March 13, 2020
Mains Daily Question
March 13, 2020
You are working as a Sub-Divisional Magistrate (SDM) in a district facing recurring floods. Like every year, during this year’s monsoon too, 1/3rd area of the block is flooded up to dangerous level. As SOP (Standard Operating Procedure) you had floated tenders and awarded contracts for the supply of relief material in fair and transparent way well in advance. You are the officer responsible to ensure providing relief material to all the affected people.
A group of people, led by a local political leader, is making irrational demands from the administration. One day, the politician along with his followers is staging a sit-in on the national highway going through your area. The moment media started covering the news you get a call from your senior from state secretariat questioning your handling of relief operations.
However, you suspect that the real motive of the politician is to jeopardize relief efforts and to build general opinion against your efficiency, because the contracts were not awarded to his people.
a) What different issues do you see to be resolved in the case?
b) What will be your course of action? Justify.
(First brief the case introducing the issue and ethical angles involved)
Facts in the case:
- You are SDM
- Recurring flood
- 1/3rd area is flooded at a dangerous level
- Contracts awarded for the supply of relief material in fare manner
- Political leader making irrational demands
- Staging sit-in on NH
- Media covering
- Call from state HQ
- You suspect his intentions
- Opinion against your efficiency
Challenges in front of me:
- Flood-affected people to receive relief material without delay
- Blocking of national highway
- Media used for devaluing your capability and efficiency
- Call from HQ doubting your efficiency
The given case depicts a situation where the struggle is required to fulfil my duty amidst the dubious opposition and an attack on my efficiency. It also indicates responsibility about the work to be finished to be of paramount importance, which would be getting hampered in case of irrational action on my part. The additional angle to be inquired about is - how the misuse of media can be tackled. I also need to restore the trust of senior administration and of the public in me.
- a) Issue before me:
In this scenario in the role of SDM, following are the issues before me:
Issue 1: Ensuring that all the flood-affected victims receive relief material due to them. This is my most important responsibility. Not just as a government official but also as a fellow human being.
Issue 2: National Highway is blocked by followers of the political leaders. That is needed to be opened as early as possible so that traffic is normal. This is an illegal act by a group of people. And appropriate action is required to be taken. This is to be addressed in an urgent manner.
Issue 3: Misuse of media is being done to malign the image of the administration in general and the officer in particular. It needed to be responded accordingly so that the trust of the public is restored.
Issue 4: Proper explanation and justification are required to be given to HQ administration clarifying their doubts. It is my duty to report the details to HQ in order to convey the information and seek suggestions, in case they are relevant.
- b) Course of action:
1) First and the foremost the National Highway has to be unblocked as much interstate traffic is stuck in the middle of the road. It is the most urgent issue. So, without any prejudice, talks can be initiated with the groups of the people protesting there. Here I need to act according to emotional intelligence. It can be conveyed to the protesters that already the relief materials are being delivered to the victims of the flood. Also they will be convinced that their demands are irrational. They would be convinced to vacate the National Highway with the pretext that talks.
2) Press and Media will be called to send corrected message about flood relief work going in the right direction and speed. The examples of such efficient implementation can be made visible to the normal public so that the trust of people in the administration can be restored. The right message on media can be sent about the officer also to restore the image about his capability as well.
3) The most crucial and vital responsibility is that of distributing relief material to flood victims. Real-time monitoring will be done to ensure that the distribution of the material is being done with not only efficiency but also sensitivity and compassion. Special care will be taken with respect to children and elderly persons. Immediate and strict action will be taken on miscreants. It would be ensured that no person is left wanting the material.
4) As a response to the call from Head Quarter, in addition to explanation over the call, a written report will be sent clarifying their doubts. The report will also talk about positive work done so far and the plans to extend the work further. The senior authorities must be made aware of the real situation, as they have the right to receive the information.
Any emergency situation, especially flood, requires an extremely responsible and sensitive approach from the administration. The goal of the whole exercise to ensure reaching of relief material to flood victims.
March 11, 2020
Mains Daily Question
March 11, 2020
Q. India is still home to the largest number of poor. Discuss the underlying factors responsible for the prevalence of poverty in India and suggest strategy in order to accelerate poverty eradication in a sustainable manner?
- In brief define poverty with current statistics of poverty in the country.
- Discuss the various causes of poverty in India.
- Discuss the strategy to combat poverty.
- Mention few of the government schemes in this regard.
- Conclude with giving a way out to accelerate poverty eradication in a sustainable manner
Poverty is a condition characterized by severe deprivation of basic human needs and the person is unable to fulfil the basic necessities for the sustenance of life. According to the 2018 global Multidimensional Poverty Index(MPI) released by the UN, over 270 million people in India moved out of poverty in the decade since 2005-06. But India is home to 26% of the global extreme poor. Global Hunger Index 2018 placed India at 103rd position out of 119 countries.
There are different dimensions to poverty in India such as:
- Slow economic growth leads to increase in unemployment and poverty.
- Decreased agricultural output due to unpredictable weather patterns leads to some serious inflation issues.
- Due to inadequate industrialization in certain areas employment opportunities become limited.
- Uneven concentration of wealth and resources in the country.
- Unemployment and Under-employment.
- Social evils like untouchability affects democratic rights like employment etc. which leads to poverty among certain lower castes.
- Widespread ignorance and illiteracy: Uneducated people are unaware of their full potential which leads to limited earning sources.
- Mass migration to cities causes increased competition in the employment sector especially in cities which leads to poverty even among the educated population.
- High divorce rates and unequal employment opportunities to women leads to feminization of poverty.
- Selective fertility of land creates fertile islands in the country and the unfertile lands are
- pushed towards poverty naturally.
- Environmental and climatic factors include floods, droughts etc.
Now there is more focus on job creation via entrepreneurship and converting job seeker into job creator through hand holding approach in terms of targeted loans under Mudra Scheme, Start-Up India, Stand-Up India, Aspire etc.
Providing employment also mitigates poverty in following ways:
- Better wages provide access to education as well as health care thus, providing future avenues of poverty alleviation
- Increased Income also provides better access to government services, even if they are for free.
According to NITI Aayog, the strategy for combating poverty must rest on two approaches, that
is, that are:
- Sustained rapid growth that is also employment intensive and
- Making anti-poverty programs even more effective.
Thus, rapid growth alone is not a sufficient condition for rapid expansion of social spending, but it is a necessary condition nonetheless. There needs to be focus on combating Poverty through efficient anti-poverty programmes as well to ensure direct help to the poor in terms of addressing specific aspects of poverty such as food and nutrition, water, toilets, literacy, health etc.:
Various steps taken by the government to mitigate poverty:
- National Food Security Act: Providing 75% rural population and 50% urban population with 5 kg of food grains per month, ensuring health and prospects of coming out of poverty.
- MGNREGA: provides with specified wage in a given year to unskilled labour, thus providing them some source of income, thereby increasing their purchasing power for essential needs.
- Housing for All- rural and Urban to enable affordable asset creation for poor covering shelter part for the poor.
- In order to make anti-poverty programs effective, the government has taken a lot of efforts like channelizing the potential of JAM (Jan Dhan Yojana, Aadhaar, and Mobile) trinity, providing biometric identity to the poor to avail the benefits of government schemes.
These direct measures towards poverty reduction are required to support poor families to ensure basic necessities are available and accessible for the poor. At the same time, job creation is also important to empowering them so that they continue to fulfil their needs.
To have sustainable poverty reduction, these areas must be focused:
- Accelerate rural poverty reduction: Capitalize on growing connectivity between rural and urban areas, and between the agriculture, industry and services sectors, has been effective in reducing poverty.
- Creating more and better jobs: Efforts are needed to address tepid job creation in labour intensive sectors.
- More focus is required on the low participation of women in the labour market and the slow progress among Scheduled Tribes.
- Smart Cities along with Smart Villages are required (PURA model).
- Improve human development outcomes for the poor which are central to improving their quality of life.
- Special Employment Schemes for the Poor such as MGNREGA.
- Need to incorporate technology for identification of beneficiaries to prevent leakages of various subsidies, adopt direct benefit transfers such as in PDS.
- Revolutionizing the anti-poverty programmes by replacing the current cumbersome and checking the leakages in the distribution of benefits.
- Adopting a holistic definition of poverty should be considered instead of the current expenditure-based poverty line etc.
Poverty is a multi-faceted problem so the solution also needs to be a multi-faceted one. We have taken leaps in poverty reduction with the increased employment based growth and efficient anti-poverty scheme implementation, but more needs to be done to take poverty heads on. Overcoming poverty should be seen as a fundamental right of the citizens and should be given its due importance.
March 9, 2020
Mains Daily Question
March 9, 2020
Q. US has recently signed up the first phase of a trade deal with China in a push to stop economic conflict. Critically analyse the deal in the light of the fact that a trade war has been going on for the past 18 months between these two countries thereby affecting the entire global trade.
A protracted trade war between US and China has been going on since America slapped heavy tariffs on imported steel and aluminium items from China in March 2018, and China responded by imposing tariffs on billions of dollars worth of American imports. The dispute escalated after Washington demanded that China reduce its $375 billion trade deficit with the US, and introduce verifiable measures for protection of Intellectual Property Rights, technology transfer, and more access to American goods in Chinese markets.
As per the IMF, the US-China trade tension was one factor that contributed to a significantly weakened global expansion late last year, as it cut its global growth forecast for 2019. It has exacerbated the uncertainty in the global trading environment, weakens the rules-based system, affects global sentiment negatively and adds to risk aversion globally. The tariffs can also hamper the rebound in the US economy, with consumption and jobs likely to take a hit, as these tariffs would be paid by American consumers and businesses. For China, the higher tariffs will have a significant negative effect on exports, against the backdrop of a slowing economy. South Korea, Malaysia, Taiwan and Singapore are the economies most at risk in Asia based on trade openness and exposure to supply chains involving China.
Key Highlights Of The Deal
In the backdrop of negative impact of trade tension, as mentioned above, US and China has signed the first phase of the trade deal to diffuse the tension. This includes:
- Intellection Property (IP) Protection and Enforcement,
- ending forced technology transfer, dramatic expansion of American agriculture,
- removing barriers to American financial services, ending currency manipulation,
- rebalancing the US-China trade relationship and effective dispute resolution.
- The centrepiece of the deal is a pledge by China to purchase at least an additional $200 billion worth of U.S. farm products and other goods and services over two years, over a baseline of $186 billion in purchases in 2017.
- The deal, however, leaves in place tariffs on about $360 billion in Chinese imports till the time the second phase of the trade deal is agreed.
- The US has dropped plans to impose tariffs on an additional $160 billion in Chinese imports.
Analysis Of The Deal
- The deal shows how the two countries can resolve their differences and find solutions based on dialogue. This historic agreement includes a major commitment by China to make significant reforms in a wide range of critical areas and to make substantial additional purchases of American goods and services in the coming years. It aims to resolve some longstanding American concerns about Chinese trade abuses.
- However, the accord appears to leave questions about how Washington and Beijing will enforce its terms and prevent further tensions.
- The deal fails to address structural economic issues that led to the trade conflict, does not fully eliminate the tariffs that have slowed the global economy, and sets hard-to-achieve purchase targets, analysts and industry leaders said.
- Although the deal could be a boost to U.S. farmers, automakers and heavy equipment manufacturers, some analysts question China's ability to divert imports from other trading partners to the United States.
March 6, 2020
Mains Daily Question
March 6, 2020
Q. Explaining the need and objectives of land reforms in India, examine the steps taken by the government in this regard.
- List the need and objectives of land reforms in India.
- Assess the various land reform policies that came to be implemented since independence.
- Conclude by assessing the steps taken in this regard.
It is basically redistribution of land from those who have excess of land to those who do not possess with the objective of increasing the income and bargaining power of the rural poor. It means the distribution of surplus land to small farmers and landless tillers, accrued as a result of the implementation of the ceiling on agricultural holdings. More broadly, it includes regulation of ownership, operation, leasing, sales, and inheritance of land.
Need for land reform in India:
- In order to remove intermediaries like zamindars, landholders, farm merchants from the production process, so that the tillers have a stake and incentive in production.
- The tendency of large landholders becoming richer and small land holders not so increases inequality. So the land had to be redistributed.
- The dependence of a large population and weaker section of the society on agriculture.
- Various agriculture related stresses such as inadequate crop production, dependence on rainfall, exploitation by money lenders etc, leading to farmer suicides.
- Economic harm due to decline in agriculture productivity.
- To recognize traditional rights of tribal over forest lands, preventing alienation of tribal communities and making them a stakeholder in the development process.
Objectives of Land Reforms:
- Initially the objective was to provide equitable distribution of land and adequate income to those who were dependent on it.
- To keep agricultural productivity high.
- To ensure food security of the country.
- To ensure self reliance of the national economy.
- To reduce poverty and inequality.
Steps taken in order to carry forward land reforms:
- Abolition of Zamindari Act.
- Tenancy regulation: to improve contractual terms including security of tenure.
- Land Ceiling: where a cap on maximum land ownership was introduced. The land in excess of limit was distributed amongst the landless.
- Land to the tillers: taking away the land from landholders who did not cultivate it.
- Cooperative farms: to provide for a larger productive land for the community to work on.
- Appropriate compensation for the acquired land.
- The Scheduled tribes and other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006.
Challenges: Being a state subject, there exist considerable variations in the results achieved by land reform legislations trying to achieve land to the tiller policy. However, loopholes in these laws have been
exploited to evade land ceiling and other reforms. The most notable and successful example of land reforms are in the states of West Bengal and Kerala. The difference in system of land records and land administration in the hilly and tribal tracts of north-eastern States also poses challenges to land reforms.
Steps that need to be taken further:
- Protection of fertile agricultural land exclusively for agricultural purposes.
- Provision of sufficient loans and capital to the actual tiller of land.
- Promoting land leasing and contract farming.
- Implementing Forest rights act in true spirit by all the states.
Land reform is the major step of the government to assist people living under adverse conditions. The purpose of land reform is to help weaker sections of society and do justice in land distribution. Hence, government land policies should be implemented effectively to make more rational use of the scarce land resources by affecting conditions of holdings, imposing ceilings and grounds on holdings so that cultivation can be done in the most economical manner.
March 4, 2020
Mains Daily Question
March 4, 2020
Q. What is a cyber threat? Discuss various challenges associated with cyber threats along with steps taken by the government to prevent it.
- Briefly explain cyber threat with its various forms.
- Discuss various challenges associated with cyber threats in the country.
- Analyze the various steps taken by the government and suggest way forward.
A cyber or cybersecurity threat is a malicious act that seeks to damage data, steal data, or disrupt digital life in general. It also refers to the possibility of a successful cyber attack that aims to gain unauthorized access, damage, disrupt, or steal an information technology asset, computer network, intellectual property or any other form of sensitive data.
Today’s cybercrime landscape is diverse. Cyber threats can come from within an organization by trusted users or from remote locations by unknown parties.
Some common cyber threats include:
- Malware: Malware is software that does malicious tasks on a device or network such as corrupting data or taking control of a system.
- Spyware: Spyware is a form of malware that hides on a device providing real-time information sharing to its host, enabling them to steal data like bank details and passwords.
- Phishing attacks: Phishing is when a cybercriminal attempts to lure individuals into providing sensitive data such as personally identifiable information (PII), banking and credit card details and passwords.
- Distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks: It aims to disrupt a computer network by flooding the network with superfluous requests to overload the system and prevent legitimate requests being fulfilled.
- Ransomware: Ransomware is a type of malware that denies access to a computer system or data until a ransom is paid.
- Trojans: A trojan creates a backdoor in your system, allowing the attacker to gain control of your computer or access confidential information.
Cyber attack is a particularly major threat to sectors identified under Critical Information Infrastructure (CII) that include financial systems, air traffic control and telecommunications.
It involves Intellectual property theft, theft of money, data manipulation and data destruction etc.
- Increased use of mobile technology and the internet by people.
- Proliferation of Internet of Things (IoT) and lack of proper security infrastructure in some devices.
- Cyberspace has inherent vulnerabilities that cannot be removed.
- Internet technology makes it relatively easy to misdirect attribution to other parties.
- It is generally seen that attack technology outpaces defence technology.
- Lack of awareness on Cyber security.
- Lack of Cyber security specialists.
- Increased use of cyberspace by terrorists.
The Indian government has also been aggressively addressing the rising prevalence of cyber threats. India has ranked 47 out of 165 nations on the Global Cybersecurity Index 2018, released by the International Telecommunication Union. This shows India’s commitment to cybersecurity.
Steps taken by Government:
- National Cyber Security Policy 2013 has been framed to create a secure cyber ecosystem, ensure compliance with global security systems and strengthen the regulatory framework.
- National Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-in) functions as the nodal agency for coordination of all cyber security efforts, emergency responses, and crisis management.
- Cyber Surakshit Bharat Initiative: It was launched in 2018 with an aim to spread awareness about cybercrime and building capacity for safety measures for Chief Information Security Officers (CISOs) and frontline IT staff across all government departments.
- National Cyber security Coordination Centre (NCCC): In 2017, the NCCC was developed. Its mandate is to scan internet traffic and communication metadata (which are little snippets of information hidden inside each communication) coming into the country to detect real-time cyber threats.
- Cyber Swachhta Kendra: In 2017, this platform was introduced for internet users to clean their computers and devices by wiping out viruses and malware.
- Information Security Education and Awareness Project (ISEA)– raises awareness and provides research, education and training in the field of Information Security.
The need of the hour for Indian government is to develop core skills in cyber security, data integrity and data security fields while also setting stringent cyber security standards to protect banks and financial institutions. Adequate funding should be provided for strategic research and development. India must enhance its technological and investigative capabilities.
March 2, 2020
Mains Daily Question
March 2, 2020
Q. Comment upon the role of women in the Indian freedom struggle. How did the arrival of Gandhijiaffect their participation in the political sphere?
Indian freedom struggle was not only a political agitation for freedom but also an inclusive movement that included various sections of the society. The process of inclusion only intensified with the multidimensional role of women with renewed vigour after the arrival of Mahatma Gandhi.
Role of Women in Indian Freedom Struggle –
- Earliest examples – Right from the revolt of 1857 there was the participation of women in the Indian freedom struggle. Leaders like Rani Laxmi Bai and Begum Hazrat Mahal played an active role to oppose British rule in their area.
- Inspirational courage and valour –Likes of Bhikaji Cama who unfurled the Indian flag at Stuttgart and Communist leaders like Bina Das and ChattriSangh who tried an assassination attempt on Governor of Bengal were an inspiration for all Indians.
- Reformist and constructivist role – As women’s education spread, there was a small yet active women’s movement working inside the national movement. Congress leaders like Sarojini Naidu and Annie Besant gave them the leadership. Participation of women deepened the meaning of freedom by demanding political rights for women, which were majorly neglected. Various women organizations like Madras Women Indian Association and All India Women’s Conference in 1927 raised voice for voting rights.
Influence of Mahatma Gandhi on Women’s Participation – Gandhiji worked upon at the levels of ideas, techniques as well as programmes.
- The idea of sisterhood – He described women as the embodiment of sacrifice, humility and knowledge. (Young India 1921). He made the gender issue neutral by emphasizing role models like Sita and Draupadi (who were portrayed as role models of empowered women, albeit in the cloak of traditionalism). He thus emphasised on sisterhood ideal and made the political role of women more acceptable to male counterparts as well as themselves.
- Erasing public vs private spheres – He provided prabhatpheris, picketing liquor shops, prohibition, flag satyagrahas as well as constructive works like charkha spinning, which facilitated the participation of women. He also took the freedom struggle to the daily activities and impressed upon the people to carry the spirit of nationalism in their routines – thus inspiring them. All these ensured that women could participate from wherever they were in whatever capacity they could.
- Programmes and methods – Gandhiji emphasized upon values of non-violence and satyagraha. Adherence to non-violence led to an increase in participation of women, which was visible during the Civil Disobedience Movement (From 1930 to 1934). As even men who were reluctant to allow women to participate owing to violence now readily promoted their participation. Gandhiji made women realize their potential of strength and sacrifice, which made women most trusted satyagrahis. It was Sarojini Naidu who took up leadership role during salt satyagraha after the arrest of Gandhi. (Dharasana Satyagraha)
Gandhiji’s mass based struggle drew many women towards Indian freedom struggle changed in the nature of participation from supportive to equal participation. Thus participation of women made Indian Freedom Struggle a true mass-based struggle which not only led to political independence but a great stride towards the emancipation of women and other weaker sections of society.