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[Mission 2023] Insights SECURE SYNOPSIS: 27 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


General Studies – 1


 

Topic: Arts and Culture: Post-Independence Architecture

1. Post Independent Indian Architecture depicts India’s ‘Tryst with Modernism’, emblematic of an ambitious new nation. Justify with examples (10M)

Difficulty level: Difficult

Reference: Indian Express

Why the question:

Balkrishna V Doshi, architect, planner, and educator, who passed away on Tuesday, gave Indian architecture the legacy of questioning everything.

Key Demand of the question:

To show how Post-Independent Indian Architecture is modern and show India’s new ambition.

Directive word: 

Justify with examples – To justify a statement means to show or prove that the statement is reasonable and you show that using examples.

Structure of the answer:

Introduction

Begin the answer by introducing post-modern architecture: post-Independence architectural styles were mostly in consonance with science and modern building techniques which are universally accepted.

Body:

Show using examples how post-modern architecture depicts its tryst with modernism. Give examples (especially that of B V Doshi). Most of the successful Indian architects including Charles Correa, Raj Rewal and B.V. Doshi blended vernacular elements into modernism giving it a rich flavour that demarcates the identity of Indian architecture.

Also, Development of Chandigarh by Le Corbusier:  The well-ordered matrix of the city has been developed to meet the rising urban challenges

Next, briefly write a few limitations.

Conclusion:

Conclude by saying that Indian architecture is a fine mix of modernism with traditional insights.

Introduction

India had a glorious history in terms of its rich art and architecture, starting from 3000 B.C. During the British period from 1615- 1947, the major cities of Delhi, Calcutta, Mumbai and Chennai were highlighted with rich colonial styles of Indo-Saracenic architecture. After Independence, there was a boom of building activities and there were confusions and debates on the style of architecture to be followed– modernism or historicism. Different styles of Modernism evolved raising the question of Identifying Post Independent architecture.

The architecture of this period goes far beyond the range of any particular style. These styles were mostly in consonance with science and modern building techniques which are universally accepted.

Body

Background

  • Jawaharlal Nehru, the first Prime minister of India had a far vision for the betterment and development of art and architecture in India.
  • He invited Le Corbusier to design the capital of the state Punjab, Chandigarh.
  • Le Corbusier designed the Legislative Assembly, Secretariat and High Court.
  • Chandigarh became a powerful symbol of New India and inspired the architects and the public for a forward-looking Modern Architecture in the Post-Independence period.

India’s tryst with modernism

  • A unique experiment in this regard made by Le Corbusier in the development of Chandigarh as explained above. The well-ordered matrix of the city has been developed to meet the rising urban challenges (Ex: Traffic congestion)
  • The contribution of Laurie Baker in the mass housing project of Kerala is also worth mentioning in this time period. He used the locally available materials in construction of low-cost houses. He incorporated several of the traditional practices to ensure the building were in consonance with environmental conservation
  • The Goan architect Charles Correa is also another notable architect known for designing Sabarmati ashram, Kanchanjunga apartment tower, planning of Navi Mumbai. He placed emphasis on prevailing resources, energy and climate as major determinants in the ordering of the space.
  • Ahmedabad, a new cultural and architectural wakening was initiated by textile industrialists led by the Sarabhai family who commissioned Le Corbusier to work on five projects there.
    • Le Corbusier designed the Mill Owner’s Association Building Headquarters for the Textile Company 1954.
  • An indigenous language of brick and concrete was displayed in the architecture of YMCA staff housing Delhi (1963) by Ranjit Sabikhi. The form was characterized by the repetition of geometric forms and its plans dictated by social, functional and climatic considerations.
  • The Permanent Exhibition Complex, Pragati Maidan, New Delhi, (1972) by Raj Rewal was characterized by monumental, truncated pyramid form with a space frame structure made of concrete elements. The depth of the structural system used as a sun-breaker and conceived as a traditional jail.
  • Harmonizing with environment: The India International Centre, New Delhi (1958) by Joseph Allen Stein was contextual and rational, understanding the climate with sun shaded vaults, jaali screens, courtyards, etc.
    • The Kovalam Resort, Trivandrum (1974) by Charles Correa reflect the traditional architecture of Kerala with sloping roofs and hill side architecture giving every room a view to the sea.

Analysis

  • Although we see a major metamorphosis of architecture ever since 1950 towards modernism, inspired by the renowned International architects Le Corbusier and Louis Kahn, the identity of Indian architecture is not pure modernism.
  • Most of the successful Indian architects including Charles Correa, Raj Rewal and B.V.Doshi blended vernacular elements into modernism giving it a rich flavor that demarcates the identity of Indian architecture.
  • They used deep overhangs, courtyards, shading devices, pergolas, jaali screens to create an aesthetically appealing climate responsive design.
  • Charles Correa has a deep understanding of cultural values, mythological spaces and historical architecture of India.
    • He emphatically blended the Navagraha mandalas in two of his projects where the traditional elements cannot be separated from modernism.
  • Raj Rewal was very fluent in using vernacular elements of Jaisalmer town in most of his projects, incorporating the hierarchy of social spaces, street patterns, urban fabric, abstract chhatris, locally available materials.
  • The magnificence of spaces in the projects of V. Doshi, especially IIM, Bangalore adds a sensational aroma to Indian modernism which includes the play of light and shade, covered, semi-covered and open quadrangles, and integration of landscape in to the buildings.

 

 

Conclusion

Indian Modernism is not just about form, function, materials, structure but it adds another fourth dimension which is the feel of fresh air and nature inside the aesthetically profound spaces. Indian modernism is not just architecture of the rich but of the poor with intricate cultural details assimilated like Aranya housing by B.V. Doshi and Belapur housing by Charles Correa.

 

Topic: Indian Society

2. “India has succeeded as a democratic republic because many creeds and languages have united and not divided the country”. How does Indian society show ‘Unity in Diversity’? Has diversity been its strength or a weakness? (250 Words)

Difficulty level: Moderate

Reference: The Hindu

Why the question:

The question is part of the static syllabus of General studies paper – 1 and mentioned as part of the Mission-2023 Secure timetable. Also, The President addressed the nation on the occasion of Republic Day.

Key Demand of the question:

To write about the ‘unity in Diversity’ concept of Indian Society.

Structure of the answer:

Introduction: 

Begin by giving a brief introduction to the meaning of unity in diversity.

Body:

First list down points to show in what ways Indian society shows unity in Diversity e.g., languages, creed, geography, food, dialects, etc.

Next, write whether this ‘diversity’ has been a source of strength or a source of weakness. Briefly write 3-4 points for each.

Conclusion:

Conclude by giving a balanced viewpoint and what needs to be done to strengthen this unity in diversity.

Introduction

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 presents seemingly multicultural situation within in the framework of a single integrated cultural whole.

 

Body

Background: India’s diversity

  • India today is home to varied cultures and ethnic groups with substantial differences in physical appearance, language, religion and customs.
  • India also has vast economic differences between regions and its richest state is 10x more prosperous (on a per capita basis) than its poorest, with high-growth states and large metros at middle-income level resembling coastal China, and others more closely resembling Sub-Saharan Africa, with incomes under US$1,000 per capita.
  • It is said that geography is destiny, and if this is true, then India’s land itself is a key determinant of the diversity of its peoples, varying from desert to savannah and rain forests, from the roof of the world to coastal swamps and tropical islands. This geography, coupled with major urban centres and valleys of technology clusters, shapes its inhabitants daily lives and therefore their culture and beliefs.
  • While ethnicity and religion form a core of each Indian’s identity, those identities themselves can vary widely depending on backgrounds, regions and socio-economic levels. Even within religions, there can be significant differences in how this is practiced and therefore how identity is defined.

Challenges with India’s diversity

  • Regionalism: Regionalism tends to highlight interests of a particular region/regions over national interests. It can also adversely impact national integration. Law and order situation is hampered due to regional demands and ensuing
  • Divisive politics: Sometimes, ascriptive identities such as caste, religion etc. are evoked by politicians in order to garner This type of divisive politics can result in violence, feeling of mistrust and suspicion among minorities.
  • Development imbalance: Uneven pattern of socio-economic development, inadequate economic policies and consequent economic disparities can lead to backwardness of a region. Consequently, this can result in violence, kickstart waves of migration and even accelerate demands of separatism.. For instance, due to economic backwardness of the North East region, several instances of separatist demands and secessionist tendencies have sprung up in the
  • Ethnic differentiation and nativism: Ethnic differentiation has often led to clashes between different ethnic groups especially due to factors such as job competition, limited resources, threat to identity E.g. frequent clashes between Bodos and Bengali speaking Muslims in Assam. This has been accentuated by son of the soil doctrine, which ties people to their place of birth and confers some benefits, rights, roles and responsibilities on them, which may not apply to others.
  • Geographical isolation: Geographical isolation too can lead to identity issues and separatist The North-East is geographically isolated from the rest of the country as it is connected with the rest of the country by a narrow corridor i.e the Siliguri corridor (Chicken’s neck). The region has inadequate infrastructure, is more backward economically as compared to the rest of the country. As a result, ithas witnessed several instances of separatism and cross-border terrorism, among others.
  • Inter-religious conflicts: Inter-religious conflicts not only hamper relations between two communities by spreading fear and mistrust but also hinder the secular fabric of the country.
  • Inter-state conflicts: This can lead emergence of feelings related to regionalism. It can also affect trade and communications between conflicting states. For instance, Cauvery River dispute between Karnataka and Tamil
  • Influence of external factors: Sometimes external factors such as foreign organizations terrorist groups, extremist groups can incite violence and sow feelings of separatism. g. Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) has been accused of supporting and training mujahideen to fight in Jammu and Kashmir and sow separatist tendencies among resident groups.

 

Success as a republic

  • Constitutional identity: The entire country is governed by one single Even, most of the states follow a generalised scheme of 3-tier government structure, thus imparting uniformity in national governance framework. Further, the Constitution guarantees certain fundamental rights to all citizens regardless of their age, gender, class, caste, religion, etc.
  • 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.
  • Climatic integration via monsoon: The flora and fauna in the entire Indian subcontinent, agricultural practices, life of people, including their festivities revolve around the monsoon season in
  • Sports and Cinema: These are followed by millions in the country, thus, acting as a binding force across the length and breadth of the country

 

 

Conclusion

This diversity and the pluralism it fosters have been a key strength for India, creating a vibrant and dynamic society that is open to new ideas, and quick to adopt and adapt innovations regardless of their origin, as well as creating a strong democratic polity with checks and balances on its leadership. If properly leveraged, India’s diversity is a fundamental strategic asset for the country’s development and standing in the world.

 


General Studies – 3


 

Topic: Liberalization of Economy, International Trade

4. How does the international value of the US dollar impact the trade balance of a nation? To what extent have countries been able to shed their dependence on the US dollar for international trade? Briefly mention the advantages and challenges of doing so. (250 Words)

 Difficulty level: Moderate

Reference: The Hindu

Why the question:

Based on an editorial in the Hindu

Key Demand of the question: 

To write about the impact and influence that the US dollar holds on international trade. The advantage and challenges of ‘De-dollarization’.

Introduction: 

Introduce the international trade system and supply chain. Briefly mention why the US dollar is so important for it.

Body:

Mention the impact of changes in the value of currency vis-à-vis the US dollar e.g. When a country’s exchange rate increases relative to other countries, the price of its goods and services increases. Imports become cheaper. Ultimately, this can decrease that country’s exports and increase imports.

Next, mention the efforts put by countries to remove their dependence on dollars. Cite examples of currency swap agreements and other arrangements.

Then in 3-4 points, each mentions the advantages of the ‘de-dollarization’ of a national currency (take the case of India) and the challenges in doing so.

 Conclusion:

Conclude by mentioning that our supply chain network and trade are still not in a position to ‘de-dollarize’ themselves completely but efforts are commendable.

Introduction

Countries outside the West  they are operating in a multipolar system and are developing mechanisms for alternate currency exchanges to reduce risks and their dependence on the dollar. Trade wars against China since 2018 have set China on this path. The Russia-Ukraine war has hastened this development since Russia trades oil and commodities in ruble and national currencies, in a model similar to the rupee-rouble trade of earlier years.

 

Body

Dollar and trade balance

  • If a country exports more than it imports, there is a high demand for its goods, and thus, for its currency.
  • The economics of supply and demand dictate that when demand is high, prices rise and the currency appreciates in value.
  • In contrast, if a country imports more than it exports, there is relatively less demand for its currency, so prices should decline. In the case of currency, it depreciates or loses value.
  • For example, let’s say that candy bars are the only product on the market and South Africa imports more candy bars from the U.S. than it exports. As a result, it needs to buy more dollars relative to rand sold. South Africa’s demand for dollars outstrips America’s demand for rand.
  • This means that the value of the rand falls. In this situation, we’ll surmise that the rand might fall to 15 relative to the dollar. Now, for every $1 sold, an American gets 15 rand. To buy $1, a South African has to sell 15 rand.

 

 

Shedding dollar dependence: Steps by nations

  • With high exchange rates of the dollar, emerging economies have initiated trade in national currencies bypassing the dollar.
  • Asian central banks have over $400 billion of local currency swap lines and trade amongst themselves.
  • Since 2019, India has been paying Russia for fuel, oil, minerals and specific defence imports in rupees on an informal basis.
  • It has worked out local currency trade with the UAE, Japan, Turkey, Korea and South Asian countries.
  • In July 2022, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) unveiled a rupee settlement system for international trade by allowing special vostro accounts in designated Indian banks, a step towards internationalising the rupee.
  • China developed the Renminbi in 2015 and offers clearing and settlement services for participants in cross-border yuan payments and trade.
  • The yuan is being internationalised as the International Monetary Fund has given it Special Drawing Rights status in the currency basket.
  • Russian banks have started using the China-based Cross-Border Interbank Payment System for international payments, as they are debarred from the SWIFT international system.

 

US-Dollar Dominance

  • First, despite speculation, there is no move towards de-dollarisation.
  • The challenge for national currencies is that these are not fully convertible.
  • Thus, despite the rise of alternate systems of trade, and multiple currency circulation systems, the dollar still dominates.
  • Further rocking the dollar boat will expose these countries that have trillions of dollars as reserve currency.
  • The dollar makes up 60% of the global currency, the euro 20%, the yen 5.8% and the yuan 3%.
  • To make an alternate system operational requires a longer and sustainable effort.

Conclusion

In the contemporary international system, nation states of the Global South are determined to choose their own allies. In this environment geopolitics and geoeconomics are merging, and new supply chains and alternate currency chains are enabling dual/multiple circulation systems. This is the material basis of the multipolar system.

 

Topic: Administrative Ethics

6. Discuss the basic measures which you would include if you were asked to evaluate the performance of a civil servant. Would you give more importance to the code of ethics or citizens’ perception of public service quality? Substantiate. (150 words)

 Difficulty level: Moderate

Reference: Ethics, Integrity and Aptitude by Lexicon Publications.

Why the question:

The question is part of the static syllabus of General studies paper – 4.

Key Demand of the question:

To write about measures to evaluate the performance of civil servants.

Structure of the answer:

Introduction:

Start with a quote or anecdote on how ethical values of civil servants should be.

Body:

Start by explaining about code of ethics and code of conduct, then discuss how citizens’ participation and perception is also a method to evaluate civil servants.

Next, write about how a combination of both I.e code of ethics and citizen perception is a middle ground for evaluating civil servants.

Conclusion:

Conclude by giving a balanced opinion.

Introduction

Governments can only be effective if the people in government – that is its civil servants – are motivated and able to implement policy and services well.  In many developing countries, this remains a remote aspiration. Corruption, lack of staff motivation and poor performance are both popular stereotypes and real-world facts.

Body

Code of ethics

Code of Ethics are referred to as a Values, which behaves like the Constitution with general principles to guide behaviour, outlining a set of principles that affect decision-making. Code of ethics would include the principles of integrity, impartiality, commitment to public service, accountability, devotion to duty, exemplary behaviour etc. It defines the minimum requirements for conduct, and behavioural expectations instead of specific activities. When faced with ethical dilemmas or debatable situations, what’s articulated in the Code of Ethics can help guide decision making. Code of ethics helps members in understanding what is right or wrong. The codes are disclosed publicly and hence addressed to the interested parties to know the way the company does business.

Evaluation of civil servant

Citizen’s perception of public service quality is equally important because ultimately the work of a civil servant is to ensure that the public is satisfied with the governance. Even if a civil servant is hardworking and has followed code for ethics, if the efforts are not converted into good governance, then that would be wasted efforts. Likewise, if the civil servant indulged in wrongdoings but also ensured good governance is also being corrupt and dishonest to the nation and the Constitution.

Hence both parameters should have equal weightage in evaluating the performance of a civil servant.

Conclusion

Making appraisal more consultative and transparent, Performance appraisal formats to be made job-specific and the scope of the present performance appraisal system of its employees be expanded to a comprehensive performance management system (PMS).


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