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SECURE SYNOPSIS: 14 MARCH 2019


SECURE SYNOPSIS: 14 MARCH 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– Industrial revolution, world wars, redrawal of national boundaries,colonization, decolonization, political philosophies like communism, capitalism, socialism etc.- their forms and effect on the society.

1) Compare and contrast Cavour and Bismarck as the architects behind Unification of Italy and unification of Germany respectively.(250 words)

World history by Norman Lowe, World history NCERT

 

Why this question:

The question is in the context of a comparative analysis of Unification of Italy vs unification of Germany.

Key demands of the question:

The answer should provide for a close review of the role played by either of the leaders – Bismarck and Cavour as architects in the unification of their countries, special emphasis needs to be given on the concept of realpolitik; a political tactic characterized by the employment of practical, even when unethical and unprincipled, diplomatic and warring tactics to attain goals of national interest, such as unification.

Structure of the answer:

Introduction

Start with the significance of unification for both Germany and Italy.

Body

The body of the answer should narrate the comparison between the role of two leaders: Conte Camillo Cavour; was a minister president in Italy and was the architect and champion of the Italian unification. Otto Von Bismarck; was also a minister president during the unification of Germany and his policy of blood and iron won for Germany states, the independence and union of Germany.

Discuss the events in either cases in chronology and highlight the key differences.

Conclusion

Conclude with importance of their contribution as of even today.

Introduction:

In their efforts to unify Germany and Italy, Bismarck and Cavour mutually employed Realpolitik. This was a political tactic characterized by the employment of practical, even when unethical and unprincipled diplomatic and warring tactics to attain goals of national interest, such as unification.

Body:

Similarities in approach:

  • Bismarck and Cavour both use war to gain unification but Bismarck was more inclined to do so with policy of “blood and iron” and realpolitik.
  • Both men used diplomacy and military action to attain unification, but they differed in which tactic dominated their unification efforts.
  • Both were monarchists, whom worked for a king, and wanted things to stay that way.
  • They both worked for another noble.
  • They both disliked nationalists who asked for a republic or communism. Bismarck tried to destroy all socialist groups but failed, although he did keep them hidden enough. Whereas Cavour was forced to work with them.

Differences in approach:

Otto Von Bismarck:

  • Policy of “Blood and Iron”: “Not by speeches and resolutions of majorities are the great questions of the time decided upon – but by blood and iron”.
  • The Danish War (1864): excluded Austria from united Germany in which the smaller states of the German confederation proposed an all-German war to halt Denmark from incorporating Schleswig-Holstein. Prussia and Austria defeated Denmark in 1864.
  • Austro-Prussian War (1866): Bismarck ordered Prussian forces to be as obnoxious as possible to the Austrians. And on June 1, 1866, Austria fell for it and as a result, Bismarck claimed that it violated the 1864 alliance and the Convention of Gastain. The Seven Weeks’ War, led to the decisive defeat of Austria.
  • Franco-Prussian War (1870-71): Built on growing rivalry between France and Prussia concerning new king of Spain. France protested Wilhelm’s relative being king of Spain and thus as a result, this allowed Bismarck to rally all Germans.
  • In addition to that, Bismarck rewrote & released in the Ems Dispatch that insulted the French Ambassador. As a result, France declared war with Prussia but was defeated. Napoleon III surrendered and was taken captive.

Count Cavour:

  • Believed that if Italians proved themselves to be efficient and economically progressive, the great powers might decide to let Italy govern itself. So in 1850, he joined the Piedmontese Cabinet and worked for free trade, railway construction, expansion of credit, and agricultural improvement.
  • In order to capture loyalties of Italians who believed in other varieties of nationalism, he created the Nationalist Society, which established chapters in other Italian states to press for unification under the leadership of Piedmont.
  • Used Crimean War to bring Italy into European politics: In 1855, Piedmont joined the conflict on the side of France and Britain and sent 10,000 troops to the front.
  • Cavour raised the Italian question at the Paris conference and later gained sympathy of Napoleon III who allied with Italy against Austria in order to acquire Lombardy. Later, he managed to convince Austria to attack Sardinia.
  • Used military interventions in the Papal States and southern Italy to secure Italian Unification under King Victor Emmanuel II of Piedmont, rather than as a republic that Mazzini and Garibaldi had advocated.
  • Cavour used plebiscites, majority opinion, and Garibaldi’s help to unify Italy.

Conclusion:

While Bismarck was not hesitant to engage in direct warfare, Cavour either supported (Crimea) or instigated (France) military action between other nations. Both men had their focus on unification and both put goals and action ahead of ethics and principle, but Bismarck favoured direct engagement in war while Cavour favoured diplomatically manipulating others in their military engagements.


Topic– Industrial revolution, world wars, redrawal of national boundaries,colonization, decolonization, political philosophies like communism, capitalism, socialism etc.- their forms and effect on the society.

2) The Russian Revolution and the World War I were intertwined. Both impacted  each other. Elucidate. (250 words)

World history by Norman Lowe, World history NCERT

 

Why this question:

The question is about how Russian revolution influenced world war I and vice versa.

demand of the question:

The answer must explain in what way the Russian revolution is regarded as the turning point in the history of the biggest country in the world, how it predisposed World war I and in return how world war I influenced the revolution in Russia.

Structure of the answer:

Introduction

Brief upon the two events, provide for an analysis and historiography on the nature of The Russian Revolution; how it is a source-event for a lot of international policies that are in place till this day.

Body

Discuss the following in detail:

  • Narrate the backdrop of the American war of independence.
  • Provide for a view of different schools analyzing the interrelation of the two events – Soviet/Western Marxist, Liberal view, Revisionist View.
  • Narrate the events – starting from The Russian Tsars to the event of Bloody Sunday of 1905, World War I, the February Revolution in the early 1917 etc.

Conclusion

conclude with significance of these events in the history.

 

Introduction:

In 1913, Tsar Nicholas II celebrated the tercentenary of Romanov rule in Russia. He and his dynasty ruled over a huge empire, stretching from central Europe to the Pacific Ocean and from the Arctic to the borders of Afghanistan.

Just five years after the celebrations, Nicholas and his family would be dead, executed by the Bolsheviks, while his empire would be defeated in the World War and wracked by revolutions, civil wars and foreign interventions.

Body:

Backdrop of the war:

  • In 1914, Russia was hardly prepared for war. Just nine years earlier she had been defeated in a war with tiny Japan.
  • The Revolution of 1905, when revolts and uprisings had forced the Tsar to concede civil rights and a parliament to the Russian people, had also shaken the empire.
  • The subsequent reforms and rebuilding were far from complete, but as workers and land-hungry peasants rallied to the Russian flag and marched off to fight against the Central Powers, the initial auguries for both war and national unity were not bad.
  • National unity, however, could only be built on victory and, in that regard, Russia’s hopes were dashed early in the Great War.

During the war: 1914-1916

  • At Tannenberg and the First Battle of the Masurian Lakes, in 1914, Russia lost two entire armies (over 250,000 men).
  • This failed Russian advance into East Prussia did disrupt Germany’s Schlieffen Plan and thus probably prevented the fall of Paris, but it also signalled the beginning of an unrelenting Russian retreat on the northern sector of the Eastern Front.
  • By the middle of 1915 all of Russian Poland and Lithuania, and most of Latvia, were overrun by the German army.
  • Fortunately for the Russians, they did better in 1916. The supply of rifles and artillery shells to the Eastern Front was vastly improved, and in the Brusilov Offensive of June 1916, Russia achieved significant victories over the Austrians
  • However, the country’s political and economic problems were greatly exacerbated by the war. Many factors – including the militarisation of industry and crises in food supply – threatened disaster on the home front.
  • Added to this cocktail were rumours that the tsarina, Alexandra, and her favourite, the infamous Rasputin, were German spies.
  • The rumours were unfounded, but by November 1916 influential critics of the regime were asking whether Russia’s misfortunes – including 1,700,000 military dead and 5,000,000 wounded – were a consequence of ‘stupidity or treason’.

1917: From February to October

  • Food riots, demonstrations and a mutiny at the Petrograd Garrison in February 1917 forced Nicholas II to abdicate as war still continued.
  • A Provisional Government led by liberals and moderate socialists was proclaimed, and its leaders hoped now to pursue the war more effectively.
  • Real power in Russia after the February Revolution, however, lay with the socialist leaders of the Petrograd (later All-Russian) Soviet of Workers’ and Soldiers’ Deputies, who were elected by popular mandate (unlike the ministers of the Provisional Government).
  • Against this background, the war minister Kerensky of the Provisional Government hoped to strengthen Russia’s hand with a new Russian offensive on the Eastern Front in June.
  • Anarchist and Bolshevik agitators played their own part in destroying the Russian Army’s ability to fight.
  • Many anti-war radicals, along with the Bolshevik leader, Vladimir Lenin, were ferried home from exile in Switzerland in April 1917, courtesy of the German General Staff.
  • The summer offensive was a disaster. Peasant soldiers deserted en masse to join the revolution, and fraternisation with the enemy became common.
  • Meanwhile, in an attempt to restore order and resist the German counter-offensive, most of the generals and forces of the political right threw their weight behind a plan for a military coup, under the Russian Army’s commander-in-chief, General Kornilov.
  • The coup failed and the generals and the conservatives who had backed Kornilov felt betrayed by Kerensky
  • The only winners were the Bolsheviks, with Lenin at their head, who were able to topple Kerensky and take power in the October Revolution of 1917- without significant resistance from either the government or the army.

Conclusion:

Thus, we can see that the turn of events for a liberal rule from 1905 got entangled with the Russia’s entry into WW-1. The events in WW-1 inturn aggravated the Russian revolution.


Topic: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation./ Indian Constitution- historical underpinnings, evolution, features, amendments, significant provisions and basic structure.

3) The recent National Register of Citizens (NRC) exercise in Assam has excluded 40 lakh people from its final draft list, has it failed to resolve the illegal immigration debate in Assam? What are the Socio-Economic and Political Consequence of such Illegal Migration? Critically analyse.(250 words)

Centre, Assam lax on illegal migration: SC-The hindu

Reference

 

Why this question:

The recent National Register of Citizens (NRC) exercise and the proposed decision to deport all immigrants have been at the core of the controversy along with the discussion to scrap Article 35. But the issue of deportation of all immigrants is hasn’t worked out successfully as a solution. The apex court in this context has slammed at the Assam government for failing to address the issue of illegal immigrants.

Key demand of the question:

The question expects us to express our understanding as to whether exclusion of all illegal immigrants from the NCR is working out to be a feasible solution or not. One has to form an opinion based on valid facts and arguments with examples to justify.

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, one needs to look at the good and bad of the topic and give a fair judgement.

Structure of the answer:

Introduction:

Introduce with a few lines on the illegal immigrants issue in India and more so specifically in Assam.

Body:

Discuss the following:

  • why deporting all immigrants from India is not a feasible and recommended solution?
  • Narrate upon the associated problems with the exercise to demarcate legal and illegal immigrants- like the problems of exclusion as seen in the Assam NRC exercise; some illegal immigrants would be difficult if not impossible to deport- Gorkhas and Lepchas from Nepal; India has no agreement with nearby governments for large-scale deportation etc.
  • Discuss the Socio-Economic and Political Consequence of such Illegal Migration.
  • What can be done? – suggest policy changes required in this direction.

Conclusion:

Conclude as – It is high time that India takes stringent measures

against the illegal migrants who have become a real threat to the security of the country.

Introduction:

The National Register of Citizens (NRC) exercise is among the most ambitious experiments the Indian state has undertaken. The NRC is the list of Indian citizens and was prepared in 1951, following the census of 1951. The process of NRC update was taken up in Assam as per a Supreme Court order in 2013. In order to wean out cases of illegal migration from Bangladesh and other adjoining areas, NRC updation was carried out under The Citizenship Act, 1955, and according to rules framed in the Assam Accord.

The Assam government released the final draft of NRC on July 30, 2018. The list incorporates names of 2.89 crore people out of 3.29 crore applicants. The names of 40.07 lakh people have been left out.

Body:

Deporting all immigrants from India is not a feasible and recommended solution:

  • The official presumption that people residing in Assam areas are foreigners has reduced several million of these highly impoverished, mostly rural, powerless and poorly lettered residents to a situation of helplessness and extreme poverty, destitution, hardship.
  • It has also caused them abiding anxiety and uncertainty about their futures. They are required to convince a variety of usually hostile officials that they are citizens, based on vintage documents which even urban, educated, middle-class citizens would find hard to muster.
  • Women are especially in danger of exclusion from the citizenship register. Typically, they have no birth certificates, are not sent to school, and are married before they become adults.
  • They are told that they have no documents to prove that they are indeed the children of the people they claim are their parents. There were cases of being excluded from citizenship on this ground alone.
  • Impoverished migrant workers often travel to other districts of Assam in search of work, as construction workers, road-builders and coal-miners.
  • Another process began in the mid-1990s when the then Chief Election Commissioner T.N. Seshan, as a one-time measure, directed officials to identify “doubtful voters” by marking a “D” against their names on the voters’ list. This would temporarily bar them from voting or standing for elections, until an inquiry was completed.
  • But this temporary measure became permanent. The power was vested permanently with junior officials who could doubt the citizenship of any person at any time without assigning any reason.
  • There was some disquiet in Bangladesh when the Indian Army Chief, General Bipin Rawat, lent support to the NRC drive, claiming that those settled in Indian territory without legal jurisdiction posed a threat to national security.
  • Some illegal immigrants would be difficult if not impossible to deport- Gorkhas and Lepchas from Nepal.
  • India has no agreement with nearby governments for large-scale deportation

This exercise of compiling the NRC in the first place has sparked a debate around its social, political and economic consequences.

Social consequences of illegal migration

  • Crisis of  identity:  The  influx  of  immigrants  created  a  crisis  of  identity   among   the   indigenous      Their   cultural   survival   will  be  in  jeopardy,  their  political  control  will  be  weakened  and  their  employment  opportunities  will  be  undermined  by  such  illegal  migration. The recent Bodo-Muslim violence in the BTAD has its root on the issue of illegal migration.
  • Environmental degradation: Large areas of forest land were  encroached upon by the immigrants for settlement and cultivation. The state experienced declining percent of land area under forest from 39% in 1951-52 to about 30% now.
  • Difficult to identify the illegal migrants: Due  to  the  similar  language   spoken   by   illegal   migrants   from   Bangladesh   and   the   indigenous Bengali speaking Muslim of Assam, it becomes difficult to identify and deport the illegal migration from Assam soil.
  • Community tension:    The  commission    on    integration    and    Cohesion  found  that  tension  usually  exist  with  the  presence  of  high  levels  of  migration  combine  with  other  forms  of  social  exclusion  like  poverty, poor housing etc.

Economic consequences

  • Increase financial burden: Immigration has increased pressure on the part  of  state  government,  as  the  government  has  to  increase  the  expenditure on education and health facilities to the immigrants.
  • Displacing native  workers:  There  is  a  fear  particularly  during  a  recession  that  immigrants  take  jobs  which  would  otherwise  be  taken  by  local  people;  in  particular  place  and  circumstances  there  can  be  competition and conflict.
  • Decreases wage level with the increase of population: Illegal immigrants in every year have been adding a good number of people in Assam. It is one of the main reasons of population explosion. Due to this there is a possibility of decreasing wage level.

Political consequences

  • Assam agitation:  The  failure  of  government  to  respond  the  issue  of  illegal  migration  led  to  the  agitation  by  the  Assamese  under  the  leadership  of  All  Assam  Gana  Sangram  Parishad  (AAGSP)  and  All  Assam   Student’s   Union   (AASU).   Assam   witnessed   governmental   instability, sustained civil disobedience campaigns and worst cases of ethnic violence. Assam accord was the result of this agitation.
  • Illegal voters: Most of the Bangladeshi immigrants have got their names enlisted in the voting list illegally, thereby claiming themselves as citizens of the state. The immigrant’s population act as a vote bank for the political parties in Assam.
  • Issue of terrorism: Pakistan’s ISI  has  been  active  in  Bangladesh  supporting militant movements in Assam (Lt Gen S K Sinha, 1998). It is alleged that among the illegal migrants there are also militants, who enter into Assam to carry out the terrorist activities.

Way forward:

  • The Central Government should appoint a National Immigration Commission to  frame  a  National  Migration  Policy  and  a  National  Refugee  Policy.  The  Commission  should  examine  ways  of  strengthening  the  Foreigners  Act  1946,  as  well  as  feasibility of Identity Cards for both citizens and non-citizens and Work Permits for migrants.
  • Border fencing in Assam must be completed forthwith on a war footing. The existing Border Security Force posts and the BSF water wing should be strengthened.
  • Our nationals  in  the  border  districts  and  for  that  matter  in  the  whole State should be provided multipurpose photo identity card.
  • The ongoing NRC updating should be completed without delay and proper arrangement for the deportation of illegal migrants should be done.
  • The Illegal Migrants Determination by Tribunal (IMDT) Act of 1983 should be repealed.

Topic: . Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization of resources, growth, development and employment.

4) The nature of geo-politics and the rapid advances in digitisation require the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) to urgently rethink its extant supervisory policies. Examine. (250 words)

Reference

Why this question:

The question is in the context of urgent reforms required in the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), the need for the Bank regulations to adapt to the new reality of rapid advances in digitisation, as financial systems are the core to an economy’s smooth functioning.

Key demand of the question:

The answer should discuss in detail what are the issues RBI is currently facing, how changing geopolitics affect the functioning of financial systems and thus the need of RBI to change its existing supervisory functions and policies.

Directive word

Examine – When asked to ‘Examine’, we have to look into the topic (content words) in detail, inspect it, investigate it and establish the key facts and issues related to the topic in question. While doing so we should explain why these facts and issues are important and their implications.

Structure of the answer

Introduction:

Briefly bring out the role of Reserve Bank of India and its significance in managing the economy of the country.

Body:

Discussion of the answer should cover:

  • Effect of geopolitics, international economic stability on Indian economy vis a vis role of RBI to manage the effect.
  • Effect of rapid digitization across the world and preparedness of RBI to manage the transformation or the great leap going forward.
  • What changes are required to be brought in ? what are the issues and concerns facing RBI.
  • Way forward.

Conclusion –

Conclude with what needs to be done, what path should Reserve bank of India take to empower the Indian economy in pace with the rapid digitization.

Introduction:

Reserve Bank of India (RBI) is India’s Central bank. It plays multi-facet role by executing multiple functions such as overseeing monetary policy, issuing currency, managing foreign exchange, working as a bank of government. RBI is playing a vital role in ensuring economic and financial stability

Body:

Effect of geopolitics, international economic stability on Indian economy:

  • United States position as both the preeminent world economy and largest world military, significantly impacts the intertwining of geopolitics and global economy.
  • Trump’s reversal from US policies towards ensuring ‘global good’ to outright nationalism of ‘America-First’ has had reverberating effects in the current global milieu.
  • The current global economy is not only facing short-term cyclical slowdown, but is also on a declining slope supply chains.
  • The US-China Trade War is essentially a power struggle. The trade might be a side issue and technology may be a bigger issue.
  • China’s Belt and Road Initiative has brought the failure of global financial institutions regarding developmental lending into spotlight.
  • Trump’s desire to renegotiate the entire spectrum of US’ bilateral, regional and multilateral linkages with the global economy has put tremendous pressure of reform on World Trade Organization, International Monetary Fund and World Bank.
  • There has been a surge in US sanctions against major rival oil and gas producers such as Iran and Russia. India being a global oil importer affects its CAD directly.

The above issues directly concern RBI as it controls the monetary policy, inflation targeting (CPI), deciding on the benchmark interest rate, regulates foreign exchange and acts as Government’s banker.

Effect of rapid digitization across the world and its impact on RBI:

  • The challenge of Cryptocurrency is a major point of deliberation as it can set up an alternate economy, thus sabotaging the Indian Economy.
  • Increasing connectivity across the world has led to digitization of entire banking system. The lack of strong data protection laws in India and poor Cybersecurity as seen during WannaCry looms big danger to RBI.
  • The new age war is fought on cyber-warfield with countries trying to cripple the opponent through Cyber-warfare. Most of RBI’s financial operations are online and cyber-warfare poses a direct threat.
  • Non-state actors have taken up to Cyber-Terrorism which is capable to wreaking great havoc as seen in the heist of Bangladesh Central Bank and hacking of credit cards in India.
  • The disruptive technologies like Artificial Intelligence and Machine learning have threatened job security across globe which can lead to unemployment and possible stagflation.

RBI thus has a list of threats which necessitates it to urgently rethink its extant supervisory policies.

Way forward:

  • The necessary autonomy in its working should be granted to RBI to avoid political interference.
  • There is a need to diversify our source of energy imports and find alternatives like Solar energy to reduce the geopolitical influences on Indian economy.
  • RBI’s technical arm must be abreast with the cyber-security issues and loopholes to avoid any untoward incidents. New standards and protocols in digital operations must be brought in from time to time.
  • The Government must come up with strong Data Protection law as per Justice Srikrishna Committee’s recommendations.
  • Revisiting our National Cybersecurity Policy (2013) and IT Act, 2006 to make the necessary changes according to needs to avoid future threats.

Topic: Agrarian crisis – Major crops cropping patterns in various parts of the country, different types of irrigation and irrigation systems storage, transport and marketing of agricultural produce and issues and related constraints;

5) Do you think giving farmers unconstrained rights to sell any quantity of their produce to anybody, anywhere and at any time can resolve the widespread agrarian distress in India? Discuss the need for a Kisan law in India. What are the challenges associated in bringing such a law? Suggest solutions.(250 words)

Indianexpress

Why this question:

The Article talks about Kisan Swaraj – meaning freedom for farmers; mainly the freedom to sell any quantity of their produce to anybody, anywhere and at any time. In this context it becomes necessary to evaluate the policies and legal provisions available to the farmers in our country.

Key demand of the question

One has to detail about the measures that need to be taken in order to address the agrarian distress in the country. Discuss the specific issues; mainly with respect to market reforms in farming sector and role of the government in addressing it with a robust and powerful Kisan law.

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:

Explain briefly the statement, what it signifies and its importance.

Body:

The answer must cover the following aspects:

  • What are the critical issues associated with Agriculture; mainly the market related issues that are aggravating farmer distress.
  • Then move on to discuss the reforms already carried out for Agri sector such as with respect to MSP, crop insurance, irrigation, e-NAM etc and discuss how impactful they have been in terms of alleviating issues faced by the sector.
  • Then discuss the need for Farmer law, why and how it can bridge the gaps in policies and give the farmers freedom to exercise .

Conclusion:

Conclude with need to relook at the current available policies and how a unniform farmer friendly law giving her freedom can be a game changer.

Introduction:

The stifling Agrarian crisis in India is an opportunity for the government to enact a law giving farmers the right to sell any quantity of their produce to anybody, anywhere and at any time.

Body:

The critical issues associated with Agricultural Marketing:

  • Rigid Market Structure:
    • Prevalence of APMC markers, trader cartels due to which low price for agri produce is offered specially due to bumper crop production.
  • Poor Infrastructure and Logistics:
    • Lack of diffusion of adequate storage facilities lead to wastage. For instance farmers dump truckloads of vegetables on road.
    • Food Parks projects concentrated near to cities and poor maintenance leads to spoilage of the crops.
    • Cold storage units exist in less than one-tenth of the markets and grading facilities in less than one-third; electronic weigh-bridges are available only in a few markets.
  • Government Policies:
    • The government continues to use old draconian measures, including stocking restrictions and bans on exports and futures trading, to even small increase in food prices. Such steps may bring temporary relief to consumers, but end up hurting farmers.
  • Pro-Consumer bias:
    • In most years, for the majority of agri-products, the policymakers used restrictive export policies to keep domestic prices low. This showed the pro-consumer bias in the policy complex.
  • Middlemen troubles:
    • As pointed out by Ramesh Chand, in Punjab, there are as many as 22,000 commission agents and innumerable middlemen in each market.
    • According to Ashok Gulati, former chairman of the Commission for Agricultural Costs and Prices, commission agents in Delhi charge exorbitant fees ranging from 6 per cent to 15 per cent.
  • Information Asymmetry:
    • A bumper crop can pull down prices in wholesale markets. Price spikes after a poor crop are inevitably dealt with through cheap imports in a bid to protect consumers. The opposite is done less frequently. This is due to lack of information.
    • The bountiful rains of 2016 resulted in record farm output. Prices crashed. Farmers are reported to have not been able to even recover the cost for some crops.
    • The prospects of a good monsoon pushed up rural wages. The reality of rock bottom prices then destroyed profit margins.
  • Aggressive cultivation led to plunge in demand:
    • Once prices have increased farmers cultivated the crop aggressively leading to plunging of prices.
    • Two years ago, garlic fetched an average Rs 60 per kg rate in Rajasthan’s Kota mandi. Enthused by it, farmers in the Hadoti region planted more area, only to see prices halve last May.
    • Similar was the case for other vegetables. Example: Tomato, Toor Dal etc.
  • Farmers income remained low:
    • India had record food production in 2017-18, but farmers’ income remained low and stagnant.
    • According to Ashok Dalwai committee, farmer’s income remained about 15-40% of consumer’s price.
    • Studies conducted by the International Food Policy Research Institute and World Bank have confirmed this.

The need for Farmer law arises from the presence of above critical issues which is hindering the farmer’s income.

  • Freedom to the Kisan law, giving farmers’ unfettered rights to sell any quantity of their produce to anybody, anywhere and at any time.
  • This omnibus legislation will, at one stroke, dismantle all provisions, whether under the ECA or state-level Agriculture Produce Market Committee acts, that enable restrictions on sale, stocking, movement and export of farm produce.
  • There shall be no ban on export of onion, potato, pulses, sugar or milk powder and no limits on how much quantity of produce a trader or processor can buy and stock.
  • It will take away the powers of the department of consumer affairs or director-general of foreign trade to impose such curbs on any agricultural commodity at the slightest instance of price rise.
  • Power shall, instead, devolve on Parliament, which may approve these only under the exceptional circumstances of war or nationwide calamity — as opposed to executive orders and departmental notifications issued in “public interest”

Challenges associated:

  • Indian agriculture is today crying for investment in processing as well as backend procurement, grading, warehousing, cold storage and transport infrastructure.
  • The above cannot happen if farmers and agri-businesses continue to operate in an environment of uncertainty about the government’s next “supply-side management” action.
  • Agriculture is a state subject and consensus to bring such changes is a political uphill task.

Way forward:

  • The government can procure, stock, and distribute grains in the interest of consumers, so long as this does not infringe upon the commercial freedom of farmers and agri-businesses
  • Consumer interest can be better secured by learning to trust the supply response of Indian farmers.
  • Better seeds, agronomic practices, crop protection chemicals, machinery, and also rural roads, electricity, irrigation and communication infrastructure have reduced the supply response time to just the next season in most crops.
  • e-NAM is a good step in this way. Budget 2018 announced developed GRAMS which would be integrated to the e-NAM Structure.
  • A consolidation of farm produce, which can be successfully done through farmer-producer organisations.
  • Agro-processing and trade will require investment in developing infrastructure.
  • Existing agri-export zones need to be revisited and strengthened in this changing scenario.
  • States alone cannot revamp the agricultural marketing sector, primarily due to paucity of funds and technology.
  • Private investment on a massive scale needs to be invited to upgrade and build large storage and warehousing systems that are climate resilient.

Conclusion:

It is time to concede that production and marketing should march together in order to benefit farmers and consumers. Farmers need to be empowered to decide when, where, to whom and at what price to sell.


Topic: Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment.

6) Reports have suggested nearly 50% of the country is currently facing drought with at least 16% falling in the “exceptional” or “extreme” category, in the light of the above statement, Discuss the significance of ground water recharge. What are the challenges being faced in India with respect to it and what needs to be done. (250 words)

Hindustantimes

Why this question:

Groundwater is a critical resource whose comprehensive management is unconditionally essential. Various reports have pointed out the shocking drop in groundwater levels across the country. The issue compels us to inspect the causes behind this shortage and suggest steps to overcome the problems associated with the issue.

Key demand of the question:

The answer must discuss upon the following points –

Scenario of acute shortage of groundwater in the country with facts and statistics justifying it. Examine the various factors that have led to this crisis

What are the challenges involved in providing for a solution and what needs to be done.

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:

Begin with the highlights of the above report, what it points to, and paint a picture of current conditions of ground water management in the country.

Body:

The answer should capture the following aspects:

  • The problem of groundwater shortage in India(the article discusses the management of river systems and their role in groundwater replenishment)
  • Examine the causes behind groundwater shortage under various heads – policy lacunae, overexploitation, lack of legal provisions, indiscriminate pollution etc.
  • Suggest ways to deal with the crisis. Quote from research articles, policy strengthening, legal provisions like groundwater management bill etc

Conclusion:

Re-stress on the importance of groundwater as a natural resource and the necessity to manage it well for our own good keeping into account the growing water crisis.

Introduction:

In a report released recently, the Indian Institute of Technology, Gandhinagar, the University of California, and the India Meteorological Department, Pune, said nearly 50% of the country is currently facing drought with at least 16% falling in the exceptional or extreme category.

India is on the threshold of a very serious groundwater crisis, which needs mitigation both in the fields and at the policy corridors of the country.

Body:

The problem of groundwater shortage in India:

  • India is the largest user of the groundwater in the world with almost 90% being used for drinking water and almost 60-70% for irrigation.
  • According to the assessment of the Central Ground Water Board (CGWB), total 1,034 out of 6,584 assessed blocks in the country are over-exploited
  • Current statistics also show that nearly 50% of urban water supply comes from groundwater.
  • At 260 cubic km per year, the country is the highest user of groundwater in the world. We use 25% of all groundwater extracted globally, ahead of the US and China.
  • This was not the case in the 1960s and 1970s but the need to grow more food (the Green Revolution) changed that. In 1947, the share of groundwater in agriculture was 35%; today it is 70%.

Causes for ground water exploitation in India:

  • Water intensive crops:
    • Government encourages farmers to produce water-intensive crops like rice and sugarcane through increased minimum support prices (MSP). This has also led to groundwater depletion, income inequality and unsustainable agriculture.
    • Farmers are digging more and more borewells, but the sources of the problem are many, including transition to water-intensive crops and spate of construction activity along catchment areas.
  • Droughts:
    • Successive droughts and erratic rainfall have led to excess extraction of groundwater. That explains 61 per cent decline in groundwater level in wells in India between 2007 and 2017.
  • Dams and river-dying:
    • The critical relationship that exists between adequate river flows and aquifer recharge, and the reasons behind its current broken state.
    • When a river flows, almost 20-30% of its monsoon water feeds aquifers, saturating the water table; 30-40% evaporates; and 40-50% flows on the surface.
    • But when we hold the monsoon flow in a reservoir behind a dam, both the surface flow and the associated aquifers suffer.
  • Government failure:
    • The government finance for well digging and pump installation with capital subsidies, massive rural electrification and pervasive energy subsidies all have enabled this process to aggravate.
    • Zero marginal cost of pumping and lack of restriction on volume of water resulted in inefficient and unsustainable use of the resource.
    • Lack of adequate planning, crumbling infrastructure, indiscriminate drilling of borewells, large-scale consumption of water, and a false sense of entitlement in using water carelessly are causing water shortages.
  • Policy lacunae:
    • Existing rules on groundwater access that give landowners the right to pump on their land
    • Subsidies on electricity are thought to play a central role in the Indian groundwater crisis. The vast majority of groundwater pumps are unmetered, and if charged, are billed at a flat, non-volumetric, and highly subsidized tariff .
    • In the north western parts of India and southern peninsula, the early and rapid rural electrification, free or subsidised power to the farm sector, large productive farmers and attractive procurement prices for major cereals led to intensive use of groundwater.
  • Urbanization:
    • India’s huge groundwater-dependent population, uncertain climate-reliant recharge processes and indiscriminate land use changes with urbanization are among the many factors that have rendered the Indian groundwater scenario to become a global paradigm for water scarcity, for both quantity and quality.
    • Cities like Bengaluru are losing its capacity to recharge groundwater as the number of water bodies like lakes has reduced by 79%
    • Commercial establishments like shopping malls, hotels, hospitals and high-rise apartments are using borewells in large number to meet the demand for the occupants.

Steps to make India water secure:

  • Sustainable Agricultural practices:
    • Growing less water-intensive crops in the dry season and transitioning away from irrigation-intensive systems where there is little water.
    • we must restrict groundwater withdrawal to shallow aquifers, which get annually recharged during the monsoon season, thanks to the flowing streams
    • Crisis can be tackled by restoring and enhancing groundwater recharge areas, stopping polluted water from recharging groundwater, rainwater and roof top harvesting and the restoration of ponds, lakes and other river systems.
  • Micro-irrigation techniques:
    • Encouraging farmers to adopt micro-irrigation techniques such as drip irrigation and micro-sprinklers.
    • According to the NITI Aayog’s CWMI report, adopting micro-irrigation techniques can save roughly 20% of the groundwater used annually on irrigation in India.
  • Curbing subsidies:
    • An analysis of panel data across 370 districts in India found that a reduction in electricity subsidy was correlated with a decrease in groundwater extraction .
    • Most empirical studies are in favour of pricing electricity on the basis of actual consumption. They show that the energy prices at which the farmers start responding to tariff changes in terms of reducing the demand for water and electricity would be socio-economically viable.
  • Technology:
    • Solar desalination, wastewater management and groundwater recharge for improving water security
    • Technical expertise from countries which have managed their groundwater resources well like Israel, Japan etc.
  • Proper implementation of initiatives:
    • 12th five-year plan proposed a policy of participatory groundwater management (PGM), which involves a collaborative approach among government departments, researchers, NGOs and community members.
    • Government has come up with a Rs. 6,000-crore World Bank-aided Atal Bhujal Yojana with community participation to ensure sustained groundwater management in overexploited and ground water-stressed areas in seven States.
    • World Bank’s Water Scarce Cities Initiative seeks to promote an integrated approach to managing water resources and service delivery in water-scarce cities as the basis for building resilience against climate change.
  • Awareness Generation:
    • Behavioural changes that promote conservation and adoption of efficient water use practices to reduce ground water use for irrigation
    • Successful community-based groundwater management experiences from different states like Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Gujarat and Rajasthan must also be studied.
    • Collaboration, combination of ideas and community partnerships hold the key to the success of groundwater management in India.
    • Creating sustainable change would require a bottom-up approach by empowering the local community to become active participants in managing groundwater.

Topic:  Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment.

7) India’s biodiversity-rich regions are fast  turning into ‘hotspots’ of human impacts. Evaluate.(250 words)

The hindu

Why this question:

The article examines closely the recent study titled “Hotspots of human impact on threatened terrestrial vertebrates”, published in the journal PLOS Biology, that has reported human impacts on species occur across 84% of the earth’s surface. Thus analyzing the impact of human beings on biodiversity hotspots.

Key demand of the question:

The answer must provide for a detailed analysis of how with the growing and aspirational population, there is no doubt that there will be great pressure on forest areas in India and thus a no-go zone or a complete restriction on human activity, as suggested by the experts committee is an alarming yet a necessity step way forward.

of the current degradation of biodiversity hotspots in India mainly due to human impact.

Directive word:

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

Structure of the answer:

Introduction:

Explain briefly the significance of Biodiversity hotspots, necessity of their conservation.

Body:

Discuss briefly the following aspects :

  • Human impact on biodiversity – exponential growth of population vs carrying capacity of Earth, impact on species richness and species diversity etc.
  • Human-mediated causes of biodiversity loss – Land-use change, pollution, Resource exploitation, introduction of alien invasive species , faulty agricultural practices etc.
  • Bring in an angle of human impact- Biodiversity and climate change.
  • Significance of ‘coolspots’ that act as refuges from threats.
  • Way forward.

Conclusion:

Re- assert the need to conserve our biodiversity hotspots.

Introduction:

A biodiversity hotspot is a biogeographic region with significant levels of biodiversity that is threatened with humans and destruction. They represent just 2.3% of Earth’s land surface, but between them they contain around 50% of the world’s endemic plant species and 42% of all terrestrial vertebrates.

Body:

There are 3 biodiversity hot spots present in India. They are:

  • The Eastern Himalayas [Arunachal Pradesh, Bhutan, Eastern Nepal]
  • Indo-Burma and [Purvanchal Hills, Arakan Yoma, Eastern Bangladesh]
  • Sundalands: Includes Nicobar group of Islands (and Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Brunei, Philippines)
  • The Western Ghats and Sri Lanka

Human impact on biodiversity:

  • Human impacts on species occur across 84% of the earth’s surface, finds a study published in PLOS Biology, an international journal dedicated to biological science.
  • Southeast Asian tropical forests — including India’s biodiversity-rich Western Ghats, Himalaya and the north-east — also fall in this category.
  • India ranks 16th in such human impacts, with 35 species impacted on average. It includes those in India’s Western Ghats, Himalaya and north-east — are among the ‘hotspots’ of threatened species.
  • The average number of species impacted in the South Western Ghats montane rainforests is 60 and in the Himalayan subtropical broadleaf forests, 53.
  • The maps show that roads and croplands are extensive in India and conversion of habitat for such activities could be a main threat.
  • From the recently-updated Human Footprint data, it was found that a staggering 1,237 species are impacted by threats in more than 90% of their habitat; 395 species are affected by threats across their entire range. While the impact of roads is highest (affecting 72% of terrestrial areas), crop lands affect the highest number of threatened species: 3,834.

Human-mediated causes of biodiversity loss:

  • The primary cause for this erosion of diversity is human greed. Never before has one species influenced the environmental conditions all over the planet to such a magnitude as today.
  • The human species now uses 40 per cent of the planet’s annual net photosynthesis production.
  • The consumption of two-fifths of the planet’s net food resources by one species is incompatible with biological diversity and stability.
  • Loss and fragmentation of natural habitats, overexploitation of plant and animal species, the impact of exotics and invasive alien species, industrial effluents, climate change and, above all, the greed of man are causing the erosion.
  • The introduction of exotic species can pose a threat to indigenous diversity. Invasive alien species include plants, animals and pathogens that are non-native to an ecosystem and that may cause economic or environmental harm or adversely affect human health.
  • According to CBD reports, invasive alien species have contributed to nearly 40 per cent of all animal extinction.
  • Introduced fish species threaten to decimate the diverse fish fauna of big African lakes. Exotic weeds such as lantana and parthenium pose forest management problems.
  • Pesticide, troposphere ozone, sulphur and nitrogen oxides from industries also contribute to the degradation of natural ecosystems.
  • Poaching puts pressure on wild animals.
  • Global warming and climate change pose threats to plant and animal species as many organisms are sensitive to carbon dioxide concentration in the atmosphere that may lead to their disappearance.

Significance of ‘coolspots’:

  • Coolspots are the world’s last refuges where high numbers of threatened species still persist.
  • Cool-spots could be the result of protection or because of intact habitat that has not been cleared yet
  • India still has crucial refuges that need protecting. Identifying such areas could aid conservation and development planning for countries.

Way forward:

  • Sustainable use of biodiversity in production sectors such as agriculture, fisheries, forestry, tourism, and mining.
  • For example, in agriculture, strategies to minimise the use of and optimise the application of chemical fertilizers and pesticides reduce negative impacts on soil, groundwater, surrounding habitats and wildlife.
  • Include biodiversity considerations in poverty reduction and national sustainable development plans.
  • Community-based joint forest management, promotion of traditional multi-species and multi-variety agricultural practices
  • Securing access to medicinal resources for local use, strengthening traditional and cultural practices, and governing the use of wild resources.
  • Fair and equitable sharing of the benefits arising out of the use of biological resources
  • The active involvement of Central/State Ministries and Departments is needed.
  • Public and private entrepreneurs and entities as well as the public need to come forward to mainstream biodiversity.