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SECURE SYNOPSIS: 12 DECEMBER 2018


SECURE SYNOPSIS: 12 DECEMBER 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:  Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.

1) Instead of surveillance technologies there is a need to rescue TB patients by providing rights-based interventions. Analyze.(250 words) 

The hindu

Why this question

India has the highest burden of TB patients in the world despite the fact that TB is a completely curable disease. The disease inflicts heavy economic and  health costs on the poor patients. In this context it is important to analyze why there is a need for a rights based interventions to rescue TB patients.

Directive word

Analyze-here we  have to examine methodically the structure or nature of the topic by separating it into component parts, and present them as a whole in a summary.

Key demand of the question.

The question wants us to delve deep into the TB disease burden in India, bring out the inefficiencies of the surveillance based strategies in tackling the disease and discuss how a rights based approach would be the right approach in this direction.

Structure of the answer

Introduction– write a few introductory lines about the United Nations Declaration of September 2018 titled “United to End Tuberculosis: An Urgent Global Response to a Global Epidemic”, where heads of state and government have “reaffirmed their commitment to end the global TB epidemic by 2030”.

Body-

  1. Bring out the limitations of the surveillance based approaches and technologies in handling the disease. E.g There are also seemingly endless technological tweaks to the Directly Observed Treatment, short course (DOTS) strategy, which requires patients to report every day to a health authority, who watches them swallow their tablets. Now, governments use, or plan to soon use, a strategy of video, tablets, phones and drones to carry the old DOTS strategy into the technology era; This thinking envisions a TB response that is not with and for people who have TB but rather against suspects who must be targeted, tracked, traced and, above all, never trusted etc.
  2. Discuss the advantages/ need for a rights based approach in this direction. E.g Such an approach focuses on creating health systems that foster trust, partnership and dignity. This approach regards people with TB not as subjects to be controlled but as people to be partnered with. It assumes that people with TB have dignity, intelligence and empathy that motivate them to act in the best interests of themselves and their communities when empowered to do so. We cannot beat TB through a response rooted in control and coercion etc.

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

Background:-

  • Recently United Nations Declared its fight against Tuberculosis where heads of state and government have reaffirmed their commitment to end the global TB epidemic by 2030.
  • India accounts for 27% of the world’s tuberculosis burden and it had set its own target at the End-TB Summit in Delhi earlier this year: TB Free India by 2025. 
  • With an estimated 10 million new cases of tuberculosis and 1.6 million dying from the disease globally in 2017, the world still has a long way to go.

Why surveillance technologies don’t serve the purpose :-

  • These plans do not adhere to rights based approach:-
    • There is a plan in India  to implant microchips in people in order to track them and ensure they complete TB treatment.
    • There are also seemingly endless technological tweaks to the Directly Observed Treatment, short course (DOTS) strategy, which requires patients to report every day to a health authority.
    • Now, governments use, or plan to soon use, a strategy of video, tablets, phones and drones to carry the old DOTS strategy into the technology era.
  • Issues with Nikshay:-
    • India had set up Nikshay which is an online tuberculosis reporting system for medical practitioners and clinical establishments, with the aim to increase the reporting of tuberculosis, especially from the private sector.
    • In the years since it was launched, Nikshay has faced many roadblocks on the ground, such as unawareness of the system, unwillingness to report due to misconceptions about it, inconsistency in reporting, and lack of incentives for those reporting cases.
  • New technologies:-
    • The development and spread of new methods and technologies to detect the different modes of this disease, new vaccines, and new drugs and shorter drug regimens have been slow, as compared to other such diseases like HIV/AIDS. 
    • The method most commonly used to diagnose TB in India, is sputum smear microscopy which is nearly 100 years old and it misses up half the cases.
  • An obsession with  gadgets in disease management  in the context of a disease that could be eliminated in a relatively inexpensive way through human-rights based interventions is strange.
  • This thinking envisions a TB response that is not with and for people who have TB but rather against suspects who must be targeted, tracked, traced and, above all, never trusted.
  • This response is rooted in control and coercion. 

Rights based interventions are needed :-

  • Rights based approach focuses on creating health systems that foster trust, partnership and dignity. 
  • This approach regards people with TB not as subjects to be controlled but as people to be partnered with. It assumes that people with TB have dignity, intelligence and empathy that motivate them to act in the best interests of themselves and their communities when empowered to do so. 

What interventions need to be made:-

  • Collaboration is required:-
    • International institutions, donors and countries need to focus and collaborate on the urgent production and distribution of affordable generics of bedaquiline and delamanid.
    • There is a need to escalate from all levels pressure on companies such as Johnson and Johnson and Otsuka to drop their prices for each medication so that their exorbitant prices no longer exclude the vast majority of people from accessing the drugs.
  • Human touch:-
    • Employ and deploy community health-care workers.
  • Accountability:-
    • Community-based structures such as clinic committees ensure accountability while also fostering partnership and trust between communities and their health-care systems. Grassroots civil society and community-based organisations also ensure accountability.
    • Such organisations are indispensable and would thrive on comparatively small amounts of funding. 
  • Counselling for patients to start treatment, to keep taking their medicines, to deal with any side effects and to combat shame is the only way India will eliminate TB.
    • Having people go to patients homes and explain to their whole families the importance of taking the medications, of good nutrition and to talk about any side effects they might be experiencing is very effective and means fewer patients stop treatment,
  • Ensuring patients complete the full course of the treatment becomes mandatory to cure the disease.
  • One of the most important pillars of eliminating TB is timely diagnosis, as each undiagnosed patient can transmit the disease to others. A study by the Global Coalition of TB Activists found it took between a month and more than two years for patients to get a proper diagnosis. This needs change.

Topic – Part of static series under the heading – “Issues related to poverty and hunger”

2) Analyse the reasons for rising hunger and discuss how this trend can be reversed to achieve the Sustainable Development Goal 2 of Zero Hunger?(250 words)

Reference

Key demand of the question

The question expects us to discuss the various reasons that cause hunger as well as hidden hunger and the steps that are necessary to reverse hunger.

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 – Highlight that hunger and hidden hunger is still one of the major social deprivation that the world grapples with. Give statistics.

Body

  • Explain the reasons why hunger persists
    • Rising inequalities leading to extreme forms of poverty.
    • Lack of investment in agriculture – Too many developing countries lack the roads, warehouses and irrigation systems that would help them overcome hunger.
    • Climate and weather – Natural disasters such as floods, tropical storms and long periods of drought are on the increase — with calamitous consequences for the hungry poor in developing countries.
      War and displacement – Across the globe, conflicts consistently disrupt farming and food production.
    • Unstable markets – Rising food prices make it difficult for the poorest people to get nutritious food consistently – which is exactly what they need to do.
    • Food wastage – One third of all food produced (1.3 billion tons) is never consumed. This food wastage represents a missed opportunity to improve global food security in a world where 1 in 8 is hungry.
  • Discuss ways to reverse the problem
    • Increase food production through better agricultural technologies.
    • Designing better public distribution systems.
    • Fortification of foods.
    • Addressing poverty through better socio economic policies. Etc

Conclusion – Give your view on how to tackle the problem and discuss way forward.

Background :-

  • Fighting hunger is a global mission and zero hunger is also one of the main Sustainable Development Goals.
  • According to FAO, 821 million people or one in nine people  suffer from chronic hunger.

Reasons for rising hunger :-

  • Climate change impact:-
    • Erratic rainfall and increasing frequency of extreme events have impacted agricultural activities everywhere creating unfavourable conditions for food production.
    • Climate variability affecting rainfall patterns and agricultural seasons, and climate extremes such as droughts and floods, are among the key drivers behind the rise in hunger, together with conflict and economic slowdowns
    • Changes in climate are already undermining production of major crops such as wheat, rice and maize in tropical and temperate regions and, without building climate resilience, this is expected to worsen as temperatures increase and become more extreme.  
    • Analysis in the UN report the prevalence and number of undernourished people tend to be higher in countries highly exposed to climate extremes.
  • Issues with agriculture:-
    • The change from multi to mono cropping systems limits the diversity of agricultural products.
    • Inclination towards cash crops and changing food habits result in malnutrition, undernutrition and even micro-nutrient deficiencies.
  • Food wastage:-
    • Food wastage is also an emerging challenge that undermines the efforts to end hunger and malnutrition. According to the FAO, the global volume of food wastage is estimated at 1.6 billion tonnes of primary product equivalents.
  • Unstable markets :-
    • Rising food prices make it difficult for the poorest people to get nutritious food consistently which is exactly what they need to do.
  • Natural disasters:-
    • Natural disasters such as floods, tropical storms and long periods of drought are on the increase with calamitous consequences for the hungry poor in developing countries.
  • In many parts women’s nutritional requirements are often unmet as they consume whatever is left after everyone else has eaten.
  • Low agricultural investments and poor health, sanitation and childcare practices are other hindrances in achieving zero hunger.
  • Conflict, economic slowdown and rapidly increasing overweight and obesity levels are reversing progress made in the fight against hunger and malnutrition.

How do achieve goal 2 of SDG :-

 

  • Achieving zero hunger requires agriculture and food systems to become more efficient, sustainable, climate-smart and nutrition-sensitive.
  • Need for synchronisation among malnutrition, dietary diversity and production diversity.
  • It is important to look at the future of food production to achieve the zero hunger goal.
    • Technologies like mobile phones can be used for knowledge transfer to rural farmers on the food production cycle and market linkages.
    • Formulate policies that support better agricultural investments.
    • Providing agriculture subsidies and incentives and prioritising nutrition programmes.
    • Boosting the production and consumption of climate resilient native nutritional crops.
    • Agro-ecological practices such as zero budget natural farming, organic farming and permaculture play an important role in their impact on food and nutrition security.
  • Policies must pay special attention to groups who are the most vulnerable to the harmful consequences of poor food access: infants, children aged under five, school-aged children, adolescent girls, and women.
  • A sustainable shift must be made towards nutrition-sensitive agriculture and food systems that can provide safe and high-quality food for all.
  • The UN  report also calls for greater efforts to build climate resilience through policies that promote climate change adaptation and mitigation, and disaster risk reduction. 

Topic– Part of static series under the heading – “Issues relating to poverty and hunger”

3) “An essential condition to eradicate poverty is to liberate the poor from deprivation”. Comment. (250 words)

Key demand of the question

The question expects us to explain how poverty is a result of deprivations of different kind and for tackling poverty the key is to tackle those deprivations which cause it.

Directive word

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

Structure of the answer

Introduction – Explain that Poverty and deprivation are related in the context of pursuing choices.When allowed to pursue choices with deprivation kept at bay,poverty may be slowly eradicate poverty.

Body

  • Explain the various forms of deprivation that lead to poverty. Talk about economic deprivation, employment deprivation, health deprivation, resource deprivation etc and draw the linkage between such deprivation
  • Here only, you should also talk about the schemes/policies etc by the government to end such deprivations.

Conclusion – Effective implementation of schemes,subsidies reaching beneficiaries without leakages and capacity building towards creating supportive infrastructure will help reduce poverty and hunger to achieve the SDG Goals and create inclusiveness for reality.

Background :-

  • Poverty is a multi-dimensional concept that encompasses not only economic deprivation, but also deprivation of opportunities as well as deprivation of basic needs such as health, education, housing etc.
  • Poverty creates deprivation and deprivation perpetuates poverty. Government policies have aimed to break free from this vicious cycle.

Liberating the poor from this deprivation is essential to eradicate poverty as :-

  • Health :-
    • Holistic healthcarefacilities will decrease mortality and morbidity leading to more productive workforce, higher productivity and growth, prosperity.
      Healthy mothers, healthy children, better learning outcomes and avenues to flourish.
    • Healthcare is intricately linked to  Food security and awareness about healthy eating and balanced diet ensures that the people get enough macro and micronutrients that lead to proper overall development of body and mind, creating spill-over effects in other dimensions such as education.
  • Education:-
    • Skilling and education cannot aloneeradicate poverty without the presence of formal sector jobs in all the sectors of the economy. Formal sector jobs have provisions for proper wages and social security nets, which provide the people with the economic means necessary to live life with a decent standard of living.
    • Provision of educationopens up new opportunities for the people and enables them to get gainful employment in various fields. Skilling and vocational training is an essential component of education. India has the Right to Education as a Fundamental Right under Article 21A of its constitution.
  • Knowledge deprivation:-
    • By increasing awareness about common diseases, political awareness, and engendering behavioural change in matters such as sanitation, savings and exercising regularly will lead to better social indicators, eradication of poverty and a conscientious citizenry.
  • Elementary education:-
    • It is regarded as greatest gift which can empower an individual. For example- If poor child is educated it will help him to secure job in a economy which require skilled workers. This will help his whole family to break the vicious cycle of poverty.
  • Water and Sanitation:-
    • A family which do not have access to quality water and sanitation facilities will be more prone to disease. If earning member is ill it way cause hunger and abject poverty in family.
  • Political power:-
    • If proper representation is not provided to poor it will deprive them of policy support like economic and social entitlements.
  • Economic deprivation:-
    • With economic empowerment, the nation’s economic growth increases and lead to better standard of living reducing poverty.

What more needs to be done?

  • Accelerating rural poverty reduction:
    • It’s not just about agricultural growth, which has long been considered the key driver of poverty reduction. In fact, rural India is not predominantly agricultural and shares many of the economic conditions of smaller urban areas.
    • Capitalizing on growing connectivity between rural and urban areas, and between the agriculture, industry and services sectors, has been effective in the past two decades and holds promise for the future.
  • Creating more and better jobs:
    • The road out of poverty in India has been built on the performance of the labor market, but also benefited from rising transfers and remittances, and favorable demographics among other factors.
    • Future efforts will need to address job creation in more productive sectors, which has until now been lukewarm and has yielded few salaried jobs that offer stability and security.
  • Focusing on women and Scheduled Tribes:-
    • The most worrying trends are the low participation of women in the labor marketand the slow progress among scheduled tribes.
    • India’s womenhave been withdrawing from the labor force since 2005 and less than one-third of working age women are now in the labor force. As a result, India today ranks last among BRICS countries, and close to the bottom in South Asia in female labor force participation.
    • Scheduled Tribesstarted with the highest poverty rates of all of India’s social groups, and have progressed more slowly than the rest.
    • Women and Scheduled Tribes are at risk of being locked out of India’s growth and prosperity.
  • Creating more good locations:-
    • Where people live largely shapes their prospects in life. India’s states continue to see large and growing differences in poverty levels and basic opportunities.
    • More and more of India’s poor are concentrated in the poorest states, and even within relatively prosperous states, certain pockets of deprivation persist where people are unable to share in the state’s successes.
  • Improving human development outcomes for the poor:
    • This is central to improving their quality of life and income earning opportunities.
    • The recent past shows that some problems, such as undernutrition and open defecation, are endemic and not only confined to the poor but others too, and have not improved with economic growth.
    • Better health, sanitation and educationwill not only help raise the productivity of millions, they will also empower the people to meet their aspirations, and provide the country with new drivers of economic growth.

Topic– Issues relating to poverty and hunger.

4) There is a need for India to learn from other Asian countries and move from food security to nutrition security. Analyze.(250 words)

Hindubuisnessline

Indianexpress

Reference

Why this question

Hunger affects the whole existence of a person and restricts his capacity for development. India has the world’s highest number of malnourished children and has fared poorly in tackling hunger among its citizens. In this context it is important to analyze the methods and strategies of similarly placed countries like India and learn from them.

Directive word

Analyze-here we  have to examine methodically the structure or nature of the topic by separating it into component parts, and present them as a whole in a summary.

Key demand of the question.

The question wants us to dig deep into the problem of hunger and malnourishment among the Indians and bring out why there is a need to move from food security to nutritional security, as has been successfully followed by some of the neighbors.

Structure of the answer

Introduction– write a few introductory lines about India’s performance in world hunger report.e.g As the IFPRI report suggests, India contributed single-handedly to South Asia being one of the worst performers on malnutrition and child health. Though India’s immediate neighbours in South Asia do not fare all that well in the global ranking either, they are still comfortably ahead of India etc.

Body-

Discuss the need of pursuing nutrition security over food security and how India can learn from other Asian countries which have performed well. E.g Open defecation, which is exceptionally widespread in India, can account for much or all of the excess stunting in India.” The construction of toilets and improved sanitation undertaken by the NDA government as a priority, and its drive towards cleanliness through the ‘Swachh Bharat’ campaign, ought to be welcomed and deserve full support; lessons from Bangladesh- a pluralistic health system that has main stakeholders pursuing women-centred, gender-equity-oriented, highly focussed health programmes in family planning, immunisation, oral rehydration and child health, tuberculosis, vitamin A supplementation; The Vietnamese, with their intervention programmes aimed at nutrient enhancement, have managed their growth process ensuring a positive association between reduction in expenditure-based poverty and calorie-based under-nutrition, in a manner that has lessons for other high growth achievers such as India; Whereas in Bangladesh NGOs played an interventionist role in promoting universal health coverage, in Vietnam there have been several private and public initiatives to enhance food security in the 1990s

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

Background:-

  • India is home to over 40 million stunted and 17 million wasted children (under-five years). Hence the need to ensure nutrition to vast population.

Why there is a need to move towards nutritional security in India :-

  • India is one of the most malnourished countries in the world. According to a recent report by the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), India ranked 100 in a list of 119 countries in the ‘Global Hunger Index’ (GHI). India fared only better than Afghanistan and Pakistan in Asia.
  • Nearly one-third of adults in the country have a body mass index (BMI) below normal just because they do not have enough food to eat.
  • Open defecation, which is exceptionally widespread in India, can account for much or all of the excess stunting in India.
  • India is facing a serious threat of undernutrition where more than half of the women of reproductive age suffer from anaemia. Iron deficiency is a significant cause of child stunting in India.
  • On one hand, there is hunger and malnutrition and, on the other, an increase in the number of obese people.
  • Disease spread:-
    • Most child deaths in India occur from treatable diseases like pneumonia, diarrhea, malaria and complications at birth. The child may eventually die of a disease, but that disease becomes lethal because the child is malnourished and unable to put up resistance to it.
  • Poverty:-
    • The staff of ICDS places part of the blame of malnutrition on parents being inattentive to the needs of their children, but crushing poverty forces most women to leave their young children at home and work in the fields during the agricultural seasons.
  • Lack of nutrition:-
    • Significant cause of malnutrition is also the deliberate failure of malnourished people to choose nutritious food.
    • An international study found that the poor in developing countries had enough money to increase their food spending by as much as 30 per cent but that this money was spent on alcohol, tobacco and festivals instead.

Lessons to be learnt from Asian countries :-

  • Bangladesh has an enviable record in universal health coverage.
    • The country focussed on steep and sustained reductions in birth rate and mortality with a pluralistic health system that has main stakeholders pursuing women-centred, gender-equity-oriented, highly focussed health programmes in family planning, immunisation, oral rehydration and child health, tuberculosis, vitamin A supplementation
    • It achieved better health parameters by focusing on girls education, sanitation and moving its diet away from rice to fish, fruits and vegetables
  • Vietnam:-
    • The Vietnamese, with their intervention programmes aimed at nutrient enhancement, have managed their growth process ensuring a positive association between reduction in expenditure-based poverty and calorie-based under-nutrition.
    • in Vietnam there have been several private and public initiatives to enhance food security in the 1990s. For example, the government of Vietnam formulated in 1990/91 a new socio-economic strategy for the period up to 2000 designed to improve the nutritional levels for the whole community.
  • Thailand:-
    • Thailand has been focussing on nutrition-based poverty reduction for decades unlike many countries. While most countries turned their attention to income generation to reduce poverty, Thailand, through community participation, put its focus on nutrition, sanitation and health to bring down poverty levels.

Way forward:-

  • While countries like India continue to produce rice and wheat, focus should be given to produce more fruits, vegetable and animal products.
  • India is facing a double-burden of malnutrition: Over-nutrition and under-nutrition existing simultaneously, there is a pressing need for a multi-sectoral approach along with nutrition-sensitive and nutrition-specific interventions to address the problems holistically.
    • For this, there is a need to reiterate the priorities which may include, spreading of knowledge and awareness regarding safe food, diversifying food baskets, putting women and children at the centre of any nutritional intervention and leverage on modern technologies to impart nutrition-linked messages and sustainable agricultural practices.
  • Extend coverage of food fortification of staples:-
    • Currently, fortification of staples is limited to the mandatory iodisation of salt. However, the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) is in the process of formulating draft standards for the fortification of foodgrains which will add to the nutrient value. 
    • This would help in providing sufficient calories and micronutrients to a large number of children under-five. 
  • Target multiple contributing factors, for example, WASH – The underlying drivers for India’s ‘hidden hunger’ challenges are complex and go beyond direct nutritional inputs. The push for toilet construction must be combined with a strategy for behavioural change. 
  • Align agricultural policy with national nutritional objectives – Agriculture policy must be brought in tune with nutritional policy, with incentives provided for encouraging the production of nutrient-rich and local crops for self-consumption. 

General Studies – 3


Topic– Indian Economy : Issues

5) The relationship between central banks and government is being debated around the world and India is no different. There should be a mechanism to make RBI and its governor accountable to the Parliament. Do you agree? Discuss .(250 words)

Insightsonindia

Financialexpress

Why this question

With the resignation of RBI governor, the focus has shifted to the relationship between RBI and the government and the need for making RBI accountable to the parliament. This article discusses in detail the issues involved and hence this question.

Key demand of the question

The question expects us to first discuss the global scenario with respect to relationship between government and central banks and explain how the situation in India is quite similar. Discuss the reason behind such tussle in the would in general and India in particular. Here we need to discuss issues surrounding independence of RBI, monetary policy framework agreement, need for accountability , issues or capital reserves. Finally, a fair and balanced opinion is to be provided as to what must be the way forward.

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 – Mention about the resignation of RBI governor and the kind of issues that it has raised .

Body

  • Highlight that across the world government are demanding greater accountability from their central banks. Explain the issue in general – Central banks everywhere, from Turkey to the US, are under increasing pressure from the governments. While central bankers say that they need to be free from pressures from the governments and lobby groups to focus on their job of containing inflation and maintaining financial stability, their critics say that they are too secretive and have leaned in favour of big financial institutions over the interests of common citizens they are duty-bound to serve. Explain what is happening in India
  • Discuss in detail the situation in India. Bring out the issues where there is a difference in opinion between RBI and government such as monetary policy committee , inflation vs growth management etc.
  • Examine whether there is a need to make RBI more accountable to the parliament.

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

Background:-

  • Reserve Bank of India has worked as efficiently as any top central bank of the world right from its inception. It was blessed with absolute independence to control or manage monetary liquidity, price stability, exchange rate stability, and later on financial stability also.
  • However recently simmering differences between the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) and the Central government over issues of public sector bank regulation, resolution of distressed assets and the central bank’s reserves, independent payments bank regulator, easing credit to small firms have raised questions about the independence of RBI.

Relationship between central banks and governments around the world is debated:-

  • Central banks everywhere, from Turkey to the US, are under increasing pressure from the governments. While central bankers say that they need to be free from pressures from the governments and lobby groups to focus on their job of containing inflation and maintaining financial stability, their critics say that they are too secretive and have leaned in favour of big financial institutions over the interests of common citizens.
  • Earlier this year, the mandate of the Reserve Bank of New Zealand (RBNZ), which first put in place an inflation targeting regime was changed from its sole objective of price stability to also include fostering sustainable employment.
  • In the UK, the Bank of England and Her Majesty’s Treasury signed a memorandum of agreement on the financial relationship between the two outlining the framework for determining its capital, payment in lieu of its dividend, issue of notes and the information sharing arrangements between the Bank and the Treasury.

Indian scenario :-

  • Recently simmering differences between the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) and the Central government over issues of public sector bank regulation, resolution of distressed assets and the central bank’s reserves, independent payments bank regulator, easing credit to small firms have raised questions about the independence of RBI.
  • Recent issues surrounding the Section 7 of RBI act:-
    • The issue of invoking Section 7 (1) of RBI Act came up during the hearing of Allahabad high courtin a case filed by the Independent Power Producers Association of India challenging RBI’s 12 February circular. The high court said the government could issue directions to RBI under Section 7 of RBI Act.
    • Against this backdrop, the government issued a letter to the RBI governor seeking his views on exemption for power companies in relation to the 12 February circular. The second instance was when the government on sought the governor’s views on using RBI’s capital reserves for providing liquidity.
    • Exercising powers under this section, the government has sent several letters to the RBI governor  in recent weeks on issues ranging from liquidity for non-banking financial companies (NBFCs), capital requirement for weak banks and lending to micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) , withdrawal of Prompt Corrective Action for public sector banks
    • Government believed that easing of lending rules for the banks under the prompt corrective action (PCA) framework could help reduce pressure on MSMEs .However, the RBI argued that such a move would put the clock back and undo clean-up efforts.
    • With the credit markets tightening after the IL&FS default in September, non-banking finance companies lobbied the government for more liquidity. But RBI maintained its position since the bankingsystem did not witness any spike in borrowing costs and the market was just repricing risk in an evolving situation
    • Reportedly, the government and the RBI disagree on a large number of important issues such as classification of non-performing assets (NPAs) and setting up of a payments regulator independent of the RBI.

Why an independent RBI is necessary :-

  • Governments sometimes tend to make poor decisions about monetary policy. In particular, they tended to be influenced by short-term political considerations.
  • Before an election, the temptation is for a government to cut interest rates, making boom and bust economic cycles more likely. Therefore arguably, it is better to take monetary policy out of the government’s hands and place it in the central bank’s purview.
  • An independent Central Bank may have more credibility. If people have more confidence in the Central Bank, this helps to reduce inflationary expectations. In turn, this makes inflation easier to keep low.
  • In a central bank dominated by the government, the temptation to tamper with various instruments of monetary policy in order to achieve the government’s objectives would be hard to resist. For instance, the ministry of finance could want to reduce interest rate to push up demand, without considering the impact of rate cut on foreign inflows, depreciation of the rupee and increase in domestic money stock and inflation. There could be many more such examples .To avoid this an independent central bank is necessary.
  • An independent central bank is essential for ensuring stable and sustainable growth in any economy.
  • There are always government entities that are seeking oversight over various aspects of the RBI’s activities. Multiple layers of scrutiny, especially by entities that do not have the technical understanding, will only hamper decision making.

Why central bank needs to be more accountable to the parliament:-

  • The progressive widening and deepening of the activities of the RBI in different sectors of the economy affect the lives of millions. 
  • Nature will ignore the short term effects of their policies on the economy, the brunt of which has to be borne by the Parliament.

How can the dichotomy be resolved:

  • International examples:-
    • There has to be a forum within the democratic structure where the RBI is obligated to explain and defend its position.
    • Different countries have taken different routes and by and large each model is appropriately tuned to their specific contexts.
    • US example is a good model to work upon. Presentation by the chairman of the Federal Reserve to the Congress makes for public exposure and transparency but does not take away the chairman’s autonomy.
  • The governor should be responsible and accountable to Parliament and not to a particular government or the ministry of finance, or ministe He can testify to Parliament twice a year. In separate testimony in both houses of Parliament, the lawmakers can ask questions of the RBI Governor and the latter can respond.
  • A better way to sort out these differences and to come to a conclusion is to have a larger debate with technical experts weighing in.
  • On issues of operational autonomy, the central government needs to lay off its pressure on the RBI.
  • On macro issues such as exchange rate management and RBI’s dividend policy, written agreements that clearly demarcate roles and responsibilities can be thrashed out.
  • The Monetary Policy Framework Agreement and the FRBM Act are good illustrations of how a mutually agreed rule-based framework can broker peace between the central bank and the executive arm of government.
  • If the issues are not resolved, the tussle will undermine investor confidence and strengthens fears about institutional erosion when India is already experiencing economic turmoil.

Topic -Major crops cropping patterns in various parts of the country.

6) Critically analyze whether it is prudent to go the GM way for solution to the hunger problem?(250 words) 

The hindu

Why this question

The article discusses the debate with respect to genetic modified crops. GM crops are intensely researched and debated and each time there is a new GM crop being introduced the debate intensifies. Hence this question would enable you to form your perspective on GM crops.

Key demand of the question

The question expects us to discuss the debate with respect to GM crops, highlight the pros and cons and provide a fair and balanced opinion with respect to the future of GM crops.

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 – Give an overview of the debate.

Body – Discuss the pros and cons of GM crops. In pros, we have to bring out facts such as increased productivity, pest resistance etc. Discuss cons such as the fact that pests develop resistance etc. Highlight the experience of India with crops such as Bt cotton, Bt brinjal etc. Discuss whether the regulatory framework in India is adequate to deal with the cons of GM crops.

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

Background:-

  • Despite India’s law barring genetically modified (GM) foods from being produced or sold in the country without government approval, a study by Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) found that Indian markets are inundated with GM foods.

GM is a solution to hunger problem:-

  • Data from a large number of peer-reviewed publications have shown that, on average, GM technology adoption has reduced pesticide use by 37%, increased crop yield by 22%, and increased farmer profits by 68% .
  • Data from a billion animals fed on GM corn have not indicated any health hazards. Those in the Americas and elsewhere consuming Bt corn or soybean for over 15 years have not reported any health issues.
  • Genetically modified (GM) crops can withstand pests and droughts. Genetic modification in crops involves altering a seed’s DNA in order to increase its resistance to pests and insects. These changes can mean a huge boost to productivity and overall food supply.
  • Adopting technology that will lead to higher crop productivity is essential to feeding the growing Indian population.
  • Higher crop yields, reduced farm costs, increased farm profit and improvement in health and the environment are some of the benefits of introducing GM crops.

There are some concerns as well:-

  • GM food involves taking genes (DNA) from different organisms and inserting them in food crops.
    • There are concerns that this ‘foreign’ DNA through Genetically Modified products may lead to risks such as toxicity, allergic reactions, and nutritional and unintended impact.
  • It costs people’s health and our national food and health sovereignty.
  • The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India [FSSAI], the apex food regulator, has failed to curb the illegal sales of GM food.
    • Its draft regulations on GM food labelling are weak and impractical to implement.
  • Lack of clarity:
    • It is clear that the technology of genetic engineering is an evolving one and there is much, especially on its impact on human health and environment that is yet to be understood properly. The scientific community itself seems uncertain about this.
  • There is also a potential for pests to evolve resistanceto the toxins produced by GM crops and the risk of these toxins affecting nontarget organisms. There is also the danger of unintentionally introducing allergens and other anti-nutrition factors in foods.

Way forward:-

  • To curb the large-scale illegal presence and sale of GM-foods, FSSAI must set necessary approval processes and make stringent labelling standards.
  • Set up laboratories to check for GM foods.
  • Take action against those responsible for bringing such foods illegally into the market.
  • Screening of all foods made from or likely containing GM ingredients in the country.
  • FSSAI should setup systems and enforce GM screening

Topic-Disaster and disaster management.

7) There is a need to move from reactive stance to proactively prepare for natural disasters. Comment in the light of the need for insurance against natural disasters.(250 words)

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Why this question

Natural disasters have become more intense and more frequent and growth of population has led to increase in the potential damage caused by any natural disaster. Rebuilding and reconstruction after a natural disaster can be very expensive and thus there is a need to insure against them.

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 as to why there is a need to proactively prepare against natural disasters in terms of the need for insurance to rebuild the society which has suffered any natural disaster.

Structure of the answer

Introduction- write a few introductory lines about the  Increased intensity and frequency of natural disasters.e.g In 2017, Swiss Re counted 183 natural catastrophes and 118 man-made disasters across the globe etc.

Body-

  1. Discuss the need for huge amounts of money that is needed to rebuild the society after a natural disaster. E.g We react every time there is a disaster. We band together and raise funds, help victims and volunteer time to clean up and rebuild; The cost of recovery and reconstruction in India mainly comes from disaster relief fund and allocation from state and the central govt. but there is a huge PROTECTION GAP; similarly a state levy will not sufficiently incentivize states to improve their disaster risk management etc.
  2. Discuss the need for insurance in this regard. E.g One solution is to transfer disaster risks over to the insurers or reinsurers. Immediate payouts are made through parametric solutions based on the amount of rainfall or the intensity of a drought, for example; The benefit to governments would be transparency over funding; the benefit to citizens is almost immediate payouts; the benefit to everyone affected would be food, clothes, medicines and temporary shelter without having to appeal for funds; Ratings agencies are increasingly looking at the impact of natural disasters on the financial health of a government. Both S&P and Moody’s said that mitigating the financial impact of natural disasters will improve the credit rating of a government etc.

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

Background:-

  • Global economic losses from natural disasters rose from an annual averageof about US $50 billion in the 1980s to approximately $200 billion each year in the 2000s. 

India has a reactive approach :-

  • Weather disasters are being affected by climate change that is caused by humans. The devastation is worsened by the collective failure of governments and businesses to invest in building resilience despite the evidence on runaway climate change.
  • Ignoring all the safety guidelines, dwellings, factories and infrastructure facilities have been constructed in areas that are potentially vulnerable to natural hazards like floods.
  • Following the Uttarakhand floods in 2013 and Kashmir floods in 2014, it was only after a lot of questions were raised and criticism directed at preparedness practices that flood forecast stations were set-up in these two states. The same should have been done for all the flood prone states, but it did not happen.
  • Disaster management plans exist on paper, but implementation remains a challenge.
    • Despite the emphasis on a paradigm shift to a preparedness approach by the government, most parts of the country continue to follow a relief-centric approach in disaster management, rather than a proactive prevention, mitigation and preparedness path.
  • Disaster maps and vulnerability profiles by the Ministry of Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation of the Government of India identify winds and cyclones, earthquakes, and floods as disaster risks. It is unclear if the maps have been updated to include weather and climate extremes and the associated crop losses or loss of lives or health risks.

Need for more proactive approach :-

  • Reconstruction efforts must involve rebuilding in a better way. Climate proofing in Kerala calls for structures to be built with wind- and water-resistant materials.
  • People need to relocate out of harm’s way. During the 2015 floods, Chennai illustrated the price of unrestricted urban development.
  • Early warning is vital. Because of investments in these systems, Cyclone Phailin (2013) claimed less than 40 lives in Odisha. In Kerala, there was no timely forecast from national weather services. The State needs a reliable flood forecasting capability.
  • There needs to be tougher implementation of logging and mining regulations in fragile ecologies. Deforestation worsened the effects of Kerala’s floods and mudslides, as the report of the Western Ghats ecology expert panel 2011 had warned.
  • There is the climate conundrum where regions with heavy rainfall are also expecting a severe drought.
  • Non-structural measures for flood forecasting provide early warning in flood prone areas have proved to be successful for flood management. High-tech warning systems on the ground will not be useful until the authorities, key stakeholders and communities are trained to act upon the information obtained from these facilities.
  • Different stakeholders need to come together for mapping risks, vulnerabilities, and resources, engage in regular preparedness actions like drills and capacity building, develop and update emergency plans, check the availability of resources at the local level and act upon early warning intimations.
  • While the government works towards strengthening systems and mechanisms for preparedness and response, civil society has a major role to play, at the community level, for disaster preparedness.
  • There is a need for investing in disaster preparedness and mitigation across the country, irrespective of whether any state has been hit by a disaster or not. India needs to adopt a collaborative approach, where the roles of the government, corporations, academia, civil societies and communities are recognised, and all actors work hand-in-hand towards achieving disaster resilience.
  • Disaster recovery frameworks must be robust in terms of pre- and post-disaster initiatives requiring cross-sector collaborations between communities, local, state and central governments, private sectors, religious and social non-governmental organisations. 
  • An additional factor that must be added diligently to disaster recovery is the integration of the health sector into pre- and post-recovery strategies and decisions.
    • Any policies and strategies to enhance India’s pre- and post-disaster resilience must also consider natural and built environments and socioeconomic systems.
    • All implementations of these strategies must leverage the pre-disaster planning to drive rapid post-disaster return to healthy, resilient and sustainable communities.
    • A shared vision of healthier, more resilient and sustainable communities must also identify the knowledge, data and research needs for assessment of hazard anticipation, risk, vulnerability, and resilience.
  • Models, metrics and indicators for measuring progress towards resilience must drive an iterative learning process to better anticipate and manage disasters at short, intermediate, and long-terms to ensure resilient, healthy and sustainable communities with measurable reductions in vulnerability to disasters.
  • National disaster recovery framework needs to facilitate community engagement at all levels with proper information and training that is simple and accessible to all. Such a framework must leverage existing social networks and enhance the sense of community before, during and after disasters.
  • Disaster mitigation and adaptation initiatives with up-to-date information and built infrastructure must be designed to strengthen the nation’s as well each state’s and community’s ability to anticipate, deal with, resist and recover.
  • The national framework will require a well-defined process for declaring major disasters so that resource allocations can be expedient and fair.
  • A culture of resilience needs to be inculcated across all sectors so that the roles and responsibilities of governmental and non-governmental organisations and the public are clearly defined with codes, standards and guidelines explicitly established, risk-based insurance pricing in place along with a national resource of disaster-related data to constantly improve disaster recovery and enhance resilience.
  • Building codes and standards and zoning laws ought to consider natural disasters and climate impacts on built infrastructure as well as crops and natural environmental assets.

Why insurance is needed against natural disasters :-

  • As more people are moving into more densely populated cities and towns the impact of a similar-scale event 20 years ago would have caused much less damage than it would do today. India faces numerous such perils and needs to be better prepared.
  • More funds:-
    • The cost of recovery and reconstruction in Kerala has been put at Rs. 31,000 crore, according to a recent UN report .The annual allocation by both state and central authorities to Kerala’s disaster relief fund is a mere Rs.214 crore.
  • By transferring disaster risks over to the insurers or reinsurers, immediate payouts are made through parametric solutions based on the amount of rainfall or the intensity of a drought, for example.
  • The benefit to governments would be transparency over funding.
  • The benefit to citizens is almost immediate payouts and the benefit to everyone affected would be food, clothes, medicines and temporary shelter without having to appeal for funds.
  • Ratings agencies are increasingly looking at the impact of natural disasters on the financial health of a government. Both S&P and Moody’s said that mitigating the financial impact of natural disasters will improve the credit rating of a government. 
  • With insurance state governments are expected to rely less on federal assistance, especially when it comes to funding post-disaster reconstruction.
    • The immediate measure to encourage states to adopt risk financing tools would be an enabling provision that allows them to pay for insurance premiums from the disaster relief fund allocations.
    • This will not only promote greater financial autonomy at the state level, but also has the advantage of requiring no additional budgeting by centre.
  • International examples :-
    • America’s National Flood Insurance Program, the Caribbean’s 16-country hurricane, earthquake and rainfall risk insurance fund and Mexico’s FONDEN programme, which is a comprehensive disaster-risk financing strategy comprising reserve funding, reinsurance and catastrophe bonds.
    • China’s provincial Guangdong and Heilongjiang governments have purchased insurance against natural disasters as a means of fiscal budget protection. Several of these programmes have responded with timely payouts following recent natural disasters.

 


General Studies – 4


Topic– Part of Ethics Case studies

8) A woman died recently, after a short, unhappy life. She wanted her ashes to be scattered in the ocean near a place she lived during one of the brief happy times of her adult life. Her parents and immediate family had already passed away, so she discussed her wishes with her mother-in-law, who said she would comply with her daughter-in-law’s wishes. In her will, the woman gave control of her estate to the mother-in-law. The will stated that the woman’s ashes should be scattered in the ocean, as described above. Instead, her mother-in-law buried the ashes in a family plot near her home, because she wanted to keep the ashes close to her because of her own grief.

 

Assume that the mother-in-law is legally required to follow the wishes stated in the will, but that no one will check and it is very unlikely that the mother-in-law will have any problem with the law.

 

  1. What are the issues of integrity, ethics and law posed in the case study?
  2. What options does the mother-in-law have, and what should she do and why?(250 words)

 

Structure of the answer

Guidelines

Some of the issues raised by this case study include;

  • whether the mother-in-law is acting ethically and with integrity;
  • the relevance of her promise to her daughter-in-law, and
  • whether the promise is still relevant after the daughter-in-law dies;
  • the impact of the law on the mother-in-law, and
  • what difference it makes that the mother-in-law’s illegal activity is not likely to be discovered.

Frame your answer by the help of the guidelines provided but don’t restrict yourself. Try to incorporate the important terms related to ethics in your answer. Be critical and ethically eloquent in your approach.


Answer:-

The issue revolves about the promises, commitment made by the mother in law and how she upholds her promise and what are ethical issues that need explanation if she does not comply with her daughter in law’s request.

The stakeholders involved in this case study are mother in law, daughter in law, law and the society as a whole

  1. What are the issues of integrity, ethics and law posed in the case study?

The commitments people make to other people don’t perish when they do. It’s through words of promises that we keep the memories and legacy of a person beyond mortality. In this case there was no obstacle to doing what the mother in law requested. There was a will. There was a way. The way, this bereaved mother in law might object, would have deprived her of a focus for her grief. The daughter in law’s request deserved compliance.

The mother in law while complying to her daughter in law when alive and yet not doing the deed shows breaking of trust and faith despite her intentions.

As it is already declared in the daughter in law’s will regarding the ashes ,law can take its course if it is found that mother in law’s has not followed the will.

  1. What options does the mother-in-law have, and what should she do and why?(250 words)

The following options are available for mother in law :-

  • She can just stay quiet. In this case there is no chance anyone might ever come to know that the daughter in law’s will has been compromised. But at the same time over the period of time mother in law may feel guilty that she did not comply to her daughter in law wishes. There is always a risk for her that her act may be found out by legal authorities.
  • She can report to the authorities herself. In this option there are chances that the buried ashes of her daughter in law can be taken out and then mixed in the ocean and mother in law might have to face legal discourse.
  • Based on the above arguments the mother in law need to take the buried wishes and comply with her daughter in law’s wishes as the integrity of the relationship is based on the promise she made to her daughter in law.