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Insights SECURE SYNOPSIS: 16 July 2021

 

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


General Studies – 1


 

Topic: GS-1: Role of women and women’s organization, population and associated issues, poverty and developmental issues, urbanization, their problems and their remedies.

GS-2: Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the Centre and States and the performance of these schemes; mechanisms, laws, institutions and Bodies constituted for the protection and betterment of these vulnerable sections.

1. Discuss what are the issues with making welfare conditional? Comment in the light of recent controversy of Coercive policy measures taken to control population in the state of Uttar Pradesh. (250 words)

Reference:  The Hindu

Why the question:

Recently, the government of Uttar Pradesh released a “Population Policy” in which it stated its intention to bring the gross fertility rate in the State down from the existing 2.7 to 2.1 by 2026.

Key Demand of the question:

Discuss the issues with making welfare conditional with suitable illustrations.

Directive:

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:

Start with recent example of population control measures taken up by UP.

Body:

The answer body must have the following aspects covered:

Discuss the issues with coercive population control policies; through an affidavit filed in court, the central government argued that “international experience shows that any coercion to have a certain number of children is counter-productive and leads to demographic distortions”,against international obligations, against right to reproductive freedom and privacy etc.

Suggest why welfare should not be made conditional.

Conclusion:

Conclude with way forward.

Introduction

The government of Uttar Pradesh released a “Population Policy” recently, in which the government stated its intention to bring the gross fertility rate in the State down from the existing 2.7 to 2.1 by 2026. To stabilize the population, the government is considering the enactment of a new piece of legislation.

Body

Statistics:

  • Currently the population of India is about 17% of the global population.
  • According to a United Nations report, India is expected to add 273 million people by the year 2050 and by the year 2027, India’s population is projected to surpass China’s which will make India the most populous nation in the world.
  • In India, Assam, Himachal Pradesh, and other hilly terrains have a lower density of population.
  • While the northern plains and coastal areas have very high population density.
  • Sex composition:-It refers to the number of females per 1000 males in a given area at a specified time period. In India sex ratio is 940.
  • Literacy composition:-According to census 2011, Literacy rate in India, which is a prerequisite to education and an instrument of empowerment. In India literacy level is 74.4%.
  • Working Population Composition:-The population of India according to their economic status is divided into three groups, namely; main workers, marginal workers, and non-workers.
  • National Family Health Survey (NFHS)-4 (2015-2016) data:
  • 12% of married women in the 15-49 years of age bracket independently make decisions about their own healthcare.
  • 63% decide in consultation with their spouse.
  • For 23% it is the spouse that mainly takes decisions about healthcare.

Issues with coercive population control policies

·         Counter-productive measure: Through an affidavit filed in court, the central government argued that “international experience shows that any coercion to have a certain number of children is counter-productive and leads to demographic distortions”. 

·         Against international obligations: India is committed to its obligations under international law, including the principles contained in the International Conference on Population and Development Programme of Action, 1994.

  • Foremost in those principles was a pledge from nations that they wouldlook beyond demographic targets and focus instead on guaranteeing a right to reproductive freedom.

·         Against right to reproductive freedom and privacy:  In Suchita Srivastava & Anr vs Chandigarh Administration (2009),  the Court found that a woman’s freedom to make reproductive decisions is an integral facet of the right to personal liberty guaranteed by Article 21.

  • However, In Javed & Ors vs State of Haryana & Ors (2003), the Court upheld a law that disqualified persons with more than two children from contesting in local body elections.

·         Negative consequences: An already skewed sex ratio may be compounded by families aborting a daughter in the hope of having a son with a view to conforming to the two-child norm.

·         In Devika Biswas vs Union of India (2016), the Court pointed to how these camps invariably have a disparate impact on minorities and other vulnerable groups.

Main points in the UP legislation:

Incentives to a couple:

  • There are incentives to families that adhere to a two­ child norm
  • On the other hand, it intends to disincentive the families that breach the norm from benefits and subsidies.
  • Population policy promises public servants who undergo sterilization and adopt a two­ child norm will have several benefits.
  • Two increments during their service
  • A subsidy towards the purchasing of a house
  • The maternity, or paternity leave which includes full salary and allowances for up to 12 months
  • Free health care and insurance coverage for the spouse.

 

Disincentives to a couple:

  • A person who breaches the two child norm will be debarred from securing the benefit of any government sponsored welfare scheme or any kind of subsidy given by the government
  • A person who breaches the two child norm will be disqualified from applying to any State government job.
  • A person who breaches the two child norm and he is an existing government employee who infringes the rule will be denied the benefit of promotion.
  • A person who breaches the two child norm will be debarred from contesting elections to local authorities and bodies.

 Conclusion

Experiences from other States in India show us that there are more efficacious and alternative measures available to control the growth of population, including processes aimed at improving public health and access to education. For one thing, the reasoning of the Bill goes against the Puttaswamy case.  But as rousing as the nine-judge Bench verdict is, its legacy depends on how its findings are applied.

 

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

2. How are the Judges elected to International Court of Justice (ICJ)? Discuss the importance of ICJ seat to India’s diplomacy. (250 words)

Reference:  https://www.icj-cij.org

Why the question:

The question is from the static portions of GS paper II , theme international institutions.

Key Demand of the question:

Discuss in detail the method of elections of Judges at the ICJ and importance of ICJ seat to India’s diplomacy.

Directive:

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:

Start with what ICJ is.

Body:

The International Court of Justice (ICJ) is the principal judicial organ of the United Nations (UN). It was established in June 1945 by the Charter of the United Nations and began work in April 1946.

The seat of the Court is at the Peace Palace in The Hague (Netherlands). Of the six principal organs of the United Nations, it is the only one not located in New York (United States of America). The Court is composed of 15 judges, who are elected for terms of office of nine years by the United Nations General Assembly and the Security Council. It is assisted by a Registry, its administrative organ. Its official languages are English and French.

Judges are elected to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in accordance with the Statute of the ICJ, the Rules of Procedure of the General Assembly, and the Provisional Rules of Procedure of the Security Council.

Usually, the General Assembly and Security Council meet simultaneously. Depending on the number of vacancies and nominations, ballots are prepared. There may be several rounds of voting by secret ballot. Summary voting results are given in the meeting records of the meeting at which the vote was held. The outcome of the vote is usually a decision.

Conclusion:

Conclude with importance.

Introduction

The International Court of Justice (ICJ) is the principal judicial body of the UN. Established in 1946 to replace the Permanent Court of International Justice, the ICJ mainly operates under the statute of its predecessor, which is included in the UN Charter. It has two primary functions: to settle legal disputes submitted by States in accordance with established international laws, and to act as an advisory board on issues submitted to it by authorized international organizations.

Dalveer Bhandari, an Indian Justice, was re-elected as a judge to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in 2018 and will retire in 2027.

Body

 Qualifications of ICJ judges:

  • A judge should have a high moral character.
  • A judge should fit to the qualifications of appointment of highest judicial officers as prescribed by their respective states or.
  • A judge should be a juriconsult of recognized competence in international law.

Election of Judges to ICJ

  • The election process for the judges is set out in Articles 4–19 of the ICJ statute.
  • It is composed of 15 judges who are elected for the term of nine years, by the UN General Assembly and the UN Security Council. The elected judges form part of the list of people nominated by the national groups in the Permanent Court of Arbitration.
  • Elections are staggered, with five judges elected every three years to ensure continuity within the court. If a judge dies in office, the practice has generally been to elect a judge in a special election to complete the term.
  • A judge can be dismissed only by a unanimous vote of the other members of the court.
  • No two judges can be nationals of the same country. The judges in ICJ are chosen to represent all geographic regions of the world- an informal understanding between the nations.
  • There are five seats for Western Countries, three seats for the African States, two for the Eastern Europe States, three for the Asian States and two for Latin American and Caribbean States.
  • Article 6 of the Statute provides that all judges should be elected regardless of their nationality. Judges should be of high moral character either qualified for the highest judicial office in their home states or known as lawyers with sufficient competence in international law.
  • Judges of ICJ cannot hold any other post or act as counsel.
  • Article 31 of the statute sets out a procedure whereby Ad Hoc judges sit on contentious cases before the court. The system allows any party to a contentious case to select one additional person to sit as a judge on that case only. It is thus possible that as many as seventeen judges may sit on one case. Ad Hoc judges usually vote in favour of the state that appointed them and thus cancels each other out.
  • Judges may deliver joint judgments or give their own separate opinions. Decisions and advisory opinions are by majority, and, in the event of an equal division, the President’s vote becomes decisive.

Importance of ICJ seat for India:

  • Judges of the ICJ do not create international law; they interpret it.
  • However, the interpretation of international law by states is an eminently political exercise, and the faith placed by U.N. member states in an Indian nominee is therefore also a reflection of India’s credentials.
  • The U.N. re-elected Bhandari for a second term, but this time, he was elected to a “different” seat on the court.
  • It has become customary for seats on the ICJ to be represented by the five U.N. regional groupings: Africa, Asia-Pacific, Eastern European, Latin America and the Caribbean, and the Western Europe and Other Groups (WEOG).
  • In an overwhelming majority of cases, ICJ judges support their home states in disputes before the court.
  • New Delhi’s short-term interests notwithstanding, India remains a scrupulous practitioner of international law.
  • In an age of revisionism and aggressive lawfare led by China, India’s election to the ICJ is likely a stabilising development.
  • New Delhi is an important player, both in the governance of common spaces in Asia and in future regimes to manage new technologies.
  • But more pertinently, it has emerged as a rival that can counter China’s revanchist manoeuvres.
  • The U.N.’s endorsing India’s nominee to the ICJ is, for this reason, significant—it is also a welcome signal from many states that they do not believe existing regimes are nearing their expiry date.

Conclusion

The voting in the General Assembly which overwhelmingly favoured India is reflective of the new global order, which is not pleasant to the world powers. India has been seeking that the democratic process need to be played its full course in both the Security Council and the General Assembly and there should not be an intervention or adoption of a process that has never been used before or the one that undermines the voice of the majority.

 

Topic: India and its neighborhood- relations.

3. Elaborate upon India’s Infrastructure Investment as the part of India- Afghanistan Strategic relationship. (250 words)

Reference:  Indian Express

Why the question:

The article explains India’s Infrastructure Investment as the part of India- Afghanistan Strategic relationship.

Key Demand of the question:

Discuss in detail the importance of India’s Infrastructure Investment as the part of India- Afghanistan Strategic relationship.

Directive:

Elaborate – Give a detailed account as to how and why it occurred, or what is the particular context. You must be defining key terms where ever appropriate, and substantiate with relevant associated facts.

Structure of the answer:

Introduction:

Start with the context of the question.

Body:

The answer body must have the following aspects covered:

Discuss the about the India-Afghanistan partnership agreement first; The 2011 India-Afghanistan Strategic Partnership Agreement recommitted Indian assistance to help rebuild Afghanistan’s infrastructure and institutions; education and technical assistance for capacity-building in many areas; encourage investment in Afghanistan; and provide duty-free access to the Indian market. Bilateral trade is now worth $1 billion.

Then talk about the projects India has taken up.

Conclusion:

Conclude with way forward.

Introduction

The Afghanistan-India relation is unique and dynamic prefacing shared vision of economic, social and cultural periphery. The proximity is accounted with active engagement and prioritizing to accomplish better strategic relation of India with Afghanistan in bringing economic development, stability and peace that will ultimately usher progress in the country. The prestigious history of Afghanistan-India relations is an excellent reputation on the bilateral front covering all the aspects of friendliness, trust, mutual interest, people-to-people contact. Today both the nations cherish this bonding on a wider spectrum and prioritizing the multi-layered dimensions seeking greater bilateral cooperation.

Body

India’s Infrastructure Investment as the part of India- Afghanistan Strategic relationship:

India-Afghan Friendship Dam (Salma dam)

  • Already, there has been fighting in the area where one of India’s high-visibility projects is located — the 42MW Salma Dam in Herat province.
  • The hydropower and irrigation project, completed against many odds and inaugurated in 2016, is known as the Afghan-India Friendship Dam.
  • In the past few weeks, the Taliban have mounted attacks in nearby places, killing several security personnel.
  • The Taliban claim the area around the dam is now under their control.

Irrigation projects

  • Shahtoot Dam and drinking water project will open major opportunities expecting to supply irrigation water for about 10,000 hectares of agricultural land and drinking water to around two million people in Kabul city.
  • The water supply network for Charikar, Parwan province is near completion which was self-funded by Afghanistan and India.

Zaranj-Delaram highway

  • The other high-profile project was the 218-km Zaranj-Delaram highway built by the Border Roads Organisation. Zaranj is located close to Afghanistan’s border with Iran.
  • With Pakistan denying India overland access for trade with Afghanistan, the highway is of strategic importance to New Delhi, as it provides an alternative route into landlocked Afghanistan through Iran’s Chabahar port.

Afghan Parliament Building

  • The Afghan Parliament in Kabul was built by India at $90 million.
  • It was opened in 2015; PM Modi inaugurated the building.
  • A block in the building is named after former Prime Minister of India, Atal Bihari Vajpayee.

Stor palace

  • In 2016, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and PM Modi inaugurated the restored Stor Palace in Kabul, originally built in the late 19th century.
  • It is famous for the 1919 Rawalpindi Agreement by which Afghanistan became an independent country.

Power infrastructure projects

  • Other Indian projects in Afghanistan include the rebuilding of power infrastructure such as the 220kV DC transmission line from Pul-e-Khumri, the capital of Baghlan province to the north of Kabul.
  • Indian contractors and workers also restored telecommunications infrastructure in many provinces.

Health infrastructure projects

  • India’s cooperation in health and nutrition sector has immensely attributed on positive note.
  • Assistance to the Indira Gandhi Institute for Child Health (IGICH) which is established in 1970 is 200,000 USD per annum.
  • India has reconstructed a children’s hospital it had helped build in Kabul in 1972 —named Indira Gandhi Institute for Child Health in 1985 — that was in shambles after the war.
  • ‘Indian Medical Missions’ have held free consultation camps in several areas.
  • Thousands who lost their limbs after stepping on mines left over from the war have been fitted with the Jaipur Foot.
  • India has also built clinics in the border provinces of Badakhshan, Balkh, Kandahar, Khost, Kunar, Nangarhar, Nimruz, Nooristan, Paktia and Paktika.
  • India has been contributing US $ 5 million, spread over 5 years to the Afghan Red Society Program to treat congenital heart disease in children.

Transportation sector

  • According to the MEA, India gifted 400 buses and 200 mini-buses for urban transportation, 105 utility vehicles for municipalities, 285 military vehicles for the Afghan Army.
  • It also gave three Air India aircraft to Ariana, the Afghan national carrier, when it was restarting operations.

Education sector

  • India’s scholarships to Afghan students aimed at fulfilling and supporting for building their respective human resource domains.
  • India’s ongoing project to upgrade Habibia High School is of US 1$ million spread over 10 years.
  • Thousands of Afghan students study in India, and Afghanistan is the largest recipient of 1000 scholarships provided by the Indian Council for Cultural Relations and one year vocational and skill training will be added to the existing scholarships.
  • 500 scholarships to the children of martyrs of Afghan National Defense and Security Force (ANDSF) have been incorporated to which 82 admissions have been offered under this scheme for the current academic year.

Other projects

  • India has contributed desks and benches for schools, and built solar panels in remote villages, and Sulabh toilet blocks in Kabul.
  • New Delhi has also played a role in building capacity, with vocational training institutes, scholarships to Afghan students, mentoring programmes in the civil service, and training for doctors and others.

Various ongoing projects

  • Last year, India pledged $1 million for another Aga Khan heritage project, the restoration of the Bala Hissar Fort south of Kabul, whose origins go back to the 6th century.
  • Bala Hissar went on to become a significant Mughal fort, parts of it were rebuilt by Jahangir, and it was used as a residence by Shah Jahan.

 

 

Way forward:

  • It was rightly said by Indian Prime Minister “When Afghanistan becomes a haven of peace and a hub for the flow of ideas, commerce, energy and investments in the region, we will prosper together.”
  • India’s vision for prosperous and stable Afghanistan has broadened the realms of friendship in the hearts of Afghan people.
  • Hope trust and cooperation will bring prosperity across the region.
  • A collective approach in the region with shared understanding and exchange of technical knowledge and expertise will achieve new vision for Afghanistan.

Conclusion

For comprehensive peace, stability and prosperity all the regional countries need to work together in building and shaping cooperation frameworks, making substantive contributions thus bringing about a brighter future for Afghanistan.

 

Topic: Government Policies and Interventions for Development in various sectors and issues arising out of their Design and Implementation

4. Discuss the issues associated with Draft Consumer Protection (E-Commerce) Rules, 2020, do you think drafted in the name of consumer interest, the proposed e-commerce rules shield vested interests? (250 words)

Reference:  Indian Express

Why the question:

The proposed Consumer Protection (E-Commerce) Rules, 2020, have been drafted ostensibly in the name of the consumer.  The rules are driven more by the desire to shield the traditional brick-and-mortar stores, and handicap e-commerce firms, especially the foreign ones.

Key Demand of the question:

Discuss the issues associated with Draft Consumer Protection (E-Commerce) Rules, 2020.

Directive:

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:

Start with basics of the draft Consumer Protection (E-Commerce) Rules, 2020.

Body:

Discuss the issues with the provisions of draft Consumer Protection (E-Commerce) Rules, 2020.

Explain how the fall-back liability clause is unfair for those operating through marketplace model. Identifying goods based on country of origin and providing fair opportunity to domestic sellers, Overlapping/competing jurisdictions.

Explain that the lines of demarcation that have been drawn up in the retail landscape — single brand vs multi-brand, online vs offline, domestic vs foreign — serve only to protect powerful vested interests, not benefit the consumer as is often proclaimed.

Conclusion:

Conclude with what should be the way forward.

Introduction

The government has proposed changes to the e-commerce rules under the Consumer Protection Act. The objective is to ensure greater compliance and protect the interests of consumers. The rules are driven more by the desire to shield the traditional brick-and-mortar stores, and handicap e-commerce firms, especially the foreign ones. They seek to deepen, not paper over, existing fault lines.

Body

Major provisions of Consumer Protection (E- Commerce) Rules, 2020

  • To regulate all commercial transactions sold over a digital or electronic network.
  • It recognises two e-commerce business models, namely, marketplace model and inventory-based model. Separate rules specified for provisions for marketplace and inventory-based entities.
  • All informationon the return, refund, exchange, warranty and guarantee, delivery and shipment of the goods or services being sold, including their country of origin, be provided on the platform. These would enable consumers to make an informed decision.
  • Clear-cut definition of what constitutes ‘unfair’ trade practice: The government should offer a more clear-cut definition of what constitutes ‘unfair’ trade practice as well as spell out a practical legal remedy to tackle the issue.
  • Predatory pricing by e-commerce firms: Risk that predatory pricing by e-commerce firms may result in competition being wiped out and prove detrimental to consumers in the long run.
  • Fixing a cap on delivery charges: It has also recommended fixing a cap on delivery charges levied by e-commerce firms, as well as providing for penal provisions for violation of rules related to misinformation.
  • Unfair trade practices: While e-commerce enterprises offer many benefits, the development of the segment has rendered consumers vulnerable to new forms of unfair trade practices, violation of privacy and issues of unattended grievances.
  • Issue of drip pricing: It should also clearly define ‘drip pricing ‘wherein the final cost of the product goes up due to additional charges, and provide for protecting consumers against this by including penal provisions for violation.

Proposed amendments to the Rules

To protect the interests of consumers, prevent their exploitation and encourage free and fair competition in the market, the Government of India is sharing a draft of the proposed amendments to the Consumer Protection (E-commerce) Rules, 2020.

The proposed amendments aim to bring transparency in the e-commerce platforms and further strengthen the regulatory regime to curb the prevalent unfair trade practices. The proposed amendments are as follows

  • To ensure compliance of the Consumer Protection Act, 2019 and Rules, appointment of Chief Compliance Officer, a nodal contact person for 24×7 coordinationwith law enforcement agencies, officers to ensure compliance to their orders and Resident Grievance Officer for redressing of the grievances of the consumers on the e-commerce platform, has been proposed.
  • This would ensure effective compliance with the provisions of the Act and Rules and also strengthen the grievance redressal mechanism on e-commerce entities.
  • Putting in place a framework for registration of every e-commerce entitywith the Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT) for allotment of registration number which shall be displayed prominently on website as well as invoice of every order placed the e-commerce entity.
  • Registration of e-commerce entities would help create a databaseof genuine e-commerce entities and ensure that the consumers are able to verify the genuineness of an e-commerce entity before transacting through their platform.
  • To protect the interests of consumers, mis-selling has been prohibitede selling goods and services entities selling goods or services by deliberate misrepresentation of information by such entities about such goods or services.
  • To ensure that consumers are aware about the expiry dateof the products they are buying on the e-commerce platform all sellers on marketplace e-commerce entities and all inventory e-commerce entities to provide best before or use before date to enable consumers to make an informed purchase decision.
  • To ensure that the domestic manufacturers and suppliers get a fair and equal treatmenton the e-commerce platform it has been provided that where an e-commerce entity offers imported goods or services, it shall incorporate a filter mechanism to identify goods based on country of origin and suggest alternatives to ensure fair opp

Issues with the provisions of draft Consumer Protection (E-Commerce) Rules, 2020

  • Imposition of the fall-back liability clause on foreign players is unjust. FDI is permitted only in the marketplace model and not the inventory model.
    • Under this framework, e-commerce platforms don’t hold inventory, but simply connect buyers and sellers.
  • The rules mandate that none of the platform’s related parties can sell directly to the consumer through the platform and also forbid flash sales. However, both of these, adversely impact consumer choice and price.
  • The country of origin filter and suggestion of domestic alternatives is a push towards Make in India. However,the interests of consumers, not domestic manufacturers, should be at the core of the consumer protection framework.
  • There are issues of overlapping/competing jurisdictions.
  • The rules restrain e-commerce firms from making “available any information pertaining to the consumer,to any person, without the consumer’s consent.
  • Therefore, the rules give a competing jurisdiction to the Consumer protection authority for the protection of personal data. However, this domain should be ideally dealt with by the data protection authority.
  • Similarly, the rules also state that e-commerce entities are prohibited from abusing their dominant positions in the market.
  • For this purpose, the “abuse of dominant position” has been given the same meaning as that prescribed under Section 4 of the Competition Act, 2002.
  • This may induce consumer protection authority to intervene in the jurisdiction of the Competition Commission of India

Conclusion

The lines of demarcation that have been drawn up in the retail landscape — single brand vs multi-brand, online vs. offline, domestic vs. foreign — serve only to protect powerful vested interests, not benefit the consumer as is often proclaimed.

 

 


General Studies – 3


 

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

5. By analyzing several issues over Virtual Water Trade, suggest measures to control the virtual water export from India. (250 words)

Reference:  Down to Earth

Why the question:

The article explains the issues over virtual trade of water that India is facing.

Key Demand of the question:

By analyzing several issues over Virtual Water Trade, suggest measures to control the virtual water export from India.

Directive:

AnalyzeWhen asked to analyse, you have to examine methodically the structure or nature of the topic by separating it into component parts and present them as a whole in a summary.

Structure of the answer:

Introduction:

Explain that it is critical for us to adopt the circular water management model of treating and rejuvenating wastewater at source, along with efficient water management strategies to reduce water demand.

 Body:

The answer body must have the following aspects covered:

Start with some key facts; India’s agricultural exports registered a growth of 17.34 per cent, garnering $41.25 billion in foreign exchange for 2020-21 despite the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic. In rupee terms, this is equivalent to Rs 3.05 lakh crore. For a government faced with negative growth for over 15 months and limited financial inflows into its kitty, such numbers provide a sense of hope.

Explain the concerns around virtual trade of water; Virtual Water Trade (VWT) is slowly altering the global hydrological cycle in many ways. Several countries have begun to act early, adopting the VWT route to address worldwide water distress.

Suggest solutions to address.

Conclusion:

Conclude with way forward.

Introduction

Virtual water is defined as the water required for the production of goods. Virtual water trade refers to the import and export of hidden water in the form of products such as crop products, textiles, machinery and livestock — all of which require water for their production.

Historically, China has been a net importer of virtual water. India, on the other hand, owing to its excessive agricultural exports, losses water and puts water sustainability in the long run at risk. India is poised to lose its entire available water supply within 500 years if its current food export policy continues, a new method of calculating “virtual water” flow through trade has shown.

Body

Issues over Virtual Water Trade:

  • Virtual water trade is a globally relevant concept, considering countries around the world are grappling with the consequences of climate change.
  • India is a water-stressed country, where major river basins like the Narmada, Indus and Ganga face scarcity of water for most of the year.
  • In India, farmers rely heavily on groundwater for rice cultivation, and a kilogram of paddy requires about 15,000 litres of water to grow.
  • India’s main exports are cereals, tea, coffee, cashew nuts and sugar, which all require vast amounts of water.
  • Groundwater depletion, erratic rainfall, natural calamities, drought and floods are resulting in constrained economic ties among nations.
  • Overexploitation of water for the increased production of crops like rice and wheat to cater to exports contribute to an increase in the trade of virtual water.
  • Since the country is also one of the top producers and exporter of beef, the virtual water necessary for producing per kilogram of buffalo meat was 5–20 times higher than that for agricultural production.
  • Rising water demands for agriculture and other sectors such as manufacturing, services and construction will pose additional constraints on water sustainability in the future.

Measures needed:

  • Effective irrigation techniques, irrigation scheduling, suitable crop selection based on climatic conditions, soil type and water availability, and using alternative sources of water for irrigation could help reduce groundwater consumption.
  • Judicious mixing and growing of different crops with lower water demand at the national level need to be taken up.
  • Precision technology to be adopted to trail water use by export farms and industries
  • Water footprint estimation guidelines to be adopted by the different production systems
  • Regions barred for VWT export (groundwater overexploited zones / water quality concern / coastal seawater intrusion and other vulnerable zones)
  • Approaches to restoring and redistributing the virtual water lost for a positive water balance
  • Construct small check dams at the catchment area in water rich areas and divert the water to water-starved states or areas
  • Importing water-intensive crops and products enables countries to balance their increasing water demand while exporting less water-intensive commodities.
  • For instance, Mexico imports maize and in doing so, it saves 12 billion cubic metres per year of its national water resources.
  • Improving the local water resource base is part of a long-term plan that has been adopted by several countries including Germany, France, Italy, the UK, Netherlands, the United States, China and Japan.
  • VWT risks need to be integrated into the policy framework to help anticipate the concerns and design management practices, to help soften water footprint export volumes.
  • it is critical to adopt the circular water management model of treating and rejuvenating wastewater at source combined with efficient water management strategies to reduce the water demand by at least 50 per cent to restore the balance by adopting the bottom-up approach.

Conclusion

Virtual water export is likely only to grow further in the future. Its impact on coming generations would be more catastrophic if corrective actions are not taken at the earliest. While it will be impractical and idealistic to completely cut off the virtual water export of agri-crops or industrial products, it is essential to define the limits of VWT to safeguard the interests of future generations. VWT, covering both export and import, is here to stay and cannot be avoided, just as oil import is accepted as critical for economic growth.

 

 


General Studies – 4


 

Topic: Ethics and Human Interface: Essence, determinants and consequences of Ethics in-human actions; dimensions of ethics; ethics – in private and public relationships. Human Values – lessons from the lives and teachings of great leaders, reformers and administrators; role of Family society and educational institutions in inculcating values.

6.  Examine the ethical challenges with respect to the use of artificial intelligence in health sector and throw light at the principles which can guide this sector beyond such tests. (250 words)

Reference:  www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov

Why the question:

The question is based on the theme of ethical challenges involved in Artificial intelligence.

Key Demand of the question:

One is expected to examine the ethical challenges with respect to the use of artificial intelligence in health sector.

Directive:

Examine – When asked to ‘Examine’, we must 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:

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has released its report ‘Ethics & Governance of Artificial Intelligence for Health’.  Start by quoting some key facts from there.

Body:

The answer body must have the following aspects covered:

Explain that an AI system is a machine-based system that can, for a given set of human-defined objectives, make predictions, recommendations, or decisions influencing real or virtual environments. AI systems are designed to operate with varying levels of autonomy.

Discuss the ethical challenges and risks with the use of artificial intelligence of health.

Elaborate and suggest frameworks that should guide the laws and policies for the use of AI for health.

Conclusion:

AI for health is a fast-moving, evolving field, and many applications, not yet envisaged, will emerge with ever-greater public and private investment. Thus should be the way forward.

Introduction

“The greatest enemy of knowledge is not ignorance; it is the illusion of knowledge” – Stephen Hawking. Artificial Intelligence is one such booming field which is gaining huge demand yet not many comprehend its ethical fallout.

Body

Artificial intelligence can help transform Indian healthcare:

  • Disease surveillance: Human activity -especially migration- has been responsible for the spread of the virus around the world.
    • In the near and distant future, technology like this may be used to predict zoonotic infection risk to humans considering variables such as climate change and human activity.
    • The combined analysis of personal, clinical, travel and social data including family history and lifestyle habits obtained from sources like social media would enable more accurate and precise predictions of individual risk profiles and healthcare results.
  • Predicting Outbreaks: On December 30, an artificial-intelligence company called BlueDot, which uses machine learning to monitor outbreaks of infectious diseases around the world, alerted clients—including various governments, hospitals, and businesses—to an unusual bump in pneumonia cases in Wuhan, China.
    • An automated service called HealthMap at Boston Children’s Hospital also caught those first signs. As did a model run by Metabiota, based in San Francisco. That AI could spot an outbreak on the other side of the world is significant, and early warnings save lives.
    • It would be another nine days before the World Health Organization officially flagged what we’ve all come to know as Covid-19.
  • Early Diagnosis: AI has a proven track record here. Machine-learning models for examining medical images can catch early signs of disease that human doctors miss, from eye disease to heart conditions to cancer. But these models typically require a lot of data to learn from.
  • Automatic temperature measurement: Automated camera systems used in conjunction with thermal sensors and vision algorithms on autonomous or remotely operated robots could be used to monitor temperatures of patients in hospitals.
    • Example: In the United States, a surveillance company announced that its AI-enhanced thermal cameras can detect fevers, while in Thailand, border officers at airports are already piloting a biometric screening system using fever-detecting cameras.
  • Virtual healthcare assistants: The number of COVID-19 cases has shown that healthcare systems and response measures can be overwhelmed. Canada-based Stallion.
    • AI has leveraged its natural language processing capabilities to build a multi-lingual virtual healthcare agent that can answer questions related to COVID-19, provide reliable information and clear guidelines, recommend protection measures, check and monitor symptoms, and advise individuals whether they need hospital screening or self-isolation at their homes.
  • Intelligent drones and robots: The public deployment of drones and robots has been accelerated due to the strict social distancing measures required to contain the virus’ spread.
    • To ensure compliance, some drones are used to track individuals not using facemasks in public, while others are used to broadcast information to larger audiences and also disinfect public spaces.
  • Curative research: Part of what has troubled the scientific community is the absence of a definitive cure for the virus.
    • AI can lead the charge for the development of antibodies and vaccines for the novel coronavirus, either entirely designed from scratch or through drug repurposing.
    • For instance, using its AlphaFold system, Google’s AI company, DeepMind, is creating structure models of proteins that have been linked with the virus in a bid to aid the science world’s comprehension of the virus.
    • Although the results have not been experimentally verified, it represents a step in the right direction.
  • Contract Tracing: The roboticists say combining existing security systems with facial recognition software could allow authorities to retrace the steps of patients who tested positive for COVID-19 and contact others who might be at risk, which is known as contact tracing.
  • Nasal swabs: Testing for coronavirus involves inserting a swab fairly deep into a patient’s nasal cavity.
    • There are parts of the process that puts humans at risk of contracting the virus, including collecting the sample, handling the sample, transferring the sample to the test location and the test itself.
    • Automated or robot-assisted nasopharyngeal and oropharyngeal swabbing may speed up the process, reduce the risk of infection, and free up staff for other tasks.
  • Medicine Delivery: Autonomous drones and ground robots can be used to deliver medicine to patients who have the coronavirus.
    • In the field hospital in Wuhan, China, CloudMinds robots were used to deliver food, drink and medicine to patients.
    • Social Robots: In the time of isolation and quarantine, social robots can help people provide social stimulation and interactions, in addition to providing reminders to follow treatment regimens (to the elderly).

Ethical challenges posed:

  • Informed consent to use
    • Health AI applications, such as imaging, diagnostics, and surgery, will transform the patient–clinician relationship. But how will the use of AI to assist with the care of patients interface with the principles of informed consent?
    • There is a need to examine under what circumstances (if at all) the principles of informed consent should be deployed in the clinical AI space.
  • Safety and transparency
    • Safety is one of the biggest challenges for AI in healthcare.
    • To use one well-publicized example, IBM Watson for Oncology uses AI algorithms to assess information from patients’ medical records and help physicians explore cancer treatment options for their patients.
    • Another big issue is data sharing: In cases where the AI needs to be extremely confident (e.g., self-driving cars), vast amounts of data and thus more data sharing will be necessary.
  • Algorithmic fairness and biases
    • AI has the capability to improve healthcare not only in high-income settings, but to democratize expertise, “globalize” healthcare, and bring it to even remote areas.
    • However, any ML system or human-trained algorithm will only be as trustworthy, effective, and fair as the data that it is trained with. AI also bears a risk for biases and thus discrimination.
    • It is therefore vital that AI makers are aware of this risk and minimize potential biases at every stage in the process of product development.
  • Data Privacy
    • As AI is evolving, it is raising some new ethical and legal questions. AI works by analysing data that is fed into it and draws conclusions based on what it has learned or been trained to do.
    • Though it has many benefits, it may pose a threat to humans, data privacy, and the potential outcomes of the decisions. To curb the chances of such outcomes, organisations and policymakers are crafting recommendations about ensuring the responsible and ethical use of AI

Conclusion

Any new technology that changes our businesses or society for the better often has a potential dark side that is viewed with suspicion and mistrust. The disruptive potential of AI poses looming risks around ethics, transparency, and security, hence the need for greater governance. AI will be used safely only once governance and policies have been framed, mandating its use.

 

 

Topic: Case Studies on above issues.

7. Public policy is being increasingly informed by insights from the behavioural sciences. One such behavioural approach is the Nudge theory. It is mainly concerned with the design of choices, which influences the decisions we make. Nudge theory proposes that the designing of choices should be based on how people actually think and decide, rather than how leaders and authorities traditionally believe people think and decide.

In this context, answer the following questions:

(a) Giving examples, illustrate the difference between enforced change and ‘Nudge’ techniques?

(b) Identify the ethical concerns associated with the nudge technique. Also, suggest ways for using nudging theory ethically. (250 words)

Reference:  The Hindu

Why the question:

The question is based on the Nudge theory.  

Key Demand of the question:

Illustrate the difference between enforced change and ‘Nudge’ techniques and Identify the ethical concerns associated with the nudge technique. Also, suggest ways for using nudging theory ethically.

 Directive:

Illustrate – A similar instruction to ‘explain’ whereby you are asked to show the workings of something, making use of definite examples and statistics if appropriate to add weight to your explanation.

Structure of the answer:

Introduction:

Start with a brief note on the use of behavioral insights to inform public policy.

Body:

The answer body must have the following aspects covered:

Differentiate between Traditional methods of social change and change brought through the use of ‘Nudge’ techniques. Behavioural sciences are being used these days to make policy interventions more effective. One of the behavioural theories, which is being considered better than the traditional ones suggest ‘nudging’ or modifying people’s choice architecture that impacts their behavior without coercing them.

Discuss the fundamental issues arising out of designing people’s choices using insights about their thought and behavior.

Conclusion:

Conclude with – Nudge techniques try to solve important problems in smart and inexpensive ways. They have potential to increase social welfare as well. However, it is marred with several ethical concerns. Therefore, the choice architect must follow transparency while conceiving a possible nudge.

Introduction

‘Nudge’ theory was proposed originally in US ‘behavioural economics’. But, it was popularized by the 2008 book, ‘Nudge: Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth, and Happiness‘, written by American academics Richard H Thaler and Cass R Sunstein. The book is based strongly on the Nobel prize-winning work of the Israeli-American psychologists Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky. Nudge theory is a flexible and modern concept for

  • Understanding of how people think, make decisions, and behave,
  • Helping people improve their thinking and decisions,
  • Managing change of all sorts, and
  • Identifying and modifying existing unhelpful influences on people.

Body

Nudge theory is mainly concerned with the design of choices, which influences the decisions we make. Nudge theory proposes that the designing of choices should be based on how people actually think and decide (instinctively and rather irrationally), rather than how leaders and authorities traditionally (and typically incorrectly) believe people think and decide (logically and rationally). In this respect, among others, Nudge theory is a radically different and more sophisticated approach to achieving change in people than traditional methods of direct instruction, enforcement, punishment, etc. The use of Nudge theory is based on indirect encouragement and enablement. It avoids direct instruction or enforcement.

Enforced Change Nudge Techniques
‘Forcing’ methods drastic, direct, and require conscious determined effort (by the person/people being ‘changed’). Nudge methods are easier for people to imagine doing, and less threatening and disruptive to actually do.
‘Forcing’ methods are confrontational and liable to provoke resistance. Nudge methods are indirect, tactical, and less confrontational – nudge methods may be cooperative and pleasurable.
E.g.: Instructing a small child to tidy his/her room. Playing a ‘room-tidying’ game with the child.
Erecting signs saying ‘no littering’ and warning of fines. Improving the availability and visibility of litter bins.
Joining a gym. Using the stairs.
Counting calories. Smaller plate.
Weekly food shop budgeting. Use a basket instead of a trolley.

 

Behavioural economics affecting social change in India

  • Given India’s rich cultural and spiritual heritage, social norms (that play a very important role in shaping the behaviour), can be utilized to effect behavioural change. Mahatma Gandhi proposed Seven Sins theory to influence people’s behaviour towards positive social change.
  • Programmes such as Swachh Bharat Mission, Jan Dhan Yojana, GiveItUp Campaign for LPG subsidy, Beti Bachao Beti Padhao, Khelo India Campaign provide testimony to the potential for behavioural change in India.
  • It can help in enhancing public participation in policies such as gender equality, reducing crime and corruption, waste management, environmental concerns, animal welfare, road safety, building human capital, enhancing health and education parameters, etc.

Achievements of behavioural economics to achieve policy objective of welfare programmes

  • Swachh Bharat mission: Bringing behavioural change towards sanitation. The Open Defecation Free Campaign has led towards a desired outcome.
  • National Annual Rural Sanitation Survey (NARSS) 2018-19 found that 96.5% of the rural households that had access to a toilet, used them. The NARSS also re-confirmed the ODF status of 90.7% of villages.
  • Beti Bachao Beti Padhao (BBBP) to raise awareness about increasing Child sex ratio and educating Girl Child. BBBP have brought positive results leading to improvement in the child sex ratio in Haryana, a state known for skewed sex ratio.
  • It used ‘social norm’ in its ‘Selfie with Daughter’ initiative to celebrate the birth of girl child.
  • GiveItUp Campaign lead to voluntarily giving up of LPG subsidy by the affluent class and thus large savings to the public money that could be utilised for providing free LPG connections to the poor under Ujjwala Yojana.
  • Success of Jan Dhan Yojana (JDY) through dedicated government efforts and mass media campaign to increase financial inclusion and thus influencing people to increase their savings.
  • Use of socially and culturally identifiable names for various recent schemes like Namami Gange, Ujjawala, Poshan Abhiyan among others has helped to build the affinity of the people for the scheme.

Ethical challenges of nudge techniques:

  • Nudges are paternalistic.
  • Some nudges intrude on people’s autonomy.
  • Some nudges might be seen as coercive, even if they preserve freedom of choice as a technical matter.
  • Some nudges insult people’s dignity; they might be infantilizing; they might treat people as children. The idea of the “nanny state” captures this objection.
  • Some nudges could count as forms of manipulation. It is relevant in this regard that nudging is not always transparent. Consider, for example, “negative option marketing,” by which people who purchase certain products find themselves enrolled in programs for which they pay a monthly fee. Nudges of this kind might be said to operate “behind people’s backs.”
  • Some nudges impede or at least do not promote learning.
  • Choice architects may err, especially when they work for government, and for that reason, it is best to avoid nudging (to the extent that this is possible)

Way forward:

  • Be transparent about the purpose of the nudge.
    • Transparency helps dispel suspicion around these goals, creating fertile soil for dialogue about specific nudges and their purpose.
  • Co-create the nudge
    • Another misconception is that nudges must be passively received to change behaviour. In reality, the impact of nudges does not depend on their being ‘done to’ people.
    • Taking a collaborative approach to nudging is an effective way to ensure employee autonomy is maintained.
  • Consider the constructive framework
    • While some may implement nudges as a means to prevent certain things from happening, it should also consider how they could use this in a professional development sense, i.e. encouraging leaders to engage with feedback programs or to set professional goals.
    • Nudges that champion professional ideals may motivate more positively.

Conclusion

In the vast universe of nudges, some may be politically unacceptable, while some are non-controversial. Nudging Theory can have great benefits, when placed in the right hands.


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