10 crore/ MW. It is to be seen that whether differences of operational/ running costs justify such higher capital expenditure on nuclear plants.
  • Some argue that Total costs of a Nuclear Lifecycle which involves Mining of Uranium, transportation and storage, capital costs of plants, processing/ reprocessing of plants, possible disasters and then handling of waste generated for hundreds of years is significantly more that economic value generated during lifetime of the functioning of the plant, which is generally 40-50 years.
  • Nuclear installations will be favorite targets of terrorists (also in case of war) which can cause irreversible damage to people living in nearby areas.
  • In long run if worldwide dependence on nuclear energy increases, it will be most unavoidable way of nuclear proliferation as interest and attempt to invest in indigenous industry will increase.
  • Otherwise, smaller counties will continue to buy relevant technologies or components from a few western countries which will serve private interest of few.
  • India doesn’t yet have credible waste disposal policy and infrastructure in place.

Conclusion

Nuclear energy, though is critical for India’s energy security but is not panacea for the problem. People of India have right to have safe and sustainable energy. So future development should depend upon cost benefit analysis taking into account all the externalities involved in various components of energy mix. If this is done, it is most likely that policy will get incline strongly in favor of non-conventional sources of energy that is solar, wind and biomass.

 

 


General Studies – 4


 

Topic: moral and political attitudes.

7. ‘Majoritarian views and popular morality cannot dictate constitutional rights’. Discuss. (150 words)

Difficulty level: Tough

Why the question:

The question is part of the static syllabus of General studies paper – 4 and part of ‘Abstract Thursdays’ in Mission-2023 Secure.

Directive word: 

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

Structure of the answer:

Introduction: 

Start by elaborating on the concept of popular morality.

Body:

Write about aspects such as what is accepted within the realms of popular morality, is it static and based on cultural notions and dictums. Cite examples

Influence of popular morality on constitutional rights – both positive and negative impact – substantiate with examples.

Conclusion:

Conclude by stating that popular morality must be in consonance with constitutional rights.

Introduction

Popular morality refers to norms and values that are acceptable by majority of the populace in a particular place or region. There may be a significant number of people who may have different practices, yet the societal practice would be that of the majority. Eg: Wearing hijab by minority community leading to clashes in Karnataka.

On the other hand, Majoritarian views are those where the needs and wishes of a minority community is completely disregarded by the majority community and the majority community believes it should be able to rule the country as per its wishes in any manner..

Body

Majoritarian views & Popular morality affecting Constitutional Rights

Sometimes popular morality may overshadow individual rights and even Constitutional rights. For instance, entry into Sabarimala temple was upheld for women of all ages, but yet those women who tried to enter were assaulted and needed police protection. This Supreme Court judgement was not acceptable by the people.

The very purpose of fundamental rights in the Indian Constitution is to place the subject of an individual’s liberty and dignity beyond the reach of majoritarian governments. This is so that constitutional morality can assure the rights, among others, of “discrete and insular” minorities.

Popular morality sometimes aims to mainstream the majority culture. For example, the ban on LGBTQ and criminalisation of their relations for many hundred years is a case in point. No government would legalize such courtships as they lack gumption and fear losing vote banks. Hence Courts had to step up to protect rights of LGBTQ.

Even today the Dalit community is being segregated and discriminated against. This goes against Article 17 and Article 14 that stands for equality. Cases of Dalit groom not allowed to ride a horse for baraat, Dalit women being raped shows the atrocities of majority over Dalits. Sometimes popular morality can lead to violence.

Conclusion

The government in power must balance the competing needs of legal development and the satisfaction of popular justice concerns. In a conservative society like that of India, behaviour nudge can lead to acceptance of minority norms and value. Live and Let Live must become a practice. As a society we must embrace popular morality while giving space for dissonance, so that we become a generally tolerant society.


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