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[Mission 2023] Insights SECURE SYNOPSIS: 10 June 2023

 

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

 

Answer the following questions in 150 words:


General Studies – 1


 

1. The mid-18th century in Britain witnessed the confluence of several factors that set the stage for the rise of the Industrial Revolution. Discuss.

Reference: Insights on India

Introduction

The Industrial Revolution saw a rapid development of industry take place in Britain in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, soon spreading to Western Europe and North America. New and improved large-scale production methods and machinery marked the beginnings of Industrialization. Many different factors contributed to the rise of the Industrial Revolution in Britain and paved the way for Britain to become an industry-driven country.

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Major factors leading to rise of industrial revolution

  • Agriculture
    • As a supplier of raw materials, the agricultural sector was closely linked to the industrial; this was the main source of occupation for the British population.
    • Half of the arable land had been enclosed, while half remained in the medieval open field system.
  • Industry
    • Most industries were small scale, domestic and local, but traditional industries could meet the domestic demands.
    • There was some inter-regional trade, but this was limited by poor transport.
  • Population
    • The nature of the British population has implications for the supply and demand for food and goods, as well as the supply of cheap labor.
    • The population had increased in the earlier part of the 18th century, especially closer to the middle of the era, and was mostly located in rural areas.
    • The people were gradually accepting of social change and the upper and middle classes were interested in new thinking in science, philosophy. and culture.
  • Transport
    • Transportation and communication were comparatively easy and cheap, since no part of Britain is more than seventy miles away from the sea, and even less from some navigable waterway.
    • Canals were built in the rivers of Britain from 1760-1800 to allow ships to transport goods and for a quicker rate.
    • Railroads were also built to allow more efficient trade and transportation of goods.
    • Provincial ports had developed, such as Bristol and Liverpool.
  • Trade
    • Britain had access to local and international economies because of their powerful Navy and other ships.
    • The British government allowed foreign trade and domestic to occur to expand the economy and grow industries.
    • The main market for British goods was Europe, and the government maintained a mercantilist policy to encourage it.
  • Finance
    • By 1750, Britain had begun to move towards capitalist institutions — which are considered part of the development of the Revolution.
    • The produce of trade was creating a new, wealthy class prepared to invest in industries.
  • Raw Materials
    • Britain had access to cotton from its colonies and could use slaves to collect it. As technology improved, cotton picking became easier and was a booming industry.
    • Coal, iron, lead, copper, tin, limestone, and water power were also readily available for the British to use for their industrial advancement.
  • New Inventions:
    • A series of inventions in the eighteenth century increased the efficacy of each step of the production process.
    • They enhanced the output per worker, enabling each worker to produce more, and they made possible the production or stronger threads and yarn.
  • A Stable Government/Stable Monetary System
    • All of these changes occurring in Britain were held together by its stable government.
    • There were drastic differences in the economies when comparing Britain to other European mainland countries.
    • The pound sterling was the national currency during the entire pre-industrial and Industrial Revolution time period time, and it is still the currency used to today in Britain.

Conclusion

Britain in 1870 had the following which has all been stated as necessary for an Industrial Revolution. Good mineral resources, growing population, wealth, spare land and food, ability to innovate, laissez-faire government policy, scientific interest, and trading opportunities, all of these began to develop simultaneously. The result was a massive change.

 

2. Discuss the significance of preserving and promoting cultural diversity within Indian states.

Reference: The Hindu

Introduction

Cultural diversity is synonymous with multiculturalism. Multiculturalism is defined as, “the view that cultures, races, and ethnicities, particularly those of minority groups, deserve special acknowledgment of their differences within a dominant political culture.”

In the popular imagination, India is a spatial entity. It has a map, a shape—it is a piece of the earth cut out from the rest of the land on this planet, delimited by strict ideas about what is ‘inside’ and ‘outside’. Seen on that axis, India also has a temporal being. That India is vastly older, and the cultural-civilisational legacy it has bequeathed us is substantially more fluid in space. Its borders were shifting, its shapes protean, and the histories it created were marked as much by mobility and traffic as by sedimentation. That India is more a river than an island. We inhabit an amalgam of those two Indias today.

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Various aspects of India’s diversity

  • India today is home to varied cultures and ethnic groupswith substantial differences in physical appearance, language, religion and customs.
  • India also has vast economic differences between regions and its richest state is 10x more prosperous (on a per capita basis) than its poorest, with high-growth states and large metros at middle-income level resembling coastal China, and others more closely resembling Sub-Saharan Africa, with incomes under US$1,000 per capita.
  • It is said that geography is destiny, and if this is true, then India’s land itself is a key determinant of the diversity of its peoples, varying from desert to savannah and rain forests, from the roof of the world to coastal swamps and tropical islands. 
  • This geography, coupled with major urban centres and valleys of technology clusters, shapes its inhabitants daily lives and therefore their culture and beliefs.
  • While ethnicity and religion form a core of each Indian’s identity, those identities themselves can vary widely depending on backgrounds, regions and socio-economic levels.
  • Even within religions, there can be significant differences in how this is practiced and therefore how identity is defined.

Importance of cultural diversity

  • Recognizing that there is a large amount of cultures that exist and Respecting each other’s differences
  • Learning about other cultures helps us understand different perspectives within the world in which we live.
  • It helps dispel negative stereotypes and personal biases about different groups.
  • In addition, cultural diversity helps us recognize and respect “ways of being” that are not necessarily our own
  • Acknowledging that all cultural expressions are valid
  • Valuing what cultures have to bring to the table
  • Empowering diverse groups to contribute
  • Celebrating differences, not just tolerating them

Conclusion

This diversity and the pluralism it fosters have been a key strength for India, creating a vibrant and dynamic society that is open to new ideas, and quick to adopt and adapt innovations regardless of their origin, as well as creating a strong democratic polity with checks and balances on its leadership. If properly leveraged, India’s diversity is a fundamental strategic asset for the country’s development and standing in the world.

 


General Studies – 2


 

3. To rebalance India-Nepal relations, both countries need to engage in constructive dialogue, foster trust, and address the concerns of each other. Analyse.

Reference: Live MintIndian Express

Introduction

Nepal is an important neighbour of India and occupies special significance in its foreign policy because of the geographic, historical, cultural and economic linkages/ties that span centuries. India and Nepal share similar ties in terms of Hinduism and Buddhism with Buddha’s birthplace Lumbini located in present day Nepal. Over the past few years, we have been witness to the deteriorating India-Nepal relations. Reserves of goodwill which India had accumulated is fast depleting in Nepal.

Recently, Nepal’s Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal Prachanda’s visited India and signed many bilateral agreements. During the visit, India and Nepal announced a series of projects focusing on highways, I-ways, and trans-ways, aiming to strengthen ties between the two countries.

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Need of a rebalancing India Nepal ties

  • Nepal shares borders with 5 Indian states- Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Sikkim and Bihar and with free movement of people and thereby acting as an important point of cultural and economic exchange in India-Nepal relations.
  • Nepal unveiled a new political map that claimed strategically important land Kalapani, Limpiyadhura and Lipulekh of Uttarakhandas part of its sovereign territory.
  • The misunderstanding created during the constitution framing / Madhesi agitationchanged the entire gamut of relations between India and Nepal.
  • Internal Securityis a major concern for India; Indo-Nepal border is virtually open and lightly policed which is exploited by terrorist outfits and insurgent groups from North Eastern part of India eg. supply of trained cadres, fake Indian currency.
  • Nepal over the years has witnessed chronic political instability, including a 10-year violent insurgency, damaging Nepal’s development and economy.
  • There is anti-India feeling among certain ethnic groupsin Nepal which emanates from the perception that India indulges too much in Nepal and tinkers with their political sovereignty.
  • The establishment of diplomatic relations between Nepal and Chinaand its growing influence in Nepal has resulted in declining traditional leverage of India in Nepal.
  • Overtime trust deficit has widened between India-Nepal because of the Indian reputation for delaying implementation of various projects.
  • The Mahakali agreement has remained in limbo for over two decades. In 2008, the collapse of Koshi’s embankment unleashed massive flooding, highlighting India’s failure to take precautionary measures and its refusal to take responsibility.

Areas of Cooperation in the India-Nepal Relationship:

Examples
Unique India-Nepal Ties The relationship between India and Nepal has been unique due to factors such as social, religious, and community exchanges, inter-marriages, and peaceful coexistence along their 1,770-kilometer border.
Economic Interdependencies India is Nepal’s as its largest trade partner, highest source of foreign direct investment (FDI), transit for third-country trade, a major supplier of petroleum, and one of the top sources of inward remittances.
Defence Cooperation India assists in modernizing Nepal Army through equipment supply and training. Joint military exercises (e.g., Surya Kiran), disaster assistance, and bilateral visits. Recruitment of Nepalese soldiers in Gorkha regiments of the Indian Army.
Connectivity Construction of integrated check posts and hydroelectric projects (see examples above).
Power Cooperation Cross-border transmission lines to supply power from India to Nepal (see examples above)
Educational, People-to-People, and Cultural Exchanges Visa-free entry for citizens of both countries. Nepalese citizens living and working in India. Promoting people-to-people exchanges through agreements and initiatives. Cultural centres, sister city agreements, and alumni networks.
Multilateral Partnership BBIN (Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, and Nepal), BIMSTEC (Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation), Non-Aligned Movement, and SAARC (South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation) etc.

 

Challenges in India-Nepal Relationship:

Challenges Examples
Boundary Issues The ongoing dispute over areas like Kalapani and Susta. Limited progress in resolving the dispute. Tensions escalated with the publication of new Indian and Nepali maps.
Treaty Revision Nepal’s request to revise the 1950 Friendship treaty was perceived as unequal. Lack of progress in initiating talks or accepting EPG recommendations.
China’s Influence Nepal’s increased engagement with China, including infrastructure agreements. Joining the Belt and Road Initiative. Concerns over Chinese interference in Nepali politics.
Connectivity Issues Nepal seeking air connectivity, particularly through specific airports in India. Dependence on Indian permission for international flights. Infrastructure projects constructed by Chinese companies but requiring Indian viability.
Economic Factors Transition to formal economy in India impacting informal trade arrangements. Difficulty in doing business with India compared to China. The decline in Indian investments was replaced by Chinese investments
Terrorism Porous and poorly patrolled borders enabled the smuggling of weapons, ammunition, and counterfeit currency. Pose security risks to India from terrorist organizations and insurgent groups operating in India’s northeast.
Trust Issues Growing trust gap due to the slow pace of project implementation by India. Perception of India’s interference in Nepal’s politics. Challenges in maintaining trust and political sovereignty.

Way forward

  • On border issue:
    • The two countries have managed to settle about 98% of the common border.
    • More than 8,500 boundary pillars have been installed reflecting the agreed alignment.
    • As both countries are laying claim to the same piece of land, the time has come for both countries to sit for talks to solve this issue.
  • Completion of the ongoing process of updating the 1950 Treaty of Peace and Friendship:
    • India must recognise that as in all other developing economies, Nepal’s aspirational young population is also looking beyond the open Indian border for opportunities, and its desire to turn his “land-locked” country into a “land-linked” country with a merchant navy must be considered positively.
  • People-to-people inter-dependence must lead the relationship along with civil society and business-commercial level interactions.
  • India’s major foray should be in innovation and technology transfer, multidisciplinary dialogues, educational and technical institutions, local and global migration management and skills and capacity-building.
  • India needs to finish the infrastructure projects on time for instance Pancheswar project has been pending for over 20 years now.
  • Nepal could be the fountainhead of climate change knowledge and connect to India’s larger dynamics of the management of the ecology of hills and mountains.
  • Effective delivery on the pending projects, the remaining ICPs, the five railway connections, postal road network in the Terai and the petroleum pipeline so that connectivity is enhanced and the idea of ‘inclusive development and prosperity’ assumes reality.
  • Negotiate diplomatically to resolve the boundary dispute with Nepal under the aegis of international law on Trans-Boundary Water Disputes.In this case, boundary dispute resolution between India and Bangladesh should serve as a model for this.
  • India should maintain a policy of keeping away from the internal affairs of Nepal, while at the same time, in the spirit of friendship, India should guide the nation towards a more inclusive democracy.
  • With its immense strategic relevance in the Indian context as Indian security concern, stable and secure Nepal is one requisite which India can’t afford to overlook.
  • India needs to formulate a comprehensive and long-term Nepal policy.
  • India should stop looking at Nepal purely through a security prism, and at bilateral relations only as transactional and part of a zero-sum game with China.
  • Focus on working towards multifaceted relationships to the advantage of both nations.


General Studies – 2


 

4. Do you think urea should be brought under the Nutrient-Based Subsidy (NBS) regime? Examine its potential impact on the Indian agricultural sector.

Reference: Down to Earth

Introduction

The Nutrient Based Subsidy (NBS) regime in India was introduced to promote the balanced use of NPK fertilizers in the optimal ratio of 4:2:1 (the current NPK ratio of fertilizer usage is approximately 6.7:2.4:1) and encourage farmers to use the right type and quantity of nutrient-based fertilizers for specific crops and soil types.

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Background

  • The Commission for Agricultural Costs and Prices (CACP) has recommended the Centre to bring urea under the nutrient-based subsidy (NBS) regime to address the problem of imbalanced use of nutrients.
  • The recommendations come four months after the government told Parliament that there was no proposal to shift urea to NBS, a scheme introduced in 2010, which links subsidy to the nutrient content of fertilisers.

No, Urea shouldn’t be brought under NBS Regime

  • Urea is left-out in the NBS scheme and hence it remains under price control as NBS has been implemented only in other fertilizers.
  • The MRP of urea is today officially fixed at Rs 5,628 per tonne.
  • There is technically no price control in other fertilisers.
  • The prices of the other fertilizers which were decontrolled have gone up that has led the farmers to use more urea than before.
  • This has further worsened fertilizer imbalance.

Yes, Urea should be brought under NBS regime

  • Fertiliser response and efficiency has continuously declined over decades mainly due to imbalanced use of nutrients, deficiency of micro and secondary nutrients and depletion of soil organic carbon, while fertiliser subsidy has been rising.
  • The urea remains under price control and NBS has been implemented only in other fertilisers.
  • Keeping urea out of NBS essentially means that the government has retained direct control over MRP of urea and its subsidy.
  • The MRPs of other fertilisers have been under indirect control by virtue of NBS policy. Manufacturers of these fertilisers have the freedom to fix MRP within “reasonable limits”, and a fixed per-tonne subsidy linked to their nutrient content is given.
  • The price of fertilisers (other than urea) — which were decontrolled have gone up from 2.5 to four times during these 10 years. However, since April 2010, the price of urea has been raised by hardly 11%.
  • This has caused their MRPs to increase over the years, whereas urea’s price has remained unchanged.
  • This has led to tilting of the usage of fertilisers in favour of urea because farmers have overused it, owing to its low pricing, thus resulting in deteriorating soil health.
  • In order to address the imbalance in the fertilizer use, urea has to come under NBS.
  • A feasible way to do it is by hiking urea prices and simultaneously reducing the NBS rates of phosphorus, potash and sulphur to make other fertilisers cheaper.
  • Subsidised urea is getting diverted to bulk buyers/traders or even non-agricultural users such as plywood and animal feed makers.
  • It is being smuggled to neighbouring countries like Bangladesh and Nepal.

Potential impact on the Indian agricultural sector

  • The NBS policy incentivizes the production and use of fertilizers that contain a balanced mix of nutrients, which can help promote soil health and increase crop yields.
  • The subsidy is provided based on the nutrient content rather than the quantity of fertilizer produced.
  • This can lead to a reduction in fertilizer use which can minimize the negative environmental impact of excess fertilization. Thus it has improved soil health too.
  • The NBS policy helps reduce the cost of fertilizers for farmers, which means that they can purchase fertilizers at more affordable prices. The subsidies allocated for urea-based fertilizers have also been reduced.

Conclusion

In the long run, NBS itself should be replaced by a flat per-acre cash subsidy that could be used to purchase any fertiliser. This subsidy must include value-added and customised products containing not just other nutrients, but delivering even nitrogen more efficiently than urea.

 

5. What are the causes of separatism in the north-eastern India? Examine the implications of this development on regional stability, political dynamics, and national unity in India.

Reference: The Hindu

Introduction

The Northeast region of India comprises eight states – Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Sikkim and Tripura – each with its own distinct history and identity. The region shares its borders with Bhutan, China, Myanmar and Bangladesh and has been one of the most sensitive regions in India. Since 1947, the history of this region has been marred with insurgency and under development.

There are over a hundred of ethnic groups in the Northeast each having a strong sense of identity and their uniqueness. They want to retain this uniqueness in their political and social and orientations as well.

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Causes/Reasons of separatism in north-eastern India

  • Nationality: Involving concept of a distinct ‘homeland’ as a separate nation and pursuit of the realisation of that goal by its votaries.
  • Ethnic reasons: Involving assertion of numerically smaller and less dominant tribal groups against the political and cultural hold of the dominant tribal group. In Assam, this also takes the form of tension between local and migrant communities.
  • Sub-regional reasons: Involving movements which ask for recognition of sub-regional aspirations and often come in direct conflict with the State Governments or even the autonomous Councils.
  • Developmental issues: Poverty, unemployment, lack of connectivity, inadequate health care and educational facilities, feelings of neglect and non-participation in governing their own affairs have contributed to the insurgency and separatism in the region.
  • Governance deficit: Informal economy and governance and shortage of resources.
  • Porous international borders with difficult topography
  • Sense of alienation from mainstream due to overwhelming presence of security forces and associated issues of Human Rights.

Implications on stability, dynamics and unity of India

  • Sense of Isolation, Deprivation and Exploitation: Distance from New Delhi and meagre representation in the Lok Sabha has further reduced the vox populi being heard in the corridors of powers, leading to more disillusionment in the dialogue process, thereby making call of the gun more attractive.
  • Demographic Changes: The influx of refugees from former East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) into Assam led to a dramatic change in the demographic landscape of the region.
  • Lack of Economic Development: GoI’s economic policies have also fuelled resentment and insecurity amongst the people. Due to various factors, the development of NEI has lagged behind thereby resulting in lack of employment opportunities. Thus, the youth are easily lured by various insurgent groups in order to earn easy money.
  • Internal Displacement: Internal displacement is also an ongoing problem. From the 1990s to the start of 2011, over 800,000 people were forced to flee their homes in episodes of inter-ethnic violence in western Assam, along the border between Assam and Meghalaya, and in Tripura.
  • External Support: There is ‘increasing evidence’ of China’s revival of its ‘covert offensive’ in the region. Pakistan’s Special Services Group (SSG) also trained the Naga guerrillas in the 1960s through their bases in East Pakistan (now Bangladesh).

Way forward

  • Multi-stakeholder approach: A wider representation not just of civil society, scholars and others, but also of professionals is required at any forum addressing the concerns in the North-East.
  • Understanding emotional and psychological aspects of the problems of the different states of the North-East: Any meaningful policy for the North-East should address the specifics of each state and region.
  • Economic development: Opening up of economy of this region may be expedited making way for new investments, acquiring of productive assets, reaching potential in tourism etc.
  • Tackling illegal immigration from neighbouring countries: Identity cards and work permits for those who come for work should be made mandatory.
  • Stress on Dialogue as an ongoing process to reach concrete solutions by involving all the stakeholders and not a single group.

 

Conclusion

In the past, Government policies and their implementation had proved inadequate for giving shape to the immense inherent potential of the Northeast region. Over the last eight years, the Union Government has been extremely responsive to the needs of this region, by making enhanced connectivity, improved infrastructure and people’s welfare part of its core development agenda. From being on the margins of the India story, the Northeast is quickly becoming one of the country’s growth engines.

 

 

Answer the following questions in 250 words(15 marks each):


General Studies – 1


 

6. Although the uprising of 1857 proved unsuccessful, it had a profound impact on the British rule in India. The event shook the foundations of the British administration and led to significant transformations in their structure and policies. Explain.

Reference: Chapter 1- India’s Struggle for Independence by Bipan Chandra.

Introduction

The cumulative effect of British expansionist policies, economic exploitation, and administrative innovations over the years had adversely affected the positions of all—rulers of Indian states, sepoys, zamindars, peasants, traders, artisans, pundits, maulvis, etc. The simmering discontent burst in the form of a violent storm in 1857, which shook the British empire in India to its very foundations.

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Various causes for the defeat of the rebel

  • All-India participation was absent: Limited territorial spread was one factor; there was no all-India veneer about the revolt. The eastern, southern, and western parts of India remained more or less
  • All classes did not join: Certain classes and groups did not join and, in fact, worked against the revolt.
    • Big zamindars acted as ‘break-waters to storm’; even Awadh talukdars backed off once promises of land restitution were spelt out.
    • Moneylenders and merchants suffered the wrath of the mutineers badly and, anyway, saw their class interests better protected under British patronage.
  • Poor Arms and Equipment: The Indian soldiers were poorly equipped materially, fighting generally with swords and spears and very few guns and muskets.
    • On the other hand, the European soldiers were equipped with the latest weapons of war like the Enfield rifle. The electric telegraph kept the commander-in-chief informed about the movements and strategy of the
  • Uncoordinated and Poorly Organised: The revolt was poorly organised with no coordination or central leadership.
    • The principal rebel leaders—Nana Saheb, Tantia Tope, Kunwar Singh, Laxmibai—were no match to their British opponents in general ship.
  • No Unified Ideology: The mutineers lacked a clear understanding of colonial rule; nor did they have a forward-looking programme, a coherent ideology, a political perspective, or a societal alternative. The rebels represented diverse elements with differing grievances and concepts of current politics.

Re-alignment policies in administration by British post 1857

The revolt of 1857 marks a turning point in the history of India. It led to far-reaching changes in the system of administration and the policies of the British government.

  • Direct Governance of Queen: Even before the revolt could be suppressed fully, the British Parliament, on August 2, 1858, passed an act for the Better Government of India. The act declared Queen Victoria as the sovereign of British India and provided for the appointment of a Secretary of State for India (a member of the British cabinet).
    • The direct responsibility for the administration of the country was assumed by the British Crown and Company rule was abolished.
    • The assumption of the Government of India by the sovereign of Great Britain was announced by Lord Canning at a durbar at Allahabad in the ‘Queen’s Proclamation’ issued on November 1, 1858.
  • Princely states and paramountcy: As per the Queen’s proclamation, the era of annexations and expansion had ended and the British promised to respect the dignity and rights of the native princes. The Indian states were henceforth to recognise the paramountcy of the British Crown and were to be treated as parts of a single charge.
    • The people of India were promised freedom of religion without interference from British officials.
  • Rule of law: The proclamation also promised equal and impartial protection under law to all Indians, besides equal opportunities in government services irrespective of race or creed. It was also promised that old Indian rights, customs, and practices would be given due regard while framing and administering the law.
  • Army reforms: The army, which was at the forefront of the outbreak, was thoroughly reorganised and British military policy came to be dominated by the idea of “division and counterpoise”.
    • The British could no longer depend on Indian loyalty, so the number of Indian soldiers was drastically reduced even as the number of European soldiers was increased.
    • The concept of divide and rule was adopted, with separate units being created on the basis of caste/community/region.
    • Recruits were to be drawn from the ‘martial’ races of Punjab, Nepal, and north-western frontier who had proved loyal to the British during the revolt. Effort was made to keep the army away from civilian population.
  • Divide and Rule: The policy of divide and rule started in earnest after the Revolt of 1857. The British used one class/community against another unscrupulously.
    • Thus, socially, there was irremediable deterioration. While British territorial conquest was at an end, a period of systematic economic loot by the British began.

Conclusion

For the British, the Revolt of 1857 proved useful in that it showed up the glaring shortcomings in the Company’s administration and its army, which they rectified promptly. These defects would never have been revealed to the world if the Revolt had not happened.

For the Indians, the 1857 Revolt had a major influence View In conceptual terms, the British who had started their rule as ‘outsiders’, became ‘insiders’ by vesting in their monarch the sovereignty of India. Bernard Cohn (in context of the Queen’s Proclamation) on the course of the struggle for freedom. It brought out in the open grievances of people and the sepoys, which were seen to be genuine. The Revolt of 1857 did establish local traditions of resistance to British rule which were to be of help in the course of the national struggle for freedom.

 


General Studies – 2


 


7. The imposition of the Sedition law in India has been a subject of significant controversy and debate. While the intention behind the law is to protect national security and maintain public order, it has been criticized for its potential misuse and infringement on free speech rights. Analyse.

Reference: Indian Express

Introduction

According to the Section 124A of IPC, Sedition is an act that brings or attempts to bring into hatred or contempt, or excites or attempts to excite disaffection towards the Government established by law in India by words, either spoken or written, or by signs, or by visible representation, or otherwise. Colonial administrators used sedition to lock up people who criticised the British policies.

Recently, The Law Commission of India has recommended the retention of the 153-year-old colonial law on sedition in India..

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Background

  • The section 124A of Indian Penal Code is a pre- independence provision, which covers sedition charges against government.
  • Various verdicts by Indian Judiciary have led to re-interpretation and re-examination of ‘sedition’ in light of Article 19 of the Constitution.
  • There has been an effort to strike a balance between right to free speech and expression and power of State to impose reasonable restrictions (Article 19(2)).
  • In 1962, the Supreme Court in Kedar Nath Singh vs. State of Bihar upheld Section 124A and held that it struck a “correct balance” between fundamental rights and the need for public order.
  • The court had significantly reduced the scope of Sedition law to only those cases where there is incitement to imminent violence towards overthrow of the state.
  • Further, the Court held that it is not mere against government of the day but the institutions as symbol of state.

Should sedition be scrapped?

  • Against democratic norms: It stifles the democratic and fundamental right of people to criticize the government.
  • Inadequate capacity of State Machinery: The police might not have the “requisite” training to understand the consequences of imposing such a “stringent” provision.
  • Possibility of Misuse: It has been used arbitrarily to curb dissent. In many cases the main targets have been writers, journalists, activists who question government policy and projects, and political dissenters.
  • The draconian nature of this law as the crime is non-bailable, non-cognisable and punishment can extend for life—it has a strong deterrent effect on dissent even if it is not used.
  • Used to gag press: The press should be protected so that it could bare the secrets of government and inform the people. Only a free and unrestrained press can effectively expose deception in government.

Arguments in favour of Section 124A

  • Not really a draconian law: Now after the Supreme Court directions, its jurisdiction has been narrowed down. It can be applied only on grounds laid down by the court.
  • Application is a part of reasonable restrictions: It is provided under the Article 19 (2).
  • Does not really curb free speech: One can use any kind of strong language in criticism of the government without inviting sedition. However, such dissent should not be turned into some kind of persuasion to break the country.
  • Threats to unity and integrity of nationdue to presence of anti- national elements and divisive Forces such as naxals, separatists who are receiving support from inside and outside the country.
  • Mere misuse cannot be a ground of repeal, rather provisions should be made where such misuse is eliminated.

Conclusion

The guidelines of the SC must be incorporated in Section 124A as well by amendment to IPC so that any ambiguity must be removed. Only those actions/words that directly result in the use of violence or incitement to violence should be termed seditious. The state police must be sufficiently guided as to where the section must be imposed and where it must not. Need to include provisions where the government can be penalized, if it misuses the section. This will ensure that section 124 A of IPC strikes a balance between security and smooth functioning of state with the fundamental right of freedom of speech and expression.

 

8. Present a critical assessment of the current state of Indian democracy, highlighting the need for safeguarding democratic values, protecting institutions, and fostering an inclusive and participatory political system.

Reference: The HinduInsights on India

Introduction

The current state of Indian democracy presents both strengths and challenges that warrant a critical assessment. While India is the world’s largest democracy and has a history of holding regular elections, there are several areas where democratic values need safeguarding and institutional protection.

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Various issues plaguing Indian democracy and inclusive measures needed to safeguard democracy

  • Erosion of democratic values: India has witnessed instances of rising intolerance, religious polarization, and social divisions that threaten the democratic fabric of the country. There have been concerns about curbs on freedom of expression, attacks on dissent, and attempts to suppress voices critical of the government.
    • Eg: Delhi Riots, treatment of women Olympic wrestling champion during protest against sexual harassment.
    • Safeguarding democratic values requires a commitment to inclusivity, pluralism, and respect for the rights and dignity of all individuals.
  • Weakening of institutions: The independence and effectiveness of democratic institutions, such as the judiciary, media, and election commission, have been subject to scrutiny.
    • There have been instances where the impartiality and autonomy of these institutions have been questioned, undermining their ability to act as checks and balances on executive power.
    • Strengthening and protecting these institutions is vital to ensure the proper functioning of democracy.
    • Eg: Use of CBI/ED against political opponents of the ruling governmen Raid on BBC channel after running a program that criticised the government.
  • Political polarization: India has experienced growing political polarization along various lines, including ideology, religion, and regionalism. This polarization often hampers constructive dialogue, compromises decision-making, and undermines the spirit of consensus-building, leading to a fragmented political landscape.
    • Eg: Caste based polarisation for vote bank politics.
  • Communal and religious tensions: India is a diverse country with multiple religions and ethnicities. However, incidents of religious tensions, communal violence, and discrimination continue to challenge the social fabric of the nation. Ensuring harmony, promoting interfaith dialogue, and addressing the root causes of such tensions are vital for the strength of Indian democracy.
  • Dynastic politics and concentration of power: Dynastic politics, where political power is concentrated within a few families, is a persistent issue in Indian democracy. This phenomenon can lead to a lack of internal party democracy, limited opportunities for new leaders to emerge, and reduced accountability.
  • Corruption and ethical challenges: Corruption remains a significant concern in Indian democracy, affecting various sectors and levels of governance. High-profile corruption scandals, lack of transparency in political funding, and ethical challenges among public officials undermine the credibility of institutions and erode public trust.
  • Inequality and social exclusion: India faces persistent challenges related to economic inequality, social exclusion, and caste-based discrimination. The unequal distribution of resources, limited access to education and healthcare, and marginalization of disadvantaged communities hinder the principles of equal opportunity and social justice in a democratic society. Eg: Migrant crisis during Covid-19 lockdown showed the exclusionary policies affecting millions in India.
  • Weak implementation of policies and governance issues: Although India has implemented several progressive policies, the challenge lies in effective implementation and last-mile delivery. Bureaucratic inefficiencies, corruption, and a lack of accountability often hamper the execution of well-intended initiatives, resulting in a gap between policy intent and outcomes.
  • Gender inequality and women’s representation: Despite constitutional guarantees of gender equality, women in India continue to face significant challenges, including gender-based violence, unequal representation in politics, and limited access to resources and opportunities. Enhancing women’s empowerment and addressing gender disparities are essential for a truly inclusive democracy.
    • Eg: Women’s Labour force participation is 32.8% which is very low for world’s most populous nation.

Measures needed

  • Electoral reforms: While India conducts regular elections, there is a need for comprehensive electoral reforms. Issues such as the influence of money and muscle power, lack of transparency in campaign financing, and the role of criminal elements in politics need to be addressed. Enhancing transparency, accountability, and fairness in the electoral process will promote a more inclusive and representative democracy.
  • Inclusive participation and representation: Despite India’s diversity, there are ongoing challenges in ensuring adequate representation and participation of marginalized communities, including women, religious minorities, and disadvantaged groups. Efforts should be made to address these gaps by promoting equal opportunities, encouraging political participation, and empowering marginalized sections of society.
  • Strengthening local governance: While India has a decentralized system of governance, there is a need to strengthen local institutions and empower local governments. Strengthening grassroots democracy can enhance citizen participation, ensure better delivery of public services, and foster a sense of ownership and accountability.
  • Social and economic inequalities: Addressing social and economic inequalities is crucial for a truly inclusive democracy. India continues to grapple with issues such as poverty, unequal access to education and healthcare, and the digital divide. Bridging these gaps and ensuring a more equitable distribution of resources will help create a conducive environment for democratic participation and social cohesion.

Conclusion

In summary, while India’s democracy has made significant strides, it faces challenges that require attention and action. Safeguarding democratic values, protecting institutions, and fostering an inclusive and participatory political system are essential for India’s continued democratic progress. It demands a collective effort from all stakeholders to uphold the principles of democracy, promote inclusivity, and address the existing gaps and inequalities within the Indian democratic framework.

 


General Studies – 3


 


9. While India has made significant progress in achieving self-reliance in the production of pulses, it continues to rely heavily on imports for edible oil. Suggest measures to make India self-reliant in edible oil.

Reference: Indian ExpressInsights on India

Introduction

India has achieved over 90% self-sufficiency in dals, thanks mainly to increased chana production. However, India needs 25 million tonnes of edible oils to meet its requirement at current consumption level of 19 kg per person per year. Out of the total requirement, 10.50 million tonnes are produced domestically from primary (Soybean, Rapeseed & Mustard, Groundnut, Sunflower, Safflower & Niger) and secondary sources (Oil palm, Coconut, Rice Bran, Cotton seeds & Tree Borne Oilseeds) and remaining 70%, is met through import.

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Import of edible oil vis-à-vis Pulses

  • Between 2013-14 and 2022-23 (April-March), the value of India’s vegetable oil imports has soared from $7,249.85 million (Rs 44,038.04 crore) to $20,837.70 million (Rs 167,269.99 crore). Much of this has been in just the last two fiscal years
  • Out of the 24-25 million tonnes (mt) cooking oil that the country consumes annually, only 9-10 mt is from domestically produced grain. The balance 14-15 mt is imported.
  • In quantity terms, India’s imports of pulses more than doubled from 3.18 mt in 2013-14 to 6.61 mt in 2016-17. From those peaks, they have come down to 2.70 mt in 2021-22 and 2.52 mt in 2022-23.
  • Thus, the nation has actually seen a decline, unlike in vegetable oils, where the quantum of imports too has surged from 7.94 mt to 15.67 mt between 2013-14 and 2022-23.
  • The reduction in pulses imports have come essentially on the back of higher domestic production.
  • According to the Agriculture Ministry, India’s pulses output has increased from 19.26 mt in 2013-14 to 27.50 mt in 2022-23.
  • Private trade estimates of production are lower at 23-24 mt.

  

Reasons for edible oil import dependence in India

  • India’s import dependence in this has worsened to over 70%. Oilseed growers in India are in distress as a result of increased imports.
  • The planted acreage has stagnated and the yields also continue to be abysmally low.
  • This is primarily because growers have no incentive to improve agronomic practices.
  • The marketability of the crop grown is also weak as the price support mechanism is nearly non-existent.
  • Market – Liberal policies with zero or low rate of duty and free market operations of the last 25 years have contributed to unfettered imports.
  • This has worked against protecting the interests of domestic growers.
  • About 10-15% of the current import volume is speculation driven. It often represents stock transfer from Indonesia and Malaysia to India.
  • Huge inventories of as much as 2 million tonnes are often piled up in India, in turn affecting the domestic market.

Measures to boost domestic production of edible oils

India has a serious import dependency in edible oil. One of the biggest constraints to raising oilseed output has been that production is largely in rain-fed areas. Only one fourth of the oilseed producing area in the country remains under the irrigation.

  • In 1986, government had launched a Technology Mission on Oilseedsto improve productivity. This resulted in some growth but then growth in this field has been sluggish only.
  • Current Government is promoting National Mission on Oilseeds and Oil Palm (NMOOP)during 2012-17. This mission has some clear cut objectives such as:
    • Increasing Seed Replacement Ratio (SRR) in oil crops with focus on Varietal Replacement;
    • Increasing irrigation coverage under oilseeds from 26% to 36%;
    • Diversification of area from low yielding cereals crops to oilseeds crops; inter-cropping of oilseeds with cereals/ pulses/ sugarcane;
    • Use of fallow land after paddy /potato cultivation;
    • Expansion of cultivation of Oil Palm and tree borne oilseeds in watersheds and wastelands;
    • Increasing availability of quality planting material enhancing procurement of oilseeds and collection; and
    • Processing of tree borne oilseeds.
  • National Mission on Edible Oils (NMEO): To increase domestic availability and reduce import dependency, a National Mission on Edible Oils (NMEO) is proposed for next five years (2020-21 to 2024-25). NMEO covering three Sub-Missions to increase production of oilseeds and edible oils from
    • Primary Sources (Annual Crops, Plantation Crops and Edible TBOs),
    • Secondary Sources (Rice bran oil and Cotton seed oil) and
    • Consumer Awareness for maintaining edible oil consumption constant at 19.00 kg per person per annum.
  • The proposed mission will aim to increase production from 30.88 to 47.80 million tonnes of oilseeds which will produce 7.00 to 11.00 million tonnes of edible oils from Primary Sources by 2024-25. Similarly edible oils from secondary sources will be doubled from 3.50 to 7.00 million tonnes.
  • The following action point will be initiated for increasing production and productivity of oilseeds and promotion of Secondary Sources of Edible oils:
    • Increasing seed replacement rate and varietal replacement rate
    • Promotion of oilseed in rice fallow/ potato areas
    • Promotion of oilseeds through intercropping
    • Extending oilseed cultivation in non-traditional area
    • Targeting 100 low productivity districts
    • Crop diversification in different reasons
    • Promotion of community-based oil extraction unit
    • Value addition and promotion of export
    • Promotion of rice bran and cotton seed oil
    • Consumer awareness for judicious consumption of oils for good health

 

Conclusion

India must become self-sufficient in edible oil production and this must become a part of India’s Atmanirbharta. Certain WTO compliant incentives must be given to farmers in increasing the growth of oilseed production in the country to ensure domestic cultivation.

 

10. Foreign Portfolio Investment (FPI) is a significant route for foreign investment. FPIs have made a strong comeback after the COVID-19-induced slump. However, the recent tightening of disclosure norms by the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) may pose challenges for foreign investors. Examine.

Reference: Indian Express

Introduction

Foreign portfolio investment (FPI) consists of securities and other financial assets held by investors in another country. It does not provide the investor with direct ownership of a company’s assets and is relatively liquid depending on the volatility of the market. Along with foreign direct investment (FDI), FPI is one of the common ways to invest in an overseas economy. FDI and FPI are both important sources of funding for most economies.

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Background

  • India has remained one of the attractive destinations for foreign portfolio investors (FPIs) with total inflows at Rs 61,958 crore so far in the current fiscal.
  • However, post Adani-Hindenburg episode, market regulator Sebi’s proposal to ask FPIs to disclose the ultimate beneficiaries of high-risk FPI funds is likely to impact the inflows

FPI regime as a route for foreign investment in India

  • FPIs are the largest non-promoter shareholders in the Indian market and their investment decisions have a huge bearing on the stock prices and overall direction of the market.
  • FPIs hold sizeable stakes in private banks, tech companies and big caps like Reliance Industries.
  • India’s strong macroeconomic fundamentals and rising risk appetite are the reasons for the rise in FPI investment in the country’s market.
  • FPI invested Rs 11,631 crore in April, Rs 43,838 crore in May and Rs 6,489 crore in the first two days of June into the domestic equity market, according to National Securities Depository Ltd (NSDL) data.
  • In the first three months of FY23, FPIs had massively sold Indian stocks amid risk aversion due to the Ukraine-Russia war.
  • Between April and June 2022, they pulled out Rs 1.07 lakh crore from the equity market. During FY2023, FPI outflows from the equity segment stood at Rs 37,632 crore.

Impact of SEBI tightening on FPI

  • Recently, Sebi floated a consultation paper proposing tighter disclosure norms for high-risk FPIs.
  • Assets of Rs 2.6 lakh crore, or 6 per cent of total FPI equity AUM, and less than 1 per cent of Indian equity market capitalisation may potentially be identified as high-risk FPIs that meet either of the 50 per cent group concentration or the Rs 25,000 crore fund size thresholds, Sebi says.
  • The tightening could dampen sentiment in equity and forex markets.
  • The proposed amendments would result in “disclosure down the the rabbit hole to find the final beneficial owner in certain high-risk investor categories
  • It will help prevent violations of public float standards.

Conclusion

The heavy inflow of FPI can provide Indian economy a non-debt creating source of foreign investment. It also reduces the pressure of foreign exchange gap. The FPI has an added advantage of the flow of resources into the capital-scant countries like India. Significant reforms like wider taxation bracket,  KYC norms, land arbitration, ease of doing business ,ease of governance will definitely attract FPI in coming years.


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