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SECURE SYNOPSIS: 29 AUGUST 2018


SECURE SYNOPSIS: 29 AUGUST 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 – 2


Topic–  Indian Constitution- historical underpinnings, evolution, features, amendments, significant provisions and basic structure.

1) Sabarimala temple entry case is a test case not only for freedom of religion and women’s rights but also for constitutional interpretation. Comment.(250 words)

The hindu

timesofindia

Why this question

The Supreme Court is presently hearing a petition challenging the restrictions placed on entry of women in the Sabarimala temple. The issue has been discussed already but the given article provides new insights into the issue. Therefore it is important to know and discuss upon those insights.

Directive word

Comment- here we have to express our knowledge and understanding of the issue and form an overall opinion thereupon.

Key demand of the question.

The question wants us to express our opinion on the issue as to how Sabarimala temple entry case is a test case not only for freedom of religion and women’s rights but also for constitutional interpretation. How it is related to the interpretation of the constitution.

Structure of the answer

Introduction– write a few lines about the key facts of the Sabarimala temple entry case- e.g women of certain age are prohibited from visiting the temple of Lord Ayyappa, a celibate deity etc.

Body-

  • Discuss how the issue affects the freedom of religion- discuss article 25, article 26 and its relation to the case; also mention the arguments of the deity being a jurist person.
  • Discuss how the issue affects women’s rights- discuss article 14, article 15 and article 21 and how they are related to the case.
  • Discuss how the case is related to the interpretation of the constitution. Discuss the original intent approach vs the living tree approach that can be adopted to deliberate  (scope of article 21) and decide upon the case.

Conclusion–  Based on your discussion, form a fair and a balanced conclusion on the given issue.

Background:-

  • Religion is not just a spiritual pursuit but a critical part of the societal organisation. Supreme Court heard petitions challenging the prohibition of women of 10 to 50 years of age to enter the Sabarimala temple.
  • The restriction of women between the ages of 10 and 50 has been prevailing in Sabarimala since time immemorial.

How sabarimala temple entry case is a test case for freedom of religion:-

  • The right to freedom of religion of both individuals and groups is recognised as an intrinsic facet of a liberal democracy. The Constitution memorialises these guarantees in Articles 25 and 26.
  • Article 25:-
    • It recognises a right to freedom of conscience and a right to freely profess, practise, and propagate religion, subject to common community exceptions of public order, morality, and health, and also, crucially, to the guarantee of other fundamental rights.
    • Article 25(2)(b) creates a further exception to the right. It accords to the state a power to make legislation, in the interests of social welfare and reform, throwing open Hindu religious institutions of public character to all classes and sections of Hindus.
  • Article 26,on the other hand, which is also subject to limitations imposed on grounds of public order, morality, and health, accords to every religious denomination the right, among other things, to establish and maintain institutions for religious purposes and to manage their own affairs in matters of religion.
  • Until now, most cases involving a bar of entry into temples have involved a testing of laws made in furtherance of Article 25(2)(b).
    • For example, in Sri Venkataramana Devaru v. State of Mysore (1958), the Supreme Court examined the validity of the Madras Temple Entry Authorisation Act of 1947, which was introduced with a view to removing the disabilities imposed by custom or usage on certain classes of Hindus against entry into a Hindu temple. 
    • The court upheld the law on the ground that statutes made under clause 2(b) to Article 25 served as broad exceptions to the freedom of religion guaranteed by both Articles 25 and 26.
  • It forms a part of ‘essential religious practice’ of worshippers under Article 25 of the Constitution. It was also urged that matters such as who can or cannot enter the temple are covered under the rights to administer and manage religious institutions, under Article 26.

How sabarimala temple entry case is a test case for women’s rights:-

  • Rule 3(b) of the Kerala Hindu Places of Public Worship (Authorisation of Entry) Rules, 1965 states that women who are not by custom and usage allowed to enter a place of public worship shall not be entitled to enter or offer worship in any place of public worship.
  • It is by placing reliance on these rules that the Sabarimala temple prohibits women aged between 10 and 50 years from entering the shrine.
  • However activists claim that not allowing women into the temple is violation of women’s rights
    • Discrimination based on biological reasons is not permissible going by the constitutional scheme.
    • They maintain that due to the current exclusion, the right of women to worship the deity, Ayyappa, is violated.

How sabarimala temple entry case is a test case for interpretation of constitution:-

  • Exclusion is a form of ‘untouchability’ since the exclusion is solely based on notions of purity and impurity. But this argument was resisted on the contention that the prohibition of untouchability was historically intended only to protect the interests of the backward classes. The claim is that the makers of the Constitution never envisioned including women within the ambit of untouchability.
  • The ‘original intent’ approach is based on the intent of the framers of the Constitution when they drafted the text. Over time, originalism as a method of constitutional interpretation has been subject to serious criticism for being too rigid and inflexible.
  • The ‘living tree’ doctrine involves understanding the Constitution to be an evolving and organic instrument. For this approach, it matters little what the intentions were at the time of Constitution making. What matters the most is how the Constitution can be interpreted to contain rights in their broadest realm. So living tree’ approach supports a broader interpretation of Article 17.
    • It presents to the court an exemplary opportunity for an alternative reading of the Constitution. If the court indeed reads Article 17 to have a wider meaning, it will signal a new era of transformative constitutionalism in Indian jurisprudence.

Topic– Important aspects of governance, transparency and accountability

2) Examine whether Right to privacy and right to information are inherently at conflict with each other. Discuss the regulatory architecture through which the two objectives can be reconciled?(250 words)

Livemint

Why this question

The article discusses that both RTI and privacy are important civil rights that need to be preserved, however both have contradictory aims which makes it interesting how the two might be reconciled. Herein, we need to examine the pros and cons of the various regulatory architecture and decide which is the most apt for reconciling the two.

Key demand of the question

The question expects us to first explain how the two are individually important and why they are at odds with each other. Give your opinion on the pertinent questions in this case which are – what would be the mandate of the future data protection authority (DPA) it envisages; and how would the mandate be reconciled with that of the information commissioner.

Directive word

Examine – When you are asked to examine, you have to probe deeper into the topic,  get into details, and find out the causes or implications if any .

Discuss – This is an all-encompassing directive – you have to debate on paper by going through the details of the issues concerned by examining each one of them. You have to give reasons for both for and against arguments.

Structure of the answer

Introduction – Mention the view of information commissioner Sridhar Acharyulu ,who, in an attempt to save the right to information (RTI) from dilution, cautioned against amending the RTI Act while implementing the data protection framework suggested by the Srikrishna Committee report.

Body

  • Explain why the objectives of the two are at loggerheads and the view of Srikrishna committee regarding the same
  • Discuss the present regulatory architecture and highlight how in future the regulatory architecture needs to be modified to ensure that the objectives of both right to information and privacy is maintained. Discuss the pros and cons of two body and single body model and discuss the model which would be suitable for India.

Conclusion – Give a fair and balanced view and the way forward for India to reconcile the two.

Background :-

  • Recently information commissioner cautioned against amending the RTI Act while implementing the data protection framework suggested by the Srikrishna Committee report. Hence there is a need to analyse the conflict between right to privacy and right to information in detail.

How are right to privacy and right to information at conflict with each other :-

  • RTI and the right to privacy are both complementary and in conflict. While RTI increases access to information, the right to privacy veils it instead.
  • At the same time, they both function as citizen rights safeguarding liberty against state overreach.
  • Sections 8(1)(j) and section 11 may itself be challenged, as the definition of “public good” gets questioned.
  • Srikrishna committee report :-
    • The draft data protection Bill authorises the State to collect data without the consent of the person.
    • Draft law facilitates sweeping state surveillance by providing broad exceptions to consent clauses when the data is processed by the government.
    • The Srikrishna Committee Report, while acknowledging that most commentators are in favour of an independent data protection authority, falls short of explaining the rationale behind it.
  • The Supreme Court of India, while declaring the right to privacy as a fundamental right in Justice K. S. Puttaswamy (Retd.) and Anr. vs Union Of India and Ors, missed out on defining its contours with respect to the right to information.

 Regulatory architecture that can best be suitable to India:-

  • Two body model:-
    • In most jurisdictions, the information commission and privacy commission are separate and distinct bodies.
    • Countries which have two commissions are able to champion both these rights distinctively. This is because they are unencumbered by the onerous task of balancing competing interests.
    • However, this clarity of mandate and authority comes with a price tag. Disagreements between the two authorities can heighten transaction and opportunity costs involved in reconciliation, reducing overall efficiency in grievance redressal
    • Canada has witnessed public tension between the two commissions due to politics and policy concerns. These concerns include delineating the extent to which a request to access “personal” information may be granted without undermining privacy.
    • For instance the two bodies could have conflicting opinions on whether educational records of public officials or asset records of spouses of public officials constitute “personal data” shielded from RTI requests.
  • A single-body model
    • In a few countries, however, the RTI commission is a single-function body responsible for balancing competing interests. These jurisdictions include Hungary, Mexico and the UK.
    • Adopting a single commission (as in the UK) instead would remove the transaction costs associated with conflict between two commissions.
    • This would increase administrative efficiency and, in turn, public welfare.
    • However, the possibility of a conflict between the two competing rights may end up prejudicing the authority in favour of one of them, endangering their intended harmonization.
    • Moreover, additional mandates may over-burden the authority and undermine its efficacy, reducing social welfare instead.
  • The optimal solution for India is indeed two independent bodies.
    • While the cost-effectiveness of a single body model is attractive, in the Indian context, it may have a number of drawbacks. These include high levels of corruption that could encourage conflict of interest and a tendency to safeguard personal gains.
    • There might be another kind of mismatch in giving an information commissioner the mandate of enforcing a data protection law. The information commissioner’s mandate is concerned with personal data only of public officials and not of citizens at large.
    • The enforcement of a data protection law, on the other hand, would require familiarization with, and expertise in, a far broader mandate.
    • Achieving these may require a structural overhaul of the commission, which could prejudice the existing regime. A body with specialized expertise in this field would be far more suited to serve this purpose.

 


Topic– India and its neighbourhood relations

3) When it comes to regional cooperation, India’s focus has shifted from SAARC to BIMSTEC. Discuss.(250 words)

Livemint

Why this question

In light of the recent summit of BIMSTEC to be conducted in Kathmandu, the grouping has gained significance off late. Ever since, the hopes of a regional partnership via SAARC failed, India has been focussing on BIMSTEC. The article discusses these issues, and identifies the strength, opportunities, weaknesses etc in pursuing a partnership with BIMSTEC. Hence this question.

Key demand of the question

The question expects us to explain that why India has started focussing more on BIMSTEC. Here India’s issues with Saarc and what led India to pursue closer ties with BIMSTEC needs to be brought out. Thereafter, we need to identify the SWOT vis a vis BIMSTEC and discuss the way forward for deepening cooperation with BIMSTEC.

Directive word

Discuss – This is an all-encompassing directive – you have to debate on paper by going through the details of the issues concerned by examining each one of them. You have to give reasons for both for and against arguments.

Structure of the answer

Introduction – Mention about the recent BIMSTEC summit in Kathmandu and explain a little about BIMSTEC – members, dynamics etc

Body

  • Discuss why SAARC is no longer a focus area and why BIMSTEC is being focussed upon.
  • Discuss the importance of BIMSTEC for India and highlight how it fits into one of the overarching policies of India foreign policy ie Act East policy. Highlight the other focus areas of BIMSTEC including a free trade agreement, poverty alleviation, tourism, energy and climate change, and even counterterrorism and disaster management.
  • Discuss the status of regional cooperation and highlight the threats that need to be overcome to deepen regional partnership with BIMSTEC.

Conclusion – Discuss the relevance of BIMSTEC vis a vis SAARC and highlight how India should go about deepening regional integration with BIMSTEC so that the mistakes of SAARC are avoided.

Background:

  • Recently, the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) has gained more favour as the preferred platform for regional cooperation in South Asia. Contrary to global patterns, South Asian countries have shown an increased interest in regional cooperation
  • BIMSTEC is a bridge between South Asia and South East Asia. It includes all the major countries of South Asia, except Maldives, Afghanistan and Pakistan. Given this composition, BIMSTEC has emerged as a natural platform to test regional cooperation in the South Asian region.

Why is BIMSTEC the natural choice :-

  • BIMSTEC includes the countries of the Bay of Bengal region: five countries from South Asia and two from ASEAN. The organisation is a bridge between South Asia and South East Asia.
    • It includes all the major countries of South Asia, except Maldives, Afghanistan and Pakistan. Given this composition, BIMSTEC has emerged as a natural platform to test regional cooperation in the South Asian region.
  • BIMSTEC’s major strength comes from the fact that it includes two influential regional powers: Thailand and India. This adds to the comfort of smaller neighbours by reducing the fear of dominance by one big power.
  • BIMSTEC emerged out of the necessities of the member countries:-
    • India was motivated to join BIMSTEC as it wanted to enhance its connectivity with ASEAN countries
    • For Thailand, BIMSTEC helps achieve the country’s Look West Policy.
    • BIMSTEC also helps smaller countries such as Bangladesh, Nepal and Bhutan to develop connectivity with ASEAN countries, the hub of major economic activities globally.
    • Myanmar sees itself as a gateway for BIMSTEC to ASEAN, primarily due to its strategic location between South and Southeast Asia. 
  • The dormant status of SAARCand the changes underway in the regional and global landscape triggered India’s initiative to invite the BIMSTEC leadership . Its goals, therefore, are being redefined to add ballast to India’s “Act East Policy”.
  • Urgency of promoting regional and sub-regional cooperation via BIMSTEC and BBIN has to be seen in the context of China’s BRI/OBORand the compelling strategic challenge posed by China’s muscular geo-economic and geo-political interventions in Asia, particularly in India’s neighbourhood. 
  • Though maritime disputes in the South China Sea attract global attention, the Bay of Bengal has moved centre stage as the next strategic and economic arena in the Indo-Pacific region.
  • BIMSTEC and ASEAN both have seminal roles, in re-integrating the Bay of Bengal as an economic hub and strategic space.The salience of BIMSTEC has, therefore, grown for India to secure its strategic space in the neighbourhood and the Bay of Bengal region.
  • The BIMSTEC countries host a population of around 1.5 billion, approximately 21% of global population, with cumulative GDP of US$ 2.5 trillion. The annual GDP growth rate has averaged around 6%. 
  • The development of the Northeastern region, by opening up to Bangladesh and Myanmar, is another incentive for India.
  • The ongoing India-Myanmar-Thailand Trilateral Highway and the India-Myanmar Kaladan Multimodal Transit Transport Projectare expected to further augment connectivity and economic cooperation in the sub-region and beyond. 
    • BIMSTEC serves two purposes for India – it makes it easier for India to share a common regional platform with its neighbours in South Asia (sans Pakistan) and secondly, BIMSTEC also establishes a linkage between South and Southeast Asia.
  • Regional cooperation under the ambit of SAARC has become difficult and this made BIMSTEC more viable:
    • Despite India’s keen interest in cooperating and strengthening intra-regional connectivity by backing the SAARC–Motor vehicle agreement, the agreement was stalled following Pakistan’s reluctance.
    • Similarly, the SAARC satellite project that India proposed was abandoned following objection from Pakistan in 2016
    • SAARC has also faced obstacles in the area of security cooperation. A major hindrance in this regard has been the lack of consensus on threat perceptions, since member countries disagree on the idea of threats
      • For instance, while cross-border terrorism emanating from Pakistan is a major concern for India, Pakistan has failed to address these concerns.
    • One of the reasons for BIMSTEC’s popularity is that the member countries have generally cordial relationships, something patently missing among the SAARC countries.
    • As a trade bloc, BIMSTEC provides many opportunities:-
      • The region has countries with the fastest-growing economies in the world. The combined GDP in the region is around US$2 trillion and will likely grow further.
      • Trade among the BIMSTEC member countries reached six percent in just a decade, while in SAARC, it has remained around five percent since its inception.
      • Compared to SAARC, BIMSTEC has greater trade potential as well. Among the member countries, India’s intra-BIMSTEC trade is around 3 percent of its total trade. 
    • It is an extra feather to India’s act east policy :-
    • India was motivated to join BIMSTEC as it wanted to enhance its connectivity with ASEAN countries: a major component of its Look East Policy, now rechristened ‘Act East’ policy.
    • In terms of connectivity, BIMSTEC has at last three major projects that, when finished, could transform the movement of goods and vehicles through the countries in the grouping.
      • One is the Kaladan Multimodal project that seeks to link India and Myanmar.
      • Another is the Asian Trilateral Highway connecting India and Thailand through Myanmar. It represents a significant step in establishing connectivity between India and Southeast Asian countries.
      • Bangladesh, Bhutan, India and Nepal (BBIN) have signed a pact for the movement of goods and vehicles among them.
    • The agenda of BIMSTEC is in sync with other regional/sub-regional organisations like the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF), the ASEAN Defence Ministers’ Meeting Plus (ADMM Plus), the Expanded ASEAN Maritime Forum (EAMF), etc. Simultaneously, BIMSTEC fits in the agenda of a greater role for India in the Indo-Pacific too.
    • The political rivalry between India and Pakistan never allowed SAARC to be the driving factor in an augmenting regional cooperation within South Asia. Hence, it would be pragmatic for India to work closely with BIMSTEC and ASEAN to expand regional cooperation in areas of mutual concerns including terrorism, violent extremism, transnational organised crime and insurgency; food security, energy; trade and investment, connectivity and infrastructure, poverty alleviation to name a few.
    • India’s  stimulating outlook towards Southeast Asia vis-à-vis Asia-Pacific as expressed through Act east policy and the other way round, i.e, the Asia-Pacific’s desire to have India as a strong stakeholder in the region.

Concerns:-

  • BBIN Motor Vehicles Agreement [MVA] is an instrument that was conceived to transform and facilitate trade.It has not yet been completely successful as Bhutan is worried about security and environmental fallout of such an agreement.
  • Both Thailand and Myanmar are criticised for having ignored BIMSTEC in favour of ASEAN.
  • BIMSTEC has identified 14 priority sectors and has signed an FTA (2004) and a Convention on Cooperation in Combating International Terrorism, Transnational Organized Crime and Illicit Drug Trafficking (2009). The pace of implementation has been quite sluggish so far.
  • Infrequency of the BIMSTEC summits,the highest decision-making body of the organisation. In its 20 years of existence, the BIMSTEC summit has taken place only thrice.
  • Landmark achievement for BIMSTEC was the establishment of a permanent secretariat in Dhaka. However, the secretariat faces a severe resource crunch, both in terms of money and manpower, which has adversely affected its performance.
  • Observers of BIMSTEC consider the lack of leadership as the major drawback
    • The delay in the adoption of the Free Trade Agreement (FTA),a framework that was agreed upon in 2004, fuels doubts about BIMSTEC’s efficacy.

Way forward:-

  • Early ratifications of the BIMSTEC FTA, the counter-terrorism convention and finalisation and conclusion of the BIMSTEC Convention on Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters, BIMSTEC Framework Agreement on Transit, Trans-shipment and Movement of Vehicular Traffic as well as BIMSTEC Coastal Shipping Agreement etc should be prioritised without much delay.
  • It has to adopt people-centric and output-oriented approachesto win the confidence of the common people across the sub-region. That would help it to become a facilitator of regional cooperation in a true sense.
  • Consistency in the frequency of the summitsto ensure regularity in decision-making;
  • Improving the capacity of the secretariat, both in terms of manpower and funding;
  • Ensuring tangible results/benefits, which will add to the motivation of the countries to concentrate on BIMSTEC (projects in the areas of tourism, digital connectivity, energy connectivity and humanitarian assistance in disaster relief should be considered); and
  • Empowering BIMSTEC to be a platform for dispute resolution among member countriesThis will require debates and discussions among the BIMSTEC countries to reach consensus.
  • India’s SAGARMALA project, still at an early stage, can be integrated into the cooperation framework of BIMSTEC. 
  • While India is the lead country for four priority sectors, namely, transportation and communication, environment and disaster management, tourism, and counter-terrorism and trans-national crime, BIMSTEC has to move into areas of strategic cooperation.
  • The Asia-Africa Growth Corridor [AAGC] is another vision that can be dovetailed into BIMSTEC’s Development and Cooperation Projects, Quality Infrastructure and Institutional Connectivity, Enhancing Capacities and Skills and People-to-People partnership.
  • BIMSTEC can function as the hub for connecting Asia-Pacific and the Bay of Bengal with Africa.At some stage when tangible progress has been made, other countries in the region can be invited to join specific projects.

Conclusion:-

  • Finally, since the BIMSTEC region is notable for its diversity, the member states need to build on the regional synergies and work towards utilising the available resources in the most optimal manner. This would help build a stronger and a more dynamic BIMSTEC.

 


General Studies – 3


TopicDisaster and disaster management.

4) It is time to formulate water management policies for reservoirs in such a manner that dams are used to control floods, not cause them. Critically Comment.(250 words)

The hindu

indianexpress

 

Why this question

Kerala recently witnessed devastating floods of unprecedented magnitude. Different reasons have been forwarded for the reason behind the floods and sudden release of water from dams is the most cited reason in this regard. However, dams serve some important purposes and can be better managed. It is therefore necessary to discuss the issue of management of dams in detail.

Directive word

Key demand of the question.

The question wants us to dig deep into the issue and bring out the role of dam management in controlling as well as causing floods. We have to discuss both the aspects of the dams- as causative agents of floods as well as the preventive agent. Based on our discussion we have to form a personal opinion on the issue.

Structure of the answer

Introduction– write a few lines about the number of dams in India, contribution of hydropower generation in overall electricity generation.

Body-

  • Discuss how dams are responsible for floods. E.g they harm the natural ecosystem and course of rivers; siltation with time decreases reservoir capacity and increases propensity of floods in the future, increased risks of earthquakes, landslides which can trigger floods etc.
  • Discuss how dams can be better managed so that they can be used to control floods rather than cause them. E.g Authorities always look to store the maximum amount of water in reservoirs during the monsoon season, which is then used for irrigation and generation of electricity during the summer months. It is an internationally accepted practice that the water level of a reservoir should be kept below a certain level before the onset of the monsoon season. This is so that when the monsoon rains come, there is space to store the excess rainwater and also so that water can be released in a regulated manner, thus preventing floods downstream when there is heavy inflow to the dams; regular desiltation of dams should be done; At present, the task of dam and water management is vested with the Public Works Department, the Electricity Board, and the Irrigation Department. Even in normal conditions, given contradictory opinions from various departments, it is difficult to implement decisions. Hence, the State Dam Security Authority, if competent, should be entrusted with the task of water management in reservoirs and with taking decisions in emergency situations etc.

Conclusion– Based on your discussion, form a fair and a balanced conclusion on the given issue. E.g mention regular audit of dams; increasing the share of solar, wind energy etc.

Background:-

  • In the monsoon season, there is an increase in frequency of heavy rainfall.
  • Global warming and lack of scientific flood management hold clues to the frequent floods witnessed in recent years.
  • The tragedy in Kerala has highlighted the dangers of excess water accumulation in dams. More than 20 dams released water that cascaded down the hills, leaving behind a trail of destruction.

Dams are used to control floods:-

  • The world over, dams are constructed mainly for the purposes of irrigation, power generation, and flood control. 
  • The role of dams in flood control has been underestimated.
  • It is an internationally accepted practice that the water level of a reservoir should be kept below a certain level before the onset of the monsoon season. This is to prevent floods downstream when there is heavy inflow to the dams.

Dams have caused floods as well:-

  • Dams have also induced floods when water released from a dam reservoir is beyond the carrying  capacity of channels downstream.
  • Authorities always look to store the maximum amount of water in reservoirs during the monsoon season, which is then used for irrigation and generation of electricity during the summer months.
  • In India, most of the flood-management systems are not supported by science. 
  • Dam proponents are ignoring crucial decision-making data now available on patterns of rainfall, geology and climate change.
  • According to the India Water Portal, over 100 dams in India are over a century old, and more than 500 large dams which are 50-100 years old, many have major defects and need urgent repair.
  • Dams can trigger seismic events.
    • The reservoir-induced seismicity (RIS) from the weight of the reservoir has resulted in earthquakes in various parts of the country

Way forward:-

  • International Practice
    • The Colorado River in the US runs through seven states. They do very good reservoir system management. They look at weather forecasts to understand how much water to expect. They start releasing water, based on the predictions, even before something serious happens. India can follow this scientific approach
  • It is time for the government and the public to formulate water management policies for reservoirs in such a manner that dams are used to control floods.
  • It is important that at least 30% of the storage capacity of dams be kept free before the monsoon. 
  • Non conventional sources:-
    • It is time to think of non-conventional sources for electricity generation such as solar, wind and tidal power, rather than over-dependence on hydel projects.
    • The practice of solar power generation in Kochi airport can be copied in similar large-scale projects  by other government agencies.
  • Administration:-
    • The State government, the State Dam Security Authority and the National Water Commission should all be prepared to take bold decisions together on water management so that there are no devastating floods in the future.
    • At present, the task of dam and water management is vested with the Public Works Department, the Electricity Board, and the Irrigation Department. Even in normal conditions, given contradictory opinions from various departments, it is difficult to implement decisions. Hence, the State Dam Security Authority, if competent, should be entrusted with the task of water management in reservoirs and with taking decisions in emergency situations etc.
  • Regular desiltation of dams should be done
  • India needs full-fledged flood management systems using scientific methods to understand when the time is right to open the gates.
  • Decentralised alternatives involve water recycling and reuse.
  • The immediate task is to critically review every dam in the country, decommission those that are at end-of-life, and establish sound safety protocols.

Topic Issues related to direct and indirect farm subsidies and minimum support prices.

5) Critically analyze the  options available for price stabilisation of agriculture commodities in the face of  increased output.(250 words)

indianexpress

Why this question

India has been witnessing farming distress which is partly due to increased production and a weaker demand, which in turn brings down the prices of agricultural commodities. It is therefore essential to evaluate the options available to the government under these circumstances and which can be practically applied on the ground.

Directive word

Critically analyze-  Here we have to examine methodically the structure or nature of the topic by separating it into component parts, and present them as a whole in a summary.Based on our discussion we have to form a concluding opinion on the issue.

Key demand of the question.

The question wants us to dig deep into the issue and evaluate all the practical options available to the government in such  circumstances. Based on our discussion we have to form an overall opinion on the issue.

Structure of the answer

Introduction– Write a few lines about the farming distress due to increased supply. E.g The “farm distress” in recent years has been partly on account of output increases well beyond the market demand at a price remunerative to producers. in the absence of effective price support policy, farmers are faced with a loss of income, depending on the price decline.

Body– discuss individually the options available to the government under these particular circumstances and discuss their benefits as well as cons/ limitations.

  • MSP and Open Procurement. e.g faces the problem of procurement as not all the produce can be procured at such prices and in all places; it does not solve the supply side problem; distribution problem etc.
  • Price deficiency compensation. E.g the market prices may continue to fall as the supply exceeds the “normal demand” and nearly all the produce may become eligible for the “deficiency payments” as the prices, in general, would have fallen for all the producers.
  • Limited procurement. E.g the government will procure the “excess”, leaving the normal production level to clear the market at a remunerative price. Thus, procurement will continue until the market price rises to touch the MSP;  The timing and speed with which the procurement is implemented are critical. It is important to determine the excess supply, which will indicate how much is to be procured. Therefore, an assessment of the likely production is essential for an effective market intervention. Equally important is the quick assessment of price trends, particularly in the period immediately after the harvest begins, to arrive in the key markets; Storage facilities for managing the procured grain are essential for the success of the system; however, it will not work if the MSP is fixed at a level to which the market price will never rise.

conclusion-Based on your discussion, form a fair and a balanced conclusion on the given issue.

Background:-

  • When output increases well beyond the market demand at a price remunerative to producers, market prices decline and in the absence of effective price support policy, farmers are faced with a loss of income, depending on how much the price decline is. The “farm distress” in recent years has been partly on account of this situation, as the loss of income is beyond the ability of the small farmers to absorb.

Options available:-

  1. MSP:-
    • Hike in MSPs was required, given the current adverse conditions of prices and operating conditions of the farm sector, and is a key component of the prime minister’s goal of doubling farm incomes by 2022
    • Incentivise production of a specific food crop which is in short supply.
    • Protects farmers from any sharp fall in the market price of a commodity.
    • Ensures that the country’s agricultural output responds to the changing needs of its consumers.
      • Ex: The government hiked the MSP of pulses to expand sowing of pulses.
    • Higher farm profits will encourage farmers to spend more on inputs, technology etc
    • Protect farmers from the unwarranted fluctuation in prices, provoked by the international level price variations.

Issues with MSP:-

  • Imposition of MSP beyond some point is market distortingas it severs the link between prices and demand-supply. This can also be inflationary and out of sync with the physical market dynamics.
    • Support price does not come with a commitment to buy whatever farmers offer. Actual procurement will be limited by the fiscal room available, especially at a time when a significantly higher fiscal deficit could lead to further pressure on the rupee.
  • RBI has highlighted the announcement of higher MSPs as being one of the major risk factors this year for inflation. This is significant as the government has spoken of providing a mark-up of 50% on cost for all products when deciding on the MSPs for FY19.
  • Farmers have got negative returns in several crops prompting many economists to question the usefulness of MSP’s.
  • Input costs:-
    • The cost of cultivation varies across states while MSP’s are based on a weighted all India average so farmers don’t get guaranteed profits.
    • MSP’s have failed to keep pace with input costs.
  • Only a selected few states such as Punjab, MP, Haryana etc have well developed procurement infrastructure
  • Government procurement at MSP is benefiting the large traders than farmers.
    • More than three fourths of farming households don’t produce any marketable surplus and hence cannot really benefit from price support.
  • There is no provision in the budget to increase the ambit of farmerswho are covered by MSP and that is a problem in addition to how the MSP is calculated
  • Its reach is limited, in terms of both the crops and the geographical area it covers:-
    • Farmers also argue that MSP is only announced for 25 crops, while for other crops they have to deal with market volatility. There is no MSP for fruits and vegetables. 
  • Only a fraction of the farmers actually have access to MSP.
    • MSP often does not reach farmersas the government does not procure on time and the farmer has to make distress sales at rates lower than the MSP.
  • In the recent budget ,government has decided to keep MSP for all the unannounced crops of kharif at least at one and half times of their production cost .There is no clarity on how the implementation takes place.
    • There are concerns whether all states would agree with that cost
    • Also as MSP and Inflation highly co-related and any increase in MSP will eventually resulted into price hike of many agricultural products.
  • India’s price support programme is also promoting cultivation of water intensive crops like paddy and sugarcane even in water deficit regions such as Punjab ,Haryana and Maharashtra
  • Farmers keep producing the same varieties as cropping pattern is hardly changed in some regions.
  • Higher MSP’s over incentivize production leading to supply glut.
  • Hikes in MSP’s also adversely affect exports by making Indian farm goods uncompetitive especially when international market prices are lower.
  1. Price deficiency:-
    • PDPS is a system in which the farmer is free to sell in the open market and, if the market price falls below the MSP, the government steps in and makes a deficiency payment which is equal to the difference between MSP and the market price.
    • As this system does not involve public procurement, the costs on account of procurement, storage and distribution are avoided.
    • Also, the system retains the incentive effects of MSP.
    • Benefits:-
      • The key benefit from the price deficiency payment is that it will reduce the need for the government to actually procure food crops, transport and store them and then dispose of them under PDS.
      • The difference between the support and market prices can instead simply be paid in cash to the farmer.
      • Price deficiency payment can also keep India’s bill on food subsidies under check
      • More effective than MSP:-
        • PDP system may be more effective than MSPs at ensuring that cropping patterns in India respond to consumer needs. It may also ensure that more farmers actually benefit from price support.
        • Monoculture also results in soil degradation and makes crops susceptible to pest and weed, leading to higher usage of chemical fertilisers and pesticides. The price deficiency system may incentivise farmers to diversify beyond the conventional cereals. The crops with effective MSPs such as rice, wheat and sugarcane, where support prices are effective now, are also water-intensive.
      • It can also address to an extent the world nations concern on India’s procurement subsidies being trade-distorting.
    • Constraints:-
      • Difficult to operationalise the system effectively:-
        • For example, there needs to be a record of the quantity and price of each sale and since the farmer is free to sell anywhere it becomes practically impossible to collect and collate this data for millions of farmers.
        • Therefore, it becomes necessary to restrict sales in a designated location to, say, a mandi. Even then, the mandi price will keep fluctuating through the season, and even during a single day.
      • Thus, the deficiency payments will be different for different farmers larger for farmers who sell at lower prices and vice-versa. This has two adverse effects
        • The farmer will have little incentive to look for the best possible price in the market since he will be compensated for the difference
        • The farmers may sell inferior products under the PDPS, which is likely to fetch a lower price or may even result in them remaining unsold in an open market
      • A major limitation of PDPS is that it is a counter-cyclical payment (the farmer gets a higher payment when market price is low and vice-versa). This insulates farmers from the market and may not help in market development or improving the market price for farmers. This implies that government intervention in the market needs to be continuous.
      • Since the demand side is completely ignored (because of the assured price), the farmer is unlikely to adjust supply in accordance with demand. This may result in frequent instances of supply outstripping demand, which can create problems for finding market outlets.
        • Madhya Pradesh implemented a variant of PDPS on a pilot basis, called the Bhavantar Bhugtan Yojana, during the kharif season of 2017-18. The evidence from this confirms many of the issues discussed above
  1. Open procurement:-
    • Open procurement system has been in vogue quite effectively in the case of rice and wheat, where procurement is open-ended at the MSP. This scheme, however, poses the challenge of managing the distribution of the procured grain.
  2. Limited procurement:-
    • Under this scheme, the government will procure the “excess”, leaving the normal production level to clear the market at a remunerative price. Thus, procurement will continue until the market price rises to touch the MSP.
    • The effectiveness of the limited procurement system would depend on several factors.
      • The timing and speed with which the procurement is implemented are critical. Therefore, an assessment of the likely production is essential for an effective market intervention.
      • Equally important is the quick assessment of price trends, particularly in the period immediately after the harvest begins, to arrive in the key markets.
      • The effectiveness of the system would also depend on how distribution of the procured grain is managed.
      • Storage facilities for managing the procured grain are essential for the success of the system.
    • The suggested limited procurement system will not work if the MSP is fixed at a level to which the market price will never rise.

Topic – Part of static series under the heading “Fronts”

6) Explain the role of the polar front and the air masses that come in conflict in the polar front zone in the temperature and precipitation cycles of the mid latitude and high latitude climates?(250 words)

Key demand of the question

The question expects us to explain in brief what polar fronts are and the role they play in influencing the temperature of precipitation cycle of the upper and mid latitude regions.

Structure of the answer

Introduction – Explain Polar front is an area where cold polar winds meet hot tropical air masses. Temperature of these two air masses is very different and leads to formation of stationary front. Explain that it is basically an occluded front.

Body – Discuss the impact of such fronts on temperature and rainfall in the region. Pictorial explanations will fetch you more marks. The approach of the cyclone is marked by fall in temperature and light drizzle. When warm front approaches temperature rises and rainfall stops.Arrival of Cold front again leads to fall in temperature and heavy rainfall with thunder. Explain the mechanism of such changes in detail.

Background:-

  • Polar front is an area where cold polar winds meet hot tropical air masses. Temperature of these two air masses is very different and leads to formation of stationary front.

Polar front theory:-

  • According to polar front theory, the warm-humid air masses from the tropics meet the dry-cold air masses from the poles and thus a polar front is formed as a surface of discontinuity. Such conditions occur over sub-tropical high, sub-polar low pressure beltsand along the Tropopause
  • The cold air pushes the warm air upwards from underneath. Thus a void is created because of lessening of pressure. The surrounding air rushed in to occupy this void and coupled with the earth’s rotation, a cyclone is formed which advances with the westerlies (Jet Streams).

Mechanism:-

  • In the polar cold front the cold air moves downward while the warm tropical air moves up when pressure drop happens along the front, this leads to anti-clockwise cyclonic circulations in the mid-latitudes with a warm front and cold front. These bring extra-tropical cyclones
    • In this the pocket of warm air is wedged between cold air , warm air glides over the cold and precipitates forming clouds
    • The cold front approaches the warm air and pushes the warm air up. Cumulus clouds are developed along the cold front.
    • The cold front moves faster than the warm front ultimately overtaking the warm front
    • The warm air is completely lifted up and occluded front is formed and the cyclone dissipates.
    • These frontal cyclones exist for 3-10 days and move from west to east.
    • The approach of the cyclone is marked by fall in temperature and light drizzle. When warm front approaches temperature rises and rainfall stops.
    • Arrival of Cold front again leads to fall in temperature and heavy rainfall with thunder.

General Studies – 4


Topic- Human Values – lessons from the lives and teachings of great leaders, reformers and administrators; role of family, society and educational institutions in inculcating values.

7) Age has an important influence in shaping the  the value system of a person. Discuss. (250 words)

Reference

Directive word

Discuss- This is an all-encompassing directive which mandates us to write in detail about the key demand of the question. We also have to discuss about the related and important aspects of the question in order to bring out a complete picture of the issue in hand.

Key demand of the question.

The question wants us to write in detail as to how age of a person shapes his/her value system.

Structure of the answer

Introduction– write a simple definition of value system. E.g A hierarchy of values that all moral agents possess, demonstrated by their choices etc.

Body- Discuss how age shapes the value system of a person. E.g

  • Discuss how historical events that impact on specific age cohorts (e.g., war, depression- materialist values are stronger) shape the value system of a particular age group.
  • Discuss how older persons have different values than the younger persons. E.g With age, security values may be more important because a safe, predictable environment is more critical as capacities to cope with change wane. Stimulation values may be less important because novelty and risk are more threatening. Conformity and tradition values may also be more important with age because accepted ways of doing things are less demanding and threatening.
  • Discuss the effect of life stage of a person. E.g Opportunities, demands, and constraints associated with life stages may cause age differences in values. The young people have  circumstances which encourage pursuit of achievement and stimulation values at the expense of security, conformity, and tradition values etc.

Take help of the article attached to the question to clarify your concept and to frame your answer.

Answer:-
It is common to speak of three systematic sources of value change in adulthood: historical events that impact on specific age cohorts (e.g., war, depression), physical ageing (e.g., loss of strength or memory), and life stage (e.g., child rearing, widowhood). Each of these sources affects value-relevant experiences. They determine the opportunities and constraints people confront and their resources for coping. 

Younger people:-
People form values in adolescence that change little thereafter. The more economic and physical insecurity the adolescents experience, the more important materialist values are to them throughout their lives.

Younger groups will give greater priority to hedonism, stimulation, self-direction, and, possibly, to universalism values, but less priority to security, tradition, and conformity values.

Young adults are expected to prove their mettle. These life circumstances encourage pursuit of achievement and stimulation values at the expense of security, conformity, and tradition values. 
Middle adulthood:-

In middle adulthood, people are invested in established family, work, and social relations that they are committed to preserve. Most are approaching the level of achievement they will attain. 
Work and family responsibilities constrain risk-taking and opportunities for change narrow. Such life circumstances are conducive to more emphasis on security, conformity, and tradition values and less on stimulation and achievement values. The constraints and opportunities of the pre-retirement life stage reinforce these trends.

Older people:-

Older persons in much of the world give higher priority to materialist vs. post-materialist values than younger people. 

Achievement and, perhaps, power values may also be less important for older people who are less able to perform demanding tasks successfully and to obtain social approval.

With retirement and widowhood, opportunities to express achievement, power, stimulation, and hedonism values decrease further. In contrast, the importance of security and the investment in traditional ways of doing things make security

and tradition values more important because a safe, predictable environment is more critical as capacities to cope with change wane.

Stimulation values may be less important because novelty and risk are more threatening.