July 31, 2023
Mains Daily Question
July 31, 2023
Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), has made significant strides in space exploration, satellite technology, and interplanetary missions. In light of this statement highlight how the ISRO’s missions have contributed to India's socio-economic development.
Introduction: Introduce by giving a brief account of ISRO’s achievement and overall mandate.
Body: Highlight various sectors where ISRO has made an impact with examples.
Conclusion: Summarize the importance of ISRO in the nation’s development.
From Aryabhatta to Gaganyaan ISRO has been spearheading the nation in space exploration and satellite technology and Interplanetary missions. ISRO has achieved remarkable milestones for India by revolutionizing communication, agriculture, weather forecasting, and disaster management through its satellite technology.
With a commitment to innovation and self-reliance, ISRO has significantly contributed to India's socio-economic development.
- Communication and Broadcasting: ISRO's satellite communication systems, such as INSAT and GSAT, have revolutionised India's telecommunication infrastructure. They have enabled remote and rural areas to be connected, offering better access to information, education, and healthcare services. Additionally, direct-to-home (DTH) broadcasting has expanded television reach, promoting media penetration and dissemination of information.
- Agriculture: Space technology has played a crucial role in agricultural development. ISRO's satellite-based remote sensing and imaging systems, like RESOURCESAT and RISAT, provide valuable data on soil moisture, crop health, and crop yield estimation. This information aids farmers in making informed decisions, optimising resource allocation, and mitigating the impact of natural disasters like droughts and floods.
- Rural development: Isro has launched Village resource centres (VRCs) to provide space-based services like tele-medicine, tele-education, panchayat planning etc.
- Education and outreach: EDUSAT have been used to enhance distance education, bringing quality learning to remote and underserved areas. YUVIKA programme is a special programme to impart basic knowledge on Space Technology to school children with a preference for rural areas encouraging more students to pursue Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) based research /career.
- Weather Forecasting and Disaster Management: ISRO's meteorological satellites, including INSAT and Kalpana, have bolstered India's weather forecasting capabilities. Accurate weather predictions are crucial for agricultural planning, disaster preparedness, and early warning systems for events like cyclones and floods. ISRO's initiatives like the BHUVAN portal have been instrumental in minimising the loss of life and property during calamities.
- Navigation: The Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System (IRNSS), also known as NavIC, provides accurate positioning and timing information over the Indian subcontinent and surrounding regions. NavIC aids various applications, including transportation, logistics, fisheries, and disaster management. It reduces dependency on foreign navigation systems and enhances India's self-reliance in this critical technology domain.
- Earth Observation and Resource Management: ISRO's remote sensing satellites like CARTOSAT and IRS have facilitated comprehensive earth observation and resource management. They have been used for urban planning, forest monitoring, water resource management, land-use mapping, and environmental monitoring. These inputs aid policymakers and decision-makers in sustainable development and natural resource conservation.
- Space Exploration and Research: ISRO's missions to the Moon (Chandrayaan-1 and Chandrayaan-2) and Mars (Mangalyaan) have showcased India's capabilities in interplanetary exploration. These missions have advanced scientific knowledge, expanded India's international prestige, and opened opportunities for future collaborations in space research.
- National Security and Defence: ISRO's contributions extend to strengthening India's national security. Satellites like RISAT and Cartosat have been used for surveillance, border monitoring, and defence purposes, bolstering the country's security apparatus.
However, ISRO faces funding constraints, technological complexity, international competition and underdeveloped technologies (like cryogenics). Thus, increase in budgetary allocation, promoting interdisciplinary collaboration, fostering public-private partnerships, and streamlining administrative processes will enhance ISRO's capabilities to stay at the forefront of space research and yield even greater benefits for the country in the future.
July 29, 2023
Mains Daily Question
July 29, 2023
Japan is considered as an indispensable partner in India’s continuous transformation. However, the relations between the two nations are not without its limitations. Discuss.
Introduction: Give a brief overview of India-Japan relations, highlighting recent achievements.
Body: Write about various dimensions of India-Japan relations and mention some of the limitations of the ties.
Conclusion: Give a way forward on resolving limitations.
India and Japan share a historical relationship dating back to ancient times when Buddhism was introduced to Japan in the 6th century. The beginning of a strong partnership between both countries started with India’s Look East Policy and culminated in a ‘Special Strategic and Global Partnership' in 2014.
Different facets of India-Japan relations
Over the years, the bilateral ties between India and Japan have grown in multiple dimensions, such as:
- Economic cooperation: Both countries have strong trade and investment ties, with significant bilateral investments in each other’s economies. This is visible from various initiatives such as Delhi Mumbai Industrial Corridor (DMIC), Neemrana Industrial Park for Japanese firms, India-Japan cooperation in the Automobile sector like Maruti Suzuki, etc.
- Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) has been the frontrunner in investing in Infrastructure projects in India- From Delhi Metro to Water and Sanitation.
- Strategic cooperation: Both countries share strategic interests in maintaining peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific region. Their partnership is rooted in a shared commitment to a free, open, and inclusive Indo-Pacific.
- This is also reflected in the key role of India, Japan highlighted in its National Security Strategy (NSS-2022) and 2021 Acquisition and Cross-Servicing Agreement (ACSA), etc.
- Defence Cooperation: The defence cooperation between both countries has been steadily growing, driven by shared concerns over regional security challenges.
- Key initiatives include- 2015 Agreements concerning the transfer of defence Equipment and Technology, 2+2 dialogue, and military exercises including Shinyuu Maitri (Air Force), Dharma Guardian (Army), JIMEX (Naval) Sahyog-Kaijin (Coast Guard), and Malabar (Navy, multilateral).
- Technology cooperation: India and Japan collaborate on cutting-edge technologies and innovation. Key areas include robotics, artificial intelligence, renewable energy, etc.
- Key examples include- ‘The India-Japan Digital Partnership (I-JDP), and the India-Japan Agreement for Cooperation in the Peaceful Uses of Nuclear Technical Intern Training Programme (TITP).
- Regional and Global cooperation: Both nations actively collaborate on regional and global issues, including climate change, counterterrorism, and United Nations reforms. Both countries are jointly developing the Asia-Africa Growth Corridor, which aims to enhance economic collaboration and capacity-building in African countries.
- Cultural and People-to-People ties: Both countries actively promote tourism, educational exchanges, and scholarships for students. The Japan Exchange and Teaching (JET) Programme and the India-Japan Global Partnership Summit are a few initiatives to foster personal bonds between citizens of both nations.
Limitations of India-Japan ties
- Trade issues: Trade between India and Japan remains limited and falls short of its potential. Japan ranks low among India’s top trading partners, with bilateral trade much lower than India-China trade.
- Further, there is a trade imbalance between India and Japan, with Japan having a trade surplus.
- Disagreement over global issues: Both nations find themselves on opposite sides of various global issues, especially those related to the gap between developing and developed nations. Trade-related aspects at the WTO, such as India's tariff structure on imports, are points of contention.
- Russia Factor: There exists a difference of opinion between India and Japan on Russia. This came forward when India participated in the Vostok exercises, which were held close to South Kuril Island (a disputed territory between Russia and Japan).
- Also, there is a difference of opinion between both countries on the responses to Russia's invasion of Ukraine.
- Slow progress: The progress of the Asia-Africa Growth Corridor has been modest, with joint infrastructure projects in Africa yielding limited outcomes.
- There are significant logistics issues and challenges which Japanese firms face in India.
- Chinese-American rivalry: The intensification of the Chinese-American rivalry in the Indo-Pacific creates a disturbance in regional peace, it promotes arms race and impacts initiatives for peace and prosperity in the region, which impacts priorities of both India and Japan's cooperation.
Several steps could be taken to strengthen the India-Japan partnership, such as:
- Address the trade bottleneck to enhance bilateral trade and realise the full potential of economic cooperation.
- Use of skilful diplomacy to assuage the difference of opinion on various global issues, including the Ukraine crisis.
- Collaborate on improving the resilience of the supply chain through joint efforts in semiconductor chip manufacturing.
- Increase people-to-people- exchange by sending Indian IT professionals to Japan to boost digitalization in Japan.
- Expand partnerships in Science and Technology in diverse domains such as 5G, Open RAN, Telecom Network Security, submarine cable systems, and Quantum Communications.
- Collaborate to strengthen strategic connectivity that links South Asia to Southeast Asia by harnessing the synergy between the "Act East" policy and the "Partnership for Quality Infrastructure."
The strengthening of India-Japan ties holds significance not just for the two nations but also for the Indo-Pacific region, fostering peace, prosperity, and stability on a global scale. It is an opportune moment to build upon this shared heritage and collaborate for a brighter and more prosperous future.
July 28, 2023
Mains Daily Question
July 28, 2023
"Persons with disabilities represent an integral part of our diverse society, yet they continue to face multifaceted challenges in various domains.” Discuss. Also, suggest measures to address such challenges.
Introduction: Define a person with disabilities and give some data facts.
Body: Write challenges faced by the person with disabilities and also suggest some way forward solutions.
Conclusion: Conclude in a holistic way.
The United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) defines “Persons with disabilities include those who have long-term physical, mental, intellectual or sensory impairments which in interaction with various barriers may hinder their full and effective participation in society on an equal basis with others."
In India, there were around 26.8 million persons with disabilities, constituting 2.21% of India’s total population (2011 Census).
Challenges faced by people with disabilities in various domains:
- Limited Access to Education: Many persons with disabilities struggle to access quality education due to the lack of inclusive infrastructure, trained teachers, and suitable learning materials. The literacy rate of persons with disabilities is lower than the national average. According to the 2011 Census, the literacy rate of persons with disabilities is 52.9%, compared to 74.0% for the general population.
- Unemployment and Underemployment: Persons with disabilities often encounter discrimination and biases in the job market, leading to high unemployment and underemployment rates. According to the 2011 Census, the employment rate of persons with disabilities is 36.0% as against 51.6% for the general population.
- Inadequate Healthcare and Rehabilitation Services: Access to specialized healthcare and rehabilitation services is often limited, especially in rural areas. This prevents persons with disabilities from receiving proper medical attention and necessary therapies, impacting their overall health and well-being.
- Social Stigma and Discrimination: Persons with disabilities frequently face social stigma and discrimination, which isolates them from mainstream society. Prejudice and misconceptions about disabilities contribute to negative attitudes, limiting their social interactions and opportunities. According to the 2011 Census, 33.4% of persons with disabilities have no one to rely on for help, compared to 21.6% of the general population.
- Inaccessibility of Public Spaces: Physical barriers in public spaces, such as lack of ramps, elevators, and accessible transportation, restrict the mobility and independence of persons with disabilities, making it challenging to participate fully in various activities.
- Inadequate Legal Protection and Implementation: Despite legislative frameworks like the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, of 2016, the effective implementation of disability rights remains a challenge. Inconsistent enforcement of laws and policies hinders the protection of their rights and entitlements.
To address the challenges faced by persons with disabilities in India, a comprehensive and multi-dimensional approach is required like:
- Inclusive Education: Develop and implement policies that promote inclusive education, ensuring access to quality education for all students with disabilities. Train teachers and educational staff in inclusive teaching methodologies to cater to diverse learning needs. Example- The Persons with Disabilities (Equal Opportunities, Protection of Rights and Full Participation) Act, 1995
- Employment Opportunities: Enforce strict anti-discrimination laws and policies in the job market to ensure equal employment opportunities for persons with disabilities. Encourage and incentivise private companies to adopt inclusive hiring practices and create accessible workplaces. Example -The Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana (PMKVY):
- Healthcare and Rehabilitation Services: Increase the availability and accessibility of specialized healthcare facilities and rehabilitation services across the country. Promote community-based rehabilitation programs that cater to the specific needs of persons with disabilities in rural areas. Example - The National Scheme for the Welfare of the Hearing Handicapped
- Awareness and Sensitization: Conduct widespread awareness campaigns to dispel myths and stereotypes surrounding disabilities, promoting a more inclusive and empathetic society. Integrate disability awareness and sensitisation modules in school curricula and professional training programs. Example - The Rashtriya Saksharta Mission (RMS)
- Accessible Infrastructure: Ensure that all public spaces, including transportation, buildings, and recreational areas, are made fully accessible through universal design principles. Mandate the incorporation of ramps, elevators, tactile paving, and audio-visual aids in public facilities to enhance accessibility.
- Accessible Information and Communication: Enforce web accessibility standards to make digital content and websites accessible for persons with disabilities. Support the development of affordable and user-friendly assistive technologies for persons with visual, hearing, and cognitive impairments.
- Strengthening Legal Protection: Ensure effective implementation and enforcement of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016, and other relevant laws and policies. Establish accessible and user-friendly grievance redressal mechanisms to address complaints related to disability rights violations.
It is crucial for the government, civil society, and other stakeholders to address these challenges through proactive policies, awareness campaigns, inclusive infrastructure, and sensitization programs, fostering a more inclusive and accessible society for persons with disabilities.
July 27, 2023
Mains Daily Question
July 27, 2023
In recent times, we are witnessing that Parliamentary control over the executive is becoming quite ineffective. Discuss.
Introduction: Mention the principle of “collective responsibility”.
Body: Mention the mechanism of Parliamentary control over the executive and also mention the reasons for ineffective parliamentary control over the executive.
Conclusion: Suggest a way forward.
Parliamentary democracy in India is based on the principle of collective responsibility i.e. the executive is collectively responsible to the Parliament, particularly to the Lok Sabha (Article 75(3)).
The Parliament is able to ensure the accountability of the executive through various mechanisms like:
- Parliamentary Debates & Discussions
- No-Confidence Motions
- Financial Control: Through Appropriation bill (Article 114), Public Accounts Committee and Cut motions.
- Legislative Control: Through Parliamentary Committees and also ordinances needs to be laid before both houses of Parliament for its approval.
- Zero Hour and Question Hour to elicit information from ministers.
Reasons for the Ineffectiveness of Parliamentary control recently:
- Lack of effective opposition: As in both the 16th and 17th Lok Sabha (LS) no opposition political party was able to get the designation of Leader of opposition. Consequently, the government pushed through 20 bills mostly without discussion in the monsoon session of parliament, in 2021(as per PRSindia).
- Increased resorting to ordinance route: In the 1950s, central ordinances were issued at an average of 7.1 per year but it has seen a spike,16 in 2019 and 15 in 2020. This is undermining the role of the legislature. For example, Indian Medical Commission Amendment ordinance was promulgated in 2018 and again in 2019.
- Delegated Legislation - In this the executive has to formulate detailed provisions within the framework of law provided to it by the legislature. This system adds considerably to the powers of the executive and correspondingly weakens the status of the legislature.
- Fewer bills being referred to Parliamentary Committees: The share of bills referred to committees has drastically decreased since 2014. About 60% and 71% of the bills were referred to committees in the 14th and 15th LS, whereas in the 16th and 17th LS, it was reduced to 25% and 13%, respectively.
- Lack of debates and discussions: About 18% of bills were introduced and passed in the same session during the 15th LS, whereas it increased to 33% and 69% in the 16th and 17th LS, respectively. Thus, the average time spent discussing a bill dropped from 213 minutes in 2019 to 85 minutes in 2021.
- Lack of Intra-party dissent: The possibility of intra-party dissent within Parliament has been stamped out by virtue of the Tenth Schedule to the Constitution. As it penalises disobedience of the party whip with disqualification from the House altogether.
Ways to ensure effective Parliamentary control over the executive
- Opposition days: They are a popular measure in countries such as Canada and the United Kingdom. It is a mechanism whereby certain days during the session are allocated for the opposition parties to set the agenda of the house. This practice of ‘Opposition days’ needs to become a part of legislative sessions in India.
- Reduce resorting to the ordinance route: Ordinances should be used to tackle exigencies when the legislature is not in session. The governments, both at the Centre and States should check this practice and should uphold the doctrine of separation of powers.
- Check Delegated legislation: In this regard, the legislature should clearly outline the framework of a law and the parliamentary committee on subordinate legislation should effectively scrutinize whether the executive is properly exercising its power of subordinate legislation or not.
- More bills be referred to Parliamentary committees: In order to enable the Parliament to do detailed scrutiny of the bills, get expert opinions regarding bills and hold the executive accountable based on the recommendations of the committees.
- Effective debates: In order to do so the presiding officer needs to ensure that MP’s belonging to different political parties get adequate time to raise their concerns and it will also go a long way in reducing parliament disruptions.
- Promote intra-party democracy: Anti-defection law should be applied only to confidence and no-confidence motions (Dinesh Goswami Committee on electoral reforms, 1990) or only when the government is in danger (Law Commission 170th report, 1999).
So, in order to uphold “Parliamentary democracy” the executive should adhere to the doctrine of separation of powers along with the adoption of the above solutions to strengthen the role of an individual MP.
July 26, 2023
Mains Daily Question
July 26, 2023
Blanket bans on digital connectivity not only violate the fundamental right to access the internet but also have wider implications for society. Discuss.
Introduction: Using data and reports, highlight the issue of internet shutdowns in India.
Body: Write about how the Internet shutdown impacts fundamental rights and mention the impact of the Internet shutdown on society.
Conclusion: Cautionary conclusion on the use of internet shutdowns.
As per the Global Internet Shutoffs report conducted by Access Now and the KeepItOn coalition, India ranked first among the nations that implemented internet shutdowns in 2022. Worryingly, India has consistently held this top position for the past five years.
Blanket bans are a violation of the Fundamental Right to Speech:
- Right to Freedom of Speech and Expression: Access to the Internet is an intrinsic part of Article 19 and was also held by the SC in the Sabu Mathew George case. The Supreme Court held that the "right to freedom of speech and expression" encompasses both "the right to be informed" and "the right to know."
- Blanket bans also violate the guidelines provided by the Supreme Court in the Anuradha Bhasin vs. UoI case that any shutdown should have limited scope and be subject to the test of proportionality.
- Right to Education: The Internet ban impacts the access to education of online learners. This hinders their Right to Education under Article 21A of the Constitution.
- Right to Personal Liberty: Internet shutdowns impact personal liberty and, as a result, violate Article 21 of the Constitution.
Implications of Internet Shutdowns for Society:
- Impact on economic activities: Blanket bans impact the ability to carry out trade and business, as most businesses in the digital age are dependent on internet connectivity.
- Disruptions to communication services have serious repercussions for various economic sectors, including financial transactions, commerce, industry, labour markets, and service delivery platforms.
- According to a report by the Internet Society, recent Internet shutdowns in Manipur and Punjab have cost the Indian economy USD 1.9 billion.
- Impact on health and humanitarian assistance:
- The Indian Council for Research reported that internet shutdowns impact healthcare services due to increased digitization of health records and facilities. Doctors and patients rely on the Internet for consultation, and these activities are typically affected by internet shutdowns.
- Blackouts of the internet have an impact on government-provided health programmes for the poor and vulnerable, hindering access to healthcare. In early 2020, hospitals in Kashmir struggled to handle cases of Ayushman Bharat beneficiaries.
- Impact on Human Rights: Without the Internet, journalists and civil society actors were unable to report on any human rights abuses that took place during protests.
- Impact on technological advancements: Such restrictions create uncertainty for technology companies, leading to reduced innovation and research in the sector and stunted growth in the digital economy.
- Impact on policy implementation: As the penetration of e-governance increases, policy implementation becomes dependent on the availability of the Internet. For example, the Verification of Jeevan Praman for the elderly gets delayed due to the non-availability of the internet at Common Service centres.
Thus, blanket bans on digital connectivity present a complex challenge that necessitates a balanced approach. While ensuring security and public order is paramount, policymakers must carefully weigh the potential violation of fundamental rights and the broader societal implications.
July 25, 2023
Mains Daily Question
July 25, 2023
The Union Government recently withdrew the DNA Technology (Use and Application) Regulation Bill, 2019 from the Lok Sabha. In this context discuss the implications of this Bill in ensuring justice and protecting civil liberties.
Introduction: Briefly introduce the DNA regulation bill,2019
Body: Write positive and negative implications of the DNA bill in ensuring justice and protecting civil liberties.
Conclusion: Provide a holistic conclusion in accordance with the question
DNA Technology (Use and Application) Regulation Bill, 2019 seeks to create a regulatory framework for obtaining, storing and testing DNA samples of human beings, mainly for the purposes of criminal investigations, and with the objective of establishing the identity of a person. It holds significant importance in ensuring justice and protecting civil liberties in India.
However recently the Parliamentary Standing Committee highlighted that the bill could be used to target segments of society based on religion, caste or political views and hence withdrew the bill altogether.
The creation and maintenance of such a database can have various positive implications:
- Enhancing Criminal Investigation: A National DNA Database would serve as a comprehensive repository of DNA profiles collected from crime scenes, suspects, victims, and volunteers. This centralized database can expedite criminal investigations by enabling law enforcement agencies to match DNA evidence to existing profiles, helping identify perpetrators more efficiently and accurately.
- Reducing Wrongful Convictions: By comparing DNA evidence from crime scenes with the DNA profiles of suspects, the database can help prevent wrongful convictions and protect innocent individuals from unjust punishment.
- Strengthening the Justice System: It provides solid scientific evidence that can be used to corroborate or refute witness statements, thus increasing the reliability of court proceedings and verdicts.
- Assisting Missing Person Investigations: The database can aid in identifying missing persons by comparing DNA profiles of unidentified remains with those of missing individuals or their relatives. This can bring closure to families and assist law enforcement in locating and reuniting missing persons with their loved ones.
- Facilitating Parentage Disputes: In civil matters related to parentage disputes, such as establishing paternity for child support or inheritance cases, DNA profiling from the database can provide conclusive evidence to resolve legal issues.
Negative implications on ensuring justice and protecting civil liberties in several ways:
- Privacy Concerns: Collecting and storing individuals' DNA profiles on a massive scale could lead to potential misuse or unauthorized access to sensitive genetic information. There is a risk of the database becoming a target for hacking and data breaches, potentially compromising the privacy and security of millions of citizens.
- Civil Liberties and Human Rights: The creation of a National DNA Database could infringe upon individuals' civil liberties and human rights, particularly the right to privacy and the presumption of innocence. Innocent individuals may be subjected to intrusive DNA profiling and constant surveillance without any reasonable suspicion or evidence against them, violating their fundamental rights.
- Potential for Misuse and Profiling: Law enforcement or government agencies may use the data for profiling individuals based on their genetic information, leading to discrimination and unfair targeting of specific communities or vulnerable populations.
- False Matches and Errors: DNA evidence, though powerful, is not infallible. Errors can occur during sample collection, analysis, or database matching, leading to false matches and wrongful accusations. Innocent people could be wrongly implicated in criminal cases, resulting in serious consequences for their lives.
- Lack of Regulation and Oversight: The DNA Technology Bill lacks comprehensive regulations and oversight to prevent potential abuses of the database. Without strict guidelines and independent monitoring, there is a risk of unauthorised access, data tampering, or misuse of the genetic information stored in the database.
While the creation of a National DNA Database has the potential to enhance criminal investigations and expedite justice delivery, it must be balanced with robust safeguards to protect individual rights, privacy, and civil liberties. Proper legislation, oversight, and transparency are essential to ensure that the database is used responsibly and ethically, without infringing upon citizens' fundamental rights.
July 24, 2023
Mains Daily Question
July 24, 2023
The gig economy has grown rapidly in India in recent years. In light of this statement discuss the challenges faced by gig workers in India and suggest ways to address them.
Introduction: Briefly introduce the meaning of the gig economy and trends suggesting rapid growth in India.
Body: Write challenges faced by gig workers in the Indian economy and provide a way forward by giving suitable examples of each.
Conclusion: Conclusive remarks on the importance of the gig ecosystem for India and need for governmental interventions to exploit its full potential.
The gig economy refers to the trend of individuals working temporary or flexible jobs, often through online platforms. According to NITI Aayog, the number of gig workers in India is expected to grow from 7.7 million in 2020 to 23.5 million by 2030.
Gig workers are typically self-employed and do not have the same benefits and protections as traditional employees. There are a number of challenges faced by gig workers in India. These include:
- Lack of job security: Gig workers are often hired on a contract basis and can be terminated at any time without notice. This can make it difficult for them to plan for the future and can lead to financial instability. For example, a food delivery driver may be fired if they do not meet the delivery quota for the day.
- Lack of social security: Gig workers are typically not entitled to the same benefits as traditional employees, such as health insurance, paid sick leave, and retirement savings plans. This can make it difficult for them to afford basic necessities and can lead to financial hardship in the long term. For example, a delivery driver may not be able to afford health insurance, which can lead to financial problems if they get sick.
- Unequal bargaining power: Gig workers often lack the bargaining power to negotiate fair compensation and working conditions, particularly when they are competing against a large pool of other workers on digital platforms. For example, freelance designers may be forced to accept a lower rate than they would like because there are many other designers who are willing to work for the same rate.
- Payment issues: Delayed or non-payment of wages is a major issue for gig workers. This can make it difficult for them to pay their bills and can lead to financial hardship. For example, a freelancer may not be paid for their deliveries for several weeks, which can make it difficult for them to make ends meet.
- Lack of access to training and development: Gig workers often lack access to training and development opportunities. This can make it difficult for them to improve their skills and earn higher wages. For example, freelance writers may not be able to afford to take advanced writing courses, which can limit their earning potential.
There are a number of ways to address the challenges faced by gig workers in India. These include:
- Enacting labour laws that protect gig workers and ensure that they are entitled to the same benefits as traditional employees. Example: Enacting the Social Security Code, 2020.
- Providing financial assistance to gig workers: The government could provide financial assistance to gig workers, such as subsidies for health insurance and paid sick leave. This would help to offset the low wages that they often earn and make it easier for them to meet their basic needs. Example: Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana (PMGKY) and the Atmanirbhar Bharat Rozgar Yojana (ABRY).
Case study: Rajasthan Platform Based GIG Workers (registration and welfare) Bill, 2023 would provide gig workers with a unique ID and a number of other benefits, including social security, access to training and development programs, and the right to form unions.
- Creating training programs for gig workers: The government could create training programs that teach gig workers how to develop their skills and improve their chances of success. This would help them to earn higher wages and gain more stability in their work. Example: Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana.
The gig economy has the potential to create new opportunities for employment and economic growth in India. However, it is important to ensure that gig workers are protected and have the same opportunities as traditional employees. By addressing the challenges faced by gig workers, the government can help to ensure that the gig economy becomes a facilitator in making India a 5 trillion economy.
July 22, 2023
Mains Daily Question
July 22, 2023
Elaborate on the key challenges that have affected India-Sri Lanka bilateral relations. Also highlight the potential opportunities for cooperation and collaboration between the two countries, to foster a stronger and more mutually beneficial relationship.
Introduction: Introduce briefly about India-Sri Lanka relationship.
Body: Write about key challenges and potential areas of cooperation between India- Sri Lanka
Conclusion: Conclude in a holistic way.
India-Sri Lanka relations have a long-standing history of political, economic, and cultural ties. Geographical proximity and shared interests in the Indian Ocean region make their bilateral relationship significant for regional stability and cooperation.
Currently, India is Sri Lanka's largest trading partner, and it has provided significant economic and military assistance to the country but there are also some key challenges in their relationship as follows:
Key challenges that have affected India-Sri Lanka bilateral relations:
- Ethnic and Regional Issues: Sri Lanka has faced long-standing ethnic tensions between the Sinhalese majority and the Tamil minority, influencing its relationship with India due to a significant Tamil population in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu. Example: During the Sri Lankan civil war, India's involvement was influenced by the plight of Tamil civilians, leading to the Indian Peacekeeping Force's intervention in the 1980s. The conflict strained relations between the two countries.
- Fishermen's Rights Dispute: Disputes over fishing rights in the Palk Strait and the Gulf of Mannar have led to frequent arrests of Indian fishermen by Sri Lanka and vice versa, resulting in tension between the two countries. Example: In 2017, over 100 Indian fishermen were arrested by the Sri Lankan Navy for allegedly fishing in Sri Lankan waters, exacerbating the ongoing issue of fishing rights violations.
- Chinese Influence in Sri Lanka: Sri Lanka's increasing engagement with China, including infrastructure projects under China's Belt and Road Initiative, has raised concerns for India about China's growing presence in the Indian Ocean region. Example: The Hambantota Port project, a Chinese-funded initiative.
- Impact of Internal Politics: Domestic political considerations sometimes overshadow the broader strategic interests of the two nations. Example: Changes in Sri Lanka's government have occasionally led to shifts in its foreign policy, and more inclined towards China impacting the dynamics of its relationship with India.
- Issues of Sovereignty and Territorial Integrity: Instances of perceived interference in each other's internal affairs have occasionally strained the bilateral relationship, with both countries prioritising their sovereignty and territorial integrity. Example: India's involvement in the Sri Lankan civil war raised concerns in Sri Lanka about its sovereignty, while India has expressed concerns over developments affecting the Tamil minority in Sri Lanka.
Potential opportunities for cooperation and collaboration between the two countries:
- Economic Cooperation: India and Sri Lanka have the potential to strengthen economic ties through increased trade, investment, and joint development projects. Sri Lanka's strategic location in the Indian Ocean can serve as a hub for Indian businesses to access markets in South Asia and Southeast Asia.
- Infrastructure Development: India's expertise in infrastructure development and Sri Lanka's need for modernization present opportunities for joint ventures in areas such as ports, roads, railways, and power projects. The partnership could enhance connectivity and trade facilitation in the region.
- Maritime Security: Given their shared interests in the Indian Ocean, both countries can collaborate on maritime security, including anti-piracy efforts, search and rescue operations, and information-sharing to ensure safe and secure sea lanes.
- Tourism and Cultural Exchanges: Both countries' rich cultural heritage and natural beauty can be leveraged to boost tourism. Enhanced cultural exchanges and people-to-people contact can foster understanding and friendship between nations.
- Renewable Energy and Climate Change: Cooperation in renewable energy projects, such as solar and wind power, can promote sustainable development. Both countries can also collaborate on climate change mitigation and adaptation efforts.
- Health and Public Health Initiatives: India and Sri Lanka can collaborate on health research, disease surveillance, and capacity-building in healthcare systems. Joint efforts can strengthen responses to infectious disease outbreaks and public health emergencies.
- Regional Initiatives: India and Sri Lanka can work together within regional organisations like SAARC and BIMSTEC to address common challenges and promote regional integration and development.
- Reconciliation and Conflict Resolution: India can play a constructive role in supporting Sri Lanka's efforts towards reconciliation and peacebuilding, sharing its own experiences in dealing with internal conflicts.
- Counterterrorism and Intelligence Sharing: Strengthening cooperation in intelligence sharing and counterterrorism measures can help combat transnational threats and ensure regional security.
The bilateral relationship between India and Sri Lanka requires careful diplomatic handling and pragmatic solutions. Effective engagement, respect for each other's sovereignty, Gujral doctrine and a commitment to shared goals will be crucial in capitalising on these opportunities and overcoming challenges to foster a positive and enduring partnership.
July 20, 2023
Mains Daily Question
July 20, 2023
Explore the feasibility of introducing Universal Basic Income in a country with a large informal economy like India.
Introduction: Define Universal Basic Income and talk about the feasibility of implementing it in brief.
Body: Explain why it is difficult to implement UBI in India. Highlight steps that can be taken to mitigate the challenges of implementing UBI.
Conclusion: Give an adequate way forward describing how Universal Basic Income can culminate into reality.
Universal Basic Income (UBI) is a policy concept that involves providing a regular and unconditional cash payment to all individuals within a given population, regardless of their income, employment status, or wealth. The objective of UBI is to ensure that every citizen has a minimum level of income to cover their basic needs, such as food, shelter, and healthcare, thereby reducing poverty and economic inequality.
Implementing UBI in India will be difficult:
- Informal Economy Size: India's informal economy is substantial, with a large portion of the population engaged in unregulated or cash-based activities. Estimates vary, but it is believed that around 80-90% of the total workforce is part of the informal sector.
- Financial Burden: India's population is over 1.4 billion, and providing a meaningful UBI to every citizen could impose a significant financial burden on the government. Funding a UBI would require a robust taxation system and sound fiscal management.
- Targeting the Vulnerable: UBI aims to provide a safety net for the most vulnerable in society, but in a country as diverse as India, ensuring accurate targeting and preventing misuse of funds would be critical and would require sophisticated administrative systems and data infrastructure.
- Impact on Labor Market: Critics argue that UBI could disincentivize people from seeking formal employment or discourage them from participating in the formal economy. In India, where informal labour is already prevalent, this concern becomes even more significant. Designing UBI in a way that complements, rather than replaces, formal employment opportunities would be crucial.
- Regional Disparities: India experiences considerable economic disparities between different states and regions. A one-size-fits-all approach to UBI may not be appropriate. Tailoring the UBI amount to regional cost-of-living and economic conditions could help address this issue.
- Cost of Living Variation: The cost of living varies significantly across different parts of India. A fixed UBI amount may not adequately support individuals in high-cost regions while potentially being excessive in low-cost regions. Taking regional variations into account would be essential for effective implementation.
- Administrative Infrastructure: Implementing a UBI program in a country of India's size and complexity would require a robust administrative infrastructure, including a reliable identification system, banking facilities, and mechanisms to prevent fraud and corruption.
- Public Acceptance: The success of UBI also depends on public acceptance and understanding of the program's objectives. Educating the population about the benefits and potential trade-offs of UBI including doing away with the other regular subsidies and benefits, would be crucial to garnering support.
Specific measures to mitigate the challenges of introducing Universal Basic Income (UBI):
- Financial Inclusion Initiatives:
- Launch the "Jan Dhan 2.0" program to provide free bank accounts to all informal workers, making it easier for them to receive UBI payments.
- Partner with mobile network operators to offer no-cost or low-cost mobile banking services to enable digital transactions in rural and remote areas.
- Integration with Formal Economy:
- Establish UBI-linked skill development centres in urban and rural areas to equip informal workers with relevant skills for formal employment opportunities.
- Offer tax incentives to small and medium-sized enterprises that employ a certain percentage of former informal workers, encouraging the creation of formal jobs.
- Gradual Implementation:
- Begin with pilot UBI programs in select districts or states with high concentrations of informal workers to assess the program's impact on poverty and the economy.
- Set up a dedicated task force to evaluate the pilot results and make data-driven decisions before expanding the UBI program nationally.
- Means Testing and Targeting:
- Develop a comprehensive database of informal workers using Aadhaar (unique identification) and other relevant data to assess eligibility for UBI.
- Utilize machine learning algorithms to identify vulnerable populations and exclude those who are relatively well-off from the UBI program.
Introducing Universal Basic Income requires careful consideration of the country's unique economic and social context. Piloting small-scale UBI experiments in specific regions or demographics could provide valuable insights and data to evaluate its feasibility and impact before implementing it nationwide. Ultimately, UBI should be seen as one component of a broader social and economic policy framework aimed at fostering sustainable development and reducing poverty in India.
July 19, 2023
Mains Daily Question
July 19, 2023
The Government of India considers natural gas a key transition fuel and is pushing to increase its consumption in the country. In light of this statement, highlight the potential benefits and challenges associated with developing and maintaining a strategic gas stockpile in India.
Introduction: Introduce the topic of natural gas as a key transition fuel in India and explain the government's goal of increasing natural gas consumption in the country. State the purpose of developing a strategic gas stockpile (SGS).
Body: Mention the benefits of an SGS and the challenges associated with developing and maintaining an SGS in India.
Conclusion: Provide recommendations for the government on whether or not to develop a stockpile.
Natural gas is a cleaner-burning fuel than coal or oil, and it produces lower emissions of greenhouse gases, so it is seen as a key transition fuel that can help countries reduce their reliance on fossil fuels and transition to a cleaner energy future. In India, the government has set a target of increasing the share of natural gas in the country's energy mix to 15% by 2030 and is considering developing a strategic gas stockpile (SGS).
An SGS would be a reserve of natural gas that could be used to meet the country's demand in the event of a supply disruption. This would help to ensure that India has a consistent supply of natural gas and that a supply crisis does not disrupt the nation's economy.
Natural gas can be stockpiled in a variety of places, including Depleted oil and gas fields, Salt caverns and Saline aquifers
The benefits of an SGS for India:
- Provide a buffer against supply disruptions brought on by natural disasters, political unrest, or armed conflict if it had an SGS. This would help to ensure that the country has a reliable supply of natural gas, even in the event of a crisis.
- Help stabilise prices through supply-side economics: When demand for natural gas is high - government can release gas from the stockpile to help meet demand. When demand is low - the government can store gas in the stockpile to help prevent prices from falling too low.
- Increase energy security - to meet its energy needs reliably and affordably - even in the event of a supply disruption or a price shock.
- Create jobs in the gas industry: This would include jobs in construction, operation, and maintenance, which would also help boost the Indian economy.
- Support sustainable development: Natural gas is a cleaner-burning fuel than coal or oil, and it can help reduce India's reliance on fossil fuels.
- Serve as a hedge against extreme price volatility in the international market as the price of natural gas can be volatile and is subject to several factors, including supply and demand, global economic conditions, and political events.
The development of an SGS in India is a complex and challenging undertaking due to the following reasons:
- High cost of construction and maintenance. The government of India has estimated that a 5-million-metric-tonne (MMT) stockpile would cost around US$2 billion, and the government would need to find a way to finance it without putting a strain on the national budget.
- Potential environmental impact. Natural gas is a cleaner-burning fuel than coal or oil, but it still produces greenhouse gases, so there is a need to ensure that the stockpile is designed and operated in a way that minimises its environmental impact.
- Security risks. An SGS would be a valuable target for terrorists or other criminals. The government of India would need to develop a comprehensive security plan to protect the stockpile from attack.
- Difficulty in forecasting demand. The demand for natural gas in India is expected to grow in the coming years, so the government would need to develop a flexible stockpile that can be adjusted to meet changing demand. For example, the stockpile could be made up of a mix of different types of natural gas, such as LNG and pipeline gas.
- International regulations. The stockpile would need to be registered with the International Energy Agency, which would also need to approve the stockpile before it could be filled with natural gas.
Developing an SGS would be a wise investment for the government of India. This can help ensure India's energy security and stabilise prices. If India does not develop an SGS, it could be more vulnerable to supply disruptions and price volatility. Therefore, the challenges of developing an SGS have to be overcome with careful planning and execution.