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Insights SECURE SYNOPSIS: 16 OCTOBER 2018


SECURE SYNOPSIS: 16 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- Role of women and women’s organization, population and associated issues, poverty and developmental issues, urbanization, their problems and their remedies.

1) Discuss the problems faced by women farmers in India. Also discuss how those problems could be solved.(250 words)

The hindu

Why this question

With increasing feminization of agriculture it is important to discuss the problems of women farmers in India and also to discuss the solution to their problems.

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 problems faced by the women farmers in India and what solutions could help them tackle those problems and challenges more effectively.

Structure of the answer

Introduction– write a few introductory lines about the  role of women in Indian agriculture. E.g mention the proportion of women farmers in India-According to Oxfam India, women are responsible for about 60-80% of food and 90% of dairy production, respectively. Mention that women farmers play a  multidimensional role at every stage in agriculture — from sowing to planting, drainage, irrigation, fertilizer, plant protection, harvesting, weeding, and storage.

Body-

  1. Discuss the problems faced by them. E.g The Agriculture Census (2010-11) shows that out of an estimated 118.7 million cultivators, 30.3% were females. Similarly, out of an estimated 144.3 million agricultural labourers, 42.6% were females. In terms of ownership of operational holdings, the latest Agriculture Census (2015-16) is startling. Out of a total 146 million operational holdings, the percentage share of female operational holders is 13.87% (20.25 million); a lack of ownership of land does not allow women farmers to approach banks for institutional loans as banks usually consider land as collateral; women farmers have hardly any representation in society and are nowhere discernible in farmers’ organisations or in occasional protests; A declining size of land holdings may act as a deterrent due to lower net returns earned and technology adoption etc.
  2. Discuss how those problems could be solved. E.g Provision of credit without collateral under the microfinance initiative of the National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development should be encouraged. Better access to credit, technology, and provision of entrepreneurship abilities will further boost women’s confidence and help them gain recognition as farmers; The possibility of collective farming can be encouraged to make women self-reliant. Training and skills imparted to women as has been done by some self-help groups and cooperative-based dairy activities (Saras in Rajasthan and Amul in Gujarat). These can be explored further through farmer producer organisations. Moreover, government flagship schemes such as the National Food Security Mission, Sub-mission on Seed and Planting Material and the Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana must include women-centric strategies and dedicated expenditure; making gender friendly farm tools and machinery etc.

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

Background :-

  • Agriculture is the backbone of the Indian economy. Women play a vital role in building this economy.
  • The UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation estimates that if women had the same access to productive resources as men, they could increase yields on their farms by 20-30%. This could raise total the agricultural output in developing countries by up to 4%, which could in turn reduce the number of hungry people in the world by 12–17% – that’s 100-150 million people.

Problems faced by women farmers:-

  • Unnoticed:-
    • According to Oxfam India, women are responsible for about 60-80% of food and 90% of dairy production, respectively. The work by women farmers, in crop cultivation, livestock management or at home, often goes unnoticed.
  • Government measures failure:-
    • Attempts by the government to impart them training in poultry, apiculture and rural handicrafts is trivial given their large numbers. 
    • Women farmers have hardly any representation in society and are nowhere discernible in farmers’ organisations or in occasional protests.
  • Land ownership:-
    • Biggest challenge is the powerlessness of women in terms of claiming ownership of the land they have been cultivating.
    • In Census 2015, almost 86% of women farmers are devoid of this property right in land perhaps on account of the patriarchal set up in our society.
  • Lack of credit:-
    • Systemic barriers to finance, inputs, extension services and land rights have limited their potential and recognition as the mainstay of  agrarian ecosystem.
    • Notably, a lack of ownership of land does not allow women farmers to approach banks for institutional loans as banks usually consider land as collateral.
  • Size of landholdings:-
    • Declining size of land holdings may act as a deterrent due to lower net returns earned and technology adoption.
    • Increased work burden with lower compensation is a key factor responsible for their marginalisation.
  • Less access to resources:-
    • Women generally have less access to resources and modern inputs (seeds, fertilizers, pesticides) to make farming more productive.
    • The Food and Agriculture Organisation says that equalising access to productive resources for female and male farmers could increase agricultural output in developing countries by as much as 2.5% to 4%. 
  • Gender wage gap, males are usually the targeted beneficiaries of government’s largesse etc
  • Getting loans, participating in mandi panchayats, assessing and deciding the crop patterns, liaising with the district officials, bank managers and political representatives and bargaining for MSPs (minimum support prices), loans and subsidies still remain as male activities.
  • Women mostly tend to cluster in lower-paying jobs.
  • Migration:-
    • Over the last decade, as farming became less and less profitable and small and marginal farmers began migrating to cities, rural jobs for full-time women daily-wage labourers (those who do not own land but work at least 183 days in a year in someone’s farm) in the agricultural sector have shrunk alarmingly.
    • They have no choice with men moving to urban areas for work. 
  • Farmer suicides:-
    • In 2014, according to the National Crime Records Bureau, of 8,007 farmer suicides, 441 were women. Also 577 women labourers committed suicide that year.
  • Lack of equipment:-
    • Designed farm tools available are mainly used by male farmers, and rural women are left to use traditional tools and procedures resulting in low efficiency, drudgery, occupational health risks, and low income. 

Solutions :-

  • Provision of credit without collateral under the micro-finance initiative of the National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development should be encouraged.
  • Possibility of collective farming can be encouraged to make women self-reliant.
  • Training and skills imparted to women as has been done by some self-help groups and cooperative-based dairy activities (Saras in Rajasthan and Amul in Gujarat). These can be explored further through farmer producer organisations.
  • Moreover, government flagship schemes such as the National Food Security Mission, Sub-mission on Seed and Planting Material and the Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana must include women-centric strategies and dedicated expenditure.
  • Farm machinery banks and custom hiring centres promoted by many State governments can be roped in to provide subsidised rental services to women farmers.
  • Krishi Vigyan Kendras in every district can be assigned an additional task to educate and train women farmers about innovative technology along with extension services.
  • Agricultural extension efforts should help women improve food production while allowing them to shift more of their labor to export production.
  • Changes in legal, financial, and educational systems must be undertaken in order to enhance women’s social and economic contributions to rural development in the long term.
  • Women need direct access to information on improved agricultural practices and links to markets. In today’s digital world, it is also important to think critically about the information and communication tools which can help women farmers who may not enjoy much physical mobility to reach out to markets.
  • There is a need to examine carefully the implications of land tenure laws and regulations for wome And educational policies and funding must be changed to reflect the very high social and economic returns to women’s primary education and literacy.
  • The differential access of women to resources like land, credit, water, seeds and markets needs to be addressed.

 


General Studies – 2


Topic–  mechanisms, laws, institutions and Bodies constituted for the protection and betterment of these vulnerable sections.

2) Metoo movement brings out the issue of sexual harassment, among many others. Analyze the lacunae in India’s sexual harassment laws and what needs to done? (250 words)

The hindu

Why this question

Metoo movement has showed us once again, what we already know – that sexual harassment in India is commonplace. Since metoo movement and issues arising out of the movement, are important for mains, analyzing the lacunae in India’s sexual harassment laws is important.

Key demand of the question

The question expects us to discuss in detail the gaps in India’s sexual harassment laws, observations of committees formed for the purpose and the ways in which the law can be strengthened to ensure such incidents find no place in our society.

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 – Explain the metoo movement and the allegations of sexual harassment and misconduct which is coming to light.

Body

  • Highlight the law dealing with such cases – enactment of Sexual Harassment (Prohibition, Prevention and Redressal Act) 2013 has been a bit of relief for women professionals and workers across India. Companies have shifted from turning a blind eye towards such issues to addressing them, and taking appropriate steps before things escalate.
  • Discuss how in bringing in this legislation, government referred to the vishakha guidelines. Discuss the provisions of the Act in brief – This Act contains almost all of the directives given by the SC in Vishakha case and it also consists of several other provisions such as: the Complaint Committees have been granted the powers of Civil Courts in garnering evidences; if the employers fail to comply with the provisions of the Act they will be liable for penalties up to Rs. 50,000; also, the Act includes in its purview workers of un-organized sectors such as daily wage laborers working in construction business or maids working in homes etc.
  • Highlight the issues in the legislation – mostly companies are not supportive of ICC and this is not the failure of the act. It is primarily because the companies only take sexual harassment prevention as a compliance and not something which is vital for women at their workplace; it has not specifically made conduct of sexual harassment as crime but only a civil wrong which is a major flaw; when the victim is willing to initiate criminal proceeding only then a criminal complaint would be filed; also there is a possibility of senior male employee or boss of the victim might force her to withdraw her complaint.
  • Discuss the view of Verma committee on sexual harassment laws

Conclusion – Give your view as to whether there is a need to bring changes in law and discuss way forward.

Background :-

  • Women’s emancipation and safety of women is most important for the government and for the entire country. A recent report by BSE reveals that there is a 12 percent reported an increase in the sexual offences at workplace.

Metoo movement :-

  • Me too movement had the tremendous power to give a voice to the global cry on sexual harassment. From Hollywood to Bollywood, multi-national corporations (MNCs) to low-wage industries, the hospitality industry to hospitals, women have been speaking out about their experiences.
  • Metoo movement covers wide aspects like domination, control, power and misogyny.
  • A holistic analysis of the ‘Me too movement’ also reveals that there are broader patterns of ‘sexism’ and ‘discrimination’ which needs to be addressed also. These acts are not confined almost exclusively to sexualized forms of harassments, verbal and/or physical. Few reports have covered the non- sexual but still utterly sexist form of abuses indulged into by bosses at the workplace.

India’s sexual harassment laws :-

  • The Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013 (the Act)
    • It prescribes a system for investigating and redressing complaints against sexual harassment of women at the workplace. It also provides safeguards against false or malicious charges.
    • Furthermore, the Act places responsibility on the appropriate state government to notify the district officer for setting up a Local Complaints Committee (LCC).
    • State governments are expected to monitor the implementation of the Act; the LCC is required to investigate complaints received from employees in cases where an ICC has not been constituted by the employer or the complaint is against the employer.
    • The provision that the investigation should be completed within 30 days ensures the matter is taken seriously and the women find redress at earlier possible time.Normally all these cases are investigated by the police. The onus is also on respective state governments to see to it that such cases of sexual harassment of women are given priority in the matter of investigation. What we have seen is that police takes its own time to investigate.
  • The Supreme Court has said that there should be an internal grievances complaints committee if it is a work place of more than 10 employees. Internally the investigation will be done by this committee and the issue is sorted out within the organisation.
  • To tackle the problem of sexual harassment at workplace, the Ministry of Corporate Affairs, through a notification dated July 31, 2018, amended the Companies (Accounts) Rules 2014. The notification makes it mandatory for private companies to disclose their compliance with the Act in their directors’ annual report.
  • Laws under Indian Penal Code (IPC)
    • Section 354 (A): A man committing any physical contact, advances involving unwelcome and explicit sexual overtures; or demanding or requesting sexual favours; or showing pornography against the will of a woman; or making sexually coloured remarks, shall be guilty of the offence of sexual harassment. (Punishment: Rigorous imprisonment for a term which may extend to three years)
    • Section 209: Obscene acts in any public place, singing obscene songs to the annoyance of others (Punishment: Imprisonment for a term of up to 3 months or fine, or both).
    • Section 509: Uttering any word or making any gesture intended to insult the modesty of a woman. (You cannot call her “mast”.) Punishment: Imprisonment for 1 year, or fine, or both.)
  • The Indecent Representation of Women (Prohibition) Act (1987)
    • If an individual harasses another with books, photographs, paintings, films, pamphlets, packages, etc. containing ‘indecent representation of women’; they are liable for a minimum sentence of two years.

Success of these legislations :-

  • There is an increase in the rise of reporting the issue which needs to be appreciated. This increase in reporting is reflective of more awareness and the fact that companies are coming forward with the initiatives that can combat sexual harassment.
  • Establishment of She-box recently to register online complaints of harassment. 
  • Corporates and companies are conducting trainings within organizations regarding what constitutes sexual harrassment and penal provisions.
  • Awareness campaigns through Media and webportals like MyGov, Ministry of Women and Child Development etc against sexual harassment are actively taking place.

Challenges remain:-

  • The Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013 :-
    • The Act is, however, not without limitations as it focuses only on women employees, and does not cover women in the armed forces and excludes women agricultural workers which is the single largest female component of the workforce in India
    • Vishaka guidelines and later, the legislation, did not examine the historical disadvantage that women have had in the workplace, and the power and privilege that men wield in the form of harassment. It treated sexual harassment as an isolated offence, that should be solved by and within workplaces and further, silenced the survivors of sexual harassment at the workplace.
    • Justice Verma committee termed the Sexual Harassment Bill unsatisfactory and said it did not reflect the spirit of the Vishakha guidelines framed by the Supreme Court in 1997 to curb sexual harassment at the workplace.
      • The report noted that an internal complaints committee as laid down under the then proposed law would be counter-productive as dealing with such complaints in-house could discourage women from filing complaints.
    • In its past five years of implementation, there has been mechanism to monitor the kind of cases that are coming, no initiative to go beyond the pedantry of legal definitions, and no will to change the structure of workplaces to make it more accessible to women.
    • The said law, which was heralded with much fanfare, has proved to be extremely in adequate to meet the new challenges as section 9 of the said Act prescribes a period of limitation for filing a complaint and the power of the committee to condone the delay is also limited.
    • Excluded men :-
      • Now they cannot approach the Internal Complaint Committee/ District Committee for their grievances or complaints but if men are also included it can definitely show and prove equal treatment of men and women in the workplace.
    • The issue of greater representation of women in the internal complaints committees has been overlooked.
  • Large size of the informal sector, and lack of personnel might hamper the enforcement of the laws.. Sectors like manufacturing and some Informal sector workplaces like plantations etc are not strictly monitored and no provisions to register complaints.
  • Lack of awareness on available options to complaint and fear of disclosing among victims.
  • Bullying and Threatening by perpetrators.
  • At this point, there exists no centralised mechanism to collect data on sexual harassment in the workplace, which is why it is difficult to chart a trends analysis or pattern on harassment that women face at work.
  • In so far as the Indian Penal Code is concerned, no doubt by way of the Criminal Law Amendment Act, 2013 Section 354A has been inserted to tackle the menace of sexual harassment and the said offence has been made punishable with imprisonment which may extend to three years.
    • However, in criminal matters the process is the punishment and since no time period has been prescribed for completion of investigation or trial of such offences, unlike child rape, there is every likelihood that the complainant would be at the receiving end and is most likely to abandon the proceedings after some time.
  • Companies only take sexual harassment prevention as a compliance and not something which is vital for women at their workplace.
    • They tend to ignore that even their top performing managers could be at fault too. This leads to a situation where the company often tries to conceal the unfortunate act to save their brand value. As it is a common practice, most women do not come forward to even lodge a complaint
  • The problem is of mindsetparticularly those educated and well trained.
    • India is yet to pass any legislation making sexual harassments of members of LGBTQ an offence even though as far back as 1998 the Supreme Court of United States of America in the case of Oncale V. Sundowner Offshore Services, Inc. has unanimously held that ‘same sex’ harassment is also actionable as it violates article VII of the Civil Rights Act, 1964.

What needs to be done ?

  • Verma committee recommendations:-
    • To ensure speedy disposal of complaints, the Justice Verma Commitee proposed that the tribunal should not function as a civil court but may choose its own procedure to deal with each complaint.
    • Instead, the committee proposed forming an employment tribunal to receive and adjudicate all complaints.
    • The Verma panel also said that the time-limit of three months to file a complaint should be done away with and a complainant should not be transferred without her consent.
  • Elaborate suggestion, punishment and the disciplinary action has to be taken. The Department of Personnel and Training,  Ministry of Women and Child Development should see to it that no matter who is accused should be severely dealt with which would instil a gender sensitive society.
  • More than this is the attitudinal change, how we raise the sons in the families, how we make men respect women within the family and within the private spaces will matter. The socialisation process and education all go towards making the man much more sensitive while dealing with women.
  • There must also be equal punishment to women who make false charges.
  • There are 100s of private companies where they don’t have any committee to look into the complaints of sexual harassment of women. The government have to look upon these companies and have proper investigation.
  • The Indian law therefore, needs to provide, as in a case of child rape, a time frame for completion of investigation and prosecution of these offences so that the offenders are brought to book at the very earliest. Procedural law, as well as substantive law, needs to be amended.

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

3) The outcomes of laws need to be analysed before enactment. Discuss in the context of the need for legislative impact assessment in India.(250 words)

The hindu

Why this question

Governance is a complex process and hasty law making creates several problems or is inadequate to meet the desired objectives. It is therefore important to discuss about the meaning and scope of legislative impact assessment.

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 legislative impact assessment and how it measures outcomes before enactment of laws, its advantages etc.

Structure of the answer

Introduction– write a few introductory lines about the  reasons behind hasty lawmaking- emergency situation; under public pressure; empty reforms etc.

Body-

  1. Discuss the problems of hasty lawmaking e.g the ‘rush towards law’ results in policies and legal frameworks that are mostly reactive and seek to offer quick-fix solutions to complex problems. As a result, both lawmakers and citizens are frequently blindsided by the unanticipated impact of these moves and the laws often run aground on issues of implementation; Ultimately, the time and effort it takes to undo and resolve the issues caused by such hasty lawmaking can compound the problem that the law was intended to resolve, making the entire exercise of ‘fixing’ the issue futile etc.
  2. Discuss the concept of legislative impact assessment and elaborate it further. E.g  laws and rules need to be comprehensively analysed prior to their enactment so as to minimise such negative externalities, or at the very least, to identify them;  allow us to identify optimal law and policy changes and ensure that preferred options are those that are economically feasible, operationally viable, and socially acceptable, among several other considerations. Above all, such a framework would promote transparent and democratic law-making in the country and allow citizens to understand and debate trade-offs created by such laws even before they are formalised etc.

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

Background:-

  • Legislation and policies in the country are often passed with inadequate scrutiny and assessment. Approach to law making in India points towards a growing trend of initiating policy and legislative decisions as a reaction to public events ,emergency situation, under public pressure etc.
  • This lack of consciousness stems from multiple causes, including the nature of political economy in India, the lack of a formal assessment structure for these laws and rules and the increasing complexity of law-making in today’s diverse and interconnected societies.

Why there is a need to analyse the outcomes of legislation before enactment :-

  • To avoid future problems:-
    • The rush towards law results in policies and legal frameworks that are mostly reactive and seek to offer quick-fix solutions to complex problems. As a result, both law-makers and citizens are frequently blindsided by the unanticipated impact of these moves and the laws often run aground on issues of implementation.
    • For instance Biological Diversity Act, 2002 (BDA):-
      • In addition to the fact that awareness of the BDA’s provisions is extremely limited among the judiciary and the executive, the provisions of the act are so contradictory that conservation, use and development action have almost come to a standstill.
    • Ultimately, the time and effort it takes to undo and resolve the issues caused by such hasty law-making can compound the problem that the law was intended to resolve, making the entire exercise of ‘fixing’ the issue futile.
    • Legislation seeks to create a framework that helps coordinate certain governance processes or to resolve certain identified problems. It also articulates a standard of morality and an ethical approach that a society and government deems appropriate.
    • Wider analysis:-
      • Law-making in India is still largely conducted in silos which ensures that there is little consciousness of how these might potentially impact, either directly or indirectly, aspects of the economy, ecology, development and society in ways that might be wholly unintended by their framers.
    • Indian law-making process is ad hoc in nature:-
      • It is geared towards churning out legislation that is not entirely evidence based and does not take the feedback of different stakeholders into account.
      • In its reports, the National Commission to review the working of the Constitution had observed that India’s legislative enactments betray clear marks of hasty drafting and absence of Parliament scrutiny from the point of view of both the implementers and the affected persons and groups .
      • For example, the Gram Nyayalaya Act, which establishes village courts to provide people with easy access to justice and reduce the case law burden on the court system.
        • Structured feedback from villagers, whom this act is trying to empower, prior to introducing the bill in Parliament would have given valuable insights about implementation challenges.

Legislative impact assessment (LIA):-

  • The idea of legislative impact assessments is slowly getting traction around the world, since there is widespread acceptance of the idea that laws and rules need to be comprehensively analysed prior to their enactment so as to minimise such negative externalities, or at the very least, to identify them.
  • LIA is a method of estimating the likely impacts of government policy before it is adopted, and comparing different policy designs to determine which produces the best result.
  • The central goal of LIA is to ensure that laws and rules efficiently produce economic, social, and environmental benefits, that is, that benefits justify costs.
  • Benefits of LIA:-
    • Because of the increased transparency, LIA makes government decision makers more accountable to the public and to Parliament. 
  • A PLIA should be a fundamentally iterative process that seeks to methodically apply a framework that assesses policies and laws at a granular level before they are put into place. Moreover, India should be wary of the manner in which the costs and benefits of proposed legislation and policies are identified for example, laws have persistently sought to undervalue ecosystem services as well as indigenous peoples rights.
  • Establishing and following a PLIA framework in both letter and spirit would allow us to identify optimal law and policy changes and ensure that preferred options are those that are economically feasible, operationally viable, and socially acceptable, among several other considerations.
  • Above all, such a framework would promote transparent and democratic law-making in the country and allow citizens to understand and debate trade-offs created by such laws even before they are formalized.

What needs to be done ?

  • International examples:-
    • The need of the hour is an impact assessment that focuses on policy and legal frameworks before they are passed. Countries like Kenya and Finland have mechanisms in place for the assessment of regulatory and legislative proposals as an essential part of their legislative process.
  • Policy and legislative impact assessment (PLIA) framework for India need to be submitted and released to the public along with every proposed Bill. At a minimum, a framework would
    • (a) identify the policy problem, its root cause and the need for action
    • (b) benchmark it against available alternatives
    • (c) conduct stakeholder meetings and identify potential impact
    • d) pre-empt possible conflicts by identifying and planning for the mitigation of any and all negative effects of taking such an action.

Topic – Social sector issues related to education

4) Despite the affinity for education in Indian society, the lack of world class universities in India is surprising. Examine.(250 words)

Indian express

Why this question

The article discusses the lack of good quality higher educational institution in India and ways in which the same can be achieved. A lot many developments have taken place in the past year with focus on autonomy of institutions, changes in regulatory structure etc, which needs to be examined.

Key demand of the question

The question expects us to discuss the status of higher educational institution particularly with respect to their ranking at global level, examine causes behind their poor performance in these rankings, discuss the impact and finally, give suggestions on how to improve the situation.

Directive word

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

Structure of the answer

Introduction – Discuss the recent Times Higher Education World University Rankings and India’s performance in it.

Body

  • Discuss reasons behind the poor performance of Indian universities in ranking – international faculty and students that do not really work for an Indian institution, poor number of publications etc. Also discuss the point made in the article that in countries such as India the focus has only been on creating good public institutions, without creating an enabling environment for private education, which is now changing.
  • Discuss the impact of poor quality of such institutions
  • Discuss the steps taken by government for addressing this situation – Changes proposed in higher education regulatory architecture , greater autonomy etc

Conclusion – Summarize your arguments and explain why Indian universities are not performing well and discuss the way forward.

Background:-

  • India’s education system has been at the center of vociferous debate for several years now. Despite the presence of the prestigious IITs and IIMs, Indian educational institutions and universities have had a remarkably poor run when it comes to global institutional rankings
  • An ancient seat of learning, India was once home to globally reputed institutions like Taxila and Nalanda which attracted foreign students too. 

Why India does not have world-class universities:-

  • The higher education system in India still lags behind the standards of the world’s best universities.
    • In the QS World University Rankings 2015/16, only two Indian universities were featured in the top 200, while just 10 made it into the top 700.
  • Lack of philanthropic culture:-
    • The ability of private higher education to attain the standards of their counterparts in the US and other parts of the developed world will depend on the willingness of the philanthropists towards giving them the long-term cushion of sustenance.
    • Examples like BITS Pilani and the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research show such philanthropy in excellent light. However, the pressure of revenue generation, along with the demands of profitability, has pushed many a private sector educational institution from deviating from its original lofty goal.
  • India has had a severe problem with a shortage of teaching staff, made steadily worse as it rapidly expands its higher education system.
    • The appeal of pursuing other career options for those graduating, coupled with the lack of facilities for postgraduate education and the retiring generation of current professors has resulted in an unsustainable student-teacher ratio.
    • Cash-starved state universities in India are often unable to hire new staff due to the lack of funds. Unregulated private colleges are often profit-driven, so cost-cutting in areas like staff is all too common.
  • Because of the poor standard of education in many Indian institutions, those graduating from outside the small number of well-performing universities struggle to find work.
  • A number of studies, including the National Skills Report, 2014, found that only around 30% of graduates were considered employable.
  • The best-ranked universities of the world have, on an average, a student population of 18,000 per university.
    • In comparison, the best-ranked Indian universities are operating at a much smaller scale, averaging at around 11,000 students per institution.
    • Besides, the best universities of the world have a good mix of undergraduate and postgraduate students, with Masters and Research Degree students constituting a sizeable section of their student population, thereby ensuring a critical mass of students which, in turn, promote better graduation outcome, research, and reputation.
  • The best-ranked universities in the world have a large pool of highly qualified, talented and committed faculty such that on an average each university has over 1,800 regularly appointed full-time faculty.
    • In contrast, the number of full-time faculty even in the best-ranked universities of India averages at around 600.
    • Thus, not only the student-teacher ratio in the best of India’s higher educational institutions is almost double the ratio prevalent amongst the best-ranked universities of the world, Indian institutions also lose out on the critical mass of the faculty and researchers, which is so critical to quality and excellence.
  • The best universities of the world, on an average, spend over $1,68,000 per student, per year.
    • In sharp contrast, the average spending per student by the best-ranked higher educational institutions in India is just above $7,000.
    • Even in terms of purchasing power parity, the best of our universities spend no more than PPP $28,000 per student, per year. Thus, the investment gap between our higher educational institutions is huge as compared to what is invested by the world-class universities.
    • Indeed, excellence comes at a high cost but at the same time, high investment in higher education very quickly repays in terms of the growth in the economy through enhanced research, publication, patent, innovation, entrepreneurship and employability
  • Diversity:-
    • The average national diversity of students is 30% while the internal diversity of students ranges between 20 to 40 %. A similar diversity is maintained for the faculty. Indian universities, however, have been typically local in character for both students and faculty
    • The philosophy behind diversity is that it invokes cross breeding of ideas, interaction leading to innovation and inventions.
  • Characteristic of world-class universities is the enormous thrust laid on collaboration, openness and no impermeable hard boundaries between the various disciplines.
    • Contrary to this Indian education, system and Institutions nurtured a rigid culture of secretive and isolated work and too hard boundaries between different institutions and even between disciplines in the same Institution.
    • Sharing resources, open laboratories to all is yet to be seen even in premier institutions and by well-known scientists and professors. This is major handicap preventing Indian Institutions from making headway in innovations and inventions.
  • Total academic, administrative and financial freedom with trust is visible in world class universities:-
    • Contrary to this, the Indian education institutions are bogged up into intertwined regulations and levels of controls that always end up at the doors of bureaucracy
  • Issues with institute of eminence:-
    • Key characteristics that are vital to any world-class university were missing from the exercise of selecting institutions.
      • This includes, for instance, internationalisation of faculty, research, students, courses and outlook. Moreover, the selection process should have had a holistic approach to disciplines.
      • By giving pre-eminence to the sciences and engineering, this tag has completely neglected the humanities and social sciences etc.

What needs to be done ?

  • Policies should be nuanced enough to create the much-needed environment for private education, they should enable these institutions to attain world-class standards and, in the process, also set a benchmark for public institutions. 
  • India needs to adopt to create a global culture to have world-class educational institutions, borrow ideas in pedagogy from the best institutions around the world and move from a top-down mode of education to a more organic culture of learning.
  • India needs an infusion of fresh ideas and teaching mechanisms to create a new educational infrastructure that not just delivers knowledge, but also encourages new thinking and boosts the spirit of innovation in the new generation.
  • India needs educational institutions that not only create skilled human resource but also boosts indigenous research and development, power the country’s intellectual and entrepreneurial leadership, and instill scientific thinking among the masses.
  • Student and teacher exchange programmes with institutions across the world, greater attempts to attract good teachers from not just India but across the globe, and increased use of information technology to connect students are the key components of efforts to build new world-class universities is necessary
  • Students should be given the opportunity to pursue literally any interest they might have. For example, a student who opts Physics must not be deprived of the freedom to study Economics and History, if he/she so desires. The student must have the freedom to choose from a basket of subjects .
  • The importance of building student-teacher relationship should be sufficiently stressed. For this to happen, India needs better teacher-student ratio and new concepts of appointing out-of-class ‘guides’ or ‘mentors’ to whom students can turn to for not just clearing their conceptual doubts but on other advice pertinent to their education and life.
  • Ensuring student satisfaction by measuring social life on campus, extra-curricular and academics should be an importance aspect of building great universities.
  • The HECI system must make sure that existing non-autonomous institutions, too, are allowed to set their curriculum as they advance towards autonomy. 
  • Funding can be sourced from Special cess, CSR, alumina fund, easy loans from banks, progressive fee structure etc. 
  • Link major R&D centres of country with government colleges in all states, to encourage inclusion of students in research initiatives in the country .

Topic– Issues relating to poverty and hunger.

5) Discuss the role biotechnology played in Green Revolution? Do you think the answer to India’s hunger problem lies in biotechnology?(250 words)

Indian Express

Why this question

The article highlights the role genetic modification played in developing new varieties of seeds which ushered in the era of green revolution in the country. The article also examines the role biotechnology can play in addressing the hunger problem of India. Considering the fact that India has fallen in HDI table and GHI index, hunger has had a huge role to play. Hence this question is important for GS2 and GS3

Key demand of the question

The question expects us to bring out the ways and means in which biotechnology helped in Green revolution in India. Thereafter we need to bring out the problem of hunger and hidden hunger in India. Next, our focus needs to be on explaining the role biotechnology can play in addressing the hunger problem. Not to mention, we also need to bring out the risks involved. In conclusion, we need to mention the way forward.

Directive word

Discuss – Here in your discussion, you need to bring out how genetically modified seeds were introduced and the impact they had on green revolution.

Structure of the answer

Introduction – Explain what green revolution is and that genetically modified crops were introduced first in India during green revolution.

Body

  • Discuss the GM seeds which were used in Green Revolution and the advantages they offered such as higher yield etc
  • Discuss the plight of hunger and hidden hunger. Highlight India’s abysmal record in dealing with these issues
  • Discuss how biotechnology can help – enhance productivity, fortified food items such as golden rice etc can tackle the nutrient and micronutrients deficiency etc
  • Discuss the issues with usage of GM crops.

Conclusion – Give your fair and balanced view on whether GM can solve India’s hunger problem and discuss the way forward.

Background:-

  • Food insecurityand hunger is one of the world’s most pressing problems today, creating directly or indirectly several other challenges for man.
  • In the words of Norman Borlaug Biotechnology will help developing countries accomplish things that they could never do with conventional plant breeding. The technology is more precise and farming becomes less time consuming.

Role played by BioTech in green revolution:-

  • In the early 1960s, India imported 18,000 tonnes of the semi-dwarf high yielding (HY) wheat variety, Lerma Rojo and Sonora 64. These wheat varieties proved to be the harbinger of the Green Revolution. Indian scientists adapted the imported germplasm to create indigenous varieties.
  • The breeding programme under the All India Coordinated Research Project (AICRP) produced Padma and Jaya, the first indigenous HY rice varieties. These became the centrepiece of India’s rice revolution.
  • GM seeds which were used in Green Revolution played a si gnificant role in increase in production of the

India’s hunger problem:-

  • The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World, 2018 estimates that about 15 per cent of the Indian population is undernourished.
  • More than 38 per cent of Indian children aged below five years are stunted and 21 per cent suffer from wasting.
  • Several factors ranging from poor diet, unsafe drinking water, poor hygiene and sanitation, low levels of immunisation and education, especially that of women, contribute to this dismal situation.

How biotech can address India’s hunger problem:-

  • Latest innovations in biotechnology that fortify major staples with micro nutrients like vitamin A, zinc and iron can be game changers for hunger problem in India.
  • Globally, the HarvestPlus programme of the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) is doing lot of work in this direction. In India, the group has released the iron-rich pearl millet.
  • The Indian Council of Agricultural Research has independently released zinc and iron rich wheat rice and pearl millet in 2016-17. This could possibly lead to the next breakthrough in staples, making them more nutritious.
  • A research team at the National Agri-Food Biotechnology Institute has innovated biofortified coloured wheat through crosses between HY Indian cultivars and coloured wheat from Japan and America. These are rich in anthocyaninse.., antioxidants such those found in blueberries and zinc .This seems to be the beginning of a new journey, from food security to nutritional security.
  • Potential advantages that biotechnology can confer across a wide range of agricultural applications are in areas such as livestock management, storage of agricultural products and sustaining current crop yields, while reducing the use of fertilizers, herbicides and pesticides. 
  • Biotechnology offers a very promising alternative to synthetic foods and an improvement on conventional plant-breeding technologies. Combined with other advanced agricultural technologies, it offers an exciting and environmentally responsible way to meet consumer demand for sustainable agriculture
  • Golden Rice, created by researchers in Germany and Switzerland, contains three new genes — two from the daffodil and one from a bacterium that helps it to produce provitamin A. This rice is available as a possible option for mass distribution, in part due to the waiving of patent rights by biotechnology companies. This is just one among the hundreds of new biotech products, which point to the contributions of biotechnology to society.
  • Use of high-yielding, disease- and pest-resistant crops will have a direct bearing on improved food security, poverty alleviation and environmental conservation.
  • Range of biotechnological approaches, including both traditional ones like selective breeding and fermentation techniques, and modern ones such as genomics, molecular breeding and genetic engineering, can contribute towards achieving food and nutrition security.
  • In the current era, advances in genomics sciences have equipped scientists to decode genomes for any crop species the recent example being that of pearl millet .Gene information can be used to accelerate breeding programmes and develop high-yielding and better varieties faster.
  • ICRISAT:-
    • At the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT), scientists have developed improved lines of chickpea (tolerant to drought), groundnut (resistant to foliar disease and having high Oleic acid content), pearl millet (resistant to downy mildew and having high iron and zinc contents) and sorghum (tolerant to drought).
    • Recent works on molecular breeding at ICRISAT have led to the development of chickpea lines with enhanced drought tolerance that can provide 10-20 per cent higher yields than the existing drought-tolerant varieties under rainfed conditions.
  • Biotech crops helped alleviate poverty by helping 18 million small farmers and their families, totaling 65 million people.

What further measures are needed :-

  • Innovations in biofortified food can alleviate malnutrition only when they are scaled up with supporting policies. This would require increasing expenditure on agri-R&D and incentivising farmers by linking their produce to lucrative markets.
  • FSSAI should setup systems and enforce GM screening.

General Studies – 3


Topic:  Part of static series under the heading – “Livestock”

6) Economics of animal rearing will play a major role of the dream of doubling farmer’s income is to be achieved. Examine, in this context, the steps taken by the government in promoting animal rearing and suggest ways to promote this sector?(250 words)

 

Key demand of the question

The question expects us to answer the following points

  • How economic of animal rearing might lead to doubling cof income
  • Steps taken by government for promoting livestock
  • Ways to promote this sector

Structure of the answer

Introduction – Mention that India has the largest stock of dairy animals and is the world’s largest producer of milk.  

Body

  • Give reasons how it might lead to doubling of income for farmers
    • Of late growth rate of livestock farming has been more than that of food crops.
    • Livestock is more resilient during droughts and is not affected by monsoon variability.
    • Meat and dairy products are less fluctuating as compared to food crops. Government does not need to provide Minimum Support price for animal products.
    • Demand for animal products has more elasticity with income.
      Distribution of ownership or livestock is more egalitarian as compared to land ownership, which is highly skewed.
  • Discuss the steps taken by the government such as National Dairy Plan Phase I, National Program for bovine breeding and dairy development and Dairy Entrepreneurship development scheme etc
  • Give suggestions on how to promote this sector

Background:-

  • In the absence of sufficient agricultural lands due to the natural geographical terrain of the state, farmers got many opportunities in other fields like poultry, dairy, fishery, bee keeping and Animal Husbandry.

Importance of animal rearing in doubling farmers income:-

  • Livestock has been an important source of livelihood for small farmers. They contributed about 16% to their income.
  • Women:-
    • Livestock employed 8.8% of the agricultural work force albeit it varied widely from 3% in North-Eastern states to 40-48% in Punjab and Haryana. Animal husbandry promotes gender equity. More than three-fourth of the labour demand in livestock production is met by women. 
  • Goat rearing:-
    • Collection of goat milk from households and distribution through the milk co-operatives will create a large, broad-based collection, processing and storage infrastructure.
    • Importantly goat rearing will integrate the most water-stressed regions into the milk grid.
    • Including goat’s milk into the mid-day meal scheme across India can create a massive market for goat milk and creates opportunities for setting up goat dairying infrastructure. There are opportunities in goat cheese production which is in great demand in overseas markets.
    • Goat hide is another opportunity for creating home-based production systems that engage the womenfolk and young adults. Leather garments, footwear, bags and wallets could be produced and marketed through organised retail both within and outside country.
  • The distribution patterns of income and employment show that small farm households hold more opportunities in livestock production. The growth in livestock sector is demand-driven, inclusive and pro-poor.
  • Livestock is providers of essential food products, draught power, manure, employment, household income and export incomes. However, it is a fact that livestock prosperity is much more equitably distributed than wealth associated with land. Thus, when assessing the inclusive growth, it should be considered that from equity and livelihood perspectives, livestock rearing is significant in poverty alleviation programmes.
  • Meat and dairy products are less fluctuating as compared to food crops. Government does not need to provide Minimum Support price for animal products.
  • Distribution of ownership or livestock is more egalitarian as compared to land ownership, which is highly skewed.
  • Assured source of income in case of market uncertainty and climate adversity leading to less farmer distress.
  • As livestock is less prone to global warming and climate change, it can be considered more reliable than rain-fed agriculture

Steps taken by government :-

  • National Livestock Mission
    • The National Livestock Mission (NLM) has commenced from 2014-15.
    • The Mission is designed to cover all the activities required to ensure quantitative and qualitative improvement in livestock production systems and capacity building of all stakeholders.
    • The Mission will cover everything germane to improvement of livestock productivity and support projects and initiatives required for that purpose subject.
    • This Mission is formulated with the objective of sustainable development of livestock sector, focusing on improving availability of quality feed and fodder. NLM is implemented in all States including Sikkim.
  • Rashtriya Gokul Mission
    • Key features of the mission
      • The Mission aims to conserve and develop indigenous breeds in a focused and scientific manner and for that breeding facilities will be set up for varieties with high-genetic pedigree”.
      • The aim of the mission is to protect Indigenous cow from being cross-bred into different varieties.
      • Focus will be largely to give a push to local breeding programme on the line of elite local breeds like Gir, Sahiwal, Rathi to enhance milk production.
      • The local cow breed will be protected through traditional-style “gaushalas” or cattle-care centres.
      • The scheme has provision to acknowledge those farmers who works rigorously in the direction. The “Gopal Ratna” awards will be conferred to them.
      • An amount of Rs 500 crore has been earmarked for Bovine Breeding and Dairy Development programme and out of which Rs 150 crore will be specially allocated for the protection of indigenous cow breeds.
    • National Dairy Plan Phase I (NDP I) is a Central Sector Scheme being implemented by the National Dairy Development Board (NDDB)through End Implementing Agencies (EIA)for a period of 2011-12 to 2018-19.
      • To help increase productivity of milch animals and thereby increase milk production to meet the rapidly growing demand for milk.
      • To help provide rural milk producers with greater access to the organised milk-processing sector.
    • National Programme for Bovine Breeding and Dairy Development (NPBBDD) was launched by the union government in February 2014 after merging four erstwhile schemes viz. National Project for Cattle and Buffalo Breeding (NPCBB), Intensive Dairy Development Programme (IDDP), Strengthening Infrastructure for Quality and Clean Milk Production (SIQ and CMP) and assistance to cooperatives.
      • This scheme with Rs. 1800 crore outlay in 12th plan period aims to to integrate the milk production and dairying activities in a scientific and holistic manner for attaining higher levels of milk production and productivity to meet the increasing demand for milk in the country.
    • Blue Revolution in India
      • Realizing the immense scope for development of fisheries and aquaculture, the Government of India has restructured the Central Plan Scheme under an umbrella of Blue Revolution.
      • The restructured Central Sector Scheme on Blue Revolution: Integrated Development and Management of Fisheries (CSS) approved by the Government provides for a focused development and management of the fisheries sector to increase both fish production and fish productivity from aquaculture and fisheries resources of the inland and marine fisheries sector including deep sea fishing.
      • The scheme has the following components:
        National Fisheries Development Board (NFDB) and its activities.
        ii. Development of Inland Fisheries and Aquaculture.
        iii. Development of Marine Fisheries, Infrastructure and Post-Harvest Operations.
        iv. Strengthening of Database & Geographical Information System of the Fisheries Sector.
        v. Institutional Arrangement for Fisheries Sector.
        vi. Monitoring, Control and Surveillance (MCS) and other need-based Interventions.
        vii. National Scheme on Welfare of Fishermen.
    • Dairy Processing and Infrastructure Development Fund
    • Announced in 2017-18 budget
    • A corpus of Rs 8,000 crores over three years to augment income of farmers
    • It will be set up in NABARD (National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development).
    • It will be used to enable expansion of milk processing capacity in the country.

Failure:-

  • The lack of public services in animal health that reach out to the poorest in rural areas and a failure to link small holder livestock keepers to better paying markets are two examples of common failings. 
  • Poultry sector is focusing more on commercial poultry rearing like broilers for meat and eggs. As a result, many indigenous species about to become extinct.
  • Improving productivity in a huge population of low-producing animals is one of the major challenges.
  • Crossbreeding of indigenous species with exotic stocks to enhance genetic potential of different species has been successful only to a limited extent
  • Livestock derive major part of their energy requirement from agricultural byproducts and residues. Hardly 5% of the cropped area is utilized to grow fodder.

Measures further needed :-

  • The future growth has to come from improvements in technology and service delivery systems leading to accelerated productivity, processing and marketing.
  • India needs to overcome challenges by increased funding, modernization and developing a domestic market as well. 
  • Progress requires attention from all actors in the social, environmental, animal health, human health and agriculture sectors; that means public, private and community organisations being actively engaged together. 
  • Livestock status can be improved by selecting and proper utilization of native animal genetic resources.
  • Develop natural pastures and grasslands by reclaiming wastelands. While developing the grasslands, the preference must be given to grow local species of grasses.
  • Plantation of quality fodder tree species of improved varieties be given preference. Creation of fodder bank for lean period is the need of the day.
  • Control of animal diseases and vaccination should be done at the proper time.
  • Regular training programmes for women on the latest technologies of sheep and goats production, and an update management should be organized both by the concerned departments and agricultural universities.
  • Farm enterprises like agroforestry, sericulture and aquaculture  should also be started by the women as these are also their monopoly. These farm activities will also provide food, fodder, timber, fertilizers etc.
  • Storage facilities  for eggs and day old chicken are required to be provided.
  • To make backyard poultry rearing a profitable venture the rural women must be well trained in a more scientific way.

 


General Studies – 4


Topic- Public/Civil service values and Ethics in Public administration: Status and problems; ethical concerns and dilemmas in government and private institutions;

7) “Technology itself is value-neutral. It is the responsibility of the companies and the government to deploy it in ways that will maintain and protect our digital commons.” Comment.(250 words)

Reference

Directive word

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

Key demand of the question.

The question wants us to express our opinion on the statement. We have to form our opinion based on a proper discussion and presentation of valid arguments/ facts in our support.

Structure of the answer

Introduction– write a few introductory lines about the  way technology has been transforming human lives and how the new corridors of technology AI, bioengineering etc seek to transform human world.

Body-

  1. Discuss how technology is value-neutral. Give an example to illustrate your point that although technology is value neutral and can be used in productive, peaceful ways as well as in a destructive manner and for nefarious purposes etc.
  2. Discuss the main stakeholders in the realm of technology- technology companies; the government and the people. Discuss why there is a responsibility on part of the government and the companies to deploy technology towards the common good of all. E.g Solving problems is how businesses succeed. Profitability is ultimately a by-product of a company’s vision. To continue thriving, a global corporation has to find a bigger problem to solve, rather than protect a business model that has delivered in the past; need to make technology accessible and affordable for all etc.

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

Answer:-

New technologies and approaches are merging the physical, digital, and biological worlds in ways that will fundamentally transform humankind. The quest for invention has given us gunpowder and digital photography, and it has filled our oceans with plastic. Gunpowder can be used to make weapons, but it can also create fireworks. Digital photography can generate massive e-waste, but it can also cure blindness. So technology is value neutral and depends on how it is being used. So there is a need to push technology to be a force for the common good.

Why there is a responsibility on part of the government and the companies to deploy technology towards the common good of all:-

  • Solving problems is how businesses succeed. Profitability is ultimately a by-product of a company’s vision. To continue thriving, a global corporation has to find a bigger problem to solve, rather than protect a business model that has delivered in the past
  • There is a need to make technology accessible and affordable for all .
  • Social media is another arena where we need to better align technology and public purpose. Today’s platforms are wonderful enablers of commerce and community, but also of darkness, hatred, lies, and isolation; invasion of privacy; even attack
  • The public interest is represented by many institutions at many levels, and when businesses extend the same courtesy and consideration to them that they do to other prospective customers, win-wins for the common good become possible.
  • Technology such as biotechnology, block chain technology ,AI, machine learning, cloud computing, data management have revolutionised human life. However they bring certain challenges such as ethical issues, cyber attack, cyber crimes, environmental pollution, climate change which has adverse impact on human life. 
  • There is more than privacy at stake. Facebook and other social-media companies are now information (and misinformation) providers that affect our democracies. They need to ensure that their algorithms do not promote misinformation as clickbait.