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[Mission 2023] Insights SECURE SYNOPSIS: 27 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. Explain the factors contributing to the communalization of society and elaborate on the actions necessary to foster unity and acceptance among individuals.

Reference: Insights on India

Introduction

Communalism is basically an ideology which consists of three elements:

  • A belief that people who follow the same religion have common secular interests i.e. they have same political, economic and social interests. So, here socio- political communalities arise.
  • A notion that, in a multi-religious society like India, these common secular interests of one religion is dissimilar and divergent from the interests of the follower of another religion.
  • The interests of the follower of the different religion or of different ‘communities’ are seen to be completely incompatible, antagonist and hostile.

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Factors responsible for growth of Communalism in India:

  • A Legacy of Past:
    • On the basis of the “Two Nation” theory of Jinnah, India was partitioned. Communal politics had played its nasty game during the immediate past of independent India. The “Divide and Rule” policy of the British Government served their colonial interest. The partition of India was the ultimate outcome of their politics.
  • Presence of Communal Parties:
    • Religion in India has become an important agency of political socialization and it is also reflected in the ideology of a number of political parties. A number of communal and sectarian political parties and organisations are present in India. Muslim League, Jamaat—Islami, Hindu Mahasabha, Akali Dal, Vishwa Hindu Parishad are directly or indirectly responsible for the emergence of communalism.
  • Isolation of Muslims:
    • Indian Muslims have developed a tendency of isolationism even long after the creation of Pakistan. They remain aloof from the mainstream of national politics. Most of them are not interested to take part in the secular-nationalistic politics of the country. They insist on to be treated as a separate entity.
  • Poverty:
    • Mass poverty and unemployment create a sense of frustration among the people. It generates backwardness, illiteracy, ignorance, etc. The unemployed youth of both the communities can be easily trapped by religious fundamentalists and fanatics. They are used by them to cause communal riots. The weak economic status often breeds communalism.
  • Hindu Chauvinism:
    • The growths of Hindu chauvinistic attitudes have further strengthened the communal tensions in India. The Hindu religious groups like Shiv Sena, Hindu Mahasabha, Viswa Hindu Parisad often pressurize the government to take steps suitable to the interest of Hindus. They consider each Muslim as pro-Pakistani and anti-national. To face the possible challenge of other communal forces, they encourage the growth of Hindu communalism.
  • Social Cause:
    • The two major communities of India have been suspicious towards each other. The Muslims complain of the threat of Hindu cultural invasion upon their lives and have become more assertive of their rights. Either due to ignorance or insecurity, they do not fully accept the need of family planning and help in increasing population.
  • Communalization of Politics:
    • Electoral politics in India has become more expensive and competitive. Different political parties are not hesitating to use any means, fair or foul, for electoral victory. They even create communal tensions and try to take political advantage out of it. Concessions are granted to various minority groups for appeasing them.
  • Cross-Border factors:
    • Communal tensions in India sometimes are highly intensified due to the rule of two neighbouring theocratic countries. These countries try to create communal problems in the border states. The communal problems of Punjab and Jammu Kashmir are caused due to provocation of Pakistan. So long as this cross-border factor is not removed, communal problems are likely to stay in India.
  • Failure of Government:
    • Both the Union and the State Governments often fail to prevent communalism in the country. Due to lack of prior information, they fail to take any preventive measures. So the communal violence can easily take innocent lives and destroys property. The post-Godhra riot in Gujarat shows the inefficiency of the government to control the communal riot. Failure of immediate and effective steps has been a cause of the continuance of communalism.

Ramification of Communalism:

  • Genocides: With mass killings, the real sufferers are the poor, who lose their house, their near and dear ones, their lives, their livelihood, etc. It violates the human rights from all direction. Sometimes children lose their parents and will become orphan for a lifetime.
  • Ghettoization and refugee problem are other dimensions of communalism induced violence, whether its inter country or intra country.
  • Sudden increase in violence against any particular community causes mass exodus and stampede which in turn kills many number of people. For example, this was seen in the case of Bangalore in 2012, with respect to people from North eastern states, which was stimulated by a rumour.
  • Apart from having effect on the society, it is also a threat to Indian constitutional values, which promotes secularism and religious tolerance. In that case, citizens don’t fulfil their fundamental duties towards the nation.
  • It becomes a threat for the unity and integrity of the nation as a whole. It promotes only the feeling of hatred in all directions, dividing the society on communal lines.
  • Minorities are viewed with suspicion by all, including state authorities like police, para-military forces, army, intelligence agencies, etc. There have been many instances when people from such community have been harassed and detained and finally have been released by court orders guilt free. For this, there is no provision for compensation of such victims, about their livelihood incomes forgone, against social stigmas and emotional trauma of the families.
  • Barrier for development: Communal activities occurring frequently do harm the human resource and economy of the country. And then again it takes years for the people and the affected regions to come out the traumas of such violence, having deep impact on minds of those who have faced it. They feel emotionally broken and insecure.
  • Terrorism and Secessionism: As seen during the Khalistan movement in Punjab.

Steps to be taken to prevent communalism

  • Economic:
    • Poverty is one of the major factors for communal violence. Poverty alleviation measures are thus important for promoting communal harmony.
    • Eradicating the problem of unemploymentamong the youths, illiteracy and poverty and that too with honesty and without any discrimination.
    • Reducing educational and economic backwardness of minorities like Muslims.
    • This can uplift their socio-economic status and reduce their deprivation compared to Hindus
  • Social:
    • The religious leaders and preachers should promote rational and practical things through religion promoting peace and security.
    • Children in schools must be taught through textbooks and pamphlets to maintain brotherhood and respect for all religions
    • Creating awareness in the society about the ill effects of communism through mass media
  • Political:
    • Political communism should be avoided recent Supreme court’s directives
    • Identification and mapping of riot prone areas. For Example,Delhi police used drones to monitor to maintain vigil during communal festivals
    • Media, movies and other cultural platforms can be influential in promoting peace and harmony.
    • Social Mediashould be monitored for violent and repulsive content and taken off immediately.
  • Recommendations of Committee on National Integration
    • Joint celebration of community festivals
    • Observing restraint by Hindus while taking processions before the mosques
    • Formation of peace and brotherhood communities at local level to prevent anti-social elements from engaging in communal riots
    • Respect for religious customs, rituals and practices

Conclusion

In a vast country like India which is made up of diverse cultures, backgrounds, religions, identities etc. it really requires to maintain a sense of equality among its citizen to provide a meaning to the term democracy. The core reason behind all these discrimination are based on the nature of unacceptance of diversities. We tend to commit heinous crimes to eradicate the population which chooses a different set of traditions to follow. But these intolerance can lead India to get collapsed from being a secular country to communal. And India is known to the world by the term “diversity”. It is beautiful when the people irrespective of their differences are co-existing.

 

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2. Volcanism, the eruption of volcanoes and the associated release of lava, ash, gases, and other volcanic materials, can have significant effects on the environment and human activities. Analyse.

Reference: Down to Earth , Insights on India

Introduction

volcano is a rupture in the crust of a planetary-mass object, such as Earth, that allows hot lava, volcanic ash, and gases to escape from a magma chamber below the surface. The process is called Volcanism and has been ongoing on Earth since the initial stages of its evolution over 4 billion years ago.

Mount Etna, an active volcano located in Italy, recently erupted, releasing ash and smoke into the atmosphere. The eruption resulted in a spectacular display of volcanic activity, with lava fountains and explosions observed.

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Formation of volcano:

  • The majority of volcanoes in the world form along the boundaries of Earth’s tectonic plates—massive expanses of our planet’s lithosphere that continually shift, bumping into one another.
  • When tectonic plates collide, one often plunges deep below the other in what’s known as a subduction zone.
  • As the descending landmass sinks deep into the Earth, temperatures and pressures climb, releasing water from the rocks.
  • The water slightly reduces the melting point of the overlying rock, forming magma that can work its way to the surface—the spark of life to reawaken a slumbering volcano.
  • Not all volcanoes are related to subduction,
  • Another way volcanoes can form is what’s known as hotspot volcanism.
  • In this situation, a zone of magmatic activity—or a hotspot—in the middle of a tectonic plate can push up through the crust to form a volcano.
  • Although the hotspot itself is thought to be largely stationary, the tectonic plates continue their slow march, building a line of volcanoes or islands on the surface. This mechanism is thought to be behind the Hawaii volcanic chain.

 

Global occurrence of volcanic eruptions in recent times

  • Hunga Tonga Hunga Ha’apai volcano
  • The Philippine volcano near Manila
  • Piton de la Fournaise in the Indian ocean
  • Great Sitkin, Alaska
  • Fukutoku-Oka-no-Ba, Japan
  • Kīlauea, Hawaii
  • Etna, Sicily, Italy
  • Nyiragongo, Congo
  • Soufrière St. Vincent
  • Semeru, Indonesia
  • Krýsuvík-Trölladyngja

Impact on the regional environment

  • Volcanism can be a greatly damaging natural disaster.
  • Habitats and landscapes are destroyed by lava flows.
  • Violent earthquakes associated with volcanic activity and mud flows of volcanic ash saturated by heavy rain can bury nearby places.
  • Sometimes ash can precipitate under the influence of rain and completely cover the surrounding regions.
  • deterioration of water quality, fewer periods of rain, crop damages, and the destruction of vegetation.
  • In coastal areas, seismic sea waves called tsunamis are an additional danger which are generated by submarine earth faults where volcanism is active.
  • Volcanic rocks yield very fertile soil upon weathering and decomposition.
  • Although steep volcano slopes prevent extensive agriculture, forestry operations on them provide valuable timber resources.
  • Mineral resources, particularly metallic ores are brought to the surface by volcanoes. Sometimes copper and other ores fill the gas bubble cavities. The famed Kimberlite rock of South Africa, source of diamonds is the pipe of an ancient volcano.

Impact on human activities

  • Volcanic activity and the formation of volcanic landscapes can have both positive and negative impacts on human settlement and economic development.
  • While they can be inhospitable and hazardous to human habitation, they can also provide opportunities for economic development.
  • For example, Volcanic ash and rock fragments can be used for construction and road building, and volcanic landscapes often have unique biodiversity which can be utilized for tourism and recreation.
  • Volcanic landscapes can also contain geothermal resources which can be used for power generation and other forms of economic development.
  • Volcanic eruptions can cause significant damage to infrastructure, agriculture, and human health, and can lead to displacement of populations.
  • Additionally, the rugged terrain and harsh climate of volcanic landscapes can make it difficult for people to settle in these regions.

Conclusion

Volcanoes have a huge impact on man and material as urbanization and globalization increases. The effects have impacts on flora, fauna and the global warming which can accelerate the climate change.


General Studies – 2


 

3. By addressing malnutrition comprehensively, we can mitigate its costs, enhance individual well-being, and build healthier and more prosperous societies. Discuss.

Reference: Down to Earth , Insights on India

Introduction

In malnutrition, the body becomes deficient in vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients required to maintain healthy tissues and organs. It occurs in people who are either undernourished or over nourished.

India has 5,772,472 children below five years affected by severe wasting, the most in the world, alerted UNICEF. It had been reported in 2017 by the National Health Survey that approximately 19 crore people in the country were compelled to sleep on an empty stomach every night.

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Malnutrition in India

  • India, currently has the largest number of undernourished people in the world around 195 million.
  • Nearly 47 million or 4 out of 10 children in India do not meet their full human potential because of chronic undernutrition or stunting.
  • 9% of children under 5 years are stunted and 20.8% are wasted, compared to the Asia average of 22.7% and 9.4% respectively.
  • Rate of overweight and obesity continues to rise, affecting almost a fifth of the adults, at 21.6% of women and 17.8% of men.
  • Inequities in food and health systems increase inequalities in nutrition outcomes that in turn can lead to more inequity, perpetuating a vicious cycle.

Consequences of malnutrition

  • Malnutrition results in a reduced ability to work and increased susceptibility to disease, and depending on the nutrients lacking: anaemia, blindness, mental retardation, or death.
  • Undernutrition increases the risk of infectious diseases like diarrhoea, measles, malaria and pneumonia.
  • Chronic malnutrition can impair a young child’s physical and mental development. Cognitive impairment resulting from malnutrition may result in diminished productivity in academic performance.
  • As per estimates of World Bank, childhood stunting may result in a loss of height among adults by 1%, which may further lead to a reduction in individuals economic productivity by 1.4%
  • Undernutrition puts women at a greater risk of pregnancy-related complications and death (obstructed labour and haemorrhage).
  • Widespread child undernutrition greatly impedes a country’s socioeconomic development and potential to reduce poverty.
  • India loses 4% of its GDP annually due to malnourishment.

Measures needed to tackle malnutrition

  • Agriculture-Nutrition linkage schemes have the potential for greater impact in dealing with malnutrition and thus, needs greater emphasis.
    • 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.
  • Early fund disbursement: The government needs to ensure early disbursement of funds and optimum utilisation of funds in schemes linked to nutrition.
  • Underutilisation of Resources:It has been pointed out many a times that expenditure made under many nutrition-based schemes is considerably lower than what was allocated under them. Thus, emphasis needs to be on implementation.
  • 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.
  • Mid-Day Meal Scheme: The Mid-Day Meal Scheme aims to enhance the nutrition of school children by providing a balanced diet in schools.
    • By including milk and eggs in each states’ menu, preparing a menu based on climatic conditions, local foods etc. can help in providing the right nutrition to children in different States.

Conclusion

Welfare measures must continue to reach the most vulnerable population and children and mothers must be at the centre of the focus to target hunger and malnutrition. Achieving zero hunger requires agriculture and food systems to become more efficient, sustainable, climate-smart and nutritionsensitive. It is important to look at the future of food production to achieve the zero-hunger goal. Human resource capacity building is the key as is access to education and health services and empowering the poor through partnerships.

Value Addition

Government welfare measures

  • Eat Right India: An outreach activity organised by the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) for citizens to nudge them towards eating right.
  • Pradhan Mantri Matru Vandana Yojana:A centrally sponsored scheme executed by the Ministry of Women and Child Development, is a maternity benefit programme being implemented in all districts of the country with effect from 1st January, 2017.
  • Food Fortification: Food Fortification or Food Enrichment is the addition of key vitamins and minerals such as iron, iodine, zinc, Vitamin A & D to staple foods such as rice, milk and salt to improve their nutritional content.
  • National Food Security Act, 2013:It legally entitled up to 75% of the rural population and 50% of the urban population to receive subsidized food grains under the Targeted Public Distribution System.
  • Mission Indradhanush: It targets children under 2 years of age and pregnant women for immunization against 12 Vaccine-Preventable Diseases (VPD).
  • Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) Scheme:Launched on 2nd October, 1975, the ICDS Scheme offers a package of six services to children in the age group of 0-6 years, pregnant women and lactating mothers.
    • Supplementary Nutrition,
    • Pre-school non-formal education,
    • Nutrition & health education,
    • Immunization,
    • Health check-up and
    • Referral services.
  • POSHAN Abhiyaan: Also called National Nutrition Mission, was launched by the government on the occasion of the International Women’s Day on 8th March, 2018.
  • The Abhiyaan targets to reduce Stunting, undernutrition, Anaemia (among young children, women and adolescent girls) and reduce low birth weight by 2%, 2%, 3% and 2% per annum respectively.
  • It also targets to bring down stunting among children in the age group 0-6 years from 4% to 25% by 2022.

 


General Studies – 3


 

4. Examine the impact of various economic factors on the rupee’s value. Highlights the importance of a stable and adequately valued rupee for a country’s economic growth and stability.

Reference: Indian Express

Introduction

Introduction

Rupee depreciation means that rupee has become relatively less worthy with respect to dollar i.e., rupee has lost some value w.r.t. the dollars. If the Indian Rupee moves from Rs. 50 a dollar to Rs. 60 a dollar then the rupee is said to have depreciated. Rupee appreciation means that the rupee has become more valuable in comparison to the dollar. If the Indian Rupee moves from Rs. 60 a dollar to Rs. 50 a dollar then the rupee is said to have appreciated. It means that we can buy more dollars now with the same amount of rupees.

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Impact of various economic factors on the rupee’s value

  • Foreign Institutional investors (FII): As per the data reported, FIIs (Foreign Institutional investors) is showing some disinterest in Indian markets lately. The slowdown in the developed economies like the US and Japan is believed to be the key reasons.
  • High inflation: During periods of high inflation, Indian goods become more expensive in the global markets, thus making them less competitive as compared to goods from other countries like China. Increasing gold imports adds even more to the deficit.
  • Widening current account deficit: This also contributes to high demand for dollars in the foreign exchange market.
  • Demand and supply rule: If the demand for the dollar is greater than its supply in India, then the dollar will appreciate i.e., the rupee depreciates and vice-versa.
  • Oil price: India has to import a bulk of its oil requirements to satisfy local demand, which is rising year-on-year. In International markets, prices of oil are quoted in dollars. So, whenever the domestic demand for oil increases or when the price of oil increases in the international market, there will be a rise in demand for dollars to pay for the oil so imported which depreciates the rupee further.
  • Policy inaction: Perception of lack of clarity on the policy pulls up the speculative.
  • Forex reserves: The forex reserves have been fluctuating in the recent months. Due to this, the RBI is unable to intervene aggressively in the markets for foreign exchange.
  • Growth slow-down: India’s economic growth is slowing down due to which foreign investors have started pulling money out of the Indian markets speedily.
  • Capital controls: The decision by the Reserve Bank and the government to impose temporary restrictions on capital flows has only discouraged foreign firms from pumping money into India.

Importance of a stable rupee for a country’s economic growth and stability

  • The overall macroeconomic stability is impacted of India’s rupee is falling or depreciates.
  • The biggest impact of a weakening rupee is inflation, given India imports more than 80% of its crude oil.
  • Depreciation reduces the value of a country’s currency when compared with the currency of other countries. Depreciation discourages imports because the imported goods become more expensive due to a reduction in the value of rupee. As the goods become more and more expensive it leads to rising inflation.
  • In its April monetary policy report in 2022, India’s central bank assumed that the rupee will trade around 76 per dollar during FY23, adding that a 5% decline from this would raise inflation by 20 basis points. The rupee has is already down over 2% from this assumption, implying higher inflation going ahead.
  • A depreciated rupee means that the pass through of imported inflation becomes higher. And with global crude hitting record highs, it will feed into the domestic retail inflation through higher prices of petrol and diesel, thereby increasing the price of goods. And if the global commodity prices remain stubbornly high, our imports bill will continue to stay elevated, which will further add pressure on the prices of common goods.

Conclusion

While some countries like China have purposely depreciated their currency to gain the trade benefit, there are other nations where a weakening currency creates havoc. The multi-million dollar question is whether a weakening currency is an indication of something good or bad.  It definitely is not a good sign for economies, a weak currency is often accompanied by a current account deficit and reflects a weakening economy.

 

5. Despite the remarkable scientific progress achieved by Artificial Intelligence (AI), there are apprehensions and issues connected with it that require urgent attention and resolution. Critically analyse.

Reference: The HinduInsights on India

Introduction

New technologies like artificial intelligence, machine learning, robotics, big data, and networks are expected to revolutionize production processes, but they could also have a major impact on developing economies. The opportunities and potential sources of growth that, for example, the United States and China enjoyed during their early stages of economic development are remarkably different from what Cambodia and Tanzania are facing in today’s world.

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Significant advances and applications of Artificial intelligence

  • It has the potential to overcome the physical limitations of capital and labour and open up new sources of value and growth.
    • It has the potential to drive growth by enabling
    • Intelligent automation ability to automate complex physical world tasks.
    • Innovation diffusion propelling innovations through the economy.
  • Heavy Industries & Space: Through AI an entire manufacturing process can be made totally automated, controlled & maintained by computer system.
    • Example: car manufacturing machine tool production, computer chip production. Etc.
    • They carry out dangerous tasks like handling hazardous radioactive materials.
  • Finance: Banks use intelligent software application to screen & analyse financial data.
    • Software that can predict trends in stock market have been created which have been known to beat humans in predictive power.
  • Aviation: Air lines use expert system in planes to monitor atmospheric condition & system status.
  • Role in social development and inclusive growth: Access to quality health facilities, addressing location barriers, providing real-time advisory to farmers and help in increasing productivity, building smart and efficient cities etc.
    • The exponential growth of data is constantly feeding AI improvements.
    • AI has varied applications in fields like Healthcare, Education, Smart Cities, Environment, Agriculture, smart Mobility etc.
  • Examples of AI use in India: A Statement of Intent has been signed between NITI Aayog and IBM to develop Precision Agriculture using Artificial Intelligence (AI) in Aspirational Districts.
    • National Payment Corporation of India (NPCI) launched Pai which is an AI based chatbot, to create awareness around NPCI’s products like FASTag, RuPay, UPI, AePS on a real time basis.

 

Concerns associated with Artificial Intelligence

  • Ethical concerns: With popularization of a new technology, its virtues are not guaranteed. For instance, the internet made it possible to connect with anyone and get information from anywhere, but also easier for misinformation to spread.
    • There are real concerns about the potential negative consequences of AI, from deep fakes to nefarious uses of facial recognition technology.
  • Data Management: As there is lack of clarity on data flow and data ownership which might result into data colonialism (data generated by developing countries yet not benefitting them).
    • Further, data collection for feeding AI algorithms has its associated privacy concerns e.g. mass surveillance.
    • AI could contribute to the forgery of documents, pictures, audio recordings, videos, and online identities which can and will occur with unprecedented ease.
  • Biasedness: The algorithms used in artificial intelligence are discrete and, in most cases, trade secrets.
    • They can be biased, for example, in the process of self-learning, they can absorb and adopt the stereotypes that exist in society or which are transferred to them by developers and make decisions based on them.
  • Excessive Regulation: Since the AI is still in its preliminary stages, some critics believe that, excessively strict regulation is neither necessary nor desirable.
  • Lack of consensus & Conflict of Interests among the countries over the mechanisms and tactics in regulation of AI.
  • Absence of widespread expertise in Al technologies: This could lead to policy decisions being taken based on a narrow spectrum of opinions. There are large gaps in data collection, preparation, and benchmarking capabilities.

Conclusion

Regulation must be continuous and adapt with evolution of technology. There is need to find country specific data, trained workforce, fine-tuned algorithms and technology suited to local needs. For India to maximally benefit from the AI revolution, it must adopt a deliberate policy to drive AI innovation, adaptation, and proliferation in sectors beyond consumer goods and information technology services.

 

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


General Studies – 1


 

6. Enhancing institutional support, addressing infrastructural deficiencies, and ensuring the safety and security of Self-Help Groups (SHG’s) members are also vital steps toward unlocking the full potential of SHGs as a means of women’s empowerment. Analyse.

Reference: Insights on India

Introduction

self-help group (SHG) is a village-based financial intermediary committee normally consist of 10–20 local women or men. When the formal financial system fails to help the needy, then small groups volunteer to cater to the needs of the financially weak by collecting, saving and lending the money on a micro scale. SHGs have gained wide recognition in most developing countries in Asia where their presence is quite pervasive

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Role of SHG’s in women empowerment

  • Capital formation: Through micro-finance, many SHG’s have created valuable assets and capital in the rural areas and are sustaining livelihoods.
  • Access to credit: SHGs provide better access to credit at acceptable and convenient terms. The members have been able to obtain loans for emergent productive and non-productive purposes on comparatively easy terms. This has reduced their dependence on local moneylenders to a large extent.
    • Government initiative such as SHG-Bank linkage program is also increasing their financial inclusion and easy access to credit from formal institutions.
  • Poverty Alleviation: The approach of poverty alleviation through SHG is the most effective means and suits the ongoing process of reforms based on the policy of decentralization.
    • SHGs have given the poor the access to microfinance and consequently led to important changes in their access to productive resources such as land, water, knowledge, technology and credit.
  • Employment generation: Self-employment activities such as collective farming, bee-keeping, horticulture, sericulture have been taken up by SHG’s.
  • Social welfare: There are many successful cases where SHG women have come together to close liquor shops in their village.
  • Rural infrastructure: Schemes such as Aajeevika express have helped SHG’s in creating transport in rural areas.
  • Women empowerment: SHGs have been able to improve the skills of women to do various things by managing the available natural resources.
    • It is estimated that more than 25 million rural women of India have been benefited by the Self Help Groups (SHG).
    • As a group they can help each other to learn so many things along with the money management because most of the women in the rural areas have a very little knowledge for the management of money.
    • g. Kudumbashree in Kerala has been a huge success. Kudumbashree café is an exemplary example of nurturing entrepreneurship through SHG’s.
  • They also act as a delivery mechanism for various services like entrepreneurial training, livelihood promotion activity and community development programs.

Challenges faced

  • There are issues like regional imbalance, less than ideal average loan size, lack of monitoring and training support by self-help group federations.
  • Escalating non-performing assets of self-help group loans with banks.
  • Several studies have also found issues related to governance, quality, transparency and irregularity in their functions.
  • Low levels of literacy among the rural women.
  • The study found that over time groups were disintegrating on account of coordination issues.
  • Rural micro-enterprises run by SHG members suffer from critical bottlenecks, whether in raising funds for start-up, growth and working capital or accessing high-quality technical assistance.

Way Forward

  • Government programs can be implemented through SHGs.
  • This will not only improve the transparency and efficiency but also bring our society closer to Self-Governance as envisioned by Mahatma Gandhi.
  • Constant and enduring structural handholding support from the self-help group promoting institutions (SHPIs).
  • Frequent awareness camps can be organised by the Rural Development department authorities to create awareness about different schemes.
  • Periodic capacity-building of all members, to make the group the collective.
  • With the Government’s focus on digital financial inclusion, investing in training of group members for transition towards technological platforms.
  • It is important to invest in providing the right kind of support to maximize the impact these groups can have on livelihoods.
  • Emphasising SHG movement on women’s entrepreneurship as an engine of growth in rural India.
  • There should not be any discrimination among members based on caste, religion or political affiliations

Conclusion

SHG approach is an enabling, empowering, and bottom-up approach for rural development that has provided considerable economic and non-economic externalities to low-income households in developing countries. SHG approach is being hailed as a sustainable tool to combat poverty, combining a for-profit approach that is self-sustaining, and a poverty alleviation focus that empowers low-income households. It is increasingly becoming a tool to exercise developmental priorities for governments in developing countries.

Value addition

Evolution of SHGs

  • The concept evolved over decades and was pioneered by Noble laureate Mohammad Yunus as Self Help Groups (SHGs) in 1970s.
  • SHG movement in India gained momentum after 1992, when NABARD realized its potential and started promoting it.
  • NABARD’s SHG-Bank Linkage Program (SBLP) connected group members to formal financial services.
  • Over the last two decades, the SBLP has proven to be a great medium for social and economic empowerment for rural women.
  • India has witnessed state-led promotion of SHGs through a three-tiered architecture of community institutions at group, village and cluster level.
  • In 1999, Government of India, introduced Swarn Jayanti Gram Swarojgaar Yojana (SGSY) to promote self- employment in rural areas through formation and skilling of SHGs.


General Studies – 2


 


7. Discuss the National Curriculum Framework (NCF) and its role in addressing the gaps in the Indian education system. What are some of the key challenges faced in implementing the NCF, and how can they be overcome?

Reference: Indian ExpressInsights on India

Introduction

National Curriculum Frameworks (NCF) is a document that outlines the philosophy, goals, and objectives of education in India. It serves as a framework for designing school curricula, textbooks, and teaching practices. Previously, four NCFs (1975, 1988, 2000 and 2005) have been published by the NCERT in India. So, the current set of NCERT textbooks, barring the recent deletions, are all based on the NCF 2005.

The National Education Policy (NEP), 2020 recommends the development of National Curriculum Frameworks (NCF) in four areas- School Education, Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE), Teacher Education and Adult Education. The NCF includes the National Curriculum Framework for School Education (NCFSE), the National Curriculum Framework for Early Childhood Care & Education (NCFECCE), the National Curriculum Framework for Teacher Education (NCFTE), and the National Curriculum Framework for Adult Education (NCFAE).

Recently, the Union Education ministry launched the National Curriculum Framework for foundational stage education of children in the three to eight years age group.

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role in addressing the gaps in the Indian education system

  • NCF promote a child-centred, activity-based approach to learning that focuses on the development of knowledge, skills, and values
  • The framework focuses on the ‘panchakosha’ concept– the ancient Indian emphasis on the body-mind connection.
  • The NCF says its five parts are physical development(sharirik vikas), development of life energy (pranik vikas), emotional and mental development (manasik vikas), intellectual development (bauddhik vikas) and spiritual development (chaitsik vikas).
  • The mandate document will bring about a paradigm shift with focus on holistic development of children, emphasis on skilling, vital role of teachers, learning in mother tongue, cultural rootedness.
  • It is also a step towards decolonisation of the Indian education system.
  • A key part of the document is the inclusion of values and its “rootedness” in India.
  • The pre-draft says that the framework is deeply rooted in India in content and learning of languages, in the pedagogical approaches including tools and resources, and in philosophical basis — in the aims and in the epistemic approach.
  • The pre-draft says that for Grade 10 certification, students will have to take two essential courses from humanities, maths and computing, vocational education, physical education, arts education, social science, science, and interdisciplinary areas.
  • In Grade 11 and 12, students will be offered choice-based courses in the same disciplines for more rigorous engagement.
  • Arts education will include music, dance, theatre, sculpture, painting, set design, scriptwriting, while interdisciplinary areas will include knowledge of India, traditions, and practices of Indian knowledge systems.
  • The NCF empowers teachers and enabling a supportive academic and administrative support system.
  • It also emphasizes the need to ensure adequate infrastructure and learning resources in each institution.
  • It focuses on classroom practices with real-life illustrations from a variety of contexts. It is hence relatable and provides realistic pathways for teachers and others.

key challenges faced in implementing the NCF

  • Since education is a concurrent subject most states have their own school boards.
  • Therefore, state governments would have to be brought on board for actual implementation of this decision.
  • Lack of infrastructure and resources
  • Resistance to change from traditional teaching methods
  • Inadequate teacher training and professional development
  • regional disparities
  • diversity of the Indian education system

Way forward

  • The need of the hour is to ensure various concerns raised are addressed before implementation of NCF.
  • The education infrastructure should be reinforced with a overall increase in the allocation towards education in general budget.
  • Teachers must be skilled and reskilled to get themselves attuned to the developments of the day.
  • Various sections of the society should be involved and they must be apprised of the new teaching methods.

 

8. Discuss the potential impact of a digital land acquisition system on India’s growth. Examine how the implementation of such a system can address the existing challenges and facilitate growth.

Reference: Live Mint , Insights on India

Introduction

Today, India is one of the fastest growing economies and the growth is more than the world GDP growth. For enabling India to take off one of the key issues is land acquisition for infrastructure development, manufacturing growth and so on. Making land acquisition seamless without dispute or conflict is the key to enable the growth driver.

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Various issues in land acquisition

  • The Social Impact Assessment was a must for every acquisition in the Act but the mandatory requirement was removed for security, defence, rural infrastructure and industrial corridor projects in the amendment.
  • Consent is not mandatory for government projects in the latest amendment. This can result in forceful evictions of land owners, without proper alternate arrangements for their rehabilitation and resettlement.
  • Earlier, multi-cropped land could not be acquired for any purpose but according to the latest amendment, even multi-crop irrigated land can be acquired for security and social infrastructure projects.
  • It leads to the issue of displacement of locals and even at times cut across ecological sensitive and biodiverse region.

Steps taken towards digital land acquisition system

  • The Indian government has made significant strides in digitizing land records and related documentation, which provides a strong foundation for further improvements.
  • A unified online portal for land transactions, minimizing the role of intermediaries, can simplify the process significantly.
  • Speeding up the land acquisition process is also crucial for operationalizing auctioned mines, thereby ensuring a domestic supply of raw materials for the manufacturing sector.
  • The implementation of a digital land sale system, appreciating the importance of speed and scale, would be a significant step forward for the nation.
  • The highways ministry has undertaken a massive exercise of hosting digital details of the land of more than 6.45 lakh revenue villages across 668 districts on a portal named Bhoomiraashi or compensation for land acquisition. This will be the one-point platform for online processing of land acquisition and notifications as well.

Conclusion

A good land records and land acquisition system is a necessity for any harmonious and progressive society. It would ultimately lead to an improved land governance system, reduction in land disputes, prevention of Benami transactions and a comprehensive Integrated Land Information Management System in the country, by sharing best practices.


General Studies – 3


 


9. Biomanufacturing is a rapidly evolving field that combines biology, engineering, and manufacturing principles to produce a wide range of valuable products. Explain. Assess the scope of biomanufacturing in India.

Reference: The Hindu

Introduction

Biomanufacturing is the manufacturing component of the biotechnology industry. It’s the manufacture of products using living systems such as microorganisms, animal cells, or plant cells. These living cells can be naturally occurring or more often they have been genetically engineered to produce the specific substance.

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About Biomanufacturing

  • Biomanufacturing is the use of biological systems that have been engineered, or that are used outside their natural context, to produce a product.
  • Synthetic biology includes two closely related capabilities which may have wide utility in commerce and medicine.
  • The first of these capabilities is the creation of new genomes, biological pathways, or organisms not found in nature.
  • The second of these capabilities is the redesign of existing genes, cells, or organisms. These capabilities allow for the manufacture of novel products, and also new approaches to existing disciplines (such as gene therapy in healthcare).
  • Biomanufacturing and synthetic biology promise tremendous societal benefits. At the same time, they have raised concerns about potential biosafety risks to workers and to society in general.

Scope of biomanufacturing in India

  • In 2021-22, the Indian Bioeconomy sector contributed nearly 2.6% share in India’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
  • Due to the expanding enabling ecosystem, the number of biotech start-ups in the nation has surged from 50 to over 5,300 in the last ten years.
    • Biotech start-ups emerging from a robust talent pool are predicted to further double, exceeding more than 10,000 by 2025. In 2021, BT Cotton, Biopesticides, Biostimulants, and Biofertilizers contributed around US$ 10.48 billion to the country’s bioeconomy.
  • India was one of the first countries to establish a Biotechnology Department. The Indian biotech industry is expected to grow significantly because of rising economic prosperity, increased health consciousness, and a billion-plus population base.
  • In the Union Budget 2023-24, the Department of Biotechnology (DBT) was allotted US$ 162.7 million (Rs. 1,345 crore).
  • The national initiative “Fostering High Performance Biomanufacturing: An integrated approach towards promoting Circular Economy for Green, Clean and Prosperous India” has been proposed by the Department of Biotechnology.
    • This initiative’s foundation is made up of advanced biotechnology tools such as synthetic biology, gene editing, metabolic engineering, and so on.
    • It is believed that building a biomanufacturing program’s capacity for synthetic biology requires a robust national infrastructure platform.

Conclusion

Biomanufacturing has enormous potential because it’s flexible to innovation, energy efficient, and produces less pollution. It is vital to develop a national strategy for biomanufacturing advancement in order to improve our country’s scientific and economic competitiveness.

The expansion of start-ups and the advancement of research would be aided by an increase in the number of biotech incubators, which is essential for the success of the Indian biotech industry. The biotechnology industry has the ability to offer a variety of solutions for problems in several fields like health, agriculture, the environment, energy, and industrial processes, mostly because of its multidisciplinary approach.

 

10. India faces numerous challenges related to energy security, environmental sustainability, and rural development. Biogas, as a renewable energy source, offers multiple benefits and solutions to address these challenges. To maximize the benefits it offers, India’s compressed biogas sector requires significant support and promotion. Discuss.

Reference: Down to EarthInsights on India

Introduction

Biogas is produced through a biochemical process in which certain types of bacteria convert the biological wastes into useful bio-gas. Biogas is produced when bio-degradable organic materials/wastes such as cattle-dung, biomass from farms, gardens, kitchens, industry, poultry droppings, night soil and municipals wastes are subjected to a scientific process, called Anaerobic Digestion (A.D.) in a Biogas Plants.

Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman announced 500 new ‘waste to wealth’ plants for promoting a circular economy with a total investment of Rs 10,000 crore under the GOBAR-Dhan scheme in her budget speech in February 2023 in the Parliament.

According to a report by ETAC (Expert Committee on Compressed Biogas), it highlights the potential of compressed biogas as a clean and sustainable fuel but emphasizes the need for a strong push to realize its benefits fully.

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Potential of Biogas in India’s energy transition

  • Biogas burns without smoke; hence no harmful gas such as CO2, CO, NO2, and SO2are evolved.
  • It is considered as a renewable source of energy because the production is dependent on the generation of waste which is an endless process.
  • Only 26.53 per cent of the total power generated in India is from renewable sources, according to estimates. The high dependence on non-renewable sources is the leading cause of the long-standing energy problems in the country.
  • As the country aims to provide energy security to every citizen, biogas can play a critical role in transforming the energy dependence of rural and agricultural communities, which majorly depends on burning wood, dung, charcoal, coal and other fossil fuels for their energy needs.
  • Installing biogas plants at the micro- and macro-level can address the critical issues of handling livestock manure and agricultural wastes, deteriorating soil quality, water pollution and deforestation.
  • A fully functional biogas digester, for every tonne of feedstock processed, can reduce approximately 2.83 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions in a year.
  • Using biogas digesters to convert organic waste into clean energy can significantly contribute to countering challenges like pollution, climate change, livelihood inequalities and health in individual households as well as entire communities and promote India’s energy transition.

Challenges in biogas

  • Poor Support to sector
    • Although current biogas plants can meet some energy needs, many governments are unwilling to invest in the sector.
  • Refining process issues
    • Impurities remain in biogas after refinement and compression.
  • Corrodes automobile engines & appliances
    • Use of Biogas in automobiles can corrode the engine’s metal parts.
    • Corrosion would result in higher maintenance costs.
    • The gaseous mixture is far more appropriate for kitchen stoves, water boilers, and lamps.
  • Lack of Technological Advances
    • There is lack of a new technology that can simplify the process, make it accessible, and reduce the cost of doing so.
    • Thus, large-scale production to meet the needs of a large population is still impossible.
  • Temperature Limitation
    • Biogas generation, like other renewable energy sources (such as solar and wind), is influenced by the weather.
    • The ideal temperature for bacteria to digest waste is around 37°C.
    • Digesters in cold climates require heat energyto maintain a constant biogas supply. Hence its use is limited to warm regions.
  • Suitability for Metropolitan Areas
    • Another disadvantage is that industrial biogas plants only make sense where raw materials (food waste, manure) are abundant.
    • As a result, biogas generation is much better suited to rural and suburban areas. The material used in biogas generation emit bad smells.
    • Hence it is necessary that the plants are sufficiently far from the inhabited areas
  • Logistics
    • If the plant is located far away, suitable means of transport will be needed to transport the raw materials and the final product. This will add to costs and emissions.
    • To power a 1MW power plant, at least 300 hectares of land is required, as minimum usable area. Large quantities of land must therefore be available, which poses a challenge in urban areas.

Way forward

  • Generating wealth from waste in rural areas will require the involvement of all actors and sectors, Investments from the private sector and local entrepreneurs will be needed.
  • Panchayats and village communities will have to play key roles to leverage the animal and organic waste that goes into water bodies, dumping sites and landfills.
  • Informal sanitation service providers can be integrated into the system by training and licencing them.
  • With appropriate policy interventions the sector can be scaled up into opportunities for growth, leading to increased incomes, long-term livelihoods and, of course, more Swachh villages.

Conclusion

Biogas can prove to be a sustainable alternative to fossil fuels. It is an ideal source to ensure energy security in the rural areas. It can also contribute to decarbonization of the agriculture sector through conversion of methane. There is a need to invest in new technologies that can help scale up the use of Biogas in urban areas. This can help in achieving the climate targets in the long run.


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