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SECURE SYNOPSIS: 13 NOVEMBER 2018


SECURE SYNOPSIS: 13 NOVEMBER 2018


NOTE: Please remember that following ‘answers’ are NOT ‘model answers’. They are NOT synopsis too if we go by definition of the term. What we are providing is content that both meets demand of the question and at the same time gives you extra points in the form of background information.


General Studies – 2


Topic-  Statutory, regulatory and various quasi-judicial bodies

1) What do you understand by RBI’s economic capital framework? Discuss whether RBI’s economic capital framework requires a fix?(250 words)

Timesofindia

Livemint

Why this question

RBI’s economic capital framework and the quantum of its reserves have been the source of much discussion in the past few days. Understanding what economic capital framework is and the entire debate surrounding it is important from the point of mains.

Key demand of the question

The first part of the question expects us to explain what economic capital framework is and what role does it play in the economy. Thereafter, we need to discuss the debate surrounding the level of reserves that RBI should maintain, and how this issue can be reconciled.

Directive word

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

Structure of the answer

Introduction – Bring out the context due to which the issue is in news

Body

  • Explain what economic capital framework is and how is it useful for the economy
  • Thereafter, bring out the debate surrounding capital framework and the amount of RBI’s reserves, whether there is a need for less prudence, and who should be the deciding factor. Compare the level of India’s reserves vis a vis other countries and whether this level of risk aversion is harmful for the economy.
  • Discuss the recommendations of economic survey regarding this
  • Suggest what the way forward can be such an independent committee which will suggest what the best course of action should be

Conclusion – give a fair and balanced view on the debate over economic capital framework and what the way forward should be to reconcile differences.

Background :-

  • Indian government is in discussion with the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) to fix appropriate economic capital framework for the central bank recently.
  • The concept of economic capital has gained significance especially after the global financial crisis in 2008. The crisis exposed many central banks in the world to multiple risks, which forced many of them US Federal Reserve, Bank of England and European Central Bank  besides sovereign governments to pump in liquidity, buy securities and expand their balance sheets to boost confidence in the financial system and to ensure that critical institutions did not collapse.

RBI economic capital framework :-

  • Economic capital framework refers to the risk capital required by the central bank while taking into account different risks.
  • The economic capital framework reflects the capital that an institution requires or needs to hold as a counter against unforeseen risks or events or losses in the future.
  • The framework the government is talking about is basically about how much capital RBI needs for its operations and how much of the surplus it should pass on to the government. 

Why it needs a fix :-

  • Existing economic capital framework which governs the RBI’s capital requirements and terms for the transfer of its surplus to the government  is based on a conservative assessment of risk by the central bank and that a review of the framework would result in excess capital being freed, which the RBI can then share with the government.
  • The government believes that RBI is sitting on much higher reserves than it actually needs to tide over financial emergencies. that India may face. Some central banks around the world (like US and UK) keep 13% to 14% of their assets as a reserve compared to RBI’s 27% and some (like Russia) more than that. 
  • Economists in the past have argued for RBI releasing ‘extra’ capital that can be put to productive use by the government. The Malegam Committee estimated the excess (in 2013) at Rs 1.49 lakh crore. 
  • Rationale for such a capital framework was that there were increased risks to its balance sheet, and an adequate capital buffer was critical not only to achieving objectives, but also to ensuring the credibility of the central bank.
  • A weak balance sheet could force the central bank to rely more on excessive seigniorage income, which would run in conflict to its price stability mandate. So better economic capital framework is necessary
  • This has been done in many countries, such as New Zealand and England. In June this year, the Bank of England and Her Majesty’s Treasury signed a MoU on a capital framework and on distributing its surplus
  • It provides a robu st and transparent system that ensures the credibility of the bank’s policy action in even the most stressed environment, and reflects the new way in which the bank provides liquidity. 

Way forward:-

  • An independent committee similar to Monetary policy committee can be formed by including government officials to decide reserve amount to avoid such issues in future.

Topic – Issues relating to poverty and hunger.

2) There are  certain fundamental issues which need to be fixed iso that India’s Poshan Abhiyan can be successfully implemented. Discuss.(250 words)

Livemint

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 issues faced by Poshan Abhiyan which need rectification in order to make the programme successful and achieve its stated objectives.

Structure of the answer

Introduction– write a few introductory lines about the  Poshan Abhiyan. E.g It aims to drastically reduce the prevailing high incidence of malnutrition, stunted growth and anaemia. The intention is to do this through convergence, mass movements and leveraging technology.

Body-

Discuss in points the issues associated with programme. E.g many of the AWCs lack basic amenities and face infrastructure problems. Around 24% of them lacked their own building and operated from small rented premises, and around 14% lacked pucca buildings; To overcome the challenges of the tedious and irregular system of manually maintaining daily registers and monitor growth efficiently, information and communications technology-enabled real time monitoring (ICT-RTM) has been rolled out in POSHAN Abhiyaan districts. This helped identify 12,000 severely malnourished children in 46 districts of six states; However, this could be rendered ineffective due to the limited capacities of AWWs to handle smartphones owing to their lack of technological literacy. This is compounded by technical issues like slow servers and data deletion problems, resulting in irregular and improper recording of growth data of children; AWWs are the fulcrum of POSHAN Abhiyaan and render vital services to mothers and children in villages. Despite their indispensability, nearly 40% of AWWs had to use their personal money to run the AWCs, 35% of them complained of delayed payments (Progress of Children Under Six Report, 2016), and administrative duties like organizing functions, and conducting exams and surveys distracted them from their core health and nutrition responsibilities. Thus, overburdened with work, undervalued and underpaid, AWWs have become demotivated and demoralized etc.

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

Background:-

  • India has historically fared poorly on child nutrition indicators and has been plagued by periodical waves of malnutrition-related deaths in tribal areas. 
  • With 17 per cent of the world’s population, India is home to a quarter of the world’s hungry. The dismal health of Indian women and children is primarily due to lack of food security. 

Poshan Abhiyan :-

  • National Nutrition Mission, launched recently now christened POSHAN (Modi’s overarching scheme for holistic nourishment) Abhiyaan aims to drastically reduce the prevailing high incidence of malnutrition, stunted growth and anaemia.
  • The intention is to do this through convergence, mass movements and leveraging technology.
  • Anganwadi workers (AWWs) are required to feed in details of the beneficiaries and monitor their growth in real time during pregnancy, as well as height and weight of the child once born, in the mobile phones given to them and follow up with SMS alerts to those who are at risk.
  • It is to ensure that malnutrition doesn’t affect children’s cognitive development or physical growth.
  • The initiative seeks to reduce the level of stunting, undernutrition and low birth weight by 2% each, and anaemia by 3%.
  • The programme aims to ensure service delivery and interventions by use of technology, behavioural change and lays down specific targets to be achieved over the next few years. 
  • To ensure a holistic approach, all 36 states/UTs and districts will be covered in a phased manner. More than 10 crore people will be benefitted by this programme. 
  • Ministry of Women and Child Development is the nodal ministry for anchoring overall 

How POSHAN abhiyan tackles malnutrition:-

  • Complete approach towards malnutrition:-
    • The programme through use of technology, a targeted approach and convergence strives to reduce the level of stunting, under-nutrition, anaemia and low birth weight in children, also focus on adolescent girls, pregnant women and lactating mothers, thus holistically addressing malnutrition. 
  • It targets to reduce level of under-nutrition and other related problems by ensuring convergence of various nutrition related schemes and provide performance based incentives to states and community nutrition and health workers, facilitating a focus on results.
  • It will monitor and review implementation of all such schemes and utilize existing structural arrangements of line ministries wherever available.
  • Its large component involves gradual scaling-up of the interventions supported by ongoing World Bank assisted Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) Systems Strengthening and Nutrition Improvement Project (ISSNIP) to all districts in the country by 2022.
  • Union Government has signed $200 million loan agreement with World Bank for National Nutrition Mission (POSHAN Abhiyaan) for 315 districts across all states and union territories.
    • The World Bank loan will be used for improving coverage and quality of ICDS nutrition services to pregnant and lactating women and children under 3 years of age.
    • It will be also used for project in improving skills and capacities of ICDS staff and community nutrition workers, instituting mechanisms of community mobilization and behaviour change communication, strengthening systems of citizen engagement and grievance redress.
    • It will be also used for establishing mobile technology based tools for improved monitoring and management of services for better outreach to beneficiaries during critical 1,000 day window for nutrition impact.
  • POSHAN Convergence Matrix looks at deploying a multi-pronged approach to mobilise the masses towards creating a nutritionally aware society. 
  • Community based events at anganwadi centres to engage the beneficiaries and their families towards nutritional awareness; sustained mass media, multimedia, outdoor campaigns; mobilisation of all frontline functionaries; SHGs and volunteers towards nutrition are the methods to be adopted. The aim is to generate a Jan Andolan towards Nutrition
  • Thus the POSHAN Abhiyan is to bring all of us together, put accountability and responsibilities on all stakeholders to help the country accomplish its desired potential in terms of its demographic dividend. 

However, certain fundamental issues need fixing for the programme to be successfully implemented:-

  • Anganwadi centres :-
    • Anganwadi centres(AWC) lack basic amenities and face infrastructure problems. Around 24% of them lacked their own building and operated from small rented premises. The cumulative effect was that children were forced into cramped, poorly lit and unhygienic spaces, often in searing heat.
    • Administrative duties like organizing functions, and conducting exams and surveys distracted them from their core health and nutrition responsibilities. Thus, overburdened with work, undervalued and underpaid, Anganwadi women have become demotivated and demoralized.
  • Despite improvements, there is still much left to do in terms of achieving universalization of coverage and advanced service delivery.
    • A 2015 evaluation carried out by NITI Aayog had found that over 24% of the AWCs surveyed maintained poor records
  • Technology constraints :-
    • Information and communications technology-enabled real time monitoring (ICT-RTM) has been rolled out in POSHAN Abhiyaan districts. The programme will be ineffective due to the limited capacities of AWCs to handle smartphones owing to their lack of technological literacy.
  • Technical issues :-
    • This is compounded by technical issues like slow servers and data deletion problems, resulting in irregular and improper recording of growth data of children.
  • Financial constraints:-
    • Despite their indispensability, nearly 40% of Anganwadi women had to use their personal money to run the AWCs, 35% of them complained of delayed payments .

o    Many schemes in India, including those tackling malnutrition, fails because states do not utilise funds allocated for the scheme. Although the states under will be provided with funds and technology for the new nutrition scheme, the effective use of these funds cannot be guaranteed.

·         Possible problems with implementation

o    The scheme provides hope that the problems arising due to malnutrition could be curbed in the next three years. However, this will only occur with effective implementation of the schemes that are aimed at tackling the problem.

·         Issues with monitoring:-

o    The recent scheme merely establishes a real-time monitoring system for the schemes that are currently in place. A large number of these schemes have been in existence for over a decade, and yet have failed to reduce malnutrition in India significantly.

o     A monitoring system would indeed help in the better implementation of these schemes on the grass-root level. However, it will not solve the pre-existing problems in those schemes which make them ineffective.

·         The scheme however is most likely to suffer from the same implementation defects as the previous schemes. The government has however, set very ambitious goals to be achieved, which are unlikely to be met in merely three years.

Way forward:-

  • Strategy of actively involving panchayatleaders in construction of AWCs and improvement in the quality of village health sanitation and nutrition, will make POSHAN Abhiyaan more effective
  • Further, if the government vests more powers in the district administration to fill vacant posts in AWCs, it would be a significant step towards overcoming the problem of shortage of staff. This is especially so at the supervisory level.
  • Comprehensive periodical and refresher training of AWWs, especially when it comes to usage of tablets for monitoring growth among malnourished children and high risk pregnant mothers, is crucial.
  • Further, supply of iron/folic acid tablets, allotment of ‘take-home rations’ and supplementary nutrition needs to be regular.
  • Supply side investments need to be complemented with the enhancement of the traditionally weak demand for health and nutrition services.
  • Package of basic measures like including programmes to encourage mothers to exclusively breastfeed their children for up to six months, fortifying basic foods with essential minerals and vitamins, and increased cash transfers with payments targeted at the poorest families can turn the tide.
  • Universal access to infant and young childcare, including ICDS and crèches, provisions to provide biannual critical nutrient supplements and programmes aimed at deworming children need to be implemented effectively.

General Studies – 3


Topic– Indian Economy : Issues

3) Critically analyze the correlation between a jump in doing business ranking and improvement in business conditions and investment for India?(250 words)

Indian express

Why this question

The article discusses the correlation between parameters of doing business ranking and actual changes on ground. In light of recent improvement in India’s ranking on doing business rankings is a matter of price and its reasons and impacts be discussed in detail.

Key demand of the question

The question expects us to explain the factors responsible for improvement in India’s rankings in brief and whether such improvements have positively altered business of all hues. We need to bring out both aspects – advantages of focussing on rankings, and whether we are compromising with other reforms which should have been focussed on.

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 – Highlight the brilliant improvement seen in India’s EODB rankings.

Body

  • Discuss the improvements that led to improvement in EODB in India. Discuss the steps that have been taken to improve ranking in specific areas
  • Examine whether the jump in the ratings is aligned with the experiences of people conversant with the business climate.
  • Give pros and cons of the ranking metric such as that it represents the sample space in cities, and that the metric is easy to game. Highlight that it does lead to improvement in business sentiments.

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

Background:-

  • World Bank’s Doing Business Report is an assessment of business regulation across 190 economies.
  • The jump in the ranking, from 100 to 77, is correlated with an improvement in the ratings, a jump of 6.6 per cent over last year.
  • Of the 10 categories that together make up the aggregate index, eight saw some improvement over the last year, and two were the same. 

Ease of doing business index:-

  • Ease of doing business is an index published by the World Bank. It is an aggregate figure that includes different parameters which define the ease of doing business in a country. 

Improvement in business conditions:-

  • There has been a significant improvement in the paperwork associated with business in many areas of the government.
  • Permissions and form submissions of various types have become much easier for those who keep good records. This is true both at the states and the Centre, and the improvement is therefore understandable.
  • Improvement on quite a few parameters has pushed up its overall ranking.
    • India registered improvement in areas like starting a business, dealing with construction permits, getting electricity, getting credit, paying taxes, and trading across borders.
    • The jump in overall ranking was driven by the “dealing with construction permits” (from 181 to 52) and “trading across borders” (from 146 to 80) parameters.
  • Government efforts:-
    • The government targeted efforts to address shortcomings for instance, the National Trade Facilitation Action Plan (NTFAP) 2017-2020 for increasing the efficiency of cross-border trade worked.
      • Launched last year, it is putting in place the architecture for decreasing border and documentary compliance time, permitting exporters to electronically seal their containers at their own facilities, and reducing physical inspections to up to only 5% of all shipments.
    • Likewise, the implementation of the single-window clearance system for construction permits in Delhi and the online building permit approval system in Mumbai are important.
  • The goods and services tax (GST):-
    • There has been an improvement in India’s paying taxes score
  • Letting exporters seal their containers electronically at their own facilities, limiting physical inspections to 5% of shipments helped in trade facilitation.

Issues:-

  • Ease of doing business survey does indicate that little has changed over the last year in some areas where India historically performs poorly like enforcement of contracts, paying taxes, and registering property stand out
    • Each of these are multi-sectoral issues where improvements would require coordinated efforts across multiple layers of the government and, therefore, legal and procedural changes would be more complex. 
  • Jump in the ratings is not aligned with the experiences of people conversant with the business climate.
    • For instance Construction, as a business, is typically not very easy to do and requires a multitude of submissions, permissions and even side payments.
  • Issues are not captured :-
    • They do not capture the out-of-the process issues related to the daily running of a business, the various investigations conducted by the revenue department or company law matters or labour-related issues or the various demands of the inspectors of quality and processes.
    • Input costs, demand factors and infrastructure issues are another class of factors that ease of doing business does not intend to capture.
    • The reality of business in India requires the entrepreneur to focus on a whole range of aspects not covered adequately in such ratings.
      • For instance, businesses have a problem of employability, poor skills, corruption, and controls on internal trade, avenues for accessing capital for small and micro-businesses being some examples.
      • Some of these issues are very India-specific and global comparability ratings will rarely capture them in the depth required.
    • Political influence:-
      • Recently world Bank’s chief economist raised concerns that the rankings could have been influenced by politics.
    • Methodology issues:-
      • It limits its sample size to just a few major cities, thus projecting an imperfect picture of overall business conditions.
      • In the real India, it still takes 156 days to get a building plan sanctioned, and 1,445 days in court to get a judicial verdict on a civil dispute.
      • Does not directly measure more general conditions such as a nation’s proximity to large markets, quality of infrastructure, inflation, or crime.
      • Methodological weaknesses, an uncertainty in the ability of the indicators to capture the underlying business climate, and a general worry that many countries may find it easier to change their ranking in Doing Business than to change the underlying business environment.
    • Experts wondered if governments may be gaming the rankings by tailoring their policies to specifically fit the World Bank’s criteria instead of trying to enact wider structural reforms.
    • Questions were raised whether the bank is right to measure a country’s business environment based on written legal rules rather than investigating the actual ground conditions in which businesses operate.
    • Businesses:-
      • Many businesses, for example, may be able to bribe their way out of bad rules. There was significant variation between World Bank’s surveys and actual business conditions.
      • Ease of running a business is just as difficult as before with archaic labour laws, increasingly militant trade unions, undisciplined and low productivity labour, besides the regular rent collecting proclivities of government agencies. There is little sign that this is improving.
    • Insolvency:-
      • The sluggish rate of resolution of cases that have come under the IBC is becoming a major roadblock.
    • GST:-
      • Glitches in GST filing may have led to a rise in the number of hours taken in a year to file taxes.
      • Delays in GST refunds have constrained working capital for exporters. The Federation of Indian Export Organisations has stated that the process of input tax credit refund being partly electronic and partly manual has been the main impediment here.

Way forward:-

  • Coordination across all departments and between the Centre, the States and local level to get the implementation right and fast.
  • It is imperative to create awareness of the reforms introduced so that the enterprises can benefit from it.
  • Regular feedback on reforms undertaken, and ensure the reforms are implemented at the ground level.

Topic– Inclusive growth and issues arising from it.

4) SDGs are often criticized for being wishful and unattainable. Evaluate whether India’s experience with SDGs validate the above criticism?(250 words)

Financial express

Why this question

The article discusses the priorities that require improvement of we wish to fulfill the SDGs and examines India’s progress in achieving the goals. The topic can be prepared for it can serve as a filler material for several questions of paper 2 and 3.

Key demand of the question

The question expects us to bring out the criticism of SDGs. Having done that we need to evaluate the validity of those criticisms based on the results seen in India. Discuss whether even partial fulfillment of targets would help in addressing several pertinent issues. Discuss what must be fine to accelerate the fulfilment of targets under SDGs

Directive word

Evaluate – When you are asked to evaluate, you have to pass a sound judgement about the truth of the given statement in the question or the topic based on evidences.  You have to appraise the worth of the statement in question. There is scope for forming a personal opinion here.

Structure of the answer

Introduction – Explain what SDGs are and the targets under SDG

Body – analyze the criticism of SDGs that they are wishful and unattainable because they have set impossible targets which are difficult to fulfill by 2030. Bring out that it does impact the policy priorities of the government as seen in India. Evaluate India’s progress and the nature of steps taken in India to show that it leads to improvements in several issues related to poverty and hunger etc.

Conclusion – Support the idea of SDG by emphasizing on the paradigm shift that it has brought in and discuss the way forward.

Background:-

  • Three years into the breakthrough the UN achieved in 2015 by adopting 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), scientists have begun to find meaning and correlation of these goals with the 7 billion habitats of the planet. In all, 193 governments are committed to SDGs. 

Why are SDG criticised as only wishful:-

  • It is difficult to comprehend that, in just 12 years, poverty and hunger will be wiped out from the earth. It is equally wishful to think that there will be clean water and green energy available to all by 2030, the target year.
  • It is daunting to expect education, health, equality and decent employment opportunities will be accessible to the entire world.
  • The SDGs aim to continue the economic, social and environmental vision the MDGs first set out to achieve but the proposed SDGs number 17 in total with 169 targets and an estimated 300 or so indicators.
  • With more goals and more complexity the SDGs will be easier to ignore. The MDGs had a very simple, concise and easy to communicate message.
  • SDGs, in their current state, fail to provide guidance to countries on how to prioritise or implement the targets, despite past evidence that countries may require help with this.
  • Many of the current targets also come across as political statements that would be difficult to convert to measurable targets.
  • Indeed the degree to which the SDGs have considered strategic implementation is unclear. 

However experience brushes aside the above criticism:-

  • SDGs are more ambitious than their predecessors but they tackle issues such as poverty from several angles, urbanisation, infrastructure, climate change, for example. Poverty is the result of social and political structures that favour inequality, poor governance and transparency, thus we need more goals to tackle each aspect.

India’s experience with SDG:-

  • SDG’s as part of Indian policy:-
    • India set up a high-level steering committee by the Union Cabinet to review India’s performance in SDG implementation confirms the resolve. 
    • Reflecting the country’s commitment to the SDG agenda at the highest levels of Government, the Indian Parliament organized several forums including the South Asian Speakers Summit in February 2017. These forums have focused on the elimination of poverty, gender equality, climate change and resource mobilization for SDGs.
    • Additionally, the Speaker’s Research Initiative has been launched for providing SDG-related insights to Members of Parliament.
    • Special efforts have been made to invigorate the federal governance structure of the country through cooperative and competitive federalism. State Governments are playing a prominent role in advancing the national development agenda.
    • The responsibility for overseeing SDG implementation has been assigned to the National Institution for Transforming India (NITI Aayog), which is the premier policy think tank of the Government and is chaired by the Prime Minister of India. NITI Aayog has mapped the goals and targets to various nodal ministries as well as flagship programmes.
    • State Governments are also engaged in developing roadmaps for achieving the SDGs with several of them having already published their plans.
    • Draft indicators for tracking the SDGs have been developed and placed in the public domain by the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation for wider consultation.
  • Financial inclusion:-
    • India can rightfully claim credit for unleashing of financial mainstreaming, direct transfer of benefits and mobile telecom through Jan-Dhan, Aadhaar and Mobile (JAM).
    • By leveraging PMJDY, Aadhaar (biometric identity system) and mobile telephony, the Government has disbursed a cumulative amount of INR 1.62 trillion (USD 25 billion) to 329 million beneficiaries through Direct Benefit Transfers.This has helped to significantly enhance the efficiency of Government programmes.
  • Energy:-
    • The Global Trends in Renewable Energy Investment report of 2018 lauds India’s record in investment. The big three (India, China, Brazil) account for over 45% of global finance.
  • Education:-
    • India has also made significant strides in universalisation of primary education. Efforts are under way to improve learning, retention, skilling and providing decent employment opportunities.
    • India’s primary concern remains around women, their safety, employment, respect and equality.
  • Climate change:-
    • India’s bold Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC), communicated to the Conference of the Parties (COP) of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, form a significant part of its SDG strategy. These include substantially reducing the emission intensity of GDP, tapping non-fossil fuel energy sources and creating additional carbon sink.
  • Poverty:-
    • The Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA), the Pradhan Mantri Jeevan Jyoti Bima Yojana and Pradhan Mantri Suraksha Bima Yojana, initiatives like the Atal Pension Yojana and the National Social Assistance Programme help in reducing poverty
    • For fulfilling the cooking fuel requirements of the population in an environmentally friendly manner, the Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana, launched in 2016
  • GOAL 2: END HUNGER, ACHIEVE FOOD SECURITY AND IMPROVED NUTRITION AND PROMOTE SUSTAINABLE AGRICULTURE
    • Programmes under the National Food Security Act cover more than 800 million people in the country. Other initiatives that contribute to this goal are the ICDS and the Mid-Day Meal Programme.
    • Moreover, a comprehensive plan is being implemented for doubling farmers’ income by 2022. This includes expediting tenancy reforms, promoting crop diversification and expanding micro-irrigation (1.3 million ha covered during the last two years).
    • Another area in which considerable progress has been made is digitization of agricultural marketing. The electronic National Agricultural Marketing platform now covers 250 Mandis (agricultural markets) across the country.
    • A revamped crop insurance programme, the Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana, has also been launched.
  • GOAL 3: ENSURE HEALTHY LIVES AND PROMOTE WELLBEING FOR ALL AT ALL AGES
    • The National Health Policy, 2017, specifies targets for universalizing primary health care, reducing infant and under-5 mortality, preventing premature deaths due to non-communicable diseases as well as increasing Government expenditure on health.
  • GOAL 5: ACHIEVE GENDER EQUALITY AND EMPOWER ALL WOMEN AND GIRLS
    • Several important initiatives have been taken during the last few years for promoting gender equality. A flagship initiative is Beti Bachao Beti Padao
    • Additionally, a Maternity Benefit Programme has been launched for all pregnant and lactating mothers.
    • For raising the levels of female labour force participation, a number of initiatives are being implemented including Stand-up India and MGNREGA.
  • GOAL 9: BUILD RESILIENT INFRASTRUCTURE, PROMOTE INCLUSIVE AND SUSTAINABLE INDUSTRIALIZATION AND FOSTER INNOVATION
    • All forms of transportation roads, railways, civil aviation and waterways  are being rapidly expanded.
    • Another priority area is manufacturing. The new Manufacturing Policy raises the output target from 16% of GDP to 25% by 2025.
    • India is developing into a high-tech and global manufacturing hub because of the emphasis on ‘Make in India’ and a substantial increase in FDI inflows.
    • The Government has also introduced a number of policy measures for boosting employment-intensive manufacturing segments. For instance, the recently introduced Pradhan Mantri MUDRA Yojana
    • For promoting entrepreneurship and enhancing economic growth, the Government has launched the Start-up India programme
  • GOAL 14: CONSERVE AND SUSTAINABLY USE THE OCEANS, SEAS AND MARINE RESOURCEs
    • Significant progress has been made with respect to preservation and management of the marine ecosystem. For instance, the Coastal Ocean Monitoring and Prediction System tracks the levels of marine pollution along the coastline.
    • Further, the Sagarmala programme is focused on improving port connectivity, port-linked industrialization and coastal community development. Under this initiative, support is also provided for the development of deep sea fishing vessels and fish processing centres.
  • GOAL 17: REVITALIZE THE GLOBAL PARTNERSHIP FOR SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT:-
    • For increasing the domestic mobilization of resources, a path-breaking tax reform agenda is being finalized. This includes direct tax reforms as well as the GST, a uniform and simplified form of indirect taxation. An innovative tax like the Swachh Bharat Cess (Clean India Cess) has also been levied for mobilizing resources for the Clean India Campaign.
    • Further, consistent policies have opened up the economy to FDI.

Issues that need to be dealt with by India:-

  • India still leads in malnutrition, hunger, stunting etc
  • Out of pocket expenditure is still very high
  • Quality of education and education system in general is criticised
  • Gender equality is still a dream especially when patriarchal mindset dominates the society .
  • India consists of cities which are some of the most highly polluted
  • Formal sector in India employs very few and majority are in unorganised sector with no protection.

Topic – Awareness in the fields of IT, Space, Computers, robotics, nano-technology, bio-technology and issues relating to intellectual property rights.

5) Discuss how biotechnology can solve the problems faced by India today.(250 words)

pib

Why this question

Biotechnology has made huge progress and along with nanotechnology and artificial intelligence, it is going to play a huge role in the future. In this context it is important to discuss how it can help solving the problems faced by India today.

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 uses of biotechnology in terms of solving the health, environmental and other problems faced by today’s India.

Structure of the answer

Introduction– write a few introductory lines about the  progress witnessed in the biotechnology sector.

Body-

Discuss in points/ paragraphs, the scope and use of biotechnology in solving the problems faced by India. E.g

Discuss how biotechnology can be used to solve the problems related to;

  • Environment
  • Health and Lifestyle diseases
  • Infectious diseases
  • Health of the old people
  • Food production and agriculture etc

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

Background:-

  • Biotechnology will help developing countries accomplish things that they could never do.

Biotechnology can solve India’s problem :-

  • Environment:-
    • Biotechnology can be used to tackle environmental issues like deforestation and air pollution 
    • Biotechnology can help in finding out the level of Particulate Matter 2.5 in the air,
    • The benefit of environmental biotechnology helps us to avoid the use of hazardous pollutants and wastes that affect the natural resources and the environment.
  • 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.
  • Applications of Biotechnology in Medicine
    • Biotechnology techniques are used in medicine for diagnosis and treating different diseases. It gives opportunities for the people to protect themselves from dangerous diseases.
    • The field of Biotechnology, genetic engineering has introduced techniques like gene therapy, recombinant DNA technology and polymerase chain reaction which use genes and DNA molecules to diagnose diseases and insert new and healthy genes in the body which replace the damaged cells
    • Genetic modification in mosquitoes can solve the problems of epidemic diseases such as dengue and malaria
  • Applications of Biotechnology in Agriculture
    • Biotechnology has played major role in agriculture by altering genes, studying and cloning various crops in order to provide better quality products of foods ultimately improving our lives.
    • 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
  • Application of Biotechnology in Food Processing
    • Biotechnology has a major application in the food sector.
    • It helps in improving the edibility, texture, and storage of the food; in preventing the attack of the food, mainly dairy, by the virus like bacteriophage
    • It produces antimicrobial effect to destroy the unwanted microorganisms in food that cause toxicity
    • It prevents the formation of mycotoxins and degradation of other toxins and anti-nutritional elements present naturally in food.

Topic–  Food processing and related industries in India- scope and significance, location, upstream and downstream requirements, supply chain management.

6) Discuss the steps taken by the Indian government to attract domestic and foreign investment in food processing industry in India.(250 words)

pib

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 initiatives and steps taken by the Indian government in order to attract investment in food processing sector of India.

Structure of the answer

Introduction- write a few introductory lines about the  importance of food processing industry in value addition and in improving the income of Indian farmers etc.

Body-

Discuss in points/ paragraphs about the recent initiatives taken by the government to attract investment in food processing industry in India. E.g

  • Discuss about the investors portal, Nivesh Bandhu.
  • Discuss about Pradhan Mantri Kisan SAMPADA Yojana.
  • Food and agro-based processing unit and cold chain infrastructure have been classified under agriculture activities for Priority Sector Lending.
  • Service Tax on pre-conditioning, pre-coding, ripening, waxing, retail packaging and labelling of fruits and vegetables exempted in cold chain projects etc.

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

Background:-

  • With a population of more than one billion individuals and food constituting a major part of the consumer’s budget, food processing sector has a prominence next to no other businesses in the country.
  • India is showcased as the preferred investment destination in Food Processing sector at WFI 2017 and it attracts investment intent of about USD 13.56 billion from Domestic and foreign investors.

Steps taken by India:-

  1. Kisan Sampada Yojana:
  • Government of India has approved a new Central Sector Scheme for the period upto 2019-20 to be implemented by Ministry of Food Processing Industries (MoFPI). 
  • Kisan Sampada Yojana is an umbrella scheme with the following components:
    • Mega Food Parks
    • Integrated Cold Chain and Value Addition Infrastructure
    • Creation / Expansion of Food Processing& Preservation Capacities
    • Infrastructure for Agro-processing Clusters
    • Creation of Backward and Forward Linkages:
      • The objective of the scheme is to provide effective and seamless backward and forward integration for processed food industry by plugging the gaps in supply chain in terms of availability of raw material and linkages with the market.
      • The scheme will enable linking of farmers to processors and the market thereby ensuring remunerative prices for their produce.
    • Food Safety and Quality Assurance Infrastructure
    • Human Resources and Institutions
  • PM Kisan Sampada Yojana is a comprehensive package which will result in creation of modern infrastructure with efficient supply chain management from farm gate to retail outlet.
  • It will not only provide a big boost to the growth of food processing sector in the country but also help in providing better process to farmers and is a big step towards doubling of farmers income, creating huge employment opportunities especially in the rural areas, reducing wastage of agricultural produce, increasing the processing level and enhancing the export of the processed foods.
  1. Mega Food Parks
  • Launched by the Ministry of Food Processing Industries was developed under the 11th Five Year Plan and was implemented in 2008 by the then UPA government.
  • Aim:
    • The Scheme of Mega Food Park aims at providing a mechanism to link agricultural production to the market by bringing together farmers, processors and retailers so as to ensure maximizing value addition, minimizing wastage, increasing farmers’ income and creating employment opportunities particularly in rural sector.
  • The Mega Food Park Scheme is based on “Cluster” approach and envisages creation of state of art support infrastructure in a well-defined agri/ horticultural zone for setting up of modern food processing units along with well-established supply chain.
  • Problems with Indian food parks :-
    • Promoters have faced difficulties in selling the new concept to banks and, as a result, have failed to secure loans to build the parks.
    • Acquiring the 50 acres of land, which is mandatory under MFPS, has been another challenge that most developers have failed to address.
    • Convincing small enterprises to set up shop at these facilities has not been easy.
    • The overall economic slowdown, globally, and in India, did not help either

3.Cold chain:

  • The objective of the Scheme of Cold Chain, Value Addition and Preservation Infrastructure is to provide integrated cold chain and preservation infrastructure facilities, without any break, from the farm gate to the consumer end to end, to reduce losses through efficient storage, transportation and minimal processing.
  • It covers pre-cooling facilities at production sites, reefer vans, mobile cooling units as well as value addition centres which include infrastructural facilities like Processing/ Multi-line Processing/ Collection Centres, etc. for horticulture, organic produce, marine, dairy, meat and poultry etc.

4.Scheme for Creation/Expansion of Food Processing/Preservation Capacities

  • The main objective of the Scheme is creation of processing and preservation capacities and modernisation/ expansion of existing food processing units with a view to increasing the level of processing, value addition leading to reduction of wastage.

5.Agro Processing Cluster:-

  • The scheme aims at development of modern infrastructure and common facilities to encourage group of entrepreneurs to set up food processing units based on cluster approach.

6.Scheme for Creation of Backward and Forward Linkages

  • The objective of the scheme is to provide effective and seamless backward and forward integration for processed food industry by plugging the gaps in supply chain in terms of availability of raw material and linkages with the market.
  • Under the scheme, financial assistance is provided for setting up of primary processing centres/ collection centres at farm gate and modern retail outlets at the front end along with connectivity through insulated/ refrigerated transport.
  • The Scheme is applicable to perishable horticulture and non-horticulture produce such as, fruits, vegetables, dairy products, meat, poultry, fish, Ready to Cook Food Products, Honey, Coconut, Spices, Mushroom, Retails Shops for Perishable Food Products etc.
  • The Scheme would enable linking of farmers to processors and the market for ensuring remunerative prices for agri produce.
  1. Food and agro-based processing units and cold chain infrastructure have been classified under agriculture activities for Priority Sector Lending (PSL) as per the revised RBI Guidelines

8.Ministry of Food Processing Industries has entered into agreements/Memorandum of Understating (MoUs) with France and Italy for bilateral co-operation in the field of Food Processing Sector.

  • Salient features of these agreements/MoUs are (i) to attract investment for infrastructure development of food processing sector, (ii) developing institutional co-operation, and (iii) participation in food fairs, conferences workshops, etc

9.National mission on food processing:

  • Ministry of Food Processing Industries (MoFPI) launched a Centrally Sponsored Scheme National Mission on Food Processing (NMFP) to be implemented through State / UT Governments during 12th Five Year Plan (2012-17).
  • The scheme aimed at decentralization of implementation of the schemes, leading to substantial participation of State Governments/UTs. The State / UT Governments were given flexibility in implementing the schemes included in the NMFP based on the needs of local area.   
  • The NMFP was to augment the capacity of the food processing by adoption of new technologies and improving the quality of food products as per the National / International standards. Mission also aimed to reduce wastage of agricultural produce, infuse new technologies, upgrade human resource capacities to provide impetus to the development of food processing sector in the country.   

 

10..Modernization of Abattoirs (slaughterhouse)

  • This is a comprehensive scheme, which includes establishment of modern abattoirsand modernization of existing abattoirs.
  • Modernization of abattoirs will also include upscaling of infrastructure of existing abattoirs.
  • The scheme is implemented with the involvement of local bodies and has flexibility for involvement of private investors on PPP basis.

11.Agri Export Zones

  • To give thrust to export of agro products, new concept of Agri Export Zones was brought in 2001. APEDA has been nominated as the Nodal Agencyto coordinate the efforts on the part of Central Government negotiations.

12.FOREIGN DIRECT INVESTMENT (FDI) IN FOOD PROCESSING SECTOR:

  • 100% FDI is permitted under the automatic route in food processing industries.
  • 100% FDI is allowed through approval route for trading, including through e-commerce in respect of food products manufactured and/or produced in India.

13.“MAKE IN INDIA” Programme

  • Food processing sector has been identified as one of the priority sector under “MAKE IN INDIA”
  • In the context of “MAKE IN INDIA” campaign, the Ministry has been disseminating information to potential investors to attract investment to the sector through a dedicated “Investors Portal” in which a range of information like resource base, availability of land, state specific policies, fiscal incentives are shared with the potential investors.

14.The government has taken several other steps to promote food processing sector in the country. A Special Fund of Rs. 2000 Crore has been setup in NABARD to make available affordable credit to designated food parks and agro-processing units in such designated food parks

  1. Investors Portal ‘Nivesh Bandhu’ Launched:-
  • The unique portal is aimed at bringing together information on Central and State government policies and incentives provided for the food-processing sector. 
  1. To aid MoFPI’s objectives, FSSAI simplified product approval:
  • Approved a large number of new Additives harmonized with the International Codex Standards
  • Notified an amendment to the regulations as a result of which non-standardized food products called proprietary foods (except novel food and nutraceuticals) that use ingredients and additives approved in the regulations will no longer require product approval. This has provided considerable relief to the industry.

Despite these initiatives food processing industry still faces with the following issues:-

  • Supply chain issues:
    • high cost of raw material (driven by low productivity and poor agronomic practices)
    • Presence of intermediaries and APMC acts make it more complicated.
    • high cost of packaging, finance, transport and distribution
    • lack of organized retail
  • Logistics cost:
    • Logistics cost is high for transportation, warehousing, material handling etc.
    • In India, Logistics accounts for about 13% of GDP, which translates to over USD130 billion.
    • This cost is significantly higher as compared most developed countries.
  • Economic issues:
    • In India, the food processing industry is highly fragmented and is dominated by the unorganized sector
    • Inadequate infrastructure:
      • The inadequate support infrastructure which is the biggest bottleneck in expanding the food processing sector, in terms of both investment and exports includes:
        • long and fragmented supply chain
        • inadequate cold storage and warehousing facilities
        • Inadequate road, rail and port infrastructure.
        • lack of modern logistics infrastructure such as logistics parks, integrated cold chain solutions, last mile connectivity,
      • Political issues:
        • Absence of Comprehensive national level policy on food processing sector: The food processing sector is governed by statutes rather than a single comprehensive policy on food processing. India urgently needs a national food processing policy which incorporates tax breaks for the sector.

Way forward :-

  • The right post harvest practices such as good processing techniques, and proper packaging, transportation and storage can play a significant role in reducing spoilage and extending shelf life.
  • The challenges for the food preservation, distribution and processing sectors are diverse and demanding, and need to be addressed on several fronts to derive maximum market benefits. Presently, the organizations addressing the educational and R & D requirements are too few and there is a pressing need for supplementing their efforts.
  • In the emerging scenario, the Food Engineering professional needs to develop sufficient awareness and appreciation of the relevant principles of life sciences, and physical sciences, as well as of a wide variety of other topics including: nutrition, preservation and storage techniques, processing unit operations, bio-processing, waste management, distribution and supply chain management, food laws and regulations and so on.

Topic– Part of static series under the heading – “land reforms in india”

7) Discuss the of land reforms carried out in India since independence? Do you think digitisation of land record is the most crucial land reform that can be undertaken in the present age?(250 words)

 

Key demand of the question

The question expects us to explain in brief the diverse nature of land reforms undertaken in our country. Your answer should cover the aims they were trying to achieve, the result, the impact etc. Thereafter, move on to establishing the need for a digitisation drive for land records, and ways we can go about it.Directive word

Discuss – The various land reform initiatives undertaken by the government since independence has to be explained in brief – the aims they were trying to achieve, the result, the impact etc.

Structure of the answer

Introduction – Mention the overall need for land reforms in a country like India. Discuss whether the issue of land reform is still relevant, so many years after independence.

Body – Explain the various land reform measure undertaken by government since independence in brief. Emphasize that digitisation of land reforms despite multiple efforts by government through programmes like DILRMP 2008 etc have been, but breakthrough has been elusive. Explain why digitisation of land record is required. Mention the steps taken by government like Andhra Pradesh towards this end, as well as the opportunity provided by blockchain technology.

Conclusion – Examine whether digitisation of land record would help in resolving the issues related to land reforms and suggest way forward.

 

Background:-

  • Nearly two-thirds of all pending cases in Indian courts are related to property disputes. NITI Aayog has said that such property cases take an average of 20 years to settle. The result is that millions of Indians cannot use their principal asset as collateral to borrow from the formal financial system. Hence the need for land reforms in India. The government has now pushed the year of completion to 2021.

Land reforms in India :-

  • The process of land reform after independence basically occurred in two broad phases.
    • The first phase also called the phase of institutional reforms started soon after independence and continued till the early 1960s focussed on the following features:
      • Abolition of intermediaries like zamindars, jagirdars, etc.
      • Tenancy reforms involving providing security of tenure to the tenants, decrease in rents and conferment of ownership rights to tenants
      • Ceilings on size of landholdings
      • Cooperativization and community development programmes.
    • The second phase beginning around the mid- or late 1960s saw the gradual ushering in of the so-called Green Revolution and has been seen as the phase of technological reforms.
    • Failure:-
      • The absence of adequate land records made implementation of these acts difficult.
      • Personal cultivation:
        • ‘Personal cultivation’ was very loosely defined which led to not only those who tilled the soil, but also those who supervised the land personally or did so through a relative, or provided capital and credit to the land, to call themselves a cultivator.
      • The provisions introduced to protect the small landowners were misused by the larger landlords with the active connivance of the revenue officials.
      • The long delay and the nature of the legislation, ensured that the ceilings would have a very muted impact as by the time the ceiling legislations were in place, there were barely any holdings left above the ceiling .

Earlier instances of digitisation of land records:

  • Making land records available to all, to contain/check property frauds, became one of the objectives of the government of India in the late 1980s.
  • To address the same, the Digital India Land Records Modernisation Programme (DILRMP) was launched by the government of India in August 2008.
    • The main aim of the programme, was to computerise all land records, including mutations, improve transparency in the land record maintenance system, digitise maps and surveys, update all settlement records and minimise the scope of land disputes.
  • Digitisation would provide clear titles of land ownership that could be monitored easily by government officials, to facilitate quicker transactions. This will also reduce construction timelines and the overall cost for the developer, the benefits of which can be transferred to the consumer, making property prices more attractive.

However the reforms failed :-

  • Insufficient data:-
    • Although the government wants complete digitisation of land records, due to the lack of clear and sufficient data and mismanagement between the various agencies handling land records, the data registered at various government levels is not identical.
  • Statistics from the DILRMP show that in most states, the digital land record database has not been synced with the digitised land registration database.
  • Experience from states:-
    • Progress over the past decade has been uneven, with some states, such as Madhya Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Chhattisgarh, Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra, doing better than the others. However, there are challenges, even in advanced states such as Maharashtra.
  • New digitized land records do a good job in reflecting ownership of land, but less so when it comes to recording encumbrances and area of land parcels.

Reasons why digitisation of land records is a priority now:-

  • States are already focusing on these :-
    • Bhoomi Project in Karnataka led the way even before the Union government got into the act. The relevant document i.e.., the record of rights, tenancy and crops has been made available through kiosks. The need to pay bribes to get access to this basic information in government offices has been done away with.
    • The Rajasthan legislature passed the Rajasthan Urban Land (Certification of Titles) Act. This law ensures that the state government is a guarantor for land titles in Rajasthan, and will provide compensation in case of issues of defective title. The guarantee is based on certification provided by the Urban Land Title Certification Authority, which will verify ownership of any property for a fee.
    • Andhra Pradesh :-
      • Its state government has tied up with a Swedish firm to use new blockchain technology to prevent property fraud. As in all other trades, blockchain will allow participants in a distributed ledger to check the ownership of a land parcel. 
    • Advantages of having land records digitized:-
      • Clear land titles will ease a lot of constraints from making it easier for the poor to borrow from the formal financial sector to easing commercial land acquisition for infrastructure projects instead of the misuse of eminent domain.
      • Complicated structures will become simplified:-
        • In the past, most of the land records in the country were through village maps, marking boundaries and/or paper records, which included the names of the occupants. Moreover, various types of information like property maps and sale deeds, are maintained by different departments at the village level. These departments work alone and their personnel lack training on digital access.
      • Due to the lack of maintenance of streamlined land records, there have been litigations, scams and property disputes over land ownership. A digital department, hence, has to be set up, for better maintenance of land records. 
      • Digitisation of land records, will lead to transparency and reduce the time taken to procure
      • Benefits to real estate :-
        • Registered property title documents should be provided by the government, as evidence of ownership. This will also encourage faster transactions and completion of projects in the real estate industry.
        • Development of infrastructure to support national growth, will also require litigation-free land for commercial and residential use.
        • Unclear land titles, accompanying costs due to title disputes and litigation and lack of transparency in real estate transactions, make the real estate market seem sluggish, while clear land titles will help in accelerating the pace of new projects.
        • Greater ease of doing business in the sector, by making it simpler for the developers and buyers to check the authenticity of the land or the property.
      • Resolution of land disputes have to be solved, then, digitisation of land records, vis-à-vis site plans, location, ownership details, khata details, property tax and other cesses payable on the property, is very important.
      • Digitisation of land and property records, will also directly boost the government’s Digital India mission.
      • A complete computerised compilation of land data, starting from the original owner to the present status of land, including an image of the property and the landowner for identification purposes, will reveal the total area of land owned by a person.
      • A fresh survey of every parcel of land at regular intervals, should be undertaken, to update the records. This will also help, in avoiding confusion between government land and private land. Transparency through digitisation, will make it difficult for the general public to evade property tax.
      • Digitisation can speed up the process of land acquisition, thereby, making it easier for the government to work on its Smart Cities mission or plan industrialisation.
      • For home buyers, digitisation will offer the correct details of the owner of a particular property. The buyer can also check if the land is under litigation. If a buyer wants to buy a property from a developer, he or she can check if the building has adhered to all the regulations.
      • Similarly, digitisation will help the buyer to check for transparent market-based pricing, before buying a plot of land.

General Studies – 4


Topic– Human Values – lessons from the lives and teachings of great leaders, reformers and administrators

8)Discuss the ethical principles of Buddhism as articulated by Gautam Buddha.(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 principles of Buddhism.

Structure of the answer

Introduction– write a few introductory lines about the  Buddhism and Gautam Buddha.

Body

Discuss in detail about the ethical principles of Buddhism. E.g

  • Discuss the Five Precepts (or virtues) and three of the eight points on the Noble Eightfold path to enlightenment- abstinence from: (1) harming living beings, (2) taking things not freely given, (3) sexual misconduct, (4) false speech, and (5) intoxicating drinks and drugs causing heedlessness. Discuss the middle 3 virtues of the noble eight fold path.
  • Mention that these imperatives are not to be construed as commandments as in the Judeo-Christian tradition, but more as guidelines for attaining enlightenment. Enlightenment, or Nirvana in Sanskrit, is a state of mind or being in which one simultaneously realizes one’s true identity (which is infinite and eternal), the illusory nature of the world, and perfect bliss and equanimity.

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

Background:-

  • Buddhist tradition acknowledges that life is complex and throws up many difficulties, and it does not suggest that there is a single course of action that will be right in all circumstances. Indeed, rather than speaking of actions being right or wrong,
  • Buddhism speaks of the being skilful (kusala) or unskilful (akusala). In Triratna, our faith in the Three Jewelsof Buddha, Dharma and Sangha finds everyday practical expression in our aspiration to live by ethical precepts, to the best of our ability.

Moral precepts/ethical principles  of Buddhism:-The Five Precepts

  • Not killing or causing harm to other living beings:-
    • This is the fundamental ethical principle for Buddhism, and all the other precepts are elaborations of this. The precept implies acting non-violently wherever possible, and many Buddhists are vegetarian for this reason. The positive counterpart of this precept is love.
  • Not taking the not-given:-
    • Stealing is an obvious way  in which one can harm others. One can also take advantage of people, exploit them, or manipulate them. All these can be seen as ways of taking the not given. The positive counterpart of this precept is generosity.
  • Avoiding sexual misconduct:
    • Over the centuries different Buddhist schools have interpreted this precept in many ways, but essentially it means not causing harm to oneself or others in the area of sexual activity.
    • It includes avoiding breaking commitments in the area of sexual relations, and avoiding encouraging others to do the same. The positive counterpart of this precept is contentment.
  • Avoiding false speech:-
    • Speech is the crucial element in our relations with others, and yet language is a slippery medium, and we often deceive ourselves or others without even realising that this is what we are doing.
    • Truthfulness, the positive counterpart of this precept, is therefore essential in an ethical life. But truthfulness is not enough, and in another list of precepts (the ten precepts or the ten kusaladharmas) no fewer than four speech precepts are mentioned, the others enjoining that our speech should be kindly, helpful, and harmonious.
  • Abstaining from drink and drugs that cloud the mind:-
    • The positive counterpart of this precept is mindfulness, or awareness. Mindfulness is a fundamental quality to be developed the Buddha’s path, and experience shows that taking intoxicating drink or drugs tends to run directly counter to this.

 

Buddhists hold that moral way of life, which is the Middle Way (majjihima magga), is the gateway to the highest and ultimate goal of all Buddhist aspiration (nibbdna).