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SECURE SYNOPSIS: 17 JANUARY 2019


SECURE SYNOPSIS: 17 JANUARY 2019


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.


Topic– Important Geophysical phenomena such as earthquakes, Tsunami, Volcanic activity,
cyclone etc.

1) Why are the world’s fold mountain systems located along the margins of continents? Bring out the association between the global distribution of Fold Mountains and the earthquakes and volcanoes.(250 words)

 

Key demand of the question

The question is quite straightforward in its demand. In the second part of the answer we have to separately bring out the relation between the global distribution of fold mountains and volcanoes and earthquakes with examples.

Structure of the answer

Introduction – Explain what fold mountains are. You can draw a diagram to show how they are formed.

Body

  • Explain why fold mountains are formed at the margins of continents – fold mountains are formed from the folding of crust and uprising of the sediments accumulated by rivers along the margins of the continents by the collision of two continental plates or a continental plate and an oceanic plate. An example of fold mountains formed by converging of two continental plates are Himalayas mountains and fold mountains formed by convergence of a continental plate and an oceanic plate are Andes mountains, Appalachians mountains etc.
  • Explain the relation between fold mountains and Earthquakes – with the passage of long time the folding continues and crust becomes over folded and strata(layers) of rock develop. It is called Over-thrust fold. Now, further folding leads to fracture in rock called Nappe. Upper layer of rock slides over lower layer leading to release of tremendous amount of energy which causes Earthquakes.
  • Explain the relation between fold mountains and volcanoes – As two plates converge, the denser plate subducts under the lighter plate. This subducted plate enters onto the Mantle region of earth which causes melting of rocks to form Magma. Due to high pressure underneath this magma comes out from the up-lying continental plate in the form of Lava, causing the formation of volcanoes at some distance from continental margins.

Conclusion – Give examples.

Introduction:

        Fold Mountains are the mountains formed from the folding of the earth’s crust. These movements are caused due to various factors like movements in the mantle, expansion and contraction of some parts of the Earth. They are formed when two tectonic plates move towards each other leading to the folding of the layers of the Earth. The up folds are called anticlines and the down folds are called synclines.

        The Himalayas in Asia, the Andes Mountains in South America and the Alps Mountains in Europe are some examples of Fold Mountains. 

Body:

Orogenesis is the process of building new mountain ranges by the convergence of tectonic plates.

                               

Fold Mountains are formed at the margins of continents due to:

  • Fold Mountains are formed from the folding of crust and uprising of the sediments accumulated by rivers along the margins of the continents.
  • This takes place by ocean-continent collision (e.g., the Andes), continent-continent collision (the Alps and the Himalayas).
  • All these tectonic processes create sedimentary basins of various types.
  • The Himalayas are formed at the convergent boundary of Indo-Australian continental plate and Eurasian continental plate. Both plates are continental ones, and so can neither sink nor be destroyed. The material between them is therefore forced upwards to form the mountains.
  • The mountains such formed are usually more in length instead of breadth.

The relation between Fold Mountains and Earthquakes:

  • Continental-continental convergence is associated with earthquakes as a huge amount of energy is released when denser plate pushes lighter plate creating fault zone along the margin.
  • With the passage of long time the folding continues and crust becomes over folded and strata (layers) of rock develop. It is called Over-thrust fold.
  • Now, further folding leads to fracture in rock called Nappe.
  • Upper layer of rock slides over lower layer leading to release of tremendous amount of energy which causes Earthquakes.
  • Mostly earthquakes occur in the belt of young-fold Mountains because young fold mountains are formed because of tectonic activities.
  • In case of Oceanic-continental convergence, subducting oceanic plate grinds against the surrounding denser medium producing mostly deep seated earth quakes.
  • The earthquakes also occur when the plates slide past each other.

The relation between Fold Mountains and Volcanoes:

  • Volcanism is observed in Continental -Oceanic convergence and is almost absent in Continental-Continental convergence.
  • At a destructive plate boundary the oceanic plate is subducted beneath the continental one.
  • The molten material then rises to the surface to form volcanoes, either in an island arc (e.g. the West Indies) or on the continental land mass (e.g. the volcanoes of the Andes). In both cases Fold Mountains can be formed.
  • When the Nazca plate dives under the South American one, their motion forward also has been pushing sediment together.
  • This, over millions of years, has been pushed up into huge fold mountains: The Andes.
  • Within them there are also volcanoes as the mountains are above the subduction zone.
  • If an island arc has been formed, the same idea occurs. Over millions of years the movement of the two plates together will push the island arc nearer to the continent.
  • As this occurs the sediments on the seabed are folded up to become huge mountains.

               

Conclusion:

The global distribution of the Fold Mountains is due to the interaction between the various tectonic plates. Thus, there is a close relation between the volcanoes, earthquakes and the Fold Mountains. Example: The Rocky Mountains, the Andes at the edge of the Pacific Ring of Fire.    


               

Topic-  changes in critical geographical features (including water-bodies and ice-caps) and in flora and fauna and the effects of such changes.

2) Discuss the factors responsible for the extinction of flora and fauna being witnessed today across the world.(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 factors and reasons that have led to the extinction of flora and fauna being witnessed today, across the world.

Structure of the answer

Introduction- write a few introductory lines about the  decrease in flora and fauna. E.g briefly mention the recent Living Planet Index report of WWF.

Body-

DIscuss in points the factors responsible for the extinction of flora and fauna across the world. E.g

  • Overexploitation of species either for human consumption, use, elaboration of byproducts, or for sport.
  • Habitat destruction;
  • Habitat fragmentation;
  • Habitat degradation
  • Climate Change
  • The spread of non-native species around the world;
  • a single species (us) taking over a significant percentage of the world’s physical space and production; and,
  • human actions increasingly directing evolution.
  • chemical products associated with agriculture or other productive processes have affected many species such as honeybees and other pollinators etc.

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

 

Introduction:

                The Living Planet Report (By World Wildlife Fund) uses the Ecological Footprint and additional complementary measures to explore the changing state of global biodiversity and human consumption. The Living Planet Report 2018 released in October 2018 shows that the over-exploitation of ecological resources by humanity has contributed to a 60 percent plunge in wild vertebrate populations from 1970 to 2014. According to Global Footprint Network, humanity is currently using the resources of 1.7 planets to provide the goods and services we demand when we only have one Earth.

Body:

  • Extra information: Findings of the report:-
  • The vast and growing consumption of food and resources by the global population is destroying the web of life, billions of years in the making, upon which human society ultimately depends for clean air, water and everything else.
  • Freshwater habitats:
    • Freshwater habitats are the worst hit, with populations having collapsed by 83%. As a result of the collapse, Indian crocodiles are on the verge of extinction.
    • Three-quarters of all land on Earth is now significantly affected by human activities. Killing for food is the next biggest cause – 300 mammal species are being eaten into extinction – while the oceans are massively overfished, with more than half now being industrially fished.
  • Species disappearing:
    • The index of extinction risk for five major groups: birds, mammals, amphibians, corals and an ancient family of plants called cycads shows an accelerating slide towards oblivion.
    • From 1970 to 2014, 60% of all animals with a backbone like fish, birds, amphibians, reptiles and mammals were wiped out by human appetites and activity, according to WWF’s “Living Planet” report, based on a survey of more than 4,000 species spread over 16,700 populations scattered across the world.
  • Boundaries breached:
    • Humans have clearly breached two of the so-called planetary boundaries: species loss and imbalances in Earth’s natural cycles of nitrogen and phosphorous (mainly due to fertiliser use).
    • Ocean acidification and freshwater supply are not far behind.
    • More generally, the marginal capacity of Earth’s ecosystems to renew themselves has been far outstripped by humanity’s ecological footprint, which has nearly tripled in 50 years.
  • Forests shrinking:
    • Nearly 20% of the Amazon rainforest, the world’s largest, has disappeared in five decades. Tropical deforestation continues unabated, mainly to make way for soy beans, palm oil and cattle.
  • Oceans depleted:
    • Since 1950, Humans have extracted 6 billion tonnes of fish, crustaceans, clams, squids and other edible sea creatures.
    • Climate change and pollution have killed off half of the world’s shallow water coral reefs, which support more than a quarter of marine life.
    • Coastal mangrove forests, which protect against storm surges made worse by rising seas, have also declined by up to half over the last 50 years.

The factors responsible for the extinction of flora and fauna across the world are as follows

  • Overexploitation of species: either for human consumption, use, elaboration of by-products, or for sport. Poaching has been a major threat which is going on unabated.
  • Habitat Loss:
    • Habitat destruction: People directly destroy habitat include filling in wetlands, dredging rivers, mowing fields, and cutting down trees. Commercial activities like mining, quarrying has destroyed many eco-sensitive zones. Example: Iron ore mining in the Western Ghats of India.
    • Habitat fragmentation: Much of the remaining terrestrial wildlife habitat has been cut up into fragments by roads and development. Aquatic species’ habitats have been fragmented by dams and water diversions. These fragments of habitat may not be large or connected enough to support species that need a large territory where they can find mates and food. Also, the loss and fragmentation of habitats makes it difficult for migratory species to find places to rest and feed along their migration routes.
    • Habitat degradation: Pollution, invasive species, and disruption of ecosystem processes (such as changing the intensity of fires in an ecosystem) are some of the ways habitats can become so degraded they can no longer support native wildlife.
  • Climate Change:
    • As climate change alters temperature and weather patterns, it also impacts plant and animal life. Scientists expect that the number and range of species, which define biodiversity, will decline greatly as temperatures continue to rise.
    • The burning of fossil fuels for energy and animal agriculture are two of the biggest contributors to global warming, along with deforestation.
    • As people increase their level of income, they consume more meat and dairy products. The populations of industrial countries consume twice as much meat as those in developing countries. Worldwide meat production has tripled over the last four decades and increased 20 percent in just the last ten years.
  • The spread of non-native species around the world: a single species (us) taking over a significant percentage of the world’s physical space and production; and, human actions increasingly directing evolution.
    • Reduced Diversity: Biological homogenization qualifies as a global environmental catastrophe. The Earth has never witnessed such a broad and complete reorganization of species distribution, in which animals and plants (and other organisms for that matter) have been translocated on a global scale around the planet.
    • Humans are directing evolution in numerous other ways as well, manipulating genomes by artificial selection and molecular techniques, and indirectly by managing ecosystems and populations to conserve them.
  • Other:
    • In countries around the world, policies have been enacted that have led to extinction or near extinction of specific species, such large predators in the US and Europe.
    • Chemical products associated with agriculture or other productive processes have affected many species such as honeybees and other pollinators.

Way forward:

  • Sustainable practices like ZBNF, Organic farming, in-situ, ex-situ conservation techniques must be adopted.
  • Global initiatives like CITES, REDD has to be followed in letter and spirit. The Paris Summit which was agreed upon in 2015 should be implemented to cut down further global warming.
  • The CBD 2050 vision is that “biodiversity is valued, conserved, restored and wisely used, maintaining ecosystem services, sustaining a healthy planet and delivering benefits essential for all people”. This needs to be kept in mind while achieving environmental targets by nations.
  • Conservation scientists propose a 2020-2050 ‘blueprint for biodiversity’: a vision for the future through the Convention on Biological Diversity.
  • Scenarios and indicators can help imagine the future and create good policies, monitor progress and identify potential win-win solutions for both nature and for people.

Conclusion:

                Humanity has begun using 25-40% of the planet’s net primary production for its own. As we keep expanding our use of land and resources, the capacity of species to survive is constantly reduced. The huge loss is a tragedy in itself but also threatens the survival of civilisation.


Topic –  Important Geophysical phenomena such as earthquakes, Tsunami, Volcanic activity, cyclone etc

3) “The Himalayas are highly prone to landslides.” Discuss the causes and suggest suitable measures of mitigation.(250 words)

 

Key demand of the question

The question expects us to explain the reasons why himalayas are prone to landslides. Thereafter, we need to bring out the impact of such landslides and how such impacts can be mitigated.

Directive word

Discuss – Here your discussion should focus around answering the key demand of the question.

Structure of the answer

Introduction – Explain that The Himalayas are highly prone to landslides, leading to heavy loss of both life & property. Explain what landslides are – Landslides are mass movement of soil or rocks along the slopes of mountains

Body

  • Explain the causes of such landslides
    • Natural causes such as earthquakes, rainfall, slope
    • Man made causes such as deforestation, jhum cultivation, illegal mining and industrial activities etc
  • Discuss the impact of such landslides
  • Highlight how such situation can be improved
    • Tree plantation
    • Building catchment areas to capture extra rainfall water
    • Stopping Jhum cultivation.
    • Teaching people about landslides & ways to mitigate.
    • Constructing a permanent assessment team comprising scientists & geologists that would look into the matter

Conclusion – Comment on the general environmental degradation taking place in Himalayas and discuss way forward.

 

Introduction:

        A landslide is defined as the movement of a mass of rock, debris, or earth down a slope. Landslides are a type of “mass wasting,” which denotes any down-slope movement of soil and rock under the direct influence of gravity.

        The Himalayas are highly prone to landslides during the monsoon season from June to September. The landslides usually occur in the altitudes between 500m to 3500m. Himalayan mountains are a result of complex geological, geomorphological and geohydrological factors.

 

Body:

. The causes of the landslides can be studied under the following heads.

 

  • Natural Causes:
  • Earthquakes: Himalayas are situated at the convergent plate boundary zone of two continental plates viz. Indo-Australian plate in the south and Eurasian plate in the north. Thus geologically Himalayas are highly active seismic zone and Orogenesis is still in process. The earthquakes loosen the soil, which trigger the landslides.
  • Rainfall: Himalayan region receives quite heavy rainfall that leads to percolation of water in the lower layers, soil erosion, solifluction & landslides.
  • Slope: The steep slopes of Himalayan Mountains are one of the major reasons of frequent landslides than any other mountain ranges in India.
  • Structure: large portion of Himalayas is made up of sedimentary Rock which is more fragile.

 

  • Anthropogenic Causes:
  • Jhum Cultivation: popularly known as slash & burn type of cultivation practiced particularly in the Himalayan region.
  • Deforestation & Grazing: Himalayan region is centre of huge diversity when it comes to trees & this diversity has led to indiscriminate chopping of trees. The trees help in holding the soil together, curbing the erosion and landslides to maximum extent. Increased grazing has led to wiping out of many grassland areas causing soil erosion and easy prey for landslides.
  • Illegal mining & Industrial activities: The rampant commercial activities have huge impact on the sensitive zones of Himalayas. The constant blasting of rocks, increased vibrations due to drilling, boring etc. lead to loosening of rocks and soil particles inturn causing landslides when there is enough fluidity.
  • Infrastructure projects: Himalayas being source of many rivers has lead to construction of multipurpose dam projects like Tehri. This has affected the already fragile Himalayas. There has been increase in number of developmental projects of highways, tunnels through hills which cause stress and sheer in the surrounding regions. Example: Chenani-Nashri tunnel project.
  • Unsustained Urbanization and Tourism: Increasing migration to cities has lead to urban sprawl clearing the forest areas. Increased vehicular traffic, clearing of forest land to build infrastructure like roads, hotels etc. have affected the geography of the region.
  • Climate change: Global warming has led to quicker melting of snow and more percolation of water within the underlying surface of hill.

The impacts of the landslides are:

  • Every year, landslides in the region kill dozens of people and cause widespread damage to several villages such that they have now become almost unfit for habitation.
  • They create blockades in the road network and river system, which in turn, cause floods.
  • The terraced farm fields have been destroyed that cannot be easily renovated or made productive again.
  • The road network remains closed for long periods causing indescribable hardship to the villagers who get their basic supplies and provisions from the neighbouring areas.
  • Water sources are disrupted and choked by debris from landslides.
  • The river sediment load is increased considerably, causing irregular courses and frequent breaching of the banks- resulting into unexpected floods.
  • The water channels are affected from the up hillside due to which the villagers are devoid of water for irrigation purposes. This adversely affects agriculture production in the region.

The measures to control landslides are

  • Structural measures:
    • Stopping Jhum cultivation.
    • Store Excess water in catchments areas to reduce the fury of flash floods, recharge the ground water and improve the environment. Dig runoff collection ponds in the catchments.
    • Grow fuel / fodder trees in all of the common lands.
    • Plantation in barren areas, especially on slopes, with grass cover is an important component of integrated watershed management programme.
    • Grazing should be restricted. The grasses of industrial importance should also be planted so that there is some economic return to the farmers as well.
    • Use the surface vegetative cover to protect the land from raindrop’s beating action, bind the soil particles and decrease the velocity of flowing water.
    • Construction of engineering structures like buttress beams, retaining walls, geogids, nailings, anchors to stabilise the slopes.
  • Non-structural measures:
    • Environmental Impact Assessment of the infrastructure projects before commencing the work.
    • Declaration of eco-sensitive zones where mining and other industrial activities are banned. Eco-tourism should be promoted.
    • Hazard mapping of the region to identify the most vulnerable zones and take measures to safeguard it.
    • Local Disaster Management force for quick relief and safety of the people affected by landslides.
    • Teaching people about landslides & ways to mitigate.
    • Constructing a permanent assessment team comprising scientists & geologists for better mitigation and adaptation techniques.
    • Involving the local people for sustainable development of Himalayas

Conclusion:

Himalayas are of vital importance to India in terms of climate, monsoon, water source and a natural barrier safeguarding the peninsula. The National Mission for Sustaining the Himalayan Ecosystem under NAPCC is a step ahead to address a variety of issues Himalayas is facing today.


Topic– Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.

4) What is the Global housing tech challenge? Examine how will it benefit Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana?(250 words)

The hindubusinessline

Why this question

In order to resolve the housing problem in the country, the government launched the PMAY scheme under which the achievements have not kept pace with the aims. As a result, this technological innovation project has been initiated to improve the attainment of objectives under PMAY which needs to be discussed.

Key demand of the question

The question expects us to first explain about the challenge. Highlight why such a challenge is necessary, by talking about the need of it under PMAY. Finally, we need to give our view on the importance of this challenge as well as the way forward.

Directive word

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

Structure of the answer

Introduction – Highlight the problem of housing shortage in the country and the need to accelerate construction of houses with suitable statistics.

Body

  • Explain about the challenge – Centre to offer about ₹150 crore as a technology innovation grant to build 6,000 homes — cheaper, faster and better — using alternative technologies and materials under the Global Housing Technology Challenge (which was launched recently). Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs to invite bids and identify proven demonstrable technologies from around the world which are to be adapted and mainstreamed for use in the Indian context.
    Apart from state and Central assistance of ₹1.5 lakh each, the Centre will offer an additional technology innovation grant of ₹2.5 lakh for each house.
  • Highlight that The PMAY (U), was launched by prime minister in June’15. It is aimed at ensuring Housing for all by 2022 by providing financial assistance to the beneficiaries. Around 68.5 lakh houses have been approved so far for construction under the PMAY (U).
  • Highlight that pace of construction under the urban section of Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana or Housing for All is too slow. It has completed just over 10% of its target as the scheme reaches its halfway point.
  • Explain how the challenge would help in achievement of aims under PMAY.

Conclusion – give your view and discuss the way forward.

 

Introduction:

       

        The conventional system of housing construction is time consuming as well as resource intensive. The estimate of housing shortage in urban areas has been revised downwards to about 10 million units (MoHUA, 2017). This is substantiated with the high precedence of slums, urban sprawl and springing up of unplanned real estate. 

To make the construction of houses cost-effective and innovative, MoHUA has launched the Global Housing Technology Challenge (GHTC).

 

Body:

Global Housing Tech Challenge:

  • The aim of the initiative — under the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana Urban (PMAY-U) — is to fast-track the construction of affordable housing and meet the target of constructing 1.2 crore houses by 2022.
  • Centre to offer about ₹150 crore as a technology innovation grant to build 6,000 homes — cheaper, faster and better — using alternative technologies and materials under the GHTC.
  • MOHUA will invite bids and identify proven demonstrable technologies from around the world which are to be adapted and mainstreamed for use in the Indian context.
  • Apart from state and Central assistance of ₹1.5 lakh each, the Centre will offer an additional technology innovation grant of ₹2.5 lakh for each house.
  • The challenge will also focus on identifying and mainstreaming proven demonstrable technologies for lighthouse projects and spotting potential future technologies for incubation and acceleration support through ASHA (Affordable Sustainable Housing Accelerators) — India.
  • A grand expo-cum-conference on GHTC will be organised in March 2019, which will be a unique platform not only for the stakeholders but also for the States/Union Territories and technical institutions.

 

PMAY and its limitations:

  • The Government’s Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana-Urban (PMAY-U) Mission to provide all weather “pucca” houses to eligible beneficiaries by the year 2022.
  • Against the validated demand of about one crore housing units to be constructed by the year 2022, the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs has so far sanctioned around 70 lakh houses, out of which around 37 lakh have been grounded and around 15 lakh completed and allotted to beneficiaries.
  • The pace of construction under the urban section of PMAY is too slow. It has completed just over 10% of its target as the scheme reaches its halfway point.

Potential of GHTC:

  • Cost Effectiveness: The PPP mode involving private players will help reduce the costs involved. Incubation facilities provided by IITs will help in cost-efficient techniques. Use of technology in construction will help save working capital.
  • Speedy Construction: The technological advancement will enable the government to achieve the target by increasing the pace of construction from current target of 3 years to 3 to 4 months
  • Innovative Construction techniques: The use of alternative, innovative and fast-track technologies aims at:-a) conservation of natural resources; b) bringing speed in construction; c) utilization of industrial and construction demolition waste; d) reduction in air and noise pollution; e) optimum use of water; f) increased labour productivity; g) cost reduction; h) safe and disaster resilient houses; and i) all weather site execution It seeks to demonstrate and deliver ready to live-in houses in a shorter time, with lower cost and quality construction in a sustainable manner.
  • Environment-friendly: Typically conventional construction systems (such as the use of brick and mortar) are slow paced, energy intensive, dependent on natural resources and have large carbon footprint. GHTC seeks to promote future technologies which are sustainable and eco-friendly.
  • Achieve targets: This transition will contribute towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as laid out by the United Nations (UN), the New Urban Agenda and the Paris Climate Accord to which India is a signatory and other such international commitments.
  • Sustainable Cities: Urbanization is on a spree in India. By 2030, 40% of India will be urbanized. The GHTC challenge can help in sustainable cities and achieve our SDG-11 targets.

Conclusion:

GHTC- India intends to get best globally available innovative construction technologies through a challenge process. The promotion of future technologies, to foster an environment of research and development in the country is imperative to solve India’s housing problems.

Extra Information:

Shanghai has adopted four approaches to affordable housing for different types of residents — low rent housing, a public rental housing system, houses on shared ownership, and houses for people relocated from old dilapidated buildings.

Indonesia pursues a National Housing Policy that involves cross subsidies that actively encourage private firms to build a set number of low cost houses for every luxury home they build.


Topic– Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.

5) Making Universal Basic Income Scheme work requires huge funding as well as certain other measures to raise revenue and reduce expenditure. Analyze.(250 words)

Indianexpress

 

Why this question

The central government as well as the state of Sikkim has recently mooted the idea of UBIS, which will require huge amounts of funds. In this context it is important to discuss how the financial resources can be raised to fund the scheme.

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 issue and bring out how financial resources can be raised for UBIS and how other expenditures can be reduced to fund the scheme.

Structure of the answer

Introduction– write a few introductory lines about the  UBIS. e.g mention what universal means; what basic means and what the scheme entails.

Body-

  • Since UBIS is to be given to the rich and the middle classes as well, it can be expensive.
  • There is need for funding it from reducing some of the subsidies that are at present enjoyed mainly by the better-off,
  • also taking a bit from the various tax concessions mostly to business (called “revenues foregone” in the Central Budget), and
  • taxing the currently exempt wealth, inheritance, and long-term capital gains, and collecting more taxes from the currently under-assessed and under-taxed property values.
  • If, to start with, it is given only to women, it’ll halve the cost
  • packaging a significant UBIS with a simultaneous increase in the taxes on the rich will help macro-economic stability, apart from assuaging the poor who will face some of the price rise in commodities or services, when subsidies are withdrawn (for example, the price of urea will rise for all farmers, if the fertiliser subsidy is curtailed, even though most of the subsidy goes to large farmers and factories). 

 

Introduction:

        Universal basic income is a form of social security in which all citizens or residents of a country regularly receive an unconditional sum of money, either from a government or some other public institution, in addition to any income received from elsewhere. The payment is enough to cover the cost of living. The goal is to provide financial security.

        The state of Sikkim recently announced that UBI will be implemented in state by 2022.

 

Body:

                        It characterises the basic income in five divisions — Periodic (being paid at regular intervals, not lump sum), cash payment (not in kind or vouchers, leaving it on the recipient to spend it as they like), individual (not to households or families), universal (for all), and unconditional (irrespective of income or prospects of job).

The pros of UBI include:

  • Fights Poverty and vulnerability: Poverty and vulnerability will be reduced in one fell swoop. It increases equality among citizens as envisaged in our DPSP.
  • Choice: A UBI treats beneficiaries as agents and entrusts citizens with the responsibility of using welfare spending as they see best; this may not be the case with in-kind transfers. Nobel laureate Amartya Sen had also propounded that choice should be given to people, which will lead to development.
  • Better targeting of poor: As all individuals are targeted, exclusion error (poor being left out) is zero though inclusion error (rich gaining access to the scheme) is 60 percent.
    • Example: The India Human Development Survey found that in 2011-12 about half of the officially poor did not have the BPL card, while about one-third of the non-poor had it.
  • Fighting technological unemployment: With IR4.0 on the rise, there is an increase in the automation leading to loss of many white and blue collared jobs. UBI can act as a sort of security net for the millions of people who will be left jobless by the tech revolution.
  • Supporting unpaid care workers: Those with ill or differently abled relatives are often forced to quit their jobs and look after them full-time. UBI would allow care-workers to support themselves, encouraging care work and taking pressure off public services that provide care to the sick and elderly.

 

However, to implement an unconditional, universal cash transfer requires a lot of funding. The possible measures to raise the revenue for UBI are:

 

  • Tax concessions: taking a bit from the various tax concessions mostly to business (called “revenues foregone” in the Central Budget).
  • Tap the untapped resources: taxing the currently exempt wealth, inheritance, and long-term capital gains, and collecting more taxes from the currently under-assessed and under-taxed property values. Taxing the Polluting activities is another option.
  • Progressive taxation: Packaging a significant UBIS with a simultaneous increase in the taxes on the rich will help macro-economic stability, apart from assuaging the poor who will face some of the price rise in commodities or services, when subsidies are withdrawn. Example: The price of urea will rise for all farmers, if the fertiliser subsidy is curtailed, even though most of the subsidy goes to large farmers and factories.
  • Disinvestments: A part of the disinvestments of the PSUs can be used to raise revenue for the UBI.
  • Corporate Social Responsibility: The funds from the CSR initiative of the corporate can be channelled for UBI implementation.

Measures to curb the expenditure:

  • Policy improvements: By reducing the populist measures like Farm loan waivers, free unlimited electricity etc. The money spent on such schemes can rather be channelled to a meaningful initiative. Austerity measures on administrative expenditures.
  • Incremental implementation: To start off with it can be given only to women, it’ll halve the cost of implementation.
  • Reduce Subsidies for the rich: As the Economic Survey 2016 had pointed out, there is need for reducing some of the subsidies that are at present enjoyed mainly by the better-off. Example: Aviation Turbine Fuel Subsidy, Gold Subsidy etc. Such subsidies can be deviated to UBI funding.
  • Digitization: Use of Jandhan-Aadhar-Mobile (JAM) trinity for the Direct benefit transfer, Use of SECC for better targeting and addressing the leakages due to corruption should be looked into.

 

Conclusion:

        UBIS is a policy issue that requires our serious attention and deliberation. UBI holds a lot of potential as a welfare scheme, however in its present form needs to be re-evaluated. UBI should not be aimed at replacing the existing welfare schemes but stick to its core ideas of providing basic income to citizens without a means test and work requirement.


Topic– Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating Education

6) Despite the RTE Act being more than a decade old, educational outcomes in India continue to remain poor. Examine.(250 words)

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Why this question

The article discusses the result of the ASER report and delves deep into a problem long faced by education sector in India which is poor learning outcomes. Understanding the causes of this problems along with possible mitigation strategies is important.

Key demand of the question

The question expects us to bring out the findings of the aser report which again highlights the poor learning outcomes among Indian children. Thereafter, we need to discuss the reasons why it is so including the issues with RTE Act. Finally, we need to discuss solutions to the issue.

Directive word

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

Structure of the answer

Introduction – Highlight that the the latest Annual Status Of Education Report 2018 (Rural) or ASER 2018 holds a mirror to a country that is aspiring to be a knowledge power.

Body

  • Highlight in detail the findings of the ASER report which would reflect the magnitude of learning outcomes in the country – ASER report shows Indian children have a huge learning deficit. The highly respected annual report, which collected data from 596 districts in India, shows that one in two students (50.3%) in Indian schools lack basic reading ability not just of their own grade but also of those of three levels below. This is a 2.2 percentage point increase compared with the situation in 2014 and a dip of 3.1 percentage points compared with 2010. The situation with regard to arithmetic is equally abysmal—just 44.1% of class VIII students can do simple division. This strike rate is almost same as in 2014 and 4 percentage points less when compared with 2012
  • Explain the measures taken by the government to improve the situation such as the RTE Act, schemes such as “Padhe Bharat Badhe Bharat”, apart from states’ efforts.
  • Discuss the impact of such measures and issues involved therein.

Conclusion – Give your view and discuss the way forward.

 

Introduction:

        The Annual Status of Education Report (ASER) 2018 has been published by education non-profit organization Pratham. The latest report collected data from 596 districts by surveying 546,527 students from 354,944 homes. The survey shows the prevalence of learning deficit and the poverty of basic reading and arithmetic skills among students in Indian schools. the latest ASER 2018 holds a mirror to a country that is aspiring to be a knowledge power.

                       

Body:

The highlights of the report are:

  • Poor reading skills: Indian students, especially those in elementary school (Classes I-VIII), are not learning enough. Only half (50.3%) of all students in Class V can read texts meant for Class II students.
  • There seems to have been some improvement in learning levels, especially among students of Class III and Class V, in 2018 compared with those of the previous five years. However, the improvement is not visible at a higher level, for example among students of Class VIII.
  • Poor Arithmetic skills: While 40% of Class VIII students in government schools can do simple division, the figure is 54.2% in private schools.
  • Unequal outcomes: In Himachal Pradesh, the growth in reading ability is nearly 8 percentage points and in Chhattisgarh and Odisha it is around 7 percentage points between 2016 and 2018.
  • Private Schools still favoured: While 30.9% of students in the 6-14 age group were in private schools in 2018, the figure was 30.6% in 2016 and 30.8% in 2014. This is less than a percentage point growth since 2014.

The above findings of the ASER report would reflect the magnitude of learning outcomes in the country.

Concerns over the poor quality of education and its effects on the workforce of the country:

  • This poor learning outcome in India is despite the Right to Education (RTE) Act having been in force since April 2010 making eight years of education compulsory for children.
  • The Centre has floated many schemes such as “Padhe Bharat Badhe Bharat”, apart from states’ efforts.
  • Access to elementary (classes I-VIII) schooling is almost universal and the number of children out of schools is below 4%, but a quality deficit, that too for more than a decade, raises questions about the priorities of governments at the central and state levels.
  • Last year, the World Bank said Indians born today are likely to be just 44% productive as workers, way below their Asian peers.
  • India’s demographic dividend depends on the learning level of students. The quality of education has a direct bearing on any economy.
  • With some 240 million students or nearly 20% of the Indian population in school, their quality of learning or lack of it assumes significance for the competitiveness of the country.
  • It has an impact on the quality of life, efficiency at the workplace, and labour productivity issues.

Way forward:

  • The Government must insist on fixing teachers’ accountability in public schools and learning outcome-based recognition for all schools, be it public or private schools.
  • Leveraging the ICT to make education more interesting and easier to understand for the children. This will improve the quality as well as reduce the drop-out rates.
  • Increase the public spending on education to 6% of GDP as recommended by many committees like the recent TSR Subramaniam committee.
  • Improve the quality of teacher education by making teacher training mandatory. Example: National Council for Teacher Education Act amendment bill, Diksha portal to train teachers.
  • Teachers are rarely reprimanded for non-performance, while there are recommendations for removal of non-detention policy. The blame is squarely on the children, such an attitude must be wiped out.
  • Teachers’ efficiency will improve with administrative incentives, better pay and a systematic change in the professional development of this cohort.
  • Education policy in India is focused on inputs rather than learning outcomes; It has a strong elitist bias in favour of higher education as opposed to primary or secondary education. This needs a change by coming out with a new policy.

Conclusion:

Despite the shortcomings in its implementation, the Right to Education Act remains a remarkable achievement. While concerns regarding quality of education of the children remain, the Act offers a first step towards an educational system in India that provides access, equity and inclusion for all children. A quantum jump in the education sector is the need of the hour. The time is now to focus on the quality of education.


Topic: Important International institutions, agencies and fora, their structure, mandate.

7) Discuss the role of WHO in promoting public health and environmental health across the globe.(250 words)

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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 the role and functions performed by the WHO in order to promote public and environmental health across the world.

Structure of the answer

Introduction– write a few introductory lines about the  WHO. E.g The WHO is a specialized agency of the United Nations that is concerned with international public health. It was established in 1948, and is headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland. The WHO’s Constitution states that its objective “is the attainment by all people of the highest possible level of health”.

Body-

  1. DIscuss the structure and functioning of WHO. E.g
  • As of 2016, the WHO has 194 member states: all of them Member States of the United Nations except for the Cook Islands and Niue.
  • WHO Member States appoint delegations to the World Health Assembly, WHO’s supreme decision-making body.
  • All UN Member States are eligible for WHO membership.
  • The Executive Board is composed of members technically qualified in health, and gives effect to the decisions and policies of the Health Assembly.
  • In addition, the UN observer organizations International Committee of the Red Cross and International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies have entered into “official relations” with WHO and are invited as observers.
  1. Discuss the functions of WHO. E.g
  • The WHO is responsible for the World Health Report, the worldwide World Health Survey, and World Health Day.
  • providing leadership on matters critical to health and engaging in partnerships where joint action is needed;
  • shaping the research agenda and stimulating the generation, translation, and dissemination of valuable knowledge;
  • setting norms and standards and promoting and monitoring their implementation;
  • articulating ethical and evidence-based policy options;

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

 

Introduction:

        The World Health Organization (WHO) is a specialized agency of the United Nations that is concerned with international public health. It was established in 1948, and is headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland. The WHO’s Constitution states that its objective “is the attainment by all people of the highest possible level of health”. The WHO is responsible for the World Health Report, the worldwide World Health Survey, and World Health Day.

Body:

Structure of WHO:

  • As of 2016, the WHO has 194 member states: all of them Member States of the United Nations except for the Cook Islands and Niue.
  • WHO Member States appoint delegations to the World Health Assembly, WHO’s supreme decision-making and legislative body.
  • All UN Member States are eligible for WHO membership.
  • The Executive Board is composed of members technically qualified in health, and gives effect to the decisions and policies of the Health Assembly.
  • In addition, the UN observer organizations International Committee of the Red Cross and International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies have entered into “official relations” with WHO and are invited as observers.

Role of WHO in Promoting Public Health:

Since its establishment, it has played a leading role in the eradication of smallpox. Its current priorities include

  • Communicable diseases, in particular HIV/AIDS, Ebola, malaria and tuberculosis.
  • The mitigation of the effects of non-communicable diseases such as sexual and reproductive health, development, and aging.
  • Nutrition, food security and healthy eating; occupational health.
  • Substance abuse.
  • Refugee and migrant health.
  • Driving the development of reporting, publications, and networking.

Promoting Environmental Health:

  • The WHO estimates that 12.6 million people died as a result of living or working in an unhealthy environment in 2012 – this accounts for nearly 1 in 4 of total global deaths.
  • Environmental risk factors, such as air, water and soil pollution, chemical exposures, climate change, and ultraviolet radiation, contribute to more than 100 diseases and injuries. This can result in a number of pollution-related diseases.
  • WHO’s first global conference on air pollution and health organized in collaboration with UN Environment, World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and the secretariat of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).
  • The focus of Conference was on Improving air quality, combating climate change and saving lives.

Conclusion:

        The principle that all people should enjoy the highest standard of health, regardless of race, religion, political belief, economic or social condition, has guided WHO’s work for the past 70 years. It has achieved success in eradicating many deadly diseases across the world and is constantly working to battle deadly diseases like AIDS, TB etc.


Topic– Part of Ethics case study series.

8) You are an engineer in a plant outside a small community. You work during normal hours, but are on call afterwards; the plant operates continuously. There are some large vessels in the plant that contain hazardous vapors. Although your company has an excellent safety record, several groups in the community have expressed concerns over the danger it poses, and  have published letters to the editor in the local paper every month or so.

 

In the middle of a winter night, your plant manager calls reporting that several feet of snow which have accumulated since yesterday have caused a section of the roof in the plant to collapse. Little more is known yet, but as an engineer you are expected to help. You are the first person the manager has called, and they need to know what step to take next.

  1. Considering public opinion, how much must you know before notifying the public?
  2. What would be your next step in this case?
  3. How can you react in a safe manner while saving your as well as the company’s  face?(250 words)

Structure of the answer

Take the help of different case studies and explore different sources of information to frame your answer.

  1. Discuss the key points-technical as well as managerial that you should get information about in order to give proper and adequate information to the public.
  2. Discuss how you will approach the issue as an incharge of engineering department.
  3. Discuss what information shall you divulge to the public so that it serves the legal and ethical purpose but at the a=same time saves yours and as well as the company’s reputation.

Introduction:

        Industries have become part of the society. They are present amidst us and are responsible stakeholders in the society like the citizens. The lack of effective safety regulations from the government and industries, poor maintenance of the plants and lackadaisical attitude of the owners, employees towards risk and disaster management are the chief causes for Industrial disasters.

Body:

        In the above case study, the various stake holders are the engineer, the plant manager, the employees, the industry, local media, government, community, and environment.

The ethical issues involved here are:

Company’s reputation at stake: The company has excellent safety record. However, safety auditing of the plant has not considered the effect of winter. It shows lack of professional competence.

Lack of Accountability: Although the local community members expressed concerns over the dangers posed and media published the letters every month, the company did not take any steps towards alleviating the fears of the community. This shows the apathy and the lack of accountability of the company towards the community and society at large.

Lack of Vision: The engineer’s lack of foresight and aptitude to take precautionary measures before winter.

Governmental apathy: The regulatory bodies should have taken action against the company after the publishing of letters in paper. It is dereliction of duty of the government authorities.

In general, there is a lack of compassion towards the larger society, environmental concerns are swept under the carpet.

  • The plant manager calls the engineer after the accident has taken place. Me as the plant-in charge will take the following steps immediately.
    1. Order an immediate shutdown of the work, cordon off the area of accident to ensure no further damage occurs to the plant as well as the community.
    2. I would inform the local fire station, hospitals and police authorities of the current scenario. This would avoid a disaster.
    3. I will visit the plant immediately, consult the technical operations team and understand the gravity of the situation.
    4. Post- analysis of the situation, I would take the help of local media to publish a communiqué to the community about the situation to alleviate their fears and restrain them from taking knee-jerk actions.

 

  • The next steps in the case would be
    1. Post communication to the people, I would take a decision on what best can be done to minimize the damage in lowest possible time and money.
    2. Since the section of roof has already collapsed and there has been continuous snowing, it is vital to empty the tanks of hazardous liquids.
    3. Since conditions of construction is difficult during snow, I would look for alternatives to run the operations of company till the vessels is reconstructed. This would help the employees and the company from being unemployed.
    4. In the meantime, I would with the help of industrial architects and technical staff will design a structure which would overcome the previous flaws like accumulation of snow which adds weight over the structure.
    5. Necessary regulatory permissions, industrial safety norms and authorization of construction plan from the local authorities will be obtained for reconstruction.
    6. On the other hand, I would request the management of company to use the company’s CSR funds to take care of the damage caused to the community by rebuilding the town.

 

  • In situations of distress, it is quite common for people to lose their calm and act in a vitiated manner, especially if there are personal losses. The key here is to use the emotional intelligence on my part to respond and not react. The local community would certainly react to the situation albeit angrily and out of anxiety. My response to this situation would be as follows:
    1. To be patient, empathize with the community as the company as part of society had its responsibility which it didn’t take care of in the first place.
    2. To accept the fault and take the necessary measures to avoid such mishaps in future. This increases the credibility of the company.
    3. A community’s representative can be appointed in safety board of company. This will ensure the trusteeship of company in the community
    4. Safety audit reports of the company must be published in the local media to apprise people of the company’s working. This increases the transparency and accountability of the company towards the society at large.
    5. Ensuring ISO norms and pollution control measures are adapted and followed thoroughly.

Conclusion:

                The increase in the industrialization is a normal process for a country in transition from agricultural economy to industrial economy. The companies have a responsibility as a stakeholder in the society.