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[Mission 2023] Insights SECURE SYNOPSIS: 9 July 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. Examine the reasons as to why tribal revolts and rebellions against the colonial regime failed? Why are these revolts significant and what relevance do they have for the present day?

Reference: Indian ExpressInsights on India

 

Introduction

The Tribal population, being conservative, was interested in retaining the existing salient features of their society. Tribal movements were inspired by revolutionary tendencies. They wanted to make use of the situation to fight and eliminate evils and ill-tendencies that existed in the contemporary tribal society. Before British influence, tribals had depended on the forest for food, fuel and fodder. They practiced shifting cultivation (jhum, podu, etc.), taking recourse to fresh forest lands when their existing lands showed signs of exhaustion. The colonial government changed all this.

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Background

  • The fourth of July marks the 125th birth anniversary of Alluri Sitarama Raju, one of India’s revolutionary heroes whose guerilla tactics and daring attacks struck terror in the hearts of the British.
  • The occasion significantly coincides with the Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav celebrations, commemorating the 75th year of Independence.

Reasons for failure

  • Though these early movements created a healthy culture promoting expression of local dissent against authoritarianism, they also faced certain limitations.
  • Though as single events, these revolts were powerful and pervasive in their region; from the national perspective, they were localised and isolated events that didn’t capture the popular imagination of the nation at large. This limited the effect that these uprisings could have had.
  • Additionally, most of these uprisings arose from dissatisfaction over local grievances, and the rest of the nation could not identify with the agitating persons and express empathy for their grievances.
  • The uprisings were not revolutionary in ideas, thought or ideology, but were just external manifestations of protests over particular grievances.
  • They presented no alternate solution to the public, and failed to galvanise them into action.
  • The leaders of most of these uprisings were semi-feudal in character and hence, had a traditional, conservative outlook.
  • They were easily satisfied if the British provided even minor concessions or agreed to their specific demands.
  • Hence, no large scale reform of society was perceived or even demanded for by the people participating in these protests.

Significance

  • The uprisings helped create an united notion against the oppressive nature of British rule.
  • It laid bare the colonial rule of East India company.
  • It played an important role in bringing the tribal people together and imparting to them the consciousness of belonging to one country.
  • The Tribal rebellions in India took place for social, cultural and political reasons, particularly against the acquisition of their land and exerted their rights over forest resources.

Relevance for present day

  • The stellar contribution of our tribal communities to the country’s freedom struggle and nation-building helps us in understanding the contemporary tribal communities of India.
  • Our youth must learn the spirit of sacrifice and unwavering commitment to freedom and national dignity, unity and integrity from our freedom fighters.
  • This would be a rightful tribute to these heroes who sacrificed everything for the sake of our freedom.

Conclusion

It is evident that the colonial rule even, during the days of the east India Company witnessed numerous uprising and disturbances. These varied grievances reached their climax in the revolt of 1857, which in spite of targeting certain groups of Indians remains the prominent uprising against the British before the beginning of the Indian Freedom movement.

Value addition

The causes for the tribal uprisings included

  • Imposition of Land revenue Settlement. For instance, Famine, enhanced land revenue demands and economic distress goaded the Chuar aboriginal tribesmen of the Jungle Mahal of Midnapore district and also of the Bankura district (in Bengal) to take up arms.
  • British policies and acts like the establishment of  the Forest  department  in  1864, Government  Forest  Act (1865) and Indian  Forest  Act (1878)which restricted the activities of tribals in forest areas led to their ire against the British. g.: Koya revolt against British for denial of tribal’s rights over forest areas.
  • Extension of settled agriculture. E.g.: : The British expansion on their territory led to an uprising by the martial Pahariyas of the Raj Mahal Hills in 1778.
  • New excise regulations which imposed a ban on tribals to make their own liquor, an important trait of their culture.
  • Large scale transfer of forest land. g.: large-scale transfers of land from Kol headmen to outsiders like Hindu, Sikh and Muslim farmers and money-lenders who were oppressive and demanded heavy taxes.
  • Restrictions on shifting cultivation in forest. For e.g.: Khasi and Garo rebellions against occupation of hilly land and ban on shifting cultivation.
  • Introduction of the notion of private property.
  • Exploitation by   low   country   traders   and money lenders. E.g.: Santhal rebellion against moneylenders and traders. The Ulgulan uprising against money lenders
  • Work of Christian Missionaries and against the interference of other religions such as Hinduism, Islam and Christianity. g: Tana Bhagat Movement

 

 

2. The mental illnesses and challenges that India’s LGBTQIA+ people face need comprehensive and long-term solutions. Elucidate.

Reference: The Hindu

 

Introduction

The LGBTQIA+ community faces a lot of problems. The main problem is acceptance from people outside the community. For the Indian LGBT community, a truly inclusive society remains a distant dream. In urban India, where social media and corporate initiatives have created increasing awareness of LGBT rights, the scenario looks more upbeat for gay men than for transgender people or lesbian women. While urban LGBT voices that are heard through several online and real-world platforms form an important part of LGBT activism, these expose only a small part of the diverse challenges faced by the community.

The Tamil Nadu government recently amended its police conduct rules to bar harassment of LGBTQIA+ individuals and persons working to help them.

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Issues faced by LGBTQIA+ community in India

  • Mental health issues:
    • life-long dissonance, deep-rooted stigma, discrimination and often abuse, that the community experiences often leads to extreme distress and poor self-worth, resulting in self-hate and suffering.
    • The community is often fearful and has such deeply internalised stigma that it is challenging to even articulate what it feels like — forget about seeking help.
    • LGBTQIA++ youth are likely to suffer 1.75 times more anxiety and depression than the rest of society while the transgender community is even more vulnerable as its members suffer 2.4 times higher anxiety and depression.
  • Discrimination:
    • Sexual orientation and gender identity are rarely discussed in our social, educational or familial environments, and if ever done, these discussions are stigmatising.
    • Society marginalises LGBTQIA++ people throughout life, no matter how accomplished they may be.
  • Inadequate health services
    • When help is sought even by the most empowered, queer affirmative mental health services are hardly available.
    • A large majority of the psychiatrists in India still consider diverse sexual orientations and gender identities as a disorder and practice ‘correctional therapy’.
    • This is also true of general health care as well. In an ongoing study, the Raahat Project found that a large number of trans and gay men preferred to pay and seek help in the private sector rather than access government health care due to harassment and stigma.

Way Forward

  • The need of the hour is to change the status quo is to ensure that every aspect of mental health work in India must include aspects of queer mental health issues, especially in schools and universities, to destigmatise diverse gender and sexual identities.
  • A key aspect is building self-care skills among queer adolescents and youth.
  • Strong components of behaviour change and awareness and also building capacity are important ways to build agency among these youth populations.
  • We need is a movement on queer mental health guided by non-discrimination and public awareness in order to change social attitudes.
  • Community building is an important part of improving the mental health for LGBTQIA++ people.
  • We need to create supportive, safe and educative spaces, access points for health care and information on mental health.
  • One such project that the Raahat Project has been working on through participatory methods has opened a host of issues that LGBTQIA++ communities face in leading colleges on an ongoing basis.

Conclusion

We need comprehensive long-term solutions that make queer mental health a priority and address community needs but also engage everyone to change the environment in which they exist. These solutions must engage with all stakeholders, including educational institutions, communities, health-care providers, mental health professionals, police personnel and families who are often a key source of mental health stress.

Value addition

Background

  • The Delhi High Court’s verdict in Naz Foundation vs Government of NCT of Delhi (2009) was a landmark in the law of sexuality and equality jurisprudence in India.
  • The court held that Section 377 offended the guarantee of equality enshrined in Article 14 of the Constitution, because it creates an unreasonable classification and targets homosexuals as a class.
  • In a retrograde step, the Supreme Court, in Suresh Kumar Koushal vs Naz Foundation (2013), reinstated Section 377 to the IPC.
  • However, the Supreme Court in Navtej Singh Johar & Ors. vs Union of India (2018) declared that the application of Section 377 IPC to consensual homosexual behaviour was “unconstitutional”.
  • This Supreme Court judgment has been a great victory to the Indian individual in his quest for identity and dignity.

 


General Studies – 2


 

3. Critically examine the role technology can play in preventing custodial violence and deaths in India. What other measures are needed to put an end to this spate of custodial violence?

Reference: The Hindu

Introduction

For many years now, custodial torture leading to deaths have become ongoing phenomenon and the question of “Who will guard the guardians”, the so-called “rakshak bhakshak” syndrome remains unanswered and unresolved.

India has a grim record in police brutality and custodial violence. Between 2001 and 2018, 1,727 persons died in police custody, but only 26 policemen were convicted for such deaths. The recent spate of custodial deaths in Tamil Nadu has yet again highlighted the methods used by the police during interrogation.

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Technology as a solution to prevent custodial deaths

  • Given the problem of custodial deaths, technology has been proposed as a silver bullet by many. Several technological solutions are available to help prevent custodial deaths. These include body cameras and automated external defibrillators.
  • There is no doubt that technology can help avert police custodial deaths. For example, body cameras could hold officers liable.
  • Deception detection tests (DDTs), which deploy technologies such as polygraph, narco-analysis and brain mapping, could be valuable in learning information that is known only to a criminal regarding a crime.
  • The Brain Fingerprinting System (BFS) is an innovative technology that several police forces contemplate adding to their investigative tools. BFS has proved helpful for solving crimes, identifying perpetrators, and exonerating innocent suspects. Laboratory and field tests for the BFS at the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Central Intelligence Agency, and U.S. Navy demonstrated no errors and no false positives and false negatives.
  • Robots equipped with AI and sensor technology can build a rapport with the suspects, utilise persuasive techniques like flattery, shame and coercion, and strategically use body language. Researchers at the University of Arizona have created automated interrogation technology called The Automated Virtual Agent for Truth Assessments in Real-Time (AVATAR).
  • Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) are emerging as tool of interrogations. AI can detect human emotions and predict behaviour. Therefore, these are also options. ML can in real-time alert superiors when police are meting out inhumane treatment to suspects.

 

Technology is not a panacea

  • In June 2008, India convicted an accused leaning on evidence from a BFS device. In 2010, the Supreme Court, in Selvi v. State of Karnataka, rendered the evidence inadmissible.
    • The court observed that the state could not perform narco analysis, polygraph, and brain-mapping tests on any individual without their consent.
    • With informed consent, however, any information or material discovered during the BFS tests can be part of the evidence.
    • As the BFS is high-end technology, it is expensive and unavailable in several States.
  • There is a lot of concern about AI or robot interrogations, both legally and ethically.
    • There exists the risk of bias, the peril of automated interrogation tactics, the threat of ML algorithms targeting individuals and communities, and the hazard of its misuse for surveillance.
    • Therefore, while the technology available to the police and law-enforcement agencies is constantly improving, it is a restricted tool that can’t eradicate custodial deaths.

 

Conclusion and way forward

  • What we need is the formulation of a multi-pronged strategy by the decision-makers encompassing legal enactments, technology, accountability, training and community relations.
  • The Law Commission of India’s proposition in 2003 to change the Evidence Act to place the onus of proof on the police for not having tortured suspects is important in this regard.
  • Besides, stringent action must be taken against personnel who breach the commandments issued by the apex court in D.K. Basu v. State of West Bengal (1997).
  • The draft bill on the Prevention of Torture, 2017, which has not seen the day, needs to be revived.
  • Technology may make policing more convenient, but it can never be an alternative for compassionate policing established on trust between the police and the citizens.

 

General Studies – 3


 

4. Examine how a ban on exports impacts the Indian economy in the short and long term, with a special emphasis on the agricultural sector.

Reference: Indian Express

 

Introduction

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

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Reasons for ban on wheat exports from India

  • Government stock depletion: The anticipated production levels were not fulfilled and the fear of low wheat stocks due to less procurement paved way for this decision.
  • Crop damage due to heat wave: The fall has been caused due to low wheat production after high temperatures in March resulted in the shrivelling of wheat grains, thus impacting the quantity of the crop.
  • Keeping domestic prices in check: India’s ban on wheat exports is not a crisis-driven reaction but top keep food inflation in check as wheat prices were soaring and poor people were affected badly.
    • The move to ban the export of wheat was prompted by rising inflation, (WPI) in India has moved up from 2.26 per cent at the start of 2022 to 14.55 now.
    • Retail inflation, too, hit an eight-year high of 7.79 per cent in April, driven by rising food and fuel prices.
  • Food security of neighbours: This move is being done to manage overall food security of the country and to need the support of the neighbouring and vulnerable nations.

Implications of the ban

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

Conclusion

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

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

 

 

5. Landslides are a frequent and recurring phenomenon and most of the risks from landslides are due to inadequate attention paid to the nature of slope and material related aspects. Analyse.

Reference: The HinduInsights on India

 

Introduction

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

The massive landslide occurred due to incessant rains which caused damage to the Tupul station building of the ongoing Jiribam – Imphal new line project. The massive debris has blocked the Ijei River, creating a reservoir that may inundate low-lying areas.

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Vulnerability of India to landslides

  • About 12.6 per cent of the total land mass of India falls under the landslide-prone hazardous zone, according to a study by the GSI
  • The most recent report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)stated that a global rise of 1.5 degrees Celsius (from pre-Industrial times) was inevitable in the next two decades. This would increase glacier melt and more water would flow over the steep slopes, thereby generating more landslides.
  • Highly unstable, relatively young mountainous areas in the Himalayas and Andaman and Nicobar, high rainfall regions with steep slopes in the Western Ghats and Nilgiris, the north-eastern regions, along with areas that experience frequent ground-shaking due to earthquakes, etc., which can result in an increased number of landslides.
  • The rivers in Himalayan regions are mighty and in their youthful stage. They do a lot of downcutting, which enhances the occurrence of landslides.
  • Landslides due to mining and subsidence are most common in states like Jharkhand, Orissa. Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Goa, and Kerala.
  • India was one of the countries most affected by human-triggered fatal landslides in the 2004-16 period, found a study by researchers at Sheffield University, UK.
  • A 2011 estimate suggested that India suffers Rs 150-200 crore of monetary loss every year from landslides, said a study by the National Institute of Disaster Management (NIDM)

The causes of the landslides can be studied under the following heads.

  • Natural Causes:
  • Earthquakes: Himalayas are situated at the convergent plate boundary zone of two continental plates viz. Indo-Australian plate in the south and Eurasian plate in the north. Thus geologically Himalayas are highly active seismic zone and Orogenesis is still in process. The earthquakes loosen the soil, which trigger the landslides.
  • Rainfall: Himalayan region receives quite heavy rainfall that leads to percolation of water in the lower layers, soil erosion, solifluction & landslides.
  • Slope: The steep slopes of Himalayan Mountains are one of the major reasons of frequent landslides than any other mountain ranges in India.
  • Structure: large portion of Himalayas is made up of sedimentary Rock which is more fragile.
  • Anthropogenic Causes:
  • Jhum Cultivation: popularly known as slash & burn type of cultivation practiced particularly in the Himalayan region.
  • Deforestation & Grazing: Himalayan region is centre of huge diversity when it comes to trees & this diversity has led to indiscriminate chopping of trees. The trees help in holding the soil together, curbing the erosion and landslides to maximum extent. Increased grazing has led to wiping out of many grassland areas causing soil erosion and easy prey for landslides.
  • Illegal mining & Industrial activities: The rampant commercial activities have huge impact on the sensitive zones of Himalayas. The constant blasting of rocks, increased vibrations due to drilling, boring etc. lead to loosening of rocks and soil particles in turn causing landslides when there is enough fluidity.
  • Infrastructure projects: Himalayas being source of many rivers has led to construction of multipurpose dam projects like Tehri. This has affected the already fragile Himalayas. There has been increase in number of developmental projects of highways, tunnels through hills which cause stress and sheer in the surrounding regions. Example: Chenani-Nashri tunnel project.
  • Unsustained Urbanization and Tourism: Increasing migration to cities has led to urban sprawl clearing the forest areas. Increased vehicular traffic, clearing of forest land to build infrastructure like roads, hotels etc. have affected the geography of the region.
  • Climate change: Global warming has led to quicker melting of snow and more percolation of water within the underlying surface of hill.

The measures to control landslides are

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

Conclusion

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

 

 

 

Answer the following questions in 250 words(15 marks each):


General Studies – 1


 

6. Among martyrs who willingly treaded the thorny path with courage and faced the gallows with fortitude, the name of Bhagat Singh shines as a star. He is rightly called ‘Prince of Martyrs’. Elaborate.

Reference: Insights on India

 

Introduction

Bhagat Singh, an iconic revolutionary, thinker, voracious reader and one of the well-read of political leaders at that time, was a giant of an intellectual. He pursued his passion for reading and writing relentlessly, despite fighting violently against Britishers. He studied to arm himself with arguments in favour of his cult of patriotism and enabled himself to face the arguments advanced by opposition.

Body:

Bhagat Singh: a hero of the masses:

  • He was revered by the youth, loathed by British Raj and opposed by none other than Mahatma Gandhi, like other revolutionaries he dreamt of freedom for motherland.
  • As much as he was involved in violence against the government, he exercised his conscience and used non-violence and fasting as a tool to break the hegemony of British power.
  • He always vouched for human dignity and rights beyond sectarian divide.

Revolutionary ideology and goals of revolution:

  • A real breakthrough was made by Bhagat Singh and his comrades in terms of revolutionary ideology, forms of revolutionary struggle and the goals of revolution.
  • The Hindustan republican association’s (HRA) Manifesto (1925) declared that the it stood for abolition of all systems which made exploitation of man by man possible. Its founding council had decided to preach social revolutionary and communistic principles.
  • The HRA had also decided to start labour and peasant organizations and to work for an organized and armed revolution.
  • Emphasizing the role of ideas in the making of  revolution, Bhagat Singh declared that the sword of revolution is sharpened on the whetting-stone of ideasThis atmosphere of wide reading and deep thinking pervaded the ranks of the HSRA leadership. 
  • Punjab Naujawan Bharat Sabha:
    • Singh had turned to Marxism and had come to believe that popular broad-based mass movements alone could lead to a successful revolution.
    • That is why Bhagat Singh helped  establish the Punjab Naujawan Bharat Sabha in 1926 as the open wing of the revolutionaries.
    • The Sabha was to carry out open political work among the youth, peasants and workers.
  • Bhagat Singh and Sukhdev also organized the Lahore Students Union for open, legal work  among the students.
  • Patient intellectual and political work appealed to be too slow and too akin to the Congress style of politics which the revolutionaries wanted to transcend.
  • Effective acquisition of new ideology is a prolonged and historical process whereas the need of the time was a quick change in the way of thinking.
  • These young intellectuals faced the classic dilemma of how to mobilise people and recruit them. Here, they decided to opt for propaganda by deed, i.e., through individual heroic action and by using courts as a forum for revolutionary propaganda

A new idea and interpretation of revolution:

  • Revolution was no longer equated with militancy and violence.
  • Its objective was to be national liberation—imperialism was to be overthrown but beyond that a new socialist order was to be achieved, ending “exploitation of man by man”.
  • As Bhagat Singh said in the court, “Revolution does not necessarily involve sanguinary strife, nor is there a place in it for personal vendetta. It is not the cult of bomb and pistol. By revolution we mean the present order of things, which is based on manifest injustice, must change.”
  • Bhagat fully accepted Marxism and the class approach to society—”Peasants have to free themselves not only from the foreign yoke, but also from the yoke of landlords and capitalists.”
  • He also said, “The struggle in India will continue, so long as a handful of exploiters continue to exploit labour of common people to further their own interests.
  • It matters little whether these exploiters are British capitalists, British and Indian capitalists in alliance, or even purely Indians.”
  • He defined socialism scientifically as abolition of capitalism and class domination.
  • Bhagat was fully and consciously secular—two of the six rules drafted by Bhagat for the Punjab Naujawan Bharat Sabha were that its members would have nothing to do with communal bodies and that they would propagate a general feeling of tolerance among people, considering religion to be a matter of personal belief.
  • Bhagat Singh also saw the importance of freeing people from the mental bondage of religion and superstition—”to be a revolutionary, one required immense moral strength, but one also required criticism and independent thinking”

Conclusion:

Bhagat Singh and his comrades  made an abiding contribution to the national freedom movement. Their deep patriotism, courage and determination, and sense of sacrifice stirred the Indian people. They helped spread nationalist consciousness in the land.

Value addition:

Vision of Bhagat Singh:

  • At tender age he realised the larger goals of life rather than being circumscribed to accomplishing personal goals.
  • He transformed the revolution ‘terrorism’ movement to a socialist one.

 

  • He was a great innovator in two areas of politics
  • Raised the serious issues and threats of communalism
  • Raised the conscience of people in freeing them from mental bondage of religion and superstition.

 

 

7. As every coin has two sides, likewise, globalization also has its positive and negative effects. Critically analyse the effects of globalization on Indian society and culture.

Reference: Insights on India

Introduction

Globalization is an international platform for maintaining evenness in the living mode of the people all over the world. Globalization is the resultant of the interchange of worldly views, opinions and the various aspects of the culture everywhere around the world. The impact of globalization on Indian and rural life has a tremendous influence which is both positive as well as negative. The Indian urban and rural life is viewed as the two faces of the same coin. They are mutually interdependent and both have a greater impact of globalization.

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Impact of globalization on Indian rural society

  • Positives:
    • Commercialization of agriculture: There is an increased trend of commercialization from sustenance farming. This has been successful only with farmers having large tracts of lands.
    • Expansion of agro-industries: Increased crop yield has led to development of agro-processing industries which help in adding value to the products and increasing their shelf life. E.g.; Tomato Ketchup, Potato chips etc.
    • Wider use of information, communication and technologies: Agricultural extension techniques like Kisan TV, sms about weather conditions has helped farmers plan better. Initiatives like e-Nam have helped farmers get better prices in certain areas.
    • Increased Mechanization, better inputs: Mechanization like use of tractors, harvesters, tillers has eased the job. High yield variety seeds, fertilizers have given better yield as seen during Green Revolution
    • Socio-economic development: With telemedicine and teleeducation, people are able to access the health and education facilities at the remotest areas. Adult literacy has helped in fighting for their rights.
    • MSMEs: There has been a rise of MSMEs with women entrepreneurs heading it.
  • Negatives:
    • Changes in Land-Use patterns
    • Internal labour migration: Labour migration  to  cities from  rural  areas  in  search  of  employment  was  a  common phenomenon.  This  was  for  various  reasons  especially  for luxurious  life,  handsome  salary  and  for  numerous  job opportunities
    • Increasing privatization of resources: Rural population is still    suffering    from    unemployment    as    rural    labour    is    mostly    uneducated and unskilled.  Machines and latest technologies   have   reduced   the   number   of manpower a lot
    • Loss of jobs and Displacement: due to mechanization, women are the worst sufferers. When big-ticket projects like Dams, Roads, and Mining come up, people are displaced making them internal refugees.
    • Increased inequality: Regional and sectional disparity due to only a few reaping the benefits.
    • No Behavioural changes: Open defecation still present, caste discriminations are still prevalent.

Impact of globalization on Indian urban society

Positives:

  • Increased Urbanization: It has been estimated that by 2050 more than 50% of India’s population will live in cities. The boom of services sector and city centric job creation has led to increasing rural to urban migration.
  • Increased job opportunities: due to inflow of MNCs, FDIs, people have a wide choice of job opportunities provided they have the requisite skills. Startups like Ola, Swiggy etc. have revolutionized the Gig-Economy. Development of Industries have also provided with jobs.
  • Higher Per capita income: employees are paid well albeit lesser than the global pay levels.
  • Enhanced lifestyle: due to higher PCI and wide array of facilities available from which the consumer can choose. It has raised the quality of life of many.
  • Better infrastructure: In terms of education, health, transport available to people. This has in turn enhanced the agglomeration of economies leading to industrial belts, IT parks, SEZ, CEZ etc.
  • Rapid Digitization: for faster and ease of connectivity, most of the services are digitized. This also increases the awareness of citizens in terms of rights, happenings around world etc. On the Governmental side, there is more accountability and transparency and faster delivery of services.

Negatives:

  • Family Structure: The increasing migration coupled with financial independence has led to the breaking of joint families into nuclear ones. The western influence of individualism has led to an aspirational generation of youth. Concepts of national identity, family, job and tradition are changing rapidly and significantly.
  • Marriage Values: Similarly, marriages have also lost their values. It is very much evident from the increasing number of divorce cases and the extra-marital affairs reported every now and then.
  • McDonaldization: A term denoting the increasing rationalization of the routine tasks of everyday life. It becomes manifested when a culture adopts the characteristics of a fast-food restaurant. McDonaldization is a reconceptualization of rationalization, or moving from traditional to rational modes of thought, and scientific management.
  • Walmartization: A term referring to profound transformations in regional and global economies through the sheer size, influence, and power of the big-box department store WalMart. It can be seen with the rise of big businesses which have nearly killed the small traditional businesses in our society.
  • Rise in Lifestyle diseases: due to reduced physical activity, increased habits of liquor and smoking etc.
  • Urban Sprawl: Increasing slums, unplanned urbanizations are on the rise which is a ticking time-bomb.

Conclusion

It is difficult to say that the impact of globalization has been totally positive or totally negative. It has been both. Each impact mentioned above can be seen as both positive as well as negative. However, it becomes a point of concern when, an overwhelming impact of globalization can be observed on the Indian rural and urban society.

 

 

General Studies – 2


 

8. Self Help Groups (SHGs) are indispensable for women’s empowerment but are plagued by various factors. What innovative measures would you suggest to overcome these factors?

Reference: The Hindu

Introduction

A self-help group (SHG) is a village-based financial intermediary committee normally consist of 10–20 local women or men. When the formal financial system fails to help the needy, then small groups volunteer to cater to the needs of the financially weak by collecting, saving and lending the money on a micro scale. SHGs have gained wide recognition in most developing countries in Asia where their presence is quite pervasive

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Role of SHG’s in women empowerment

  • Capital formation: Through micro-finance, many SHG’s have created valuable assets and capital in the rural areas and are sustaining livelihoods.
  • Access to credit: SHGs provide better access to credit at acceptable and convenient terms. The members have been able to obtain loans for emergent productive and non-productive purposes on comparatively easy terms. This has reduced their dependence on local moneylenders to a large extent.
    • Government initiative such as SHG-Bank linkage program is also increasing their financial inclusion and easy access to credit from formal institutions.
  • Poverty Alleviation: The approach of poverty alleviation through SHG is the most effective means and suits the ongoing process of reforms based on the policy of decentralization.
    • SHGs have given the poor the access to microfinance and consequently led to important changes in their access to productive resources such as land, water, knowledge, technology and credit.
  • Employment generation: Self-employment activities such as collective farming, bee-keeping, horticulture, sericulture have been taken up by SHG’s.
  • Social welfare: There are many successful cases where SHG women have come together to close liquor shops in their village.
  • Rural infrastructure: Schemes such as Aajeevika express have helped SHG’s in creating transport in rural areas.
  • Women empowerment: SHGs have been able to improve the skills of women to do various things by managing the available natural resources.
    • It is estimated that more than 25 million rural women of India have been benefited by the Self Help Groups (SHG).
    • As a group they can help each other to learn so many things along with the money management because most of the women in the rural areas have a very little knowledge for the management of money.
    • g. Kudumbashree in Kerala has been a huge success. Kudumbashree café is an exemplary example of nurturing entrepreneurship through SHG’s.
  • They also act as a delivery mechanism for various services like entrepreneurial training, livelihood promotion activity and community development programs.

Challenges faced

  • There are issues like regional imbalance, less than ideal average loan size, lack of monitoring and training support by self-help group federations.
  • Escalating non-performing assets of self-help group loans with banks.
  • Several studies have also found issues related to governance, quality, transparency and irregularity in their functions.
  • Low levels of literacy among the rural women.
  • The study found that over time groups were disintegrating on account of coordination issues.
  • Rural micro-enterprises run by SHG members suffer from critical bottlenecks, whether in raising funds for start-up, growth and working capital or accessing high-quality technical assistance.

Way Forward

  • Government programs can be implemented through SHGs.
  • This will not only improve the transparency and efficiency but also bring our society closer to Self-Governance as envisioned by Mahatma Gandhi.
  • Constant and enduring structural handholding support from the self-help group promoting institutions (SHPIs).
  • Frequent awareness camps can be organised by the Rural Development department authorities to create awareness about different schemes.
  • Periodic capacity-building of all members, to make the group the collective.
  • With the Government’s focus on digital financial inclusion, investing in training of group members for transition towards technological platforms.
  • It is important to invest in providing the right kind of support to maximize the impact these groups can have on livelihoods.
  • Emphasising SHG movement on women’s entrepreneurship as an engine of growth in rural India.
  • There should not be any discrimination among members based on caste, religion or political affiliations

Conclusion

SHG approach is an enabling, empowering, and bottom-up approach for rural development that has provided considerable economic and non-economic externalities to low-income households in developing countries. SHG approach is being hailed as a sustainable tool to combat poverty, combining a for-profit approach that is self-sustaining, and a poverty alleviation focus that empowers low-income households. It is increasingly becoming a tool to exercise developmental priorities for governments in developing countries.

Value addition

Evolution of SHGs

  • The concept evolved over decades and was pioneered by Noble laureate Mohammad Yunus as Self Help Groups (SHGs) in 1970s.
  • SHG movement in India gained momentum after 1992, when NABARD realized its potential and started promoting it.
  • NABARD’s SHG-Bank Linkage Program (SBLP) connected group members to formal financial services.
  • Over the last two decades, the SBLP has proven to be a great medium for social and economic empowerment for rural women.
  • India has witnessed state-led promotion of SHGs through a three-tiered architecture of community institutions at group, village and cluster level.
  • In 1999, Government of India, introduced Swarn Jayanti Gram Swarojgaar Yojana (SGSY) to promote self- employment in rural areas through formation and skilling of SHGs.

 


General Studies – 3


 

9. What is inflation targeting? From a critical assessment of inflation-targeting by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) in the Indian economy.

Reference: Indian ExpressInsights on India

 

Introduction

Inflation Targeting(IT) is a central banking policy that revolves around adjusting monetary policy to achieve a specified annual rate of inflation. The principle of inflation targeting is based on the belief that long-term economic growth is best achieved by maintaining price stability, and price stability is achieved by controlling inflation. It is in-line with Urjit Patel Committee recommendations. An amendment to RBI Act by the Finance Bill, 2016, has made IT as the primary objective of RBI and it is also accountable in case of failure.

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The Centre has decided to retain the inflation target of 4%, with a tolerance band of +/- 2 percentage points for the Monetary Policy Committee of the RBI for the coming five years from 1st April, 2021.

The Reserve Bank of India, recently in the Report on Currency and Finance for FY21, has said the current inflation target of 4% with a +/-2% tolerance band is appropriate for the next five years.

Important observations made:

  • Trend inflation had fallen from above 9% before flexible-inflation targeting (FIT) to a range of 3.8-4.3 % during FIT, indicating that 4% is the appropriate level of the inflation target.
  • An inflation rate of 6% is the appropriate upper tolerance limit for the target.
  • A lower bound above 2% can lead to actual inflation frequently dipping below the tolerance band while a lower bound below 2% will hamper growth, indicating that an inflation rate of 2 % is the appropriate lower tolerance bound.

Concerns over efficacy in inflation targeting:

  • Logical vulnerabilities:
    • However, what has remained hidden in public discourse is the economic model that underlies inflation targeting.
    • This model revolves around the proposition that inflation reflects “overheating”, or economic activity at a level greater than the “natural” level of output, having been taken there by central banks that have kept interest rates too low, at a level lower than the “natural” rate of interest.
    • From this follows the recommendation that the cure to inflation is to raise the rate of interest set by the central bank, the so-called policy rate, which in India is termed ‘repo’ rate.
    • A feature of this theory of inflation is that its central construct, the natural level of output, is unobservable.
    • This makes it next to impossible to verify the explanation, which is also self-referential.
    • Despite this logical vulnerability, inflation targeting is a reality in that it is the Centre’s stated policy of inflation control.
  • Mirage of success:
    • Inflation targeting has been successful on the grounds that the inflation rate has remained within the band agreed to between the government and the RBI, and whether it has been achieved by “anchoring inflation expectations”.
    • However, Inflation in India entered the prescribed band of 2% to 6% two years before inflation targeting was adopted in 2016-17.
    • In fact, inflation had fallen steadily since 2011-12, halving by 2015-16.
    • This by itself suggests that there is a mechanism driving inflation other than what is imagined in inflation targeting.
    • The view is further strengthened by the finding that the decline in inflation over the five years concerned was led by the relative price of food.
    • While falling food-price inflation per se does not rule out the possibility that expectations of inflation may have fallen in this period.
    • But it would be difficult to explain why expectations would have fallen so sharply even in the absence of inflation targeting, considered essential for anchoring expectations.
    • Finally, it is the flaring up of both inflation and inflation expectations after March 2020, when the COVID-19 lockdown was announced, that makes it difficult to believe the thesis of an “overheating” economy.
    • On the other hand, we can explain the flaring up of inflation in terms of food prices, as supply chains were disrupted due to the lockdown.
  • Conflicting patterns shown:
    • Over the past five years, inflation in India has been controlled via inflation targeting and its benefits will be analyzed through five variables, namely growth, private investment, exports, non-performing assets (NPAs) of commercial banks, and employment.
  • Growth:
    • The economy’s trend rate of growth actually began to decline after 2010-11.
    • So, inflation targeting could not have caused it, but it is of interest that sharply falling inflation could do nothing to revive growth, belying the proposition that low inflation is conducive to growth.
  • Investment:
    • For investment, there is reason to believe that higher interest rates, the toolkit for inflation targeting, may have been harmful.
    • The swing in the real interest rate of over 5 percentage points in 2013-14 was powered further in 2016, when inflation targeting was adopted, and could have contributed to a declining private investment rate.
    • It is interesting that policy entrepreneurs assert that the benefits of low inflation may be considerable for private investment.
  • Export and employment:
    • Exports and employment performed fairly poor since inflation targeting became official.
  • NPA’s (non-performing assets):
    • It has long been recognized that a central bank focusing on inflation may lose control of financial stability.
    • NPAs have grown since 2016, and the cases of IL&FS, PMC Bank, PNB and YES Bank suggest that poor management and malfeasance in the financial sector could escape scrutiny when the central bank hunkers down to inflation targeting.

Way Forward:

In the conduct of monetary policy in an open economy setting, foreign exchange reserves and associated liquidity management are key, there is a need to enhance the RBI’s sterilisation capacity to deal with surges in capital flows. The primary focus of FIT on price stability augurs well for further liberalisation of the capital account and eventual internationalisation of the Indian rupees.

 

 

10. The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are in jeopardy due to the climate crisis, the COVID-19 pandemic and an increase in the number of conflicts across the world. Evaluate India’s performance with respect to SDGs.

Reference: Down to EarthInsights on India

Introduction

The United Nations-mandated Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) are in danger of slipping away from reach and along with them years of progress on eradicating poverty, hunger and ignorance. Urgent action is needed if the SDGs, which come with a 2030 deadline, are to be rescued, according to the SDG Report 2022, released recently. All 17 SDGs, set at the UN General Assembly in 2015, are in jeopardy due to the climate crisis, the COVID-19 pandemic and an increase in the number of conflicts across the world.

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Findings of the SDG Report 2022:

  • The pandemic itself has emerged as one of the biggest threats to several SDGs, the statement said pointing at 15 million “excess deaths” directly or indirectly due to the novel coronavirus by 2021.
  • Economic shocks due to the worldwide health emergency pushed 93 million into poverty in 2020 alone, undoing “more than four years” work at alleviating poverty.
  • It also affected education and healthcare services for millions. Immunisation, for example, has dropped for the first time in a decade even as deaths from malaria and TB have risen.
  • The pandemic and the Russia-Ukraine war have already led to lowering of global economic growth projections by 0.9 percentage point, the statement highlighted, flagging the conflict for harming in more ways than one:
    • Raising food and fuel prices
    • Hampering global supplies and trade
    • Roiling financial markets
  • The report also flagged threats to food security and aids, rising unemployment especially among women and increases in child labour as well as child marriages.
  • The burden was greater on least developed countries and vulnerable population groups.

Challenges persisting in India to attain SDGs

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

Course corrections needed

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

Conclusion

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


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