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[Mission 2024] Insights SECURE SYNOPSIS: 9 January 2024

 

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: Indian culture will cover the salient aspects of Art Forms, literature and Architecture from ancient to modern times.

1. Delhi Sultanate played a pivotal role in introducing Islamic architectural styles to India. The subsequent fusion with indigenous Indian architectural elements led to the evolution of a distinctive Indo-Islamic style. Discuss. (250 words)

Difficulty level: Moderate

Reference: Insights on India

Why the question:

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

Key Demand of the question:

To write about the nature of architecture under Sultans of Delhi, its evolution and influence of earlier India architecture on them.

Directive word: 

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

Structure of the answer:

Introduction: 

Begin by mentioning the with arrival of Turks, new form of architecture got introduced in India.

Body:

First, mention the major religious and secular structures constructed under the various dynasties of the Sultanate with a special reference to Tughlaq dynasty.

Next, write about significant and new changes in construction technologies introduced by the Sultans. Give examples of few monuments.

Next, mention the influences of earlier Indian architecture which was adopted by Sultans of Delhi. Cite examples by substantiating.

Conclusion:

Conclude by summarising.

Introduction

The Muslim invasions into India had ultimately resulted in the establishment of Delhi Sultanate which existed from A.D. 1206 to 1526. Five different dynasties – the Slave, Khalji, Tughlaq, Sayyids and Lodis – ruled under the Delhi Sultanate. New architectural forms and styles were introduced in India during the medieval period. The synthesis of Indian and Islamic architectural features led to emergence of Indo-Saracenic or Indo-Islamic architecture.

Body

The Indo-Islamic architecture under the sultans of Delhi includes both religious and secular structures

  • Both secular and religious buildings are influenced by Indo-Islamic architecture which exhibit Indian, Islamic, Persian, Central Asian, Arabic and Ottoman Turkish influences.

Religious buildings

  • Earliest example of building activity by a Sultan of Delhi was the Quwat-ul-Islam mosques built by Qutub-ud-din Aibak.
  • Another architectural specimen of this period was the mosques-Arhai Din ka Jhonpra, built at Ajmer.
  • Other notable imperial monuments constructed by Iltutmish were Hauz-i-Shamshi, Shamsi-idgah, the Jami Masjid at Badaun and the Atarkin ka Darwaza at Nagpur.
  • Alauddin Khilji built Jamait Khan Mosque at the shrine of Nizam -ud-din Auliya and the Alai Darwaza at the Qutub Minar.
  • The Tombs of Mubarak Shah and Muhammad Shah of the Sayyid Dynasty and the Tomb of Sikandar Lodhi of the Lodhi Dynasty were noteworthy architectural specimens of the Sayyid and Lodhi rule.

Secular Buildings

  • The most magnificent piece of architecture of this era was the Qutub Minar. Qutub-ud-din Aibak started the construction of the Qutub Minar at Delhi but could not complete it during his life time. It was completed by Iltutmish.
  • Alauddin Khilji founded the city of Siri and built a palace of thousand pillar within it,
  • Alauddin Khilji also constructed a magnificent tank known  as the Hauz-i-Khas near the city of Siri.
  • The city of Tughlaqabaad constructed by GhiyasuddinTughlaq was a notable construction of the Tughlaq rule.
  • Mohammad bin Tughlaq constructed the new city of Jahanpanah near the City of old Delhi, the fort of Adilabaad and some other buildings in Daulatabaad.
  • The city of Firozabaad, Firoz shah Kotla fort- palace were important imperial constructions of the time of Firoz Shah Tughlaq

The new structural changes introduced by the Sultanate rulers

  • The Turks introduced arche and dome method, slab and beam method, lofty towers or minarets and decorations using the Arabic script. They used the skill of the Indian stone cutters.
  • The use of lime-mortarin the construction of buildings and houses altered the building techniques
  • They also added colour to their buildings by using marbles, red and yellow sand stones.
  • Synthesis of indigenous motifsuch as ball motif, lotus etc.
  • In the beginning, they converted temples and other structures demolished into mosques. For example, the Quwwat-ul-Islam mosque near Qutub Minar in Delhi was built by using the materials obtained from destroying many Hindu and Jain temples.
  • Later, they began to construct new structures. The most magnificent building of the 13th century was the Qutub Minar which was founded by Aibek and completed by Iltutmish.
  • With the arrival of artisans from West Asia the arch and dome began to show up with precision and perfection. Gradually local artisans also acquired the skill. The tomb of Balban was adorned with the first true archand the Alai Darwaza built by Alaud-din Khalji as a gateway to the Quwwatul-Islam Mosque is adorned with the first true dome.
  • Tughlaqs went for introduction of innovative features in architecture also, such as
    • “batter” or sloping walls
    • use of stone rubble as the principle building material
    • a new type of arch called the four centred arch
    • the emergence of the pointed dome
    • the introduction of an octagonal plan of tomb building.

Conclusion

Later on, with the Mughals, the art of pietra dura, jali work became more prominent. They also built lofty forts, palaces and cities. The Mughals were also fond of laying gardens with running water, which is an extension of gardens introduced by Delhi Sultanate. Delhi Sultanate paved way for large scale construction of buildings in Indo-Islamic architecture.

 

Topic: Indian culture will cover the salient aspects of Art Forms, literature and Architecture from ancient to modern times.

2. Trace the evolution of Mughal architecture under various Mughal emperors with a special emphasis on architectural development under Shahjahan. (250 words)

Difficulty level: Easy

Reference: Insights on India

Why the question:

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

Key Demand of the question:

To write about the gradual evolution of Mughal architecture under various Mughal rulers by identifying major elements of change.

Structure of the answer:

Introduction: 

In brief, write about the grandeur of Mughal architecture and emergence of a distinct style of their own.

Body:

In the body, trace the development of various styles of architecture, aesthetic awareness with example. Babur and Humayun – Not much progress but cite a few examples of the constructed.

Akbar – A very distinct style emerged. The initial use of styles of Bengal and Gujarat in monuments at Agra. Then a distinctive style at monuments at Fathepur Sikri and Delhi. Jahangir – mention the new features added and changes witnessed with examples.

Shahjahan – write about how Mughal architecture reached its Zenith under him. Distinct features with examples. Aurangzeb – How his reign is marked with less patronage for arts but nevertheless a few buildings were constructed.

Conclusion:

Summarize the contributions of the Mughal rulers to Indian art and architecture.

Introduction

Mughal architecture, building style that flourished in northern and central India under the patronage of the Mughal emperors from the mid-16th to the late 17th century. The Mughal period marked a striking revival of Islamic architecture in northern India. Under the patronage of the Mughal emperors, Persian, Turkish, Indian, and various provincial styles were fused to produce works of unusual quality and refinement.

Body

Important Features of Mughal Architecture:

  • Blend of Indian, Persian, and Turkish architectural style.
  • Different types of buildings, such as majestic gates (entrances), forts, mausoleums, palaces, mosques, sarais, etc.
  • Building material: Mostly, red sandstone and white marble were used.
  • Specific features such as the Charbagh style (garden layout) of the mausoleums, pronounced bulbous domes, slender turrets at the corners, broad gateways, beautiful calligraphy, arabesque, and geometric patterns on pillars and walls, and palace halls supported on pillars.
  • The arches, chhatri, and various styles of domes became hugely popular in the Indo-Islamic architecture and were further developed under the Mughals.
  • It became so widespread especially in north India that these can be seen further in the colonial architecture of Indo-Sarcenic style.

Evolution of Mughal Architecture

  • Babur
    • Due to his short reign (1526-1530), most of which was spent in wars, Babur could not leave any significant construction except the mosque of Kabuli Bagh at Panipat and Jama Masjid at Sambhal near Delhi.
    • Babur also built Ram Bagh, the first Mughal Garden in India (1528) in Charbagh Style located in Agra.
  • Humayun
    • Humayun succeeded Babur, but throughout his reign, he was constantly embroiled in a struggle with Sher Shah Suri.
    • He laid the foundation of the city named Dinpanah but could not finish it.
    • Humayun’s Tomb, also known as the precursor of the Taj Mahal was the first imposing structure of the Mughals which was built by his widow Hamida Begum and designed by Persian architect Mirak Mirza Ghiyas.
    • The mausoleum built upon a raised platform is a mix of Indian and Persian artistry using red sandstone and white marble.
    • It has a Persian Charbagh style. The tomb was declared as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1993.
    • The Taj Mahal is the climax and therefore perhaps the most famous monument built under the Charbagh layout.
  • Sher Shah Suri (Sur Dynasty):
    • He built the Quila-e-Quanah mosque of Old Fort in Delhi, Rohtas Fort in Pakistan, Sher Shah Suri Masjid in Patna in Afghan-style
    • He also built the famous Grand Trunk Road.
    • His period saw the transition from Lodhi style to the Mughal style of architecture.
  • Akbar:
    • The reign of Akbar (1556-1605) witnessed immense developments in Mughal art and architecture.
    • He built the city of Fatehpur Sikri which was the first planned city of the Mughals and served as his capital from 1571 to 1585.
    • BulandDarwaza (1576, built to commemorate Akbar’s victory over Gujarat kings), Jama MasjidDiwan-i-aam, Diwan-i-khaas, Birbal’s house, Tomb of Saint Salim Chisthi are some of the important monuments in Fatehpur Sikri.
    • He also built the Govind Dev temple in Vrindavan.
  • Jahangir:
    • The prince had a special appreciation for the paintings over architecture.
    • He built the tomb of Itimad-ud-Daula (father of his wife Nur Jahan) displaying the world’s finest Pietra-dura works and completed Akbar’s tomb at Sikandra.
    • He also built the famous Shalimar Bagh in Srinagar, Moti Masjid at Lahore.
  • Shah Jahan:
    • He immortalized himself as he built the Taj Mahal in the memory of his late wife, Mumtaz Mahal.
    • He is rightly called ‘the prince of builders’ as the Mughal architecture reached its zenith under his reign.
    • He built Shahjahanabad, the 7th city of Delhi, today is known as Old Delhi.
    • He made extensive use of white marble as opposed to red sandstone which was preferred by his predecessors.
    • He also built the Jama Masjid in Delhi, Moti Masjid in the Agra Fort, and the Sheesh Mahal in the Lahore Fort brilliantly using pietra dura and complex mirror work.
  • Aurangzeb:
    • He preferred simplicity over the grandeur and repaired more mosques than he built.
    • Aurangzeb is also said to have destroyed numerous Hindu temples as well.
    • A beautiful pearl mosque in the Red Fort, Delhi, and the Bibi ka Maqbara in Aurangabad for his wife are only a few notable mentions in his long reign.
    • Thus, overall the Mughal architecture saw a decline in the Aurangzeb’s reign.

Conclusion

Thus, stating the seemingly obvious, Mughal architecture developed into a one of a kind architectural style which has withstood the test of time. It is appreciated widely by people all across the world due to its distant features as discussed above. It is up to us architects of India to carry forward and preserve our traditional styles of architecture and create something new that is looked upon with pride by our future generations.

 

 


General Studies – 2


 

Topic: Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests, Indian diaspora.

3. The UAE-India relationship is built upon consistent and constructive dialogue, visionary leadership, and mutual respect, which can lead to a robust and dynamic partnership. Analyse. (250 words)

Difficulty level: Moderate

Reference: Live MintInsights on India

Why the question:

India’s unflinching support throughout the United Arab Emirates’ presidency of CoP-28, and that of the UAE of India’s G20 presidency, are indicative of the importance that both our countries place upon this partnership.

Key Demand of the question:

To write about the growing India-UAE relations in aspects of trade, energy, diaspora as well as security.

Directive word: 

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

Structure of the answer:

Introduction: 

Begin by giving context of growing India-UAE relations in the past.

Body:

In the first part, in brief, giving an account of tries between India-U.A.E till recent times. (You can make use of a flow chart for better presentation).

Next, describe the trade relations – in terms of trade, investments, technology, infrastructure, diaspora and cultural contacts etc. Write about the relations in relation with energy and diaspora.

Next, write about the major pillars of friendship between the both nations.

Conclusion:

Conclude with a way forward for realisation of a long and stable partnership.

Introduction

India and United Arab Emirates (UAE) enjoy strong bonds of friendship based on age-old cultural, religious and economic ties between the two nations. As UAE ‘Look East’ to find partners for its economic growth and with security concerns emanating from turmoil in West Asia and growing threat from terrorism, it finds a natural partner in India. UAE is India’s closest partner in the Arab world and fortunately, there is enough resilience in bilateral ties to withstand minor convulsions.

India and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) recently finalised four agreements, including in food processing and renewable energy, to take forward cooperation within the I2U2 grouping as Prime Minister Narendra Modi and UAE President Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan held talks on bolstering bilateral ties.

 Body

India-UAE relations: Growth in strategic aspect and security

  • Energy Security: UAE is the 5th largest import source and accounts for about 6% of our total crude imports. Both signed agreements related to energy security on acquisition of stakes in Lower Zakum oil and gas field.
  • Investment: The UAE government has committed USD 75 billion towards developing Indian infrastructure. The NIIF entered into an agreement with a Dubai based firm for investment up to USD 3 billion.
  • Important trading Partner: Bilateral trade with UAE stood at around USD 59 billion last year.
  • Indian Community: More than 2.5 million Indians live in the UAE, which is among the largest number of expatriates anywhere in the world, repatriating $13.6 billion a year to India.
  • Shared Security Concern: The two countries have a common interest in ensuing maritime security in the Indian Ocean and the Gulf region.
    • Further, given the current state of flux in West Asia, India sees the UAE as an important partner to maintain peace and stability in the region.
    • In this background India looks to enhance security cooperation with the Gulf countries including the UAE to counter terrorist threats and combat online radicalization.
  • Defense: Défense exercises are increasingly undertaken. For example, ‘Desert Eagle II’, a ten-day air combat exercise, was held in May-June 2016 between the air forces of India and UAE. Also, both elevated their relationship to Comprehensive Strategic Partnership agreement and have move beyond just buyer-seller relationship.
  • Maritime security: India approved the bilateral pact on maritime education and training and a MoU to facilitate and promote maritime transport, simplification of customs and facilitation of use of existing installations for the disposal of waste.

 

Challenges

  • Slow implementation process: As far as investments are concerned, the systemic problem faced due to slow implementation of various projects from Indian side is a major obstacle.
  • Lack of commercial clarity in UAE: Indian companies operating in the UAE also face problems due to lack of clarity in many aspects of commercial regulations, labour laws and lack of transparency on part of Emirati businesses.
  • Decrease in opportunities for Indian workers: There is also a need to smoothen problems faced by Indian migrants due to cumbersome and strict regulations that favour the Emirati employers and at times leads to serious problems for Indian workers, especially unskilled workers.

Conclusion

The growing engagements between India and the UAE has to be seen within the broader contexts of UAE’s policy of engaging with Asia to improve economic prospects and India’s search for foreign investments to expedite economic growth and address the threat of extremism and terrorism.

Medical tourism can be an important area where India can attract UAE given India’s high quality man power in medical sector and improving medical infrastructure in the country.

There are further untapped potentials in the arena of renewable energy. The cost for production and transmission of solar energy in the UAE are a fraction to that of India and this is a priority area for the UAE government.

 

Topic: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.

4. The implementation of the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (IBC), 2016 has faced operational challenges, including delays in the resolution process. Critically analyse. (250 words)

Difficulty level: Moderate

Reference: The HinduInsights on India

Why the question:

During the resolution plan approval, only about 15% is paid by the purchaser and the repayment takes years without any further interest collected by the banks, according to the financial stability report released by banking regulator Reserve Bank of India on December 28, 2023.

Key Demand of the question:

To write about the various issues in IBC and steps needed to resolve it.

Directive word: 

Critically analyze – When asked to analyse, you must examine methodically the structure or nature of the topic by separating it into component parts and present them in a summary. When ‘critically’ is suffixed or prefixed to a directive, one needs to look at the good and bad of the topic and give a balanced judgment on the topic.

Structure of the answer:

Introduction: 

Begin by writing about Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (IBC) its aims and objectives.

Body:

First, list down the various features and achievements of IBC since its introduction.

Next, write about the various limitations in the performance of IBC.

Next, write about the reform that is needed to ensure that IBC performance leads to strengthening of its supporting role in capital formation and economic growth of the country.

Conclusion:

Conclude with a way forward.

Introduction


Reference: 
Indian Express , Insights on India

Why the question:

The editorial discusses the need for regulatory clarity regarding the order of clearance in insolvency cases. It highlights that there is a lack of clarity in the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (IBC) regulations, particularly concerning the priority of payments to various stakeholders in the insolvency process.

Key Demand of the question:

To write about the various issues in IBC and steps needed to resolve it.

Directive word: 

Critically analyze – When asked to analyse, you must examine methodically the structure or nature of the topic by separating it into component parts and present them in a summary. When ‘critically’ is suffixed or prefixed to a directive, one needs to look at the good and bad of the topic and give a balanced judgment on the topic.

Structure of the answer:

Introduction: 

Begin by writing about Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (IBC) its aims and objectives.

Body:

First, list down the various features and achievements of IBC since its introduction.

Next, write about the various limitations in the performance of IBC.

Next, write about the reform that is needed to ensure that IBC performance leads to strengthening of its supporting role in capital formation and economic growth of the country.

Conclusion:

Conclude with a way forward.

Introduction

The game-changing IBC law made its debut in 2016, in the form of India’s Insolvency and Bankruptcy (IBC) Code, which allowed companies an easy and time-bound exit. The IBC effected a tectonic shift in the way lending was perceived. At the start of its implementation, a default as small as ₹1 lakh could lead to insolvency proceedings being initiated by the affected creditor. This gave creditors the confidence that borrowers, especially promoters, would take their debt obligations seriously.

During the resolution plan approval, only about 15% is paid by the purchaser and the repayment takes years without any further interest collected by the banks, according to the financial stability report released by banking regulator Reserve Bank of India on December 28, 2023.

Body

Success of IBC Code

  • The IBC has initiated a cultural shift in the dynamics between lender and borrower, promoter and creditor. It played a critical role in reshaping behaviour of borrowers.
  • Before enactment of the IBC, the recovery mechanisms available to lenders were through Lok Adalat, Debt Recovery Tribunal and SARFAESI Act.
    • While the earlier mechanisms resulted in a low average recovery of 23%, the recoveries have risen to 43% under the IBC regime.
  • Since enactment of the IBC, India significantly improved its ‘Resolving Insolvency’ ranking 108 in 2019 from 134 in 2014 where it remained stagnant for several years.
  • India won the Global Restructuring Review award for the most improved jurisdiction in 2018.
  • An IMF-World Bank study in January 2018 observed that India is moving towards a new state-of-the-art bankruptcy regime.
  • Insolvency law has led to stability in financial systems.
  • Recovery through the IBC was about Rs 70,000 crore in fiscal 2019 twice the amount recovered through other resolution mechanisms such as the Debt Recovery Tribunal, Securitisation and Reconstruction of Financial Assets and Enforcement of Securities Interest Act, and Lok Adalat in fiscal 2018.
  • The recovery rate is also twice the liquidation value for these 94 cases, which underscores the value maximisation possible through the IBC process.

Issues persisting

  • In its initial years, the IBC faced teething problems and it was expected that with the passage of time, these will be resolved and its functioning will improve.
  • However, according to the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Board of India (IBBI) newsletter for January-March 2022, 7% of all the cases admitted for the corporate insolvency resolution process (CIRP) since 2016 that have been closed, 11% have been withdrawn, about 14 % settled, 30% liquidated and 9% resolved (wherein a resolution plan was approved).
  • Data released by the IBBI shows that the resolution rate of cases under CIRP is rather low and that the number of cases seeing liquidation are three times more than those being resolved.
  • Thus, it is clear that the CoC and courts have been bottlenecks for the IBC’s success.
  • Banks, especially those in the public sector, are unable to take pragmatic decisions as any risk-taking that could potentially yield a low rate of dues recovery in the short term may be subjected to vigilance inquiries and audits.

Measures to be taken

  • Freedom to banks: Allow banks to take bold decisions and not create an environment where they limit their decisions to choosing the ‘L1’ or lowest possible haircut quote in fear of future trouble.
    • Most importantly, banks need to be freed of this regulatory overhang so that they can take bold measures for restructuring.
    • To achieve this, bankers should be protected for bona fide decision-making during the resolution process, based on a premise like the ‘business judgement’ rule available for board directors in many countries.
  • Written plea: Also, given that most of the delay occurs at the stage of case admission, it is worth making applications for admission under sections 7, 9 and 10 of the IBC disposable on a written plea rather than on oral arguments.
  • Further, one could identify provisions under the IBC where courts are mandated not to adjudicate but only administrate.
    • But concerns will remain over the expertise of commercial court judges to decide on such matters.
    • Commercial courts need fresh talent with an understanding of business for proper decision-making.
  • The insolvency litigation procedure should aim at reducing the duration of the process and also case volumes, so as to reduce uncertainties that result.
    • This can be done by shortening the window within which a party must lodge a claim, whether it is an initial challenge or an appeal, which elsewhere is often shorter than in other civil or criminal litigation.
    • In France, it is usually 10 days; in 2021, through insolvency and restructuring law reforms, it extended this further by providing for the full judicial resolution of certain disputes ahead of the confirmation of a restructuring plan by a court.
    • In the same spirit of limiting insolvency litigation, the reform also limits which parties may initiate certain legal actions.
    • These entail court-appointed insolvency practitioners or parties involved in the restructuring process.
  • Another feature that is worth weighing is to either give some adjudicating power to the case’s insolvency professional or appoint a supervisory judge for each case. In France, such judges have exclusive power to authorize important settlements with the insolvent company, some of which also require insolvency court ratification.
    • They are often the first to decide an issue, and though their decisions are subject to challenge at the insolvency court and the latter’s decision can be challenged before a court of appeal, insolvency courts tend to confirm the orders of supervisory judges.
      • Most litigants expect they would need to escalate their case to a court of appeal to effectively challenge a supervisory judge’s decision, which is not easy.

 

Conclusion

In conclusion, we need a serious rethink on how to design a suitable insolvency ecosystem for India amid our existing challenges of limited court capacity and high regulatory cholesterol. Whatever the government decides, it is important to act in time before the IBC loses its sheen and stakeholders who looked up to this law as a saviour give up hope and search of a newer regime.

 

Value Addition

About IBC

The IBC was enacted in 2016, replacing a host of laws, with the aim to streamline and speed up the resolution process of failed businesses.

The Code also consolidates provisions of the current legislative framework to form a common forum for debtors and creditors of all classes to resolve insolvency.

The Code creates various institutions to facilitate resolution of insolvency. These are as follows:

  • Insolvency Professionals.
  • Insolvency Professional Agencies.
  • Information Utilities.
  • Adjudicating authorities: The National Companies Law Tribunal (NCLT); and the Debt Recovery Tribunal (DRT).
  • Insolvency and Bankruptcy Board.

 


General Studies – 3


 

Topic: Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment.

5.  The European Union (EU)’s Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism (CBAM) can play a crucial role in addressing climate change. However, it must be designed and implemented with careful consideration of fairness, effectiveness, and broad acceptance. Examine. (250 words)

Difficulty level: Moderate

Reference: The Hindu

Why the question: 

A concerning development for India is the European Union (EU)’s Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism (CBAM). The policy, which intends to tax carbon-intensive products coming into the EU from 2026, is divided into two phases, with the first phase (transitional phase) kicking in from October 1, 2023.

Key Demand of the question:

To write European Union (EU)’s Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism (CBAM) and its impact on India.

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 giving context of European Union’s carbon tax.

Body:

First, write about concept of the carbon tax and rationale behind it – a tax levied on the carbon content of fuels, generally in the transport and energy sector. Carbon taxes are a form of carbon pricing. The term carbon tax is also used to refer to a carbon dioxide equivalent tax, the latter of which is quite similar but can be placed on any type of greenhouse gas or combination of greenhouse gases, emitted by any economic sector.

Next, write about the limitations of the above and how it impacts developing countries like India.

Conclusion:

Conclude with a way forward.

Introduction

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

A concerning development for India is the European Union (EU)’s Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism (CBAM). The policy, which intends to tax carbon-intensive products coming into the EU from 2026, is divided into two phases, with the first phase (transitional phase) kicking in from October 1, 2023.

Body

Background

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

Impact on global market

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

Impacts on India:

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

Long term impacts on India:

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

Way forward:

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

Conclusion

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

 


General Studies – 4


 

Topic: Probity in Governance: Concept of public service; Philosophical basis of governance and probity;

6. Combating corruption requires comprehensive efforts, including robust legal frameworks, effective enforcement mechanisms, and a commitment to promoting transparency, accountability, and ethical conduct at all levels of society. Analyse. (150 words)

Difficulty level: Easy

Why the question:

The question is part of the static syllabus of General studies paper – 4.

Key Demand of the question:

To write about the impact of corruption and measures needed to prevent it.

Directive word: 

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

Structure of the answer:

Introduction: 

Begin by defining corruption.

Body:

First, write about the factors that aid corruption – opportunity costs, quid pro quo, acceptance of corruption etc. Write about its impact on various dimensions. Substantiate with examples,

Next, suggest various measures to break the cycle of collusive corruption.

Conclusion:

Conclude by Summarising.

Introduction

Collusive Corruption is a form of corruption in which bribe giver and bribe taker together fleece society for personal gains creating a win-win situation for themselves. There are two dimensions of corruption. One is the exploitative corruption where the public servant exploits the helpless poor citizen. The other is collusive corruption where the citizen corrupts the public servant by a bribe because he gets financially better benefits.

Body

Factors that aid collusive corruption in India

  • Collusive corruption depends on black money. There is more than 5 lakh crores of black money in circulation in India even after demonetisation.
  • There is a lot of discretionary powers to civil servants which lead to corruption. Even petty corruption is aided by bribe givers.
  • Due to non-transparency in working of a government office and non-implementation of citizen charter, collusive corruption is rampant. This is especially true in RTO’s, check posts etc where public interaction is high.
  • Places of collusive corruption: Awarding of contracts for public works and procurement of goods and services, recruitment of employees, evasion of taxes, substandard projects, collusive violation of regulations, adulteration of foods and drugs, obstruction of justice and concealing or doctoring evidence in investigation are all examples of such dangerous forms of collusive corruption.
  • As the economy is freed from state controls, extortionary corruption declines and collusive corruption tends to increase.
  • We need to fashion strong and effective instruments to deal with this growing menace of collusive corruption, which is undermining the very foundations of our democracy and endangering society.

Measures suggested by Second ARC to put an end to collusive corruption

  • Collusive Bribery: Section 7 of the Prevention of Corruption Act needs to be amended to provide for a special offence of ‘collusive bribery’.
    • An Offence could be classified as ‘collusive bribery’ if the outcome or intended outcome of the transaction leads to a loss to the state, public or public interest;
    • In all such cases if it is established that the interest of the state or public has suffered because of an act of a public servant, then the court shall presume that the public servant and the beneficiary of the decision committed an offence of ‘collusive bribery’;
  • Punishment: The punishment for all such cases of collusive bribery should be double that of other cases of bribery. The law may be suitably amended in this regard.
  • Burden of Proof: The Commission is of the view that ‘collusive’ corruption needs to be dealt with by effective legal measures so that both the bribe-giver and the bribe-taker do not escape punishment.
  • Sanction for Prosecution: Prior sanction should not be necessary for prosecuting a public servant who has been trapped red-handed or in cases of possessing assets disproportionate to the known sources of income.
    • The Prevention of Corruption Act should be amended to ensure that sanctioning authorities are not summoned and instead the documents can be obtained and produced before the courts by the appropriate authority.
    • The Presiding Officer of a House of Legislature should be designated as the sanctioning authority for MPs and MLAs respectively.
    • The requirement of prior sanction for prosecution now applicable to serving public servants should also apply to retired public servants for acts performed while in service.
  • Speeding up Trials under the Prevention of Corruption Act: A legal provision needs to be introduced fixing a time limit for various stages of trial. This could be done by amendments to the CrPC.
  • Confiscation of Properties Illegally Acquired by Corrupt Means: The Corrupt Public Servants (Forfeiture of Property) Bill as suggested by the Law Commission should be enacted without further delay.
  • Protection to Whistle-blowers: Legislation should be enacted immediately to provide protection to whistle-blowers on the following lines proposed by the Law Commission:
    • Whistle-blowers exposing false claims, fraud or corruption should be protected by ensuring confidentiality and anonymity, protection from victimization in career, and other administrative measures to prevent bodily harm and harassment.

Conclusion

The Mahatma’s vision of a strong and prosperous India – Purna Swaraj – can never become a reality if we do not address the issue of the stranglehold of corruption on our polity, economy and society in general. Governance is admittedly the weak link in our quest for prosperity and equity. Elimination of corruption is not only a moral imperative but an economic necessity for a nation aspiring to catch up with the rest of the world.

Topic: Ethics and Human Interface: Essence, determinants and consequences of Ethics in-human actions; dimensions of ethics; ethics – in private and public relationships.

7. Effective civil servants should possess strong ethical and professional competence, avoiding certain traits or vices that can hinder their performance. Discuss.

Difficulty level: Easy

Why the question:

The question is part of the static syllabus of General studies paper – 4.

Directive word: 

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

Structure of the answer:

Introduction: 

Begin by mentioning how negative traits and vices can hamper ethical and professional competence.

Body:

First, write which five negative traits and vices should not be present in a civil servant and how they hamper ethical and professional competence of civil servants.

Next, write about the ways to avoid or eliminate them.

Conclusion:

Summarise by highlighting the importance of having positive values.

Introduction

Today there is a need for moral resurgence of civil services in the country to improve the delivery of services to the common man and to ensure the fruits of development reach the people. An ideal officer should ensure zero pendency of issues in his purview, must display the highest qualities of probity and integrity in office, be proactive in taking the measures of the government to the people, and above all be sympathetic to the cause of marginalised sections.

Body

Vices that must not be present in a civil servant

  • Abuse of authority: Power must be used for welfare of people and not for ulterior motives. The abuse of power leads to chaos in governance with zero benefit to the public.
  • Corrupt mentality and greed: There must be zero tolerance towards corruption and ensuring total transparency and accountability at all levels of governance should become priority.
    • Corruption eats into the heart of the democracy, and there is a need for stringent and timely action under the Prevention of Corruption Act (PCA) against erring civil servants and public representatives. T
    • There must be fast-tracking the high pendency of cases related to corruption involving public servants on priority.
  • Disrespect of rules and procedure: Such behaviour will lead to use of discretion and bypassing of norms to get work done. This also leads to systemic corruption. Each and every action taken by a civil servant must be as per established rules and regulations only.
  • Opaqueness: Non-transparent working can lead to bad governance system. This will lead to loss of faith of people in bureaucracy and government.
  • Dishonesty: This is another trait where in there will be no conscience or moral compass for an officer. Once again this may lead to corruption in the government.

Avoiding and eliminating vices

Celebrating the achievements of honest civil servants and recognizing their contributions should also be done. This will not only be an incentive for younger officials to push for excellence, but such publicity will also encourage the replication of innovative efforts by others.

Value-based training must be given to all civil servants to ensure probity in public life. Professional ethics should be an integral component in all the training courses and called for a comprehensive Code of Ethics for civil servants, based on the recommendations of the 2nd Administrative Reforms Commission (ARC).

Due attention must be given to ensure that civil servants taking bona fide proactive actions are not discouraged or harassed. The amendment to PCA in 2018, with changes to the definition of ‘criminal misconduct’, ensures this to some extent. While the corrupt civil servants must be strictly dealt with, we must not dissuade officials from taking bold decisions in the larger public interest.

There is also a need to re-engineer our institutions and streamline the processes to cut down delays and ensure timely delivery of the services. People must be at the centre of a just and effective governance system. Some of the governance practices that helped in delivering results are single-window interfaces, e-governance, m-governance, third party appraisals, direct benefit transfer and participatory governance

Conclusion

Indian civil servants should strive to make India’s civil services the best in the world. They need to come out with innovative ideas and solutions to deliver public services to the satisfaction of every citizen. At the same time, the right ecosystem should be created to ensure that they have a meaningful career and are able to fulfill their responsibilities without fear or favour.


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