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[Mission 2023] Insights SECURE SYNOPSIS: 7 January 2023

 

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 Earth is currently tilted 23.5° from its axial plane and this axial tilt results in many remarkable effects, including the seasons around the planet. Elaborate.

Reference: Down to Earth , Insights in India

Introduction

Axial tilt, also called obliquity, refers to the angle a planet’s rotation axis makes with the plane of its orbit. The Earth is currently tilted 23.5° from this plane, resulting in many remarkable effects, including the seasons around the planet.

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Earth’s tilted axis causes the seasons. Throughout the year, different parts of Earth receive the Sun’s most direct rays. So, when the North Pole tilts toward the Sun, it’s summer in the Northern Hemisphere. And when the South Pole tilts toward the Sun, it’s winter in the Northern Hemisphere.

 

  • As the earth spins on its axis, producing night and day, it also moves about the sun in an elliptical (elongated circle) orbit that requires about 365 1/4 days to complete.
  • The earth’s spin axis is tilted with respect to its orbital plane. This is what causes the seasons.
  • When the earth’s axis points towards the sun, it is summer for that hemisphere.
  • When the earth’s axis points away, winter can be expected. Since the tilt of the axis is 23 1/2 degrees, the North Pole never points directly at the Sun, but on the summer solstice it points as close as it can, and on the winter solstice as far as it can.
  • Midway between these two times, in spring and autumn, the spin axis of the earth points 90 degrees away from the sun.
  • This means that on this date, day and night have about the same length: 12 hours each, more or less.

Conclusion

Other effects of Axial tilt include the Midnight Sun, Polar Ice, Milankovitch cycles etc. The axis tilt of the Earth also defines the “tropics”, the “tropic” being the low latitude where the Sun is directly overhead for any day of the year. The greater Earth’s axial tilt angle, the more extreme our seasons are, as each hemisphere receives more solar radiation during its summer, when the hemisphere is tilted toward the Sun, and less during winter, when it is tilted away.

 

2. What do you understand by intangible cultural heritage? Why is it important to protect intangible heritage of India? What are the various measures aimed at protecting and preserving intangible cultural heritage of India?

Reference: Insights on India/

Introduction

‘Intangible Cultural Heritage’ indicates ‘the practices, representations, expressions, knowledge, skills – as well as the instruments, objects, artefacts and cultural spaces associated therewith – that communities, groups and, in some cases, individuals recognize as part of their Cultural Heritage’ (UNESCO, 2003). Examples of intangible heritage are oral traditions, performing arts, local knowledge, and traditional skills.

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

Importance of protection of intangible heritage of India

  • It helps to recognize the diversity of Indian culture embedded in its intangible heritage.
  • It reflects India’s multicultural identity as a people and nation, and resonates strongly with Indians across all races and social strata.
  • It intends to enhance the “visibility of communities’ cultural practices and know-how”, aiming to “safeguard the intangible cultural heritage of communities nationally & globally”.
  • Its importance is not in the cultural manifestation itself, but in the wealth of knowledge, know-how and skills that are transmitted from one generation to the next.
  • There is a need to raise awareness about the various intangible cultural heritage elements from different states of India at national and international level and ensure their protection.
  • The Union ministry of Culturehas also launched the draft National List of Intangible Cultural Heritage (ICH) of India.

 

  • The National ICH List is an attempt to recognize the diversity of Indian culture embedded in its intangible heritage. This initiative is also a part of the Vision 2024 of the Ministry of Culture.

Measures aimed at protecting and preserving ICH

  • The National List of Intangible Cultural Heritage (ICH) of India is an attempt to recognize the diversity of Indian culture embedded in its intangible heritage.
  • It aims to raise awareness about the various intangible cultural heritage elements from different states of India at national and international level and ensure their protection.
  • The National ICH List is an attempt to recognize the diversity of Indian culture embedded in its intangible heritage. This initiative is also a part of the Vision 2024 of the Ministry of Culture.
  • The Ministry of Culture has formulated a Scheme titled “Scheme for Safeguarding the Intangible Heritage and Diverse Cultural Traditions of India”, with the objective of reinvigorating and revitalizing various institutions, groups, individuals, identified non-MOC institutions, non-government organisations, researchers and scholars so that they may engage in activities/ projects for strengthening, protecting, preserving and promoting the rich intangible cultural heritage of India.
  • The Scheme will cover all recognized domains of ICH such as oral traditions and expressions, including language as a vehicle of the intangible cultural heritage, Performing arts, Social practices, rituals and festive events, Knowledge and practices concerning nature and the universe, traditional craftsmanship etc.
  • The Union ministry of Culturehas also launched the draft National List of Intangible Cultural Heritage (ICH) of India.
  • India has successfully inscribed 14 Intangible Cultural Heritage (ICH) elements in the UNESCO Representative List of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity under the 2003 Convention.
  • Following UNESCO’s 2003 Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage, this list has been classified into five broad domains in which Intangible Cultural Heritage is manifested:
    • Oral traditions and expressions, including language as a vehicle of the Intangible Cultural Heritage
    • Performing Arts
    • Social practices, Rituals, and Festive events
    • Knowledge and practices concerning Nature and the Universe
    • Traditional Craftsmanship

Conclusion

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. Though, such preservation efforts are being carried out in a scattered form, a need is being felt to have an institutionalized and centralized Scheme for concerted efforts in the direction of professionally enhancing awareness and interest in Intangible Cultural Heritage (ICH), safeguarding, promoting and propagating it systematically.

Value addition

UNESCO list of Intangible Cultural Heritage from India

S.No.ICH ElementYear of Inscription
 Tradition of Vedic chanting2008
 Ramlila, the traditional performance of the Ramayana2008
 Kutiyattam, Sanskrit theatre2008
 Ramman, religious festival and ritual theatre of the Garhwal Himalayas, India2009
 Mudiyettu, ritual theatre and dance drama of Kerala2010
 Kalbelia folk songs and dances of Rajasthan2010
 Chhau dance2010
 Buddhist chanting of Ladakh: recitation of sacred Buddhist texts in the trans-Himalayan Ladakh region, Jammu and Kashmir, India2012
 Sankirtana, ritual singing, drumming and dancing of Manipur2013
 Traditional brass and copper craft of utensil making among the Thatheras of Jandiala Guru, Punjab, India2014
 Yoga2016
 Nawrouz, Novruz, Nowrouz, Nowrouz, Nawrouz, Nauryz, Nooruz, Nowruz, Navruz, Nevruz, Nowruz, Navruz2016
 Kumbh Mela2017
Durga Puja in Kolkata2021

 


General Studies – 2


 

3. Corporate social responsibility (CSR) funds can be a key instrument of funding to bridge gap in the developmental aspects of India’s north eastern region. Examine.

Reference: Indian Express

Introduction

The term “Corporate Social Responsibility” in general can be referred to as a corporate initiative to assess and take responsibility for the company’s effects on the environment and impact on social welfare.

In India, the concept of CSR is governed by clause 135 of the Companies Act, 2013. India is the first country in the world to mandate CSR spending along with a framework to identify potential CSR activities.

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Situation in North East India

  • There are over a hundred of ethnic groups in the Northeast each having a strong sense of identity and their uniqueness.
  • They want to retain this uniqueness in their political and social and orientations as well.
  • Insurgency is essentially a violent rebellion against the political organisation when the ethnic communities feel that their interests have been neglected and they are not properly represented.
  • The large prevalence of insurgency has negatively impacted the prevalence of Peace in the Northeast.
  • This not only affects the socio-economic development of the region but has a negative effect on the country as well.

CSR & North East India

  • CSR funds worth Rs 1 trillion were accumulated in 2020-21. Of this, the eight NE states received less than one per cent.
  • According to a brochure released by the Federation of Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industries (FICCI) at a recent workshop in New Delhi, the accumulated funds under the CSR in 2020-21 is a whopping Rs 1 trillion or Rs. 1 lakh crore.
  • The brochure also notes that the eight northeastern states (Sikkim included) received only Rs. 196.39 crore of this amount, which is much less than one per cent.
  • According to the Government of India CSR website, of this amount, a state like Manipur received only Rs. 10.3 crore from 42 different companies during the financial year.

Benefits of CSR

  • Corporate Social Responsibility links Corporate Sector to Social Sector
  • Upholds Trusteeship: Corporate social responsibility gives a chance to the organization to contribute towards the society, environment, country and so on.
  • Promote Relationship: Relationship is the oxygen of life. It enhances the “social quotient” of the company hence help in getting appeal for its product from people. Ex Lifebuoy soap success story
  • It imparts an ethical, responsible character to company’s profile, helps it to justify its product, growth and create a distinct aura of company in public sphere. E.g.: Nanhi Kali project of Godrej group.
  • Competitive advantage: Businesses that show how they are more socially responsible than their competitors tend to stand out. Research shows that a strong record of CSR improves customers’ attitude towards the company. TATA group enjoys much social appeal when compared with fellow competitors. The Classmate notebooks which contributed Rs. 1 towards social welfare gained appeal over other brands.
  • Boosts employee morale: CSR practices have a significant impact on employee morale, as it reinforces his confidence on Company’s empathy.
  • Presence and involvement of company in CSR activity will provide a soft corner to it in government’s approval, preferences. Its active involvement to implement government flagship program like Swaccha Bharat Mission enhances company’s credibility in government’s eyes.
  • Promotes Socio-Economic Development: If the company is engaged in CSR programs it attracts foreign investment and helps the country to get valuable foreign exchange. This in turn leads to socio-economic developmental activities.
  • Attracts FDI: If the company is engaged in CSR programs it attracts foreign investment and helps the country to get valuable foreign exchange

Issues pertaining to CSR

  • Finding Right Partners: Despite growing awareness about the significance of CSR compliance, the challenges remain inidentifying the right partners and projects, as well as in selecting projects that are long-term impactful, scalable, and are self-sustaining.
  • Lack of Community Participation in CSR Activities:There is a lack of interest of the local community in participating and contributing to CSR activities of companies.
    • This is largely attributable to the fact that there exists little or no knowledge about CSR within the local communitiesas no serious efforts have been made to spread awareness about CSR.
    • The situation is further aggravated by a lack of communication between the company and the communityat the grassroots.
  • Issues of Transparency:There is an expression by the companies that there exists lack of transparency on the part of the local implementing agencies as they do not make adequate efforts to disclose information on their programs, audit issues, impact assessment and utilisation of funds.
    • This reported lack of transparencynegatively impacts the process of trust building between companies and local communities, which is a key to the success of any CSR initiative at the local level.
  • Non-availability of Well Organised NGOs:There is non-availability of well organised NGOs in remote and rural areas that can assess and identify real needs of the community and work along with companies to ensure successful implementation of CSR activities.

Way forward

  • Beyond just allocating funds, the companies shall conduct regular reviews on progress of CSR complianceand put in place some measures for a more professional approach towards the same. Also, they should set clear objectives and align all the stakeholders with them.
  • It is equally important to let their NGO partners know of their business needs.
    • The latter should know that companies which award money from their CSR budgets are sincere about the causes they pick.
  • The Companies must alsorefresh the roles of Board, CSR Committee, CFO and set-up new SOPs including a defined process for fund utilisation, determine applicability of impact assessment, prepare a detailed checklist of processes with the owners and timelines and formulate an annual action plan.
  • The government must ensure that the activities included in the CSR Policy of a company are implemented by it.
  • It is also the responsibility of the government toaddress the issues of non availability of the NGOs and create awareness in the society about the significance of the CSR and its activities.
  • The government plans to use technology tools such as Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning to do data mining of the mandated reports to bring changes to its policy on CSR.
    • Leveraging technology to improve the oversight of India Inc is welcome, but this should be applied to the financial and governance aspects of companies before moving on to their social obligations.

Value addition

Background: CSR in India

  • The CSR provisions within the Act is applicable to companies with an annual turnover of 1,000 crore and more, or a net worth of Rs. 500 crore and more, or a net profit of Rs. 5 crore and more.
  • The Act requires companies to set up a CSR committee which shall recommend a Corporate Social Responsibility Policy to the Board of Directors and also monitor the same from time to time.
  • The Act encourages companies to spend 2% of their average net profit in the previous three years on CSR activities.
  • The indicative activities, which can be undertaken by a company under CSR, have been specified under Schedule VII of the Act. The activities include:
    • Eradicating extreme hunger and poverty,
    • Promotion of education, gender equality and empowering women,
    • Combating Human Immunodeficiency Virus, Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome and other diseases,
    • Ensuring environmental sustainability;
    • Contribution to the Prime Minister’s National Relief Fund or any other fund set up by the Central Government for socio-economic development and relief and funds for the welfare of the Scheduled Castes, the Scheduled Tribes, other backward classes, minorities and women etc.

Benefits of Corporate social responsibility to the firms

  • CSR increases employee engagement: Giving back to the community is a virtuous circle in which engaged employees are enriched by volunteering opportunities that further engage and encourage them.
  • Contributes to the United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals
  • Presents press opportunities: It provides more marketing for firms and increases brand engagement with the public.
  • Increases customer retention and loyalty: CSR gives a company a chance to showcase consistency and win loyalty, which ultimately converts into customer retention and increased sales.

CSR improves employer branding: It’s increasingly important for companies to have a socially conscious image. Consumers, employees, and stakeholders prioritize CSR when choosing a brand or company, and they hold corporations accountable for effecting social change with their beliefs, practices, and profits.

 


General Studies – 3


 

4. Discuss the contributions of Satyendra Nath Bose to the field of physics and inspiring the advancement of spirit of scientific inquiry among Indians.

Reference: The HinduInsights on India

Introduction

Satyendra Nath Bose, an Indian mathematician and physicist, is renowned for his work in quantum mechanics. His area of research was the theory of relativity & is known for his work in Quantum Physics. Born on January 1, 1894, Bose collaborated with Einstein to develop what we now know as the Bose-Einstein statistics. This kind of particle in atom has been named after his name as Boson.

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Contributions of Satyendra Nath Bose

  • In 1921 at the University of Dhaka, Satyendranath Bose settled new Labourites and departments to teach postgraduate students and introduce advanced knowledge.
  • While teaching, Bose derived Max Planck’s Law and Light Quantum Hypothesis, which defined new ways of counting states and identical particles.
  • In the field of quantum statistics, this theory was considered the great theory in the physics sector.
  • Bose got rejected by many publishers and directly sent the research paper to Albert Einstein.
  • He recognised & studied the composition and translated it into German himself. Einstein published the article in the great Zeitschrift Fur Physik on behalf of Satyendranath Bose.
  • The hypothesis received a great and was highly appreciated by the scientists. It became famous to the scientists as ‘Bose-Einstein Theory’.
  • Bose got to work with Marie Curie, Einstein and Louis de Broglie for two years in European laboratories.
  • His collaboration with Albert Einstein in developing a theory regarding the gaslike qualities of electromagnetic radiation is world famous.
  • He also joined the laboratory of Maurice de Broglie where he learnt techniques of X-ray spectroscopy and crystallography, the branch of science that deals with the arrangement of atoms in crystalline solids.
  • As the head of Department of Physics at Dhaka University in 1927, he completely devoted himself to teaching and guiding research.
  • He designed equipment for setting up an X-ray crystallography laboratory at the university, and wrote several papers on a range of subjects, such as ‘D2 Statistics’, and ‘Total Reflection of Electromagnetic Waves in the Ionosphere’.

Conclusion

Bose is known for his research paper on Albert Einstein. Bose has founded new types of statics without even knowing and got the chance to work globally. He worked with scientists like Marie Curie and Albert Einstein abroad for two years. He was awarded Padma Vibhushan as the second highest civilian in 1945 by the government of India.

 

5. I What are Digital Public Goods? Throw light on the role played by Digital Public Goods in creating digital health solutions to bridge the gaps in healthcare delivery of the country.

Reference: Indian Express/

Introduction

Digital Public Goods (DPG) are non-excludable and non-rivalrous. The UN defines DPGs as “Open-source software, open data, open AI models, open standards and open content that adhere to privacy and other applicable international and domestic laws, standards and best practices, and do no harm, and help attain the SDGs [Sustainable Development Goals].” DPGs are aimed at achieving the SDGs.

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Digital Public goods and India’s healthcare

  • India is pioneering the concept of digital public goods that enhance the ease, transparency and speed with which individuals, markets and governments interact with each other.
  • Built on the foundation of Aadhaar and India Stack, modular applications, big and small, are transforming the way we make payments (UPI revolution), withdraw our PF, get our passport and driving licence and check land records, to name just a few activities.
  • While Aadhaar has become central to India’s public service delivery architecture, UPI has transformed how payments are made. Our digital public infrastructure has reached the last mile, enabled by 2 billion wireless connections and 800 million internet users.
  • Under the Ayushman Bharat Digital Mission, citizens can link, store, and share their health records, which creates a longitudinal health history for patients, allowing doctors to provide better diagnoses and treatment. This could help in making healthcare accessible, the digital way
  • India leveraged information and communications technologies (ICTs) during the pandemic. Digital health solutions played a crucial role in bridging the gap in healthcare delivery as systems moved online to accommodate contactless care.
  • Some examples of DPGs developed during the pandemic include the Covid Vaccine Intelligence Network (CoWIN) and the Aarogya Setu application. CoWIN propelled India to adopt a completely digital approach to its vaccination strategy. Aarogya Setu provided real-time data on active cases and containment zones to help citizens assess risk in their areas.
  • Telemedicine platforms saw a steep increase in user acquisitions, as 85 per cent of physicians used teleconsultations during the pandemic, underscoring the need to better incorporate cutting-edge digital technologies into healthcare services.

Benefits and significance

  • Cost-Benefit ratio is high: The cost of setting up an open source-based high school online educational infrastructure, to supplement the physical infrastructure, for an entire country is less than laying two kilometres of high-quality road.
  • Less resources major reward: The investments required for transporting digital public goods are minuscule in comparison and there is no chance of a debt trap. Also, the code(platform) is highly reusable.
  • Instant Visible Outcomes: Unlike physical infrastructure such as ports and roads, digital public goods have short gestation periods and immediate, and visible impact and benefits.
    • Processes get streamlined and wait times for any service come down dramatically.
    • Issuances of passports, PAN cards and driving licences are such examples.
  • Plugs the Leakage: It eliminates ghost beneficiaries of government services, removes touts collecting rent, creates an audit trail, makes the individual-government-market interface transparent and provides efficiencies that help recoup the investments quickly.
  • Productivity goes up and services can be scaled quickly. Benefits can be rapidly extended to cover a much larger portion of the population.
  • The digital public goods infrastructure compounds while physical infrastructure depreciates. Compounding happens for two reasons.
    • One is the growth of technology itself. Chips keep becoming faster, engines more powerful, and technology keeps improving.
    • The second reason is the network effect. As more and more people use the same technology, the number of “transactions” using that technology increases exponentially — be it Facebook posts or UPI transactions.

Impediments to realise full potential of Digital Public goods

  • Privacy Issues: Potential violations of privacy and possible weaponization of data is a primary issue related to such digital initiatives.
  • Digital Divide: Success in the digital provision of services is dependent on many underlying factors, including digital literacy, education and access to stable and fast telecommunication services.
    • In this setting, undertaking large-scale digitisation of services without bridging these digital divides could result in increasing existing inequalities.
  • Security Issues: There is a cybersecurity challenge in ensuring end-to-end protection of data throughout the whole ecosystem.
    • While channels and databases used by the Government for transmission and storage are usually secure, other players in the ecosystem may not possess the requisite expertise or security to prevent and respond to breaches.
    • The alleged breach of the Aadhar database is a case in point.
  • Unserved Remote Areas: With digital services not being uniformly distributed, communities in remote areas often require on-ground staff to deploy and supplement digital tools.

Way forward & conclusion

  • The G20 Global Initiative on Digital Health calls for the creation of an institutional framework for a connected health ecosystem to bring together global efforts for digital health.
  • It also calls for the scaling-up of technologies such as global DPGs to accelerate Universal Health Coverage.
  • India’s digital diplomacy can be beneficial to and welcomed by, all emerging economies from Peru to Polynesia, from Uruguay to Uganda, and from Kenya to Kazakhstan.
  • It can take made-in-India digital public goods across the world and boost India’s brand positioning as a leading technology player in the digital age.
  • It will also enable quick, visible and compounding benefits for India’s partner countries and earn India immense goodwill.
  • And it will help create a strong foothold for India globally to counter the extravagantly expensive, brick-and-mortar led Belt and Road Initiative of China.

 

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


General Studies – 1


 

6. Ageism has a detrimental impact on both physical and mental health. It plays a role in problems including social isolation, overall health, and reduced life expectancy. It also increases the social stigma of being older and increased expressions of ageism. Analyse.

Reference: Live Mint

Introduction

Ageism is stereotyping and/or discrimination against individuals or groups on the basis of their age. This may be casual or systemic. Every second person in the world is believed to hold ageist attitudes – leading to poorer physical and mental health and reduced quality of life for older persons, costing societies billions of dollars each year, according to a new United Nations report on ageism.

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Background

  • Ageism continues as an insidious and an often-unaddressed issue in health, human rights and development, and has bearings on both older and younger populations around the world.
  • In addition, it regularly intersects with other forms of bias (such as racism, sexism, ableism, mentalism) and impacts people in ways that prevent them from reaching their full potential and comprehensively contributing to their community.
  • The recent Global Report on Ageism launched by the United Nations and World Health Organization (WHO) in March 2021 highlights the alarming scenario.
    • Every second person in the world is believed to hold ageist attitudes—leading to poorer physical and mental health and reduced quality of life for older persons, costing societies billions of dollars each year.
  • In sheer numbers, this data amounts to billions of “stereotyped thoughts towards ageing” that creates a global environment unsafe for older people.

Issues/concerns related to ageism

  • Ageism has become a universal phenomenon: from our institutions and relationships to ourselves.
    • Examples of institutional ageism include discriminatory hiring practices or mandatory retirement ages
    • Ageism is in policies that support healthcare rationing by age, practices that limit younger people’s opportunities to contribute to decision-making in the workplace, patronizing behaviour used in interactions with older and younger people, and in self-limiting behaviour, which can stem from internalized stereotypes about what a person of a given age can be or do.
  • Half the world’s population is ageist against older
  • Ageism can change how we view ourselves, can erode solidarity between generations, can devalue or limit our ability to benefit from what younger and older populations can contribute, and can impact our health, longevity and well-being while also having far-reaching economic consequences.
  • Ageism also increases risky health behaviours, such as eating an unhealthy diet, drinking excessively or smoking, and reduces our quality of life.
  • Ageism in India needs to be addressed especially because of its youthful workforce profile.
    • The pandemic has been a pretext for many employers bent on payroll reduction to ease out older employees.
  • In an AARP survey of adults over 45, 61% of respondents said that they had seen or personally experienced age discrimination.
  • A review of academic studies of age bias in hiring and promotion shows that employers may not objectively evaluate job candidates’ potential productivity.

Measures needed to combat ageism

  • Bringing children or young adults and seniors together through planned, mutually beneficial activities and programs is one way to help seniors feel connected to others and provide much-needed stimulation.
  • Examples include older adults serving the young through mentorship programs—seniors volunteering in schools as reading assistants, tutors and resources for career and parenting guidance.
  • There are also examples of programs where younger generations visit senior centers and communities for service learning projects; elementary schools may encourage young students to become pen pals with a local senior, or visit a senior community to hear their stories and learn from them.
  • There are even examples of older adults and the young sharing settings: day care centers that house both adult care and childcare programs are a growing trend.

Conclusion

These narratives need to change early and the youth can be the flag-bearers for the same. Intergenerational bonding can go a long way in creating ties within families and respect for values and opinions, thereby fostering age-friendly societies. This will be in line with the ongoing United Nations Decade of Healthy Ageing 2021–2030. The Decade calls for a global battle against ageism and integrated care for older people. International Youth Day every year is thus an occasion and an important reminder to protect the human rights and dignity of older people in our country. Solidarity across generations is key for sustainable development.


General Studies – 2


 

7. In the Indian context where marriage holds a special cultural and religious value, a denial of which may reinforce the stigma faced by same-sex couples. The foundation of equal treatment thus ought to pave the way for marriage equality in India and not be left to the vagaries of the legislature. Comment.

Reference: The HinduInsights on India

Introduction

The debate over same-sex marriages is more of morality than on law. People try to establish a line of distinction between the ‘societal norms’ and ‘individual liberty’ especially in the culture where religion enjoys more prominence. The law on same-sex marriages in India is already indirectly established by the apex court. In March 2018, the Supreme Court of India has held that an adult has a fundamental right to marry a person of their own choice. The collective reading of this case with Navtej Singh Johar (September 2018) can be taken as a tacit recognition of same-sex marriage. Further in 2019, The High Court of Madras decreed and allowed the marriage under the Act.

Member of Parliament said that same-sex marriages are against the cultural ethos of India. A petition for marriage rights of same-sex couples (under the Special Marriage Act, 1954) is pending before the Supreme Court of India.

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Background

  • With a steady advance in LGBTQ+ rights, a growing number of countries are legalising same sex weddings.
  • The institution of marriage in its current form, encompasses love, conversations, sex, procreation, sharing responsibilities and happiness.
  • There are technical aspects like property, inheritance, insurance, visitation rights in healthcare and custody and so on.
  • Marriage is the building block of stable communities. By what logic then should the government regulate the relationship between two consenting adults.
  • Specifically denying same sex couples the full rights of marriage is obviously discriminatory.
  • In India we have seen the Court intervene in cases of inter-religion and inter-caste marriages to protect our choices. This must extend to other groups. The law must ensure equality in the truest sense.
  • The battle for gay rights has been long and difficult. It took years for the courts to accept it is not an ‘unnatural offence’.
  • There was much reason to celebrate the abolishment of Article 377, but that is just the beginning.

Time for allowing same-sex marriage in India

  • The domain of marriages cannot be immune to reform and review.
  • Reform of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 to bring self-respect marriagesunder its very umbrella, is seen as a strong move towards breaking caste-based practices within the institution of marriage.
  • Self-respect marriages were legalised in Tamil Nadu (later, in Puducherry) through amendments to the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955.
  • Self-respect marriages have done away with priests and religious symbols such as fire or saptapadi.
  • Solemnisation of such marriages requires only an exchange of rings or garlands or tying of the mangalsutra.
  • Similarly, understanding the needs of the LGBTQIA+ community, the law must expand the institution of marriage to include all gender and sexual identities.

Global laws

  • Globally, the recognition of the unequal laws discriminating against the LGBTQIA+ community has acted as a trigger to reform and modernise legal architecture to become more inclusive and equal.
  • As a result of a verdict by the Constitutional Court of South Africa, the Civil Union Act, 2006 was enacted, enabling the voluntary union of two persons above 18 years of age, by way of marriage.
  • In Australia, the Same-Sex Relationships (Equal Treatment in Commonwealth Laws – General Law Reform) Act 2008was enacted to provide equal entitlements for same-sex couples in matters of, inter alia, social security, employment and taxation.
  • In England and Wales, the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013enabled same-sex couples to marry in civil ceremonies or with religious rites.
  • In 2015, the Supreme Court of the United States decided that the fundamental right to marry is guaranteed to same-sex couples.It held the denial of marriage rights to same-sex couples to be a grave and continuing harm, serving to disrespect and subordinate gays and lesbians.

Conclusion

At least 29 countries in the world have legalised same-sex marriage. It is time that India thinks beyond the binary and reviews its existing legal architecture in order to legalise marriages irrespective of gender identity and sexual orientation. The law is however a dynamic concept. Inevitably the nature of marriage would change if there is a change in society.

 

8. Given the regional variations in demographic trends and economic opportunities, India has a high rate of migration, Migrants often see their political and economic rights compromised at their place of origin and residence. Do you think remote voting for migrants is a good move to ensure higher voter turnout and to grant political rights to migrants?

Reference: The HinduThe Hindu

Introduction

The Election Commission of India said that it has developed a prototype for a Multi-Constituency Remote Electronic Voting Machine (EVM) which would enable remote voting by migrant voters.

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Background

  • Remote Electronic Voting Machines (RVM) can handle multiple constituencies from a single remote polling booth.
    • The idea is to implement voter portability as a pilot project in the upcoming Assembly elections in nine states in 2023.
    • This means that if the pilot is successful then in the 2024 general elections voter portability can be fully implemented.
  • Ensuring participative elections: The inability to vote due to internal migration is one of the prominent reasons to be addressed to improve voter turnout and ensure participative elections.
  • Migration-based disenfranchisement: There were multifarious reasons for a voter not opting to register in a new place of residence, thus missing out on exercising the right to vote.
  • Increasing voter turnout: The voter turnout in General Elections 2019 was 67.4% and the ECI is concerned about the issue of over 30 crore electors not exercising their franchise and also differential voter turnout in various States/UT.
  • Panacea to migration-led deprivation: Out-migration due to the need to work, marriage, and education, is predominant among the rural population in overall domestic migration.
  • Increasing voter turnout: Approximately 85% of the internal migration is within the States.
  • Multiple booth targeting: This modified form of EVM can handle up to 72 multiple constituencies from a single remote polling booth.

Need for remote voting

  • Due to Unfavorable Conditions: Voters migrate from the place of their registration to cities and other places for education, employment and other purposes. It becomes difficult for them to return to their registered polling stations to cast their vote.
    • It was also noted that in villages like Dumak and Kalgoth in Uttarakhand, about 20-25% of registered voters are unable to cast their vote in their constituencies as they are required to move out of their village/state broadly on account of their jobs or educational pursuits.
  • Decrease in Voting Turnout: During the 2019 General elections, nearly 300 million citizens out of a total of 910 million electors didn’t cast their votes.
    • Precisely it is about 30 crore voters who hadn’t voted for various and obvious reasons.
  • Concerns Regarding Metropolitan Areas: The ECI also noted the concern about low voter turnout in some of the metropolitan/city areas despite the fact that polling stations are set up within 2 km for any voter in urban areas. The need to address voting apathy in urban areas was felt.
  • Increasing Registrations of Unorganised Workers: There are nearly 10 million migrant workers, which is for the unorganised sector, registered with the government’s e-SHRAM portal. If the remote voting project is implemented, it will have far reaching ramifications.
  • Health Concerns: The health concerns of mainly the senior citizens also need to be discussed as they’re also becoming the main deliberation. In this context, the remote voting facility will result in increasing the voting percentage in urban areas as well as in rural areas

 

Challenges and technical issues

  • Amendment to legacy laws: Among the laws and rules which would need an amendment to implement remote voting is The Representation of People’s Act of 1950 and 1951, The Conduct of Election Rules, 1961 and The Registration of Electors Rules, 1960.
  • Vagueness over Migration: The definition of migrant voter would also need to be reworked with respect to retaining registration at the original place in the context of the legal construct of “ordinary residence” and “temporary absence”.
  • Territorial constituency concept: The territorial constituency concept of remote voting and defining remoteness itself that is an outside constituency, outside the district or outside state will need to be dealt with.
  • Administrative challenges: These include enumerating remote voters-self declaration, ensuring secrecy of voting at remote locations, provision of polling agents at remote voting booths, and ensuring identification of voters to avoid impersonation.
  • Acceptance issues: Acceptance of EVMs has been a contested issues. This has somehow eased after the introduction of the voters-verifiable paper-audit trial (VVPAT).
  • Security: Any new technology systems, including those based on blockchain technologies and others, are vulnerable to cyber-attacks and other security vulnerabilities.
    • Technology-based voting systems may also entail privacy risks and concerns.
  • Veracity and Verification: Furthermore, a voter verification system that uses biometric software, such as facial recognition, could lead to false positives or negatives in voter identification, thus facilitating a fraud or disenfranchising citizens.
  • Internet Connection & Malware Security: There is a dependency on voters having a reliable internet connection. Internet penetration and availability and use of e-government services in some countries are limited.
    • Software errors or malware on voters’ devices may also affect vote casting.
  • Privacy/Secrecy: Elections always require a high level of security in order to protect voter privacy and the integrity of final results. Meeting the security needs of elections means online voting technology must overcome barriers that can invade the voter’s privacy.
  • Preferred Environment: It is also possible that voting takes place in an uncontrolled environment. It is difficult to ensure that the person votes freely and without coercion.
    • There is the risk that another person votes on behalf of the voter so, it is difficult to identify the voter.

Way forward

  • Maintaining Election Integrity: An online voting system must also be able to provide verification that it has successfully maintained election integrity and that no manipulation had occurred during the voting or tallying processes.
  • Acceptability of the Stakeholders: It is important that any system of remote voting has to take into account the confidence and acceptability of all the stakeholders of the electoral system – voters, political parties and election machinery, the officials are learnt to have informed the committee while political consensus is the way forward to introduce remote voting.
  • Trust & Transparency: Even with all of the proper legal frameworks in place, using an online voting system would be pointless if the government or general public were not confident in its security, integrity, and accuracy.
    • For this reason, a number of transparency measures have to be developed to help ensure the transparency of online voting technology, building trust in the final results.
  • Other Proposed Reforms: The standing committee is deliberating on key electoral reforms which have been proposed, including linking of Aadhaar with voter ID. The committee has also decided to take up three other proposed electoral reforms, which include remote voting, action against elected representatives filing false affidavits, and a common electoral roll for conducting all elections from village panchayat to Parliament.

Conclusion

The initiative, if implemented, can lead to a social transforynmation for the migrants and connect with their roots as many times they are reluctant to get themselves enrolled at their place of work. Frequently changing residences, not enough social and emotional connect with the issues of an area of migration will no longer remain obstacles.

 


General Studies – 3


 

9. What is green hydrogen? what advantages does it have? Evaluate the potential of Green Hydrogen Mission in ensuring energy security as well as giving impetus to our battle against climate change.

Reference: Indian Express

Introduction

Green hydrogen — also referred to as ‘clean hydrogen’ — is produced by using electricity from renewable energy sources, such as solar or wind power, to split water into two hydrogen atoms and one oxygen atom through a process called electrolysis. The Union Government recently notified the green hydrogen and green ammonia policy aimed at boosting the domestic production of green hydrogen to 5 million tonnes by 2030 and making India an export hub for the clean fuel.

Green hydrogen is an emerging option that will help reduce India’s vulnerability to such price shocks. The Cabinet has cleared India’s Rs 20,000 cr National Green Hydrogen Mission to make the country a global green hydrogen hub..

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Advantages of Green hydrogen

  • It is a clean-burning molecule, which can decarbonize a range of sectors including iron and steel, chemicals, and transportation.
  • Renewable energy that cannot be stored or used by the grid can be channelled to produce hydrogen.
  • India, being a tropical country,has a significant edge in green hydrogen production due to its favourable geographical conditions and abundant natural resources.
  • Producing hydrogen from renewables in India is likely to be cheaper than producing it from natural gas.

Significance of Green Hydrogen in tackling energy challenges

  • Green hydrogen energy is vital for India to meet its Nationally Determined Contribution (INDC) Targets and ensure regional and national energy security, access and availability.
  • Green Hydrogen can act as an energy storage option, which would be essential to meet intermittencies (of renewable energy) in the future.
  • In terms of mobility, for long distance mobilisations for either urban freight movement within cities and states or for passengers, Green Hydrogen can be used in railways, large ships, buses or trucks, etc.
  • India is the world’s fourth largest energy consuming country (behind China, the United States and the European Union), according to the IEA’s forecast, and will overtake the European Union to become the world’s third energy consumer by the year 2030.
  • Realising the impending threats to economies, the Summit will see several innovative proposals from all over the world in order to reduce dependence on use of fossil fuels.
  • The scale of interest for ‘plucking the low hanging fruit’ can be gauged by the fact that even oil-producing nations such as Saudi Arabia where the day temperature soars to over 50° C in summer, is prioritising plans to manufacture this source of energy by utilising ‘idle-land-banks’ for solar and wind energy generation.
  • It is working to establish a mega $5 billion ‘Green hydrogen’ manufacturing unit covering a land-size as large as that of Belgium, in the northern-western part of the country.
  • India is also gradually unveiling its plans. The Indian Railways have announced the country’s first experiment of a hydrogen-fuel cell technology-based train by retrofitting an existing diesel engine; this will run under Northern Railway on the 89 km stretch between Sonepat and Jind.
  • The project will not only ensure diesel savings to the tune of several lakhs annually but will also prevent the emission of 0.72 kilo tons of particulate matter and 11.12 kilo tons of carbon per annum.

Challenges

  • The ‘production cost’ of ‘Green hydrogen’ has been considered to be a prime obstacle.
  • According to studies by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IREA), the production cost of this ‘green source of energy’ is expected to be around $1.5 per kilogram (for nations having perpetual sunshine and vast unused land), by the year 2030; by adopting various conservative measures.
  • The global population is growing at a rate of 1.1%, adding about 83 million human heads every year on the planet.
  • As a result, the International Energy Agency (IEA) forecasts the additional power demand to be to the tune of 25%-30% by the year 2040.
  • Thus, power generation by ‘net-zero’ emission will be the best solution to achieve the target of expert guidelines on global warming to remain under 1.5° C.
  • This will also be a leap forward in minimising our dependence on conventional fossil fuel; in 2018, 8.7 million people died prematurely as result of air pollution from fossil fuels.
  • India has made good progress in decarbonization growing the share of renewable energy, energy efficiency & fuel transition.
  • There is growing interest and hype for using hydrogen in multiple applications such as Hydrogen-based Agro vehicles, Hydrogen-powered passenger trains, Hydrogen in aviation etc.

Way forward

  • As India is scaling up to the target of having 450 GW of renewable energy by 2030, aligning hydrogen production needs with broader electricity demand in the economy would be critical.
  • The industrial sectors like steel, refining, fertilizer & methanol sectors are attractive for Green Hydrogen adoption as Hydrogen is already being generated & consumed either as a chemical feedstock or a process input.
  • The public funding will have to lead the way in the development of green hydrogen, but the private sector has significant gains too to be made by securing its energy future.
  • India requires a manufacturing strategy that can leverage the existing strengths and mitigate threats by integrating with the global value chain.
  • The green hydrogen has been anointed the flag-bearer of India’s low-carbon transition as Hydrogen may be lighter than air, but it will take some heavy lifting to get the ecosystem in place.
  • Enforcing time-bound mid- and long-term policies would inspire the private sector to invest more in green hydrogen.
  • India should aim to produce 4-6 million tonnes of green hydrogen per annum by the end of the decade and export at least 2 million tonnes per annum.

 

10. Borders divide people of shared ethnic and cultural heritage, who are unmoved by rivalries of nations. Securing border areas is a dynamic challenge and requires a sensitive approach. Elaborate.

Reference: The HinduInsights on India

Introduction

India has one of the longest and most varied of international borders. Historical and political reasons have left India with an artificial unnatural border. Border Management is an integral approach towards borders in which along with security enhancement, infrastructure & human development is undertaken. The challenge of coping with long-standing territorial and boundary disputes with China and Pakistan, combined with porous borders along some of the most difficult terrain in the world, has made effective and efficient border management a national priority.

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India has had to deal with numerous challenges with respect to border management such as:

  • Porous borders: International borders with Pakistan and Bangladeshrun through diverse terrain including deserts, marshes, plains and mountains. This porosity of borders facilitates various illegal activities such as smuggling, trafficking of humans, drugs and arms and infiltration.
  • Contested International borders: History of mistrustand constant border skirmishes with Pakistan along line of control (LOC) makes India highly susceptible to cross-border terrorism. Similarly, India’s border with Myanmar is threatened by several insurgent groups that have found sanctuaries in jungles along the border. Political boundary issues of “enclaves and adverse possessions” in Bangladesh have resulted in political sensitivity along the entire eastern border.
  • Inefficiency in Border management: Indian borders continue to be guarded by military and police forces that report to different ministries in the Centre and states, making the border management task arduous and leading to duplication of efforts by the security forces.
  • Lack of critical infrastructure: Critical infrastructure such as observation towers, bunkers, Border Flood Lights etc. are lacking in many border areas which also prevent deployment of hi-tech equipment.
  • Poor intelligence and resource efficiency: Security forces are ill-equipped to handle border management given poor intelligence capabilities and severe resource deficiency.
  • Ethnic conflicts and separatist movements: The situation has worsened due to the changed demographic profile of many Border States and shift in ethnic balance of communities as a result of illegal migration.
  • Over-population in the border areas: Density of population in the border areas at some places is approximately 700-800 persons per square km on the Indian side and about 1,000 persons on the Bangladesh side.
  • Political instability and disorder in its periphery impacts India’s security directly or indirectly. Proxy war between India and Pakistan adds to this security risk.

The implications on the internal security due to the above challenges of border management is marked by

  • increased cross-border terrorism
  • infiltration and ex-filtration of armed militants
  • emergence of non-state actors
  • nexus between narcotics traffickers and arms smugglers
  • left-wing extremism
  • fake Indian Currency network
  • separatist movements aided and abetted by external powers
  • illegal cattle trade

Diverse influences in borderlands and issues

  • Economic support for insurgency: The Golden Triangle (comprising Myanmar, Laos and Thailand) has provided an economic boom for the insurgent groups to sustain themselves.
  • Availability of weapons: Easy availability of small arms in neighboring countries like Bangladesh and Myanmar has been another factor behind the sustenance of insurgency in the region.
  • Terrain of Border: Difficult terrain along border with different countries in north east make means of transportation and communication difficult and as a result, the border area remains sparsely populated with depressed economic development.
  • Boundary issue: Even though the international boundary between countries like India and Myanmar had been formally delimited and demarcated following the boundary agreement in 1967, the boundary has not crystallised on the ground as lines separating two sovereign countries.
    • Border with China is disputed, and Kashmir has been an ongoing issue with Pakistan since Independence without solution.
  • Lack of critical infrastructure: Critical infrastructure such as observation towers, bunkers, Border Flood Lights etc. are lacking in many border areas which also prevent deployment of hi-tech equipment.
  • Poor intelligence and resource efficiency: Security forces are ill-equipped to handle border management given poor intelligence capabilities and severe resource deficiency.
  • Ethnic conflicts and separatist movements: The situation has worsened due to the changed demographic profile of many Border States and shift in ethnic balance of communities as a result of illegal migration.
  • Over-population in the border areas: Density of population in the border areas at some places is approximately 700-800 persons per square km on the Indian side and about 1,000 persons on the Bangladesh side.
  • Political instability and disorder in its periphery impacts India’s security directly or indirectly. Proxy war between India and Pakistan adds to this security risk.

Strategies for effective border management have been continuously evolving. Some of them are:

  • 24x7x365 day surveillance along Indo-Pak border with 5-layer smart fence
  • Agreement on basic guiding principles and standard operating procedures
  • Increasing confidence building measures and communication linkages to avoid unnecessary confrontation and escalation
  • Integrated border management by involving and enhancing cooperation with counterparts of neighbouring countries especially along open borders.
  • Effective implementation of the recommendations of One Border One Force by the Task Force on Border Management to weeds out inter agency frictions.
  • Community measures and awareness can be deployed along open borders to prevent illegal activities.
  • Implementation of Border Area Development Programme and other developmental initiatives so that there is no feeling of being left out.

Way forward:

  • Infrastructure along with border has to be improved – rail connectivity along with road connectivity has to be provided for quick mobilization.
  • Building of additional checkpoints and Border posts along major and minor trade routes connected with borders
  • Building of floating bridges, walls & electrical fences where there is high probability of infiltration.
  • Taking up of joint Border management with Countries like Myanmar, Bhutan and Nepal.
  • Improving healthcare, physical infrastructure and digital connectivity in villages around borders thus making them stakeholder in Border Management.
  • Madhav Godbole task force recommendations on border management need to be implemented.
  • It had recommended that the CRPF should be designated as the primary national level counter-insurgency force. This would enable the other central paramilitary forces like the BSF and Indo-Tibetan Border Police to return to their primary role of better border management.
  • It had also recommended that all paramilitary forces managing unsettled borders should operate directly under the control of the army and that there should be lateral induction from the army to the paramilitary forces so as to enhance their operational effectiveness.
  • The principle of ‘single point control’ must be followed if the borders are to be effectively managed.
  • The advances in surveillance technology, particularly satellite and aerial imagery, can help to maintain a constant vigil along the LAC and make it possible to reduce physical deployment.

Conclusion

Keeping a strong vigil on its border is very important for any nation to check any kind of illegal activities or intrusion through them. For India, the task becomes difficult where terrain and climate is very complex across some of its border areas. Focussing on improved technology will help in making the task easier for the security forces and make its borders more secure.


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