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[Mission 2023] Insights SECURE SYNOPSIS: 20 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

 

Answer the following questions in 150 words:


General Studies – 1


 

1. Kudumbashree’s multi-faceted approach plays a significant role in empowering women and fighting poverty by providing various support mechanisms and opportunities. Elaborate.

Reference: Down to Earth

Introduction

The ‘Kudumbashree’ SHG was started in 1998 by the CPI (M)-led government in Kerala. The Kudumbashree groups are, however, not affiliated to any political party. It was envisioned as a part of the People’s Plan Campaign and local self-governance, with women at the centre of it. In its conceptualisation, it was markedly different from the self-help group (SHG) movements in many parts of India.

The thrift and credit activities at the grassroots level through the formations of saving groups is a common feature. However, the structure and functioning of the Kudumbashree model largely differed.

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Kudumbashree: Structure and features

  • Kudumbashree has a three-tier structure.
  • The first is the basic unit which is the neighbourhood groups (NGs).
  • There could be several such units within a ward and they are networked through the area development societies (ADS).
  • All ADSs are federated through the community development societies (CDS).
  • There are core committees of elected coordinators at all three levels.
  • There are at least five in each NG, seven or more at the ADS level and around 21 at the CDS level.
  • Unlike in other States, all the coordinators are elected in Kerala.
  • Each Kudumbashree member has a vote, and direct elections for the NG coordinators are held every three years.
  • These people, in turn, elect the coordinators of the ADS who elect the members of the CDS.
  • A majority of members of the coordinator groups have to belong to women below the poverty line or from comparatively poorer sections.
  • Besides, there is reservation for Dalit and Adivasi women.
  • At the district and State levels, employees/officers of the government are appointed on deputation to help the Kudumbashree groups.

 Role of Kudumbashree and their significance

  • Case study: Workers of the Kudumbasree poverty eradication and women empowerment programme played a big role in clean-up in the Kerala’s flood hit areas.
    • Around 4, 00,000 women of Kudumbasree self-mobilised across the State to do relief work. The secular composition of Kudumbasree acts as a facilitator for the secularisation of public spaces.
    • The community farms run by Kudumbasree groups are acknowledged as a critical avenue for the rejuvenation of agricultural production in Kerala.
  • Kudumbasree training courses are quite comprehensive and include women’s rights, knowledge of constitutional and legal provisions, training in banking practices, and training in skills to set up micro-enterprises. The Kudumbasree model can be implemented across India, with the same secular and gender-sensitive spirit.
  • COVID-19 Response: They manufactured and supplied masks and sanitisers during the pandemic.
  • Women’s Empowerment: Mobilized women for community activities and grassroots planning. Enabled women’s participation in local bodies after enforcing the 33% women’s reservation policy
  • Consultancy Work and Poverty Reduction: Kudumbashree’s success in poverty reduction was highlighted by studies and surveys, including the Multidimensional Poverty Index by NITI Aayog. The extended consultancy works on women’s empowerment in 13 other states, sharing knowledge and expertise.
  • Economic Empowerment: Kudumbashree has helped marginalized women become successful entrepreneurs and income generators.
  • Food security: g., It has established “Janakeeya Hotels” across the state, offering affordable meals.
    • Currently, it operates 125 restaurants providing meals for just Rs 20.
  • Disaster Relief and Rehabilitation: Donated Rs 7 crore to the Chief Minister’s distress relief fund during the devastating floods in Kerala. Provided counselling to over 8,000 families affected by the floods.

Conclusion

Kudumbashree operates at the grassroots level, organizing women into neighbourhood groups (NHGs), which then form larger community-level and ward-level organizations. This ‘Made in Kerala’ model can be implemented across India, if it is done with the same secular and gender-sensitive spirit.

 

2. Discuss the worldwide dispersion of permanently frozen ground known as permafrost. Analyse the consequences of permafrost melting due to the phenomenon of global warming.

Reference: Indian Express

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.

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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.


General Studies – 2


 

3. It is important for the Enforcement Directorate to function in a neutral and independent manner to maintain the public’s trust in its ability to fight economic crimes. Comment.

Reference: The Hindu

Introduction

The Enforcement Directorate (ED) was established in 1956. ED is responsible for enforcement of the Foreign Exchange Management Act, 1999 (FEMA) and certain provisions under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA), 2002. The ED Headquarters is situated at New Delhi.

The Directorate of Enforcement, with its Headquarters at New Delhi is headed by the Director of Enforcement. There are five Regional offices at Mumbai, Chennai, Chandigarh, Kolkata and Delhi headed by Special Directors of Enforcement. Zonal Offices of the Directorate are headed by a Joint Director. The officers are appointed from Indian Revenue Service, Indian Corporate Law Service, Indian Police Service and Administrative Services.

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Background

  • The Enforcement Directorate recently searched a dozen locations, including the main office of the Congress-owned National Heraldnewspaper in Delhi, as part of its investigation into a money-laundering case,
  • The fresh ED raids come days after interim Congress chief Sonia Gandhi was grilled by the central agency for three days in connection with the National Herald House alleged money laundering case.
  • The Gandhis are being investigated in what is called the “National Herald case” involving the Young Indian’s takeover of Associated Journals Limited (AJL), the company that runs the National Herald newspaper founded by India’s first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru.

Role of ED

  • ED investigates suspected violations of the provisions of the FEMA. Suspected violations includes, non-realization of export proceeds, “hawala transactions”, purchase of assets abroad, possession of foreign currency in huge amount, non-repatriation of foreign exchange, foreign exchange violations and other forms of violations under FEMA.
  • ED collects, develops and disseminates intelligence information related to violations of FEMA, 1999. The ED receives the intelligence inputs from Central and State Intelligence agencies, complaints etc.
  • ED has the power to attach the asset of the culprits found guilty of violation of FEMA. “Attachment of the assets” means prohibition of transfer, conversion, disposition or movement of property by an order issued under Chapter III of the Money Laundering Act [Section 2(1) (d)].
  • To undertake, search, seizure, arrest, prosecution action and survey etc. against offender of PMLA offence.
  • To provide and seek mutual legal assistance to/from respective states in respect of attachment/confiscation of proceeds of crime and handed over the transfer of accused persons under Money Laundering Act.
  • To settle cases of violations of the erstwhile FERA, 1973 and FEMA, 1999 and to decide penalties imposed on conclusion of settlement proceedings.
  • ED is playing a very crucial role in fighting the menace of corruption in the country.

ED as a political weapon

  • Tool for Political Vendetta: The governments of the day have been accused of brazenly using agencies like the ED, CBI to settle their own political scores.
    • There are concerns of Enforcement Directorate’s powers being misused to harass political opponents and intimidating them.
    • It is said that “Cases and probe agencies spring out of cold storage before elections, and turn cold soon after”.
    • Many have held the agencies’ moves as motivated, aimed at tilting the scales in favor of the incumbent government, done also through selective leaks by the agencies to browbeat political opponents.
  • The Investigation by ED is bound within the territory of India, while several high profile offenders have fled the country.
  • There is also a problem of manpower and intelligence gathering in Enforcement Directorate, that leads to delay in timely identification and prosecution of offenders.

Solution to address the issues:

  • Dedicated Fund and Grantfor the agency to ensure its independent functioning.
  • Separate Recruitment for Enforcement Directorate on the lines of Civil Services.
  • A separate Academy for training the manpower and to instill the right values and virtues in the functioning is needed.
    • To Act without malice, prejudice or bias, and not allow the abuse of power.
  • More powers to ED: Under the Fugitive Economic Offenders Act, ED can now confiscate properties of offenders outside India, which may not be ‘proceeds of crime’.
  • Separate wings within ED for intelligence, surveillance and investigation can bring more efficiency.
  • Standard Trainingfrom time to time, to sharpen the investigative skills, and learning from global best practices.

Conclusion

As a premier financial investigation agency of the Government of India, the Enforcement Directorate must function in strict compliance with the Constitution and Laws of India. It must endeavour to establish and maintain high professional standards and credibility.


General Studies – 3


 

4. Explain the differences between Wholesale Price Index (WPI) and Consumer Price Index (CPI), and suggest strategies that can be adopted to manage core inflation within the economy.

Reference: The HinduInsights on India

Introduction

The wholesale price inflation (WPI) and consumer price inflation (CPI) are two commonly used terms to determine inflation in the country.

WPI is an indicator that determines the average changes in the price of goods that are sold in bulk in a wholesale market. This index is useful in calculating the change in commodity prices at different stages before it reaches the retailer.

CPI is a measure of change in the price of goods and services, which are sold in retail directly to the consumer. It can also be defined as the price that a consumer needs to shell out to purchase goods or services over a given period.

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Differences between WPI and CPI

  • CPI captures price change at the consumer level, WPI captures the production side.
  • WPI does not capture changes in the prices of services, CPI does.
  • WPI gives more weight to manufactured goods, CPI gives more weight to food items.
  • WPI uses Financial Year as a reference, CPI uses the calendar year.
  • WPI measures the initial or first stage of a transaction, CPI is the final or last stage of a transaction

Similarities between CPI and WPI

  • Both WPI and CPI are used to calculate the inflation rate.
  • Monetary policy primarily focuses on price stability, which can be achieved by controlling inflation which can be tracked and measured by WPI and CPI.

Measures to tackle inflation

  • Monitory Policy : Monetary policy is one of the most commonly used measures taken by the government to control inflation. It uses tools like – Bank rate, Repo Rate, Open market operations, etc.
  • Fiscal Policy : The two main components of fiscal policy are government revenue and government expenditure. In fiscal policy, the government controls inflation either by reducing private spending or by decreasing government expenditure, or by using both. It reduces private spending by increasing taxes on private businesses. When private spending is more, the government reduces its expenditure to control inflation. However, in present scenario, reducing government expenditure is not possible because there may be certain on-going projects for social welfare that cannot be postponed.
  • Price Control : In this method, inflation is suppressed by price control, but cannot be controlled for the long term. The historical evidences have shown that price control alone cannot control inflation, but only reduces the extent of inflation.

Way forward to tackle core inflation

  • Monetary policy Measures: Maintaining price stabilityis the foremost objective of the monetary policy committee of RBI. However, during the pandemic, growth has taken centre stage and RBI has rightly cut interest rates.
  • Commodity prices: GoI needs to remove supply side bottlenecks. For example, GoI can immediately offload 10-20% of its pulses stock with NAFED in the open market.
  • Policy measures:Navigating out of this will need a fiscal stimulus to shore up consumer spending, an investment revival to increase the productive capacity of the economy, and a careful management of inflationary expectations.
  • Concomitantly, the government will also need to pursue redistribution of incometo reduce the widening disparity.
  • This also calls for fiscal prudence to cut wasteful spending, find new revenuethrough asset sales, mining and spectrum auctions, and build investor confidence.

Conclusion

With the rise in inflation amidst a second wave, the balancing acumen of the MPC will now be sorely tested. Factors like rising commodity prices, supply chain disruptions are expected to raise overall domestic inflation. Government and RBI need to chalk out a fiscal plan to ensure that the inflation doesn’t burden the common man in the country.

 

5. 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.

Reference: Down to EarthInsights on India

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.

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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.

 

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


General Studies – 1


 

6. In order to truly empower women, it is imperative for the government to initiate a process of scrutinizing the genuine lived experiences of women, particularly in situations where they face unequal compensation, are assigned menial tasks, and are denied rights over their own thoughts and bodies. This requires addressing deep-rooted biases and prejudices that have persisted over time. Analyse.

Reference: Indian ExpressInsights on IndiaInsights on India

Introduction

The policy of women’s empowerment is incorporated well into the constitution of India which became effective in the year 1950. Article 14 ensures the right to equality for women; Article 15(1) prohibits gender discrimination; Article 15(3) empowers the state to take affirmative steps in favour of women, to name a few.

The World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report 2020 says men and women will have pay equality in 257 years. Of the 153 countries studied for the report, India ranks 112th on the overall Global Gender Gap Index. The economic gender gap runs particularly deep and has gotten significantly wider.

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Gender inequality in India

  • India scores quite low in when it comes to gender inequality, according to latest UNDP Human development report, India is ranked 125 of 159 countries in the Gender Inequality Index (GII).
  • Labour participation: In terms of labour participation only 23.3% of women (79.1% men) above 15 years are part of India’s labour force.
  • Wage gap: Research from India’ leading diversity and inclusion consulting firm Avtar Group shows that women are paid 34% less than men for performing the same job with the same qualifications.
  • Lack of Economic Empowerment: Women are underrepresented in senior managerial position and overrepresented in low paying jobs. Oxford Survey shows that globally only 19% firms have a female senior manager.
  • Access to productive capital: It is harder for women to access funds and capital for farming, starting a business or for other developmental works.
  • Secondary Education for women is lower than man in majority of countries while this stands at less than 80% in India.
  • Social norms and stereotypes: Classifying men as “bread winners” and women pursuing jobs as “career women” was reported by Oxford University Survey. It also highlighted that most of the unpaid work is seen as a women’s job.

Measures needed to bridge the gap and empower women

  • Behavioral Nudge: For instance, by using taxes to incentivize fairly sharing child-care responsibilities, or by encouraging women and girls to enter traditionally male-dominated sectors such as the armed forces and information technology. Eg Supreme Court in India declared that women could now hold commanding positions in Army.
    • Paternity leaves for men, to share the responsibility of child rearing.
    • Incentivizing companies to employ women, and reach 50% target.
  • Strong laws and policies wrt equal pay for equal work, maternity benefits are needed to promote women’s representation in economy.
  • Maternity and paternity: An amendment to the Act in 2017 increased paid maternity leave from 12 to 26 weeks. Though well-meaning, this unfortunately fortifies notions of care-giving being primarily the onus of the woman, and thus reinforces and raises the risk of women being subject to the motherhood penalty.
    • An explicit law for mandatory paternity benefits will go a long way towards equalizing gender roles and reducing employer bias
  • Better work conditions: The provision and strengthening of childcare facilities for working mothers are very important.
    • The Maternity Benefit Act mandates the setting up of creche facilities for organizations with over 50 employees.
    • A better policy measure would be to provide mothers in need of childcare with a monthly allowance. This will also help mothers working from home.
  • Political Representation: India has provided 33% reservation for women in the Panchayats and Local Bodies. Capacity Building and training can increase their capabilities further.

Conclusion

Gender equality is a human right which entitles all persons irrespective of their gender to live with dignity and with freedom. Gender equality is also a precondition for development and reducing of poverty. Gender shouldn’t be an unreasonable determining factor curbing the potential of women.


General Studies – 2


 


7. Adoption is a complex process that involves significant legal, social, and emotional considerations. There is a need for a child-centric adoption policy is essential to ensure the well-being and rights of the child are prioritized. Analyse.

Reference: Times on India , The Hindu

Introduction

Adoption in India is a test of patience with tedious paperwork and bureaucratic delays. From 2020 to 2022, around 9,000 children in India were adopted, according to the Central Adoption Resource Authority (CARA). As of September 2022, 1,800 children are up for adoption.

However, legal procedures and its numerous technicalities can prove tedious and emotionally taxing. Some estimates show that it can take almost three years to adopt a legally available child.

The Indian government has made adjustments to leave rules to encourage pre-adoption foster care. The policy change aims to provide prospective adoptive parents with the flexibility to take leave during the foster care period before formal adoption.

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Various laws and rules that govern the adoption process in the country

  • The Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) law was enacted in 2015.
    • It is a secular law and all persons are free to adopt children under this law. It also allows the adoption of Children of relatives.
    • Only, those children can be adopted who are declared legally eligible for adoption under the Juvenile Justice Act.
  • Adoption Regulations of 2017:
    • Rehabilitation of all orphaned, abandoned, and surrendered children is regulated by the strict mandatory procedures of the Adoption Regulations.
    • Violation of the Juvenile Justice Act and the Adoption Regulations invites punishment up to three years and a fine of ₹1 lakh, or both.
  • CARA (The Central Adoption Resource Authority):
    • The Juvenile Justice Rules of 2016 and the Adoption Regulations of 2017 provided for the creation of CARA.
    • It is a statutory body, and it looks after the regulation, monitoring, and control of all intra-country and inter-country adoptions.
    • India became the signatory to the Hague Convention on Protection of Childrenand Co-operation in Respect of Inter-country Adoptions. Thus, CARA was designated as the nodal agency to grant a no-objection certificate for all inter-country adoptions.
  • India is also a signatory to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child: It provides a legal mandate of all authorities and courts to offer protection to children.

Various issues in the adoption policies in the country 

  • Declining Statistics and Institutional Apathy:
    • There is a wide gap between adoptable children and prospective parents, which may increase the length of the adoption process.
    • Data shows that while more than 29,000 prospective parents are willing to adopt,just 2,317 children are available for adoption.
  • Returning Children after Adoption:
    • Between 2017-19, the Central Adoption Resource Authority (CARA)faced an unusual upsurge in adoptive parents returning children after adopting.
      • Central Adoption Resource Authority (CARA)is a statutory body of the Ministry of Women & Child Development. It functions as the nodal body for adoption of Indian children and is mandated to monitor and regulate in-country and inter-country adoptions.
    • According to the data,60% of all children returned were girls, 24% were children with special needs, and many were older than six.
      • The primary reason these ‘disruptions’ occur is that disabled children and older children take much longer to adjustto their adoptive families.
      • This isprimarily because older children find it challenging to adjust to a new environment because institutions do not prepare or counsel children about living with a new family.
    • Disability and Adoption:
      • Only 40 children with disabilities were adopted between 2018 and 2019, accounting for approximately 1% of the total number of children adopted in the year.
      • Annual trends reveal that domestic adoptions of children with special needs are dwindling with each passing year.
    • Manufactured Orphans and Child Trafficking:
      • In 2018, Ranchi’s Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity came under fire for its “baby-selling racket” after a nun from the shelter confessed to selling four children.
        • Similar instances are becoming increasingly common as the pool of children available for adoption shrinks and waitlisted parents grow restless.
      • Also, during the pandemic, cases of threat of child traffickingand illegal adoption rackets came into play.
        • These rackets usually source children from poor or marginalised families, and unwed women are coaxed or misled into submitting their children to trafficking organisations.
      • LGBTQ+ Parenthood and Reproductive Autonomy:
        • Despite the constant evolution of the definition of a family, the ‘ideal’ Indian family nucleus still constitutes a husband, a wife and daughter(s) and son(s).
          • In February 2021, while addressing petitions seeking the legal recognition of LGBTQI+marriages, the government opined that LGBTQI+ relationships could not be compared to the “Indian family unit concept” of a husband, wife and children.
        • The invalidity of LGBTQI+ marriages and relationships in the eyes of the law obstructs LGBTQI+ persons from becoming parentsbecause the minimum eligibility for a couple to adopt a child is the proof of their marriage.
        • To negotiate these unfavourable legalities, illegal adoptions are becoming increasingly common among queer communities.
          • Moreover, provisions under the Surrogacy (Regulation) Bill, 2020and Assisted Reproductive Technology (Regulation) Bill, 2020 completely exclude LGBTQI+ families, stripping them of their reproductive autonomy.

 

Changes that are required to the adoption policy in India

  • Need to Prioritise Children’s Welfare: The primary purpose of giving a child in adoption is his welfare and restoring his or her right to family.
    • CARA and the ministry must accord attention to the vulnerable and invisible community of children silently suffering in our institutions.
  • Need to Strengthen the Institutional Mandates: The adoption ecosystem needs to transition from a parent-centric perspective to a child-centric approach.
  • Need to Adopt an Inclusive Approach: There is a need to adopt an inclusive approach that focuses on the needs of a child to create an environment of acceptance, growth, and well being, thus recognising children as equal stakeholders in the adoption process.
  • Adoption Process Needs to Simplified: The process of adoption needs to be simplified by taking a close relook at the various regulations guiding the procedure of adoption.
    • The ministry can engage with concerned experts working in this field to get feedback on the practical difficulties which prospective parents are facing.

Conclusion

No doubt, the country should take care of its children orphaned due to circumstances, but even as it acknowledges that institutionalisation may be detrimental over the long term, it should pay equal attention to the finer aspects of child care, and allow itself to be guided by a child-centric philosophy. There are no shortcuts in ensuring orphaned children come to no harm.

 

8. Critically analyse the potential benefits of the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework for Prosperity (IPEF) in terms of economic growth and integration for India, while also highlighting the possible challenges that India needs to be cautious of.

Reference: The Hindu

Introduction

The Indo-Pacific Economic Framework (IPEF) was launched by US President Joe Biden in Oct 2022 and joined by 12 other countries including India. The Indo-Pacific Economic Framework (IPEF) is the collaboration of participating countries to strengthen economic partnerships amongst themselves with the objective of enhancing resilience, economic growth, fairness, sustainability, inclusiveness, and competitiveness in the Indo-Pacific region. The IPEF is a significant step toward establishing free and fair trade with nations that share the same values of a rule-based international order and a transparent economic system.

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Value addition

The IPEF:

  • It is an economic initiative launched by the US President Joe Biden on May 23, 2022.
  • The framework launched with a total of 14 participating founding member nations in the Indo-Pacific region with an open invitation for other countries to join.
  • The IPEF members represent 40% of the global GDP and 28% of the world’s trade.
  • Analysts have compared it to the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), which the US withdrew from in 2017.

 The IPEF has four pillars:

  • Trade, supply chains, clean economy, and fair economy.
  • India has yet to take a call on whether to join the trade pillar, though it has joined the other three.

Potential benefits of IPEF for India:

  • India’s economic engagement with the Indo-Pacific countries has been through bilateral trade agreements, rather than joining a trade block because of the concerns about tariffs and cheap imports that would threaten the competitiveness of local producers.
  • However, the IPEF offers India a large opportunity to become a technology leaderin the region, especially in two areas- semiconductor supply chains, and clean energy.
  • India can be the destination for new investmentsuch as in the semiconductor sector.
  • The Quad framework can be applied in the supply chain network that US technology, Japanese capital, Australia’s logistics, and Indian productioncould fill the vacuum created by the countering domination of China.

Challenges posed:

  • The IPEF can already be seen to have deep implications in agriculture, in terms of genetically modified seeds and food, surrendering policy space for regulating Big Tech, and compromising a comparative advantage in manufacturing because of unfair labour and environment standards.
  • It will also seriously affect India’s ability to create a vibrant domestic ecosystem in emerging areas such as a digital economy and green products.
  • India fears that a proposal by the US under the “supply chains” pillar of the IPEF could violate WTO rules and reduce policy space.
  • US proposal states that All IPEF partner nations would be required to give advance notification of any changes to export regulations and tariffs.
  • India’s concern:Notifications are usually done only after measures are taken and not before. India has therefore sought industry inputs to protect its interests
  • the IPEF talks about digital governance but the IPEF formulation contains issues that directly conflict with India’s stated position.

 

  • Data localization is another key issue that worries India. A bill that the government submitted in Lok Sabha in 2019 calls for the creation of a data protection authority as well as a framework for localising Indian data.
  • In its National Trade Estimate Report on Foreign Trade Barriers published just last month, the US stated that India’s proposed data localisation requirements, which would require enterprises to store data within India, “will serve as significant barriers to digital trade” between the two countries and act as “market access barriers, especially for smaller firms.”
  • Given the fact that the U.S.’s previous initiatives like the Blue Dot Network and the Build Back Better Initiative have made little headway in changing the region’s infrastructural needs, the IPEF faces a credibility challenge.
  • S. officials have made it clear that it is neither a free trade agreement nor will it discuss tariff reductions or increasing market access, raising questions about its utility.
  • Much will depend on how inclusive the process is and there must be more clarity on its framework.
  • The four pillars also raise question on whether there is enough common ground among the countries to set standards together, or be open to issues that vary for each country.

Way forward & conclusion

  • For IPEF to succeed, there is a need for the unilateral character of the arrangement to be tweaked to give way to more plural and multilateral arrangement.
  • There is a need for an organisation or secretariat to drive and oversee the arrangement which houses representatives from all the member states, in the absence of which, the arrangement would lose its relevance.
  • India should carefully calibrate its position in the IPEF negotiations

 


General Studies – 3


 


9. Examine the challenges posed by artificial intelligence (AI) in the realm of intellectual property (IP). What is your viewpoint on whether the management of intellectual property (IP) regulations poses a barrier to the advancement of innovation within the nation?

Reference: The PrintInsights on India

Introduction

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is growing at an exponential rate throughout the world. This boom raises the question of IP management in AI. There have been discussions and moderations but not a conclusion on the subject matter. The question as to the granting of special status to the work produced by an AI still persists.

There are a number of anomalies when it comes to the regulation of IPR within artificial intelligence. There are questions with reference to the ownership of patent and copyright and great concerns over the infringement issues and the penalties involved. Even with international agreements and conventions in place, there is no clarity on the law with the advancing technology.

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Background

  • The development model in India includes a huge amount of technological advancement which includes AI as well.
  • The use of AI is not limited to social media or entertainment but has accelerated to retail as well.
  • From online shopping to the use of online car services, the country saw a rapid change in the technology.
  • The issues in a developing country like India are of much more concern as it is the basic infrastructure which needs to be revised upon.
  • There are well-established patent and copyright laws in India.

 

Challenges posed by AI in realm of IPR

  • There is no particular act or provision to regulate AI specifically. The existing laws do not cover the ambit of AI and are based on the old intellectual property types like books, creative writing and discoveries.
  • The ambit of AI is much more complex and needs to be addressed in a particular way, different from the existing regime. Under the Patents Act of 1970, computer programs, business methods or mathematical formulae are not considered as patentable inventions.
  • Furthermore, the terms ‘patentee’ under Section 2 (p) of the said Act and ‘person interested’ under section 2 (t) of the said Act creates a barrier to include AI in its scope. The Act specifically terms out the patentee of any other person interested to be human.
  • Under the Copyright Act, there are two basic doctrines which define the originality of the work under this Act- Sweat of the Brow Doctrine and Modicum of Creativity.
  • Since the doctrine states that a minimum degree of creativity is also acceptable, the original work of AI can be included in it. However, the rights of copyright are given to the ‘author’ of the work done under section 2 (d) of the Act. Author in this act has been implied to be a human or legal person, thus, making the idea of machine to be protected under this act restricted.
  • The current regime and laws are not in consonance with the upcoming and even existing dynamics of technology. In a country with second largest population and majority of the people using social media sites and online shopping, it is crucial that the laws should be amended according to the new structure.
  •  The new technologies include various features like Amazon’s AI product ‘Alexa’ is being used as a security measure to lock doors at homes.
    •  In case of failure due to confusion or misunderstanding of AI, there are various questions such as- who will be made liable? Can the liability be shifted to the user?
  • Furthermore, any new invention based on same algorithm or same concept may hamper with the rights of the original owner. This becomes a serious issue. On one hand, it can discourage the start-ups to be inventive and thus, ruining the whole purpose and existence of IPR at the first place and on the other hand it can cause a series of litigation and chaos in the IPR sector.

Management of IP in consonance with advancement of innovation

There is a desperate need, now more than ever, to formulate IP laws which can secure the developments of AI innovation and reward new works and inventions through the copyright or patent award.

  • A specific test has to be formulated which can differentiate between AI created works and AI- aided works. The accurate IP holder can be determined, thereon.
  • The patent law clearly demarcates between an inventor and an invention but the category under which AI systems fall is not yet determined. The law has to be clearer and more specific and include such provisions in an understandable language.
  • Similarly, the definition of authorship under the copyright act should be examined and changes according to the changing dynamics.
  • There have been ambiguities in trademark laws as well. The status of AI as a customer and the functioning of AI, especially in case where human common sense plays a major role need to be defined.
  • WIPO has already taken cognizance of the upcoming issues with AI and the same has been discussed through various means, however, proper policy should be formulated in an international level.
  • A specific act has to be passed which deals with data protection with respect to the AI software. It must cover all the civil and criminal liabilities and offences which amount to the same.
  • IP sharing between the inventor of the AI and the AI itself can be a possibility in the years to come. It will become an essential part of the general advancement plan and maintainability. The future is loaded with indefinite possibilities and interesting motoring.

 

Conclusion

Presently, it is through the interpretation of the courts that the issues revolving around AI and IPR are being addressed. But there is a need for structured, analysed and clear rules and regulations. Amendments should be made in existing IPR laws to address the issue of AI as well. With the use of AI, there can be more benefit for future inventions. India has been potentially looking forward for ways to do. Niti Aayog in a discussion paper in 2018, described about the importance of AI in healthcare, education, infrastructure etc.

 

10. The circular economy plays a vital role in addressing plastic pollution by reducing plastic waste, promoting recycling and repurposing, encouraging sustainable alternatives, and fostering innovation. By adopting a circular approach, we can protect marine life, preserve our oceans, and prevent plastic from infiltrating our food chain. Examine.

Reference: Down to EarthInsights on India

Introduction

The WEF defines “a circular economy as an industrial system that is restorative or regenerative by intention and design. It replaces the end-of-life concept with restoration, shifts towards the use of renewable energy, eliminates the use of toxic chemicals, which impair reuse and return to the biosphere, and aims for the elimination of waste through the superior design of materials, products, systems, and business models”.

With a growing population, rapid urbanization, climate change and environmental pollution, India must move towards a circular economy.

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Need for circular economy for plastics in India

  • A 2019 report by the Center for International Environmental Law suggests that by 2050, greenhouse gas emissions from plastic could reach over 56 gigatonnes, 10-13% of the remaining carbon budget.
  • As much as 3.3 million metric tonnes of plastic waste was generated in India in 2018-19, according to the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) report 2018-19. This roughly translated to 9,200 tonnes a day (TPD).
  • The total municipal solid waste generation is 55-65 million tonnes; plastic waste is approximately 5-6 per cent of the total solid waste generated in the country.
  • A 2021 report commissioned by Google, Closing the Plastics Circularity Gap, suggests that unless large-scale global interventions are made, we should expect to mismanage more than 7.7 billion metric tonnes of plastic waste globally over the next 20 years.
  • However, viewed from the angle of livelihoods, post-consumer segregation, collection and disposal of plastics make up about half of the income of 1.5- 4 million waste-pickers in India.
  • Hence, India also needs a long terms solution for its plastic waste problem. And for India, the solution must be

Efforts undertaken to ban plastic

  • Monitoring by CPCB: The ban will be monitored by the CPCB from the Centre and by the State Pollution Control Boards (SPCBs) that will report to the Centre regularly.
  • Stop raw materials supply: Directions have been issued at national, state and local levels — for example, to all petrochemical industries — to not supply raw materials to industries engaged in the banned items.
  • Directions to industries:SPCBs and Pollution Control Committees will modify or revoke consent to operate issued under the Air/Water Actto industries engaged in single-use plastic items.
  • Fresh licensing required: Local authorities have been directed to issue fresh commercial licenses with the condition that SUP items will not be sold on their premises, and existing commercial licences will be cancelled if they are found to be selling these items.
  • Encouraging compostable plastics:CPCB has issued one-time certificates to 200 manufacturers of compostable plastic and the BIS passed standards for biodegradable plastic.
  • Penalty: Those found violating the ban can be penalised under the Environment Protection Act 1986 – which allows for imprisonment up to 5 years, or a penalty up to Rs 1 lakh, or both.
    • Violators can also be asked to pay Environmental Damage Compensationby the SPCB.

Challenges posed:

  • Petroleum-based plastic is not biodegradable and usually goes into a landfill where it is buried or it gets into the water and finds its way into the ocean.
  • Plastic in oceans and forests are choking flora and fauna. In fact, plastic trash is expected to exceed the fish population in 2050.
  • Microplastics have ability to enter food chain with the highest concentration of the pollutants.
  • The PWM Rules Amendment, 2018, omitted explicit pricing of plastic bags that had been a feature of the 2016 Rules.
  • Waste plastic from packaging of everything from food, cosmetics and groceries to goods delivered by online platforms remains unaddressed.
  • The fast moving consumer goods sector that uses large volumes of packaging, posing a higher order challenge.
  • Lack of adequate infrastructure for segregation and collection is the key reason for inefficient plastic waste disposal.
  • Small producers of plastics are facing the ban, while more organised entities covered by the Extended Producer Responsibility clause continue with business as usual.
  • Lack of consultation with stakeholders such as manufacturers of plastics, eateries and citizen groups: This leads to implementation issues and inconvenience to the consumers.
  • Exemptions for certain products such as milk pouches and plastic packaging for food items severely weaken the impact of the ban.
  • No investment in finding out alternative materials to plug the plastic vacuum: Until people are able to shift to a material which is as light-weight and cheap as plastic, banning plastic will remain a mere customary practice.
  • Lack of widespread awareness among citizens about the magnitude of harm caused by single-use plastic: Without citizens ‘buying in’ to a cause, bans only result in creating unregulated underground markets.
  • No strategy to offset the massive economic impact: Sweeping bans like the one in Maharashtra are likely to cause massive loss of jobs and disruption of a large part of the economy dependent on the production and use of plastic.

 

Circular economy for plastics

  • Plastic packaging can be avoided altogether while maintaining utility.
  • While improving recycling is crucial, we cannot recycle our way out of the plastic issues we currently face. Wherever relevant, reuse business models should be explored as a preferred solution (or ‘inner loop’ in circular economy terms), reducing the need for single-use plastic packaging.
  • Reuse models, which provide an economically attractive opportunity for at least 20% of plastic packaging, need to be implemented in practice and at scale.
  • Innovate to ensure that the plastics we do need are reusable, recyclable, or compostable.
  • This requires a combination of redesign and innovation in business models, materials, packaging design, and reprocessing technologies.
  • Circulate all the plastic items we use to keep them in the economy and out of the environment.
  • No plastic should end up in the environment. Landfill, incineration, and waste-to-energy are not long term solutions that support a circular economy.
  • Governments are essential in setting up effective collection infrastructure, facilitating the establishment of related self-sustaining funding mechanisms, and providing an enabling regulatory and policy landscape.
  • Businesses producing and/or selling packaging have a responsibility beyond the design and use of their packaging, which includes contributing towards it being collected and reused, recycled, or composted in practice.

Way forward

  • Need for Legislation to promote the circular economy in the country. Several countries have recognised the centrality of the circularity as the new paradigm for sustainable development.
  • Policies like Zero Effect, Zero Defectin manufacturing stage, National Electricity Mobility Mission Plan in consumption stage, and the various Waste Management Rules in disposal stage, if tweaked properly, can be the ideal for integrating circular economy into the fabric of the Indian economy.
  • Ensuring the transition to circular economy call for extensive collaborative efforts between key stakeholders, including regulators, policy makers, corporates, and financial institutions would need to work to adopt circular business models.
  • Adequate financing needed for realization of these newer opportunities through innovative financing instruments, such as green bonds, municipal bonds, SDG-aligned bonds.

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