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SECURE SYNOPSIS: 24 AUGUST 2018


SECURE SYNOPSIS: 24 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 – 1


Topic – changes in critical geographical features (including water bodies and ice-caps) and in flora and fauna and the effects of such changes

1) Life on earth is precariously equilibrated because of a balance between positive and negative feedback, which is set to be disturbed as a result of anthropological factors. Examine the issue and suggest ways through which such a scenario can be avoided?(250 words)

The hindu

Why this question

The article discusses the impact that human actions have had on environment, of the possibility of Earth becoming a hothouse with unprecedented consequences. The article discusses the reason why such a situation has come to pass, and the possible impacts. This issue is important for environment and geography sections.

Key demand of the question

The question expects us to first explain what we mean by positive and negative feedback, why scientists have raised concern of irreversible changes, the reasons for this situation and the possible impacts. Finally, we need to discuss the steps we can and should take to better the situation.

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.

Structure of the answer

Introduction – Explain what it meant by positive and negative feedback and the concerns that the scientists have raised in their paper of Earth becoming a hothouse due to imbalance in the positive and negative feedbacks.

Body

  • Explain the issue – When positive feedbacks become stronger than the negative ones, the system may change abruptly and get pushed out of equilibrium. The earth and its systems have shifted between alternative states through long-term processes over its geological history. Now, it appears we are approaching some critical thresholds.
  • Examine the reasons for the same – how human actions have impacted the forests and our oceans, unmitigated release of CO2 in atmosphere etc
  • Discuss the impacts of such a situation – environmental impacts should be explained first followed by associated impacts such as social, political, economic etc
  • Discuss the steps taken so far such as the technological and political solutions that we have attempted. Discuss the need for

        shifts required in our social and economic thinking.

Conclusion – Emphasize on the sensitivity of the issue and discuss way forward.

Background:-

  • In the Earth system, positive and negative feedbacks are essential components of the whole system that ultimately play an important role in maintaining a more or less stable state. Positive feedback mechanisms enhance or amplify some initial change, while negative feedback mechanisms stabilize a system and prevent it from getting into extreme states. In many respects, the history of Earth’s climate system can be seen as a bit of a battle between these two types of feedbacks
  • Positive feedback accelerates a temperature rise, whereas a negative feedback decelerates it.
  • Melting of Greenland ice increases open waters that absorb more sunlight and then increase warming and cause further melting. This is a positive feedback.
  • With the increase in carbon dioxide (CO2), chemical-weathering increases and removes CO2 from the atmosphere over geological time an example of a negative feedback.
  • When positive feedbacks become stronger than the negative ones, the system may change abruptly and get pushed out of equilibrium.  The earth and its systems have shifted between alternative states through long-term processes over its geological history.

How these feedback mechanisms are impacted by anthropological factors:-

  • Various other feedbacks related to emissions from soils and permafrost, for example, and changes to ocean evaporation are known or thought to exist.
  • Clouds have an enormous impact on Earth’s climate, reflecting about one third of the total amount of sunlight that hits the Earth’s atmosphere back into space.
    • Even small changes in cloud amount, location and type could have large consequences. A warmer climate could cause more water to be held in the atmosphere leading to an increase in cloudiness and altering the amount of sunlight that reaches the surface of the Earth.
    • Less heat would get absorbed, which could slow the increased warming.
  • Precipitation:-
    • Global climate models show that precipitation will generally increase due to the increased amount of water held in a warmer atmosphere, but not in all regions. Some regions will dry out instead.
    • Changes in precipitation patterns, such as increased water availability, may cause an increase in plant growth, which in turn could potentially removing more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere
  • Greening of the forests:-
    • Natural processes, such as tree growth, remove about half of human carbon dioxide emissions from the atmosphere every year.
    • The delicate balance between the absorption and release of carbon dioxide by the oceans and the world’s great forested regions is the subject of research by many scientists. There is some evidence that the ability of the oceans or forests to continue absorbing carbon dioxide may decline as the world warms, leading to faster accumulation in the atmosphere.
  • Ice albedo:-
    • As the atmosphere warms and sea ice melts, the darker ocean absorbs more heat, causes more ice to melt, and makes the Earth warmer overall. The ice-albedo feedback is a very strong positive feedback
  • Global warming will increase permafrost and peatland thaw, which can result in collapse of plateau surfaces.
    • Warming is also the triggering variable for the release of carbon (potentially as methane) in the arctic. Methane released from thawing permafrostsuch as the frozen peat bogs in Siberia, and from methane clathrate on the sea floor, creates a positive feedback.
  • The main positive feedback in global warmingis the tendency of warming to increase the amount of water vapour in the atmosphere, which in turn leads to further warming.
  • Tree deaths are believed to be increasing as a result of climate change, which is a positive feedback effect.
  • Rainforests, most notably tropical rainforests, are particularly vulnerable to global warming.
  • IPCC Fourth Assessment Report predicts that many mid-latitude regions, such as Mediterranean Europe, will experience decreased rainfall and an increased risk of drought, which in turn would allow forest fires to occur on larger scale, and more regularly. This releases more stored carbon into the atmosphere than the carbon cycle can naturally re-absorb, as well as reducing the overall forest area on the planet, creating a positive feedback loop.
  • Desertification
    • Desertificationis a consequence of global warming in some environments. Desert soils contain little humus, and support little vegetation. As a result, transition to desert ecosystems is typically associated with excursions of carbon. 

How to tackle these?

  • Unfettered commitment to Paris Accord (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change) and Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) by the countries party to it.
  • Scientific innovations through research and development i.e., methods to reflect insolation before it reaches the earth using space reflectors need to be invented.
  • The claimed probability of occurrence of a “hothouse earth” is so great in the absence of a clear cut multi-dimensional strategy to mitigate positive feedback that such a strategy must make an integral component of development strategies of the different nations across the world.
  • The World bank report suggests enhancing educational attainment, reducing water stress, and improving job opportunities in the non-agricultural sectors.
  • A 30 per cent improvement on these measures could halt the decline in living standards by almost 1%.
  • Invest in areas that are more impacted by global warming.
  • Countries need to adopt climate resilience strategies along with climate change mitigation ones.
  • India should rally for more stringent GHG emission reduction and bring policies for efficient and accountable water-usage.
  • The government must stop incentivising farmers to grow water-intensive crops in water-stressed areas by weaning MSP away from these crops in such areas.
  • It is imperative that water stress be reduced and opportunities in non-agricultural sectors are increased.

General Studies – 2


Topic–  Issues relating to development and  management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.

2) Despite the launch of  PM Ujjwala Yojana, many poor families have not shifted completely to LPG  cooking fuel. Examine.(250 words)

Economictimes

Reference

Why this question

Indoor pollution is a serious public health problem affecting more severely the health of the womenfolk and the children. Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana (PMUY) was launched in this direction but despite financial assistance, many poor families have not switched to the LPG completely. It is important to examine the reasons behind the same.

Directive word

Examine- Here we have to probe deeper into the topic,  get into details, and find out the causes or implications if any.

Key demand of the question.

The question wants us to delve deeper into the issue and find out as to what are the reasons/ causes behind several poor families not completely shifting to LPG, as a cooking fuel choice.

Structure of the answer

Introduction– Write a few lines about  the PM Ujjwala Yojana and the problem of indoor pollution in India. E.g India is home to more than 24 Crore households out of which about 10 Crore households are still deprived of LPG as cooking fuel and have to rely on firewood, coal, dung – cakes etc. as primary source of cooking. The smoke from burning such fuels causes alarming household pollution and adversely affects the health of Women & children causing several respiratory diseases/ disorders. Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana (PMUY) aims to safeguard the health of women & children by providing them with a clean cooking fuel – LPG.

Body

Discuss in points the reasons behind incomplete adoption of LPG as a cooking fuel.

High cost of LPG which has to be paid upfront and  the poor can’t bear as they don’t have the required amount of saved money; availability of alternate fuels which are much cheaper or free- cow dung, firewood etc; large family size which requires utilization of both LPG stoves as well as traditional chulhas; supply side issues with LPG etc.

Conclusion- sum up your discussion in a few lines and form a fair and a balanced conclusion on the above issue.

Background:-

  • India is home to more than 24 Crore households out of which about 10 Crore households are still deprived of LPG as cooking fuel and have to rely on firewood, coal, dung – cakes etc. as primary source of cooking.
  • The Prime Minister’s Ujjwala Yojana (PMUY) aims at making poor women free from the smoke of burning wood.
  • Families below the poverty line (BPL) can get free LPG (liquefied petroleum gas) connection.
  • Initially, the target was to provide free LPG connections to about 5 crore poor women. But in view of the pace of implementation of the Ujjwala scheme and its popularity among women, the government proposed to increase the target of providing free connections to 8 crore poor women.
  • Under Ujjwala, the government aims to give 50 million LPG connections to BPL families by 2019. For this, it has allocated Rs 8,000 crore.

Success:-

  • Women realise the benefits of LPG cooking as cooking with it is quite easy compared to the traditional chulha.
  • The number of indoor air pollution deaths would be reduced
  • Within a year, the government had distributed more than 22 million LPG connections, exceeding the target of 15 million. Uttar Pradesh has benefitted the most.
  • It brought down the upfront cost. Earlier, an LPG connection would cost Rs 4,500 to Rs 5,000. Now it cost barely Rs 3,200.
    • Of this, the government gives half the money as a one-time grant. This grant of Rs 1,600 covers the cost of a 14.2 kg cylinder, pressure regulator, hose and miscellaneous charges. They have to bear the cost of a two-burner stove, which comes to another Rs 1,600.
  • If they cannot bear the cost of stove, they can get a loan from oil marketing companies. Thus, one can get the LPG connection for free under Ujjwala.
  • The extraction of firewood from forests earlier has intensified India’s environmental problems but with use of LPG this has reduced.
  • The new target is feasible when it comes to number of connections to be established.

However some concerns remain:-

  • High Refill cost:-
    • Economic Survey 2018 had highlighted that only 79 per cent of beneficiaries came to refill the cylinder.
    • While the number of LPG connections across India has increased by an impressive 16.26% since the scheme was launched, the use of gas cylinders increased by only 9.83%. according to data from the government’s Petroleum Planning and Analysis Cell
    • If the family has availed a loan at the time of taking the connection, it will have to shell out more money for the first few refillings .
  • High installation cost:
    • CRISIL data – Of those surveyed, 86% said they had not shifted from biomass to LPG because the price of installing a connection was too high.
  • The long waiting time to get a refill for an empty LPG cylinder.
    • Gram-panchayat level surveys found that in a fourth of the panchayats, users had to wait for more than 15 days on average to get a cylinder refilled.
  • As per Census 2011, nearly 121 million house-holds are still in the chulha trap. This takes a huge toll on the health of women and children. Indoor air pollution is now the second biggest killer in India after high blood pressure. 
  • LPG usage in villages depends on what other fuels are available. Since many families get cow dung, crop residue, twigs and fuel wood free, they ration their use of LPG.
  • The distribution of LPG in remote villages:
    • LPG cylinders are distributed by three oil marketing companies in India, namely Indian Oil, Bharat Petroleum and Hindustan Petroleum. These companies appoint dealers and distributors all over the country.
  • In the past three years more than 5,000 LPG distributors have been added in the country, according to the petroleum ministry. Close to half of these distributors have been recruited in the past 16 months alone. However, this is not yet sufficient.
    • Gas agencies do not provide door-to-door facility.Many women carry the empty cylinder over a distance of three to 15 km. 
    • Since the distributors are not willing to go to remote areas this leaves scope for middlemen who either overcharge or divert the gas
  • It is failing in its objective of persuading households to stop using firewoodand traditional biomass fuels that have the potential to cause respiratory diseases.
  • Relying too much on LPG also makes India dependent on petroleum imports

Way forward:-

  • Grading the subsidy according to the economic strata.
  • Making people more aware of the benefits of LPG especially the health benefits.
    • Village level ASHA workers can be roped in to create awareness about the ill effects of traditional chulhas. This will create a bottom up demand for cleaner fuels.
  • Diversifying fuel optionsand making cylinders in different portable sizes available is needed.
    • Since biomass is abundantly available in Indian villages, the government should continue its efforts on clean cook stoves and community-based biogas plants, so that the poor have alternative cleaner fuels.
  • The cost of refilled cylinders would have to be further subsidised by the government. In addition, the infrastructure for delivering cylinders – bottling plants, dealers and distributors had to be enhanced substantially.
  • To arrive at an accurate assessment of the Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana, experts say, merely counting the number of new gas connections cannot be the only yardstick.

Topic–  Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and
issues arising out of their design and implementation.

3) Discuss the solutions proposed by the recent NITI aayog report- “Transformative Mobility Solutions For All”, to make India’s passenger mobility shared, electric, and connected. (250 words) 

Reference

Reference

Why this question

In an urbanizing world, mobility is integral to city design, facilitating the evolution of physical space for liveability. Ranging from pedestrian and personal transport to public transit and freight movement, mobility is a crucial piece of the development puzzle and the key to unlocking the potential of India’s economy and people. It is therefore necessary to discuss the solutions for future mobility in India.

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 about the solutions forwarded by the recent NITI Aayog report which aims to make India’s passenger mobility shared, electric, and connected.

Structure of the answer

Introduction-mention that safe, energy-efficient and low-emission systems are necessary for India to meet its international commitments on climate change, ensure environmental sustainability as well as foster inclusive growth for all. Mention the growing importance of electric vehicles, shared transport and connected systems to achieve these goals.

Body-

Discuss in points the solutions provided by the given NITI Aayog report.E.g

  • Governance- Establish a unified metropolitan planning authority that harnesses India’s IT and mobile application skills to deliver better modal integration through more cohesive planning. • Create metropolitan planning councils within city governments to combine transport, public-transit, and land-use agencies and accelerate mobility-oriented development (MOD) solutions through integrated planning. • Develop networked city-level innovation and incubation centres within city and/or state governments throughout India to identify, test, evaluate, and scale MOD solutions.
  • Policy and incentives- Institute feebates to complement CAFE regulations and provide continuous, technology-agnostic incentives for vehicle efficiency improvements. • Introduce zero-emission vehicle (ZEV) credits • Structure policies that encourage Mobility as a Service (MaaS) to disincentivize privately owned internal-combustion engine (ICE) vehicles, electrify more passenger kilometres, and provide more accessible, higher-quality mobility services at lower cost. • Roll out enhanced fiscal incentives to make EVs more profitable  • Design non-fiscal incentives , such as easier registration and preferred electricity tariffs, to support fiscal incentives and further speed EV adoption.
  • Infrastructure- Design regulations that enable electric vehicle supply equipment (EVSE) deployment and vehicle-grid integration (VGI) , empowering a Forum of Regulators (FOR) to create regulatory frameworks that make EV charging ubiquitous, affordable, and a grid asset. • Develop integrated transport hubs around the country to enhance mode integration and first- and last-mile connectivity.
  • Business models- Establish a manufacturer consortium for batteries, common components, and platforms to develop battery cell technologies. • Create standardized, smart, swappable batteries for 2- and 3-wheelers.
  • Data Access- Establish a central data sharing institution incubated by NITI Aayog to create national data standards, formulate rules for data sharing, and build capacity within the government and private sector to handle data use, monitoring, and issue resolution.

Conclusion- sum up your discussion in a few lines and form a fair and a balanced conclusion on the above issue.

Background :-

  • India can save 64% of anticipated passenger road-based mobility-related energy demand and 37% of carbon emissions in 2030 by pursuing a shared, electric, and connected mobility future. This would result in a reduction of 156 Mtoe in diesel and petrol consumption for that year.
  • This reduction in energy consumption results from a synergistic impact of improvements in: 
    • Systems integration:
      • Enabling wide-scale adoption of mobility solutions through ubiquitous availability and sharing of interoperable transport data (ITD). 
    • Scaled manufacturing:
      • Facilitating market creation through policies and mechanisms that enable manufacturing of electric vehicles (EVs) and necessary components in successive segments based on their market readiness.
    • Shared infrastructure development:
      • Better urban design, where a larger fraction of mobility demand is met by non motorized transit and public transit, and access to vehicle-charging infrastructure enables higher penetration of EVs.

Solutions proposed by the NITI aayog report” Transformative mobility solutions for all”:-

  • Governance 
    • Establish a unified metropolitan planning authority that harnesses India’s IT and mobile application skills to deliver better modal integration through more cohesive planning. 
    • Create metropolitan planning councils within city governments to combine transport, public-transit, and land-use agencies and accelerate mobility-oriented development (MOD) solutions through integrated planning. 
    • Develop networked city-level innovation and incubation centres within city and/or state governments throughout India to identify, test, evaluate, and scale MOD solutions. 
  • Policies and incentives 
    • Institute feebates to complement CAFE regulations and provide continuous, technology-agnostic incentives for vehicle efficiency improvements. Feebates are rebates for efficient new vehicles paid for by fees on inefficient ones. 
    • Introduce zero-emission vehicle (ZEV) credits at the state or national level to complement feebates with another supply- side, market-based incentive programme. 
    • Structure policies that encourage Mobility as a Service (MaaS) to disincentivize privately owned internal-combustion engine (ICE) vehicles, electrify more passenger kilometres, and provide more accessible, higher-quality mobility services at lower cost. 
    • Roll out enhanced fiscal incentives to make EVs more profitable for automakers and more affordable for consumers as domestic production scales and costs come down. 
    • Design non fiscal incentives , such as easier registration and preferred electricity tariffs, to support fiscal incentives and further speed EV adoption.
  • Infrastructure 
    • Design regulations that enable electric vehicle supply equipment (EVSE) deployment and vehicle-grid integration (VGI) , empowering a Forum of Regulators (FOR) to create regulatory frameworks that make EV charging  ubiquitous, affordable, and a grid asset. 
    • Develop integrated transport hubs around the country to enhance mode integration and first- and last-mile connectivity through transit-oriented zoning, better urban design, and streamlined data solutions. 
  • Business models 
    • Establish a manufacturer consortium for batteries, common components, and platforms to develop battery cell technologies and packs and to procure common components for Indian original equipment manufacturers (OEMs). 
    • Create standardized, smart, swappable batteries for 2- and 3-wheelers to electrify these important vehicle segments as quickly as possible through a pay-per-use business model and an integrated payment, tracking, and smart charging system.
  • Data access
    • Establish a central data sharing institution incubated by NITI Aayog to create national data standards, formulate rules for data sharing, and build capacity within the government and private sector to handle data use, monitoring, and issue resolution.
    • This institution could also create and maintain a central database for relevant data.

Topic – Parliament and State Legislatures – structure, functioning, conduct of business, powers & privileges and issues arising out of these.

4) Criminalization of politics is a disease that will make our democracy hollow if left unchecked. Discuss the measures implemented to check criminalization of politics and the effectiveness of those measures?(250 words)

Financial express

Why this question

The article discusses the issue of criminalization of politics, SC’s directive to provide status report of functioning of fast trial courts responsible for hearing criminal cases against legislators. This bring attention on the issue of criminalization of politics and hence this question.

Key demand of the question

The question expects us to discuss why the issue of criminalization of politics is so important. Thereafter, we need highlight the steps suggested and those implemented to deal with this challenge and analyze how far have their helped in mitigating this challenge. Finally we need to provide a way forward.

Directive word

Discuss – In your discussion you need to highlight the measures taken to check criminalization of politics and analyze how far those methods have helped in resolving the issue.

Structure of the answer

Introduction – Give status quo of legislators with a chequered past to emphasize on the sensitivity of the issue. Discuss the impact on democracy as a result of this.

Body

  • Highlight the judgements of SC in this regard such as
  • Section 8 of the Representation of Peoples’ Act, 1951 disqualifies a person conviced with a sentence of 2 or more years from contesting elections. But those under trial continued to be leigible to contest elections. Lily Thomas case (2013) ended this advantage to criminals.
  • Introduction of NOTA in PUCL vs Union of India, 2014
  • Candidates need to mention criminal records if any, while filing nomination for elections.
  • The Supreme Court asked the Law Commission of India to submit a report on framing of false charges and submission of false affidavits, which were accepted by it partially in 2014. highlight the LCI recommendation
  • Examine how far these directives have helped in curbing criminalization of politics. Highlight the observation of LCI – practice of disqualification of contestants has done nothing to decriminalise Indian politics as the rates of conviction are too low and trials themselves are subject to long delays.
  • Discuss the steps that need to be taken further still such as the one discussed in the article, social awareness, ECI recommendations like – debarring candidates facing serious criminal charges etc

Conclusion – Emphasize that this issue needs to be tackled to maintain the health of our democracy and discuss how to do it.

Background:

  • Criminalization of Politics means that the criminals are entering the politics and contesting elections and even getting elected to the Parliament and state legislature.
  • It takes place primarily because of the nexus between the criminals and some of the politicians.

Criminalisation of politics in India:-

  • 36% of incumbent MPs and MLAs have criminal cases registered against them.
  • Vohra Committee in 1993 and the second ARC report, 2008 recommend to cleanse politics. But still Criminalisation of politics has been a matter of great concern.

Reasons why criminalisation of politics still exists in India:

  • Corruption:
    • In every election political parties  put up candidates with a criminal background.
    • Evident link between criminality and the probability of winning is further reinforced when winnability of a candidate is looked into. A candidate facing criminal charges is twice as likely to win as a clean candidate.
  • Vote Bank:
    • The political parties and independent candidates have astronomical expenditure for vote buying and other illegitimate purposes through these criminals.
  • Denial of Justice and Rule of Law:
    • Toothless laws against convicted criminals standing for elections further encourage this process. Under current law, only people who have been convicted at least on two counts be debarred from becoming candidates. This leaves the field open for charge sheeted criminals, many of whom are habitual offenders or history-sheeters.
  • Lack of governance:
    • The root of the problem lies in the country’s poor governance capacity. .
  • Scarcity of state capacity:
    • The scarcity of state capacity is the reason for the public preferring ‘strongmen’ who can employ the required pulls and triggers to get things done.
    • Criminality, far from deterring voters, encourages them because it signals that the candidate is capable of fulfilling his promises and securing the interests of the constituency.

Measures taken:-

  • Protecting the parliamentary system from criminalisation has been the intention of the law from the beginning. Section 8 of the Representation of the People (RP) Act, 1951 disqualifies a person convicted with a sentence of two years or more from contesting elections but not from holding positions of seniority within a political party.
  • Under the present law, the minimum bar of a politician from election is eight years (two years of minimum imprisonment followed by six years of ban). 
  • But those under trial continued to be eligible to contest elections. The Lily Thomas case (2013), however, ended this unfair advantage.
  • SC has repeatedly expressed concern about the purity of legislatures. In2002, it made it obligatory for all candidates to file an affidavit before the returning officer, disclosing criminal cases pending against them.
  • The famous order to introduce NOTA was intended to make political parties think before giving tickets to the tainted.
  • In landmark judgment of March 2014,  the SC accepted the urgent need for cleansing politics of criminalisation and directed all subordinate courts to decide on cases involving legislators within a year, or give reasons for not doing so to the chief justice of the high court. 
  • In Ramesh Dalal Vs UoI 2005, members of legislature shall also be subjected to disqualification if on the day of filing his nomination paper he stands convicted in the court of law.
  • EC measures:-
    • Model Code of Conduct: These are guidelines issued by ECI at election time which should be followed by political parties and candidates fighting an election.
    • In 1997 the ECI directed the Returning Officer to reject the nomination papers of any candidates if on the day of filling nomination paper he stands convicted in a court of law even if his sentence is suspended
    • Election Commission also kept into account the need to exclude criminals from politics:
    • It has suggested debarring candidates facing serious criminal charges in 2015. But it will include only:
      • Only heinous offences like murder, dacoity, rape, kidnapping or moral turpitude. 
      • The case should have been registered at least a year before the elections.
      • The court must have framed the charges.

These measures are not sufficient :-

  • As has been pointed out by a Law Commission report from 2014, the practice of disqualification of contestants has done nothing to decriminalise Indian politics as the rates of conviction are too low and trials themselves are subject to long delays.
  • Political parties have been unitedly opposing the proposal to debar perpetrators of even heinous offences during pendency of trial on the grounds that false criminal cases may be filed by opponents.
  • Due to the lengthy legal process sometimes the cases drag for even decades.
  • False cases may be filed as a tool of political vendetta.
  • The definition of heinous crimes may change as per times and societal conditions.

Way forward :-

  • Law panel report bats for using the time of the framing of charges to initiate disqualification as an appropriate measure to curb the criminalisation of politics. 
  • Political parties should themselves refuse tickets to the tainted. 
  • The RPA Act should be amended to debar persons against whom cases of a heinous nature are pending from contesting elections. 
  • Bringing greater transparency in campaign financing is going to make it less attractive for political parties to involve gangsters
  • The Election Commission of India (ECI) should have the power to audit the financial accounts of political parties, or political parties’ finances should be brought under the right to information (RTI) law
  • Broader governance will have to improve for voters to reduce the reliance on criminal politicians.
  • Fast-track courts are necessary because politicians are able to delay the judicial process and serve for decades before prosecution.
  • The Election Commission must take adequate measures to break the nexus between the criminals and the politicians.
  • The forms prescribed by the Election Commission for candidates disclosing their convictions, cases pending in courts and so on in their nomination papers is a step in the right direction if it applied properly.

Topic – Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests

5) Critically examine whether India’s approach to RCEP negotiations is flawed?(250 words)

Financial express

Why this question

The article provides a nice perspective on the trade positions taken by India in RCEP and examines at a macro level whether there needs to be a paradigm shift. RCEP being an important topic for mains, this perspective and its critical analysis becomes important.

Key demand of the question

The question expects us to first explain in brief about RCEP, the issue that India is facing in finishing negotiations. We are expected to discuss the pros and cons of the stand India is taking and finally provide a fair and balanced view on India’s stand along with way forward.

Directive word

Critically 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 . When ‘critically’ is suffixed or prefixed to a directive, all you need to do is look at the good and bad of something and give a fair judgement.

Structure of the answer

Introduction – Explain what RCEP is and the current status of the agreement.

Body

  • Explain India’s stand at a macro and micro level in RCEP negotiations.
  • Greater access to Chinese goods may have impact on the Indian manufacturing sector so India proposed differential market access strategy for China.
    There are demands by other RCEP countries for lowering customs duties on a number of products and greater access to the market than India has been willing to provide.
  • developed countries such as Australia and Singapore are unwilling to accommodate India’s demands to liberalise their services regime and allow freer mobility of Indian workers.
  • Examine whether the stand taken by India makes sense from an economic, IR, social, political perspective. Examine whether India is needlessly being protections and opening trade is the need of the hour or whether India is doing right in trying to protect its interests.

Conclusion – Give a fair and balanced view to the question asked and discuss the way forward ie what could be an agreeable middle ground.

Background:-

  • The RCEP was built upon the existing ASEAN+1 FTAs with the spirit to strengthen economic linkagesand to enhance trade and investment related activities as well as to contribute to minimising development gap among the parties.
  • The legally binding RCEP covers a wide range of issues including trade in goods and services, investment, intellectual property rights, competition policy, dispute settlement and economic and technical cooperation

India’s approach towards RCEP is not flawed as it has many concerns:-

  • China:-
    • Greater access to Chinese goods may have impact on theIndian manufacturing sector.
    • India has got massive trade deficitwith China.
    • The bilateral trade deficit has risen exponentially. This surge in Chinese imports  from electrical and electronic goods, plastics, chemicals, boilers and mechanical appliances to toys and stationery items  has undeniably hurt Indian manufacturing, without helping it move up the technology and productivity ladder. 
  • There are demands by other RCEP countries for lowering customs dutieson a number of products and greater access to the market than India has been willing to provide.
  • Trade deficit:-
    • The RCEP is led by China, with the 10 ASEAN countries, Australia, New Zealand, India, Japan and South Korea as partners. India’s trade engagement with these countries has not been favourable, when seen in terms of the trade deficit. 
    • Recent NITI Aayog note on Free Trade Agreements and their costs points out that India’s trade deficit with the RCEP group (it already has FTAs with the ASEAN, South Korea and Japan) has risen from $9 billion in 2004-05 to over $80 billion today. 
  • Given the discontent over lack of jobs and agrarian distress, with the general elections less than a year away, this cannot be an opportune time to throw open sensitive sectors such as dairy products.
  • Many countries want India to open up its market for 92% of traded goods, while India is only ready to offer market access up to a maximum of 85% items with deviations for countrieslike China, Australia and New Zealand with whom it does not have an FTA.
  • Diary sector:-
    • On the other hand, New Zealand’s export-oriented dairy products will decimate India’s growing dairy sector, which is still largely small-scale.
  • Intellectual property:-
    • IP chapter in RCEP is at risk of including provisions far stricter than those mandated by the World Trade Organisation (WTO)and the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS).
  • E-commerce:-
    • E-commerce commitments, if any, will allow companies such as Alibaba from China to displace Indian manufacturing especially in the SME segment.
  • Medicine:-
    • Agreeing to data exclusivity, extending patent terms and unduly strong enforcement measures will weaken the entire generic medicine sector and take away several health safeguards in India’s Patent Act, notably section 3(d). This will make medicines inaccessible not only for Indian patients but for those in the entire developing world.
  • Industrial sector :-
    • If India offers to reduce/eliminate import tariffs on a larger number of industrial products than already committed to Asean, Japan and South Korea, its industrial sector could be under stress. 
    • Further, India is being asked to eliminate export restrictions on minerals and raw material by Japan and South Korea; this may threaten domestic raw material availability for industrialisation and encourage over-mining
  • Services:-
    • More developed countries such as Australia and Singapore are unwilling to accommodate India’s demands to liberalise their services regimeand allow freer mobility of Indian workers.
    • Given India’s inability to negotiate a good services deal in the past, RCEP negotiations, especially with China, need a second thought.
  • It has the potential to overthrow India’s policies of rural development and industrialisation especially ‘Make in India’, and to provide accessible healthcare and medicines to all. It also threatens the policy flexibility and sovereignty to pursue independent economic, social and environmental policies.
  • Other countries have advantage in many sectors:-
    • Under the ambit of RCEP, countries like China, South Korea and Japan are manufacturing powerhouses, and Australia and New Zealand have strengths in processed foods, wine, and dairy products, while Asean has comparative advantages in plantations, electronics and auto-components.
    • Sectors of India such as plantations, automobiles, textiles, pharmaceuticals, and engineering goods would be impacted negatively
    • India’s steel ministry has strongly opposed the inclusion of finished steel products in the proposed regional free-trade agreement, saying it would have an adverse impact on the industry that’s recovering from a crisis.
  • Past experiences:-
    • India already has bilateral FTAs with Asean, Korea and Japan and negotiations are underway with Australia and New Zealand.

India needs to be very cautious in its approach towards RCEP as RCEP provides many advantages:-

  • India believes an ambitious services deal will help it provide job opportunities in RCEP member countries for its millions of skilled professionals at home.
  • RCEP agreement would complement India’s existing free trade agreements with the Association of South East Asian Nations and some of its member countries, as it would deals with Japan and South Korea. It can address challenges emanating from implementation concerns vis-à-vis overlapping agreements, which is creating a “noodle bowl” situation obstructing effective utilization of these FTAs.
  • The RCEP would help India streamline the rules and regulations of doing trade, which will reduce trade costs.
  • It will also help achieve its goal of greater economic integration with countries East and South East of India through better access to a vast regional market ranging from Japan to Australia.
    • The RCEP can be a stepping stone to India’s “Act East Policy.”
  • RCEP will facilitate India’s integration into sophisticated “regional production networks” that make Asia the world’s factory. The RCEP is expected to harmonize trade-related rules, investment and competition regimes of India with those of other countries of the group.
  • Through domestic policy reforms on these areas, this harmonization of rules and regulations would help Indian companies plug into regional and global value chains and would unlock the true potential of the Indian economy. 
  • Because the RCEP will contain three of the largest economies in the world- China, India, and Japan hence it is globally important. The bloc represents 49% of the world’s population and accounts for 30% of global GDP. It also accounts for 29% of world trade and 26% of world foreign direct investment (FDI) inflows
  • It will also reduce the overlap among Asian FTAs.

Way forward for India:-

  • Before getting into any multilateral trade deal, India should review its existing FTAs in terms of benefits to various stakeholders like industry and consumers, trade complementarities and changing trade patterns in the past decade. Negotiating bilateral FTAs with countries where trade complementarities and margin of preference is high may benefit India in the long run.
  • Also, higher compliance costs nullify the benefits of margin of preference. Thus reducing compliance cost and administrative delays is extremely critical to increase utilisation rate of FTAs.
  • Proper safety and quality standards should be set to avoid dumping of lower quality hazardous goods into the Indian market.
  • Circumvention of rules of origin should be strictly dealt with by the authorities.Well-balanced FTA deals addressing the concerns of all the stakeholders is the need of the hour
  • Developing countries like India which have taken the leadership in instituting and using balanced intellectual property protection for pharmaceuticals should not only proudly protect their laws in the RCEP negotiations, they should also encourage other countries to adopt and use similar measures that ensure generic competition.
  • Before going ahead with any of the mega trade deals, India needs to aggressively undertake a few of the pending reforms. These include domestic as well as trade reforms like changes in land and labour laws especially in sectors like textiles and reduction in subsidies are crucial as RCEP would bring in investment in several labour intensive sectors including textile.
  • Sanitary and phytosanitary issues and technical barriers to trade measures are the most frequently used against Indian exports. Thus the non-tariff barriers in RCEP countries should be negotiated transparently before negotiating market access.
  • RCEP has the East Asian economies as partners, who have thrived on export-led growth model, unlike India whose domestic economy is its strength. Therefore India should choose a model that will complement this setup.
  • India also needs to introspect as to what it can get from negotiating the proposed RCEP that it has not already obtained from prevailing trade agreements.

General Studies – 3


TopicPart of static series under the heading – “Precipitation”

6) Explain why does Western Ghats receive more rainfall than Eastern Ghats?(250 words)

 

Key demand of the question

The question expects us to first explain the comparison of rainfall received by western and eastern ghats. Thereafter, we need to explain the different reasons why this is so

Structure of the answer

Introduction – Mention that Topography and wind play an important role in the distribution of precipitation. Explain in brief the comparison of geographical features of western and eastern ghats. Give the comparison of rainfall patterns.

Body – Explain the various reasons behind western ghats receiving more rainfall than Eastern ghats

  • Describe the geographical area in which more rainfall is received. Mention the fact about windward and leeward side
  • WG block rain bearing winds whereas SW monsoon moves parallel to eastern ghats
  • WG have gentler slope as compared to Eastern Ghats. etc

Diagrammatic representation will fetch you more marks.

 

The reason why do the Western Ghats receive more rain than the Eastern Ghats are discussed below:

  • The winds from Arabian Sea climb the slopes of the Western Ghats from 900-1200 m. Soon, they become cool, and as a result, the windward side of the Western Ghats receive very heavy rainfall ranging between 250 cm and 400 cm. After crossing the Western Ghats, these winds descend and get heated up. This reduces humidity in the winds. As a result, these winds cause little rainfall in the Eastern Ghats.
  • The Western Ghats block rain-bearing winds which cause rainfall on the western slopes. Whereas South-west monsoon moves parallel to the Eastern Ghats, which cause less rainfall because in the Eastern Ghats unable to block moisture-laden winds.
  • The Western Ghats lies in rain-fed area of the Arabian Sea branch of the south-west monsoon whereas Eastern Ghats lies in the rain shadow area of the Arabian Sea branch of the south-west monsoon.
  • The Western Ghats have gentle slope that provides a greater area for sunlight absorption whereas the Eastern Ghats have an abrupt slope..
  • The Western Ghats do not allow the winds to cross over without shedding their moisture on the Western slopes. When these winds reach the Eastern Ghat, they are almost dry.

Even the rainfall in western ghats is itself varied:-

  • In a recent study of rainfall trends using remotely sensed satellite data and actual field data from the Indian Meteorological Department of the Western Ghats region over the past 14 years, it was found that during the monsoon months of June, July, August, September, the average rainfall was more over Karnataka than Maharashtra and Kerala.
  • There are several reasons for this:-
    • The mountain topography in Karnataka is broader than the narrow topography of the Ghats in Maharashtra:-
      • Due to the greater width of the mountains, the rain bearing winds have to necessarily travel a longer distance and have more time for the drops to coalesce and precipitate as rainfall, resulting in higher rainfall. In contrast, the narrow width of the Ghats in Maharashtra allows the rain-bearing wind to cross over to the leeward side rapidly before precipitation can occur.
      • As for Kerala, the Ghats there are in the form of isolated mountains, where the rain-bearing winds can easily cross over to the leeward side through the gaps in between without precipitation occurring.
    • The slope of the mountain has a direct bearing on the possibility of precipitation. This is borne out by the Ghats of Karnataka where the mountains are gently sloping, compared to the steep slopes of the Ghats in Maharashtra and Kerala.
      • The air parcel will retain its energy and speed for a longer time when the slope is gradual. This will provide sufficient vertical motion to cloud droplets to grow by collision coalescence process and hence form precipitation.
    • The gentle slope provides a greater area for sunlight absorption and heating leading to greater convection when compared with an abrupt slope i.e. less Ghat area such as that of the Maharashtra and Kerala Ghats.
    • The continuous mountain range presents a greater barrier to rain-bearing winds than a range comprising isolated mountains with gaps in between where the winds can easily pass to the leeward side. Unlike in the case of Kerala, the Ghats in Maharashtra and Karnataka are continuous.

General Studies – 4


TopicEthics and Human Interface: Essence, determinants and consequences of Ethics in human actions; dimensions of ethics; ethics in private and public relationships

7) DIscuss the four principles of healthcare ethics as forwarded by Beauchamp and Childress. Also give an example of a situation, where conflict between any two or more of these values can be discerned. (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 simply write in detail about the four principle of healthcare ethics forwarded by Beauchamp and Childress.

Structure of the answer

Introduction- mention that a doctor or a healthcare administrator faces many medical procedures and treatments which  have both merits and downsides, and patients have their own input and circumstances to consider. The four principles of health care ethics developed by Tom Beauchamp and James Childress in the 1985 Principles of Biomedical Ethics provide guidelines to make decisions when they inevitably face complicated situations involving patients.

Body-

  • Discuss in points and in detail the four principles. E.g
  • Principle of autonomy.
  • Principle of beneficence.
  • Principle of nonmaleficence.
  • Principle of justice.

.    b. Give the required example. E.g illustrate through an example a situation which involves conflict between autonomy and beneficence or justice.

Answer:-

The four principles of health care ethics developed by Tom Beauchamp and James Childress in the 1985 Principles of Biomedical Ethics provide medical practitioners with guidelines to make decisions when they inevitably face complicated situations involving patients. 

The four principles of health care ethics are autonomy, beneficence, non-maleficence, and justice.

  • Autonomy:
    • In medicine, autonomy refers to the right of the patient to retain control over his or her body. A health care professional can suggest or advise, but any actions that attempt to persuade or coerce the patient into making a choice are violations of this principle.
    • In the end, the patient must be allowed to make his or her own decisions whether or not the medical provider believes these choices are in that patient’s best interests  independently and according to his or her personal values and beliefs.
  • Beneficence:
    • This principle states that health care providers must do all they can to benefit the patient in each situation. All procedures and treatments recommended must be with the intention to do the most good for the patient.
    • To ensure beneficence, medical practitioners must develop and maintain a high level of skill and knowledge, make sure that they are trained in the most current and best medical practices, and must consider their patients individual circumstances i.e..,what is good for one patient will not necessary benefit another.
  • Non-Maleficence:
    • Non-maleficence is probably the best known of the four principles. In short, it means, to do no harm. This principle is intended to be the end goal for all of a practitioner’s decisions, and means that medical providers must consider whether other people or society could be harmed by a decision made, even if it is made for the benefit of an individual patient.
  • Justice:
    • The principle of justice states that there should be an element of fairness in all medical decisions

Example showing the conflict between these values :-

  • One hypothetical case studyinvolves a patient who has an ovarian cyst that, left untreated, will result in kidney failure. An operation to remove the cyst is the best treatment, but the patient is frightened of needles and is against the surgery that would require a needle to give her anesthesia.
  • The doctor must work with the patient to respect the fact that she dislikes needles and doesn’t want the operation (her autonomy), and needs to find a solution that would prevent her from going into kidney failure, which is in her best interest (beneficence). Although the surgery is the best choice, forcing the patient to accept the needle would be harmful to her (non-maleficence).
  • Finally, the doctor needs to consider the impact that the patient’s choices might have on others if she starts to go into preventable kidney failure, she’ll need dialysis, which affects other people who need the same treatment (justice). So before making the final decision the doctor must consider all four principles of health care ethics, which will help the physician make the choice that will have the best possible benefits for both the patient and society.

 

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