Print Friendly, PDF & Email

[Mission 2024] Insights SECURE SYNOPSIS: 13 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

 

Answer the following questions in 150 words:


General Studies – 1


 

1. Educating the public about the importance of water conservation and sustainable water use is fundamental to build resilience against water stress and promote sustainable water use. Analyse.

Reference: Down to EarthInsights on India

Introduction

Water stress occurs when the demand for water exceeds the available amount during a certain period or when poor quality restricts its use. When per capita availability of water is below 1700 m3/year, water availability is termed as “stressed”.

About half of the world’s children (953 million) were exposed to high or extremely high water stress in 2022, according to a new UNICEF report.

Body

Water stress in India

  • India has 4 % of the world’s freshwater which has to cater to 17 % of the world’s population.
  • Approximately 600 million people or roughly around 45 % of the population in India is facing high to severe water stress.
  • As per the report, 21 Indian cities will run out of their main source of water i.e. groundwater by 2020.
  • Nearly 40 % of the population will have absolutely no access to drinking water by 2030 and 6 % of India’s GDP will be lost by 2050 due to the water crisis.
  • As per NITI Aayog report (CWMI) released in June 2019, India is facing the worst-ever water crisis in history.
  • A disastrous water crisis has been creeping up on us for years. Water tables have declined precipitously, even by thousands of feet in some parts of Punjab, Haryana and Andhra Pradesh. Tanks and wells have gone dry.
  • Some rivers have shrunk while other smaller ones have completely dried up.
  • Water rationing is routine in many urban areas, while in many villages women are trudging longer distances to fetch water.
  • A recent report mentions that over 70% of surface irrigation water is being simply wasted, nationally.
  • Not only farmers are affected by the water crisis, urban dwellers in cities and towns across India are also facing a never seen before drinking water scarcity.
  • In India, there are conflicts between Karnataka and Tamil Nadu over sharing of Cauvery waters, between Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh over sharing of Narmada waters, between Andhra Pradesh and Telangana over sharing of Krishna waters, etc.

Measures to educate and create awareness regarding water conservation

  • Resource Awareness:
    • Public education helps raise awareness about the finite nature of water resources. Understanding the importance of water as a limited and essential resource encourages individuals to use water more responsibly.
  • Behavioral Change:
    • Education plays a key role in driving behavioral change. By informing the public about the impacts of water wastage and the benefits of sustainable water use, individuals are more likely to adopt water-efficient practices in their daily lives.
  • Community Engagement:
    • Educating the public fosters community engagement. When communities understand the shared nature of water resources and the collective impact of conservation efforts, they are more likely to collaborate in implementing water-saving initiatives.
  • Policy Support:
    • Informed and engaged citizens are more likely to support and advocate for water-conservation policies at local, regional, and national levels. Public pressure can influence policymakers to implement regulations and incentives that promote sustainable water use.
  • Technological Adoption:
    • Public education can drive the adoption of water-saving technologies and practices. This includes promoting the use of water-efficient appliances, rainwater harvesting systems, and drought-resistant landscaping.
  • Economic Benefits:
    • Understanding the economic implications of water scarcity can motivate individuals and businesses to adopt water-saving measures. Conserving water not only helps reduce water bills but also contributes to the overall economic resilience of a region.
  • Climate Change Resilience:
    • Education about water conservation often involves discussions about climate change. Public awareness of the interconnections between water availability, climate change, and ecosystem health can lead to a more comprehensive and integrated approach to water management.
  • Cultural Shift:
    • Through education, there can be a cultural shift towards valuing water as a precious resource. This shift is essential for promoting a long-term commitment to sustainable water use across generations.
  • Education Programs:
    • Educational programs, whether conducted in schools, communities, or through public awareness campaigns, can provide practical tips and guidelines for water conservation. This empowers individuals to make informed decisions in their daily lives.
  • Long-Term Impact:
    • The long-term success of water conservation efforts relies on sustained public awareness and education. Continuous education ensures that individuals remain vigilant about water use and adapt their behavior in response to changing conditions.

 

Conclusion

Public education about water conservation and sustainable water use is a foundational strategy for building resilience against water stress. It not only empowers individuals to make informed choices but also contributes to a broader societal shift towards valuing and preserving water resources for current and future generations.

 

2. What are Rock glaciers? Analyse the consequences of Himalayan permafrost melting due to the phenomenon of global warming.

Reference: Down to Earth

Introduction

A rock glacier is a mass of rockicesnow, mud, and water that moves slowly down a mountain under the influence of gravity. The rock glacier might consist of a mass of ice covered by rock debris, or it might consist of a mass of rock with interstitial ice. A gradient of compositions between these two states also exists.

The Kashmir Himalayas are dotted with permafrost structures called ‘rock glaciers’, with significant ice volumes within, a new study mapped.

Body

Unlike an ice glacier, rock glaciers usually have very little ice visible at the surface. If you are on the ground looking at one from a short distance away, it might not look at all like a glacier. The very slow movement, typically between a few centimeters and a few meters per year, also helps hide the rock glacier’s identity.

Thawing of Permafrost

  • While global warming is upping temperatures around the world,the Arctic is warming twice as fast as anywhere else and faster than it has in the past 3 million years.
  • And when surface air temperatures rise, below-ground temperatures do, too, thawing permafrost along the way.
  • Scientists estimate there is now 10 percent less frozen groundin the northern hemisphere than there was in the early 1900s.
  • One recent study suggests that with every additional8°F (1°C) of warming,an additional 1.5 million square miles of permafrost could eventually disappear.
  • Even if we meet the climate targets laid out during the 2015 Paris climate talks, the world may still lose more than 2.5 million square milesof frozen turf.

Impact of permafrost thawing

  • Huge Carbon Sink:An estimated 1,400 gigatons of carbon are frozen in Arctic permafrost, making it one of the world’s largest carbon sinks.
    • That’s aboutfour times more than humans have emitted since the Industrial Revolution, and nearly twice as much as is currently contained in the atmosphere.
    • According to a recent report,2 degrees Celsius increase in temperature, expected by the end of the century will result in a loss of about 40 percent of the world’s permafrost by 2100.
  • Loss of trapped Green house gases: Packed with many thousands of years of life, from human bodies to the bodies of woolly mammoths, permafrost is one of earth’s great stores of global warming gases.
    • Indeed, permafrost in the Arctic alone is estimated to hold nearly twice as much carbon as exists in the atmosphere now, as well as a sizable amount of methane—a powerful greenhouse gas that traps more than 80 times more heat on the planet than carbon does.
  • Toxins:A recent study found that Arctic permafrost is a massive repository of natural mercury, a potent neurotoxin. Indeed, it’s estimated that some 15 million gallons of mercury—or nearly twice the amount of mercury found in the ocean, atmosphere, and all other soils combined—are locked in permafrost soils.
    • Once released, however, that mercury can spread through water or air into ecosystems and potentially even food supplies.
  • Crumbling Infrastructure:About 35 million people live in a permafrost zone, in towns and cities built on top of what was once considered permanently frozen ground.
    • But as that solid ground softens, the infrastructure these communities rely on grows increasingly unstable.
    • Eg: Recent Russian Norilsk diesel oil spill is an ongoing industrial disaster, which occurred at a thermal power plant that was supported on permafrost, crumbled.
  • Altered Landscape:Thawing permafrost alters natural ecosystems in many ways as well. It can create thermokarsts, areas of sagging ground and shallow ponds that are often characterized by “drunken forests” of askew trees.
    • It can make soil—once frozen solid—more vulnerable to landslides and erosion, particularly along coasts.
    • As this softened soil erodes, it can introduce new sediment to waterways, which may alter the flow of rivers and streams, degrade water quality (including by the introduction of carbon), and impact aquatic wildlife.
  • Diseases and viruses:it can also trap and preserve ancient microbes.
    • It’s believed that some bacteria and viruses can lie dormant for thousands of years in permafrost’s cold, dark confines before waking up when the ground warms.
    • A 2016 anthrax outbreak in Siberia, linked to adecades-old reindeer carcass infected with the bacteria and exposed by thawed permafrost, demonstrated the potential threat.
    • In 2015, researchers in Siberia uncovered theMollivirus sibericum, a 30,000-year-old behemoth of a virus that succeeded in infecting a rather defenseless amoeba in a lab experiment.
    • About a decade earlier, scientists discovered the first Mimivirusa 1,200-gene specimenmeasuring twice the width of traditional viruses, buried beneath layers of melting frost in the Russian tundra. (For comparison, HIV has just nine genes.)
    • This can be the case with other diseases, such as smallpox and the 1918 Spanish flu—known to exist in the frozen tundra, in the mass graves of those killed by the disease.
    • Human contact with zombie pathogensmay risk new pandemics, if there is unabated mining of metals from permafrost.

Conclusion

By reducing our carbon footprint, investing in energy-efficient products, and supporting climate-friendly businesses, legislation, and policies, we can help preserve the world’s permafrost and avert a vicious cycle of an ever-warming planet.

 

 


General Studies – 2


 

3. The empowerment of women is not only a matter of social justice but also a fundamental element in the flourishing of democratic societies. Analyse.

Reference: Live Mint

Introduction

Women empowerment refers to the process of granting women the tools, resources, and opportunities to participate fully in social, economic, and political spheres. It involves dismantling gender-based barriers, fostering equal rights, and promoting women’s autonomy and self-determination.

Body

Need & importance of women empowerment

  • Gender Inequality: Despite progress, India still faces significant gender disparities in various fields, including education, employment, and healthcare. Empowering women is crucial to addressing these inequalities.
  • Economic Growth: Women constitute a substantial part of the population. By empowering them economically, India can unlock a vast pool of talent and contribute to overall economic development.
  • Social Development: Women play a pivotal role in shaping family and community dynamics. Empowering women can lead to improved health and education outcomes for the entire society.
  • Legal Rights: Enhancing women’s empowerment is essential for ensuring that they have equal access to legal rights, protecting them from discrimination, violence, and ensuring their participation in decision-making processes.
  • Education: Despite progress, gender gaps persist in education. Women empowerment is crucial for promoting and sustaining female education, which, in turn, contributes to overall social progress.
  • Political Representation: Increasing women’s participation in politics is vital for a balanced and inclusive decision-making process. Empowering women politically can lead to more representative and responsive governance.
  • Health and Well-being: Empowered women are more likely to have access to healthcare and make informed decisions about their well-being, positively impacting the health of families and communities.
  • Cultural Change: Women empowerment challenges traditional gender roles and stereotypes, fostering a more progressive and inclusive societal mindset.
  • Workforce Diversity: Empowering women in the workforce contributes to diversity, enhancing innovation and productivity. It also ensures that the talents of half the population are not overlooked.
  • Global Standing: In the global context, promoting women’s empowerment reflects positively on a country’s image, signaling commitment to equality and human rights.

Measures needed

  • Education: Ensure universal access to quality education, promoting literacy and skills training for women.
  • Employment Opportunities: Create equal job opportunities, address wage gaps, and encourage entrepreneurship among women.
  • Legal Reforms: Strengthen and enforce laws protecting women’s rights, including measures against gender-based violence and discrimination.
  • Healthcare Access: Improve healthcare infrastructure and ensure women’s access to reproductive health services.
  • Political Participation: Promote women’s representation in politics through quotas and awareness campaigns.
  • Financial Inclusion: Facilitate women’s access to financial resources, banking, and credit.
  • Awareness Campaigns: Conduct campaigns to challenge stereotypes, promote gender sensitivity, and foster societal support for women’s empowerment.
  • Technology Inclusion: Bridge the digital gender gap, providing women with access to technology and digital literacy.
  • Community Support: Encourage community engagement to break down societal barriers and promote women’s empowerment.
  • Skill Development: Invest in skill development programs to enhance women’s professional capabilities and economic independence.

Conclusion

Empowering women enhances their ability to make choices, pursue education and careers, access healthcare, and contribute meaningfully to society. It is a crucial step towards achieving gender equality, challenging stereotypes, and creating an inclusive environment that recognizes and values the diverse strengths and perspectives of women. Women empowerment is essential for fostering a just and equitable society.

 


General Studies – 3


 

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

Reference: The HinduInsights on India

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

 

5. The Green Hydrogen Mission holds significant potential in addressing both energy security concerns and advancing the global fight against climate change. Evaluate.

Reference: Down to Earth

Green hydrogen — also referred to as ‘clean hydrogen’ — is produced by using electricity from renewable energy sources, such as solar or wind power, to split water into two hydrogen atoms and one oxygen atom through a process called electrolysis. The Union Government recently notified the green hydrogen and green ammonia policy aimed at boosting the domestic production of green hydrogen to 5 million tonnes by 2030 and making India an export hub for the clean fuel.

Green hydrogen is an emerging option that will help reduce India’s vulnerability to such price shocks. The Cabinet has cleared India’s Rs 20,000 cr National Green Hydrogen Mission to make the country a global green hydrogen hub..

Body

Advantages of Green hydrogen

  • It is a clean-burning molecule, which can decarbonize a range of sectors including iron and steel, chemicals, and transportation.
  • Renewable energy that cannot be stored or used by the grid can be channelled to produce hydrogen.
  • India, being a tropical country,has a significant edge in green hydrogen production due to its favourable geographical conditions and abundant natural resources.
  • Producing hydrogen from renewables in India is likely to be cheaper than producing it from natural gas.

Significance of Green Hydrogen in tackling energy challenges

  • Green hydrogen energy is vital for India to meet its Nationally Determined Contribution (INDC) Targets and ensure regional and national energy security, access and availability.
  • Green Hydrogen can act as an energy storage option, which would be essential to meet intermittencies (of renewable energy) in the future.
  • In terms of mobility, for long distance mobilisations for either urban freight movement within cities and states or for passengers, Green Hydrogen can be used in railways, large ships, buses or trucks, etc.
  • India is the world’s fourth largest energy consuming country (behind China, the United States and the European Union), according to the IEA’s forecast, and will overtake the European Union to become the world’s third energy consumer by the year 2030.
  • Realising the impending threats to economies, the Summit will see several innovative proposals from all over the world in order to reduce dependence on use of fossil fuels.
  • The scale of interest for ‘plucking the low hanging fruit’ can be gauged by the fact that even oil-producing nations such as Saudi Arabia where the day temperature soars to over 50° C in summer, is prioritising plans to manufacture this source of energy by utilising ‘idle-land-banks’ for solar and wind energy generation.
  • It is working to establish a mega $5 billion ‘Green hydrogen’ manufacturing unit covering a land-size as large as that of Belgium, in the northern-western part of the country.
  • India is also gradually unveiling its plans. The Indian Railways have announced the country’s first experiment of a hydrogen-fuel cell technology-based train by retrofitting an existing diesel engine; this will run under Northern Railway on the 89 km stretch between Sonepat and Jind.
  • The project will not only ensure diesel savings to the tune of several lakhs annually but will also prevent the emission of 0.72 kilo tons of particulate matter and 11.12 kilo tons of carbon per annum.

Challenges

  • The ‘production cost’ of ‘Green hydrogen’ has been considered to be a prime obstacle.
  • According to studies by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IREA), the production cost of this ‘green source of energy’ is expected to be around $1.5 per kilogram (for nations having perpetual sunshine and vast unused land), by the year 2030; by adopting various conservative measures.
  • The global population is growing at a rate of 1.1%, adding about 83 million human heads every year on the planet.
  • As a result, the International Energy Agency (IEA) forecasts the additional power demand to be to the tune of 25%-30% by the year 2040.
  • Thus, power generation by ‘net-zero’ emission will be the best solution to achieve the target of expert guidelines on global warming to remain under 1.5° C.
  • This will also be a leap forward in minimising our dependence on conventional fossil fuel; in 2018, 8.7 million people died prematurely as result of air pollution from fossil fuels.
  • India has made good progress in decarbonization growing the share of renewable energy, energy efficiency & fuel transition.
  • There is growing interest and hype for using hydrogen in multiple applications such as Hydrogen-based Agro vehicles, Hydrogen-powered passenger trains, Hydrogen in aviation etc.

Way forward

  • As India is scaling up to the target of having 450 GW of renewable energy by 2030, aligning hydrogen production needs with broader electricity demand in the economy would be critical.
  • The industrial sectors like steel, refining, fertilizer & methanol sectors are attractive for Green Hydrogen adoption as Hydrogen is already being generated & consumed either as a chemical feedstock or a process input.
  • The public funding will have to lead the way in the development of green hydrogen, but the private sector has significant gains too to be made by securing its energy future.
  • India requires a manufacturing strategy that can leverage the existing strengths and mitigate threats by integrating with the global value chain.
  • The green hydrogen has been anointed the flag-bearer of India’s low-carbon transition as Hydrogen may be lighter than air, but it will take some heavy lifting to get the ecosystem in place.
  • Enforcing time-bound mid- and long-term policies would inspire the private sector to invest more in green hydrogen.
  • India should aim to produce 4-6 million tonnes of green hydrogen per annum by the end of the decade and export at least 2 million tonnes per annum.

 

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


General Studies – 1


 

6. 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.

Reference: Insights on India 

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.


General Studies – 2


 


7. Accurate and comprehensive poverty measurement is vital for effective policymaking, monitoring progress, and addressing the diverse challenges faced by individuals and communities living in poverty. Examine.

Reference: Live MintInsights on India

Introduction

Poverty can be defined as a condition in which an individual or household lacks the financial resources to afford a basic minimum standard of living. Economists and policymakers estimate “absolute” poverty as the shortfall in consumption expenditure from a threshold called the “poverty line”.

The official poverty line is the expenditure incurred to obtain the goods in a “poverty line basket” (PLB). Poverty can be measured in terms of the number of people living below this line (with the incidence of poverty expressed as the head count ratio). The “depth” of poverty indicates how far the poor are below the poverty line.

Body

Various ways to measure poverty

  • Planning Commission Expert Group (1962),working group constituted by the Planning Commission formulated the separate poverty lines for rural and urban areas (₹20 and ₹25 per capita per year respectively).
  • VM Dandekar and N Rath (1971),made the first systematic assessment of poverty in India, based on National Sample Survey (NSS) data.
    • Unlike previous scholars who had considered subsistence living or basic minimum needs criteria as the measure of poverty line, VM Dandekar and N Rathwere of the view that poverty line must be derived from the expenditure that was adequate to provide 2250 calories per day in both rural and urban areas.
    • Expenditure based Poverty line estimation,generated a debate on minimum calorie consumption norms.
  • Alagh Committee (1979):Task force constituted by the Planning Commission under the chairmanship of YK Alagh, constructed a poverty line for rural and urban areas on the basis of nutritional requirements and related consumption expenditure.
    • Poverty estimates for subsequent years were to be calculated by adjusting the price level for inflation.
  • Lakdawala Committee (1993):Task Force chaired by DT Lakdawala, based on the assumption that the basket of goods and services used to calculate Consumer Price Index-Industrial Workers (CPI-IW) and Consumer Price Index- Agricultural Labourers (CPI-AL) reflect the consumption patterns of the poor, made the following suggestions:
    • Consumption expenditureshould be calculated based on calorie consumption as earlier.
    • State specific poverty linesshould be constructed and these should be updated using the CPI-IW in urban areas and CPI-AL in rural areas.
    • Discontinuation of scalingof poverty estimates based on National Accounts Statistics.
  • Tendulkar Committee (2009): Expertgroup constituted by the Planning Commission and, chaired by Suresh Tendulkar, was constituted to review methodology for poverty estimation and to address the following shortcomings of the previous methods:
  • Obsolete Consumption Pattern:Consumption patterns were linked to the 1973-74 poverty line baskets (PLBs) of goods and services, whereas there were significant changes in the consumption patterns of the poor since that time, which were not reflected in the poverty estimates.
  • Inflation Adjustment:There were issues with the adjustment of prices for inflation, both spatially (across regions) and temporally (across time).
  • Health and Education Expenditure:Earlier poverty lines assumed that health and education would be provided by the state and formulated poverty lines accordingly.

 

Various poverty alleviation programs in India since Independence:

  • Integrated Rural Development Programme (IRDP)
  • Jawahar Rozgar Yojana/Jawahar Gram Samriddhi Yojana
  • Rural Housing – Indira Awaas Yojana
  • Food for Work Programme
  • National Old Age Pension Scheme (NOAPS)
  • Annapurna
  • Sampoorna Gramin Rozgar Yojana (SGRY)
  • Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) 2005
  • National Rural Livelihood Mission: Ajeevika (2011)
  • National Urban Livelihood Mission
  • Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana
  • Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana

Assessment

  • However, none resulted in any radical change in the ownership of assets, process of production and improvement of basic amenities to the needy.
  • Scholars, while assessing these programmes, state three major areas of concern which prevent their successful implementation. Due to unequal distribution of land and other assets, the benefits from direct poverty alleviation programmes have been appropriated by the non-poor.
  • Compared to the magnitude of poverty, the amount of resources allocated for these programmes is not sufficient. Moreover, these programmes depend mainly on government and bank officials for their implementation.
  • Since such officials are ill motivated, inadequately trained, corruption prone and vulnerable to pressure from a variety of local elites, the resources are inefficiently used and wasted. There is also non-participation of local level institutions in programme implementation.
  • Government policies have also failed to address the vast majority of vulnerable people who are living on or just above the poverty line. It also reveals that high growth alone is not sufficient to reduce poverty.
  • Without the active participation of the poor, successful implementation of any programme is not possible

Measures needed

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

Conclusion and way forward

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

 

8. 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.

Reference: Live MintInsights on India

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.


General Studies – 3


 

9. 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.

Reference: The Hindu

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.

 

10. India’s Aditya-L1 mission stands as a testament to India’s prowess in space exploration, adding another remarkable achievement to the nation’s stellar track record in advancing the frontiers of scientific discovery and technological innovation. Discuss.

Reference: The HinduLive Mint

Introduction

Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) launched India’s first space mission dedicated to studying the sun, in the form of a spacecraft named Aditya-L1 in Sep 2023. Aditya-L1 aims to study the Sun from a halo orbit around the Lagrangian point 1 (L1) of the Sun-Earth systems, about 1.5 million km away from Earth.

Recently, a stream of commands transmitted by scientists and engineers of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) were translated by a computer onboard the Aditya-L1 spacecraft into manoeuvres that guided it into orbit around an imaginary point in space.

Body

Significance of Aditya-L1 mission

  • It studies the Sun, its upper atmospheric dynamics(chromosphere and corona), and understand the physics of the solar corona and its heating mechanism for the five-year time period.
  • The mission provides more detailed information due to the absence of Earth’s atmosphere; helps understand solar phenomena; enables monitoring of solar events and their potential impacts on Earth.
  • Scientific Understanding:The mission’s primary objective is to deepen our understanding of the Sun, its radiation, magnetic fields, and the flow of particles.

Potential contributions of the Aditya-L1 mission to space weather forecasting and its impact on Earth

  • Space Weather Forecasting
    • Aditya L1 will study the solar corona (outer part), photosphere (sun’s surface), chromosphere (a plasma layer in between), etc., to better understand solar flares and other events that can impact earthly weather and risk damaging other satellites in orbit.
    • By studying the Sun’s behaviour, the mission can contribute to predicting space weather events, such as solar flares, that can disrupt satellite communications and other technologies on Earth.
    • Advance alerts of radiation bursts, for example, could permit mitigative action.
  • Tackling Climate Change
    • Moreover, with “thermal geo-engineering” now seen as more than just a last-resort or long-shot response to climate change, the more we know about the sun’s behaviour, the better it will be for everyone.
  • Technological Advancement
    • Developing a space-based observatory to study the Sun demonstrates India’s technological prowess in space exploration and adds to its reputation in the global space community.
  • Future endeavours
    • Considering the solar wind affects space weather and in turn the digital components of spacecraft, Aditya-L1’s findings could inform future space missions as well.
  • International Collaboration
    • Participating in solar research aligns with international efforts to understand the Sun and its effects.
  • Education and Inspiration
    • The mission inspires future scientists, engineers, and researchers by showcasing India’s achievements in space science and encouraging the pursuit of space-related careers.
  • Data for Innovation
    • The collected data can lead to innovations in technology, materials science, and various other fields that can benefit India’s technological landscape.

Conclusion

ISRO has also demonstrated its ability to handle complex navigational tasks in interplanetary missions (including the lunar space programme, Chandrayaan) with help from foreign space agencies, and the attendant skills will be brought to bear on Aditya-L1 as well. Taken together, while Aditya-L1 seems relatively simple given ISRO’s recent achievements, it gives the Indian space programme and the national solar physics community one more boundary to push.


Join our Official Telegram Channel HERE

Please subscribe to Our podcast channel HERE

Subscribe to our YouTube ChannelHERE

Follow our Twitter Account HERE

Follow our Instagram ID HERE

Follow us on LinkedIn : HERE