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[Mission 2024] Insights SECURE SYNOPSIS: 28 July 2023

 

NOTE: Please remember that following ‘answers’ are NOT ‘model answers’. They are NOT synopsis too if we go by definition of the term. What we are providing is content that both meets demand of the question and at the same


General Studies – 1


 

Topic: History of the world will include events from 18th century such as industrial revolution, world wars, redrawal of national boundaries, colonization, decolonization, political philosophies like communism, capitalism, socialism etc.— their forms and effect on the society.

1. The Cold War had a profound impact on global geopolitics and resulted in numerous conflicts, alliances, and shifting power dynamics across the world. Analyse. (250 words)

Difficulty level: Easy

Reference: Insights on India

Why the question:

The question is part of the static syllabus of General studies paper – 1 and mentioned as part of Mission-2024 Secure timetable.

Key Demand of the question:

There were different arenas (Korea, Vietnam, etc.) of the cold war. Apart from these different arenas, mention the different fields (ex: space race, sports) in which the cold war played out.

Directive:

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

Structure of the answer:

Introduction:

Begin your answer by defining cold war.

Body:

First write about the different fields in which the cold war ended up playing out – diplomacy, espionage, space race and propaganda etc.

Next, write about weaponised aspects of the cold war – weapons race, the different places where the two superpowers technically battled each other (Korea, Vietnam etc.).

Write about the impact of the above.

Conclusion:

Conclude by Summarising.

Introduction

Cold war was a sequence of events after the World War II (1939-45) till the disintegration of the USSR in 1991, whereby the two super powers, USA and USSR, competed for hegemony in domains of economy, science and technology, politics and military. Each side adopted policies to strengthen itself and weaken the other falling short of an actual war.

Body

Various domains of cold war

  • Ideologies: Nations in theSoviet and Chinese spheres were governed by They also featured command economies, in which production and distribution is rigidly controlled by the government.
    • US-led block was the capitalist block which stood for liberal values of democracy and freedom. They saw communism as a threat to the liberal world.
  • NATO vs Warsaw Pact:US formed NATO (1949) after the West Berlin Blockade because the capitalist bloc found itself unprepared for a military conflict.
    • Warsaw pact (1955) was initiated by USSR in response to NATOadmitting West Germany.
    • It was signed by USSR and all satellite states except Yugoslavia.
    • Under Warsaw Pact, the members promised to defend each other against any attack from outside and the armies of all members came under overall control of Moscow.
  • Arms race began in earnest when USSR developed the Atomic Bomb in 1949.
    • Thereafter, US planned and produced the much more powerful Hydrogen Bomb.
    • By 1953, USSR also caught up and developed the Hydrogen Bomb.
  • Space race:Space exploration served as another dramatic arena for Cold War competition. Russia launched its first satellite in 1957, called Sputnik.
    • In 1959, the Soviet space program took another step forward with the launch of Luna 2, the first space probe to hit the moon.
    • In April 1961, the Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin became the first person to orbit Earth, traveling in the capsule-like spacecraft Vostok 1.
    • December 1968 saw the launch of Apollo 8, thefirst manned space mission to orbit the moon. By landing on the moon, the United States effectively “won” the space race that had begun with Sputnik’s launch in 1957.

Cold War manifestation across the world

  • Berlin Wall erection and blockade: After WWII, Germany wasdivided into the Soviet-occupied, communist East and the Ally-occupied, democratic West.
    • Though this division was initially administrative, the nation split into separate states (West Germany and East Germany) in 1949.
    • Immediately preceding the division of Germany was the year-longBerlin blockade. The aim of the blockade was to starve the West Germans, but this was overcome by Allies through airlifting supplies.
    • Berlin Wall was erected, which was called the descent of the iron curtain and start of cold war.
  • Korean War of 1950- 1953: After World War II, Korea was divided into the Soviet-backed North and US-backed South.
    • A Northern invasion of the South sparked the Korean War (1950-53), in which the South was supported by a US-led UN coalition.
    • Just when this coalition had taken most of the Korean Peninsula, China joined the USSR in support of the North, driving the Americans back southward to the 38th parallel;this line has served as the boundary between the two Koreas ever since.
  • Vietnam War:The most prolonged and destructive Cold War conflict was the Vietnam War (1954-75). Post war the nation was divided into the communist, USSR/China-backed North and non-communist, US-backed South.
    • The US resorted to brutal campaigns ofcarpet bombing (area bombing) and defoliation (destruction of foliage, typically with napalm or herbicides).
    • Yet even these extreme measures failed.
    • The US ultimately withdrewNorthVietnam invaded the South, and the nation was Millions had been killed
  • Cuban Missile Crisis:The apex of Cold War tension was the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962, when the US discovered that Russia was building nuclear launch sites in Cuba.
    • President Kennedy ordered anaval blockade of the island, and for a few days nuclear war seemed imminent. reunited under communist
    • An agreement was reached, however, in which Khrushchev removed the weapons from Cubain exchange for the American removal of warheads in Turkey, as well as a guarantee against future American invasion of Cuba
  • Afghan invasion by Soviet: The foremost conflict of the late Cold War was the Soviet War in Afghanistan (1979-89), in which Soviet forces attempted to defend the reigning communist government of Afghanistan from anti-communist guerrillas.
    • The guerrillas, furnished with weapons and funding provided by the USand sympathetic Muslim nations, maintained a bloody stalemate throughout the conflict (such that this war has been dubbed the “Soviet Vietnam”).
    • The guerrillas toppled the communist government a few years after the Soviet withdrawal.

Conclusion

The cold war was a period of hostilities between nations who were aligned with the two blocs. Post-cold-war American supremacy remained for a long time, making it a unipolar world. Today Russia is no longer a major threat to USA. China’s rise in the past two decades is a simmering conflict in the waiting. The friction between USA and China has been touted as the Cold war 2.0

 

Topic: History of the world will include events from 18th century such as industrial revolution, world wars, redrawal of national boundaries, colonization, decolonization, political philosophies like communism, capitalism, socialism etc.— their forms and effect on the society.

2. Mao Zedong’s emphasis on Marxism-Leninism and his vision for a socialist society were evident in his reformist policies after the Chinese Civil War. Elucidate. (250 words)

Difficulty level: Tough

Reference: Mastering World History by Norman Lowe

Why the question:

The question is part of the static syllabus of General studies paper – 1 and mentioned as part of Mission-2024 Secure timetable.

Key Demand of the question:

The problems China faced following the Communist victory over KMT in 1949, and the measures introduced by Mao to address them.

Directive:

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

Structure of the answer:

Introduction:

Begin by writing that an important reason why the CCP had emerged victorious was that it had a large following among the masses.

Body:

Write what the problems facing China and its people were, then how Mao attempted to resolve them.

Next, write about measures introduced by Mao based on principles of Marx and Lenin – land reforms, collectivization, and rapid industrialization. He initiated campaigns like the Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution to accelerate socialist transformation.

Next, Mention the positive as well as negative impact of the same.

Conclusion:

End your answer by highlighting some of the changes introduced by Deng Xiaoping upon his ascendancy.

Introduction

Mao Zedong became the Chairman of the Chinese Communist Party in 1945. From 1945 until 1949, the war had been reduced to two parties; the CPC and the KMT. The model adopted by China was similar to that of Russia till 1958.

Body

  • Great Leap Forward (1958): Maoism manifested in the form of the Great Leap Forward initiated by Mao after the criticism he faced during the 100 Flowers Campaign.
  • During the100 Flowers Campaign initiated to allow people to elicit their views, many people began to criticize the party and demanded transition to a democracy.
    • Mao realized that he needed to take steps to protect the communist revolution and increase economic prosperity of the common man to rouse their belief in communism.
  • The majority of the population in China were peasants. Thus the Great Leap Forward aimed at focusing more on agricultural growth without abandoning Industrial growth and at saving the communist revolution.
  • With the Great Leap Forward, Chinese Communism drifted away from the Russian model:
    • GLF implied that China would focus on having a largely agricultural economy with gradual industrialization.
    • It desired a labour-intensive economy and reduced use of machinery in the factories so that more employment could be provided to the masses.
    • The model of industrialization to be followed was of small-scale industries scattered in the countryside rather than focusing on heavy industries located at a few nodal points.
  • Different from Russian Communism: Mao was against the policy of peaceful co-existence with the West, spelled out by Khrushchev in his
    • 1956 speech. He was also against the use of capitalist measures by USSR and argued that USSR was
    • becoming soft towards capitalism. Mao was against following a capitalist road being taken by Russia.
  • Cultural Revolution (1966-9): This is also known as the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution.
    • It was a massive propaganda campaign launched by Mao to renew revolutionary fervour in his quest for saving the communist revolution, for mobilizing public support in favour of the Great Leap Forward and for keeping the GLF on pure Marxist-Leninist lines.

Conclusion

Mao’s successor Deng Xiaoping was instrumental in China’s economic reconstruction following the crisis caused by the Cultural Revolution. His economic policies stood at odds to the political ideologies of Mao.

Under Deng, China developed into a socialist market economy, via a series of reforms such as opening China to foreign investment, decentralisation of administration and introduction of limited private competition. Deng’s iron-fisted handling of the Tiananmen protests and other pro-democracy protests led to the continuance of communism in China at a time when the global communist order was in crisis in the late 80s.

 

 


General Studies – 2


 

Topic: India and its neighborhood- relations.

3. Diplomatic efforts must be conducted with sensitivity and nuance, as border issues with China can be highly complex and sensitive, requiring careful navigation to avoid exacerbating the situation. Analyse. (250 words)

Difficulty level: Tough

Reference: Indian Express ,  Insights on India

Why the question:

The article reports that Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping had a conversation after the Galwan Valley clash between Indian and Chinese troops in June 2020.

Key Demand of the question:

To write about the way in which India has to balance and manage its relationship with China.

Directive word: 

Analyse – When asked to analyse, you must examine methodically the structure or nature of the topic by separating it into component parts and present them in a summary.

Structure of the answer:

Introduction: 

Begin by giving context regarding the Indo-China situation.

Body:

Present Background on recent India-China relations – Ruptured bilateral relationship, Political relations are marked by hostility and distrust etc.

Next, write about the ways to achieve fine balance in Indo-China relations –  A combination of diplomacy and military strength can demonstrate a unified and firm stand against any encroachments or attempts to alter the status quo, reinforcing the nation’s resolve to protect its borders.

Conclusion:

Conclude with a way forward.

Introduction

India-China relationship is dotted with competition, cooperation, and discord. China’s attempt to raise its economic and political profile in the subcontinent was seen as a challenge to India’s authority in the region. India’s military engagements with the U.S. and Japan (China’s main strategic rivals) were seen as a serious challenge to Chinese security.

Likewise, China increased its aggression towards India in recent times, reaching the peak with the Galwan Valley clash in 2020. The disengagement is still in the work and is ongoing.

 

Body

India China border dispute

  • The border between India and China is not clearly demarcated throughout and there is no mutually agreed Line of Actual Control (LAC).
  • The LAC is the demarcation that separates Indian-controlled territory from Chinese-controlled territory. India considers the LAC to be 3,488 km long, while the Chinese consider it to be only around 2,000 km.
  • India used the Johnson Line and claimed Aksai Chin as its own. China, however, do not recognise it and instead accepts McDonald Line which puts Aksai Chin under its control.
  • The disputed boundary in the Eastern Sector (Arunachal Pradesh and Sikkim) is over the McMahon Line (in Arunachal Pradesh) decided in 1914 in a meeting of Representatives of China, India, and Tibet in Shimla.
  • Though the Chinese representatives at the meeting initiated the agreement, they subsequently refused to accept it.
  • The Tawang tract claimed by China was taken over by India in 1951.

 

Chinese aggression in recent times

  • Galwan Clash: Chinese soldiers crossed the LAC around the Galwan River valley during May 2020.
  • There were reports of Chinese soldiers having moved into Indian territory at multiple locations in eastern Ladakh across the LAC leading to high levels of tension between India and China.
  • In the events that followed at least 20 Indian soldiers were killed in a clash with Chinese forces. It was the first deadly clash in the border area in at least 45 years.
  • China’s dominance in the South China Sea and its policy of “Debt-Trap diplomacy”, “Island-encirclement” and “String of Pearls” show that there is no adherence to morality.
  • India-China fault lines: At the Galwan Valley in Ladakh, China has violated the status quo intruding into territory that is clearly on the Indian side of the Line of Actual Control, or LAC.
  • Taiwan-China conflict: Island encirclement against Taiwan and forceful takeover are becoming more of a reality considering Chinese navy and air force activities in the region.
  • Hong-Kong unrest: The ‘one country two systems’ in Hong Kong is dead and with it, the pretence that the same could be applied for the peaceful unification of Taiwan.
  • Eg: Extension of national security law to Hong-Kong and recent warning to Taiwan on possibility of war if it shores up defence weapons.
  • South China Sea: China claims 90% of south China sea as its sovereign territory, continuously terrorising Vietnam, Philippines wrt Paracel and Spratly islands.
  • Belt and Road initiative: It is the 21st century Marshall Plan, through which China aims to dominate the world.
  • String of Pearls: China has security and economic compulsions to develop its bases in India Ocean Region (IOR) to secure its communication lines. Its eagerness to establish China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is to develop strategic communication alternatives
  • Salami Slicing: Continuously nibbling at neighbours’ land, at times even claiming an entire area on some dubious historicity, it successively builds up its military control over areas vital to its overall strategic designs. The annexation of Aksai Chin in the 1950s and repeated Chinese incursions into Indian territory are the executions of the same strategy.

Diplomacy and military resolve to deter China

  • Indo-pacific diplomacy: India is also stepping up its strategic partnership with like-minded Indo-Pacific partners like US, Japan, Australia etc.
  • Thus, we will see a far greater partnership between India and the United States on issues of mutual interest—which is likely to have a substantial China component. O
  • This is seen in India being vocal about recent QUAD meet.
  • Quad-plus: India will also likely look to build greater cooperation through configurations such as the “Quad plus” (expanding the existing grouping of Australia, India, Japan, and the United States to include New Zealand, South Korea, and Vietnam).
  • Indian ocean is the key: New Delhi must invest in and develop its strategic assets—like the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, for instance—to project power across the Indian Ocean.
  • To weather a potential People’s Liberation Army (PLA) attack, India has placed greater emphasis on infrastructure hardening; base resiliency; redundant command, control, and communications systems; and improved air defence.
  • India has grown closer to the US military in recent years, with Washington calling India a “major defence partner” while increasing bi- and multilateral training.
  • In the event of an India-Chin war, US intelligence and surveillance could help New Delhi get a clearer picture of the battlefield

Conclusion and way forward

  • The big picture is that China could no more afford to take India for granted and that ‘checks and balances’ were now recognised as a legitimate instrument for preventing ‘military’ conflicts in the post- Cold War era.
  • Yet, the crisis unfolding along the LAC appears on one level to be a continuation of the trends witnessed in foregoing years.
  • Also, even if the current tensions were to be resolved in the near term, India’s security perceptions about China are forcing India to undertake some force restructuring to maintain constant vigilance along the LAC, especially in the western sector.
  • Thus, India must be proactive to resist any Chinese transgressions and at the same time utilise its diplomatic skills to tone down the tensions.

Value addition

Dispute settlement agreements

  • A series of five agreements signed between India and China to address disputes arising over the LAC:
  • 1993 Agreement on the Maintenance of Peace and Tranquility along the LAC
  • 1996 Agreement on Confidence-Building Measures in the Military Field Along the LAC
  • 2005 Protocol on Modalities for the Implementation of Confidence-Building Measures in the Military Field Along the LAC
  • 2012 Agreement on the Establishment of a Working Mechanism for Consultation and Coordination on India-China Border Affairs
  • 2013 Border Defense Cooperation Agreement.
  • These agreements provide a modus operandi for diplomatic engagement at the military and political levels, as well as a set of “status quo” commitments both sides can return to in case of escalation

 

Topic: Issues relating to poverty and hunger.

4. By adopting a comprehensive approach to poverty measurement, policymakers can develop more effective strategies to alleviate poverty and achieve sustainable development goals in the country. Examine. (250 words)

Difficulty level: Tough

Reference: Live MintInsights on India

Why the question:

The article emphasizes the need for complementary measures like the Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI) and the Human Development Index (HDI), which consider various aspects of deprivation beyond income, such as access to education, healthcare, and living standards.

Key Demand of the question:

To write about the measurement of poverty, reasons for poverty despite poverty alleviation measures and ways to overcome it.

Directive word: 

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

Structure of the answer:

Introduction: 

Begin the answer by giving context.

Body:

First, write about the various ways to measure poverty – National Sample Survey (NSS) based per capita consumption, Income based poverty line, consumption-based poverty line, Poverty line basket, Various committees and international standards etc.

Next, write about the progress made in reducing poverty in India over the past decade, but also the reasons why poverty is still high – high population, income inequality, regional disparities, and vulnerabilities in the informal economy.

Next, write about ways to overcome the above.

Conclusion:

Conclude with a way forward to achieve SDG-1.

Introduction

Poverty is a state or condition in which a person or community lacks the financial resources and essentials for a minimum standard of living. Poverty means that the income level from employment is so low that basic human needs can’t be met. In India, 21.9% of the population lives below the national poverty line in 2011.

The all-India poverty ratio in 2020-21 is 17.9%, compared to 21.9% in 2011-12, with lower poverty in urban India compared to rural India. Poverty ratios have declined over this period, though by not as much as they might have.

 

Body

Different ways to measure poverty in India

  • National Sample Survey (NSS) based per capita consumption: The NSS conducts periodic surveys to collect data on household consumption patterns. The poverty line is estimated based on the minimum level of consumption needed to meet basic needs like food, clothing, and shelter. Households with consumption levels below this threshold are considered poor.
  • VM Dandekar and N Rath (1971), made the first systematic assessment of poverty in India, based on National Sample Survey (NSS) data.
    • Unlike previous scholars who had considered subsistence living or basic minimum needs criteria as the measure of poverty line, VM Dandekar and N Rath were of the view that poverty line must be derived from the expenditure that was adequate to provide 2250 calories per day in both rural and urban areas.
    • Expenditure based Poverty line estimation, generated a debate on minimum calorie consumption norms.
  • Alagh Committee (1979): Task force constituted by the Planning Commission under the chairmanship of YK Alagh, constructed a poverty line for rural and urban areas on the basis of nutritional requirements and related consumption expenditure.
    • Poverty estimates for subsequent years were to be calculated by adjusting the price level for inflation.
  • Lakdawala Committee (1993): Task Force chaired by DT Lakdawala, based on the assumption that the basket of goods and services used to calculate Consumer Price Index-Industrial Workers (CPI-IW) and Consumer Price Index- Agricultural Labourers (CPI-AL) reflect the consumption patterns of the poor, made the following suggestions:
    • Consumption expenditure should be calculated based on calorie consumption as earlier.
    • State specific poverty lines should be constructed and these should be updated using the CPI-IW in urban areas and CPI-AL in rural areas.
    • Discontinuation of scaling of poverty estimates based on National Accounts Statistics.
  • Tendulkar Committee (2009): Expert group constituted by the Planning Commission and, chaired by Suresh Tendulkar, was constituted to review methodology for poverty estimation and to address the following shortcomings of the previous methods:
    • Obsolete Consumption Pattern: Consumption patterns were linked to the 1973-74 poverty line baskets (PLBs) of goods and services, whereas there were significant changes in the consumption patterns of the poor since that time, which were not reflected in the poverty estimates.
    • Inflation Adjustment: There were issues with the adjustment of prices for inflation, both spatially (across regions) and temporally (across time).
    • Health and Education Expenditure: Earlier poverty lines assumed that health and education would be provided by the state and formulated poverty lines accordingly.
  • The Consumer Price Index (CPI) for price changes since 2011-12, to arrive at corresponding poverty lines for 2020-21.
  • PLFS 2020-21 household monthly consumption data: using this the percentage of population living below that poverty line has been estimated.
  • Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI): The MPI takes into account various dimensions of poverty, such as health, education, and standard of living, to provide a more comprehensive view of poverty in India. It identifies individuals or households deprived in multiple aspects simultaneously.
  • Human Development Index (HDI): The HDI is a composite index that includes factors like life expectancy, education, and per capita income. It serves as a broader indicator of human development and welfare, indirectly reflecting poverty levels.

Achievements in poverty alleviation over the years

  • Decline in Extreme Poverty: Extreme poverty in India was 3% points lower in 2019 compared with 2011,as poverty headcount rate declined from 22.5% in 2011 to 10.2% in 2019, with a comparatively sharper decline in rural areas.
  • Slight moderation in consumption inequality since 2011, but by a margin smaller than what is reported in the unreleased National Sample Survey -2017.
  • The extent of poverty reduction during 2015-2019 is estimated to be notably lower than earlier projections based on growth in private final consumption expenditure reported in national account statistics.
  • The World Bank defines “extreme poverty” as living on less than USD 1.90 per person per day.
  • Rural vs Urban Poverty: Poverty reduction washigher in rural areas compared with urban Indiaas rural poverty declined from 26.3% in 2011 to 11.6% in 2019, while in urban areas the decline was from 14.2% to 6.3% in the corresponding period.
  • Rural and urban poverty dropped by 7 and 7.9% points during 2011-2019.
  • Urban poverty in India rose by 2% in 2016, coinciding with the demonetisation, and rural poverty rose by 10% in 2019.
  • Small Farmers: Smallholder farmers have experienced higher income growth.Real incomes for farmers with the smallest landholdings have grown by 10% in annualized terms between the two survey rounds (2013 and 2019) compared to a 2% growth for farmers with the largest landholding.
  • The growth in incomes of smallest landholders in rural areas provides more evidence of moderation in income disparity in rural areas.
  • Smallest landholders comprise a larger share of the poor population.This income includes wages, net receipt from crop production, net receipt from farming of animal farming and net receipt from non-farm business. Income from leasing out land has been exempted.

 

Measures needed to alleviate poverty and achieve SDG goals

  • Immediate support package will need to quickly reach both the existing and new poor.
    • While existing safety net programs can be mobilized to get cash into the pockets of some of the existing poor relatively quickly, this is not the case for the new poor.
    • In fact, the new poor are likely to look different from the existing poor, particularly in their location (mostly urban) and employment (mostly informal services, construction, and manufacturing).
    • The identification of poor and vulnerable groups is need of the hour.
    • India should consider fixing a universal basic income in the post-Covid period through a combination of cash transfers, expansion of MGNREGA, and introduction of an urban employment guarantee scheme
  • Employment generation for the masses: A large fiscal stimulus along with intermediate informal employment insurgency through MGNREGA and other employment generation programmes are urgent to rein the adverse impact of covid-19 on the welfare of the masses.
  • Multilateral global institutions must support the developing nations: Oxfam is calling on world leaders to agree on an Emergency Rescue Package of 2.5 trillion USD paid for through the immediate cancellation or postponement of 1 trillion in debt repayments, a 1 trillion increase in IMF Special Drawing Rights (international financial reserves), and an additional 500 billion in aid.
  • An effective response in support of poor and vulnerable households will require significant additional fiscal resources.
    • Providing all the existing and new extreme poor with a cash transfer of $1/day (about half the value of the international extreme poverty line) for a month would amount to $20 billion —or $665 million per day over 30 days.
    • Given that impacts are likely to be felt by many non-poor households as well and that many households are likely to need support for much longer than a month, the sum needed for effective protection could be far higher.
  • Decision-makers need timely and policy-relevant information on impacts and the effectiveness of policy responses.
    • This can be done using existing, publicly available data to monitor the unfolding economic and social impacts of the crisis, including prices, service delivery, and economic activity, as well as social sentiment and behaviours.
    • In addition, governments can use mobile technology to safely gather information from a representative sample of households or individuals.
    • Phone surveys can collect information on health and employment status, food security, coping strategies, access to basic services and safety nets and other outcomes closely related to the risk of falling (further) into poverty.

 

Conclusion and way forward

  • The Global Multidimensional Poverty Index-2018released by the UN noted that 271 million people moved out of poverty between 2005-06 and 2015-16 in India. The poverty rate in the country has nearly halved, falling from 55% to 28% over the ten-year period. Still a big part of the population in India is living Below the Poverty Line.
  • Rapid economic growth and the use of technology for social sector programs have helped make a significant dent in extreme poverty in the country.
  • Despite rapid growth and development, an unacceptably high proportion of our population continues to suffer from severe and multidimensional deprivation. Thus, a more comprehensive and inclusive approach is required to eradicate poverty in India.

 

Value addition

Poverty : A massive challenge in India

  • Population Explosion: India’s population has steadily increased through the years. During the past 45 years, it has risen at a rate of 2.2% per year, which means, on average, about 17 million people are added to the country’s population each year. This also increases the demand for consumption goods tremendously.
  • Low Agricultural Productivity: A major reason for poverty in the low productivity in the agriculture sector. The reason for low productivity is manifold. Chiefly, it is because of fragmented and subdivided land holdings, lack of capital, illiteracy about new technologies in farming, the use of traditional methods of cultivation, wastage during storage, etc.
  • Inefficient Resource utilisation: There is underemployment and disguised unemployment in the country, particularly in the farming sector. This has resulted in low agricultural output and also led to a dip in the standard of living.
  • Low Rate of Economic Development: Economic development has been low in India especially in the first 40 years of independence before the LPG reforms in 1991.
  • Price Rise: Price rise has been steady in the country and this has added to the burden the poor carry. Although a few people have benefited from this, the lower income groups have suffered because of it, and are not even able to satisfy their basic minimum wants.
  • Unemployment: Unemployment is another factor causing poverty in India. The ever-increasing population has led to a higher number of job-seekers. However, there is not enough expansion in opportunities to match this demand for jobs.

 

 


General Studies – 3


 

Topic: Effects of liberalization on the economy.

5.  The European Union’s Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism could have significant implications for Indian exports. Examine. (250 words)

Difficulty level: Tough

Reference: Indian Express

Why the question:

The European Union’s (EU) recent announcement of a gradual implementation of the carbon border adjustment mechanism (CBAM) is viewed as a resurgence of frictions in an inherently unequal trading system

Key Demand of the question:

To write about CBAM, its potential impact on exports and measures needed to mitigate it.

Directive:

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

Structure of the answer:

Introduction: 

Begin the answer by defining CBAM and objective behind its imposition.

Body:

In the first part, write the about the potential impact of CBAM on India exports – affect carbon-intensive sectors such as steel, cement, and aluminium. make goods more expensive in the EU market, potentially reducing demand and harming Indian producers, trade disputes between India and the EU etc.

Next, write about the steps India must take to mitigate its impact – reducing carbon emissions, engaging in dialogue with the EU, and exploring alternative markets.

Conclusion:

Conclude by writing a way forward.

Introduction

‘Carbon border tax’ can be defined as a penalty tax to discourage import of carbon-intensive goods such as steel, aluminium, cement, fertilizers and electricity via carbon border adjustment mechanism (CBAM). The aim is to help slash the EU’s overall greenhouse gas emissions 55% below 1990 levels by 2030.

The European Union’s (EU) recent announcement of a gradual implementation of the carbon border adjustment mechanism (CBAM) is viewed as a resurgence of frictions in an inherently unequal trading system. The EU Commission is pushing for the world’s first carbon border tax on imported goods. It plans to levy the tax in a phased manner from 2026.

Body

Background:

  • The 27-member European Union (EU) has been ramping up its climate action efforts with the European Parliament, the bloc’s legislative body, adopting a rapid pace in climate negotiations.
  • Earlier this month, it voted to approve a sweeping deal to reform the EU’s carbon market to cut emissions by 62% from 2005 levels by 2030.
  • The carbon market mechanism has helped slashed power plant and factory emissions by 43% since 2005.
  • The new reform, however, will phase out free CO2 permits to factories by 2034.
  • Along with this phasing out of free carbon allowances, the EU will phase in another ambitious and first-of-its-kind policy— the Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism (CBAM), aimed at levelling the playing field for EU and non-EU manufacturers and spurring trading partners to adopt carbon pricing regimes as a critical approach to the climate fight.
  • It aims to ‘incentivize’ greener manufacturing around the world and to protect European industries from outside competitors who can manufacture products at a lower cost as they are not charged for their carbon emission during the manufacturing processes.
  • So, the carbon border tax is an indirect attempt to force emerging economies, including India, to adopt cleaner (non-fossil fuel-based) practices to manufacture goods.

Impact on global market

  • This makes operating within the EU expensive for certain businesses, which, the EU authorities fear, might prefer to relocate to countries that have more relaxed or no emission limits.
  • This is known as ‘carbon leakage’ and it increases the total emissions in the world.
  • trading partners such the United States, China, Russia and developing countries including India, have opposed the measure, describing it as unilateral, “protectionist” and even a trade weapon.
  • China, the world’s biggest greenhouse gas emitter, has opposed the CBAM as a trade barrier, while it is also planning to develop its own emissions trading market.
  • China has asked the EU to justify its incoming carbon border tax at the WTO , a move that indicates it may raise issues with the law in Geneva’s trade courts.
  • Russia, the second-biggest exporter of steel to the EU, said the mechanism raise the prices of key commodities such as rolled steel and aluminum, meanwhile, its exports to the bloc have recently declined because of the war in Ukraine.

Impacts on India:

  • As per data from the commerce ministry, India’s third-largest trading partner, the EU accounts for 11.1% of India’s total global trade.
  • By increasing the prices of Indian-made goods in the EU, this tax would make Indian goods less attractive for buyers and could shrink demand.
  • The tax would create serious near-term challenges for companies with a large greenhouse gas footprint–and a new source of disruption to a global trading system already impacted by tariff wars, renegotiated treaties, and rising protectionism.
  • A levy of $30 per metric ton of CO2 emissions could reduce the profit for foreign producers by about 20% if the price for crude oil remained at $30-40 per barrel.

Long term impacts on India:

  • The carbon tax mechanism may spur adoption of cleaner technologies.
  • But without adequate assistance for newer technologies and finance, it would amount to levying taxes on developing countries.
  • It is currently unclear how the EU would assess emissions of an imported product.
  • There are many small businesses that will face difficulty in quantifying their emissions.
  • And the additional costs will be passed on to the consumers, eventually.
  • Also, possibly, the tax could discourage sectors and industries that are already adopting cleaner technologies.
  • In that case, it becomes another procedural and compliance hassle, and prove to be counterproductive.

Way forward:

  • The EU is a market that India needs to nurture and protect. Currently, India has surplus in both trade and services with the EU.
  • India should talk to the EU bilaterally to ensure that its exports with the latter are protected either through an Free Trade Agreement or by other means and if there are adjustments and standards that India needs to meet then it should look forward to fulfilling it.
  • India is not an exporter of cement or fertilizers to the EU and on steel and aluminium too, it is relatively smaller than other countries.
  • India is not the target of this policy of the EU, the target is Russia, China and Turkey which are large emitters of carbon and major exporters of steel and aluminium to the EU.
  • There is little reason for India to be at the forefront of the opposition. It should rather talk directly to the EU and bilaterally settle the issue.
  • China has always followed the policy of ‘Keep Preparing While Protesting’.
  • It is talking about protesting against the carbon border tax. But side by side, it has already started its own carbon trading system also claiming it to be the largest.
  • If the EU in future imposes this tax, India will be badly affected by it if it doesn’t set up its own carbon trading system.
  • India shall not be caught off guard in 2026 if the tax is imposed, it shall prepare for the best as well as the worst.
  • India may not have a carbon trading system but its energy taxes if converted into carbon equivalents would rank as very high.
  • India already has measures of climate change mitigation in the country, it just needs to convert them, devise them in ways which are compatible with important markets of India.
  • The BASIC countries and other significant developing countries shall follow the policy of collective persuasion at the global meetings for finding alternatives for climate change mitigation rather than implementing such a policy.

Conclusion

A mechanism like Carbon Border Tax for charging imported goods at borders may spur adoption of cleaner technologies. But if it happens without adequate assistance for newer technologies and finance, it would rather become disadvantageous for the developing countries. As far as India is concerned, it must assess the advantages and disadvantages that it is likely to face with the imposition of this tax and talk to the EU with a bilateral approach.

 

 


General Studies – 4


 

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

6. Fortitude encourages public servants to treat others with respect and civility, even in the face of disagreement or hostility. It helps maintain a conducive and respectful environment for constructive dialogue and collaboration. Discuss. (150 words)

Difficulty level: Moderate

Why the question:

The question is part of the static syllabus of General studies paper – 4 and part of ‘Abstract Thursdays’ in Mission-2024 Secure.

Key Demand of the question:

To write about the importance of fortitude.

Directive:

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

Structure of the answer:

Introduction:

Start by defining fortitude.

Body:

Explain how Fortitude is firmness of spirit, especially in difficulty. It provides for constancy in the pursuit of virtue. Fortitude is a willingness to freely go beyond the call of duty, to make sacrifices, to act on your convictions. Fortitude includes the courage to confront our personal weaknesses and attraction to vice. Substantiate with examples.

Conclusion:

Conclude by summarising.

Introduction

Fortitude is firmness of spirit, especially in difficulty. It provides for constancy in the pursuit of virtue. Fortitude is a willingness to freely go beyond the call of duty, to make sacrifices, to act on your convictions. Fortitude includes the courage to confront our personal weaknesses and attraction to vice.

Body

Any individual engaged in public service will face multiple challenges in the fulfilment of their goals.

Fortitude is a display of courage in a difficult situation. E.g.: A situation where a disaster like an earthquake has taken place requires immense fortitude. This attitude ensures peace and attracts positivity. It leads to courageous people coming out to face the truth.

Civil service involves decision-making in the public sphere. They have to deal with many matters that are anonymous and discrete. Due to this, fortitude is an eminent desirable quality in civil servants.

E.g.: Kiran Bedi, IPS officer sent a traffic challan to the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi as the latter’s vehicle was parked wrongly.

A person with fortitude will not give up easily, and despite disappointing results or setbacks, will continually fight to improve the system.  adversities could be in form of “dilemmas”, “conflicts of interests”, “sound decision making”, “to face fake cases against an honest officer”, “time management”, “striking a balance between personal and professional life”, “to fight corruption”.

E.g: Ashok Khemka, an IAS officer undertook case against business mafia head-on despite the fear to his life and limb.

Conclusion

All the virtues exist as forms of balance, and so must be carefully distinguished from the various excesses which threaten to substitute for virtue. This is especially true in the case of fortitude, with can easily degenerate into extremes of brashness or cowardice.

 

Topic: Utilization of public funds;

7. Transparency acts as a deterrent to corruption and embezzlement of public funds. Justify. (150 words)

Difficulty level: Easy

Why the question:

The question is part of the static syllabus of General studies paper – 4 and part of ‘Abstract Thursdays’ in Mission-2024 Secure.

Key Demand of the question:

To explain how transparency associated with utilization of public funds of the country will improve it efficacy.

Directive:

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

Structure of the answer:

Introduction:

Discuss the importance of transparency and accountability in public funds.

Body:

Explain the lacunae in the country with respect to utilization of public funds such as corruption, nepotism, incomplete works, bad quality work, siphoning funds etc.

Discuss the significance of Transparency and efficiency as tools for monitoring and supervising distribution of public fund.

Explain various mechanisms through which it can be done – Public Fund Management System, Auditing agencies – CAG, Budgeting – Outcome based budgeting, zero base budgeting, Participation and transparency – Social Auditing, Financial Prudence etc.

Conclusion:

Summarize of this will aid in the developmental process of the country as well as reduce corrupt practices.

Introduction

Transparency is a fundamental requirement for the reliability and integrity of public institutions in order to promote public trust and public support. Transparency in public administration guarantees legal assurance and increases the level of legitimacy in decision making process.

‘Public money ought to be touched with the most scrupulous conscientiousness of honour. It is not the produce of riches only, but of the hard earnings of labour and poverty.’ – Thomas Paine

Kautilya also wrote extensively on handling public funds in Arthashastra which remains relevant even today. Government and public funds are riddled with corruption and only complete accountability and transparency can rid us of this situation.

Body

Importance of Transparency in the utilisation of public funds

  • It is vital to uphold the ‘social contract’. Citizens must be confident that they are protected by the law and that public institutions and servants will act in accordance with it.
  • Public institutions with operational independence from political control are more likely to be trusted to act in the public interest.
  • well-informed population is far more likely to be confident about investing for the future. This means both providing appropriate information in ways that are accessible and easy to understand, and educating citizens as well as inviting them to participate in decision making.
  • Effective public financial management requires that decision-makers, citizens and other stakeholders, are able to ‘follow the money’ to see how taxes were raised, why decisions to spend it were made, how the money was actually spent and what was bought.
  • Where government plans and activities are measured against expected outputs and outcomes, citizens and other stakeholders will be able to judge the performance of government. This, in turn, provides the basis for feedback and continuous improvement mechanisms.
  • For the public to believe that public officials will do the right thing, a range of controls to promote integrity and ethical behaviour and to tackle fraud and corruption are required.
  • Most importantly, the public must believe that individuals will be held responsible for their actions, no matter who they are.
  • A climate for investment is created when investors believe a state is stable, well run and that political and fiscal risks will be managed effectively.

Conclusion

Only transparency and accountability can ensure that public funds are being used for the greater welfare and benefit of the people and society. Weeding out corruption is also necessary to ensure funds are not underutilised or siphoned off illegally. Only when we bring in more openness in working of government can there be real productivity and good governance.


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