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[Mission 2024] Insights SECURE SYNOPSIS: 19 August 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. While diversity is important for progress and a vibrant culture, it should not be used as an excuse to promote divisiveness or intolerance. Analyse.

Reference: Indian ExpressInsights on India

Introduction

At its core, diversity signifies the acknowledgment and celebration of the unique attributes that each individual brings to the table. It extends a welcoming embrace to the myriad hues of thought, belief, heritage, and expression that together enrich the mosaic of our global community.

With its vast landmass, diverse climates, and ancient history, India boasts an astonishing array of languages, religions, traditions, cuisines, art forms, and lifestyles. Its diversity is evident in the coexistence of numerous ethnic groups, languages, and religious practices within its borders.

This diversity is deeply rooted in India’s history, where multiple civilizations have flourished and intermingled over millennia. From the Indus Valley Civilization to the Mughal Empire and beyond, India has been a melting pot of ideas, beliefs, and customs, which have influenced its architecture, literature, music, and way of life.

 

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Diversity leading to divisiveness

  • Religious Differences and Communal Tensions: India is known for its religious diversity, with Hindus, Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists, and other religious groups coexisting. However, this diversity has, at times, led to religious tensions, conflicts, and even communal violence. Disagreements over religious practices, beliefs, and places of worship have resulted in incidents that have strained social cohesion.
    • Example: The Ayodhya dispute involving the Babri Masjid and Ram Janmabhoomi has been a longstanding religious conflict between Hindus and Muslims, resulting in communal tensions and violence over the years.
    • Delhi riots, KG Halli riots in Karnataka etc.
  • Caste-based Discrimination: The caste system, deeply ingrained in India’s social fabric, has led to caste-based discrimination and inequalities. While measures have been taken to address these issues, caste-based conflicts and intolerance continue to exist, particularly in rural areas.
    • Eg: Even today instances in rural India have been reported where discrimination is seen against Dalits using public spaces.
  • Linguistic Diversity and Regionalism: India’s linguistic diversity is vast, with hundreds of languages spoken across the country. However, linguistic diversity has sometimes fueled regionalism and separatist movements. Differences in language have occasionally led to tensions over language policies, state boundaries, and cultural identities.
    • Example: The movement for the separate state of Telangana emerged due to regional disparities and differences in language and culture, leading to protests and demands for the creation of a new state.
  • Identity Politics and Reservation: Identity-based politics, such as caste-based reservations, though intended to uplift marginalized communities, have sometimes exacerbated divisions. Competitions for limited resources and opportunities have led to conflicts between different social groups.
    • Maratha reservation, Jat reservation issue are case in point.
  • Political and Ideological Differences: India’s political landscape is characterized by a range of ideologies and parties representing various interests. These differences can escalate into intolerance and divisiveness, particularly during election campaigns, when rhetoric might target specific communities or groups.
  • Ethnic and Tribal Conflicts: Tribal and ethnic diversity has sometimes resulted in conflicts over land, resources, and rights. Tribes and indigenous communities have at times been marginalized, leading to tensions between them and the larger society.
    • The Manipur violence and riots between Meiteis and Kukis is a black mark in Independent India’s history.
  • Regional Differences and Autonomy: India’s vast geographical expanse encompasses various regions, each with its own distinct culture and identity. Regional differences can sometimes give rise to demands for greater autonomy or even separatist movements, leading to tension with the central government.
    • Example: The demand for a separate Gorkhaland state by the Gorkhas in West Bengal has resulted in conflicts with the state government, reflecting regional identity clashes and calls for autonomy.
  • Social Media and Misinformation: While social media has connected people from diverse backgrounds, it has also been used to spread misinformation, hate speech, and divisive narratives. False narratives related to religious, ethnic, or cultural issues can easily spread online, exacerbating tensions.
  • Historical Conflicts and Narratives: Different communities might have varying interpretations of historical events, which can lead to tensions and disputes. Historical grievances and narratives can contribute to intolerance and divisive attitudes.
  • Economic Disparities: Socioeconomic disparities between different groups can lead to resentment and intolerance. When economic opportunities are unequally distributed, it can contribute to a sense of inequality and divisiveness.

Diversity in India despite challenges

  • Festivals: India’s diverse festivals are a testament to its inclusivity. Diwali, celebrated by Hindus, is also enjoyed by Sikhs and Jains. Eid, observed by Muslims, sees participation from people of various faiths who join in the spirit of celebration. Holi, the festival of colors, is embraced across communities.
    • Eg: Initiatives like Ek Bharat Shresht Bharat
  • Unity in Crisis: During times of crisis, communities come together irrespective of their differences. Instances like natural disasters or communal tensions often lead to neighbours and strangers helping one another without regard for religious or cultural background.
  • Cultural Exchanges: Various art forms and cultural practices are appreciated and shared across communities. Classical dance forms like Bharatanatyam and Kathak are admired beyond their originating regions. Music genres, culinary traditions, and traditional attire find enthusiasts across the country.
  • Interfaith Marriages: In recent times, interfaith marriages are becoming more common, exemplifying individuals’ willingness to embrace love and unity despite religious differences. Such unions often lead to cultural exchanges that enrich families and communities.
  • Historical Sites: India’s historical sites and monuments often reflect the synthesis of diverse architectural styles and cultural influences. The Qutub Minar in Delhi, for instance, exhibits both Islamic and Hindu architectural elements.
  • Language Bridges: While India has a multitude of languages, English and Hindi serve as bridges between different linguistic groups, enabling communication and interaction across regions.
  • Cultural Heritage: UNESCO’s recognition of Indian cultural sites like the Taj Mahal, Jaipur’s cityscape, and Ahmedabad’s historic city center underscores the value placed on preserving and celebrating diverse heritage.
  • Education and Workplaces: Educational institutions and workplaces often bring together people from different backgrounds, fostering understanding and cooperation. Students and professionals engage with peers from various regions, cultures, and languages, leading to a broader worldview.
  • Cuisine: India’s culinary landscape is a testament to its diverse culture. People from all community relish dishes from across the country, appreciating the variety of flavors and ingredients that different regions offer.
  • Constitutional Values: India’s Constitution enshrines the principles of equality, non-discrimination, and freedom of religion. Legal protections exist to ensure that individuals can practice their beliefs and cultures without fear of prejudice.
  • Civil Society Initiatives: Various non-governmental organizations and community-driven initiatives work to promote understanding, tolerance, and collaboration among diverse groups. These efforts are visible in community projects, dialogues, and cultural events.

 

Conclusion

It’s important to note that while diversity can sometimes contribute to intolerance and divisiveness, these issues are not inevitable outcomes. They often arise due to historical, social, economic, and political factors. Efforts to promote understanding, tolerance, and dialogue among diverse communities are crucial for fostering unity and ensuring that diversity remains a source of strength rather than division.

 

2. Examine the significance of combatting gender stereotypes and its potential to promote gender equality and empower women.

Reference: The Hindu

Introduction

Gender stereotypes are simplistic generalizations about the gender attributes, differences, and roles of individuals and/or groups. Stereotypes can be positive or negative, but they rarely communicate accurate information about others. When people automatically apply gender assumptions to others regardless of evidence to the contrary, they are perpetuating gender stereotyping. Many people recognize the dangers of gender stereotyping, yet continue to make these types of generalizations.

Traditionally, the female stereotypic role is to marry and have children. She is also to put her family’s welfare before her own; be loving, compassionate, caring, nurturing, and sympathetic; and find time to be sexy and feel beautiful.

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Background

  • The Supreme Court has released a 30-page handbook aimed at eliminating gender stereotypesfrom legal language and proceedings.
  • The “Handbook on Combating Gender Stereotypes”addresses unjust gender-based terms frequently used in Indian courts and offers accurate alternatives.
  • It emphasizes the importance of using languagethat respects the rights and dignity of all individuals.

Impact of Gender Stereotyping

  • Gender role stereotyping attributed to women have generally led to prejudice and discrimination against women. For example, women may be considered to be less reliable as workers because of their child-rearing functions.
  • Gender stereotypes act as a barrier for girls to access quality education. For example, stereotypes about the role of women as confined to the domestic and family sphere underpin all obstacles to girls’ equal access to quality education.
  • The 42 per cent “digital gender gap” in India is often linked to social norms, bias and gender stereotypes which perceive girls as ‘inherently not tech savvy’ and may discourage girls to pursue education and occupation in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) fields.
  • Women are often held back from high status positions in society.
  • It also affects a woman’s self-image and may hold some women back as they count themselves out of pursuing prestigious roles in professions they believe they won’t excel in, despite having the skills to succeed.
  • The persistent gender gap in education, employment and wages is due in part to gender stereotyping.
  • One pervasive stereotype is that because women are considered vulnerable and emotionally volatile, they are incapable of making rational decisions about their reproductive capacity. It denies women information to make informed decisions about their health care in general, and reproductive health care in particular.
  • Harmful gender stereotypes, rigid constructions of femininity and masculinity and stereotyped gender roles are a root cause of gender-based violence against women.

Significance of Eliminating Gender Stereotyping

Significance Explanation
Eliminating Gender Stereotypes The handbook aims to remove gender-based terms and assumptions from legal language, promoting fairness and impartiality.
Promoting Equal Justice By encouraging the use of accurate terms, the handbook helps ensure equal treatment and justice for all individuals.
Challenging Biased Assumptions The handbook challenges stereotypes about women’s emotional capacity and rational thinking, emphasizing that gender does not dictate one’s ability for rational thinking
Fostering Respect and Dignity Using respectful language respects the dignity and rights of all individuals involved in legal proceedings.
Enhancing Legal Communication The handbook underscores the importance of language in legal proceedings, promoting clear and accurate communication.
Aligning with Constitutional Values Removing gender stereotypes aligns legal practices with the constitutional principles of equality and human rights
Empowering and Inspiring Legal Professionals The handbook empowers legal professionals to use language that upholds justice, equality, and dignity in legal proceedings.

Way forward

To eliminate gender-based violence against women, it would be crucial to transform discriminatory gender norms and stereotypes and to promote non-violent, respectful and equal gender relations between men, women and non-binary persons. Measures such as gender-responsive early childhood education and development; the integration of gender equality content into curricula at all levels of education; promoting equal sharing of responsibilities in unpaid care and domestic work etc. must be promoted.

 


General Studies – 2


 

3. “Affordable Housing for All” is not just about providing shelter; By ensuring that everyone has access to safe, decent, and affordable housing, India can create a more equitable and thriving society. Discuss.

Reference: The Hindu

Introduction

“Affordable Housing for All” represents a vision that extends beyond the basic provision of shelter. By ensuring that everyone has access to safe, decent, and affordable housing, a country like India can catalyze the creation of a more equitable and thriving society. This concept involves several interconnected dimensions that contribute to social, economic, and environmental well-being

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Affordable housing: Significance

  • Dignity and Security: Access to safe and affordable housing grants individuals and families a sense of dignity and security. It provides a stable foundation from which people can pursue opportunities, access education, and lead healthier lives. Adequate housing protects vulnerable populations from environmental hazards, displacement, and exploitation.
  • Economic Empowerment: Affordable housing contributes to economic empowerment in multiple ways. When people spend less on housing, they have more resources to invest in education, healthcare, and starting businesses. It boosts local economies by creating jobs in construction, real estate, and related industries.
  • Education and Skill Development: Stable housing can positively influence educational outcomes for children. When families have a secure place to live, children can attend school regularly and focus on their studies. This contributes to a cycle of education and skill development that leads to better employment opportunities in the future.
  • Community Development: Affordable housing promotes the growth of vibrant and cohesive communities. People are more likely to engage in local activities, collaborate on projects, and build social networks when they have a stake in their community. Strong communities contribute to a sense of belonging and shared responsibility.
  • Reducing Inequality: Affordable housing initiatives target the root causes of inequality by providing marginalized and underserved populations with access to a fundamental need. This creates a more level playing field and reduces disparities in living conditions and opportunities.
  • Health and Well-being: Housing conditions have a direct impact on health. Adequate housing reduces exposure to environmental hazards, overcrowding, and unsanitary conditions, leading to better physical and mental health outcomes for residents.
  • Urban Planning and Sustainability: Well-planned affordable housing projects can contribute to sustainable urban development. Concentrating housing close to employment centers and public transportation reduces commuting times and energy consumption. Additionally, integrating green spaces and energy-efficient design principles can create more livable and environmentally friendly communities.
  • Social Cohesion: A society that prioritizes affordable housing for all fosters a sense of inclusivity and shared purpose. When people from diverse backgrounds live in close proximity, they have opportunities to interact, learn from one another, and challenge stereotypes, promoting social cohesion.
  • Reduced Informal Settlements: Adequate affordable housing options can help reduce the prevalence of informal settlements, slums, and unregulated housing. This leads to improved living conditions and reduces the strain on urban infrastructure and services.
  • Long-term Economic Stability: Providing affordable housing contributes to long-term economic stability. It reduces the burden on social services, enhances overall quality of life, and supports sustainable urbanization.

Challenges in affordable housing scheme

  • Identification of Beneficiaries: Identifying eligible beneficiaries accurately is a challenge. Ensuring that those who are most in need receive the benefits while preventing potential misuse of the program requires a robust and transparent selection process.
  • Land Availability: Acquiring suitable land for housing projects, particularly in urban areas, can be difficult and time-consuming. Land scarcity and high land prices can hinder the timely implementation of projects.
  • Funding and Financing: The financial resources required for the ambitious housing projects under PMAY can strain government budgets. Mobilizing funds, securing loans, and coordinating with financial institutions to ensure a steady flow of resources is a persistent challenge.
  • Timely Implementation: Delays in project implementation can occur due to bureaucratic processes, administrative bottlenecks, and lack of coordination among various stakeholders. Timely completion is crucial to meeting the housing needs of the beneficiaries.
  • Quality Control: Ensuring the construction of quality housing units that are durable and safe is vital. Monitoring and maintaining construction standards across a large number of projects can be challenging, especially in remote or underserved areas.
  • Infrastructure and Services: Affordable housing projects must also provide basic infrastructure and services such as water supply, sanitation, electricity, and access to healthcare and education. Coordinating these services alongside housing construction can be complex.
  • Preference for Location: Beneficiaries often prefer housing units located closer to their places of work or original residences. Balancing these preferences with the availability of land and infrastructure can be a challenge.
  • Geographical Diversity: India’s geographical diversity presents varied challenges in terms of climate, terrain, and local building practices. Designing housing solutions that are suitable for different regions while maintaining quality standards can be demanding.
  • Awareness and Participation: Raising awareness about the PMAY scheme among eligible beneficiaries and ensuring their active participation is crucial. Many potential beneficiaries might not be aware of the program or how to apply.
  • Monitoring and Evaluation: Effective monitoring and evaluation mechanisms are needed to track the progress of the program, measure its impact, and identify areas that require improvement.

 

Government measures

  • Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (PMAY): PMAY is a flagship affordable housing scheme aimed at providing “Housing for All” by 2022. It is divided into two components: Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (Urban) and Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (Gramin).
    • Under PMAY (Urban), financial assistance is provided to eligible beneficiaries to construct new houses, renovate existing ones, or buy ready-built houses.
    • PMAY (Gramin) focuses on providing financial assistance for the construction of pucca houses to rural beneficiaries.
  • Credit-Linked Subsidy Scheme (CLSS): CLSS is a component of PMAY that offers interest subsidies on home loans for different income groups.
    • Beneficiaries falling under Economically Weaker Sections (EWS), Low-Income Groups (LIG), Middle-Income Group-I (MIG-I), and Middle-Income Group-II (MIG-II) can avail interest subsidies based on their income.
  • Affordable Housing Fund (AHF): The Affordable Housing Fund was set up by the government to provide financing to affordable housing projects. It encourages banks and financial institutions to extend credit for housing projects targeted at EWS and LIG beneficiaries.
  • Infrastructure Status for Affordable Housing: Affordable housing was granted infrastructure status, making it easier for developers to access institutional funding and loans at more favorable terms. This facilitates faster project approvals and development.
  • Goods and Services Tax (GST) Reduction: The government reduced GST rates on under-construction affordable housing projects, which has led to lower overall costs for homebuyers.
  • Urban Rental Housing Policy: The Urban Rental Housing Policy aims to provide a regulatory framework for the rental housing market, making it more attractive for both landlords and tenants. This encourages increased supply and affordability of rental housing.
  • Pradhan Mantri Swamitva Yojana: This scheme aims to provide property ownership rights to people living in rural areas. By providing property titles, it enables access to formal credit, and this can contribute to better housing conditions and affordability.
  • Real Estate (Regulation and Development) Act, 2016 (RERA): While RERA primarily focuses on transparency and accountability in the real estate sector, its implementation has indirectly contributed to better consumer protection and more realistic pricing, which can benefit homebuyers.
  • Incentives for Developers: Various incentives, such as tax breaks and faster approvals, are provided to developers who focus on building affordable housing projects.

 

Conclusion

“Affordable Housing for All” transcends the idea of mere shelter. It represents a transformative approach to social development that addresses numerous interconnected challenges. By ensuring that everyone has access to safe, decent, and affordable housing, India can foster a more equitable, inclusive, and prosperous society for present and future generations.

 


General Studies – 3


 

4. Throwing light on the various ways to measure poverty, Analyse various issues involved in measurement of poverty in India.

Reference: Live Mint

Introduction

Poverty can be defined as a condition in which an individual or household lacks the financial resources to afford a basic minimum standard of living. Economists and policymakers estimate “absolute” poverty as the shortfall in consumption expenditure from a threshold called the “poverty line”.

The official poverty line is the expenditure incurred to obtain the goods in a “poverty line basket” (PLB). Poverty can be measured in terms of the number of people living below this line (with the incidence of poverty expressed as the head count ratio). The “depth” of poverty indicates how far the poor are below the poverty line.

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Various ways to measure poverty

  • Planning Commission Expert Group (1962), working group constituted by the Planning Commission formulated the separate poverty lines for rural and urban areas (₹20 and ₹25 per capita per year respectively).
  • VM Dandekar and N Rath (1971), made the first systematic assessment of poverty in India, based on National Sample Survey (NSS) data.
    • Unlike previous scholars who had considered subsistence living or basic minimum needs criteria as the measure of poverty line, VM Dandekar and N Rath were of the view that poverty line must be derived from the expenditure that was adequate to provide 2250 calories per day in both rural and urban areas.
    • Expenditure based Poverty line estimation, generated a debate on minimum calorie consumption norms.
  • Alagh Committee (1979): Task force constituted by the Planning Commission under the chairmanship of YK Alagh, constructed a poverty line for rural and urban areas on the basis of nutritional requirements and related consumption expenditure.
    • Poverty estimates for subsequent years were to be calculated by adjusting the price level for inflation.
  • Lakdawala Committee (1993): Task Force chaired by DT Lakdawala, based on the assumption that the basket of goods and services used to calculate Consumer Price Index-Industrial Workers (CPI-IW) and Consumer Price Index- Agricultural Labourers (CPI-AL) reflect the consumption patterns of the poor, made the following suggestions:
    • Consumption expenditure should be calculated based on calorie consumption as earlier.
    • State specific poverty lines should be constructed and these should be updated using the CPI-IW in urban areas and CPI-AL in rural areas.
    • Discontinuation of scaling of poverty estimates based on National Accounts Statistics.

Tendulkar Committee (2009): Expert group constituted by the Planning Commission and, chaired by Suresh Tendulkar, was constituted to review methodology for poverty estimation and to address the following shortcomings of the previous methods:

  • Obsolete Consumption Pattern: Consumption patterns were linked to the 1973-74 poverty line baskets (PLBs) of goods and services, whereas there were significant changes in the consumption patterns of the poor since that time, which were not reflected in the poverty estimates.
  • Inflation Adjustment: There were issues with the adjustment of prices for inflation, both spatially (across regions) and temporally (across time).
  • Health and Education Expenditure: Earlier poverty lines assumed that health and education would be provided by the state and formulated poverty lines accordingly.

Issues involved in measuring poverty in India

  • Monetary-based poverty measures are inadequate: In most cases, not all individuals who are income poor are multidimensionally poor and not all multidimensionally poor individuals are income poor.
    • As per the Tendulkar estimation, the percentage of people living below the poverty line in India is 21.9%. However, as pe Rangarajan estimation, the percentage of people living below the poverty line in India is 29.5%.
  • Economic growth does not always reduce poverty or deprivation. Several studies have found that economic growth is not strongly associated with a reduction in other deprivations, such as child malnutrition or child mortality.
  • Poverty as multidimensional: Poor people describe ill-being to include poor health, nutrition, lack of adequate sanitation and clean water, social exclusion, low education, bad housing conditions, violence, shame, disempowerment and much more.
  • Need for more policy-relevant information on poverty, so that policymakers are better equipped to deal with it: For example, an area in which most people are deprived in education requires a different poverty reduction strategy from an area in which most people are deprived in housing conditions

Conclusion

The World Health Organization has described poverty as the greatest cause of suffering on earth. Poverty eradication should not be the goal of the government but the goal of the government policies should be to create prosperity. Both monetary and non-monetary measures of poverty are needed to better inform the policies intended to address the needs and deprivations faced by poor populations.

 

5. What are the objectives monetary policy? Evaluate the major impediments RBI faces in achieving its objectives.

Reference: Live MintInsights on India

Introduction

Monetary policy refers to the policy of the central bank ie Reserve Bank of India, in matters of interest rates, money supply and availability of credit.

In short, Monetary policy refers to the use of monetary instruments under the control of the central bank to regulate magnitudes such as interest rates, money supply and availability of credit with a view to achieving the ultimate objective of economic policy.

 

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Monetary policy committee performance

  • Beginning in May 2022, when it held an unscheduled meeting, the MPC has raised interest rates in every meeting to tackle inflation.
  • MPC increased this rate from 4% in April 2022 to 4.4% in May 2022, to 4.9% in June 2022, to 5.4% in August 2022, and to 5.9% in September 2022.
  • Now in December, RBI raised the repo by 35 basis points.
  • But since January this year, inflation has remained above the upper threshold of the RBI’s inflation targeting framework, as the RBI is mandated to keep inflation at 4 plus/minus 2 per cent.
  • Inflation targeting has been successful till 2019 on the grounds that the inflation rate has remained within the band agreed to between the government and the RBI, and whether it has been achieved by “anchoring inflation expectations”.
  • However, Inflation in India entered the prescribed band of 2% to 6% two years before inflation targeting was adopted in 2016-17.
  • In fact, inflation had fallen steadily since 2011-12, halving by 2015-16.
  • The MPC has mostly continued with the accommodative policy stance, where the balance of the growth-inflation dynamic has tilted more towards growth.
  • Post-pandemic, the accommodative policy stance was needed given the rough ride because of the pandemic and is consistent with the overarching objective of the RBI to maintain price stability keeping in mind growth.
  • Trend inflation had fallen from above 9% before flexible inflation targeting (FIT) to a range of 3.8-4.3 % during FIT, indicating that 4% is the appropriate level of the inflation target.
  • However, NPAs have grown since 2016, and the cases of IL&FS, PMC Bank, PNB, and YES Bank suggest that poor management and malfeasance in the financial sector could escape scrutiny when the central bank hunkers down to inflation targeting.

 

Impediments faced by RBI

  • Tighter money policy undermining growth: From May 2022 onward, the RBI started raising the interest rate because by then it was clear that inflation could no longer be ignored, and that, if not contained, it would undermine India’s economic recovery.
    • It is noteworthy that the RBI’s main legal mandate is to maintain price stability. It must, by law, keep inflation at 4% with a leeway of two percentage points either side in any particular month.
    • But then, these actions by the RBI — and more rate hikes are in store — will drag down economic growth.
  • Unemployment and poor man’s inflation: The government is struggling to deal with massive and widespread unemployment. While in percentage terms GDP growth rates look rosy, the truth is that in real terms the economy is barely out of the contraction it witnessed during the Covid pandemic.
    • Unemployment has been a concern since 2017, when it hit a four-decade high.
  • Dilemma: If RBI continues to tighten monetary policy, it will weaken economic recovery at a time when growth is already faltering and unemployment is already quite high.
    • If RBI ignores inflation then it hits the poor immediately without necessarily guaranteeing that growth and unemployment will be resolved.

Conclusion

A looming economic recession in many parts of the world, geopolitical tensions, policy rate hikes across world to control unprecedented inflation, and commodity price fluctuations are bound to catch up at some stage and impact India. So far, we have navigated the external threats through smart fiscal and monetary policy moves.  The price of crude oil and currency depreciation are two added variables that India has to navigate.

 

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


General Studies – 1


 

6. Revolutionary nationalism introduced a more confrontational approach to the national movement. It advocated armed resistance, political violence, and even acts of terrorism against British officials as a means to weaken colonial authority. Discuss. Also, write about the contributions of Madan Lal Dhingra toward revolutionary activities.

Reference: Indian ExpressInsights on India

Introduction

The emergence of revolutionary ideology in India during the late nineteenth and early twentieth century was the result of several internal and external influences working on the minds of the youth. Early phase of revolutionary movement in India was in Bengal, Maharashtra, Punjab, U.P., Orissa, Bihar and Madras provinces, but it predominantly operated in Bengal, Maharashtra and Punjab as these regions were more politically active than other parts of the country.

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Factors that contributed to revolutionary nationalism:

  • Failure of Moderate and extremist congress: While the youth of Bengal might have been incensed at the British arrogance and repression, and the ‘mendicancy’ of the Congress moderates, they were also led to ‘the politics of the bomb’ by the extremists’ failure to give a positive lead to the people’.
  • Leadership’s failureto tap revolutionary energies of the youth.
    • In December 1908 nine Bengal leaders including the venerable Krishna Kumar Mitra and Ashwini Kumar Dutt were deported. In 1908, the great Bal Gangadhar Tilakwas arrested and given the severe sentence of 6 years imprisonment. Chidambaram Pillai in Madras and Hari Sarvottam Rao and others in Andhra were put behind bars.
    • This led to leader-lessness and energy of the youths could not be channelised.
  • The Fallout of Swadeshi and Boycott Movement was the immediate reason.
  • The repressive policies of the British government led people to militant and revolutionary politics.
    • The government of East Bengal, in particular, tried to crush the nationalist movement. Official attempted at preventing student participation in the Swadeshi Agitation.
    • For instance, the singing of Vande Mataram in public streets in East Bengal was banned. Public meetings were restricted and sometimes forbidden. Laws controlling the press enacted, etc.
    • One of the most notorious examples of repressions was the police assault on the peaceful delegates of Bengal provincial conference; Barisal in April 1906. Many of the young volunteer was severely beaten up and the conference itself was forcibly dispersed.
  • Nationalism among youth: Most vital factor which contributed to amplify the spirit of nationalism among the countrymen was the ‘economic exploitation’ of Indians by the British Government and the Partition of Bengal.
    • Jathindranath Banerjee, Virendra Ghosh of Anushilan Samiti; Barindrakumar Ghoshexpressed it through ‘Yugantar’.

Impact of revolutionaries in the Indian Nationalism

  • The Revolutionaries ignited the national cause and carried the message of nationalism in the country and outside the country.
  • Their deep patriotism, courage and determination, and sense of sacrifice stirred the Indian people.
  • They helped spread nationalist consciousness in the land; and in northern India the spread of socialist consciousness owed a lot to them.
  • The era of revolutionary terrorism began and very soon secret societies of the revolutionaries came up all over the country.
    • For instance, the Anusilan Samiti, the most famous and long lasting secret society, with its headquarters at Calcutta created revolutionary centres all over India. Their activities took two forms- the assassination of oppressive officials, traitors and informers, and dacoities to raise funds for the purchase of arms, etc.
  • It had its impact on the Congress strategy to involve the youths in the short term programme of rural reconstruction.
  • Revolutionaries like Ras Behari Bose, Chander Shekhar Azad, Lala Hardyal M.A., Madan Lal Dhingra and S. Ajit Singh succeeded in expanding the Indian independence movement to other countries as well.

Contributions of Madan Lal Dhingra

  • Madan Lal Dhingra was an Indian revolutionary who was hanged to death on August 17, 1909, at the age of only 24, for killing British official Curzon Wyllie.
  • An unwavering patriot, he was disowned by his familyfor his anti-British leanings – so much so that even after his death his family refused to take his body.
  • While studying in London, Dhingra came in contact with Vinayak Damodar Savarkar and Shyamji Krishna Varma, both active in revolutionary circles in the city.
  • Dhingra would frequent India House, a hub of revolutionary Indian nationalism and participate in meetings and discussions.
  • Later, he became a member of the secretive Abhinav Bharat Mandal founded by Vinayak Savarkar and his brother Ganesh.
  • It was here that Dhingra’s eventual plan of assasinating Curzon Willie would materialise, and he would pick up the required shooting skills to carry out the killing.

Conclusion

Though the revolutionary movement failed it made a valuable contribution to the growth of nationalism in India. The sacrifice and the martyrdom of the revolutionaries did not go waste. It appealed to the masses. Bhagat Singh, Chandrashekhar Azad, Surya Sen, Rajguru etc. became household name of the Indian people and aroused patriotism among masses.

Although the revolutionaries had failed to attain set objectives of attaining independence through armed revolt, they were successful in arousing people and remove the fear of authority from their minds and strike terror in the heart of the rulers.


General Studies – 2


 


7. Both cooperative federalism and competitive federalism have their own merits and can be relevant in different contexts within a diverse country like India. The choice between the two depends on the specific challenges, goals, and dynamics of the country. Critically analyse.

Reference: The HinduInsights on India

Introduction

Competitive federalism is a concept where centre competes with states and vice-versa, and states compete with each other. It refers to relations between regional governments (horizontal competition) and between central and regional governments (vertical competition).

Cooperative federalism is the concept which reflects the relationship between centre and state where they both come together and resolve the common problems with each other’s’ cooperation. With the collaborative efforts and cooperation, different level of governments in an amicable manner, contributes towards the growth of the country.

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Spirit of cooperative federalism in India

  • Separation of Power: Schedule 7 of Constitution provides strict delineation of powers between center and state. (Except during emergencies which comes under judicial review)
  • Article 131 of the Constitution, which gives the Supreme Court exclusive jurisdiction to hear cases between states and the Centre. Ex: Chhattisgarh moved SC against NIA Act in Jan 2020
  • Coalition governments: It has increased states’ bargaining power.
  • GST Council: Majority decisions have been based on consensus till now, while states gave 2/3rd of votes.
  • Since 10th FC, state’s share has been continuously increasing till 14th FC by devolving 42%.
  • NITI Aayog: Replacing the erstwhile Planning Commission, the Aayog is promoting bottom-up approach to development planning.
  • Sabka Saath Sabka Vikas involves State’s as equal partners of development

Spirit of competitive federalism in India

  • The concept of competitive federalism is driving the Indian states to rush in for reforms to make an easy way for doing business in their state and expediting the pending project clearances. Ex: Vibrant summits conducted by various states, easing of compliance related laws in states to attract FDI etc
  • In this scenario, Centre government is only responsible to frame rules in this kind of free market as generally states compete with each other to attract funds
  • Union government devolves funds to the states on the basis of usage of previously allocated funds. Thus, funds and investments flow in greater amount (both from central government and private investors) to those states which have shown optimum use of previously allocated funds.
  • This system ensures minimum wastage and maximum use of resources as it strives for Healthy competition to improve physical and social infrastructure within the state.
  • Competitive federalism is also welcomed by industry because healthy competition among states will pave the way towards more investment destinations in future. In turn it should lead to significant job creation and economic development.
  • Some of the steps taken in India in recent times to give effect to this form of federalism are:
    • Greater allocation of funds or favorable terms to states that perform better on certain indices. Ex: Implementation of ‘One Nation, One Ration card scheme’
    • Ranking states based on development parameters. Ex: Swachh Bharat rankings, Ease of doing business ratings for states, selection of cities to be included under smart city programme etc
    • Andhra Pradesh has come up with their own brand name at Davos integrated and emulated the same elements of the nation brand India campaign with Make Andhra Pradesh Your Business
    • States have been given more freedom to plan their expenditure

Critical analysis

Competitive federalism

  • Some states have better infrastructure and expertise. This could further add fuel to the inequality that exists between the regions
  • race towards motivated by competition might not be in the best interests of the states vis-à-vis tribal displacement, greater level of pollution etc
  • The ranking framework of the central government has also been put to question by some over the alleged bias towards some states.
  • An institutional mechanism must be evolved where important decisions are appropriately discussed with states.

Cooperative federalism

  • Several issues such as trust deficit and shrinkage of divisible pools plague Centre-State relations. Together, they make total cooperation difficult.
  • On one hand the Centre has increased the States’ share of the divisible pool but in reality States are getting a lesser share.
  • For instance, as per the 15th FC recommendations, many south states are on the losing side of their share of tax resources.
  • The allocation towards various social welfare schemes has also come down, affecting the States’ health in turn
  • Inter-State water disputes like the Mahadayi issue between Goa and Karnataka, Mahanadi water disputes (Odisha and Chhattisgarh) requires cooperation from all quarters (centre and riparian states).

Way forward

  • There needs to be a mix of competitive and cooperative federalism for India to move ahead.
  • The future for India is cooperative and competitive federalism. Competitive federalism provides the dynamism that needs to be unleashed.
  • We need cooperative federalism to balance competitive federalism.
  • Constitution needed to catch up with economics to “favour integration over granting sovereignty” to promote Indian internal integration.
  • GST which seeks to introduce the concept of one nation-one tax, in order to economically unify the country for the first time, is described this as “pooled sovereignty”, which would bring a big change in the working of federalism in the country.

Conclusion

Competition alone cannot give the best results it is competition with cooperation that will drive the real change. There has to be a balance between cooperative and competitive federalism.

In this regard an institutional mechanism must be evolved where important decisions are appropriately discussed with states to ensure no states is left behind in the development paradigm.

 

8. The legal processes for resolving inter-state water disputes, such as setting up tribunals and courts, can be time-consuming due to procedural complexities. Examine. Suggest measures to resolve them.

Reference: The Hindu

Introduction

India has seen protracted river water sharing disputes in recent years. Depleting groundwater, drying rivers and increasing demand for water have led to long legal wrangles between warring states. But very soon, India might have a single national tribunal — the Inter-State River Water Disputes Tribunal — to arbitrate inter-state water disputes. Its recommendations will be binding on the competing parties. Over the years, there have been several tribunals hearing disputes between states on river water sharing, but they have not been effective in resolving disputes in a time-bound manner. While there are suggestions for reconsidering and reviewing the structuring and functioning of the tribunals, there is also a need to look for an alternative mechanism, based on environmental thinking, to resolve such disputes effectively, amicably and sustainably. 

The Tamil Nadu government recently moved the Supreme Court seeking a direction to Karnataka to forthwith release 24,000 cusecs of Cauvery water from its reservoirs, at Biligundlu for the remaining period of the month,

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Provisions related to interstate river water disputes:

  • Entry 17 of State List deals with water i.e. water supply, irrigation, canal, drainage, embankments, water storage and water power.
  • Entry 56 of Union List empowers the Union Government for the regulation and development of inter-state rivers and river valleys to the extent declared by Parliament to be expedient in the public interest.
  • Article 262: In the case of disputes relating to waters, it provides
    • Clause 1: Parliament may by law provide for the adjudication of any dispute or complaint with respect to the use, distribution or control of the waters of, or in, any inter-State river or river valley.
    • Clause 2: Parliament may, by law provide that neither the Supreme Court nor any other court shall exercise jurisdiction in respect of any such dispute or complaint as mentioned above.
  • The Interstate (River) Water Disputes Act 1956: provides for the resolution of disputes. Under its provisions, the disputes are to be adjudicated by ad-hoc, temporary and exclusive tribunals.

Causes of Inter-State Water Dispute: 

  • Water is a finite resource and its demand has increased several times in agricultural, industrial and domestic sector than what is available at present as the country is growing and lifestyle is changing such as increased urbanization.
  • The moment water is accumulated at a large scale, it gives rise to dispute where commissions come into play and this goes on.
  • This is also more of a political issue because when these disputes are used as emotive issues, all parties jump in, several vested interest are created which leads to further problems like bandhs and strikes.
  • There is a huge debate on development/growth versus environment as well. Problems are also related with the storage of water such as dams, using it for production of electricity etc. which lead to disputes.
  • There is an administrative system at present which is in conflict with what people want.

Reasons for delay in resolving river water disputes:

  • The Centre takes years to decide whether a matter needs to be heard by a tribunal in the first place—for example, the Godavari and Krishna disputes started around 1956 but the matter was referred to a tribunal only in 1969.
  • After the tribunal has been formed, it again takes many years to pronounce its award—it took nine years from reference in the case of the Narmada tribunal.
  • Adjudication by tribunals involves long-drawn adversarial litigations causing chronic delays.
  • The arrangement deprives the states of an avenue to redress their grievances after the tribunals are dissolved.
  • There is an institutional vacuum for implementing tribunal awards. The law entrusts the Central government with the responsibility of framing institutions for implementing tribunal awards. The government is at a loss as there are no proven institutional models for interstate coordination.
  • Disputes have become sites of political mobilisation in our multi-party democratic setting. Political parties often ride on the emotive associations and notions of identity to animate and escalate disputes. The disputes offer opportunities for grandstanding, and engaging in vote bank politics.
  • This nexus between water and politics often subverts and sabotages the resolution. Finally, realising water allocations in monsoon deficit years is the most contentious issue between states.
  • There has not been any instance of satisfactory and successful distress sharing practices. At the centre of the Cauvery dispute lies this major difficulty.
  • The states have disagreed with the tribunal’s recommendation for a proportional reduction of shares during distress times.

Way forward:

  • The Centre’s proposal to set up a single, permanent tribunal to adjudicate on inter-state river water disputes could be a major step towards streamlining the dispute redressal mechanism. However, this alone will not be able to address the different kinds of problems—legal, administrative, constitutional and political—that plague the overall framework. To strengthen the cooperative federalism, disputes must be resolved by dialogue and talks and the political opportunism must be avoided.
  • The need to work at the basin level for which River Basin Organization should be created.
  • The Centre’s proposal to set up a single, permanent tribunal to adjudicate on inter-state river water disputes could be a major step towards streamlining the dispute redressal mechanism.
  • There should be cooperation and consensus among the states.
  • However, this alone will not be able to address the different kinds of problems—legal, administrative, constitutional and political—that plague the overall framework
  • Environment is a huge challenge in coming days on which increasing water needs and industrialization requirements to address it serious policy reforms should be done.
  • Centre’s proposal to set up an agency alongside the tribunal, which will collect and process data on river waters, can be a right step in this direction.
  • To strengthen the cooperative federalism, parochial mindset making regional issues superior to national issues should not be allowed.
  • Awareness level between the states.
  • So disputes must be resolved by dialogue and talks and the political opportunism must be avoided.
  • A robust and transparent institutional framework with cooperative approach is need of the hour.

Conclusion:

The Inter-State River Water disputes (Amendment) Bill, 2019 is a step towards the cooperative federalism and will promote a prompt decision making in case of the various interstate water disputes. The solutions on water disputes will help in the socio economic development of stakeholder states. The implementation of the proposed steps in the bill in its true spirit will develop an integrated regime of river water utilisation.

 


General Studies – 3


 


9. There is a need for vigilant monitoring of the country’s inflation situation and its impact. Policymakers should be well-prepared to address the challenges posed by a potential surge in inflation. Analyse.

Reference: The Hindu ,  Insights on India

Introduction

Inflation refers to the rise in the prices of most goods and services of daily or common use, such as food, clothing, housing, recreation, transport, consumer staples, etc. Inflation measures the average price change in a basket of commodities and services over time. The opposite and rare fall in the price index of this basket of items is called ‘deflation’. Inflation is indicative of the decrease in the purchasing power of a unit of a country’s currency. This is measured in percentage.

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Background

  • The latest NSO data, showing retail inflation accelerating to a 15-month high, comes less than a week after the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) left interest rates unchanged even as it warned of “a substantial increase in headline inflation” in the near term.
  • The primary driver of this surge was the food price component, with the Consumer Food Price Index-based inflation accelerating by a mind-numbing 696 basis points to 11.51%, from June’s 4.55%.
  • Save oils and fats, the 11 other items on the 12-member food and beverages group of the Consumer Price Index (CPI) logged year-on-year increases in prices.
  • Cereals, the largest food component with an almost 10% weight in the CPI and representing the basic staples of rice and wheat, saw prices surge 13% from July 2022 levels, and posted a near doubling in the month-on-month pace to 1.2%.
  • It was, however, vegetables, with a 6% contribution to the CPI, that witnessed a vertigo-inducing ascent in the inflation rate, with prices increasing 37.3% year-on-year, and 38.1% month-on-month in July.

Impact of Inflation on various macroeconomic parameters

  • Inflation is a decrease in the purchasing power of currency due to a rise in prices across the economy.
    • For instance, the average price of a cup of coffee was a 50 paisa. Today the price is closer to 25 Rupees.
  • The value of currency unit decreases which impacts the cost of living in the country.
  • When the rate of inflation is high, the cost of living also increases, which leads to a deceleration in economic growth.
  • However, a healthy inflation rate (2-3%) is considered positive because it directly results in increasing wages and corporate profitability and maintains capital flowing in a growing economy.

Factors for the high rate of inflation in the Indian economy

  • Fuel prices: The government has increased taxation of energy to raise resources.
    • Since energy is used for all production, prices of all goods and services tend to rise and push up the rate of inflation.
    • Further, this is an indirect tax, it is regressive and impacts the poor disproportionately It also makes the RBI’s task of controlling inflation difficult.
  • Supply shortage: The lockdowns disrupted supplies and that added to shortages and price rise.
    • Prices of medicines and medical equipment rose dramatically.
    • Prices of items of day-to-day consumption also rose.
    • Fruits and vegetable prices rose since these items could not reach the urban markets.
  • International factors: Most major economies have recovered and demand for inputs has increased while supplies have remained disrupted (like chips for automobiles).
    • So, commodity and input prices have risen (like in the case of metals).
    • Businesses claim increase in input costs underlies price rise.
  • Data collection and methodology: In April and May 2020, data on production and prices could not be collected due to the strict lockdown.
    • So, the current data on prices for April to July 2021 are not comparable with the same months of 2020.
    • As such, the official inflation figures for these months in 2021 do not reflect the true picture.
  • Weak Rupee: The weakening of the rupee also added to inflation.

Measures to keep the inflation under control

  • Monetary policy Measures: Maintaining price stability is the foremost objective of the monetary policy committee of RBI. However, during the pandemic, growth has taken centre stage and RBI has rightly cut interest rates.
  • Commodity prices: GoI needs to remove supply side bottlenecks. For example, GoI can immediately offload 10-20% of its pulses stock with NAFED in the open market.
  • Fuel prices: Bringing them under GST would reduce the prices by at least 30 rupees. GST council must agree to this with haste.
  • Policy measures: Navigating out of this will need a fiscal stimulus to shore up consumer spending, an investment revival to increase the productive capacity of the economy, and a careful management of inflationary expectations.
  • Concomitantly, the government will also need to pursue redistribution of income to reduce the widening disparity.
  • This also calls for fiscal prudence to cut wasteful spending, find new revenue through asset sales, mining and spectrum auctions, and build investor confidence.

Conclusion

With the rise in inflation amidst a second wave, the balancing acumen of the MPC will now be sorely tested. Factors like rising commodity prices, supply chain disruptions are expected to raise overall domestic inflation. Economists have pointed at India’s K-shaped recovery where a few have benefitted while others have fallen sharply behind. Big companies have benefitted and increased market share, revenues and profits sharply. They have also taken advantage of low interest rates to decrease the cost of their borrowings. Small and medium companies, struggling with falling revenues and cash flows, have not been able to take advantage of the rates. Hence inflation must also be controlled while growth is focussed upon.

 

10. While natural farming might not replace conventional farming entirely, a combination of both approaches, along with innovations and supportive policies, could pave the way for a more sustainable agricultural future in India. Examine.

Reference: The Hindu

Introduction

Natural farming can be defined as a “chemical- free farming and livestock based”. Soundly grounded in agro-ecology, it is a diversified farming system that integrates crops, trees and livestock, allowing the optimum use of functional biodiversity. It holds the promise of enhancing farmers’ income while delivering many other benefits, such as restoration of soil fertility and environmental health, and mitigating and/or reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

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Some success stories of Natural farming

As per a new study, Zero Budget Natural Farming (ZBNF) in Andhra Pradesh has led to significantly higher crop yield compared to organic or conventional (synthetic fertilisers and pesticides) farming under the state’s APCNF programme.

According to a recent research study conducted by the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR), natural farming supplemented with farmyard manure (FYM) has been found to yield higher crop yields compared to conventional farming practices.

Potential of Natural Farming

  • Minimized Cost of Production:
    • It is considered as a cost- effective farming practicewith scope for raising employment and rural development.
  • Ensures Better Health:
    • As Natural Farming does not use any synthetic chemicals,health risks and hazards are eliminated. The food has higher nutrition density and therefore offers better health benefits.
  • Employment Generation:
    • It generates employment on account of natural farming input enterprises,value addition, marketing in local areas, etc. The surplus from natural farming is invested in the village itself.
    • As it has the potential to generate employment, thereby stemming the migration of rural youth.
  • Environment Conservation:
    • It ensures better soil biology, improved agrobiodiversity and a more judicious usage of waterwith much smaller carbon and nitrogen footprints.
  • Livestock Sustainability:
    • The integration of livestock in the farming system plays an important role in Natural farming and helps in restoring the ecosystem.Eco Friendly bio-inputs, such as Jivamrit and Beejamrit, are prepared from cow dung and urine, and other natural products.
  • Resilience:
    • The changes in soil structure with the help of organic carbon, no/low tillage and plant diversity are supporting plant growth even under extreme situations like severe droughts and withstanding severe floodand wind damage during
    • NF impacts many farmers positively by imparting resilience to the crops against weather extremities.

Limitations of Natural Farming

  • Lack of readily available natural inputs is a barrier to converting to chemical-free agriculture. For profitable farming this delay and shortage in natural inputs are detrimental.
  • It is a well-built-up capital-intensive industry. It naturally discourages any efforts towards natural farming.
  • Natural farming was perceived to be more labour intensive & regular monitoring by farmers was required.
  • Sikkim, the first organic state in India has seen a decline in yield following conversion to organic farming. Many farmers have switched back to conventional farming after this decline.
  • The farmers also expect higher prices for the natural farming produce, considering it is free from chemicals. Hence, the non-availability of designated markets for natural farming produce (as in the case of organic produce) has driven reluctance towards natural farming adoption

Comparison between Conservation Agriculture (CA) and ZBNF:

Conservation Agriculture (CA) ZBNF
1.      CA is a modern farming approach that uses low levels of external inputs and emphasizes technological solutions for yield improvement 1.      ZBNF is an approach that emphasizes natural farming techniques and no external inputs
2.      It emphasizes the use of cover crops and improved seeds 2.      It places more emphasis on natural mulching and the use of indigenous seeds
3.      It is considered to be more cost-effective and economically viable.

 

3.      It has a lower ecological footprint and potentially higher carbon sequestration potential
Both approaches focus on soil health, water conservation, adoption of reduced tillage, application of crop residues and intercropping to minimise soil disturbance

Conclusion

There is a substantial reduction in input cost of natural farming as compared to non-natural farming due to non-use of expensive agro-chemicals. This has resulted in a significant reduction in the cost of cultivation of all the crops for better profitability natural farming practitioners.


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