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[Mission 2023] SECURE SYNOPSIS:13 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.

Answer the following questions in 150 words:


General Studies – 1


 

1. What is a drought? Explain the classification and characteristics of a drought. Why do droughts recur in India?

Reference: Insights on India

 

Introduction

Drought is a prolonged dry period in the natural climate cycle that can occur anywhere in the world. It is a slow-onset disaster characterized by the lack of precipitation, resulting in a water shortage. Drought can have a serious impact on health, agriculture, economies, energy and the environment.

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Classification of droughts

  • Meteorological Drought
  • It is a situation where there is a reduction in rainfall for a specific period below a specific amount i.e. the actual rainfall in an area is significantly less than the climatologically mean of that area.
  • According to Indian Meteorological Department (IMD), a drought exists when the average annual rainfall is less than 75% of the normal.
  • IMD also mentioned that rather than the total amount of rainfall, its evenness matters more.
  • We can observe that even though India gets an average annual rainfall of 110 cm, the evenness of rainfall, due to the erratic and concentrated nature of rainfall, there are frequent droughts.
  • Hydrological Drought
  • It is associated with the reduction of water levels. There are 2 types of Hydrological Droughts
  • Surface water Drought – It is concerned with the drying up of surface water resources such as rivers, streams, lakes, ponds, tanks, reservoirs, etc.
  • Groundwater Drought – It is associated with the fall in the groundwater level.
  • Agricultural Drought
  • It occurs when soil moisture goes below the level needed to sustain plant growth. It is also called as Soil Moisture Drought.
  • The erratic rainfall conditions and inadequate soil moisture result in crop failures.
  • Socio-Economic Drought
  • It reflects reduced availability of food and income loss due to crop failure.
  • Ecological Drought
  • It occurs when the productivity of the natural ecosystem fails due to a shortage of water and causes environmental damages like the deaths of cattle, wildlife, and trees in the forest.

Characteristics of Drought

  • Droughts occur when there is abnormally low rainfall for an extended period of time.
  • This means that a desert would not be considered in drought unless it had less rainfall than normal, for a long period of time.
  • Droughts can last from weeks to months and even years.

Reasons why drought recur in India

  • Natural factors:
    • Erratic monsoons: The South-west monsoon accounts for 70 to 80 per cent of the annual rainfall over major parts of India. Failure of monsoons, for reasons like El Nino etc, is the major reason for droughts in India.
    • Skewed distribution of monsoon: This makes some regions, like the leeward side of Western Ghats, chronically prone to droughts.
    • Depletion of water resources: Depletion of surface and sub-surface water resources, especially in areas of low yearly rainfall.
  • Anthropogenic factors:
    • Inappropriate agricultural activitiesleading to excessive water use cause depletion in water levels.
    • Activities such as deforestation and encroachment of wetlandslessen the ability of land to hold water.
    • Anthropogenic activities leading to global warming, result in fluctuations in phenomenon like monsoons.

Measures needed

  • Systemic measures: Drought monitoring, advanced warning systems and drought management Plans at various levels.
  • Integrated Watershed Management: Focus on conserving as well as rejuvenating the natural sources of water along with practices like rain water harvesting etc. especially in drought-prone areas and deserts
  • Irrigation: Irrigation facilities reduce dependency on monsoon, and techniques like drip irrigation improve water use efficiency.
  • Agriculture: Proper agricultural practices (right crops, crop rotation etc.) based on agro-climatic conditions
  • Capacity Development: Human resource development, training, education (including public awareness campaigns) and capacity building

Way forward

  • The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) launched the Integrated Drylands Development Programme (IDDP) with the overall goal to strengthen resilience by working on the twin vulnerabilities of poverty and unsustainable land management in the drylands.
  • The United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR) developed a Drought Risk Reduction frameworkthat takes an integrated development approach and provides a comprehensive framework for both higher-level and local action.
  • The Integrated Drought Management Programme (IDMP) and its partners have adopted three pillars of drought management:
  • Drought monitoring and early warning systemsto determine drought status.
  • Vulnerability and impact assessment to determine who and what are at risk and why.
  • Mitigation, drought preparedness, and response to set out actions and measures to mitigate drought impacts and to prepare to respond to drought emergencies.
  • There is a need for a more organized and common conceptual frameworkfor assessing drought risk and for analysing the “Benefits of Action and Costs of Inaction” (BACI).
  • The framework is set out within the model for the overall process of developing a National Drought Management Policy, which was codified by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and the Global Water Partnership (GWP) in their 2014 National Drought Management Policy Guidelines.

 

 


General Studies – 2


 

2. The frequent promulgation of ordinances and subverting the legislative process is detrimental for a constitutional democracy. Analyse.

Reference: Indian Express

 

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.

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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.

 

. What is the ‘One China Policy’? Examine as to how the Taiwan issue exemplifies the volatile cocktail of geopolitical contestations between U.S and China.

Reference: The HinduIndian Express

Introduction

The One-China policy refers to the policy or view that there is only one state called “China”, despite the existence of two governments that claim to be “China”. As a policy, this means that countries seeking diplomatic relations with the People’s Republic of China (PRC, Mainland China) must break official relations with the Republic of China (ROC, Taiwan) and vice versa. The One China policy is different from the “One China principle”, which is the principle that insists both Taiwan and mainland China are inalienable parts of a single “China”.

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Background

  • United States House Speaker and senior Democratic Party politician Nancy Pelosivisited Taiwan.
  • In Taipei,  Pelosi held talks with President Tsai Ing-wen, addressed the legislature, and received a civilian honour. The trip was the highest-level visit from the U.S. to Taiwan in 25 years.
  • China, which had publicly warned the U.S. against going ahead with it, saying it would violate commitments under the ‘One China Policy’, has since responded with diplomatic, military and economic measures.

Taiwan issue exemplifies the volatile cocktail of geopolitical contestations between U.S and China

  • The joint communique that established diplomatic relations between the U.S. and China in 1979 declared that “the United States of America recognises the Government of the People’s Republic of China as the sole legal Government of China”.
  • Since the establishment of relations with China, the U.S. no longer has formal diplomatic relations with Taiwan under the ‘One China Policy’.
  • Within this context, the very first paragraph of the communique adds, “the people of the United States will maintain cultural, commercial, and other unofficial relations with the people of Taiwan.”
  • China has seen Ms. Pelosi’s visit as a political one and thus as a violation of this communique, which it has described as the very foundations of the relationship.
  • The U.S. does not support a declaration of independence by Taiwan.
  • It has gradually reversed the policy of avoiding official-level engagements with the Taiwan government.
  • Successive governments have had on and off relations with Taiwan.
  • S. defence personnel have been, unannounced, training with their Taiwanese counterparts for some time.

Way forward:

  • It is understandable that Taiwan is not the priority of India’s foreign policy as the present government is interested in big power diplomacy. But India should not neglect Taiwan at the cost of its national interests.
  • Even as India launches its “Act East” policy and ambitious initiatives such as “Make in India”, it is time to highlight the importance of Taiwan for an emerging India and bring the India-Taiwan relationship into focus.
  • As India becomes more and more important in Taiwan’s policy, it is time for Indian policy makers to review India’s Taiwan policy and fashion a new approach.
  • Greater cooperation between India and Taiwan could prove critical in helping New Delhi and Taipei achieve their economic goals at home and their strategic aims in the region.
  • It is time to acknowledge the importance of India-Taiwan relations. India should consider its own interests not the third party’s ones, when it thinks of developing relations with Taiwan or other countries.

 


General Studies – 3


 

4. Indian Armed Forces require not just restructuring to theatre concept and greater integration but a common understanding on the need for cutting-edge technology. Analyse.

Reference: Indian Express

 

Introduction

The state of India’s national security and defence is getting worse than before and are in a dire need of reform. An integrated theatre command envisages a unified command of the three Services, under a single commander, for geographical theatres (areas) that are of strategic and security concern.

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Need for reforms in Armed forces of India

  • Centralisation – There are concerns that appointing NSA to SPG would lead to further centralisation of decision making.
  • The post of the NSA is also not a legally-mandated one and he has no parliamentary accountability.
  • LOC– Overall violence in Jammu and Kashmir and ceasefire violations on the Line of Control reached a 14-year high in 2017, and did not subside in 2018.
  • There are far more attacks on security forces and security installations in J&K, and militant recruitments and violence against civilians in the State are rising at an alarming rate.
  • Strategic Challenges in South Asia such as:
    • Conflict in Afghanistan and the Af-Pak border
    • Boundary disputes between India and China
    • Cross border terrorism and boundary dispute with Pakistan
    • The rising tide of Left-Wing Extremism (LWE).
    • Nuclear threat from hostile neighbours.
  • Defence preparedness – India spends close to $50 billion annually on defence and yet might still be ill-equipped to fight the wars of the modern age, especially in the neighbourhood.
  • India also suffers from almost non-functional higher defence organisation and the defence policy doesn’t hold any political oversight or vision.
  • Defence management– There is little conversation between the armed forces and the political class, and even lesser conversation among the various arms of the forces.
  • Our doctrines, command structures, force deployments and defence acquisition continue as though each arm is going to fight a future war on its own.
  • Modernisation– The state of modernisation and domestic defence industry in the country are in a sorry state.
  • Under the present system, where the ratio of revenue to capital expenditure in defence is roughly 65:35%, any serious attempt at modernisation would be impossible.
  • Military capacity: Low teeth-tail ratio, unfulfilled vacancies, etc. deters the credible military capacity. The tooth-to-tail ratio refers to the amount of supply and support personnel (termed as tail) for each combat soldier (tooth).
  • Budgetary allocations: Defence Budget stands at around 1.5% of GDP. There has been a persistent demand that defence expenditure be increased to three per cent of GDP.
  • War Equipment: Indian Army has stated that 68% of its war fighting equipment is obsolete which severely erodes Indian defence forces capabilities to fight a war.
  • Gender gap: The reforms, so far, have not addressed the monumental difference in the number of men and women in the Indian Army. A report noted that 96.2% of the Indian army is male
  • Cyber warfare: While cyber continues to be accorded a fair focus, it is information or cognitive warfare which needs a grand review, including the induction of civilian content into this domain as is the practice the world over

Way forward

  • Theatre commands: To have a CDS with operational powers who will after due legislative changes have theatre commanders report to him while the Service Chiefs will look after the raise, train and sustain functions of respective Services.
  • Holistic Approach:The reforms must include the entire national security architecture with a view to building an overarching organisation that can cohesively address the challenge of hybrid and unconventional wars such as cyber and space based wars.
  • The reforms approved by the Defence Ministry is a step in the right direction. However, reforms must be holistic and homogenous.
  • Aatmanirbharta in the defence sector strives for self-reliance in defence manufacturing and is the best way forward.
  • Prudent financial and resource management and a balance between local acquisitions and imports may have to be established for some time to ensure that cutting-edge technologies in the armed forces do not regress.
  • In this connection, the cyber and information domains need priority along with infusion of artificial intelligence.
  • A national body too may be needed separately to provide guidance and supervise the development of guidelines, concepts and doctrines for information warfare.

Conclusion

The meaning of networked warfare has changed from equipping armed forces with data networks to reorganizing the forces themselves into networked units. Instead of forever playing catch-up, India has a unique opportunity to leapfrog into building not only integrated, but networked forces.

 

5. How is the Small Satellite Launch Vehicle (SSLV) different from existing rocket fleet of ISRO? Discuss the significance of addition of SSLV to the group of Indian rockets.

Reference: Indian Express , Indian Express

 

Introduction

ISRO launched India’s maiden Small Satellite Launch Vehicle (SSLV) carrying an earth observation satellite and a student satellite recently. The space organisation has embarked on a mission to place satellites that weigh up to 500kg into the 500km low earth orbit (LEO), as it aims for a bigger share of the small satellite vehicle market.

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SSLV vis-à-vis existing fleet of ISRO

  • The 34-metre Small Satellite Launch Vehicle (SSLV) is 10 metres shorter than ISRO’s warhorse rocket Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) and can put payloads up to 500kg into 500km planar orbit.
  • Unlike the PSLV, the SSLV uses solid fuel hydroxyl-terminated polybutadiene to fire the three stages of the rocket which takes the payloads to the desired altitude.
  • The liquid-propelled Velocity Trimming Module (VTM) then inserts the satellite into orbit.
  • The SSLV has a low turnaround time and can be assembled within a fortnight, allowing the space agency to provide launch on demand service in the fast growing low earth orbit launch sector.
  • The SSLV is 34 metres in height with a vehicle diametre of two metres and a lift off mass of 120 tonnes.
  • The PSLV, on the other hand, is 44 metres tall, 2.8 metres in diametre and a lift-off mass of 320 tonnes. It has the capacity to put up to 1,800kg payloads into orbit.

 

Importance of SSLV

  • With a growing market for the global launch services for small satellites, ISRO’s SSLV would make for an attractive option due to its low cost, ability to launch on demand, and capacity of carrying multiple loads.
  • The launch of small satellites has until now been dependent on ‘piggy-back’ rides with big satellite launches on ISRO’s work-horse – the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle which has had over 50 successful launches so far.
  • The launch of small satellites as a consequence has been dependent on the finalising of launch contracts for the larger satellites by ISRO.
  • Operating SSLV on smaller and more commercial missions will free up the massively used Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) for bigger missions to space.
  • The PSLV has successfully conducted over 50 missions depositing not just domestic but also customer satellites into Low Earth Orbit (LEO).
  • The SSLV is the smallest vehicle at 110-ton mass at ISRO. It will take only 72 hours to integrate, unlike the 70 days taken now for a launch vehicle. Only six people will be required to do the job, instead of 60 people. The entire job will be done in a very short time and the cost will be only around Rs 30 crore. It will be an on-demand vehicle.
  • SSLV is perfectly suited for launching multiple microsatellites at a time and supports multiple orbital drop-offs.
  • The development and manufacture of the SSLV are expected to create greater synergy between the space sector and private Indian industries – a key aim of the space ministry.

 

 

 

Conclusion

Small satellites are now being developed in large volumes for mega-constellations for Earth observation, Internet of Things (IoT) and low latency communications (internet) thus democratizing space and making new space applications a reality. Advances in small satellite platforms, miniaturization of instruments and the availability of low-cost launches for small satellites, can enable new, geodetic missions which can benefit from the use of constellations of small satellites.

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


General Studies – 1


 

6. Cities are the growth engine of national wealth and income production; however, the existence of slums in the urban units is a challenging issue in urban planning which has major social-economic ramifications. Analyse.

Reference: Insights on India

Introduction

Slum is a contiguous settlement where the inhabitants are characterized as having inadequate housing and basic services. Cities Alliance Action Plan describes slums as neglected parts of cities where housing and living conditions are appallingly poor.

Census of India 2011 explained slums as residential areas where dwellings are unfit for human habitation by reasons of dilapidation, overcrowding, faulty arrangements and design of such buildings, narrowness or faulty arrangement of street, lack of ventilation, light, or sanitation facilities or any combination of these factors which are detrimental to the safety and health.

Body:

The slum is an inevitable part of modern urbanization and the urban poor are active agents serving the non-slum dwellers and contribute to economic growth.

Slums in India:

  • Out of 4,041 Statutory Towns in Census 2011 Slums reported from 2,543 Towns (63%)
  • Largest number of slums reported from Maharashtra (21,359)
  • People who are living in slums increased from 52 million in 2001 to 65.5 million 2011

Factors responsible for growth of slums:

  • Rapid growth of population:
    • Population explosion and poverty force the urban poor to live in slums and that leads to an increase in the size of slums.
    • Also, a regional imbalance in development creates rural to urban migration, thus increasing the overall urban population density which pressurizes the urban poor to move into slums.
    • In the past 15 years, India’s urban population density has increased by 45%. It is further estimated that 40% of the population will live in urban areas by 2026.
    • With increasingly densified urban population, there exists a huge demand for land.
    • This shortage of land forces the urban poor to live in increasingly dense communities creating slums in the process.
  • Poor Urban governance:
    • A major factor for growth of slums use of rigid, often outdated urban planning regulations, which are typically bypassed by slum dwellers to meet their housing needs.
    • Another issue is the failure of governments to incorporate slum dwellers as part of the overall planning process.
    • This is often due to the inability of many governments to keep pace with urbanization because of ill-designed policies, lack of resources and corruption.
  • Administrative failure:
    • City authorities faced with rapid urban development lack the capacity to cope with the diverse demands for infrastructural provision to meet economic and social needs.
    • Not only are strategic planning and intervention major issues in agenda to manage rapid urbanization, but city governments are not effectively linking the economic development trajectory to implications for urban growth and, hence, housing needs.
  • Unavailability of affordable housing:
    • Rising material costs and labor costs resulting from labor shortage is another reason for the growth of slums as it makes developers unable to deliver affordable housing to the market.
    • The gap between growing demand for affordable urban housing and insufficient supply has encouraged the formation of slums.
    • Whenever the demand surplus is not met by formal sectors, this gap is typically filled by an informal dwelling such as a slum
  • Limited access to financial resources:
    • slum dwellers typically inhabit marginal locations such as dumping grounds mainly due to the low purchasing power of slum dwellers in formal land markets when compared with high-income groups.
    • Further, the urban poor lack the access to formal financial resources to help them purchase new homes or maintain a new life in a new housing unit.
  • Rural to Urban Migration:
    • Rural to urban migration is one of the primary drivers of growth of slums in Indian cities.
    • Urban centres which are not equipped to support additional population, fail to cope up with high influx of people which ultimately causes several problems such as housing shortages, unemployment, and development of slums.
  • Social factors:
    • Moreover, social backwardness forces people to live in congested areas away from main areas. For example, more Scheduled Castes (SCs) live in slums – with one out of every five residents belonging to the SC category.

Social consequences of Slums:

  • Perpetuating cycle of Poverty: Income or capability poverty is considered, with some exceptions, as a central characteristic of slum areas. It is not seen as an inherent characteristic of slums, but as a cause (and, to a large extent, a consequence) of slum conditions. Slum conditions are physical and statutory manifestations that create barriers to human and social development. Furthermore, slums are social exclusion areas that are often perceived to have high levels of crime and other social dislocation measures. In some definitions, such areas are associated with certain vulnerable groups of the population, such as recent immigrants, internally displaced persons or ethnic minorities. Low income characteristically means poor nutrition, elementary or no education, little or no medical care which undermines human capital development and slum dwellers are trapped in the vicious cycle of poverty.
  • Social problems: Socially, slums remain isolated from rest of the urban society and exhibit pathological social symptoms like drug abuse, alcoholism, crime, vandalism and other deviant behavior. The lack of integration of slum inhabitants into urban life reflects both, the lack ability and culture barriers. Women and children living in slums are prone to become victims of social evils like prostitution, beggary and child trafficking. Slum dwellers in general and regardless of gender, often become victims of such social evils.
  • Health:Since slums are not connected to basic services such as clean water, sanitation and hygiene facilities, residents are at great risk of contracting water-borne and respiratory diseases. High population density, lack of proper toilets and close proximity of homes allow diseases to spread quickly. People living in slum areas are also prone to suffer from waterborne diseases such as typhoid and cholera, as well as from more fatal ones like cancer and HIV/AIDS.
  • Lack of basic services/ amenities: The slums are characterised by lack of access to sanitation facilities and safe water sources, absence of waste collection systems, electricity supply, drainage. These are sometimes supplemented by lack of surfaced roads and footpaths and street lighting. According to Census 2011, among the slums in India-
  • 58% have open or no drainage
  • 43% must bring water from outside their communities
  • 26% do not have access to clean drinking water
  • 34% have no latrine within premises; 19% open defecate
  • 2 electricity outages occur per day
  • Substandard housing: Slum areas are associated with a high number of substandard housing structures, often built with non-permanent materials unsuitable for housing and in dilapidated conditions.
  • Overcrowding: Overcrowding is associated with a low space per person, high occupancy rates, cohabitation by different families. Many slum dwelling units are overcrowded, with a large number of people sharing a one-room unit used for cooking, sleeping and living.
  • Unhealthy living conditions and hazardous locations: Unhealthy living conditions are the result of a lack of basic services, open sewers, lack of pathways, uncontrolled dumping of waste, polluted environments, etc. Further, slums come up in hazardous locations such as in proximity to industrial plants with toxic emissions or waste disposal sites. Hunger, malnourishment, lack of quality education, high infant mortality, child marriage, child labour are some of the other social problems prevalent in slums.
  • High incidence of crime rate: Slum areas are also commonly believed to be places that generate a high incidence of crime. This is due to official neglect towards education, law and order, and government services in slum areas.

Government Initiatives:

  • National Slum Development Programme (NSDP):Initiated in 1996, NSDP provided both loans and subsidies to states for slum rehabilitation projects on the basis of their urban slum population.
  • Valmiki Ambedkar Malina Basti Awas Yozana (VAMBAY):Introduced in 2001, it focused on shelter for the urban poor, with 20% of total allocation for community sanitation facilities under the Nirmal Bharat Abhiyan (NBA) program
  • Basic Services to the Urban Poor (BSUP):BSUP was an important component of Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM). BSUP aimed to provide basic services to urban poor in 63 of the largest cities in India by population
  • Integrated Housing & Slum Development Programme (IHSDP):Integrated Housing & Slum Development Programme (IHSDP) was launched by GoI by merging the schemes of NSDP and VAMBAY. The objective of the scheme is to provide adequate Shelter and basic infrastructure facilities to the slum dwellers in urban areas.
  • Interest Subsidy Scheme for Housing the Urban Poor (ISHUP): The Scheme envisages the provision of interest subsidy to economically weak section and Low income groups to enable them to buy or construct houses.
  • Rajiv Awas Yojana (RAY):Launched in 2013, the scheme focussed on:
    • Bringing existing slums within the formal system and enabling them to avail of the same level of basic amenities as the rest of the town;
    • Redressing the failures of the formal system that lie behind the creation of slums; and
    • Tackling the shortages of urban land and housing that keep shelter out of reach of the urban poor.
  • Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana- “Housing for All (Urban):Launched in 2015, the scheme seeks to provide central assistance to implementing agencies through States and UTs for providing houses to all beneficiaries by 2022. It incorporates the following:
    • “In-situ” slum rehabilitation with participation of private developers using land as a resource. This approach aims to leverage the locked potential of land under slums to provide houses to the eligible slum dwellers bringing them into the formal urban settlement.
    • Promotion of Affordable Housing for weaker section through credit linked subsidy
    • Affordable Housing in Partnership with Public & Private Sectors
    • Subsidy for beneficiary-led individual house construction/enhancement
  • Slum areas (Improvement and Clearance) Act, in the year 1956:The act aimed at mechanical improvement or complete eradication of slums. It empowers the competent authority to declare any slum area in accordance with the definition, look into possibilities of improvement or eradicate slums.

Way Forward:

  • The focus should not only on building houses for the slum dwellers but also promoting livelihood options and social and economic infrastructure to develop the livelihood.
  • For effective urban planning, housing and population policies based on housing rights and the right to a clean environment must be established at all levels. These policies should be directed at inclusive cities and poverty alleviation
  • Attention must be paid to income generation, transport and empowerment of the beneficiaries to redress possible future problems
  • A three-pronged approach to Slum Free city should be adopted:
    • Provision of clear, free title to the residents, so that they enjoy the privileges of using property as a tangible asset
    • To upgrade the infrastructure and services providing water, power, and sewage connections to individual homes, the collection of solid waste, street lighting and neighbourhood security and police support
    • The creation of high-density, low income zoning that allows individual property owners to upgrade their homes without risk, rent out their properties to formal commercial establishments

 


General Studies – 2


 

7. The establishment of Panchayati Raj was to promote democratic decentralization and empower women in administration. However, the practice of Sarpanch Pati negates both. How can this practice be ended?

Reference: The Hindu

 

Introduction

The 73rd constitutional amendment constitutionalized the local self-government with reservation of one third seats in Panchayats for women. A number of states raised the quantum of reserved seats to fifty percent. This was aimed at empowering women and ensuring their participation in political process and decision making at grass root level.

However, due to poor socio-economic status of women and prevailing patriarchal set-up, the intended benefit of emergence of women leadership at Panchayat level was not fully realized. The effective political power and decision making is wielded by husbands of elected women representatives. This phenomenon is referred to as ‘sarpanch-pati’.

Body:

Prime Minister called for an end to the practice of “husbands of women sarpanches” or “sarpanch pati” exercising undue influence on the work of their wives elected to power.

Causative factors:

  • Poor socio-economic status of women:Women in general have poor access to education, they are restricted to domestic spaces, they lack economic independence, they are not allowed participation in decision making at family level. This situation of lower social status results in them being mere ’titular heads’ and hampers their ability to challenge their husbands. In most cases, such “takeovers” have happened without the wife’s consent.
  • The lack of information and knowledge about government programs especially for both women and child development poses problems. However, again limited exposure to formal education breeds information gap and dependency on second-hand knowledge. In fact, consequently, political lineage determines the distribution of benefits of the different schemes.
  • Socio-Cultural barriers due to traditional society:Indian society in villages is still traditional and conservative e.g. in rural areas tradition of parda or veil is very strong especially North Indian states, women are discouraged in public spaces, even government officials at local level avoid talking to women due to conservative outlook. The veil, when imposed on women, severely hinders their public participation. This gives de facto control to Husbands in day to day activities of panchayats. Even in Gram Sabha meetings Husbands of elected representative take charge.
  • Absence of government initiative:Despite this widespread phenomenon, government failed to act against the practice, either through a strong deterrence through law or through public awareness.
  • Dual responsibility:Women traditionally burdened with domestic workers face difficulties in balancing the official work with their home.
  • The communication problem hinders performance as most of the correspondences, rules and also the regulations are in English.
  • Due to the lack of exposure and experience women, members face difficulty in asserting themselves. And the fact that the majority of women enter politics through reservation and kinship arrangement only accentuates this problem.

Impacts of Sarpanch-pati system:

  • Disempowerment of women: This phenomenon hinders the intended empowerment of women which was one of the aims of 73rd constitutional amendments through reservation of seats. In terms of social status of women, the status-quo is maintained.
  • Poor implementation of law: This phenomenon effectively manipulates the law effectively preventing its implementation in letter and spirit. The rule of law in such situation is casualty to social prejudices against women.
  • Lack of opportunity in decision making: this phenomenon reduces women’s ability to participate in decision making at village level.

Way forward:

  • Reservation of seats in Panchayats was revolutionary step for the empowerment of women.
  • However, for this to be effective government should address the phenomenon of ‘sarpanch pati’ through an effective law by outlawing such practice.
  • Capacity building of women in matters of governance, raising society’s awareness about women rights and sensitizing bureaucracy about importance of women participation at panchayat level.
  • The State Election Commission, Chief Election Officer and state government to take effective steps to prevent proxy leadership in the elected bodies in panchayati raj system and different urban bodies.
  • The returning officers of the panchayati raj institutions should take an affidavit/declaration from the women candidates that they would be disqualified if their husbands were found working on their behalf.
  • The state government must empower women in the execution of different schemes at the grass root level and they and their committees should be entrusted with the task of monitoring both construction and maintenance of the Jal, Jeevan, Haryali schemes.

 

8. 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.

Reference: The Hinduprsindia.org

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.

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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


 

9. Economic growth can be transformed into meaningful development only if it brings about an improvement in the living conditions of people. Examine the reasons for growing inequalities in India. Suggest structural and policy measures needed to reduce economic inequality in the country.

Reference: Live Mint ,Insights on India

 

Introduction

There are different kinds of inequalities in India that are multidimensional and intersectional in nature. Economic growth in India has been associated with unequal outcomes that have created divides between regions, sectors and people. The west and south of the country have surged ahead, while the east and north have lagged behind, widening the gap between richer and poorer states.

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Reasons for growing inequality in India

  • Health:
    • Healthcare provisions in India is grossly inadequate and access to healthcare is highly inequitable. Lack of efficient public healthcare and burden of out-of-pocket health expenditures reduces people’s capacity or disables them from investing in the human capital of their children.
    • ineffective functioning (corruption and leakages) of the public distribution system (PDS), growing economic inequalities and lack of nutritional awareness pose challenges in combating malnutrition
  • Education:
    • Basic literacy (the ability to read and write) in the overall population has progressed modestly. However, there is persistent gender differentials, and major differentials by caste and religion.
    • The state of functional literacy and professional skills is poor. Indian graduates have low employability and does not meet changing economic structure or support global competitiveness.
  • Rising Inequality:
    • In India, a large portion of the population is below the poverty line, therefore, they do not have easy access to primary health and education.
    • There is growing inequality across social groups and income groups which translates itself into poor socio-economic mobility.
    • Lack of socioeconomic mobility hinders human capital development and traps a large section of population to be in the vicious circle of poverty.
  • Lack of Skilling:
    • According to the National Sample Survey, out of the 470 million people of working age in India, only 10% receive any kind of training or access to skilled employment opportunities.
    • There’s a huge mismatch between demand and supply when it comes to skilled workforce and employment opportunities, which could place a strain on the economy in the long run
  • Inadequate use of knowledge bases from technology developments:
    • There is a disconnect between India’s rate of technological growth and ability to distribute the gains from it by adequately focusing on skilling and health.
    • The use of technical advancements has been concentrated in few sectors and benefits accrued by a few elitist sections of the society.
  • Jobless growth:
    • India’s high growth rate phase (2004-05 to 2010-11) has created significantly fewer jobs as compared to previous decades of economic growth.
    • Around 47 % of India’s population is still dependent on agriculture which is notorious for underemployment and disguised unemployment.
    • Majority of the workforce is employed by the unorganized sector where workers are underpaid and lack any kind of social security.
  • Falling female labour force participation:
    • According to data from International Labour Organization and World Bank, India’s female labour force participation rates have fallen from 34.8 % in 1990 to 27 % in 2013.
    • Socio-cultural factors and rising family incomes have been identified as the main reasons for this decline.
    • Another appalling concern is that a significant proportion of qualified women drop out of the workforce for reasons ranging from no suitable jobs in the locality—particularly in rural areas—to family responsibilities and marriage.

Measures needed

  • To engineer an inclusive and sustainable growth for India, the social infrastructure like education, health and social protection are being given utmost priority by the Government
  • The gaps in the expenditure on social infrastructure like health and education should be closed by strengthening the delivery mechanisms of the government initiatives. Protecting and investing in people’s health, education, and skilling is vital for reducing income inequality, and sustained inclusive economic growth.
  • India needs to increase its spending on health and education. As recommended by the National Health Policy 2017 and the NEP 2020, India needs to increase its spending on health and education to at least 2.5 % in 6 % of GDP respectively from its current levels. Enhancing policies to maintain and even increase health and longevity will therefore be necessary.
  • The current situation calls for more and better schools, especially in rural areas. It also calls for better transportation links between rural areas and regional urban hubs.
  • India has to invest more in human capital formation at all levels, from primary education to higher education, cutting-edge research and development as well as on vocational training to increase the skill sets of its growing working-age population.
  • The flagship schemes such as Skill IndiaMake in India, and Digital India have to be implemented to achieve convergence between skill training and employment generation.
  • Bridging the gender gaps in education, skill development, employment, earnings and reducing social inequalities prevalent in the society have been the underlying goals of the development strategy to enhance human capabilities.
  • Improved infrastructure, skill development, access to easy finance, reducing barriers to entrepreneurship and forums for mentorship of emerging entrepreneurs in partnership with corporates are some of measures.
  • Decentralized models of development: Social policies for each state must be differentiated to accommodate different rates of population growth. The populations in south and west India are growing at a much slower pace than in the central and eastern states.

Conclusion

As we celebrate the past 75 years, flying the national flag in every home, let us also think about our people for whom little has changed in their lives, with a resolve to ensure that poverty and illiteracy do not exist 25 years from now when we celebrate the first centenary of our independence from colonial rule.

 

10. 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.

Reference: The HinduInsights on India

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.


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