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[Mission 2024] Insights SECURE SYNOPSIS: 17 April 2024

 

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

 


General Studies – 1


 

Topic: Social empowerment

1. Creating a truly inclusive society for persons with disabilities (PwD) requires providing equal opportunities and reducing marginalization through societal change. Examine. (250 words)

Difficulty level: Moderate

Reference: The HinduInsights on India

Why the question:

Every year, March 15 is celebrated as World Consumer Rights Day to create awareness about the rights of consumers. One section of consumers who might remain invisible in these celebrations or even in the discourse around consumer rights is consumers with disabilities.

Key Demand of the question:

To write about the efforts at achieving inclusivity for PwD’s and further steps need to empower them to lead a normal life.

Directive word: 

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

Structure of the answer:

Introduction: 

Begin the answer by giving statistic regarding the number of persons with disabilities (PwD) in India.

Body:

First, write about the efforts made at improving the lives of PwD’s – Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016, Sugamya Bharat Abhiyaan/Accessible India campaign, Disability movement etc.

Mention the shortcomings of the above – lack of medical treatment, educational opportunity, absence of PwDs in decision making etc.

Conclusion:

Conclude by writing a way forward to involve PwDs as stakeholder in their development and decision-making.

Introduction

According to Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016, “Person with disability” means a person with long term physical, mental, intellectual or sensory impairment which, in interaction with barriers, hinders his full and effective participation in society equally with others.

Today, there are millions of people living with disabilities in India. Census 2011 pegs us at 26.8 million, constituting 2.21 per cent of India’s total population; but activists, academicians and world bodies like the WHO estimate it to be between 40 and 80 million.

Every year, March 15 is celebrated as World Consumer Rights Day to create awareness about the rights of consumers. One section of consumers who might remain invisible in these celebrations or even in the discourse around consumer rights is consumers with disabilities.

Body

 

Various efforts towards securing a life of dignity for persons with disabilities (PwD)

Constitutional Provisions:

  • Article 41 of the Directive Principles of State Policy (DPSP)states that the State shall make effective provision for securing right to work, to education and to public assistance in cases of unemployment, old age, sickness and disablement, within the limits of its economic capacity and development.
  • The subject of ‘relief of the disabled and unemployable’ is specified in the state list of the Seventh Schedule of the constitution.

Governmental Provisions:

  • Right of Persons with Disabilities Act 2016:
    • It becomes the duty of the Union, states as well as Union Territories to take up the matter.
    • It is also important to ensure that all government buses are disabled friendly in accordance with the harmonized guidelines.
    • Disability has been defined based on an evolving and dynamic concept.
    • The types of disabilities have been increased from 7 to 21. The act added mental illness, autism, spectrum disorder, cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy, chronic neurological conditions, speech and language disability, thalassemia, hemophilia, sickle cell disease, multiple disabilities including deaf blindness, acid attack victims and Parkinson’s disease which were largely ignored in earlier act. In addition, the Government has been authorized to notify any other category of specified disability.
    • It increases the quantum of reservationfor people suffering from disabilities from 3% to 4% in government jobs and from 3% to 5% in higher education institutes.
    • Every child with benchmark disability between the age group of 6 and 18 years shall have the right to free education.
    • Government funded educational institutions as well as the government recognized institutions will have to provide inclusive education.
    • Stress has been given to ensure accessibility in public buildingsin a prescribed time frame along with Accessible India Campaign.
    • The Chief Commissioner for Persons with Disabilities and the State Commissioners will act as regulatory bodies and Grievance Redressal agencies, monitoring implementation of the Act.
    • A separate National and State Fundbe created to provide financial support to the persons with disabilities.

 

  • Accessible India Campaign:Creation of Accessible Environment for PwDs:
    • A nation-wide flagship campaign for achieving universal accessibility that will enable persons with disabilities to gain access for equal opportunity and live independently and participate fully in all aspects of life in an inclusive society.
    • The campaign targets at enhancing the accessibility of built environment, transport system and Information & communication ecosystem.
  • Deen Dayal Disabled Rehabilitation Scheme: Under the scheme financial assistance is provided to NGOs for providing various services to Persons with Disabilities, like special schools, vocational training centres, community-based rehabilitation, pre-school and early intervention etc.

 

  • Assistance to Disabled Persons for Purchase / fitting of Aids and Appliances (ADIP):The Scheme aims at helping the disabled persons by bringing suitable, durable, scientifically-manufactured, modern, standard aids and appliances within their reach.

 

  • National Fellowship for Students with Disabilities (RGMF):
    • The scheme aims to increase opportunities to students with disabilities for pursuing higher education.
  • Under the Scheme, 200 Fellowships per year are granted to students with disability.
  • Schemes of the National Trust for the Welfare of Persons with Autism, Cerebral Palsy, Mental Retardation and Multiple Disabilities.

Issues and Challenges

  • Health:
    • A large number of disabilities are preventable, including those arising from medical issues during birth, maternal conditions, malnutrition, as well as accidents and injuries.
    • However, the health sector especially in rural India has failed to react proactively to disability
    • Further there are lack of affordable access to proper health care, aids and appliances
    • Healthcare facilities and poorly trained health-workers in rehabilitation centres is another concern.
  • Education:
    • The education system is not inclusive. Inclusion of children with mild to moderate disabilities in regular schools has remained a major challenge.
    • There are various issues such as availability special schools, access to schools, trained teachers, and availability of educational materials for the disabled.
    • Further, reservations for the disabled in higher educational institutions has not been fulfilled in many instances
  • Employment:
    • Even though many disabled adults are capable of productive work, disabled adults have far lower employment rates than the general population.
    • The situation is even worse in the private sector, where much less disabled are employed
    • Accessibility: Physical accessibility in buildings, transportation, access to services etc still remain a major challenge.
  • Discrimination/Social Exclusion:
    • Negative attitudes held by the families of the disabled, and often the disabled themselves, hinder disabled persons from taking an active part in the family, community or workforce.
    • Differently-abled people face discrimination in everyday life. People suffering from mental illness or mental retardation face the worst stigma and are subject to severe social exclusion.
  • Inadequate data and statistics:The lack of rigorous and comparable data and statics further hinders inclusion of persons with disabilities. The major issues with collection of data and measuring disability are:
    • Difficult to define disability
    • Coverage: Different purposes require different disability data
    • Reluctance in reporting disability as disability is considered to be a stigma in many places/societies
  • Poor implementation of policies and schemes hinders the inclusion of disabled persons.
    • Though various acts and schemes have been laid down with an aim to empower the disabled, their enforcement face many challenges.

Way Forward:

  • Prevention:
    • Preventive health programs need to be strengthened and all children need to be screened at a young age.
    • Kerala has already started an early prevention programme. Comprehensive New-born Screening (CNS) programme seeks early identification of deficits in infants and reduce the state’s burden of disability.
  • Awareness:
    • People with disabilities need to be better integrated into society by overcoming stigma
    • There should be awareness campaigns to educate and aware people about different kinds of disability
    • Success stories of people with disabilities can be showcased to inculcate positive attitude among people
  • Employment:
    • Disabled adults need to be empowered with employable skills
    • The private sector needs to be encouraged to employ them.
    • Better measurement: The scale of disability in India needs to be better understood by improving the measurement of disability.
  • Education:
    • State-wise strategies on education for children with special needs need to be devised.
    • There should be proper teacher training to address the needs of differently-abled children and facilitate their inclusion in regular schools
    • Further there should be more special schools and ensure educational material for differently-abled children
  • Access:
    • Safety measures like road safety, safety in residential areas, public transport system etc, should be taken up
    • Further, it should be made legally binding to make buildings disabled-friendly
  • Policy Interventions:
    • More budgetary allocation for welfare of the disabled. There should be a disability budgeting on line of gender budget.
    • Proper implementation of schemes should be ensured. There should be proper monitoring mechanisms and accountability of public funds.

 

 


General Studies – 2


 

Topic: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.

2. How can policymakers address the rural-urban developmental imbalance and promote equal opportunities for individuals across different geographic areas? Suggest measures. (250 words).

Difficulty level: Tough

Reference: Live Mint

Why the question:

The per-person monthly spending in urban areas of India in 2022-23 was 1.72 times that in rural areas. It was ₹3,773 and ₹6,459 in rural and urban areas respectively, as per the government’s recently released data on household consumption expenditure.

Key Demand of the question:

To write about how rural-urban developmental imbalance reflects the inequality of opportunities and measures to overcome the same.

Directive word: 

Discuss – This is an all-encompassing directive – you must debate on paper by going through the details of the issues concerned by examining each one of them. You must give reasons for both for and against arguments.

Structure of the answer:

Introduction: 

First explain what you understand by rural-urban developmental imbalance.

Body:

In the first part, write about the rural-urban developmental imbalance reflects unequal opportunities, stemming from disparities in infrastructure, economy, education, technology, and healthcare.

Next, write about the measures needed to address these inequalities – investing in rural infrastructure, promoting rural industries, enhancing access to education and skills training, closing the technological gap, ensuring equitable healthcare and social services

Conclusion:

Conclude by writing a way forward.

Introduction

Rural-urban   disparities, particularly   in   post-colonial countries, have for long been one of the causes of concern for   the   policymakers.   The   disparities   are   seen   in   all spheres of human life-economic and non-economic. With regard to demographic profile more than two third of its population live in rural areas.  Despite these developments, there is a wide gap between rural and urban India with respect to technology, living condition, economic empowerment etc.  Many in rural India lack access to education, nutrition, health care, sanitation, land and other assets and they are trapped into poverty.

The per-person monthly spending in urban areas of India in 2022-23 was 1.72 times that in rural areas. It was ₹3,773 and ₹6,459 in rural and urban areas respectively, as per the government’s recently released data on household consumption expenditure.

Body:

The total number of migrant workers in India exceeds 100 million. One in four workers in India is a migrant. Some migration is beneficial. However, unless we tackle the issue of continued increase in rural-to-urban migration, India’s growth will be hampered. The recent moving images of tens of millions of migrant workers trying to get back to their villages because of the COVID-19 crisis showed the intensity and scale of crisis this could result in.

Factors responsible:

  • Increased dependence of Rural population on Agriculture:
    • About 70% of the population lives in rural areas and about 50% of the overall labour force is still dependent on agriculture that is not productive enough.
    • The GDP contribution of agriculture to the nation is only about 14% while for industries and services sector (employers of people living in urban areas) is 26% and 60% respectively. (Economic Survey 2017-18)
    • The devastating effects of natural calamities such as droughts and floods further lead to lower incomes for people living in rural areas.
  • Challenges in Agriculture:
    • shrinking arable land as a result of over-cultivation, overgrazing, urbanisation, and chemical overuse; unpredictability as a result of climate change, water availability and the knock-on impact on output; current lack of productivity and supply chain inefficiencies; and shortage of value-adding processing facilities in terms of numbers, scale, and locations.
    • While India is the second-largest food producer in the world, less than 10 per cent of the total produce is processed into value-added products. As a comparison, the US processes 65 per cent. Developing countries such as the Philippines, and Brazil process as much as 75 per cent of their produce.
  • Lack of Rural Livelihood & Employment opportunities:
    • The Socio-Economic and Caste Census (SECC) for rural India reveals that in 75% households, the monthly income of the highest earning member is less than Rs. 5,000. And more than 80% rural people are without a salaried job.
  • Differential Impact of India s Growth and Development:
    • The impact of economic revival steps taken by the government has benefitted only a very few.
    • For example- in Haryana, only two urban centres- Gurgaon and Faridabad contributing majority of state revenue have been modernised while adjoining rural areas remain neglected.
    • Also, India s growth in the last decade has been mainly driven by services sector which employ bright, English speaking urban youth. But the majority of rural Indian youth are unfit for these up-end jobs because of lack of professional training.
  • Urban Bias in Social Sectors such as Health and Education:
    • India spends around 1.3% of its GDP on public healthcare and has an insufficient public healthcare infrastructure.
    • A majority of health infrastructure is in the private sector, which is limited to the middle classes in urban India.
    • Rural areas are catered by government-run dispensaries which lack infrastructure and medicines. The doctors too are not willing to serve in rural areas.
    • Rural areas lack quality educational institutions which are mainly concentrated in urban areas which are out of reach of poor rural people.
  • Poor Rural Infrastructure:
    • Development of rural areas is slow due to the improper and inadequate provision of infrastructure when compared to urban areas.
    • The primary hindrance to growth in rural productivity and prosperity is the lack of basic infrastructures such as connectivity through roads, electricity, housing, clean water and sanitation.
    • Small business enterprises can only flourish in rural areas if they have access to good quality and reliable infrastructure.
  • Dominance of Social Institutions in Rural areas:
    • In closed rural societies, social institutions such as caste system, joint family system and various social customs play a major role in the day to day life of an individual.
    • For example-the rigid caste system does not allow a low caste person to give up his traditional work.
    • While in urban areas, the emphasis is on individual s merit and qualification.
    • Similarly, rural areas have joint family traditions which regulate a person s economic activities whereas, in urban areas, there is mainly nuclear family tradition leading to economic freedom.
  • Poor Implementation of Rural Development schemes, Leakages and Corruption:
    • Although there is no dearth of schemes for rural development, the benefits of these schemes are not able to reach the target population mainly due to corruption in the disbursal of funds, non-transparency in financial transactions, wrong identification of the beneficiaries, lack of involvement of Gram Panchayats in planning and implementation and lack of political and administrative accountability.

Measures needed:

  • India’s growth may be hampered unless rural-to-urban migration is not tackled by developing a model to keep local population employed locally in rural areas.
  • There is an immediate need for cluster-based policies and adoption of digital technologies to promote agriculture and food processing units.
  • We must now develop a model of a rural economy wherein local populations can be employed locally. This will mean that we need to rethink how our local economies are structured and clustered.
  • Cluster policies are crucial for small-scale farmers and agribusiness. It enables them to achieve higher productivity, higher value-added production, and to minimise the back-breaking costs of logistics, storage, wastage, and interference from the middlemen.
  • Learnings from other countries like the example of Israel that merged learnings from a rural kibbutz-based culture with modern technology and made self-sufficiency an absolute mantra
  • Food and agro processing, which comprises about 25 lakh units, 66 per cent of which are in rural areas is the key for employment to millions who are currently in disguised unemployment.

Way forward:

  • Apart from taking steps to increase human development facilities in the villages, such as health and education, and develop appropriate infrastructure such as roads and marketing facilities, there is the need for generating employment, which can better the living conditions of villagers.
  • We need to adopt a long-term policy, keeping in mind the requirements of the rural and urban areas.
  • A close look at the development plan exercises tends to demonstrate that adhocism permeates the policy processes.
  • In the rural areas there are many resources lying unutilised. It is time to identify these and make proper use of them.
  • The application of Information Technology can be of great help in identifying what is lying unutilised or underutilised
  • Kerala has shown the way through the people’s campaign for decentralised planning. Rural-urban disparity is the least in Kerala.  There is a rural-urban continuum, rather than a divide.

Conclusion:

Urban development in a country like India has to dovetailed with rural development.  Otherwise, rural out migration will upset the applecart.

 

 


General Studies – 3


 

Topic: Science and Technology- developments and their applications and effects in everyday life.

3. Nuclear medicine is a specialized field of medicine that utilizes radioactive substances to diagnose and treat various medical conditions and it plays a crucial role in modern healthcare. Explain. (150 words)

Difficulty level: Moderate

Reference: en.wikipedia.org

Why the question:

The question is part of the static syllabus of General studies paper – 3 and mentioned as part of Mission-2024 Secure timetable.

Key Demand of the question:

To write about LHC, its objectives, working and recent discoveries made by it.

Directive word: 

Explain – Clarify the topic by giving a detailed account as to how and why it occurred, or what is the context. You must be defining key terms wherever appropriate and substantiate with relevant associated facts.

Structure of the answer:

Introduction: 

Begin by giving context.

Body:

First, write about the technology behind nuclear medicine.

Next, write about the various applications of nuclear medicine – imaging techniques like PET and SPECT scans for detailed visualization of internal structures and functions, aiding in early disease detection and personalized treatment planning etc.

Conclusion:

Conclude by summarising.

Introduction

Nuclear medicine, a dynamic field at the intersection of science and medicine, harnesses the power of radioisotopes to illuminate the inner workings of the human body. It is a medical speciality that uses radioactive substances to diagnose and treat diseases.

Body

About nuclear medicine

  • It involves the use of small amounts of radioactive materials, known as radiopharmaceuticals, which are introduced into the body.
  • These substances emit gamma rays that can be detected by specialized cameras to create images of organs and tissues.
  • This imaging technique helps in diagnosing various conditions, such as cancer, heart disease, and bone disorders, by providing detailed information about the functioning and structure of internal organs.
  • Nuclear medicine treatments involve using radioactive substances to target and destroy specific cells or tissues, such as cancer cells.

Technology Behind Nuclear Medicine

  • Radioisotopes and Imaging Modalities:
    • Radioisotopes: These tiny, radioactive particles serve as tracers. When introduced into the body, they emit gamma rays or positrons.
    • Gamma Camera (SPECT): Captures 2D images by detecting gamma rays emitted from within the body. SPECT provides functional information about organs and tissues.
    • PET (Positron Emission Tomography): Utilizes positron-emitting radioisotopes (e.g., F-18 fluorodeoxyglucose) to create 3D images. PET excels in contrast and spatial resolution.
  • Physiological Imaging:
    • Unlike traditional radiology, nuclear medicine focuses on function rather than anatomy.
    • It records molecular activity, revealing how tissues and organs work.
    • PET and SPECT scans are the cornerstones of physiological imaging.

Applications of Nuclear Medicine

  • Diagnostic Imaging: – Radiopharmaceuticals are administered internally (e.g., intravenously). – Gamma cameras detect emitted radiation, providing functional insights. – Examples: Scintigraphy, bone scans, myocardial perfusion imaging.
  • Oncology: – PET scans play a pivotal role in cancer diagnosis and staging. – Detect metastases, assess treatment response, and guide personalized therapies.
  • Cardiology: – Myocardial perfusion imaging evaluates blood flow to the heart. – Identifies ischemic areas, guiding interventions like angioplasty.
  • Neurology: – PET scans reveal brain metabolism and neurotransmitter activity. – Vital for diagnosing Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and epilepsy.
  • Endocrinology: – Thyroid imaging using iodine-131 assesses thyroid function. – Detects hyperthyroidism, hypothyroidism, and thyroid cancer.
  • Infection and Inflammation: – Radiolabeled white blood cells pinpoint infections. – SPECT and PET visualize inflammation sites.
  • Personalized Treatment Planning:
  • Nuclear medicine guides individualized therapies.
  • Real-time monitoring of disease progression and treatment response.
  • Enables precise drug development and targeted radionuclide therapy.

Conclusion

Nuclear medicine, with its ability to peer into cellular processes, is revolutionizing healthcare. As we embrace personalized medicine, molecular imaging will continue to shape diagnostics, treatment, and patient outcomes.

 

Topic: Achievements of Indians in science & technology; indigenization of technology and developing new technology.

4.  Discuss the role of robotics in enhancing agricultural productivity and sustainability in India. (150 words)

Difficulty level: Easy

Reference: Insights on India

Why the question:

The question is part of the static syllabus of General studies paper – 3 and mentioned as part of Mission-2024 Secure timetable.

Key Demand of the question:

To write about the role of robotics in agriculture – its potential and limitations.

Directive word: 

Discuss – This is an all-encompassing directive – you must debate on paper by going through the details of the issues concerned by examining each one of them. You must give reasons for both for and against arguments.

Structure of the answer:

Introduction: 

Begin by giving context.

Body:

First, write about the need to innovate in agriculture to meet the present day challenges.

Next, write about the potential advantages of the above – planting, harvesting, and weeding with greater speed, precision, and efficiency than human labour, to sustainable agriculture by minimizing the use of harmful chemicals and fertilizers and reducing water consumption.

Next, write about the shortcomings of the above – high costs, limited access to finance, and lack of technical expertise etc.

Conclusion:

Conclude by writing a way forward.

Introduction

Innovation in terms of robotics applications in agriculture has advanced considerably in the last 5 years. The objective of agricultural robotics is to help the sector in its efficiency and in the profitability of the processes. In other words, mobile robotics works in the agricultural sector to improve productivity, specialization and environmental sustainability. Labor shortages, increased consumer demand and high production costs are some of the factors that have accelerated automation in this sector, with the aim of reducing costs and optimizing harvests.

Body

Need for robotics in Indian agriculture:

  • Growth:According to NITI Aayog’s report, Agriculture and allied sector is critical to India’s growth story and to achieve and maintain an annual growth rate of 8 –10% for the Indian economy, agriculture sector must grow 4% or higher rate. Adopting technological strategies seems to be the way forward.
  • Enhance productivity: The sector suffers from poor resource utilisation, with the production quantum and productivity still being quite low. For example, yield of cereals, comprising a major share of food grain production, in terms of magnitude is significantly lower than that of China and the USA. Technology adoption and efficient resource usage like robotics, AI, Digital mapping etc in these two countries are far higher, thus resulting in higher yields.
  • Economic strengthening:According to CB Insights, agricultural tech start-ups in India have raised over USD800million in the last 5 years to bring AI and robotics to agriculture and are helping solve pressing issues across the agriculture value chain which is valued to be at USD2.6 billion by 2025.
  • Reduced costs:Agri-bots being used in several regions in India which tend to crops, harvesting, weeding etc can reduce fertilizer cost up to 90% and eliminate human labour.
  • Attracting youth:Robotics in agriculture can succeed in bringing and retaining the youth population of our country.

The most popular applications of Robots in agriculture appear to fall into four major categories:

  • Crop and Soil Monitoring: Companies are leveraging sensors and various IoT-based technologies to monitor crop and soil health.
  • Predictive Agricultural Analytics: Various AI and machine learning tools are being used to predict the optimal time to sow seeds, get alerts on risks from pest attacks, and more.
  • Supply Chain Efficiencies: Companies are using real-time data analytics on data-streams coming from multiple sources to build an efficient and smart supply chain.
  • Agricultural Robots: Companies are developing and programming autonomous robots to handle essential agricultural tasks such as harvesting crops at a higher volume and faster pace than human labourers.

Some examples of Agricultural Robots:

  • Green seeker sensor: This smart machine reads a plant’s needs and then applies precisely the amount of fertilizer of herbicides needed. Green Seeker is a machine which uses the sensors to let the plant tell us that what it needs.
  • Robot drone tractors: A new generation  of  robot  drones  is  revolutionizing  the way  we  farm,  with  manufacturing  of  different  robots,  announcing  the  first ever  robot  drone  tractor  becomes  part of the agricultural  mainstream. Robot will decide where to plant, when to harvest and how to choose the best route for crisscrossing the farmland.
  • Flying Robots To Spread Fertilizer: A flying robot monitors the growing condition of the crops over farmlands in  Ili,  a  Kazak  autonomous  prefecture  in Northwest  China’s  Xinjiang Uygur  autonomous    With camera equipment and an automatic fertilizing system in the front, the      robot can fly autonomously and apply fertilizer independently.
  • Fruit Picking Robots: The research is still in full progress, especially as the robots need to be carefully designed so that they do not bruise the fruit while picking. One solution is  the  use  of  suction grippers,   used   on   automated   fruit   picking   machines manufactured,  for  example,  by
  • Robot Cattle Grazing and Automatic Milking: Is the milking of dairy animals, especially of dairy cattle, without human labour. Automatic milking systems (AMS), also called  voluntary milking systems (VMS), were developed in the late 20th century. They are commercially available since the early 1990s.

Significance of robotics in Agriculture

  • Precision Agriculture:  Weed control using robotics and machine learning, to pinpoint the application of fertilizers and herbicide. Field tests have reported using only 10 percent of the herbicide needed in the past. The concept can be reversed to precisely apply fertilizer to only desired plants, thereby reducing waste while optimizing yields.
  • Solution to lack of labour:Robotics for agricultural activities like fruit picking, harvesting etc. For example: Large scale Orange harvesting with agricultural robots in France and USA. Example: Virgo, the robotic harvesting system.( Source-Google)
  • Full field capacity work:The robots do not get sick or tired and they do not need the time off, they offer fewer errors at higher speeds, and the higher quality products can be sensed by the machines accurately.
  • Safety of famers and consumers:The robots can protect the human workers from the harmful effects of handling the chemicals by hand and through the system of high spraying, and they can reduce up to 80% of a farms use of pesticides, avoiding contamination.
  • High productivity: Robotics mechanism closely mimics the human method of farming, but at a much higher productivity level. Increase in farmers’ income per yield and reduction in all round costs are observed.
  • Enables alternate employment and additional source of income: Due to robotic farming, lot of time is saved for the farmers, and they can engage in alternate occupations, thus earning additional income.
  • Other applications: Nursery planting, crop analysis, animal husbandry, dairy farming, drone service, harsh terrain resilient farming etc.

Conclusion

Robotics will definitely bring the agricultural revolution. Although the road ahead is not very smooth. We have to calculate the feasibility, sustainability and efficiency of meeting the world’s food needs. However, it would be interesting to see how the farmers, agri-businessmen and the consumers will utilize the power of Robotics and digital-mechanization to shape the future of this industry.

 

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

5. What strategies can be implemented to safeguard coral reefs from significant threats that could potentially harm their unique characteristics and biodiversity? (250 words)

Difficulty level: Moderate

Reference: Down to EarthInsights on IndiaInsights on India

Why the question: 

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Coral Reef Watch (CRW) of the United States and the International Coral Reef Initiative (ICRI) have confirmed the fourth global mass coral bleaching event in 2023-2024.

Key Demand of the question:

To write about characteristics of coral reefs, its distribution and threats they face and steps needed to prevent them.

Structure of the answer:

Introduction: 

Begin by defining coral reefs.

Body:

First, in detail write about the salient features of coral reefs, its formation and types.

Next, with a help of a small representative map show their distribution across the planets.

Next, write about the major natural and anthropogenic threats to coral ecosystems across the world. Cite examples. Write about the steps that are needed to protect them.

Conclusion:

Conclude by writing a way forward. 

Introduction

A coral reef is an underwater ecosystem characterized by reef-building corals. Reefs are formed of colonies of coral polyps held together by calcium carbonate. Most coral reefs are built from stony corals, whose polyps cluster in groups. Most reefs grow best in warm, shallow, clear, sunny  water.

Body

Coral Reefs: Rainforests of the ocean

They occupy less than 0.1% of the world’s ocean area, yet they provide a home for at least 25% of all marine species. And the variety of species living on coral reefs is greater than almost anywhere else in the world. Scientists estimate that more than one million species of plants and animals are associated with coral reef ecosystems.

Coral reefs in India:

  • Palk Bay
  • The Gulf of Mannar
  • Andaman and Nicobar Group of Islands
  • The Gulf of Kutch
  • The Lakshadweep Islands

 

Threats faced and deleterious effect

  • Climate Change: This is believed to be the greatest threat to reefs, according to the Great Barrier Reef Outlook Report. When severe weather events(eg. Heat waves) increase in frequency, this causes rise in both sea temperatures and sea levels. Corals cannot survive if the water temperature is too high. Sea temperature between 73 and 84 degrees Farenheit to sustain growth.
  • Coral Bleaching: Between 2016 and 2017, half the corals at the Great Barrier Reef were killed by two ocean heat waves.Almost three- quarters of the world’s coral reefs were affected by those heat waves and experts say warmer oceans mean, die-offs will become much more common.
  • Pollution:Urban and industrial waste, sewage, agrochemicals, and oil pollution are poisoning reefs. These toxins are dumped directly into the ocean or carried by river systems from sources upstream. Some pollutants, such as sewage and runoff from farming, increase the level of nitrogen in seawater, causing an overgrowth of algae, which ‘smothers’ reefs by cutting off their sunlight. In recent times, Plastic Pollution has posed a major threat.
  • Destructive fishing practices: These include cyanide fishing, blast or dynamite fishing, bottom trawling, and muro-ami (banging on the reef with sticks). Bottom-trawling is one of the greatest threats to cold-water coral reefs.
  • Coral mining: Live coral is removed from reefs for use as bricks, road-fill, or cement for new buildings. Corals are also sold as souvenirs to tourists and to exporters who don’t know or don’t care about the longer term damage done, and harvested for the live rock trade.
  • Sedimentation:Erosion caused by construction (both along coasts and inland), mining, logging, and farming is leading to increased sediment in rivers. This ends up in the ocean, where it can ‘smother’ corals by depriving them of the light needed to survive. The destruction of mangrove forests, which normally trap large amounts of sediment, is exacerbating the problem.
  • Disease Outbreaks : Coral reefs are susceptible to disease outbreaks caused by stress, which include the presence of bacteria, fungi and viruses. Other types of stress include physical and chemical changes, such as ultra-violet radiation, changes in water temperatures or pollutants.
  • Human Intervention:The trawling machinery, the digging of canals and access into islands and bays are localized threats to coral ecosystems. Rock coral on seamounts across the ocean are under fire from bottom trawling. Reportedly up to 50% of the catch is rock coral, and the practice transforms coral structures to rubble. With it taking years to regrow, these coral communities are disappearing faster than they can sustain themselves.
  • Other Factors: The ocean’s role as a carbon dioxide sink, atmospheric changes, ultraviolet light, ocean acidification, viruses, impacts of dust storms carrying agents to far-flung reefs, pollutants, algal blooms and others. Reefs are threatened well beyond coastal areas. Coral reefs with one type of zooxanthellae are more prone to bleaching than are reefs with another, more hardy species.

Need of the hour

  • Limiting global average temperature to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels and pursuing efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5°C, in line with the Paris Agreement on climate change, provides the only chance for the survival of coral reefs globally.
  • If the agreement is fully implemented, we will likely see a decrease in atmospheric carbon concentrations. This will improve conditions for the survival of reefs, and enable other measures to rescue reefs to be successful.
  • Other measures alone, such as addressing local pollution and destructive fishing practices, cannot save coral reefs without stabilised greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Reinforcing commitments to the Paris Agreement must be mirrored in all other global agreements such as the Sustainable Development Goals.
  • SDG 13, for instance, calls for urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts. There also needs to be a transformation of mainstream economic systems and a move towards circular economic practices.
  • These are highlighted in SDG 8 (inclusive and sustainable economic growth) and SDG 12 (sustainable consumption and production patterns).
  • Economic systems need to rapidly move to the low greenhouse gas emission scenario to enable global temperature decrease.
  • A move away from current economic thinking should include the benefits provided by coral reefs, which are currently not taken into account in mainstream business and finance.
  • Therefore, sustaining and restoring coral reefs should be treated as an asset, and long-term investments should be made for their preservation.
  • Investments should also include support for research at the frontiers of biology, such as genetic selection of heat-resistant corals that can withstand rising global temperatures.

Conclusion

Monitoring, research, and restoration all are essential to safeguard coral reefs. However, to ultimately protect coral reefs, legal mechanisms are necessary. Legal mechanism involves the establishment of marine protected areas (MPAs). Because MPAs have the added force of law behind them, a protected marine enclosure—such as a coral reef system—may stand a better chance for survival.

 

 


General Studies – 4


 

Topic: Attitude: content, structure, function; its influence and relation with thought and behaviour; moral and political attitudes;

6. A person who possesses moral excellence and integrity has a boundless capacity to understand and appreciate the world around them. Elucidate. (150 words)

Difficulty level: Moderate

Why the question:

The question is part of the static syllabus of General studies paper – 4.

Directive:

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

Structure of the answer:

Introduction:

Begin by writing about the attributes of moral excellence.

Body:

Write about how for a person with moral excellence virtuous character enables them to perceive the world as a vast and interconnected entity, and they are able to navigate it with ease and wisdom. Cite examples to substantiate.

Conclusion:

Conclude by summarising.

Introduction

“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit” -Will Durant

Moral Excellence is the quality of doing what is right and avoiding what is wrong. Moral excellence, according to Aristotle, attributes to our habits or customs, those repeated practices that form in us character qualities or propensities to act in a certain way in a given situation.

Body

Aristotle believed that behaving in a just manner and making a habit of it will ultimately result in moral excellence. He also warned against extreme behaviour. He espoused the doctrine of ‘the golden mean’, also shared independently by Confucius, that is, the best path in life is the one between two extremes. For example, the virtue of truthfulness consists of choosing the mean between boasting and undue modesty. The mean varies depending upon the person and the situation.

Moral excellence and integrity are qualities that require a deep understanding of oneself and others, and a commitment to living in accordance with one’s values and principles. When an individual possesses moral excellence and integrity, they are more likely to approach the world with an open mind and heart, and to be receptive to different perspectives and experiences. They are also more likely to treat others with kindness, empathy, and respect, and to cultivate meaningful relationships based on trust and mutual understanding.

Morally excellent people have a character made-up of virtues valued as good. They are honest, respectful, courageous, forgiving, and kind, for example. They do the right thing, and don’t bend to impulses, urges or desires, but act according to values and principles. Some might say good qualities are innate, but we’re not perfect. Virtues need to be cultivated to become more prevalent in life. With the habit of being virtuous, we take the helm of our own life, redirecting its course towards greater happiness and fulfillment.

For instance, for the man who flies from and fears everything and does not stand his ground against anything becomes a coward, and the man who fears nothing at all but goes to meet every danger becomes rash; and similarly the man who indulges in every pleasure and abstains from none becomes self-indulgent, while the man who shuns every pleasure, as boors do, becomes in a way insensibletemperance and courage, then, are destroyed by excess and defect, and preserved by the mean.

Conclusion

A person with moral excellence and integrity is more likely to be guided by a strong sense of purpose and a commitment to making a positive impact in the world. They are driven by a desire to live a life of meaning and significance, and to contribute to the well-being of others.

 

Topic: Case Study

7. We’ll probably look back on 2022 as the year generative Artificial Intelligence (AI) exploded into public attention, as image-generating systems from OpenAI and Stability AI were released, prompting a flood of fantastical images on social media. Last week, researchers at Meta announced an AI system that can negotiate with humans and generate dialogue in a strategy game called Diplomacy. Venture capital investment in the field grew to $1.3 billion this year, according to Pitchbook, even as it contracted for other areas in tech.

The digital artist Beeple was shocked in August when several Twitter users generated their own versions of one of his paintings with AI-powered tools. Similar software can create music and videos. The broad term for all this is ‘generative AI’ and as we lurch to the digital future, familiar tech industry challenges like copyright and social harm are re-emerging.

Last year, Meta unveiled Galactica, a language system specializing in science that could write research papers and Wikipedia articles. Within three days, Meta shut it down. Early testers found it was generating nonsense that sounded dangerously realistic, including instructions on how to make napalm in a bathtub and Wikipedia entries on the benefits of being Caucasian or how bears live in space. The eerie effect was facts mixed in so finely with hogwash that it was hard to tell the difference between the two. Political and health-related misinformation is hard enough to track when it’s written by humans.

Now, we have deepfake videos of politicians, actors and prominent personalities which can cause irreparable harm to our society and democratic institutions.

      1. What are the ethical issues in the above case?
      2. How can we have ‘ethical AI’?
      3. Suggest measures that must be taken to prevent moral damage that can from AI.

 

Introduction

New technologies like artificial intelligence, machine learning, robotics, big data, and networks are expected to revolutionize production processes, but they could also have a major impact on developing economies. More than the economic impact, the ethical concerns associated are bigger worry.

Body

Ethical issues involved

  • Ethical concerns: With popularization of a new technology, its virtues are not guaranteed. For instance, the internet made it possible to connect with anyone and get information from anywhere, but also easier for misinformation to spread.
    • There are real concerns about the potential negative consequences of AI, from deep fakes to nefarious uses of facial recognition technology.
  • Data Management: As there is lack of clarity on data flow and data ownership which might result into data colonialism (data generated by developing countries yet not benefitting them).
    • Further, data collection for feeding AI algorithms has its associated privacy concerns e.g. mass surveillance.
    • AI could contribute to the forgery of documents, pictures, audio recordings, videos, and online identities which can and will occur with unprecedented ease.
  • Biasedness: The algorithms used in artificial intelligence are discrete and, in most cases, trade secrets.
    • They can be biased, for example, in the process of self-learning, they can absorb and adopt the stereotypes that exist in society or which are transferred to them by developers and make decisions based on them.
  • Excessive Regulation: Since the AI is still in its preliminary stages, some critics believe that, excessively strict regulation is neither necessary nor desirable.
  • Lack of consensus & Conflict of Interests among the countries over the mechanisms and tactics in regulation of AI.
  • Absence of widespread expertise in Al technologies: This could lead to policy decisions being taken based on a narrow spectrum of opinions. There are large gaps in data collection, preparation, and benchmarking capabilities.

 

Ethical AI possibility

  • Ethical AI is artificial intelligence that adheres to well-defined ethical guidelines regarding fundamental values, including such things as individual rights, privacy, non-discrimination, and non-manipulation.
  • Ethical AI places fundamental importance on ethical considerations in determining legitimate and illegitimate uses of AI.
  • Organizations that apply ethical AI have clearly stated policies and well-defined review processes to ensure adherence to these guidelines.
  • Ethical AI is not limited to what is permissible by law. Legal limits pertaining to the use of AI set a minimum threshold of acceptability, while ethical AI sets policies that go beyond legal requirements to ensure respect for fundamental human values.
  • For example, AI algorithms that effectively manipulate people – teens, in particular – to engage in self-destructive behavior may be legal, but they do not represent ethical AI.

Measures and way forward

  • AI has the potential to be used for both good and evil purposes. The benefits from the ethical uses of AI are numerous and significant.
  • The application of AI can help organizations operate more efficiently, produce cleaner products, reduce harmful environmental impacts, increase public safety, and improve human health.
  • But if used unethically – e.g., for purposes such as disinformation, deception, human abuse, or political suppression – AI can cause severe deleterious effects for individuals, the environment, and society.
  • Laws and regulations are generally insufficient to ensure the ethical use of AI.
  • It is incumbent on individuals and organizations who use AI – as well as those who develop and provide AI tools and technology – to practice ethical AI. Users and purveyors of AI must take proactive steps to make sure they are using AI ethically.
  • This obligation goes beyond issuing statements; there must be specific policies that are actively enforced.

Conclusion

Technology is inherently about humans, and it is perilous to ignore social and psychological impact while creating tech. As engineers we must be aware of the unintended consequences of the technology we create.

With the advent of automotive AI and recent impact of social media platforms on elections, Ethics in AI has become one of the major areas of research.

 

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