SECURE SYNOPSIS: 04 May 2017
NOTE: Please remember that following ‘answers’ are NOT ‘model answers’. They are NOT synopsis too if we go by definition of the term. What we are providing is content that both meets demand of the question and at the same time gives you extra points in the form of background information.
General Studies – 1;
Topic: Urbanization – problems and remedies
1) In countries like the US and China, medium sized cities are engines of economic progress—but in India, megacities still dominate. Why is economic activity concentrated in high-density clusters in India? Why are medium-size cities not growing? Examine. (200 Words)
Introduction :- Although India has experienced rapid growth over the last two decades, spatial disparities have increased. India’s growth is concentrated in mega cities. This stands in sharp contrast with the spatial development in China and the US, where intermediate cities have become the new drivers of growth and job creation.
Communes, financial autonomy, development of coastal town, focus on labour intensive industries initially and large manufacturing hubs later, development of SEZ and coastal economic zone along with development of inland waterways and robust infrastructure under Mao ad Deng Xiaoping made small cities engine of growth in China.
In USA trickle of refuges, industries based on market, raw material in different cities eg. iron and steel along great lakes, rich food processing industries along coast , growth in cutting edge technology led to growth of several knowledge based industries along cities.
Reasons for economic activities being concentrated in Megacities in India:-
- Historical: under initial mercantile phase British destroyed manufacturing hubs and developed ports cities. It resulted crowding in of labour, industries, finance, universities and opportunities in these cities which continued in post independence time.
- Lack of finances:The govt also could choose top 50-100 cities alone, either for JNNURM or for recent AMRIT. Lack of finances are not allowing to infuse planned infrastructure till middle sized towns.
- Failing local governance:-In USA and China the local urban governance is a at a different plane. Poor local leadership is one among the hindrances in this regard. Corruption and interference at this level is not so promising.
- Administrative units, financial centre, cheaper and skilled labour, better infrastructure, close to market , growth of middle class as prime consumer, state efforts to woo industries in already developed district has further intensified the divide.
- Globalisation:-Meanwhile MNC s entered India and started capturing the existing domestic market. The scale of operations and their speed of penetration are not allowing our industries in middle sized towns to act as feeder industries.
Reasons why medium size cities not growing:-
- Hardware: The availability of road, railways and other physical infrastructure has been relatively less developed in medium-cities vis-à-vis. megacities.
- Software: The availability of skilled manpower especially those with higher education is relatively less in medium-sized cities.
- Financial Institutions: They are heavily concentrated in Megacities vis-à-vis. medium-sized cities. Strong financial inclusion too is missing in medium sized cities
- Digital Connectivity: Internet availability is not as strong in medium-sized cities as Megacities which becomes a potent drag on growth.
- Large scale migration to big cities leave the medium sized cities on disadvantage.
- Private sector is not motivated to shift focus towards medium sized cities due to lack of incentives and underdevelopment of infrastructure facilities.
- Local municipalities are not sufficiently capable of providing appropriate environment for private companies to come. Devolution of power is necessary.
Many subjects mention under schedule 12 are still not devolved to ULBs. Non adherence to ‘Principle of Subsidiarity’ affects their development. Municipalities still can’t impose taxes on large subjects which are mentioned under schedule 12..eg some ULBs are not allowed to even levy ‘PROPERTY TAX’.
- PSUs were set up after independence to interior areas but lots of them either turned to be sick or couldn’t grow enough.
- Lack of political will power can be held responsible.
- Absence of comprehensive policy framework:-Hitherto focus was primarily on mega cities. The last National commission for development was setup in 1988,which doesn’t reflect the contemporary realities. So there is need to constitute National commission of urbanisation.
- Absence of separate cadre of management, absence of single leadership(mayor not elected directly)
Way forward:- The future drivers of growth and jobs will be the medium-size cities in India, just like in China and the US. But the medium-density locations currently are the worst places. Hence addressing above problems becomes crucial as India will attain 50% of urbanisation by 2030 and most of these population will reside in small and medium towns. Policies like Smart City mission -where medium-sized cities will be made smarter through the use of ICT-, AMRUT, Sagarmala etc.al shall play an important role in achieving this.
General Studies – 2
Topic: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation
Introduction :- NITI Aayog released its Three Year Action Agenda document, a comprehensive framework for proposed policy changes to be implemented in the short term in India. The Agenda is wide-ranging: It covers the different sectors of the economy—agriculture, industry and manufacturing—discusses the policies necessary for urban and rural transformation and a range of growth-enabling ingredients such as transport, digital connectivity and entrepreneurship.
The objectives of this Agenda :-
- Mark India’s transformation to cooperative federalism.
- Reduce the minute involvement in economic planning by the central government while keeping it as a central directory authority.
- And, to give more power to states in identifying, taking action on and developing solutions to important socio-economic problems.
Selected Key Action Agenda Items
Three Year Revenue and Expenditure Framework:
- A tentative medium-term expenditure framework (MTEF) for the Centre is proposed. Based on forecasts of revenue, it proposes sector-wise expenditure allocation for three years.
- Proposes reduction of the fiscal deficit to 3% of the GDP by 2018-19, and the revenue deficit to 0.9% of the GDP by 2019-20.
- The roadmap consisting of shifting additional revenues towards high priority sectors: health, education, agriculture, rural development, defence, railways, roads and other categories of capital expenditure.
Agriculture: Doubling Farmers’ Incomes by 2022
- Reform the Agricultural Produce Marketing to ensure that farmers receive remunerative prices.
- Raise productivity through enhanced irrigation, faster seed replacement and precision agriculture.
- Shift to high value commodities: horticulture, animal husbandry, fisheries.
- A separate detailed roadmap issued by Member, Professor Ramesh Chand
Industry and Services: Job Creation
- Overarching Action Points
- Create Coastal Employment Zones to boost exports and generate high-productivity jobs.
- Enhance labour-market flexibility through reforming key laws
- Address the high and rising share of Non-Performing Assets (NPAs) in India’s banks through supporting the auction of larger assets to private asset reconstruction companies (ARCs), and strengthening the State Bank of India-led ARC.
- Action points for specific sectors
- Leather and footwear
- Food processing
- Gems and jewellery
- Real estate.
- Need to bring down land prices to make housing affordable through increased supply of urban land
- More flexible conversion rules from one use to another
- Release of land held by sick units
- Release of other urban land potentially available
- More generous Floor Space Index.
- Reform the Rent Control Act along the lines of Model Tenancy Act;
- Initiate titles of urban property
- dormitory housing
- Address issues related to city transportation infrastructure and waste management.
- Actions targeted aimed at improving development outcomes in the (i) North Eastern Region, (ii) Coastal Areas & Islands, (iii) North Himalayan states and (iv) Desert and Drought prone states.
Transport and Digital Connectivity
- Strengthen infrastructure in roadways, railways, shipping & ports, inland waterways and civil aviation.
- Ensure last-mile digital connectivity, particularly for e-governance and financial inclusion, through developing infrastructure, simplifying the payments structure and improving literacy.
- Facilitate Public-Private Partnerships.by reorienting the role of the India Infrastructure Finance Company Ltd. (IIFCL), introducing low cost debt instruments and operationalizing the National Investment Infrastructure Fund (NIIF).
- Adopt consumer friendly measures such as provision of electricity to all households by 2022, LPG connection to all BPL households, elimination of black carbon by 2022, and extension of the city gas distribution programme to 100 smart cities.
- Reduce the cross-subsidy in the power sector to ensure competitive supply of electricity to industry.
- Reform the coal sector by setting up a regulator, encouraging commercial mining and improving labour productivity.
Science & Technology
- Create comprehensive database of all government schemes and evaluate them for desirable changes
- Develop guidelines for PPPs in S&T to improve education and industry-academia linkages for demand-driven research
- Channel S&T to address development challenges such as access to education, improving agricultural productivity and wastewater management.
- Create a “National Science, Technology & Innovation Foundation” to identify and deliberate national issues, recommend priority interventions in S&T and prepare frameworks for their implementation
- Streamline the administration of the patent regime
- Re-calibrate the role of the government by shrinking its involvement in activities that do not serve a public purpose and expanding its role in areas that necessarily require public provision
- Implement the roadmap on closing select loss-making PSEs and strategic disinvestment of 20 identified CPSEs.
- Expand the government’s role in public health and quality education.
- Strengthen the civil services through better human resource management, e-governance, addressing anomalies in tenures of secretaries and increasing specialization and lateral entry.
Taxation and Regulation
- Tackle tax evasion, expand the tax base and simplify the tax system through reforms. For example, consolidate existing custom duty rates to a unified rate.
- Create an institutional mechanism for promoting competition through comprehensive review and reform of government regulations across all sectors.
- Strengthen public procurement
The Rule of Law
- Undertake significant judicial system reforms including increased ICT use, structured performance evaluation and reduced judicial workload.
- Legislative, administrative and operational reforms of police are suggested to the states.
Education and Skill Development
- Shift the emphasis on the quality of school education paying particular attention to foundational learning
- Move away from input-based to outcome-based assessments
- Rank outcomes across jurisdictions
- Use ICT judiciously to align teaching to the student’s level and pace
- Revisit the policy of automatic promotion up to eighth grade
- Create a tiered regulation of universities and college to provide greater autonomy to top universities under the current system.
- Focus on creating and funding public universities under the World Class Universities program.
- Focus on public health through significantly increasing government expenditure on it, establishing a focal point and creating a dedicated cadre.
- Generate and disseminate periodic, district-level data as per uniform protocols.
- Formulate a model policy on human resources for health, implement a bridge course for nurses/AYUSH practitioners in primary care.
- Reform IMC Act and the acts governing homeopathy and Indian systems of medicine
- Launch the National Nutrition Mission; develop a comprehensive Nutrition Information System.
Building an Inclusive Society
- Enhance the welfare of women, children, youth, minorities, SC, ST, OBCs, differently abled persons and senior citizens.
- Develop a composite gender-based index to reflect the status of women in the country.
- Introduce skill-based education and extra-curricular activities as a mandatory part of school curricula; design innovative conditional cash transfer schemes to encourage girls’ education.
Environment and Water Resources
- Adopt sustainable practices and streamline regulatory structures to support high economic growth.
- Adopt measures to tackle city air pollution
- Revisit the policy towards felling of trees on private land and transport of trees
- Promote sustainable use of water resources by improving groundwater management, adopting smart water meters for specific industrial units and enhancing the regulatory environment in the sector.
Topic: Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests, Indian diaspora.
Since the time of chola India has ruled the large swath of blue water of Indian Ocean. The unique geographical position should make it the natural leader however in recent years its dominance is being questioned via following geo political factor.
- China string of pearls: with an idea to box Indian in south Asia, china has developed string of ports and infrastructure all along Indian ocean. Acquisition of first military base in Djibouti has boosted its presence.
- Increasing proximity of Indian neighbour with china: docking of submarine on Sri Lanka port, Maldives recent talk to lease its island to china
- Pivot to Asia of USA will bring foreign vessel in large Asia pacific region with India becoming pawn in larger geopolitics
- Somalia pirates along gulf of Aden , dispute over Diego Garcia make India ocean susceptible of meddling by foreign power
- Inherent weakness in Indian defence policy: depleting arsenal, inadequate submarines due to delay in project 75 and 75I, huge dependency on imports, further aggravated by china equipping Pakistan with nuclear submarine.
Despite speculation to the contrary, India is far from losing strategic influence in the Indian Ocean region. Its security cooperation and relations with states like Sri Lanka, Maldives and Seychelles remain strong. India is rising naval power, and its steady role in maritime surveillance and assistance is increasing.
- India is a rising naval power and has the natural advantage of geography in the surrounding ocean. Moreover, India is connected to smaller countries in the region through entrenched ethnic and historical ties. India feels security obligations to regional states and has displayed its operational reach through campaigns in Sri Lanka and Maldives.
- In 1987, it intervened in the Sri Lankan civil war through the Indian Peace Keeping Force. Likewise, Indian armed forces intervened in Maldives in 1988 following a coup, and after the 2004 tsunami the Indian Navy was first to provide critical disaster relief to Sri Lanka, Maldives and Indonesia
- Aside from such extraordinary circumstances, India has enduring and growing military relationships with island nations in the Indian Ocean. India deputes a navy officer to manage the National Coast Guard of Mauritius, where two-thirds of the public is of Indian origin.
- In 2007, New Delhi built a monitoring station in Madagascar that relays intelligence back to Mumbai and Kochi. India is also installing a network of coastal radars in all 26 Maldivian atolls that feed back to India.
- The Indian Navy and Coast Guard frequently assist Seychelles, Maldives and Mauritius in maintaining security by providing maritime surveillance, hydrographic surveys, training, and maritime military equipment and repair, in addition to engaging these countries in exercises.
- In contrast, China has not provided such maritime assistance, except for two patrol craft and training to Seychelles. India concluded the DOSTI exercise with Maldives in April, even adding Sri Lanka to this two-decade bilateral engagement. The three countries will soon sign an agreement to advance maritime domain awareness in the region. India’s military ties with post-war Sri Lanka are now deeper with the resumption of the SLINEX naval exercise in 2011, and the two countries began an annual dialogue between their defence secretaries in 2012.
- Beyond bilateral relationships, New Delhi is gradually assuming a greater leadership role in Indian Ocean institutions, such as the economic and diplomatic forum Indian Ocean Rim-Association for Regional Cooperation (IOR-ARC) and the Indian Ocean Naval Symposium (IONS). Far from India’s influence waning, all these measures reinforce the country’s strong security relationships with Indian Ocean countries.
- Despite India’s entrenched ties with smaller island states in the Indian Ocean, these countries are constrained by limited resources and accept infrastructure assistance from any country that can offer it – from Japan, South Korea and Iran as well as from China. Smaller countries seek to develop their economies without having to choose between India and China.
- In fact, New Delhi has not always been receptive to their requests for development assistance and should not be surprised when China steps in to fill this role. Sri Lanka, for example, consulted India first to build a port in Hambantota, but New Delhi declined. Colombo subsequently accepted Chinese funding rather than pass up an opportunity to develop a possible trans shipment hub in South Asia.
- Furthermore, Beijing’s economic engagement with smaller South Asian states offers benefits for India. Until New Delhi is prepared to increase its investment in regional infrastructure development, China’s road, rail, seaport and airport projects will improve trade and connectivity for the betterment of the entire South Asian region, which the World Bank and Asian Development Bank consider to be among the least integrated regions in the world. Still, New Delhi should not take for granted its dominant position in the Indian Ocean.
- The rejection in Maldives, though its significance should not be overstated, serves as a wakeup call for India to invest more in developing its backyard.
Despite the failed airport deal with Maldives, New Delhi is not in danger of losing its privileged place in the Indian Ocean. This transactional thinking ignores India’s longstanding security ties with regional states, which have been expanding and will continue to do so. Nasheed waits in the Indian High Commission while Maldives’ High Court and police force seek India’s assistance with bringing him into custody. Although the High Commissioner has not yet made a decision, the episode displays India’s persisting influence in the region.
Conclusion :-That being said, China will increasingly pursue economic opportunities in the Indian Ocean, and the smaller states will accept Chinese assistance as they seek to develop their economies. But this is not a zero-sum game and does not translate to India losing its strategic advantage in a region whose very geography is a metaphor for the country’s centrality and growing influence.
General Studies – 3
Topic: Linkages between development and spread of extremism.
Background of Insurgency:
The insurgency in Jammu and Kashmir or the Kashmiri Insurgency is a conflict between various Kashmiri separatists and nationalists sometimes known as extremists and the Government of India. Few groups favour Kashmir accession to Pakistan, while others seek Kashmir’s complete independence. Since 2002, skirmishes with the local insurgents have constituted the main conflict in the Kashmir region. The conflict in Jammu and Kashmir has strong Islamist elements among the insurgents, with many of the “ultras” identifying with Jihadist movements and supported by such. The roots of the conflict between the Kashmiri insurgents and the Indian government are tied to a dispute over local autonomy. Democratic development was limited in Kashmir until the late 1970s and by 1988 many of the democratic reforms provided by the Indian government had been reversed and non-violent channels for expressing discontent were limited and caused a dramatic increase in support for insurgents advocating violent secession from India.
Reasons for Conflict in Kashmir:
- Development issues:
Development is one of the main reason for instability in Kashmir region but not only the reason for it. Other way round the very process of development has been hampered over the long period due to instability issues. The lack of Infrastructure in terms of physical and social has led to cyclic nature of unemployment in the state.
- Territorial disputes:
India claims the entire state of Jammu and Kashmir, and, as of 2010, administers approximately 43% of the region. It controls Jammu, the Kashmir Valley, Ladakh, and the Siachen Glacier. India’s claims are contested by Pakistan, which administers approximately 37% of Jammu and Kashmir, namely Azad Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan. China currently administers Demchok district, the Shaksgam Valley, and the Aksai Chin region. China’s claim over these territories has been disputed by India since China took Aksai Chin during the Sino-Indian War of 1962.
- ISIS role:
The Pakistani Inter-Services Intelligence has allegedly encouraged and aided the Kashmir independence movement through an insurgency due to its dispute on the legitimacy of Indian rule in Kashmir, with the insurgency as an easy way to keep Indian troops distracted and cause international condemnation of India.
- Humanitarian abuses
Amnesty International accused security forces of exploiting the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) that enables them to “hold prisoners without trial”. The group argues that the law, which allows security to detain individuals for as many as two years “without presenting charges, violating prisoners’ human rights”. The Army sources maintain that “any move to revoke AFSPA in Jammu and Kashmir would be detrimental to the security of the Valley and would provide a boost to the terrorists.”
- Nature of ongoing conflict:
Since the 2008 protests and 2010 unrest, the turmoil has taken a new dimension when people, particularly youngsters of the Kashmir valley have started pelting stones on security forces to express their aggression and protest for the loss of freedom. In turn they get attacked by the armed personnel with pellets, rubber bullets, sling shots and tear gas shells. This leads to eye-injuries and several other kinds of injuries to many people. Security forces also face injuries, and sometimes get beaten up during these events.
All above mentioned reasons shows the very complicated and multipronged nature of the conflict in Kashmir region. The lack of Development is not the sole reason but is one of the main reasons for the present turmoil conditions in the state. The solutions for peace and internal security surely go through the path of development. In recent times there have been signs that the government is taking local elections more seriously. The government has also funneled development aid to Kashmir and Kashmir has now become the biggest per capita receiver of Federal aid.
Topic: Infrastructure; changes in industrial policy and their effects on industrial growth.
Steel is one of the most important products in the modern world and forms the backbone to any industrial economy. India being one of the fastest growing economies in the world, and steel finding its extensive application right from construction, infrastructure, power, aerospace and industrial machinery to consumer products, the sector is of strategic importance to the country. The Indian steel sector has grown exponentially over the past few years to be the third largest producer of steel globally, contributing to about 2% of the country’s GDP and employing about 5 lakh people directly and about 20 lakh people indirectly.
Untapped potential with a strong policy support becomes the ideal platform for growth. Owing to the strategic importance of the sector along with the need to have a robust and restructured policy in present scenario, the new NSP, 2017 became imminent. Though, National Steel Policy 2005 (NSP 2005) sought to indicate ways and means of consolidating the gains flowing out of the then economic order and charted out a road map for sustained and efficient growth of the Indian steel industry, it required adaptation in view of the recent developments unfolding in India and also worldwide, both on the demand and supply sides of the steel market.
The new Steel Policy enshrines the long term vision of the Government to give impetus to the steel sector. It seeks to enhance domestic steel consumption and ensure high quality steel production and create a technologically advanced and globally competitive steel industry.
The New Steel Policy, 2017 aspires to achieve 300MT of steel-making capacity by 2030. This would translate into additional investment of Rs. 10 lakh Crore by 2030-31.
Some highlights of New Steel Policy
- The Policy seeks to increase consumption of steel and major segments are infrastructure, automobiles and housing. New Steel Policy seeks to increase per capita steel consumption to the level of 160 Kgs by 2030 from existing level of around 60 Kg.
- Potential of MSME steel sector has been recognized. Policy stipulates that adoption of energy efficient technologies in the MSME steel sector will be encouraged to improve the overall productivity & reduce energy intensity.
- Steel Ministry will facilitate R&D in the sector through the establishment of Steel Research and Technology Mission of India (SRTMI). The initiative is aimed to spearhead R&D of national importance in iron & steel sector utilizing tripartite synergy amongst industry, national R&D laboratories and academic institutes.
- Ministry through policy measures will ensure availability of raw materials like Iron ore, Coking coal and non-coking coal, Natural gas etc. at competitive rates.
- The policy is aligned with India’s larger global role in bringing down CO2 emissions, and is a major improvement over the environment related provisions of the old policy. It envisages a greater role for greener alternatives like an increased use of natural gas, and a Waste Management Plan with focus on waste recycling.
- Indian steel makers who import raw materials or intermediate products can claim the benefits of the domestic procurement provision if they add a minimum of 15% value to the product.The policy has a waiver for specific kinds of steel not manufactured in the country, or where domestic makers can’t meet the quality standards required by a project.
This policy has following progressive aspects as compared to previous steel policies of India.
- Create self-sufficiency in steel production by providing policy support & guidance to private manufacturers, MSME steel producers, CPSEs
- Encourage adequate capacity additions
- Development of globally competitive steel manufacturing capabilities
- Cost-efficient production
- Domestic availability of iron ore, coking coal & natural gas
- Facilitating foreign investment
- Asset acquisitions of raw materials
- Enhancing the domestic steel demand
This is a supportive mechanism to the domestic steel producers. This will also go a long way to address the growth appetite the government is envisaging. It will further boost demand.
Topic: Achievements of Indians in science & technology
The origins of the South Asia satellite date back to the 18th SAARC Summit, in 2014 in Nepal, when Prime Minister Narendra Modi put forward the idea of a common satellite serving the needs of all SAARC members. There were numerous delays, primarily as negotiations among the various countries of the South Asia region stalled over ownership and data access issues. With Pakistan officially opting out of the project by March 2016, the decks were cleared for an expedited launch.
- The South Asia Satellite, also known as GSAT-9, is a geostationary communication and meteorology satellite operated by the Indian Space Research Organisation(ISRO) for the SAARC region excluding Pakistan.
- The satellite has been designed and built by ISRO, with the full cost of the mission being borne by India. PM Modi stated that the satellite will be India’s “gift” to its neighbours.
- The satellite will carry 12 ku-band transponders allotted to the participating countries. Each country can use a dedicated transponder for its own use, which would primarily be communication and disaster management support. The satellite is similar to previous communication satellites designed and launched by ISRO.
Scientific and Diplomatic significance of ISRO’s South Asia Satellite-
- It showcases India’s growing technological prowess. Along with previous missions such as Chandrayaan and the Mars Orbiter Mission, the South Asia satellite underscores the strength of Indian indigenous technological development. Though the satellite is not very challenging technologically, a two-year turnaround for building and deploying a satellite is impressive.
- The satellite has been launched without any specific quid pro quo shows that India is willing to use its technological capabilities as a tool of diplomacy. India has begun realising that domestic technologies have now reached a level of maturity that allows India to confidently brandish its capabilities to other countries.
- It also serves as a marketing tool for future launches at a time when ISRO is building a strong niche for itself in the international satellite launch market.
- It reveals both India’s ambition and capability to create what can be termed “technological commons”. By “gifting” this satellite to its neighbours, India has created an open access resource that can be leveraged by the latter to address some of their critical domestic concerns. Building such commons is essential not only to address immediate problems but also spur research, innovation and economic growth in the region.
- The benefits of India’s GSAT-9, or the South Asia Satellite, include mapping natural resources, telemedicine, IT connectivity and people-to-people links. It is also expected to cement bonds between Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, the Maldives, Nepal and Sri Lanka, and overcome the negative vibes from Pakistan, which is the only South Asian country to opt out of the project.
- The South Asia Satellite will help partner countries in effective communication, better governance, better banking and education in remote areas, more predictable weather forecasting and efficient resource mapping, linking people with top-end medical services through telemedicine and quick response to natural disasters.
- The present government has embarked upon the policy of ‘Neighborhood First’ as a confidence building measure and taking more responsibility for the development of the South Asia region.
- Technological capabilities can serve both hard power (in military and economic terms), and soft power. As technological capabilities and innovation-led growth become important facets of economic and military power, countries have started integrating techno-diplomacy as a major piece in their broader international diplomacy edifice. Thus India with its technological leadership could reduce Chinese influence in the region.
Technology is the calling card of our times. India must make a concerted effort to expand the range of technologies it can use as part of its diplomatic arsenal. India could also look at including biotechnology and green energy. The South Asia satellite is emblematic of a more confident and assertive India, but it is necessary to ensure that such actions are not one-off.