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SECURE SYNOPSIS: 08 MAY 2019


SECURE SYNOPSIS: 08 MAY 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.


TopicImportant Geophysical phenomena such as earthquakes, Tsunami, Volcanic activity, cyclone etc., geographical features and their location- changes in critical geographical features (including waterbodies and ice-caps) and in flora and fauna and the effects of such changes.

1) Discuss the role played by the geographical factors such as physiography and climatic phenomena in determining the air quality of the region. Explain with examples. (250 words)

Reference

why this question:

The article brings out the case of air pollution witnessed by the Capital Delhi and the factors controlling the levels of air pollution. Thus, it is important for us to analyse the associated factors and their impact.

Key demands of the question:

The answer must explain the factors (geographical) responsible in controlling the levels of air pollution of a region with examples.

Directive word

DiscussThis 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

In a few introductory lines explain what is air pollution, factors responsible for it.

Body

Discuss the following aspects in the answer:

  • What factors – geographical, effect the air pollution aspect of a region? – physiography: presence of barriers, proximity to land and water, elevation, altitude etc. climatic conditions – hot, wet, dry etc.
  • Take hint from the article and explain in detail the case study of Delhi.
  • Discuss what are other factors that are working in tandem.

Conclusion

Conclude with way forward.

Introduction:

Air pollution consists of chemicals or particles in the air that can harm the health of humans, animals, and plants. It also damages buildings. Its effects can range from higher disease risks to rising temperatures. Soot, smoke, mold, pollen, methane, and carbon dioxide are a just few examples of common pollutants

Body:

Geographical factors and air quality:

  • Location: Latitude and altitude determines the rain and air pattern which effects air pollution level.
  • Continentality: The distance from the coastal areas is a major determinant of Air quality: E.g.: Delhi is cursed with poor geography as far as air pollution is concerned. The capital city lies to the north-east of the Thar Desert, to the north-west of the central plains and to the south-west of the Himalayas.
  • Relief: The various geological features like mountains, plateau, plains etc. determine the air quality. E.g.: As winds arrive from the coasts, bringing with them pollutants picked up along the way, they get ‘trapped’ right before the Himalayas. The air pressure pushes from one direction, and with the inability to escape quickly in the other, the particulate matter accumulates over the northern plains. This accumulation and entrapment affect not only Delhi, but the entire expanse between Punjab in the west to West Bengal in the east.
  • Speed and direction of wind: It is one of the most fundamental parameter that impacts air quality. E.g.: Winds from the Bay of Bengal act like a continuous “reset” button to the Chennai’s air quality.
  • Temperature: Temperature and sunlight (solar radiation) play an important role in the chemical reactions that occur in the atmosphere to form photochemical smog from other pollutants. E.g.: Favourable conditions can lead to increased concentrations of smog.
  • Humidity: Like temperature and solar radiation, water vapour plays an important role in many thermal and photochemical reactions in the atmosphere. As water molecules are small and highly polar, they can bind strongly to many substances. If attached to particles suspended in the air they can significantly increase the amount of light scattered by the particles (measuring visibility). If the water molecules attach to corrosive gases, such as sulfur dioxide, the gas will dissolve in the water and form an acid solution that can damage health and property.
  • Rainfall: Rain has a ‘scavenging’ effect when it washes particulate matter out of the atmosphere and dissolves gaseous pollutants. Removing particles improves visibility. Where there is frequent high rainfall, air quality is generally better. If the rain dissolves gaseous pollutants, such as sulfur dioxide, it can form acid rain resulting in potential damage to materials or vegetation.

After all, even after poor geography, meteorology, and natural sources of dust are accounted for, there are still significant pollutants that arise from anthropogenic sources. These anthropogenic factors include manufacturing activity, power generation, construction, and transport.

Conclusion:

To curb air pollution, a variety of measures need to be taken, such as adding more renewable energy and replacing gasoline-fuelled cars with zero-emissions vehicles such as electric ones. On a larger scale, governments at all levels should make commitments to limit emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases.


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

2) What do you understand by Pacific decadal oscillation? discuss in detail the causative factors and effects.(250 words)

The hindu

Why this question:

The article captures the context of Northeast India, one of the wettest places on the Earth that has been experiencing rapid drying, especially in the last 30 years. It highlights that the decreasing monsoon rainfall is associated with natural changes in the Pacific decadal oscillation (PDO).

Key demand of the question:

The answer must discuss the concept of PDO in detail.

Directive:

DiscussThis 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 what is PDO?

Body:

Body of the answer should discuss the following:

  • What is PDO? – It is a long-lived El Niño-like pattern of Pacific climate variability. The PDO is detected as warm or cool surface waters in the Pacific Ocean, north of 20°N.
  • Major changes in northeast Pacific marine ecosystems have been correlated with phase changes in the PDO; warm eras have seen enhanced coastal ocean biological productivity in Alaska and inhibited productivity off the west coast of the contiguous United States, while cold PDO eras have seen the opposite north-south pattern of marine ecosystem productivity.
  • How is it different from ENSO?
  • Causative factors? Consequences of such a geophysical phenomenon?

Conclusion:

Conclude with influence of such a phenomenon.

 

Introduction:

Pacific decadal oscillation (PDO) is a long-term ocean fluctuation of the Pacific Ocean, which waxes and wanes approximately every 20 to 30 years. Just like El Nino/La Nina in the tropical Pacific, PDO has a signature for a longer time (on the decadal scale) in the sea surface temperatures and its interaction with the atmosphere, which in turn affects the northeast Indian summer monsoon.

Body:

The PDO has positive and negative phases. The climate impacts experienced during a PDO event can go hand-in-hand with impacts from El Nino or La Nina.  If both phenomena are in the same phase, their associated impacts can be amplified.  In the opposite phase, the associated impacts on global climate may be reduced.

Positive phases: Positive phases of the PDO tend to be associated with periods of more rapid global warming whilst cold PDO events have been linked to severe droughts spanning many years in south western USA, as well as increased rainfall over eastern Australia.

Negative phases: It is thought that negative phases could be linked to times of slower warming. This is because cold phases of the PDO tend to increase mixing of colder, deep ocean waters with warmer surface waters.  This temporarily reduces the rate of global warming caused by increasing greenhouse gas emissions. Positive phases have the opposite effect.

Causes for PDO:

The cause of changes in the PDO has yet to be identified and it may even be due to a combination of factors including long-lasting fingerprints of El Nino and La Nina events in the tropical Pacific Ocean; changes in atmospheric pressure the northern Pacific; the impact of industrial pollution; and natural variability.

Effects of PDO:

  • PDO phase can have significant implications for the global climate, affecting Pacific and Atlantic hurricane activity, droughts and flooding around the Pacific basin, the productivity of marine ecosystems, and global land temperature patterns.
  • PDO can intensify or diminish the impacts of ENSO according to its phase. If both ENSO and the PDO are in the same phase, it is believed that El Niño/La Nina impacts may be magnified. Conversely, if ENSO and the PDO are out of phase, it has been proposed that they may offset one another, preventing “true” ENSO impacts from occurring.

Impacts on India:

  • Researchers from the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology, Pune and Assam University set out to understand the drying phase in the northeast.
  • Northeast India, one of the wettest places on the Earth has been experiencing rapid drying, especially in the last 30 years. Some places which used to get as high as 3,000 mm of rain during the monsoon season have seen a drop of about 25-30%.
  • It is found that rainfall in the region is largely dependent on monsoon rainfall and the impact of Pacific decadal oscillation (PDO) clearly visible in the region in the form of deficit rainfall over the years.
  • Decreasing monsoon rainfall is associated with natural changes in the subtropical Pacific Ocean
  • Change in land cover and deforestation could potentially result in more natural disasters, for example, flash flood, landslides from torrential rains, and damage to crops and biodiversity

Way forward:

  • Policymakers should take these long-term predictions into account while planning construction of dams, power plants, etc. to prevent loss of property.
  • Although the natural causative factors are out of human power, care must be taken to reduce the human causative factors of climate change.
  • Afforestation should be increased to widen the watershed capacity.
  • Other adaptation measures like Rainwater harvesting, tradition water saving methods could reduce the impacts of such natural phenomena.

Topic: India and its neighbourhood- relations. Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests

3) What is Intra – Afghan Dialogue? With India being a key player in the Afghanistan’s peace process, Discuss the effects of such a dialogue on India. (250 words)

Hindustantimes

Why this question:

The question is in the context of Intra – Afghan Dialogue and its impact on India.

Demand of the question:

This question seeks to examine Intra – Afghan Dialogue, role of India and the effects it will have on the geopolitics of the region.

Directive word:

DiscussThis 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

Start with brief narration of the background of the issue.

Body

Discuss the following points in detail:

  • India-Afghanistan Relations – Strategic, Economic, and Security Interests. Highlight as to why India’s stakes are high in such a dialogue.
  • Debate on India’s role in Afghan – There is a debate among major players in Afghan on the optimal role for India in Afghanistan’s reconstruction in light of the enduring security competition between India and Pakistan.
  • Discuss the involvement of different powers – US, China, Iran etc and roles played by them.
  • Then move on to discuss Why India needs to keep a close eye on the progress in the US-Taliban talks?
  • Conclude with way ahead

Conclusion

Conclude with significance of the such dialogues and the impact it will have possibly on India’s relationship with Afghanistan.

Introduction:

The direct negotiations between the Afghan government and the Taliban are known as Intra- Afghan Dialogues.  The intra- Afghan dialogue is proving to be the most intractable. Taliban have, so far, refused to sit across the table with the Afghan government, describing it as illegitimate. Consequently, US special representative for Afghanistan reconciliation, Zalmay Khalilzad is in negotiations with the Taliban. Five rounds of talks have been held and a sixth is likely soon.

Body:

Khalilzad’s negotiations with the Taliban are focusing on four aspects:

  • the pace of withdrawal of foreign troops;
  • Taliban’s commitment to not again allow Afghanistan to be a base for attacks against other countries;
  • intra-Afghan dialogue;
  • Reduction of violence leading to a comprehensive ceasefire.

But for an eventual settlement of the Afghan crisis, the Afghan government and the Taliban need to talk. Thus, the emphasis on Intra-Afghan dialogue.

Intra-Afghan dialogue:

  • An intra-Afghan dialogue involves political and civil society leaders of Afghanistan.
  • The negotiators list from the Afghan Government numbering around 250 includes representatives of political parties, government officials, opposition figures, former fighters, women’s rights activists, war victims’ families, Muslim leaders, youth and media groups.
  • It includes tribal elders and members of Afghanistan’s High Peace Council (AHPC), a body that oversees peace efforts but does not represent the government.

Reasons for India’s discomfort in US talks with Taliban:

  • These talks continue without acknowledging a role for India, despite this being an expressly stated goal of USA’s South Asia policy.
  • Khalilzad’s conference at the U.S. State Department to discuss “international support for the Afghan peace process, the role each party can play in bringing an end to the war, and progress to date in peace talks” included only special envoys from Russia, China and the European Union.
  • When talks with the Taliban began, the objective was to try to mainstream the insurgents into the political process, and at least have a working ceasefire by the time presidential elections, scheduled for April 2019, were held.
  • However, the Taliban continues to carry out terror attacks in Afghanistan even as its leadership talks with the U.S. Despite the Ministry of External Affairs issuing a statement on the importance of holding the presidential elections, the Afghan vote has been further postponed to September 28.
  • The Taliban launched its annual spring offensive, naming it Operation Fateh, targeting international and local forces. Several attacks have taken place with Afghan and international security forces casualties.
  • This makes Mr. Ghani’s continuance more tenuous under the constitution, which could mean an interim government will be installed, something India has been opposed to as well.
  • New Delhi is worried about the prospect of chaos and civil war, akin to the scene after the previous U.S. pullout in the early 1990s that cut India out and brought the Taliban to power in Kabul with Pakistan’s support.

Way forward for India:

  • Despite the restricted room for manoeuvre, however, there are several steps New Delhi can and must take in the present scenario to ensure both its own relevance in Afghanistan and stability in the region.
  • To begin with, there is the question of talks with the Taliban, which India has thus far refused.
  • India needs to monitor the Taliban’s approach to groups fostered by the Pakistani state to target India.
  • India must focus on assisting Afghanistan in every manner possible to ensure that the country’s elections are as peaceful and participative as possible.
  • On the military front as well, India must move quickly to provide helicopters as well as engineering/tech support for Afghan hardware.
  • Indian government must realise that its consistent undermining of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) because of problems with Pakistan is also weakening Afghanistan’s engagement with the subcontinent, which India had worked hard to foster
  • For regional security there must be closer involvement of regional powers in international efforts to ensure non-interference and a stable Afghanistan; this also requires involvement of the Central Asian Republics, which border Afghanistan.
  • It is important for India to coordinate its efforts with those of Russia and Iran to ensure success.

Conclusion:

India is committed to “Afghan-led, Afghan-owned and Afghan controlled” peace process. India’s engagement with Afghanistan is multi-dimensional.


Topic: Disaster and disaster management.

4) Discuss the importance of ‘Climate resilience’ in the eventualities of disasters. Explain how building climate-resilient structures aid to minimise long-term cost of reconstruction in the disaster hit regions.(250 words)

Reference

Why this question:

The article discusses in detail the commendable emergency response to cyclone Fani that saved lives in Odisha, and how now the state must build climate-resilient structures to minimize long-term cost of reconstruction.

Key demand of the question:

The question expects us to elaborate on the concept of climate resilience and one must state the significance of the same in the event of the onset of Disasters like that of cyclone Fani.

Directive word:

DiscussThis 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 what you understand by climate resilience.

Body:

Discussion should include the following aspects –

  • What do you understand by Climate resilience? -Climate resilience can be generally defined as the capacity for a socio-ecological system to:
  1. absorb stresses and maintain function in the face of external stresses imposed upon it by climate change and
  2. adapt, reorganize, and evolve into more desirable configurations that improve the sustainability of the system, leaving it better prepared for future climate change impacts.
  • What is climate resilient infrastructure? -Climate Resilient Infrastructure. Infrastructure by its very nature, and often by design, is vulnerable to the impacts associated with climate change. ‘Climate resilient’ infrastructure can safeguard and strengthen developing countries’ economic growth from current and future climate impacts.
  • Explain the significance of having climate resilient infrastructure.
  • Discuss how it addresses vulnerability.
  • Discuss the case study of cyclone Fani to justify the answer better.

Conclusion:

Conclude with a reassertion that climatic resilience is of utmost importance.

Introduction:

Climate resilience can be defined as the capacity for a socio-ecological system to absorb stresses and maintain function in the face of external stresses imposed upon it by climate change and adapt, reorganize, and evolve into more desirable configurations that improve the sustainability of the system, leaving it better prepared for future climate change impacts.

Body:

Importance of Climate resilience:

  • As greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise, climate change will continue to accelerate.
  • Climate change poses a serious threat to efforts to reduce global poverty. According to the United Nations International Panel on Climate Change, the changing climate will have widespread effects on human life and ecosystems. It brings heat waves, flooding, droughts, intense tropical cyclones, rising sea levels, and damages biodiversity.
  • Recently study in Nature regarding Climate Change identifies India as the country with the most expected damage from rising levels of carbon dioxide.
  • Climate resilience is often associated with acute events – like heavy downpours, hurricanes, or wildfires – that will become more frequent or intense as the climate changes.
  • The UN Sustainable Goals Report, 2018 notes that climate change is among the key factors in rising hunger and human displacement. The World Health Organisation estimates that climate change will cause an additional 250,000 deaths per year between 2030 and 2050, due to malnutrition, malaria, diarrhoea and heat stress.
  • The World Bank projects that climate change could cost India 2.8% of its GDP, and diminish living standards for nearly half the country’s population, in the next 30-odd years.

Climate resilient infrastructure:

 

  • Infrastructure by its very nature, and often by design, is vulnerable to the impacts associated with climate ‘Climate resilient ‘infrastructure can safeguard and strengthen developing countries’ economic growth from current and future climate impacts.
  • Climate resilient infrastructure is important in the light of extreme weather events , global warming leading to sea level rise, adequate disaster preparedness, prevention of economic losses, minimal disruption to society.

Climate resilient infrastructure and cost reductions:

  • During intense storm surge vulnerable regions are susceptible to instantaneous damage to infrastructure. These regions need quick adoption of design standards to withstand storms, and adapt to high wind speed, heavy rain and flooding to reduce damage.
  • Indian Road Congress guidelines, which govern road design, are being revised for adoption of climate resilient guidelines for roads and drainage. This is considering resilient design standards and material for road infrastructure.
  • Road-building will have to be aligned with improved drainage system. Street design, mobility alignment, and public transport will have to reflect special needs during climatic stress.
  • Design guidelines will also have to improve and augment drainage capacity and link it with water recharge and storage.
  • Flood risk assessment and flood plain management must also be mandatory. Assessment of vulnerability can govern development along shore line and vulnerable areas to enhance protection and hedge risk.
  • Case-Studies: Hong Kong has overhauled its drainage infrastructure. It has innovatively implemented Happy Valley Underground Stormwater Storage Scheme, constructing beneath several sports fields.
  • Copenhagen is using the method of “fight flooding with flooding” by lowering its parks and raising sidewalks connected to parks. During extreme downpours, the parks will turn into temporary reservoirs and storage for recharge while the streets will channelise water towards the city’s harbour.

Way forward:

  • It is critical to invest in climate-smart infrastructure like water management, transport, and energy because they provide critical social and economic services not only to the city but also to regions beyond that. These need to be done now because changing them requires a significant amount of lead time to design and implement
  • There is a need to build the principles of climate resilience into coastal infrastructure development. This would mean incorporating them into already-existing urban infrastructure. For future infrastructure development, climate resilience will need to be built in right from the planning stage.
  • Location-specific information within the larger picture of how climate change is affecting or will affect the Indian coast can help planners and administrators to build in climate resilience.
  • At present there is no window for financing climate resilient infrastructure, according to the TERI study. One avenue could have been the National Mission on Sustainable Habitat, one of the eight missions initiated under the National Action Plan on Climate Change.
  • Both short- and long-term, detailed design features and interventions that would need expert engineering solutions are critical to planning for new infrastructure or retrofitting/climate proofing of existing ones.
  • Planning for climate resilience would need to start from the time of locating the infrastructure facilities. For instance, infrastructure for solid waste management, especially landfills, have to be located keeping in mind the projected sea level rise.
  • Similarly, planning for climate resilience would mean ensuring water supply channels have back-ups for extreme weather events.

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

5) What are NBFCs? How are they different from banks? Discuss their financial activities and the issues currently being faced by the Indian NBFCs. (250 words)

Livemint

Why this question:

The article highlights the ripple effect of the NBFCs crisis on the Indian economy. Non-banking financial companies (NBFCs) are facing a crisis, particularly the smaller ones that are struggling with asset-liability mismatch amid corporate governance issues. Thus, it is important for us to ponder on the topic from exam point of view.

Key demand of the question:

The answer must provide for a detailed discussion on what are NBFCs, their role and activities in the economy, what are the issues currently they are facing and what needs to be done to resolve it.

Directive word:

DiscussThis 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:

write a few introductory lines defining what are NBFCs – is a Company that offers financial assistance and other banking services without actually being a bank. It is a Company registered under the Companies Act, 1956.

Body:

Answers must discuss the following aspects:

  • What are the characteristics of NBFC? How are they different from Banks?
  • Business they undertake?  – Loans and advances, Acquisition of shares/stocks/bonds/debentures/securities, Leasing, Hire-purchase, Insurance business, and Chit business.
  • Further, Companies whose primary business constitutes receiving deposits either in instalments or lump sum in any manner are also deemed as NBFCs. However, NBFCs exclude institutions engaged in the following kinds of business: Agriculture activity, Industrial activity, Purchase or sale of any goods (other than securities) or Providing any services and sale/purchase/construction of immovable property.
  • Discuss How are NBFCs different from banks?
  • Then move on to discussing the problems of the NBFCs – asset-liability mismatch amid corporate governance issues, NBFCs had borrowed short term from banks and mutual funds while lending to developers of long-term projects, which got held up because of various factors, willful corporate defaulters etc.
  • Suggest solutions – take cues from the article.

Conclusion –

Conclude with way forward.

Introduction:

A Non-Banking Financial Company (NBFC) is a company registered under the Companies Act, 1956 engaged in the business of loans and advances, acquisition of shares/ stocks/ bonds/ debentures/ securities issued by Government or local authority or other marketable securities of a like nature, leasing, hire-purchase, insurance business, chit business. However, it does not include any institution whose principal business is that of agriculture activity, industrial activity, purchase or sale of any goods (other than securities) or providing any services and sale/purchase/construction of immovable property.

Body:

Comparison between NBFC and Banks:

NBFCs lend and make investments, and hence their activities are similar to that of banks; however, there are a few differences as given below:

  • NBFC cannot accept demand deposits;
  • NBFCs do not form part of the payment and settlement system and cannot issue cheques drawn on itself.
  • Deposit insurance facility of Deposit Insurance and Credit Guarantee Corporation is not available to depositors of NBFCs, unlike in case of banks.
  • Unlike Banks which are regulated by the RBI, the NBFCs are regulated by multiple regulators; Insurance Companies- IRDA, Merchant Banks- SEBI, Micro Finance Institutions- State Government, RBI and NABARD.
  • The norm of Public Sector Lending does not apply to NBFCs.
  • The Cash Reserve Requirement also does not apply to NBFCs.

Role of NBFC in Indian economy:

  • Profitability :
    • NBFCs are more profitable than the banking sector because of lower costs. This helps them offer cheaper loans to customers. As a result, NBFCs’ credit growth is higher than that of the banking sector with more customers opting for NBFCs.
  • Infrastructure Lending :
    • NBFCs contribute largely to the economy by lending to infrastructure projects, which are very important to a developing country like India. Since they require large amount of funds, and earn profits only over a longer time-frame, these are riskier projects and deters banks from lending
  • Promoting inclusive growth :
    • NBFCs cater to a wide variety of customers both in urban and rural areas. They finance projects of small-scale companies, which is important for the growth in rural areas. They also provide small-ticket loans for affordable housing projects. All these help promote inclusive growth in the country.
  • Variety of sectors:
    • NBFCs are beginning to meet the consequent unmet demand for credit across a variety of sectors and ensuring continuing credit flows to the real economy.
  • NBFCs have been maintaining low net NPA ratios of 3.5% unlike their banking sector counterparts.
  • NBFCs have been found to be relatively more resilient to stress applied for credit risk as observed by the RBI in its financial stability reports of the past two years. NBFCs, even under severe stress conditions, continued to remain stable.
  • NBFCs have been able to complement the credit intermediation by banks by serving regions, sectors and customer segments that banks have either been unable or unwilling to serve profitably.
  • NBFCs often take lead role in providing innovative financial services to Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) most suitable to their business requirements.
  • NBFCs do play a critical role in participating in the development of an economy by providing a fillip to transportation, employment generation, wealth creation, bank credit in rural segments and to support financially weaker sections of the society.
  • Emergency services like financial assistance and guidance is also provided to the customers in the matters pertaining to insurance.

NBFC’s aid economic development in the following ways

  • Mobilization of Resources – It converts savings into investments
  • Capital Formation – Aids to increase capital stock of a company
  • Provision of Long-term Credit and specialised Credit
  • Aid in Employment Generation
  • Help in development of Financial Markets
  • Helps in Attracting Foreign Grants
  • Helps in Breaking Vicious Circle of Poverty by serving as government’s instrument

Issues faced by NBFCs:

 

  • NBFC is passing through a turbulent period following a series of defaults by Infrastructure Leasing and Financial Services (IL&FS) and the subsequent liquidity crunch.
  • Several corporates, mutual funds and insurance companies had invested in short-term instruments such as commercial papers (CPs) and non-convertible debentures (NCDs) of the IL&FS group that has been defaulting on payments since August.
  • This has stoked fears that many of them could have funds stuck in IL&FS debt instruments which, in turn could lead to a liquidity crunch in their own backyard.
  • There are rising fears that the funding cost for NBFCs will zoom and result in a sharp decline in their margins.
  • Higher borrowing costs and narrowing options to raise funds will pose challenges for retail non banking finance companies (NBFCs) in the fiscal year ending March 2019 .
  • The bond yields have gone up sharply to around the 8% mark. That is making borrowing costlier even at the short end of the yield curve.
  • NBFCs are likely to witness higher pricing pressure as competition in the retail segment intensifies going forward this is expected to be accentuated by narrowing funding avenues and higher systemic rates.
  • Higher fuel prices, weaker dollar and the trade war could hit the SME sector badly. This would mean defaults by SMES, which have been a traditional market for NBFC lending.
  • Investors are worried about a credit downgrade backlash on NBFCs. That could mean huge write-offs for investors.
  • Mutual funds who have invested in market instruments of NBFCs have faced increased redemption pressures.

Way forward:

  • Given the growing size and dominance of the NBFC sector, it is important that the threshold capital levels for entry be substantially increased. It may be prudent for RBI to evaluate the need to shore up minimum capital requirements for various NBFCs.
  • While RBI has identified systemically important NBFCs, it needs to step up the monitoring of NBFCs which belong to large, diversified groups. Checks and balances are needed to ensure that risks do not build up in the sector due to structures which are too-complex-to-manage.
  • RBI could consider re-visiting some of the unimplemented recommendations of the Working Group on Issues and Concerns in the NBFC Sector chaired by Usha Thorat in 2011.
  • One such recommendation was the introduction of a liquidity coverage ratio for NBFCs. The objective was to ensure that NBFCs have cash balances and holdings of government securities which may fully cover gaps between cumulative outflows and cumulative inflows for the first 30 days. This would be the buffer in times of stress.

Topic : Infrastructure – Energy

6) Discuss the objectives of Ujjwal DISCOM Assurance Yojana (UDAY), How far has UDAY been able to address the stagnation/decline in the electricity generation capacity of State power utilities?(250 words)

The hindu

 

Why this question:

The article highlights the recent report made by Crisil that suggested State-owned power generation firms have to become commercially viable. Aggregate external debt of State-owned electricity distribution companies (discoms) is set to increase to pre-Ujwal Discom Assurance Yojana (UDAY) levels of ₹2.6 lakh crore by the end of this fiscal, according to Crisil’s analysis of discoms in 15 States, which account for 85% of the aggregate losses.

Key demand of the question:

Analyse in detail the role played by UDAY – its features and objectives, what are the current issues in the State power utilities, how is UDAY addressing it etc.

Directive word:

DiscussThis 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:

In a few introductory lines highlight the observations made by Crisil.

Body:

In brief discuss –

  • Discuss the Scheme Objectives:
  • The scheme was launched for operational and financial turnaround of State-owned Power Distribution Companies (DISCOMs).
  • It aims to reduce the interest burden, reduce the cost of power, reduce power losses in Distribution sector, and improve operational efficiency of DISCOMs.
  • Strategy of UDAY? – four initiatives (i) Improving operational efficiencies of DISCOMs; (ii) Reduction of cost of power; (iii) Reduction in interest cost of DISCOMs; (iv) Enforcing financial discipline on DISCOMs through alignment with State finances.
  • What is the current scenario?
  • Discuss the efforts of the government in this direction.

Conclusion:

Conclude with what needs to be done, suggest way forward.  

 

Introduction:

Ujwal DISCOM Assurance Yojana (UDAY) is a financial restructuring and efficiency enhancing program, aims to reduce the debt burden of the state owned electricity distribution companies (DISCOMs) started in 2015. Though the main component of UDAY is debt management, other measures like raising operational efficiency are also proposed to permanently settle the debt scenario of DISCOMs.

Body:

Objectives of UDAY:

  • Improving operational efficiencies of DISCOMs;
  • Reduction of cost of power;
  • Reduction in interest cost of DISCOMs;
  • Enforcing financial discipline on DISCOMs through alignment with State finances.

Features:

  • Scheme aims at financial turnaround and revival of Power Distribution companies(DISCOMs) and ensures a sustainable permanent solution
  • It allows power DISCOMs in selected states to convert their debt into state bonds as well as roll out number of measures to improve efficiency at power plants
  • It improves operational efficiencies of DISCOMs, Reduce of cost of power, Reduce interest cost of DISCOMs, Enforce financial discipline on DISCOMs.
  • Improve operational efficiency by swapping of coal linkages, monitoring technical and commercial (AT&C) losses , smart metering and feeder separation in states
  • The operational efficiency includes compulsory smart metering, upgradation of transformers and meters to reduce electricity lost during transmission and distribution (or theft).

Appraisal of UDAY:

Positives:

  • It took off well, with a large number of states joining the scheme. Several states took over the debt of their utilities, improving their liquidity situation. Anecdotal evidence also suggests an improvement in the power supply situation.
  • Government’s UDAY scheme has helped debt-laden discoms of 24 states to reduce losses to Rs 369 billion in 2016-17 from Rs 515.9 billion in the previous financial year.
  • The participating states have achieved an improvement of one per cent in Aggregate Technical & Commercial (AT&C or distribution) losses and Rs 0.17 a Unit in the gap between Average Cost of Supply and Average Revenue realised in 2016- 17

Challenges persist:

  • Four years on, the results of UDAY remain unclear and questionable. Many tasks are running behind schedule like smart meter installations.
  • AT&C losses remain high, with some states indicating losses of over 40 per cent, a far cry from the 15 per cent target.
  • The gap between average cost of supply (ACS) and the average revenue realised (ARR) continues to be high in most states.
  • Much of the NPA (non-performing asset) or bad loan resolution in the power sector is beyond UDA
  • Over and above the prevailing maladies in the distribution system rising share of renewable energy (RE) is increasing the average cost of supply, as it is displacing consumption of low-cost coal.
  • The bonds issued are essentially held by the same entities that had lent funds to the State electricity boards (SEBs).
  • The interest received is lower by at least 4-6 per cent; this means that there is a loss of income. Intuitively, it can be seen that every ₹1 lakh crore of UDAY bonds issued involves a loss of up to ₹6,000 crore for banks and FIs that have lent money to them.
  • There is no guarantee that there will not be future losses as there is no retribution if the State electricity boards choose not to reform. In fact, this has been kept out of the purview of the scheme.
  • By also mandating that State governments have to progressively take over the losses of their SEBs, the Centre has put the onus on the States to deal with the problem.

Way forward:

  • Discom business needs to be fundamentally restructured.
  • Governance needs to be improved with greater resilience to political influence.
  • Robust mechanisms need to be put in place to ensure tariff rationalisation and follow-through on subsequent increases.
  • Market-friendly electricity reforms need to be introduced and enforced. This includes expanding the role of short-term markets, as well as strict enforcement of PPAs to assure investors and developers of the legal sanctity of contracts signed with discoms.
  • Streamlining the open access process, with the fair application of additional surcharges will boost the demand for renewable energy from the commercial and industrial sectors.
  • Discoms will have to be pushed harder to invest in technical solutions and infrastructure upgrade such as feeder separation, installing smart meters and undertaking detailed data collection and analysis.
  • Strict Actions to curb Electricity theft and other actions those lead to Losses to DISCOMs.
  • Integrating UDAY scheme with Make in India and Startup India to ensure overall Development.
  • Integrating UDAY with KUSUM to increase amount of electricity to DISCOMS.

Topic: Ethics and Human Interface: Essence, determinants and consequences of Ethics in human actions

7) “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.” – Martin Luther King, Jr. Discuss the statement in the light of the virtue of raising voice against the wrongs. (250 words)

Ethics by Lexicon

 

Why this question:

The question is intended to evaluate the quotation made by Martin Luther King.

Key demand of the question:

The answer must discuss the importance of raising voice against the wrong in a society.

Directive word:

DiscussThis 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:

In a few introductory lines appreciate the value of the quote.

Body:

Explain that the only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to raise voice against it, against injustice. “A man dies when he refuses to stand up for that which is right. A man dies when he refuses to stand up for justice. A man dies when he refuses to take a stand for that which is true.”

One must appreciate the moral of raising voice against any injustice, any wrong as that is the rightful thing to do.

Students must explain such answers using examples to justify the answer better.

Conclusion:

Conclude with importance of raising voice against the wrong.

Introduction:

The above quote reminds a person that he/she should be brave and stand out against injustice. Dr. King reminded us not to sit on the sidelines of life and watch injustice; rather we need to speak out and consciously push back against it. Any evil or injustice left unopposed will invariably prevail over justice, with unfortunate consequences for the whole of society.

Body:

We complain about injustice and prejudice; we watch as the rights of others are trampled or erased but we choose to remain silent. Those who recognize that a wrong is being committed and who fail to act may not be culpable with the triumph of evil, but neither are they innocent of the bad that results.

For example: Take the case of corruption in India. It is evident that malpractices, cheating, bribery and other such vices are prevalent. But most people choose to remain silent as they think it is not their problem.

Sometimes we refrain from speaking out because we assume that “speaking out” means protesting with signs or acts of civil disobedience.

Dr. King’s words are applicable today in our current political environment – where civility has been replaced by anger and hate.  Instances of mob-violence, lynching, and communalism are on a high.  It is applicable today where a climate exists which tolerates evil by its deafening silence. Instances of racism, eve-teasing, body-shaming fit the bill here.

All of the great, remembered people of the world never truly die; they’re still here in memory. And they are remembered for one main reason: they spoke about topics that mattered.

“The things that matter” are often not tangible. Equality matters. Freedom matters. Happiness and peace matter. And when we don’t have those things, we need to fight for them and break the silence. If we don’t have those things, we need to fight for them and break the silence. If we don’t, and we give in, our life truly starts to end. Our world is a complicated place that will always have problems. It will never be perfect, but if we want something close to that, we need to take action to make change.

In order to change the tone of the rhetoric of hate, we must speak up. We must stand up against injustice and for those who are being treated unjustly. Dr. King urged all of us to feel passionate about freedom and justice – when we feel strongly, we must speak up; not remain silent.

In life, there are two paths: the easy path and the hard one. If you take the easy way out, you make sure you are fine and do what you need to do. Martin Luther King took the hard route: helping others more than himself, and doing more than what was required. He was a true leader; he was changing the world and solving its problems.

Conclusion:

The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy. The above quote should sculpt the everyday actions of people from leaders, politicians and ambassadors to the common people of the world.