SECURE SYNOPSIS: 16 FEBRUARY 2018
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: Social empowerment; Role of women
1) Critically comment why and how female genital mutilation (FGM) practices such as khatna or khafz that are practised in India and elsewhere must be prevented. Also comment on implications of practises such as FGM on human rights and gender equality. (250 Words)
- Two hundred million girls and women in the world are estimated to have undergone female genital mutilation (FGM), and another 15 million girls are at risk of experiencing it by 2020 in high prevalence countries.
- Despite decades of concerted efforts to eradicate or abandon the practice, and the increased need for clear guidance on the treatment and care of women who have undergone FGM, present efforts have not yet been able to effectively curb the number of women and girls subjected to this practice nor are they sufficient to respond to health needs of millions of women and girls living with FGM. So it is time world including India focuses on this issue.
Why should India prevent FGM?
- Lack of awareness:-
- Women who are subjected to this consider it to be a harmless cultural and religious practice. These women insist that female circumcision and FGM are different things
- Health issues:-
- New research in India suggests that much more damage is caused than a tiny excision. Besides excessive bleeding, infections and painful sex, psychological trauma, anxiety and fear are the less recognised side effects of FGM.
- FGM may have various immediate and/or long-term health consequences, including severe pain, shock, infections and complications during childbirth (affecting both the mother and the child), long-term gynaecological problems such as fistula, psychological effects and death
- FGM is widely performed with unsanitary and unsterile materials and used for multiple girls, which affects the health and wellbeing of the girl and women as well as there have possibility for the transmission of HIV/ ADIS.
- International obligations:
- In 2015, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) recognized the close connection between FGM, gender inequality and development, urging global action to end FGM by 2030.
- Even CEDAW and other international organisations are against FGM.
- While education is arguably the best solution for ensuring women and girls gain equal access to political and socio-economic power in society, FGM makes this impossible because very often for the girls, post-mutilation, is end of schooling, early marriage, and denial of sexual and reproductive health and rights. This is a sure recipe for perpetuation of poverty, misery and inequality in society.
- Gender equality and human rights:-
- Female genital mutilation is akin to child sexual abuse. It occurs secretly, and is usually perpetrated by children’s most trusted caregivers
- It is mostly done to control women’s sexuality and is in line with the patriarchal objective of subjugating women.
- Harmful practices like FGM constitute a violation of women and girls human rights and are a form of discrimination based on sex, gender, age and other grounds.
- FGM sustains gender norms and stereotypes that contravene human rights, and is harmful to the health and wellbeing of girls and women.
- FGM is recognized as a violation of that best interest standard and a violation of children’s rights.
- FGM is expected to reduce the girl’s sexual desire and prevent sexual experience before marriage, and to ensure faithfulness of the woman to her husband which is a manifestation of deep rooted gender inequality in the society.
- Genital mutilation can be seen as reflective of women’s inferiority in other spheres of life.
- The following rights are violated:-
- Right to health
- Rights of child
- The right to sexual and physical integrity,
- Right to be free from discrimination
- The practice of FGM is also a gender-based discrimination against women because it has been taken as a pre-requisite for marriage, to gain economic and social security
- Free from torture, cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment
- The UN Special Rapporteur on Violence against women has clearly stated that FGM amounts to torture.
How FGM can be prevented?
- Attempts to medicalise the procedure need to be shut down as female genital cutting violates a fundamental code of medical ethics.
- International strategies:-
- Data collection and alert:-
- The UK has just introduced a strategy to help identify girls at high risk of FGM: a systematic, non-discriminatory collection of information about the women who have had FGM called the FGM Dataset.
- An alert is added to the medical files of the daughters of women who have had FGM, and their families are provided with education and support.
- This system has led to the identification of the specialist health care needs of many women (and their daughters) who otherwise may not have spoken about their experiences with FGM. It has also meant that girls who may be in danger are better protected.
- India should make it mandatory by law for professionals and institutions working for and with children and women to report actual incidents or the risk of such incidents if they have reasonable grounds to believe that a harmful practice has occurred or may occur.
- Education is always the key. It is essential that women are informed about the link between their own health problems and FGM,
- Systematic identification of girls at risk, and implementation of child protection orders, could save girls from a lifetime of suffering.
- Awareness generation:-
- People need to be made aware the harmful dangers of this practice.
- Data collection and alert:-
- Therefore, efforts to address FGM are part of a long-term process aimed at ensuring greater government involvement in the protection of women’s rights. The experience of nations around the world in addressing FGM reveals that no single approach can eliminate FGM Criminalizing the practice only will not change people’s behaviour, unless governments undertake a multi-strategy approach to eliminating FGM.
General Studies – 2
Topic: Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Eductaion,
- In the light of recent ASER report, the quality of education has come largely under question. One of the reasons have been the teacher absenteeism and lack of teacher quality as well. So analysis on teacher education becomes important.
Why is Justice Verma committee relevant even today?
- Teacher education constraints:-
- Current teacher education institutes are isolated from universities and the system of higher education. Teacher education institutes function as closed spaces with the sole mandate of training teachers missing the holistic aspect education needs.
- Most teacher education programmes (B. Ed. and D. Ed.) do not adequately engage with subject knowledge.
- Teaching is practiced as a mechanical delivery of a given a number of lessons, rather than reflective practice.
- There is poor quality of training through distance mode
- Today, students are quite advanced in their mental age in their intellect ideas and outlook. They are curious to know and have many doubts. Teachers have to meet the queries with confidence. So there must be adequate freedom, flexibility and teaching instruction needs to be problem oriented and not discipline or theory oriented which is largely visible at present.
- Approaches such as case studies, simulations, role play and action research would be more appropriate for the professional development of teacher. Open ended activities and questions could help bring out the vast experiences of the prospective teachers.
- The professional development of teachers need to be located in the larger sociocultural, economic and political context of contemporary Indian society which is largely inadequate at present.
- A teacher’s task is to facilitate learning by enabling the child to construct or generate knowledge on the basis of his/her own observations, experiences, experimentation, analysis and reflections.
- Teacher Education has to be made an integral part of social as well as educational system. Teacher Education has to assume responsibility to prepare teachers with proper attitude and ability to translate the philosophy of education into practical learning experience.
Recommendations of this committee:-
- The Commission recommends the Government should increases its investment for establishing teacher education institutions and increase the institutional capacity of teacher preparation, especially in deficit states.
- Government may explore the possibility of instituting a transparent procedure of pre- entry testing of candidates to the pre-service teacher education programmes, keeping in view the variation in local conditions.
- Teacher education should be a part of the higher education system. The duration of programme of teacher education needs to be enhanced, in keeping with the recommendations of the Education Commission (1966), the implementation of which is long overdue.
- It is desirable that new teacher education institutions are located in multi- and inter- disciplinary academic environme This will have significant implications for the redesigning of norms and standards of various teacher education courses specified by the NCTE. This will have also implications for employment and career progression of prospective teachers.
- In keeping with the recommendations of the Education Commission (1966), every pre-service teacher education institution may have dedicated school attached to it as a laboratory where student teachers get opportunities to experiment with new ideas and hone their capacities and skills to become reflective practitioners.
- There is a need to establish a national level academic body for continual reflections and analysis of teacher education programmes, their norms and standards, development of reading material and faculty development of teacher educators.
- The institutional capacity should be increased for preparation of teacher educators. There is need to make Masters in Education programme of two years duration
- Unless and until the present system of Teacher Education is revamped and re-organized, it would be difficult to provide suitable pre-service education and upgrade the quality of education in the country. The recent bill to recognise teacher training institutes is the step in the right direction.
Topic: Functioning of the judiciary; Important aspects of governance, transparency and accountability,
- The Supreme Court recently agreed to hear a petition filed by a senior lawyer seeking live streaming of judicial proceedings in the top court on matters of constitutional and national importance.
Merits of live streaming proceedings:-
- Indian legal system is built on the concept of open courts, which means that the proceedings are open to all members of the public
- Justice should not only be done, it should also be seen to be done.
- The emphasis is to make those matters that are of great public importance available for all to see.
- Already existing:-
- In a bid to bring in transparency, the top court had last year allowed the installation of CCTV video recording with audio in trial courts and tribunals of each state.
- To promote transparency, live-streaming has been allowed for both Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha proceedings since 2004.
- Similarly, the recording of videos in the highest courts in Canada and Australia, as well as in some international courts, most notably in the International Court of Justice, shows that this exercise has merits.
- The access to justice, the need to build the right perception, along with the need to educate common people on how the judiciary functions are all strong reasons in favour of allowing live-streaming of court proceedings.
- This leads to avoiding multiple versions or wrong projections of facts, or the menace of fake news or faulty reporting.
- It will empower and provide access to citizens who cannot personally come to the court due to socio-economic constraints.
- Right to information in real time about the proceedings in the Supreme Court of India on all matters of great public importance in exercise of people rights under Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution of India.
- Such an exercise would inspire confidence in the functioning of the judiciary as an institution and help in maintaining the respect that it deserves as a co-equal organ of the state.
- India has digital divide and technical glitches can lead to poor quality of the streaming hampering the purpose itself.
- Some experts criticise the move they fear with this the court will be reduced to a spectacle
- There is the lack of infrastructure needed to initiate this process.
- Indian judiciary is already overburdened and it is very difficult to implement this
- Live-streaming need not be called for in all types of matters nor in all courts. Therefore, matters which have a privacy dimension can be kept out of its scope. But matters which have a bearing on important public interest issues such as entry of women to the Sabarimala temple,or the constitutionality of the Aadhaar scheme etc can be available for all to watch.
- If live streaming of top court’s proceedings is not possible at present, then alternately the video recording should be allowed
- Technology promises to be the game changer if those in power understand its importance and use it right. It also presents a hope for the Indian legal system to finally deliver on its promise to empower the masses.
Topic: Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health
4) In India, the social and economic costs of losing women to cervical cancer are devastating. Examine how India can prevent cervical cancers? Also write a note on the objectives of the National Programme for Prevention and Control of Cancer, Diabetes, Cardiovascular Diseases and Stroke (NPCDCS). Also comment if cancer be declared as a notifiable disease.(250 Words)
- India recorded an estimated 3.9 million cancer cases in 2016, data available with the National Cancer Registry Programme of the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) shows.
- Cervical cancer kills a quarter of a million women each year around the world. One in four of those women is in India. In terms of number of cases and deaths, India has the highest burden of the disease in the world.
- A notifiable disease is a disease notified by doctors if it poses public health concern, such as dengue, malaria
Why should cancer be a notifiable disease?
- By making cancer a notifiable disease India will have reliable information to focus on cancer control activities, patient care and health care planning.
- Almost 50% of the developed nations have incorporated cancer to be a notifiable disease recognizing the need to address the growing burden of cancer on health and economy.
- It will provide detailed official data on cancer incidence, and mortality. India will be able to appropriately document its actual magnitude and quality.”
- The information can be utilized to plan strategy by government towards policy changes
- A regional break up on the cancer incidence will help divert more focus on regions that need more attention on cancer control policies and other programmes on cancer prevention such as tobacco control, environmental issues, food adulteration etc.
- Helps in developing cancer centres and treatment facilities based on the incidence patterns. This would make a huge impact on patient who now needs to travel long distances for prolonged cancer care and treatment.
- ICMR has recommended to the health ministry to make cancer a “notifiable disease” long ago.
- If cancer is made notifiable, like many other Western countries, every case will have to be reported and no cases can be left uncared for. Now, doctors sometimes don’t look at a patient citing existing patient burden. That can’t happen if it is made notifiable.
- Some states in India have already taken initiative:
- To facilitate better planning of treatment, prevention, policies, and research on cancer, Karnataka has made cancer a notifiable disease.
- By this notification, Karnataka becomes the third State in the country to be notifying cancer. Punjab and West Bengal are the other two States who have done so.
- It is essential to notify cancer as it would help in knowing about the cancer causing agents across the state and region specific causes. Also, once the state has statistically proved knowledge it can start a ‘cleansing’ procedure to remove cancer causing agents. This would also help in identifying the disease early and preventing delay in treatment
India is not ready to notify cancer as notified disease mainly because:-
- India lacks the amount of man power, infrastructure and a plan to rehabilitate the cancer patients once it makes it a notifiable disease.
- Also this means a huge responsibility to also manage the problem effectively.
How India can prevent cervical cancers?
- Effective interventions:-
- There are screening techniques for early detection of cervical pre-cancer
- Simple procedures to treat pre-cancerous lesions
- There is a vaccine against the human papillomavirus (HPV).
- Stigma around women’s sexual and reproductive health issues needs to be removed.
- Cervical cancer prevention campaigns need to be organised which can help to raise awareness of the importance of vaccination and screening.
- Culturally appropriate screening services need to be available, including provision of female health practitioners, and the costs of attending services need to be kept to a minimum.
- Healthy diet need to be followed.
- Awareness generation for cancer prevention, screening, early detection and referral to an appropriate level institution for treatment.
- Lessons from Australia:-
- Australia’s prevention programme has National Cervical Screening Program. Since the programme’s commencement in 1991, the rate of cervical cancer in Australia has halved and cervical cancer mortality rate is now among the lowest in the world.
- Indian government measures need implementation effectively:
- The government of India has already taken commendable steps toward reducing the burden of cervical cancer. For example, screening guidelines have been introduced by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, recommending screening for women aged 30-59 every five years.
- A population level initiative of prevention, control and screening for common non-communicable diseases (NCDs) (diabetes, hypertension and oral, breast and cervical cancer) has been rolled out in more than 100 districts in 2017-18 under the National Health Mission (NHM).
- The central government is implementing a “Strengthening of Tertiary Care Cancer facilities” Scheme under National Programme for Prevention and Control of Cancer, Diabetes, Cardiovascular Diseases and Stroke (NPCDCS) to assist states in establishing State Cancer Institutes (SCI) and Tertiary Care Cancer Centres (TCCC) in different parts of the country.
- The NPCDCS aims at integration of NCD ( non-communicable diseases )interventions in the NRHM framework for optimization of scarce resources and provision of seamless services to the end customer / patients as also for ensuring long term sustainability of interventions.
- Thus, the institutionalization of NPCDCS at district level within the District Health Society, sharing administrative and financial structure of NRHM becomes a crucial programme strategy for NPCDCS.
- Prevent and control common NCDs through behaviour and life style changes
- Provide early diagnosis and management of common NCDs
- Build capacity at various levels of health care for prevention, diagnosis and treatment of common NCDs
- Train human resource within the public health setup viz doctors, paramedics and nursing staff to cope with the increasing burden of NCD
- Establish and develop capacity for palliative and rehabilitative care.
- Cervical cancer prevention is an investment in the lives of women today, the health of our daughters tomorrow, and the strength and prosperity of generations to come.
Topic: Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests
Focus of India-Iran relations earlier :-
- India has been caught up in the U.S.-Iran nuclear imbroglio before.
- During the Obama administration, India struggled to purchase oil from Iran, with the latter dropping out of its position among the top three oil providers to eighth, as India’s payment system to Tehran via a bank in Turkey was shut down by US.
- Immense pressure from the U.S. forced India to ward off Iranian requests to allow bank branches to open in India to facilitate transactions.
- India has also followed the U.S. line at the UN, voting against Iran at the IAEA and cutting energy trade significantly in recent years. This made Iran perceive India to be closer to the US and EU, which were mounting pressure on Iran’s nuclear programme.
- Earlier Arab-Israel issue also took centre stage.
- Connectivity via Chabahar was the target but it was mired with delays
How did the priorities change:-
- Despite hiccups, India’s relations with Iran have remained generally stable in recent years
- For India, with the passage of time, priorities of engagement with Iran, too, have changed.
- The main pillar of engagement is connectivity:-
- The Chabahar port in southeastern Iran is the lynchpin of that engagement, because the port gives India alternative access to Afghanistan and onwards to Central Asia, bypassing Pakistan.
- India has a vital interest in operationalising Chabahar to its full potential.
- India is also working with Iran to operationalise the ambitious International North South Transport Corridor, which will connect Mumbai with Central Asia, through the port of Bandar Abbas on the Strait of Hormuz, and then through rail and road links to the Eurasian region.
- India imports almost 60% of its crude from West Asia and the Gulf, and Iran is one of the major suppliers.
- India is keen to lift the relationship to a comprehensive partnership by developing the Farzad B offshore oilfields in the Persian Gulf.
- Indian companies can now invest in rupees in Iran .Bhutan and Nepal are the other two countries that get such treatment
- There is the common interest in stabilising Afghanistan.
- Iran is not under the US sanctions anymore.
- Shia- Sunni rivalry has taken the centre stage now.
- Ashgabat agreement gave further impetus to the relations.
Still some concerns remain:-
- There is also a strong case for improved people-to-people links. Restrictive visa regimes have ensured the Indian Diaspora in Iran is small in comparison to other countries in the region, and the tourist traffic is low.
- The issue of alleged Indian spy Kulbhushan Jadhav currently on death row in Pakistan being kidnapped from Iran is not just an India-Pakistan matter.
- Beyond this, revelations of Iranian access to Al Qaeda and giving home to Osama Bin Laden’s family after he was killed in the Abbottabad raid in Pakistan raises some uncomfortable questions for Iran in the global narrative on terrorism.
- The challenges for India and Iran are not just economic, but political as well.
- In June last year, Iran’s Supreme Leader brought up the issue of Kashmir for the first time in seven years including Kashmiris along with Muslims in Yemen and Bahrain as among those being oppressed by tyranny.
- Iran and One belt one road initiative of China:-
- Iran’s geographic location makes it the only viable land bridge from the Persian Gulf to the landlocked Central Asian states (a market of about 65 million people) and the three states of the Caucasus (Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Georgia). China is committed to becoming the predominant economic and political power in these areas.
- The recent visit by Iran ‘s president is a good opportunity for both countries to iron out their differences, make significant strides on long-pending economic topics, and discuss the regional dynamics of a destabilized West Asia.
General Studies – 3
Topic: Environmental pollution
6) In November 2017, the environment ministry urged the Supreme Court to push a deadline to cut emissions of oxides of nitrogen (NOx) from thermal power plants to 2022. Why is emission of NOx is a serious matter? Examine how emission of NOx from power plants be controlled. (250 Words)
- According to 2015 law ,thermal power plants in India were expected to cut their NOx emissions by December 2017 but they did not. This highlighted the need to focus on NOx emissions Justifying the delay, the Centre claimed that there is no proven technology for reducing the NOx emissions in line with the new norms.
Why is emission of NOx is a serious matter ?
- NOxreacts with ammonia, moisture, and other compounds to form nitric acid vapour and related particles. Small particles can penetrate deeply into sensitive lung tissue and damage it, causing premature death in extreme cases.
- Inhalation of such particles may cause or worsen respiratory diseases, such as bronchitis, or may also aggravate existing heart disease.
- NOxreacts with volatile organic compounds in the presence of sunlight to form and to destroy ozone
- NOx gases play an important role in the formation of smog, producing the brown haze often observed over cities
- NOx pollution can also worsen asthma and heart disease, and is tied to elevated risks of premature death.
- More environmental problems are caused by NOx pollution. In the presence of rain, nitrogen oxides form nitric acid, contributing to the acid rain problem.
- Additionally, NOx deposition in the oceans provides phytoplankton with nutrients, worsening the problem of red tides and other harmful algae blooms.
- Thermal power plants among India’s chief polluters pushed nationwide levels of NOx up by 20%.
- The secondary particulates formed through transformation of gaseous emissions, unlike primary particles such as dust formed from aerosols such as NOx are the key cause for the recent increase in PM 2.5 levels across India, leading to a potential health emergency in India.
Measures being taken:-
- India does have indigenous technology available to cap NOx emissions, according to the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB).The technology was also tested at the National Thermal Power Corporation’s (NTPC) Badarpur thermal power plant and has given excellent results of >95% NOx reduction
- In December 2015, the environment ministry notified new air pollution regulations under the Environment Protection Act, 2015.
- More than 300 thermal plants nationwide were expected to adopt technologies to curb their NOx emissions along with sulphur dioxide (SO2) and mercury.
- The ministry also introduced stricter norms for particulate pollution.
- According to the new rules, coal power plants installed before December 2003 are expected to cap their NOx emissions to 600 milligrams per cubic metre
- For plants installed between 2003 and 2016, the emissions should be capped at 300 mg/Nm3. For the plants installed after December 2016 the limit is 100 mg/Nm3.
- Selective catalytic reduction and Selective non catalytic reduction are methods employed globally to reduce NOx emissions by using ammonia or urea to break NOx into nitrogen and water.
How emission of NOx from power plants be controlled?
- One way of controlling NOx emissions is to use low-nitrogen fuels.
- Use of low nitrogen fuels such as natural gas. Natural gas has the added advantage of emitting almost no particulate matter or sulphur dioxide when used as fuel.
- Another is to modify combustion conditions to generate less NOx.
- Combustion control may involve any of three strategies:
- (a) reducing peak temperatures in the combustion zone
- (b) reducing the gas residence time in the high-temperature zone
- (c) reducing oxygen concentrations in the combustion zone.
- Process modifications include using specially designed low-NOx burners, reburning, combustion staging, gas recirculation, reduced air preheat and firing rates, water or steam injection, and low excess air (LEA) firing.
- These modifications are capable of reducing NOx emissions by 50 to 80%.
- Combustion control may involve any of three strategies:
- Flue gas treatment techniques, such as selective catalytic reduction (SCR) processes, can remove NOx. Flue gas treatment systems can achieve greater emissions reductions, but at a much higher cost
- NOx can be used in some industries like fertiliser where it does not affect atmosphere directly Locating Thermal Power Plants away from residential areas may lessen their Impact on humans.
General Studies – 4
Topic: role of family, society and educational institutions in inculcating values
Home is where the heart is. But it’s also the first place where children are socialized into gender norms, values and stereotypes.
From the moment babies are born, their assigned sex (male or female) immediately begins to shape how they should be treated, what opportunities they should receive or how they should behave according to dominant gender stereotypes in their society.
In fact, studies have shown that an individual’s sense of being either male or female is predominately determined by the way they are treated by others. Based on their external environment, children learn very quickly that boys and girls are different.
Beliefs about the value of boys versus girls are commonly reflected in the way parents treat their children. For example, the gendered division of household work is accepted almost everywhere. Boys are more likely than girls to have maintenance chores like mowing the lawn or painting, while girls are given domestic chores like cooking and cleaning. This segregation of household labour tells children that they are expected to take on different roles based on their gender.
The toys given to the kids are based on gender like boys are given cricket bats, hulk, superman toys but girls are given Barbie doll toys, gudiya kitchen set etc.
Also in many schools coeducation is considered forbidden in social terms. So children understand gender roles are different. Also especially outdoor games are encouraged for boys and indoor games are encouraged for girls. Also when a girl goes outside a male member of family is always said to accompany her to protect her. This reinforces that women are vulnerable and always need male protection as well.
Accepting the gender divide in one seemingly innocuous arena only desensitises us to it in a more dangerous context. This segregation and desensitization at such age will have lifelong consequences where elderly women accept domestic violence, pay disparity without questioning and some men think women as their property.
Parents and teachers need to realize that the simple things also trigger lifelong changes and there is a need to consider both genders equal be it physical, mental, psychological etc.
In fact, fathers who take on an active role in childcare and domestic labour positively influence their children by showing that the adult male role can be nurturing. This positive role modelling helps boys become better husbands, fathers, brothers and friends to girls and women. At the same time, it positively impacts the self-esteem of young girls and reinforces that both genders are equal.
Additionally, mothers who work and take on a financial provider role in the family also help break down stereotypes for their children especially their daughters and challenge ideas about the conventional female role.