Author Archives: IAS

What is Drought?, Global Assessment Report (GAR) on Drought 2021, Impact of Drought, Cost estimates of Drought, About United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction

Impact of severe droughts on India GDP is 2-5%: UN

In News

  • The United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNDRR) recently released a report titled Global Assessment Report (GAR) on Drought 2021.

What is Drought?

  • The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) defines drought as a period of abnormally dry weather long enough to cause a serious hydrological (water) imbalance.
  • It results from a shortfall of precipitation (rainfall) over a certain period, from the inadequate timing or the ineffectiveness of the precipitation.
  • It also results from a negative water balance due to an increased atmospheric water demand following high temperatures or strong winds.
  • Human activities resulting in water scarcity and changes in the climate system play a key role in drought intensification and propagation.

Global Assessment Report (GAR) on Drought 2021

  • The report explores the current understanding of drought risk, its drivers and the ways in which people, economies and ecosystems are exposed and are vulnerable.
  • It looks into rising water stress across the globe and resulting migration and desertification.
  • The report also provides recommendations for reducing drought risks and mitigating the impacts on communities and economies.

Highlights of the report

  • Drought impacts are intensifying as the world moves towards being 2°C warmer. Climate change has already led to more intense and longer droughts in some regions of the world.
  • Projections indicate more frequent and more severe droughts over wide parts of the world, in particular most of Africa, central and South America, central Asia, southern Australia, southern Europe, Mexico and US.
  • The extent and severity of these projected droughts largely depend on the magnitude of the temperature rise.

Impact of Drought

  • Droughts affect large areas and populations, with widespread impacts on society, economy, the environment and hence sustainable development.
  • The risks resulting from droughts can increase severely, which may also affect societies and economies far from the drought event.
  • When not adequately managed, drought is one of the drivers of desertification and land degradation, increasing fragility of ecosystems, especially in rural communities.
  • Vulnerabilities of food, water and energy increase further by drought and can lead to social vulnerability and conflict.
  • Most of the world will be living with water stress in the next few years as increasing industrialisation and urbanisation would increase demand beyond supply.

Cost estimates of Drought

  • Drought has directly affected 1.5 billion people so far this century and this number will grow significantly unless the world gets better at managing this risk. However, global cost estimates of drought are significantly underestimated.
  • The report has estimated an annual loss of around $6.4 billion in the US due to drought and Euro 9 billion in Europe.
  • In Australia, the study found its agricultural productivity fell by 18% during 2002-2010 due to drought-like conditions.
  • The effect of severe droughts on India’s gross domestic product (GDP) is estimated at 2–5%.

Deccan case study

  • The report conducted case studies in the Deccan plateau, comprising 43% of India’s landmass. As per the findings, the Deccan region sees the highest frequency (of more than 6%) of severe droughts in all of India.
  • The study found significant drought conditions once in every three years in the Deccan plateau leading to large-scale migration and desertification.
  • For instance, in recent major droughts in Tamil Nadu, a 20% reduction in the primary sector caused an overall 5% drop in industry and a 3% reduction in the service sector.
  • Further, a 2019 case study revealed villages in Maharashtra and Karnataka’s districts were deserted (fell empty) as families left due to acute water crisis.

Recommendations

  • The governance and management of droughts must shift from the current reactive crisis management to proactive drought risk management.
  • Proactive drought risk management, includes drought monitoring, forecasting, early warning and measures to reduce vulnerability.
  • Measures for adapting to changing climate and actions to increase societal and environmental resilience should also be developed.
  • Increase in public awareness and development of water-saving practices and policies are needed for successfully introducing required changes.
  • A national drought resilience partnership that works to ensure a link between national and local levels with public, private and civil society partners should be developed.
  • Further, support should be generated for the establishment of a global mechanism for drought management focused on systemic risks.

About United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction

  • Headquartered in Geneva, the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNDRR) was created in 1999 to ensure the implementation of the International Strategy for Disaster Reduction.
  • It coordinates international efforts in disaster risk reduction and oversees the implementation of the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030.
  • The Sendai Framework is a 15-year voluntary people-centred approach to disaster risk reduction.
  • UNDRR brings governments, partners and communities together to reduce disaster risk and losses to ensure a safer, more sustainable future.

 Environment & Ecology

Cryptocurrencies

In Focus: Cryptocurrencies

  • About:
    • A cryptocurrency is a digital or virtual currency that is secured by cryptography, which makes it nearly impossible to counterfeit or double-spend.
    • Many cryptocurrencies are decentralized networks based on blockchain technology.
    • A defining feature of cryptocurrencies is that they are generally not issued by any central authority, rendering them theoretically immune to governmentinterference or manipulation.

  • Types of Cryptocurrency:
    • Bitcoin: Launched in 2009, the first blockchain-based cryptocurrency was Bitcoin, which still remains the most popular and most valuable. Today, the aggregate value of all the cryptocurrencies in existence is around $1.5 trillion (60% Bitcoin).
    • Others: Some of the competing cryptocurrencies spawned by Bitcoin’s success, known as “altcoins,” include Litecoin, Peercoin, Namecoin, Ethereum, Cardano and EOS.

  • Advantages of Cryptocurrency: Easier means to transfer funds, Secure, Minimal processing fee, Promotes privacy etc.
  • Disadvantages: Well suited for illegal activities, such as money laundering and tax evasion; Highly volatile; Entire ecosystem (including exchanges and wallets) is not secure; Absence of regulation etc.

News Summary:

  • The Central American country formally adopted the virtual currency (first country in the world to do so), after its Parliament approved the move announced by the President Nayib Bukele.

  • Reason behind such decision:
    • El Salvador depends heavily on remittances sent by Salvadorians from abroad (around a quarter live in the US and send more than $6 billion in remittances, making up more than 20% of the GDP).
    • A big chunk of these remittances is lost to intermediaries. By using Bitcoin, the amount received by more than a million low income families will increase.
    • It will also help increase financial inclusion in El Salvador, where 70% of the population does not have a bank account and relies on the informal economy.

  • Reaction to the decision:
    • It is seen by some as an innovative step, in a time (pandemic) when the world is looking for new ventures of economic recovery.
    • It is also seen as good news for cryptocurrencies in general, as it will improve the appeal for Bitcoin, which has witnessed major fluctuations this year.
    • However, some crypto experts have criticised the move saying that El Salvador could have looked at other crypto options, as Bitcoin’s transaction rate is too slow compared to other virtual tenders such as Bitcoin Cash or Monero.
    • The lack of a central regulating authority, potential for fraud and money laundering, high energy costs and extreme volatility, further increase skepticism about the private currency.

Understanding El Salvador’s decision in Indian context:

  • From the prism of monetary policy:
    • El Salvador has no monetary policy of its own and hence no local currency to protect. The country was officially ‘dollarized’ in 2001 and runs on the monetary policy of the US Federal Reserve.
    • In India, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) is vested with the responsibility of conducting monetary policy. By this, RBI controls the supply of money in the economy by its control over interest rates in order to maintain price stability and achieve high economic growth.

  • Not merely currency but technology: The overall use of Bitcoin appears less motivated by its use as a currency and much more by the image and investment boost this could give the country towards innovation.
  • Potential shift in remittances: The impact Bitcoin has on remittance inflows would be worth monitoring for India, which is home to the largest remittance market in the world.
  • Necessary oversight measures: The implication of this move for illegal activities such as money laundering is unclear at the moment. India may face challenges on this front unless there is a rapid push to put in place the necessary oversight measures.
  • The overall takeaway for India:
    • While deliberations continue in India on the monetary and financial regulations around cryptocurrency, it is important to incentivize Indian developers working on key innovations in the space.

Other countries where the use of cryptocurrencies is fast gathering pace:

  • In many parts of the world that are plagued by economic uncertainties, the use of cryptocurrencies is fast gathering pace.
  • In Cuba, virtual money is being used for making payments for utilities, cross-border transactions as well as for remittances from abroad.
  • In Mexico, where also remittances from the US form a huge source of income, the crypto market has boomed.
  • In Venezuela, which is undergoing an economic and humanitarian crisis, many are adopting crypto money as spiralling hyperinflation has harmed the official currency (Bolivar).
  • The US took a decisive step towards issuing its own central bank digital currencies (CBDC).
    • CBDCs are being touted as a means for extending financial services to those who have remained underserved by traditional banks, while mitigating the risks of unregulated private tokens such as Bitcoin.

  • Recently, China rolled out pilot testing for its home-grown digital currency and issued major curbs on private cryptocurrency transactions.
  • In India, the government has floated The Cryptocurrency and Regulation of Official Digital Currency Bill, 2021, which will prohibit all private cryptocurrencies and lay down the regulatory framework for the launch of an “official digital currency”.

 Economics

In Focus: Biodiversity Hotspots

In Focus: Biodiversity Hotspots

  • A biodiversity hotspot is a region with a high amount of biodiversity that experiences habitat loss by human activity.
  • The term “biodiversity hotspot” was coined by a British environmentalist Norman Myers in 1988.
  • For a region to qualify as a biodiversity hotspot, it must meet the following two criteria:
    • Contain at least 1,500 species of vascular plants found nowhere else on Earth (known as “endemic” species).
    • Have lost at least 70 percent of its primary native vegetation.

  • There are currently 36 recognized biodiversity hotspots in the world.

    • These are Earth’s most biologically rich—yet threatened—terrestrial regions.
    • They represent just 4% of Earth’s land surface, but they support more than half of the world’s plant species as endemicsand nearly 43% of bird, mammal, reptile and amphibianspecies as endemics.

  • Several international organizations are working in many ways to conserve these biodiversity hotspots.

Biodiversity Hotspots concerning India:

  • There are four biodiversity hotspots in and around India. These are:
    • The Himalayas
    • The Western Ghats
    • Indo-Burma region
    • Sundaland

The Himalayas:

  • The Himalayas include the entire Indian Himalayan region (and that falling in Pakistan, Tibet, Nepal, Bhutan, China and Myanmar).
  • Of the estimated 10,000 species of plants in the Himalaya Hotspot, about 3,160 are endemic.
  • In spite of harsh winter conditions, there are records of vascular plants occurring at some of the highest elevations on Earth.
  • About 300 mammal species have been recorded in the Himalaya, including a dozen that are endemic to the hotspot—the Endangered golden langurand Critically Endangered pygmy hogamong them.

Indo-Burma region:

  • This hotspot includes entire North-eastern India, except Assam and Andaman group of Islands (and Myanmar, Thailand, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia and southern China).
  • More than 300 million people live in Indo-Burma, more than any other hotspot.
  • The hotspot is noteworthy for its concentration of globally threatened primates, of which 20 are endemic to the hotspot.
  • The Critically Endangered lesser one-horned rhinocerosrecently disappeared from the hotspot, and now only survives in one location in Java.

Western Ghats:

  • This hotspot includes the entire Western Ghats and Sri Lanka.
  • It is estimated that there are four thousand species of flowering plants known from the Western Ghats and 1,500 (nearly 38 percent) of these are endemic.
  • The Nilgiri Mountains are one of the most important centres of speciation for flowering plants in the Western Ghats, with 82 species restricted to this area alone.
  • Wide-ranging and flagship mammal species such as the tiger and elephant have attracted significant conservation efforts.

Sundaland:

  • The hotspot covers a small portion of southern Thailand; nearly all of Malaysia; Singapore; Brunei; and the western half of Indonesia. The Nicobar Islands of India are also included.
  • The hotspot is one of the biologically richest regions on Earth, holding about 25,000 species of vascular plants, 60 percent of which are endemic.
  • Some 380 mammal species are found here, including two species of orangutans: the Critically Endangered Bornean orangutan, and the Critically Endangered Sumatran orangutan.
  • Other iconic species include the Endangered proboscis monkey, which lives only on Borneo, and two rhinoceros species: the Critically Endangered Javan rhino and the Critically Endangered Sumatran rhino.

About: Central Vigilance Commission (CVC)

About: Central Vigilance Commission (CVC)

  • The Central Vigilance Commission was setup by a Government Resolution in 1964, to advise and guide Central Government agencies in the field of vigilance.
  • The Commission was given the status of independent statutory authority through the Central Vigilance Commission Act, 2003.
  • As the apex integrity institution, the Commission is mandated to fight corruption and to ensure integrity in public administration.
  • It has the status of an autonomous body, free of control from any executive authority, charged with monitoring all vigilance activity under the Central Government.

Mission:

  • To promote integrity in the governance processes by:
    • Creation of a credible deterrence against corruption through enforcement of anti-corruption laws and regulations.
    • Undertaking effective preventive measures to minimize the scope of corruption.
    • Raising public awareness to inculcate ethical values and reduce society’s tolerance towards corruption.

Members of CVC:

  • The CVC is headed by a Central Vigilance Commissioner, who is assisted by two Vigilance Commissioners.
  • They are appointed by the President, on the recommendation of a three member committee.
  • The three-member committee consists of the Prime Minister as its head, The Union Minister of Home Affairs and the Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha.
  • After their tenure, they are not eligible for further appointment under the Central or State government.

Functions of CVC:

  • To inquire or cause an investigation to be made on a reference by the Central Government. The CVC has the powers of a Civil court while conducting any inquiry.
  • Advice the Central Government and its organizations on matters referred to it by them.
  • Exercise superintendence over the vigilance administrations of the various Central Government Ministries, Departments and Organizations of the Central Government.
  • Exercise superintendence over the functioning of the Delhi Special Police Establishment (Central Bureau of Investigation) related to:
    • The investigation of offences under the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988.
    • An offence under the Code of Criminal Procedure for certain categories of public servants.

  • Review the progress of investigations conducted by the DSPE.

Jurisdiction of CVC:

  • Members of All India Service serving in connection with the affairs of the Union and Group A officers of the Central Government.
  • Officers of the rank of Scale V and above in the Public Sector Banks.
  • Officers in Grade D and above in Reserve Bank of India, NABARD and SIDBI.
  • Chief Executives and Executives on the Board and other officers in Schedule ‘A’, ‘B’, ‘C’ and ‘D’ Public Sector Undertakings.
  • Managers and above in General Insurance Companies.
  • Senior Divisional Managers and above in Life Insurance Corporations.

 Polity & Governance

About: National Human Rights Commission (NHRC):

About: National Human Rights Commission (NHRC):

  • The National Human Rights Commission is a statutory body established in 1993 under the Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993.
  • The commission is the watchdog of human rights in the country i.e. the rights relating to life, liberty, equality and dignity of the individual guaranteed by the Constitution or embodied in the international covenants and enforceable by courts in India.
  • Objectives:
    • To strengthen the institutional arrangements through which human rights issues could be addressed in their entirety in a more focussed manner.
    • To look into allegations of excesses, independently of the government, in a manner that would underline the government’s commitment to protect human rights.
    • To complement and strengthen the efforts that have already been made in this direction.

Composition of NHRC:

  • The commission is a multi-member body consisting of a chairperson and five members.
  • The chairperson should be a retired Chief Justice of India or a judge of the Supreme Court.
  • The chairperson and members are appointed by the President on the recommendations of a six-member committee consisting of:
    • Prime Minister (head)
    • Speaker of Lok Sabha
    • Deputy Chairman of Rajya Sabha
    • Leaders of the Opposition in Both Houses of Parliament
    • Union Home Minister

  • The chairperson and members hold office for a term of three years or until they attain the age of 70 years, whichever is earlier. They are eligible for reappointment.
  • After their tenure, the chairperson and members are not eligible for further employment under the Central or a state government.
  • Inaddition to these full-time members, the commission also hasseven ex-officio members–the chairpersons of the NationalCommission for Minorities, the National Commission for SCs, theNational Commission for STs, the National Commission forWomen, the National Commission for BCs and the NationalCommission for Protection of Child Rights and the ChiefCommissioner for Persons with Disabilities.

Functions of the Commission:

  • To inquire into any violation of human rights or negligence in the prevention of such violation by a public servant, either suo motu or on a petition presented to it or on an order of a court.
  • To intervene in any proceeding involving allegation of violation of human rights pending before a court.
  • To visit jails and detention places to study the living conditions of inmates.
  • Toreviewtheconstitutionalandotherlegalsafeguardsforthe protection of human rights.
  • To encourage the efforts of nongovernmental organisations(NGOs) working in the field of human rights.
  • To undertake such other functions as it may considernecessary for the promotion of human rights.

Working of the Commission:

  • The commission is vested with the powers of a civilcourt and its proceedings have a judicial character.
  • The commission has its own nucleus of investigating staff forinvestigation into complaints of human rights violations.
  • It may call forinformation or report from the Central and state governments orany other authority subordinate thereto.
  • Headquarters: Delhi

Limitations of the Commission:

  • It can look into a matter within oneyear of its occurrence.
  • The functions of the commission are mainly recommendatory in nature.
  • It has no power to punishthe violators of human rights, nor to award any relief includingmonetary relief to the victim.
  • Its recommendations are not binding on the concerned government or authority.
  • The commission has limited role, powers and jurisdiction with respect to the violation of human rights by themembers of the armed forces.

About: Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) @UpscExpress

About: Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE)

  • The Central Board of Secondary Education was formed officially in 1962 with the sole purpose to make a common standard and platform for every student in the country.
  • The Board has not been established under any statute.
  • It can be treated only as an authority created by the Government of India to carry on certain objectives and functions as conferred on it.
  • All schools affiliated to CBSE follow the NCERT (National Council of Educational Research and Training) curriculum.
  • Controlling Authority:Secretary (School Education & Literacy), Ministry of Education

Examinations conducted by the Board:

  • CBSE conducts the final examinations for Class 10 and Class 12 every year in the month of March.
  • CBSE also conducts AIPMT (All India Pre Medical Test) for admission to major medical colleges in India.
  • Apart from these tests, CBSE also conducts the Central Teacher Eligibility Test.

About: Council for the Indian School Certificate Examinations (CISCE)

  • The Council for the Indian School Certificate Examinations is a privately held national-level board of school education in India.
  • It conducts the Indian Certificate of Secondary Education (ICSE) and the Indian School Certificate (ISC)

Difference between ICSE and ISC:

  • The basic difference between ICSE and ISC is that ICSE is the examination conducted by CISCE for students of the 10th
  • On the other hand, ISC examination is conducted by the CISCE for students in standard 12th.

Other Educational Boards in India:

  • Apart from CBSE and CISCE, there are other national educational boards in the country as well.
  • International Baccalaureate:
    • International Baccalaureate (IB) is a non-profit foundation headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland, and founded in 1968.
    • It focuses on analytical skills, language, arts and humanities. The purpose of the IB is to produce global citizens.

  • State Educational Boards:
    • Every State and Union Territory within India has its own education board.
    • This State government-run board has two main exams. The Secondary School Certificate (SSC) for class 10 and Higher School Certificate (HSC) for Class 12.
    • This board is ideal for parents who are settled in a particular state with no plan of moving out anytime soon.

  • National Institute of Open Schooling (NIOS):
    • NIOS is the board of education under the Union Government of India.
    • It was established in 1989 to provide education to all segments of society under the motive to increase literacy and aimed forward for flexible learning.
    • Open schoolingis a flexible education system that allows learners to learn where and when they want, physically away from a school and a teacher.
    • It also offers vocational courses after the high school.

Sunderbans and Mangrove

  • Sunderbans is the largest single block mangrove forest in the world.

About: Sundarbans:

  • Sundarbans is a mangrove area in the delta formed by the confluence of the GangaBrahmaputra and Meghna Rivers in the Bay of Bengal.

  • It is the largest single block mangrove forest in the world.
  • The Sundarbans mangrove forest covers an area of about 10,000 sq. km, of which forests in Bangladeshextend over 6,017 sq. km and in India, they extend over 4,260 sq. km.
  • About half a million people of India and Bangladesh are dependent on the Sundarbans for their livelihood.
  • It is classified as a moist tropical forest dominated by “Sundri tree”.
    • It yields a hard wood, used for building houses and making boats, furniture and other things.

  • It acts as shelter belt to protect the people fromstorms, cyclones, tidal surges, sea water seepageand intrusion.
  • It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
    • A World Heritage Site is a landmark or area with legal protection by an international convention administered by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

  • It is the only mangrove reserve in the world inhabited by tigers.
  • There are five reserves in the Sundarbans:
    • The Royal Bengal Tiger Reserve
    • Sundarban National Park
    • Sajnekhali wildlife sanctuary
    • Lothian Island wildlife sanctuary
    • Holiday Island wildlife sanctuary

In Focus: Mangroves

What are Mangroves?

  • Mangroves are a group of trees and shrubs, also called halophytes, that live in the saline or brackish water of the coastal intertidal zone.
  • They are referred to as ‘tidal forests’ and belong to the category of ‘tropical wetland rainforest ecosystem’.
  • Mangrove forests occupy around 2,00,000 sq. km across the world in tropical regions of 30 countries. India has a total mangrove cover of 4,482 sq. km.

  • Mangrove forests only grow at tropical and subtropical latitudes near the equator because they cannot withstand temperatures below 5o
  • It is an interface between terrestrial forests and aquatic marine ecosystems.
  • There are about 80 different species of mangrove trees. All of these trees grow in areas with low-oxygen soil, where slow-moving waters allow fine sediments to accumulate.

What is the significance of mangroves?

  • The structural complexities of mangrove vegetation create unique environments which provide ecological niches for a wide variety of organisms.
  • Mangroves serve as breeding, feeding and nursery grounds for most of the commercial fishes and crustaceans on which thousands of people depend for their livelihood.

  • Mangroves act as shock absorbers. They reduce high tides and waves and help prevent soil erosion.
  • Mangroves give protection to the coastline and minimise disasters due to cyclones and tsunami.
  • Mangrove forests are able to store three to four times more carbon than the forests which are found on land.
    • They form ecosystems which scientists refer to as “blue carbon ecosystems” as opposed to “green carbon ecosystems” which are found on the land.

  • Mangroves are an intermediate vegetation between land and sea that grow in oxygen deficient waterlogged soils which have Hydrogen Sulphide (H2S).
    • They perform important ecological functions like nutrient cycling, hydrological regime, coastal protection, fish-fauna production, etc.

Explained: The Reclining Buddha and his various other depictions in art

In News:

  • On Wednesday, May 26 — Buddha Jayanti, Buddha Purnima, or Vesak — India’s largest statue of the Reclining Buddha was to have been installed at the Buddha International Welfare Mission temple in Bodh Gaya, Bihar.
  • The ceremony has been postponed due to Covid-19 restrictions.

About the Reclining Buddha:

  • A reclining Buddha is an image that represents Buddha lying down and is a major iconographic theme in Buddhist art.

  • Statues and images of the Reclining Buddha show him lying on his right side, his head resting on a cushion or on his right elbow.
  • It represents the Buddha during his last illness, about to enter Parinirvana, the stage of great salvation after death that can only be attained by enlightened souls.
    • The Buddha’s death came when he was 80 years old, in a state of meditation, in Kushinagar in eastern Uttar Pradesh.

  • It is meant to show that all beings have the potential to be awakened and be released from the cycle of death and rebirth.
  • The reclining Buddha was first depicted in Gandhara Art.

Other depictions/mudras of Buddha:

  • Mudras are a non-verbal mode of communication and self-expression, consisting of hand gestures and fingerpostures.
  • While there are a large number of esoteric mudras, over time Buddhist art has retained only five of them for the representations of the Buddha.
  • These five mudras are:
  1. Dharmachakra mudra:
    • Dharmachakra in Sanskrit means the ‘Wheel of Dharma‘.

    • This mudra symbolizes the occasion when Buddha preached to his companions the first sermon after his Enlightenment in the Deer Park at Sarnath.It thus denotes the setting into motion ofthe Wheel of the teaching of the Dharma.
    • In this mudra the thumb and index finger of both hands touch at their tips to form a circle.
    • This circle represents the Wheel of Dharma, or in metaphysical terms, the union of method and wisdom.
    • In this mudra, the hands are held in front of the heart, symbolizing that these teachings are straight from the Buddha’s heart.

  2. Bhumisparsha mudra:
    • Literally Bhumisparsha translates into ‘touching the earth’.
    • It is more commonly known as the ‘earth witness’ mudra.

    • This mudra, formed with all five fingers of the right hand extended to touch the ground, symbolizes the Buddha’s enlightenment under the Bodhi tree, when he summoned the earth goddess, Sthavara, to bear witness to his attainment of enlightenment.
    • The right hand, placed upon the right knee in earth-pressing mudra, and complemented by the left hand-which is held flat in the lap in the dhyana mudra of meditation, symbolizes the union of method and wisdom.

  3. Varada mudra:
    • This mudra symbolizes charity, compassion and boon-granting.
    • It is the mudra of the accomplishment of the wish to devote oneself to human salvation.

    • It is nearly always made with the left hand, and can be made with the arm hanging naturally at the side of the body, the palm of the open hand facing forward, and the fingers extended.
    • The five extended fingers symbolize the following five perfections:
      1. Generosity
      2. Morality
      3. Patience
      4. Effort
      5. Meditative concentration


  1. Dhyana mudra:
    • The Dhyana mudra may be made with one or both hands.

    • When made with a single hand the left one is placed in the lap, while the right may be engaged elsewhere. The left hand making the Dhyana mudra in such cases symbolizes the female left-hand principle of wisdom
    • When made with both hands, the hands are generally held at the level of the stomach or on the thighs.
    • The Dhyana mudra is the mudra of meditation, of concentration on the Good law, and of the attainment of spiritual perfection.
    • It indicates the perfect balance of thought, rest of the senses and tranquillity.
    • According to tradition, this mudra derives from the one assumed by Buddha when meditating under the pipal tree before his Enlightenment.

  2. Abhaya Mudra:
    • Abhaya in Sanskrit means fearless. Thus this mudra symbolizes protection, peace, and the dispelling of fear.
    • It is made with the right hand raised to shoulder height, the arm crooked, the palm of the hand facing outward, and the fingers upright and joined. The left hand hangs down at the side of the body.

    • In Thailand, and especially in Laos, this mudra is associated with the movement of the waking Buddha.
    • In Gandhara art, this mudra was sometimes used to indicate the action of preaching.

Freedom of Navigation Operations

Freedom of Navigation Operations

Q Why is it in News? 

The US Navy has had “asserted navigational rights and freedoms approximately 130 nautical miles west of Lakshadweep Islands, inside India’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ), without requesting India’s prior consent, consistent with international law”.

Q What are  Freedom of Navigation Operations?  

  • Freedom of Navigation Operations (FONOPs)  are closely linked to the concept of freedom of navigation, and in particular to the enforcement of relevant international law and customs regarding freedom of navigation.
  • It involves passage conducted by the US Navy through waters claimed by coastal nations as their exclusive territory.
  • It is carried under the US policy of exercising and asserting its navigation and overflight rights and freedoms around the world”.
  • It says these “assertions communicate that the US does not acquiesce to the excessive maritime claims of other nations, and thus prevents those claims from becoming accepted in international law”.

Q What is Significance of FONOPs ? 

  • FONOPs are a method of enforcing UNCLOS (United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea) and avoiding these negative outcomes by reinforcing freedom of navigation through practice.
  • It is exercised by sailing through all areas of the sea permitted under UNCLOS, and particularly those areas that states have attempted to close off to free navigation as defined under UNCLOS.

Q What is an Exclusive Economic Zone ? 

  • An exclusive economic zone (EEZ) is prescribed by the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.
  • It is an area of the sea in which a sovereign state has special rights regarding the exploration and use of marine resources, including energy production from water and wind.
  • It stretches from the baseline out to 200 nautical miles from the coast of the state in question.
  • It is also referred to as a maritime continental margin and, in colloquial usage, may include the continental shelf.
  • The term does not include either the territorial sea or the continental shelf beyond the 200 nautical mile limit.
  • The difference between the territorial sea and the exclusive economic zone is that the first confers full sovereignty over the waters, whereas the second is merely a “sovereign right” which refers to the coastal state’s rights below the surface of the sea.
  • The surface waters, as can be seen on the map, are international waters.

Q Is FONOP violative of India’s EEZ? 

  • As per India’s Territorial Waters Act, 1976, the EEZ of India “is an area beyond and adjacent to the territorial waters, and the limit of such zone is two hundred nautical miles from the baseline”.
  • India’s “limit of the territorial waters is the line every point of which is at a distance of twelve nautical miles from the nearest point of the appropriate baseline”.
  • Under the 1976 law, “all foreign ships (other than warships including submarines and other underwater vehicles) shall enjoy the right of innocent passage through the territorial waters”.

Q What is UNCLOS ? 

  • The Law of the Sea Treaty formally known as the Third United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea was adopted in 1982 at Montego Bay, Jamaica. It entered into force in 1994.
  • The convention establishes a comprehensive set of rules governing the oceans and replaces previous U.N. Conventions on the Law of the Sea
  • The convention defines the distance of 12 nautical miles from the baseline as Territorial Sea limit and a distance of 200 nautical miles distance as Exclusive Economic Zone limit.

Q. What is Aurora, why does it occur? 

Northern Lights, also known as aurora borealis could be visible in regions such as in the northern parts of Illinois and Pennsylvania in the US.

Q. What is Aurora, why does it occur? 

  • Auroras occur when charged particles ejected from the Sun’s surface — called the solar wind — enter the Earth’s atmosphere.
  • While flowing toward Earth, the fast-moving solar wind carries with it the Sun’s magnetic field, which disrupts the magnetosphere — the region of space around Earth in which the magnetic field of our planet is dominant.
  • When the Sun’s magnetic field approaches Earth, the protective magnetic field radiating from our planet’s poles deflects the former, thus shielding life on Earth.
  • However, as this happens, the protective fields couple together to form funnels, through which charged solar wind particles are able to stream down to the poles.
  • At the north and south poles, the charged particles interact with different gases in the atmosphere, causing a display of light in the sky.
  • This display, known as an aurora, is seen from the Earth’s high latitude regions (called the auroral oval), and is active all year round.

Q. What about their distinct name? 

  • In the northern part of our globe, the polar lights are called aurora borealis or Northern Lights and are seen from the US (Alaska), Canada, Iceland, Greenland, Norway, Sweden and Finland.
  • In the south, they are called aurora australis or southern lights and are visible from high latitudes in Antarctica, Chile, Argentina, New Zealand and Australia.

Q. Where is it observed?

  • Generally, the auroral oval is usually witnessed far up in the Polar Regions or the high latitude regions of Europe, like in Norway.
  • But occasionally, the oval expands, and the lights become visible at lower latitudes.
  • This happens during periods of high solar activity, such as the arrival of solar storms.

Define minorities. What are the socio cultural problems before them and what measures should be adopted to solve them? [200 Words]

Ans.: A minority group, refers to a group of people whose practices, race, religion, ethnicity, or other characteristics are lesser in numbers than the main groups of those classifications.
In sociology, a minority group refers to a category of people who experience relative disadvantage as compared to members of a dominant social group. 
Louis Wirth defined a minority group as “a group of people who, because of their physical or cultural characteristics, are singled out from the others in the society in which they live for differential and unequal treatment, and who therefore regard themselves as objects of collective discrimination”. 
Socio-Cultural problems of minorities : 
1. Problem of Identity: 

  1. Because of the differences in socio-cultural practices, history and backgrounds, minorities have to grapple with the issue of identity
  2. This give rise to the problem of adjustment with the majority community. 

2. Problem of Security

  1. Different identity and their small number relative to the rest of the society develop feeling of insecurity about their life, assets and well-being.
  2. This sense of insecurity may get accentuated at times when relations between the majority and the minority communities in a society are strained or not much cordial. 

3. Problem Relating to Equity

  1. The minority community in a society may remain deprived of the benefit of opportunities of development as a result of discrimination.
  2. Because of the difference in identity, the minority community develops the perception of the sense of inequity. 

4. Problem of Communal Tensions and Riots

  1. Communal tensions and riots have been incessantly increasing since independence.
  2. Whenever the communal tensions and riots take place for whatever reason, minority interests get threatened 

5. Lack of Representation in Civil Service and Politics

  1. the Constitution provides for equality and equal opportunities to all its citizens including the religious minorities
  2. the biggest minority community, that is, Muslims have a feeling among them that they are neglected
  3. However, such a feeling does not seem to exist among the other religious minority communities such as the Christians, Sikhs, Jains and Buddhists, for they seem to be economically and educationally better than the majority community. 

Steps taken to address these issues:

  • The global governance network must recognizes that effort to promote and protect the rights of minorities must be multidimensional and engage the entire System.
  • Discrimination is often at the root of identity-related tensions. Such tensions have a potential to develop into crises that could ultimately lead to conflict, forced displacement and, in the worst cases, to atrocity crimes, including genocide.

Hence, before these instances develops into a broken window syndrome, these must be allayed as early as possible.

  • Their Skills must be upgraded
  • Their rich heritage and culture must be preserved . 

Government Initiatives in this regard :The Government has taken various steps to improve socio-economic and educational status of minority communities 

  • Prime Minister’s New 15 Point Programme for the Welfare of Minorities, which is an overarching programme covering various schemes/ initiatives of different Ministries/ Departments.
  • National Commission for Minorities (NCM) was set up by the Union Government of India in 1992 to protect the existence of minorities all over India.
  • USTAAD Scheme aims at upgrading Skills and Training
  • Hamari Darohar Scheme

Minority Cyber Gram programme seeks to introduce digital literacy skills in identified minority clusters in India.

Describe any four cultural elements of diversity in India and rate their relative significance in building a national identity. (UPSC – 2015) [150 Words]

Ans.: Diversity connotes collective differences among people that differentiates one group of people from another.
India is considered as a mega culturally diverse country due to the existence of various groups that provide a unique blend to India’s diversity. These culturally diverse elements have given India an identity that is heterogeneous compared to any such large countries.
 
Cultural elements of diversity in India: 

  • Religious Diversity
    All major religions of the world are found and practised in India. The foreign religions have interacted with regional culture and formed a unique blend that is not formed elsewhere.
    Ex: Blend of Parsi culture with indigenous culture in Maharashtra . 
  • Language
    India is home to a large number of languages that we cannot find in any other countries. These languages have evolved over centuries and some are very rare. This diversity in language has provided India a colourful blend. Fundamental unity is found in the ideas and themes expressed in these languages. 
  • Festivals
    Every region and community in India has their own festivals based on their cultural identity. These festivals are the backbone of their culture and are delicately preserved and followed. These festivals allow the identity of communities to transmit over generations.
    Ex: Lohri in Punjab , Pongal in Kerala, Bihu in NE states. 
  • Races
    India is home to major races of the world. These races have mixed with each other over hundreds of years to give rise to present ones. This has allowed the existence of unique races in India.
    Ex: Indo-Aryan races in India, Dravidian etc. 
  • Pilgrimages 

Significance of cultural elements in building national identity

  • Unity in diversity
    The different cultural elements have allowed India to be seen as a country that respects all traditions and beliefs. This has reiterated India’s commitment to towards unity in diversity motto.
  • Building tolerance
    Existence of various forms of diverse culture in India has made India an example of tolerance. When the world is fighting over colour and language, India’s acceptance of cultural diversity is a beacon of hope. 

Thus, cultural diversity has an important role in shaping India’s national identity that is not based on any language or religion but instead on common hopes and aspirations.

How Asian desert dust enhances Indian summer monsoon

How Asian desert dust enhances Indian summer monsoon

Q. What is the news?

  • A recent study shows how dust coming from the deserts in the West, Central and East Asia plays an important role in the Indian Summer Monsoon.
  • The researchers also explain how the Indian Summer Monsoon has a reverse effect and can increase the winds in West Asia to produce yet more dust.

Q. What is Positive feedback loop?

  • Dust swarms from the desert when lifted by strong winds can absorb solar radiation and become hot. This can cause heating of the atmosphere, change the air pressure, wind circulation patterns, influence moisture transport and increase precipitation and rainfall. A strong monsoon can also transport air to West Asia and again pick up a lot of dust. The researchers say this is a positive feedback loop.

Q. How are aerosols transported?

  • Deserts across the globe play important roles in monsoons. The dust aerosols from deserts in West China such as the Taklamakan desert and the Gobi Desert can be transported eastward to eastern China and can influence the East Asia summer monsoon. And in the southwest United States, some small deserts that influence the North African monsoon.
  • Experts are divided on the issue of whether , Anthropogenic dust from vehicles, mining, construction can influence monsoons, some see      anthropogenic aerosols emitted from the Indian subcontinent can decrease summer monsoon precipitation, while others found that absorbing aerosols such as dust can strengthen the monsoon circulation. 

Q. What are the minor components?

  • The research team has planned to study the minor components of desert dust aerosols. Dust from deserts across the globe will have the same components, but since different deserts have different chemical compositions and this can influence the dust’s properties. For example, if one think that dust from the Middle East [West Asia] has more absorbing ability of solar radiation than dust from North Africa and this difference in absorbing ability might influence monsoon systems.
  • Researchers have also planned to use high spatial resolution remote sensing to identify source regions and create a better dust emission map. 
  • They would study new drying lakes and how dust from them can also play a role in the monsoons.

How Supreme Court chooses the Chief Justice of India

How Supreme Court chooses the Chief Justice of India

Why is it in News? 

Chief Justice of India Sharad A. Bobde has recommended Justice N.V. Ramana, the senior-most judge of the Supreme Court, as the next top judge. Justice Ramana is now set to take over as the 48th Chief Justice of India from April 24.

How is CJI Appointed? 

  • The Chief Justice of India is traditionally appointed by the outgoing Chief Justice of India on the day of his (or her) retirement.
  • By convention, the outgoing Chief Justice of India selects the most senior then-sitting Supreme Court judge.

How is Seniority determined?

Seniority at the apex court is determined not by age, but by:

  1. The date a judge was appointed to the Supreme Court.
  2. If two judges are elevated to the Supreme Court on the same day:
  • The one who was sworn in first as a judge would be senior to another.
  • If both were sworn in as judges on the same day, the one with more years of high court service would ‘win’ in the seniority stakes.
  1. An appointment from the bench would ‘higher ’ in seniority an appointee from the bar.

Is it a part of the Constitution?

The Constitution of India does not have any provision for criteria and procedure for appointing the CJI. Article 124(1) of the Indian Constitution says there “shall be a Supreme Court of India consisting of a Chief Justice of India”.

  • The closest mention is in Article 126, which deals with the appointment of an acting CJI.
  1. In the absence of a constitutional provision, the procedure relies on custom and convention.

What is the procedure?

The procedure to appoint the next CJI is laid out in the Memorandum of Procedure (MoP) between the government and the judiciary:

  1. The procedure is initiated by the Law Minister seeking the recommendation of the outgoing CJI at the ‘appropriate time’, which is near to the date of retirement of the incumbent CJI.
  2. The CJI sends his recommendation to the Law Ministry; and in the case of any doubt , the CJI can consult the collegium regarding the fitness of an SC judge to be elevated to the post.
  3. After receiving recommendation from the CJI, the law minister forwards it to the Prime Minister who then advises the President on the same.
  4. The President administers the oath of office to the new CJI.

What is the difference between Appointment of the CJI and the appointment of SC judges?

Key difference:

In the former, the government cannot send the recommendation of the CJI (or the collegium) back to them for reconsideration; while in the latter, the government can do so. However, if the collegium reiterates those names, then the government cannot object any further

What could be the reasons behind an unusually large hole that has opened in the ozone layer over the Arctic?

What could be the reasons behind an unusually large hole that has opened in the ozone layer over the Arctic?

  1. Over the last month, a new hole in the ozone layer has started to form over the Arctic.
  2. The ozone layer over the North Pole has been depleted plenty of times in the past. But this time around, extreme weather and atmospheric conditions have led to a far greater depletion than normal
  3. This year’s Arctic ozone hole is bigger than normal because of atypically cold temperatures in the stratosphere that helped trap a whirlpool of icy wind, called a polar vortex, in the area that dispersed ozone more than usual.
  4. Still, even this unusually large hole in the ozone layer is considerably smaller than the more well-known hole over Antarctica.
  5. It remains unclear what to expect in the coming years. While the larger-than-average ozone hole was caused in part by extreme weather, which has been linked to climate change, it’s too soon to declare that the Arctic ozone depletion will continue to get worse if climate change continues unchecked.

Issue of Same Sex Marriage

Q. Why is this in news? 

  • Recently, the Central Government opposed same-sex marriage in Delhi High Court stating that a marriage in India can be recognised only if it is between a “biological man” and a “biological woman” capable of producing children.

Q. What is the background for it?

  • Petitions, seeking recognition of same sex marriages under the Hindu Marriage Act (HMA), 1955 and the Special Marriage Act (SMA), 1954, were filed in 2020.

Q. What is Centre’s Response/Argument?

Supreme Court’s Order:

  • In reading down the provision of Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), the Supreme Court only decriminalised a particular human behaviour but neither intended to, nor did in fact, legitimise the human conduct in question.

Societal Morality:

  • There exists a “legitimate State interest” in limiting the recognition of marriage to persons of opposite sex. The considerations of “societal morality” are relevant in considering the validity of a law and it is for the Legislature to enforce such societal morality and public acceptance based upon Indian ethos.

Not in Consonance with Existing Laws:

  • The fundamental right under Article 21 is subject to the procedure established by law and it cannot be expanded to include the fundamental right for same sex marriage to be recognised under the laws which in fact mandate the contrary.
  • Article 21 of the constitution guarantees the right to life. This right cannot be taken away except through a law which is substantively and procedurally fair, just and reasonable.
  • Any interference with the existing marriage laws would cause complete havoc with the delicate balance of personal laws in the country.

Sanctity of Marriage:

  • Living together as partners or in a relationship with a same-sex individual is “not comparable” with the “Indian family unit concept” of a husband, wife and children, arguing that the institution of marriage has a “sanctity”.

Legality of same-sex marriages in India:

  • The right to marry is not expressly recognized either as a fundamental or constitutional right under the Indian Constitution.
  • Though marriage is regulated through various statutory enactments, its recognition as a fundamental right has only developed through judicial decisions of India’s Supreme Court.
  • Such declaration of law is binding on all courts throughout India under Article 141 of the Constitution.

Q. Are there any Judicial pronouncements in this regard?

  • Marriage as a Fundamental Right (Shafin Jahan v. Asokan K.M. and others 2018):
  • While referring to Article 16 of Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Puttaswamy case, the SC held that the right to marry a person of one’s choice is integral to Article 21 of the Constitution.
  • Article 16 (2) in the Indian constitution provides that there cannot be any discrimination on grounds only of religion, race, caste, sex, descent, place of birth, residence or any of them.
  • The right to marry is intrinsic to the liberty which the Constitution guarantees as a fundamental right, is the ability of each individual to take decisions on matters central to the pursuit of happiness. Matters of belief and faith, including whether to believe are at the core of constitutional liberty.
  • LGBTQ Community Entitled to all Constitutional Rights (Navjet Singh Johar and others v. Union of India 2018):
  • The SC held that members of the LGBTQ community “are entitled, as all other citizens, to the full range of constitutional rights including the liberties protected by the Constitution” and are entitled to equal citizenship and “equal protection of law”.

Significance of militants’ surrender in Assam and history of Karbi insurgency.

Q. What is the news?

  • Recently 1,040 militants of five militant groups of Karbi Anglong district ceremonially laid down arms at an event in Guwahati in the presence of Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal, a development which further bolsters the ‘terrorism-free Assam’ image of the current BJP-led government. Among the surrendered militants is Ingti Kathar Songbijit, a primary accused in multiple cases of militancy and ethnic violence in the state.
Skirmish over kitchen shed - Construction for cooking midday meal sparks  border trouble - Telegraph India

Surrendered Organisation :

  • The surrendered militants comprised cadres from five outfits — Karbi People’s Liberation Tiger (KPLT), People’s Democratic Council of Karbi Longri (PDCK), Karbi Longri NC Hills Liberation Front (KLNLF), Kuki Liberation Front (KLF) and United People’s Liberation Army (UPLA). 

Q. What is the history of Karbi insurgency?

  • Insurgency by Karbi — a major ethnic community of Assam — groups, dotted by several factions and splinters, has had a long history in Assam, marked by killings, ethnic violence, abductions and taxation since the late 1980s. These outfits originated from a core demand of forming a separate state. Today, the Karbi Anglong Autonomous Council (KAAC) is an autonomous district council, protected under the Sixth Schedule of the Indian Constitution.
  • The Karbi National Volunteers (KNV) and Karbi People’s Force (KPF) came together to form the United People’s Democratic Solidarity (UPDS) in late 1990s. In November 2011, UPDS gave up arms and signed a tripartite memorandum of settlement with the Centre and the government of Assam, settling for enhanced autonomy and special packages for the KAAC. The then general secretary of the UPDS, Horen Sing Bey, is now the BJP MP from the Autonomous District Lok Sabha constituency.
  • The entire political discourse in this constituency — comprising three districts of Karbi Anglong, West Karbi Anglong (split from the former in 2016) and Dima Hasao — revolves around the demand for granting of “Autonomous State” status to the region and more autonomy and power to the KAAC and the North Cachar Hills Autonomous Council (which administers over Dima Hasao district).

Q. What is the significance of the surrender?

  • It’s a very significant development, not only for Karbi Anglong or Assam but also for Nagaland. It means that all insurgent outfits of Karbi Anglong district have now been brought into the mainstream.”
  • Karbi Anglong is a very important district in the state, and the largest in terms of area. Karbi Anglong militant outfits joining the mainstream means a decline in influence of Naga militant outfits in Assam. With this surrender a huge number of weapons have come overground — and that is a major step towards peace in the state.
  • CM Sonowal congratulated the surrendered militants for coming back to mainstream society and urged them to contribute in the journey of state’s progress.
  • The government’s role is not limited to only bringing back the militants but also it is committed to ensure a life of dignity and respect for those who have surrendered arms by facilitating opportunities for livelihood and employment. 
  • The developments come a year after a peace and development agreement was signed with multiple Bodo militant outfits, bringing an end to a violent movement for a separate Bodoland.

Q. Who is Ingti Kathar Songbijit, the militant who surrendered?

  • Songbijit is the self-styled chief of the outfit PDCK. His surrender is significant because he is a primary accused in multiple cases of militancy and ethnic violence. He has been a ‘most-wanted’ militant in Assam.
  • Interestingly, Songbijit is a Karbi by birth and ethnicity but had long been related to Bodo insurgency. In 2012, he broke away from one faction of the National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB) — the NDFB(RD) — and formed his own faction, NDFB(S). The faction is alleged to be responsible for the massacre of 70 Adivasis in Assam in December 2014. In 2015, Songbijit was removed as the chief of the group and B Saoraigwra took over. Then, Songbijit went on to form his Karbi outfit.
  • Songbijit has been charge sheeted by the NIA. So now it needs to be seen as to what decision will be taken on him by the NIA, the government of India and the government of Assam.
  • Arms have been laid down. Now an agreement needs to be reached regarding the terms and conditions to be set for the road ahead. 

Why is it unusually foggy over north India this winter?

Why is it unusually foggy over north India this winter?

Q. What is the news?

  • For several days during the last two months, zero visibility and dense fog has engulfed parts of Delhi and all of Punjab and Haryana keeping up with cold weather conditions. Last week alone, multiple road accidents due to poor visibility killed close to a hundred people. 

What is behind this intense fog which has stayed on for several days this season?

Q. What is fog?.

  • Fog is a phenomenon of small droplets remaining suspended in the air. Fog develops normally during late evening, night or early morning hours of the day, severely affecting visibility. Poor visibility, falling to less than a kilometre disrupts the smooth flow of vehicular and air traffic. Road accidents, delays in flight take-offs and landings are linked to poor visibility caused by fog. Foggy conditions prevail over the plains of north India during the winter season and can prolong for days and sometimes even for weeks.

Q. What factors led to dense fog over north India this winter?

  • Fog developed over Delhi-Haryana-Punjab belt during February 2-6, due to the passing of an active western disturbance, which caused light rain and brought along fresh moisture over these regions. Though western disturbances continued to pass through the extreme northern hilly terrains affecting weather over Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh during February 8-19, the plains largely remained unaffected.

In the absence of an active western disturbance, an anticyclone formed and stayed put over the extreme north of the plains. This coincided with the dominant easterly waves pumping in moisture into the region, favouring the fog formation. 

  • Clear sky conditions accompanied by calm winds during the day allowed the fog to persist for longer than normal duration.
  • The Punjab-Haryana-Delhi belt is infamous for possessing a high concentration of sources causing air pollution, but this season, the pollutants had little role to play with respect to fog, meteorologists said.
  • With the persistent prevalence of an easterly trough across Central India after February 8, the easterly winds continued to remain active for 9 to 10 consecutive days. This resulted in continuous moisture being fed and the water droplets contributed towards the fog development and its persistence all these days. 

Q. Why is the fog unusual this year?

Even though fog over the plains of north India is common during December to February months, fog along the Indo-Gangetic plains this season has been unique in more than one way.

It is mainly due to these three reasons:

1. The prolonged persistence of foggy conditions recorded continuously between 7pm to 10.30am, especially at Amritsar airport, Punjab.

2. The growing geographical expanse of zero visibility with very dense fog conditions engulfing Punjab-Haryana-Delhi belt.

3. The timing of very dense fog for 9 to 10 days, as such conditions occur limited to 2 or 3 days within the first week of February.

Q. For how many days in February has fog been reported so far?

The airport data on fog shows that very dense fog was reported for 12 nights and days over Amritsar airport which accounted for a total of 156 hours in February (till February 19) alone. This was record sort, as, on average, Amritsar airport experiences fog for four nights and days equivalent to 15 hours, that too during the entire month. A similar trend was noticed over Amritsar in January with 16 nights/days equal to 110 hours and in December with the fog affecting 17 nights/days totalling 161 hours.

Whereas, over New Delhi, the total number of fog days has surpassed the February average, noted the Met experts. As opposed to an average three nights/days equal to 12 hours in all of February, the Indira Gandhi International (IGI) airport till February 19 has experienced fog for four nights/days measuring 13 hours.

In Focus: Civilian Awards:

In Focus: Civilian Awards:

  • In 1954, Government of India instituted two civilian awards i.e. Bharat Ratna and Padma Vibhushan.
  • The Padma Vibhushan had three classes namely Pahela Varg, Dusra Varg and Tisra Varg, which were subsequently renamed as Padma Vibhushan, Padma Bhushan and Padma Shri in 1955.

About: Bharat Ratna

  • Bharat Ratna is the highest civilian award of the country.
  • It is awarded in recognition of exceptional service/performance of the highest order in any field of human endeavour.
  • It is treated on a different footing from Padma Award.
  • Recommendations for Bharat Ratna: The recommendations for Bharat Ratna are made by the Prime Minister to the President of India.
    • Note: No formal recommendations for Bharat Ratna are necessary.
  • Maximum number of Bharat Ratna in a year: The number of Bharat Ratna Awards is restricted to a maximum of three in a particular year.
  • Government has conferred Bharat Ratna Award on 45 persons till date.

About: Padma Awards

  • The Padma Awards are one of the highest civilian honours of India usually announced annually on the eve of Republic Day.
  • These awards are conferred by the President of India at ceremonial functions which are held at Rashtrapati Bhawan usually around March/ April every year.
  • The award seeks to recognize achievements in all fields of activities or disciplines where an element of public service is involved.
  • The Awards are given in three categories:
    1. Padma Vibhushan (for exceptional and distinguished service)
    2. Padma Bhushan (distinguished service of higher order)
    3. Padma Shri (distinguished service)

The Award:

  • The awardees are presented a Sanad (certificate) signed by the President and a medallion.
  • The recipients are also given a small replica of the medallion, which they can wear during any ceremonial/State functions etc. if the awardees so desire.
  • The names of the awardees are published in the Gazette of India on the day of the presentation ceremony.
  • The award is normally not conferred posthumously. However, in highly deserving cases, the Government could consider giving an award posthumously.
  • The award does not amount to a title and cannot be used as a suffix or prefix to the awardees’ name

Fields/Disciplines eligible for Padma Awards: The Padma award seeks to distinguish works of excellence and is given for and extraordinary achievements in all fields of

  • Art
  • Social work
  • Public Affairs
  • Science & Engineering
  • Trade & Industry
  • Medicine
  • Literature & Education
  • Civil Service
  • Sports
  • Others (fields not covered above and may include propagation of Indian Culture, protection of Human Rights, Wild Life protection/conservation etc.)

Who are eligible for Padma Awards?

  • All persons without distinction of race, occupation, position or sex are eligible for these awards.
  • However, Government servants including those working with PSUs, except doctors and scientists, are not eligible for these Awards.

Recommendations for Padma Award:

  • The Padma Awards are conferred on the recommendations made by the Padma Awards Committee, which is constituted by the Prime Minister every year.
  • The Committee is headed by the Cabinet Secretary and includes Home Secretary, Secretary to the President and four to six eminent persons as members.
  • The recommendations of the committee are submitted to the Prime Minister and the President of India for approval.

Nomination Process:

  • The nomination process is open to the public. Even self-nomination can be done.

Maximum Number of Padma Awards in a year:

  • The total number of awards to be given in a year (excluding posthumous awards and to NRI/foreigners/OCIs) should not be more than 120.

 Polity & Governance

India’s UNSC moment Editorial 26th Jan’21 TimesOfIndia

World is changing fast today:

  • The world of today is evolving rapidly.
  • Structurally, we are seeing a re-emergence of great power contestation (now between the US and China) unlike any we have seen since the end of the Cold War (when it was between the US and Soviet).
  • Fragmented world emerging: 
    • A rising China is challenging the fundamentals of the liberal global order.
    • Meanwhile, support for an expansive American global engagement is at its lowest.
    • A fragmented world order is emerging which is redefining the norms and relationships.
  • Economic decoupling:
    • Moving away from globalization, we are now entering the phase of economic decoupling (countries not trying to not be too interlinked economically with any other country).
    • Trade relationships have got affected, with nations looking towards friendlier nations for close cooperation.
  • Multilateral institutions struggling:
    • Credibility of global multilateral institutions is at its lowest, leading to the emergence of various coalitions.
  •  Covid-19 and its impact has accentuated these trends.

India at UNSC:

  • At the beginning of 2021, India commenced its two year stint as a non-permanent member of the 15-nation United Nations Security Council (UNSC).
  • Besides India, Norway, Mexico, Ireland and Kenya also took their place as non-permanent members.
  • It is the eighth time that India is part of the powerful UNSC platform.
  • India won its eighth UNSC term in 2020 elections when it secured 184 of the 192 votes cast at the UN, signalling a broad acceptance of India’s global role.

India’s action agenda at UNSC:

  • India today is more willing than ever before to contribute to its share for global governance via the UNSC.
  • India made it clear that it intends to use its time at UNSC “to bring human-centric and inclusive solutions to matters of international peace and security”.
  • India also said that it intends to be “a voice for the developing world.”
  • India reiterated its commitment to raise its “voice against the common enemies of humanity like terrorism”.

India remains committed to multilateralism:

  • Today, multilateralism and global governance is facing one of the most serious challenges in the post-Second World War phase.
    In such a time, it is important for a nation like India to step up and contribute its bit, which has been a traditional supporter of multilateralism.
  • India has been emphasizing the need for “reformed multilateralism,” in line with today’s needs.
  • UNSC is a great platform for India to project its image of a responsible global stakeholder.

India is seeking to redefine its role in the changing world:

  • Meanwhile, India is also seeking to redefine its global role in a significant way as rule shaper (not just a rule follower) in the global order.
  • As a consequence, India’ss approach to multilateralism and what it wants from being part of the UNSC has also evolved.
  • Its critique of the UN has become more specific, calling for UNSC to have better representation and a refreshed mandate.

India has called for UN reform and new multilateralism:

  • India has noted that the current outdated leadership structure of the United Nations itself a challenge to its credibility and to its effectiveness.
  • The Indian Prime Minister called for a new template of multilateralism that “reflects today’s reality, gives voice to all stakeholders, addresses contemporary challenges, and focuses on human welfare.”
  • Underlining growing impatience in India about the pace of reforms in the UN, the Prime Minister asked for how long will India be kept out of the decision making structures of the United Nations.
  • The PM has been warning the UN that despite its inherent faith in the global multilateral order, India’s absence from the decision making structures and lack of genuine reforms might force India to look for alternatives.

Reform at UNSC will not be easy:

  • India will get an opportunity as part of the UNSC to put some of its core concerns on the global agenda.
  • However, it is clear by now that any reform at UNSC will not be easy, and it will definitely not be quick.
  • The divisions among major powers on the UNSC today are perhaps at their sharpest ever since the end of the Cold War, which will preclude anything significant from happening in the realm of global governance.

India should use its UNSC tenure to advance its vital strategic interests:

  • Meanwhile, India should focus on how its UNSC membership can possibly advance its vital strategic interests.
  • From leveraging its role to target issues like terrorism and maritime security to building bridges with Africa, India can do much during its term.

Conclusion:

  • New Delhi should certainly continue to demand that the UNSC becomes more representative of the changing world.
  • In the meantime, it would be wiser to spend its limited diplomatic capital on issues that have a direct bearing on Indian interests.
  • Indian diplomacy should be focussed towards making India powerful – in terms of capabilities, institutions and ideational underpinnings.
  • That alone will ensure making India the critical node of global governance architecture.

Importance:

GS Paper III: International Relations

About: AstroSat Mission, It’s Features, Objective and Payload

About: AstroSat Mission

  • AstroSat is the first dedicated Indian astronomy mission aimed at studying celestial sources in X-ray, optical and UV spectral bands simultaneously.
  • It was launched in 2015 into a 650 km orbit.
  • AstroSat is also India’s first multi-wavelength satellite which has five unique X-ray and ultraviolet telescopes working in tandem.

Features:

  • The payloads of AstroSat cover the energy bands of-
    • Ultraviolet (Near and Far)
    • Limited optical
    • X-ray regime (0.3 keV to 100keV)
  • One of the unique features of AstroSat mission is that it enables the simultaneous multi-wavelength observations of various astronomical objects with a single satellite.

Management of AstroSat

  • The spacecraft control centre at Mission Operations Complex (MOX) of ISRO Telemetry, Tracking and Command Network (ISTRAC), Bengaluru manages the satellite during its entire mission life.
  • The science data gathered by five payloads of AstroSat are telemetered to the ground station at MOX.
  • The data is then processed, archived and distributed by Indian Space Science Data Centre (ISSDC) near Bengaluru.

Mission Objectives

  • The scientific objectives of AstroSat mission are-
    • To understand high energy processes in binary star systems containing neutron stars and black holes;
    • Estimate magnetic fields of neutron stars;
    • Study star birth regions and high energy processes in star systems lying beyond our galaxy;
    • Detect new briefly bright X-ray sources in the sky;
    • Perform a limited deep field survey of the Universe in the Ultraviolet region.

Payloads of AstroSat

  • Ultra Violet Imaging Telescope (UVIT)
    • Its purpose is to image the sky simultaneously in  three wavelengths, one covering the far UV band (130 – 180 nm) and the second sensitive in near UV (200 – 300nm) and Visible (320 – 550 nm) bands.
    • The detector in each channel is a photon counting device.
  • Soft X-ray Telescope (SXT)
    • It is a focusing X-ray telescope with an X-ray CCD imaging camera.
    • This will work primarily in photon counting mode, recording the position, time and energy of every detected photon in the energy range 0.3-8 keV.
  • Large Area X-ray Proportional Counters (LAXPC)
    • Its main purpose is to record variation of total intensity of sources within its 1-degree field of view, with high time resolution and moderate spectral resolution over a large spectral band from 3 to 80 keV.
    • This payload is non-imaging.
  • Cadmium-Zinc-Telluride Imager (CZTI)
    • It is a hard X-ray coded mask camera working in the band 10-100 keV.
    • It has better spectral resolution than the LAXPC and a coarse imaging capability by the coded mask.
  • Scanning Sky Monitor (SSM):
    • It is for detection of new X-ray transients and monitoring of known X-ray sources in 2.5 – 10 keV region.

About: Corporate Social Responsibility?

What is Corporate Social Responsibility?

  • It is a corporation’s initiative to assess and take responsibility for the company’s effects on environmental and social well being.
  • It helps a company be socially accountable — to itself, its stakeholders, and the public.
  • By practicing corporate social responsibility, companies can be conscious of the kind of impact they are having on all aspects of society including economic, social, and environmental.
  • The concept rests on the ideology of give and take. Companies take resources in the form of raw materials, human resources etc from the society. By performing the task of CSR activities, the companies get an opportunity to give back to the society

CSR as per Companies Act, 2013:

  • Section 135 of the Companies Act, 2013, which came into force in 2014, mandates companies to spend on CSR activities.
  • Every company, private limited or public limited, which either has a net worth of Rs 500 crore or a turnover of Rs 1,000 crore or net profit of Rs 5 crore, needs to spend on CSR activities.
    • Their CSR spend must be at least 2% of its average net profit for the immediately preceding three financial years on CSR activities.
  • Profits from any overseas branch of the company, including those branches that are operated as a separate company would not be included in the computation of net profits of a company.
  • In determining CSR activities to be undertaken, preference has to be given to local areas and the areas around where the company operates.
  • Contribution to any political party is not considered to be a CSR activity and only activities in India would be considered for computing CSR expenditure.
  • If companies do not fully spend the CSR funds, they must disclose the reasons for non-spending in their annual report.

Shortcomings in CSR activities:

  • Backward Districts: It has been observed that the CSR expenditure on the country’s most backward districts that require maximum CSR support, remains small.
  • One time activity: Instead of engaging with communities to uplift them, companies do a one-time cheque-signing exercise by transferring CSR funds to government programmes such as Prime Minister’s Relief Fund or PM-CARES.
  • Non-compliance: The Registrar of Companies serves notices on a regular basis for non-compliance with CSR expenditure.

International Relation: About G-7

About: G-7

  • G-7 or ‘Group of Seven’ is the group of the largest advanced economies of the world comprising of the United States (US), United Kingdom (UK), France, Germany, Italy, Canada and Japan.
  • It is the only forum where the world’s most influential and democratic, open societies and advanced economies gather for discussions.
  • G-7 has its origins in an intergovernmental organisation that was formed in 1975 by the US, UK, France, Germany, Italy and Japan. Canada joined the group in 1976.
  • The European Union began attending the G-7 Summits in 1977. It holds all the rights and responsibilities of full members except to chair or host the meeting.
  • The G-7 does not have a formal constitution or a fixed headquarters.
  • Scope:
    • The initial scope of this group was to discuss economic issues.
    • With time, the scope of deliberations was expanded to other critical challenges, like financial crises, terrorism, arms control and drug trafficking etc.

  • G7 to G8 to G7:
    • Russia joined the G-7 in 1997 and now, G-7 was named as G-8.
    • However, Russia was expelled from G-7 in 2014 after it annexed Crimea region of Ukraine. This was seen by other members as violation of sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Ukraine.
    • Thus, G-8 again became G-7.

  • Summits:
    • Annual summits of G-7 are organised and presided over by leaders of member countries on a rotational basis.
    • The decisions taken by leaders during annual G-7 summits are non-binding.

  • In the recent decades, the global relevance of G-7 has reduced with rise of other economies like China, India and Brazil. Moreover, the share in global GDP of G-7 countries has now fallen to around 40% from about 70% when it was formed.

India and G-7

  • India attended the extended G-7 meet in 2019 which was held in France. The Indian PM was invited as a special guest by the French President.
  • India was also invited for the 2020 summit hosted by the US — which could not take place due to the pandemic.
  • India had earlier attended the G-8 summit (it became G-7 from G-8 with the expulsion of Russia in 2014) five times between 2005 and 2009.

Expanding G7:

  • In 2020, the US President Trump said that G-7 as it exists today doesn’t fully represent the current state of global politics and economics.
  • He wanted to include 4 more countries- India, Australia, South Korea and Russia in it. This grouping will be called as G-10 or G-11 depending upon whether Russia is included or not.
  • However, Russia’s admission will depend on many factors.
    • For example, some of the G7 countries like Germany are opposed to Russia rejoining the group.
    • Geopolitically, Russia is also seen as an ally of China and has been critical of the US in recent times.
    • But, some sections of the strategic community in the US want the US to develop tactical ties with Russia to balance China.

About: Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana (PMKVY)

About: Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana (PMKVY)

  • It is the flagship scheme for skill training of youth being implemented by the Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship (MSDE) through the National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC).
  • The objective of the scheme is to enable a large number of Indian youth to take up industry relevant skill training that will help them in securing a better livelihood.
  • Skill training would be done based on the National Skill Qualification Framework (NSQF) and industry led standards.

PMKVY 1.0:

  • PMKVY 1.0 was launched in July 2015 with the objective of encouraging skill development for youth by providing monetary rewards for successful completion of approved training programs during the period 2015-16.
  • The National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC) was the designated implementing agency of this scheme.
  • PMKVY 1.0 was a target-based scheme, and during this pilot phase in 2015-16, about 20 lakh candidates were trained.

PMKVY 2.0:

  • After the successful implementation of pilot PMKVY 1.0 during 2015-16, PMKVY 2.0 (2016-20) was launched.
  • PMKVY 2.0 involved scaling up of the scheme both in terms of Sector and Geography and by greater alignment with other missions of Government of India.
  • It has been instrumental in bolstering the skilling ecosystem.
  • PMKVY 2.0 broadened the skill development with key components being:
    • Short Term Training (STT) at PMKVY Training Centres (TCs)aimed towards the candidates who are either school/college dropouts or unemployed
    • Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) – Individuals with prior learning experience or skills are assessed and certified under the RPL component of the Scheme. RPL aims to align the competencies of the unregulated workforce of the country to the NSQF
    • Special Projects – This component of PMKVY envisages to encourage trainings in special areas and premises of Government bodies, corporates / industry bodies. These are the projects which mayrequire some deviation from the terms and conditions of Short-Term Training under PMKVY. 
  • The scheme was  implemented through two components:
    • Centrally Sponsored Centrally Managed (CSCM):
      • This component is implemented by National Skill Development Corporation.
      • 75% of the PMKVY 2016-20 funds and corresponding physical targets have been allocated under CSCM.
    • Centrally Sponsored State Managed (CSSM):
      • This component is implemented by State Governments through State Skill Development Missions (SSDMs).
      • 25% of the PMKVY 2016-20 funds and corresponding physical targets have been allocated under CSSM.

Other aspects:

  • Kaushal and Rozgar Melas:
    • Social and community mobilisation is extremely critical for the success of PMKVY.
    • In line with this, PMKVY assigns special importance to the involvement of the target beneficiaries through a defined mobilisation process. TPs shall conduct Kaushal and Rozgar Melas every six months with press/media coverage, they are also required to participate actively in National Career Service Melas and on-ground activities.
  • Placement Guidelines:
    • PMKVY envisages to link the aptitude, aspiration, and knowledge of the skilled workforce it creates with employment opportunities and demands in the market.
    • Every effort thereby needs to be made by the PMKVY TCs to provide placement opportunities to candidates.
  • Monitoring Guidelines:
    • To ensure that high standards of quality are maintained by PMKVY, TCs, NSDC and empanelled inspection agencies shall use various methodologies, such as self-audit reporting, call validations, surprise visits, and monitoring through the Skills Development Management System (SDMS).

News Summary:

  • In a bid to empower India’s youth with employable skills, the Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship (MSDE) has launched the third phase of Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana (PMKVY) or PMKVY 3.0.
  • Aimed at supporting the local economy and towards ‘Atmnanirbhar Bharat’, PMKVY 3.0 has been designed to keep pace with changing demands, both at the global and local levels.
  • PMKVY 3.0  was launched in 717 districts in 28 States/eight UTs, making more than 300 skill courses available to the youth, making skill development more demand-driven and decentralised in its approach.

Decentralized approach:

  • PMKVY 3.0 will be implemented in a more decentralized structure with greater responsibilities and support from States/UTs and Districts.
  • District Skill Committees (DSCs), under the guidance of State Skill Development Missions (SSDM), shall play a key role in addressing the skill gap and assessing demand at the district level. 
  • PMKVY 3.0 is a step towards achieving the ‘Vocal for Local’ vision by establishing increased connect at state, district and block level.
  • It will encourage healthy competition between states by making available increased allocation to those states that perform better.

Demand-driven:

  • The government says that PMKVY 3.0 will usher in a new paradigm with focus on demand-driven skill development, digital technology and Industry 4.0 skills.
  • The new scheme will be more trainee- and learner-centric addressing the ambitions of aspirational Bharat.
  • The scheme will have additional courses that will help cater to local demand.
  • The focus will also be on bridging the demand-supply gap by promoting skill development in areas of new-age and Industry 4.0 job roles.
  • PMKVY 3.0 role will be a propagator of vocational education at an early level for youth to capitalize on industry-linked opportunities.

 Economics

About Elephants: Elephant reserves, Project elephant, MIKE Programme, Conservation efforts, Threats faced

About: Elephants

  • The Indian elephant (Elephas maximus indicus) occurs in 16 states of the country and in regions of central and southern Western Ghats, North-east India, eastern India and northern India and in some parts of southern peninsular India.The Indian elephant is one of three extant recognised subspecies of the Asian elephant (Elephas maximus) and native to mainland Asia.
  • The Government of India has declared Indian elephant as National Heritage Animal.
  • Its habitat includes- subtropical broadleaf forest, tropical broadleaf moist forest, dry forest and grasslands.

Numbers:

  • As per the 2017 census of elephants, their population in the country is estimated at about 30,000. The Southern Region accounted for more than 14,000 followed by North East with little over 10,000 elephants.
  • The elephant census is conducted every five years in India by the MoEF&CC.
  • India is home to 60% of the global Asian elephant population.

Threats faced by Elephants in India:

  • Deaths of elephants in India have become commonplace. Primary reasons for this are-
  • Shrinkage of their forest ranges and habitat fragmentation- Shrinking forests means lesser availability of food for them. This incentivises the movement of elephants out of forested lands to crop lands. Thus, they indulge in crop raiding, which brings them into conflict with people. Human-elephant conflict is also a major challenge in elephant conservation.
  • Hunting and poaching- It is done for their body parts like ivory and also for captivity.
  • Climate Change- Other pressures are also arising indirectly due to climate change and altering habitats.

Conservation Efforts for Elephants in India:

  • The Asian Elephant is listed in Schedule-I of the Wildlife Protection Act of India, 1972.
  • Asian Elephant (of which Indian Elephant is a subspecies) is also included in Appendix I of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Flora and Fauna (CITES). Asian Elephant was included in Schedule I of CITES based on India’s proposal. This will ensure improved conservation of elephants along its migratory routes.
  • Note: The IUCN status of Indian Elephant is ‘Endangered’ .
  • Project Elephant:
    • Project Elephant (PE) is a Central Government sponsored scheme launched by the MoEF&CC in 1992.
    • Through the scheme, the Central Government provides financial and technical support to major elephant bearing States in the country for protection of elephants, their habitats and corridors.
    • Its objectives are:
      • To protect elephants, their habitat & corridors
      • To address issues of man-animal conflict;Welfare of captive elephants
    • It is mainly being implemented in 16 States/UTs in the country which includes Andhra Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Chhattisgarh Jharkhand, Kerala, Karnataka, Meghalaya, Maharashtra, Nagaland, Odisha, Tamil Nadu, Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, and West Bengal.
  • Elephant Reserves:
    • Elephant Reserves are dedicated wildlife areas for elephant conservation in the country.
    • India’s first elephant reserve was created in Jharkhand in 2001 under Project Elephant.
    • Today, there are 32 notified Elephant Reserves in India.
    • However, while Tiger Reserves have legal sanctity, there is not such thing for Elephant Reserveds.
  • Monitoring the Illegal Killing of Elephants (MIKE) Programme:
    • It was launched by the CITES in 2003 in South Asia.
    • It is an international collaboration that measures the levels, trends and causes of elephant mortality, thereby facilitating in conservation of elephants in Asia and Africa.
    • Objectives of MIKE Programme:
      • To measure levels and trends in illegal hunting of elephants.
      • To determine changes in these trends overtime.
      • To determine the factors causing these changes and find solutions for elephant conservation.
    • In India, Project Elephant has been formally implementing MIKE.
  • ‘Gaj Yatra’ is a nationwide awareness campaign launched by MoEF&CC to celebrate elephants and highlight the necessity of securing elephant corridors.

About 3D Printing

Govt readies 3D printing policy for local firms to join new global market

In News

  • The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) will soon come up with a policy aimed at promoting 3D printing on an industrial scale.

Objectives of the policy

  • The policy will help to develop an ecosystem for design, development and deployment of 3D printing in the country.
  • It will look to encourage market leaders to establish global bases for 3D manufacturing in India. It will also discourage imports of printed material for domestic requirements.
  • The policy will also help domestic companies to overcome technical and economic barriers so that they can build supportive facilities for world leaders in the technology, such as the US and China.

About 3D Printing

  • Three-dimensional (3-D) printing is an additive manufacturing process that creates a physical object from a digital design.
  • The term 3D printing can refer to a variety of processes in which material is deposited, joined or solidified under computer control to create a three-dimensional object.
  • The process works by laying down thin layers of material in the form of liquid or powdered plastic, metal or cement, and then fusing (join) the layers together.

Types of 3D Printing

Material extrusion

  • Process where a filament of solid thermoplastic material is melted and deposited, cooling and solidifying, forming a solid object.
  • There is only one type under it: Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM), also called as Fused Filament Fabrication (FFF).

Vat Polymerization

  • This process is based on a tank containing photopolymer resin that hardens with exposure to ultraviolet radiation.
  • photopolymer or light-activated resin is a polymer that changes its properties when exposed to light.
  • There are two types under it: Stereolithography (SLA) that use a point laser and Direct Light Processing (DLP) uses a projector.

Power Bed Fusion (Polymers)

  • It is a process where a thermal energy source selectively leads to fusion between the dust particles within a construction area to create a solid object.

Powder Bed Fusion (Metals)

  • Process that uses a thermal source to induce the fusion between metal powder particles (layer by layer).
  • There are different versions of this technology, using different energy sources:
    • Direct Metal Laser Sintering (DMLS) or Selective Laser Melting (SLM) uses lasers;
    • Electron Beam Melting (EBM) uses electron beams.

Material Jetting

  • Drops of material are selectively deposited on a building plate and harden when exposed to light.
  • It includes two types:
    • Material Jetting (MJ) that works in a similar way to a standard inkjet printer but instead of printing a single layer of ink, several layers are created to create a solid part.
    • Drop on Demand (DOD) where a pair of ink jets are used – one with the printing material and another with the support material (which is usually soluble).

Advantages of 3D printing

  • 3D printing offers a significant advantage over traditional fabrication, as it does not require expensive tools used in milling processes.
  • Another key advantage is the ability to produce very complex shapes or geometries that would be otherwise impossible to construct by hand.
  • Moreover, it leads to less generation of waste.

Disadvantages of 3D printing

  • The disadvantages of 3D printing include low production rates, less precision and surface polish than parts manufactured by machines.
  • Only a limited range of materials can be processed in 3D printing and there are severe limitations on the size of parts that can be made inexpensively and without distortion.

Applications of 3D printing

  • 3D printing has applications in the auto and motor spare part industry, such as engines, interior and exterior parts of luxury vehicles, turbine blades etc.
  • It is already being used in the aircraft industry. The U.S. and Israeli air forces have used 3-D printers to manufacture spare parts.
  • It can be used in consumer electronics, printed circuit boards, clothing, toys and jewellery as well.
  • In the fashion world, Nike, Adidas are using 3-D printing to create prototypes (models) of their shoes.
  • In medical sciences, 3-D printing is being used to customize implants. In the future, organs and body parts may be created using 3D printing techniques.
  • The use of 3-D printing accelerates the process of manufacturing and enables manufacturers to make custom hearing aids.
  • In the construction industry, companies around the world are using 3-D printing to build homes. Using layers of concrete, homes can be built in 48 hours.

Global market of 3D printing

  • The global market for 3D printing is expected to reach $ 34.8 billion by 2024 and is growing at an annual growth rate of 23.2 per cent.
  • Asia leads the world in 3D printing, and about 50 per cent of its market is held by China, followed by Japan at 30 per cent, and South Korea 10 per cent.
  • However, globally, the US remains the leader, with more than 35 per cent market share.
  • At present, India is at the research and development stage and the technology in India has not yet evolved for strategic industrial integration in sectors like aerospace, which require high accuracy.

 Science & Tech

Q. In spite of having several achievements, the green revolution has several defects. Examine

Model Answer

The Green Revolution in India began in the mid-1960s marking a transition from traditional agriculture in India and the introduction of high-yielding varieties of seeds and the associated agricultural techniques.

The Main achievements of the Green Revolution are:

  • Increase in Agricultural Production and productivity: The production and productivity of wheat, rice, maize and bajra has substantially increased.
  • Less Dependence on Imports: After the green revolution, India was finally on its way to self-sufficiency. There was now enough production for the population and to build a stock in case of emergencies. In fact, India was able to start exporting its agricultural produce.
  • Employment: The green revolution has created jobs in the supporting industries like Irrigation, transportation, food processing, marketing for the workforce.
  • A Benefit to the Farmers: The Green Revolution has increased the income of farmers and landless labourers. It enabled them to shift to commercial farming from only sustenance farming.

Negative Impacts of the Green Revolution are:

  • Reduction in genetic diversity: Farmers have traditionally planted a wide variety of crops with unique genotypes. The planting of fewer crop varieties for producing high yields can reduce genetic diversity among crop species in a country. This has also led to the loss of distinct indigenous crops from cultivation and also caused extinction.
  • Greater vulnerability to pests: The resistance to one species of pest due to genetic modification might invite other species of pests to attack the crop as in the case of bollworm being replaced by other pest species in the case of Bt cotton.
  • Displacement of small farmers: The Green Revolution has displaced the agricultural labourers, leading to rural unemployment. The mechanical innovations like tractors have displaced agricultural labourers.
  • Land Degradation: The overuse of chemical fertilizers to get high yield causes physical and chemical degradation of the soil by altering the natural microflora and increasing the alkalinity and salinity of the soil
  • Ground water depletion: High-yielding crop varieties can also increase irrigation requirements thus placing stresses on India’s water budget. The excessive use of groundwater for irrigation has depleted the water table in many parts of the country.
  • Ecological and health Impacts: The excessive use of pesticides increases the presence of its residues in foods and environment. There are concerns over increased chemicals being used in growing high-yielding varieties of crops and the consequent health effects.
  • Income disparity among farmers: The high yields, were possible due to the seeds being highly responsive to certain inputs such as irrigation water and fertilizers. By requiring greater investments in agricultural production, the green revolution in India has placed small and marginal farmers at a distinct disadvantage.
  • Increased Social conflicts: It led to polarisation of the rural society. It has created three types of conflicts in the rural community, namely, between large and small farmers, between owner and tenant farmer, between employers and employees on the agricultural farms.

Conclusion:

There is a need of a more comprehensive policy environment that can protect farmers, human health and the environment from the negative impacts of the green revolution in India. A balance must also be found between traditional techniques and modern farming as also with natural growth.

Q. Forest Fires pose a threat not only to the forest wealth but also to the entire regime. In view of this statement discuss the various adverse impacts of Forest Fires.

Model Answer

Fires are a major cause of forest degradation and have wide ranging adverse ecological, economic and social impacts including:

Effects of forest fire:

  • Loss of valuable timber resources: Forest fires cause indispensable loss to timber and deteriorate its quality. Valuable timber species like teak, sal, chir, deodar, sheesam, rosewood etc. are adversely affected by fire. However, the adhesive impact of forest fire varies from species to species, depending upon its susceptibility.
  • Impact of forest fire on eco- system: Forest fires pose threat not only to the forest wealth but also to the entire regime to fauna and flora seriously disturbing the bio-diversity and the ecology and environment of a region.
  • Degradation of water catchments areas resulting into loss of water: After forest fire, the chemical and physical changes in upper layer of soil make it impervious and thus reduce water infiltration. The removal of litter also decreases water holding capacity of soil and most of the rainwater is washed away removing top fertile soil of the forest resulting into loss of soil fertility.
  • Loss of wildlife habitat and depletion of wildlife: Wildfire along with killing wild animals also destroys their habitat and thus makes their survival at stake.
  • Loss of natural vegetation and reduction of forest cover: As a result of fires, millions of hectares of the forest area turn to ashes and remains of no use. Among various degradation factors, forest fire is also one of the major factors for overall loss in forest cover. The wild fires also have adverse impact on forest tree growth.
  • Global Warming: Greenhouse gases released during the combustion of vegetations lead to an increased warming of the earth or human induced global climate change.
  • Microclimate change: The changed microclimate caused by removal of litter and duff, opening of the canopy by killing over storey shrubs and trees and darkening of the soil surface by residual soot and charcoal can increase insulation causing temperature increase. As a result the changed area becomes unhealthy for living of both wild habitats and local people.
  • Health problems leading to diseases: The fires in the forest are source of smoke that cause air pollution and rise in the temperature leading to various health issues.
  • Loss of livelihood: Forest fire also adversely affect livelihood resources, especially for tribals, who are directly dependent upon collection of non-timber forest products from forest areas for their livelihood.
  • Carbon sequestration potential: Trees act as carbon sinks when they absorb carbon dioxide from atmosphere and build up the same in the form of wood. However, burning of the vegetation release hundreds of years of stored carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, and thus results into permanent destruction of important sink of carbon dioxide
  • Threat to Life and Property: Human life is at risk when fire crews fight fires either at the fire front or from conflict with animals, especially elephants. A forest fire that spreads outside the forest can consume buildings or infrastructure.
  • Reducing Tourism Values: Smoke due to fires affects the visibility and air quality which adversely affect tourism industry.

Taking into consideration the serious nature of the problem, there is urgent need to focus on key forest fire management elements like strategic fire centres, coordination among Ministries, funding, human resource development, fire research, fire management, and extension programmes.  

Q. “Artificial intelligence is going to change every industry, but we have to understand its limits”. In light of this, discuss the benefits and challenges associated with AI in Indian context.

Model Answer

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is the ability of machines to learn and reason through analogy, analyze, interpret information, recognize speech, visual perception and take decisions. In other words, AI is application of human intelligence by the machines.

Benefits of AI

  • Contribution to Economy: The NITI Aayog estimates that AI could potentially give 15% boost to the gross value added (GVA) for the economy by 2035, adding $957 billion to India’s $6397 billion-dollar GVA projected for that year.
  • Access To Affordable Healthcare: The application of AI could increase access to and affordability of quality healthcare. India, with its acute shortage of specialist doctors in rural areas, could benefit greatly from such a tool.
  • Benefits In Agriculture: It can enhance farmer’s income, increase productivity and reduce wastage when used in agriculture. For instance, in agriculture, Microsoft, in collaboration with ICRISAT, has developed an AI-enabled sowing app that sends advisories to farmers on the best date to sow, soil-test based fertilizer application, manure application, seed treatment, optimal sowing depth, etc. In 2017, 3,000 farmers in Andhra and Karnataka used the app, resulting in a 10-30% increase in kharif yields across crops.
  • Benefit in Education: In areas of education, AI can improve access and quality of education. For ex- to tackle school dropout, the AP government has partnered with Microsoft to keep track of data relating to student’s demographic details, past and current academic performance, teacher skills to identify those likely to drop out.
  • Benefit In Infrastructure And Transportation Sector: The AI can also help in improving connectivity and safer modes of transportation when put to infrastructure and transportation sectors.
  • Manufacturing Sector: Robots are being used for manufacturing since a long time now, however, more advanced exponential technologies have emerged such as additive manufacturing (3D Printing), which with the help of AI can revolutionize the entire manufacturing supply chain ecosystem.
  • Legal Sector: Automation can lead to faster resolution of already pending cases by reducing the time taken while analyzing cases thus better use of time and more efficient processes.

Challenges In AI

The Aayog identified barriers that need to be surmounted to achieve success in the use of AI. These include lack of expertise, absence of enabling data ecosystem, high resource cost and low awareness, privacy and security issues, and absence of collaborative approach to adoption and application of AI.

  • Lack of AI Expertise: India hardly has any AI expertise today. As only around 4% of Indian AI professionals are trained in emerging technologies such as deep learning.
  • Lack Of Adequate Data: AI takes reams of historical data as input, identifies the relationships among data elements, and makes predictions. Unfortunately, India has sparse data in many sectors.
  • Lack Of Funding And Deadline: It is one of the major challenges faced by the AI sector in India.
  • Unemployment: Other major concerns is the possibility of human beings losing out on employment opportunities due to machines’ ability to perform the same tasks more efficiently. Automation has already rendered a huge number of people jobless all around the world. 
  • Challenge In Form Of Regulations: Another major concern is about difficulties in regulation of machines in the human society. For ex- how can the self-driven cars that crash be held accountable for their actions? 

Conclusion

To truly harness AI’s transformative potential, India must address its lack of expertise in AI research. With a billion-plus people populating the unique-ID system Aadhaar and the India Stack of digitally enabled offerings built on top of Aadhaar, the country has a platform for growth unlike any other in the world. It can in principle catalyze innovative applications, nurture an entrepreneurial ecosystem and generate a massive amount of data that can train algorithms and help develop more intelligence. The technology can address long-standing societal and human development problems of the kind that abound in India. 

Q. What is Budget Transparency? Scratching its genesis, discuss the benefits associated with budget transparency as well as the ways through which it can be promoted in functioning of a government?

Model Answer

Budgets are key documents since they lay out a government’s priorities in terms of policies and programs. Opening up budgets and democratizing the budget process gives citizens a say in policy formulation and resource allocation. Budget transparency refers to the extent and ease with which citizens can access information about and provide feedback on government revenues, allocations, and expenditures.

Increased transparency in budgeting made significant advances in the late 1980s and early 1990s. This was a period associated with unfavourable budget conditions in most countries – high annual deficits and increasing levels of debt. Governments needed to institute large fiscal consolidation programmes. These were often painful and getting the public’s understanding of the problems was necessary. The most effective manner for achieving that was simply to throw open the books to the public and explaining the problem to them in order for an understanding to emerge as to the best course of action to take. This time period also coincided with increased attention being paid to good governance in general which demanded openness about policy intentions, formulation and implementation – answer to all these was Budget Transparency.

Importance Of Budget Transparency

  • Less Corruption: First, budget transparency and oversight over how resources are allocated and spent are powerful disincentives for officials to misuse or misappropriate funds since their actions are more likely to be scrutinized. This leads to less corruption.
  • Efficient Use Of Resource: Budget transparency allows citizens to provide feedback on the quality and adequacy of services and infrastructure provided. This feedback, combined with reduced corruption, results in more efficient use of resources.
  • Enhanced Trust: In many cases, perceptions of high levels of corruption, poor services and infrastructure, and opaqueness of operations lie at the heart of citizens’ distrust of their governments. The gesture of opening up government books of account is likely to lead to more trust in government.
  • Higher Revenues: Budget transparency is also instrumental in generating higher revenues for governments since citizens are more likely to pay taxes and contribute donations to local schools and health centres if they trust that their money will be well spent. In developing countries, where revenues are often inadequate to pay for needed investments in sustainable poverty reduction and development programs, this is of utmost importance.

Ways Through Which Budget Transparency Can Be Promoted

  • Release Of Budget Data: The systematic and timely release of all relevant fiscal information is what we typically associate with budget transparency. It is an absolute pre-requisite. Disclose budget documents and simplified budget information through electronic and print media as well as online portals and cell phones.
  • Effective Role For The Legislature: It must be able to scrutinise the budget reports and independently review them. It must be able to debate and influence budget policy and be in a position to effectively hold the government to account. This is both in terms of the constitutional role of the legislature and the level of resources that the legislature has at its disposal.
  • Effective Role For Civil Society Through Media And NGOs: Citizens, directly or through these vehicles, must be in a position to influence budget policy and must be in a position to hold the government to account. In many ways, it is a similar role to that of the legislature albeit only indirectly.
  • Improving Budget Literacy of parliamentarians, government officials, elected representatives, journalists, and select civil society representatives and Increasing their capacity to analyze budgets.
  • Create budget literacy manuals for capacity-building programs.

Thus, budget transparency, while not a goal in itself, is a prerequisite for public participation and accountability. Such information must be disseminated in a timely manner so that citizens can effectively provide feedback that can influence policy formulation and resource reallocation. 

Q. If Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) wants to remain as relevant and look toward a new phase of Asia-Pacific economic integration, it must include India as its member. Comment.

Model Answer

  • APEC was established in 1989 as an intergovernmental platform for 21 Pacific Rim member economies to promote free-trade in the region.
  • The grouping is facing the heat of unilateralism and protectionism. Competition and divergence in the form of US-China tensions was on full display at the 2018 APEC summit
  • As a result, a debate pertaining to the question of the forum’s enlargement, with pointed reference to India, has started.

APEC Needs India

  • Economic strength of India – As the region’s third largest and one of the fastest growing major economy, India presents the most promising market in the wider Asia-Pacific. India’s burgeoning middle class is estimated to become 450 million in 2030. Also India aspires to become a $5 trillion economy.
  • Boost to the economic activities – APEC economies are experiencing sluggish growth. Hence, adding India to APEC would augment regional trade and investment.
  • Labour Supply – India’s labor force, which will be the largest in the world by 2030, will help offset the impact of aging populations and shrinking work forces in APEC economies.
  • Legitimate stakeholder in regional and global governance – India is second largest democracy in the world and an important player in Indo-pacific arena.
  • Complementarity – Outside the west Europe, most of the capital surplus nations are in Asia Pacific. On the other hand, India badly needs investment.
  • Emergence of Indo-Pacific Concept – India has emerged as a key player which is central to the Indo-Pacific concept.

Conclusion

  • Strength of the APEC grouping can be gauged from the fact that it represents more than a third of the world population, 47% of global trade and 60% of world GDP.
  • However, declining multilateralism, increasing protectionism and incidents like trade war are creating a pressure on this institution to reform.
  • Hence, it can be said that without India APEC would not only remain incomplete but also unable to reinvent itself. India, on the other hand, will have to ensure economic reforms and openness to qualify for APEC membership.

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Discuss the successes and failures of Green Revolution.

Approach

  • Introduce with the green revolution
  • Enumerate the success achieved by green revolution like self-sufficiency, productivity etc.
  • Point out the failures of Green revolution like inequalities, degradation of environment etc.
  • Conclude with the way forward

Model Answer

The draught of 1966 also made it inevitable to develop new technique of agriculture to increase the production and make India self-sufficient in food grains. So, the HYVs (High Yielding Varieties) of seeds for wheat (from Mexico) and rice (from Philippines) were introduced in 1966-67. Coupled with use of chemical fertilization and better irrigation, these techniques were employed on full scale in Punjab & Haryana. This initiative was known as Green Revolution (GR) because of which surprising levels of productivity were achieved.

Successes of Green Revolution

  • Self-sufficiency: India witnessed a growth of 250% in food-grain production since the introduction of Green Revolution making India self-sufficient in food grains.
  • Productivity: Due to HYV seeds, chemical fertilisers, irrigation and mechanisation of agriculture, per hectare productivity of all crops e.g. wheat, rice, cotton, gram, maize and bajra has increased.
  • Employment: GR generated employment opportunities in diverse sectors where activities were created as a result of multiple cropping and mechanisation of farming. It helped to stimulate the non-farm economy that generated newer employment in various services such as milling, marketing, warehousing etc.
  • Industrial Development: Industries manufacturing agricultural tools like tractors, diesel engines, combines, threshers and pumping sets have been on a growth path since the GR.

Failures of Green Revolution

  • Regional Imbalance: The states in which GR was introduced became prosperous while the other regions, specially drought prone areas, were left behind. Irrigation coverage was optimum in IADP covered areas while other areas, which direly needed irrigation, were not adequately covered. Similarly, fertilizer availability, credit availability, technology availability etc were high in these areas.
  • Class Disparity: The benefits of GR were primarily reaped by the rich farmers as they had large land area, high amount of funds to invest in buying fertilizers, machines, HYV seeds etc. Majority of farmers on the other hand had small land holdings, less funds to invest; hence they could not be benefited much from GR. In this way, GR further widened the gap between the rich and the poor farmers.
  • Crop Disparity: Green revolution was primarily beneficial for wheat production and to some extent rice production. However, the crops like pulses, oilseeds, coarse cereals (jowar, bajra) continued to have low production.
  • Degraded Soil: Soil quality has degraded due to repetitive kind of cropping pattern, excessive exploitation of the land, lack of a suitable crop combination etc.
  • Fall In Water Table: The new HYV seeds required comparatively very high amount of water for irrigation, which resulted in lowering of water table. E.g. 5 tonnes of water needed to produce 1 kg of rice.
  • Environmental Degradation:The excessive and uncontrolled use of chemical fertilisers, pesticides and herbicides have degraded the environment by increasing pollution levels in land, water and air. E.g., eutrophication due to agriculture runoff.
  • Toxicity in Food Chain: Unbridled use of chemical pesticides and weedicides and their industrial production combined together had resulted in biomagnification and bioaccumulation of toxic elements in the whole food chain.

The above issues acted as an eye-opener and agri-scientists & policymakers are attempting to reap the benefits from the alternatives like organic farming, second green revolution, rainbow revolution etc.

Q. Comment upon the role of women in the Indian freedom struggle. How did the arrival of Gandhiji affect their participation in the political sphere?

Model Answer

Indian freedom struggle was not only a political agitation for freedom but also an inclusive movement that included various sections of the society. The process of inclusion only intensified with the multidimensional role of women with renewed vigour after the arrival of Mahatma Gandhi.

Role of Women in Indian Freedom Struggle –

  • Earliest examples – Right from the revolt of 1857 there was the participation of women in the Indian freedom struggle. Leaders like Rani Laxmi Bai and Begum Hazrat Mahal played an active role to oppose British rule in their area.
  • Inspirational courage and valour –Likes of Bhikaji Cama who unfurled the Indian flag at Stuttgart and Communist leaders like Bina Das and ChattriSangh who tried an assassination attempt on Governor of Bengal were an inspiration for all Indians.
  • Reformist and constructivist role – As women’s education spread, there was a small yet active women’s movement working inside the national movement. Congress leaders like Sarojini Naidu and Annie Besant gave them the leadership. Participation of women deepened the meaning of freedom by demanding political rights for women, which were majorly neglected. Various women organizations like Madras Women Indian Association and All India Women’s Conference in 1927 raised voice for voting rights.

Influence of Mahatma Gandhi on Women’s Participation – Gandhiji worked upon at the levels of ideas, techniques as well as programmes.

  • The idea of sisterhood – He described women as the embodiment of sacrifice, humility and knowledge. (Young India 1921). He made the gender issue neutral by emphasizing role models like Sita and Draupadi (who were portrayed as role models of empowered women, albeit in the cloak of traditionalism). He thus emphasised on sisterhood ideal and made the political role of women more acceptable to male counterparts as well as themselves.
  • Erasing public vs private spheres – He provided prabhatpheris, picketing liquor shops, prohibition, flag satyagrahas as well as constructive works like charkha spinning, which facilitated the participation of women. He also took the freedom struggle to the daily activities and impressed upon the people to carry the spirit of nationalism in their routines – thus inspiring them. All these ensured that women could participate from wherever they were in whatever capacity they could.
  • Programmes and methods – Gandhiji emphasized upon values of non-violence and satyagraha. Adherence to non-violence led to an increase in participation of women, which was visible during the Civil Disobedience Movement (From 1930 to 1934). As even men who were reluctant to allow women to participate owing to violence now readily promoted their participation. Gandhiji made women realize their potential of strength and sacrifice, which made women most trusted satyagrahis. It was Sarojini Naidu who took up leadership role during salt satyagraha after the arrest of Gandhi. (Dharasana Satyagraha)

Gandhiji’s mass based struggle drew many women towards Indian freedom struggle changed in the nature of participation from supportive to equal participation. Thus participation of women made Indian Freedom Struggle a true mass-based struggle which not only led to political independence but a great stride towards the emancipation of women and other weaker sections of society. 

Globalization has proved to be double-edged sword for women workers by simultaneously creating opportunities as well as new set of challenges. Discuss. (15 marks)

Approach:  

  • Introduce with globalization
  • List the multifaceted opportunities craeted for working women as a result of globalization.
  • Mention the new challenges as well the women workers had to face.
  • Conclude with measures to overcome the challenges

Model Answer

Globalization is the process of the cultural, social and economic integration of a country with the rest of the world through trade, travel, cultural exchange, social media etc. Globalization has impacted various sections of society including women workers.

The various opportunities for women workers created through globalization are as follows:

  • Creation Of Jobs In Formal Sector: The investment by the MNCs in India has led to creation of job opportunities, including for women workers.
  • Internationalization Of The Issue Of Women Workers Rights: Globalization has also brought focus on the issue of workers’ rights, especially for women, through International Labour Organisation and World Trade Organisation. This has led to the creation and standardization of various rights.
  • Strengthening Of The Women Workers In The Informal Sector: Globalization has provided the opportunity of export, trade for the informal sectors of India benefitting the women workers in such sectors.
  • Others: Globalization has led to integration into not only world’s economy but also certain global values and rights as well as creation of opportunity for jobs and increased pay. This has raised the self confidence of women workers, made them economically independent and also enhanced the decision making power of the women workers.

However, globalization has also proved to be a major challenge for women workers in the following sense:

  • Gender Pay Gap:Various reports have highlighted that the globalization has either failed to fill the gender pay gap or has further accentuated this situation.
  • Loss of Jobs: The increased competition and innovation from all over the world has led to loss of jobs, including of women, in certain sectors that couldn’t compete.
  • Strain On Traditional Social Structure: Globalization, by creating jobs predominantly in urban areas led to mass movement of workers to urban areas, thus disturbing and straining traditional social as well as family structures. 
  • Migration: Feminisation of rural labour has led to migration of male members to urban areas.
  • Sexual Eaxploitation:Movement of women workers to far off areas and away from families has also led to increased vulnerability and increased sexual exploitation and even trafficking. 
  • Health hazard: The increased competition and work pressure on women workers often led to them being employed in poorly paid, part time and exploitative jobs. This has impacted physical and mental health of the women workers. 

Thus, while globalisation has led to great benefits, it is also necessary to mitigate the negative impact of it on women workers by skill development, innovation, developing policies to mitigate risks, so as to create an enduring environment for women worker’s holistic development.

Subjects : Social Issues

Q. Discuss the mechanism of volcano formation and eruption. Also mention the distribution of volcano around the world.

Model Answer

Structure of the answer:

  • Meaning of volcano
  • Mechanism and causes for its formation
  • Distribution of volcano (with the help of data)
  • Conclusion

Volcanos or vulcanism comprises of all phenomena connected with movement of heated material from interior/mantle towards the earth surface. The volcano may be “active volcano” like Mount Etna or “dormant volcano” like Mount Vesuvius or Extinct volcano that have no indication of future eruption.

Volcanos are mainly associated with the weaker zones of the earth and is a result of several interconnected processes, such as:

  • Gradual increase of temperature with depth e.2-3 degree centigrade with every 100 meters.
  • Reduction in pressure on magma due to splitting of the plates.
  • Origin of gases and vapours due to heating of water (when it reaches underground surfaces of earth).
  • Ascent of magma under forces of gases and vapours.
  • “Theory of Plate tectonics” further lays down that volcanism is closely associated with plate boundaries. For ex.- When plate boundaries move in opposite direction like mid oceanic ridges causes splitting of plates and pressure releases. Similarly, destructive/ convergent plate boundaries are associated with explosive volcano.

Distribution of volcanos around the world: Generally, 80% of the volcanoes are located on the converging plate boundaries and 15% are located on constructive plate boundaries. On this basis there are three major belts of volcano—

  • Circum-pacific belt: along the east and west coast of Pacific Ocean. This area is also called Pacific Ring of Fire because of many earthquake and volcanic eruptions. It starts from Mount Erebus of Antarctica-Andes-Rockies-Alaska-Japan to Indonesia. Ex- Mount Cotopaxi
  • Mid Continental belt: where volcano mainly arises from convergence of continental plates and are explosives. Ex- Mount Kilimanjaro
  • Mid Atlantic belt: where volcanic activities due to splitting of plates. Ex- Helena Mountains (Iceland)

Thus, on basis of above analysis it can be said that volcanic areas mainly arises from disturbance in earthly crust and have a profound impact on environment.

Q. India is a “indestructible union of destructible state”. Explain this statement in light of the reorganization of the state under Article 3 of the Constitution.

Structure of the answer:

  • Introduction (India being indestructible but State destructible)
  • Background
  • Reorganization of the state under Article 3
  • Final analysis

Model Answer

India has been called as “indestructible union” by Dr.B.R. Ambedkar as no Indian state can secede from the Indian union as in the case of confederation or loosely held federation. But on the other hand there is situation of destructible nature of the state as seen in context of Article 3. This has given opportunities to accommodate the aspirations of the people to form their own state and maintain unity and integrity of the country intact.

The Article 3 of the Constitution provides for:

  • The Center can change the “name, boundaries and territories” of the State.
  • For doing the same the consent of the state is not necessary. for exampleFormation of the state of Telangana.

Thus, Article 3 suggest the following points:

  • Indian states do not enjoy full sovereignty as in case of States in USA.
  • The USA, unlike India, follows the concept of “indestructible states” as the territorial integrity and continued existence of the state is guaranteed by the constitution.
  • Moreover, any changes brought in the states as per Article 3 is not deemed as an amendment in the Constitution so does not require the process of Article 368 to be followed (no special majority required to pass such a bill). 

Further, as pointed out by Subhash Kashyap it can be said that the center has absolute power in this regard. But existence of such power does not mean use of power without justification. The changed scenario has put several restrictions on the use of such power:

  • Rise of regional parties.
  • Financial non-viability of destructing a state due to additional administrative expenditure.
  • Growth of the concept of constructive, creative, converging, cooperative and competitive federalism (“C5”).

Hence in light of the above analysis it can be said that though legally India is an indestructible union of destructible states but practically this may not hold true under changed circumstances.

Subjects : Polity

Q. Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (IBC) has become a major savior for the banking sector. In this light discuss the impact of new Code on loan recovery and also suggest remedial measures for better implementation of the Code.

Structure of the answer:

  • Background
  • Introduction (about IBC)
  • Positive impact of IBC
  • Lacunas
  • Suggestion and way forward

Model Answer

Before the passing of IBC it took an average of 4.3 years to resolve insolvency and recovery rate was 25.9% as compared to developed countries where recovery rate was 72%.

The salient features are:

  • Consolidation of various laws on insolvency.
  • The resolution process has to be completed within 330 days, including litigations and other judicial process
  • Formation of Insolvency and Bankruptcy Board of India (IBBI) for regulating Insolvency professionals.
  • Specialized agencies for adjudication in form of NCLT for Companies and LLPs and Debt recovery tribunals for others.

Positive impact of IBC:

  • Improvement in average recovery from 26% to 46%.
  • The Code has created a deterrence effect as seen from the fact that around 3,500 cases involving default of 2 lakh cr. were withdrawn suggesting creditor recovered money from debtor by threat of IBC.
  • NPA worth 40,000 to 50,000 cr. have been converted into standard assets that has freed the resources for wealth creation.
  • IBC has promoted behavioral change among promoters.
  • The Code has reduced the burden on taxpayers as otherwise taxpayers would have to foot the burden of recapitalization of banks.

Yet there are certain challenges before the existing code:

  • The Section 29A of the Code has debarred certain entities thus brought down competition in bidding thereby resulting into reduced recovery.
  • Most of the cases before the NCLT has failed to adhere to strict timeline of 180 days resulting in losses for the creditors.
  • The conflict between the rival creditors (operational and financial creditor) has added to delay and confusion. For ex- Standard Charted bank as a operational creditor challenged the resolution plan as prepared in Essar steel case.
  • Threat of vilification by investigating agencies has created problems for the banks in taking a haircut.

Way forward: Considering the above issues there is a need for:

  • Quality resolution professionals, capacity building of NCLT in terms of creation of more benches and manpower.
  • Moreover, once a resolution plan has been approved no objection should be entertained.

The principal stakeholders in insolvencies such as NCLT, Resolution Professionals, Committee of Creditors need to expedite resolution process.

Subjects : Economy

Q. Since the Press was a powerful weapon in the development of Indian Nationalism, it was subjected to restrictions by the British Government. In this regard, discuss the major regulations enacted by the British rulers to curb the freedom of Press in India.

Model Answer

The press was fiercely involved in rallying the masses and newspapers acted as the life breath of nationalistic rebellion. Inevitably, the British government became increasingly apprehensive and several acts were passed to curb the freedom of press.

Major regulations enacted by the British rulers were: 

The Press Act of 1799: It imposed war time press restrictions.  Which included pre-censorship, it was followed by the Licensing Regulations of 1823 which made the starting of a press without license a penal offence. 

The Vernacular Press Act, 1878: It came to be known as the Gagging Act as it discriminated between the English and the Vernacular Press. It was enacted to curb the highly critical nature of the vernacular press. It provided the government with extensive rights to censor reports and editorials in the vernacular press. When a report was judged as seditious, the newspaper was warned, and if the warning was ignored, the press was liable to be seized and the printing machinery confiscated. 

The Newspaper Act:  In 1908, the Newspaper Act was enacted to curb extremist nationalistic tendencies and it empowered the government to confiscate press property which published objectionable material against the government.  

The Indian Press Act of 1931: In the aftermath of the Salt Satyagraha the Indian Press Act of 1931 was enacted, which gave wide ranging powers to suppress any publication that undermined the government’s authority during the civil disobedience movement.

Defence of India Rules: Under the Defence of India Rules during the Second World War pre-censorship was imposed and amendments were made in the Press Emergency Act, the penalty of imprisonment was extended to five years. Further, the Official Secrets Act was also amended to provide a maximum penalty of death or transportation for the publication of information likely to be of use to the enemy. 

Despite the multiple draconian laws, the Indian press remained impervious to the regulations and worked its way around to defend civil liberties and the freedom of press and emerged as the torch bearer of the national movement.

Q. Wind plays a major role in formation of different erosional and depositional land forms. In this light discuss the various types of land topography formed due to action of wind.

Structure of the answer:

  • Introduction: Role of winds
  • Various erosional features
  • Various depositional features
  • Conclusion

Model Answer

The wind is the main geomorphic agent especially in the hot deserts. Winds have a dual role in creating Erosional landforms and other in creating Depositional landforms.

These geomorphic features are most typically found in arid environments where there is little vegetation, where there are frequently strong winds etc. The landforms which are created by erosional and depositional activities of wind are called as Aeolian Landforms.

The various erosional landforms are as follows:

  • Pediplains: The high relief structures in deserts are reduced to low featureless plains by the activities of wind.
  • Deflation Hollows: Deflation is the removal of loose particles from the ground by the action of wind. When deflation causes a shallow depression by persistent movements of wind, they are called as deflation hollows.
  • Ventifacts: These are rocks that have been abraded, pitted, etched, grooved, or polished by wind-driven sand.
  • Mushroom Tables: In deserts, a greater amount of sand and rock particles are transported close to the ground by the winds which cause more bottom erosion in overlying rocks than the top. This result in the formation of rock pillars shaped like a mushroom.
  • Other forms: Inselbergs, Zeugen (formed when more resistant rock is reduced at a slower rate than softer rocks), Yardangs (ridge of rock formed usually parallel to the prevailing wind direction.

The various depositional landforms created by winds are as follows:

  • Sand dunes: Dry hot deserts are good places for sand dune formation. There are varieties of sand dune forms like Barchans, Seifs
  • Parabolic dunes: They are U-shaped and are much longer and narrower than barchans.
  • Ripple Marks: These are depositional features on a small scale formed by saltation (transport of hard particles over an uneven surface in a turbulent flow of air).
  • Loess: When the surface is covered by deposits of wind-transported silt that has settled out from dust storms.

This suggest that the wind plays an important role in erosion and deposition and consequent formation of new land forms.

Q. Space militarisation has become a new buzzword. How is it different from weaponisation of space? Discuss about the recent race in occupying the space ecosystem and how detrimental is it for human survival?

Model Answer

Space militarisation refers to the ecosystem of space systems that are utilised to achieve military objectives. It involves strategic planning, surveillance and telecommunication and reconnaissance as well as real time combat through placement and development of military technology in outer space. While, space weaponisation on the other hand refers to more aggressive and offensive use of space systems for military purposes where outer space itself emerges as the battleground and weapons are placed and created in space that travel from earth to attack or destroy targets in space.

Recent Developments In The Domain

  • China is making serious advances in weaponising the outer space creating the fourth frontier of war in space by making strides in ICBM programme.
  • The S. President had in the recent past announced the creation of a “space force” or a sixth branch of the American armed forces.
  • India recently became the fourth country after Russia, USA and China to possess the competency to take down an enemy in space. It achieved this feat by shooting down a low-orbit satellite through an anti-satellite weapon A-SAT which is a part of Mission Shakti.

Effects Of Militarisation Of Space

  • It will lead to competition and all major countries will start competing with each other and consequently resources would be diverted from the peaceful use of space for mankind to use space for deterrence.
  • The ensuing arms race for weaponisation of outer space would create an environment of uncertainty, suspicion, competition and aggressive deployment between nations, which may lead to wars creating concerns for national and international security. It would put at risk the entire range of commercial satellites as well as those involved in scientific explorations.
  • Growing amounts of space debris pose a real risk to satellites and spacecraft. There are over 20,000 objects of debris which are the size of golf balls while those of smaller size run into hundreds of thousands, totalling nearly 6,000 tonnes.
  • The militarisation of space by India would pose security challenges for its nuclear armed neighbours and the military posture in space programme might negatively impact the regional strategic stability.

Way Forward

  • There is no global regulatory regime to address the growing militarisation in space. There is a need of separation between civilian and military use of outer space, international co-operation, free exchange of ideas across borders and import of technologies and products to bring transparency and to build confidence among nations.
  • It is important to develop multi-laterally negotiated controls on weapons in space through a new space treaty. This treaty should be able to notify activities, monitor, plan procedures, enforce mechanisms and ban weapons in space in the form of tests, production and deployment.
  • At this point, the majority of States are still committed to pursuing a space weapons ban through the Conference on Disarmament, the official forum for multilateral arms control and disarmament treaty negotiations. Continued discussions on space arms control must be encouraged, particularly in the Conference on Disarmament, but also in the UN General Assembly & Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space.
  • An advocacy tool on the lines of Space Preservation act of the US Congress will go a long way to create forum for dialogues and negotiations which will mobilise various parliaments to work towards space security issues.
  • Effective engagement of global civil society around achievable goals and viable strategies is much needed, where many western powers mainly US oppose the initiatives.

Conclusion

The earth from outer space is seen as a unified interconnected and unique ecosystem of life for which space wars and weaponisation should not be seen as a rational choice for the humanity. The 21st century should move towards peace and prosperity rather than conflicts and arms races. Outer space is the common heritage of humanity and it is the responsibility of all space-faring nations to preserve and promote the benefits accruing from advances made in space technology.

Q. In recent years the caste system in India is assuming new identities. In this light discuss the importance and challenges posed by caste system.

Structure of the answer:

  • Introduction (about India’s caste system)
  • Caste assuming new identities
  • Importance of caste system
  • Challenges of caste system
  • Way forward

Model Answer

Caste is an endogamous group based on social hierarchy, where position of individual is ascribed by birth rather than achieved status. There are about 3,000 caste and 25,000 sub caste in India.

In recent times the caste system is assuming new identities in following ways:

  • Formation of caste-based associations/ caste panchayat like– Jaat sabha, Goswami Sammelam
  • Casteism on internet like- #jai bheem, #jai parsuram etc.
  • Casteism in economic sector like– formation of Dalit Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
  • Rise of caste based matrimonial sites and caste based matrimonial ads.

Best practices: Maharashtra has recently passed a law (2016) prohibiting social boycott based on caste and other factors.

Caste system has both advantages and disadvantages, the same are described as follows:

  • Caste has accommodated multiple communities by ensuring each of them a monopoly of a specific means of livelihood.
  • It has handed over the knowledge and skills of the hereditary occupation of a caste from one generation to another.
  • Specialization led to quality production of goods and thus promoted economic development.
  • It has helped the preservation of culture and ensured productivity.
  • It has helped maintaining racial purity through endogamy.

However, as noted above the caste system has also its disadvantages, such as:

  • It is a great stumbling block in the way of social reforms.
  • It perpetuates the exploitation of the economically weaker and socially inferior castes, especially the untouchables.
  • It has inflicted hardships on women through its insistence on practices like child-marriage, prohibition of widow-remarriage
  • It has stood in the way of national and collective consciousness and proved to be a disintegrating rather than an integrating factor.
  • It undermines the efficiency of labour and prevents perfect mobility of labour, capital and productive effort.

Thus, there is a need for encouraging inter-caste marriages under Dr. Ambedkar scheme for social integration through inter-caste marriages. Moreover, there is a need to depoliticize the caste-based reservation. This will help in promoting national unity and integrity.

Q. Foreign direct investment (FDI) is a like double edged sword. In this light discuss the positive and negative impact of FDI in India. Also suggest suitable measures to improve FDI in India.

Structure of the answer:

  • Introduction (using data)
  • Positive impact of FDI
  • Negative impact of FDI
  • Measures to increase FDI in India

Model Answer

FDI is an investment made by a firm or an individual into business interest located in other countries. Unlike, portfolio investment the investor in FDI acquire foreign business asset, ownership or controlling interest in foreign company.

FDI equity inflow in India in 2018-19 stood at $44 billion. Further, according to UNCTAD’s World investment report, India is 10th largest recipient of FDI in world.

  • FDI has multiple benefits such as generate technology spill overs, helps human capital formation, contributes to international trade integration, create a more competitive business environment and enhances enterprise development.
  • FDI contribute to higher economic growth, which is the strongest tool to alleviate poverty in developing countries.
  • Moreover, foreign direct investment may help improve environmental and social conditions in the host country.
  • FDI brings in foreign technical expertise that is an important factor in improving the existing technical processes and advances in technology.
  • FDI has both backward and forward linkages as create demand for local goods and create jobs and increase employment in the target country.

However, some economists have also criticized FDI on various grounds due to its negative impact, such as:

  • FDI occasionally hamper domestic investment, as it focuses resources elsewhere.
  • FDI impacts exchange rates to the advantage of one country and the disadvantage of the other nation.
  • FDI creates culture of dependency on the foreign capital and may impact sovereignty of the nation.
  • The FDI has sometimes led to large outflow of capital in form of repatriation, dividend payment and royalties

Overall FDI has a positive impact on the economy therefore there is a need to adopt following steps:

  • Adopting favorable policy regime and robust business environment.
  • There is also a need for improving regulatory regime and promoting further FDI relaxation.

The best practice in form of establishing Investment Facilitation Cell like- Japan cell and Korea cell need to be further strengthened.

Q. What are the different types of ecological succession? In this light also discuss the significance of ecological succession?

Structure of the answer:

  • Introduction
  • Types of ecological succession
  • Significance of ecological succession
  • Way forward

Model Answer

Ecological succession is the steady and gradual change in a species of a given area with respect to the changing environment. The ultimate aim of this process is to reach equilibrium in the ecosystem. The community that achieves this aim is called a climax community. Further, in an area, the sequence of communities that undergo changes is called sere.

In this background there are following types of Ecological Succession:

  • Primary Succession: It is the succession that starts in lifeless areas such as the regions devoid of soil.
  • Secondary succession: It occurs when the primary ecosystem gets destroyed. For Ex- a climax community gets destroyed by fire. It gets recolonized after the destruction (secondary ecological succession).
  • Cyclic Succession: This is only the change in the structure of an ecosystem on a cyclic basis.
  • Autotrophic Succession: It is characterised by early and continued dominance of autotrophic organisms like green plants.
  • Allogenic Succession: In this the replacement of the existing community is caused largely by external condition and not by the existing organisms.
  • Autogenic Succession: In this the community itself, as a result of its reactions with the environment, modifies its own environment and thus causing its own replacement by new communities.

Ecological succession is a very important form of grown and development of an ecosystem as a whole. Some of the points signifying the same are as follows:

  • The sole purpose of ecological succession is for an ecosystem to reach a state of balance.
  • It is the process by which communities of an ecosystem changes in a defined and its directional way over time.
  • Through this process, a relatively unliveable land is slowly converted into a thriving and vibrant ecosystem.
  • It allows new areas to be colonized and damaged ecosystems to be recolonized, so organisms can adapt to the changes in the environment and continue to survive.

Thus, the ecological succession is important for the survival of the existing species as well as emergence of new species.

Q. India’s quest to land its first spacecraft on the moon got off to a smooth start with the successful launch of Chandrayaan-2 mission aboard the country’s most powerful rocket – GSLV Mk-III. In light of this statement, discuss the significance of this mission.

Model Answer

Chandrayaan-2 is India’s most challenging, totally indigenous, and India’s second mission to Moon. It is advanced version of previous Chandrayaan-1 mission (launched in 2008) which only involved orbiting around moon, Chandrayaan-2 is much complicated mission as it involves an orbiter, lander and rover. After reaching the 100 km lunar orbit, the Lander housing the Rover was to separate from the Orbiter. After a controlled descent, the Lander was supposed to soft land on the lunar surface at a specified site and deploy a Rover.

Significance of the Mission

  • Technical: The mission will help India and the world gain a better understanding of the origin and evolution of the Moon by conducting detailed topographical studies, comprehensive mineralogical analyses, and a host of other experiments on the lunar surface.
  • Understanding of the Solar System: Unlike the earth, the moon does not have a tilt around its axis. It is almost erect, because of which some areas in the polar region never receive sunlight. Anything here remains frozen, almost for eternity. Scientists believe that rocks found in these craters could have fossil records that can reveal information about the early solar system.
  • Quest for Water: Two instruments on board Chandrayaan-1 provided irrefutable evidence of water on the Moon, something that had been elusive for more than four decades. Chandrayaan-2 will take the search further, trying to assess the abundance and distribution of water on the surface.
  • Colonisation: It is very difficult for humans to survive on Moon’s surface due to hazardous radiation, micro-meteoritic impacts, extreme temperature and dust storms. It will try to find possibilities of sustaining human life on Earth’s natural satellite with an aim to colonising it.
  • Geopolitical
    • Indigenous development: The mighty launch vehicle GSLV Mk -III has been completely designed and made within the country, making it a fully home-grown technology, hence Chandrayaan 2 is a fully indigenous mission.
    • Frugal Engineering: Chandrayaan 2 also stands out for its frugal cost of engineering as its total cost is way lower than several other lunar missions. ISRO has carved a niche for itself across the globe, in the sphere of astronomy and space research for running cost-effective as well as less expensive projects.

  • Led by India’s ‘Rocket Women’: Apart from having many first-time milestones, the Chandrayaan 2 project is being spearheaded by two senior women scientists of ISRO. The mission will inspire a future generation of scientists, engineers and explorers including women who will not only endeavour to break the doors of patriarchy but rise high above in the space.

Conclusion

The soft-landing on the lunar surface of the moon was the most complex part of Chandrayaan 2 mission. Only US, Russia and China have been able to soft land spacecraft on lunar surface. Unfortunately, in the last leg of soft landing, India lost its communication with Vikram Lander. But yet the milestone was a 95% success, as told by the ISRO chief.

Q. Hate speech in India is a result of various facilitating factors. In this light discuss the impact of hate speech and suggestion to effectively deal with the same.

Structure of the answer:

  • Introduction (Meaning)
  • Factors supporting hate speeches
  • Impact of hate speech
  • Way for ward/ suggestion

Model Answer

Hate speech is incitement of hatred primarily against a group of people defined in terms of race, ethnicity, sexual orientation etc. The issue of hate speech has become a recurrent phenomenon especially before the elections.

There are various factors facilitating hate speeches that are as follows:

  • Social media platforms are susceptible to misuse due to their reach and anonymity. Thus, it is very difficult to trace who is posting such content.
  • Media’s deliberate and unintentional negative portrayals of speeches impact people’s view.
  • There is lack of legal clarity as to what constitute hate speech and what does not. This has led to the culprit not being prosecuted.
  • Moreover, there is also legal loopholes as hate speech has been indirectly under 6-7 provisions of Indian Penal Code.

Impact of such a hate speech has been seen in following terms:

  • Propagation of hate speech by the terror outfit leads to radicalisation of youth and poses a threat to internal security of a nation.
  • Hate speech leads to hate crimes as seen during exodus of North Eastern students from Bangalore (2013).
  • The hate speech has also led to rise of refugee crisis not only within Indian but also around the world. For ex.- Rohingya crisis in Myanmar.
  • Hate speech causes fear and lead people to withdraw from public debate and thus impact freedom of speech and expression.

Thus, to effectively deal with issue of hate speech, there is a need to adopt multiprong approach:

  • As recommended by Law Commission of India and TK Vishwanath Committee there is a need for insertion of new Section in IPC in from of Section 153C to effectively deal with hate speech.
  • There is also a need for training among police officers and legal bodies for encouraging reporting of such content.
  • There is a need for awareness generation and contra-narrative on social media network.

There is also a need for involvement of religious heads to build empathy across religious lines.

Q. Regionalism in India is a result of various interconnected factors. In this light discuss the various types regionalism in India and also suggest suitable measures to curtail negative impact of regionalism.

Structure of the answer:

  • Introduction (regionalism)
  • Factors responsible for regionalism
  • Types of regionalism
  • Conclusion/ way forward

Model Answer

Regionalism is a strong attachment to one’s own region. Thus, it is an ideology that seek to advance cause of a region. The rise of regionalism in India is a result of various factors:

  • Historically, formation of various regional kingdoms and frequent regional wars led to rise of regional ideology.
  • Due to specific geography of a region there developed different food, clothing
  • The mother tongue (linguism) also created a profound attachment to one’s own language and hence regional identity developed.
  • Formation of regional parties to protect regional interest also led to rise of regionalism. For Ex- Shiv Sena.
  • Lop sided economic development led to inequality between different state and consequently leading to regionalism. For ex- problem of Naxalism.

In this background, the different types of regionalism are categorised as follows:

  • Parochialism: When people of a region consider regional interest superior and shun nationalist outlook. For ex- Violence by ULFA (Assam) against Bihari.
  • Regionalism: Reflected when people of a region raise voice for their autonomy, rights, fair share in development process and demand separate statehood or autonomy within state. For ex- Bodoland demand.
  • Secessionism: When a region tries to end its association from the nation to see itself as separate entity on the world map. For ex- Z. Phizo demand for Nagaland.
  • Inter-state rivalry: State and its people see other states as its competitors resulting into conflict over sharing of common resources, land boundary issues For ex- Cauvery water dispute between Tamil Nadu-Kerala.

Way forward:

  • The role of National Integration Council must be revamped to resolve conflicting regional aspirations.
  • Reviving national games such as Hockey, which can become symbol of unity.
  • Cultural sensitisation must be taken up in colleges to avoid hatred based on regions. For ex- setting up food stalls from other states.
  • The focus must also be on development of underdeveloped, backward and naxal hit regions.

Such steps will help achieving the aim of Ek Bharat Shrestha Bharat.

Q. Discuss the various features of tropical cyclones. While mentioning the factors contributing in formation of tropical cyclone differentiate them from extra-tropical cyclones.

Structure of the answer:

  • Introduction
  • Features of tropical cyclone
  • Factors contributing in formation of cyclones
  • Difference between tropical and extra tropical cyclones
  • Conclusion

Model Answer

Cyclone is an intense vortex or a whirl in the atmosphere with very strong winds circulating around it in anti-clockwise direction in the Northern Hemisphere and in clockwise direction in the Southern Hemisphere.  For Ex- Cyclone Titli

Some of the special characteristics of tropical cyclones are as follows:

  • Cyclones have intense low pressure areas and pressure increases outwards.
  • They mainly originate mainly in zones between 5– 30 °C Norther & South of latitude.
  • These originate over oceans in tropical areas & move to coastal areas.
  • They have large destructive force caused by violent winds, heavy rainfall & storm surges.
  • Tropical cyclones follow a parabolic path and its axis is parallel to the isobars.

Some of the necessary condition for the formation of tropical cyclones are as follows:

  • Continuous supply of abundant warm and moist air.
  • Sea temperature in lower latitudes should be around 27°C.
  • The cyclones require presence of large Coriolis force to deflect winds blowing toward the low pressure centre.
  • There must also be pre-existence of weak tropical disturbances.
  • Further, there should be presence of anticyclonic circulation at the height of 9 to 15 km above the surface.

However, the tropical cyclones are different from temperate cyclones in following ways:

  • Tropical cyclone is confined between 5-30° N-S of the equator, whereas temperate cyclone originate between 30 to 60° N-S of the equator.
  • Coriolis force plays vital role in the origin of tropical cyclone, whereas for temperate cyclone frontogenesis is the driving force.
  • Temperate cyclone covers large area as compared to tropical cyclone.
  • Tropical cyclone generally originates over water surface but the temperate cyclone originates over mid-latitude land mass.
  • Temperate cyclone generally moves eastward, while tropical cyclone moves from east to west.
  • Cyclone’s eye is a typical feature in case of tropical cyclone, while temperate cyclone have no such concept.

Thus, as cyclones carries destructive force there is a need for timely dissemination of warning and increasing preparedness of disaster management authorities.

Q. Oceans are the major sources for multiple living and non-living resources that are useful for the growth of blue economy. In this light discuss the concept of Blue economy and its importance for India.

Structure of the answer:

  • Introduction (Blue economy)
  • Ocean as the source for various resources
  • Importance of blue economy
  • Final analysis

Model Answer

The concept of blue economy was given by Gunter Pauli. It is the sustainable use of ocean resources for economic growth, improved livelihoods and jobs and ocean ecosystem health. Thus, it advocates the greening of ocean development for purposes of higher productivity and at same time conserving ocean’s health.

The oceans are the sources for various resources such as follows:

  • Oceans contain several varieties of fishes and sea weeds that have tremendous potential to be used for industrial and human activities.
  • Minerals derived from the oceans include Petroleum gas, shale gas, Magnesium, Sulphur, Poly-metallic nodules that are useful for industrial usage.
  • Maritime Transport constitute over 80% of international trade and commerce.
  • Ocean and coastal tourism are important source for job creation and economic growth.
  • Tides in ocean release a lot of renewable energy that can be used to operate a turbine and produce electricity. For ex.-
  • Further, oceans are an important carbon sink (blue carbon) and that can help mitigate climate change.

In light of above, the importance of blue economy for India is as follows:

  • Blue economy presents India with an opportunity to meet its national socio-economic objectives as well as strengthen connectivity with neighbors.
  • Blue Economy can help in livelihood generation, achieving energy security, building ecological resilience and improving living standards of coastal communities.
  • Blue economy can reinforce and strengthen efforts of Indian government to achieve the SDGs of hunger and poverty eradication by 2030.
  • Further, marine services sector could serve as the backbone of Indian economy and help it become 10 trillion-dollar economy by 2022.
  • Moreover, international practice of the countries such as Australia, China, Mauritius is also suggestive of the fact that of use of ocean/ blue economy for meeting their development objectives.

Thus, India and world as a whole should look to adopt the Gandhian approach of balancing economic benefits derived from blue economy for meeting the broader goals of growth, employment generation, equity and protection of environment.

Q. The amendment procedure under Indian Constitution is a curious mixture of rigidity and flexibility. In this light discuss the different procedure for amendment reflecting such blend.

Structure of the answer:   

  • Introduction (Article 368)
  • Different types of amendment process
  • Reflection of rigidity and flexibility
  • Way forward

Model Answer

The nature of the amending process envisaged by the makers of our Constitution has been explained by Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru as reconciliation of a written Constitution with Parliamentary SovereigntyArticle 368 (Part XX) of the Constitution deals with the power of Parliament to amend the constitution and its procedures.

The Constitution provides a mix of flexible and rigid provision for amendment as noted bellow:

  • Amendment of certain provisions of the constitution requires amendment by a simple majority of each house present and voting. Such changes are not deemed to be amendments for purposes of Article 368. For ex.- formation of new states, citizenship provisions, changes in 5th or 6th Schedule
  • Whereas, special majority is required under Article 368(2). Here, Parliament can amend by 2/3 of the member’s present plus voting and majority of the numerical strength of the house. For ex- amending fundamental Rights.
  • Certain features relating to the federation requires ratification by half of the states besides requiring special majority. For ex.- election of President; representation of states in Parliament

Thus, as discussed above the amending process prescribed by the Constitution has certain distinctive features as compared to other Constitutions of the world i.e. having a dual attribute of rigidity and flexibility.

However, some critics have described the amendment procedure to be too flexible in view of the ease with which more than 100 amendments have been passed in last 60 years of the working of the Constitution. Therefore, the use of the amendment procedure should be as a measure of last resort. Moreover, while passing the amendment the Parliament must preserve the basic framework (basic structure) of the Constitution.

Q. World trade organisation (WTO) as a multilateral body is facing challenges on various counts. In this light discuss the relevance of WTO and also suggest suitable reform in its functioning.

Structure of the answer:

  • Introduction (about WTO)
  • Challenges faced by WTO
  • Relevance of WTO
  • Reform in functioning of WTO

Model Answer

WTO was set up under Marrakesh Treaty (1994) and as an organization aim to improve living standards, generate employment, and expand global trade.

However, in recent years WTO is facing challenges on various counts such as:

  • Consensus based rule making has become a root cause in stagnation in reforms.
  • Further, the very existence of WTO is under threat with rise of trade disputes/ trade war between China and USA.
  • WTO has also failed to change as per the global requirementFor Ex.- WTO lacks any agreement to deal with e-commerce.
  • WTO is facing process challenges/ loopholes such as the negotiation process prime facie seems democratic but Ministerial Conferences are opaque and overly technical.
  • The dispute resolution mechanism is costly and lengthy. It is majorly resorted to by developed countries and developing countries are victims to the mechanism.

But, the WTO remains relevant considering the following points in its favour:

  • It amicably settles disputes among its members through its Dispute Settlement Mechanism.
  • World trade body serves as a platform on new global trade agreementsLike- Doha Round.
  • It ensures that global trade follows rules-based multilateral trading system.
  • WTO by removing trade barriers stimulates global growth.
  • WTO ensure predictability and transparency in trade-related regulations through its binding provisions.
  • It also preserves member’s autonomy as members are free to enter into preferential trade agreements and free trade agreements.

In light of the above challenges following reforms are required in functioning of WTO:

  • Plurilateral negotiations should be promoted as they offer prospect of building coalition among like-minded members.
  • The appointment process to dispute settlement body should be made independent of political control.
  • The issue of abuse of national-security exemption to justify trade restrictions should be solved at the political level, rather than at WTO.
  • WTO should be conferred with penalizing powers to curb wilful non-compliance.

There is also a need for using other platforms for reform talks such as G20, which have the advantage of limited and effective global membership.

Q. The town planning in Harappan Civilisation shows the high level of sophistication. In this light discuss the significant features of Harappan town planning. Also mention the various theories in relation to decline of the Civilisation.

Structure of the answer:

  • Introduction
  • Significant features
  • High level of sophistication
  • Decline of Harappan civilisation

Model Answer

The Indus Valley Civilization (IVC), also known as Harappan Civilization flourished around 2,500 BC in the western part of South Asia. The Harappan culture was distinguished by its system of town planning.

Significant features of the Harappan town planning are as follows:

  • Division of city into the Citadel e. mound built on the high podium and the lower town containing brick houses inhabited by the common people.
  • The arrangement of the houses in the cities followed a grid system.
  • Advanced drainage and sanitation system of each house were connected with road drains that were covered by stone slabs.
  • The other significant features were well-arranged water supply systemstreet lightning system, designated places to throw waste material

The significant features also show high level of sophistication in town planning as: 

  • The use of burnt bricks in the Harappan cities was remarkable as buildings of Egypt mainly used dried bricks.
  • Harappans laid special emphasis on health and hyenine as seen from bathroom in every house and well laid drainage system.
  • The town planning also kept into mind the need for storehouses for having provision during emergency. For Ex.- Great granaries of Harappa.

However, the Harappan civilization began to decline around 1800-1500 BC and some of the reason/ theories proposed by historians are as follows:

  • The massive floods in the Indus may have been a potent cause for the extinction of the Harappan culture.
  • Repeated seismographic vibrations must have also led to erosion of decline of Harappan civilization as it lied in high seismic region.
  • Further, water scarcity must have led to the exodus of the Harappan people to other places.
  • Outbreak of the plague epidemic is also shown as a reason for the decline of Harappan civilization.
  • Prof D.D. Kosambi is of the opinion that the Aryan invasion is the reason for the decline of Harappan culture.

Thus, the multiple causes/ factors have been proposed to be responsible for the decline of Harappan culture.

Q. The term ‘governance’, ‘good governance’ and ‘ethical governance’ though looks similar, yet signifies different idea. In this background, differentiate the above-mentioned terms in light of governance structure in India.

Structure of the answer:

  • Introduction
  • Meaning of different terms with help of example
  • Final analysis/ conclusion

Model Answer

The term ‘governance’, ‘good governance’ and ‘ethical governance’ appears to be used interchangeably and are intrinsically interlinked. Yet, each of them signify different meaning in their own sense.  The same are discussed below with help of examples.

The term ‘governance’ is defined as follows:

  • It is the exercise of economic, political and administrative authority to manage a country’s affairs.
  • It is also the process through which various stakeholders articulate their interest, exercises their rights and mediate their differences.
  • Many times it is defined as interface between the government and those governedFor ex.- delivery of public services like food, education, health.

In this context, 2nd ARC suggested various measures to improve governance, therefore the word ‘good governance’ implies:

  • Responsive, accountable, sustainable and efficient administration at all levels.
  • Further, transparency, accountability, rule of law, principle of subsidiarity and citizen first form basics of good governance. For ex.- delivery of services like PDS shall be quick, devoid of middlemen, reach even the most marginalised at minimum cost.

Whereas, the concept of ‘ethical governance’ is value laden, it means:

  • Administrative procedures and policies shall fulfil criteria of ethical handling of public affairs.
  • Utilitarian approach (Bentham’s approach) is followed to serve maximum good and difference between ethical-legal is handled appropriately.

Hence, governance shall be good as well as ethical.  

Q. The British rule has been often been described as the reason for drain of Indian wealth to Britain. In this light discuss constituent of economic drain and consequences of the same.

Structure of the answer:

  • Introduction (drain of wealth)
  • Estimate of drain of wealth
  • Constituent of economic drain
  • Consequences
  • Final analysis

Model Answer

The constant flow of wealth from India to England for which India did not get an adequate economic, commercial or material return has been described as drain of wealth from India. Dadabhai Naoroji gave ‘drain of wealth theory’ in his book ‘Poverty and Un-British Rule in India’. Scholarly, estimate drain of wealth to be around 9% of India’s GDP in 18th century and 6% of GDP in 19th century.

The various constituents of drain of wealth are as follows:

  • Territorial Expansion enabled the Company to generate greater commercial revenues to access Indian goods for export purposes.
  • The drain also included the movement of private funds to EnglandFor ex.- earnings of Englishmen from plunders during wars, bribes obtained from the native states According to G.A. Princep, over Rs. 1 crore was sent away from India every year between 1813 and 1820 as private wealth.
  • Another form of movement of wealth away from India was the money paid to banks, insurance companies, shipping companies in England for the services they render in India.
  • The Company’s remittances to England (Home Charges) also formed a major part of the drain. This included, salaries/ pensions paid to the Company’s employees in England

The consequence of Drain of wealth were as follows:

  • It impoverished all the section of Indian society particularly the peasants, who bore the brunt of the taxes raised by the Britishers.
  • It drained India of its precious capital, which could have otherwise been invested in industrialization/ modernization of India.
  • The drain of Indian wealth was used for financing the Industrial Revolution in England and is also the reason why industrial revolution did not take place in India.
  • The economic criticism of British rule had helped in shattering the myth of benevolence of British administration in India.
  • It was instrumental in laying the foundations for the demand for Swaraj and ensuing freedom struggle.

Thus, British methods of exploitation though less painful but resembled the blood-sucking leeches.

Q. The British rule was marked by various Peasants movement. In this background discuss the impact of these movement on freedom struggle.

Structure of the answer:

  • Introduction
  • Various peasant movement in British era
  • Impact of peasant movement on freedom struggle
  • Conclusion

Model Answer

Peasant movement in India arose due to Britishers economic policies that resulted in the change of ownership of agrarian land, massive debt burden and impoverishment of peasantry.

Thus, the peasants rose in revolt against this injustice on many occasions. Some of these are as follows:

  • Indigo revolt of 1859-1860 was result of European planters persuading the peasants to plant indigo. Further, they provided loans at a very high interest. This led to not only debt burden but also severe exploitation.
  • Similarly, in Pabna movementSome landlords forcefully collected rents and land taxes that triggered the rebellion.
  • Deccan Riots (1875) peasants of Maharashtra revolted against increasing agrarian distress.
  • Further, in Champaran Satyagraha (1917), European planters resorted to all sorts of illegal and inhuman methods of indigo cultivation. That led Gandhiji took up their cause.
  • Other significant movements were Moplah Rebellion, Kheda Peasant Struggle, Bardoli Movement (Gujarat), Tebhaga Movement in Bengal

Considering the collective effort to fight the oppressive system, some of the noteworthy impact of the peasant movement were as follows:

  • The movement helped creating awareness among the Indians about exploitative nature of British rule.
  • It also helped developing a strong awareness among peasants about their legal rights.
  • These localised revolts also prepared the ground for various other uprisings such as Sikh Wars in Punjab, Revolt of 1857
  • These movement had given much strength to the peasants who participated in the movement. Moreover, the movement also contributed to the growth of nationalism.
  • The positive impact was also seen in form of various steps taken by the government following peasant movements. For ex- appointment of indigo, passing of Deccan Agriculturists Relief Act, 1879

In light of spectrum of above-mentioned arguments, it can be said that these movements created an atmosphere for post-independence agrarian reforms, for instance, abolition of Zamindari etc. and also added to the transformation of the agrarian structure.  Click to View More

Q. India is currently facing the issue of rising tsunami of e-waste. In this light discuss the challenges being posed by increasing e-waste and also suggest the suitable measures to tackle these challenges.

Structure of the answer:

  • Introduction
  • Rise of e-waste and issues relating to it
  • Challenges posed by it
  • Measures to handle such an issue
  • Final analysis

Model Answer

Electronic waste/ e-waste is a term used for electronic products that have become unwanted, obsolete and have reached the end of their useful life. India generates near about 2 million metric tonne of e-waste annually and it would reach 5.2 mmt per annum by 2020. The main sources of e-waste in India are the government, public and private sectors, which account for almost 70% of total e-waste generation.

The rising e-waste pose multitude challenges in various forms such as:

  • E-waste also impact human health as dismantling and shredding of it releases dust, toxins, dioxins
  • There is huge gap between present recycling and collection facilities. According to ASSOCHAM study only 5% of the e-waste is formally recycled.
  • Cross-border flow of waste equipment into India is another major issue. For ex- uncontrolled asbestos imports from Canada, used batteries from European nations
  • Further, as per ASSOCHAM report (2014), about 5 lakh child labourers are engaged in e-waste activities and that too without adequate protection and safeguards.
  • Unscientific method of recycling and lack of proper safety gear in handling e-waste leads to occupational health hazards.
  • Finally, e-waste rules are blatantly violated and the informal sector remains unregulated.

To resolve the above issues, there is a need to adopt multiprong approach in following form:

  • There is a need to strengthen the domestic legal framework to address the issue of unregulated imports of e-waste.
  • Further, steps must be taken to formalize the informal sector by using strategy of incentivization.
  • Governments must also encourage research for development of better environmentally sustainable e-waste recycling techniques.
  • There is also a need of an effective take-back program for e-waste handling and collection.

Thus, in light of the above there is a need for creating a mass awareness programme to encourage consumers to reuse/ recycle electronic products. For ex- ‘Take-back’ and ‘Planet ke Rakwale’ campaign by Nokia.  

Q. In recent years there has been number of farmer protest around India demanding increase in Minimum support price (MSP). In this light discuss the effectiveness of MSP and need for replacing it with Price deficiency payment system.

Structure of the answer:

  • Introduction
  • Deficiencies in the MSP system
  • Importance of price deficiency payment system
  • Final analysis

Model Answer

MSP is the base price set by the Government and whenever the market prices fall below the announced MSPs, procurement agencies step in to procure the crop at the support price. In India, the MSP are recommended by the Commission for Agricultural Cost and Prices (CACP) for 23 crops based on A2+FL formula i.e. actual cost paid plus imputed value of the family labour.

However, the use of MSP as a method of agricultural pricing is criticized on various grounds such as:

  • NITI Aayog evaluation report (2016) on MSP noted that 79% farmers are not satisfied with MSP regime due to reasons such as delay in payments, distance to the procurement centers, delayed announcement of MSP rates
  • Farmers have also claimed that the prices in wholesale markets are often lower than the MSP. In such a scenario, whatever MSP the government declares might not matter much.
  • Further, only 6% of farmers are able to sell their produce at MSP. Moreover, the MSP operation is limited only to few states.
  • Lastly, the procurement is limited to few crops such as rice and wheat leading to cropping pattern distortion.
    Various PDPS schemes of states:
    • Bhavantar Bhugtan Yojana (BBY) by MP: It applies to eight kharif crops such as soybean, til, maize, urad, tur
    • Rythu Bandhu scheme of Telangana: To relieve farmers from taking loans from moneylenders the scheme provides farmers Rs 4,000 per acre for the kharif and rabi seasons.

This system will address the issue of price crash after the bumper harvest.Therefore, the states such as Madhya Pradesh and Telangana have moved to price deficiency payment system (PDPS). Under it the government simply pays the difference between the MSP and the market-determined price. This system has many advantages such as follows:

  • It will also resolve the issues involved with MSP mechanism such as lack of awareness, procurement confined to selected crops that too from selected states, distortion of the agricultural market and cropping pattern.
  • It will also resolve the issue of needless accumulation of the food stock by FCI involving maintenance cost and storage losses.
  • Such a mechanism is also needed as other risk management instrument such as crop insurance and future trading have not made much headway.

In light of the above, it will be effective and efficient to shift to the new mechanism of PDPS.

Subjects : Economy

Q. Considering the controversial nature of the position of the Governor, many experts have suggested abolishment of the Governor’s post. In this light discuss the arguments for and against such decision.

  • Structure of the answer:
  • Introduction
  • Controversial position of the Governor
  • Arguments for abolishing the post
  • Arguments against abolishing the post
  • Final analysis

Model Answer

The Position of the Governor is controversial in light of emergence of concept of cooperative federalism. The issue has recently cropped up over controversial role of Governor in post-election scenario in Maharashtra and Karnataka. These events reflected that Governor’s interference with the democratic process is both real and continuing.

Therefore, in light of ensuing controversy many experts have put forth following arguments to abolish the post of Governor:

  • The position of Governor seems to have colonial imprint.
  • The Governor continue to remains affiliated to Political Party that appoints them. This raise question mark over neutrality of the office of the Governor.
  • The role of the Governor has been substantially changed from that of upholder of Constitution to a position used for destabilising the State government.
  • The post has become a retirement package for politicians who are politically faithful to the government of the day.
  • Further, it is undemocratic to have a nominated person as the head of the State.
  • Lastly, the issue of misuse of the discretionary power of the Governor has become a recurrent phenomenon.

However, many have advocated to uphold the current status quo on following grounds:

  • At the outset, it can be safely be said that post of governor is a vital link between the Centre and the States.
  • For maintenance of national interests, integrity and internal security advocates need for central supervision in form of Governor.
  • The office of Governor manage many things in transition phase like election period and Presidential rule
  • Further, Governor looks into the legal validity of the laws passed by state legislature.
  • Lastly, special responsibility have been conferred upon by the Governor in some states in respect of autonomous regions. For ex- 6th schedule area of Assam.

Thus, misuse of a position of Governor should not serve as a justification for removing the office altogether. The need of the hour is to implement the recommendation of the Sarkaria Committee to reform the office of Governor. 

Q. Explain how the American War of Independence had transformed the Europe and other parts of the world?

Model Answer

The American Revolution of 1776 had transformed not only the America but also the Europe and other parts of the world. Its direct and indirect influences were felt worldwide in the time to come.

The impact of the American Revolution was as follows:

Ideological impact:

  1. The ideas of liberty, equality, fraternity were popularized all over the world as a result of the American Revolution. These ideas of Enlightenment were absorbed by the common masses everywhere.
  2. The American Revolution provided for the first modern democracy in the world. As a result, democratic ideas gained popularity everywhere and democratic transformation was witnessed in the time to come.
  3. The concept of natural rights of men were also popularized by the American Revolution. The Bills of Rights of 1789 guaranteed a number of Fundamental Rights to American citizens. Through this bill, the idea of natural rights of men put forward by John Locke was given Constitutional guarantee. This act inspired similar guarantees in other parts of the world. The declaration of rights adopted by France in August 1791 was a reflection of the same.
  4. American Revolution paved the way for the first modern written Constitution in the world. The American Constitution was adopted and enacted by the American Congress in September 1787.

Inspired other Revolutions:

  1. The American Revolution played an important role in the outbreak of the revolution in France. Many French soldiers had fought in the support of the liberty and equality of the Americans during the American War of Independence. After the war, on returning to France, they found it difficult to tolerate the denial of those very rights to them in their own mother country.
  2. The flame of Revolution reached Ireland in 1798. A number of nationalist revolutions (led by Simon Bolivar etc) were witnessed in Latin America during the first half of 19th century. Spanish Revolution and the European Revolutions of the 19th century were the continuation of the tradition of revolution triggered by the American Revolution. That is why American Revolution of 1776 is known as the mother of all revolutions.

Effect on India:

  1. The bitter experiences of the American War of Independence made Britain smarter in India. A number of regulations were enacted by Britain particularly after 1783 to strengthen the foundation of its Indian empire.
  2. Having burnt his finger in America, Cornwallis did not take any risk in India. He followed a pro-active approach to wipe out the challenges standing in front of the British East India Company. The Third Anglo-Mysore war fought during 1790-92 was a reflection of the same.

As a result of the success of the American Revolution, America emerged as the most progressive of liberal nations. The liberal and progressive ideas gave an exalted status to the Americans. This process of American ascendancy reached its peak in 1991 when the United States of America remained the only superpower.

Q. Recent international trend has been averse to the use of nuclear energy. In this light, discuss the reason inhibiting use of nuclear use energy. Also bring out the positive externalities arising from use of nuclear energy.

Structure of the answer:  

  • Introduction
  • Reason for averseness to the use of nuclear energy
  • Positive things in relation to use of nuclear energy
  • Conclusion

Model Answer

Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam described nuclear power as a gateway to a prosperous future.  However, World Nuclear Association has reported that nuclear electricity generation in 2017 was at its lowest level since 1999. Even, Germany has decided to close all its nuclear plant by 2022.

The reason for risk aversion to the nuclear energy are as follows: 

  • The cost of construction of nuclear plants is too expensive. Thus, making the production of energy unviable.
  • Nuclear reactors are an unsafe proposition as seen from Chernobyl and Fukushima The cost of clean of Fukushima was estimated to be around $200 billion.
  • Further, there are inherent issues relating to the disposal of the nuclear waste.
  • The nuclear energy is also facing uphill task considering the reduced cost of production of renewable energy like solar and wind energy.
  • The issue has further been compounded by the confusion over the provisions of Civil liability for Nuclear damage Act, 2010.
  • Lastly, the issue of non membership of NSG, problem of land acquisition, regulatory hurdles are also major irritant in the widespread adoption of nuclear energy.

However, there are important benefits in relation to nuclear energy, such as:

  • Nuclear energy has the potential to resolve the issue of India’s continuous energy poverty. About 9 crore household have no access to electricity.
  • The nuclear energy can also help India in meeting the INDC target under Paris Climate treaty.
  • Besides, nuclear power can also reduce the impact of loss of foreign exchange, volatile fossil fuel prices and consequent impact on economic growth.
  • Further, many technologies of strategic importance have been mastered by India in its quest for use of nuclear energy.
  • Lastly, India has largest reserve of Thorium in the world thereby resolving the issue of import dependence of nuclear fuel.

Thus, in light of the above analysis it can be concluded that nuclear energy has a promising benefits for India and world. However, the inherent issues relating to it must be addressed holistically. 

Q. What do you understand by Emotional Intelligence(EI)? Highlight its significance, discuss the ways to develop EI among civil servants.

Approach:

  • Explain the concept of Emotional Intelligence(EI) and discuss its components
  • Highlight the significance and importance of EI for civil servants.
  • Discuss the ways to develop EI among civil servants.

Model Answer

Emotional Intelligence (EI) refers to the capability of a person to recognize, understand and manage own emotions, as well as to understand, manage and influence emotions of others. It is not always virtuous and can be used as a tool for positive and negative ends.

It is said to have five main elements which help in the following ways:

  • Self-awareness: A self-aware person is in better position to understand the emotions of others.
  • Self-regulation: It makes a person think before speaking/doing. It has many positive aspects including that of self assessment and holding himself accountable for his actions.
  • Motivation: It helps in achieving goals. A motivated person leads by example and is in a better position to influence others.
  • Empathy: It helps in understanding a situation by putting oneself in the position of others. Those who can empathize with others earn respect.
  • Social skills: It helps in communicating your point of view and builds rapport with others. It makes the relationship more comfortable.

Emotional intelligence is valuable in a multicultural society as it brings the following advantages:

  • Interpersonal skills, team work, negotiation, networking and other critical social skills
  • People-oriented characteristics with a high sensitivity to diversity
  • Attuned to cultural sensitivities and behavioural norms such as Integrity, honesty and trustworthiness
  • Credibility and reliability rating in terms of commitments and pledges
  • Personal learning skills, especially the ability to learn from, and help others learn from, experience.

The most effective civil servants tend to exhibit a high degree of emotional intelligence. EI can help the civil servants in following ways:

  • Managing family and work life: A civil servant with balanced family and work life can contribute more to the system due to a relaxed state of mind owing to EI.
  • Mutually satisfying relationships: An emotionally intelligent civil servant can reconcile the differences among co-workers or different factions of people and can resolve problems in a more constructive and effective manner.
  • Better work-culture: An emotionally intelligent civil servant brings more energy to the system, thus influencing the working attitude of each employee.
  • Better decision making: Being aware of one’s wants and fears can help the civil servant in being neutral and impartial during conflict of interests.
  • Repose trust in the system: Listening attentively to the problems of people, empathizing with their situation and bringing positive change in the work attitude of bureaucracy, EI can help in making the system more trustworthy in the eyes of citizens.

Development of EI among civil servants:

  • Training through practice and feedback, civil servants can learn from their mistakes using real life examples and reflection opportunities.
  • Support: Coaching, encouragement and peer support can assist with lasting change and positive development of EI competencies
  • Experiential learning: Emotional and behavioral changes require life activities which are primarily outside of the traditional classroom and is commonly referred to as experiential learning.
  • Learning transfer it refers to how people use what they learn in training for performance improvement. Learning transfer seeks to reinforce and apply the information learned on the job immediately.

Emotional intelligence is the single best predictor of performance in the workplace and the strongest driver of leadership and personal excellence. 

Q. In the context of the world history, discuss the achievements of the Bolshevik Revolution of Russia.

Model Answer

The Bolshevik Revolution of 1917 were the two phases of a single revolution where due to the prevailing widespread discontent, Lenin overthrew Kerensky’s government with the help of his revolutionary Red Guard on the night of 6th and 7th November 1917 and declared Russia as a communist nation.

Other significant achievements of the Bolshevik revolution are as follows:

  • Overthrow of power: The overthrow of autocracy, the destruction of the aristocracy and the power of the church were the first achievements of the Bolshevik Revolution.
  • First Communist state: The Bolshevik revolution resulted in the establishment of the first communist state in the world. It transformed communism form and idea to reality.
  • Inspired workers and peasants: The success of Bolshevik Revolution inspired workers and peasants throughout the world. Leftist ideas gained popularity everywhere. Socialist-communist party emerged in Europe as well as in other countries.
  • Emergence of an alternative model: The success of communism in Russia presented an alternative to the capitalist model of political, social and economic life. As a result of which an intense competition in the world to capture the heart and mind of the people took place.
  • Impact on international relations: The emergence of communism in Russia terrified the western capitalist world. Western democracy was forced to pursue a softer policy towards Germany and Italy because the revival of Germany and Italy was considered necessary to counter the spread of communism.
  • Prepared background for the Cold War: The Bolshevik Revolution prepared the background for the Cold War between the capitalist and the communist bloc from 1946-1991.
  • Inspired other countries: The Bolshevik Revolution inspired similar communist movements in many parts of the world. The Chinese communist revolution, and the revolution in Cuba were inspired by the Bolshevik Revolution.

The growing popularity of socialism and subsequent achievements made by the Soviet Union after the Bolshevik revolution helped to recognize that for democracy to be real political rights without social and economic rights were not enough. The idea of the state playing an active role in regulating the economy and planning the economy to improve the condition of the people was accepted. The popularity of socialism also helped to mitigate discrimination based on race, colour and sex.  

Q. Women’s movement post-independence has covered a wide array of topics. In this background mention the issues covered by these movement and government response to the same.

Structure of the answer:        

  • Introduction
  • Issues covered by women’s movement
  • Government response to the same
  • Final analysis

Model Answer

Women’s movement is an important variant of social movement that aimed to bring changes in the institutional arrangements, customs and beliefs in the society that subjugated women. The aim of theses movement changed over a period of time and the same is enunciated in context of post-independence women’s movement: 

  • In the post-Independence organisations such as Kasturba Memorial Trust and Bharatiya Grameen Mahila Sangh aimed to assist the rural women in developing leadership potential.
  • Further, during 1950-60’s, the main thrust of women’s movement was provision of education, health and welfare of women.
  • In late 1970s and 1980s new organisations such as Self-Employment Women’s Association (Gujarat), Working Women’s Forum (Tamil Nadu) concerned themselves with the plight of women workers in the unorganised sector.
  • During 1980s, the environmental issue was also touched by women’s movement such as Chipko movement.
  • Additionally, in 1990s the women movement was focussed on issues like dowry, alcoholism among men, wife-beating For ex- formation of Dahej Virodhi Chetna Manch in Delhi.
  • In late 1990s, for the first-time groups in Mumbai, Delhi raised issues of rape, crime and violence against women. For ex.- anti-rape movements.

The government response to these movement can be reflected from the following words:

  • The government set up women’s cells within a few ministries like Rural Development, Labour
  • Similarly, in the late 1980s the government prepared a National Perspective Plan for Women (1988-2000), which has made several recommendations relating to legal, economic, social and political status of women.
  • The 73rd and 74th amendment provided for across the board reservation of 33% in local body for women.
  • The other response of the government was seen in form of setting up of the National Commission for Women, 1992women specific programmes such as Rashtriya Mahila Kosh

Thus, in overall analysis it can be said that women’s movement were effective in bringing women’s issues back into the arena of public debate. But it is only a beginning of the long struggle ahead for equality, justice and dignity to all women.  Click to View More

Q. Government has promised to double farmer’s income by 2022, in this light discuss the measures taken by government to implement the same. Also suggest suitable strategies to timely and sustainable achievement of this target.

Structure of the answer:   

  • Introduction
  • Measures taken by government
  • Suggestion
  • Way forward

Model Answer

The government has set a target of doubling farmers’ income by 2022 to overcome the distressed situation of agriculture. The situation was evident after large scale farmer’s protest in various parts of India.

The reorientation of strategy was needed due to following reasons:

  • Earlier strategy focused primarily on raising agricultural output ignoring need for income augmentation.
  • Farmer’s income remained low as compared to those working in the non-­ farm sector.
  • The need was further felt considering the large scale farmers suicides after introduction of duty free agri trade.

Government has adopted following strategy to help farmer’s cause:

  • To raise output and reduce cost of cultivation schemes such as Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchai Yojana, Prampragat Krishi Vikas Yojana have been started.
  • For protection against crop loss, Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana has been implemented nationwide. .
  • Further, to address price volatility of perishable commodities Operation Green has been started.
  • To reform agricultural marketing and processing sector, PM Kisan Sampada Yojana, E-NAM portal has been started.
  • Lastly, to have sustainable development of agriculture and promote farmers income National Mission on Sustainable Agriculture has been started.

Suggestions to effectively achieve the target of doubling farmer’s income:

  • The focus must be on increasing the use of quality seed, fertiliser and power supply to agriculture.
  • The focus must also be on allied sector, wherein aim must be to improve herd quality, increasing artificial insemination
  • Further, as per experts about one third income of farmer’s can be augmented through better price realization, efficient post-harvest management, competitive value chains
  • Similarly, Farmers producer organization or Farmers Producer Company can also play big role. .

Final analysis:

  • There is also a need for mobilising States to own and achieve the goal of doubling farmers’ income.

Further, the reformative steps in agriculture must not be baby steps or incremental changes rather structural reforms are needed.

Q. Reform movements in religion were largely responsible for social reform movements in India. In this context, discuss the contribution of various socio-cultural reformers in the 19th and 20th centuries.

Approach:

  • Briefly discuss about the social reform movements in India.
  • Discuss the contribution of various socio-cultural reformers in the 19th and 20th centuries.

Model Answer

Indian Society in the 19th century was caught in a vicious web created by religious superstitions and dogmas. All religions in general and Hinduism in particular had become a compound of magic, animism, and superstitions.

The growing knowledge of India’s past glory provided to the Indian people a sense of pride in their civilization. It also helped the reformers in their work of religious and social reform for their struggle against all type of inhuman practices, superstitions etc. They attacked bigotry, superstition and the hold of the priestly class. They worked for emancipation of women in which sati, infanticide, child marriage and widow re-marriage were taken up, casteism and untouchability, education for bringing about enlightenment in society. All these problems has roots in religious beliefs and superstitions.

The contribution of various socio-cultural reformers in the 19th and 20th centuries.

  • Raja Ram Mohan Roy and Brahmo Samaj :Ram Mohan Roy, the father of Indian Renaissance was versatile genius, who opposed the idolatry, denounced Sati, polygamy and abuses of the caste system, favoured remarriage of Hindu widows. He started the ‘AtmiyaSabha’ in 1815 and carried a consistent struggle against the religious and social malpractices. Other prominent reformers of Brahmo Samaj included Debendranath Tagore and Keshub Chandra Sen. They were was instrumental in popularizing the movement, and branches of the samaj were opened outside Bengal.
  • Young Bengal Movement and Henry Vivian Derozio :During the late 1820s and early 1830s, there emerged a radical, intellectual trend among the youth in Bengal, which came to be known as the ‘Young Bengal Movement’. Drawing inspiration from the great French Revolution, Derozio inspired his pupils to think freely and rationally, question all authority, love liberty, equality, and freedom, and oppose decadent customs and traditions.
  • Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar:-Vidyasagar started a movement in support of widow remarriage which resulted in legislation of widow remarriage. He was also a crusade against child marriage and polygamy. He did much for the cause of Women’s education. As secretary of Bethune School (established in 1849), he was one of the pioneers of higher education for the women in India.
  • DayanandSaraswati and Arya Samaj :Swami Dayanand gave the mantra, “Go back to Vedas” as he believed that priestly class and Puranas had perverted Hindu religion. He wrote a book “SatyarthPrakash” which contains his philosophical and religious ideas. He started the Shuddhi Movement to bring back those Hindus who had converted to Islam and Christianity.
  • Sir Syed Ahmed Khan and the Aligarh Movement : Syed’s progressive social ideas were propagated through his magazine Tahdhib-ul-Akhlaq (Improvement of Manners and Morals). Social reforms among Muslims relating to purdah, polygamy, widow remarriage, women’s education, slavery, divorce, etc.
  • M G Ranade and PrarthanaSamaj :Justice MahadevGovindRanade was a distinguished Indian scholar, social reformer and author. The four point social agenda of PrathanaSamaj were
    • Disapproval of caste system
    • Women education
    • Widow remarriage
    • Raising the age of marriage for both males and females

  • Satyashodhak Samaj and Jyotiba Phule :Jyotiba Phule belonged to the Mali (gardener) community and organized a powerful movement against upper caste domination and brahminical supremacy. Phule founded the Satyashodhak Samaj (Truth Seekers’ Society) in 1873. The main aims of the movement were Social service and spread of education among women and lower caste people.
  • Ramakrishna Paramhansa and Swami Vivekananda: Ramakrishna Paramhansa was a mystic who sought religious salvation in the traditional ways of renunciation, meditation and devotion. He was saintly person who recognized the fundamental oneness of all religions and emphasized that there were many roads to God and salvation and the service of man is the service of God.
  • Balshastri Jambhekar :He is known as Father of Marathi journalism. He was one of the pioneers in Bombay who attacked orthodoxy and tried to reform popular Hinduism.
  • KandukuriVeeresalingam: He was a social reformer who first brought about a renaissance in Telugu people and Telugu literature. He encouraged education for women.
  • Sri Narayan Guru Dharma Paripalana (SNDP) Movement: This movement was an example of a regional movement born out of conflict between the depressed classes and upper non-Brahmin castes.
  • Vaikom Satyagraha: It was led by K P Kesava, was launched in Kerela demanding throwing open of Hindu Temples and roads to untouchables.

The writings and speeches of reformers of the 19th century played an important role in the socio-cultural reform which brought about intellectual revolution in India.  These social and religious reform movements arose among all communities of the Indian people which played a socially transformative role.  

Q. India has moved forward by providing fundamental rights of basic education through Right to Education (RTE) Act 2009. Analyse the challenges faced at primary level of Education in India. Also discuss the major reforms suggested at primary level in the recent draft education policy 2019.

Approach:

  • Briefly write about Right to Education (RTE) Act 2009 and its current status.
  • Discuss the challenges faced at primary level of Education in India.
  • Discuss the major reforms suggested at primary level in the recent draft education policy 2019.

Model Answer

With 86th amendment, education was made fundamental rights of the citizen under Article 21(a). Right to education act 2009 was brought in to give effect to Article 21(a). The country has moved forward in bringing every children to the school. But there still remains challenge of huge dropouts and poor learning outcomes.

Various challenges that primary level of education in the country faces are:

  • Poor teaching quality: Teachers are not given proper training. They are engaged in administrative works like implementing Midday meal schemes. 
  • Poor school infrastructure: Schools lack basic facilities like toilets and drinking water. Lack of toilet facility results in huge dropouts among girls.
  • Poor recruitment process of teachers: Since education is a state subject. Some state recruits teachers on contracts without Bachelor of education qualifications.
  • Detention policy: Students are being detained above class 5 level. Detention deters children from completing the primary level of education. Hence, increasing dropouts.
  • Poor pedagogy practices: Child friendly pedagogy is lacking in Indian schools. Curriculum and exam system promotes culture of rote learning and deters creative thinking.
  • Poor regulatory framework: Regulatory framework differs from state to state. Few states like Bihar lacks proper regulatory framework to monitor the functioning of primary schools.

These challenges have hindered India in achieving its objective of providing free and compulsory education with good learning outcomes. The country is still far from achieving the target of 6% of GDP expenditure as suggested under different national education policy.

The recent draft on national education policy 2019 has suggested following reforms keeping in mind the above challenges:

  1. To discontinue detention policy: The draft focuses on adopting continuous and comprehensive assessment (CCA), no detention policy (NDP) together. CCA and NDP if adopted together can reforms the examination system of the country. It will also promote creative learning and end rote learning system.
  2. School infrastructure: The policy suggested that small size of schools makes it operationally complex to deploy teachers. Hence the policy recommends that multiple public schools should be brought together to form a school complex. The school complexes will also include anganwadis, vocational education facilities, and an adult education centre. Each school complex will be a semi-autonomous unit providing integrated education across all stages from early childhood to secondary education.
  3. Teacher management:  Draft Policy recommends that teachers should be deployed with a particular school complex for at least five to seven years.  Further, teachers will not be allowed to participate in any non-teaching activities (such as cooking mid-day meals or participating in vaccination campaigns) during school hours that could affect their teaching capacities.
  4. Teacher training: the policy recommended to replace the existing B.Ed. programme by a four year integrated B.Ed. that combines high quality content, pedagogy and practical training.

The above recommendation can bring significant positive changes in learning outcomes of the children. There is need to effectively implement the target of 6 percent of GDP expenditure and to effectively implement the recommendation of draft policy.Click to View More

Q. The Government of India, through the Department of Science and Technology (DST), has released a draft of the new Scientific Social Responsibility (SSR) Policy. Discuss the objective of introducing SSR Policy and the benefits associated with it.

Model Answer

India is going to be possibly the first country in the world to implement a SSR Policy on the lines of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). Under the proposed policy, individual scientists or knowledge workers will be required to devote at least 10 person-days of SSR per year for exchanging scientific knowledge to society.

Objectives

The main objective of SSR policy is to harness the voluntary potential that is latent in the country’s scientific community to strengthen science and society linkages so as to make S&T ecosystem vibrant. This specifically implies:

  • Science-society connect: Facilitating inclusive and sustainable development by transferring the benefits of scientific work to meet existing and emerging societal needs.
  • Science-science connect: Creating an enabling environment for the sharing of ideas and resources within the knowledge ecosystem.
  • Society-science connect: Collaborating with communities to identify problems and develop scientific and technological solutions.
  • Cultural change: Inculcating social responsibility among the individuals and institutions practicing science; creating awareness about SSR within society; and infusing scientific temperament into day-to-day social existence and interaction.

Benefits

  • It will expand the domain of science and its benefits to the community and encourage students into science through handholding and nurturing their interest.
  • It will provide training for skill development and upgrade scientific knowledge.
  • It will help MSMEs, Startups and informal sector enterprises in increasing their overall productivity.
  • Facilitate scientific intervention in rural innovation and empower women, disadvantaged and weaker sections of the society through the same.
  • Facilitate actions towards addressing Technology Vision 2035 Prerogatives and Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the country such as water, ecology, health and livelihood.

The government has recognised the need to provide incentives for outreach activities with necessary budgetary support. It has been proposed to give credit to knowledge workers/scientists for individual SSR activities in their annual performance appraisal and evaluation. Thus, with the focus of government, it will encourage science and technology (S&T) institutions and individual scientists in the country to proactively engage in science outreach activities to connect science with the society. 

Q. “Upper House of the Indian Parliament has lost its relevance in contemporary times”. Comment.

Model Answer

India adopted federal form of governance where the states are represented through the Upper House. Except Money Bills, Upper House plays an important role in the law making process in the country. It also plays the role of counsel to states; however, some experts are of the view that this House should be abolished as it is not serving any utilitarian purpose in contemporary times.

Their arguments are:

  1. In the era of coalition politics, Lok Sabha looks a lot like the Rajya Sabha that was perceived at the time of Independence. The fear of states not having enough representation in Parliament is not true anymore. With our polity becoming increasingly fragmented, regions and states are well represented in the Lower House by various parties that have no national interests but narrow regional agendas. The federal structure of India is sound and regional interests are adequately represented in the Lower House, thus rendering the Upper House redundant.
  2. Voting pattern in Rajya Sabha is not on the basis of interests of the states but on the contrary it happens to be on the party line; It has become a platform for parties to further their political agenda than to debate and improve legislation. Important legislations that are passed in the Lok Sabha are scuttled in Rajya Sabha for political reasons.
  3. Rajya Sabha lacks the numbers vis-a-vis Lok Sabha and in a Joint sitting will of the Lower House prevails.
  4. In the case of Money Bill, it is the Lower House which has supremacy over Rajya Sabha and final approval whether a bill is Money Bill or not is a prerogative of the speaker. Upper House has no say in it.
  5. Second chamber is essentially undemocratic as it can override the opinion of a directly elected House. GST bill despite having support of Lower House is incessantly delayed by Upper House.

However above points in no way strengthen the argument for its dissolution. Although some lacunas are there in its functioning but imminent need for reforming and restructuring the Institution and not its abolition.

Some points which prove the worth of this house are:

  1. Upper House provides for detailed scrutiny of bills which may have been rushed through in haste due to political compulsions by the elected members and also acts as a check on such actions.
  2. Second chamber introduces an element of sobriety and second thought. As a revising Chamber also, the Rajya Sabha has revised a number of Bills passed by Lok Sabha. Among some of the important Bills revised are the Income Tax (Amendment) Bill, 1961 and the National Honor Bill, 1971 wherein some substantial amendments suggested by the Rajya Sabha were accepted by the Lok Sabha.
  3. This House brings forth the views of the states and serves as a platform to deliberate concerns of the states. This House is necessary to move in the direction of cooperative federalism.

As Dr. B. R. Ambedkar said “Men are mortal. So are ideas. An idea needs propagation as much as a plant needs watering. Otherwise both will wither and die”. There is need to bring changes in the functioning of House. 

Q. Civil Servant occupy important position in the government in terms of dealing with large amount of public funds and their decisions have wide repercussions. Thus there is a need for creating ethical competent Civil Servants. In this light, suggest ways to promote ethical competence among Civil Servants.

Structure of the answer:

  • Introduction
  • Justifying the statement
  • Steps to improve ethical competence among civil servant
  • Conclusion

Model Answer

With great power comes great responsibility. Civil servants have to ensure proper utilisation, appropriation and allocation of funds. The decisions undertaken by the Civil Servant impact large number of individuals and society as a whole. Moreover, it also has an impact on surrounding environment if values of trusteeship and stewardship are ignored. For ex.- decision to give permission to polluting industry by largely ignoring Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) report.

Thus, considering large impact of their action, it is necessary to lay a strong foundation of ethical values amongst Civil Servants. Some of the suggested ways to improve ethical competence are as follows:

  • Civil Servant needs to take pride in integrity/ procedural integrity. This will help in valuing taxpayer’s hard earned money and ensure proper utilisation of funds.
  • There is need to create a sense of responsibility amongst Civil Servant, wherein they understand that power is not a privilege and need to keep away from usurpation of power.
  • There is also a need to promote values learned from the lives of great leaders like Mahatma Gandhi, Mother Teresa
  • Civil Servant also needs to follow the principle of sustainable development and trusteeship so as to help India achieve ‘common future’ or ‘sustainable future’ targets.
  • The techniques of attitude and behavioural change like cognitive appeal, emotional appeal needs to be adopted.
  • Further, serving Civil Servant need to advised to practice code of ethics and code of conduct.

Thus, adopting the above methods in letter and spirit will ensure creating a strong foundation of ethically competent Civil Servant, which is a condition precedent for achieving $5 trillion economy status. 

Q. Describe briefly the features of bronze sculpture art that reached its zenith during the Chola era.

Approach:

  • Introduce the Chola bronze art – why it is considered as the high stage of development
  • Divide the answer into subparts – patronage, religious purpose, technology, and iconography
  • Also mention various examples to substantiate the points
  • Within the subparts, try to trace the chronological development.

Model Answer

The Chola period is well known for the aesthetic and technical finesse of its metal sculpture. Although the tradition started in ancient past, it reached a high stage of development in South India during the Chola period when some of the most beautiful and exquisite statues were produced. The distinguished patron during the tenth century was the widowed Chola queen, Sembiyan Maha Devi.

 The Purpose:

The images were clothed and ornamented and formed part of temple rituals and ceremonials. Many of the southern images were carried about in processions. Many Shiva temples of South India have a separate natana-sabha, where the image of Nataraja is placed. This can be seen in the temple at Chidambaram.

 The Technique:

Indian sculptors had mastered the bronze medium and the casting process quite early. The ‘lost-wax’ process for casting was learnt during the Harappan Culture. This technique and art of bronze images was skillfully practised in the urban centres of South India like Kumbakonam.

 The early Pallava bronze representations of Nataraja are metal translations of wooden images. Later, in the Chola period, craftspeople recognized the greater tensile strength of metal in comparison with wood. Unlike the northern images that were made out of an alloy of eight metals (gold, silver, tin, lead, iron, mercury, zinc, and copper) while the southern ones are made of an alloy of five metals (copper, silver, gold, tin, and lead) and were solid, not hollow.

 Themes and Iconography:

The sculptors largely confined to the iconographic conventions established by long tradition and yet exercised their imagination and worked with greater freedom during the eleventh and the twelfth centuries. As a result, the bronzes images of this era show classic grace, grandeur and taste. It also absorbed some folk iconographic elements into the mainstream religious or court art (eg images of Andal)

The well-known dancing figure of Shiva as Nataraja was evolved and fully developed during the Chola period and since then many variations of this complex bronze image have been modelled. It is primarily depicted as performing angry tandava or blissful tandava. There are differences in the expression, ornamentation, the number of arms, and in the attendant figures. A wide range of Shiva iconography was evolved in the Thanjavur region of Tamil Nadu (eg. Kalyanasundara, Panigraha, Ardhinarishwar, Bhikshatana etc). Other themes include Krishna and the Alvar and Nayanmar saints. There are a few Buddhist images as well.

Later on, during the post-Chola era, there was increasing ornamentation and elaboration of bronze art that continued the iconographic features of the Chola period but became more and more baroque.

Q. The large-scale occurrence of floods is a result of multitude of factors. In this background discuss the causes of floods and steps to minimise the vulnerability to floods.

Structure of the answer:

  • Introduction
  • Causes of floods
  • Steps to mitigate vulnerability
  • Conclusion

Model Answer

Flood is a state of higher water level along a river channel or on coast leading to inundation of land that is not normally submerge. In India, 40 million hectares out of a geographical area of 3290 lakh hectares is prone to floods. Moreover, every year, 1600 lives are lost and the damage caused to crops, houses and public utilities is Rs. 1800 crores due to floods.

The main causes for floods are as follows:

The rivers bring heavy sediment load from catchments. These, coupled with inadequate carrying capacity of rivers are responsible for causing floods.

  • Some of the general causes are drainage congestion, erosion of river-banks, silting in deltaic areas
  • Moreover, about 75% of the annual rainfall in India is concentrated in 3-4 months of the monsoon season. As a result, there is very heavy discharge from rivers during the period causing widespread floods.
  • Further, cyclones, cloud bursts, storm surge cause flash floods and lead to huge loss of life and property.
  • Lastly, in urban areas the urban flooding is caused by increasing incidence of heavy rainfall in a short period of time, indiscriminate encroachment of waterways, inadequate capacity of drains and lack of maintenance of the drainage infrastructure. For ex.- Chennai floods.

Steps to mitigate flood vulnerability are as follows:

  • There is a need for identification and marking of flood prone areas and preparation of close contour and flood vulnerability maps.
  • Further, this must be followed by implementation of the schemes for expansion and modernisation of the flood forecasting and warning network, execution of flood protection and drainage improvement schemes
  • The focus must also be on development of hard management techniques like dams, embankments or artificial levees
  • Further, flood walls/ River defences/ Coastal defences can be built around settlements to protect them from floods.
  • Lastly, the focus must also be on afforestation, proper land use management

Thus, the causes of the floods being natural and man made requires, thus to control and mitigate the same requires interdisciplinary approach. 

Q. What was the immediate trigger of the World War-I? What were the reasons for the breakout of the war? Comment

Model Answer

World War-I has its roots in the assassination of a prince. On 28 June 1914, Archduke Francis Ferdinand, the heir to the throne of Austria-Hungary was assassinated by a Serbian terrorist at Sarajevo, the capital of Bosnia. Austria saw the hands of Serbia behind this and served Serbia an ultimatum. Serbia refused to accept one of the demands of ultimatum. Hence, on 28 July 1914, Austria declared war on Serbia.  Then, Germany declared war on Russia and France. Britain declared war on Germany. Japan declared war on Germany with a view to capture its colonies in the Far East. Turkey and Bulgaria joined on the side of Germany. Italy initially remained neutral and later joined the war against Germany in 1915.

There are various reasons for the breakout of the war:

  1. Imperialist Rivalries: The scramble for colonies led to emergence of conflict between imperialist powers. By the last decade of 19th century almost all areas were under imperialist control and further conquest could only happen by dispossessing some other country. Rivalries resulted in attempts to re-divide the world creating conditions of war.
  2. Progress of the latecomer Germany: Germany made massive progress after its unification in 1870. It became leading producer of iron, steel and coal and left behind France and Britain. It entered shipping trade as well and possessed Imperator, the largest ship in the world. Since Germany was a late comer it could not grab as much colony as it desired.
  3. Clash of interests: Both Italy and Austria had their ambitions in the Ottoman Empire. Japan fought with Russia for extending its territorial possessions in the Far East. There was an intense naval rivalry between Germany and Britain as Britain defended its large territory. Germans accused Britain, Russia and France of trying to ‘encircle’ it.
  4. Serbian Nationalism: Serbia had the ambition of uniting all Slavs many of whom lived in Austria – Hungarian empire, which consisted of people from different nationalities (Slovaks, Czechs, Italian, etc.). Therefore, even Austria wanted to destroy Serbia.
  5. Alliance Formation: Opposing groups were formed and vast sums of money were spent to increase size of army and navy and develop deadly weapons. Europe became a vast armed camp. Propaganda for war and projecting own country as superior to other started.
  6. a) Triple Alliance (1882) – Germany, Austria-Hungary and Italy.
  7. b) Triple Entente or Understanding (1907) – France, Britain and Russia. Loose group based on mutual understanding.

The First World War was the most frightful war the world had seen so far in terms of devastation it caused, the number of people who fought it, the famines and the social problems it created. Instead of destroying imperialism, it helped the victorious powers in enlarging their possessions.  

Q. The Citizen’s Charter is an ideal instrument of organisational transparency and accountability. Identify the importance and components of Citizen’s Charter. Tracing out its limitations, suggest measures for its greater effectiveness.

Approach:

  • Start introduction mentioning the challenges in public service delivery.
  • Define Citizen’s Charter stating its importance and it components.
  • Discuss the limitation in implementation of Citizen’s Charter.
  • Discuss the measures to ensure its effective implementation.

Model Answer

The public service delivery of India faced a problem of bureaucratic corruption and delays. The government functioned in a very opaque and unaccountable manner. There existed a problem of information asymmetry between the government department and the consumers. There was an absence of grievance redress mechanism with in government framework.

Keeping this in concern, Citizen’s Charters were introduced in India in the 1990s. Department of Administrative Reforms and Public Grievances (DARPG) defines Citizen’s Charter as a document which represents a systematic effort to focus on the commitment of the Organisation towards its Citizens in respect of Standard of Services, Information, Choice and Consultation, Accessibility and Grievance Redress.

Citizen’s Charter aims at:

  • Making administration transparent and accountable
  • Bringing time bound delivery of services
  • Promoting awareness among the consumers about the quality of service to be delivered.
  • Promoting citizens friendly administration
  • To improve the experiences of customers by improving service delivery.
  • To address the grievances of citizens through Grievance Redress Mechanism.

Citizen’s charter possess following components to achieve its aim. Its six components are:

  • Vision and Mission Statements
  • Details of business transacted by the Organisation.
  • Details of Clients
  • Details of services provided to each client group.
  • Details of grievance redress mechanisms and how to access them
  • Expectations from clients

The Institutionalisation of concept of Citizen’s charter is there in every government department in India since 1997.  However, its implementation is still in embryonic stage. Earlier, Introduction and implementation of the concept of Citizens’ Charter in the Government of India was much more complicated due to the old bureaucratic set up/procedures and the rigid attitudes of the workforce. 

 Various Limitations/ Hurdles encountered in these initiatives are:

  • Citizen’s charter was viewed as an exercise to be performed by getting direction from top. It lacks participation and consultation process. Hence, it just becomes one of the routine activities of the organisation and had no focus.
  • The concerned staff are not sufficiently trained and sensitised. The commitments of the Charter cannot be expected to be delivered by a workforce that is unaware of the spirit and content of the Charter.
  • Sometimes, transfers and reshuffles of concerned officers at the critical stages of formulation/implementation of a Citizens’ Charter in an organisation severely destabilised the strategic processes which were put in place and hampered the progress of the initiative.
  • Awareness campaign to teach the client about Charter is not conducted properly.
  • There are cases where standard or norms of the services mentioned in the Charter are either too negligent or too tight and are impractical.
  •  The notion behind the Citizens’ Charter is not accurately understood. Information brochures, publicity materials, pamphlets produced earlier by the organisations are mistaken for Citizens’ Charters.

Various effective measures that can be taken to deal with the above hurdles are:

  • The department should guard against the tendency to promise more than they can deliver. A realistic assessment of quality and standard of service delivery is needed.
  • Proper training and sensitisation programme among staff are needed. Implementing the Charters without the staff owning them will defeat the purpose of the Charter.
  • Consultation exercise is a must to ensure bottom up approach in its implementation.
  • Easy grievance redress system and time bound deliver act is needed.
  • Independent audit of results is important after a period of implementation of the Charter.

To summarise, A Citizens’ Charter denotes the promise of an organisation towards standard, quality and time frame of service delivery, grievance redressal mechanism, clearness and accountability.  

Q. To resolve the issue of unemployment, there is a need for multi-prong approach. In this light discuss the steps needed to resolve this long-standing issue and also mention the measures taken by the government in this regard.

Structure of the answer:

  • Introduction
  • Steps needed for unemployment
  • Steps taken by the government
  • Way forward

Model Answer

Unemployment is a situation where person is capable of working both physically and mentally at the existing wage rate, but does not get a job to work. As per the recent statistics unemployment rate in India rose to 7.2% in 2019.  Unemployment represent itself in various forms such as: disguised, seasonal, cyclical, frictional unemployment etc. 

To tackle the issue of unemployment following steps must be adopted:

  • There is a need for rapid industrialization so as to shift the labour forces from agriculture to manufacturing sector.
  • The curriculum at education centers should be changed to focus on learning and skill development.
  • Self-employment must be encouraged with the help of liability free loansgovernment assistance etc.
  • Incubation centers need to be promoted to cultivate original business ideas that will be financially viable.
  • Government as well as business houses should seek to invite more foreign collaboration and capital investment so as to increase avenue for employment.
  • The labour intensive manufacturing sectors such as food processing, leather and footwear need to be promoted to create employment.

Further, to increase the avenue for employment, the government has taken various steps such as:

  • Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MNREGA) to provide social security by guaranteeing a minimum of 100 days paid work.
  • Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana (PMKVY) with objective of enabling a large number of Indian youth to take up industry-relevant skill training.
  • Start Up India Scheme aims at developing an ecosystem that promotes and nurtures entrepreneurship.
  • Stand Up India Scheme/ MUDRA scheme to facilitate bank loans between Rs 10 lakh and Rs. 1 crore to at least one SC or ST borrower and at least one women borrower per bank branch for setting up a greenfield enterprise.

Thus, to tackle unemployment a strategy of multi prong approach need to be adopted so as to tap demographic dividend.  

Q. Discuss the difference between Himalayas and Peninsular drainage system. Also put forth importance of the river system in India.

Structure of the answer:

  • Introduction
  • Difference between Himalayan and Peninsular river system
  • Importance of river system in India
  • Conclusion

Model Answer

Rivers are considered as the lifelines of a country as they provide the most valuable thing for the survival i.e. water. The rivers in India can be broadly categorized into two different categories based on their origin: the Himalayan Rivers and the Peninsular Rivers.

The difference between the two is tabulated below:

Himalayan RiversPeninsular Rivers
1.      These rivers originate from the Himalayan mountain ranges.1.      These rivers originate from the peninsular plateaus.
2.      They are longer and larger than the peninsular rivers.2.      They are comparatively smaller than the Himalayan Rivers.
3.      They have larger basins and catchment areas.3.      They have smaller basins and catchment areas.
4.      The bedrocks of these rivers are soft, sedimentary and easily erodible.4.      The bedrocks of these rivers is hard and not easily erodible.
5.      They are perennial in nature.5.      They are seasonal and non-perennial.
6.      They are fed by the meltwater from glaciers/ rains.6.      They are fed only by rains.
7.      They form V-shaped valleys.7.      They form U-shaped valleys.
8.      They form meanders.8.      They may not form meanders.
9.      They form big deltas.9.      They form small rivers and estuaries.
10.   They are antecedent rivers.10.   They are consequent rivers.

In light of the aforesaid, it is also important to discuss the importance of the rivers as such:

  • Rivers are the biggest source of fresh water for drinking.
  • Rivers provide fertile soil, which is important for increasing agricultural productivity.
  • Rivers are not only important for human beings but also for animals and trees. Various aquatic animals and plants breed in rivers, which is important to maintain the balance in the food chain.
  • These are also a source of energy as help generating electricity. For ex.- Bhakra Nangal Dam.
  • Rivers also help in improving the economy by providing cheap means of transportation.

Thus, considering the importance of river system and impending climate change, it is important that steps are taken to protect rivers.

Q. The reason for malnutrition/ hunger are multidimensional. In this light, discuss the factors contributing to malnutrition and also suggest suitable measures to improve malnutrition in India.

Structure of the answer:   

  • Introduction
  • Causes of malnutrition in India
  • Measures to overcome
  • Conclusion

Model Answer

Malnutrition is a physical state that includes undernutrition (wasting, stunting, underweight), inadequate vitamins or minerals, overweight, obesity, and resulting diet-related non-communicable diseases. As per Reports 31.4% of children are malnourished.

The factors contributing to malnutrition are as follows:

  • Despite increase in food grain production access to rice, wheat and other cereals has not increased at the same rate, resulting in malnutrition.
  • Further, the relative increase in consumption of unhealthy food such as fast food, processed food, and sugary beverages has also contributed to the problem.
  • The PDS that was viewed as a critical nutritional supplement is facing the issue of poor targeting e. having 40% leakages.
  • The lack of availability of safe drinking water also hinders proper digestion and assimilation of food.
  • Poor sanitation and environmental conditions further lead to spread of diseases that stunt children’s growth.
  • Lastly, there is lack of adequate awareness about nutritional needs of infants and young children.

To above causes need to be tackled on multiple fronts by adopting following steps:

  • There is a need for systematic data collection at the district level for formulation of policy and programme.
  • An institutional mechanism in form of a Food and nutrition commission should be established, headed by the Prime Minister.
  • The fortified foods need to be incorporated into a mid-day meal, public distribution shops and anganwadi centres.
  • The humongous task also need collaboration with civil society to educate women about family planning and child nourishment.
  • The above steps need to be adopted in association with increasing awareness about exclusive breastfeeding, use of antenatal care, consumption of Iron Folic Acid

Finally, the use of technology needs to be promoted to improve the flow of information and to encourage greater policy coherence.

Six ‘freedom’ reforms to bolster job creation and employability Editorial 30th Dec’20 LiveMint

Covid highlighted the government’s will to tackle issues taking a long-term view:

  • Covid’s pain reminded us of our economy’s pre-existing issues, including inadequate formalization, financialization, urbanization, industrialization and human capital.
  • In such situations, economists and policymakers often think only of the present, with the belief that current circumstances are special, unique and unprecedented.
  • However, the Indian government has also demonstrated a policy willingness to take the long view by ignoring calls for some quick relief measures, say though unprecedented deficit financing.

Long-term thinking now needed on formal job creation and employability:

  • The next 25 years for our economy will be very different from the last 25 years for many reasons.
  • The upcoming budget has a unique opportunity to take advantage of the covid policy window by amplifying existing long-term thinking on formal job creation and employability.
  • The budget for 2021-22 must build on recent reforms like labour, agriculture and education to grant freedom to our firms and citizens to improve their productivity. 

Freedoms to firms and people for formal jobs and employability of human resources:

  • Despite the covid-induced shortfall in taxes, some non-fiscal reforms that can give freedoms to firms and people for formal job creation and employability.
  • Freedom to employees to spend to invest where they want:
    • The current cycle of enterprise formalization could be accelerated by making employee contributions to their provident fund (EPF) voluntary.
    • This money belongs to employees who should have the freedom to invest it.
  • Freedom to employees to get the insurance they want:
    • India’s largest health insurance programme, Employees’ State Insurance (ESI), has not been helpful during the Covid pandemic because its governance is too large, old and unrepresentative.
    • The budget should announce the modernization of ESI governance.
    • It should also set a deadline after there is freedom to employees from compulsory health insurance contribution deductions from their salary, to allow them to get any insurance they want.
  • Freedom to universities to provide online education:
    • Online degree-linked apprentices are the future of education because they innovate in financing, social signalling, and employer connectivity. Despite the Atmanirbhar Bharat announcement to deregulate online education, only seven of India’s 1,000 universities are licensed for online learning.
    • This, despite the fact that over 200 foreign universities operate online in India, which should be allowed to continue. 
    • The budget must announce that all accredited universities are automatically and immediately licensed for online delivery because covid is reinventing higher education.
  • Freedom to universities for skilling and diplomas/degrees:
    • Skill universities, which are essentially a combination of Industrial Training Institute (ITI), employment exchange and college, are held back by old regulations. 
    • The budget must announce regulations that give unqualified freedom to universities to deliver via four classrooms (online, onsite, on-the-job and on-campus) with various qualifications like certificates, diplomas, advanced diplomas and degrees.
  • Freedom from too many labour codes:
    • India’s four new labour codes will soon be notified and increase manufacturing employment.
    • The budget should announce a three-year time- frame to move to a single labour code.
  • Freedom from over-regulation:
    • India’s huge regulatory system involves 65,000-plus compliance requirements and 6,500-plus filings, and the issue of a Universal Enterprise Number.
    • The budget must announce a cross-ministry compliance commission tasked with the rationalization, digitization and decriminalization of regulations, and provide firms freedom from excessive regulation.

The next budget must give freedom to firms and people put India on the path to prosperity:

  • The 2021-22 Budget coincides with the 30th anniversary of the 1991 reforms.
  • Despite the reforms being much praised, it is important to remember that China and India had similar per capita incomes in 1991 but now the Chinese are four times richer than us.
  • Now, the 2021-22 budget provides another crisis induced opportunity to accelerate the rise of India with long-term thinking around enterprise freedom, and to end poverty.  

Importance:

GS Paper III: Economy

In Focus: Provisions to summon a session of the Assembly

Governor’s role in calling an Assembly session: what the law, courts say

Context:

  • The Kerala Governor recently refused to accept the Kerala Cabinet’s request to summon (call) a special sitting of the Assembly to debate the new three central farm laws.
  • This provides the context to study about the provisions related to the Governor’s powers to summon an assembly.

In Focus: Provisions to summon a session of the Assembly

  • There are two provisions in the Constitution that deal with a governor’s power to summon an assembly.
  • Under Article 174, a Governor shall summon the House or each House of the Legislature of the State at a time and place, as he or she thinks fit.
    • The provision also puts the responsibility on the Governor to ensure that the House is summoned at least once every six months.

  • However, according to Article 163, the Governor is required to act on the aid and advice of the council of ministers, with the chief minister at its head.
    • So, when the Governor summons the House under Article 174, it is not based on his will but on the aid and advice of the council of ministers.

Power to refuse the advice of the Cabinet:

  • There are a few instances where the Governor can summon the House even if it is refused by the Chief Minister, who is the head of the council of ministers.
  • If the Chief Minister seems to have lost the majority in the House and the legislative members of the House propose a no-confidence motion against the Chief Minister, then the Governor can decide to summon the house on his/her own.
    • no-confidence motion is an attempt, usually by an opposition party, to ask the government to prove its majority in the House.

  • However, the actions of the Governor using this discretionary power can be challenged in court.

Court’s rulings on the issue

  • A number of rulings by the Supreme Court have clarified that the Governor cannot refuse the request of the council of ministers that has a majority in the House, unless the request is unconstitutional.
  • The latest SC ruling on the issue came in 2016, in which the Supreme Court looked into the constitutional crisis in Arunachal Pradesh after the Governor had imposed President’s Rule in the state.
  • The SC clearly stated that a Governor can summon, prorogue and dissolve the House, only on the aid and advice of the council of ministers, with the chief minister heading it.
    • Prorogation of the House, leads to an end of the session of the House. Unlike, the prorogation, dissolving the House ends the life of the existing House and a new House is constituted after the elections are held.

  • The SC held that summoning the House is a ‘function’ of the Governor and not a ‘power’ of the Governor.

Sarkaria Commission’s interpretation

  • The Sarkaria Commission of 1983, which reviewed the arrangements between the Centre and the states, had a similar view on the issue.
  • It said that, for summoning the House, the advice of the council of ministers is binding on the Governor.
  • It further held that the Governor can summon the house on his/her own, only if the council of ministers has lost its majority in the house or accepting the request would lead to a violation of a constitutional provision.

Way Ahead in Kerala

  • Kerala’s Cabinet is planning to approach the Governor again with the request to summon the House.
  • If the Governor refuses again, his decision can also be challenged in court.

 Polity & Governance

Q. The Britishers formed Indian National Congress (INC) to act as a safety valve. However, the Indians used the forum as a lightning conductor much to the whammy of Britishers. In this light the purpose behind formation of INC and the intention of Indians in respect of the same.

Structure of the answer:

  • Introduction
  • Safety valve theory/ Britisher’s intention on formation of INC
  • Use of INC by Indians for propagating nationalist interest
  • Conclusion

Model Answer

There is wide spread belief that reason behind the formation of INC was safety valve theory i.e. Britishers wanted to pacify the raising discontent among Indian masses through INC. The discontent among Indians was due to issues like passing of Vernacular Press act, Illbert bill controversy (1883), general discrimination etc.

In this background the INC was formed by retired British Civil Servant A.O. Hume and some of the reasons put forth for formation of INC are as follows:

  • C Banerjee says that INC was to gauge the extent of discontent among the Indians masses so as to take pre-emptive steps against large scale flare up.
  • Further, the Britishers did not want another face off with the Indians like Revolt of 1857. So, they gave the Indians a tool with which they can vent their frustration.
  • The Britishers also wanted to remain informed of the pulse of the masses.
  • Moreover, the Britishers knowingly allowed formation of INC so that Indian Intelligentsia would be busy inside INC rather than politically instigating mass.

However, the above justification appears to be a half truth after considering the following propositions:

  • Formation of INC was not a sudden incident as since 1860s many regional associations were active in India. For ex.- Poona Sarvajanik Sabha, Bombay Presidency Association
  • Leaders like Dadabhai Naoroji, Pherojshah Mehta wanted an all India political body to give a proper shape to the movement and to mobilize the whole country against oppressive rule of British.
  • Further, Indians formed this platform with help of Britishers to prevent any suppression as happened in 1857. Thus, wanted to use Hume as a lightning conductor for the same.

Thus, once INC was formed, the reason for its formation did not matter much as INC evolved over a period of time and helped India to get much needed freedom.

Q. Discuss the difference between the code of ethics and the code of conduct.

Approach:

  • Briefly discuss about the code of ethics and the code of conduct.
  • Differentiate between the given terms.
  • Substantiate your answer with relevant examples.

Model Answer

Code of ethics and code of conduct specify the ethical standards that a group (e.g., staff or a professional group) should follow in order to continue as a member of the group. They are generally formally stated and members are required to accept them as part of their membership of the group while accepting employment/membership.  It is generally adopted by organizations to assist members in developing an understanding of right and wrong. Thus, the Code is built on three levels namely:

  • Values and ethical standards 
  • Principles based on these values and ethics (Code of Ethics) 
  • Code of Behaviour which is based on professional ethics (Code of Conduct)

Difference between the code of ethics and the code of conduct:

Code of ethics: 

  • Code of Ethics refers to a set of guidelines to bring about acceptable behaviours in members of a particular group, association or profession. 
  • It is essential to build professional standards by ensuring ethical practices are followed. It boosts confidence in the organization in the public eye. 
  • The Code stands for fundamental values and principles of public service. It sets out general principles that guide behaviour. 
  • The codes focus on broader issues and are often framed as a belief statement regarding the organization’s mission, its values and expectations for its members. 
  • These codes are idealistic, non-punishable, general and implicit. Eg. Helping the needy, respecting co-workers, avoiding conflict of interest etc.

Code of conduct: 

  • It refers to a framework for public officials for carrying out their duties. 
  • It serves as a tool for public officials in making right decisions especially in cases when they are tempted or confused in keeping the public interest. 
  • These are designed to prevent certain types of behaviours like conflict of interest, self-dealing, bribery and inappropriate actions. It is essential to protect the employees and the reputation of the organization.
  • It sets out specific rules designed to outline specific practices and behaviours that are to be encouraged or prohibited under an organization. 
  • The codes lay out guidelines and procedures to be used to determine whether violations of the code have occurred and delineate consequences for such violations. 
  • These are in form of Dos and Don’ts for all employees of the organization and are usually supplemented with a Code of Ethics. 
  • These codes are specific, and explicit and often amount to punishment upon violation. Eg. Model Code of Conduct by Election Commission, not divulging internal company matters to the media, following the orders of seniors etc.
  • The Code can have a legislative or administrative basis and are in line with constitutional conventions. It is thus regularly updated. 

Thus, although both the Codes are different from each other, yet they are important for a public servant. The Codes make sure that the public official should uphold public interest over any personal motive or interest. 

Q. What do you mean by climate forcing? Explain the factors that causes the Earth’s climate to change.

Approach:

  • Explain the meaning of climate forcing  and related phenomenon with relevant examples.
  • Discuss various natural and anthropogenic causes of climate change.
  • Conclude the answer, as per the context.

Model Answer

Any external factor that originates from outside the climate system and can become a cause of climate change is called Climate Forcing. These factors are specifically known as forcings because they drive the climate to change. There are natural forcings and man-made forcings. For examples:

  • Surface reflectivity (Albedo).
  • Human-caused, or anthropogenic climate  forcing include emissions of heat-trapping gases (also known as greenhouse gases) and changes in land use that make land reflect more or less sunlight energy. 
  • Atmospheric aerosols due to human activity or volcanic eruption etc. that put light-reflecting particles into the upper atmosphere.

The peculiar feature of all climate forcing is that they influence the balance of the energy entering and leaving the Earth system i.e, the amount of energy we receive from the sun, and the amount of energy we radiate back into space.  Climate change refers to the change of climate that alters the composition of the global atmosphere. It is usually measured in major shifts in temperature, rainfall, snow, and wind patterns lasting decades or more.

The causes of climate change can be classified into two types; natural and anthropogenic.

Natural causes:

  • Solar Irradiance: The change in energy output of the sun brings changes in climate. Solar output varies according to the 11 year solar cycle.
  • Volcanic Eruptions: When volcanoes erupt, thousands of tons of sulfur dioxide is released into the atmosphere which cause cooling and warming of the earth respectively.
  • Plate tectonics: Tectonic plates rearrange the topography of the earth which  brings changes in the circulation of oceans and subsequently changes the patterns of the global climate.  
  • Variations in the Earth’s Orbit: Variations in the orbit of the planet bring changes in seasonal and geographical distribution of the light from the sun that affects the global climate.

Anthropogenic causes:

  • Emission of Greenhouse Gases: Release of greenhouse gases like Carbon dioxide is one of the main reasons for climate change.  For example, human activities such as deforestation, burning of fossil fuels, surface mining, agriculture, emissions from industries etc. are also releasing other greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.
  • Land Use Change: Climate change is also assisted by changes in land use and land cover that are caused because of human activities such as agriculture.

Many of these factors are interrelated, and atmospheric, ocean and land interactions can involve complex feedback mechanisms can either enhance or dampen changes to the climate system.

Q. Discuss the relevance of the Legislative Councils in the States in the backdrop of recent demand of certain states to create the second house?

Approach:

  • Briefly write about the constitutional process of formation of Legislative Council.
  • Discuss both the arguments: favour and against the existence of Legislative council.
  • Write the final conclusion mentioning what should be the way forward.

Model Answer

Legislative councils of state are created under Article 169 of the Constitution. Parliament may by law create or abolish the second chamber in a state if the Legislative Assembly of that state passes a resolution to that effect by a special majority.

There is enormous debate on the relevance of Legislative councils in the States. In the recent times, Odisha government is planning to create legislative council or upper house.

Arguments in support of Legislative Councils in the States:

  • It provides a forum for academicians and intellectuals, who are arguably not suited for the rough and tumble of electoral politics.
  • It provides a mechanism for a soberer and more considered appraisal of legislation that a State may pass.
  • It acts as a check on hasty actions by the popularly elected House.

Arguments against Legislative Councils in the States:

  • Rather than fulfilling the lofty objective of getting intellectuals into the legislature, the forum is likely to be used to accommodate party functionaries who fail to get elected.
  • Today, legislatures draw their talent both from the grassroots level and the higher echelons of learning. There are enough numbers of doctors, teachers and other professionals in most political parties today.
  • If there was any real benefit in having a Legislative Council, all States in the country should, and arguably would have a second chamber. The fact that there are only seven such Councils suggests the lack of any real advantage.
  • It is also an unnecessary drain on the exchequer.

Looking into both the sides of the arguments, there is a need of a National Policy on having Upper House in State Legislatures. Odisha’s proposal may give the country at large an opportunity to evolve a national consensus on Legislative Councils.

There is a need for wide range of debates and public and intellectual opinion to have an Upper House in all state legislatures. Legislative councils should be strengthen so that it can play its effective role in formulating the policies and programmes for the development of states.

Q. The suburbanisation occurring at a relatively early stage of India’s urban development is creating new challenges for Indian cities. Enumerate the reasons and suggest remedies.

Approach:

  • Brief introduction about suburbanisation phenomenon in most urbanising countries.
  • Enumerating the reasons why it is occurring at a relatively early stage of India’s urban development.
  • Highlight the challenges it is creating for Indian cities and suggest ways forward.

Model Answer

A 2013 World Bank report, “Urbanization beyond Municipal Boundaries”, found that suburban areas (or Suburbs) are generating higher economic growth and employment than the city. Although “suburbanization” is a worldwide phenomenon, it usually occurs in middle to advanced stages of development. In India, it’s happening much more quickly in India than expected.

Reasons:

  • Inadequacy of cities to provide affordable and quality options has resulted in suburbanization. 
  • Suburbs are seen as safer and cheaper place to live and raise a family due to lower population density, lower crime, and a more stable population.
  • Increasing land prices and office rents have pushed companies to suburban areas.
  • With increased incomes, people have the ability to pay more to travel and commute longer distances to work and back home.
  • Indian cities impose quite draconian land use regulations, rent control system and building height restrictions on their cities lead to excessive suburbanization.
  • Suburban municipalities can offer tax breaks and regulatory incentives to attract
  • industrial land users to their area.
  • The development of robust and sophisticated infrastructure is possible only in the peripheries of the city where land is available in plenty and the cost of acquisition is low.
  • Growth of urban agglomerations poses many economic, ecological and institutional
  • challenges which are as follows:
  • Access to – and the quality of – water, sanitation, and electricity is much worse in the urban periphery than at the core.
  • Access to quality and affordable health and education services.
  • With commercialization of agricultural land and encroachment on forest , the areas ecosystem of the region is threatened.  
  • Unplanned urbanisation and uncontrolled encroachment of natural water storage and drainage systems has spelt disaster.
  • Proponents of containing suburbanization argue that it leads to urban decay and a concentration of lower income residents in the inner city.

Solution to the woes of our cities requires a holistic approach to urban reform.

  • Steps are required to address the lacunae in the current rural-urban categorization system.
  • Provide efficient services and reform governance structures to boost overall economic development.
  • India requires robust institutional mechanism to govern land use conversion and land valuation.
  • The efforts to leverage the potential of land markets as a financing tool needs to be complemented by an integrated urban planning process.
  • Indian cities also need to improve connectivity between metropolitan cores and peripheries to ensure ease of mobility for individuals and business.

Third and fifth five year plans advised urban planning to adopt regional approach and to create metropolitan planning regions to take care of the growing areas outside administrative city limits. We need to improve existing urban amenities while simultaneously addressing the problems of suburban sprawl. 

 Note on Solar storm

Headline : Note on Solar storm

Details :

Magnetic fields
  • The surface of the Sun is a very busy place.
  • It has electrically charged gases that generate areas of powerful magnetic forces.
  • These areas are called magnetic fields .
Solar activity
  • The Sun’s gases are constantly moving, which tangles, stretches and twists the magnetic fields.
  • This motion creates a lot of activity on the Sun’s surface, called  solar activity.
  • Sometimes the Sun’s surface is very active.
  • Other times, things are a bit quieter.
  • The amount of solar activity changes with the stages in the solar cycle .
  • Solar activity can have effects on Earth, so scientists closely monitor solar activity every day.
  • Few forms of solar activities are:
    • Solar flares
    • Coronal mass ejections
    • High-speed solar wind
    • Solar energetic particles
  • All these solar activities are driven by the solar magnetic field.
Sunspots
  • Sunspots are areas that appear dark on the surface of the Sun.
  • These appear dark because they are cooler than other parts of the Sun’s surface.
  • The temperature of a sunspot is still very hot  that is around 6,500 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Sunspots are relatively cooler because these form at areas where magnetic fields are particularly strong.
  • These magnetic fields are so strong that they keep some of the heat within the Sun from reaching the surface.
Solar Flares
  • These were first known to be occurring in 1859.
  • The magnetic field lines near sunspots often tangle, cross, and reorganize.
  • This can cause a sudden explosion of energy called a  solar flare.
  • More sunspots lead to more frequently occurring solar flares.
  • Solar flares release a lot of radiation into space.
  • Flares are the largest explosive events of our solar system.
  • These are seen as bright areas on the sun and these can last from minutes to hours.
  • Solar flare is seen by the photons (or light) it releases, at almost every wavelength of the spectrum.
  • Flares are also sites where particles (electrons, protons, and heavier particles) are accelerated.
  • Solar flares are sometimes accompanied by a coronal  mass ejection (CME).
  • CMEs are huge bubbles of radiation and particles from the Sun.
  • These explode into space at very high speed when the Sun’s magnetic field lines suddenly reorganize.
Detection
  • Solar flares cannot typically be detected by the naked eye from the surface of the earth.
  • The primary ways to monitor flares are by x-rays and optical light.
Classification
  • Solar flare activity can vary from several per day to only a few a month, depending mostly upon the overall activity of the Sun as a whole.
  • Solar flares are typically classified as A, B, C, M or X depending upon the degree of their peak flux.
Effects of solar flares
  • Solar flares impact the Earth only when these occur on the side of the sun facing the Earth.
  • Because flares are made of photons, these travel out directly from the flare site, so if we can see the flare, we can be impacted by it.
  • When charged particles from a CME reach areas near the Earth, these can trigger intense lights in the sky, called auroras.
  • Radiations released from the solar flare can:
    • Interfere with radio communications on the Earth
    • Disrupt power utility grids, which at their worst can cause electricity shortages and power outages
    • Knockout satellites
    • Effect spark stunning displays of the Northern Lights
Sun
  • The Sun is a magnetic variable star at the center of our solar system that drives the space environment of the planets, including the Earth.
  • The distance of the Sun from the Earth is approximately 93 million miles.
  • At this distance, light travels from the Sun to the Earth in about 8 minutes and 19 seconds.
  • The Sun has a diameter of about 865,000 miles, about 109 times that of Earth.
  • Its mass is about 330,000 times that of Earth and accounts for about 99.86% of the total mass of the Solar System.
  • About three quarters of the Sun’s mass consists of hydrogen, while the rest is mostly helium.
  • Less than 2% consists of heavier elements, including oxygen, carbon, neon, iron, and others.
  • The Sun is neither a solid nor a gas but is actually plasma.
  • This plasma is tenuous and gaseous near the surface, but gets denser down towards the Sun’s fusion core.
Layers of Sun
  • It can be divided into six layers.
  • From the center out, the layers of the Sun are as follows:
    • The solar interior composed of the core (which occupies the innermost quarter or so of the Sun’s radius)
    • Radiative zone
    • Convective zone
    • Photosphere (visible surface)
    • Chromosphere
    • Corona (outermost layer)
  • The energy produced through fusion in the Sun’s core powers the Sun and produces all of the heat and light that we receive here on the Earth.
  • The Sun, like most stars, is a main sequence star and thus generates its energy by nuclear fusion of hydrogen nuclei into helium.
  • In its core, the Sun fuses 430–600 million tons of hydrogen each second.
  • The Sun’s hot corona continuously expands in space creating the solar wind, a stream of charged particles that extends to the heliopause at roughly 100 astronomical units.
  • The bubble in the interstellar medium formed by the solar wind, the heliosphere, is the largest continuous structure in the Solar System.
Section : Science & Tech

About: Advanced Towed Artillery Gun System (ATAGS), Advanced features of ATAGS:

Army to test indigenous artillery system with 48-km strike range

In News:

  • The Army will soon begin testing an indigenously-developed artillery system (ATAGS) with 48-km strike range.

About: Advanced Towed Artillery Gun System (ATAGS)

  • Built by DRDO and partners, India’s ATAGS is a 155 mm/52 calibre towed howitzer artillery gun.
    • Artillery is a class of heavy military ranged weapons (like modern day canons) built to launch munitions far beyond the range and power of normal firearms.
  • The new version has a 48-km strike range, higher than the 35-40 km range of other artillery gun systems in this category.
  • Range tests of this ATAGS system have been going on from 2017.

Development of indigenous ATAGS:

  • The development of ATAGS was started in 2013 as a part of artillery modernisation programme for Indian Army.
  • It is being jointly developed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and the private sector.
  • The DRDO’s Armament Research and Development Establishment (ARDE) has partnered with Kalyani Group, Tata Power and Ordnance Factory Board etc for the development of ATAGS.

Advanced features of ATAGS:

  • It is configured with all-electric drive for the first time in the world to ensure maintenance free and reliable operation over a longer period of time.
  • It has advanced features like high mobility, advanced communication system, automatic command and control system with night firing capability in direct fire mode etc.
  • It has a five round magazine, compared to the standard three round magazines in similar foreign systems.

Background:

  • The Indian Army has not inducted any new artillery gun since the Bofors (155 mm howitzer) in the 1980s.
  • The Army has an estimated requirement is of about 1,800 artillery guns, including the regular and advanced systems.
  • It has also been inducting some 155 mm Dhanush artillery guns (an indigenously upgraded variant of the Bofors gun).
  • It has also been inducting some new artillery guns and equipment, including K9 Vajra (South Korean and Indian companies’ collaboration) and M777 howitzers (from the US).
  • It is also in the final stages to procure 400 Athos towed gun systems for Rs 5,147 crore from Israeli firm Elbit Systems.
  • While India has range-tested the ATAGS, the user-trials got delayed after the barrel of one of the guns burst (due to defective ammunition as per DRDO) during test-firing at the Pokhran field firing range in Rajasthan.

News Summary:

  • The Army will soon begin testing an indigenously-developed ATAGS artillery system.
  • It will first undergo “winter user trials” by the Army in Sikkim in January-February.
  • That will be followed by the “mobility trials” and then the “summer trials” in May-June.

Way ahead:

  • DRDO claims that this system is the best in its class in the world with a record-breaking strike range of 48 km.
  • If the big gun successfully passes the army trials, DRDO says this advanced system can fulfil the Army’s full requirement of 1500-1800 artillery guns.
  • In such a scenario, the Army will not need to import such guns from Israel or other countries.

 Defence & Security

About: Antitrust laws, Laws drafted by European Union

Explained: Targeting Big Tech in US, EU

In News

  • Recently, the European Union (EU) has issued two draft digital-services laws that could increase scrutiny (inspection) over big technology (Big Tech) companies.
  • The UK regulator, Competition and Markets Authority has also announced its own plans to put limits on major technology companies.
  • Around the same time in the United States, the federal government has initiated antitrust cases against Google and Facebook, and a large number of US states have collectively launched action on the two companies for a range of alleged violations.
  • The efforts from regulators in various countries is now seen as a significant change in the policy governing the technology sector.

About: Antitrust laws

  • Antitrust laws also referred to as competition laws, are laws developed by governments to protect consumers from unjust business practices and to ensure fair competition.
  • Antitrust laws are applied to a wide range of questionable business activities, including market allocation, bid rigging, price fixing, and monopolies.
  • The goal of these laws is to provide an equal business environment to similar businesses that operate in a specific industry, while preventing them from gaining too much power over their competition.
  • If these laws didn’t exist, consumers would not benefit from different options or competition in the marketplace. Furthermore, consumers would be forced to pay higher prices.

About: Laws drafted by European Union

  • The two laws drafted by European Union are — the Digital Services Act, and the Digital Markets Act.

Digital Services Act:

  • The Digital Services Act aims to create a single set of rules for the EU to keep users safe online, protect their freedom of expression, and increase the accountability of technology companies.
  • An innovative idea is to introduce measures under which the larger and more influential technology companies will have to take up more responsibility.
  • They could also face annual scrutiny of their dealings with illegal and harmful content under new rules of the European Commission, the EU’s top policy making body.
  • There will be fresh restrictions to prevent the firms from promoting their own services above competitors’ services in search results and app stores.
  • In case of non-compliance, there will be large fines up to 6 percent of a company’s annual turnover. This fine, if levied (imposed) on Facebook, would amount to over $3 billion.
  • Further, repeat offenders may have to divest (sell) certain businesses, if there is no other equally effective alternative measure available to ensure compliance.

Digital Markets Act:

  • The Digital Markets Act, focuses on the regulation of “gatekeepers”, which includes the operators of search engines, social networks, chat apps, cloud computing services, and operating systems.
  • This could cover Google, Facebook, Apple, Amazon and Microsoft.

Developments in the US

  • Recently, Texas and nine other states in the US have taken legal action against Google.
  • The states have accused Google of working with Facebook in an unlawful manner that violated antitrust law to boost its already-dominant online advertising business.
  • The states have asked Google, to compensate them for damages. They have also sought structural relief – which could potentially force the company to sell some of its assets.
  • The Texas lawsuit is the second major complaint from regulators against Google and the fourth in a series of federal and state legal suits (cases) aimed at controlling violations by Big Tech platforms.

Difference between EU and US actions

  • According to analysts, the US broadly seeks penal action (penalty) for past violations, whereas the action by the EU has a wider scope, and aims to develop rules for future operations.
  • Experts believe that the motivation for taking action against Big Tech is lower in US compared to EU, as almost all the firms are American.
  • There is also an increasing view in the US in recent months, that a dominant US tech sector is a strategic advantage for US against China.
  • According to experts, this view is reducing the impact of efforts to increase accountability of Big Tech companies that control digital commerce and have the ability to manipulate what users read and watch.

Increasing scrutiny in India

  • In India as well there is increasing regulatory scrutiny of big technology firms.
  • In November, the Competition Commission of India (CCI) initiated an investigation into alleged abuse of dominant position by Google to promote its payments app, Google Pay.
    • Abuse of a dominant position occurs when a dominant firm in a market, takes various actions to eliminate or reduce competition.

  • Earlier in October, the CCI had received reports of Google abusing its dominant position in the Android-television market by creating barriers for companies that wanted to use or modify its Android operating systems for their smart TVs.
  • In June 2019, the CCI had said that Google had abused its dominant position in the domestic smartphone market.
  • It did this, by reducing the ability of mobile phone markers to opt for alternate versions of its Android mobile operating system. CCI had then asked for a detailed investigation.
  • In 2018, CCI had launched an investigation and fined Google Rs 136 crore for search bias and giving disproportionate space to its flights option on its search homepage, over other rivals in the market.
  • However, the regulator’s order was stayed by the National Company Law Appellate Tribunal, where the case is being heard.

Future Outlook

  • Both the proposed EU laws will only be passed by EU after they undergo a consultation process, which could take years.
  • Moreover, the EU laws would come into force only after the Brexit transition period has ended.
  • Also, antitrust action takes years to complete. For example, Microsoft’s antitrust case began in 1998, and reached a resolution only in 2004.
  • However, it is clear that the new rules in the EU could force tech companies to change some of their practices across countries. These changes could potentially have an impact on more than the 27 countries and 450 million people in the European Union.

 International Relations

Fight against pollution: India set to achieve Paris targets Editorial 24th Dec’20 FinancialExpress

India and Paris Agreement:

  • The Paris agreement that India signed in 2015, was India’s inflexion point (moment of dramatic change) in its fight against pollution.
  • Specifically, under the Paris agreement, India committed to meet three targets by 2030:
    • Cut greenhouse gas emissions intensity of its GDP by 33-35% (vs 2005 levels)
    • Increase non-fossil fuel-based power capacity to 40%
    • Create an additional ‘carbon sink’ of 2.5-3 billion tonnes CO2 (higher than its emissions currently), by an increase in forest/tree cover

India is taking big leaps and not taking small incremental steps:

  • The important thing to note in India’s fight against pollution today is that we now plan to take a leap instead of eyeing incremental improvements.
  • This is already visible in many ways:
    • LPG penetration is at 97.5% vs 56% in 2015 to replace highly polluting alternative cooking fuels
    • City gas penetration is set to reach 70% of the population from less than 10% currently
    • Auto norms upgrade straight from BSIV to BSVI, skipping BSV
    • Aim to achieve 100% electrified rail network within three years to cut diesel use
    • Plans to step-up rail freight capacity by five times to curtail freight movement by roads
    • Plans to implement world’s largest renewable capacity addition programme
      • India’s renewable capacity doubled in past five years; with solar capacity shooting up nine times (albeit from a low solar capacity earlier)
    • Norms to curtail emissions from existing coal power plants
    • Raising taxes for diesel cars and cess on coal over time

India is on target to achieve Paris targets:

  • Based on current progress, India is expected to achieve its Paris targets much before 2030.
  • Already, emissions are down 21% vs 2005 levels (target of 33-35%), non-fossil capacity at 33% (target 40%).

India will perform beyond its targets:

  • There is easily scope for India to increase targets over time, aligning itself with other large global economies’ plans to go carbon neutral by 2050/2060.

India is outperforming most of the world on some indices:

  • In fact, in certain cases, India’s pace of execution or the stringency of pollution norms is now better than the world.
  • For instance, India leapt from BSIV to BSVI auto emission norms, within just three years compared to 5-10 years taken by Europe, China, Hong Kong and Singapore.
  • Similarly, India is already at par with global norms for emissions from power gensets and energy efficiency for ACs.
  • Going ahead, India is planning to implement the most stringent norms globally.

India’s efforts are also leading to savings in many ways:

  • Energy and emissions: 
    • Towards its green journey, with appropriate capital expenditure (capex), India could save over 106GW of energy and cut 1.1 billion tonnes of annual CO2 emissions by 2030 or over 45% of current its emissions.
  • Economic savings:
    • Most capex towards pollution curtailment also makes economic sense.
      • For instance, waste heat recovery based power projects being implemented by cement companies could achieve payback in less than three years, because they generate power at one-tenth the cost of captive coal-based projects.
    • Similarly, as logitics shift from road to rail as Railways’ rail freight capacity increases, logistics costs can reduce by 37% through freight cargo.
  • Also, it is leading to cost efficiencies in greener technologies, with
    • Cost of renewable power now cheaper than fossil fuel-based power
    • Operating cost for electrified rail cheaper than diesel
      Power cost for solar-powered agriculture pumps cheaper than diesel-powered pumps, etc.

Way ahead:

  • Over the next decade, India would continue to cut its diesel consumption, step-up natural gas and renewable power in the energy mix, upgrade emission and energy efficiency norms across sectors, and clean its water bodies.
  • Importantly, private sector participation is also growing, with 19 large corporates already announcing plans to go carbon neutral by 2030-50.

Conclusion:

  • The strong government resolve, rising global focus on climate change issues, investors’ importance to corporates’ environment scores etc. – all of these imply that fighting pollution would be a multi-decade theme.
  • India is well aligned, with the rest of the globe on this important issue and is also making great progress.

Importance:

GS Paper III: Environment Editorial Analysis

In Focus: Wetlands, Wetlands in India, Why are wetlands important?, Ramsar Convention, Ramsar Sites in India, Tso Kar

India adds Tso Kar wetland complex to Ramsar Site

In News:

  • India has added Tso Kar Wetland Complex in Ladakh as its 42nd Ramsar site, the second one in the Union Territory (UT) of Ladakh.

In Focus: Wetlands

What are Wetlands?

  • The wetlands are actually land areas covered by water, either temporarily/seasonally or permanently.
  • The wetlands play a key role in hydrological cycle and flood control, water supply andproviding food, fibre and raw materials.
  • It includes:swamps, marshesbillabongs, lakes, lagoonssaltmarshes, mudflatsmangroves, coral reefsbogs, fens, and peatlands.

Wetlands in India:

  • As per the National Wetlands Atlas given by ISRO, India has 15.26 million ha area underwetlands, roughly equal to 4.6% of its land area.
  • Of this, inland wetlands constitute 69.22% (10.56 million ha). Nearly 12% of the inlandwetland area is in the form of lakes and ponds (including those less than 2.25 ha).
  • Examples of India’s prominent wetlands are Chilika lake (Odisha), Wular lake (J&K), Sambhar lake (Rajasthan), Deepor Beel (Assam) and East Kolkata wetlands (West Bengal).

Why are wetlands important?

  • Wetlands are a critical part of our natural environment and are vital link between land and water.
  • Wetlands provide a wide range of important resources and ecosystem services such as food, water, fibre, groundwater recharge, water purification, flood moderation, erosion control and climate regulation.
  • They are a major source of water and India’s main supply of freshwater comes from an array of wetlands which help soak rainfall and recharge groundwater.
  • They prevent land degradation and desertification.
  • They protect shores from wave action, reduce the impacts of floods, absorb pollutants and improve water quality.
  • They provide habitat for animals and plants hosting a huge diversity of life, including that of migratory birds.
  • Wetlands also provide important benefits for industry. For example, they form nurseries for fish and other freshwater and marine life and are critical to commercial and recreational fishing industries.

About: Ramsar Convention

  • Ramsar Convention(signed in 1971) is an intergovernmental treaty which provides the framework for national action and international cooperation for conservation and wise use of wetlands and their resources.
  • It is one of the oldest inter-governmental accord signed by members countries to preserve the ecological character of their wetlands of international importance.
  • Aim: The aim of the Ramsar list is to develop and maintain an international network of wetlands which are important for the conservation of global biological diversity and for sustaining human life through the maintenance of their ecosystem components, processes and benefits.
    • Wetlands declared as Ramsar sites are protected under strict guidelines of the convention.
  • Criteria: Wetlands can be designated to the Ramsar List under any (one or more) of the nine criteria that ranges from uniqueness of the site to those based on species and ecological communities supported.
  • Globally, there are over 2,300 Ramsar sites around the world, covering over 2.1 million sq km.

About: Ramsar Sites in India

As of 2019, there were 27 Ramsar sites in India:

10 sites were included in the list in January 2020:

  • Nandur Madhameshwar bird sanctuary (Maharashtra- first site from the state)
  • Beas conservation reserve, Keshopur-Miani community reserve and Nangal wildlife sanctuary (Punjab)
  • Nawabganj bird sanctuary, Parvati Arga bird sanctuary, Saman bird sanctuary, Sarsai Nawar lake, Samaspur bird sanctuary and Sandi bird sanctuary (Uttar Pradesh)

4 more sites were included in October-November 2020 to take Ramsar sites to 41:

  • Kabartal (Bihar)
  • Asan Conservation Reserve (Uttrakhand)
  • Sur Sarovar, also known as Keetham lake (Uttar Pradesh)
  • Lonar Lake (Maharashtra)

News Summary:

  • In a significant development to conservation of biodiversity, India has added Tso Kar Wetland Complex in Ladakh as its 42nd Ramsar site or ‘Wetland of International Importance’.
  • This is the second one in the Union Territory (UT) of Ladakh, after Tsomoriri (Lake Moriri).
  • At 42, India has the highest number of Ramsar sites in South Asia.

About: Tso Kar

  • Tso Kar is at more than 4,500 metres above sea level in the Changthang region of Ladakh.
  • Tso Kar Wetland Complex includes two connected lakes, the freshwater lake “Startsapuk Tso” and the larger hypersaline lake “Tso Kar”.
  • The name Tso Kar (White Lake) refers to the white salt efflorescence on the margins of the lake caused by the evaporation of the saline waters.

  • The local climate is arid, and glacial meltwater is the primary water source for the lakes.
  • Biodiversity:
    • The lakes and in particular the presence of fresh water attract biodiversity in a biologically sparse region.
    • The site is habitat of numerous threatened species including:
      • the endangered saker falcon (Falco cherrug)
      • Asiatic wild dog or dhole (Cuon alpinus laniger)
      • the vulnerable snow leopard (Panthera uncia).
    • The Site also acts as an important stopover ground for migratory birds along the Central Asian Flyway and is one of the most important breeding areas in India for the black-necked crane (Grus nigricollis).

 Environment & Ecology

About: Cairn dispute, Retrospective taxation , The Permanent Court of Arbitration

Cairn wins arbitration ruling against India in tax dispute

In News

  • The Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) at The Hague has ruled that the Indian government was wrong in applying retrospective tax on Cairn Energy Plc.
  • This is the second ruling against the Indian government at international tribunals over the retrospective tax issue in three months.
  • In September, 2020, a separate international arbitration tribunal had ruled against India’s decision to levy (impose) retrospective taxes on Vodafone Group.

About: Retrospective taxation

  • Retrospective taxation allows a country to pass a rule on taxing certain products, items or services, and deals, and charge companies for dealings before the date on which the law is passed.
  • Countries use this provision to correct any shortcomings in their taxation policies that may have allowed companies to take advantage of such shortcomings.
  • Apart from India, many countries including the US, the UK, the Netherlands, Canada, Belgium, Australia and Italy have retrospectively taxed companies, which had taken the benefit of shortcomings in the previous law.

About: Arbitration

  • Arbitration is a form of alternative dispute resolution (ADR), in which a dispute is submitted, to one or more arbitrators who make a decision on the dispute.
  • In choosing arbitration, the parties opt for a private dispute resolution procedure instead of going to court. Arbitration is used instead of going to a court because it is often quicker and not as expensive.
  • It is often used for the resolution of commercial disputes, particularly in the context of international commercial transactions.

News Summary:

Details of the Cairn dispute:

  • In 2006-07, as a part of internal rearrangement, Cairn UK transferred shares of Cairn India Holdings to Cairn India.
  • The Income Tax authorities claimed that Cairn UK had made capital gains through the transfer of shares and demanded tax of Rs 24,500 crore for the same.
    • capital gains tax (CGT) is a tax on the profit from the sale of an asset. The most common capital gains are realized from the sale of stocks, bonds, precious metals, real estate, and property.

  • Due to different interpretations of capital gains, the company refused to pay the tax, and cases were filed at the Income Tax Appellate Tribunal (ITAT) and the High Court.
  • While Cairn had lost the case at ITAT, a case on the valuation of capital gains is still pending before the Delhi High court.
  • Later, in 2011, Cairn Energy sold majority of its India business, Cairn India, to mining company Vedanta.
  • Cairn UK was however not allowed to sell a minor stake of about 10 per cent by the income tax authorities. Authorities had also siezed Cairn India shares as well as dividends that the company paid to its parent UK firm.

Ruling by the The Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA):

  • In its judgment, the PCA said the Cairn tax issue was not just a tax related issue but an investment related dispute, and therefore comes under the jurisdiction of the international arbitration court.
  • The three-member tribunal, ruled that India’s claim of past taxes over the 2006-07 internal reorganisation of Cairn’s India business was not a valid demand.
  • It ruled that the Indian government’s retrospective demand violated the guarantee of fair and equitable treatment under the UK-India Bilateral Investment Treaty.
  • The judgment has asked the Indian government to pay $1.2 billion (roughly Rs 8,800 crore) to Cairn Energy Plc, plus interest and cost of arbitration.
  • It also said that India must not make any more attempts to recover the alleged tax liability or any interest and or penalties.

Future Outlook

  • While the order does not contain a provision for challenge or appeal, the government said it would study the arbitration award and take a decision on the further course of action, including legal remedies.
  • India has recently challenged the Vodafone verdict in Singapore. The government believes taxation is not covered under investment protection treaties and the law on taxation is a sovereign right of the country.
  • According to experts, if India does not pay Cairn the above mentioned amount, Cairn can use the arbitration award to approach courts to seize any overseas property owned by India to recover the money.

About: The Permanent Court of Arbitration

  • The Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) is an intergovernmental organization located in The Hague, Netherlands.
  • It was established by the Convention for the Pacific Settlement of International Disputes, concluded at The Hague in 1899 during the first Hague Peace Conference.
  • It is not a court in the traditional sense, but provides services of arbitral tribunal to resolve disputes that arise out of international agreements between member states, international organizations or private parties.
  • The cases cover a range of legal issues involving territorial and maritime boundaries, sovereignty, human rights, international investment, and international and regional trade.

About: Nature Index (Artificial Intelligence), Nature research, Nature Index 2020 Artificial Intelligence

In News

  • The Nature Index 2020 Artificial Intelligence was recently released by ‘Nature Research’.

About: Nature Research

  • Nature Research is a division of the international scientific publishing company Springer Nature that publishes academic journals, magazines, online databases, and services in science and medicine.
  • Nature Research’s flagship publication is Nature, a weekly multidisciplinary journal first published in 1869.
  • Nature, an international journal, publishes high quality research in all fields of science and technology. It also provides authoritative and insightful news and interpretation of current and upcoming trends affecting science, scientists and the wider public.

About: Nature Index (Artificial Intelligence)

  • The Nature Index is a database of author affiliation information, tracking contributions of authors (of research) to research articles published in 82 high-quality natural-science journals.
  • The Index provides counts of article publication at the institutional and national level and is an indicator of global high-quality research output and collaboration of various institutions and nations.
  • The Artificial Intelligence supplement explores artificial intelligence (AI), one of the most rapidly advancing and controversial topics in scientific research.
  • The articles tracked for Nature Index 2020 Artificial Intelligence supplement are primarily related to the application of AI to research in the broad fields of chemistry, the physical sciences, life sciences, and Earth and environmental sciences.

Nature Index metrics:

  • The Nature Index uses Count and Share to track research output.
  • Count: A country/territory or an institution is given a Count of 1 for each article that has at least one author from that country/territory or institution.
  • Share: To obtain a country’s or an institution’s contribution to an article, and to ensure they are not counted more than once, the Index uses Share. It is a fractional count that takes into account the share of authorship on each article.
    • For instance, if an article has 10 authors, that means that each author (and the institution/country she represents) receives a Share of 0.1

Significance:

  • Users of the Nature Index are those with an interest in the origin of high-quality scientific research from around the world.
  • It helps them to track the amount of high quality research taking place across the world and gives them an idea on which countries/research organisations performing the best.
  • It also provides institutions an easy means to highlight some of their best scientific research.

Nature Index 2020 Artificial Intelligence

Highlights:

  • The United States has historically been the leader in AI-related research output, accumulating the highest number of publications over the past two decades.
  • Between 2015 and 2019, in terms of global output for AI research, the US was the leader, with the UK, Germany and China in second, third and fourth place, respectively.
  • In each year from 2016 to 2019, China produced more AI-related papers than any other nation. Over this period, China’s output of AI-related research increased by just over 120%, whereas output in the US increased by almost 70%.
  • In 2019, India has been the third most productive country in AI research, with over 23,000 papers. On the overall AI Index, it is at the 20th position in a list dominated by European countries.

Lack of diversity in AI:

  • AI’s influence continues to grow, but there is lack of diversity of researchers in the field. As of 2019, fewer than 14% of AI research authors were women.
  • Researchers in East Asia, Europe and North America authored 86% of papers published in 2018 and researchers in regions including Latin America, the Caribbean, the Middle East, north Africa, sub-Saharan Africa and south Asia represented the remaining 14%.
  • In the United States in 2020, only 1.7% of technical roles at Facebook were held by Black people.
  • Due to this lack of diversity, the world will miss the perspectives that could shape the solutions to the current and future challenges.
  • Thus, it is important to create structures that will support long-term, positive changes.

 Science & Tech

About: Post Matric Scholarship for students belonging to Scheduled Castes (PMS-SC), Benefits and Features

Cabinet nod to Rs 59,000 core investment in post-matric scholarship scheme for SC students

In News:

  • The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) chaired by the Prime Minister has approved major and transformatory changes in the Centrally Sponsored Scheme ‘Post Matric Scholarship to students belonging to Scheduled Castes (PMS-SC)’.
  • The Cabinet also approved a total investment of Rs. 59,000 Cr or the scheme.

About: Post Matric Scholarship for students belonging to Scheduled Castes (PMS-SC)

  • Post Matric Scholarship scheme is a Centrally Sponsored Scheme and implemented through governments of States and Union Territories.
  • The scheme provides financial assistance to the Scheduled Caste (SC) students studying at post matriculation or post-secondary stage (class 11th and onwards) to enable them to complete their education.
  • The scheme is operational under the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment.
  • These scholarships are available to SC students for studies in India only.
  • These scholarships are awarded by the government of the State/Union Territory to which the applicant actually belongs i.e. permanently settled.

News Summary:

  • The Central Govt has committed to give a big push and further impetus to this effort so that the GER (Higher Education) of SCs would reach up to the National standards within the 5 year period.
  • As part of this push, the cabinet has approved major and transformatory changes to the ‘Post Matric Scholarship to students belonging to Scheduled Castes (PMS-SC)’ to upgrade it.

Revised PMS-SC:

  • The Scheme aims to benefit 4 Crore SC Students in the next 5 years so they can successfully complete their higher education.
    • As per the government, the scheme will help in bringing an estimated 1.36 Crore of the poorest students, who are currently not continuing their education beyond 10th standard, into higher education in the next five years.

  • The Cabinet has approved a total investment of Rs. 59,048 Cr of which Central Government would spend 60% and the balance would be spent by the State Govts.
  • The Central Assistance which was around Rs 1,100 crore annually during 2017-18 to 2019-20 would be increased more than 5 times to be around Rs 6,000 core annually during 2020-21 to 2025-26.

Benefits:

  • The Post Matric scheme for SC students will allow students to pursue any Post Matric course starting from Class 11th and onwards, with the government meeting the cost of education.
  • The value of scholarship, for complete duration of the course, includes the following among others:
    • Maintenance allowance to both hostellers and day scholars
    • Book allowance for students pursuing correspondence courses
    • Book bank facility for specified courses, and
    • Reimbursement of compulsory non-refundable fees

Features:

  • The focus of the scheme would be on enrolling the poorest students, timely payments, comprehensive accountability, continuous monitoring and total transparency.
  • A campaign will be launched to enroll the students, from the poorest households passing the 10th standard, in the higher education courses of their choice.
  • Online Platform: The scheme will run on an online platform to ensure transparency and timely delivery of assistance without any delays.
  • Verification: The States will undertake fool-proof verification of the eligibility, caste status, Aadhar identification and bank account details on the online portal.
  • DBT: Starting from 2021-22, the Central Government will release its 60% share directly into the bank accounts of the students, through DBT mode, after ensuring that the State Government has released their share.
  • Monitoring: Monitoring mechanism will be further strengthened through conduct of social audits, annual third party evaluation, and half-yearly self-audited reports from each institution.
  • The scheme also replaces the existing ‘Committee Liability’ system and aims at greater involvement of the Central Government in the scheme.
  • Committed Liability: It refers to the total expenditure incurred in the terminal year of the Five year Plan by States/UTs under Centrally Sponsored schemes of scholarships which then became the committed liability of the States/UTs for every year of the subsequent Five year Plan.

 Social Issues

About: The Zomi tribe, Sixth schedule, Powers under the Sixth Schedule, Bodoland Territorial Council (BTC)

Manipur’s Zomi people push for BTC-like council

In News

  • The Zomi Council, representing nine Zomi tribes, has renewed its demand for the creation of Zoland Territorial Council (ZTC) under the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution.

About: The Zomi tribe

  • Zomi council is an apex body of the Zomi tribes which include Gante, Kom, Mate, Paite, Simte, Tedim Chin, Thangkhal, Zou and Vaiphei.
  • Zomi identify themselves as descendants of the Zo, the Tibeto-Burman people that speak Chin-Kuki language group.
  • They are scattered in Nagaland, Mizoram, Manipur and Assam. The Zomi population is over 2 lakhs in Churachandpur district (of Manipur) alone.

Background

  • The creation of ZTC was desired by majority tribes represented by the tripartite Suspension of Operation (SoO) agreements over the years between the Centre, the Manipur government and 25 extremist groups belonging to the Kuki-Zomi groups.
  • While 17 of these groups formed the Kuki National Organisation (KNO), eight came together as the United People’s Front (UPF).
    • The SoO agreement was first signed by the underground Zomi Revolutionary Army (ZRA) in 2005 and the other groups joined in later.

  • The KNO and UPF had demanded the creation of an autonomous hill state within Manipur 2010.
  • Later in 2017, the demand evolved into a self-administered zone similar to the Bodoland Territorial Council (BTC) in Assam.

About: Sixth schedule

  • The Sixth Schedule consists of provisions for the administration of tribal areas in Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura and Mizoram. 
  • It seeks to safeguard the rights of tribal population in these states through the formation of Autonomous District Councils (ADC). The ADCs have varying degrees of autonomy.
  • Along with ADCs, the Sixth Schedule also provides for separate Regional Councils for each area constituted as an autonomous region. In case one District Council area has more than one kind of tribe a Regional Council is created.
  • In all, there are 10 areas in the Northeast that are registered as autonomous districts – three in Assam, Meghalaya and Mizoram and one in Tripura.
  • Each autonomous district and regional council consists of not more than 30 members, of which four are nominated by the governor and the rest via elections. All of them remain in power for a term of five years.

Powers under the Sixth Schedule:

  • The ADCs are empowered with civil and judicial powers and can constitute village courts within their jurisdiction to hear trial of cases involving the tribes.
  • The councils are also empowered to make legislative laws on matters like land, forests, fisheries, social security, entertainment, public health, etc. with due approval from the governor.
  • The roles of the central and state governments are restricted from the territorial jurisdiction of these autonomous regions.
  • Also, Acts passed by Parliament and state legislatures may or may not be levied in these regions unless the President and the governor gives her or his approval.

About: Bodoland Territorial Council (BTC)

  • The Bodoland Territorial Council (BTC) is an autonomous district council (ADC) for the Bodoland Territorial Region in Assam.
  • The BTC has been given greater autonomy to frame laws in comparison to other District Councils.
  • Unlike the other ADCs with limit of 30 members, BTC can constitute up to 46 members out of which 40 are elected.
  • The Bodoland Territorial Council can make laws on 39 additional subjects such as culture, education, health and agriculture, labour and employment, land and revenue among others.

News Summary:

  • The tribals in Manipur have also been demanding the extension of Sixth Schedule provisions (currently only extended to Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura and Mizoram) to their state for many decades.
  • There are talks ongoing between the Manipur government and the Kuki umbrella groups for the creation of Kukiland Territorial Council.
  • Now, the nine Zomi tribes are also raising the demand for the creation of Zoland Territorial Council (ZTC).

Reasons for the demand of ZTC:

  • The tribes in Manipur do not get the benefits of the provisions of Sixth Schedule.
  • Due to this, the Zomi tribe representatives say they have lagged behind in terms of socio-socio-economic and political development.
  • Thus, the Zomi Council demand a ZTC similar to the Bodoland Territorial Council (BTC) of Assam, as it has additional powers.

 Polity & Governance

About Silicosis

About Silicosis

  • Silicosis is a fatal respiratory illness caused by inhaling fine silica dust through prolonged exposure in sandstone mines and quarries.
  • Silica is a highly common, crystal-like mineral found in sand, rock, and quartz.
  • Silica can have deadly consequences for people who work with stone, concrete, glass, or other forms of rock.
  • Any level of silica exposure can result in silicosis. There are three types of silicosis:
    • Acute: Acute silicosis forms a few weeks or months after high levels of silica exposure. This condition progresses rapidly.
    • Accelerated: Accelerated silicosis comes on five to 10 years after exposure.
    • Chronic: Chronic silicosis occurs 10 years or more after silica exposure. Even low exposure levels can cause chronic silicosis.
  • Silica dust particles act as tiny blades on the lungs.
  • These particles create small cuts that can scar the lung tissue when inhaled through the nose or mouth. Scarred lungs do not open and close as well, making breathing more difficult.
  • Silica is called as a “carcinogen.” This means that silica can cause cancer, including lung cancer.

cropped-upscexpress.png 

Preventing silicosis

  • Workers can wear special masks called respirators to keep from inhaling silica. These masks may be marked for “abrasive blasting” use.
  • Water sprays and wet cutting methods reduce the risk of silica exposure.
  • Workplaces should meet Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) standards.
  • This includes proper ventilation.
  • Employers can monitor air quality at worksites to ensure that there’s no excess silica in the air.
  • Employers must report all diagnosed incidents of silicosis.
  • Workers should eat, drink, and smoke away from dust that may contain silica.
  • They should also wash their hands before doing any of these activities to clear their hands of any dust.

Read more

About: Coastal radar chain network

In News

  • In order to expand the coastal radar chain network, efforts are in advanced stages to set up coastal radar stations in Maldives, Myanmar, Bangladesh and Thailand.
  • Similar proposals are being developed for some more countries.

About: Coastal radar chain network

  • After the 2008 Mumbai attacks in which terrorists used a fishing boat to enter the city, the government decided to set up a chain of static sensors to improve coastal surveillance and keep track of boats entering Indian territorial waters.
  • Under Phase-I of the coastal radar chain network, 46 coastal radar stations have been set up across the country’s coastline.
  • Under the ongoing Phase-II of the project, 38 static radar stations and four mobile radar stations are being set up by the Coast Guard.
  • The information received from the various stations and sensors is collated at the Information Management and Analysis Centre (IMAC).
  • The data is used by the Navy for real-time monitoring of the sea for threats and overall maritime domain awareness.
  • Radar stations of the network in other Other Indian Ocean countries:
    • India is also setting up similar radar stations in friendly Indian Ocean littoral nations, which are integrated into India’s own radar network.
      • A littoral nation is a country with land territory adjacent to a particular maritime area.

    • Mauritius, Seychelles and Sri Lanka have already been integrated into the India’s coastal radar chain network.

Measures for maritime data exchange:

  • As part of information exchange regarding traffic on the high seas, the Navy has been authorised by the government to conclude white shipping agreements with 36 countries and three multilateral constructs.
  • So far, agreements have been concluded with 22 countries and one multilateral construct. Of these, 17 agreements and the one multilateral construct have been operationalised.
  • International Liaison Officers (ILO) from France, Japan and the U.S. have already joined Navy’s Information Fusion Centre for the Indian Ocean Region (IFC-IOR). Three more International Liaison Officers (ILO) are expected to join soon.

About: Information Management and Analysis Centre (IMAC)

  • IMAC, based in Gurgaon, was established in 2014, and is the nodal centre for maritime security information collation and distribution.
  • It is jointly operated by the Navy and Coast Guard.

IMAC’s Functions:

  • IMAC’s task is to facilitate exchange of maritime security information among various national stakeholders, and develop a common operational picture.
  • IMAC focuses on ships passing through the Indian Ocean Region (IOR). At its headquarters, officers can look at all ships that transmit signals to an Automatic Identification System (AIS) when passing through IOR.
  • It can look at information including route, destination, nationality and ownership for each vessel.
  • It can also check if a vessel has changed its identity, or if it has been involved in law-enforcement issues in other countries.
  • It is important to note that IMAC tracks only non-military or commercial ships, known as white shipping. Military ships, are tracked by the Directorate of Naval Operations, as this is on a classified (secret) network.

About: IFC-IOR

  • The Navy’s Information Fusion Centre for the Indian Ocean Region (IFC-IOR) was inaugurated in 2018, within the premises of IMAC, to promote Maritime Domain Awareness.
  • It is the single point centre linking all coastal radar chain networks along the 7,500 km Indian coastline. It tracks and monitors 75,000 – 1.5 lakh shipping vessels in real time round the clock.
  • It interacts with the maritime community and has already built linkages with various countries and multinational and maritime security centres.

 Defence & Security

Meteorites

Study of Mukundpura Meteorite
  • It is a carbonaceous meteorite (these are the meteorites which contain carbon compounds, including organic ones and water).
  • It is one of the most primitive type of meteorite.
  • It is a rare type of meteorite as carbonaceous meteorites constitute only 3%-5% of all meteorites which fall on the Earth.
  • It contains grains of calcium and iron which date to a time before the sun came into existence.
  • It contains the evidence of having the water-bearing minerals.
  • The meteorite is believed to have the most pristine primordial matter recovered from space, which might carry important clues to the origin of early life.
Study of Natun Balijan Meteorite
  • It fell in the flood plains of Lohit River.
  • It has been classified as an ordinary chondrite.
Meteorites
  • These are the chunks of rock and metal from asteroids and other planetary bodies that survive their journey through the atmosphere and fall to the ground.
  • Most meteorites found on Earth are pebble size but some are larger than a building.
  • Early Earth experienced many large meteorite impacts that caused extensive destruction.
  • These may resemble Earth rocks, but these usually have a burned exterior.
  • This fusion crust is formed as the meteorite is melted by friction as it passes through the atmosphere.
  • These mostly originate from the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter.
Types of meteorites
  • There are three major types of meteorites:
    • Irons
    • Stones
    • Stony-irons
  • Although the majority of meteorites that fall to Earth are stony, most of the meteorites that are discovered long after they fall are irons.
  • Iron meteorites are heavy objects and are easier to distinguish from Earth rocks than stony meteorites.
  • Meteorites also fall on other solar system bodies.
Geological Survey of India (GSI)
  • It was established in 1851.
  • Its headquarters are at Kolkata.
  • It is a government organisation of India with its office attached to the Ministry of Mines for conducting geological surveys and studies.
  • Its main functions are to create and update national geo-scientific information and mineral resource assessment.
  • These objectives are achieved through ground surveys, air-borne and marine surveys, mineral prospecting and investigations and multi-disciplinary geo-scientific techniques.
Section : Science & Tech

About: Advanced Towed Artillery Gun System (ATAGS)

  • Built by DRDO and partners, India’s ATAGS is a 155 mm/52 calibre towed howitzer artillery gun.
    • Artillery is a class of heavy military ranged weapons (like modern day canons) built to launch munitions far beyond the range and power of normal firearms.
  • The new version has a 48-km strike range, higher than the 35-40 km range of other artillery gun systems in this category.
  • Range tests of this ATAGS system have been going on from 2017.

Development of indigenous ATAGS:

  • The development of ATAGS was started in 2013 as a part of artillery modernisation programme for Indian Army.
  • It is being jointly developed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and the private sector.
  • The DRDO’s Armament Research and Development Establishment (ARDE) has partnered with Kalyani Group, Tata Power and Ordnance Factory Board etc for the development of ATAGS.

Advanced features of ATAGS:

  • It is configured with all-electric drive for the first time in the world to ensure maintenance free and reliable operation over a longer period of time.
  • It has advanced features like high mobility, advanced communication system, automatic command and control system with night firing capability in direct fire mode etc.
  • It has a five round magazine, compared to the standard three round magazines in similar foreign systems.

Background:

  • The Indian Army has not inducted any new artillery gun since the Bofors (155 mm howitzer) in the 1980s.
  • The Army has an estimated requirement is of about 1,800 artillery guns, including the regular and advanced systems.
  • It has also been inducting some 155 mm Dhanush artillery guns (an indigenously upgraded variant of the Bofors gun).
  • It has also been inducting some new artillery guns and equipment, including K9 Vajra (South Korean and Indian companies’ collaboration) and M777 howitzers (from the US).
  • It is also in the final stages to procure 400 Athos towed gun systems for Rs 5,147 crore from Israeli firm Elbit Systems.
  • While India has range-tested the ATAGS, the user-trials got delayed after the barrel of one of the guns burst (due to defective ammunition as per DRDO) during test-firing at the Pokhran field firing range in Rajasthan.

News Summary:

  • The Army will soon begin testing an indigenously-developed ATAGS artillery system.
  • It will first undergo “winter user trials” by the Army in Sikkim in January-February.
  • That will be followed by the “mobility trials” and then the “summer trials” in May-June.

Way ahead:

  • DRDO claims that this system is the best in its class in the world with a record-breaking strike range of 48 km.
  • If the big gun successfully passes the army trials, DRDO says this advanced system can fulfil the Army’s full requirement of 1500-1800 artillery guns.
  • In such a scenario, the Army will not need to import such guns from Israel or other countries.

What is Winter Solstice, which made December 21st the shortest day of the year?

In News:

  • December 21st is the day of Winter Solstice in the northern hemisphere, and it is the shortest day (day with the shortest day-time) of the year.
  • This year, the day-time of December 21st in Delhi was approximately 10 hours 19 minutes long.

About: Winter and Summer Solstices

  • The winter solstice, hiemal solstice or hibernal solstice occurs when one of the Earth’s poles has its maximum tilt away from the Sun.
  • Winter Solstice coincides with the shortest day and longest night of the year.
  • The summer Solstice coincides, on the other hand, with the longest day and the shortest night of the year.
  • The situation in the two hemispheres is always reversed.
  • In the Northern Hemisphere, the Winter Solstice occurs on December 21st. The same day in the Southern Hemisphere is known as the summer solstice.
  • Likewise, six months later, June 21st will be known as the Summer Solstice in the Northern Hemisphere. The same day in the Southern Hemisphere will be known as the Winter Solstice.
  • The Solstices along with their counterparts, the Equinoxes (Equal day and equal night), are used to define ‘seasons’ on a planet.

Reasons for its occurrence:

  • The duration of sunlight received varies on different days throughout the year as well as location on Earth’s surface because of various factors like:
    • Earth’s axis of rotation (tilted at an angle of 23.5° to its orbital plane)
    • Earth’s spin
    • Earth’s elliptical or slightly oval shaped orbit around the Sun

  • This tilt in the axis of rotation drives our planet’s seasons as Northern and Southern Hemisphere get unequal amounts of Sunlight over the course of the year.
  • From March to September, the Northern Hemisphere is tilted more towards the Sun, driving its spring and summer.
  • From September, the Northern Hemisphere is tilted away, so this results in the autumn and winter.
  • The situation is likewise reversed in the Southern Hemisphere.
  • On two days-which is known as the Solstices- Earth’s axis is tilted most closely towards the Sun.
  • The hemisphere tilted most towards the Sun sees the Summer Solstice and experiences the longest day.
  • The hemisphere tilted away sees the Winter Solstice and experiences the longest night.

Cultural Significance of Winter Solstice:

  • In Vedic tradition, the northern movement of Earth on the celestial sphere is implicitly acknowledged in the Surya Siddhanta, which outlines the Uttarayana.
  • Uttarayana is the period between Makar Sankranti and Karka Sankranti and Winter Solstice is the first day of Uttarayana.
  • Many cultures around the world celebrate the Winter Solstice in their own ways.
  • Many monuments have been built globally to align with the phenomena, like the Stonehenge of England.

About: Equinoxes

  • Equinoxes are the two days in a year when the Sun is exactly above the Equator.
  • The days and nights in this case are equal.
  • The vernal equinox or the spring equinox on March 21 marks the beginning of the spring in Northern hemisphere and the Autumnal equinox falls at September 23, marking the arrival of the autumn season.

The reverse is true for the Southern hemisphere. Science & Tech

About: Khudiram Bose

  • Khudiram Bose was born in 1889, in a small village in Medinipur district of West Bengal.
  • He is one of the youngest revolutionaries of the Indian freedom struggle.
  • Khudiram Bose is highly regarded in Bengal for his fearless spirit, and his ultimate sacrifice for the cause. However, his legacy has remained largely limited to Bengal.
  • Now, the Union Home Minister paid homage to him saying, “Khudiram Bose belongs to all of India and not just West Bengal.”

Early revolutionary activities:

  • Khudiram Bose was drawn towards revolutionary activism in his adolescence after attending a series of lectures by Sri Aurbindo Ghose and Sister Nivedita, when they visited Midnapore in early 1900s.
  • He actively participated in protests against the partition of Bengal in 1905.
  • At 15 years of age, he joined the Anushilan Samiti.
  • Anushilan Samiti was a revolutionary organization in Bengal that existed for the first three decades of twentieth century.
  • It believed in militant nationalism.
  • It was established by Pramathanath Mitra in 1902 and headed by Sri Aurbindo Ghose and his younger brother Barindra Kumar Ghose.
  • He was arrested for distributing booklets and other literature, to local people, against the British colonial rulers.

Kingsford and trials of Jugantar editors:

  • Jugantar Patrika was a Bengali revolutionary newspaper founded in 1906 in Calcutta by Barindra Kumar Ghosh, Abhinash Bhattacharya and Bhupendranath Dutt.
  • It served as the propaganda organ for the revolutionary organisation Anushilan Samiti.
  • It faced prosecution a number of times by the British Indian government for publishing “seditious articles”.
  • Bhupendranath Dutt was arrested in 1907 for publication of articles “inciting violence against the Government of India”.
  • Chief Magistrate Douglas Kingsford of the Presidency Court of Alipore, who versaw the trials of Bhupendranath Dutta and other editors of Jugantar, sentenced them to rigorous imprisonment. He becomes infamous for passing harsh and cruel sentences on young revolutionaries.

Assassination attempt on Kingsford:

  • Young revolutionaries like Hemchandra Kanungo and Barindra Kumar Ghosh, who learnt bomb-making techniques, chose Douglas Kingsford as their target.
  • Meanwhile, Kingsford was transferred by the government to Muzaffarpur in Bihar.
  • In 1908, Prafulla Chaki and Khudiram Bose went to Muzaffarpur with a bomb provided to him by Hemchandra.
  • Chaki and Bose threw the bomb on what they believed were the carriage carrying Kingsford and his wife but mistakenly threw it on another carriage killing the wife and daughter of a British Barrister.

Hanging of Khudiram Bose:

  • After the attack, Khudiram and Prafulla managed to escape.
  • But Khudiram Bose was soon captured at a railway station called Waini, which was later renamed Khudiram Bose Pusa Station in his honour.
  • Prafulla Chaki killed himself before he could be arrested.
  • On July 13, 1908, Khudiram Bose was sentenced to death after a historic trial, and was executed on August 11, 1908.
  • Reports in newspapers of those times said that he went to the gallows with a smile and the Bhagavad Gita in his hand.
  • The streets of Calcutta erupted in large protests after his execution.

About: Sri Aurobindo Ghose

  • Sri Aurobindo Ghose (1872-1950) was a revolutionary leader of Indian Freedom struggle.
  • He helped establish the Anushilan Samiti of Calcutta in 1992.
  • He started an English newspaper called in Bande Mataram and contributed articles in the magazine Jugantar.
  • In 1908, he was arrested in connection with the Alipore Conspiracy Case or Alipore Bomb Case.
  • In his later life, he turned into a spiritual Guru and established his ashram in Puducherry, where he died.

About: Sister Nivedita

  • Margaret Noble was an Irish social activist.
  • She became a disciple of Swami Vivekananda, and followed him to India. Swami Vivekananda gave her the name Nivedita (meaning “Dedicated to God”) when he initiated her into the vow of Brahmacharya.
  • She also took part in the Indian freedom struggle, and was a close associate of Sri Aurobindo Ghose.

About: Krishna Godavari basin

About: Krishna Godavari basin

  • The delta plain formed by Krishna and Godavari rivers in the state of Andhra Pradesh and the adjoining areas of Bay of Bengal is known as Krishna Godavari Basin.
  • It is a proven hydrocarbon reserve, with an inland part that covers an area of 28,000 sq. km and an offshore (located in the sea or near the coast) part that covers an area of 2 lakh sq. km.
  • Several oil and gas fields are located both on land and offshore parts of the basin.
  • The region is primarily known for the D-6 block where Reliance Industries discovered the biggest natural gas reserves in India.

In News

  • Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL) and British Petroleum (BP) have announced the start of gas production from R cluster in the Krishna Godavari D6 (KG-D6) block.
  • Located at a depth of more than two kilometres, the R Cluster is the deepest offshore gas field in Asia.
  • R Cluster is the first of three deep water gas projects in the KG-D6 block jointly developed by RIL and BP. The other two clusters are Satellites Cluster and MJ.
  • Production of gas from the R cluster was expected to start in May 2020 but was delayed due to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. The Satellite cluster is expected to start production in 2021.
  • RIL has a participating interest of 66.7% in the KG-D6 block and BP has a participating interest of 33.3% in the block.

Significance:

  • In FY20, demand for natural gas in India was around 153 MMSCMD and around half the demand was met through imports.
  • Increasing domestic production of natural gas is important to reduce India’s dependence on imports and improve energy security.
  • The three clusters mentioned above are a key part of the plan to boost domestic production of natural gas and to increase the share of natural gas in India’s overall energy consumption from 6.2% now to 15% by 2030.
  • The three clusters in the Krishna Godavari Basin are expected to produce around 30 MMSCMD (Million standard cubic metres per day) of natural gas or about 15% of India’s projected demand for natural gas by 2023.
  • The R cluster field alone is expected to have a peak production of 12.9 MMSCMSD or about 10% of India’s current natural gas output.

Boosted by changes to gas tariff structure:

  • Recent changes in the formula for gas transport tariffs acted as additional incentive to Reliance and BP’s investments in these three fields.
  • Earlier, the tariff was based on the distance of transportation of gas – the longer the distance, the higher the charge.
  • However, the new regulations have a two-zone tariff structure. There will be one tariff for gas transported within 300 kms and another tariff for gas transported beyond 300 kms from the source of the natural gas.
  • This will help to make the gas more affordable to customers who are far away from the source of the gas.

What is cloning?

Sach-Gaurav

  • It is born to a Murrah buffalo.
  • Its birth weight is 54.2 kg and it has a normal physiological parameters and blood profile.
  • The genotype of the calf was confirmed by microsatellite analysis (parentage verification) and chromosome analysis.

 

What is cloning?

  • The term cloning describes a number of different processes that can be used to produce genetically identical copies of a biological entity.
  • The copied material, which has the same genetic makeup as the original, is referred to as a clone.
  • Researchers have cloned a wide range of biological materials, including genes, cells, tissues and entire organisms, such as a sheep, cow, etc.

 

Natural clones

  • Clones can also occur naturally.
  • In nature, some plants and single-celled organisms, such as bacteria, produce genetically identical offspring through a process called asexual reproduction.
  • In asexual reproduction, a new individual is generated from a copy of a single cell from the parent organism.
  • Natural clones, also known as identical twins, occur in humans and other mammals.
  • These twins are produced when a fertilized egg splits, creating two or more embryos that carry almost identical DNA.
  • Identical twins have nearly the same genetic makeup as each other, but they are genetically different from either parent.

 

Artificial clone

There are three different types of artificial cloning:

  1. Gene cloning: It produces copies of genes or segments of DNA.
  2. Reproductive cloning: It produces copies of whole animals.
  3. Therapeutic cloning: It produces embryonic stem cells for experiments aimed at creating tissues to replace injured or diseased tissues.

 

Animal cloning

  • In animal cloning, complete animal is produced from somatic cells of an animal.
  • A somatic cell is any cell in the body other than sperm and egg, the two types of reproductive cells.

 

How are animals cloned?

  • In reproductive cloning, researchers remove a mature somatic cell, such as a skin cell, from an animal that they wish to copy.
  • They then transfer the DNA of the donor animal’s somatic cell into an egg cell, or oocyte, that has had its own DNA-containing nucleus removed.
  • Researchers can add the DNA from the somatic cell to the empty egg by two different methods:
  • In the first method, researchers remove the DNA-containing nucleus of the somatic cell with a needle and inject it into the empty egg.
  • In the second method, researchers use an electrical current to fuse the entire somatic cell with the empty egg.
  • In both processes, the egg is allowed to develop into an early-stage embryo in the test-tube and then is implanted into the womb of an adult female animal.
  • Ultimately, the adult female gives birth to an animal that has the same genetic makeup as the animal that donated the somatic cell.
  • This young animal is referred to as a clone.
  • Reproductive cloning may require the use of a surrogate mother to allow the development of cloned embryo, as was the case for the most famous cloned organism, Dolly the sheep.

 

Benefit of animal cloning

  • Animal cloning can be an excellent reproductive tool for conservation and multiplication of selected superior animals of buffalo breeds.

 

Section : Science & Tech

About Typhoid (Enteric Fever)

About Typhoid (Enteric Fever)

  • Typhoid Fever is a gastrointestinal infection caused by Salmonella enterica typhi
  • It is transmitted from person to person through the fecal-oral route where an infected or asymptomatic individual with poor hand or body hygiene passes the infection to another person when handling food and water.
  • The bacteria multiply in the intestinal tract and can spread to the bloodstream. ), which infects humans due to contaminated food and beverages from sewage and other infected humans.
  • Symptoms usually develop one to two weeks after exposure and include high fever, malaise, headache, constipation or diarrhoea, rose-colored spots on the chest, and enlarged spleen and liver.
  • Healthy carrier state may follow acute illness.
  • International Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) estimates that in 2016, there were approximately 12 million cases of typhoid fever resulting in around 130,000 deaths.
  • Drug-resistant “superbug” strains of S. Typhi have been reported from several countries in Africa and South Asia, including India, China, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Nepal.
  • Typhoid is hugely underdiagnosed and most people are not given appropriate treatment, leading to antimicrobial resistance (AMR).

 

Typbar TCV

  • Typbar TCV is the first typhoid vaccine clinically proven to be administered to children from 6 months of age to adults.
  • It will confer long-term protection against typhoid fever.
  • With WHO-SAGE recommendation countries could introduce the vaccine into their immunisation programmes.
  • The vaccine can be used in infants between 6 and 23 months of age and catch up vaccinations can be given to children between 2 and 15 years of age.
  • The WHO prequalification of Typbar TCV marks an important milestone in the global effort to rid the world of typhoid fever and improve health for some of the most vulnerable populations in the world
Section : Social Issues
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