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[Mission 2023] Insights SECURE SYNOPSIS: 16 May 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:  Important Geophysical phenomena such as earthquakes, Tsunami, Volcanic activity, cyclone etc., geographical features and their location-changes in critical geographical features (including water-bodies and ice-caps) and in flora and fauna and the effects of such changes.

1. Discuss the worldwide dispersion of permanently frozen ground known as permafrost. Analyse the consequences of permafrost melting due to the phenomenon of global warming. (250 words)

Difficulty level: Moderate

Reference: Indian Express

Why the question:

With rising global temperatures, thawing permafrost is likely to destabilise thousands of industrial sites and linked contaminated areas in the Arctic, which could result in the spread of toxic substances across the region, according to a new study.

Key Demand of the question:

To write about permafrost, its global distribution and impact of its thawing.

Directive word:

 

Examine – When asked to ‘Examine’, we must investigate the topic (content words) in detail, inspect it, investigate it and establish the key facts and issues related to the topic in question. While doing so we should explain why these facts and issues are important and their implications.

Structure of the answer:

Introduction: 

Begin by defining permafrost.

Body:

First, with a map, show the major areas of the world that are covered with permafrost.

Next, write about the thawing of permafrost under the impact of global warming.

Next, write about the impact of thawing of permafrost – Thawing permafrost can raise water levels in Earth’s oceans and increase erosion, resurrecting trapped pathogens, giving rise to potential public health threats etc.

Conclusion:

Conclude by writing a way froward to handle the above challenges.

Introduction

Permafrost is any type of ground, from soil to sediment to rock—that has been frozen continuously for a minimum of two years and as many as hundreds of thousands of years. It can extend down beneath the earth’s surface from a few feet to more than a mile—covering entire regions, such as the Arctic tundra, or a single, isolated spot, such as a mountaintop of alpine permafrost.

Body

Worldwide dispersion of permafrost

  • About a quarter of the entire northern hemisphere is permafrost, where the ground is frozen year-round.
  • It’s widespread in the Arctic regions of Siberia, Canada, Greenland, and Alaska—where nearly 85 percent of the state sits atop a layer of permafrost.
  • It’s also found on the Tibetan plateau, in high-altitude regions like the Rocky Mountains, and on the floor of the Arctic Ocean as undersea permafrost.
  • In the southern hemisphere, where there’s far less ground to freeze, permafrost is found in mountainous regions such as the South American Andes and New Zealand’s Southern Alps, as well as below Antarctica.

Formation of permafrost

  • The water that is trapped in sediment, soil, and the cracks, crevices, and pores of rocks turns to ice when ground temperatures drop below 32°F (0°C).
  • When the earth remains frozen for at least two consecutive years, it’s called permafrost. If the ground freezes and thaws every year, it’s considered “seasonally frozen.”

Thawing of Permafrost

  • While global warming is upping temperatures around the world,the Arctic is warming twice as fast as anywhere else and faster than it has in the past 3 million years.
  • And when surface air temperatures rise, below-ground temperatures do, too, thawing permafrost along the way.
  • Scientists estimate there is now 10 percent less frozen groundin the northern hemisphere than there was in the early 1900s.
  • One recent study suggests that with every additional8°F (1°C) of warming,an additional 1.5 million square miles of permafrost could eventually disappear.
  • Even if we meet the climate targets laid out during the 2015 Paris climate talks, the world may still lose more than 2.5 million square milesof frozen turf.

Impact of permafrost thawing

  • Huge Carbon Sink:An estimated 1,400 gigatons of carbon are frozen in Arctic permafrost, making it one of the world’s largest carbon sinks.
    • That’s aboutfour times more than humans have emitted since the Industrial Revolution, and nearly twice as much as is currently contained in the atmosphere.
    • According to a recent report,2 degrees Celsius increase in temperature, expected by the end of the century will result in a loss of about 40 percent of the world’s permafrost by 2100.
  • Loss of trapped Green house gases: Packed with many thousands of years of life, from human bodies to the bodies of woolly mammoths, permafrost is one of earth’s great stores of global warming gases.
    • Indeed, permafrost in the Arctic alone is estimated to hold nearly twice as much carbon as exists in the atmosphere now, as well as a sizable amount of methane—a powerful greenhouse gas that traps more than 80 times more heat on the planet than carbon does.
  • Toxins:A recent study found that Arctic permafrost is a massive repository of natural mercury, a potent neurotoxin. Indeed, it’s estimated that some 15 million gallons of mercury—or nearly twice the amount of mercury found in the ocean, atmosphere, and all other soils combined—are locked in permafrost soils.
    • Once released, however, that mercury can spread through water or air into ecosystems and potentially even food supplies.
  • Crumbling Infrastructure:About 35 million people live in a permafrost zone, in towns and cities built on top of what was once considered permanently frozen ground.
    • But as that solid ground softens, the infrastructure these communities rely on grows increasingly unstable.
    • Eg: Recent Russian Norilsk diesel oil spill is an ongoing industrial disaster, which occurred at a thermal power plant that was supported on permafrost, crumbled.
  • Altered Landscape:Thawing permafrost alters natural ecosystems in many ways as well. It can create thermokarsts, areas of sagging ground and shallow ponds that are often characterized by “drunken forests” of askew trees.
    • It can make soil—once frozen solid—more vulnerable to landslides and erosion, particularly along coasts.
    • As this softened soil erodes, it can introduce new sediment to waterways, which may alter the flow of rivers and streams, degrade water quality (including by the introduction of carbon), and impact aquatic wildlife.
  • Diseases and viruses:it can also trap and preserve ancient microbes.
    • It’s believed that some bacteria and viruses can lie dormant for thousands of years in permafrost’s cold, dark confines before waking up when the ground warms.
    • A 2016 anthrax outbreak in Siberia, linked to adecades-old reindeer carcass infected with the bacteria and exposed by thawed permafrost, demonstrated the potential threat.
    • In 2015, researchers in Siberia uncovered theMollivirus sibericum, a 30,000-year-old behemoth of a virus that succeeded in infecting a rather defenseless amoeba in a lab experiment.
    • About a decade earlier, scientists discovered the first Mimivirusa 1,200-gene specimenmeasuring twice the width of traditional viruses, buried beneath layers of melting frost in the Russian tundra. (For comparison, HIV has just nine genes.)
    • This can be the case with other diseases, such as smallpox and the 1918 Spanish flu—known to exist in the frozen tundra, in the mass graves of those killed by the disease.
    • Human contact with zombie pathogensmay risk new pandemics, if there is unabated mining of metals from permafrost.

Conclusion

By reducing our carbon footprint, investing in energy-efficient products, and supporting climate-friendly businesses, legislation, and policies, we can help preserve the world’s permafrost and avert a vicious cycle of an ever-warming planet.

 

Topic: Structure, organization and functioning of the Executive and the Judiciary—Ministries and Departments of the Government; pressure groups and formal/informal associations and their role in the Polity.

2. The president holds the highest authority and responsibility for protecting the constitution, with the power to act proactively to ensure that the executive and legislative branches adhere to its principles. Elucidate. (250 words)

Difficulty level: Moderate

Reference: Insights on India

Why the question:

The question is part of the static syllabus of General studies paper – 2.

Key Demand of the question:

To write about the role of President of India in the Indian executive.

Directive word: 

Elucidate – Give a detailed account as to how and why it occurred, or what is the context. You must be defining key terms wherever appropriate and substantiate with relevant associated facts.

Structure of the answer:

Introduction: 

Begin by giving a brief about president as the head of the Indian state.

Body:

First, write about the role of the president as the defender of the constitution.

Next, discuss how he is a titular head – He is the nominal head of the government but the real power lies with the Prime Minister. Discuss article 53, 74, 75 etc.

Next, write about where President’s powers and does not act as a rubber stamp. For Example -Veto powers of president like pocket veto, suspensive veto etc.

Conclusion:

Conclude by summarising.

Introduction

Article 53 reads as ‘The executive power of the Union shall be vested in the President and shall be exercised by him either directly or through officers’ subordinate to him’. In spite of the expression ‘directly’ in Article 53 of the Constitution, India’s President merely ‘reigns and does not rule’. The role of president is largely ceremonial in nature. This was the consequence of 42nd Constitutional Amendment that drastically curtailed the President’s powers with respect to the Council of Ministers. Article 74 (1) now mandates the President to act on the aid and advice of the Council of Ministers. This prevents the president becoming a power center rivalling that of prime minister.

Body

President’s role in Indian political setup:

  • The President of India is the Head of State and the Chief Executive. The executive powers of the Union are in the hands of the President.
  • The President of India is vested with Legislative, Executive and Judicial powers. But as the advice given by CoM is binding on Indian President, in reality, most of these powers rest with the COM; but decisions are taken in the name of President of India.
  • He exercises these either directly or through officers subordinate to him. However, being the head of a parliamentary system, he is only a constitutional/titular head and exercises nominal power.
  • The President always acts in accordance with the advice of the Council of Ministersand the Prime Minister. All his powers are really used by the Prime Minister and the Union Council of Ministers.
  • The President holds the highest office in India, represents the sovereignty of India, enjoys the highest position and plays a valuable part in the working of the Indian Constitutional system.
  • President is also the supreme commander of armed forces and has powers to prorogue or dissolve the Parliament.
  • He/She further makes appointments to important posts including the PM, state governors and Supreme Court and High Court judges.

By looking at the powers of the President, it becomes quite easy to evaluate the position of the President. At the face value, the powers of the President appear to be very big and formidable. A close review, however, reveals that President of India is a nominal and constitutional executive head who exercises all his powers on the advice of the Prime Minister and his Council of Ministers. The President is always bound to accept the advice of the Prime Minister and the Council of Ministers. However, despite such a provision, the President is neither merely a figure head nor a rubber stamp in the hands of the Ministry.

President’s discretionary powers:

  • Suspensive Veto:
    • The President has discretionary power when he exercises suspensive veto ie. when he returns a bill (not money bill) for reconsideration of the parliament.
    • However, if the bill is passed again by the Parliament with or without amendments and presented again to the President, it is obligatory for him to give his assent to the bill.
  • Pocket Veto:
    • This is not a provision mentioned in the Indian constitution, but this is a possible situation when the President of India can use his discretionary power. In this case, the President neither ratifies nor reject nor return the bill, but simply keeps the bill pending for an indefinite period.
    • As the time limit within which the President has to take the decision with respect to a bill presented to him for assent, has not been mentioned in the constitution, in effect the inaction of the President stops the bill from becoming an act.
  • President can seek information from Prime Minister:
    • Under article 78 the President enjoys the right to seek information from the PM regarding the administration of the affairs of the union.
    • Under the established convention, the President has the right to warn or encourage the Council of Minister (CoM) in the exercise of its power.
  • Case of no sitting of both houses:
    • Under Article 85, the President can summon each House of Parliament to meet at such time and place as he thinks fit, to ensure that six months shall not intervene between its last sitting in one session and the date appointed for its sitting in the next session.
  • Case of no majority:
    • When no political party or coalition of parties enjoy the majority in Lok Sabha, then the President has discretion in inviting the leader of that party or coalition of parties who in his opinion is able to form a stable government.
  • Case of no-confidence with CoM- dissolving Loksabha:
    • It is for the president to decide if he should dissolve Loksabha or not when CoM loses the majority in Lok Sabha. The President can dissolve Lok Sabha only on the advice of CoM but the advice is binding only if the government is a majority government.
  • Case of no-confidence with CoM- dissolving CoM:
    • It is for the president to decide if he should dissolve CoM or not when CoM loses the majority in Lok Sabha.
  • Case of a caretaker government:
    • A caretaker government does not enjoy the confidence of Lok Sabha and hence it is not expected to take major decisions but only to make the day-to-day administrative decisions. It is for the President to decide the day-to-day decisions.

Indian Presidents are not rubber-stamps:

  • While India’s first President Dr. Rajendra Prasad is known to have frequently disagreed with then PM Jawaharlal Nehru, seventh President Giani Zail Singh is known to have a rocky relationship with PM Rajiv Gandhi.
  • K R Narayanan, India’s tenth President, famously told the Parliament that he is ‘not a rubber stamp’ while returning a proposal calling for imposition of President’s rule in UP.
  • Pranab Mukherjee was more assertive than any of his predecessors. Although he is known to have rejected 28 mercy petitions, a record number, he commuted four sentences, in defiance of the government’s wishes and refrained from sending those back to the government for reconsideration.

President can play an effective role:

The President is not a silent institution and his role stands beyond the constitutional provisions and established conventions. The powers of the President flow from the oath he takes under Article 60 to ‘preserve, protect and defend the Constitution and submit himself to the service and well -being of people of India’. Therefore, new norms can be devised and used to preserve the faith and belief of the common man in the system. These norms can be:

  • The Constitution is silent on the limitations on the President’s activities in public affairs. Public speaking of president can initiate the debate in the society.
  • Use of pocket veto in the cases which are considered to be undermining the Constitution.
  • Reaching out to the people of India.

Conclusion

The office of the President should not be conceived as merely a ceremonial post or a rubber stamp. Within the confines of constitution, a president can redefine the activities of his office. The President can declare Emergency, suspend rights, dissolve state Assemblies and declare the government bankrupt.

 

Topic: Role of civil services in a democracy.

3. The civil service is indeed the engine room of modern government, as they play a crucial role in policy development and implementation, ensuring that the government’s actions reflect the needs of the public. Discuss. (250 words)

Difficulty level: Easy

Reference: Insights on India

Why the question:

The question is part of the static syllabus of General studies paper – 2.

Key Demand of the question:

To write about the roles played by civil services in the modern government and its role in making policies which are public centric.

Directive:

Discuss – This is an all-encompassing directive – you must debate on paper by going through the details of the issues concerned by examining each one of them. You must give reasons for both for and against arguments.

Structure of the answer:

Introduction: 

Start by mentioning the role of civil services in the modern day.

Body:

First, in detail, write about the roles performed by the civil services which makes it the engine room of modern government – basis of government, policy making & implementation, services to people, continuity in administration etc.

Next, write about the role of civil services in people centric policies. Substantiate with examples.

 Conclusion:

Conclude by summarising.

Introduction

The role of Civil Servants across the domains of policy making and policy implementation is critical to the development process. They assist in identifying major policy areas such as preparing major policy proposals, analysing various alternatives and solutions to societal problems requiring urgent attention, dividing the major policies into sub-policies, determining program of action and suggesting modification in the existing policy on the basis of its experience on the implementation front.

Body

Civil service  as engine room of modern government

  • Theyengage in collection of relevant data and information in order to identify core issues. The type of information required, the extent of substance in the information so collected and assimilation of the information is the task of the Civil Servants.
    • They then assist the government in terms of providing relevant data for substantiating policy proposals.
  • Owing to their enormous administrative expertise and capability of the civil services, they are privy to various problems and issues facing the country.
    • Their knowledge and experience so acquired is then put to use byassuming the role of the ‘think-tank’ of the government.
    • The Civil Servantsassist the political executive in identifying policy issues by suggesting the nature of problems and the need for taking them up for consideration at higher levels.
  • The civil service engages itself inexamining the issue taken up for policy formulation, it frames and reframes policy proposals keeping in view its viability, future prospects, resources available, acceptability, etc.
    • It is also the responsibility of the civil services to analyze policy proposals in relation to the provisions of the Constitution, the laws framed by the Parliament, and other existing rules and regulations.
    • In this way the civil serviceshelp in framing sound and effective policies.
  • Civil servants are responsible for implementing the laws and policies of government. By carrying out laws, it regulates the behaviour of the people in society.
    • The ideals and objectives of government may be very popular, the plans for national development may be extremely progressive and the resources of the country may be abundant, but without civil services, not much can be achieved.
    • An efficient civil service canavoid waste, correct errors, limit the consequences of incompetence or irresponsibility while implementing laws and public policies

Various roles and responsibilities

  • Settingright developmental goals and priorities in areas of education, health, communications etc. Formulation and implementation of strategies and programmes for the development and modernisation of the nation. E.g., Formulation of plans at district, state and national levels.
  • Creation of new administrative organisationsand improving the capacity of the existing ones for the developmental purposes.
  • Todevelop agriculture, civil servants have to properly manage community resources such as land, water resources, forests, wetlands and wasteland development. E.g. the District Collector of Dewas, Umakant Umrao helped the farmers in Madhya Pradesh to fight against drought by constructing over 16,000 ponds.
  • Tofacilitate industrial development, infrastructural facilities such as roads, electricity, communications, market centres etc. have to be provided. In these countries, the civil service manages government owned business, industrial enterprises and public utility services. IAS officer Ritu Maheshwari, installed new electricity smart meters to tackle the prevalent electricity theft in Kanpur.
  • Development and mobilisation of natural, human and financial resources and their proper utilization for accomplishing developmental objectives. P Narahari, as district collector in Madhya Pradesh, worked towards building a barrier-free environment that ensures that people with disabilities can move about safely and independently.
  • Securing thesupport of the people for developmental activities by involving them in the process of development by creating appropriate attitude towards the socio-economic changes that are taking place in society. IAS Officer, Smita Sabharwal, popularly known as ‘the people’s officer’, launched a campaign called “Fund Your City” in Warangal. She appealed to residents to help her build the infrastructure of Naxal-affected areas, which resulted in the construction of traffic junctions and foot over-bridges.

Conclusion

The citizen has become the focal point of the administrative and development discourse. As one of the foremost agents of governance, the Civil Services form the connecting bridge between state and the society. This interface is critical to both administration of programs and acquiring inputs as feedback.

This gains currency especially since policy areas are interlinked in multiple ways and citizen has become the core focus. Most government programs are today managed by the civil services and allow citizens access to quick and personalized grievance redressal mechanisms. Hence, they assume importance particularly in terms of eliminating the gulf between expectations of the electorate and the outcomes of government initiatives.

 

 


General Studies – 3


 

Topic: Technology missions; economics of animal-rearing.

4. What is the importance of bees in agriculture? Examine challenges faced by the Beekeeping sector in the country, and suggest ways to promote the sector. (250 words)

Difficulty level: Tough

Reference: Down to EarthInsights on India

Why the question:

The article highlights the important role of bees in the pollination of crops and the need to protect them for the benefit of agriculture. It discusses the impact of pesticides and habitat loss on bee populations, as well as the need for research to better understand the relationship between bees and agriculture.

Key Demand of the question:

Directive word: 

Examine – When asked to ‘Examine’, we must investigate the topic (content words) in detail, inspect it, investigate it and establish the key facts and issues related to the topic in question. While doing so we should explain why these facts and issues are important and their implications.

Structure of the answer:

Introduction: 

Begin by presenting the status of Beekeeping industry in the country

Body:

First, write about the role of bees in agriculture.

Next, write about the various challenges faced by beekeeping industry – decline in bee populations, increasing production costs, and lack of access to markets for beekeepers’ products etc.

Next, write about steps that are needed – promote the sector, raising awareness, providing support, promoting sustainable agriculture practices, and improving access to credit and markets for beekeepers.

Conclusion:

Conclude with a way forward.

Introduction

Bees are part of the biodiversity on which we all depend for our survival. They provide high-quality food—honey, royal jelly and pollen — and other products such as beeswax, propolis and honey bee venom.

honey production has increased, according to the Ministry of Agriculture, from 51,000 tonnes in 2006-07 to 115,000 tons in 2018-19, India ranks eighth in the world (China being No 1) and fifth as an exporter.

Body

importance of bees in agriculture

  • Bees are some of the most important pollinators, ensuring food and food security,sustainable agriculture, and biodiversity.
  • By pollinating, they increase agricultural production, thus maintaining diversity and variety in the fields.
  • Beekeeping is also important in terms of sustainable agriculture and creating rural jobs.
  • In addition, they provide millions of people with jobs and are an important source of doubling farmers’ income.
  • As perFood and Agricultural Organization database, in 2017-18, India ranked eighth in the world in terms of honey production (64.9 thousand tonnes) while China stood first with a production level of 551 thousand tonnes.

Challenges faced by Beekeeping sector:

  • Beekeeping with Apis Cerena Indica and Apis Mellifera
  • Using the Correct Species for Beekeeping
  • Availability of Genetically Superior Queens for Increased Honey Production
  • Lack of Technical Knowledge for Efficient Management of Colonies for High Honey Yields
  • Lack of Infrastructure at the Grass Roots and National Level for Beekeeping
  • Poor Quality Control for the Production of Honey: Bees are contaminated not only by the use of sugar syrup in processing but also through pesticide and antibiotics use. The use of antibiotics such as terramycin and oxytetracycline to deal with bee-related disease has raised questions in European markets where residue standards are stringent.
  • Lack of sufficient financial help from government and lending institutions for the development of beekeeping.
  • No Control on the Use of Pesticides by Farmers Leading to Death of Bee Colonies in Field Locations.
  • No Tax or other Monetary Benefits for Beekeeping.

What needs to be done?

  • Expand the scope: Beekeeping cannot be restricted to honey and wax only, products such as pollen, propolis, royal jelly and bee venom are also marketable and can greatly help Indian farmers.
  • Increase in area: Based on the area under cultivation in India and bee forage crops, India has a potential of about 200 million bee colonies as against 3.4 million bee colonies today. Increasing the number of bee colonies will not only increase the production of bee-related products but will boost overall agricultural and horticultural productivity.

Recommendations made by Beekeeping Development Committee under EAC-PM:

  • The Economic Advisory Council to the Prime Minister had set up a Beekeeping Development Committee under the Chairmanship of Professor Bibek Debroy.
  • BDC was constituted with the objective of identifying ways of advancing beekeeping in India, that can help in improving agricultural productivity, enhancing employment generation, augmenting nutritional security and sustaining biodiversity.
  • Some of the recommendations in the report include:
    • Recognizing honeybees as inputs to agriculture and considering landless Beekeepers as farmers.
    • Plantation of bee friendly flora at appropriate places and engaging women self-help groups in managing such plantations.
    • Institutionalizing the National Bee Board and rechristening it as the Honey and Pollinators Board of India under the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare. Such a body would engage in advancing beekeeping through multiple mechanisms such as setting up of new Integrated Bee Development Centres, strengthening the existing ones, creating a honey price stabilization fund and collection of data on important aspects of apiculture.
    • Recognition of apiculture as a subject for advanced research under the aegis of Indian Council for Agricultural Research.
    • Training and development of beekeepers by state governments.
    • Development of national and regional infrastructure for storage, processing and marketing of honey and other bee products.
    • Simplifying procedures and specifying clear standards for ease of exporting honey and other bee products.

Conclusion:

India’s recent efforts to improve the state of beekeeping have helped increase the volume of honey exports from 29.6 to 51.5 thousand tons between 2014-15 and 2017-18 (as per data from National Bee Board and Ministry of Agriculture & Farmers’ Welfare). India must raise its bar on testing, apply the best technologies, and integrate beekeeping with organic farming initiatives, which will bolster the economic viability of the latter.

 

Topic: issues of buffer stocks and food security;

5. What measures should India take to weather-proof its food security in the face of climate change? (250 words)

Difficulty level: Moderate

Reference: Indian Express , Insights on India

Why the question:

The article argues that weather-proofing food security is crucial for India to address the challenges posed by climate change.

Key Demand of the question:

To write about the impact of climate change on food security and measures needed to tackle it.

Structure of the answer:

Introduction: 

Begin by giving statistic related to food security scenario in the country.

Body:

First, mention the way in which climate change in impacting agriculture. Reduced yields, encouraging weed and pest proliferation. Changes in precipitation patterns, crop failures and long-run production declines etc. Cite statistics to substantiate your points.

Write about the measures that are needed to mitigate its impact.

Conclusion:

Conclude by writing a way forward.

Introduction

Climate change generates considerable uncertainty about future water availability in many regions. It will affect precipitation, runoff and snow/ice melt, with effects on hydrological systems, water quality and water temperature, as well as on groundwater recharge. In many regions of the world, increased water scarcity under climate change will present a major challenge for climate adaptation. Sea-level rise will affect the salinity of surface and groundwater in coastal areas

Body

Climate change and agriculture

  • Extreme heat: Crops need suitable soil, water, sunlight, and heat to grow. However, extreme heat events and reductions in precipitation and water availability have hampered the crop productivity.
  • Changing Rainfall Patterns: Rainfall patterns have already begun shifting across the country, and such changes are expected to intensify over the coming years.
    • This is likely to mean more intense periods of heavy rain and longer dry periods, even within the same regions.
  • Floods: Flooding in many agricultural regions of the country have been witnessed and these floods have devastated crops and livestock, accelerated soil erosion and have polluted water.
  • Yield: Milk yield in livestock to be impacted during heat waves.
    • Changes in breeding season in marine fisheries with shift in seasonal catch · Significant negative impact on commercial poultry due to heat stress.
  • High rainfall leads to greater loss of top soil due to erosion.
  • Rise in sea level may lead to loss of farmland by inundation and increasing salinity of groundwater in coastal areas.
  •  The major impacts of climate change will be on rain fed or un-irrigated crops, which are cultivated on nearly 60 percent of cropland.
  •  Increase in the mean seasonal temperature can reduce the duration of many crops and hence reduce final yield.
  •  Climate change has a direct impact on crop evapotranspiration.

Impact on food security

  • Climate change has been found to have an impact onfood safety, particularly on incidence and prevalence of food-borne diseases. Increased climate variability, increased frequency and intensity of extreme events as well as slow ongoing changes will affect the stability of food supply, access and utilization.
  • Impact translates from climate to the environment, to the productive sphere, to economic and social dimensions,bringing a range of additional risks on availability of food, on access to food and utilization of food, as well as on the stability of these characteristics, for both farm and non-farm households.
  • At the farm/household level, climate change impacts may reduce income level and stability,through effects on productivity, production costs or prices.
    • Such variations can drive sales of productive capital, such as cattle, which reduces long-term household productive capacity.
    • Exposure to risks lowers incentives to invest in production systems, often with negative impacts on long-term productivity, returns and sustainability.
    • Reductions and risks to agricultural income have also been shown to have effects on household capacity andwillingness to spend on health and education.
    • Evidence from recent analyses of the impacts of various types of weather anomalies on farm income indicates that the impacts are greatest for the poorest farmers.
  • At national level, exposure to climate risks cantrigger shocks on agricultural production and food availability, with risks of market disruptions, effects on supply and storage systems, as well as increases in agricultural commodity prices (food and feed), impacting accessibility and stability of food supplies for the entire population, particularly in countries with significant shares of the population spending a large part of their income on food.
    • This triggers macro-economic effects for countries for which agriculture is an important part of GDP and/ or constitutes an important source of employment.
    • Climatic risks can also hinder agricultural development by discouraging investments.
  • At global level, climatic shocks impacting areas of global importance for food supplies can have remote impacts through effects on: (i) supply flows and food price spikes, with increased market volatility; and (ii) impacts on bilateral contracts and/or import/export behaviour with disruption of trade patterns.

Measures needed

  • Farmers, especially smallholder farmers, need handholding during their scaling up to adopt CSA.
  • Mobile telecommunicationsystems are increasingly cost-effective and an efficient way of delivering weather-based agro-advisories to farmers at a large scale (Kisan app).
    Radio (especially community radio), television, newspapers, folk media, and village level public address systems will also need to be used to bridge this “communication divide.”
  • Weather-based agro-advisories must be locale-specific, crop-and farmer-specific; need to also recommend soil, water, and biodiversity conservation practices. Integrating this with Soil Health Card schemewill be a good step forward.
  • Build adaptive capacities to climate variability and strengthen the sustainability of farming systems.
  • Agriculture-Nutrition linkage schemes have the potential for greater impact in dealing with malnutrition and thus, needs greater emphasis.
    • For instance, Recognising the importance of this link, the Ministry for Women and Child Development launched theBharatiya Poshan Krishi Kosh in 2019.
    • There is a need to promote schemes directed to nutrition-agriculture link activities in rural areas. However, implementation remains the key.
  • On-site training and awareness campaigns, technology demonstrations, farmer-specialist interactions, and engagement with local governance bodies.
  • Soil health and need-based irrigationmanagement need to be addressed adequately.
  • Convergence with other Schemes: Nutrition goes beyond just food, with economic, health, water, sanitation, gender perspectives and social norms contributing to better nutrition. This is why the proper implementation of other schemes can also contribute to better nutrition.
    • The convergence of Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, Jal Jeevan Mission with schemes pertaining to nutrition, will bring holistic changes to India’s nutrition scenario.
  • Closer collaboration between public, civil society, and private technology and financial service providers so that farmers get access to accurate information, and affordable technologies.

Conclusion

Food price volatility is likely to be exacerbated by climate change. Trade is expected to play a major role in adjusting to climate-change-driven shifts in agricultural and food production patterns. Recent experience indicates that climate change effects on food price volatility are greatly influenced by domestic policies, with export bans contributing to price fluctuations. Ultimately, global markets will not be accessible to the poorest countries and the poorest populations without sufficient purchasing power.

 

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

6. Bank mergers can have both advantages and disadvantages in terms of economic growth. Critically analyse. (250 words)

Difficulty level: Tough

Reference: Economic TimesInsights on India

Why the question:

The article discusses the potential merger of HDFC Life and HDFC Ergo in India and how investors are currently taking a wait-and-watch approach towards the merger.

Key Demand of the question:

To write about the role of bank mergers in economic growth.

Directive word:

Critically analyse – When asked to analyse, you must examine methodically the structure or nature of the topic by separating it into component parts and present them in a summary. When ‘critically’ is suffixed or prefixed to a directive, one needs to look at the good and bad of the topic and give a balanced judgment on the topic. 

Structure of the answer:

Introduction: 

Begin by giving the context of bank mergers in India.

Body:

Firstly, explain the rationale behind bank mergers.

Next, write about the how bank mergers will improve economic growth – more credit flow, consolidated holding, strong financial health etc.

Next, write about the limitation which does not leading to banking mergers translating into economic growth – overleveraged banks, lack of coordination between newly merged banks etc.

Conclusion:

Conclude with a balanced opinion forward.

Introduction

Public Sector Banks (PSBs) in India are fragmented, with some of them reeling under the mounting pressures of Non-Performing Assets (NPAs). The government in August 2019, announced a merger of ten public sector banks to four. One of the benefits of consolidation is higher operational efficiency gains to reduce cost of lending according to the official presentation made at the time of announcing the merger. Besides, banks with scale for building a $ 5 trillion economy to have enhanced risk appetite.

HDFC, India’s largest housing finance company, is all set to merge with HDFC Bank, the largest private sector lender in the country. The merger is expected to be completed by June. Customers of HDFC, whether borrowers or depositors, will witness certain changes after the merger.

Body

Pros of bank merger

  • Banks:
    • Small banks can gear up to international standards with innovative products and services with the accepted level of efficiency.
    • PSBs, which are geographically concentrated, can expand their coverage beyond their outreach.
    • A better and optimum size of the organization would help PSBs offer more and more products and services and help in integrated growth of the sector.
    • Consolidation also helps in improving the professional standards.
    • This will also end the unhealthy and intense competition going on even among public sector banks as of now.
    • In the global market, the Indian banks will gain greater recognition and higher rating.
    • The volume of inter-bank transactions will come down, resulting in saving of considerable time in clearing and reconciliation of accounts.
    • This will also reduce unnecessary interference by board members in day to day affairs of the banks.
    • After mergers, bargaining strength of bank staff will become more and visible.
    • Bank staff may look forward to better wages and service conditions in future.
    • The wide disparities between the staff of various banks in their service conditions and monetary benefits will narrow down.
  • Economy:
    • Reduction in the cost of doing business.
    • Technical inefficiency reduces.
    • The size of each business entity after merger is expected to add strength to the Indian Banking System in general and Public Sector Banks in particular.
    • After merger, Indian Banks can manage their liquidity – short term as well as long term – position comfortably.
    • Synergy of operations and scale of economy in the new entity will result in savings and higher profits.
    • A great number of posts of CMD, ED, GM and Zonal Managers will be abolished, resulting in savings of crores of Rupee.
    • Customers will have access to fewer banks offering them wider range of products at a lower cost.
    • Mergers can diversify risk management.
  • Government
    • The burden on the central government to recapitalize the public sector banks again and again will come down substantially.
    • This will also help in meeting more stringent norms under BASEL III, especially capital adequacy ratio.
    • From regulatory perspective, monitoring and control of a smaller number of banks will be easier after mergers.

Concerns associated with merger:

  • Problems to adjust top leadership in institutions and the unions.
  • Mergers will result in shifting/closure of many ATMs, Branches and controlling offices, as it is not prudent and economical to keep so many banks concentrated in several pockets, notably in urban and metropolitan centres.
  • Mergers will result in immediate job losseson account of large number of people taking VRS on one side and slow down or stoppage of further recruitment on the other. This will worsen the unemployment situation further and may create law and order problems and social disturbances.
  • Mergers will result in clash of different organizational cultures. Conflicts will arise in the area of systems and processes too.
  • When a big bank books huge loss or crumbles, there will be a big jolt in the entire banking industry. Its repercussions will be felt everywhere.

Way Forward

  • Dual regulation by the Ministry of Finance and RBI on PSBs often results in paralysis in decision making – which makes consolidation of banks a redundant measure if they are not given power to act swiftly, as pointed by PJ Nayak.
  • Governance of public banks needs to be improved before making any significant change in any emerging architecture.
  • Bigger banks offer more resilience to the banking sector but overlooking bigger red flags like strong credit appraisal and risk control system would do little help in creating robust banks.
  • Therefore due focus on ensuring strong foundation of PSBs is important.

Conclusion

Merger is a good idea. However, this should be carried out with right banks for the right reasons. Merger is also tricky given the huge challenges banks face, including the bad loan problem that has plunged many public sector banks in an unprecedented crisis.

 

 


General Studies – 4


 

Topic: Aptitude and foundational values for Civil Service, integrity, impartiality and non-partisanship, objectivity, dedication to public service, empathy, tolerance and compassion towards the weaker-sections.

7. By consistently acting with integrity, we can develop a strong sense of personal identity and lead fulfilling, meaningful lives. Substantiate. (150 words)

Difficulty level: Moderate

Why the question:

The question is part of the static syllabus of General studies paper – 4 and part of ‘Conceptual Tuesdays’.

Key Demand of the question:

To write about how Integrity is at the core of good character.

Directive word: 

Substantiate – When you are asked to Substantiate, you must pass a sound judgement about the truth of the given statement in the question or the topic based on evidence.  You must appraise the worth of the statement in question using suitable case studies or/ and examples.

Introduction: 

Begin by defining what is Integrity and any relevant quote is possible.

Body:

Mention how integrity boosts the moral values such as honesty, fairness, decency etc that boosts one’s moral character and contributes to an ethical system. Use examples to support the argument.

Also, write about how with having Integrity as foundational value, we can add more virtues for ethical development.

Conclusion:

Mention that it further boosts self-awareness of individuals and aids for a just society.

Introduction

“In looking for people to hire, look for three qualities: integrity, intelligence and energy. And if they don’t have the first, the other two will kill you.” (Warren Buffet)

Integrity is having a strong set of ethical principles, being able to tell the truth no matter the consequences, admitting to a wrong even if you could get away without doing it. Integrity is about doing the right thing; it is being incorruptible, honest, and above all, doing all these things when no one is around to see it.

Body

Integrity in its bare-bones essence means adherence to principles. It is a three-step process: choosing the right course of conductacting consistently with the choice—even when it is inconvenient or unprofitable to do so; openly declaring where one stands. Accordingly, integrity is equated with moral reflection, steadfastness to commitments, trustworthiness. C.S. Lewis, the great author opines that “Integrity is doing the right thing, even when no one is looking.”

Body

Acting with integrity means understanding, accepting, and choosing to live in accordance with one’s principles, which will include honesty, fairness, and decency. Character is one’s moral and ethical code, and integrity means that one lives according to that code. Thus, someone who lives with integrity, lives according to their moral values.

For instance, Gandhiji withdrew the Non-cooperation movement in a jiffy when the violent Chaura-Chauri incident took place. This show that Gandhiji’s character was true to his integrity.

Character and action are intertwined so intimately that one’s professional duties, or even what is perceived by others as one’s duties, cannot override one’s conscience without negatively affecting (and changing) one’s character. For the physician to be of good character, it is vital that he or she follow his or her conscience in all things: in private life and also in his or her profession, i.e., in the treatment of patients.

On the other hand, if an individual has a strong moral and ethical code but compromises what is right when it serves popular opinion, or in order to achieve personal gain, they are not living with integrity. Despite the quality of their character, their failure to live by their code creates significant behavioural problems.

For instance, when heads of institution do acts of nepotism or crony capitalism, just for their personal benefits, the character flaw is evident.

 Importance of Integrity for civil servants

  • The civil servants need to be people of absolute integrity because only then they can take the civil service as a ’vocation’. It strengthens the sense of mission which a civil servant is supposed to undertake to serve the public; perform duties and fulfil obligations.
  • A similar doctrine of vocation was enunciated several thousand years ago by Lord Krishna in Bhagwad Gita. It has been mentioned there, that ‘’Securing” universal welfare by one’s action is the ultimate measure of a human being but more so of those who hold the public office”.
  • Civil servants have to set out highest standards of integrity and morality. This requires self-sacrifice a concept that rises above individualism and ‘hedonism’to create an environment of public duty among the civil servants. An exemplary civil servant is not simply one who obeys the laws and behaves within the confines of law but is also one who strives for a moral government.
  • Integrity requires in a civil servant toincorporate the values of honesty, sympathy empathy, compassion, fairness, self-control and duty so that she/he will be able to uphold high personal and professional standards in all circumstances.

Conclusion

Honesty is telling truth to other people, but Integrity is about being truthful to oneself.

‘Civil Service Conduct Rules’ recommends ‘absolute integrity’ for civil servants, irrespective of their department. Also, every civil servant is supposed to take all possible steps to ensure the integrity of all government servants for the time being under his control and only be honest but should also have the reputation of being so. Integrity has been considerably widened by declaring that a civil servant must keep himself within bounds of administrative decency.


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