Q1. Faster economic growth requires increased share of the manufacturing sector in GDP, particularly of MSMEs. Comment on the present policies of the Government in this regard. (Answer in 150 words) 10
Micro, Small and medium enterprises (MSME) termed as “engines of growth “for India, have played a prominent role in the development of the country in terms of creating employment opportunities. The MSME sector in India contributes around 30% to the country’s GDP. The MSME sector also contributes:
- Over 40% of India’s exports
- 45% to manufacturing
- 110 million job opportunities (2nd largest employer after agriculture)
The connection between faster economic growth, manufacturing, and MSMEs; –
- Employment generation; – Since the enterprises falling in this sector require low capital to start the business, it creates huge employment opportunities for many unemployed youths.
- Economic stability in terms of Growth and leverage Exports: Micro, small and medium Enterprises (MSMEs) are the growth accelerators of the Indian economy, contributing significantly to the country’s gross domestic product (GDP).
- Reducing regional imbalance: it helps in the industrialization of rural & backward areas, thereby, reducing regional imbalances, and assuring a more equitable distribution of national income and wealth.
- Complementary to large industries as ancillary units: MNCs today are buying semi-finished, and auxiliary products from small enterprises, for example, buying clutches, and brakes by automobile companies.
- Innovation: MSMEs promote innovation by providing an opportunity for budding entrepreneurs to help them build creative products hey and thereby boost competition in business and fuel growth.
Present policies of the Government to boost the manufacturing sector:
- Make in India Initiative: The Government of India launched the “Make in India” campaign to boost manufacturing. This initiative aims to promote domestic manufacturing across various sectors and encourage foreign direct investment (FDI).
- g. recent ban on Laptop imports to promote laptop manufacturing in India.
- Ease of doing business: Initiatives such as the implementation of the Goods and Services Tax (GST), Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (IBC) and digital platforms like the Single Window Interface for Facilitating Trade (SWIFT) have streamlined processes, making it easier for MSMEs to operate.
- Infrastructure development: The government has initiated infrastructure development projects such as the Bharatmala and Sagarmala programs, which focus on road and port connectivity.
- Also, the development of various industrial corridors like the Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor (DMIC).
- Policies such as the Production-Linked Incentive (PLI) scheme for various sectors, including electronics and pharmaceuticals, attract global manufacturers to set up production units in India.
- Raising and Accelerating MSME Performance (RAMP) program: launched in 2023-24, this initiative has a budget allocation of Rs. 6,000 crores and aims to offer both financial and technical assistance to MSMEs.
- Its primary goal is to enhance the quality, technology adoption, innovation capabilities, and market reach of these enterprises.
- Export promotion: Promoting the engagement of MSMEs in global trade through the provision of export incentives and simplification of export-related procedures.
- For instance, facilitating duty-free import of capital goods for export production via schemes like the Export Promotion Capital Goods (EPCG)
- Access to credit: The Government of India and banks should design plans and measures to widen easy, hassle-free access to credit. E.g. The establishment of the MUDRA (Micro Units Development & Refinance Agency Ltd.) bank
- Regulatory reforms: The RBI should bring stringent norms for Non-Performing Assets (NPA) and it will help curb loan defaulters and motivate potential good debts.
- Promoting Research and Development: There should be proper research and development in respect of innovative methods of production and service rendering.
- Public procurement: The government should encourage procurement programmes, credit and performance ratings and extensive marketing support to revive the growth of sick units.
- Human capital: Skill development and imparting training to MSME workers is a crucial step to increase the productivity of the sector.
The MSME sector is the backbone of the Indian economic structure and has a very important role in buffering it from global economic shocks and adversities. It is imperative to recognise and give impetus to these home-grown businesses and enterprises.
Q2. What is the status of digitalization in the Indian economy? Examine the problems faced in this regard and suggest improvements. (Answer in 150 words) 10
India’s digital transformation has been remarkable in recent years, with the rapid adoption of smartphones, increased internet connectivity, and the government’s push towards a digital economy. It has opened up tremendous opportunities for economic growth across various sectors of the economy.
Status of digitalization in the Indian economy:
- Digital Payments: The UPI-based BHIM (Bharat Interface for Money) app has become widely popular, enabling secure and convenient peer-to-peer transactions.
- For instance, India’s digital payments framework, Unified Payments Interface (UPI), surpassed 10 billion monthly transactions in August 2023, with a transaction value of I18tn ($204.77bn)
- E-governance: The Digital India program has made significant strides in providing e-governance services. Initiatives like the e-visa and the Digital Locker system have streamlined government services, reducing paperwork and enhancing accessibility.
- E-commerce: India’s e-commerce market is projected to reach $200 billion by 2026. Major players like Flipkart and Amazon have expanded their reach, and the COVID-19 pandemic accelerated the adoption of online shopping.
- Startup-ecosystem: India is home to a burgeoning start-up ecosystem. Since India’s first unicorn in 2011, India is now home to 110 startup unicorns, who are collectively valued at $347 Bn, including companies like Paytm, Ola, and Zomato.
- The success of these unicorns demonstrates India’s potential as a technology-driven entrepreneurial hub.
- Financial Inclusion: Digital financial services provide access to banking for the unbanked and underbanked. The Jan Dhan Yojana initiative resulted in millions of bank accounts being opened, promoting financial inclusion.
- Broadband and Internet Usage: In India, there has been a notable upswing in broadband adoption, resulting in a total of 765 million mobile broadband subscribers as of 2021.
- This surge has led to a substantial rise in data consumption per individual, and members of Generation Z, on average, dedicate approximately 8 hours daily to online activities.
Problems faced in digitalizing the economy:
- Digital Divide: Despite progress, the digital divide persists, with rural areas having limited access to the internet and technology. Around 50% of the population is still not online.
- Privacy Concerns: With the rise in digital transactions and data sharing, concerns about privacy and data security are significant. The Personal Data Protection Bill aims to address these concerns but presents regulatory challenges.
- Cybersecurity: As digitization increases, the risk of cyber threats and attacks escalates. India witnessed 91 Lakh cyber security incidents in 2022. The average cost incurred due to a data breach in India ranks third with $2.32 million.
- Skill Gap: The rapid pace of technological change requires a skilled workforce. Only around 42% of India’s workforce possesses digital skills, emphasizing the need for widespread digital literacy and upskilling.
- Regulatory Complexities: Navigating complex digital regulations, taxation on e-commerce, and intellectual property issues can be challenging for businesses.
- g. despite several measures taken by the government start-ups in India continue to face regulatory challenges.
- Infrastructure Readiness: Ensuring high-speed internet access and reliable digital infrastructure remains a challenge, particularly in rural areas.
- Disruption: Digitization disrupts traditional business models, leading to challenges in certain industries and job markets. Traditional retailers, for example, face competition from e-commerce giants.
- Broadband expansion: Accelerate efforts to expand broadband connectivity in rural and remote regions. Public-private partnerships can play a significant role in achieving this goal. g. BharatNet project.
- Digital literacy Programs: Implement widespread digital literacy programs, targeting both urban and rural populations. This will empower individuals to access and utilize digital services effectively.
- g. Pradhan Mantri Gramin Digital Saksharta Abhiyan (PMGDISHA)
- Data protection laws: Enact robust data protection laws and regulations to safeguard individuals’ privacy and ensure responsible data handling by organizations.
- g. digital personal data protection act, 2023.
- Cybersecurity framework: Strengthen cybersecurity infrastructure and awareness to mitigate cyber threats. Collaboration between government agencies and the private sector is crucial in this regard.
- E.g. National Cyber Security Policy, 2021
- Encourage MSMEs to adopt digital tools and e-commerce platforms by offering incentives and training programs. This can boost their competitiveness in the digital age.
- Government services: Continue efforts to digitize government services, making them accessible and user-friendly.
- Promote the use of digital identification methods like Aadhar for seamless access.
Digitalization has positively impacted India’s economic growth. However, ensuring widespread access to digital opportunities is essential. Addressing challenges and investing in technology can sustain growth and enhance citizen welfare.
Q3. How does e-Technology help farmers in production and marketing of agricultural produce? Explain it. (Answer in 150 words) 10
E-technology encompasses the internet and associated information technologies, and it plays a pivotal role in enhancing agriculture, a vital sector in India crucial for food security, sustainable development, and poverty reduction.
E-technology helping farmers in production:
- Precision farming: E-technology can be used to implement precision farming techniques, which involve using data and sensors to optimize the use of inputs such as water, fertilizer, and pesticides.
- This can lead to increased crop yields and reduced environmental impact.
- Weather forecasting and crop monitoring: E-technology can provide farmers with access to real-time weather updates and crop monitoring tools.
- g. Kisan Suvidha” mobile app
- Agricultural inputs: E-technology platforms can connect farmers with suppliers of agricultural inputs such as seeds, fertilizers, and pesticides.
- g. SBI yono Krishi app.
- Agricultural machinery: E-technology platforms can also connect farmers with suppliers of agricultural machinery. This can help farmers to rent or purchase the machinery they need to improve their productivity.
- g. With Trringo, Mahindra goes online to offer tractors on rent.
E-technology helping farmers in marketing of agricultural produce:
- E-commerce platforms: E-commerce platforms can help farmers to sell their produce directly to consumers. This can help farmers to get better prices for their produce and to reduce their reliance on middlemen. g. e-NAM
- Market intelligence: E-technology platforms can provide farmers with access to market intelligence such as real-time prices and demand trends. This information can help farmers make informed decisions about what to grow and when to sell.
- g. The AGMARKNET portal
- Supply chain management: E-technology platforms can help farmers to manage their supply chains more effectively. This can involve tasks such as tracking inventory, forecasting demand, and managing transportation.
- g. ITC has used its e-Choupal network to expand direct-from-farm procurement over the past 20 years.
India’s food requirement is likely to go up from the present level of 330 million tonne (mt) to more than 500 mt by 2050, even as supply is expected to fall 16 per cent due to water and heat stress. Hence, in order to meet the growing demand for food amidst shrinking land size, there’s a need to involve e-Technology as a powerful ally in transforming the agricultural landscape.
Q4. State the objectives and measures of land reforms in India. Discuss how land ceiling policy on landholding can be considered as an effective reform under economic criteria. (Answer in 150 words) 10
Q4. State the objectives and measures of land reforms in India. Discuss how land ceiling policy on landholding can be considered as an effective reform under economic criteria. (Answer in 150 words) 10
Land reforms in India play a vital role in its economy by enhancing land productivity, alleviating poverty, redistributing land ownership more equitably, safeguarding tenant farmers from exploitation, enabling landholders to boost agricultural and economic development, and preserving tribal lands from external encroachment.
Objectives of land reforms in India:
- Redistribute land from large landowners to landless or marginal farmers. This aims to reduce land concentration and promote social justice.
- To protect the rights of tenants and sharecroppers by providing them with security of tenure and fair rent.
- To consolidate fragmented land holdings to make agriculture more efficient.
- Abolition of intermediaries: it sought to eliminate intermediaries like landlords and moneylenders who exploited farmers.
- This was done through the abolition of intermediaries’ rights in land.
- To establish accurate and updated land records and provide land titles to landholders.
Measures of land reforms in India:
- The Agricultural Land (Ceiling and Holding) Act of 1960 was enacted by the Indian Parliament to incentivize and encourage states to implement land reforms at the state level.
- State Abolition of Intermediaries Act: Several states in India enacted the Abolition of Intermediaries Acts to eliminate intermediaries, such as landlords and moneylenders, who often exploited farmers.
- g. Bihar Zamindari Abolition Act (1948).
- Tenancy Acts were enacted to protect the rights of tenants and sharecroppers. These special acts provided security of tenure and ensured fair rent for tenants.
- Bombay Tenancy and Agricultural Lands Act of 1948 in Maharashtra.
- The Bhoodan Movement: commenced in 1951 under the leadership of Acharya Vinoba Bhave. In this movement, landowners altruistically contributed their land holdings with the noble intent of alleviating landlessness among marginalized sections of society.
A land ceiling is a policy that limits the amount of land that an individual or corporation can own. The purpose of a land ceiling is to prevent the concentration of land ownership in the hands of a few people or entities.
Land ceiling policy on landholding as an effective reform under economic criteria:
- Equitable distribution of land: Land ceiling policies promote equitable land distribution by curbing excessive land ownership ensuring that more people have access to land for cultivation. For instance, Kerala and West Bengal had successful land ceilings.
- Increased agricultural productivity: Larger, consolidated plots allow for economies of scale, efficient use of machinery, and improved farm management practices.
- For instance, In Haryana, land ceiling laws led to the consolidation of land holdings.
- Increased income generation: Redistributing excess land to landless and marginal farmers through land ceiling policies significantly enhances their income and economic well-being, stimulating rural economic growth, as seen in West Bengal.
- Reduced tenancy exploitations: Land ceiling policies indirectly benefit tenants by reducing the power of large landowners. When land holdings are capped, tenants can negotiate fairer terms and rents, improving their economic conditions.
- g. Tamil Nadu.
- Investment: Land ceiling policies in Punjab (Punjab Land Reforms Act, 1972) spurred investment, mechanization, and modern farming, boosting agricultural output and prosperity.
Despite having implementation challenges, land reforms have played an important role in India’s development. They have helped to reduce rural poverty, improve agricultural productivity, and promote social justice.
Q5. Introduce the concept of Artificial Intelligence (AI). How does AI help clinical diagnosis? Do you perceive any threat to privacy of the individual in the use of AI in the healthcare? (Answer in 150 words) 10
AI (Artificial Intelligence) is a branch of computer science that deals with the creation of intelligent agents, which are systems that can reason, learn, and act autonomously. AI research has been highly successful in developing effective techniques for solving a wide range of problems, from game playing to medical diagnosis.
AI in clinical diagnosis:
- Early detection and diagnosis: AI-driven machine learning and deep learning models have made significant strides in the early diagnosis of critical diseases. These include cancer, cardiac arrhythmias, and predictions of stroke outcomes.
- For instance, IBM’s Watson for Oncology provides treatment recommendations based on patient histories and research data.
- Enhanced accuracy: AI excels in interpreting medical images like X-rays, CT scans, and MRIs.
- For instance, AI algorithms can precisely detect cardiac arrhythmias from electrocardiograms, ensuring timely interventions.
- Pattern recognition: AI algorithms analyze extensive patient medical records to recognize patterns and predict diseases.
- In India, this aids in identifying risk factors for conditions like diabetes and hypertension among large populations.
- Robotic process automation: This includes tasks like prior authorization, updating patient records, and billing procedures, and reducing administrative burdens on healthcare staff.
- RPA not only increases efficiency but also lowers operational costs.
- AI guided treatment recommendation: AI conducts comprehensive analyses of patients’ genetics, medical histories, and lifestyles to custom-tailor treatment plans for optimal effectiveness.
- g. Israeli health-tech firm Genetika+ is using stem cell technology and artificial intelligence (AI) software to match antidepressants to patients and minimise side effects.
- Medical image analysis: AI algorithms excel at scrutinizing medical images like X-rays, MRIs, and CT scans, detecting abnormalities, tumours, and fractures.
- Notably, Google’s DeepMind has pioneered AI for diagnosing eye diseases.
- Health monitoring: Wearable health trackers, such as Fitbit, Apple, and similar devices, monitor heart rate and activity levels.
- They send exercise reminders to users and share this data with doctors and AI systems to gather additional patient insights.
Threat to the privacy of the individual in the use of AI in healthcare:
- Privacy concerns: One concern is that AI algorithms could be used to identify and track individuals without their consent.
- For example, a hospital in South Korea faced backlash when it was discovered they used patient data without consent to develop an AI diagnostic tool.
- Consent concerns: AI-powered diagnostic tools could be used to make decisions about patients’ care without their input or understanding.
- Surveillance: The rise of remote monitoring and AI-driven tracking raises concerns about surveillance and personal freedoms. Wearable health devices, for instance, could be repurposed for non-medical surveillance purposes.
- Data security vulnerability: Vulnerabilities in AI systems can be exploited to gain access to sensitive medical data. Malicious actors may target healthcare AI platforms to access patient records for purposes like extortion or identity theft.
Despite the challenges, the future of AI in medicine looks promising, and with continued research and development, we can expect to see even more innovative and effective applications of AI in healthcare in the years to come.
Q6. Discuss several ways in which microorganisms can help in meeting the current fuel shortage. (Answer in 150 words) 10
Microorganisms can aid in addressing the current fuel shortage through a process called biofuel production. For instance, certain bacteria and yeast can ferment organic materials like sugarcane or corn to produce bioethanol, a renewable fuel. Similarly, microalgae can convert sunlight and carbon dioxide into biofuels like biodiesel.
- Microorganisms, such as algae and yeast, play a pivotal role in biofuel production. Algae, for example, have gained significant attention for their ability to convert sunlight and carbon dioxide into lipids that can be processed into biodiesel.
- Indian government’s steps with PM-JiVAN, the Bioethanol blending program (EBP), and the National Biofuel Policy 2019 have shown results in lowering import fuel demand.
- Microbes are essential for the production of biogas through anaerobic digestion. Bacteria break down organic matter, such as agricultural waste and sewage, to produce methane-rich biogas.
- Schemes like the SATAT on compressed biogas and the New National Biogas and Organic Manure Programme (NNBOMP) have provided intended benefits.
- Microbial fuel cells (MFCs) are a promising technology that uses microorganisms to convert organic matter in wastewater into electricity.
- Microbial solutions are also being developed to digest plastics and provide an alternative energy source.
Enhanced oil recovery:
- Microbial Enhanced Oil Recovery or MEOR can contribute to extending the life of mature oil reservoirs and optimizing oil extraction processes. For example, in the United States, the use of MEOR techniques has shown promising results, with increased oil production in some fields by up to 50%.
- Microbial production of biohydrogen is a promising avenue for clean energy generation. Certain Algae and cyanobacteria are capable of producing hydrogen gas through fermentation of organic matter.
Thus, microorganisms stand as versatile allies in the quest to meet the current fuel shortage while advancing sustainability goals (SDG Goal 7- Clean Energy).
Q7. Dam failures are always catastrophic, especially on the downstream side, resulting in a colossal loss of life and property. Analyze the various causes of dam failures. Give two examples of large dam failures. (Answer in 150 words) 10
The integrity of dams is paramount for the safety of both human lives and valuable property. Understanding the multifaceted causes behind dam failures is crucial in order to prevent such disasters and to develop more resilient infrastructure.
Colossal loss of life and property from dam failures:
- Loss of life: When a dam fails, the rapid release of water can lead to the loss of numerous lives, as people in downstream areas may not have sufficient time to evacuate.
- In 1979, the Machhu Dam in Morbi, Gujarat failed due to heavy rainfall and improper maintenance killing around 1800 to 25000 people.
- Property damage: The unleashed floodwaters can inundate homes, businesses, and critical infrastructure, causing extensive property damage.
- The Teton Dam in Idaho, USA (1976) collapsed primarily due to design and construction flaws, causing high infrastructure and property damage.
- Environmental impact: Dam failures can have severe environmental consequences, including the destruction of ecosystems, contamination of water sources, and long-term ecological damage.
Various causes of dam failures:
- Seismic damage: Earthquakes can subject dams to strong ground shaking, which may lead to structural damage or foundation failure.
- Kobe Earthquake, Japan (1995): While not a dam failure, the Kobe Earthquake in Japan caused damage to dams and their components.
- Erosion and piping: Erosion occurs when the flow of water erodes the soil or rock supporting the dam’s structure. Piping, a related issue, involves the internal erosion of dam materials, creating channels through which water can escape.
- Extreme weather events: Intense and prolonged rainfall, hurricanes, or typhoons can result in dam failures due to increased water inflow, exceeding the dam’s storage capacity.
- Kedarnath Floods, India (2013): While not a traditional dam failure, the catastrophic flooding in the Kedarnath region of Uttarakhand, India, in 2013, was triggered by heavy rainfall and the sudden release of water from a glacial lake.
- Glacial lake outburst flood (GLOF): In mountainous regions with glaciers, the sudden release of meltwater from a glacier-dammed lake can trigger a GLOF. These events can lead to massive floods downstream, posing a significant threat to communities and infrastructure.
- Human factors: This includes poor operational decisions, inadequate maintenance, conflict and war can contribute to dam failures.
- Design limitations: Flaws in the original design, including inadequate spillways, improper materials, or underestimated water flow calculations can lead to structural weaknesses.
Two examples of large dam failures:
- The recent Derna dam collapse Failure of two roughly 75 and 45-meter tall dams following heavy rain from Storm Daniel against the backdrop of the Libyan civil war resulting in the city of Derna.
- Kakhovka Dam failure: The dam in Ukraine was breached in June 2023, causing extensive flooding along the lower Dnieper River. Many experts have concluded that Russian forces likely blew up a segment of the dam to hinder the Ukrainian counter-offensive.
The causes of dam failures are multifaceted, ranging from natural forces to human-related factors. These causes underscore the critical importance of robust engineering, regular maintenance, and diligent monitoring in ensuring the safety and integrity of dams.
Q8. What is oil pollution? What are its impacts on the marine ecosystem? In what way is oil pollution particularly harmful for a country like India? (Answer in 150 words) 10
Oil pollution occurs when oil or petroleum-based substances are released into the environment, particularly into marine ecosystems such as oceans, seas, and coastal areas. This can result from various sources in the oil and gas value chain from mining to transportation as seen in events like Deepwater Horizon and Exxon Valdez spills.
Impacts on the marine ecosystem:
- Physical barrier: Oil forms a slick on the water’s surface, creating a physical barrier that reduces the exchange of oxygen between the atmosphere and the water and blocks sunlight.
- This can lead to oxygen-depleted areas, known as dead zones, which are harmful to marine life.
- Toxic chemicals: Oil spills release a variety of toxic chemicals, including polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), heavy metals, and volatile organic compounds.
- They can interfere with their reproductive and metabolic processes, leading to deformities, reduced growth, and death.
- Food chain disruption: Oil pollution can disrupt marine food chains by affecting various trophic levels.
- Phytoplankton and algae, which form the base of many marine food webs, can be harmed by oil exposure.
- Coral reef damage: Oil pollution poses a significant threat to coral reefs, which are among the most biodiverse ecosystems on the planet.
- Oil can smother corals, reducing their ability to photosynthesize and ultimately leading to coral bleaching and death.
- Habitat destruction: Oil spills can smother and destroy sensitive coastal habitats, including mangroves and salt marshes. These habitats serve as nurseries for many marine species.
Oil pollution is particularly harmful for a country like India:
- Biodiversity hotspots: India has a vast coastline along the Arabian Sea and the Bay of Bengal, covering around 7,500 kilometres which increases vulnerability in particular.
- India hosts biodiversity hotspots along its coasts, including coral reefs, mangroves, and estuaries; which would be particularly harmed by oil pollution.
- Fishing communities: India’s coastal regions are home to numerous fishing communities that depend on marine resources for their livelihoods.
- Oil pollution can lead to the contamination of fishery resources, disrupting fishing activities.
- Land degradation: Non-marine oil pollution harms India’s land and soil which are already facing the brunt of pollution and climate change effects.
- Climate resilience: Coastal ecosystems, such as mangroves and salt marshes, play a crucial role in climate resilience by acting as natural buffers against storm surges and sea-level rise.
- Oil pollution can harm these ecosystems.
- Geopolitical Factors: India’s strategic location in the Indian Ocean makes it a significant transit point for international shipping routes which increases the risk of oil spills from maritime accidents or illegal discharges, which can have geopolitical implications.
- Tourism: India’s coastline is a significant attraction for tourists with pristine beaches including 12 Blue Flag-certified ones, coral reefs, and coastal landscapes drawing visitors.
- This would drastically be harmed by oil pollution.
Thus, safeguarding India’s coastal and marine environments from the harmful impacts of oil pollution is not only an environmental imperative but also a socioeconomic and geopolitical necessity.
Q9. Winning of ‘Hearts and Minds’ in terrorism affected areas is an essential step in restoring the trust of the population. Discuss the measures adopted by the Government in this respect as part of the conflict resolution in Jammu and Kashmir. (Answer in 150 words) 10
Winning hearts and minds (WHAM), as a primary principle of counter-insurgency (CI), is rooted in the history of modern militancy. WHAM can be described simply as a people-oriented process for establishing human, social and political linkages in terrorism affected areas for the common good, contributing to building the concept of nationhood.
WHAM is an essential step in restoring the trust of the population in terrorism affected areas:
- Trust building: Open communication channels and community engagement are key to fostering trust. Trust allows for collaboration between the government and the community in countering extremism and promoting peace.
- Removing support mechanisms: Terrorism often thrives when it receives support, whether passive or active, from the local population. Part of winning hearts and minds is dismantling the support mechanisms that sustain extremist groups.
- Youth disillusionment: Engaging with disaffected youth is crucial to prevent their recruitment into extremist organizations.
- Providing opportunities for education, skill development, and meaningful employment can help disillusioned youth find alternatives to violence.
- National integration: Celebrating cultural diversity and ensuring equitable access to resources and opportunities can foster a sense of inclusion and unity.
- Post-insurgency stability: After the resolution of an insurgency or conflict, it’s critical to ensure post-insurgency stability. This includes rebuilding infrastructure, restoring essential services, and facilitating the return of displaced populations.
Measures adopted by the Government in this respect as part of the conflict resolution in Jammu and Kashmir:
- Abrogation of A370: The abrogation of Article 370 of the Indian Constitution in August 2019 aimed to integrate Jammu and Kashmir more closely with the rest of India. This decision was intended to promote development and provide equal rights to residents.
- Operation Sadbhavana: It is an Indian Army initiative started in 1998 aimed at winning the hearts and minds of the local population in conflict-affected areas, which includes various community development and welfare projects.
- Youth Livelihood schemes: This includes vocational education and skill-training initiatives like the HIMAYAT mission, USTTAD, Udaan, Umeed, and Nai Manzhil.
- National integration tours: The Army conducts around 100 “national integration” tours for young Kashmiris every year, where they are introduced to history, culture, and development opportunities across India.
- Mission Pehal: It was launched in 2021, where officers conduct face-to-face interactions with the Kashmiri youth to register grievances and build trust.
- PM’s development package: The Package for Jammu and Kashmir worth ₹80,000 crores includes a range of projects and initiatives aimed at improving infrastructure, connectivity, healthcare, education, and overall development in the region.
- Panchayat reformation: The government has supported the reformation of local Panchayati Raj institutions in Jammu and Kashmir with the conduct of fresh delimitation in 2022 and fresh elections to be held soon.
While the road to lasting peace and stability in Jammu and Kashmir is complex and multifaceted, these measures reflect a commitment to addressing the grievances of the local population and providing opportunities for growth and prosperity. It is important to recognize that the success of these initiatives depends on sustained efforts, inclusive dialogue, and the involvement of all stakeholders in the region.
Q10. The use of unmanned aerial vehicles(UAVs) by our adversaries across the borders to ferry arms/ammunitions, drugs, etc., is a serious threat to the internal security. Comment on the measures being taken to tackle this threat. (Answer in 150 words) 10
Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), commonly known as drones, are remotely piloted aircraft that have gained widespread use and popularity across various sectors, including agriculture, photography, surveillance, and logistics. However, the increasing accessibility of UAVs has also led to their misuse by adversaries, both across international borders and within a country.
Use of UAVs by adversaries of India as a security threat:
- Arms and ammunition ferry: Multiple incidents of cross-border drone threats from Pakistan-sponsored terror groups to deliver arms, ammunition, and equipment.
- Drug trafficking: UAVs have been used to drop narcotics within Indian territory, enabling the distribution of drugs to local communities and contributing to social and security
- IED Attacks: Terrorist organizations operating along India’s borders have begun to employ UAVs for reconnaissance and possibly as delivery mechanisms for improvised explosive devices (IEDs) or other attacks.
- Recently, drones were used for the first time to drop explosives at the Jammu airbase.
- Geopolitical escalation: UAVs are used by adversaries to violate Indian airspace along border regions, leading to concerns about territorial integrity and airspace violations.
- China too has been using drone activity over LAC sections.
- Security of Critical Infrastructure: The use of UAVs to conduct reconnaissance on critical infrastructure, military installations, and sensitive government buildings poses a threat to national security
Measures being taken to tackle this threat
- Drone Rules 2021: The rules attempt to regulate the internal movement of drones while incentivizing the indigenous drone manufacturing industry.
- Institutional measures: MHA has established the Anti Rogue Drone Technology Committee (ARDTC) under the supervision of DG BSF with a mandate to evaluate the technology available to counter rogue drones. The Indian Army aviation corps is also being made responsible for offensives and drone counter-measures.
- Indigenous anti-drone systems: These are being developed for counter-UAV measures like Indrajaal by Hyderabad-based Grene Robotics.
- Hard kill or kinetic measure: Anti-drone system Drone Detect, Deter and Destroy system (D4S) for proactive protection is being developed by the DRDO.
- Drone development and acquisition: The government is investing in UAV counter-measures with drone development by the DRDO including Nishant, Rustom, MALE, et al and acquisition of foreign-made variants like the Israel-made Heron and US’ MQ-Reaper.
By adopting this multi-faceted approach, India aims to stay ahead of the evolving threat landscape associated with rogue UAVs, protect critical infrastructure, maintain territorial integrity, and ensure the safety and security of its citizens.
Q11. Most of the unemployment in India is structural in nature. Examine the methodology adopted to compute unemployment in the country and suggest improvements. (Answer in 250 words) 15
Structural unemployment arises from a disparity between the skills held by the labour force and those sought by employers, and it is not driven by short-term economic shifts but persists as a prolonged concern.
Reasons behind most of unemployment in India being structural in nature:
- Skill gap: India has a large number of educated youth, but their skills often do not align with the demands of the job market.
- g. Over 80 per cent of them are unemployable for any job in the knowledge economy, according to a report by the employability assessment company Aspiring Minds.
- Informal sector pre-dominance: The informal sector, including small-scale enterprises and unorganized labour, absorbs a substantial portion of the workforce.
- However, these jobs often lack job security, social benefits, and career progression, resulting in underemployment and instability.
- Population growth: As the population expands, the economy must generate sufficient employment opportunities to accommodate the increasing labour force.
- Regional disparities: Uneven economic development across states in India results in migration from less-developed regions to urban centres in search of employment.
- g. UP and Bihar.
- Agricultural dominance: agriculture employs about 40% of the workforce but contributes only 15%-16% to the GDP.
- Wage expectations: Mismatched wage expectations can impede job placements.
- g. Recent graduates may hold overly optimistic salary expectations.
Methodology adopted to compute unemployment in the country
- Data Source: In India, the primary provider of unemployment statistics is the National Sample Survey Organization (NSSO) (now National Statistical Office (NSO)). The NSSO employs sample surveys to estimate employment and unemployment figures.
- Employment classification: Individuals are categorized under the
- Usual Principal Status (UPS) approach, which classifies them as employed, unemployed, or not in the labour force. This classification is based on their primary activity during the 365 days leading up to the survey.
- Current Weekly Status (CWS) method is used to classify individuals based on their activities during the reference week before the survey.
- This provides a real-time snapshot of their current employment status.
- Unemployment rate calculation: The unemployment rate is derived by dividing the number of unemployed individuals by the total labour force, which includes both the employed and the unemployed.
- Segmented data analysis: Unemployment data is further segmented by age, gender, education, and urban/rural locations. This segmentation aids in analysing unemployment trends among various population segments.
Limitations with the unemployment calculation in India:
|Delayed release of employment data||E.g., the delay in the release of NSSO’s employment survey for 2017-18, led to the resignation of the last two remaining independent members of the National Statistical Commission.|
|Constraints from Social Norms||Social norms influence work-seeking decisions. Many women in domestic roles are willing to work but aren’t actively job-hunting, leading to undercounting of unemployed.|
|Informal Sector Complexity||Informal jobs in India make categorization challenging. People engage in various activities throughout the year, making it difficult to define their employment status.|
|Rural vs. Urban Disparities||Low employment thresholds in agrarian economies result in lower rural unemployment rates compared to urban areas. Access to family farms or casual agrarian work increases chances of finding some work.|
- Data Timeliness: Improvements are needed to make unemployment data more up-to-date.
- Periodic surveys may not capture rapidly changing labour market dynamics effectively.
- Informal Sector: The current methodology often underestimates employment in the informal sector, which is significant in India.
- Enhancements should focus on better capturing informal employment trends.
- Skill Mismatch: To address structural unemployment, future methodologies should gather data on skill mismatches to provide insights into areas requiring workforce development.
- Geographic Specifics: Further regional granularity is necessary to pinpoint unemployment variations across states and districts for more targeted policy interventions.
- Underemployment: Incorporating underemployment metrics can offer a more comprehensive view of employment challenges by assessing the quality and hours of work.
- Regular Reporting: Establishing a more frequent reporting mechanism will enable policymakers to make timely decisions to address employment issues as they emerge.
These improvements will contribute to a more accurate, timely, and comprehensive understanding of unemployment in India, supporting informed policy measures and interventions.
Q12. Distinguish between ‘care economy’ and ‘monetized economy’. How can care economy be brought into monetized economy through women empowerment? (Answer in 250 words) 15
The “care economy” and the “monetized economy” are two distinct facets of economic activity, shaping societies and livelihoods. Traditionally, women have been the primary drivers of the care economy. Empowering women is essential to integrate the care economy into the monetized economy.
Difference between the care economy and monetized economy:
|Parameters||Care economy||Monetized economy|
|Nature of work
|Unpaid or underpaid caregiving, nurturing, and domestic work.
E.g. housewife, nursing etc.
|Formal paid work in industries, businesses, and services.
e.g. IT sectors, manufacturing sector etc.
|Value measurement||Value is often not measured in monetary terms; focuses on social and emotional well-being.||Value is directly measured in terms of currency; and monetary compensation.
|Gender dynamics||Historically associated with women; contributes to gender disparities.||Increasing gender inclusivity, with more women participating in the formal workforce.|
|Recognition and valuation||Often undervalued and lacks recognition in traditional economic frameworks.
e.g. not included in GDP
|Central to economic systems, with monetary valuation and formal recognition.
e.g. Mostly accounted in GDP
|Motive||Embedded in the welfare of society and communities, with a focus on enhancing the quality of life and fostering social connections.||Frequently driven by the pursuit of profit, competition, and the goal of economic expansion.|
|Impact on society||Crucial for individual and societal well-being, family structures, and community cohesion.||Drives economic growth, income generation, infrastructure development, and technological advancement.|
Bringing care economy to monetized economy by empowering women:
- Policy Reforms: Implement policies that acknowledge and value unpaid care work. For instance, in India, the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) provides wages for certain community and care-related activities.
- Flexible work management: Encourage businesses to offer flexible work arrangements that accommodate women’s caregiving responsibilities. For example, remote work or part-time opportunities can enable women to balance work and caregiving.
- Skilling and training: Provide training and skill development programs tailored to women’s needs. For instance, programs that train women as healthcare workers, educators, or caregivers can lead to formal employment.
- Self-Help Groups: Encourage the formation of self-help groups among women. These groups can engage in economic activities collectively, such as micro-enterprises or agricultural cooperatives.g. JEEVIKA in Bihar, and Kudumbshree in Kerala.
- Maternity and Childcare benefits: Enhance maternity and childcare benefits to support working mothers. Expanding maternity leave provisions and affordable childcare facilities can enable women to return to the workforce.
- g. In Sweden, publicly funded childcare services and parental leave policies enable women to participate more fully in the workforce.
- Entrepreneurship opportunities: Promote entrepreneurship among women in the care economy by encouraging them to establish small businesses like daycare centres, nursing services, or home healthcare agencies.
- For instance, the Indian government offers “Nari Shakti” grants to empower women entrepreneurs across diverse sectors.
- 5R framework– The International Labour Organisation (ILO) proposes a 5R framework for decent care work centred around achieving gender equality. It urges on
integrating the care economy into the monetized economy through women empowerment is not just a matter of economic growth, but also a fundamental step towards gender equality and societal well-being.
Q13. Explain the changes in cropping pattern in India in the context of changes in consumption pattern and marketing conditions. (Answer in 250 words) 15
Cropping pattern can be defined as the proportion of area under different crops at a point of time, changes in this distribution over time and factors determining these changes. In India, the cropping pattern is determined by rainfall, climate, temperature, soil type and technology.
Changes in cropping pattern in India owing to changes in the consumption pattern:
- Demand for nutritional crops: Increased disposable incomes have driven a transition from cereals to higher-nutrition crops like the cultivation of pulses in Rajasthan.
- Similarly, regions like Himachal Pradesh have witnessed the cultivation of exotic foods like avocados and kiwis due to improved affordability.
- Shift to Horticultural Crops: This change is influenced by the rising demand for fresh and processed fruits and vegetables in urban areas due to changing dietary habits and lifestyles.
- Increase in Cash Crops: The demand for these crops is driven by the textile and sugar industries.
- Demand for processed food: The rise in processed food consumption, driven by busy lifestyles, has boosted crops like potatoes and tomatoes in states like Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Punjab, Bihar, etc., as they serve as essential raw materials for products such as potato chips and tomato ketchup.
- Environmental consciousness: E.g., Sikkim has embraced fully organic farming in response to the growing consumer preference for organic products.
- Health consciousness: Increased health consciousness has generated a demand for healthier oils like olive and jojoba in regions like Rajasthan.
- Similarly, Millet and quinoa are gaining popularity due to their health benefits, leading to increased cultivation.
- Dairy farming and fuel feed: Increased dairy consumption has led to a growth in fodder crops like maize and sorghum.
- Additionally, bagasse from sugarcane is utilized for biofuel production in states like Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra.
- Horticultural crops: There is a noticeable increase in the cultivation of vegetables like tomatoes and bell peppers to meet the demand for fresh produce.
- Farmers are also planting a wider variety of vegetables, including zucchini and asparagus, to meet urban consumer preferences.
- Government policies: Government interventions such as Minimum Support Prices (MSP) and subsidies have shaped cropping patterns, impacting the consumption of crops like rice, wheat, and sugarcane, even in regions with water availability challenges.
- g. Madhya Pradesh used to produce Soybeans however, recently farmers have started growing rice and wheat.
- Diversification into Non-Food Crops: demand for industrial products like tires and biofuels, has created opportunities for farmers to grow non-food crops with market potential.
- External Factors: Changes in imports, such as a decline in oilseed imports from Southeast Asia, have spurred increased oilseed production in India, with production growing by nearly 43% from 2015-16 to 2020-21.
- Export potential: Globalization has exposed farmers to international markets, motivating them to grow crops for export.
- g. Cotton cultivation in the Punjab region despite the soil of Maharashtra and Gujarat is well suited for it.
These changes reflect the adaptability of Indian agriculture to evolving consumer preferences and market demands. They demonstrate how farmers are diversifying their crop choices to align with the changing landscape of consumption in India.
Q14. What are the direct and indirect subsidies provided to farm sector in India? Discuss the issues raised by the World Trade Organization(WTP) in relation to agricultural subsidies. (Answer in 250 words) 15
In India, the farm sector receives both direct and indirect subsidies to support agricultural activities and ensure food security. These subsidies aim to bolster farmers’ income, incentivize agricultural production, and stabilize prices.
Direct and indirect subsidies provided to farm sector in India:
- Minimum support price (MSP): The government announces a MSP for certain agricultural commodities, which is the price at which the government will purchase these commodities from farmers.
- Fertilizer subsidy: The government provides subsidies on fertilizers to make them affordable for farmers. This ensures access to essential nutrients for crop growth.
- g. Subsidy on fertilizer amounted to Rs 50000 Cr (FY 2023-24)
- Export promotion: APEDA offers logistical and non-tariff support services that facilitate the export promotion of agricultural products.
- Interest subsidy on agricultural loans: The government provides a subsidy on agricultural loans, which reduces the cost of borrowing for farmers.
- g., Credit subsidy: Farmers can access agricultural credit at lower interest rates through subsidized lending programs like Kisan Credit Cards (KCC).
- Direct payment Schemes:
- PM Kisan Samman Nidhi (PM-KISAN): A direct income support scheme that provides ₹6,000 per year to eligible farmers in three instalments.
- Public Distribution System (PDS): The PDS ensures the availability of essential food items to consumers at affordable prices. It indirectly supports farmers by stabilizing demand.
- The distribution of subsidized food grains through the PDS benefits both consumers and farmers.
- Electricity subsidy: Farmers often receive subsidized electricity for agricultural purposes, including irrigation and running machinery. g. Punjab.
- Crop Insurance Subsidy: The government subsidizes crop insurance premiums to protect farmers from crop losses due to natural disasters. For g. Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana (PMFBY) provides financial protection to farmers in case of crop failure due to natural calamities.
- Research and Extension Services: Investments in agricultural research and extension services indirectly benefit farmers by improving farming techniques and technologies.
Issues raised at WTO in relation to agricultural subsidies:
- Market Distortion: Subsidies, particularly price support measures like MSP, have been under scrutiny for distorting global agricultural markets by leading to overproduction and surplus dumping.
- g. In 2019, the United States filed a dispute against India at the WTO, alleging that India’s MSP for wheat and rice was a trade-distorting subsidy.
- Public stockholding program: India’s public stockholding program, aimed at ensuring food security for its population, has been a contentious issue in the context of international trade.
- WTO Agreement on Agriculture (AoA): India, as a WTO member, must adhere to the AoA rules, which set limits on the value of domestic support for agriculture.
- India’s procurement at MSP has, at times, exceeded these limits, leading to disputes and concerns among trading partners.
- Notification Obligations: WTO members must notify their agricultural subsidies to maintain transparency. India has faced criticism for delays and inconsistencies in its subsidy notifications.
- Peace Clause: India has relied on the Peace Clause, a WTO provision that temporarily shields it from legal action regarding its food security programs. This provision was used by India in 2020. However, this provision has been a subject of debate and negotiations within the WTO.
There is a global call for reforming agricultural subsidies to create a level playing field in international trade and address concerns related to market distortion.
Q15. The adoption of electric vehicles is rapidly growing worldwide. How do electric vehicles contribute to reducing carbon emissions and what are the key benefits they offer compared to traditional combustion engine vehicles? (Answer in 250 words) 15
An electric vehicle uses one or more electric motors or traction motors for propulsion. An electric vehicle may be powered through a self-contained battery, solar panels or an electric generator to convert fuel to electricity. India is among a handful of countries that support the global EV30@30 campaign, which aims for at least 30 per cent of new vehicle sales to be electric by 2030.
Electric vehicles contributing to reducing carbon emissions:
- Zero tailpipe emissions: A traditional gasoline car emits carbon dioxide (CO2) and other pollutants from its tailpipe during operation.
- In contrast, electric vehicles produce zero tailpipe emissions, reducing local air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions.
- Cleaner energy sources: When charged with electricity generated from renewable sources such as wind or solar power, EVs can be effectively powered with zero emissions, making them a sustainable choice.
- In certain regions of Germany, surplus wind energy is harnessed to charge EVs during periods of low electricity demand.
- Comprehensive Emission Reduction: Over their entire lifespan, electric vehicles (EVs) emit fewer greenhouse gases than equivalent gasoline-powered vehicles, considering manufacturing and disposal phases.
- Reduced Reliance on Oil: EVs do not rely on fossil fuels for their operation, reducing dependence on oil imports and enhancing overall energy security.
Benefits compared to traditional combustion engine vehicles:
- Energy Efficiency and Conservation: Conventional internal combustion engine vehicles have lower energy efficiency, with a considerable amount of energy wasted as heat during combustion.
- EVs are more energy-efficient, with electric drivetrains converting a higher percentage of energy into vehicle movement, leading to reduced overall energy consumption.
- Reduced Operating Costs: EVs require less maintenance due to fewer moving parts, eliminating the need for oil changes and reducing brake replacements.
- On average, annual maintenance costs for an EV are about 35% lower than those for an ICEV.
- Instant Torque: Electric motors deliver instant torque, providing rapid acceleration and responsive driving performance that enhances the driving experience.
- Regenerative braking: Many EVs employ regenerative braking systems, capturing and storing energy during braking. This energy is then used to recharge the battery, improving overall energy efficiency and extending the vehicle’s range.
- Quiet Operation: The absence of noisy internal combustion engines makes EVs notably quieter, contributing to reduced noise pollution in urban areas.
Various measures taken by the government to promote electric vehicles:
|Measures||Details and Initiatives|
|Draft Battery Swapping Policy||Proposed incentives for EVs with swappable batteries. Standards for interoperable batteries.|
|Subsidies for swappable battery manufacturers|
|Introduction of a battery-as-a-service business model|
|30×30 Target||The government aims for electric vehicles to constitute 30% of new car and two-wheeler sales by 2030.|
|FAME (Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of (Hybrid &) Electric Vehicles in India) Scheme||Part of the National Electric Mobility Mission Plan (NEMMP).Aims to support the development and manufacturing of hybrid and electric vehicles.|
|NEMMP (National Electric Mobility Mission Plan)||Launched to promote hybrid and electric vehicles, contributing to national fuel security.|
|Categorizing Charging Batteries as a Service||The Union Power Ministry categorizes battery charging as a service, allowing charging stations to operate without licenses.|
|Smart Cities Implementation||The development of smart cities is expected to boost the growth of electric vehicles by providing the necessary infrastructure and support.|
As technology continues to advance and charging infrastructure improves, the adoption of EVs is expected to accelerate, contributing to a more sustainable and cleaner transportation future.
Q16. What is the main task of India’s third mood mission which could not be achieved in its earlier mission? List the countries that have achieved this task. Introduce the subsystems in the spacecraft launched and explain the role of the ‘Virtual Launch Control Centre’ at the Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre which contributed to the successful launch from Sriharikota. (Answer in 250 words) 15
India’s Moon mission Chandrayaan-3 scripted history by successfully landing on the lunar surface. With the Lander accomplishing a ‘soft landing’ on the Moon’s south pole, India becomes the only country to have ever done so.
According to ISRO, the Chandrayaan-3 mission has three major objectives:
- Demonstrate a safe and soft landing on the surface of the Moon,
- Conduct rover operations on the Moon, and
- Conduct on-site experiments on the Lunar surface.
The main task of India’s third lunar mission, Chandrayaan-3, which could not be achieved in its earlier mission (Chandrayaan-2), is the successful soft landing on the Moon’s surface. Chandrayaan-2 experienced a setback with the lander’s failure to achieve a soft landing.
Countries that have landed on the moon:
|1959||Russia (Soviet Union)||Luna-2 (Hard Landed), Luna-9 (Soft Landed in 1966)|
|1969||United States||Apollo-11 (Soft Landed with Neil Armstrong & Buzz Aldrin)|
|2013||China||Chang’e-3 (Soft Landed with rover Yutu)|
|2019||China||Chang’e-4 (First mission to land on the dark/far side of the moon)|
|2023||India||Chandrayaan-3 (Soft Landed on the moon in 2023 with Pragyan rover)|
Broader technological and geopolitical dimensions of a mission to the moon:
- Propulsion Module (SHAPE): This module was designed for future exploration missions, with the goal of discovering smaller planets and identifying exo-planets within habitable zones similar to Earth. It aimed to expand our understanding of celestial bodies beyond our moon.
- Vikram Lander:
- RAMBHA: This component was responsible for measuring the near-surface plasma density (ions and electrons) on the moon and monitoring its changes over time.
- ChaSTE: It conducted thermal property measurements of the lunar surface near the polar region.
- ILSA: This module’s purpose was to measure lunar seismic activity around the landing site and provide insights into the moon’s crust and mantle structure.
- LRA: An experiment system designed to passively study the moon’s system, offering valuable data for lunar research.
- Pragyan Rover:
- LIBS: This system utilized Laser-Induced Breakdown Spectroscopy to determine the chemical composition of the moon’s surface. It conducted both quantitative and qualitative elemental analysis.
- APXS: Responsible for determining the elemental composition (Mg, Al, Si, K, Ca, Ti, Fe) of lunar soil and rocks in the vicinity of the landing site.
Role of the ‘Virtual Launch Control Centre’: While the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota served as the physical launch site and final launch command centre, the VLCC, located at Thumba, played a vital role in ensuring a smooth launch process.
- Real-Time monitoring: The VLCC facilitated continuous real-time monitoring of the launch activities from Sriharikota, ensuring a vigilant watch over the spacecraft’s status, rocket performance, and trajectory.
- Simulation and preparedness: The centre likely conducted comprehensive simulations and readiness tests, meticulously preparing for various potential contingencies and emergencies that could arise during the launch.
- Communication nexus: Serving as a central communication nexus, it facilitated seamless coordination among the launch team, mission control, and other relevant stakeholders, ensuring a well-coordinated launch operation.
- Comprehensive management: The VLCC maintained an overarching managerial role throughout the launch operation, orchestrating the integration and synchronization of all mission components, ultimately leading to the successful soft landing on the lunar south pole.
Chandrayaan 3 follows the lunar and planetary exploration agenda for the Indian space program, which has also included Chandrayaan 1 and 2 and the Mars Orbiter Mission. Chandrayaan-3’s success has the potential to inspire the next generation of scientists, and engineers, and position India as a leader in space technology on the global stage.
Q17. Comment on the National Wetland Conservation Programme initiated by the Government of India and name a few of India’s wetlands of international importance included in the Ramsar Sites. (Answer in 250 words) 15
The National Wetlands Conservation Programme (NWCP) is a Centrally Sponsored Scheme (CSS) by the Ministry of Environment, Forests & Climate Change implemented since 1986 for the purpose of preventing the nation’s wetlands from further deterioration.
National Wetland Conservation Programme initiated by the Government of India:
- New scheme: National Wetlands Conservation Programme (NWCP) and the National Lake Conservation Plan (NLCP) (implemented since 2001), was integrated as scheme of National Plan for Conservation of Aquatic Ecosystems (NPCA) in Feb 2013.
- Objective: The scheme aims at holistic conservation and restoration of wetlands for achieving the desired water quality enhancement, besides improvement in biodiversity and ecosystems. It aims to promote mainstreaming of wetlands in developmental programming with States by supporting formulation and implementation of integrated management plans, capacity development and research.
- Four-pronged approach:
- Track record: The Ministry had undertaken the ‘Wetlands Rejuvenation’ programme within the framework of 169 transformative ideas of the Government of India i.e., “Start work on Restoration & Rejuvenation of at least 100 major wetlands across the country”.
- Biodiversity preservation: The program has played a pivotal role in preserving biodiversity in wetlands. Many wetlands under NWCP protection are home to rare and migratory bird species, aquatic life, and unique plant
- Awareness and education: NWCP has raised awareness among local communities, government agencies, and the public about the importance of wetland conservation.
- Sustainable livelihoods: Activities like eco-tourism, fishing, and agriculture in wetland areas have been carried out in an environmentally friendly manner.
- Scientific research: The program has encouraged scientific research and monitoring of wetland ecosystems, leading to a better understanding of these complex habitats.
- Limited coverage: While NWCP has made significant strides, it may not cover all wetlands in the country.
- Interagency coordination: Effective wetland conservation often requires coordination between multiple government agencies, which can sometimes lead to administrative challenges and delays.
- Invasive species: Invasive species pose a threat to wetland ecosystems. Managing and controlling these species can be complex and resource-intensive.
- Climate change: Climate change poses a significant threat to wetlands, affecting their hydrology, water quality, and species composition.
- Data deficiency: Lack of comprehensive data on wetland ecosystems and their ecological health hinders effective conservation efforts.
India’s wetlands of international importance included in the Ramsar Sites:
- Banni Grasslands: As India’s largest grassland, It is particularly important for migratory birds and provides critical habitat for the endangered Indian wild ass.
- Chaurs of North Bihar: These low-lying floodplain wetlands in North Bihar serve as crucial habitats for migratory birds during the winter season.
- Majuli: As the largest river island in the world, Majuli in Assam is vital for its biodiversity and cultural significance.
- Gandhi Sagar: Situated in Madhya Pradesh, It is not only important for water management but also for its ecological significance.
- Pulicat lake: Straddling the border of Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu, Pulicat is a haven for waterfowl and other wildlife, making it a key Ramsar Site in India.
As India continues to address the challenges and opportunities associated with wetland conservation, it underscores the significance of safeguarding these invaluable ecosystems. The NWCP and Ramsar Sites represent vital steps toward achieving these goals and ensuring a sustainable and harmonious coexistence between people and wetlands in India.
Q18. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change(IPCC) has predicted a global sea level rise of about one metre by AD 2100. What would be its impact in India and the other countries in the Indian Ocean region? (Answer in 250 words) 15
The IPCC in its Special Report On The Ocean And Cryosphere In A Changing Climate (SROCC) has predicted a global sea level rise of about one metre by AD 2100.
Basis of the sea-level rise prediction:
- Thermal expansion: As global temperatures rise due to the accumulation of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, seawater absorbs heat and expands.
- This thermal expansion of seawater is a significant contributor to rising sea levels.
- Melting polar ice caps: The melting of glaciers and ice sheets in Antarctica and Greenland is a major driver of sea level rise.
- Warmer temperatures lead to the accelerated melting of ice, releasing freshwater into the ocean.
- Glacial retreat: Glaciers in mountainous regions around the world are retreating due to higher temperatures. This meltwater flows into the ocean, contributing to sea level rise.
- Antarctic ice sheet dynamics: Changes in the dynamics of the Antarctic ice sheet, including ice flow and calving of icebergs, can lead to increased ice discharge into the ocean, raising sea levels.
- Greenland ice sheet changes: Similar to Antarctica, the Greenland ice sheet is experiencing increased melting and ice loss, further contributing to sea level rise.
Impact on India and the other countries in the Indian Ocean region:
- Impact on population: A one-meter sea level rise could result in the displacement of millions of coastal residents, leading to a potential humanitarian crisis and social disruptions. India had a Low-Elevation Coastal Zones (LECZ) population of over 6 crores in 2000 which is projected to rise to 21 crores by 2060.
- Saline ingress: Higher sea levels can lead to the intrusion of saltwater into freshwater sources in coastal areas, affecting both drinking water availability and agriculture.
- Coastal erosion: Major coastal cities like Mumbai, Kolkata, and Chennai could face significant infrastructure damage and disruptions. Key ports and industrial zones may be at risk.
- Island territories: India has island territories in the Bay of Bengal and the Arabian Sea, such as the Andaman and Nicobar Islands and Lakshadweep. These islands are at risk of partial inundation and damage to critical infrastructure.
- Biodiversity: Coastal ecosystems, including mangroves and coral reefs, are critical for biodiversity and serve as natural buffers against storm surges. Sea level rise could threaten these ecosystems and the species they support.
Countries of the Indian Ocean Region (IOR):
- Small Island nations: Nations like the Maldives and Seychelles are exceptionally vulnerable to such a sea level rise.
- Low-elevation countries: Countries with low-lying coastal regions, such as Bangladesh and parts of Sri Lanka and Indonesia, are at risk of more frequent and severe flooding, impacting agriculture, infrastructure, and human settlements.
- Coral reefs: Many island countries are coral reef-based land which is deteriorating from heat, acidity, and sea-level rise; all a combined effect of climate change.
- East African coast: Nations along the East African coast, including Kenya, Tanzania, and Somalia, may experience coastal erosion, flooding, and damage to critical infrastructure. This region is already facing terrorism and instability which could be furthered by such stress.
- Change in maritime boundaries: Sea level rise could lead to changes in maritime boundaries and territorial claims, potentially resulting in disputes among countries in the region.
Addressing these challenges requires global and regional cooperation, adaptation strategies, and concerted efforts to mitigate further sea level rise by reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The Indian Ocean region must work collaboratively to develop resilience measures that protect coastal populations, preserve ecosystems, and ensure the sustainable future of this critical and culturally diverse part of the world. In this regard, India’s National Action Plan on Climate Change (NAPCC) stands as an apt framework to follow for the region and beyond.
Q19. What are the internal security challenges being faced by India? Give out the role of Central Intelligence and Investigative Agencies tasked to counter such threats. (Answer in 250 words) 15
India faces a myriad of internal security challenges that demand constant vigilance and coordinated efforts. From terrorism emanating from various sources to left-wing extremism, communal tensions, and cyber threats, the country’s internal security landscape is multifaceted.
Internal security challenges being faced by India:
According to the Ministry of Home Affairs, Internal security issues in the country can broadly be categorized as follows:
- Terrorism in the hinterland of the country: Various terrorist groups, both domestic and international, operate within the country. Examples include Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM), and indigenous outfits. Recent incidents, such as the 2008 Mumbai attacks and the 2019 Pulwama attack, illustrate the gravity of the challenge.
- Left-wing extremism (LWE) in certain areas: Left-Wing Extremism, often referred to as Naxalism or Maoism continues to pose a significant threat in certain states, particularly in central and eastern India.
- Insurgency in the North Eastern States: Several states in the Northeastern region have experienced insurgencies rooted in demands for autonomy, ethnic identity, and resource control. These insurgencies have led to conflicts, with organizations like the United Liberation Front of Assam (ULFA) and the National Socialist Council of Nagaland (NSCN) active in the region.
- Cross-Border terrorism in Jammu & Kashmir: Jammu and Kashmir have long been a focal point of cross-border terrorism, with Pakistan-based militant groups launching attacks.
- Others: India also faces additional internal security challenges, including communal and religious tensions that sometimes escalate into violence. Cybersecurity threats have emerged with the growth of the internet and technology, posing risks to critical infrastructure and data security.
Role of Central Intelligence and Investigative Agencies tasked to counter such threats:
|Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA)||Responsible for policy and coordination of internal security matters in India, including setting strategic direction for counter-terrorism efforts and overseeing agencies involved in maintaining internal security.|
|Intelligence Bureau (IB)||India’s premier internal intelligence agency provides actionable intelligence to law enforcement agencies and policymakers. It contributes to the prevention of terrorist activities and the maintenance of law and order.|
|National Investigation Agency (NIA)||A specialized agency dedicated to counter-terrorism and national security investigations. Established in 2008, it conducts thorough investigations, collects evidence, and builds strong cases against individuals and organizations involved in terrorism and related activities.|
|Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI)||India’s premier investigative agency is responsible for complex cases, including corruption, economic offences, and major criminal cases.|
|Multi-Agency Centre (MAC)||Operates under the IB and serves as a hub for the collation and analysis of intelligence from various sources. Facilitates intelligence-sharing among multiple agencies.|
|Combating Financing of Terrorism Cell (CFT)||Focuses on tracking and disrupting financial networks supporting terrorist activities. Collaborates with financial institutions to identify suspicious transactions and freeze terrorism-related assets.|
|Research and Analysis Wing (R&AW)||Primarily an external intelligence agency but occasionally addresses internal security threats, especially when cross-border links to terrorism are involved.|
|National Technical Research Organisation (NTRO)||Specializes in technical intelligence and surveillance, assisting in monitoring and countering various threats, including cyber threats, and providing technical support to other agencies.|
|National Intelligence Grid (NATGRID)||An ambitious project aimed at creating a centralized database of various agencies’ data to enhance intelligence-sharing and analysis, improving threat assessment by various agencies.|
|Paramilitary forces (e.g., CRPF, BSF, NSG)||Play critical roles in maintaining internal security, providing significant ground-level intelligence and investigation feedback.|
In the ongoing efforts to address these challenges, the role of Central Intelligence and Investigative Agencies is pivotal. Their dedication, cooperation, and expertise are integral to maintaining the nation’s security and upholding the rule of law. Through their combined efforts, these agencies contribute to the protection of India’s democratic values and the safety and security of its citizens.
Q20. Give out the major sources of terror funding in India and efforts being made to curtail these sources. In the light of this, also discuss the aim and objective of the ‘ No Money for Terror [NMFT]’ Conference recently held at New Delhi in November 2022. (Answer in 250 words) 15
India has been particularly vulnerable to terror with its geographic position and demography in a globalised world. It has been
ranked 13 out of 163 on the Global Terrorism Index 2022 with an overall score of 7.17/10.
Major sources of terror funding in India:
- Foreign Funding: Foreign terrorist organizations and sponsors often provide funds to terrorist groups operating in India. These funds may come from state and non-state actors.
- Hawala Transactions: The informal hawala system is commonly used for transferring money across borders discreetly. Terrorist groups exploit this system to move funds clandestinely.
- Smuggling and Trade-Based Money Laundering: Terror outfits engage in illegal trade activities, such as smuggling goods and narcotics, to generate funds. These activities provide a significant source of revenue.
- Extortion and Kidnapping: Extortion and ransom payments from businesses, individuals, or governments can serve as a source of income for terrorist groups.
- Charities and Front Organizations: Terror organizations misuse charitable organizations and front companies to funnel funds for their operations. They exploit the cover of philanthropic activities to raise and move money.
- Counterfeit Currency: Counterfeit currency is used by terrorists to inject funds into the economy discreetly. It can undermine a nation’s financial stability and facilitate illicit activities.
Efforts are being made to curtail these sources:
- India’s six-pillared strategy against the financing of terrorism:
- Strengthening the Legislative and Technological Framework
- Creation of a Comprehensive Monitoring Framework
- Actionable intelligence sharing mechanism and strengthening of the investigation and police operations
- Provision for confiscation of property
- Prevent misuse of legal entities and new technologies, and,
- Establishing international cooperation and coordination
- Institutional measures:
- Enforcement Directorate (ED): The ED is the principal agency responsible for enforcing laws related to foreign exchange, money laundering, and economic offences. It investigates cases of money laundering and the illegal transfer of funds.
- Intelligence Bureau (IB): IB gathers intelligence on various internal security threats, including terrorism. It provides actionable intelligence to law enforcement agencies to counter terror financing.
- Reserve Bank of India (RBI): RBI is India’s central bank and plays a regulatory role in ensuring that financial institutions comply with anti-money laundering (AML) and counter-terrorism financing (CTF) regulations.
- Financial Intelligence Unit – India (FIU-IND) is the central, national agency responsible for receiving, processing, analysing and disseminating information relating to suspect financial transactions to enforcement agencies and foreign FIUs.
- International cooperation: India has entered into agreements and partnerships with various countries to combat terror financing globally. It is part of international forums like the Financial Action Task Force (FATF).
- Legislative reforms: India has enacted and amended stringent laws like the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) and the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) to combat terror financing.
- Use of technology: Authorities are being empowered to employ advanced surveillance and financial tracking technologies to monitor suspicious financial transactions. They use data analytics to identify patterns and connections in financial activities.
- Global initiatives: India has been actively involved in global initiatives like the ‘No Money for Terror’ Conference, which aims to strengthen international collaboration in countering terror financing.
Aim and objective of the ‘No Money for Terror [NMFT]’ Conference recently held in New Delhi in November 2022:
- About: The “No Money for Terror” conference was initiated in 2018 by the lead of the French government to specifically focus on cooperation between countries to curb terror funding.
- Editions: The inaugural conference was held in Paris in 2018 to combat the financing of ISIS/Daesha and Al-Qaeda. The second edition was held in Melbourne, Australia in 2019 to further enhance and implement measures like UNSC resolution 2462 and FATF standards. The New Delhi meet is the 3rd edition.
- Aim and Objective:
- Theme: ‘Global Trends in Terrorist Financing and Terrorism’
- Understand the “Mode – Medium – Method” of Terror Financing and adopt the principle of ‘One Mind, One Approach’ in cracking down on them.
- Technological upgradation of efforts as terror financing moves towards emerging technologies like cryptocurrency, metaverse, and other virtual assets.
- Stress on dismantling terrorist safe havens and linkages with organised crime networks, especially, Narco-terror networks.
- Improving information sharing, interagency cooperation, and developing technical capacities for the achievement of the above objectives.
By tackling the financial underpinnings of terrorism, India and the international community demonstrate their unwavering commitment to ensuring that terrorist organizations are deprived of the resources they need to carry out their destructive activities. The use and regulation of emerging technologies is the current need of the hour in this regard.
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