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[Mission 2023] SECURE SYNOPSIS:12 August 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: Important Geophysical phenomena such as earthquakes, Tsunami, Volcanic activity, cyclone etc.,

1. What is floodplain ecosystem? Discuss the benefits offered by floodplains of India. What are the various threats to floodplains and ways to protect and restore them. (250 words)

Difficulty level: Easy

Reference:  en.wikipedia.org

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 the floodplain ecosystem, its benefits, threat it faces and ways to restore it.

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: 

Begin by defining floodplain ecosystem.

Body:

First, write the benefits offered by floodplain ecosystem – support rich ecosystems and provide critically important benefits to people, including the largest freshwater fisheries in the world. Cite examples

Next, write about the various threats faced by them.

Next, write about ways to protect and restore the flood plain ecosystem of India.

Conclusion:

Conclude by writing a way forward.

Introduction

A floodplain is a generally flat area of land next to a river or stream. It stretches from the banks of the river to the outer edges of the valley. A floodplain consists of two parts. The first is the main channel of the river itself, called the floodway. Beyond the floodway is the flood fringe. The flood fringe extends from the outer banks of the floodway to the bluff lines of a river valley.

Body

Benefits offered by floodplains of India

  • When inundated with water, floodplains act as natural filters, removing excess sediment and nutrients, which can degrade water quality and increase treatment costs.

 

  • These sandy floodplains are exceptional aquifers and any withdrawal is compensated by gravity flow from a large surrounding area.
  • It can replenish underground water sources (or aquifers), which serve as a primary source of water for many communities and which are critical for irrigation that grows much of the world’s crops.
  • Floodplains are home to some of the most biologically rich habitats on Earth. They provide spawning grounds for fish and critical areas of rest and foraging for migrating waterfowl and birds.
  • Floodplains of rivers have immense potential for ensuring sustained water supplies for urban settlements if preserved.
  • Many outdoor recreational activities – like fishing, hunting, camping, hiking, wildlife watching and boating – are made possible by or greatly enhanced by the natural processes of rivers and healthy floodplains.

various threats to floodplains

  • Flood plains are among the most altered landscapes world-
  • wide and they continue to disappear at an alarming rate, since
  • the ‘reclamation’ rate is much higher than for most other
  • landscape types (
  • Flood plains are among the most altered landscapes world-
  • wide and they continue to disappear at an alarming rate, since
  • the ‘reclamation’ rate is much higher than for most other
  • landscape types (
  • Flood plains are among the most altered landscapes world-
  • wide and they continue to disappear at an alarming rate, since
  • the ‘reclamation’ rate is much higher than for most other
  • landscape types (
  • Flood plains are among the most altered landscapes world-
  • wide and they continue to disappear at an alarming rate, since
  • the ‘reclamation’ rate is much higher than for most other
  • landscape types (
  • Flood plains are among the most altered landscapes worldwide and they continue to disappear at an alarming rate, since the ‘reclamation’ rate is much higher than for most other landscape types
  • For river–floodplain ecosystems, expected impacts vary latitudinally.
  • In tropical ecosystems, land use is expected to have the greatest effect, with climate change being minimal.
  • In temperate systems, both land-use change and invasion of non-native species can be expected equally to affect biodiversity
  • In high latitude/altitude systems climate change is by far the most dominant driver, although region-specific differences exist.
  • Species invasion is one of the most important causes of the overall decline in aquatic biodiversity. The higher percentage of exotic plants and animals in flood plains compared to uplands demonstrates the vulnerability of the riparian zone to invasion
  • As the human footprint intensified on the floodplains, the landscape was increasingly “developed and engineered”.
  • The engineered and planned landscape has affected the floodplains in two ways: It has undermined their ability to store and absorb water and reduced their capacity to transport sediment.

Way forward and conclusion

  • Flood Plain Zoning has been recognized as an effective non-structural measure for flood management. Flood-plain zoning measures aim at demarcating zones or areas likely to be affected by floods of different magnitude or frequencies and probability levels, and specify the types of permissible developments in these zones, so that whenever floods actually occur, the damage can be minimised.
  • Rejuvenate flood-plain ecosystems
    • Floods cause disruption and damage but they also generate a bounty of fish and rejuvenate flood-plain ecosystems.
    • g: all along the Brahmaputra, including in the Kaziranga; this landscape has been shaped over millions of years with the help of an active monsoonal environment and mighty rivers that carry sediments weathered from the still-rising Himalaya.
  • Over millions of years, this depositing of sediment into the floodplains has produced at least two results: Raising the lowlands and regularly adjusting river beds. These ensure that impacts of flooding remained moderate.
  • Construction projects that impede the movement of water and sediment across the floodplain must be reconsidered.
  • Floodplain management and restoration strategies must also take into account climate change models that predict significant changes to flow regimes in most of the world’s rivers, especially in temperate and arid regions.
  • Flood plains are unique and dynamic ecosystems that link rivers with their catchments. They are highly productive environments, supporting a diverse biota, but are also intensively used by humans for agricultural and urban development, resulting in loss of biodiversity and ecological functioning.
  • The priority for flood plains is to conserve those that are still intact and to attempt to rehabilitate those that are degraded.
  • In both cases, protecting or restoring key components of the natural flow regime is essential, while maintaining sustainable use of floodplain resources by local communities, particularly in developing countries.
  • Finding this compromise between conservation and resource use requires a greater understanding of the role of flow relative to other stressors in driving ecological processes in flood plains.

 

Topic: Important Geophysical phenomena such as earthquakes, Tsunami, Volcanic activity, cyclone etc.,

2. Examine the reasons behind rising instances of forest fires in India. What measures are needed to mitigate the adverse impacts of forest fires? (250 words)

Difficulty level: Moderate

Reference: Insights 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 of forest fires in India and measures need to mitigate them.

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:

Start by defining forest fires and statistic regarding rising instances of forest fires in India.

Body:

Draw a small illustrative diagram showing major forest fire prone areas.

Discuss first the reasons of forest fires; Thunderstorms are the most likely natural cause for forest fires. Slash and burn techniques etc. The reasons are mainly manmade, particularly in cases where people visit forests and leave burning bidis, cigarette stubs or other inflammable materials.

Next, explain the concerns posed by it. Explain why they are difficult to control.

Next, discuss the efforts that are needed to be taken in this direction.

Conclusion:

Conclude with way forward.

Introduction

Forest fires are considered as one of the most widespread hazards in a forested landscape. They have a serious threat to forest and its flora and fauna. Forest fires essentially are ‘quasi-natural’, which means that they are not entirely caused by natural reasons (like volcanoes, earthquakes and tropical storms), but are caused by human activities as well. In India’s case, a combination of hot weather, oxygen and dry vegetation is a potent recipe for forest fires.

A fire has engulfed a vast expanse of forest area in West Bengal’s Purulia district recently, according to officials of the forest department. The laze has spread rapidly in the forested areas of Joychandi, Garpanchakot, Bandoan, Baranti and Ayodhya hills. Some of these areas are in the reserved forest category.

Body

 

Forest fires: A regular phenomenon in India

  • Every year large areas of forests are affected by fires of varying intensity and extent.
  • Since the start of 2021, there has been a series of forest fires in Himachal Pradesh, Nagaland-Manipur border, Odisha, Madhya Pradesh, and Gujarat, including in wildlife sanctuaries.
  • At least 5,291 forest fires were recorded in Odisha between February 22 and March 1, 2021 — the highest in the country for the same period, according to FSI biennial report.
  • Telangana recorded the second-highest fires in the country at 1,527 during the same period, followed by Madhya Pradesh (1,507) and Andhra Pradesh (1,292), according to FSI data.
  • Around 95 percent of the forest fires in India are on account of human activity.
  • Around 21 percent of the total forest cover is highly to extremely fire prone, adds the latest forest survey.
  • Based on the forest inventory records, 40% of forests in India are exposed to occasional fires, 7.49% to moderately frequent fires and 2.405 to high incidence levels while 35.71% of India’s forestshave not yet been exposed to fires of any real significance.

Reasons for Increasing frequency of forest fires

  • Forest fires can be caused by a number of natural causes, but officials say many major fires in India are triggered mainly by human activities.
  • Emerging studies link climate change to rising instances of fires globally, especially the massive fires of the Amazon forests in Brazil and in Australia in the last two years.
  • Fires of longer duration, increasing intensity, higher frequency and highly inflammable nature are all being linked to climate change.
  • In India, forest fires are most commonly reported during March and April, when the ground has large quantities of dry wood, logs, dead leaves, stumps, dry grass and weeds that can make forests easily go up in flames if there is a trigger.
  • Under natural circumstances, extreme heat and dryness, friction created by rubbing of branches with each other also have been known to initiate fire.
  • In Uttarakhand, the lack of soil moisture too is being seen as a key factor.
  • In two consecutive monsoon seasons (2019 and 2020), rainfall has been deficient by 18% and 20% of the seasonal average, respectively.

Measures to control forest fires

  • Forest fire line:Successive Five-Year Plans have provided funds for forests fighting. During the British period, fire was prevented in the summer through removal of forest litter all along the forest boundary. This was called “Forest Fire Line”.
    • This line used to prevent fire breaking into the forest from one compartment to another.
    • The collected litter was burnt in isolation.
  • Firebreaks: Generally, the fire spreads only if there is continuous supply of fuel (Dry vegetation) along its path. The best way to control a forest fire is therefore, to prevent it from spreading, which can be done by creating firebreaksin the shape of small clearings of ditches in the forests.
  • Forest Survey of India monitors forest fire events through satellites on two platforms– MODIS and SNPP-VIIRS, both in collaboration with the U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO).
    • While the SNPP-VIIRS identifies, alerts and tracks fire incidents on real time data at 375X375 sq meter pixel, the older version MODIS detects it in the range of 1kmX1km.
    • Forest fire suppression relies very heavily on “dry” firefighting techniques because of poor water availability.
  • Integrated forest protection: The main objective is to control forest fires and strengthen the forest protection. The works like Fireline clearing,assistance to Joint Forest Managemencommittees, creating water bodies, purchase of vehicles and communication equipment, purchase of firefighting tools, etc., needs to be undertaken.
  • Prevention of human-caused firesthrough education and environmental modification. It will include silvicultural activities, engineering works, people participation, and education and enforcement. It is proposed that more emphasis be given to people participation through Joint Forest Fire Management for fire prevention.
  • Prompt detectionof fires through a well-coordinated network of observation points, efficient ground patrolling, and communication networks. Remote sensing technology is to be given due importance in fire detection. For successful fire management and administration, a National Fire Danger Rating System (NFDRS) and Fire Forecasting System are to be developed in the country.
  • Introducing a forest fuel modification system at strategic points.
  • National Action Plan on Forest Fires (NAPFF): It was launched in 2018 to minimize forest fires by informing, enabling and empowering forest fringe communities and incentivizing them to work with the State Forest Departments.

Conclusion

It is important to prevent the lungs of the nation from ravages of fire. With climate change and global warming on the rise, India must prevent human-made disaster to ensure our carbon sinks are protected.

 


General Studies – 2


 

Topic: Indian Constitution—historical underpinnings, evolution, features, amendments, significant provisions and basic structure.

3. The frequent promulgation of ordinances and subverting the legislative process is detrimental for a constitutional democracy. Analyse. (250 words)

Difficulty level: Moderate

Reference: Indian Express

Why the question:

In PRS India’s latest report, Kerala stood out for promulgating the maximum number of ordinances in 2021. While the state passed 144 ordinances, the national average (of all states) was five. Of the 144, as many as 53 were new ordinances.

Key Demand of the question:

To write about the rationale behind extension of ordinance making power of the executives in our country and how this power has been often misused, its impact.

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: 

Start the answer by citing article 123 of the constitution.

Body:

First, write about the rationale and need behind ordinances in the country.

Next, Explain the issues and concerns associated – the point of promulgation and repromulgation. Present the court judgments in this aspect to defend your side, explain the concerns in detail with recent examples.

Next, write about the negative impact of ordinance raj and ways to prevent it.

Conclusion:

Conclude by writing a way forward.

Introduction

In a parliamentary democracy such as India, the ordinance promulgation power is supposed to be used as an exception and not as a matter of course. The constitutional scheme exists to ensure accountability of the political executive to the elected legislature.

In PRS India’s latest report, Kerala stood out for promulgating the maximum number of ordinances in 2021. While the state passed 144 ordinances, the national average (of all states) was five. Of the 144, as many as 53 were new ordinances.

Body

Ordinance making in India:

  • Articles 123 and 213 of the Constitution
  • These state that an ordinance may be promulgated to meet a certain circumstance, but must be laid before the legislature in question, and will expire within six weeks of the legislature being convened.
  • An ordinance is thus, by definition, limited in time, and can cease to have effect even earlier, if the legislature passes a resolution disapproving the ordinance.

Misuse of ordinance making power:

  • The very nature of the ordinance might mean that a frequent resort to it is only self-defeating
  • Excessively used:
    • Following the washout of the second half of the budget session, three ordinances have recently been promulgated by the President.
    • First was the Criminal Law (Amendment) Ordinance, 2018 ,followed by the Fugitive Economic Offenders Ordinance, 2018,amendments to the Commercial Courts, Commercial Division and Commercial Appellate Division of High Courts Act, 2015 (henceforth Commercial Courts Act) were made through an ordinance. .
  • Misuse of ordinance power has been questioned:-
    • Supreme Court acted on concerns about the manner in which the ordinance promulgating power has been used at the state level.
    • First, in limiting the manner in which ordinances may be repromulgated and second, in ensuring that ordinances cease to be in effect, if they are not placed before the legislature.
    • Without imposing any substantive limits on when an ordinance may be promulgated, the Supreme Court has restrained the government’s ordinance-making power(though somewhat belatedly).
  • Self-limiting:
    • Validity and legality of actions taken on the basis of an ordinance will be in limbo,unless subsequent legislation is passed to the same effect by the legislature.
    • Overuse of ordinances goes fundamentally against two core tenets of the rule of law, stability and consistency
  • Self defeating due to absence of Parliamentary scrutiny and feedback :-
    • Governments may favour the “ordinance route” because it makes for good optics or helps them avoid the difficult task of political negotiation in Lok sabha and Rajya sabha that is part and parcel of lawmaking.That, however, is a self-defeating exercise.
    • Taking the ordinance route may only raise suspicions about the government’s motives and harden the opposition’s standtowards a measure, as was seen with the proposed amendments to the land acquisition law.
  • The executive’s power to issue ordinances, therefore, goes against separation of powers;for it acts neither as a check nor as a balance on the authority exercised by the other branches of government.
  • Ordinances passed in haste are often ill-designed

Need for ordinance making

  • It ought to be Power to legislate when Parliament is not in session.
    • When legislature is not in session: the President can only promulgate when either of the House of Parliament is not in session.
  • Immediate action is needed:
    • The President though has the power of promulgating the ordinances but same cannot be done unless he is satisfied that there are circumstances that require him to take immediate action.
  • Parliament should approve: after the ordinance has been passed it is required to be approved by the parliament within six weeks of reassembling. The same will cease to operate if disapproved by either House.
  • During emergency

Way forward:

  • Even if there is broad consensus that a certain legislative measure is needed, parliamentary scrutiny is valuable in and of itself.
  • Reference to the standing committee and open debate about the merits of a bill and its drafting are likely to address shortcomings or oversights in the law.
  • Ordinances are not immune from judicial challenge:
    • The Supreme Court, in Krishna Kumar Singh v. State of Bihar, made a series of pronouncements with potentially huge implications for the future of democratic governance in the country.
    • The case raised intricate constitutional questions concerning the executive’s power to make law through ordinance.

 

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

4. What are the changes introduced by the Criminal Procedure (Identification) Act, 2022 for the purposes of identification and investigation of criminal matters. Do you think its violative of Right to Privacy as well as Equality? Critically Examine. (250 words)

Difficulty level: Moderate

Reference: The Hinduprsindia.org

Why the question:

The Criminal Procedure (Identification) Act, 2022 provides legal sanction to law enforcement agencies for “taking measurements of convicts and other persons for the purposes of identification and investigation of criminal matters”. While the legislation was enacted earlier this year, the Ministry of Home Affairs notified it to come into effect from August 4, 2022. It also repeals the existing Identification of Prisoners Act, 1920.

Key Demand of the question:

To write about the Criminal Procedure (Identification) Act, 2022, changes introduced by it and if it is violative of right to privacy of and equality.

Directive word: 

Critically examine – When asked to ‘Examine’, we have to look into 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. When ‘critically’ is suffixed or prefixed to a directive, one needs to look at the good and bad of the topic and give a fair judgment.

Structure of the answer:

Introduction: 

Start the answer by citing aims behind enactment of Criminal Procedure (Identification) Act, 2022

Body:

First, write about the major changes introduced by Criminal Procedure (Identification) Act, 2022 as compared to Identification of Prisoners Act, 1920.

Next, critically examine if this Act is violation of right to privacy and to what extent.

Next, critically examine if this Act is violation of right to equality and to what extent.

Conclusion:

Conclude by writing a way forward to ensure rights are not violated.

 

Introduction

The Criminal Procedure (Identification) Act, 2022 provides legal sanction to law enforcement agencies for “taking measurements of convicts and other persons for the purposes of identification and investigation of criminal matters”. While the legislation was enacted earlier this year, the Ministry of Home Affairs notified it to come into effect from August 4, 2022. It also repeals the existing Identification of Prisoners Act, 1920.

Body

Need for changes with change in time

  • Over the years, the need to amend/update the Identification of Prisoners Act, 1920 has been voiced several times. In 1980, the 87th Report of the Law Commission of India undertook a review of this legislation and recommended several amendments.
    • This was done in the backdrop of the State of UP vs Ram Babu Misra case, where the Supreme Court had highlighted the need for amending this law.
  • The first set of recommendations laid out the need to amend the Act to expand the scope of measurements to include “palm impressions”, “specimen of signature or writing” and “specimen of voice”.
  • The second set of recommendations raised the need of allowing measurements to be taken for proceedings other than those under the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC).
  • It needs to be noted here that the new legislation allows that a person who has been arrested for an offence that is punishable by less than seven years of imprisonment, and is not an offence against women and children, “may not be obliged to allow taking of his biological samples”. This is definitely an improvement over the earlier law which did not allow for any such refusal.
    • It also helps allay concerns of disproportionate collection.

Violative of Right to Privacy and Equality

  •  As per the Puttaswamy judgment, for a privacy intrusive measure to be constitutional, there is a need for the measure to be taken in pursuance of a legitimate aim of the state, be backed by the law and be “necessary and proportionate” to the aim being sought to be achieved. In this case, while the first two tests are satisfied, as “prevention and investigation of crime” is a legitimate aim of the state and “measurements” are being taken under a valid legislation, the satisfaction of the third test of necessity and proportionality has been challenged on multiple counts.
  • The inclusion of derivative data such as “analysis” and “behavioural attributes” have raised concerns that data processing may go beyond recording of core “measurements”.
    • That is some of these measurements could be processed for predictive policing. While this is a legitimate concern, and purposes for which the “measurements” can be processed need to be better defined, merely recording core measurements without conducting the required forensics on them would severely limit the usability of these “measurements”.
  • Second, unlike the Identification of Prisoners Act, 1920 which provided that “measurements” will be taken for those either convicted or arrested for offences that entail imprisonment of one year or upwards, the current law allows for “measurements” to be taken if a person has been convicted/arrested for any offence, including petty offences.
    • The necessity of taking measurements of such persons for investigation of offences is unclear, and such discretion is likely to result in abuse of the law at lower levels and overburdening of the systems used for collection and storage of these “measurements”.
    • Given that these records will be stored for 75 years from the time of collection, the law has been criticised as being disproportionate.
  • Another worry expressed by experts is that such collection can also result in mass surveillance, with the database under this law being combined with other databases such as those of the Crime and Criminal Tracking Network and Systems (CCTNS).

 

Conclusion

The Central government has responded to the criticisms of the law stating that privacy and data protection related concerns will be addressed in the Rules formulated under the legislation and through model Prison Manuals that States can refer to.

The immediate future of this law is unclear. A writ petition has been filed challenging the constitutionality of the law before the Delhi High Court. The court has issued notice to the Central government for filing a reply.

 


General Studies – 3


 

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

5. In order to sustain the growth of ‘Unicorns’ in the country, it is pertinent to have a right regulatory direction and policy support to ensure they realise their potential amidst the hype. Examine. (250 words)

Difficulty level: Moderate

Reference: The Hindu

Why the question:

Five start-ups — PayTM Mall, Snapdeal, Hike, Shopclues and Quikr -are no longer unicorns, with their valuation falling below $1 billion. The total number of unicorns may, therefore, have reduced to 103 now.

Key Demand of the question:

To write about potential benefits proper regulation and policy support to sustain Unicorns to the Indian economy.

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 defining a Unicorn and give context about the rapid rise of unicorns in India in 2021-22.

Body:

First, in brief, give reasons for the unicorn boom in India.

Next, write about the need for proper regulatory mechanism – mention the issues these unicorns face, policy based, scrutiny based, compliance based etc.

Next, write about facilitating policy support for start-ups to turn Unicorns and sustain that position. Also, add the need to avoid hype and ensure that the potential is realised with respect to job creation, growth, technological advancement, valuation etc.

Conclusion:

Conclude with a way forward.

 

Introduction

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

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

Body

Current issues in unicorn growth

  • No-longer unicorns: There were a large number of unicorns or start-up companies valued at $1 billion created during the pandemic. But the slowdown in the start-up ecosystem could be impacting these show-stoppers.
    • Five start-ups — PayTM Mall, Snapdeal, Hike, Shopclues and Quikr -are no longer unicorns, with their valuation falling below $1 billion. The total number of unicorns may, therefore, have reduced to 103 now.
  • Stagnant: What is more, valuation of 12 unicorns has been stagnant at $1 billion. These unicorns include Vedantu, Nobroker, Blackbuck and Slice. While most of them have entered the club in 2021 or 2022, the list also has InMobi, which became a unicorn in 2011, 11 years ago.
  • Over-Valuation: Nowadays, the formation of new unicorns is failing. One of the major reasons, in my opinion, is that start-ups are overvalued. There should be reasonable assumptions, or else the growth process can turn into an operational disaster,

Steps that have aided in the growth of Unicorns in India

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

Measures to boost unicorn growth

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

Conclusion

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

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

 

Topic: Issues related to direct and indirect farm subsidies and minimum support prices; Public Distribution System- objectives, functioning, limitations, revamping; issues of buffer stocks and food security; Technology missions; economics of animal-rearing.

6. The Public Distribution System (PDS) of India plays a crucial role in reducing food insecurity by acting as a safety net by distributing essentials at a subsidised rate. Elaborate on the reforms needed to PDS supply chain in the country. (250 words)

Difficulty level: Moderate

Reference: The HinduInsights on India

Why the question:

The government on Thursday said nearly 6.83 lakh tonnes (lt) of fortified rice has been distributed under the Public Distribution System (PDS) in the second phase beginning April this year.

Key Demand of the question:

To write about the PDS, its role reforms that are needed.

Directive word: 

Elaborate – Give a detailed account as to how and why it occurred, or what is the context. You must be defining key terms wherever appropriate and substantiate with relevant associated facts.

Structure of the answer:

Introduction: 

Begin by giving context of PDS and its role in delivery of food grains.

Body:

In the first part, mention the various bottlenecks, limitations and the shortcomings with respect to PDS in India. Cite statistics and reports to substantiate your points.

Next, write about the steps that are required to ensure a seamless supply chain to overcome hunger and malnutrition.

Conclusion:

Conclude with a way forward.

Introduction

The Public Distribution System (PDS) is an Indian food security system which evolved as a system for distribution of food grains at affordable prices and management of emergency situations. It distributes subsidized food and non-food items to India’s poor. This scheme was launched in June 1947. It functions through a network of Fair Price Shops at a subsidized price on a recurring basis.

The government recently said nearly 6.83 lakh tonnes (lt) of fortified rice has been distributed under the Public Distribution System (PDS) in the second phase beginning April this year.

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Importance of PDS

  • Food grains to the poor, at prices lower than the price of food grains at private shops.
  • Food grains are directly purchased from farmers, assuring farmers with a greater price.
  • Make goods available to consumers, especially the disadvantaged /vulnerable sections of society at fair prices.
  • Rectify the existing imbalances between the supply and demand for consumer goods. Check and prevent hoarding and black marketing in essential commodities.
  • Ensure social justice in distribution of basic necessities of life.
  • Even out fluctuations in prices and availability of mass consumption goods.
  • Support poverty-alleviation programmes, particularly, rural employment programmes, (SGRY/SGSY/IRDP/ Mid-day meals, ICDS, DWCRA, SHGs and Food for Work and educational feeding programmes.

Challenges faced by PDS

Procurement:

  • Open-ended Procurement: All incoming grains accepted even if buffer stock is filled creating a shortage in the open market.
  • The recent implementation of Nation food security act would only increase the quantum of procurement resulting in higher prices for grains.
  • The gap between required and existing storage capacity.
  • The provision of minimum support price has encouraged farmers to divert land from production of coarse grains that are consumed by poor, to rice and wheat.

Storage:

  • Inadequate storage capacity with FCI.
  • Food grains rotting or damaging on the CAP or Cover & Plinth storage.
  • The storage of food grains inculcates high carrying costs on the government.

Allocation of food grains:

  • Identification of poor by the states is not fool proof. A large number of poor and needy persons are left out and a lot of fake cards are also issued.
  • Illicit Fair Price shops: The shop owners have created a large number of bogus cards or ghost cards (cards for non-existent people) to sell food grains in the open market.

Transportation:

  • Leakage and diversion of food grains during transportation.
  • Uneven distribution of Food generations, procurement and distribution. For example: north eastern states are very far from Punjab and Haryana, from where wheat is procured. To transport food grains from Punjab to far flung areas in North east will entail cost and time both.

Other issues:

  • Many times, good quality food grains are replaced with poor quality cheap food grains.
  • Public distribution system includes only few food grains such as wheat and rice, it does not fulfil the requirement of complete nutrition.
  • Fair Price Shop owner gets fake Ration cards and sell the food grains in the open market.

PDS Reforms undertaken by Government

  • Aadhaar Linked and digitized ration cards: This allows online entry and verification of beneficiary data. It also enables online tracking of monthly entitlements and off-take of food grains by beneficiaries.
  • Computerized Fair Price Shops: FPS automated by installing ‘Point of Sale’ device to swap the ration card. It authenticates the beneficiaries and records the quantity of subsidized grains given to a family.
  • DBT: Under the Direct Benefit Transfer scheme, cash is transferred to the beneficiaries’ account in lieu of food grains subsidy component. They will be free to buy food grains from anywhere in the market. For taking up this model, pre-requisites for the States/UTs would be to complete digitization of beneficiary data and seed Aadhaar and bank account details of beneficiaries. It is estimated that cash transfers alone could save the exchequer Rs. 30,000 crores every year.
  • Use of GPS technology: Use of Global Positioning System (GPS) technology to track the movement of trucks carrying food grains from state depots to FPS which can help to prevent diversion.
  • SMS-based monitoring: Allows monitoring by citizens so they can register their mobile numbers and send/receive SMS alerts during dispatch and arrival of TPDS commodities
  • Use of web-based citizens’ portal: Public Grievance Redressal Machineries, such as a toll-free number for call centres to register complaints or suggestions.

Way forward

  • Primacy should be given to ensuring that the functioning of FCI is streamlined and fast paced as per recommendations of the Shanta Kumar Committee.
  • 100 lakh ton silo storage capacity must be created in the country. For this, RITES has been assigned the task of changing the silo model and they will give their recommendations in 90 days to FCI.
  • At present, there are 3 types of labourers in FCI namely Departmental, Daily Payment System (DPS) and No work no pay workers along with contractual labour. Government of India is deliberating to finish the 3 different arrangements and bring all workers of FCI under a single, uniform system which will bring stability of tenure and secured wages for all.
  • To improve the usage of Information Technology in FCI, a Human Resource Management System (HRMS) must be implemented.

Conclusion

PDS has helped bring about the socio-economic justice by helping alleviate hunger, malnutrition, anaemia among poorest of the poor, BPL citizens, women and children. The use of ICT to reduce the touch-points will further increase the efficiency of PDS.

 

 


General Studies – 4


 

Topic: Case Study

7. As the Chief Project Officer, you have been given an emergency grant for re-construction of the bridge that collapsed due to recent flash floods in the area surrounding Malgudi. Although it is a small project for you but it is vital one as it is a sole way in and out of the rural hamlet of Malgudi. After the collapse, people of Malgudi are forced to navigate the river in an un-safe means for reaching to jobs, hospitals and educational institutes etc.

The instruction from the higher ups is to get the project completed at the earliest as well as ensure highest level of quality so that bridge remains strong for a long time irrespective of the weather conditions.

As it is a small project, you need to assign, just one engineer to it. Most of the engineers under you are involved in other major projects and you have two engineers who are relatively less burdened – Mr Swami and Mr Rajam. Both are similar in the quality of work. Mr Swami is known for his honesty and uprightness in the department but his efficiency is low. He has missed many deadlines in the past. On the other hand, Mr Rajam, is a highly efficient worker and known for doing high quality work on time but in the past, he had some allegations of corruption against him and many have complained against his nexus with the contractors.

With the bridge needing to be constructed at the earliest, who will you appoint as the engineer for this project? (250 words)

Difficulty level: Moderate

Structure of the answer:

Introduction:

Start by giving the context of choosing between an effective but dishonest guy or an honest but ineffective individual. Bring out the key stakeholders in the above case study and major ethical dilemmas present.

Body:

In the body, analyse the case of Mr Rajam, who is highly productive but integrity is questionable. Bring forward both the short term and long-term consequences of put Mr Rajam in charge of the Malgudi bridge project.

 

Then take up the case of Mr Swami, who is known for his honesty but is not efficient and prone to missing deadlines. Bring forward both the short term and long-term consequences of put Mr Swami in charge of the Malgudi bridge project.

Conclusion:

Follow this up with ethical reasoning and justify who you will choose for the project.

Introduction

The bridge is the only connection for the hamlet of Malgudi to the outer world. Being the chief Project officer, it is vital that this responsibility is handled with utmost importance and due diligence. The case presents an ethical dilemma of choosing between two engineers, one who is honest but slightly inefficient, the other who is highly efficient yet allegedly corrupt.

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Stakeholders

  • Myself and my reputation as chief project officer
  • The two engineers
  • The people of Malgudi
  • The state government

Ethical  issues involved

  • Dilemma of whether to choose a person with impeccable integrity (Mr swami), but falls short of work done; or to choose a dishonest person (Mr Rajam) but get the work done.
  • Gandhiji’s ‘Purity of means’ versus Machiavelli’s ‘Ends justify the means’.

Course of action: Appointment of engineer

  • Appointing Mr Rajam
    • Merits: The work will be done, as he is efficient. I will also be recognized for the swift work done, as Mr Rajam is known for his fast work.
    • Demerits:  Mr Rajam’s integrity is questionable. There have been many instances, where due to corrupt engineers, the contract was given to cronies. This led to loss of precious lives, as such bridges/buildings have collapsed. Further, government funds will be misused and the vicious cycle of officer-crony nexus will continue perpetually.
  • Appointing Mr Swami
    • Merits: Mr Swami, can be entrusted with work and he will do it as per instructions. There won’t be any doubt of misuse of funds. Though, inefficient, this can be corrected through supervision and constant updates. However, dishonesty has no antidote as the person is inherently immoral.
    • Demerits: Work may be stalled, and speed is a factor for Malgudi as its connection to the world is at stake.

Despite the demerits in appointing Mr swami, he will be the right choice. As Gandhiji said, “By sowing seeds of babool, one cannot expect rose flowers”. Mr Rajam’s work will be shoddy and will put lots of lives at stake. But with Mr Swami, efficiency can be taken care by myself while I can entrust him with the work without the fear of being misled. Only right means lead to right destination, as per Gandhi. The bridge so built, will be sustainable for a long time to come and benefit the future generations well.

Conclusion

One may think fulfilment of ends is the real reward. Ends will after all justify means. Gandhi maintained a moral means is almost an end in itself because virtue is its own reward. Also, all focus and energies may get disproportionately concentrated on the ends, which is unforeseeable. Gandhi said means are foreseeable, ends are not. Thus, means can be controlled, managed and guaranteed. “If one takes care of the means the end will take care of itself.”


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