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[Mission 2023] Insights SECURE SYNOPSIS: 03 October 2022

 

NOTE: Please remember that following ‘answers’ are NOT ‘model answers’. They are NOT synopsis too if we go by definition of the term. What we are providing is content that both meets demand of the question and at the same time gives you extra points in the form of background information.

 

 


General Studies – 1


 

Topic: Indian culture will cover the salient aspects of Art Forms, literature and Architecture from ancient to modern times.

1. Durga Puja was included in UNESCO’s ‘Representative List of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity’ last year. But like most major festivals, Durga Puja is not just a cultural extravaganza; it is also an economic lifeline. Elaborate. (250 words)

Difficulty level: Moderate

Reference: The Hindu , Insights on India

Why the question:

There is added enthusiasm in the celebration of Kolkata’s Durga Puja after its inclusion as the 14th entry from India in UNESCO’s ‘Representative List of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity’ last December.

Key Demand of the question:

To explain sea floor spreading and its relation with global warming.

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.

Body:

First, write about the cultural significance of Durga Puja – its origins, evolution, nature of celebration etc.

Next, write about the economic importance of the festival of Durga Puja – festivity, artistry, culture, entertainment, shopping, and food and drink.

Conclusion:

Conclude by summarising.

 

Introduction

UNESCO’s List of Intangible Cultural Heritage is a coveted list is made up of those intangible heritage elements that help demonstrate diversity of cultural heritage and raise awareness about its importance. The list was established in 2008 when the Convention for Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage came into effect.

According to unesco.org, “cultural heritage does not end at monuments and collections of objects. It also includes traditions or living expressions inherited from our ancestors and passed on to our descendants, such as oral traditions, performing arts, social practices, rituals, festive events, knowledge and practices concerning nature and the universe or the knowledge and skills to produce traditional crafts”.

 

Body

About Durga Puja

  • Durga Puja in Kolkata, one of largest cultural carnivals and street art festival of the country, recently received an important international recognition by making it to UNESCO’s Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.
  • Durga Puja is a classic fusion of religion and culture, regarded with a lot of pride and celebrated predominantly by the Bengali community.
  • During this time, intricately-designed clay models of the Goddess are worshipped in ‘pandals’ and pavilions where people get together.
  • Folk music, culinary, craft, and performing arts traditions are a part of the celebration.

Durga Puja as an economic lifeline

  • Durga Puja is a gigantic event and an opportunity for millions to earn their livelihood. People spend generously by shopping, eating out and travelling.
  • A 2013 ASSOCHAM study estimated the size of the Durga Puja industry at ₹25,000 crore, around 3.7% of West Bengal’s GDP at that time. And it projected a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of about 35%, which was much higher than that of West Bengal’s GDP.
  • A recent British Council study focused on 10 creative industries and indicated that a ₹32,377 crore creative economy, accounting for 2.58% of the State GDP, was generated during the 2019 Durga Puja in West Bengal.
  • In the Economic Weekly article, Puja sales were portrayed as one of the most reliable criteria for gauging the incomes of the people, although statisticians and economists might prefer other sophisticated indices. Today, a ‘K’-shaped post-pandemic economic recovery is envisaged by different experts.

Conclusion

Durga Puja in West Bengal is a cultural extravaganza unmatched in the scale at which it is organised. There are about 36,000 registered community Durga Pujas in West Bengal and 2,500 community Pujas in Kolkata.

Families across generations have been involved round the year in idol-making, lighting and illumination, crafts and designs for Durga Puja. The festival is the sole source of earnings across the year for many families.

 

 

Topic: Modern Indian history from about the middle of the eighteenth century until the present- significant events, personalities, issues.

2. In the changing global situation and rising global issues, Gandhi’s vision may be the panacea for the planet. Critically examine. (250 words)

Difficulty level: Moderate

Reference: Live MintThe Hindu

Why the question:

Mahatma Gandhi was attentive of the fact that world peace is not possible without the spiritual growth of humanity. So far, the 22 years of the 21st century have not been peaceful. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine represents the biggest threat to peace in the world since the end of the Cold War.

Key Demand of the question:

To write about the importance and present day relevance of Gandhian thought and ideas as well as their limitations.

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: 

Begin by giving a brief orientation to Gandhian vision.

Body:

First, write about the key features of the Gandhian core philosophy.

Next, write about the ways in which Gandhian ideals and teachings could be applied to present day global politics and they could be used to solve major global issues. Substantiate with examples.

Next, write about the shortcomings of Gandhian philosophy.

Conclusion:

Conclude by summarising the importance of Gandhian philosophy.

 

Introduction

Gandhiji was a thinker, writer, public intellectual, political activist, political theorist and, above all, a philosopher who invented a new philosophical way of life. As a philosopher, he undoubtedly deserves to be ranked alongside the Buddha and Socrates.

The Gandhian strategy is the combination of truth, sacrifice, non- violence, selfless service and cooperation. Gandhi was Indian lawyer, politician, social activist, and writer who moulded the character of the struggle for freedom in India, and impressed his own ideals upon the new governing class that came into power when the English went home.

Body

Gandhian principles and approach

  • Non-violence and Truth: These principles are needed more than ever. Truth can dispel hate speech, fake news that leads to mob lynching as seen in various cases. Non-violence on the other hand can prevent lynching and rising clashes between communities altogether such as the Delhi riots in February 2020.
  • Satyagraha: Gandhi ji called his overall method of nonviolent action Satyagraha. It means the exercise of the purest soul-force against all injustice, oppression and exploitation. It is a method of securing rights by personal suffering and not inflicting injury on others.
    • Instances of Republic Day violence by farmer protests in 2021 would be avoided if Non-violent Satyagraha was adhered to as in the case of Non-cooperation and Civil disobedience movements during freedom struggle.
  • Trusteeship: Trusteeship is a socio-economic philosophy that was propounded by Gandhi ji. It provides a means by which the wealthy people would be the trustees of trusts that looked after the welfare of the people in general.
    • The dichotomy between rich and poor can be bridged if every individual considers himself are a trustee and helps those in need.

Relevance in contemporary times

  • World Peace: Non-Violence is a key component of Gandhianism, which was the great weapon used by Gandhiji during the freedom movement of India against British Raj.
    • Perhaps the wars in current times such as Russia-Ukraine would not occur.
  • Gandhiji believed non-violence and tolerance require a great level of courage and patience. In a world that is moving through the phases of war marred by violence and terrorism, there is a significant requirement of Gandhian idea of non-violence more and more today than the past days.
  • Classless Society: As the Caste system is still prevalent in the Indian society, the Gandhian philosophy is useful to create a casteless society where everyone is treated equally irrespective of their caste.
    • Racism in the west, caste-based violence in India are some examples where we need the imagination of Gandhi’s classless society.
  • Gandhian Socialism: Gandhian view of socialism is not political but more social in its approach, as Gandhiji thought of a society with no poverty, no hunger, no unemployment and education and health for all. These values reduce conflict and strife and will lead to prosperity for all.

 

Conclusion

These Gandhian ideologies will continue to act as the lighthouse for people around the world and  Indian policy makers alike. From poverty alleviation to Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan and universal health care (Ayushman Bharat) to skill India programs everywhere the core inspiration comes from Gandhianism.

 


General Studies – 2


 

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

3. The government has taken various measures towards achieving Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030. Analyse their performance. What course corrections are required to meet the targets?

Difficulty level: Tough

Reference: Live Mint

Why the question:

The underlying statistics for assessing global progress of SDGs across a wide range of very fuzzy goals and targets is less than perfect, but the Jeffery Sachs-lead data is the most consistent, global and long-term coverage that the world has.

Key Demand of the question:

To write about India’s performance with respect to SDG’s and changes required to achieve the target.

Directive word: 

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

Structure of the answer:

Introduction: 

Begin by giving context about 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that are to be achieved by 2030.

Body:

First, mention the important SDGs in brief and write about the various measures taken in order to achieve them.

Next, evaluate India’s performance toward achieving various SDGs by 2030 and mention the shortfalls.

Next, write about the various course corrections that are required in order to ensure that SGDs are achieved by 2030.

Conclusion:

Conclude with a way forward.

Introduction

The Index for Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) evaluates progress of states and Union Territories (UTs) on various parameters including health, education, gender, economic growth, institutions, climate change and environment. First launched in December 2018, the index has become the primary tool for monitoring progress on the SDGs in India. It has also fostered competition among the states and UTs by ranking them on the global goals.

All the States managed to score above 50 points in SDG implementation, with 13 States featuring in the ‘Performer’ category and 15 in the ‘Front Runner’ category (the second-highest position) in NITI Aayog’s 2020-21 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) India Index.

Body

 

Progress of Indian States in achieving SGD Goals

  • India stepped into the ‘Front Runner’ category with a score of 66 points, though it dropped two ranks in the ordinal scale.
  • However, our neighbouring countries performed better than us.
  • The country’s overall SDG score improved by 6 points — from 60 in 2019 to 66 in 2020-21 — on accounts of improvement in performance in providing facilities including clean water and sanitation, affordable and clean energy among others.
  • While Kerala retained its rank as the top with a score of 75, Himachal Pradesh and Tamil Nadu both took the second spot with a score of 74. Bihar, Jharkhand and Assam were the worst performing states in this year’s India index.
  • Chandigarh maintained its top spot among the UTs with a score of 79, followed by Delhi (68).
  • Mizoram, Haryana and Uttarakhand are the top gainers in 2020-21 in terms of improvement in score from 2019, with an increase of 12, 10 and 8 points, respectively.
  • While in 2019, 10 states/UTs belonged to the category of front-runners (score in the range 65-99, including both), 12 more states/UTs find themselves in this category in 2020-21.
  • Uttarakhand, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Mizoram, Punjab, Haryana, Tripura, Delhi, Lakshadweep, Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh graduated to the category of front-runners (scores between 65 and 99, including both).

Challenges persisting

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

Course corrections needed

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

Conclusion

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

 


General Studies – 3


 

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

4. What is national income? What is its importance? Explain the various methods of national income computation.  (250 words)

Difficulty level: Easy

Reference: Insights on India

Why the question:

The question is part of the static syllabus of General studies paper – 3 and mentioned as part of Mission-2023 Secure timetable.

Key Demand of the question:

To write about national income, its importance and methods to compute it.

Directive word: 

Explain Clarify the topic by giving 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 defining national income.

Body:

First, write about the importance of national income as a macroeconomic parameter and it indicates.

Next, write about the various methods of computation of national income – Product Method, Income Method and Expenditure Method.

Conclusion:

Conclude by summarising.

 

National Income is the total value of all final goods and services produced by the country in certain year. The growth of National Income helps to know the progress of the country. In other words, the total amount of income accruing to a country from economic activities in a year’s time is known as national income. It includes payments made to all resources in the form of wages, interest, rent and profits. However, National income is not the sum of all incomes earned by all citizens, but only those incomes which accrue due to participation in the production process.

Body

The Net National Product at factor cost is known as National Income.

NNP @Factor Cost = National Income = NNP @Market Price – Taxes + Subsidies

However, the Central Statistics Office (CSO) under the Ministry of Statistics and Program Implementation defines National Income of India as Net National Income at Market Price.

 

Major methods of National Income Calculation

  • Production Method
    • This method is also called as Output Method or Value Added Method
    • The production method gives us national income or national product based on the final value of the produce and the origin of the produce in terms of the industry.
    • All producing units are classified sector wise.
    • Primary sector is divided into agriculture, fisheries, animal husbandry.
    • Secondary sector consists of manufacturing.
    • Tertiary sector is divided into trade, transport, communication, banking, insurance etc.
    • Then, the net value added by each productive enterprises as well as by each industry or sector is estimated.
  • Income Method
    • Different factors of production are paid for their productive services rendered to an organization.
    • The various incomes that includes in these methods are wages, income of self employed, interest, profit, dividend, rents, and surplus of public sector and net flow of income from abroad.
  • Expenditure Method
    • The various sectors – the household sector, the government sector, the business sector, either spend their income on consumer goods and services or they save a part of their income.
    • These can be categorized as private consumption expenditure, private investment, public consumption, public investment etc.

Conclusion

In India, National Income is calculated by the combined method. It combines two methods i.e product or output method and the income method. This is done to overcome the problem of deficiency of statistics. The product method endeavours to find out the net contribution to national income of all producing units. The income method adds up income and payments accruing of factors of production. This method is used in the tertiary sector like government services banking etc and also in the commodity sector if output data is not available.

 

 

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

5. The limitation of GDP in this area prevents it from measuring the economic welfare people get. What are the alternatives to GDP to overcome the limitations it poses? (250 words)

Difficulty level: Moderate

Reference: Insights on India

Why the question:

The question is part of the static syllabus of General studies paper – 3 and mentioned as part of Mission-2023 Secure timetable.

Key Demand of the question:

To write about the limitations to GDP and alternatives to it.

Structure of the answer:

Introduction: 

Begin by defining GDP

Body:

First, write about the limitations of GDP as macroeconomic indicator – doesn’t capture: welfare, Environmental Abuses, Increases in Product Quality, Non-Market Production and Underground Economy.

Next, write about the alternatives to GDP to overcome the above limitations – Gross National Income (GNI), Green Gross Domestic Product (GGDP) etc.

Conclusion:

Conclude by summarising.

Introduction

Gross domestic product (GDP) is the total monetary or market value of all the finished goods and services produced within a country’s borders in a specific time period. As a broad measure of overall domestic production, it functions as a comprehensive scorecard of a given country’s economic health.

Samuelson and Nordhaus liken the ability of GDP to give an overall picture of the state of the economy to that of a satellite in space that can survey the weather across an entire continent.

Body

GDP is a poor way of assessing health of our economies

  • Simon Kuznets, who developed concept of GDP, warned it was not a suitable measure of a country’s economic development. He understood that GDP is not a welfare measure, it is not a measure of how well we are all doing. It counts the things that we’re buying and selling, but it’s quite possible for GDP to go in the opposite direction of welfare.
  • In contemporary times, with the changes brought on by the Fourth Industrial Revolution, the measure is even less of a reflection of the things that really matter.
  • GDP counts “bads” as well as “goods.” When an earthquake hits and requires rebuilding, GDP increases. When someone gets sick and money is spent on their care, it’s counted as part of GDP. But nobody would argue that we’re better off because of a destructive earthquake or people getting sick.
  • GDP makes no adjustment for leisure time. Imagine two economies with identical standards of living, but in one economy the workday averages 12 hours, while in the other it’s only eight.
  • GDP only counts goods that pass through official, organized markets, so it misses home production and black market activity. If people begin hiring others to clean their homes instead of doing it themselves, or if they go out to dinner instead of cooking at home, GDP will appear to grow even though the total amount produced hasn’t changed.
  • GDP doesn’t adjust for the distribution of goods. Again, imagine two economies, but this time one has a ruler who gets 90 percent of what’s produced, and everyone else subsists — barely — on what’s left over. In the second, the distribution is considerably more equitable. In both cases, GDP per capita will be the same.
  • GDP isn’t adjusted for pollution costs. If two economies have the same GDP per capita, but one has polluted air and water while the other doesn’t, well-being will be different but GDP per capita won’t capture it.
  • GDP is unable to fully capture the benefits of technology. Think of a free app on your phone that you rely upon for traffic updates, directions, the weather, instantaneous information and so on. Because it’s free, there’s no way to use prices — our willingness to pay for the good — as a measure of how much we value it.

GDP fails as a measure of human well-being:

  • Since the institution of GDP figures and country rankings, other measures of the quality of life have appeared. E.g.:, The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) annually issues a report based on a study of 140 countries, indicating the levels of happiness in those countries. For at least the last decade, European countries such as Denmark, Finland, have ranked at the top and India is nowhere to be seen.
  • Economists have focused too narrowly on the economic side of human aspirations, setting aside human yearnings for belonging to social collectives and nations.
  • The progress is too unequal. : The Oxfam report which shows that 1% of the people own about 60% of the wealth in India.
  • GDP is neither a measure of welfare nor an indicator of well-being.
    • That is because it is not set up to recognize important aspects of our lives that are not captured by the acts of spending and investing.
    • There is no room in GDP for volunteering or housework, for example; nor does it recognize that there is value in community or in time spent with families.
    • More measurable things such as damage to our environment are also left out, as is job satisfaction. GDP doesn’t even measure the state of jobs.
  • Capitalist systems founded on a religion of property rights have treated nature that nurtures as an “externality” to be exploited. Thus, it does not take into account the sustainability of future GDP.
  • GDP also ignores important factors like environment, happiness, community, fairness and justice. But these are important aspects of development.
  • It does not allow for the health of children, the quality of their education or the strength of marriages; neither wisdom nor learning; neither compassion nor devotion to country which makes life worthwhile.
  • GDP also assumes all growth is good growth. : savings from energy-efficient devices counts as a negative for GDP growth, even though it is a positive for society.
  • GDP does not take into account the value of non-monetized activity. : Care activity of women.
  • GDP does not differentiate between more or less productive economic activity (i.e. implicitly assumes that economic activity is the desirable ends rather than a means to an end).
  • All value additions for self-consumption, which are not put out in the market, are not accounted in the GDP.

Way forward

  • Broader, non-monetary measures are required to assess the well-being of citizens.
  • Green GDP could be used which attempts to adjust for environmental factors
  • The other alternative measures include OECD’s “GDP alternatives,” which adjust for leisure; the “Index of Sustainable Economic Welfare,” which accounts for both pollution costs and the distribution of income.
  • The “Genuine Progress Indicator,” which “adjusts for factors such as income distribution, adds factors such as the value of household and volunteer work, and subtracts factors such as the costs of crime and pollution.”
  • There are more direct measures of well-being such as the Happy Planet Index, Gross National Happiness and National Well-Being Accounts.
  • To make the world better for everyone, consumers must learn to be better citizens and to democratically govern the local systems within which they live.

Value addition

Benefits of GDP as a tool to measure the growth of a nation:

  • GDP consists of consumer spending, Investment expenditure, government spending and net exports.
  • It provides an insight to investors which highlights the trend of the economy by comparing GDP levels as an index.
  • GDP is used as an indicator for most governments and economic decision-makers for planning and policy formulation.
  • GDP is not the perfect way to measure growth. But among the alternatives, it is the least “inaccurate” method to compute the growth rate of the country.
  • GDP is also used as an indicator of a nation’s overall standard of living because, generally, a nation’s standard of living increases as GDP increases.
  • If by growth one means the expansion of output of goods and services, then GDP or preferably real GDP which measures growth without the effects of inflation is perfectly satisfactory
  • Calculation of GDP provides with the general health of the economy. A negative GDP growth portrays bad signals for the economy. Economists analyse GDP to find out whether the economy is in recession, depression or boom.
  • GDP growth over time enables central banks and policymakers to evaluate whether the economy is in recession or inflation. In that sense it is still required.
  • GDP has held significance as a universal metric over the years.
  • It is inaccurate to say that GDP does not capture wellbeing. It captures at least the wellbeing that results from the production of goods and services. Indeed, when statisticians quantify the goods and services produced, they take into account their utility to the consumer.

 

 

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

6. India has made impressive progress towards clean energy. It has, however, a long way to go before it can fully wean itself off fossil fuels. During this transitional phase, natural gas producers should be granted unfettered marketing and pricing freedom. Examine. (250 words)

Difficulty level: Moderate

Reference: Indian ExpressInsights on India

Why the question:

India has natural gas reserves. Of that, there is no doubt. IHS CERA has estimated India has undiscovered gas resources of approximately 64 TCF.  The bulk of this is, however, in harsh topography and complex geology. These reserves are difficult to locate.

Key Demand of the question: 

To write about significance of natural gas of India’s energy security and clean energy transition.

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 with a brief background of the context in the question.

Body:

Firstly, write about the potential and importance natural gas for India for its energy security especially in the wake of rising global supply chain disruptions.

Next, write about the role natural gas can play in energy transition of India towards clean energy.

Next, write about the shortcomings of natural gas.

Conclusion:

Conclude by writing a way forward to sustainably and strategically harness clean energy.

 

Introduction

India must progress towards clean and renewable energy. But as an immediate step, it must onboard to natural gas dominated economy with end goal of green technology.

India’s growing dependence on imported natural gas, reaching 43% of the total gas supply in 2016 compared to 29% in 2006, requires more attention from policy makers to assure the security of gas supply.

Body

India’s energy requirement projection

  • The country’s demand for energy is set to double by 2040, and its electricity demand may
  • Indian oil consumption is expected to grow faster than that of any other major economy (including China). This makes further improving energy security a key priority for India’s economy.
  • India’s oil demand is expected to reach 6 million barrels per day (bpd) by 2024 from 4.4 million bpd in 2017, but its domestic production is expected to rise only marginally, making the country more reliant on crude imports and more vulnerable to supply disruption in the Middle East.
  • India’s oil refining capacity is expected to rise to 5.7 million bpd by 2024, making it a very attractive market for refinery investment.

Measures needed to support natural gas usage

  • Prioritise natural gas and recognise its versatility. It is a competitive fuel; It is abundantly available in and within the Asian/ME subcontinent;It has multiple uses and it is the “greenest” of all fossil fuels.
  • Correct the current disincentivising policy distortions: The pricing of natural gas is, for instance, a potpourri of complexity.
    • There are multiple price formulae. One for gas produced from domestic fields by the public sector companies; one for gas produced by private companies; one for production from deep waters offshore under high temperature etc.
  • Regressive taxes: The taxation system is also comparably regressive. It is a cascading structure so that the tax rates increase as the gas flows from one zone to another.
    • This means that customers located at a distance from the source of gas pay a higher price than those closer to the source.
    • The result is the dampening of demand. Also, gas is not under GST.
  • Revamp the structure of the industry: The Gas Authority of India Ltd (GAIL) is currently engaged in the production, transportation and marketing of gas.
    • This allows GAIL to leverage its ownership of the bulk of the gas pipelines to deny its competitors access to the market. The policy calls for assured and common access to all marketers but GAIL can bend the policy to its advantage without breaching it.
    • Most countries have tackled this conflict-of-interest situation by separating the upstream (production/import) and downstream (marketing) interests from transportation.
    • GAIL should also be so “unbundled”. Its business activities should be limited to pipeline construction and transportation.
  • Good institutional mechanism should be created to enable better coordination between the central and state governments.
    • One reason why India has not yet constructed a national pipeline grid is because the Centre and state have clashed over issues like land acquisition, pipeline routing; and royalty payments.
  • Centre-state differences have also delayed the construction of import facilities and the creation of gas markets.
  • A way has to be found to take these issues off the political table and brought within the frame of an integrated decision-making process.

 

Conclusion and wayforward

  • India aims to increase the share of natural gas to 15% of the energy mix by 2030 which suggests a doubling of current demand and infrastructure needs, as part of a gas trading hub.
  • This will require the availability of transport capacity across India, which will enable all market players to access LNG supplies.
  • Overall, the policy of increasing the role of gas is commendable, as it results in health benefits (when substituting for traditional biomass for cooking) and decreased greenhouse gas emissions (when substituting for coal in power generation).
  • As the share of natural gas is on the rise, it is advisable to embark on developing a gas security policy based on a well-functioning domestic gas market and robust gas infrastructure.
  • The GoI should therefore promote the development of a functioning gas market that can allow supply to meet demand.
  • This includes market-based price discovery, robust gas infrastructure, an independent regulator, third-party access to infrastructure, and competition among multiple buyers and sellers.

 

 


General Studies – 4


 

Topic: Contributions of moral thinkers and philosophers from India and world.

7. Rawls believed that inequalities can be justified as inequality could be attributed to rational human beings who are ignorant of their status, place and potential in the society. Examine.  (150 words)

Difficulty Level: Tough

Why the question:

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

Key Demand of the question:

To write about Rawls views on inequalities and its criticism.

Directive:

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 explaining the Rawls view on inequalities.

Body:

First, write about how according to Rawls the inequalities are a result of human ignorance. Cite examples to substantiate.

Next, write the criticism for Rawls view on inequalities.

Conclusion:

Conclude the answer by giving a balanced opinion.

 

Introduction

John Rawls was an American moral and political philosopher in the liberal tradition. Rawls’s theory of justice revolves around the adaptation of two fundamental principles of justice which would, in turn, guarantee a just and morally acceptable society. The first principle guarantees the right of each person to have the most extensive basic liberty compatible with the liberty of others. The second principle states that social and economic positions are to be to everyone’s advantage and open to all.

Body:

John Rawls theory

  • Rawls’ theory of justice as fairness encompasses a central contention that principles of justice is essential to the structure of a constitutional democracy. It must be viewed as political in contrast to more comprehensive moral, philosophical or religious doctrines.
  • His concept of social justice gives emphasis to fairness, it must be fair to all, to the most talented as well as the most disadvantaged section.
  • Rawls uses the idea of a veil of ignorance to argue that fair and just distribution can be defended on rational grounds. He says that if a person keeps herself/himself under the ‘veil of ignorance’ then s/he would come up with the just distribution, fair laws and policies that would affect the whole society.
  • Rawls further says that the institutions must be fair or just. They must keep themselves above parochial interests. In many societies there are such institutions which have been created to serve group’s interests and such institutions cannot serve the interests of justice.
  • The contents of the “social primary goods” specified by Rawls are of particular importance, for the fair distribution of them, namely, liberty and opportunity, income and wealth and basis of self-respect in a society will undoubtedly help to achieve the much-needed social justice.
  • For example: The recent 10% reservation for the Economically Weaker Sections in education and jobs; reservations for SC/ST etc.
  • Another important aspect of his theory is that while laying emphasis on the equal distribution of the “social primary goods”, he envisages “an unequal distribution” of the “social primary goods” if such unequal distribution is “to the advantage of the least favoured”.
  • Example: progressive tax system in India, multi-tiered GST system, Philanthropy.
  • In envisaging such “unequal distribution” of the social primary goods to benefit the “least favoured” in the society.

Critical assessment

  • Advocates of strict equality argue that inequalities permitted by the Difference Principle are unacceptable even if they do benefit the least advantaged.
  • The Utilitarian objection to the Difference Principle is that it does not maximize utility. In A Theory of Justice, Rawls uses Utilitarianism as the main theory for comparison with his own, and hence he responds at length to this Utilitarian objection and argues for his own theory in preference to Utilitarianism
  • Libertarians object that the Difference Principle involves unacceptable infringements on liberty. For instance, the Difference Principle may require redistributive taxation to the poor, and Libertarians commonly object that such taxation involves the immoral taking of just holdings.
  • The Difference Principle is also criticized as a primary distributive principle on the grounds that it mostly ignores claims that people deservecertain economic benefits in light of their actions.
  • Advocates of Desert-Based Principles argue that some may deserve a higher level of material goods because of their hard work or contributions even if their unequal rewards do not also function to improve the position of the least advantaged.
  • They also argue that the Difference Principle ignores the explanations of how people come to be in the more or less advantaged groups, when such explanations are relevant to the fairness of these positions.
  • The Original Position and the Veil of Ignorance may exclude some morally relevant information. the theory excludes in order to promote rationality and is biased in favor of rationality.
  • Some criticize it for being similar to Utilitarianism in as much as these two principles could permit or demand inequalities and suffering in order to benefit the least well off.
  • There is also the difficulty in applying the theory to practice.  It is difficult if not impossible for people to place themselves under the Veil of Ignorance in the Original Position in order to formulate what conduct would be required of them by the MAXI MIN Principle.
  • Some question whether or not people are rational enough to assume the veil of ignorance and operate under the two principles.
  • The theory was developed more to handle problems within society and there are difficulties in applying the principles to individual decision-making involving specific others.

 

Conclusion:

His works have influenced famous thinkers like Amartya Sen, Thomas Nagel, Thomas Pogge etc. The concept of Social and Economic Justice is adopted in our Constitution in the form of Directive Principles of State Policy.

Value addition:

Basic principles of his theory:

  • Rawls suggests two basic principles of justice.
  • Principle of Equal Liberty:
    • It means each person is to have an equal right to the most extensive basic liberty compatible with a similar liberty for others.
    • Examples: freedom of thought, speech and expression, universal suffrage, freedom from arbitrary arrest and seizure, the right to hold public office etc.
  • Difference Principle: There are 2 parts under this
    • Fair equality of opportunity: It postulates that public policies are reasonably expected to be to everyone’s advantage and public position and offices are open to all.
    • Difference principle: It justifies only those social and economic inequalities that maximize benefits to the least advantaged citizens.
  • These principles provide an operating logic for the determination of public interest by the decision- makers.

 


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