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[Mission 2024] Insights SECURE SYNOPSIS: 12 September 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: Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the Centre and States and the performance of these schemes; mechanisms, laws, institutions and Bodies constituted for the protection and betterment of these vulnerable sections.

1. Evaluate the effectiveness of the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA), 2005 and identify the challenges that must be addressed to enhance its performance? (250 words)

Difficulty level: Easy

Reference: Insights on India

Why the question:

The question is part of the static syllabus of General studies paper – 3 and mentioned as part of Mission-2024 Secure timetable.

Key Demand of the question:

To critically write about the performance of MGNREGA and ways to improve its performance.

Directive word: 

Evaluate – When you are asked to evaluate, you have to 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. There is scope for forming an opinion here.

Structure of the answer:

Introduction: 

Give brief introduction of aims and objectives of MGNREGA.

Body:

First, in brief, write about the salient features of NGNREGA.

Next, write about the successes and limitations of MGNREGA since its inception. Cite examples and statistics to substantiate.

Next, write about the measures that are needed to overcome the above-mentioned limitations.

Conclusion:

Conclude with way forward.

Introduction

The MGNREGA was launched in 2006 in order to provide at least 100 days of guaranteed employment to rural households. It is the largest scheme run by the Ministry of Rural Development (MoRD).

An internal study commissioned by the Ministry of Rural Development has argued for decentralisation of the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS), allowing for more “flexibility” at the ground level.

Body

How has MGNREGA fared so far?

  • MGNREGA works have demonstrably strong multiplier effects are yet another reason to improve its implementation.
  • It is a labour programme meant to strengthen participatory democracy through community works. It is a legislative mechanism to strengthen the constitutional principle of the right to life.
  • It has helped in increasing rural household income.
  • It has not only helped in increasing groundwater table in the last one decade, but also agriculture productivity, mainly cereals and vegetables and fodders.
  • The water conservation measures, including farm ponds and dug wells, have made a difference to the lives of the poor.
  • While the scheme was earlier focused on creation of community assets, in the last three years, individual assets have also been emphasised.
  • It has provided goat, poultry and cattle shed as per the need of poor households.
  • One national study found that MGNREGS has created valuable public goods which have augmented rural incomes.
  • Another national study found that, even after deficiencies in implementation, MGNREGS may have improved nutrition outcomes.
  • Even consumption has been shown to improve if MGNREGS is implemented well. A 2018 study of a better-implemented version of MGNREGS in Andhra Pradesh, where there was significantly less leakage or payment delays, estimated that MGNREGS increased income households’ earnings by 13% and decreased poverty by 17%
  • MGNREGS can smoothen food consumption of rural poor by providing them with an alternate source of income during the agricultural lean season.
  • According to a study conducted by New Delhi-based Institute of Economic Growth.
    • there has been an 11 per cent increase in rural household income,
    • 5 per cent increase in cereal productivity and
    • 32 per cent increase in vegetable productivity,

 

Challenges to MGNREGA

  • Low Wage Rate: These have resulted in a lack of interestamong workers making way for contractors and middlemen to take control. Currently, MGNREGA wage rates of 17 states are less than the corresponding state minimum wages. The above study also noted that the MGNREGS wages were far below the market rate in many States, defeating the purpose of acting as a safety net.
  • Case study:At present, the minimum wage of a farm labourer in Gujarat is ₹324.20, but the MGNREGS wage is ₹229. The private contractors pay far more. In Nagaland, the wage is ₹212 per day, which does not take into account the difficult terrain conditions. Similarly, in Jammu and Kashmir, the rate is ₹214 per day. This, the study noted, “is lower than what is offered by private contractors which can go up to to ₹600-₹700 per day”.
  • Insufficient Budget Allocation: The funds have dried up in many States due to lack of sanctions from the Central government which hampers the work in peak season.
  • Payment Delays: Despite Supreme Court orders, various other initiatives and various government orders, nprovisions have yet been worked out for calculation of full wage delays and payment of compensation for the same. The internal study also flagged the frequent delay in fund disbursal, and to deal with it suggested “revolving fund that can be utilised whenever there is a delay in the Central funds”.
  • Case study: In Lower Subansiri district of Arunachal Pradesh, for example, the surveyors found that because of the delay in the material component the beneficiaries ended up buying the construction material themselves to complete the projects. In Himachal Pradesh and Gujarat, the delay in wages was by three or four months and the material component was delayed by six months.
  • Corruption and Irregularities:Funds that reach the beneficiaries are very little compared to the actual funds allocated for the welfare schemes.
  • Discrimination:Frequent cases of discrimination against the women and people from the backwards groups are reported from several regions of the country and a vast number goes unreported.
  • Non-payment of Unemployment Allowance: There is a huge pendency in the number of unemployment allowances being shown in the Management Information System (MIS).
  • Lack of Awareness: People, especially women, are not fully aware of this scheme and its provisions leading to uninformed choices or inability to get the benefits of the scheme.
  • Poor Infrastructure Building: Improper surveillance and lack of timely resourcesresult in the poor quality assets.
  • Non Purposive Spending: MGNREGA has increased the earning capacity of the rural people but the spending pattern of the workers assumes significance because there ishardly any saving out of the wages 
  • Workers penalised for administrative lapses: The ministry withholds wage payments for workers of states that do not meet administrative requirements within the stipulated time period.
  • Too much centralisation weakening local governance: A real-time MIS-based implementation and a centralised payment system has further left the  representatives of the Panchayati Raj Institutions with literally no role in implementation, monitoring and grievance redress of MGNREGA schemes.

Way forward

  • It is evident that the jobs under MGNREGS can only be revived through:
    • Adequate allocation of Budget funds
    • Timely payment for workers
    • Complete decentralisation of the implementation
    • Improving entitlements (wages, compensations and worksite facilities)
    • Allocation for a year should include pending liabilities of previous years.
  • It should also respect the idea of the decentralised planning processes through Gram Sabhas across the country and allow adequate fund allotment as per labour budgets provided by each Gram Panchayats.
  • The government should come up with only one delay-payment report that accounts for the entire time taken and delays during the closure of muster roll and wages credited to workers’ accounts.
  • Also, the MGNREGA payment procedures should be simplified to ensure transparency and accountability.
  • Better coordination must be ensured among various government departments involved.
  • Better mechanism must be provided to allot and measure work.
  • Gender gap in wages under this scheme must be addressed. In this scheme, women earn 22.24% less than their male counterparts.
  • MGNREGA has been implemented for more than a decade now. It is necessary to understand its performance through output indicators like the number of workers, person days of work generated, quantum of assets completed etc.
  • The data collected can be used to compare inter-state and inter-district differences in performance.
  • In addition, MGNREGA must encompass provision for safe working conditions for the beneficiaries, like temperature checks, masks, hand washing facilities, proper hydration etc.

Conclusion

MGNREGA is playing a critical role in providing economic security for the rural population post the COVID-19 crisis. Therefore, the government must take steps to ensure that it is made use of to its fullest extent to address the current economic problems and bringing the economy back on track.

Value addition

Importance of MGNREGA

  • MGNREGA is vital for addressing India’s current problems.
  • It boosts rural demand and ensure economic development of the rural population
  • It seeks to bridge the gap between the rich and the poor.
  • This Act aims to improve the purchasing powerof the rural population by providing them primarily the semi-skilled or unskilled work, especially to those living below the poverty line.
  • This can help solve rural poverty, farmer suicides, unemployment crisis in rural areas etc.
  • Furthermore, it is a scheme that has the potential to undertake progressive measureslike infrastructure development in rural India, improving agricultural productivity through labour-intensive, supportive projects related to water conservation, drought relief measures, flood control etc.
  • This Act is also highly significant because it allows for grass-root level developmentas it is implemented mainly by the Gram Panchayats. It does not allow the involvement of contractors so that the workers under this scheme are not exploited.
  • It also stands out in its worker-centric legislationwith a high emphasis on transparency and accountability.
  • If the government supports this Act, then it can become the solution to the present-day problems like water scarcity, climate change etc.
  • It is demand-driven wage employment schemethat provides additional 50 days of unskilled wage employment during drought/natural calamities.
  • Section 3(4) of the Act allows states/Centre to provide additional days beyond the guaranteed period from their own funds.

 

Topic: Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the Centre and States and the performance of these schemes; mechanisms, laws, institutions and Bodies constituted for the protection and betterment of these vulnerable sections.

2. Examine the issues and challenges faced by the Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups (PVTGs). Suggest additional measures that can be implemented to address their unique needs. (250 words)

Difficulty level: Moderate

Reference: Insights on India

Why the question:

The question is part of the static syllabus of General studies paper – 3 and mentioned as part of Mission-2024 Secure timetable.

Key Demand of the question:

To write about the issues faced by the PVTG and various measures needed to address them.

Directive word: 

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

Structure of the answer:

Introduction: 

Begin by defining PVTGs and cite examples of few.

Body:

First, write about the issues faced by the PVTGs – health problems, poverty, lack of safe drinking water, bad sanitation, lack of health services, superstition, lack of access to development funds and deforestation etc.

Next, write about the various measures taken by the government for the welfare of PVTGs in the country. Write about their successes and limitations.

Conclusion:

Conclude by writing a way forward.

Introduction

Tribal communities are often identified by some specific signs such as primitive traits, distinctive culture, geographical isolation, shyness to contact with the community at large and backwardness. Along with these, some tribal groups have some specific features such as dependency on hunting, gathering for food, having pre-agriculture level of technology, zero or negative growth of population and extremely low level of literacy. These groups are called Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups (PVTGs). 75 tribal groups have been categorized categorized by Ministry of Home Affairs as PVTGs. PVTGs reside in 18 States and UT of A&N Islands.

Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman announced a mission for the welfare of Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups (PVTGs) in the 2023-24 Union Budget February 1, 2023. A fund of Rs 15,000 crore for the next three years has been allocated for the socioeconomic development of the group.

Body

Issues related to their protection:

  • Incoherency in identification: The process of identification of PVTG adopted by the states differs in its methods. The spirit of the direction made by MoTA was loosely considered as a result there has been no uniform principle adopted in identifying the PVTGs.
  • Outdated List: The Anthropological Survey of India observes that the list of PVTG is overlapping and repetitive. For example, the list contains synonyms of the same group such as the Mankidia and the Birhor in Odisha, both of which refer to the same group.
  • Lack of baseline surveys: The Anthropological Survey of India observed 75 PVTGs, base line surveys exists for about 40 groups, even after declaring them as PVTGs. Lack of baseline surveys hinder effective implementation of welfare schemes
  • Unequal Benefits from welfare schemes: In some cases, a PVTG receives benefits only in a few blocks in a district, while the same group is deprived in adjacent blocks. For example, the LanjiaSaora are recognized as a PVTG across Odisha but the micro-projects are established only in two blocks. The rest of the Lanjia Saora are treated among the Scheduled Tribes (STs) and do not receive benefit from these projects.
  • Impact of developmental projects: In 2002, a Standing Committee formed by the MoTA to review the ‘Development of Primitive Tribal Groups,’ shared that the tribal people, especially PVTGs, are worst affected by developmental projects like dams, industries and mines.
  • Denial of land rights: PVTGs have faced systematic alienation from their resources due to conservation purposes-declaration of Reserved Forests and Protected Forests. For example: In 2009, 245 Baiga families were forced out from the Achanakmar Tiger Reserve, when it was notified so under the Project Tiger
  • Livelihood issues: Due to shrinking forests, environmental changes and forest conservation policies, their Non Timber Forest Produce (NTFP) collection is affected. They lack awareness about market value of NTFP and are exploited by middle men.
  • Health Issues: PVTGs suffer from many health problems like anaemia, malaria; gastro-intestinal disorders; micro nutrient deficiency and skin diseases due to poverty, lack of safe drinking water, bad sanitation, lack of health services, superstition and deforestation. Uncontacted tribal group such as the Sentinelese tribe of Andaman are also at the very high risk of contracting diseases in case of contact with outsiders
  • Illiteracy: Though literacy rate among many PVTGs have increased over the past years, it still remains low at 30-40%. Further, poor female literacy is a major concern
  • Vulnerabilities of tribes in Andaman and Nicobar: The fragile tribal communities have been facing expropriation of their ecosystem by outsiders. The outside influences are impacting their land use patterns, use of the sea, overall biodiversity leading to material and non-material changes.

Various measures undertaken for the welfare of PVTG:

  • The Scheme for Development of Primitive Vulnerable Tribal Groups (PVTGs):It is a flexible scheme and covers funding for activities like housing, land distribution, land development, agricultural development, animal husbandry, construction of link roads, installation of non-conventional sources of energy for lighting purpose, social security including Janshree Bima Yojana or any other innovative activity meant for the comprehensive socio-economic development of PVTGs.
  • Priority is also assigned to PVTGs under the schemes of Special Central Assistance (SCA) to Tribal Sub-Scheme (TSS),Grants under Article 275(1) of the Constitution, and Grants-in-aid to Voluntary Organisations working for the welfare of Scheduled Tribes.
  • Each state and the Andaman and Nicobar Islands’ administration, is required to prepare a long term Conservation-cum-Development (CCD) plan, valid for a period of five years for each PVTG within its territory, outlining the initiatives it will undertake, financial planning for the same and the agencies charged with the responsibility of undertaking the same.
  • The Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act 2006 (FRA)recognizes the forest and habitat rights of the PVTGs.

Protection and Statutory rights given to them are:

  • The Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006 (FRA) has a special section regarding the 75 PVGTs and the Act recognises forest and habitat rights of PVTGs.
  • Provisions of the Panchayats (Extension to the Scheduled Areas) Act, 1996 (PESA): It extends Scheduled Areas of India under the purview of national framework of Panchayat. However, this act is not applicable to Jammu and Kashmir, Nagaland, Meghalaya and Mizoram and certain other areas including scheduled and tribal areas.
  • The Sentinelese and other aboriginal tribes of the Andaman& Nicobar Islands are protected under The Andaman and Nicobar (Protection of Aboriginal Tribes) Regulation, 1956
  • Under the Foreigners (Restricted Areas) Order, 1963, the Andaman & Nicobar Islands are a “Restricted Area” in which foreigners with a restricted area permit (RAP) can stay.
  • The habitats of the PVTGs of Andaman and Nicobar Island is protected Tribal Reserve under the Andaman and Nicobar Islands (Protection of Aboriginal Tribes) Regulation, 1956

Way forward:

  • Along with the Census, a proper survey should be conducted to comprehensively capture the data on PVTGs- population enumeration, health status, nutritional level, education, vulnerabilities etc. This would help implement welfare measures better
  • Of the 75 PVTGs, those groups whose population is declining should be clearly identified and survival strategy should be devised
  • PVTGs threatened with relocation of wildlife areas or development projects should be identified and actionable strategies should be devised to prevent the same
  • It is important to recognise the innate connection between PVTGs and their lands and habitats. Therefore, a rights-based approach for development of PVTGs should be adopted
  • Effective, preventive and curative health systems should be developed to address the health issues plaguing PVTGs
  • A massive exercise in creating awareness about PVTG Rights, amongst communities, officials and civil society groups, is needed. It is important to respect their culture, traditions, beliefs and sustainable livelihoods.
  • The government needs to revamp its priorities towards protecting the indigenous tribes of A&N islands from outside influence. India needs to sign the 1989 convention of the ILO, and implement its various policies to protect the rights of the indigenous population.
  • The Government must make efforts to sensitise settlers and outsiders about PVTGs of Andaman and Nicobar Islands

Conclusion

The principles of Tribal Panchsheel must be followed while working for the welfare of PVTGs and they must be allowed to catch up with the mainstream at their own pace. An enabling environment must be created in which communities are empowered to make their own life and livelihood choices and choose their path of development.

 

Topic: India and its neighborhood- relations.

3. Examine the historical context, key dimensions, and current significance of India-Maldives relations in regional geopolitics. (250 words)

Difficulty level: Tough

Reference: Indian ExpressInsights on India

Why the question:

The article discusses the political situation in the Maldives, highlighting the churn and developments in the Indian Ocean nation.

Key Demand of the question:

To critically write about India-Maldives relations, including historical context, main aspects, and their significance in regional geopolitics.

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: 

Provide a brief introduction to India-Maldives relations and their importance in the Indian Ocean region.

Body:

First, in brief, Explore the historical background of India-Maldives relations, including cultural ties, trade links, and diplomatic interactions. Mention significant historical events that have shaped these relations.

Next, write about the key dimensions of India-Maldives relations, such as political, economic, security, and cultural ties. Discuss collaborative efforts in areas like defense, maritime security, and development cooperation.

Next, write about the challenges and opportunities faced by India and Maldives in maintaining strong relations in current times.

Conclusion:

Conclude with way forward.

Introduction

Maldives is strategically located in the Indian Ocean. Maldives archipelago, comprising of 1,200 coral islands, lies next to key shipping lanes which ensure uninterrupted energy supplies to countries like India, China and Japan. Though small, the Maldives is India’s important neighbour and a valued partner in the Indian Ocean neighbourhood.

Body

India-Maldives ties are built on a very strong foundation, the contours of which are defined by shared strategic, security, economic and developmental goals. The evolution of ties between the two countries is as follows:

  • 1965 to 2012:
    • India was among the first to recognise Maldives after its independence in 1965 and to establish diplomatic relations with the country. India established its mission at Malé in 1972.
    • Operation Cactus in 1988:Indian Army’s operation foiled a coup in Maldives that was attempted by a pro-Eelam group. This was a success of India’s foreign policy without signalling any interference in the domestic affairs of a sovereign country.
    • In 2006, Indian Navy gifted a Trinkat Class Fast Attack Craftof 46 m length to Maldives National Defence Force’s Coast Guard.
    • India maintains a naval presencein Maldives, at the request of the Maldives, since 2009.
    • India and  Maldives  have  consistently  supported  each  other  in  multilateral  fora  such  as the UN, the Commonwealth, the NAM and the SAARC.
    • Maldives has pledged its support to Indiaas a permanent member of an expanded UN Security Council.
    • India has offered assistance to Maldives wherever required. After the tsunami that struck Maldives on December 26, 2004, India was the first country to rush relief and aid to Maldives.
    • Relations between India and Maldives came under a strain after Male had terminated the agreement it entered into with GMR in 2010 for the modernisation of the Ibrahim Nasir International Airport.
  • Post 2012:
    • The relations had soured after ex-president Yameen’s serious suppression of democracy with many opposition leaders being jailed under Arson and Sedition. The former pro-India Maldivian presidentNasheed was also incarcerated. Yameen even proclaimed Emergency fearing Impeachment.
    • India had assisted Maldives’ election process by sending its observers, and had also withdrawn observers at one point because the electoral process was neither free nor fair.
    • In March 2015, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi cancelled his state visit to the island nation protesting the gross injustice and authoritarian movesof Yameen.
    • The Maldives also declined India’s invitationto take part in its biennial eight-day naval exercise, MILAN, last year.
    • Maldives is also part of China’s Silk Road project, a move that has not gone down well in New Delhi.
    • Maldives growing “closeness” with China: Both China and Pakistan stepping up their strategic inroads into the Maldives and China even signed a Free-Trade agreement.
    • India was the first to respond to the drinking water crisis in 2014 in the Island by sending a ship fitted with desalination plant and huge stock of potable water.
    • Yameen government had asked India to remove its Dhruv advanced light helicopters from Maldives (which India had gifted in 2013).
    • Yameen’s government has also rejected visa renewals for Indians who were legally working in the Maldives, without giving any explanation.
    • Work permitswere not being issued to Indian Nationals.

The recent victory of Ibrahim Solih should come as a great relief and as a boost to India’s efforts to strengthen its partnerships in the neighbourhood. It marks not only the triumph of democratic forces in the Maldives, but also reflects the firm commitment to the values of democracy and the rule of law.

Potential of India-Maldivian ties:

  • It gives a boost to India’s efforts to strengthen its partnerships in the neighbourhood.
  • In keeping with ‘Neighbourhood First’Policy, India looks forward to working closely with the Maldives in further deepening our partnership.
  • India can now renew its ties with the new governmentand work with Maldives for ensuring stability and security of Indian Ocean region (IOR).
  • India can renew talks over the fate of Indian Coast Guard and Air Force personnel stationed in the Maldives, whose visas have been pending since June 2018.
  • With new regime at Centre, India would hope that democratic institutions are upheld, political prisoners are released and bilateral relations are improved.

Various Dimensions of India-Maldives Relations:

DimensionExample
HistoricalThe Maldives has a history intertwined with India, including conquest by Rajaraja Chola’s Chola dynasty (Maldives’ northern atolls). It became a British colony and gained independence in 1965, leading to political unrest.
Security PartnershipJoint Exercises – “Ekuverin”, “Dosti”, “Ekatha” and “Operation Shield” (begun in 2021). India provides the largest number of training opportunities for the Maldivian National Defence Force (MNDF), meeting around 70% of their defence training requirements.

 

Maldives occupy an important position in India’s vision of ‘SAGAR’ (Security and Growth for All in the Region) and ‘Neighbourhood First’.

Economic CooperationIndia is Maldives’ 2nd largest trading partner. Afcons, an Indian company, signed a contract for the Greater Male Connectivity Project (GMCP)
Infrastructure ProjectsHanimaadhoo International Airport Development project under an Indian credit line. National College for Policing and Law Enforcement (NCPLE) was inaugurated by India’s External Affairs Minister (2022)
Grant AssistanceGrant assistance of 100 million Rufiyaa (currency of Maldives) for the High Impact Community Development Project (HICDP) scheme.
Sports and EducationDevelopment of a sports complex in Gahdhoo, and academic collaboration between Maldives National University and Cochin University of Science and Technology.
Rehabilitation CentreA drug detoxification and rehabilitation centre in Addu was built with Indian assistance.
China FactorChina’s strategic footprint in India’s neighbourhood has increased. The Maldives has emerged as an important ‘pearl’ in China’s “String of Pearls” construct in South Asia. Given the uncertain dynamics of Sino-Indian relations, China’s strategic presence in the Maldives remains a concern.

Challenges in India-Maldives relations:

  • Political Instability:For instance, the arrest of Maldives’ opposition leader Mohamed Nasheed in 2015 and the subsequent political crisis strained India’s relationship with Maldives.
  • Radicalisation: The increasing number of Maldivians being drawn towards terrorist groups like the Islamic State (IS) and Pakistan-based jihadist groups is a concern for India.
  • China’s Strategic Presence: China’s increasing strategic presence in Maldives is a challenge for India. The Maldives has emerged as an important ‘pearl’ in China’s “String of Pearls” construct in South Asia, which is a concern for India’s security.
  • China’s dominance:In 2018, Maldives cancelled an agreement with India to develop a key naval base on the island of Marao.The move was seen as a result of China’s growing influence in the Maldives.
  • Political actions: Maldives cancelled a $511 million contractawarded to Indian company GMR to develop Male International Airport in 2012, which strained the relationship between the two countries.
  • Domestic Politics: The India Out campaign in Maldives, which seeks to create anti-India sentiments among the people of Maldives

Conclusion

India needs to play a crucial role in ensuring regional security in South Asia and surrounding maritime boundaries by actively participating in the Indo-Pacific security space. Effective communication and convincing Maldivians about India’s intentions behind its projects on the island nation are essential to avoid any changes in the domestic political situation in Maldives.

 

 


General Studies – 3


 

Topic: Inclusive growth and issues arising from it.

4. Evaluate the pivotal role of technology in fostering inclusive economic growth and propose strategies to ensure equitable access and benefits for all sections of society. (250 words)

Difficulty level: Moderate

Reference: Live Mint

Why the question:

The article suggests that the G20 is committed to fostering digital inclusion and ensuring that technology-driven benefits are accessible to all segments of society.

Key Demand of the question:

To write about the significance of technology in promoting inclusive economic growth and provide strategies to ensure that marginalized populations are not left behind in the digital era.

Structure of the answer:

Introduction: 

Define inclusive growth.

Body:

First, write about how technology contributes to economic growth by improving productivity, efficiency, and innovation. Discuss specific examples of how technology has positively impacted sectors like agriculture, education, healthcare, and financial services, benefiting marginalized communities.

Next, write about he challenges and disparities associated with the adoption of technology, including the digital divide, access barriers, and exclusion of vulnerable groups.

Conclusion:

Mention the way forward to overcome the above.

Introduction

In an era defined by rapid technological advancement, the role of technology in driving economic growth has proven to be transformative. Its impact is particularly pronounced in its potential to foster inclusive growth, ensuring that the benefits of progress are accessible to all sections of society. However, to truly harness this potential, it is imperative to address the digital divide and implement strategies that guarantee equitable access and distribution of these technological advancements.

Body

Background

  • The G20 forum emphasized the significance of constructing robust, reliable and inclusive DPI that prioritizes safety, security, trustworthiness and accountability, and respects data privacy, intellectual property and human rights.
  • The G20 endorsed both the voluntary G20 Framework for Digital Public Infrastructure Systems and India’s proposal to establish a Global Digital Public Infrastructure Repository.
  • It also recognized the One Future Alliance initiative aimed at helping low- and middle-income countries with DPI.

Contribution of technology to inclusive economic growth

  • Access to Information and Education: Technology provides access to a wealth of information and educational resources. This empowers individuals to learn new skills, access educational content, and participate in the knowledge economy.
  • Remote Work and Employment Opportunities: Digital tools and platforms enable remote work, which can be particularly beneficial for individuals with mobility constraints, caregivers, and those in underserved regions.
  • Entrepreneurship and Innovation: Technology lowers the barriers to entry for entrepreneurs, allowing them to start businesses with fewer resources. This fosters innovation and creates opportunities for a wider range of individuals to participate in the economy.
  • Financial Inclusion: Digital banking and payment systems can bring financial services to underserved populations, enabling them to save, invest, and access credit. This is especially important for those in rural or marginalized areas.
    • Example: The Unified Payments Interface (UPI) in India has revolutionized digital payments, making it easy and affordable for even those in remote areas to transact digitally.
  • Healthcare and Telemedicine: Technology can improve healthcare access by enabling remote consultations, telemedicine, and access to health information. This is crucial for individuals who may have limited access to traditional healthcare facilities.
  • Agricultural Technology: Farmers in underserved areas can benefit from technology that improves agricultural practices, such as precision farming, weather forecasting, and access to markets through online platforms.
    • Example: The eNAM (National Agriculture Market) platform facilitates online trading of agricultural commodities.
  • Inclusive Marketplaces: Online marketplaces provide a platform for small and local businesses to reach a wider audience, levelling the playing field with larger corporations.

Challenges

  • Digital Divide:
    • Rural-Urban Disparities: Rural areas often lack the necessary digital infrastructure, such as high-speed internet, which can hinder access to technology and digital services.
    • Income Disparities: Lower-income individuals may not have the means to afford smartphones, computers, or internet connectivity, limiting their participation in the digital economy.
  • Digital Illiteracy: Many Indians, particularly in rural areas, lack the skills required to effectively use technology and access online services, including education and job opportunities.
  • Privacy and Data Security: With the rapid digitization of services, individuals’ personal data can be vulnerable to misuse or breaches. Privacy and data security concerns need robust regulatory frameworks.
  • Cybersecurity Threats: The increase in digital transactions and online activities makes individuals and businesses more susceptible to cyberattacks, which can have severe economic consequences.
  • Infrastructure Challenges:
    • Power Outages: Frequent power outages in some regions can disrupt digital services and hinder economic activities relying on technology.
    • Limited Connectivity: Remote and hilly areas may have limited access to reliable internet and mobile networks.
  • Language Barriers: India’s linguistic diversity can pose a challenge for technology adoption. Not all digital content and services are available in regional languages, limiting accessibility.
  • Lack of Access to Banking: Despite progress, a significant portion of the population still lacks access to formal banking services, hindering their participation in digital financial transactions.
  • Regulatory and Policy Challenges:
    • Overregulation: Excessive regulations can stifle innovation and make it difficult for startups and entrepreneurs to navigate the digital space.
    • Lack of Clarity: Ambiguities in regulations related to data privacy, e-commerce, and taxation can create uncertainties for businesses and consumers.
  • Gender Disparities: Women in India may face additional barriers to technology access and usage due to cultural, social, and economic factors.

 

Strategy to be employed

  • Infrastructure Development: Governments and private sector entities should invest in reliable and affordable digital infrastructure, including broadband internet, to ensure that even remote areas have access to technology.
    • Eg: The Government of India’s ambitious project, BharatNet, aims to connect all gram panchayats (village councils) in the country through high-speed broadband.
  • Digital Literacy and Skills Training: Programs should be implemented to teach digital literacy and skills, particularly targeting marginalized communities and older generations.
    • Example: The Digital India program includes initiatives like the Pradhan Mantri Gramin Digital Saksharta Abhiyan (PMGDISHA) which provides digital literacy training to over 6 crore rural households.
  • Affordable Access: Policies should be put in place to ensure that technology and internet access are affordable for all income levels. This might include subsidies or discounts for low-income households.
    • Example: Reliance Jio’s entry into the Indian telecom market revolutionized access by offering affordable 4G data and free voice calls.
  • Inclusive Design and Accessibility: Developers should prioritize inclusive design, ensuring that products and services are accessible to individuals with disabilities.
    • Example: The Accessible India Campaign (Sugamya Bharat Abhiyan) launched by the Government of India focuses on making public infrastructure and information accessible to persons with disabilities, including the development of accessible websites and mobile applications.
  • Support for Entrepreneurs and Startups: Provide resources, mentorship, and funding opportunities for entrepreneurs, especially those from underrepresented groups.
  • Regulatory Frameworks: Implement regulations that encourage competition, prevent monopolies, and protect consumer rights, ensuring that technology is used for the benefit of all.
  • Data Privacy and Security: Establish robust data protection and privacy laws to safeguard the rights of individuals, particularly those who may be vulnerable.
    • Eg: Digital Personal Data Protection Act 2023 has been passed by the parliament
  • Government-Industry Collaboration: Governments and the private sector should work together to develop and implement policies that promote inclusive growth through technology.

 

Conclusion

Technology holds immense potential to drive inclusive economic growth in India, but it also presents significant challenges that must be addressed to ensure that the benefits are accessible to all sections of society. The Indian government, private sector, and civil society must work together to create an environment where technology can be a force for economic inclusion. This includes investing in digital infrastructure, promoting digital literacy, strengthening data protection and cybersecurity measures, and formulating clear and fair regulatory frameworks.

Furthermore, a concerted effort is needed to bridge the digital divide, particularly in rural and low-income areas, and to empower marginalized groups, including women and persons with disabilities, to fully participate in the digital economy. By addressing these challenges and embracing technology with a focus on inclusivity, India can harness the transformative power of technology to create a more equitable and prosperous future for all its citizens.

 

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

5. In the face of challenges like climate change and economic uncertainty, there is a dire need for policies and initiatives that prioritize farmers’ well-being and empower them to adapt to changing circumstances. Discuss.  (250 words)

Difficulty level: Tough

Reference: The HinduInsights on India

Why the question:

In an inauguration speech at a global event, President Droupadi Murmu emphasized the need to protect farmers’ rights and secure their future

Key Demand of the question:

To write about causes behind falling crop incomes and unviable agriculture and measures needed to protect farmers interests.

Structure of the answer:

Introduction: 

Begin by giving context.

Body:

First, write about the causes for the falling crop incomes and unsustainable agriculture – Small holdings make agriculture uneconomic, Perpetual indebtedness, Inability to procure quality seeds, Lack of water and poor yields etc.

Next, suggest measures that are needed in order to overcome the above and double farmers income in India.

Conclusion:

Conclude by writing a way forward.

Introduction

In India, the intertwined challenges of climate change and its impact on agriculture have emerged as pressing concerns in recent years. As one of the most agrarian-dependent nations globally, the repercussions of a shifting climate are keenly felt across the length and breadth of the country. Increasingly unpredictable monsoons, rising temperatures, and the heightened frequency of extreme weather events have left a profound mark on the agricultural landscape, posing significant threats to food security and livelihoods.

Body

Policies and initiatives prioritizing the farmers

  • Crop Insurance Schemes: It provides a safety net for farmers in case of crop failure due to natural calamities or market risks.
    • Example: The Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana (PMFBY) provides insurance coverage and financial support to farmers in case of crop failure due to natural calamities, pests, or diseases. This initiative helps mitigate the economic risks associated with farming.
  • Promotion of Sustainable Agriculture: Organic farming and sustainable practices are the only way forward.
    • Example: The Paramparagat Krishi Vikas Yojana (PKVY) and Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana (RKVY) encourage the adoption of organic farming practices. These programs promote sustainable agriculture, which is crucial for long-term resilience against climate change impacts.
  • Diversification of Crops: Encouraging farmers to diversify their crops can help spread risks associated with unpredictable weather patterns. It also promotes biodiversity and can lead to more sustainable farming practices.
    • Example: The National Mission on Oilseeds and Oil Palm (NMOOP) and National Horticulture Mission (NHM) focus on diversifying agricultural production, reducing dependence on a single crop, and enhancing farmers’ income through cultivation of high-value crops.
  • Water Resource Management:
    • Example: The Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchayee Yojana (PMKSY) aims to improve water use efficiency in agriculture through measures like micro-irrigation, rainwater harvesting, and watershed development. This is critical in the face of changing rainfall patterns due to climate change.
  • Access to Credit and Financial Inclusion:
    • Example: The Kisan Credit Card (KCC) scheme provides short-term credit to farmers at affordable rates. This empowers them to invest in agricultural activities, purchase inputs, and manage risks associated with uncertain weather conditions.
  • Market Linkages and Price Support: Ensuring that farmers have access to markets and receive fair prices for their produce is essential. This can be achieved through the creation of efficient market linkages and the elimination of middlemen.
    • Example: The e-NAM (National Agriculture Market) platform facilitates online trading of agricultural commodities, enabling farmers to access a wider market and get fair prices for their produce.
  • Research and Extension Services:
    • Example: The Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) and Krishi Vigyan Kendras (KVKs) work on developing climate-resilient technologies and disseminating them to farmers. This helps in adopting practices better suited to changing environmental conditions.
  • Disaster Management and Relief:
    • Example: The National Disaster Response Fund (NDRF) provides financial assistance to states for relief measures in the wake of natural calamities. This includes support for farmers who face losses due to extreme weather events.
  • Promotion of Renewable Energy in Agriculture:
    • Example: The Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) promotes the use of solar pumps in agriculture. This reduces dependence on traditional grid-based electricity and provides a sustainable energy source for irrigation.
  • Capacity Building and Training: Providing training and education to farmers on modern agricultural practices, climate-smart techniques, and financial management can empower them to make informed decisions.
    • Example: The National Institute of Agricultural Extension Management (MANAGE) conducts training programs for farmers to enhance their skills and knowledge on climate-smart agriculture practices.

 

Conclusion

Policies and initiatives that prioritize farmers’ well-being and empower them to adapt to changing circumstances are essential for sustainable agriculture, food security, and economic stability. By investing in the resilience of farmers, we not only protect their livelihoods but also contribute to a more sustainable and resilient agricultural sector, which is vital for the overall well-being of society.

 

 


General Studies – 4


 

Topic: Human Values – lessons from the lives and teachings of great leaders, reformers and administrators;

6. “Evil prevails when good men fail to act.” – Benjamin Franklin (150 words)

Difficulty level: Easy

Why the question:

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

Structure of the answer:

Introduction:

Start by giving a simple understanding of the meaning of the quote.

Body:

Mention the morality of conscious inaction, its consequences. No action resulting in injustice. Cite examples from history and current happenings to substantiate. Write about the aspect of communitarian ethics where the good men have the responsibility to speak out and act in the face of evils, to preserve their community.

Conclusion:

Conclude by underscoring injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere and hence calls for ‘good men’ to take responsibility.

Introduction

Inaction is a bigger sin than trying to act in certain situation. “The price of inaction is far greater than the cost of making a mistake.”

If we were to find a toddler drowning in a bathtub, we would feel morally obliged to act and to save her life, particularly because doing so would not require us to assume any significant risk to ourselves.  Inaction in this case would be morally wrong and unjustifiable.  This illustrates the fact that inaction is not morally neutral; it requires justification.

Body

Inaction in any sector, any field or space can be very detrimental. All nations of UNSC not taking action against Russia for waging unjust war on Ukraine is a case in point. The human-kind as a whole is suffering and yet no one wants to get involved. Fighting climate change, terrorism requires active participation from all nations, yet inaction is evident as we see flash floods, droughts, heat waves etc.

Same is the case with animal testing for research purpose, it is an ethical dilemma to test drugs and cosmetics on lab rats. But certain lifesaving drugs needs to be tested on animals before human trials. However, we are violating ethics by infringing rights of animals by imposing cruelty on them.

On the other hand, if one accepts the immense benefits of the work to the health of animals and humans alike, then the only way to oppose it is by arguing the case that all living beings have the same basic rights. Certainly, if a mouse has the same rights to life and freedom as a human being, we would not experiment on the mouse for the same reasons we do not experiment on healthy humans.

Conclusion

Morality and ethics have grey areas and at times it is impossible to overcome the dilemma as either choices would lead to moral turpitude. Yet, values such as compassion, empathy, honesty and integrity help in aiding us to take the right decisions. To act or not to act is a challenge and the above values can guide one better.

 

 

Topic: Human Values – lessons from the lives and teachings of great leaders, reformers and administrators.

7. What does this quote means to you? (150 words)

“The truth is incontrovertible. Malice may attack it, ignorance may deride it, but in the end, there it is.” – Winston Churchill.

Difficulty level: Moderate

Why the question:

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

Directive word: 

Structure of the answer:

Introduction: 

Begin by explaining the quote in your word.

Body:

The sun sets, but we all know it will rise again in the morning. The moon rises when the sun sets and sets when the sun reappears. In other words, something that exists can be hidden for a certain period of time, but it will always reappear and the truth is the same. You can manipulate, distort the truth, hide it, but at some point, the truth will be known. Substantiate with examples.

Conclusion:

Conclude by emphasising on the importance of leading a truthful life.

Introduction

“Truth will out” also captures the essence of the above quote

This quote says that the truth is a stubborn thing. It says that people won’t always appreciate the truth. It says that some will attack it with malice in their hearts and minds. It says that some will deride it because of their lack of understanding.

But still, the truth remains. There it is. Unwanted, unappreciated, unwelcome. But it just won’t go away.

 

Body

Honesty, or telling the truth the first time and every time, is important because without a reputation for honesty, who could possibly belive you when you are in need of help? Honesty, and a reputation for the lack of it, is the moral of “The Boy Who Cried Wolf” story.

While honesty is but one aspect of character, a lack of honesty will impune the entirety of your character. Who can believe any statement or rumor of virtue when it is told by a known liar? Eventually, the truth will be known, but the reputation of the liar will delay the revealing of the good while it will hasten the revelation of the lies. Remember that trust is the first victim of a lie. Only afterwards does the reputation fall.

“Nay, indeed, if you had your eyes, you might fail of the knowing me: it is a wise father that knows his own child. Well, old man, I will tell you news of your son: give me your blessing: truth will come to light; murder cannot be hid long; a man’s son may, but at the length truth will out.“ (Merchant of Venice)

It basically means that no matter what one does to cover something up, the truth will eventually come out. Even the act of covering up the truth reveals that there is a truth being covered up. That truth is within you.

Conclusion

Truth alone triumphs is in the emblem of India and no matter how trivial or the big the matter is, truth in all circumstances prevails over falsehood/lies.


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