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. Globalization disrupts ecosystems and impinges on environmental rights. Indigenous communities are the worst hit because of the biodiversity loss. Analyse.
Reference: Down to Earth
Tribal people constitute 8.6% of the nation’s total population, over 104 million people according to the 2011 census. The forest occupiers a central position in tribal culture and economy. The tribal way of life is very much dictated by the forest right from birth to death. Inspite of the protection given to the tribal population by the constitution of India, tribals still remain the most backward ethnic group in India. Globalization has various dimensions which sometimes affect tribal communities positively and sometimes negatively.
Impact of Globalization on indigenous communities
- Resource exploitation:
- The policy of liberalization and the new state perceptions of utilization of resources are diametrically opposed to the adivasi worldview of resource exploitation and this divide has only widened further with the intrusion of globalization’s market oriented philosophy of development.
- The recent rapid technological advancement and unrivalled economic and political strength of world capitalism have created favourable conditions for the evasion and extraction of natural resources from the ecologically fragile territories of tribal people.
- All available laws those relating to lands, forests, minor forest produce, water resources, etc. restrain people from using forests.
- Primary resources such as fuel, fodder and minor forest produce which were available free to villagers are today either non-existent or have to be brought commercially.
- For the Tribals, globalization is associated with rising prices, loss of job security and lack of health care.
- Since the emergence of liberalization, privatization and globalization (LPG), the areas inhabited by tribal population have been subject to various protests due to involuntary displacement.
- Thus, forced evictions of tribals make way for mammoth capital-intensive development projects have become a distressing routine and ever-increasing phenomenon.
- Vested interests:
- In the name of upgradation of lifestyle of poor indigenous tribal people, the market forces have created wealth for their interests at the cost of livelihood and security of these tribes in the areas.
- There is a heavy concentration of industrial and mining activities in the central belt. Despite intense industrial activity in the central Indian tribal belt, the tribal employment in modern enterprises is negligible.
- Apart from the provisions of Apprenticeship Act, there is no stipulation for private or joint sector enterprises to recruit certain percentage of dispossessed tribal workforce.
- They are forced onto the ever-expanding low paid, insecure, transient and destitute labour market.
- About 40 per cent of the tribals of central India supplement their income by participating in this distorted and over exploitative capitalist sector.
- Affecting social life:
- Many more are slowly crushed into oblivion in their homeland or in urban slums. Their economic and cultural survival is at stake.
- The globalization behemoth has added new dimensions to the vulnerability of India’s downtrodden by exacerbating their social exclusion, and making large segments of tribal groups also vulnerable and excluded.
- Leading to subnational movements:
- Inadequate social and economic infrastructure in areas that have insufficient resources for participation in mainstream development also has been at the root of various “sub-national movements” such as the Jharkhand, Uttarakhand and Bodoland.
- Tribal women:
- Tribal forest economy is primarily a women’s economy, and it is women who are most directly affected by the corporate exploitation of their traditional lands.
- In poverty stricken tribal areas large scale migration has revealed the increasing movement of young women towards urban centres in search of work.
- Their living conditions are unhygienic, the salary is poor and tribal women are vulnerable to
- exploitation by unscrupulous agents.
- They have become the prime targets of sexual violation by managers, supervisors and even fellow male workers in the plantation industrial sectors.
- Informal jobs:
- Construction sites, such as mines and quarries, and industrial complexes spelt doom for the local adivasi communities with the influx of immigrant labourers.
- Cultural Defacement:
- Tribals are being forcefully integrated in to the society leading to them losing their unique cultural features and their habitat threatened.
- The High-Level Committee (Virginius Xaxa committee) has made numerous recommendations such as exclusive mining rights for tribals, greater freedom for tribals to make decisions on land acquisition and other common property resources and, strict implementation of the new land law, Forest Rights Act and strengthening of the PESA.
- It has also proposed a complete overhaul of the legal constitutional regime by recommending that laws and policies enacted by the Parliament and state legislatures shouldn’t be applied automatically in the Fifth Schedule areas.
- State government should be made to obtain permissions from owners and occupiers of land for major minerals, and consult with gram Sabha in 5th and 6th schedule areas for minor minerals.
- It should be mandated that all clearances (forest and environment) under forest conservation act and wildlife protection act should be taken before a lease was given.
- Tribal cooperatives should be made eligible for grant of license of minor minerals in 5th and 6th schedule areas.
Although, these recommendations are progressive, the lack of political will to implement them, especially in the wake of greater push for industrialization by the present government, may become a major stumbling block. The government should ensure the distorted and over-exploitative capitalist sector doesn’t end up in committing ethnocide by putting their economic and cultural survival at stake.
2. Discuss the importance of Arctic region for the global climate and economy. Enumerate the key features of India’s arctic policy.
Reference: Indian Express , Insights on India
India’s engagement with the Arctic began when it signed the Svalbard Treaty in February 1920 in Paris between Norway, the US, Denmark, France, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Great Britain, and Ireland, and the British overseas Dominions and Sweden concerning Spitsbergen. Ever since then, India has been closely monitoring all the developments in the Arctic region.
- India initiated its Arctic research program in 2007 with a focus on climate change in the region. The objectives included studying teleconnections between Arctic climate and Indian monsoon, to characterize sea ice in the Arctic using satellite data, to estimate the effect on global warming.
- India already has a research station in the Arctic, Himadri, for the research work.
- Though none of India’s territory directly falls in the Arctic region, it is a crucial area as the Arctic influences atmospheric, oceanographic and biogeochemical cycles of the earth’s ecosystem.
- Due to climate change, the region faces the loss of sea ice, ice caps, and warming of the ocean which in turn impacts the global climate.
- The frigid Arctic, which keeps losing ice due to global warming, is one of the batteries feeding the variations in Indian monsoons.
Importance of Arctic for global climate and economy
- Rising sea levels: Warming at the top of the Earth raises sea levels worldwide, changes the way heat and water circulate in the oceans, and might even influence extreme weather events like heat waves and rainstorms, scientists say. But Arctic communities feel the impacts first.
- Mineral Resources and Hydrocarbons: Arctic region has rich deposits of coal, gypsum and diamonds and also substantial reserves of zinc, lead, placer gold and quartz.10 Greenland alone possesses about a quarter of world’s rare earth reserves.
- Climate change accelerated the melting speed of ice sheet: This is an alarming situation because ice sheet reflects the sunlight, whereas water absorbs the sunlight. If ice will melt, then water will be heated and as a result world becoming warming day by day.
- The permanently frozen layer of the soil is called as permafrost in colder region will be exposed when the ice sheet will melt. This permafrost act as a reservoir of carbon dioxide and methane then thinks about if it will melt, and then what will be in the atmosphere, a potent greenhouse gas.
- Excavation and extraction of oil in Arctic region: Fossil fuel is one of the factors that accelerated the climate change. 21st century world has become dependent on the usage of the fossil fuel which has not even spared the Arctic region to exploit for corporate profits.
- The degree of the arctic warming has subsequent impact on the global activity. The increasing temperature is expected to increase the frequency and severity of extreme weather events which will primarily influence economic growth through damage to property and infrastructure, lost productivity, mass migration and security threats.
The Indian Arctic policy is built on six central pillars
- Science and research.
- Environmental protection.
- Economic and human development.
- Transportation and connectivity.
- Governance and international cooperation.
- National capacity building.
India holds one of the 13 positions as the Observer in the Arctic Council.
The Arctic Council is an intergovernmental body that promotes research and facilitates cooperation among Arctic countries on issues related to the environmental protection and sustainable development of the Arctic region.
India’s Arctic policy : Features
- It aims to strengthen national capabilities and competencies in science and exploration, climate and environmental protection, maritime and economic cooperation with the Arctic region.
- It seeks to strengthen institutional and human resource capacities within the government and academic, research and business institutions through inter-ministerial coordination in pursuit of India’s interests in the Arctic.
- It seeks to enhance understanding of the impact of climate change in the Arctic region on India’s climate, economic and energy security.
- It aims to promote better analysis, prediction and coordinated policymaking on the implications of ice melting in the Arctic on India’s economic, military and strategic interests related to global shipping routes, energy security and exploitation of mineral wealth.
- It seeks to study the linkages between polar regions and the Himalayas and deepen the cooperation between India and the countries of the Arctic region under various Arctic forums, drawing expertise from scientific and traditional knowledge.
- The policy also seeks to increase India’s participation in the Arctic Council and improve understanding of the complex governance structures in the Arctic, relevant international laws and geopolitics of the region.
On the whole, India’s Arctic Policy is timely and is likely to provide a direction to India’s policy-makers on contours of India’s engagement with the region. It is the first step towards developing a whole-of-government approach on India’s engagement with the region.
The Policy is likely to have a multiplier effect towards a more synergised and focused scientific research including an enhanced understanding of linkages between monsoons and climate change in the Arctic, and between polar studies and the Himalayas.
Thus, India’s Arctic Policy is deftly dovetailed, enmeshed and in synergy with the broader policy framework of the Government of India.
General Studies – 2
3. Is the Right to Information (RTI) Act, 2005 fulfilling its purpose of ensuring transparency and accountability in governance? State your opinion.
Reference: The Hindu , Insights on India
The Right to Information (RTI) Act, operationalized in October 2005, was seen as a powerful tool for citizen empowerment. Democracy requires an informed citizenry and transparency of information which are vital to its functioning and also to contain corruption and to hold governments and their instrumentalities accountable to the governed. It showed an early promise by exposing wrongdoings at high places and bringing to limelight various scams.
A good 17 years after India got the Right to Information (RTI) Act, the transparency regime in the country remains a mirage with nearly 3.15 lakh complaints or appeals pending with 26 information commissions across India. According to a report by the Satark Nagrik Sangathan, the backlog of appeals or complaints is steadily increasing in commissions every year.
Importance of RTI Act:
- Right to information opens up government’s records to public scrutiny, thereby arming citizens with a vital tool to inform them about what the government does and how effectively, thus making the government more accountable.
- The RTI Act, 2005 did not create a new bureaucracy for implementing the law. Instead, it tasked and mandated officials in every office to change their attitude and duty from one of secrecy to one of sharing and openness.
- It carefully and deliberately empowered the Information Commission to be the highest authority in the country with the mandate to order any office in the country to provide information as per the provisions of the Act. And it empowered the Commission to fine any official who did not follow the mandate.
RTI and its effectiveness:
- Fight corruption: Its ability to fight corruption has significantly increased its hold in India.
- Ensure Transparency: The enactment of this act ensured transparency in the bureaucratic systems.
- Fight for Rights: It has increased its position as a major in charge for the fight of rights of the people. It aims to bring an end to the culture of governmental secrecy
- The right to information laws, alongside expanding the citizen’s rights, should be systematically employed to transform governance.
- These laws could be a powerful magnet for mobilizing the people and enthusing them to use these laws to enhance and expand their choices for their own betterment.
- RTI laws directly contribute to improvement in governance by breaking down the barriers between the government and the people by enhancing trust.
- RTI is the most powerful assault on developing countries endemic corruption.
RTI applications increase by 11%, says CIC report:
- Steep increase in the number of applications under Right to Information (RTI) has been registered during reporting year 2018-19.
- As per the annual report of the Central Information Commission (CIC) in the Parliament, Ministry of Tribal Affairs and Ministry of Home Affairs rejected the maximum number of RTI queries.
- As per the annual report tabled in Parliament by the ministry during the reporting year 2018-19, 13.70 lakh RTI applications were received by the registered Central Public Authorities (PAs).
- This is higher by 1, 36,922 or 11 per cent than what was reported during 2017-18.
- The highest percentage of RTI applications were rejected by Ministry of Tribal Affairs (26.54 per cent) and Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) (16.41 per cent).
- At the end of the year the commission had 29,655 cases pending before it.
Problems with the act:
- Structural Constraints: The lack of staff has resulted in lakhs of RTI’s pending. Currently, only seven ICs are working of which, along with the Chief Information Commissioner, fours ICs are to retire by the end of this year — reducing the strength of CIC to just three, against the mandated strength of 11.
- Act gave relaxation to political parties, judiciary, even according to OFFICIAL SECRET ACT officers refuse to provide the information demanded.
- Recent Proposal for amendment: It gives the power to decide the tenure and salary of the ICs to the central government; thereby, directly influencing the independence of the CIC.
- Delay in disposing off cases: The number of RTI Appeals with the Information Commissions is growing at a rapid pace year after year. With current volumes of appeals, there seem to be delays in disposing off cases. In Maharashtra SIC, there is a “wait period” of more than 12 months, thus discouraging citizens from filing appeals.
- No centralized database: There is no centralized data base of RTI (at the State/Centre level) applicants. Given the current situation, neither the State Government nor the State Information Commission is in a position to confirm the number of Public Authorities within a Department and therefore the details on the number of applications filed.
- Complex Process of appeal: The procedure that in followed in courts is highly unsuited for appeals under RTI. But recent proposed amendments like written submission to public authority and attach evidences, would make this process more troublesome.
- Pressure on RTI Activists: Almost 375 incidences of attacks on citizens have been recorded who sought information about corruption or wrongdoings in various public authorities.
- Section 4 of RTI: Public authorities have been lax in providing information suo moto as mandated by section 4 of RTI. This is certainly increasing RTI queries.
- Geographical reach: Majority of the Information Commissions are situated in the State capitals, which results in appellants undergoing an additional cost in order to attend the hearings.
- Role confusion: There is no clear division of responsibilities between the State Information Commission and the Nodal Department in terms of monitoring the implementation of RTI Act.
Section 4 of the RTI Act:
- Section 4 of the RTI Act requires suo moto disclosure of information by each public authority. However, such disclosures have remained less than satisfactory.
Section 4(2) of the RTI Act:
- Section 4(2) of the RTI Act mandates Governments to maintain computerized records and provide information suo moto (on their own accord) to the public, so that there is minimal need for filing RTI applications.
- But in reality, the Governments are not keeping as much information as possible in the public domain on their own accord (suo moto).
- As per a recent NGO study of the Central Information Commission in 2018, 70% of the original RTI applications are not required, provided the Government suo moto publishes the information in the public domain.
- Repealing of the Official Secret Act.
- Introducing an oath of transparency.
- To use of multi-media campaigns in local languages for awareness.
- Opening up the working of parliamentary standing committees for public access.
- A centralized database of all RTI applicants with their information requests and responses from information providers would enable the Information Commission to publish more accurate numbers in the annual reports.
- The State Government has to play a facilitative role to the Information Commission through issuance of supporting rules/orders to the Public Authorities.
- The benefits of setting up regional offices far outweigh the initial capital costs involved in setting them up. So there is a need to set up regional offices.
- The role of the Centre/State Government is to facilitate the Public Authorities in implementation of the Act. This can happen through providing support to Public Authorities for training, development of software applications, e-Training modules, generating awareness amongst citizens etc.
Transparency must be accompanied by accountability, and that is where the JSP has great value and significance since it places the power of making the State government accountable to everyone who accesses the information made available on the portal. The Right to Information Act’s role in fostering a more informed citizenry and an accountable government has never been in doubt ever since its implementation in 2005.
General Studies – 3
4. What is a non-fungible token (NFT)? Explain the technology behind the working of NFTs and its applications.
Reference: Live Mint , Insights on India
An non-fungible token (NFT) is a unique, irreplaceable token that can be used to prove ownership of digital assets such as music, artwork, even tweets and memes. Anything that can be converted into a digital form can be an NFT. Everything from your drawings, photos, videos, GIF, music, in-game items, selfies, and even a tweet can be turned into an NFT, which can then be traded online using cryptocurrency. What makes NFTs unique from other digital forms is that it is backed by Blockchain technology. NFT transactions are recorded on blockchains, which is a digital public ledger, with most NFTs being a part of the Ethereum blockchain.
Technology behind NFT
- NFTs exist on a blockchain, which is a distributed public ledger that records transactions. You’re probably most familiar with blockchain as the underlying process that makes cryptocurrencies possible.
- Specifically, NFTs are typically held on the Ethereum blockchain, although other blockchains support them as well.
- An NFT is created, or “minted” from digital objects that represent both tangible and intangible items, including:
- Videos and sports highlights
- Virtual avatars and video game skins
- Designer sneakers
- Even tweets count. Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey sold his first ever tweet as an NFT for more than $2.9 million.
- Essentially, NFTs are like physical collector’s items, only digital. So instead of getting an actual oil painting to hang on the wall, the buyer gets a digital file instead.
- They also get exclusive ownership rights. NFTs can have only one owner at a time. NFTs’ unique data makes it easy to verify their ownership and transfer tokens between owners. The owner or creator can also store specific information inside them. For instance, artists can sign their artwork by including their signature in an NFT’s metadata.
People interested in Crypto-trading and people who like to collect artwork often use NFTs. Other than that, it has some other uses too like:
- Digital Content – The most significant use of NFTs today is in digital content. Content creators see their profits enhanced by NFTs, as they power a creator economy where creators have the ownership of their content over to the platforms they use to publicize it.
- Gaming Items – NFTs have garnered considerable interest from game developers. NFTs can provide a lot of benefits to the players. Normally, in an online game, you can buy items for your character, but that’s as far as it goes. With NFTs, you can recoup your money by selling the items once you’re finished with them.
- Investment and Collaterals – Both NFT and DeFi (Decentralized Finance) share the same infrastructure. DeFi applications let you borrow money by using collateral. NFT and DeFi both work together to explore using NFTs as collateral instead.
- Domain Names – NFTs provide your domain with an easier-to-remember name. This works like a website domain name, making its IP address more memorable and valuable, usually based on length and relevance.
- Tickets for an event (movie, live performance, soccer match, etc.) can be tokenized as NFTs. As every seat location is unique and no two can be the same.
- Legal Docs, Invoices, Signatures, etc. You can convert any legal property document into an NFT. It can help in identifying the actual owner. This will reduce scams in real estate and ease the selling process. Additionally, it will reduce the necessity of middlemen (local administration). So, the transfer will be economical and quick for both the seller and the buyer.
- Supply Chain Management using NFTs can provide evidence about the originality of any product. For instance, you can check any medicine for its authenticity by tracking it to its genuine manufacturer.
- Anything distinctive can be converted into a non-fungible token to ensure fair use. For example, your college degree, driver’s license, personal ID, passport, etc., can be issued as an NFT to prevent forgery.
NFTs that use blockchain technology like cryptocurrency are generally secure. Their distributed nature makes NFTs nearly impossible to hack. The only security risk is that you could lose access to your NFTs if the hosting platform goes out of business.
5. In the context gene therapy, what is base editing? Examine the potential of gene therapy to cure lifer threatening diseases as cancer.
Reference: The Hindu , Insights on India
Gene therapy is a medical approach that treats or prevents disease by correcting the underlying genetic problem. Gene therapy techniques allow doctors to treat a disorder by altering a person’s genetic makeup instead of using drugs or surgery.
Bases are the language of life. The four types of base – adenine (A), cytosine (C), guanine (G) and thymine (T) – are the building blocks of our genetic code. Just as letters in the alphabet spell out words that carry meaning, the billions of bases in our DNA spell out the instruction manual for our body.
Base editing allows scientists to zoom to a precise part of the genetic code and then alter the molecular structure of just one base, converting it into another and changing the genetic instructions.
Scientists in the United Kingdom testing a new form of cancer therapy, reported success in a teenaged girl, Alyssia, with a form of cancer called T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukaemia. The large team of doctors and scientists used this tool to engineer a new type of T-cell that was capable of hunting down and killing cancerous T-cells.
Gene therapy: Mechanism
- Gene therapy works by altering the genetic code to recover the functions of critical proteins. Proteins are the workhorses of the cell and the structural basis of the body’s tissues.
- The instructions for making proteins are carried in a person’s genetic code, and variants (or mutations) in this code can impact the production or function of proteins that may be critical to how the body works.
- Fixing or compensating for disease-causing genetic changes may recover the role of these important proteins and allow the body to function as expected.
Potential of gene therapy
- Fix a genetic alteration underlying a disorder, so the gene can function properly.
- Turn on a gene to help fight a disease.
- Turn off a gene that is functioning improperly.
- Remove a piece of DNA that is impairing gene function and causing disease.
Gene therapies are being used to treat a small number of diseases, including an eye disorder called Leber congenital amaurosis and a muscle disorder called spinal muscular atrophy
various concerns associated with the gene therapy
- Human embryo editing research may not be adequately controlled, leaving it open to a lab somewhere to create gene-edited babies.
- Some of the key scientists in this field have concerns about the potential misuse of a technology that could be used for eugenics, to create genetic discrimination.
- But even in agriculture, genetic modification is a subject of major debate, especially in developing countries, including India.
- Most of the ethical discussions related to genome editing centre around human germline editing. This is because changes made in the germline would be passed down to future generations.
- There is also debate that, ecological disequilibrium can be caused by gene editing.
- Due to the possibility of off-target effects (edits in the wrong place) and mosaicism (when some cells carry the edit but others do not), safety is of primary concern.
Human civilization has always progressed by interfering with the natural evolutionary process. In this process, the application of Gene Editing is inevitable. However, to prevent it from being a disruptive force, it is better to regulate it.
India does not have a comprehensive gene editing policy in place, though germline gene editing is banned in line with international norms. Yet, in the face of persisting diseases and crippling human conditions, divine intervention may sometimes need to be supplemented with genetic ones in a carefully regulated environment.
Answer the following questions in 250 words(15 marks each):
General Studies – 1
6. The Kashi-Tamil Sangamam signifies that we might speak different languages, and follow different cultures and traditions, but we all are Indians and uphold the Spirit of ‘Ek Bharat Sreshtha Bharat’. Elaborate.
Reference: Indian Express
Kashi Tamil Sangamam was organised as part of the ‘Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav’ to uphold the spirit of ‘Ek Bharat Shreshtha Bharat’. Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi inaugurated the month-long festival on November 19, 2022. The vision was to revive the centuries-old bond between Tamil Nadu and Kashi. Over 2,500 delegates from Tamil Nadu, including cultural and folk artists, litterateurs, entrepreneurs, farmers, religious leaders, athletes, and others, attended the Kashi Tamil Sangamam festival in small groups. Apart from Kashi, Tamil Nadu delegations also visited Prayagraj and Ayodhya. Alongside various events in the fields of education, art and culture, literature, sports, and so on, the convention featured exhibitions of art, films, handlooms and handicrafts.
Upholding spirit of unity among Indians
- India is a geo-cultural country, and the basis of our unity is our cultures.
- Kashi Tamil Sangamam is a great effort for the rejuvenation of India’s cultural unity in the year of Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav.
- Kashi Tamil Sangamam worked to create a new atmosphere of trust and love between the two oldest cultures.
- This program has helped create a bridge between the two peaks of India’s culture, to ensure that the distances are erased, and paving a way for the cultural renaissance of India.
- Kashi–Tamil Sangamam, has become a wonderful platform for exchange of spiritual, cultural, architecture, literature, trade, education, art, dance, music and languages.
- Through Kashi-Tamil Sangamam, the entire North India and all Indians have come to know that Tamil is one of the oldest languages in the world.
- The program has been a great initiative to combine many aspects of both the cultures and the effort has given a message to Tamil Nadu.
Unity in diversity: Reasons
- Religious co-existence: Religion tolerance is the unique feature of religions in India due to which multiple religions co-exist in Freedom of religion and religious practice is guaranteed by the Constitution itself. Moreover, there is no state religion and all religions are given equal preference by the state.
- Inter-State mobility: The Constitution guarantees freedom to move throughout the territory of India under Article 19 (1) (d), thus promoting a sense of unity and brotherhood among the
- Other factors such as uniform pattern of law, penal code, and administrative works (eg. All India services) too lead to uniformity in the criminal justice system, policy implementation
- Economic integration: The Constitution of India secures the freedom of Trade, Commerce and Intercourse within the Territory of India under Article Further, the Goods and Service Tax (GST) have paved way for ‘one country, one tax, one national market’, thus facilitating unity among different regions.
- Institution of pilgrimage and religious practices: In India, religion and spirituality have great significance. . From Badrinath and Kedarnath in the north to Rameshwaram in the south, Jagannath Puri in the east to Dwaraka in the west the religious shrines and holy rivers are spread throughout the length and breadth of the Closely related to them is the age-old culture of pilgrimage, which has always moved people to various parts of the country and fostered in them a sense of geo-cultural unity.
- Fairs and festivals: They also act as integrating factors as people from all parts of the country celebrate them as per their own local Eg. Diwali is celebrated throughout by Hindus in the country, similarly Id and Christmas are celebrated by Muslims and Christians, respectively. Celebration of inter-religious festivals is also seen in India.
India is a plural society both in letter and spirit. It is rightly characterized by its unity and diversity. A grand synthesis of cultures, religions and languages of the people belonging to different castes and communities has upheld its unity and cohesiveness despite multiple foreign invasions. National unity and integrity have been maintained even through sharp economic and social inequalities have obstructed the emergence of egalitarian social relations. It is this synthesis which has made India a unique mosque of cultures. Thus, India present seemingly multicultural situation within in the framework of a single integrated cultural whole.
7. Throw light on the Instrument of Accession through which Jammu and Kashmir became a part of India. What were the resultant issues that were the outcome of Kashmir’s accession to India?
Reference: Indian Express, Insights on India
It was in 1947 when Pakistan illegally occupied certain parts of Jammu and Kashmir; India refers to this area as ‘Pakistan-occupied Kashmir’ (PoK). The region comprises two ethnically and linguistically different regions: which includes parts of Kashmir and Jammu; and Gilgit Baltistan, which makes up 86 percent of the total area of PoK.
Instrument of Accession
- Hari Singh tried to negotiate with India and Pakistan to have an independent status for his state. He offered a proposal of Standstill Agreement to both the Dominion, pending a final decision on State’s accession. On August 12, 1947, the Prime Minister of Jammu and Kashmir sent identical communications to the Government of India and Pakistan.
- Pakistan accepted the offer and sent a communication to J&K Prime Minister on August 15, 1947.
- Pakistan, though entered into Standstill Agreement with Jammu and Kashmir, had an eye on it. It broke the Standstill Agreement by sponsoring a tribal militant attack in Kashmir on October 1947.
- Maharaja of Kashmir initially harboring ambitions of independence, but after coming under attack from Pakistan, he had signed the Instrument of Accession unconditionally — which the Governor General of India had accepted unconditionally.
- The devil was in Mountbatten’s letter of 27 October 1947 to the Maharaja, conveying the acceptance of the state’s accession. In doing so, Mountbatten added that India would ascertain the wishes of the people of the state on the return of normal conditions.
- On 27 October 1947, Nehru had told both Mehr Chand Mahajan, who had reached Srinagar as the new prime minister of Jammu and Kashmir days earlier, and Sheikh Abdullah, the leader of the National Conference, of his decision to involve the United Nations to supervise the referendum to ascertain the people’s wishes.
Resultant issues thereafter
- India referred the dispute to the United Nations Security Council on 1 January 1948. Following the set-up of the United Nations Commission for India and Pakistan (UNCIP), the UN Security Council passed Resolution 47 on 21 April 1948.
- The issue of Kashmir also became a victim of the politics of the Cold War, in which the aggressor, Pakistan, through the management of deft policy initiatives, managed to have the upper hand for some time.
- Externally, ever since 1947, Kashmir remained a major issue of conflict between India and Pakistan (and between India and China to a minor extent).
- Pakistan has always claimed that Kashmir valley should be part of Pakistan. The conflict resulted in 3 main wars between India and Pakistan – 1947, 1965, and 1971. A war-like situation erupted in 1998 as well (Kargil war).
- Pakistan was not only the illegal occupant of the Kashmir region. China too started claiming parts of the princely state of Jammu and Kashmir.
- By the 1950s, China started to gradually occupy the eastern Kashmir (Aksai Chin). In 1962, India fought a war with China over its encroachments, however, China defeated India. To make matters worse, Pakistan ceded the Trans-Karakoram Tract of Kashmir (Saksham valley) to China.
- Engaging the non-state actors through interlocutors, Tier-2 diplomacy should help alleviate the fears and misunderstandings that have cropped up.
- The way out of the deadlock is to strengthen democracy.
- Economic development through investments can be a game changer for Kashmir. All Kashmiris should get the due share in the growth story of India.
- Urgent steps should be taken to bridge the gaps of trust deficit in the minds of Kashmiri youth.
- De-radicalisation camps should be organised for the youth.
- A balanced mix of hard and soft powers can help improve the situation in J&K. The need of the hour is proper integration of Kashmir, Jammu, and Ladakh with India. Integration should not be seen in a limited dimension of territory. India should be able to win the heart of the people of Kashmir.
Many steps have been taken for maintaining peace in the state; but political instability, separatism and Pakistan-sponsored terrorism continue to surround the state of J&K. But India has been clear that no third party will be involved in the resolution of Kashmir issue and has vehemently opposed even other countries talking about interfering in Kashmir issue.
General Studies – 2
8. Census provides the facts essential to government for policy-making, planning and administration and track welfare developments over a long period with considerable accuracy. Analyse.
Reference: The Hindu , Insights on India
A census is the procedure of systematically acquiring and recording information about the members of a given population. Census provides information on size, distribution, socio-economic, demographic and other characteristic of countries population.
The Census was first started under British Viceroy Lord Mayo in 1872. It helped in framing new policies, government programs to uplift areas of improvement in the community. The first synchronous census in India was held in 1881. Every ten years: Since then, censuses have been undertaken uninterruptedly once every ten years.
Study of India’s experience under colonial rule by Dylan Sullivan and Jason Hickel concludes that data from the Census of India reveal that between 1880 and 1920 approximately 100 million Indians died due to British policy in India.
Need for census
- The census provides information on size, distribution and socio-economic, demographic and other characteristics of the country’s population.
- The data collected through the census are used for administration, planning and policy making as well as management and evaluation of various programmesby the government, NGOs, researchers, commercial and private enterprises, etc.
- Census data is also used for demarcation of constituencies and allocation of representation to parliament, State legislative Assemblies and the local bodies.
- Researchers and demographers use census data to analyze growth and trends of population and make projections.
- The census data is also important for business houses and industries for strengthening and planning their business for penetration into areas, which had hitherto remained, uncovered.
Importance of Census
- Utility in Administration and Policy
- The population census provides the basic data for administrative purposes. One of the most basic of the administrative uses of census data is in the demarcation of constituenceis and the allocation of representation on governing bodies. Detailed information on the geographic distribution of the population is indispensable for this purpose. The Census also gives information on the demographic and economic characteristics of the population at the district level.
- Utility of Census data for Research Purposes:
- The population census provides indispensable data for scientific analysis and appraisal of the composition, distribution and past and prospective growth of the population.
- Utility of Census data in Business and Industry:
- The census data has many important uses for individuals and institutions in business and industry. It is very difficult to make a full assessment of the multiplicity of ways in which trade and business make use of the census data.
- Census as frame for Sample Surveys:
- The rapidity of current changes in the size and other characteristics of populations and the demand for additional detailed data on social and economic characteristics which are not appropriate for collection in a full-scale census, have brought about the need for continuing programmes of intercensal sample surveys to collect current and detailed information on many topics which are usually investigated at ten-year intervals in the population censuses.
- Utility of Census data in Planning:
- The census data is indispensable for social and economic planning of the Country. The Planning Commission utilises the Census data on the distribution of population by age, sex classified by rural and urban regions, cities, town areas and social groups to analyse the growth of consumer demand and savings in the process of development.
- Utility of Population Census to Electoral Rolls:
- Some countries have taken advantage of the enumeration for a population census to collect, at the same time, information needed for the establishment of electoral rolls. This procedure is not generally advisable because of the deleterious effect the secondary purpose might have on the quality of the census results.
- Utility of Population Census to other types of Censuses:
- Certain information collected as part of a population census, or incidential to it, can be most useful in conducting and/or utilizing the results of housing, agricultural or establishment censuses taken at about the same time or near about as the population census.
- Utility of population census to civil registration and vital statistics:
- Census data serve as denominators for the computation of vital rates, especially rates specific for characteristics normally investigated only at the time of the census.
Challenges and Experiences:
- Cost of Conducting Census
- One of the biggest challenges associated with conducting census in poor countries is the enormous financial costs of conducting the exercise. It is no secret that it is extremely costly to conduct a census.
- High Illiteracy Rate in a Nation has a Negative Impact on the Conducting of Census
- Countries with large proportions of their populations being illiterates face a great challenge during the conducting of censuses.
- Inadequate Infrastructural Facilities in Certain Areas
- There are certain places in the world where it is very difficult undertaking efficient population census because of poor infrastructural facilities such as bad roads, inaccessible roads or insufficient roads that connect various towns and villages.
- Traditional and Religious Beliefs can Interfere with the Census Exercise
- In many underdeveloped parts of the world where traditional beliefs are the order of the day, census officers face serious challenges when they reach these places and try counting the people.
- Corruption Interferes with Census
- Corruption during census can make it difficult to have an efficient population census exercise that provides accurate population figures.
- Insufficient Census Experts
- Another problem associated with conducting censuses in certain parts of the world is the insufficient number of professionals with the knowledge and experience of conducting census.
- Insufficient and Ineffective Census Educational Campaign
- How effective an educational campaign on census is prior to the census taking place determines how successful the census exercise eventually becomes.
- Poor Demographic Maps
- Because of demographic maps that aren’t reliable, it becomes very difficult for the authorities to know all the remote areas (especially the very remote areas) in the country and go there to conduct the census exercise.
- Census data is first time being collected by mobile hence specific training should be given to the collectors
- Also public must be aware about the methodology
- Method must be developed to tackle the problem faced in earlier phases
Census is a major pillar for development and hence, Centre, States as well as local bodies must help for smoother process of Collection of data.
General Studies – 3
9. What are the various types of subsidies offered in India? Evaluate the extent and effectiveness of subsidies. How can India reduce its subsidy bill?
Reference: Indian Express , Insights on India
A subsidy, often viewed as the converse of a tax, is an instrument of fiscal policy. It literally implies coming to assistance from behind. However, their beneficial potential is at its best when they are transparent, well targeted, and suitably designed for practical implementation. Subsidies are helpful for both economy and people as well. Subsidies have a long-term impact on the economy; the Green Revolution being one example. A welfare state without subsidies cannot be imagined. Governments have to extend subsidies to achieve objectives of socio- economic policy.
Various types of subsidies
- Food Subsidy
- The food subsidy’s main objective is to provide essential eatables to a large section of the population living below the poverty line in India.
- Export Subsidy
- To make exports attractive and lend support to the companies, the government offer export subsidies. The export subsidies help make our products competitive in the international market and open new markets for domestic products.
- Fertilizer Subsidy
- The government provides relief to farmers by providing the fertilizer at the discounted prices. The fertilizer is provided at a fixed MRP that is below the actual price; the government pays the difference between the actual coat and the MRP.
- Irrigation Subsidy
- Indian government provides irrigation facilities at the lower rates as compared to the market rates. It is the difference between maintenance and operating cost of irrigation infrastructure in the state and irrigation charges recovered from farmers.
- Power Subsidy
- The electricity subsidies suggest that the government charges low rates for the electricity supplied to the farmers. Power is mainly used by the farmers for irrigation objectives. It is the difference between the cost of distributing and generating electricity to farmers and the price received from farmers.
- Agriculture / Farm Infrastructure Subsidy
- Private efforts in several areas do not prove to be sufficient to improve agricultural production. Good roads, power, storage facilities, information about the market, transportation to the ports, etc. are vital for production and sale operations.
Extent and effectiveness of subsidies system in India:
- Misuse of subsidies: The subsidies that are provided by the government seldom reach the small farmers. They are mostly snatched by the large farmers or the manufacturers.
- Distortion of trade: Input subsidies distort trade by increasing net exports of input intensive commodities while decreasing net exports of commodities which require relatively few inputs. Many countries like Australia, US and UK have challenged the subsidies on wheat, sugarcane etc. which they claim are distorting trade.
- Increased financial burden: The expenditure on subsidies has doubled in the last decade leading to widening fiscal deficit of the country. It is driven primarily by subsidies in fertilizer and electricity. Most of the expenditure made on subsidies goes into the wrong hands and thus perpetuates their requirement as the position of farmers does not improve.
- Uneven distribution: Unevenness is rife across regions, crops and differing farm sizes. For example-it is alleged that subsidies have benefitted more to the north Indian states as compared to south and north eastern states.
- Flawed policies: Hostile policies have compounded the problems as no major fertilizer plants have come up in the last many years. A huge fraction of urea requirements is still met with imports.
Instances of misuse of subsidies:
- In case of food subsidy, PDS suffers from considerable leakage and apart from a low coverage of poor; the magnitude of benefit derived by the poor is very small.
- In case of electricity, the subsidy rates have been rising for both agriculture and domestic sectors because the unit cost has been rising faster than the relevant tariff-rate. Also, there is considerable variation in the level of per capita electricity subsidy indicates that, in the richer States, the per capita subsidy is substantially higher as compared to that in the poorer States.
- In case of public irrigation, water has a very high marginal productivity when used in conjunction with HYV of seeds, chemical fertilisers, power and other related inputs. It is the richer farmers who may derive relatively larger benefits because of their capacity to use these allied inputs.
- Subsidies to elementary education form about half of the total subsidies on general education. However, this is not true for all individual States: the share of elementary education is lowest in the high income States and the highest in the low income States (Goa, Punjab and West Bengal actually give higher subsidies to secondary education than primary education).A negative correlation between the level of per capita income and the share of subsidies to elementary education is thus discernible. Most subsidies to higher education accrue predominantly to the better-off sections of society as they have an overwhelming advantage in competing out prospective candidates from the poorer sections in getting admission to courses that are characterised by scarcity of seats.
- For subsidies of health, the greater emphasis on curative health care expenditure often reflects a bias towards the better-off people whereas preventive health care expenditure with much larger externalities would clearly be of greater help to the economically weaker sections of the society.
Way forward to reduce the subsidy bill
- Reducing the overall scale of subsidies
- Making subsidies as transparent as possible using JAM trinity
- Using subsidies for well-defined economic objectives
- Focusing subsidies to final goods and services with a view to maximising their impact on the target population at minimum cost
- Instituting systems for periodic review of subsidies
- Use of technology like Direct Benefit Transfer to the beneficiaries’ bank account, Aadhar Enable Payment System etc.
Subsidies are meant for poor people and they shall ensure equitable redistribution of resource. Subsidies extended to rich are regressive. They help in keeping poverty intact and create inefficiencies in economy which culminates in inflation and corruption. Rationalization of subsidy regime will improve markets in India which will then attract more investment. This in short, can turn the wheel of a virtuous economy which creates more employment and attacks poverty at its roots.
10. In India, where the uptake of cryptocurrencies is among highest in world, there is a pressing need to have a streamlined crypto tax regime, constructive and adaptive regulatory environment. Discuss.
Reference: Indian Express
Cryptocurrency, sometimes called crypto-currency or crypto, is any form of currency that exists digitally or virtually and uses cryptography to secure transactions. Cryptocurrencies don’t have a central issuing or regulating authority, instead use a decentralized system to record transactions and issue new units. It is supported by a decentralized peer-to-peer network called the blockchain.
As crypto grows and becomes more widely used, the easier it becomes for hackers to use various methods to steal sensitive information and investor assets. Recently, founder of the collapsed crypto exchange FTX, Sam Bankman-Fried was arrested in the Bahamas. FTX crashed almost overnight after failing to meet a run on deposits, throwing the crypto industry into its latest crisis.
Need for a streamlined crypto tax regime, constructive and adaptive regulatory environment
- Phishing Attacks: Hackers rely on phishing scams to have crypto users turn over their digital assets. Spear phishing, DNS hacking, phishing bots and fake browser extensions are examples of common phishing attacks hackers will use to take advantage of crypto investors.
- Illegitimate Trading Platforms: Because cryptocurrency is still evolving, new trading platforms are emerging, hoping to gain the trust of people interested in investing in crypto. However, not all of these platforms are legitimate.
- Consider One Coin, for example. One Coin was a seemingly reputable cryptocurrency company that lured users in by promising big returns, but the entire currency system ended up being a scam. It was found to be a multi-level marketing scam that ended up costing people a lot of money.
- Not every risk associated with crypto comes in the form of a hack or data breach.
- Sometimes, the fraudulent activity is happening in plain sight.
- Using Third-Party Applications: In some cases, crypto investors will rely on third-party applications or software to manage their digital assets. For example, it’s common for investors to use crypto tax reporting services, but this can open them up to more cybersecurity risks.
- It was reported that a hacker was able to steal data from over 1,000 users after breaking into CryptoTrader.Tax. The hacker gained access by entering a marketing and customer service representative’s account, which displayed all kinds of sensitive information that put users at risk.
- Malware: Essentially, crypto-malware is a form of malware that allows unauthorized users to mine cryptocurrencies using someone else’s computer or server. Hackers will use one of two methods to infect someone’s computer.
- Victims are tricked into installing malware code onto their computers using phishing-like tactics.
- Cybercriminals inject malicious code into websites or ads. When victims interact with them, the code runs and gives hackers access. In 2018, Forbes reported that crypto-malware had grown by 4,000%.
- Cryptocurrency Account Security: It’s critical to understand that users access their digital assets by using a “private key,” which is essentially a complex password code. Many users will store their private keys on their computers, but that comes with risk. If hackers gain access to your computer, they’ll also be able to use that private key to log in to your digital account.
- Once a private key is stolen, there’s no way of getting it back because cryptocurrency is not highly regulated.
- Investors are the only ones responsible for keeping their private keys out of the hands of hackers, which makes crypto investing riskier compared to traditional investments.
- Unregulated Cryptocurrency Exchanges: As mentioned above, crypto is almost like the Wild West because it’s unregulated and a bit of a free for all. Cryptocurrency is decentralized, meaning that no agency, organization or governing body oversees the creation, management or movement of cryptocurrencies.
- An individual’s private key is the only way to access this kind of investment, therefore it’s vital to keep it safe.
- One must not share the private key or login credentials with anyone, regardless of if they claim to represent a reputable cryptocurrency company. Consider keeping the key stored on an external device, such as a USB.
- Do due diligence and research companies and their tokens before investing.
- Don’t respond to unsolicited offers to invest in crypto. Avoid clicking on any suspicious links or ads — this could open you up to more cybersecurity risks.
- Keep an eye on the latest crypto trends, news stories and any announcements related to cryptocurrencies you invest in.
- Use strong, unique passwords at all times to make online accounts more secure and keep hackers at bay.
Conclusion and way forward
- Regulation is the Solution: Regulation is needed to prevent serious problems, to ensure that cryptocurrencies are not misused, and to protect unsuspecting investors from excessive market volatility and possible scams.
The regulation needs to be clear, transparent, coherent and animated by a vision of what it seeks to achieve.
- Clarity on Crypto-currency definition: A legal and regulatory framework must first define crypto-currencies as securities or other financial instruments under the relevant national laws and identify the regulatory authority in charge.
- Strong KYC Norms: Instead of a complete prohibition on cryptocurrencies, the government shall rather regulate the trading of cryptocurrencies by including stringent KYC norms, reporting and taxability.
- Ensuring Transparency: Record keeping, inspections, independent audits, investor grievance redressal and dispute resolution may also be considered to address concerns around transparency, information availability and consumer protection.
- Igniting the Entrepreneurial Wave: Cryptocurrencies and Blockchain technology can reignite the entrepreneurial wave in India’s start up ecosystem and create job opportunities across different levels, from blockchain developers to designers, project managers, business analysts, promoters and marketers.
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