# SYNOPSIS: Insights Secure Q&A April 27, 2016

SYNOPSIS: Insights Secure Q&A April 27, 2016

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General Studies – 1;

Topic: Changes in critical geographical features (including waterbodies and ice-caps) and in flora and fauna and the effects of such changes.

1) Define water scarcity. Despite facing water scarcity, why is India a large virtual net export of water? Should it continue like this? Comment. (200 Words)

Livemint

Water scarcity:

• Water scarcity is defined as the ratio of total surface / groundwater availability in a given river basin . If the ratio is 1 it means that available surface / groundwater is being fully utilized
• Averting water scarcity requires that not more than 20% of the water that flows on the ground is used by humans. So even a ratio of 1 denotes moderate scarcity
• Water footprint network databse recognises four kinds of water scarcity situations.
• low( ratio<1)
• moderate ( ratio between 1 and 1.5)
• significant ( ratio between 1.5 and 2) and
• severe ( ratio > 2)
• Data of India shows that except for Brahmaputra and Mahanadi all river basins with a population of more than 20 million experience water scarcity for a major part of the year
• Ganga and Indus suffer significant and severe levels of water scarcity for 7 and 11 months in a year respectively.

Why is India a large virtual net exporter of water?

• India is a large virtual net exporter of water because of agricultural products like cereals, tea, coffee , sugar etc which all require vast amounts of water .
• Majority of population still depend on agriculture ,It has no sustainable agricultural techniques to cultivate crops, even government focus on agriculture did not yield much change .
• In 2014-15 India exported 372 lakh tons of basmati which required 10 trillion tons of water I.e.., India virtually exported 10 trillion litres of water
• According to water footprint network database India had the least virtual imports of water in the world
• Along with that rise in minimum support prices for agricultural products especially water intensive crops like cereals, sugarcane made farmers prefer them more
• All these contributed for India to be a virtual net exporter

Should it continue?

No:

• Even rudimentary trade theory suggests that a country should be exporting things which it has in abundance and importing those which are scarce. According to this India should be virtual importer of water especially when it is reeling under water scarcity
• China which is the only other country with similar population size like India also has more virtual water imports than India . China is conserving its water supply by importing water intensive crops like soya
• India is poised to its entire available water supply within 500 years if it’s current food export policy continues
• Being net exporter of water can lead India to a slow but irreversible loss of water sustainability
• Rising water demands for agriculture and other sectors such as manufacturing, services and construction will pose additional constraints on water sustainability in future
• India’s per capita water supply is less than China
• India’s water management , agricultural pattern, groundwater exploitation , all indicate India has to change the pattern

Yes:

• Since the virtual water export for India and China is less than 2 % of the total water resources of the two countries it cannot raise any serious sustainability issue
• To suggest virtual water exports can endanger sustainability over 300 years period is preposterous because agriculture economies as well as water in India and China will change profoundly in unknown ways over such a long period

Suggestions:

• India should change its food trade policy like China did way back in 2001 by importing more water intensive crops like grain, soybean from US , Brazil and Argentina
• Enhance Skill development so that people start depending on other fields not just agriculture
• International cooperation and sharing water across borders will be of significant importance
• In rainfed areas like Maharashtra drought resistant crops rather than sugarcane need to be promoted.
• Government should provide support by increasing MSP of pulses
• Water conservation techniques like drip irrigation, rainwater harvesting go a long way
• Technical expertise in cultivation of crops is needed for farmers

Topic: Role of women and women’s organization

2) Examine the efforts made and challenges faced by the National Commission for Women (NCW) and other women organizations in providing justice to muslim women who are suffering from abject poverty and harsh personal laws. (200 Words)

The Hindu

Efforts by NCW and other organizations:

• In 2000, National Commission for Women (NCW), released a report, ‘Voice of the Voiceless — Status of Muslim Women in India’ in which Muslim women from all over India spoke of their double disadvantage: abject poverty and harsh personal laws.
• Over the years other Muslim women’s organisations were formed such as STEPS in Tamil Nadu, Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Andolan (BMMA) and lately Bebaak Mahila Collective.
• Even the traditional organisation like All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) started changing although slowly.A few women were made members of the AIMPLB. Male spaces opened for women.
• In 2007 in Lucknow No one issued a fatwa against a woman for performing Nikah
• A few groups are planning to intervene in support of the uniform civil code
• Women organizations are providing extensive support to the recent triple Talaq case filed by a Muslim woman in the supreme court to enforce her constitutional rights and intervene in Muslim personal laws.
• Campaigns to enforce recommendations of Sachar Committee for reservations in educational institutions and jobs besides empowering women

Challenges faced by these organizations:

• No section had taken notice of NCW’s recommendations about the plight of the Muslim women
• The ulemas are preparing to counter them with Islamic arguments.Any interference in Muslim personal law,was against the fundamental right of freedom of religion which has been given to all citizens by the Constitution of India.
• Reluctance of State to interfere in regulation of religious affairs

What is needed?

• Ulemas should acknowledge and respect the multiple forums for women such as the All India Shia Personal Law Board, the All India Muslim Women’s Personal Law Board.
• Newer Muslim women’s organisations such as the BMMA have developed their own Nikah Namas (marriage contracts) which needs validation from the government.
• A uniform civil code is the Directive Principle towards which the country had promised to move.

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

3) “With poor documentation of existing and stolen artefacts, outdated laws, and unqualified investigative agencies, India’s record in preserving its past is deplorable.” Critically comment. (200 Words)

The Hindu

Yes: its record is deplorable:

• No proper database:
• An integrated database of existing and stolen artefacts, hardly exist.
• Providing sufficient information regarding theft cases has been a struggle.
• For instance, to a question raised in Parliament in 2010 about the number of antiquities stolen, the government provided a list of 13 thefts that occurred between 2007 and 2010. This list did not include that of Subhash Kapoor, an international antiquities dealer currently in prison for his alleged involvement in the theft of 18 idols from Tamil Nadu. The number of thefts reported also appears too few to be true.
• Pale investigative agencies:
• Indian investigative agencies pale in comparison to carbinieri . Accomplishment of the cultural heritage squad of Carabinieri, the Italian armed police force. It has built an impressive database of about 1.1 million missing artefacts.
• At the national level, the Central Bureau of Investigation handles antiquities theft as a part of its special crimes division. The division also handles cases of economic offences as well as those relating to dowry deaths, murders, and so on. It has not built the capacity to deal with stolen antiquities.
• A few State governments have special wings as part of their police force, but these are also understaffed and unqualified.
• Apathy towards antiquities:
• Hundreds of buildings – like the stunning gompas (monasteries) of Ladakh and scores of temples in central and southern India – lie unprotected.
• While countries such as Italy have not only successfully pursued stolen artefacts abroad but also effectively protected them locally.India, which is equally archaeologically rich and a victim of illicit trading, is far from it.
• Kohinoor Diamond problem:
• The Indian government’s response in the Kohinoor case has exposed its insensate ignorance. It not only got the facts wrong, but appeared embarrassingly out of depth in understanding restitution of antiquities. Given the poor track record in restitution, it seems unlikely that India will get the Kohinoor back.
• Legal failure:
• National laws have not helped the cause either.
• The Antiquities and Art Treasures Act, 1972, mandates compulsory registration of antiquities. However, the process is so cumbersome that not many antiquities are registered.
• There is also fear that registration would attract unnecessary government attention, and prevent the legitimate transfer of the objects. As a result, a large number of private collectors do not register antiquities in their possession.
• The Act, which is meant to deter thefts, is outdated and has to be amended. Though the Justice Mukul Mudgal committee submitted a report recommending changes in 2011, the government is yet to take action.
• The ‘license raj’ under the Antiquities Act restricted the trade of artefacts within the country, thus leading to either smuggling of these items out of the country or being sold surreptitiously.
• A government initiative to document antiquities in its collection has also not progressed well. In 2007, the Ministry of Culture launched the National Mission on Monuments and Antiquities to complete documentation of about 70,00,000 antiquities. Until 2014, it had documented only 8,00,000 artefacts
• The state of India’s museums is another sad story.
• The Comptroller and Auditor General of India’s Performance Audit of Preservation and Conservation of Monuments and Antiquities in 2013 had scathing remarks about the country’s poor acquisition, documentation and conservation systems.
• The audit also raised serious concerns about the “discrepancies in the number of antiquities reportedly available in museums” including the National Museum in Delhi.
• According to Global Financial Integrity, illegal trade in paintings, sculptures, and other artifacts is one of the world’s most lucrative criminal enterprises, estimated at \$6 billion a year.
• And India, with its redoubtable cultural heritage, bureaucratic apathy, and tardy implementation of antiquities protection laws, offers pilferers fertile ground to plunder the past and spirit away booty worth billions for sale in the international bazaar.
• despite the punitive nature of law, Indian antiquities worth billions continue to be smuggled out of the country or hoarded in private collections sans documentation.
• According to the National Crime Records Bureau, between 2008 and 2012 a total of 4,408  items were stolen from 3,676 ASI­-protected monuments across the country, but only 1,493 could be intercepted by police. Overall, around 2,913 items are feared to have been shipped to dealers and auction houses worldwide.
• Indian antiquities also regularly feature in scams involving the world’s two largest auction houses – Sotheby’s and Christie’s.
• Even though India is a signatory to the 1970 UNESCO treaty, experts say it is extremely tough to retrieve antiquities that have left the country.
• Museums and the ASI remain gravely short-staffed with an inadequate number of licensing and registering officers.

Government efforts:

• To plug some of the loopholes, the government launched a National Mission on Monuments and Antiquities, tasked with documenting the antiquities and preparing a national database.
• The mission help establish provenance in the retrieval of smuggled antiquities, in addition to promoting public awareness and participation in the safeguarding of antiquarian wealth.
• A committee has also been set up to review museum security requirements for a comprehensive security policy.

Suggestion:

• laws in the K. and Canada allow citizens to place their art for sale on the international market with the State given the chance to match the highest bid, unlike India where any antiquity can be impounded by a government agency without fair compensation to its owner.
• Having fair provisions in the act will balance the owners’ right to their property as well as the nation’s investment in important cultural objects
• Experts recommend building larger cadres of art historians, conservators and archaeologists to man important sites and museums to safeguard and maintain heritage.
• Incentivizing art fairs, auctions, and art dealers will help solve the problem by creating a thriving domestic market. If the market is regulated better, it will attract more buyers, sellers and artists and organically snuff out illicit trade.
• The need for restitution to past victims has become a major part of national politics and international diplomacy.” It has become a way of correcting historical injustices. The Indian government, taking cues from such arguments, should build a mature understanding of restitution rather than hastily draft myopic responses.

General Studies – 2

Topic: India and its neighborhood- relations; Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests,

4) Write a critical note on China’s Lancang-Mekong Cooperation (LMC) initiative. It is said that the concern growing among downstream neighbours is that China is seeking to turn water into a potential political weapon. Examine why and how China is doing this. (200 Words)

Livemint

The Lancang-Mekong River cooperation is a new sub-regional cooperation mechanism tailored by the six countries according to their common needs.It includes China, Myanmar, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam as members.

Lancang-Mekong River cooperation will develop cross-border economy, strengthen production capacity cooperation, complement respective advantages, and build cross-border industrial clusters and chains through the construction of industrial parks. China is willing to take full advantage of the fields such as railway, power, electronics, energy resources and machinery, to help the countries along Mekong River realize the industrial upgrade.

China is using LMC as a critical political weapon:

• China’s emergence as the upstream water controller in Asia through a globally unparalleled hydro-engineering infrastructure centred on damming rivers.
• China has highlighted its water hegemony over downstream countries by releasing some dammed water for drought-hit nations in the lower Mekong river basin.
• For the downriver countries, the water release was a jarring reminder of not just China’s newfound power to control the flow of a life-sustaining resource, but also of their own reliance on Beijing’s goodwill and charity.
• With a further 14 dams being built or planned by China on the Mekong, this dependence on Chinese goodwill is set to deepen at some cost to their strategic leeway and environmental security.
• Mekong is just one of the international rivers China has dammed. It has also targeted the Brahmaputra, the Arun, the Indus, the Sutlej, the Irtysh, the Illy, the Amur and the Salween. . This raises fears that the degradation haunting China’s internal rivers could be replicated in the international rivers.
• By forcibly absorbing the Tibetan plateau and Xinjiang China became the source of transboundary river flows to the largest number of countries in the world, extending from the Indo-China peninsula and South Asia to Kazakhstan and Russia.
• It boasts more large dams on its territory than the rest of the world combined. If dams of all sizes and types are counted, their number in China surpasses 90,000.
• Erecting mega-dams. Take its latest dams on the Mekong: the 4,200-megawatt Xiaowan and the 5,850-megawatt Nuozhadu, with a 190 sq. km reservoir. Either of them is larger than the current combined hydropower-generating capacity in the lower Mekong states.
• Despite its centrality in Asia’s water map, China has rebuffed the idea of a water-sharing treaty with any neighbour.
• While climate change, rapid urban development and poor governance, among other factors, have contributed to a growing sense of water insecurity within the Mekong region, China’s ambitious hydropower expansion within and beyond its borders is frequently spotlighted as one of the most serious threats to water security downstream and to regional stability, more broadly.
• Beijing appears to be pushing its Lancang-Mekong Cooperation (LMC) initiative as an alternative to the US sponsered lower-basin states’ Mekong River Commission, which China has spurned over the years. China is a dialogue partner but not a member of the commission, underscoring its intent to stay clued in on the discussions, without having to take on any legal obligations.

No,China has genuine concerns:

• Plans to dam the ecologically-diverse Lancang for the sake of generating electricity to power China’s thriving population and modernising industries

More fundamentally, China’s unilateralist approach underscores the imperative for institutionalized water cooperation in Asia, based on a balance between rights and obligations. Renewed efforts are needed to try and co-opt China in rules-based cooperation.

Topic: Functions of judiciary

5) “Judiciary is part of the problem of judicial vacancy and case pendency. It must also be part of the solution.” Critically comment. (200 Words)

The Indian Express

Yes judiciary is part of the problem:

1.Appointment of judges:

• There was not one instance of all the judicial posts being filled. The average vacancy in the Supreme Court, high courts and lower courts is about 10, 30 and 20 per cent, respectively
• One argument for not filling the sanctioned positions that is proffered is that it is not possible to find good judges. If anyone says that 22,000 good and suitable people cannot be found to take up judges’ positions in India, it insults the nation.
• This is an issue for which both the judiciary and the government must take responsibility. Though there are 462 vacancies for high court judges, only 170 names have been recommended by the collegium.

2.Incompetent judges, rampant malpractices like corruption and the existence of favourtisim in the courts

1. decreasing quality of legal education, unethical lawyers are some of the most important reasons that are bogging down the third pillar of our democracy.
2. Refusal to switch over to technology and lack of computerization in courts delays the justice further.
3. the lack of transparency in the functioning of the system, the absence of a culture of openness and willingness to engage with civil society, academics and other stakeholders, and near absolute lack of quality statistics on the functioning of the system, the judiciary escapes accountability

6.Rejection of NJAC by Supreme court shows its rigidity that external influence is not welcome into the tenets of judiciary.

1. On the other hand, there is a liberal dose of admission of cases without ensuring their disposal. This is mainly because some want to please the Bar. Only when you control the inflow, you can increase the outflow.

9.Session court judges are not fearless to write clear judgements

It is not just judiciary’s fault government is to be blamed too:

• the government is rightly being blamed for not accepting the names expeditiously
• lack of funds by the government to the judicial infrastructure and computerization
• Lamenting the plight of litigants and people languishing in jails and making a case for the development of the country,

Suggestions:

• Implementation of Malimath committee reforms for overhaul of criminal justice system.
• All India judicial services need to be started soon
• Comprehensive reforms in all the government machineries as every institution is linked to Judiciary for instance better scientific investigation by police will lead to quicker case disposal along with sunset clauses in legislature are needed.

Topic: Issues relating to poverty and hungerGovernment policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation

6) Do you think, increased economic growth and slew of welfare schemes have obviated the need for active intervention in a drought situation? Critically comment. (200 Words)

The Hindu

Yes they have obviated the need:

Droughts in India used to be times of frantic relief activity earlier. This year, nothing like the same sense of urgency can be observed, despite 256 districts being declared drought-affected. The reasons are:

• people’s ability to withstand drought on their own has increased
• incomes have risen
• the rural economy is more diversified and
• water supply facilities have improved.
• Also, a semblance of social security system has emerged in rural India, with permanent income support measures such as the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS), the Public Distribution System (PDS), midday meals and social security pensions.
• This also reduces people’s dependence on special relief measures in drought years.
• It is arguable that the PDS is even more important than MGNREGS as a tool of drought relief. Monthly food rations under the PDS are more regular and predictable than MGNREGS work. They also cover a much larger fraction of the rural population — 75 per cent under the National Food Security Act (NFSA). A well-managed PDS is a major safeguard against hunger and starvation.
• So traditional way during drought like Large-scale public works are not organized now.

No they have not:

• None of this, however, obviates the need for active intervention in a drought situation.
• Despite rapid economic growth and some entitlements, the rural poor in India continue to live in conditions of appalling deprivation and insecurity.
• Because of water scarcity, the impact of drought may be worse than before. Recent reports from Bundelkhand and elsewhere confirm that without emergency support, drought continues to plunge millions of people into intolerable hardship.
• To some extent, the nature of the required interventions has changed. The simplest way of preventing starvation in a drought situation today is to intensify the permanent income support measures, for instance by expanding employment under MGNREGS, providing special food rations under the PDS, and arranging for improved school meals. That may not be enough, but it would be a good start.
• NREGA is not enough:
• There are, however, no sign of this happening. According to official data, the MGNREGS generated 230 crore person-days of work in 2015-16. This essentially restored MGNREGS employment generation to the level it had reached before crashing to 166 crore person-days in 2014-15.Yet the Finance Minister continued the unspoken policy of keeping the MGNREGS budget more or less constant in money terms year after year.
• Failure of NFSA and PDS in UP:
• It is no accident that the worst reports of food deprivation come from Uttar Pradesh, which is nowhere near implementing the NFSA. No Indian State has more to gain than U.P. from the NFSA.
• Before the Act came into force, barely one-fourth of the rural population in U.P. benefited from the PDS under the “below poverty line” (BPL) category.. Further, even BPL cards were often in the wrong hands.
• The NFSA is a chance for the government of U.P. to clean up this mess and cover 80 per cent of the rural population under an improved PDS, as many of the poorer States have already done to a large extent.
• NFSA ration cards are yet to be distributed, many people are not even aware of the Act, and the same flawed system continues much as before.
• Bpl no proper targeting
• Because of climate change there is chance of increase in occurrence of droughts without proper intervention and long term strategies the improved life of the people can be pulled back to abjure poverty.
• Also drought along with the rise in temperatures everywhere need an active intervention as people are not well adapted to the changing weather patterns leading to various health illnesses
• Economic growth has only benefited few with perpetuating inequalities so inclusive growth is still a distant dream.
• Even in urban areas the drought effects are visible like lack of drinking water and water mafia building up in cities with drinking water charged excessively.

General Studies – 3

TopicResource mobilization

7) According to the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion, foreign direct investment (FDI) into India reached the “highest ever” mark of \$51 billion in April-February of fiscal year 2015-16. Is increasing flow of FDI always good for economy? Critically examine. (200 Words)

Livemint

FDI is good for the economy:

• It can add to an economy’s productive capacity and import not just capital but technology, production skills and better management.
• China, which not only welcomed FDI but witnessed intense competition between different provinces to attract it, stands as a shining example.
• FDI is also more stable than portfolio investment and bank loans, which have a nasty habit of reversing quickly in a crisis. A government whose economy is running a current account deficit but attracting lots of FDI can argue that the deficit reflects more investment opportunities than the country can finance itself, rather than a low savings rate and excessive consumption.
• FDI allows the transfer of technology—particularly in the form of new varieties of capital inputs—that cannot be achieved through financial investments or trade in goods and services. FDI can also promote competition in the domestic input market.
• Recipients of FDI often gain employee training in the course of operating the new businesses, which contributes to human capital development in the host country.
• Profits generated by FDI contribute to corporate tax revenues in the host country.
• An additional benefit is that FDI is thought to be “bolted down and cannot leave so easily at the first sign of trouble.” Unlike short-term debt, direct investments in a country are immediately repriced in the event of a crisis.
• It brings in Infrastructure and administrative reforms which create effectiveness and accountability of nation.
• Social and economic growth due to awareness from various sources like schools, colleges, constitutional body and information technology etc. which is possible due to FDI.
• The healthy competition will increase, so at the end customer will be in profit.

No,its not always good:

• Not a stable financier for current account deficit:
• The issue of treating FDI inflows as stable financing for the current account deficit needs serious qualification. In theory, it is indeed secure foreign financing. FDI is into plant and equipment, factories which eventually produce tradable goods that then generate foreign exchange resources to help repay past borrowings or debts.
• Therefore, over time, a country’s current account balance stabilizes or becomes self-sustaining because foreign currency receipts increasingly match or offset payments. In practice, however, there can be deviations.
• FDI inflows could seek the domestic market instead of being export-oriented; concentrate in the relatively more profitable, non-tradable sector, leading to little or no transfer of technology.
• It may boost consumption and imports that could exceed exports, thus creating trade deficits instead of surpluses; and FDI-associated income and principal payments could rise over time.
• India’s trend:
• The trend of widening merchandise trade deficit is well-known. So here, focus on just FDI-related repatriations or outflows, i.e. net investment income, which is payment on account of royalties, technological know-how fees, etc. against the income receipts from overseas investments by residents.
• In India net outflows on investment income and principal payments approximately doubled in eight years to 2008-09; these quadrupled in the following six years, i.e. by 2014-15.
• In the last two years, the deficit on this current account component is about \$25-26 billion, which is nearly the size of the overall current account deficit in 2014-15 (\$28 billion). What is secure financing now could be just a short-term gain.
• Incentives given to attract investment can be expensive and hard to undo. And if investments are more to do with capturing market share and financial engineering than they are to do with increasing the capital stock, they may diminish the competitiveness of domestic firms
• Round tripping:
• Companies often engage in round-tripping – using subsidiaries to borrow in local capital markets and then lending back to the parent company. This adds to high private sector leverage and is likely to flow out rapidly in the event of a financial crisis, acting more like portfolio investment than FDI as it is commonly understood.
• Misuse of corporate governance:
• FDI is not only a transfer of ownership from domestic to foreign residents but also a mechanism that makes it possible for foreign investors to exercise management and control over host country firms—that is, it is a corporate governance mechanism.
• The transfer of control may not always benefit the host country because of the circumstances under which it occurs, problems of adverse selection, or excessive leverage.
• Loss of crucial information and threatening domestic firms:
• Through FDI, foreign investors gain crucial inside information about the productivity of the firms under their control. This gives them an informational advantage over “uninformed” domestic savers, whose buying of shares in domestic firms does not entail control.
• Taking advantage of this superior information, foreign direct investors will tend to retain high-productivity firms under their ownership and control and sell low-productivity firms to the uninformed savers. This process may lead to overinvestment by foreign direct investors.
• There could also be a loss of domestic competition arising from foreign acquisitions leading to a consolidation of domestic producers, through either takeovers or corporate failures.
• Domestic industries are seeking due to overflow of cheap products and monopoly which makes them uncomfortable to survive.
• Increase in foreign dependency:
• High share of FDI in a country’s total capital inflows may reflect its institutions’ weakness rather than their strength. foreign dependency will be increased so it will affect our overall development in technology, agriculture, production etc.
• Political pressure always tries to control the flow of FDI to get advantages which create the obstacle in development.
• Inflation is on high due to lower value of money, people have to pay high due to lack of money in the market because it is shifting to FDI companies.

Unethical behaviours like corruption, redtapism and selfishness is increasing day by day because of money matter for example Wal-Mart issue.

General Studies – 4

Topic: Ethical issues in international relations

8) Should India compromise its moral positions on terrorism, and its refusal to bend its principles regardless of provocations from repeated terror attacks? Critically comment. (150 Words)

The Hindu

Topic: Ethical concerns and dilemmas in government and private institutions

9) Many a times, due to the fault of investigating agencies, innocent men and women end up serving many years of jail-term, hence losing many years of their precious lives. In such situations, how to recompense a person for years of wrongful confinement in jail? What are the ethical issues involved here? Critically examine. (150 Words)

The Hindu

The Indian Express