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[Mission 2023] SECURE SYNOPSIS: 19 November 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

Answer the following questions in 150 words:


General Studies – 1


 

1. The government must notice various factors adversely affecting heritage places and view them through the lenses of conservation in order to protect cultural heritage as well as to promote sustainable tourism.

Reference: Indian Express

Introduction

India has a vast basket of living and diverse cultural traditions, traditional expressions, intangible cultural heritage comprising masterpieces which need institutional support and encouragement with a view to addressing areas critical for the survival and propagation of these forms of cultural heritage. Preserving our heritage is enshrined as a Fundamental Duty in our Constitution.

World Heritage Week is approaching in the third week of November. During this time every year, we see a plethora of events and social media posts that celebrate heritage. It becomes an occasion to spread awareness about the cultural diversity represented by heritage sites.

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Threats to Indian Cultural Heritage:

  • Theft: The incidents of thefts have been observed usually from unprotected monuments, ancient temples. The thefts cases have also been seen in the protected monuments and museums as well. It is due to negligence of security guards in museums, monuments etc.
  • Smuggling: illicit traffic and smuggling in antiquities. Illicit traffic is motivated often by profit and sometimes by the demand for luxuries.
  • Tourism: Unregulated tourism, tourist activities run by touts, private agents have affected the art heritage places. The Culture Ministry of India has reported that up to 24 Indian monuments have been declared “untraceable” or “missing” by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI).
  • Issues with security of museums: Most of the museums are poorly guarded due to shortage of manpower leading to theft of artefacts, fire accidents etc.
  • Lack of public awareness: This leads to poor maintenance, vandalism, spoiling the monuments artefacts. Replacing the structures or building structures close to the monuments leading to
  • Duplication: Fakes of paintings and art forms leading to threat to livelihoods of artists.
  • Poor Maintenance: The state of the wall paintings in Ajanta caves is continuously getting worse, which can be attributed to humidity as well as to a lack of care.
  • Encroachment of monuments: Another miss from the ministry has been encroachments of monuments. Over 278 centrally protected monuments have been encroached upon or have illegal occupants, as per government data.

Rationale behind safeguarding the cultural heritage:

  • Evolution of human consciousness is a continuous process: History here serves as a laboratory and the past serves as a demarcation to understand the regional laws and social structures. This understanding helps in our progress towards an ideal society.
  • The art heritage is the identity and pride of our country. It is duty of every citizen to protect, preserve and perpetuate the cultural richness.
  • Tourism potential for art monuments and museums is very high. Tourism generates revenue for the state as well as private artists due to the money-multiplier quality.
  • Infrastructure development takes place in and around the areas. Eg. Hampi despite being a small town has excellent infrastructure.
  • It creates jobs for a lot of people from art industry and tourism industry as well
  • It creates a feeling of oneness and a sense of attachment by enhancing a sense of belonging to a culture or a region.
  • Every historical site has an important story to tell and these stories have inspired many people to strengthen their convictions and commitment to fight injustice and oppression.

Way forward

  • Strengthening Legislations and Initiatives:
    • The Antiquity Act of 1947, Antiquities and Art Treasures Act of 1972 particularly provide for the prevention of smuggling and illegally dealing in antiques.
    • Recent bill to amend The Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act which allowed construction within 100m of the protected monuments should be avoided.
    • In 2015, the ministry launched an initiative of e-ticketing services in over 116 monuments under the ASI and launched an initiative to digitise cultural resources.
  • Strengthening institutions:
    • The CAG report on Preservation and Conservation of Monuments and Antiques clearly indicates that the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) for this purpose needs to be more proactive and vigilant in its efforts and the ministry needs to develop an aggressive strategy for the same
    • Tapping of the Public —Private Partnership models for sustenance of Arts and Crafts.
    • Setting up at least one museum in each district with different chambers for visual and other forms of art, architecture, science, history and geography with regional flavour.
    • Artistes from the field of architecture, sculpture, painting, handicrafts, puppetry, music, dance, theatre, and literature will be graded by the Centre on the basis of their performance.
  • Cultural awareness:
    • Curriculum modification – Identification and inclusion of heritage as an asset in school, Open departments of Heritage management on the lines of Ahmedabad University
    • Introduction of a compulsory offline and online training for tourism purposes willing to undertake ventures.
    • Heritage depiction and promotion through immersive technology & augmented reality
    • Re-Classify heritage and announce awards for people with exceptional heritage sense.
    • Greater involvement of universities in schemes promoting arts and culture as well as inclusion of Fine Arts as a subject in universities.
  • Adaptive reuse of heritage sites:
    • Restoring the historical sites in the form of festivals and inducing festivity link perceptions.
    • Recognizing ‘cultural heritage tourism’ as an upcoming industry by building cultural resources with an adaptation of scientific and technological knowledge to local circumstances as well as forming partnerships between local and global bodies.

Conclusion

It is the duty of every citizen to value and preserve the rich heritage of our composite culture. The art and culture of our nation are a vast continuum, evolving incessantly since time immemorial. Naturally, preservation and conservation of India’s rich cultural heritage and promotion of all forms of art and culture, both tangible and intangible, including monuments and archaeological sites, anthropology and ethnology, folk and tribal arts, literature and handicrafts, performing art of music-dance-drama and visual arts of paintings-sculpture-graphics is essential and assumes a lot of importance.

 


General Studies – 2


 

2. To achieve the objective of foundational literacy and numeracy in all primary schools, we need to especially focus on community connects and parental involvement. Analyse.

Reference: The Hindu

Introduction

It is alarming that India ranks 132 out of 191 countries in the 2021 Human Development Index, which is a measure of a nation’s health, average income, and education. FLN is broadly conceptualised as a child’s ability to read basic texts and solve basic maths problems (such as addition and subtraction). Foundational Literacy and Numeracy is one of the major themes of the NEP 2020.

 

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Focusing on community connect and parental involvement

  • Panchayats and community collectives with very high social capital, such as women self-help groups, can help ensure that local households own the initiative.
  • Panchayats can leverage resources. Communities can both enable and discipline teachers if funds, functions and functionaries are their responsibility.
  • The Panchayati Raj, Rural and Urban Development Ministries can work on community connect and make learning outcomes a responsibility of local governments.
  • Providing decentralized funds to schools with the community overseeing such funds is the best starting point towards achieving the NEP objective.
  • The recruitment of teachers, educators and administrators has to become a priority if we want to make a difference.
  • The Central, State and local governments need to transform governance to ensure that everyone delivers their best.
  • We should ensure that there are direct funds to schools, no teacher vacancies, fewer non-teaching tasks, and a vibrant community and panchayat connect for accountability.

Way forward

  • Parallel Approach: The current education system, the policymakers as well as the people must overcome this misconceived sequential understanding of “basics first and critical thinking afterwards” and find a new approach where basic learning and critical thinking run parallel.
    • The children need not be made to spend several years mastering FLN to pass a test, they need to be prepared to achieve contemporary educational goals such as critical thinking, curiosity, or empowerment.
  • Teacher Training: The District Institutes of Education and Training (DIETs) often have high vacancies, insufficient funds, and severe constraints impeding them from acting responsive to local needs.
    • This core function of an education system requires a strong public sector, sufficient human resources, and a proper infrastructure.
    • Policymakers should also consider increasing budgetary allocations for teacher training institutions and reformulate their mission and mandate to ensure increased discretion and an empowered faculty.
  • Revised Learning Approach: Education systems in many countries, in an attempt to boost learning quality, have moved away from teaching reading and mathematics in incremental, skill-based ways.
    • Culturally responsive teaching, which strives to make learning relevant to the lived realities of children, and critical mathematics education, which teaches maths as a tool to critically read the world, are among several approaches widely sought after by schools worldwide.
    • These approaches include mastering basic reading and maths skills as part of richer, contextual learning rather than a prerequisite.

 

Conclusion

The time between preschool and Class 3 can be transformational for individuals. It is time for everyone from the Panchayat level to the Prime Minister to ensure that all children are in school and are learning by 2025. Foundational literacy and numeracy are necessary to prepare a generation of learners who will secure for India high rates of economic progress and human well-being. The time to act is now.

 

3. What is a free trade agreement (FTA)? How are FTAs important for India? What are the various issues that are involved in FTA negotiation? How can the issues be resolved?

Reference: The HinduInsights on India

Introduction

A free trade agreement is a pact between two or more nations to reduce barriers to imports and exports among them. Under a free trade policy, goods and services can be bought and sold across international borders with little or no government tariffs, quotas, subsidies, or prohibitions to inhibit their exchange.

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Background

  • Economic theory tells us that FTAs are not always sure-win strategies because these create as well as divert trade.
  • FTAs need to be designed in a manner that they enhance complementarities amongst partners and overcome regulatory hurdles.
  • It has been reported that the FTA will be remodelled into three separate deals—trade, investment and geographical indications (GIs).
  • While the investment deal is seen as a standalone agreement, the one on GIs could be integrated with the trade deal.
  • It may be in India’s interest to ensure that all the three negotiations move in parallel and feed into each other.
  • Since India unilaterally terminated bilateral investment treaties (BIT), including those with the EU member states, the EU appears to be keen to conclude an investment deal that includes Investor State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) provisions.

 

Significance of FTA’s for India

  • India is expected to conclude the UK agreement  and that with Canada by the end of this year in 2022 or early 2023.
  • These countries offer many of the factors that India needs to establish a dependable production capability serving both global and domestic markets.
    • With these FTAs, sectors such as gems and jewellery, engineering goods, agro-processed foods, textiles, technology, and financial services are likely to gain.
  • To achieve the $2-trillion export target by 2030, India’s active participation in global value chains (GVCs) is essential.
    • Today, 70 per cent of the global goods and services exports come from GVCs.
    • GVCs require close trade cooperation, lower duties, and efficient customs administration, which can be ensured by an FTA.
  • The inclusion of new-age areas like digital trade in FTAs will enhance cooperation and transform GVCs by lowering entry barriers, increasing transparency, and facilitating collaborative networks.

 

Various issues involved with FTA and negotiations

  • There are issues related to labour laws and investor protection provisions impact India’s ability to negotiate deep-trade agreements. Deep trade agreements have been designed over the last two decades to facilitate complex global value chains and the underlying trade-investment-services linkages.
    • The predominant focus in these agreements is linked to investor protection, intellectual property rights (IPRs) and labour standards.
    • India has found it difficult to negotiate these issues in its earlier free trade agreements.
    • For instance, issues related to labour laws led to the suspension of the FTA negotiations with the EU in 2013 and pushed these negotiations to
  • Furthermore, India’s 2016 template for a model investment treaty, may make it difficult for India to negotiate the investor protection provisions. Because it is more state-friendly and includes some burdensome provisions for the foreign investor.
  • Next, a protectionist tariff structure, if not corrected, could remain a hurdle at the preliminary stage of FTA negotiations.
  • India’s tariff structure has been relatively higher than the average MFN tariffs in the manufacturing sector. For example, As per World Bank data, the applied, weighted mean tariff rate for manufactured products in India increased from 5.5 percent in 2008 to 6.6 percent in 2019. Whereas it decreased in the case of Vietnam from 5.6 percent to 1.4 percent over the same period.
  • Exports have not expanded as thought. India’s exports to Asean countries amounted to $23 billion in 2010, which increased to $36 billion in 2018, with a compound annual growth rate of five per cent. At the same time, India’s imports from these countries increased from $30 billion in 2010 to $57 billion, a growth of eight per cent.
    • India’s net exports to countries without a trade agreement were only marginally lower than its net exports to countries with FTAs.
    • In contrast, the imports from countries with trade agreements were substantially higher, pushing India into a trade deficit.
  • India had recorded a trade deficit in all major trade agreements other than the South Asia Free Trade Agreement (SAFTA).

 

Conclusion

The trade policy framework of India must be accompanied by economic reforms that result in an open, competitive, and technologically advanced economy. India needs to strengthen its domestic manufacturing base in value-added products like engineering goods, electronic products, drugs and pharmaceuticals, textiles, and agriculture machinery, that could be used to boost exports.

 


General Studies – 3


 

4. As climate change continues, it will lead to more frequent and severe climate disasters leading to poverty, food shortages and large scale forced migration. Discuss.

Reference: Down to Earth

Introduction

Climate Change is a periodic modification of Earth’s climate brought about due to the changes in the atmosphere as well as the interactions between the atmosphere and various other geological, chemical, biological and geographical factors within the Earth’s system.

Climate change is accelerating due to global warming driven by human-induced emissions of greenhouse gases and there is resulting large-scale shifts in weather patterns.

 

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Impact of climate change

  • Coastal areas:7500 km long coastline is already vulnerable to various disasters like cyclone, coastal flooding, storm surges, heavy rainfall (as seen in Mumbai) etc.
    • The rise in the sea temperature and level will only increase the frequency of such hazards endangering the life and livelihood of the coastal population.
    • Also, India being close to the equator will experience much higher increase in sea level than higher latitudes
  • Monsoon: Phenomenon such as El Nino will increase the variabilityof the monsoon worsening the agricultural crisiswith more than 50% area still being rain-fed and threatening the food security.
    • Climate change has about 4-9 per cent impact on agriculture each year.
    • As agriculture contributes 15 per cent to India’s GDP, climate change presumably causes about 1.5 per cent loss in GDP(1).
  • Disasters:More weather aberrations as recently seen in Mumbai and Chennai and increase incidence of the disasters likeflood and drought will threaten both rural and urban economy
  • Biodiversity: Loss of biodiversity put the livelihood of the forest dependent and hill communities at risk and disturb the biogeochemical cycles that help maintain the flow of nutrient, water and pure air.
    • Increase in human-wildlife conflict as observed in State like Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand is another threat.
  • Health: Increased disease outbreaks especially of the tropical diseases like Malaria and Dengue, heat waves aggravating the urban heat island effect andwater scarcity compelling people to consume polluted water will increase the burden of mortality and morbidity.
  • Migration: Rising inequalities as poor will be most affected due to climate change will increase the burden of migration and cripple the urban economies.
    • Illegal migration from the neighbour countries will also cause security threats.

 

India’s action for Climate Change

  • National Action Plan on Climate Change (NAPCC): outlines existing and future policies and programs addressing climate mitigation and adaptation. The Action Plan identifies eight core “national missions” running through to 2017: Solar Energy; Enhanced Energy Efficiency; Sustainable Habitat; Water; Sustaining the Himalayan Ecosystem; Green India; Sustainable Agriculture; and Strategic Knowledge for Climate Change. Most of these missions have strong adaptation imperatives.
  • National Clean Energy Fund: The Government of India created the National Clean Energy Fund (NCEF) in 2010 for financing and promoting clean energy initiatives and funding research in the area of clean energy in the country. The corpus of the fund is built by levying a cess of INR 50 (subsequently increased to INR 100 in 2014) per tonne of coal produced domestically or imported.
  • Paris Agreement: Under the Paris Agreement, India has made three commitments. India’s greenhouse gas emission intensity of its GDP will be reduced by 33-35% below 2005 levels by 2030. Alongside, 40% of India’s power capacity would be based on non-fossil fuel sources. At the same time, India will create an additional ‘carbon sink’ of 2.5 to 3 billion tonnes of Co2 equivalent through additional forest and tree cover by 2030.
  • International Solar Alliance: ISA was launched at the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris on 30 November 2015 by India and France, in the presence of Mr. Ban Ki Moon, former Secretary-General of the United Nations.
  • Bharat Stage (BS) Emission Norms: Emissions from vehicles are one of the top contributors to air pollution, which led the government at the time to introduce the BS 2000 (Bharat Stage 1) vehicle emission norms from April 2000, followed by BS-II in 2005. BS-III was implemented nationwide in 2010. However, in 2016, the government decided to meet the global best practices and leapfrog to BS-VI norms by skipping BS V altogether.

Evaluation of India’s response to climate change

  • Exceeding the NDC commitment:India is on track (as reports/documents show) to meet and exceed the NDC commitment to achieve 40% electric power installed capacity from non-fossil fuel-based sources by 2030.
  • Reduction in emission intensity of GDP:Against the voluntary declaration for reducing the emission intensity of GDP by 20%-25% by 2020, India has reduced it by 24% between 2005-2016.
  • More importantly, we achieved these targets with around 2% out of the $100 billion committed to developing nations in Copenhagen (2009),realised by 2015.
  • Renewable energy expansion: India is implementing one of the most extensive renewable energy expansion programmesto achieve 175 GW of renewable energy capacity by 2022 and 450 GW by 2030.
  • Investment in green measures:As part of the fiscal stimulus after the pandemic, the government announced several green measures, including:
    • $26.5-billion investment in biogas and cleaner fuels,
    • $3.5 billion in incentivesfor producing efficient solar photovoltaic (PV) and advanced chemistry cell battery, and $780 million towards an afforestation programme.
  • India’s contribution to global emissions is well below its equitable share of the worldwide carbon budget by any equity criterion.

Conclusion and way forward

  • Any self-sacrificial declaration of carbon neutrality today in the current international scenario would be a wasted gesture reducing the burden of the developed world and transferring it to the backs of the Indian people.
  • India’s twin burden of low-carbon development and adaptation to climate impacts, is onerous and no doubt requires serious, concerted action.
  • India’s approach to eventual net-zero emissions is contingent on deep first world emissions reductions and an adequate and unambiguous global carbon budget.
  • Meanwhile, India must reject any attempt to restrict its options and be led into a low-development trap, based on pseudo-scientific narratives.

 

 

5. A judicious mix of security and developmental interventions would go a long way in tackling Maoist threat. Discuss.

Reference: Insights on India

Introduction

The left-wing extremism or Naxal insurgency in India originated in a 1967 uprising in Naxalbari, West Bengal by the Communist Party of India (Marxist). They are the group of people who believe in the political theory derived from the teachings of the Chinese political leader Mao Zedong. The Naxals strongly believe that the solution to social and economic discrimination is to overthrow the existing political system.

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Causes of left-wing extremism in India

  • Inequitable development: The failure of land reforms especially land redistribution after independence.
    • Socio-economic inequities, unemployment, despair about the future.
    • Dishonest and self-serving dominant groups.
    • Political deprivation leading to hopelessness or a sense of powerlessness.
    • Lack of title to public land cultivated by the landless poor.
    • Governance deficit in the remote parts of Red Corridor regions.
    • Lack of food security – corruption in the Public Distribution System (which are often nonfunctional).
    • Disruption of traditional occupations and lack of alternative work opportunities.
  • Displacement of people: Eviction from lands traditionally used by tribals.
    • Forced Displacements caused by mining, irrigation and power projects without adequate arrangements for rehabilitation. As a result livelihoods were lost.
    • Large scale land acquisition for ‘public purposes’ without appropriate compensation or rehabilitation
  • Discrimination against tribals: Poor implementation of laws prohibiting transfer of tribal land to non-tribals in the Fifth Schedule areas.
    • Non-regularisation of traditional land rights under FRA,2006.
    • Hasty rejections of land grants to tribals.

Measures and change in strategy needed to solve Maoism

Home Ministry came up with the strategy of Samadhan. It is a strategy to frame short term and long-term policies to tackle LWE.  It includes: S- Smart Leadership; A- Aggressive Strategy; M- Motivation and Training; A- Actionable Intelligence; D- Dashboard Based KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) and KRAs (Key Result Areas); H- Harnessing Technology; A- Action plan for each Theatre; N- No access to Financing.

In lieu of this, governments must pro-actively tackle left wing extremism.

  • Modernizing the police force: The scheme focuses on strengthening police infrastructure by construction of secure police stations, training centres, police housing (residential) and equipping police stations with required mobility, modern weaponry, communication equipment and forensic set-up etc.
    • On the administrative side, changes include separation of investigation from law and order, specialized wings for Social and Cyber Crimes are initiated in several states.
    • Various technological reforms are pushed including modernization of the control room, fast tracking Crime and Criminal Tracking Network and System (CCTNS), pushing for National Intelligence Grid (NATGRID) and pushing for incorporation of new technology into policing
  • Social Integration:State Governments have surrender and rehabilitation policy, while the Central Government supplements the efforts of the State Governments through the Security Related Expenditure (SRE) Scheme for LWE affected States.
    • Additional incentives are given for surrendering with weapons/ammunition.
    • The surrenderers are also impartedvocational training with a monthly stipend for a maximum period of 36 months.
    • Skill Development: Skill Development in 34 Districts affected by Left Wing Extremism” under implementation from 2011-12 aimsto establish ITIs and Skill Development Centres in LWE affected districts.
  • Infrastructure Development:Road Connectivity, communication needs to be rapidly scaled up in LWE affected districts. Eg: Mobile towers being set up in remote areas.
  • Major counter-insugency measures in states
    • Andhra Pradesh established elite force called Greyhounds to successfully crack down on naxal leaders. It also squashed mass organisation activities through civilian “vigilante” groups that had been encourged through the surrender and rehabilitation package.
    • West Bengal government implemented confidence building measures with the people living in the Maoist infested Jangalmaha region. It created a linkage between people and the institution.
    • Odishaand Chhattisgarh trained many local tribal youths as Special Police Officers against Maoist insurgency.
    • Biharhad set up a 400-member special task force and Special Auxiliary Police for counter insurgency operations. Currently the naxal influence has come down from 22 districts to 4.
    • Maharashtracreated a district level force called as C-60 Commando.
  • SMART Policing: Smart policing paradigm promotes integration & interoperability of information & communication systems.
    • Broadly, smart policing involves interventions incorporating application of evidence-based and data-driven policing practices, strategies and tactics in order to prevent and control crime.
    • Recruit specialized personnel: Specialized crimes require specialized approach and personnel to deal with them. There should be core technical team to handle modern technology related crimes.
    • Community policing improves interface with citizens and makes police more sensitive. E.g. (i) Janamaithri Suraksha Padhathi, Kerala (ii) Friends of Police Movement (FOP), Tamil Nadu (iii) Suraksha Setu – Safe City Surat Project
    • Improve communication network: There should be sharing of information & knowledge to improve the functioning of police force.
    • Better Surveillance and Monitoringwith standardisation, deployment and integration of private security surveillance system.
    • It promotes pro-active policing by preventing criminal activity through enhanced police visibility and public engagement.

Need of the hour

  • Central and State governments, the administration and the security establishment need to recognize that the movement cannot be approached from a purely law and order point of view.
  • The process of improving the conditions of the poor and the tribals clearly need to be speeded up if the movement is to be effectively checked.
  • Winning the hearts and minds of the tribal population and other marginalised groups will lie at the core of the counter-insurgency strategy
  • Development of road and rail infrastructure will not only enhance economic growth and development but will also help in countering Maoist propaganda
  • The improved road connectivity will also have a multiplier effect on the effectiveness of the security forces in carrying out operations.
  • Providing incentives and alternate life support system to those surrendered

Conclusion

An ideology based on violence and annihilation is doomed to fail in a democracy which offers legitimate forums of grievance redressal. Through a holistic approach focusing on development and security related interventions, the LWE problem can be successfully tackled.

 

 

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


General Studies – 1


 

6. The internet has no borders and it is often misused to harass women and perpetuate misogyny which prevent them for getting equal opportunity and access. Suggest steps make the digital space safer for all, particularly women.

Reference: Indian Express

Introduction

Today ‘s era is the era of internet whose presence and active involvement has swiftly and widely spread the ideologies for women empowerment. Internet has become the agent of  social change which helped and supported women‘s empowerment in various aspects such as mobilizing attention of glocal community towards women‘s rights and challenges, discrimination and stereotypes across the globe. Internet has given a platform to discuss issues and challenges of women through blogs, chats, online campaign, online discussion forums and online communities which is mostly not disseminated or propogated by mainstream media.

India has one of the youngest youth demographics in the world (27 per cent are Gen Z while 34 per cent are Millennials) and among the most active online. As online interactions increase, more and more content is created and shared among people, helping them form new and wonderful connections. Sometimes, however, these interactions also make them vulnerable to harm. Women are often particularly vulnerable.

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Challenges faced by women on Internet

Online abuse of women:

  • To add to the gender disparity in access to the internet, women are having to face online abuse.
  • Though even men are targeted online, the attacks faced by both sexes are vastly different. Misinformation/disinformation targets men and women differently. A large number of young women and girls have experienced online abuse and they are more vulnerable to such abuse.

Forms of online abuse:

  • According to a recent report of the Special Rapporteur on violence against women for the United Nations Commission on Human Rights, online abuse can involve a variety of activities.
  • It can include actions like bullying, trolling, cyberstalking, defamation and hate speech, public shaming, and identity theft and hacking, sexual harassment and threats of sexual violence, or the sharing of intimate images and videos without permission.

Gendered disinformation:

  • Women are more prone to gendered disinformation.
  • Misinformation and sexism have a symbiotic relationship. Misinformation piggybacks on sexism to discredit vocal women and sexism uses misinformation to reinforce patriarchal norms.

Inter-sectional challenges:

  • Misinformation like other forms of abuse and discrimination has inter-sectional challenges.
  • Organised disinformation and sexism intersect with Islamophobia, casteism, religious bigotry and other forms of discrimination. This only increases the impact on women from such vulnerable sections.

Vulnerability of women even in high positions:

  • Even women in high positions are not spared from online abuse.
    • 2020 report by Amnesty Internationalnoted a considerable number of female politicians receiving hateful mentions on social media platforms like Twitter. A substantial proportion of them was either sexist or misogynistic.
    • Women journalists are at great risk of being under such attacks on their social media platforms. A recent report by UNESCOon online harassment faced by women journalists says that political actors instigate and fuel online violence campaigns against women journalists.
  • This is indicative of the extent of online abuse against women and girls and their vulnerability to it.

Measures needed:

  • Government level:
    • National Cyber Crime Reporting Portalshall be designated as the national portal under-reporting requirements in the POCSO Act in case of electronic material
    • Union Government shall be empowered through its designated authority to block and/or prohibit all websites/intermediaries that carry child sexual abuse material
    • Law enforcement agencies should be permitted to brake end to end encryption to trace distributors of child pornography.
    • A cyber-crime portal was launched in 2018 to enable citizens to report obscene contents.
    • Cyber police stations and cyber-crime cells were set up in each state for reporting and investigating cybercrime cases.
  • Use of Artificial intelligence:
    • Tools can be developed which can analyse the behaviour of every internet user. So, it can help prevent the user from falling into cyber bullying.
    • Developing some mobile applications that can alert parents if the child is under threat of cyber bullying.
    • Prevent malware attacks by tying up with antivirus agencies.
  • Multipronged approach to handle cases:
    • Need to handle the cases of cyber bullying through multipronged approach such as counselling through Psychiatrist, approaching police, etc.

Way forward:

  • Social media platforms have moral obligations to safeguard their users.
  • They must strive towards ensuring transparent and efficient reporting systems so that people can use them to curb cyberbullying.
  • Making social media platforms accountable
  • Countermeasures against online trolling must be encompassed within the women empowerment policies
  • Online women-specific crime reporting unit must be set up for quicker disposal for complaints regarding targeted harassment of women users of social media.
  • Increasing political representation of women for removing societal inequality, discrimination and misogyny
  • The cybercrimes in social media platforms are mainly addressed under the IPC provisions that deal with conventional offences like sexual harassment, privacy violation etc.
  • They are largely inefficient in dealing with techno-motivated crimes, which have more impact on victims than those traditional offences due to the lack of justice.
  • Therefore, the cybercrimes under the IT Act must be repealed and IPC must be modified to cover all cybercrimes, including those currently covered under the IT Act.

Conclusion:

As part of a knowledge society in the new media era, Internet considerably contribute to women empowerment by offering information and education that presents women users with strategies offering better informed decision making from anywhere and  everywhere which may not be possible otherwise.

 


General Studies – 2


 

7. Critically analyse the performance of Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana scheme (PMGKAY) in addressing the food needs of the poor by distributing free foodgrains. Do you think the further extension of the scheme is a prudent move or an electoral freebie?

Reference: The HinduInsights on India

 

Introduction

Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana scheme (PMGKAY) was part of the Centre’s initial COVID-19 relief. The scheme aimed at providing each person who is covered under the National Food Security Act 2013 with an additional 5 kg grains (wheat or rice) for free, in addition to the 5 kg of subsidised foodgrain already provided through the Public Distribution System (PDS).

It was initially announced for a three-month period (April, May and June 2020), covering 80 crore ration cardholders. Later it was extended till September 2022. Its nodal Ministry is the Ministry of Finance. The benefit of the free ration can be availed through portability by any migrant labour or beneficiary under the One Nation One Ration Card (ONORC) plan from nearly 5 lakh ration shops across the country.

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Achievements of NFSA and PMGKAY

  • It was the first step by the government when pandemic affected India.
  • The scheme reached its targeted population feeding almost 80Cr people.
  • It has proven to be more of a safety net to migrant people who had job and livelihood losses.
  • This has also ensured nutrition security to children of the migrant workers.

Limitations of NFSA and PMGKAY

  • Expensive: It’s very expensive for the government to sustain and increases the need for an abundant supply of cheap grains. In 2022, India has had to restrict exports of wheat and rice after erratic weather hurt harvest, adding to pressure on food prices, and rattling global agricultural markets.
  • Increase Fiscal Deficit: It could pose a risk to the government’s target to further narrow the fiscal deficit to 6.4% of gross domestic product.
  • Inflation: The decision on the program could also affect inflation. The prices of rice and wheat, which make up about 10% of India’s retail inflation, are seeing an uptick due to lower production amid a heatwave and patchy monsoon.

 

Way forward

  • Study of scheme: The central authorities should commission a study and make its findings public. Just as it did in the initial months of the pandemic.
    • It should be the basis for updating the database of foodgrain-drawing card holders, scrutinizing the data critically and zeroing in on the needy.
  • Need to go beyond the mandate of the NFSA: as is being done under the PMGKAY, the government can supply the foodgrains at a reasonable price.
  • Ration on regular basis: Centre should consider providing 1 kg pulses free to States on a regular basis, or at least at highly subsidized rates.
  • Rules on quota: To keep the budgetary allocation under control, rules on quota for rice or wheat can be changed suitably.
  • Diversion from PDS: central and State authorities need to ponder over the scheme’s continuance, given the chronic problem of diversion from the Public Distribution System (PDS).

 

Conclusion

There should be an all-encompassing database for migrant workers and their family. This should accurately capture the data on migration. The One Nation One Ration Card should be implemented in true spirit by all the states. Along with food security, there should be a sustainable income support through schemes like MGNREGS accompanied by free vaccines in nearest future. The leakages in PDS should be minimized through modernize PDS. To avoid leakages, there should be food-token system.

 

8. The current global environment with its macroeconomic, trade and strategic challenges makes it all the more compelling for the world’s two largest democracies to deepen their engagement in a way that is mutually beneficial. Comment in the light Indo-U.S. relations.

Reference: The Hindu

Introduction

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen’s visit to India last week highlights the renewed focus in the U.S. on strengthening economic ties with Asia’s third-largest economy and ‘one of America’s indispensable partners’.

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Need for deepening of bilateral relations between India and USA

  • Security: Combat terrorism and weapons of mass destruction Protect global commons like sea routes and sea lanes of communication.
    • Eg: India has mentioned Taiwan issue in public for the first time while USA has been passing through South China sea and Taiwan straits to protect freedom of navigation in high seas.
  • Global cooperation: International Cooperation through platforms like UN, ASEAN, G-20, IMF, Quad. Quad security dialogue has been initiated to reign in China’s dominance in the region.
  • Defence cooperation: Defence agreements Iike LEMOA, COMCASA, Industrial Security Agreement and BECA; Bilateral military exercises like Yudh Abhyaas, Vajra prahar, etc have been taking place every year.
  • Space cooperation: Indo-US science and technology cooperation agreement; Joint Microwave remote sensing satellite named NISAR.
  • Diaspora and people to people ties: Strength of Indian diaspora in US is around 4.5 million which is around 1% of its population. Indian diaspora is a source and agent of soft power, an effective public diplomacy tool and is acknowledged for its work ethos, discipline, non-interference and peaceful living with the locals.

Divergences and friction areas

  • Tariffs war: Since 2018 both countries were engaged in tariffs war. E.g. In 2018, the US imposed additional tariffs of 25% on steel and 10% on aluminium imports from various countries, including India. India’s refusal to remove the 20% tariffs on ICT products caused the trade deal between India and USA to delay which remains still pending.
  • WTO disputes: India USA are involved in WTO disputes on issues like, Capping prices of medical devices by India, greater Indian market access for American agriculture and dairy products etc.
  • IPR: India is also on S.’s “Priority Watch List” which identifies countries posing challenges to American intellectual property rights. Also, The US wants India to strengthen patent regulations, and to ease the limitations American companies investing in India face.
  • USA tensions with Iran, Russia: Putting unilateral curbs on Russian and Iranian imports into India through CAATSA would impinge on India’s relations with Iran, Russia, both relations in which India has strong stakes.
  • Divergence of interests in Afghanistan: In the backdrop of Afghan Peace deal, U.S. left Afghanistan. Decades of work was scrapped as Taliban took over and freedom of people and the developmental work India did is hampered.

 

Conclusion

Despite the differences in some areas, the upward trajectory in India USA relations indicates a sense of greater nuance to the need for institutionalisation of bilateral ties — towards not only graduating the bilateral dynamic away from over-dependence on chemistry between the top political leadership, but also design frameworks in a manner that maximise convergences between the two countries.

 


General Studies – 3


 

9. Indian climate startups are leveraging technology to help the country achieve sustainability in the long run. From new-age battery technology for vehicles to waste management technology to adopting renewable energy — Indian startups are leaving no stones unturned to fight climate change. In what ways, could they be promoted and scaled up on a greater scale?

Reference: Live Mint

Introduction

Climate tech companies are startups working on decarbonizing the global economy and creating new profitable business models while also mitigating climate impacts. Some startups that fall under mitigation production include companies developing renewables, alternative protein, clean industry, and engineered-carbon capture and natural based carbon removal. While companies focusing on adaptation tackle crop protection, water recycling, climate insurance, or nature conservation.

Abnormally high temperatures, natural catastrophes, forest fires, and poor air quality are only a few of the effects of climate change today. Several Indian startups are leveraging technology to help the country achieve sustainability in the long run and tackle climate change issues.

Body

Climate tech startup scenario in India

  • India has been a refuge for climate technology investments due to decarbonization policies encouraged by Prime Minister Modi’s pledge at the Conference of the Parties 26 (COP 26) conference that India will attain net-zero emissions by 2070.
  • India’s diverse innovation ecosystem shows promise in leading the way to a greener future in resolving complex climate problems- whether in agri-tech, electric vehicles (EVs) or software.
  • India ranks at the ninth spot globally for climate tech investment, with the country’s climate tech firms receiving $ 1 Bn in venture capital funding between 2016 and 2021.
  • Over the past five years, 120 climate tech startups raised over 200 funding rounds from 272 unique investors in India.
  • Sustainability is becoming an indispensable checkpoint for investors in the climate-tech industry and across all sectors.
  • According to a report, around 50 per cent of companies will have Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) among the top five business priority areas by 2025 to promote sustainability.

Challenges faced by Climate startups

  • Climate-specific startups are lagging those in the IT or e-commerce space in accessing funding due to higher expectations of investors
  • While early-stage investing around climate tech is gathering momentum, there’s still a paucity of domestic venture capital for the later stages, when working capital needs to rise: the missing middle.
  • “missing middle”, which is of particular importance in high-capex industries like renewable power, water, waste and electric vehicles.” For startups going from the seed stage to scaling up their operations in the market, there is a missing stage between their first grants of Rs 30-50 lakh to investments of Rs 2-5 crore.
  • This is forcing entrepreneurs to be realistic about their companies’ value now and proactive about crowding in global capital for future fundraising.
  • Funding for climate tech startups in tier-2 and tier-3 cities is largely absent.
  • While a bulk of the investments have been made in EVs and batteries so far, there is a huge lacunae in plastic and waste recycling and startups in the whole space of carbon credits.
  • Some startups may face technology risk – for example for those building new battery tech.
  • There are the regulatory risks — for example for companies that are focused on carbon markets

Way forward & conclusion

  • From modelling earth systems using satellite data, pinpointing pollution, sustainability reporting and gauging water use, leveraging artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning to fight climate change could become a crucial stepstone in this green trajectory.
  • Climate tech startups should work out how their proposition fits into the impact fund’s objectives
  • They should prioritize pitching to lead investors over seed investors in the early days of fund raising
  • explore strategic partnerships with corporates that either have net-zero commitments and/or could benefit in other ways from what their startups have on offer.
  • Startups can also access the Fund of Funds Scheme through which a total of Rs 4,509 crore of investments have been made in 384 startups.

 

10. The Intelligence and counter-terror specialist agencies must begin to anticipate how to deal with ‘new era terrorists’, recruited over the Internet as they pose a great challenge to internal security of the country. Analyse.

Reference: Insights on India

Introduction

With rise in modern technologies and penetration, India confronts a wide spectrum of challenges to its security. Today national security challenges include not only traditional military and nuclear threats, but a multitude of other threats, including terrorism, cyber security, demographic challenges etc. These challenges for the security demand proactive response and preparedness in the coming years.

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New age threats and new era terrorists

  • Cyber-threats: The initiatives like Digital India initiatives have brought about a paradigm shift in terms of connectivity. While greater connectivity promises wider services, it also paves the way for the emergence of new vulnerabilities. Leading companies in energy, finance and other sectors are targeted by new-age cyber criminals. As per CERT-IN, one cybercrime was reported every 10 minutes in India during 2017 which is quite alarming.
  • Climate change as a destabilizing threat: One of the most critical issues concerning India’s security is climate change and its impact. Dwindling freshwater resources has led to many inter-state water tussles, one of which was witnessed in the Cauvery row. Such endeavors may not only affect the environment but also lead to a threat to internal security.
  • New form of Terrorism: Terrorism is taking new shape with increased incidents of lone wolf attacks. The recent London terror attack, Manchester terror attack are scary. They are neither limited by territorial boundaries, nor do they recognize the concept of sovereignty. The use of suicide bombers, sophisticated technology and tactics such as leaderless movements, sleeper cells networks have made it increasingly difficult for the governments to get rid of terrorist groups.
  • Demographic changes and their consequences: India is sitting at a huge demographic dividend in terms of its 65% population is in the age group of 15-35 years of age. While it can be a huge economic advantage, if not provided with suitable opportunities can turn into a worse nightmare. Although the Indian economy is growing substantially, India’s rate of employment has actually declined. This may lead to youth turning to crime and drugs, which is dangerous to society.
  • New technologies: Although technology has immense usefulness for humanity, it has a harmful impact too. For example, new technologies like drones, transparent cameras, robotics etc. have the potential of snooping into India’s security set up. Pakistani drone was recently fired down by Indian army in Rajasthan as an example of this. This poses new challenges to Indian security.
  • Newer Threats: New technologies and novel applications of existing technologies have the potential to disrupt labor markets and alter health, energy, and transportation systems.
  • Limited regulation: In many cases, the rate of innovation is outpacing states’ ability to keep abreast of the latest developments and their potential societal impacts.
  • Powerful adversaries: Emerging technology will also allow our adversaries to strike farther, faster, and harder and challenge India in all warfare domains, including space.
  • Threat from Non-state actors: Groups such as al-Qaeda and ISIS used online communication on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and other platforms to increase their prominence and recruit collaborators.
  • Threat of weapons of mass destruction (WMD): Hostile nations, realizing that they cannot stand up to technologically superior military forces, will be stimulated to develop WMD as an offset to these capabilities.

Measures to be taken

  • Incentivizing investors and corporations to consider national security in their decision-making process.
  • Multilateral governance system to initiate, shape, and implement both technical and normative solutions.
  • Ministry of External Affairs recently (MEA) created a New, Emerging and Strategic Technologies (NEST) division to deal with the foreign policy and international legal aspects of new and emerging technologies.
  • India has a Defence Cyber Agency and a National Technical Research Organisation, which are responsible for mechanisms that work to counter cyber risks and threats to the country.
  • More partnerships and collaborative environments to share worldwide emerging technology trends, address competitive threats, share national security concerns, and consider civil liberties, privacy, and ethical implications.
  • Forming strategic public-private partnerships with the aim of allocating private capital to support national security objectives.
  • Develop and adopt advanced technology applications within government and improve the desirability of the government as a customer of the private sector.

Conclusion

To meet the diverse likely security challenges and to successfully confront all challenges, India requires a clear cut strategy. It is important to synergise our diplomatic, economic, political, social and military strengths. Government has made various efforts like creating a post of National Cyber Security Coordinator, Cyber Swachhta Kendra, Khelo India initiative for youth etc. This will help India to tackle new age threats in a comprehensive manner.

 


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