SECURE SYNOPSIS: 03 August 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: Changes in critical geographical features (including waterbodies and ice-caps) and in flora and fauna and the effects of such changes.
1) According to a new study, nearly 60,000 farmer suicides in the last 30 years in India can be linked to global warming. Discuss relationship between India’s farm crisis with climate change. (200 Words)
Over 1,900 farm suicides were triggered every year over the last 30 years in India by warming related to climate change, says a new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) of the United States of America.
In 2014, the National Crime Records Bureau of India reported 5,650 farmer suicides. The highest number of farmer suicides was recorded in 2004 when 18,241 farmers committed suicide. The farmer’s suicide rate in India has ranged between 1.4 and 1.8 per 100,000 total populations, over a 10-year period through 2005.
India is an agrarian country with around 70% of its people depending directly or indirectly upon agriculture. Farmer suicides account for 11.2% of all suicides in India. Activists and scholars have offered a number of conflicting reasons for farmer suicides, such as monsoon failure, high debt burdens, government policies, public mental health, personal issues and family problems. There is also accusation of states manipulating the data on farmer suicides.
There is a wide array of factors that has led to the increasing spate of farmer suicides in India. The lands are not as productive as before, the markets are failing, the debts are piling up, and the pests cannot be kept at bay. More than an economic problem, this has now assumed political and humanitarian dimensions, especially since the past decade.
Relation with climate change:
India will see more such tragedies as climate change brings hotter temperatures that damage crops and exacerbate drought.
India’s average temperatures expected to rise another 3 degrees C (5.4 degrees F) by 2050. That will bring more erratic weather events, more drought and stronger storms.
India’s farmers are already hit regularly by strong storms, extreme drought, heat waves and other extreme weather events. Some still rely on natural rainfall to water their crops. Scientists have shown that extreme weather events are already increasing as the planet warms.
While crops are expected to respond to increased CO2 with strong vegetative growth, other plants are also thought to respond in a similar fashion. Weeds have become more prolific and are expected to invade new habitats as global warming increases. This has resulted in rise in the use of pesticides and insecticides.
While crops could be impacted by climate change, it is likely that farm animals would be even more susceptible to changes in the climate. It is expected that increased air temperatures will cause more stress on livestock and thus will impact the livelihood of many farmers in country.
As country has many farm lands on coastal areas, climate change will have larger effects on farmlands in coastal areas.
Suitable crop insurance and a prompt compensation of losses due to climate-related factors will help to avoid a sense of hopelessness that leads to suicide
General Studies – 2
Topic: Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Education, Human resources
2) Critically evaluate the role of National Council for Teacher Education (NCTE) and the Union ministry of human resource development (MHRD) in improving quality of teacher education and training. (200 Words)
National Council for Teacher Education (NCTE)
The National Council for Teacher Education (NCTE) was established in 1993 by an Act of Parliament. It is the all-powerful regulatory body for the teacher education system in the country. To fulfil the national commitment to education for all, India began a massive expansion of its schooling system in the late 1980s and early 1990s. This demanded a proportionate increase in the number of teachers. The NCTE was set up in this period, with a view to achieving planned and coordinated development of the teacher education system.
Role of NCTE:
- It shall be the duty of the Council to take all such steps as it may think fit for ensuring planned and co-ordinated development of teacher education and for the determination and maintenance of standards for teacher education and for the purposes of performing its functions under this Act, the Council may:
- Undertake surveys and studies relating to various aspects of teacher education and publish the result thereof;
- Make recommendations to the Central and State Government, Universities, University Grants Commission and recognised institutions in the matter of preparation of suitable plans and programmes in the field of teacher education;
- Co-ordinate and monitor teacher education and its development in the country;
- Lay down guidelines in respect of minimum qualifications for a person to be employed as a teacher in schools or in recognised institutions;
- lay down norms for any specified category of courses or trainings in teacher education, including the minimum eligibility criteria for admission thereof, and the method of selection of candidates, duration of the course, course contents and mode of curriculum;
- lay down guidelines for compliance by recognised institutions, for starting new courses or training, and for providing physical and instructional facilities, staffing pattern and staff qualification;
- Lay down standards in respect of examinations leading to teacher education qualifications, criteria for admission to such examinations and schemes of courses or training;
- Lay down guidelines regarding tuition fees and other fees chargeable by recognised institutions
- Promote and conduct innovation and research in various areas of teacher education and disseminate the results thereof.
Role of Union ministry of human resource development (MHRD):
The essence of Human Resource Development is education, which plays a significant and remedial role in balancing the socio-economic fabric of the Country. Since citizens of India are its most valuable resource, our billion-strong nation needs the nurture and care in the form of basic education to achieve a better quality of life. This warrants an all-round development of our citizens, which can be achieved by building strong foundations in education. In pursuance of this mission, the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) was created on September 26, 1985, through the 174th amendment to the Government of India (Allocation of Business) Rules, 1961.
- Formulating the National Policy on Education and to ensure that it is implemented in letter and spirit
- Planned development, including expanding access and improving quality of the educational institutions throughout the country, including in the regions where people do not have easy access to education.
- Paying special attention to disadvantaged groups like the poor, females and the minorities
- Provide financial help in the form of scholarships, loan subsidy, etc to deserving students from deprived sections of the society.
- Encouraging international cooperation in the field of education, including working closely with the UNESCO and foreign governments as well as Universities, to enhance the educational opportunities in the country.
Both organisations has played very crucial role in the human resource development in the country from very long period.
Topic: Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests
3) Analyse the role being played by Japan in India’s infrastructure sector. Also write a special note on the India-Japan forum. (200 Words)
The economic and strategic relations between two Asian giants- India and Japan have considerably improved in recent years. Being the 3rd largest investor in India, Japan invested more than $25 billion in different sectors of economy since the beginning of the century. Japanese involvement in the Indian infrastructure sector has again got impetus with Japanese investments in North-Eastern region.
Japan’s role –
- Japan’s association with phase 1 of the Delhi metro, Mumbai-Ahmedabad Bullet train, Delhi Mumbai Industrial Corridor and pledge of investing $35 billion over 2014-19 to boost India’s infrastructure and manufacturing sector will strengthen the connectivity between tier one cities which will better help them to act as poles of growth and improve logistics.
- The plan of setting up 12 industrial parks across India and the strong presence of Japanese companies like Toyota in India is consistent with Make in India objective along with creating thousands of jobs, which in turn will further strengthen different institutional infrastructures.
- Japan’s involvement in Asia-Africa Growth Corridor, South Asian Sub-Regional Economic Co-operation (SASEC) and a slew of road and bridge projects is seen as a strong contender to China’s One Belt and One Road initiative and will strengthen India’s economy and geopolitical presence.
- The strategic collaboration between 2 countries in infra sector cannot be best seen in region other than NE. Here, Japan is supporting development in connectivity and road building, electricity and disaster management. The collaboration here aims at containing Chinese influence in the region.
Japan’ role in infra development in India becomes very important-
- India needs huge investments to develop its infra sector. Japan with its expertise in technology, deep pockets (easy loan) and long experience of working in India could be a suitable partner.
- Role of Japanese help becomes important when it comes to infra development in regions like NER, where other institutions like World Bank are reluctant to help due to territorial disputes.
India- Japan partnership forum –
- India-Japan forum is an independent non-profit forum which was announced in the year 2000 to act as a platform of mutually beneficial partnership.
- The forum provides platform to policy makers, business leaders, media persons and academicians to discuss and design solutions to common global challenges.
- It aims to boost co-operation in different areas – business and industry, culture and tourism, infrastructure among others.
- The joint forum is playing an important role in strengthening bilateral relationship.
Topic: Functions and responsibilities of the Union and the States
4) Critically comment on the electoral reforms suggested by the Election and Law Commissions and the actions taken by the union government on these reforms. (200 Words)
Election commission of India (ECI), constitutional body constituted under article 324 of the constitution of India, has given following suggestions as electoral reforms-
- Election commissioners should be given the security of tenure similar to chief election commissioner.
- ECI should have contempt power same as the court in India. Frequent contempt affects the dignity of the institution.
- There should be transparency in the funding of political parties.
- ECI should be given the power to make rules under Representation of people act 1951.
- ECI should have the power to audit the accounts of political parties.
- Election to the legislative assembly and to the parliament should be conducted simultaneously.
- Debar the candidate from contesting election if the criminal cases are pending against him.
- Make paid news an offence.
- Do not allow one candidate to contest from more than one constituency.
The law commission of India is constituted by the government to suggest the legislation required on various topics. The law commission has recommended following electoral reforms-
- The political parties should be brought under the ambit of the RTI.
- There should be internal democracy in political parties.
- greater financial accountability of parties
- opening party affairs to public
- experimenting with State Funding of election model to check black money in elections; among others.
The government has taken following actions as per the recommendations of ECI and law commission-
- NOTA was introduced to provide an alternative to the voters.
- Limitation on funding to political parties, Electoral bond was introduced to improve the transparency in electoral funding.
However, on Govt’s part, except for the recent proposal for electoral bonds and the ceiling on cash donations from anonymous sources, the Parliament has rejected other proposals with following excuses:
- Under vindictive politics candidates often try to sabotage the rival candidates with false complaints
- EC cannot be a body at par with the judiciary to try for contempt
- suggesting RoPA to be more than sufficient a measure to tame erring legislators etc.
Way forward –
The legislators may have no reason to put their own selves into question by amending laws to their own disadvantage. This is one stumbling block which very few democracies have actually crossed, as it demands a high sense of moral conscience on part of the ruling parties to do such a thing in keeping with the true ethos of democracy. This is also the litmus test for a higher evolution of a political society which if passed lays way to many more inter-related developments. A clamour for such demand is definitely impending whether it comes from the civil society or the judiciary or the govt itself.
General Studies – 3
Topic: Awareness in the fields of IT, Space, Computers, robotics,
5) Does AI really pose an existential threat to humanity? In the light of the ongoing debate on threats of AI, discuss critically. (200 Words)
Introduction :- Artificial intelligence (AI) is intelligence exhibited by machines. In computer science, the field of AI research defines itself as the study of “intelligent agents”: any device that perceives its environment and takes actions that maximize its chance of success at some goal. Colloquially, the term “artificial intelligence” is applied when a machine mimics “cognitive” functions that humans associate with other human minds, such as “learning” and “problem solving”.
An existential threat to humanity :-
- The World Economic Forum’s (WEF) annual Global Risk study pinpoints AI as one of the dangers that the world faces this year. Many has touted the evolution of technology as exacerbating the threat to geopolitical stability, job security and social relationships in recent years.
- Many experts, including Stephen Hawking and Bill Gates, have expressed concern over the potential rise of AI, believing that it does create a risk for us.
- With AI having the potential to develop consciousness, the report fears that the machines objectives may not fall in line with humanity’s, and ultimately we could become a nuisance to them.
- Artificial intelligence will enable us to address some of the great issues of our age, such as climate change and population growth, much more effectively.
- However, increased reliance on AI will dramatically exacerbate existing risks, such as cyber, making the development of mitigation measures just as crucial
- The AI is programmed to do something devastating:Autonomous weapons are artificial intelligence systems that are programmed to kill. In the hands of the wrong person, these weapons could easily cause mass casualties
- The AI is programmed to do something beneficial, but it develops a destructive method for achieving its goal:This can happen whenever we fail to fully align the AI’s goals with ours, which is strikingly difficult. If one ask an obedient intelligent car to take you to the airport as fast as possible, it might get you there chased by helicopters and covered in vomit, doing not what you wanted but literally what you asked for.
- Other challenges like loss of jobs, ethical implications of increased mechanisation, display of superior skills in many instances like games, administration etc renders humanity into fear of Artificial intelligence.
However artificial intelligence has many advantages and applications :-
- Competitions and prizes :- There are a number of competitions and prizes to promote research in artificial intelligence. The main areas promoted are: general machine intelligence, conversational behavior, data-mining, robotic cars, robot soccer and games.
- Healthcare :- Artificial intelligence is breaking into the healthcare industry by assisting doctors. According to Bloomberg Technology, Microsoft has developed AI to help doctors find the right treatments for cancer. According to CNN, there was a recent study by surgeons at the Children’s National Medical Center in Washington which successfully demonstrated surgery with an autonomous robot.
- Automotive :- Advancements in AI have contributed to the growth of the automotive industry through the creation and evolution of self-driving vehicles. As of 2016, there are over 30 companies utilizing AI into the creation of driverless cars. A few companies involved with AI include Tesla, Google, and Apple.
- Finance :- Financial institutionshave long used artificial neural network systems to detect charges or claims outside of the norm, flagging these for human investigation. Use of AI in banking can be tracked back to 1987 when Security Pacific National Bank in USA set-up a Fraud Prevention Task force to counter the unauthorised use of debit cards. Apps like Kasisito and Moneystream are using AI in financial services
- Video games :- Artificial intelligence is used to generate intelligent behaviours primarily in non-player characters(NPCs), often simulating human-like intelligence.
Even in humans, intelligence is not correlated with a desire for power. In fact, the thirst for power can be excessive (and somewhat successful) in people with limited intelligence. Hence linking artificial intelligence to overpower and destruction reflects limited understanding. A lot of the bad things humans do to each other are very specific to human nature. Behavior like becoming violent when we feel threatened, being jealous, wanting exclusive access to resources, preferring our next of kin to strangers, etc were built into us by evolution for the survival of the species. Intelligent machines will not have these basic behaviour unless we explicitly build these behaviors into them. However upregulation, misuse, excessive dependence on AI will create a messy situation and could lead to casualties, disadvantages. Hence careful handling, developing and utilisation of AI is required.
Topic: Awareness in the fields of IT, Space, Computers, robotics,
6) Discuss the various issues and concerns associated with driverless cars. Do you think driverless cars should be promoted? Comment. (200 Words)
Introduction :- Self-driving cars promise to transform roadways. There’d be fewer traffic accidents and jams, say proponents, and greater mobility for people who can’t operate a vehicle. The cars could fundamentally change the way we think about getting around.
The technology is already rolling onto American streets : Uber has introduced self-driving cabs in Pittsburgh and is experimenting with self-driving trucks for long-haul commercial deliveries. Google’s prototype vehicles are also roaming the roads. (In all these cases, though, human supervisors are along for the ride.) Automakers like Subaru, Toyota and Tesla are also including features such as automatic braking and guided steering on new cars.
But there are many issues associated with them :-
- Destructive technology :- It is amount to create disruption in traditional ways by job loss, increased mechanisation.
- They’ll Create A Legal And Political Minefield :- Currently, the laws around self-driving cars are both simple and complicated. They’re simple in the sense that there are damned few actual laws covering the things. That’s also the complicated part. Broadly speaking, something can be considered legal simply because no one has said otherwise, and that’s kind of the situation self-driving cars find themselves in now.
- They Will Only Benefit Rich People :- A lot of the benefits of self driving cars – easy parking, extra free time, exclusive lanes on the interstate – will only be experienced by the wealthy.
- They will need better maps, infrastructure, communications, sensors and typical conditions will test their ability like following :-
- Sensing the surroundings :- To a computer, a highway on a clear day looks completely different than it does in fog or at dusk. Self-driving cars have to detect road features in all conditions, regardless of weather or lighting.
- Unexpected encounters :- Self-driving cars struggle to interpret unusual situations, like a traffic officer waving vehicles through a red light. Simple rule-based programming won’t always work because it’s impossible to code for every scenario in advance
- Cybersecurity issues :- In 2015, hackers brought a Jeep to a halt on a St. Louis highway by wirelessly accessing its braking and steering via the onboard entertainment system. The demonstration proved that even conventional vehicles have vulnerabilities that, if exploited, could lead to accidents.
- Ethical issues :- Sometimes, a driver must decide whether to swerve right or left, for instance — either injuring three people in a truck or potentially killing a person on a motorcycle. Those types of ethical dilemmas would require the software in a self-driving car to weigh all the different outcomes and come to a final solution on its own.
But they enjoy numerous benefits and hence must be promoted along with wider innovation, technological development, careful analysis of advantages and disadvantages:-
- Some of the greatest increases in living standards in human history happened during the industrial and the technological revolutions of the 19th and 20th centuries, respectively. Such enormous feats were not achieved by saving jobs but by allowing their creative destruction.
- Safety– No matter what we like to believe, humans are no good at driving. The 1.2m people killed every year on roads worldwide are proof of that. Unlike us, driverless cars will never drive drunk and will not be able to speed, take reckless chances or race their mates away from traffic lights.
- Driverless cars may also help save our planet. Because autonomous vehicles are built to optimize efficiency in acceleration, braking, and speed variation, they help increase fuel efficiency and reduce carbon emissions.
- Time spent in traffic is wasted time. But Autonomous cars would enable drivers to spend that time doing something else instead.
- If people spend all of their new free time working, productivity will soar.
- Autonomous vehicles could mean productivity gains of $507 billion annually in the US alone, according to a study by Morgan Stanley.
- Parking– No longer will it be our problem to find a space – our car will handle it.
- Self-driving cars will enable not only the elderly to be mobile, but it will also empower those with disabilities, the unlicensed, and those who do not own a car to travel as well.
- School run– Perhaps the best thing about driverless cars is that people won’t need a licence to operate them. Children can drive themselves to karate practice, Sunday football or school
General Studies – 4
Topic: Aptitude and foundational values for Civil Service
7) Differentiate between aptitude and attitude. Illustrate with examples why aptitude is important for civil servants. (150 Words)
Introduction :- Attitude is related to existing abilities and skills with certain perceptions while aptitude is the potential ability to acquire skills, abilities and knowledge. It can be positive or negative attitude. The positive attitude is known as optimism where as the negative is pessimism. Aptitudes are our potential to learn skills which we develop and hone through time. What works, you continue using. What does not, you strive to change. Attitude deals with character while aptitude deals with competence. Aptitude can be developed easily and fastly in many cases than attitude. Civil servants like O P Gupta, E shreedharan, Armstrong Pame have displayed great aptitude in their respective works.
Why aptitude more important for civil servant :-
- Todays world is all about learning. Fast changes, dynamic scenarios, destabilising situations, new emerging problems, quick decision making pressure situations aptitude helps as a strong vale.
- Role of a civil servant constantly changes specially considering the diverse country like India. Civil servants act as a connecting link between government and citizen and hence need better aptitude to convey government policy, goal and to deliver better results.
- On daily basis and at personal level a civil servant has to face many problems like 24 hours duty alert, emergencies, physical and mental stress and in theses situation they need to handle public at large. Hence values like emotional intelligence, compassion, sympathy, integrity, non partisanship, innovative mindset plays important role.