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SECURE SYNOPSIS: 24 OCTOBER 2018


SECURE SYNOPSIS: 24 OCTOBER 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 Part of static series under the heading – “salient features of Indian society and diversity”

1) Indian family system has undergone drastic change in response to development in terms of industrialization, education and urbanization. Comment. (250 words)

 

Key demand of the question

Various changes have taken place in our society over the years as a consequence of industrialization, spread of education and urbanization. These have also impacted the nature of families in India. The question expects us to comment on the changing nature of Indian families, if at all they have changed, as a result of changes brought by industrialization, urbanization and spread of education.

Directive word

Comment – When you are asked to comment, you have to pick main points and give your ‘opinion’ on them based on evidences or arguments stemming from your wide reading. Your opinion may be for or against, but you must back your argument with evidences.

Structure of the answer

Introduction – Mention that Indian family system is marked as a very important social institution in society. Earlier Indian societies were mostly joint or extended family but owing to industrialisation and urbanisation there is a trend of a subsequent change to nuclear family.

Body

  • Discuss the impact of industrialization and urbanization on Indian family
  • Change in family structure – forced families to live in nearby urban clusters leading to change in family structure
  • Greater individuality
  • Heightened ambition as a result of which people are willing to overlook the comforts of joint family for a nuclear family
  • Reduced solidarity – Some sociologist are of the view that industrialisation and urbanisation resulted in reduced mechanical solidarity i.e. feeling of likeness, fraternity to organic solidarity which are more orientated towards cooperation and need basis.
  • Social problems such as wearing down of social security of senior and very senior individuals.
  • Improved HDI as a result of urbanization. This has also led to better education, less social stratification among indian caste system.
  • Discuss the impact of education
  • Better education has led to better family planning etc
  • Aspirations have increased – People are willing to travel long distances for better education in the hope of better quality of life etc
  • Social issues such as gender inequality etc within families has declined
  • Etc

Conclusion – Comment on the nature of changes that have taken place in Indian families as a result of aforementioned factors.

Background :-

  • In India, the traditional joint family system with features such as patriarchal in nature, members of family had no individual identity, the decision-making power lied exclu­sively with the eldest male member of the family etc underwent rapid changes due to industrialization ,urbanisation and education

Industrialisation and urbanisation impact :-

  • Decline of Extended Family System:-
    • There is a worldwide movement towards small, nuclear family maintaining a separate and independent household and breaking down of the traditional extended (joint) family system and other types of kin groups.
    • Their influence is declining in every field of life. A modified extended family structure is emerging in which individual nuclear families retain considerable autonomy and yet maintain connections with other nuclear families or so-called ‘joint family’.
  • Changing Authority Pattern :-
    • There is a change in the division of labour and authority in the family. Male authority is declining in the modern family. The authority is slipping from the hands of family elders because of new economic and political opportunities.
    • Young couples do not rely on family elders for job instructions or education of their children. Because of the dual-career marriages, there is a significant change in the attitude towards equality between married partners.
  • Changing Status of Women :-
    • The rights of women are becoming more recognized in respect to both initi­ation of marriage and decision-making in the family.
  • Changing Economic Functions :-
    • Modern family is no longer united by shared work on the farm. It is now a unit of consumption instead of a unit of production as it was in the agrarian society. It is now united by feelings of companionship, affection and recre­ation only.
  • Decline in Family Size :-
    • Economic considerations force the young to have smaller family with one or two children.
  • Changing Attitudes towards Marriage:-
    • There is an increase in male-female couples who choose to live together without marriage. This has given rise to the concepts of ‘living together,’ ‘living arrangements’ or ‘live-in relationships.
    • Also new types of families crop with where same gender couples also cohabitate.
  • Declining Trend in Non-essential Functions:-
    • The most of the socializing functions today, like child raising, education, occupational training, caring of elderly, etc., have been taken over by the outside agencies, such as creches, media, nursery schools, hospitals, occupational training centres, etc. These tasks were once exclusively performed by the family.
    • The protective functions of the family are on the verge of decline. For example, the function of providing help and shelter to the sick, aged and handicapped has been taken over by agencies like health institutions, old-age houses, deaf and dumb institutions, etc. 
  • As a part of the revolution, the nuclear family emphasizes the importance of the freedom of the individual to choose his/her own life and control his/her own destiny.
  • Accelerated rate of rural-urban migration, diversification of gainful economic activities and individual-friendly property laws, have had consequential impact in terms of drastic reduction in the size of family in the country.
  • Family is now essentially democratic and most of the decisions in the family are taken collectively. However, the extent of autonomy and democracy may vary from region to region, community to community and caste to caste, depending upon the degree of its adaptation of the modern values and the urban way of life.
  • Marriage is considered not as a sacred one but a social contract. It has been found that, divorces and separation are on the increase. 
  • Much distress has been witnessed in the social relationships between husband and wife. No doubt, the technology has elevated the social status of women in the family. But at the same time it has put the fabric of social relationships at stake.
  • Improved HDI as a result of urbanization. This has also led to better education, less social stratification among Indian caste system.
  • Education:-
    • One of the starking changes which has been observed that religion has also lost ground. People are becoming more secular, rational and scientific but less religious in their outlook.
    • Inter caste marriages are on rise.
    • Better education has led to better family planning etc
    • Aspirations have increased – People are willing to travel long distances for better education in the hope of better quality of life etc
    • Social issues such as gender inequality etc within families has declined.

TopicSalient aspects of Art Forms, Literature and Architecture from ancient to modern times.

2) The bronze casting technique and making of bronze images of traditional icons reached a high stage of development in South India during the medieval period. Discuss.(250 words)

NCERT, An Introduction to Indian Arts.

Ncert

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 bronze art of the southern India and its significant aspects and achievements.

Structure of the answer

Introduction– write a few introductory lines about the  bronze art of India. E.g Indian sculptors had mastered the bronze medium and the casting process as much as they had mastered terracotta sculpture and carving in stone. The cire-perdue or ‘lost-wax’ process for casting was learnt as long ago as the Indus Valley Culture.

Body-

Discuss the bronze art of south India as it developed during the medieval period of Indian history. E.g Although bronze images were modelled and cast during the Pallava Period in the eighth and ninth century south India, some of the most beautiful and exquisite statues were produced during the Chola Period in Tamil Nadu from the tenth to the twelfth century. The technique and art of fashioning bronze images is still skillfully practised in South India, particularly in Kumbakonam. The distinguished patron during the tenth century was the widowed Chola queen, Sembiyan Mahadevi; The well-known dancing figure of Shiva as Nataraja was evolved and fully developed during the Chola Period and since then many variations of this complex bronze image have been modelled;

A wide range of Shiva iconography was evolved in the Thanjavur (Tanjore) region of Tamil Nadu. The ninth century kalyanasundara murti is highly remarkable for the manner in which Panigrahana (ceremony of marriage) is represented by two separate statuettes; During the sixteenth century, the Vijayanagara the sculptors experimented with portrait sculpture in order to preserve knowledge of the royal patron for posterity.Life-size standing portrait statues were cast in bronze, depicting Krishnadevaraya with his two queens, Tirumalamba and Chinnadevi. The sculptor has combined the likeness of the facial features with certain elements of idealisation. The idealisation is further observed in the manner the physical body is modelled to appear imposing as well as graceful etc.

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

Background:-

  • The great civilizations of the old world worked in bronze for art, from the time of the introduction of the alloy for tools and edged weapons.
  • Indian sculptors had mastered the bronze medium and the casting process as much as they had mastered terracotta sculpture and carving in stone. The cire-perdu or ‘lost-wax’ process for casting was learnt as long ago as the Indus Valley Culture. 
  • Bronze sculptures and statuettes of Buddhist, Hindu and Jain icons have been discovered from many regions of India dating from the second century until the sixteenth century. Most of these were used for ritual worship and are characterised by exquisite beauty and aesthetic appeal.

Bronze casting in India :-

  • ‘Dancing Girl’ from Mohenjodaro is the earliest bronze sculpture datable to 2500 BCE.
  • Interesting images of Jain tirthankaras have been discovered from Chausa, Bihar, belonging to the Kushana Period during second century CE. These bronzes show how the Indian sculptors had mastered the modelling of masculine human physique and simplified muscles.
  • Even during Gupta period bronze casting was demonstrated very skillfully.

However bronze casting achieved high stage of development in medieval period:-

  • Although bronze images were modelled and cast during the Pallava Period in the eighth and ninth centuries, some of the most beautiful and exquisite statues were produced during the Chola Period in Tamil Nadu from the tenth to the twelfth century.
  • Pallava period:-
    • Among the Pallava Period bronzes of the eighth century is the icon of Shiva seated in ardhaparyanka asana (one leg kept dangling). 
  • Chola period:-
    • Although bronze casting has a long history in south India, a much larger and a much greater number of bronze sculptures in all sizes ranging from massive to miniature were cast during the Chola period than before, further attesting to the importance of bronze sculpture during this period.
    • Chola bronzes are the most sought- after collectors’ items by art lovers all over the world. 
    • The well-known dancing figure of Shiva as Nataraja was evolved and fully developed during the Chola Period and since then many variations of this complex bronze image have been modelled. 
    • A wide range of Shiva iconography was evolved in the Thanjavur (Tanjore) region of Tamil Nadu.
    • The ninth century kalyanasundara murti is highly remarkable for the manner in which Panigrahana (ceremony of marriage) is represented by two separate statuettes. 
    • It should be noted that when in worship, these images are bedecked in silk costumes, garlands, and gem encrusted jewels, befitting the particular avatar and religious context.
    • Decorating temple bronzes in this way is a tradition at least a thousand years old and such decorations are referred to in 10th-century Chola inscriptions.
  • Vijaynagara period:-
    • During the sixteenth century, during the Vijayanagar Period in Andhra Pradesh, the sculptors experimented with portrait sculpture in order to preserve knowledge of the royal patron for posterity.
    • At Tirupati, life-size standing portrait statues were cast in bronze, depicting Krishnadevaraya with his two queens, Tirumalamba and Chinnadevi. 
  • The technique and art of fashioning bronze images is still skillfully practised in South India, particularly in Kumbakonam. 

Topicurbanization, their problems and their remedies.

3) Slums are a natural development of India’s economic and political structure. Do you agree. Comment. Also discuss why the various slum development strategies in India have not delivered the required results. (250 words)

Livemint

Why this question

Slums are an omnipresent reality for most of the major cities of India and various efforts have been made by the government to address the issue. In this context it is essential to understand the relationship of India’s slums with its political and economical structure and discuss why the slum development and relocation strategies have not bore the results.

Directive word

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

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 express our opinion as to whether slums are a natural development of India’s political and economic structure. We have to form our opinion based on a proper discussion and presentation of valid arguments and facts.

The question also wants us to write in detail as to why various slum development initiatives and strategies have failed in India.

Structure of the answer

Introduction– write a few introductory lines about the  growth of urbanization in India and the problems this has led to.

Body-

  • Discuss how slums are a natural development of India’s political and economic structure. E.g most of the nation is still rural and agriculture dominated; Seasonal nature of employment in agriculture and various other push and pull factors have led to migration of poor people from the rural areas and led to slums; urban India’s growth is built on the back of cheap labour in everything from construction to domestic work. Various combinations of rent control, opaque and distorted land markets, stifling regulation and laughably low floor space indexes have resulted in a severe lack of affordable housing in India’s premier cities. Slums are the natural outcome etc.
  • Discuss why most slum development strategies have failed in India. E.g There are many hurdles, both major and minor. The lack of adequate data and land titles in slums meant expensive, time-consuming delays were common. Failure to take slum dweller representatives on board meant that the informal economic networks underlying the slum economy would be disrupted by the redevelopment. So would the community networks that fill the gaps left by missing social safety nets. Lack of common standards meant that the housing built for slum dwellers was often of execrable quality. As for the problem of slum dwellers selling or leasing the houses and returning to their previous housing, poor quality, unaffordable maintenance costs and disrupted networks often had a role to play here etc.

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

Background:-

  • Recently the Maharashtra government signed off on the latest initiative regarding slum development. A special purpose vehicle with 80% private and 20% government stake to redevelop Dharavi as a whole rather than in separate sub-clusters as previously envisioned. In this light there is a need to assess the slum d envelopment strategies in India.

Why are slums natural development of India’s economic and political structure :-

  • State policies of forced evictions:-
    • From the 1950s through the 1970s, forced demolition and relocation was common in various states.
    • The Maharashtra government’s Maharashtra Vacant Lands Act 1975 was particularly draconian. Such policies ignore basic economic logic. Internal migration is a driver of growth and development
  • Fast pace of urbanization in post-independence India resulted in increased migration of rural and peri-urban population to cities and towns in search of jobs.
  • Multiplying to it the natural population growth gradually affected the ability of city  managers to cope up with incremental slum population. 
  • Particularly in an economy like India a large chunk of the rural population is seasonally employed in agriculture.
  • Urban India’s growth is built on the back of cheap labour in everything from construction to domestic work.
  • Various combinations of rent control, opaque and distorted land markets, stifling regulation and laughably low floor space indexes have resulted in a severe lack of affordable housing in India’s premier cities. So Slums are the natural outcome. 
  • Eventually increase in absolute number of slum population suggests that past pro-poor initiatives had been lacking somewhere and could not contribute to restrain slum population growth.

Various slum development strategies in India:-

  • In 1970s programmes like the slum rehabilitation programme executed on a large scale, relocating people to remote corners outside the city and disrupting the lives and livelihoods of the slum dwellers. These projects proceeded to cause social disturbance in the slum communities.
  • Some other programmes are Integrated Low Cost Sanitation Scheme (ILCSS) 1981, Urban Basic Services Scheme (UBSS) 1986, Urban Basic Services for 
    the poor (UBSP) 1990, National Slum Development Programme1996, Valmiki Ambedkar Awas Yojana (VAMBAY) 2001 and many more slum rehabilitation and upgradation programmes. Although having a number of schemes for urban poor lack of inclusive planning, and incapability of putting them in right order and place resulted in failure of most of the schemes.
  • Basic Services to Urban Poor (BSUP)-a sub-mission of Jawahar Lal Nehru  National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM), 2005 has been a major shift from traditional slum improvement approach. 
    • JNNURM-has contributed significantly to achieve the objective. 
    • The focus was enlarged to security of tenure, affordability of housing, and social security along with provision of water, sanitation, health, and education facility.
    • It is the first time when beneficiaries are involved as an active stakeholder of the programme.
  • Rajiv Awas Yojna (RAY) was unique in many ways.
  • The Slum redevelopment approach employed here is a milestone shift towards bridging the gap of exclusion of slum dwellers in various aspects and at various phases of the slum redevelopment programme; and empowering them to have  basic infrastructure services at par with and integrated to the city.

Failure of India’s slum development strategies is due to the following reasons:

  • Many projects themselves failed:-
    • For instance, the World Bank-funded Slum Upgradation Programme, the Slum Rehabilitation Scheme, rolled out in Maharashtra in 1995 under the Slum Rehabilitation Authority etc none of them have been successful.
    • Current slum policies primarily focus on housing, relocation or in-situ development of multi-storey complexes, which free up swathes of prime real estate. But in doing so, they miss out on the brewing socio-economic distress in slums. This was revealed in two projects conducted in Bengaluru and which could apply to other Indian cities too.
  • The lack of adequate data and land titles in slums meant expensive, time-consuming delays were common.
  • Failure to take slum dweller representatives on board meant that the informal economic networks underlying slum’s economy would be disrupted by the redevelopment.
  • Lack of common standards meant that the housing built for slum dwellers was often of execrable quality. As for the problem of slum dwellers selling or leasing the houses and returning to their previous housing, poor quality, unaffordable maintenance costs and disrupted networks often had a role to play here.
  • Forced evictions took place:-
    • Millions of poor people, or squatters, have been evicted until late 1980s around the world in the name of Urban Renewal Projects, most of them (tenants) without a share in any benefit. Excluding the already excluded poor from developmental opportunities aggravates the problem.
  • Tiers of slums:-
    • Many cities across India has two tiers of slums those with official government recognition and those without, and the JNNURM did not push cities hard enough to directly intervene in slum areas without recognition.

Way forward :-

  • Redevelopment plans need to take slum residents on board and addresses the socioeconomic fallout of relocation:-
    • Once the beneficiaries’ perception is adjudged and participation is ensured, issue identification and prioritization for decision making will be more subjective as well as effective. Above all, integrity of governance for slum redevelopment surely led to sustainable environment management.
  • Instead of forced evictions, authorities should plan an in-situ upgrading approach.
  • Easy financing and loaning options at affordable interest rates for upgrading, building and extension of the existing shelter should be made available.
  • Management of urban environment through redevelopment of slums should take an integrated, inclusive, and participatory approach that primarily needs understanding of capabilities, choices, and willingness of slum dwellers along with strong commitment of governance to create and maintain conductive environment.
  • Management approach must consider location specific all the possible and innovative alternatives for slums redevelopment and future development. A comparative impact analysis between physical environment and socio economical environment may guide in prioritization of issues that could lead to a sustainable plan of action through participatory and inclusive planning. 
  • Adequate data:-
    • India must get concrete figures on these temporary and semi-permanent settlements.
    • Slums have a fluid definition and legal pedanticism leads to exclusion of people. The 2011 Census estimated 65 million people in slums, a marked shortfall from the UN-HABITAT’s 2014 estimation of 104 million. This needs clarification.

TopicIndian culture will cover the salient aspects of Art Forms, Literature and Architecture from ancient to modern times.

4) The lofty mountains on the north-west of the Indian subcontinent served more as channels of economic, political and cultural exchange than as barriers, as often claimed. Discuss. (250 words)

Early India by Romila Thapar; Landscapes and Peoples

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 north-western lofty mountain ranges and why they were important channels of communication rather than barriers to exchange.

Structure of the answer

Introduction– write a few introductory lines about the Indian subcontinent and its historical association with the lofty Himalayas on the north, northwest and northeast.

Body- Discuss how the northwestern lofty mountain passages acted as channels of communication and exchange. E.g mention the Gomal, Bolan, khyber pass; mention that due to low height as compared to the mighty north himalayas, they remained open for most of the year; mention the pastoralists of central asia and Afghanistan who used the pass regularly; the Indo-Aryans; missionaries from Persia; Trade caravans; Armies; Shakas; KUshans; Parthians; Alexander’s army etc. Mention and discuss in detail about the use of the north-west mountain passes

Also discuss to what extent they acted as barriers to exchange.

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

Background:-

  • The northern mountains have been described in the past as a barrier to communication that isolates northern India from Asia. But in effect they were rarely barriers and the north-west of the subcontinent was in continuous communication with peoples and places in western and central Asia.
  • It was almost as if such communication focused on the passes in the north-western mountains and intensified cross-cultural activities. 

Significance:-

  • The Hindu Kush is also a watershed, an elevated area that provides the geographical interface between the Oxus and the Indus Valleys. When seen from this perspective it ceases to be the barrier cutting off access  to central Asia which it was once thought to be. 
  • Less snow bound:-
    • The passes in the north-west mountains, although arid, were less snow-bound than those of the higher Himalaya and therefore more frequently used.
    • These included the Bolan, Gomal and Khyber passes. The fertile Swat Valley formed another route, as did the Hunza and Upper Indus Valley. 
  • Political:-
    • The Khyber played an important role in the British attempt to control Afghanistan and contain the Russian presence in the nineteenth century, and has therefore been much romanticized in literature, becoming the focus of historical attention.
    • Bolan may have been the more important route in the earliest period. It led to the Seistan area and the Helmand valley in Afghanistan, which in turn gave access to north-eastern Iran and central Asia.
    • The Swat Valley attracted attention in modern histories because of its connections with the route of Alexander of Macedon. 
    • The junction of the Khyber pass with the plain forms an area particularly sensitive to the politics and trade of the local regions.
  • Economic:-
    • Pastoralists arriving from and returning to Afghanistan, or even central Asia, travelled regularly through the passes and the valleys.
    • They continued to do so until a few years ago, as did immigrants coming from central Asia, Iran or Afghanistan, or large groups of Indians trading and settling in these distant places.
    • Missionaries from Persia, caravans of merchants and, from time to time, invading armies used the same routes. Settlements at both ends point to the importance of controlling the passes.
  • These passes were corridors of communication:-
    • Contact with what are now referred to as central Asia, Iran and Afghanistan goes back to the third millennium BC, the period of the Indus cities, and the passes are likely to have been used by people in even earlier times.
  • Cultural:-
    • There was a historical continuity of peoples entering northern India, such as with the migrations of the Indo-Aryan speakers, sporadically with the armies of Alexander of Macedon and more consistently with the Indo-Greeks, Parthians, Shakas, Kushanas, Hunas and Turks.
    • The most regular movements were those of herders and of trading caravans. 
    • Many Sufi saints, artists travelled to India .
    • Scientific knowledge of Indians, Arabs was exchanged as these passes were the path of travel to the Western Asian countries.
    • The Hindu Kush and nearby regions gradually converted to Buddhism by the 1st century CE, and this region was the base from where Buddhism crossed the Hindu Kush expanding into the Oxus valley region of Central Asia

To what extent these ranges were considered a barrier:-

  • Alexander army could not cross these ranges and enter India.
  • The Hindu Kush served as a geographical barrier to the British empire, leading to paucity of information and scarce direct interaction between the British colonial officials and Central Asian peoples. 

Topic– Part of static series under the heading – “salient features of Indian society and diversity”

5) There is an emerging trend where we are witnessing many dominant and Landholding castes asking for backward reservation. Examine.(250 words)

 

Key demand of the question

The question basically talks about the phenomenon of dominant castes asking for reservations such as the Jats, Marathas, Gujjars etc. We need to discuss the reasons why this is so and whether giving them reservations is going to solve whatever issues they are facing. We need to conclude with a way forward.

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 – Mention that there is a growing trend of dominant castes asking for reservations and give some examples such as Patels in Gujarat, Jats in Haryana, Marathis in Maharashtra and Kapus in Andhra Pradesh.

Body

  • Discuss the reasons why they are asking for reservations
  • Agricultural distress
  • Crippled urban economy leading to lesser number of jobs availability
  • Successful quota system
  • Political support as they are the “dominant caste” as defined by MN Srinivas
  • Examine whether giving them reservations would solve the issue
  • Mere inclusion in OBC list will not address structural deficiencies in the caste system and the societal hold it enjoys. This will lead to demand for reservation by more castes.
  • Already we are seeing in several areas that even within reservation, there is a stiff competition
  • Etc
  • Discuss the way forward
  • Rethinking the idea of reservation
  • Fulfill the real purpose of reservation which was substantive equality
  • Etc

Conclusion – It is high time that we rethink the idea of reservation. The revised idea of reservation should ideally exclude creamy layer, develop capabilities of deprived section.

Background:-

  • People from various middle castes like Patels in Gujarat, Jats in Haryana, Marathis in Maharashtra and Kapus in Andhra Pradesh have been demanding for reservation. This is an emerging trend where India is witnessing many dominant and landholding castes asking for backward reservation.

Why many landholding castes are demanding reservation :-

  • Farmer’s distress :-
    • There is tremendous amount of Farmer distress in Countryside in last few years due to agrarian crisis. Since most of these communities are landed agrarian caste, they are facing the brunt of agriculture slowdown.
  • Crippled urban economy:-
    • Due to less number of jobs created in the economy, dominant castes who are turning away from agriculture have very less opportunities to get job in private sector and thus only option left for them is government jobs, however there general status is making the competition tough for them. Therefore they are asking for reservation.
  • Resentment against other OBC communities:-
    • Due to social, economic and political disparity between these groups and the groups who are already OBCs, these castes want them to be given OBC status.
  • Successful quota system:
    • Due to reservation the representation of OBCs in government jobs has increased significantly in last few years which has made these castes envy of these other OBC community and therefore motivated them to demand for reservation.
  • Political support:-
    • Most of this dominant caste are electorally and politically very powerful in that state, and they get support from opposition parties for vote bank politics
  • Most of the landowning castes have a large share in the state’s population, they own large tracts of land and have enjoyed dominance in the realm of politics. But this traditional dominance is being threatened in the new economic order where educations and jobs matter more than farm incomes.
  • Demands for reservation by dominant communities such as Marathas, Jats and Patidars is increasing due to the perception that real economic power is increasingly shifting from rural areas to big corporations, which are often backed by the state, while they themselves are ill-prepared to shift towards the urban and formal sector.
  • Reservation has ceased to be a tool for social justice. It is now being increasingly seen as the only tool available for upward social mobility.
  • Apart from the gap in education, there is very little to differentiate the peasant castes from the upper castes.

Why providing reservation to these dominant castes is not the solution:-

  • Mere inclusion in OBC list will not address structural deficiencies in the caste system and the societal hold it enjoys. This will lead to demand for reservation by more castes.
  • Even in OBC list these castes will have to face stiff competition and not to mention opposition from other OBC castes, resistance among higher castes. Without education, mere inclusion will just give short term benefits.
  • There also arises the problem of correct evaluation and inclusion of deserving castes as to see who are the real people who deserve to be benefited from the reservation policy of the government.
  • Other challenge is the possibility of a domino effect with other upper-caste groups and dominant sub-castes (or jatis) also demanding quotas for the economically weaker sections.
  • Precipitous decline in public jobs, a stagnant private investment scenario has become the reason for using reservations as a tool to get back to normalcy. It only generates a sense of being a false stabiliser amid a gloomy economy.
  • An overwhelming amount of evidence suggests that these communities are not the most marginalised in their respective states. Additionally, these jatis have consolidated their advantage over the marginalised groups and have narrowed gaps with the dominant groups in their respective states between 2004–05 and 2011–12.

Way forward:-

  • The whole idea of reservation was to provide for substantive equality, i.e., to make the condition of those who were historically disadvantaged better so that they can lead a good life. But, with time, the rich and privileged took more benefits than those who needed.
  • At a time, when there is a demand for reservation from dominant caste, India needs to ensure that it creates a better version of reservation which includes the poor and backward and excludes rich and dominating sections.
  • Before, extending reservation to more groups, the entire reservation policy needs to be revisited. These efforts should be coupled with a vigorous national effort to provide opportunities to the disadvantaged.

Topic – Indian Geography: Issues

6) Critically analyze the need for multiple time zones in India?(250 words)

Indian express

Why this question

The debate over the need to have multiple time zones in India has always been there considering India’s vast longitudinal extent. However, a recent report by CSIR – NPL itself argues for having two time zones in India which means the topic needs to be prepared.

Key demand of the question

The question expects us to first explain what is meant by multiple time zones – the basic geography behind it. Thereafter, we need to discuss the proposal of CSIR – NPL and analyze its pros and cons. Finally, we need to give a fair and balanced opinion and discuss way forward.

Directive word

Critically 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. 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 in brief how time is maintained.

Body – First, discuss the proposal of CSIR NPL. Thereafter discuss the pros and cons of such a move. Eg on the pros side, we can discuss energy savings etc. On the cons side, one can talk about the practicality of such a solution.

Conclusion – Based on arguments made above, we need to provide a fair and balanced opinion and discuss way forward.

Background:-

  • Recently Scientists at the Council of Scientific & Industrial Research’s National Physical Laboratory (CSIR-NPL), which maintains Indian Standard Time, have published a research article describing the necessity of two time zones, with the new one an hour ahead of the existing time zone.
  • The research paper proposes to call the two time zones IST-I (UTC + 5.30 h) and IST-II (UTC + 6.30 h). The proposed line of demarcation is at 89°52’E, the narrow border between Assam and West Bengal.
    • States west of the line would continue to follow IST (to be called IST-I).
    • States east of the line i.e.., Assam, Meghalaya, Nagaland, Arunanchal Pradesh, Manipur, Mizoram, Tripura, Andaman & Nicobar Islands —would follow IST-II

Why multiple time zones are needed in India :-

  • Benefits to North eastern states:-
    • Since the sun rises earlier in North-Eastern India, workers in some sectors who make an early start, such as tea gardens and the petroleum industry, already follow an alternative system of time.
      • For instance tea gardens follow ‘Bagan Time’ or ‘Tea Garden Time’, which is an hour ahead of IST.
    • Improved efficiency and productivity if the North-Eastern states can make better use of their daylight hours, which start sooner and end earlier than in other parts of the country.
    • Experts argue that by shifting the clocks forward people in these states can make optimum use of their natural daylight hours, and also make best use of energy resources.
    • To make better use of both capital and human resources in the North East.
    • Single time zone is causing the loss of many daylight hours by the time offices or educational institutions open, and that early sunset, for its part, leads to higher consumption of electricity.
    • Separate time zones would not just increase work efficiency, it would also boost up the local economy.
  • International examples:-
    • Experts cite the case of countries such as Russia, Canada and the USA, that have multiple time zones to optimize the use of daylight and minimize energy consumption.
  • Economic:-
    • This move can lead to country’s potential savings in energy consumption 20 million kWh a year if it does follow two time zones.

 

Arguments against two separate time zones :-

  • Historical:
    • India originally had two time zones, while under British rule. These were Bombay Time and Calcutta Time. However after Indian gained independence a standard time zone was introduced in order to facilitate coordination across the country.
  • Difficult to follow:-
    • Farmers and cattle would be the worst-hit as they would take the longest time to adjust and change the setting of their body clocks.
  • Lack of coordination:-
    • Separate time zones would also cause a lack of coordination between different parts of the densely populated country and cause obstacles in running the railways.
    • Experts cite impracticability particularly the risk of railway accidents, given the need to reset times at every crossing from one time zone into another.
  • With a time difference of one hour in the mornings and in the evenings, there would be nearly 25% less overlap between office timings in the two zones. This could be important for banks, offices, industries and multinational companies which need to be constantly interconnected. This will be further detrimental to productivity and to the interests of the eastern region.
  • There is already a sense of alienation between the relatively prosperous and industrialised western zone and the less developed eastern zon
    • The people in the Northeast sense a distance from the mainland and a separateness in clock time may accentuate it.
    • Grant of a different time zone is only the first temporal step towards conceding spatial autonomy.
  • Committee set up in 2002 did not recommend two time zones because of the complexities involved,

Way forward:-

  • Another alternative:-
    • One proposal is to introduce neither time zones nor DST, but to advance IST by half an hour to being six hours ahead of GMT, once and permanently. Such a suggestion has been made before, but until now no one has computed the energy savings that would accrue as a result using a correct model and dependable data.
    • This proposal of advancing IST by half an hour avoids the problems apprehended in the other two proposals (of time zones and DST) but provides maximum energy saving during evening hours when the utilities fail to supply continuous power.
  • It is now time to initiate a process of consultation to consider all sides of the question afresh. General Studies – 2

Topic: Indian Polity : Issues

7) It is trite to say that there must exist a balance between the freedom of expression and the right to reputation. In this light, critically analyze India’s defamation laws?(250 words)

The hindu

Why this question

Criminal defamation complaint is again in the news, courtesy the metoo movement, where the rich and powerful have again used this tool to preserve their “reputation”. While the SC last year, had upheld the validity of criminal defamation laws, the misuse of the law by the rich and powerful as a means of coercion is problematic and needs to be discussed.

Key demand of the question

The question expects us to bring out the conflict between the need to protect reputation which is done using the defamation laws and the need to protect freedom of speech, which is threatened by defamation laws. The question expects us to bring out the pros and cons of having a defamation law like India does and give a fair and balanced opinion on whether a change is required.

Directive word

Critically 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. 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 in brief about India’s defamation laws and an overview of the debate surrounding it.

Body

  • Explain what it meant by the statement in question – why maintaining a balance is necessary.
  • Discuss the issues with having a strict defamation law and how it stifles freedom of expression
  • unlike many other countries, defamation in India is a criminal offence (and not just a civil wrong), and a conviction entails both social stigma and potential jail time.
  • Second, there is a very low threshold for a prima facie case of defamation to be established by a complainant. Simply put, he must only show that an “imputation” has been made that could reasonably be interpreted as harming his reputation.
  • while in a civil defamation case, a defendant need only show that her statement was true in order to escape liability, in a criminal defamation proceeding, an accused must show that her statement was true and in the public interest. This leads to the paradoxical situation where our legal system is more advantageous towards those at the receiving end of civil defamation proceedings, and harsher towards those who have to go through the criminal process!
  • Discuss why having strict defamation laws are necessary – Can give the arguments given by the 2 judge bench while declaring section 499 as constitutional
  • Discuss the problem in the present context , in light of Metoo allegations and the use of criminal defamation to silence the victims.

Conclusion – Give a fair and balanced opinion and discuss way forward.

 

Background:-

  • Defamation exists as a particular interface between two rights – expression and reputation. Major risks exist whereby defamation law and policy can violate expression, and the need in many places is to establish frameworks for legitimate limitations, at least in national offline space

Why there is a need for balance between freedom of expression and right to reputation:-

  • No legal system can allow false and slanderous statements to be made publicly, with impunity. Defamation law is the tool that is used to strike the balance. But it is the shape and the form of defamation law that often determines whether the balance has been struck appropriately, or whether, in the guise of protecting reputation, the freedom of speech and expression has been effectively stifled.
  • The right to free speech cannot be read to mean that one citizen can defame another. The theory of balancing of rights in the particular context of the fundamental right to speech and expression alludes to the imperative need for protecting the human dignity of an individual.
  • The theory of balancing of rights dictates that along with the right to freedom of speech and expression, there is a correlative duty on citizens not to interfere with the liberty of others, as everyone is entitled to the dignity of person and of reputation.
  • Freedom of expression cannot be taken as something that should always trump the right to 
    However, what has been made very clear by the UN Human Rights Committee, is that any balancing should maintain the essence of all the rights involved, to the greatest extent possible.

How India’s defamation laws stifle freedom of expression:-

  • India’s criminal defamation law is seen as a law to stifle freedom of expression. A colonial relic introduced by the British regime to suffocate political criticism, Section 499 of the Indian Penal Code provides an ideal weapon for powerful individuals to silence critical or inconvenient speech.
  • Unlike many other countries, defamation in India is a criminal offence and a conviction entails both social stigma and potential jail time.
  • There is a very low threshold for a prima facie case of defamation to be established by a complainant. 
  • Even the defences open to an accused are insufficiently protective of speech, to an extent that is even less than what civil defamation allows.
    • For example, while in a civil defamation case, a defendant need only show that her statement was true in order to escape liability, in a criminal defamation proceeding, an accused must show that her statement was true and in the public interest.
    • This leads to the paradoxical situation where Indian legal system is more advantageous towards those at the receiving end of civil defamation proceedings, and harsher towards those who have to go through the criminal process.
  • Powerful men are allowed to use the law to silence this new mode of public expression.
    • Criminal defamation is weaponised to restore the old status quo, and preserve and perpetuate the hierarchies that the #MeToo movement has challenged.

But sometimes right to reputation cannot be compromised because:-

  • Right to reputation is part of one of the most important fundamental rights to life and personal liberty and cannot be “crucified” for the freedom of speech and expression, the Supreme Court said while upholding validity of 156-year-old penal laws on defamation.
  • Reputation of one cannot be allowed to be crucified at the altar of the others right of free speech.
  • Once it is held that reputation of an individual is a basic element of Article 21 (right to life and personal liberty) of the Constitution and balancing of fundamental rights is a constitutional necessity and further the legislature in its wisdom has kept the penal provision alive, it is extremely difficult to subscribe to the view that criminal defamation has a chilling effect on the freedom of speech and expression

Way forward:-

  • Example from other countries:-
    • US Supreme Court responded in one of the most famous judgments in its history, New York Times Co. v. Sullivan (1964), it substantially modified defamation law to ensure that it could no longer be used as a tool of harassment and blackmail. India need to emulate this.
  • Indian judiciary :-
    • There are enough ways to judicially interpret Section 499 to ensure that it no longer remains the tool of the powerful to blackmail, harass, and silence inconvenient speech. 

General Studies – 4


Topic– Ethics and Human Interface: Essence, determinants and consequences of Ethics in human actions; dimensions of ethics; ethics in private and public relationships. Human Values.

8) Nearly boundless scope of AI technology poses several ethical challenges before us. DIscuss.(250 words)

Reference

Directive word

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

Key demand of the question.

The question wants us to write in detail about the ethical challenges posed by Artificial Intelligence before humanity.

Structure of the answer

Introduction– write a few introductory lines about the  potential applications of AI and the rate at which AI technology is evolving.

Body-

Discuss in paras the ethical challenges posed by AI. e.g

  • Unemployment. What happens after the end of jobs?
  • Inequality. How do we distribute the wealth created by machines?
  • Humanity. How do machines affect our behaviour and interaction?
  • Artificial stupidity.
  • Racist robots. How do we eliminate AI bias?
  • Security. How do we keep AI safe from adversaries
  • Evil genies. How do we protect against unintended consequences?
  • Singularity. How do we stay in control of a complex intelligent system?
  • Robot rights. How do we define the humane treatment of AI?

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

Background :-

  • Artificial Intelligence (AI) has been implemented and is delivering on its promise at least at large companies including Facebook, Google, and Netflix. Retailers are using AI-powered robots in their warehouses, Utilities use AI to forecast electricity demand,
  • Automakers are using AI for autonomous cars, and Financial Services companies are using AI to better understand their customers, look for potential fraud, and to identify new products/services customers will want. 
  • By using artificial intelligence, a company can drastically cut down on relying on the human workforce, and this means that revenues will go to fewer people. 

However boundless cope of AI technology poses several ethical challenges:-

  • Humans have attributes that AI systems might not be able to authentically possess, such as compassion. AI currently is unable to replicate, such as contexual knowledge and the ability to read social cues.
  • Reliability and safety
  • AI could make errors and, if an error is difficult to detect or has knock-on effects, this could have serious implications.
  • Transparency and accountability 
    • It can be difficult or impossible to determine the underlying logic that generates the outputs produced by AI.
    • Machine learning technologies can be particularly opaque because of the way they continuously tweak their own parameters and rules as they learn. This creates problems for validating the outputs of AI systems, and identifying errors or biases in the data.
  • Data bias, fairness, and equity 
    • Although AI applications have the potential to reduce human bias and error, they can also reflect and reinforce biases in the data used to train them.
    • Concerns have been raised about the potential of AI to lead to discrimination in ways that may be hidden or which may not align with legally protected characteristics, such as gender, ethnicity, disability, and age.
  • Effects on patients 
    • Concerns have been raised about a loss of human contact and increased social isolation if AI technologies are used to replace staff or family time with patients. 
  • Effects on healthcare professionals
    • Healthcare professionals may feel that their autonomy and authority is threatened if their expertise is challenged by AI.
    • The ethical obligations of healthcare professionals towards individual patients might be affected by the use of AI decision support systems
  • Malicious use of AI
    • While AI has the potential to be used for good, it could also be used for malicious purposes. For example, there are fears that AI could be used for covert surveillance or screening.
  • The question of who is responsible when AI is used to support decision-making; 
    difficulties in validating the outputs of AI systems, securing public trust in the development and use of AI technologies etc are other ethical issues.