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UPSC Insights SECURE SYNOPSIS: 12 JUNE 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.

Topic:  The Freedom Struggle — its various stages and important contributors/contributions from different parts of the country.

1. Veer Savarkar’s contributions to India’s independence struggle played a crucial role in shaping the nationalist movement and the ideological landscape of modern India. Discuss (250 words)

Difficulty level: Easy

Reference: Insights on India

Why the question:

The question is part of the static syllabus of General studies paper – 3.

Key Demand of the question:

To write about the contributions of Veer Savarkar.

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 giving a brief introduction about Veer Savarkar.

Body:

Write about the contributions of Veer Savarkar – several movements against British colonial rule, played a key role in the formation of the All-India Students’ Federation and the Hindu Mahasabha, He was also a prolific writer and poet.

Conclusion:

Conclude by writing about the legacy of Veer Savarkar.

Introduction

Veer Savarkar was born on 28 May, 1883 in the village Bhagpur, Nashik. His full name is Vinayak Damodar Savarkar. He was a freedom fighter, politician, lawyer, social reformer, and formulator of the philosophy of Hindutva.

Body

Contributions of Veer Savarkar to Indian Freedom struggle

  • In Pune, Savarkar founded the “Abhinav Bharat Society”.He was also involved in the Swadeshi movement and later joined Tilak’s Swaraj Party.
  • His instigating patriotic speeches and activities incensed the British Government. As a result, the British Government withdrew his B.A. degree.
  • In June 1906, Veer Savarkar, left for London to become Barrister. However, once in London, he united and inflamed the Indian students in England against British rule in India. He founded the Free India Society.
  • The Society celebrated important dates on the Indian calendar including festivals, freedom movement landmarks, and was dedicated to furthering discussion about Indian freedom.
  • He believed and advocated the use of arms to free India from the British and created a network of Indians in England, equipped with weapons.
  • In 1908, brought out an authentic informative researched work on The Great Indian Revolt, which the British termed as “Sepoy Mutiny” of 1857. The book was called “The Indian War of Independence 1857”.
  • The British government immediately enforced a ban on the publication in both Britain and India. Later, it was published by Madame Bhikaiji Cama in Holland, and was smuggled into India to reach revolutionaries working across the country against British rule.
  • When the then British Collector of Nasik, A.M.T. Jackson was shot by a youth, Veer Savarkar finally fell under the net of the British authorities. He was implicated in the murder citing his connections with India House. Savarkar was arrested in London on March 13, 1910 and sent to India.
  • In 1920, many prominent freedom fighters including Vithalbhai Patel, Mahatma Gandhi and Bal Gangadhar Tilak demanded the release of Savarkar. On May 2, 1921, Savarkar was moved to Ratnagiri jail, and from there to the Yeravada jail.

Relevance of his ideas in Indian society today:

  • Savarkar was a modernist, a rationalist and a strong supporter of social reform.
  • According to Savarkar, our movies should focus on the positives of the country, keep aside the negatives and have pride in its victories. Our youth should be inspired by movies that focus on the positive side of things.
  • In his presidential address to the annual session of the Hindu Mahasabha held in Calcutta in 1939, Savarkar spoke about how Hindus and Muslims could bury their historical differences in a common Hindustani constitutional state.
  • Savarkar often called on his supporters to welcome the age of the modern machine.
  • In an essay published in the magazine Kirloskar, and republished in a book of his essays on the scientific approach, he argued that India would continue to lag behind Europe as long as its leaders believed in superstition rather than science.
  • He argued that any social reformer who seeks to root out harmful social practices or preach new truths has first of all to compromise his popularity.
  • A true social or religious reformer should only be driven by the desire to do good.
  • Savarkar was a strong opponent of the caste system. He repeatedly argued that what the religious books say about untouchability is irrelevant. The social practice was unfit for a modern society.

Conclusion

Many of Savarkar’s ideas on social and religious reforms, embrace of science, and building a stronger state continue to be relevant for India. His controversial position on Hindutva also continues to inform current political debates. It is time that a wider set of scholars began to engage with Savarkar’s ideas—including controversial ones.

Topic: Salient features of world’s physical geography.

2. Changes in climate patterns like El Nino-Southern Oscillation, Indian Ocean Dipole can make air pollution worse. Examine. (150 words).

Difficulty level: Moderate

Reference: Down to Earth

Why the question:

The study by researchers from Nanyang Technological University in Singapore highlighted the role of climate variability phenomena like El Nino-Southern Oscillation, Indian Ocean Dipole and North Atlantic Oscillation in exacerbating PM2.5 pollution levels.

Key Demand of the question:

To write about the links between climate patterns like El Nino-Southern Oscillation, Indian Ocean Dipole and Air pollution.

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.

Body:

In the first part, write about the links between climate patterns like El Nino-Southern Oscillation, Indian Ocean Dipole and Air pollution – can cause droughts and wildfires, increasing particulate matter and trapping pollutants due to temperature inversions, while reducing rainfall limits the natural cleansing of the atmosphere etc. Cite examples.

Next, write about the impact of the above and measures that are needed to overcome the above.

Conclusion:

Conclude by writing a way forward.

Introduction

The effects of climate change and the environment on human health are not lesser than those of genomics and lifestyle patterns and they have been increasing over the past decades. The study by researchers from Nanyang Technological University in Singapore highlighted the role of climate variability phenomena like El Nino-Southern Oscillation, Indian Ocean Dipole and North Atlantic Oscillation in exacerbating PM2.5 pollution levels.

Body

El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO)

  • El Niño:
    • El Niño is a climate phenomenon characterized by the warming of sea surface temperatures in the central and eastern tropical Pacific Ocean.
    • It disrupts global weather patterns, leading to extreme events such as droughts, floods, and storms.
    • During El Niño, regions like Australia experience reduced rainfall, affecting agriculture and water availability.
  • La Niña:
    • La Niña is the opposite phase of El Niño, characterized by cooler sea surface temperatures in the same region.
    • It often leads to increased rainfall in some areas, causing flooding and landslides.

Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD)

  • Positive IOD (pIOD):
    • A positive IOD occurs when the western Indian Ocean becomes warmer than the eastern Indian Ocean.
    • It influences monsoon patterns, affecting rainfall distribution over the Indian subcontinent.
    • During a positive IOD, regions like India may experience droughts due to reduced monsoon rainfall.

Air Pollution

  • Wildfires and Particulate Matter:
    • Climate patterns can exacerbate wildfires. For example:
      • El Niño conditions can lead to drier vegetation, increasing the risk of wildfires.
      • Smoke from wildfires releases fine particulate matter (PM2.5), which poses health risks.
    • Temperature inversions trap pollutants close to the ground, worsening air quality.
  • Reduced Rainfall and Atmospheric Cleansing:
    • Decreased rainfall limits the natural cleansing of the atmosphere.
    • Rainfall helps remove pollutants from the air, but reduced precipitation hinders this process.

Impact:

  • Health Implications:
    • Air pollution from wildfires and particulate matter affects respiratory health.
    • Vulnerable populations, such as children and the elderly, suffer the most.
  • Economic Losses:
    • Droughts impact agriculture, leading to crop failures and economic losses.
    • Wildfires damage ecosystems, property, and infrastructure.

Measures needed for mitigation

  • Air Quality Management:
    • Implement strict emission controls for industries, vehicles, and power plants.
    • Monitor air quality and issue advisories during wildfire events.
  • Reforestation and Afforestation:
    • Trees absorb pollutants and mitigate climate impacts.
    • Reforesting fire-prone areas can reduce wildfire risk.
  • Water Conservation and Harvesting:
    • Efficient water management can mitigate drought effects.
    • Promote rainwater harvesting and sustainable water use.
  • Climate-Resilient Agriculture:
    • Develop drought-resistant crop varieties.
    • Promote climate-smart farming practices.

Way Forward

  • Integrated Approaches:
    • Collaborate across sectors (climate, health, agriculture) for holistic solutions.
    • Address both climate patterns and air pollution simultaneously.
  • Public Awareness:
    • Educate communities about climate resilience and pollution reduction.
    • Encourage individual actions to reduce emissions.

Conclusion

Tackling the complex interplay between climate patterns, air pollution, and their impact requires concerted efforts at local, national, and global levels.

Topic: Indian Constitution—historical underpinnings, evolution, features, amendments, significant provisions and basic structure.

3. Article 22 of the Indian Constitution provides safeguards against arbitrary arrest and detention, but its effective implementation faces various challenges. Examine. (250 words)

Difficulty level: Moderate

Reference: The HinduInsights on India

Why the question:

The Supreme Court says that the custody of an accused is not necessary prior to the filing of the charge sheet in certain criminal cases.

Key Demand of the question:

To about the significance of Article 22 of the Constitution and various issues in its implementation.

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 writing about article 22 of the constitution.

Body:

First, write about the Article 22 of the Indian Constitution as a cornerstone for protecting individual liberty against arbitrary state action, ensuring rights such as being informed of the grounds of arrest, consulting a legal practitioner, and being produced before a magistrate within 24 hours.

Next, write about the various issues in its implementation – misuse of preventive detention laws, prolonged detention without trial, inadequate legal aid, lack of timely communication of arrest grounds, judicial backlogs, and potential abuse during emergency periods etc.

Conclusion:

Conclude by writing a way forward.

Introduction

Article 22 pertains to the protection of an individual’s right to personal liberty and safeguards against arbitrary detention or arrest. It is considered one of the fundamental rights guaranteed to citizens of India.

The Supreme Court says that the custody of an accused is not necessary prior to the filing of the charge sheet in certain criminal cases.

Body

  • Right to be Informed and Consult Legal Practitioner (Article 22(1)):
    • No person who is arrested shall be detained in custody without being informed promptly of the grounds for such arrest.
    • The arrested individual has the right to consult and be defended by a legal practitioner of their choice.
  • Production Before Magistrate (Article 22(2)):
    • The arrested person must be produced before a judicial magistrate within 24 hours of their arrest.
    • This provision ensures that the individual’s detention is subject to judicial scrutiny and prevents prolonged detention without trial.
  • Safeguards Against Preventive Detention (Article 22(3)):
    • Preventive detention refers to detaining a person to prevent them from committing certain acts that may be prejudicial to public order or security.
    • Article 22(3) lays down specific safeguards for preventive detention, including the right to be informed of the grounds, the right to representation, and the right to make a representation against the detention.

Issues in Implementation

Despite the constitutional safeguards, several challenges persist in the implementation of Article 22:

  • Misuse of Preventive Detention Laws:
    • Authorities sometimes misuse preventive detention laws to suppress dissent or target political opponents.
    • Striking a balance between national security and individual rights remains a challenge.
  • Prolonged Detention Without Trial:
    • Delays in legal proceedings often lead to prolonged detention without a fair trial.
    • Overburdened courts and procedural bottlenecks contribute to this issue.
  • Inadequate Legal Aid:
    • Many detainees lack access to competent legal representation.
    • Strengthening legal aid services is crucial to ensuring effective defense.
  • Lack of Timely Communication of Arrest Grounds:
    • Some arrested individuals are not promptly informed of the reasons for their arrest.
    • This violates their right to know the grounds for detention.
  • Judicial Backlogs:
    • Overcrowded courts and lengthy legal processes delay justice.
    • Streamlining judicial procedures can address this challenge.
  • Emergency Periods and Abuse of Rights:
    • During emergency situations, fundamental rights, including those under Article 22, may be curtailed.
    • Safeguards are essential to prevent abuse of power during such times.

Way Forward

  • Strengthen Legal Aid Services:
    • Ensure that every arrested person has access to legal representation.
    • Legal aid clinics and pro bono services can bridge the gap.
  • Fast-Track Judicial Processes:
    • Expedite trials and reduce case pendency.
    • Specialized courts for preventive detention cases could help.
  • Transparency and Accountability:
    • Strictly enforce the right to be informed promptly about arrest grounds.
    • Monitor detention practices to prevent misuse.
  • Public Awareness and Education:
    • Educate citizens about their rights under Article 22.
    • Empower them to seek legal remedies when their rights are violated.

Conclusion

Safeguarding individual liberty through effective implementation of Article 22 requires a concerted effort from all stakeholders – the judiciary, legal fraternity, and citizens. By addressing the challenges and promoting awareness, we can uphold the spirit of this constitutional provision.

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

4. The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) coordinates petroleum policies among member countries to stabilize oil markets and prices. As a major oil importer, India is significantly impacted by OPEC’s production decisions. Analyse.

Difficulty level: Moderate

Reference: The HinduInsights on India

Why the question:

The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and its allies (OPEC+), on June 2, decided to extend its deep oil output cuts into 2025. At the same time, it hinted at a partial roll-back in the last quarter of this year, as it reported a steady May output at 26.96 million barrels per day.

Key Demand of the question:

To write about OPEC and impact of its decisions on India.

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 writing about OPEC and its objectives.

Body:

First, write about the role of OPEC – o coordinate and unify petroleum policies among member countries to secure fair and stable prices for petroleum producers, ensure a regular supply of petroleum to consuming nations etc.

Next, write about the potential impact of its decisions on India – influence global oil prices and, consequently, India’s inflation, trade deficit, and economic growth. Cite statistics to substantiate.

Next, write about the measures India must take to prevent against the volatility of OPEC.

Conclusion:

Conclude by writing a way forward.

Introduction

Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries(OPEC) is a permanent, intergovernmental organization founded in 1960 by Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, and Venezuela. Its primary role is to coordinate and unify petroleum policies among member countries. Key objectives include securing fair and stable prices for petroleum producers and ensuring a regular supply of petroleum to consuming nations.

The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and its allies (OPEC+), on June 2, decided to extend its deep oil output cuts into 2025. At the same time, it hinted at a partial roll-back in the last quarter of this year, as it reported a steady May output at 26.96 million barrels per day.

Body

Impact on India

  • Higher Import Bills and Inflation:
    • India imports nearly 85% of its crude oil requirement.
    • OPEC’s decisions directly influence global oil prices. When OPEC cuts production or raises prices, India faces higher import bills.
    • This leads to inflationary pressures, affecting the cost of living for citizens.
  • Current Account Deficit (CAD) and Weakening Rupee:
    • Increased oil prices contribute to India’s CAD, as oil imports constitute a significant portion of the trade deficit.
    • A higher CAD weakens the Indian rupee against major currencies, impacting exchange rates.
  • Economic Growth and Investment:
    • Volatility in oil prices affects India’s economic growth. Higher prices reduce disposable income and consumer spending.
    • Additionally, global investors closely monitor oil prices. A sudden spike can lead to capital outflows from Indian markets.

Measures to Mitigate OPEC Volatility

  • Diversify Energy Sources:
    • India should reduce dependence on fossil fuels by promoting renewable energy (solar, wind, hydro, etc.).
    • Investment in research and development for cleaner alternatives is crucial.
  • Strategic Oil Reserves:
    • Building and maintaining strategic petroleum reserves can buffer against sudden supply disruptions.
    • These reserves act as a safety net during price spikes.
  • Energy Efficiency and Conservation:
    • Encourage energy-efficient practices in industries, transportation, and households.
    • Public awareness campaigns can promote responsible energy use.
  • Negotiate Long-Term Contracts:
    • India should negotiate long-term contracts with oil-producing countries to stabilize prices.
    • Diversifying suppliers reduces reliance on any single source.
  • Enhance Domestic Production:
    • Invest in domestic oil exploration and production.
    • Policies that encourage exploration and reduce bureaucratic hurdles are essential.

Way Forward

  • Global Cooperation:
    • India should engage in dialogue with OPEC and other oil-producing nations.
    • Collaborative efforts can address price volatility and ensure energy security.
  • Strategic Hedging:
    • Explore financial instruments to hedge against oil price fluctuations.
    • Derivatives and futures contracts can mitigate risks.
  • Investment in Green Technologies:
    • Transition toward cleaner energy sources aligns with global trends.
    • India’s commitment to sustainability will enhance its bargaining power.

Conclusion

India must adopt a multifaceted approach to navigate OPEC’s impact. Balancing economic growth, energy security, and environmental sustainability is key.

Topic: Effects of liberalization on the economy, changes in industrial policy and their effects on industrial growth.

5. Enumerate the key provisions of the draft Digital Competition Bill (DCB). The Digital Competition Bill in India seeks to promote fairness and competition in the digital sector but needs to clarify core digital service identification and prevent double regulation to ensure an effective competitive environment. Critically analyse.

Difficulty level: Tough

Reference: Live MintInsights on India

Why the question:

The ministry of corporate affairs recently closed public consultations on the draft Digital Competition Bill (DCB) and the findings of the Committee on Digital Competition Law (CDCL).

Key Demand of the question:

To write about features of DCB, its potential in regulating digital sector and limitations.

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 stating the aims and objectives of DCB.

Body:

First, write about the key features of DCB, i.e., four key stages proposed under the DCB.

Next, write about the potential advantages of the above – ensure fairness and competition in the digital sector.

Next, write about the shortcomings of the above – identification of core digital services and mitigate the risk of double regulation to effectively promote a competitive ecosystem etc.

Conclusion:

Conclude by writing a way forward.

Introduction

Digital competition refers to the competitive landscape within the digital sector, encompassing industries such as technology, internet services, e-commerce, and digital platforms. It involves the rivalry among companies offering digital products, services, or platforms, as well as the dynamics of market entry, innovation, pricing, and consumer choice within these sectors.

 

The Digital Competition Bill (DCB) is a proposed bill which aims to regulate Systemically Significant Digital Enterprises (SSDE) and their Associate Digital Enterprises (ADEs) to prevent Anti-Competitive Practices (ACPs). It draws inspiration from the Digital Markets Act (DMA) of the European Union, which was introduced to address ACPs of tech giants such as Google, Facebook, and Amazon. The Ministry of Corporate Affairs (MCA) is handling the draft.

The ministry of corporate affairs recently closed public consultations on the draft Digital Competition Bill (DCB) and the findings of the Committee on Digital Competition Law (CDCL).

Body

Key provision of the DCB Bill:

ProvisionsDescription
Ex-Ante RegulationThe bill proposes a preventive (ex ante) approach instead of the current post-incident (ex post) regulation. It aims to anticipate and prevent potential anti-competitive practices. It allows the Competition Commission of India (CCI) to intervene preemptively
Core Digital Services (CDS)The list of core digital services (susceptible to market concentration) has been mentioned under Schedule I of the bill.
It covers various digital services like search engines, social networks, video-sharing platforms, communication services, operating systems, web browsers, cloud services, advertising platforms, and online marketplaces.
SSDE (Systematically Significant Digital Enterprises)The Bill proposes to designate certain enterprises as SSDEs.  CCI designates SSDEs based on quantitative (turnover, market cap) and qualitative (user base) parameters
SSDEs are those enterprises that provide core digital services in India and have a significant presence and significant financial strength in the country.
Parameters to determine whether the enterprise may be designated as SSDETo determine SSDE designation, the Bill proposes financial strength and spread tests.
Qualifying parameters include India turnover, global turnover, gross merchandise value, and market capitalization.
Additionally, a core digital service must have at least 1 crore end users or 10,000 business users. Entities falling short may still be designated based on their significant presence in a core digital service.
Obligations of SSDEsSSDEs are barred from self-preferencing, anti-steering, and limiting third-party apps. Violations could lead to fines of up to 10% of their global turnover.
Coverage of Enterprises Outside IndiaCCI is empowered to inquire into non-compliant enterprises.
Associate Digital Enterprises (ADEs)Entities benefiting from data shared by major tech groups. They are subject to the same obligations as SSDEs.

Need for the Digital Competition Bill (DCB) arises from several factors:

  • Ineffectiveness of Current Framework: The existing ex-post framework under the Competition Act, 2002, lacks the ability to promptly address anti-competitive behaviour by digital enterprises.
  • Market dominance Concerns: The current framework may not adequately tackle the dominance of markets in favor of large digital enterprises, leading to their permanent dominance.
  • Arbitrary Pricing: Big Tech’s influence on pricing rules in the digital space, leads to concerns about fairness and competition.
  • Anti-Competitive Practices: Big tech giants have been observed engaging in practices such as data collection and self-preferencing (which can stifle competition and innovation) and Google’s tweaking of its Android ecosystem to favour itself.
  • Ensuring Orderly Expansion: DCB aims to support the orderly expansion of the digital ecosystem by promoting fair competition and preventing monopolistic tendencies.
  • Remove barriers for new players:The dominance of a few companies creates barriers for new entrants, limiting innovation within the sector.

Issues with the Bill:

  • Compliance Burden: Big tech firms argue that strict regulations may shift focus from innovation to compliance, citing the EU’s DMA increasing search time on Google by 4,000%.
  • Broad Definitions: Concerns exist about overbroad criteria for designating significant platforms, with India’s law leaving decisions to the CCI’s discretion.
  • Impact on Smaller Businesses: Changes and reduced data sharing could negatively affect smaller businesses reliant on tech giants’ services.
  • Potential Arbitrary Decisions: CCI discretion could lead to arbitrary rulings, affecting startups and smaller firms.

Conclusion

Collaborative efforts can help address the challenges posed by emerging technologies, promote ethical and responsible technology use, and ensure a globally inclusive and sustainable digital future.

Topic: Awareness in the fields of IT, Space, Computers, robotics, Nano-technology, biotechnology and issues relating to intellectual property rights.

6. What is reusable launch vehicle (RLV)? RLV offers cost-effective access to space, reduced launch costs, and increased flexibility in deploying satellites and conducting space missions. 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 – 3.

Key Demand of the question:

To write about the working of RLV and its benefits.

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 the answer by writing about RLV.

Body:

First, write about the working of RLV – designed to carry satellites and other payloads into space and then return to Earth and land like an airplane. Throw light on its various components and how it works.

Next, write about the advantages of RLV – Reusability leads to reduced cost, Reusability allows for more frequent launches and Reusability can improve safety etc.

Next, write about the limitations of the above – Developing RLVs requires advanced and expensive technologies, RLVs may have a smaller payload capacity and Reuse of RLVs requires regular maintenance and operations, which can be complex and costly etc.

Conclusion:

Conclude by summarising.

Introduction

Reusable launch vehicle (RLV) is a launch system that allows for the reuse of some or all of the component stages. The vehicle returns to earth intact after a mission. The Reusable Launch Vehicle Autonomous Landing Mission (RLV LEX) test was the second of five tests and part of ISRO’s efforts to develop space planes/shuttles that can travel to low earth orbits, deliver payloads and return to earth for use again.

Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) and its partners successfully demonstrated a precise landing experiment for a Reusable Launch Vehicle (RLV) at the Aeronautical Test Range (ATR), Chitradurga, Karnataka.

Body

Working

  • The RLV-TD will be used to develop technologies like hypersonic flight (HEX), autonomous landing (LEX), return flight experiment (REX), powered cruise flight, and Scramjet Propulsion Experiment (SPEX).
  • The RLV LEX test on Sunday involved a Chinook Helicopter of the Indian Air Force lifting the RLV LEX to a height of 4.5 km and releasing the RLV, based on a command from Mission Management Computer.
  • After mid-air release, the RLV carried out an autonomous landing “under the exact conditions of a Space Re-entry vehicle’s landing — high speed, unmanned, precise landing from the same return path — as if the vehicle arrived from space.
  • According to ISRO, the first test with RLV-TD (HEX1) involved the vehicle landing on a hypothetical runway over the Bay of Bengal while the LEX experiment on Sunday involved a precise landing on a runway.
  • The LEX mission achieved the final approach phase that coincided with the re-entry return flight path exhibiting an autonomous, high speed (350 km per hour) landing
  • Three more experiments — return flight experiment (REX), powered cruise flight, and Scramjet Propulsion Experiment (SPEX) — have to be conducted.

Advantages

  • Enables low-cost access to space, By using RLVs the cost of a launch can be reduced by nearly 80% of the present cost.
  • A reusable launch vehicle is considered a low-cost, reliable, and on-demand mode of accessing space.
  • Helps reuse the resources and supports the circular economy goals of India
  • In the future, this vehicle will be scaled up to become the first stage of India’s reusable two-stage orbital (TSTO) launch vehicle.
  • This can also be used to step up the commercial launches of India and support on-demand mode of accessing space.

Limitations

  • Lack of landing technology;
  • Reusable stages weigh more than equivalent expendable stages;
  • Refurbishment after landing may be lengthy and expensive.

Conclusion

The successful landing experiment of the RLV-TD programme marks a significant milestone in India’s space technology development. The RLV-TD is an important step towards achieving low-cost access to space, and its successful implementation will benefit India’s space program in the future.

Topic: challenges of corruption.

7. The significant influence of money in elections allows wealthy interests to disproportionately sway outcomes and potentially leading to corruption and loss of trust in the system. Elucidate. (150 words)

Difficulty level: Easy

Why the question:

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

Directive:

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

Structure of the answer:

Introduction:

Begin by giving context.

Body:

Write about the influence of money on elections and its impact – give candidates an unfair advantage, undermine representation, and erode the legitimacy of the political system. Also, mention the long-term impact of the same.

Conclusion:

Complete by mentioning steps that are needed to overcome the above.

Introduction

In the recently concluded Parliamentary elections, one issue may need more attention than others. Elections are fought with huge funds nowadays. Estimates vary, but a candidate may spend in crores in just one constituency. This vital issue is neglected by voters in the noise and din of campaigns, leaders, celebrities and media coverage.

Money is central to the issue of political corruption in India and political parties are suspected to be the largest and most direct beneficiaries. Corruption in elections reduces accountability, distorts representation, and introduces asymmetry in policymaking and governance. This necessitates transparency in electoral funding.

Body

Background

  • Voters vote for political parties so that they deliver benefits to the citizens. If election funds are obtained from other sources, the Governments in power are obliged to the funders more than the voters.
  • For instance, the Government Budget reports that in 2019-20 the loss to the Government on account of incentives to companies and reduction in duties and taxes was ₹2. 24 lakh crore. The voters do not know this.
  • Transparency in funding is absent after the introduction of Electoral Bonds. In spite of the CIC ruling, all political parties have refused to submit themselves to the transparency that comes with Right to Information. Limits on funding are also not well defined.

Ethical Issues with electoral funding

  • Opacity in donations: Political parties receive majority of their funds through anonymous donations (approximately 70%) through cash. Also, parties are exempted from income tax, which provides a channel for black money hoarders.
    • Eg: Electoral funds is fraught with challenges and is in the courtsTransparency in funding is absent after the introduction of Electoral BondsNow citizens cannot know who is funding the political parties.
  • Lack of action against bribes: The EC sought insertion of a new section, 58B, to RPA, 1951 to enable it to take action if parties bribe voters of a constituency, which has not come to light.
  • Allowing foreign funding: Amendment of the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act (FCRA) has opened the floodgates of foreign funding to political parties, which can lead to eventual interference in governance.
  • Unlimited corporate donations: The maximum limit of 7.5% on the proportion of the profits a company can donate to a political party has been lifted, thus opening up the possibility of shell companies being set up specifically to fund parties.
  • Lack of transparency: Despite provisions under section 29 of RPA, 1951, parties do not submit their annual audit reports to the Election Commission.
  • RTI: Parties have also defied that they come under the ambit of RTI act. In spite of the Central Information Commission (CIC) ruling, all political parties have refused to submit themselves to the transparency that comes with Right to Information.

Measures to bring more transparency in electoral funding

  • Switching to complete digital transactions.
  • Donations above a certain limit be made public to break the corporate-politico nexus.
  • Political parties should be brought under the ambit of RTI as followed in countries like Bhutan and Germany.
  • Establish a national electoral fund where donors contribute and funds are distributed among different parties according to their respective performances in the last elections. This will also weed out black money as well as ensure anonymity to donors.
  • State funding of elections has been suggested in the past in response to the high cost of elections. Law Commission of India, 2nd ARC, National Commission to Review the Working of the Constitution, have favoured state funding.
  • Cap maximum expenditure of political parties to a multiple of half of maximum prescribed limit for individual candidates with the number of candidates fielded.

Conclusion

Donors to political campaigns can demand for favourable laws and policies, favourable government contracts, and exceptionalism in law enforcement as returns on their investments. It also inevitably leads to criminalisation of politics as money and muscle power, go hand in hand. Hence, reforms in electoral funding is a major need of the hour for India.