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SECURE SYNOPSIS: 18 SEPTEMBER 2018


SECURE SYNOPSIS: 18 SEPTEMBER 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-  Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.

1) Deporting all illegal migrants from India is not a feasible and recommended solution. Comment.(250 words) 

Economic times

Why this question

Citizenship in India has been subjected to many upheavals recently. NCR exercise and the proposed decision to deport all immigrants have been at the core of this controversy alongwith the discussion to scrap Article 35. But the issue of deportation of all immigrants is not a feasible and recommended solution, as has been discussed in the article.

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 understanding as to whether deportation of all illegal immigrants is a feasible and a recommended solution, or not. We have to form our opinion based on a proper discussion and presentation of valid facts/ arguments/ examples.

Structure of the answer

Introduction– write a few introductory lines about the illegal immigrants in India- e.g An illegal immigrant in India is a person residing in the country without an official permission as prescribed by relevant Indian law. Those who are explicitly granted refugee status do not fall under this category.

Body-

Discuss in points why deporting all immigrants from India is not a feasible and recommended solution. all migrants from India is not a feasible and recommended solution. E.g mention the problems associated with the exercise to demarcate legal and illegal immigrants- like the problems of exclusion as seen in the Assam NRC exercise; some illegal immigrants would be difficult if not impossible to deport- like the Tamilians from the Sri Lanka; Gorkhas and Lepchas from Nepal; India has no agreement with nearby governments for large-scale deportation etc.

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

 

Background :-

  • Recently Assam’s National Register of Citizens (NRC) exercise threw up four million people as excluded in a final draft released in July 2018 which raised questions about the situation of illegal migrants.

Deportation is not a commendable solution due to the following reasons:-

  • There are doubts if NRC would be applied to whole of India then the status of Gorkhaland, Lepchas, Srilankan Tamils etc who reside in India is left in limbo. 
  • India has no agreement with nearby governments for large-scale deportation.
    • Also the people who are excluded from NRC face uncertain future for instance Bangladesh is not ready to accept them and even in India they might face resistance.
  • India has been known worldwide for its humanitarian approach towards refugees from different nations. This strengthened the image of India as democracy worldwide. So with respect to NRC government need to ensure that families are not torn apart, human rights of the people are upholded even if they are not included in NRC. So deportation is not a good idea to look at. There needs to be more clarity with the citizenship status for people in India.

Way forward:-

  • India has to strive to make it’s  border borderBangladesh permeable, as it is with Nepal.
  • Citizenship:-
  • India has to redefine its citizenship eligibility to make anyone who has been born in India, regardless of parentage, and/or spent a considerable part of their life in India an Indian citizen.
  • South Asia has seen many crises over citizenship. The Supreme Court must ensure there isn’t  another one in Assam. 
  • The claims of those left out in the NRC must be heard carefully, humanely. 
  • Need for a robust mechanism of legal support for the four million who have to prove their citizenship to India with their limited means. 
  • India’s approach to citizenship is going to be scrutinised by the world.
  • All state authorities need to be prudent in their actions so that good sense prevails and ensure that large-scale humanitarian crises do not erupt.

 


General Studies – 3


Topic– Indian economy: Issues

2) The falling value of rupee will lead to several problems in Indian economy. Examine the causes of the problem and suggest steps to deal with this challenge?(250 words)

The hindu

Why this question

The article talks about the reasons why rupee has been depreciating in value, the impact of falling value of rupee on inflation and other economic factors and ways in which the current slide can be attested. Since the falling value of rupee, and rising oil prices have been dominating the news headlines for some time now, getting into the depth of reasons behind the same would be useful for mains.

Key demand of the question

The question expects us to answer three aspects

  • The reason behind the falling value of rupee
  • The impact of the falling value of rupee
  • Steps to arrest the slide in rupee’e value or mitigate the ill effects of rupee’s slide

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 the issue in brief.

Body

  • Discuss reasons for the falling value of rupee
    • External factors such as rising interest rates in USA, which means that flight of capital has taken place from developing countries like India. Discuss that dollar has appreciated against other currencies
    • Developing economies are typically even harder hit since global portfolio investors tend to withdraw from these markets, perhaps because their economic or political fundamentals are relatively more unstable. Countries such as Turkey and South Africa have experienced significantly higher rates of devaluation than India.
    • Increasing crude oil prices which is impacting our CAD etc
  • Discuss the impact of falling rupee value on inflation, cad, price of essential imports etc
  • Suggest steps through which the after effects can be mitigated or the slide in the value of rupee be mitigated – RBI intervening by offloading large amount of dollars,  raise interest rates, borrow from NRIs by floating NRI bonds etc

Conclusion – Give your view on the impact being faced as a result of sliding value in rupee and discuss the way forward.

 

Background :-

  • India’s rupee value has fallen precipitously against the dollar, and is now hovering around the 72 level. It was just under 64 at the beginning of the year.
  • At present, the value of India’s currency “rupee” is continuously falling and its value has declined by 12% between January – September 2018.Among the BRICS nations after the Russian Ruble, the Indian rupee depreciated the most in this period.

Problems due to falling rupee in India :-

  • A weak rupee makes overseas travel costlier.
  • Imported goods like computers, mobile phones and crude oil may get costlier. This may prompt oil companies to hike petrol and diesel prices too.
  • Costlier transport fuel will knock up prices of most goods and stoke inflation. Diesel price hikes increase the cost of transportation of goods being transported by road. Unfortunately, many food items fall in this category.
  • Elevated inflation may prompt RBI to raise lending rates. It may also keep interest rates high to maintain India’s attractiveness as a debt market and woo dollars.
  • High-interest rates may push up home loan EMIs.
  • CAD:-
    • Even under a benign assumption of crude oil at around $70 per barrel, India’s current account deficit will reach a six-year high of 2.5% of India’s gross domestic product (GDP) in 2018-19. If crude oil prices touch $90 per barrel, this could push up the current account deficit to 3.6% of GDP.
  • Exports:-
    • Also, not much respite is expected from the export channel. The recent depreciation in rupee is unlikely to boost exports in the short-run as there are other structural factors, which are weighing on India’s exports sector
  • Banking sector:-
    • With more hikes in the offing by RBI , the already low credit growth figures could dip further.
  • ECB:-
    • Slowing down of domestic credit flow had prompted many firms to borrow abroad, and external commercial borrowings (ECBs) had emerged as an important source of alternative funding for Indian companies over the past few quarters.
    • But the rupee’s fall will make even that option more difficult, as it has raised external borrowing costs.
    • This will dampen corporate borrowing and weaken economic activity at a time when domestic banks are not in the best position to raise lending.
  • Many domestic companies that have taken dollar loans will also face significantly higher servicing costs.
  • It may hurt India’s fiscal deficit as India is a net importer of crude oil. . 
  • Tourism:-
    • The domestic tourism could grow as more tourists visit India since their currency now buys more here. 
  • In the medium term, export-oriented industries may also create more jobs.

Causes of the Rupee depreciation :-

  • Spike in oil prices has pulled down the rupee, by pushing up dollar demand.
    • Increase in the demand of crude oil will be followed by the increasing import bill in the form of payment of more dollars to oil exporting countries. Hence the demand of dollar will increase in the Indian market which will reduce the value of Indian rupee.
  • Global Trade war fears triggered by the US and China’s retaliatory import tariffs have also weakened the Rupee.
    • So due to this war the price of the imported commodities will go up which will further increase the outflow of dollar from the Indian market.
  • Increasing Trade Deficit of India:
    • Outflow of foreign currency is more from Indian market as compared to inflow of foreign currency. As per the law of demand; if the demand of a commodity increases, its price also follows it. In the same way; when more and more foreign currency i.e. dollar goes out of Indian market, its domestic price increases and the price of Indian rupee decreases.
  • Political uncertainty:-
    • Major point of uncertainty is that whether the current government will retain the power at centre or not. If the new government comes in the power and changes the FDI and other policies then the money of investors will trap.
    • So the foreign investors are pulling out their money from the Indian market to invest in those markets which can provide them secured return.  This is the reason that the demand of dollar is increasing and the price of Indian rupee of falling.
  • International currencies:-
    • Chinese yuan has fallen sharply in the last few sessions. This has triggered a dollar flight from many emerging economies like India. Spurt in dollar outflow has pulled down most Asian currencies, including the rupee.
    • Free fall of the Turkish lira following an economic crisis in that country impacted emerging economy currencies, which lost ground against the dollar.
  • Global factors including rising interest rates in the US. The US Federal Reserve’s rate hikes have made dollar assets give more returns.
  • FPI outflows. 
  • The current account deficit and net capital outflows influence the shortage of dollar liquidity, which result in rupee depreciation. 
  • High import intensity in some key segments like petroleum and gems and jewellery.

 

Way forward :-

  • Excise duties were raised in the recent past by the Central government when crude oil prices were low, merely as a revenue-gathering device. Now that the rupee cost of crude has risen exponentially the Centre can certainly lower duties.
  • Rates of VAT should also be lowered by State governments. A small reduction in VAT may even be revenue neutral since VAT is levied as a percentage of price paid by dealer.
  • RBI has several policy options:-
    • It could, of course, take the most direct route  of offloading large amounts of dollars. This would increase the supply of dollars and so check the appreciation of the dollar, but at the cost of decreased liquidity. Clearly, this weapon has to be used with caution.
  • Best option for the government would be to borrow from non-resident Indians (NRIs) by floating special NRI bonds that have to be purchased with foreign exchange, and with maturity periods of at least three years.
  • The ad hoc steps taken by the government should not deflect attention from the more fundamental reasons behind the decline of the rupee. 
  • RBI intervention in the forex market is the short-term solution. 
  • Reducing dependence on imports and attracting consistent foreign direct investment through friendly policies. 
  • Remove policy barriers that are impeding the growth of export-oriented sectors, in order to find a sustainable solution to the problem of the weakening rupee.

Topic– Issues related to direct and indirect farm subsidies

3) Examine the issues in Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana and discuss ways through which the coverage under this scheme can be enhanced?(250 words)

The hindu

Why this question

The article talks about the challenges faced by one of the most important scheme initiated by this government for improving the status of farmers and suggests ways through which the scheme can be made more effective. Since PMFBY, has already been asked in UPSC in the past couple of years, the scheme and the challenges faced in its implementation needs to be prepared in depth.

Key demand of the question

The question expects us to answer the following points

  • Details of PMFBY and status quo
  • Issues in PMFBY
  • Suggestions to make the scheme more efficient and effective such that the coverage under the scheme be increased

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 – Give details about PMFBY and the status of coverage under the scheme.

Body

  • Discuss how PMFBY has been an improvement over past schemes – more farmer friendly, with sums insured being closer to the cost of production. The scheme’s linkage with parallel programmes like the ‘Jan Dhan Yojana’ and ‘Digital India’ makes it a truly inclusive and welfare-based scheme. The scheme therefore led to increased coverage of 5.7 crore farmers in 2016 and the sum insured crossed Rs. 200,000 crore.
  • Discuss the issues remaining still in the scheme – outmoded method of crop loss assessment; inadequate and delayed claim payment; high premium rates; and poor execution. Consequently, in 2017, the expansive coverage of the scheme suffered some setback as seen in a drop of nearly one crore farmers in enrolment (about 17%). Such shortcomings have inspired recent announcements such as that of Bihar to start its own scheme, the “Bihar Rajya Fasal Sahayata Yojna”.
  • Suggest ways to improve the scheme – Faster and appropriate claim settlement:Timely estimate of loss assessment is the biggest challenge before the PMFBY; To improve the efficacy of the PMFBY, technology use must be intensified. With options such as available today, such as detailed weather data, remote sensing, modelling and big data analytics; The whole process of monitoring can be made accessible and transparent to farmers, policy-makers and insuring agencies alike through an online portal etc

Conclusion – Give your view on how PMFBY can be improved and suggest way forward.

Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana

  • It is aimed at shielding farmers from crop failures and yield losses due to vagaries of climate through insurance.
  • It compensates farmers for any losses in crop yield.
  • In the event of a crop loss, the farmer will be paid based on the difference between the threshold yield and actual yield.
  • The scheme is compulsory for farmers who have availed of institutional loans.
  • The scheme insures farmers against a wide range of external risks like droughts, dry spells, floods, inundation, pests and diseases, landslides, natural fire and lightning, hailstorms, cyclones, typhoons, tempests, hurricanes and tornadoes.
  • The scheme also covers post-harvest losses up to a period of 14 days.

Positives:-

  • The PMFBY is an attempt to plug the holes in the older crop insurance schemes especially being
    • Their limited risk coverage 
    • For crops where the premiums were steeper insurance companies proportionally reduced the sum insured.
    • Compensation fell way short of even the farmer’s cost of production.
  • The Fasal Bima Yojana has done away with this cap on premium. The sum insured per hectare for a farmer is now decided by the District Level Technical Committee and is pre-declared and notified by the State Level Coordination Committee on Crop Insurance.
  • The farmer also pays less
    • The premium is 2 per cent of the sum insured for all kharif crops and 1.5 per cent of it for all rabi crops.
    • For horticulture and commercial crops, the premium is 5 per cent of sum covered.
    • The remaining premium is paid by the government.
  • The scheme also envisages using technology
    • To capture and upload data of crop cutting
    • To reduce delays in claim payment to farmers
    • Remote sensing to reduce the number of crop cutting experiments.
  • Subsidised premiums and prompt claims settlement enabled by remote sensing and GPS technology should help substantially expand coverage.
  • An increase in the area insured should also bring down premium rates, through spreading of risks across more farmers. That would also help contain the government’s subsidy burden.
  • Government has further targeted at increasing the coverage. In Budget 2018-19, allocation to the PMFBY scheme  is  Rs 13,000 crore and a target of increasing coverage to 98 million ha gross crop area has been set.
  • In comparison to earlier schemes, the PMFBY is more farmer friendly, with sums insured being closer to the cost of production.
  • The scheme’s linkage with parallel programmes like the ‘Jan Dhan Yojana’ and ‘Digital India’ makes it a truly inclusive and welfare-based scheme.
  • The scheme therefore led to increased coverage of 5.7 crore farmers in 2016 and the sum insured crossed Rs. 200,000 crore. 

Why the programme needs an urgent fix:

  • Making the insurance business sustainable with actuarial premium rates is not going to help raise farmers incomes.
  • Insufficient reach and the issue of penetration.
  • Data constraints:-
    • With just around 45% of the claims made by farmers over the last three crop seasons data for the last rabi season is not available paid by the insurance companies
  • State governments:-
    • The reason for the very low payout of claims is that few state governments are paying their share of the premiums on time and till they do, the central government doesn’t pay its share either. Till they get the premium, insurance companies simply sit on the claims.
    • Most states failed to provide smart phones to revenue staff to capture and upload data of crop cutting, which continues to come with enormous delay.
  • There is hardly any use of modern technology in assessing crop damages.
  • Gaps in assessment of crop loss: 
    • The sample size in each village was not large enough to capture the scale and diversity of crop losses.
    • In many cases, district or block level agricultural department officials do not conduct such sampling on ground and complete the formalities only on paper.
    • There is lack of trained outsourced agencies, scope of corruption during implementation and the non-utilisation of technologies like smart phones and drones to improve reliability of such sampling
    • Less number of notified crops than can avail insurance
  • Inadequate and delayed claim payment:
    • Insurance companies, in many cases, did not investigate losses due to a localised calamity and, therefore, did not pay claims.
    • Only 32 per cent of the reported claims were paid out by insurance companies, even when in many states the governments had paid their part of premium.
  • High actuarial premium rates
    • Insurance companies charged high actuarial premium rates
  • Massive profits for insurance companies
    • If states delay notifications, or payment of premiums, or crop cutting data, companies cannot pay compensation to the farmers in time.
    • There have been farmers protests in various states against compulsory coverage of loanee farmers under this scheme. Farmer activists fear that this scheme might end up benefitting insurance companies more than the farmers.
  • Coverage only for loanee farmers:
    • PMFBY remains a scheme for loanee farmers who take loans from banks are mandatorily required to take insurance. Like previous crop insurance schemes, PMFBY fails to cover sharecropper and tenant farmers
  • Poor capacity to deliver: 
    • There has been no concerted effort by the state government and insurance companies to build awareness of farmers on PMFBY.
    • Insurance companies have failed to set-up infrastructure for proper Implementation of PMFBY.
    • There is still no direct linkage between insurance companies and farmers.
    • Insured farmers receive no insurance policy document or receipt.
    • Delayed notification by state governments
  • PMBY is not beneficial for farmers in vulnerable regions as factors like low indemnity levels, low threshold yields, low sum insured and default on loans make it a poor scheme to safeguard against extreme weather events.
  • However, merely increasing the budget allocation for PMFBY scheme might not help the farmers.
  • CAG report:-
    • Private companies are not properly monitored and premium subsidy is released to them simply on the basis of affidavits provided by these companies without checking actual situation on the ground.

Way forward:-

  • There is an urgent need to link the insurance database with Core Banking Solution (CBS) so that when premium is deducted from a farmer’s bank account, the bank sends him a message informing about the premium, sum insured and name of insurance company.
  • There is a need for a total insurance packagelike seed insurance through replanting guarantee programme, crop cycle insurance, prepaid insurance card etc
  • Insurance unit has to be brought down to individual farm level
  • Use of drone and low-orbit satellites in place of traditional crop-cutting experiments could also lower payouts
  • Making claims payment fast and transparent
    • There should be strict compliance of timelines with regard to the process of claim settlement to provide adequate and timely compensation to farmers.
  • Danger of discouraging mixed cropping and crop diversification
    • A limited number of crops are notified by states under PMFBY. This can act as an impediment to crop diversification.
    • PMFBY will have to make insurance relevant to farmers by including more and more crops under notification and by allowing insurance for mixed cropping.
  • Improve scheme monitoring and grievance redressal mechanism
    • Toll-free number should serve as a one-stop solution for crop insurance. Farmers should be able to avail of a single window that is accountable to them for all aspects of the scheme.
  • Coverage of losses expanded:-
    • Coverage of tenant and sharecropper farmers should increase
  • Awareness:-
    • Farmers must be informed before deducting crop insurance premium. They must be given a proper insurance policy document, with all relevant details.
  • Capacity building:-
    • Panchayati Raj Institutions and farmers need to be involved at different stages of implementation.
    • Robust assessment of crop loss should be done through capacity building of state governments, involvement of PRIs and farmers in loss assessment, auditing and multi-level checking to ensure credibility of data and testing incorporating technology such as remote sensing, drones and online transmission of data.
  • Faster and appropriate claim settlement through technology:-
    • To improve the efficacy of the PMFBY, technology use must be intensified. With options such as  detailed weather data, remote sensing, modelling and big data analytics, the exercise of monitoring crop growth and productivity can be not only more accurate and efficient but also resource saving.
    • Hybrid indices, which integrate all relevant technologies into a single indicator, are good ways to determine crop losses. Their deployment can assist in multi-stage loss assessment and thus provide farmers with immediate relief for sowing failure, prevented sowing and mid-season adversity apart from final crop loss assessment.
    • The whole process of monitoring can be made accessible and transparent to farmers, policy-makers and insuring agencies alike through an online portal. Immediate claims settlements can be made once this is linked to the process of direct benefit transfers.

Topic– Disaster and disaster management.

4) Recent cases of bridge collapses in India call for a prompt institutional revamp and close oversight. Critically Analyze.(250 words)

Economictimes

Why this question

India has recently witnessed a series of cases of bridge collapses. In this connection it is important to analyze the reasons behind the same and identify the possible solutions in this regard.

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.

Key demand of the question.

The question wants us to dig deep into the issue of collapsing bridges in India and analyze its important aspects- what are the reasons behind this and what could be the plausible solutions in this regard.

Structure of the answer

Introduction– write a few introductory lines about bridge collapses in India and across the world.

Body-

  1. Discuss the reasons behind such bridge collapses. E.g All reinforced concrete (RCC) structures, including bridges, are prone to corrosive deterioration; under hot and humid conditions, the build-up of internal pressure can reduce concrete stiffness and strength, particularly in bridges with huge moving loads on their decks; corruption and use of sub-standard material, usually in collusion of the government officials etc.
  2. Discuss what could be the possible solutions. E.g There’s an urgent need to systematically and thoroughly fill up gaps in bridge maintenance and renewal nationwide; swiftly identify structurally deficient bridges, especially those in dense urban centres with speedily rising vehicular traffic, and better allocate resources for the specific and express purpose of repair and replacement; New avenues for resource allocation for bridge maintenance need to be explored and acted upon; public-private partnerships need to be duly formalised; need for central oversight for bridge maintenance. Modern satellite systems can now monitor bridge deformations down to the millimetre level in real time.
    The use of such systems for bridge monitoring must be made routine etc.

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

Background:-

  • The recent bridge collapse in south Kolkata, and reports that seven other bridges in the city have been identified as ‘most vulnerable’, do call for prompt institutional revamp and close oversight.

Reasons why such incidents occur:-

  • All reinforced concrete (RCC) structures, including bridges, are prone to corrosive deterioration Under hot and humid conditions, the build-up of internal pressure can reduce concrete stiffness and strength, particularly in bridges with huge moving loads on their decks. 
  • Old construction:-
    • In India, many bridges are now half a century or even a century old.
  • Several bridges and flyovers across the country are structurally unsafe. A government survey of 1.62 lakh bridges released in 2017 found 23 on national highways were over 100 years old, 147 required immediate attention and 6,000 were structurally distressed.
  • The issue is that bridges have a shelf life and require regular monitoring, audit and maintenance. But this critical aspect has been ignored by authorities
  • Corruption is one of the root causes of the poor quality of roads and bridges in India. The quality of the materials used is so sub-standard, the time taken to construct the network of bridges and roads is also way beyond required.
  • Proper procedures are not followed
    • When the under-construction bridge collapsed, the damage to life and property was extensive because no barricades had been placed to prevent encroachments or traffic.
  • It is generally the norm to make alternate arrangements for the movement of traffic before any public work is undertaken to ensure that the common man is not affected. No service lanes were made. In the absence of alternate arrangements, traffic was moving routinely under the under-construction bridge.

What needs to be done?

  • Swiftly identify structurally deficient bridges, especially those in dense urban centres with speedily rising vehicular traffic, and better allocate resources for the specific and express purpose of repair and replacement.
  • New avenues for resource allocation for bridge maintenance need to be explored and acted upon
  • Public-private partnerships need to be duly formalised.
  • There’s also a parallel need for central oversight for bridge maintenance.
  • Modern satellite systems can now monitor bridge deformations down to the millimetre level in real time.
    • The use of such systems for bridge monitoring must be made routine. India must leverage our satellite expertise to better maintain bridges pan-India and beyond.

Topic – Security challenges and their management in border areas

5) Defence modernization, though for long a stated aim, must be taken up with priority. Analyze.(250 words)

Reference

Why this question

The article talks about the status of military in India, the recommendations of the committees formed for military modernization and the shortcomings along with way forward for the modernization drive military. This question would enable you to prepare for military modernization section of paper 3.

Key demand of the question

The question expects us to provide an answer to the following issues

  • The nature and type of modernization expected
  • Status quo related to military modernization
  • Recommendations of the committee formed for the said purpose
  • Issues in the current scenario
  • Way forward

Directive word

Analyze – When asked to analyze, you  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.

Structure of the answer

Introduction – India has millions of military personnel, billions of dollars in arms spending and grave threats on its borders, and yet the project of defence modernization has been progressing at less than desired pace.

Body

  • Explain that according to Parliament’s Standing Committee on Defence, some 68% of the army’s equipment holdings belong to the “vintage” category, 24% current and 8% state of the art. A modern, war winning military needs to be state of the art in every dimension – doctrine, organisation, equipment and quality of its personnel.
  • Highlight that various committees formed in the past like shekatkar committee have given wide ranging suggestions for military’s modernization – recommendations related to roll on defence budgets for capital expenditures, performance audit, downsizing or rationalization of manpower, joint services war college etc
  • Highlight that apart from these measures, the country has also went on an indigenization drive in defence manufacturing with reforms brought about in FDI sector in defence as well as Dhirendra Singh committee was formed for giving suggestions in this regard
  • Highlight the issues – suggestions that cuts will take place in Signals and Supply units actually goes against the grain of modern warfare, which emphasises quick moving forces and long range precision strikes, reducing numbers does not necessarily translate into reducing expenditure. Indeed, in the short run, it will be the other way around. The reason is that there is need to invest in getting higher quality personnel, pay to train them into their new jobs and re-equip the army with an entire new range of weapons and systems.
  • Discuss the way forward – implementation of shekatkar and Dhirendra Singh committee recommendations

Conclusion – Highlight the tough neighborhood that India lives in and the foreign policy aim of being a net security provider for which modernization of India’s military is a strategic imperative.

Background :-

  • With the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor rapidly taking shape, the China-Pakistan embrace has got much tighter as has the convergence between China and Russia. China has intensified military engagements with several South Asian and Indian Ocean region states. Keeping in light all these there is a great necessity for India to modernize its defence forces.

Defence modernisation in India:-

  • Recent report says that army chief has called for studies to prepare the army for 21st century conflict. As part of this the army envisages a cut of some 1,50,000 troops, beginning with a cut of one-third within two years. Some of these would involve cutting and merging existing departments at the army HQ, but others could involve cuts in support units like Signals and Supply Corps.
  • Country has also went on an indigenization drive in defence manufacturing with reforms brought about in FDI sector in defence as well as Dhirendra Singh committee was formed for giving suggestions in this regard.
  • India’s maritime security challenges are growing and the navy not only needs to modernise but also expand its footprint in the Indo-Pacific region.

Issues still remain:-

  • According to Parliament’s Standing Committee on Defence, some 68% of the army’s equipment holdings belong to the “vintage” category, 24% current and 8% state of the art. A modern, war winning military needs to be state of the art in every dimension which is doctrine, organisation, equipment and quality of its personnel.
  • The modernisation of the armed forces has been proceeding at a slow pace due to the inadequacy of funds, rigid procurement procedures, frequent changes in the qualitative requirements, the blacklisting of several defence manufacturers and bureaucratic red tape.
  • Imports have not reduced:-
    • India continues to import advanced defence technologies from other countries. The acquisitions in recent years of aircraft carrier Vikramaditya and S-400 missile defence systems from Russia, C-17 Globemaster transport aircraft and C-130 medium lift transport aircraft from the US are some examples.
  • Suggestions that cuts will take place in Signals and Supply units actually goes against the grain of modern warfare, which emphasises quick moving forces and long range precision strikes, reducing numbers does not necessarily translate into reducing expenditure as there is need to invest in getting higher quality personnel, pay to train them into their new jobs and re-equip the army with an entire new range of weapons and systems.
  • DRDO failure:-
    • Over the years, the DPSUs and the DRDO have sought to fulfill the demands of the armed forces to some extent and their achievements are creditable. But overall, the indigenisation effort is yet to take off.
  • Lack of private sector role:-
    • The private sector is still not in a position to meet the needs of the armed forces largely because it has been deliberately kept out of defence production. The micro small and medium enterprises (MSME) sector is yet to grow. It is dependent on the growth of larger players.
    • The procedures are cumbersome and stacked against the private sector. This is now changing, but there is a lot of catching up to do. 
  • Lack of funds:-
    • In 2018, India has an effective or real defence budget of about $44 billion which, at 1.49 per cent of GDP, is the second lowest since 1950. 
    • Large-scale deficiencies in ammunition and important items of equipment continue to adversely affect India’s readiness for war and the ability to sustain military operations over 20 to 30 days. The army reportedly has some varieties of ammunition for barely ten days of conflict and it will cost Rs 19,000 crore to replenish the stocks.
  • Condition of present equipment is appalling:-
    • Modern wars are fought mostly during the hours of darkness, but most of the armoured fighting vehicles tanks and infantry combat vehicles  are still ‘night blind’. Only about 650 T-90S tanks of Russian origin have genuine night fighting capability. The infantry battalions need over 30,000 third-generation night vision devices.
    • An alarmingly large percentage of equipment is of old vintage, due to many proposals for acquisition and upgradation of new equipment having been inordinately delayed.
    • Expanding hollowness in arms and ammunition over the years, due to quality issues related to indigenous production of modern ammunition, compounded by inadequate budgetary support, especially the revenue component.
  • Modernisation plans of the air force are proceeding at a snail’s pace.
    • The MMRCA project to acquire 126 fighter aircraft to replace the obsolete MiG-21s appears to have been shelved.
  • Technological constraints:-
    • Military is in danger of becoming a technologically second-rate force with no focus on robotics, unmanned systems, Artificial Intelligence, etc. There is no organisation within the military to tackle cyber threats.
  • Military planning is hamstrung by lack of a clearly articulated and integrated military strategy.In such a situation, the three wings of the military are left to devise their own strategies and military philosophies, which could end up being at cross purposes with each other.
    • The reasons that can be ascribed to this state of affairs is the absence of military expertise at the apex level of national security and defence matters, exacerbated by non-institution of the appointment of Chief of Defence Staff to coordinate defence policy and strategy more meaningfully.
  • There is lack of expertise within the Army in the field of weapon designs and technology, resulting in lack of meaningful inputs for the indigenous defence industry.
    • An Army Design Bureau (ADB) has been inaugurated recently to address this shortfall. As of now it is still too early to determine whether the ADB will be able to produce the desired results towards providing guidance to the indigenous defence industry for producing new weapons and equipment for the Army.
    • The Army remains rooted to the outdated policies of employing ‘generalists’ rather than ‘specialists’ to man the weapon procurement functions at Army Headquarters.

How to make defence modernization  a priority:-

  • All the three services need to upgrade their C4I2SR (command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, information, surveillance, and reconnaissance) capabilities. This will help them prepare for effects-based operations in a network-centric environment and to match ever-improving Chinese capabilities.
  • Shekatkar committee has given wide ranging suggestions for military’s modernization :-
    • Recommendations related to roll on defence budgets for capital expenditures, performance audit, downsizing or rationalization of manpower, joint services war college .
  • DRDO:-
    • For it to compete with global defence R&D organisations, the DRDO has to have much larger, better-trained and highly motivated manpower, larger budgets, and more freedom in its operations. It has to be allowed to bear the risks inherent in innovation. 
    • Three functions need focus: prioritising requirements, effective spending and justified supplementary allocation. This requires urgent reforms in structures for joint military planning; capital procurement with role distinction and accountability, optimised revenue expenditure and incentives for Make in India.
  • Parliament’s Standing Committee on Defence and the armed forces have repeatedly recommended that defence budget should be raised progressively to 3 percent of the GDP
  • Manpower:-
    • New structures for expanding the Army Aviation, enhancing informational warfare capability and for raising Headquarters for the proposed Special Operations, Cyber and Space Commands must be provided manpower from within the existing establishment.
  • The government must stop protecting the defence public sector and must create a genuine ‘level playing field’ for entry of the private sector into indigenous defence manufacturing.
    • The private industry must be provided all possible incentives and encouragement to not only manufacture components or sub-systems for the Defence PSUs and Ordnance Factories, or just take over their assembly lines, but to manufacture full systems independently.
  • The Army Design Bureau must be fully operationalised on priority, under guidance and support from the Ministry of Defence. It must be empowered to contribute effectively towards creation of futuristic designs of all types of weapons and equipment for the Army.
  • All functions within the procurement set-up at Army headquarters must be manned by specialists rather than by generalists, thus making drastic improvements in the existing system. Specialists can be created by focussed selection, followed by extended and repeated tenures in the Army Design Bureau and ‘procurement’ related postings at army headquarters.
  • Starting a system of ‘roll on’ budget so that money once allotted for modernisation cannot be re-appropriated for any other purpose whatsoever.

Topic– Part of static series under the heading – “northern plains”

6) How did Northern Plains of India originate? Describe their prominent features and their importance to India’s economy.(250 words)

NCERT India Physical environment Ch 2

Key demand of the question

The question expects us to describe about the northern plains of India, highlight their origin and discuss their contribution to India’s economy.

Structure of the answer

Introduction – Explain that great northern plains are characterized by their extreme horizontal relief, are divided into four distinct divisions – bhabhar belt, Terai belt, Bangar belt and Khadar belt.

Body

  • Explain the origin of Himalayas – comparatively of recent origin and are believed to have formed by the filling up of a depression resulting from the uplifting of the Himalayas, by deposition of sediments brought by swift-flowing Himalayan rivers, originated in Himalayas.
  • Explain the origin and formation of the four belts mentioned above
  • Bhabhar – made up of pebbles and boulders, the streams flow underground, adjacent to foothills
  • Terai belt: composed of new alluvium, region is damped and thickly forested and receives heavy rainfall throughout the year and has a variety of wildlife.
  • Bangar Belt: composed of old alluvium, forms Gangetic delta, covered by laterite deposits
  • Khadar Belt: made up of new alluvium of the flood zones.
  • Explain its economic significance – discuss the importance of northern plains as the food basket of India, rivers provide an opportunity for inland transportation etc

Origin:-

  • The great Northern Plains of India are an aggradation surface of great extent formed after the Himalayas. They are comparatively of recent origin and are believed to have formed by the filling up of a depression resulting from the uplifting of the Himalayas, by deposition of sediments brought by swift-flowing Himalayan rivers, originated in Himalayas.
  • This plain is mainly developed by rivers Ganga, Indus and Bramaputra. The fine and the deep alluvium deposits by the rivers make the northern plains one of the most fertile plains in the wourld..

Features:

  • The most characteristic feature of the great plains of Northern India is their extreme horizontality. From the geomorphological aspect there is no difference between the Indus basin and the Ganga-Brahmaputra basin.
  • They are classified into four distinct divisions:
    • Bhabar belt: made up of pebbles and boulders, the streams flow underground, adjacent to foothills
    • Terai belt: composed of new alluvium, region is damped and thickly forested and receives heavy rainfall throughout the year and has a variety of wildlife.
    • Bangar Belt: composed of old alluvium, forms Gangetic delta, covered by laterite deposits
    • Khadar Belt: made up of new alluvium of the flood zones.
  • They are formed by the alluvial deposits of the rivers and their tributaries.
  • They extend from Sutluj river in the west to Brahmputra in the east.
  • They are divided into three parts :
  • (i) Indus plain
  • (ii) Ganga plain
  • (iii) Brahmputra plain.
  • Plains of northern India, a flat and enormous plain, extend in the east west direction between the Himalayan in the north and Great Indian Peninsular Plateau in the south. These plains form an unbroken belt of alluvium varying in thickness from east Bihar Plain to Punjab and northern Rajasthan . Sutlej Plain in the west, the Ganga Plain in the middle, the Ganga Delta and the Brahmaputra Valley in the east constitute the northern plains. These are among the largest plains of the world. 

Importance of Northern Plains:

  • The northern plains is a riverine region, being bountifully endowed with the fertile soil, favourable climate, flat surface rendering possible the construction of roads and railways, and slow moving rivers. All these factors have made this plain very important.
  • Heavy Concentration of Population:
    • The great plain of India with its deep, fertile, stoneless, alluvial soil and its many rivers, is the most favourable and most desirable part of the sub-continent. 
  • Cultural and Political Importance:
    • A significant fact is that in view of the immense concentration of population and resource the Ganga valley has always dominated North India.
    • It is the dominant area from which not only the political power but also economic and cultural movements spread to Aryavarta (i.e., the area lying north of the Vindhyas). Delhi, Patna and Kolkata have served as the political capitals of the country.
    • Himalayan forests have several wildlife species, and these forests are also having species for medicinal use.
    • These plains have given birth to and nursed and nourished the unique civilizations in its river valleys the Harappa, Mohenjadaro, Lothal etc.
  • Social and Religious Significance:
    • It has been famous for its inexhaustible people who wanted to enjoy its bounty either through sword or through the scale; for its literature and art; for its historical monuments and archaeological sites.
    • Many holy sites are present in these plains.
  • Economic Significance:
    • The plains have a fertile soil and because of the slow moving perennial water courses and favourable climate and they are, the great agricultural tracts of the country, raising bumper crops of rice, wheat, oilseeds, sugarcane, tobacco and jute.
    • They are even now the foci of industrial and commercial activities.
    • Rivers are navigable throughout the year and support inland transportation
    • Flat land- good for roads and railways,
    • Irrigational facilities.
    • For construction of H.E.P. Plants
    • It has well developed roads ,railways and navigable waterways which promotes trade and commerce in this region
    • Northern Plains produces 60% of food in India. It is home to around 65 crore people.
    • Agriculture, livestock, power plants, industries and tourism provide employment to more than half of population in India.

 


General Studies – 4


Topic– Lessons from the lives and teachings of great leaders, reformers and administrators

7) Discuss the character and moral attributes of Mahatma Gandhi, which according to you are the reason for his great personality.(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 about those character and moral attributes of M.K Gandhi which we think are the reasons why Gandhiji is/ should be regarded a great personality.

Structure of the answer

Introduction– write a few introductory lines about M.K Gandhi- e.g He was a great leader with a mass following whose methods were most vital in India’s struggle for independence etc.  

Body– discuss in points/ paragraphs about the character and moral attributes of Mahatma Gandhi, which according to you are the reason for his great personality.

E.g He had the blend of sincerity and efficiency bringing forth the most positive strength Gandhiji accomplished any given task with honesty and diligence. Once a decision was made he gave his all to it; He used to follow up till the end of the task He used to be positive even under all difficult circumstances and had an optimistic view about life and never lost hope ; Looked at life holistically and worked with utmost concentration Treated all work as God given gift and all jobs were of equal importance; Advanced on the path of morality, spirituality and his ethical progress was by being firm on Truth He maintained impeccable integrity in individual life and public conduct etc.

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

Answer:-

 

Gandhi had the blend of sincerity and efficiency bringing forth the most positive strength .Gandhi accomplished any given task with honesty and diligence. Once a decision was made he gave his all to it.

He used to follow up till the end of the task .He used to be positive even under all difficult circumstances and had an optimistic view about life and never lost hope.

He looked at life holistically and worked with utmost concentration Treated all work as God given gift and all jobs were of equal importance.

He had a keen desire to restore the dignity of all human beings. Advanced on the path of  morality, spirituality and his ethical progress was by being firm on Truth 
He maintained impeccable integrity in individual life and public conduct.

He preached and practised non-violence and non-cooperation to achieve his goal. He campaigned to uplift the downtrodden, to ease poverty, expand woman’s rights, build religious and ethnic amity, end untouchability and more.

He laid great emphasis on banishing untouchability, promoting Hindu-Muslim unity, promoting literacy and in the development of a great nation -India. He moved the people with his sincerity and sacrifice.

Characteristics of Gandhiji’s moral leadership were- Polite behavior, humility, hard work, calmness, respecting people, glorious self sacrifice, efficiency, responsibility, leading by example, being ever vigilant, accepting challenges, holistic purview of strategy and working wholeheartedly with enthusiasm

and sincerity.