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20 Solved Questions with Answers
  • Indian Economy

    1. Among several factors for India’s potential growth, savings rate is the most effective one. Do you agree? What are the other factors available for growth potential? (2017)

    Capital formation is the most important factor that drives the economic development of a nation. It is mainly the transfer of savings from households to the business sector that leads to increased output and economic expansion.

    In India, savings have contributed a lot in the economic development since the Indian economy took off in 1960s and 70s. In the past few decades, it has been around 33% of GDP. However, high savings rate is a necessary condition but not a sufficient one for economic development.

    Many times high savings in isolation does not lead even to capital formation. One also needs sound banking and financial institutions to mobilize the savings of economy. At the same time, presence of entrepreneurship is also critical to convert savings into productive investment. Some other factors that are essential for growth potential are:

    • Infrastructure: Sound infrastructure is needed in terms of good supply of power, electricity, roads, railways and robust means of communication.
    • Ease of doing business: There should be hassle free environment to start and wind up the businesses in the economy. Bureaucratic hurdles in acquisition of land and licenses should also be minimized.
    • Human Resource: Skilled labour force is essential for the improved productive capacity of economy. Capability of human resource depends upon the skills, creativity, abilities and education of the labour force.
    • Technology: It increases the productivity and competitiveness of the economy. Today R&D in every domain is essential to be competitive in the international and domestic market.
    • Government policies: Policies decide the pace and direction of economy. India has introduced GST recently to unify its own economy and remove the cascading effect of taxes at multiple points. India’s performance of Ease of Doing Business Index has also improved by 30 points (100th position in 2017) due to many policy initiatives.
    • Social and political factors: Social factors involve customs, traditions, values and beliefs which contribute to the growth of economy. Political factors such as participation of people in formulation and execution of policies enhance the economic development.

    India which is on the verge of reaping the benefits of demographic dividend, must launch skill development initiatives to utilize the young labour force. It should also improve ease of doing business and create a conducive environment for investment, better export performance to improve productivity of the economy.

  • Indian Economy

    2. Account for the failure of manufacturing sector in achieving the goal of labour-intensive exports. Suggest measures for more labour-intensive rather than capital-intensive exports. (2017)

    A key lacuna in India’s growth has been slow growth of manufacturing in labour-intensive sectors and concentration in capital intensive manufacturing sectors like auto parts, chemicals, software and pharmaceuticals. None of these sectors employ low-skilled workers in large numbers.

    The movement of workers out of agriculture into export oriented manufacturing industry has been especially slow due to requirement of a certain level of skill which is absent amongst most labourers – resulting in jobless growth. Lack of ease of doing business in India due to labour market rigidities, tax uncertainties, impediments to entrepreneurial growth have further hindered the expansion of a labour-intensive export manufacturing in India.

    Measure to Promote Labour-Intensive Exports

    • Ease Labour Law regulations such as wide-ranging and complex laws, mandatory contributions by low-paid workers, and lack of flexibility in part-time work etc. The government’s decision to rationalise around 38 Labour Acts by framing 4 labour codes is a positive step in this regard to encourage exporters to hire more labour.
    • Promoting Labour-Intensive Sectors like apparel sector, leather and footwear also have high export potential.
    • Uninterrupted and Cheap Power Supply for labour-intensive manufacturers, who operate on low profit margins and for whom high electricity costs can be a make or break issue.
    • Promoting the Role of SMEs as labour intensity of SMEs is four times higher than that of large firms by providing adequate state support. MUDRA Bank should be promoted for this.
    • Skill development to fill the gap of semi-skilled and skilled workers that manufacturers in India face frequently.

    Further, the tax rationalisation under GST as well as the push for Entrepreneurship under Start-Up India and Stand Up India can also provide a suitable and favourable environment for labour-intensive exporters.

  • Indian Economy

    3. Examine the development of Airports in India through joint ventures under Public – Private Partnership (PPP) model. What are the challenges faced by the authorities in this regard. (2017)

    Management of few of the airports through joint ventures under PPP model is transforming civil aviation sector in India. Build-Operate-Transfer (BOT) projects were awarded to private players for Greenfield airports at Bangalore and Hyderabad.

    India’s decision to invite private players such as GMR and GVK has improved the passenger’s experience. It has led to better efficiency and capacity of airline operators. This has also resulted in massive dividend to the State-owned Airports Authority of India. Modernisation of ports in India has improved the local and national economy and perception of India is changing in the global market.

    Private airports are making large profits due to increased traffic, higher aeronautical charges and other non-aero revenue opportunities. However there are concerns of higher charges on airlines and passengers. Cities like Chennai, Kolkata and Goa are not able to attract enough passenger and cargo services due to lack of commercial orientation of AAI.

    PPP model in development of airport is creating following challenges for the authorities:

    • There is absence of regulatory framework for the entire aviation sector.
    • There is lack of clarity over the degree of risk transfer to the private players in areas such as asset condition, construction cost, operation risk, non-insurable risk etc.
    • Lack of clarity is also evident in concessional agreement, revenue sharing and tariff structure framework.
    • The projects are also delayed due to land acquisition, cost overruns, long gestation periods and lack of funding and investment.

    All requisite steps are being taken to address the various challenges in this field. AAI is being suggested to improve its organizational capabilities. Alternate funding options are also being explored through combinations of equity, soft loans and grants. All these steps will help India to develop world class facilities in civil aviation by 2020.

  • Agriculture

    4. Explain various types of revolutions, took place in Agriculture after Independence in India. How these revolutions have helped in poverty alleviation and food security in India? (2017)

    India is primarily an agricultural economy and majority of people are still dependent on agriculture for their livelihood. After independence, development of agriculture has been assured by various revolutions supported by government.

    Green Revolution – This revolution led to tremendous rise in production of food grains, especially wheat, by use of high-yielding varieties of seeds, fertilizers and pesticide.

    White Revolution – Operation Flood (1970), an initiative of National Dairy Development Board has led to revolution in milk production in India. The world’s largest dairy development programme transformed India from a milk deficient nation to world’s largest milk producer.

    Blue Revolution – This revolution focussed on management of fisheries sector and has led to phenomenal increase in both fish production and productivity from aquaculture and fisheries resources of the inland and marine fisheries.

    Other revolutions which are no less significant includes yellow revolution(oil seed production), golden fibre revolution (jute), golden revolution (horticulture), silver fibre revolution (Cotton) and red revolution (meat production).

    Significance of these revolutions

    • These innovations in agriculture have lifted millions of people out of poverty by generating rural income opportunities for farmers, farm labourers, and also reduced prices for consumers. India has become self sufficient in food grain production with the help of green revolution.
    • The exponential rise in milk production has led to nutritional security among the masses. Per capita availability of milk has reached all time high of 337gms/day.
    • These steps have provided avenues for income diversification for farmers.

    To further carry on the momentum of these programmes and assure food security in long run in face of ever increasing population, there is an urgent need for an ‘evergreen revolution’ that should focus on all round development of the agriculture sector.       

  • Indian Economy

    5. What are the reasons for poor acceptance of cost-effective small processing unit? How the food processing unit will be helpful to uplift the socio-economic status of poor farmers? (2017)

    India being an agricultural country offers ideal conditions for development of  emerging food processing industry. Easy availability of raw materials, changing lifestyles in urban and rural areas and favourable fiscal policies are giving a push to this sunrise sector.

    But small processing unit in India are suffering from many challenges such as-

    • Infrastructure: Small processing units cannot invest heavily in infrastructural support such as grading, packaging, cold storage, warehousing, logistics, supply chains etc. They rely on the common facilities in these activities.
    • Manpower: Skill shortage is hampering the competitiveness of this sector. There are few institutes which provide adequate training to the labour force in this sector.
    • Seasonality and perishability: Most of the agricultural products such as fruits, vegetable, fisheries etc are highly perishable and thus increase the vulnerability of the entrepreneurs to wastage of commodities. The supply of raw materials is also seasonal in nature.
    • Credit: Although the industry has been included in the priority sector lending, there are inherent risks involved in small enterprises.
    • Competition: Increasing investment in the sector has led to intense competition which has adversely impacted the operating profitability of the units.
    • Technology: Value addition is the key factor in the food processing but India still lacks the universalisation of robust technology in this sector.

    Food processing industry plays an important role in uplifting the socio-economic status of poor farmers through following ways:

    • By providing a vital link between the agriculture and manufacturing sectors, it reduces the wastage of agricultural raw materials and increases shelf life of food products. This helps farmers to sell more in the long run.
    • It links farmers to the agricultural market and provides them better income especially for horticultural products.
    • Farmers can also earn more through more exports as value addition increases the competitiveness of products in the international market.
    • It provides employment opportunities in sectors such as packaging, sampling, logistics and other non-farm activities. Thus it helps farmers to shift from farming to non-farming activities and have better lifestyles.

    India must leverage all the available resources to emerge as a leader in food processing sector. It has come out with SAMPADA scheme, Mega Food Park Schemes, Value Addition Centres, Irradiation facilities etc. to promote this sector. However more needs to be done to enable small farmers to benefit from these initiatives.

  • Science & Technology

    6. Stem cell therapy is gaining popularity in India to treat a wide variety of medical conditions including leukaemia, Thalassemia, damaged cornea and several burns. Describe briefly what stem cell therapy is and what advantages it has over other treatments? (2017)

    Stem cells refer to class of undifferentiated cells that have ability to differentiate into various specialized cells. These cells have potential to develop into many cell types in body during early life and growth. In many tissues these cells work as a kind of internal repair system to replenish other cells.

    This ability to repair and regenerate damaged cell is used in stem cell therapy for treatment of various diseases. In this therapy, stems cells are administered systematically and directly in high concentration in damaged tissues for self-healing. Stems cells for this purpose are obtained from the patient’s bone marrow, fat and umbilical cord tissue or blood. This therapy is being promoted as the next panacea for all ills.

    • Diseases that were earlier considered degenerative, incurable and irreversible are being treated with the help of stem cell therapy. The list includes diseases like diabetes, heart disease, spinal cord injuries, Parkinson's, Alzheimer's disease etc.
    • Blood stem cells are increasingly being used to treat diseases of the blood. Some methods of treatment like chemo therapy used in treatment of cancer destroys bone marrow also. Stem cell transplant can be used to replace such bone marrow.     

    India is among the frontrunner in stem cell therapy. Clinical trials are being performed to treat genetic, metabolic and blood related conditions. Stem cell has the potential to replace expensive, painstakingly protracted and routinely ineffective conventional therapy for treating a multitude of acute and chronic ailments.

  • Science & Technology

    7. India has achieved remarkable successes in unmanned space missions including the Chandrayaan and Mars Orbiter Mission, but has not ventured into manned space mission. What are the main obstacles to launching a manned space mission, both in terms of technology and logistics? Examine critically. (2017)

    India has been able to carry out unmanned spaced mission but lacks the full fledged capabilities in manned space missions. Although some developments have taken place in terms of technology and logistics, India is still facing some hurdles in launching manned space missions.

    Technology

    • India lacks the technology to carry heavy payloads into space.
    • Full capabilities in re-entry technologies are yet to be developed.
    • India could not get international cooperation in the field such as cryogenic technology at early stage.
    • ISRO is planning to launch manned space programme by 2021-24. Towards this end, it has unveiled a prototype of its first crew capsule (4 metre high module) designed to carry two people into low earth orbit.
    • India in 2017 launched the GSLV (Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle) Mark 3 from Satish Dhawan Space Centre. It carried a three ton payload, including “Crew Module Atmospheric Re-entry Experiment (CARE)”. However the third stage of cryogenic technology in GSLV is still not fully developed. GSLV Mark 3 will also be upgraded and tested to carry payloads upto 8 tonnes.
    • India is also working on Space Capsule Recovery Experiment-2 (SRE-2) that will demonstrate critical technologies required for recoverable launch vehicles.

    Logistics

    • India is depended mainly on single type of launch vehicle such as that of PSLV which hampers the capacity expansion of the programme.
    • India does not have its own global navigation system.
    • Funding and finance is essential to develop various equipments, technology  and new tools required in the coordination of a manned space programme. But ISRO is still waiting for the government approval and funding for a human space flight programme.

    Some scientists hold the view that private players have much more flexibility, freedom and risk taking abilities than the state owned agencies. Thus there should be more participation of private players in space programmes. India must realize that China launched its manned space mission to space in 2016 and will establish its permanent space station by 2022. Therefore India should also increase its footprints in manned space mission capabilities at the earliest.

  • Biodiversity & Environment

    8. Not many years ago, river linking was a concept but it is becoming reality in the country. Discuss the advantages of river linking and its possible impact on the environment. (2017)

    India is endowed with vast natural resources distributed unevenly across the country. National Perspective Plan for river linking was initiated with the objective of transferring water from surplus basins to deficit basins. The river linking project has many advantages as listed below–

    • Transfer of water from surplus regions like Assam and Bihar will help in solving the perennial flood problem that plagues these regions.
    • As a corollary many drought affected areas will be able to access sufficient water for irrigation, drinking and other purposes.
    • River linking project will provide additional irrigation benefits. According to estimates, around 35 Mha of additional irrigation potential will be created.
    • It has also been estimated that around 34,000 megawatt of hydroelectricity would also be produced that could be used for irrigation and other purposes.
    • The wide network of inland navigation proposed by the government will also be facilitated by the initiative. This move will ease pressure on rail and road transport.
    • Inter-state water dispute will also be resolved to a great extent.

    Possible impact on environment

    • It is feared that construction of big dams and long canals will destroy natural vegetation and will disturb the ecological balance.
    • The project will also be detrimental to mangroves in the delta region of West Bengal and will have implications for richest fisheries in India.
    • It will inundate large tract of fertile agricultural land and make them unsuitable for agriculture.

    The river link project is not without its disadvantages. The environmental angle needs to be taken into consideration such that minimum damage accrues to ecology and environment.

  • Internal Security

    9. Discuss the potential threats of Cyber attack and the security framework to prevent it. (2017)

    The benefits of cyberspace to citizens, businesses and governments are considerable and far reaching. While technologies are overwhelmingly created for positive use, they can be exploited as well. Crimes in cyberspace cost the global economy around $450 billion a year.

    Potential threat

    Cyber attack is a particularly major threat to sectors identified under Critical Information Infrastructure (CII) that include financial systems, air traffic control and telecommunications.

    First, all the sectors identified as CII are dependent on connectivity. Debilitating attack on any one system can cause a cascading effect, disrupting the functioning of other systems.

    Second, CII is highly dependent on industrial control systems, which depend on digital instructions. Any malicious takeover of these systems will not only disrupt but also seize functioning of CII.

    Third, many CII, such as air traffic control, is dependent on navigational data, which is especially vulnerable to spoofing. If the integrity of this data cannot be ensured, the input of false data can have disastrous consequences.

    Security Framework

    The Indian government has also been aggressively addressing the rising prevalence of cyber threats.  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. The union budget for 2017 included the formation of Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT) for the financial sector.

    The government has also sought data security protocol details from several smart phone manufacturers insisting that mobile manufacturing units be security-compliant. The Technology Development Board and Data Security Council of India (DSCI) have jointly decided to promote cyber security startups in India.

    NASSCOM and DSCI Cyber security Task Force have also launched a roadmap to develop the cyber security ecosystem to $35 USD billion by 2025.

  • Internal Security

    10. The North-Eastern region of India has been infested with insurgency for a very long time. Analyze the major reasons for the survival of armed insurgency in this region. (2017)

    Due to its distinct socio-cultural background and particular historical evolution, the North-East region of India holds several fault lines around which many insurgent groups have been thriving for a very long time. The major reasons behind the evolution and survival of armed insurgency in this region are-

    • This region has been one of the most neglected regions in terms of developments and is the main cause behind the resentment of the people living in this area. The insurgent groups take advantage of resentment of people and get support base.
    • Alienation of population from mainstream political process, where the insurgent group continue to boycott the dialogue and electoral process. (Ex – NSCN-Khaplang group)
    • Hilly terrain, dense forest and porous borders give strategic advantages for the insurgent Guerilla groups and at the same time it creates big hurdle for the counter insurgency operations.
    • Racial clashes are very common here due to diverse racial profile of the region. In a fractured society the insurgent groups penetrate easily.
    • Active and covert foreign support to these insurgent groups, through training, logistic and moral support has also been a big hurdle to eradicate these groups.

    The twin approach of development and counter insurgency operations coupled with honest political dialogue process may provide the best answer to the long infested insurgency in the North-East.

  • Indian Economy

    11. One of the intended objectives of Union-Budget 2017-18 is to ‘transform, energize and clean India’. Analyze the measures proposed in the Budget 2017-18 to achieve the objective. (2017)

    Budget in India is a socio-economic document that reflects the aims and aspirations of the government and people of India.

    The initiatives in the Budget 2017-18 can be discussed under following heads –

    1. Transforming India

    • It concerns with those policies of the government that seek to transform the governance of the country and improve the quality of life of people.
    • The budget has focused on upgrading the infrastructure of railways, roads, rivers, airports, telecommunications and energy sector. But railways in India need comprehensive reforms as it is evident from recurrent accidents in different parts of the country. 
    • Greater allocation for DeendayalAntyodaya Yojana is relevant in context of skilling India and reaping the benefits of demographic dividend in India.
    • Rationalisation of tribunals is a positive step towards securing rule of law and effective delivery of justice.
    • Tax administration is to be reformed through the strategy of RAPID (Revenue, Accountability, Probity, Information and Digitalisation). This strategy will help to plug tax avoidance at various levels and increase revenue of the government.

    2. Energizing India

    • There is focus on uplifting the conditions of various sections of society especially the youth and the vulnerable.
    • The conditions of farmers are to be improved through settling the arrears under the FasalBima Yojana, setting up Micro Irrigation Fund and widening the coverage of National Agricultural Market (e-NAM). However perishables are yet to be denotified from APMC acts by the states and model law to regulate contract farming has not come in public domain.
    • Mission Antyodaya will be strengthened to bring one crore households out of poverty by 2017. But there are no effective measures to better target the beneficiaries under this scheme.
    • Different initiatives for development of youth has been proposed such as SANKALP, next phase of STRIVE, extension of Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Kendras etc. But to energize youth of the country, robust IT infrastructure is a necessity which is hampering the learning outcomes in schools, colleges and skill development schemes.

    3. Clean India

    • It entails removing the evils of corruption, black-money and non-transparent political funding.
    • Digital economy is being strengthened through initiatives like JAM trinity, BHIM app, Financial Inclusion Fund, Amending Negotiable Instruments Act etc. But not much has been done to protect the digital payments and transactions from cyber frauds and thefts and accessibility to computers or mobiles is limited to few.
    • To bring transparency in the funding of political parties the limit of donation through cash has been fixed at Rs. 2000/- from one person and electoral bonds will also be issued in future.

    The budget envisions to ‘transform, energize and clean India’ but it will not be materialized unless there is effective implementation of policies. Therefore the institutions to execute policies must be rejuvenated and a sound mechanism for the monitoring and evaluation of policies should also be established.

  • Indian Economy

    12. “Industrial growth rate has lagged behind in the overall growth of Gross-Domestic-Product (GDP) in the post-reform period” Give reasons. How far the recent changes in Industrial Policy are capable of increasing the industrial growth rate? (2017)

    Industrial policy 1991 set out directions for industrialisation in an economy that began its journey in liberalisation. It dealt with liberalising licensing and measures to encourage foreign investments. However, Industrial growth rate could not match the pace with the overall growth of GDP.

    Constraints to industrial growth

    • Inadequate infrastructure: Physical infrastructure in India suffers from substantial deficit in terms of capacities as well as efficiencies. Lack of quality of industrial infrastructure has resulted in high logistics cost and has in turn affected cost competitiveness of Indian goods in global markets.
    • Restrictive labour laws: The tenor of labour laws has been overly protective of labour force in the formal sector.
    • Complicated business environment: A complex multi-layered tax system, which with its high compliance costs and its cascading effects adversely affects competitiveness of manufacturing in India.
    • Slow technology adoption: Inefficient technologies led to low productivity and higher costs adding to the disadvantage of Indian products in international markets.
    • Inadequate expenditure on R&D and Innovation: Public investments have been constrained by the demands from other public service demands and private investment is not forthcoming as these involve long gestation periods and uncertain returns.

    Recently Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP) has proposed various changes in industrial policy that will focus on increasing the industrial growth rate in following manner -

    • The new policy aims to attract $100 billion of FDI in a year, up from $60 billion in 2016-17, it will also aim at retaining investments and accessing technology.
    • The policy aims to harness existing strengths in sectors like automobiles and auto-components, electronics, new and renewable energy, banking, software and tourism.
    • The policy also aims to create globally scaled-up and commercially viable sectors such as waste management, medical devices, renewable energy, green technologies, financial services to achieve competitiveness.
    • The policy will also push for reforms to enhance labour market flexibility with an aim for higher job creation in the formal sector and performance linked tax incentives.

  • Indian Economy

    13. What are the salient features of ‘inclusive growth’? Has India been experiencing such a growth process? Analyse and suggest measures for inclusive growth. (2017)

    Inclusive growth is economic growth that creates opportunity for all segments of the population and distributes the dividends of increased prosperity, both in monetary and non-monetary terms, fairly across society. The salient features of inclusive growth are:

    Participation: People are able to participate fully in economic life and have greater say over their future. People are able to access and participate in markets as workers, consumers and business owners.

    Equity: More opportunities are available to enable upward mobility for more people. All segments of society, especially poor or socially disadvantaged groups, are able to take advantage of these opportunities.

    Growth: An economy is increasingly producing enough goods and services to enable broad gains in well-being and greater opportunity. Economic growth and transformation is not only captured by aggregate measures of economic output (such as GDP), but must include and be measured by other outcomes that capture overall well-being.

    Stability: Individuals, communities, businesses and governments have a sufficient degree of confidence in their future and an increased ability to predict the outcome of their economic decisions.

    Sustainability: Economic and social wealth is sustained over time, thus maintaining inter-generational well-being. Economic and social wealth comprises of a set of assets that contribute to human well-being, including human produced (manufactured, financial, human, social) and natural capital.

    India’s economy continues to grow at an impressive rate, with projected annual GDP growth of 7.5% in 2017-18. As GDP per capita has more than doubled in last ten years, extreme poverty has declined substantially.

    • Access to education has steadily improved, and life expectancy has risen.
    • Financial inclusion has got a major boost with the expansion of rural banks and schemes like Jan-DhanYojna, incorporation of Information and Communications Technology (ICT) (JAM Trinity).
    • Job, education and food entitlement schemes like MGNREGA, RTE and Right to Food are also helping in deepening the growth further.

    However India still is home to largest number of poor and malnourished children. Recent reports are suggesting huge income concentration in the hands of few. With looming agrarian distress and jobless growth, inclusive growth is still a distant dream for India.

    According to WEF report, India has been ranked 60th among 79 developing economies, below neighbouring China and Pakistan, in the inclusive development index.

    Measures for inclusive growth

    • Equity of access to quality basic education including basic financial literacy. Ex: RTE
    • Ensuring quality health and sanitation facilities by making health a fundamental right.
    • Gender parity measures through political representation, women reservation.
    • Measures focused on social security benefits and gender parity, for ex., through gender budgeting.
    • Creating employment opportunities through Make in India, Skill India etc.

    Through these measures inclusive growth can be ensured and the Gandhian dream of reaching to the last man standing in the row can be achieved.

  • Agriculture

    14. What are the major reasons for declining rice and wheat yield in the cropping system? How crop diversification is helpful to stabilize the yield of the crops in the system? (2017)

    Rice-wheat cropping system is labour, water, capital and energy-intensive, and becomes less profitable as availability of these resources diminishes. The problem is further exacerbated by dynamics of climate change. The relevant factors for decline in yield are discussed below - 

    • Decline in Soil fertility: Due to continuous irrigation and use of excessive flood irrigation, soil in rice-wheat cropping system has become saline. It has resulted into decrease in crop yield.
    • Climate change: According to studies, climate change has a negative effect on major crops such as wheat, rice and maize. Increase in annual temperature range has also affected the crop yield of rice and wheat.
    • Increased input cost: High rate of infestation with weeds and pests along with contamination of ground water have resulted into high cost of input for cultivation of rice and wheat.
    • Change in water availability: Due to excessive use of ground water and consequent depletion of ground water resources, water availability has declined. This has resulted in decline in crop yield.

    Therefore, it is imperative to focus on alternate crops. Crop diversification refers to a shift from the regional dominance of one crop to production of a number of crops. Crop diversification helps in:

    • Maintaining soil fertility: Only those crops are grown in a particular region which are suitable to particular agro climate zone and it helps in maintaining soil fertility because excessive use of nutrients, irrigation is not required.
    • To arrest depletion of ground water: It will help in diversifying cropping patterns from water guzzling crops such as paddy to pulses, oilseeds, maize with the aim of tackling the problem of depleting water table.
    • Diversification can also provide habitat for beneficial insects and at the same time reduce colonization by pest.

    The government of India has launched crop diversification scheme in the original green revolution areas of Punjab, Haryana and Western Uttar Pradesh. Under Crop Diversification Programme assistance is provided to states for conducting cluster demonstrations on alternate crops, promotion of water saving technologies, distribution of farm machinery, and awareness through training.

  • Agriculture

    15. How do subsidies affect the cropping pattern, crop diversity and economy of farmers? What is the significance of crop insurance, minimum support price and food processing for small and marginal farmers? (2017)

    Government subsidizes agricultural inputs in an attempt to keep farm costs low and production high.

    There are various subsidies available to farmers in terms of cheap input credit, seeds and fertilizers, subsidized electricity and irrigation etc. Agriculture subsidies always have some impact on various activities of agriculture.

    Cropping pattern: Crop selection gets distorted in favour of those crops which have high share of subsidies or attract large volume of subsidies. For example cheap electricity and irrigation subsidies motivated Punjab farmers to go for water guzzling crops like rice.

    Crop diversity: Crop diversity gives way to the standard staple crops where there is assured market and cost of production is low due to subsidies. For example wheat and rice are the standard crops in present times for Rabi and Kharif season respectively.

    Economy of farmers: Various subsidies ensure income support to farmers and safe stock of food grains. But at the same time it leads to distorted production patterns, resulting in food inflation.

    Significance of various factors on small and marginal farmers

    Crop insurance: It provides income security in case of crop failure due to natural and other reasons.  It also gives them cushion against their investment in agricultural activities.

    Minimum Support Price: Minimum prices ensure a minimum guaranteed income for the crops thereby hedging them from market fluctuations. Guarantee of a buyer while cultivation of crops gives a sense of financial security to the farmer.

    Though high MSP for certain produces such as wheat and rice drives farmers to take the "safe side" and thus shifts to cereal production rather than fruits, vegetables etc.

    Food processing: Through value addition it ensures not only better income but long shelf life for the agro products. For the country like India where the wastage is high and over 80% of farmers are small and marginal with limited capacity, their income base can be enhanced through food processing.

  • Science & Technology

    16. Give an account of the growth and development of nuclear science and technology in India. What is the advantage of fast breeder reactor programme in India? (2017)

    India’s journey in the field of nuclear science and technology began with the formation of Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) in 1954. The aim was to harness nuclear resources for peaceful purposes. India had to surpass the obstacle of technology denial by capable nations.

    In this background  three-stage nuclear power programme was formulated by Dr. Homi Bhabha in 1950s to secure country’s long term energy independence, through use of uranium and thorium reserves found in the monazite sands of coastal regions of South India.

    The ultimate focus of the programme is on enabling thorium reserves of India to be utilised in meeting country's energy requirements. Thorium is particularly attractive for India, as it has not only around 1–2% of the global Uranium reserves, but one of the largest shares of global Thorium reserves at about 25% of the world's known Thorium reserves.

    The three stages adopted were

    • Natural uranium fuelled Pressurized Heavy Water Reactors (PWHR)
    • Fast Breeder Reactors (FBRs) utilizing plutonium based fuel
    • Advanced nuclear power systems for utilization of Thorium

    At present only stage 1 is operational and all 22 functional nuclear reactor in India belongs to this stage with total capacity of 6780 MW. At present, the fast breeder reactor programme in India is carried out by Indira Gandhi Centre for Atomic Research, Kalpakkam, Tamilnadu.

    The advantage with a breeder reactor is that it generates more fissile material than it consumes. Also in the second stage, fast breeder reactors (FBRs) would use Plutonium-239, recovered by reprocessing spent fuel from the first stage, and natural uranium.

    This technology does not contribute to air pollution, except during mining and processing of Uranium ore. Breeder reactors use a small core, which is important to sustain chain reactions. Besides, they do not even need moderators for slowing down neutrons, as they use fast neutrons.

    In FBRs, plutonium-239 undergoes fission to produce energy, while the uranium-238 present in the fuel transmutes to additional plutonium-239. Furthermore, once a sufficient amount of plutonium-239 is built up, thorium will be used in the reactor, to produce Uranium-233. This uranium is crucial for the third stage. 

  • Biodiversity & Environment

    17. 'Climate change' is a global problem. How India will be affected by climate change? How Himalayan and coastal states of India will be affected by climate change? (2017)

    Climate change is referred to a change in average weather conditions, or in the time variation of weather within the context of longer-term average conditions.

    Climate change has attracted attention recently particularly due to the changes apparent from the mid to late 20th century onwards and it is attributed largely to the increased levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide produced by the use of fossil fuels.

    • India due to its peculiar geography and developmental stage is one of the most vulnerable nations to climate change.
    • India is already experiencing a warming climate and erratic monsoon pattern, unpredictable rainfall since last few years.
    • Droughts are expected to be more frequent in some areas, especially in north-western India, Jharkhand, Orissa and Chhattisgarh.
    • Climate change is expected to have major health impacts in India- worsening the already high malnutrition and related health disorders such as child stunting - with the poor likely to be affected most severely.

    Possible effects on Himalayan states

    • With rise in average temperature, most Himalayan glaciers have been retreating over the past century. This may have severe impact on the delicate Himalayan ecology.
    • The melting of glaciers and the loss of snow cover over the Himalayas is expected to threaten the stability and reliability of northern India’s primarily glacier-fed rivers systems, particularly major river systems like the Indus, the Ganges and the Brahmaputra. This will adversely impact the ecology, livelihood and overall economy of Himalayan states.

    Possible effects on coastal states

    • India is close to the equator, the sub-continent would see much higher rises in sea levels in comparison to higher latitudes and most of coastal states will face the heat of climate change.
    • Kolkata and Mumbai, both densely populated cities, are particularly vulnerable to the impacts of sea-level rise, tropical cyclones, and riverine flooding
    • Sea-level rise and storm surges would lead to saltwater intrusion in the coastal areas, impacting agriculture, degrading groundwater quality and contamination of drinking water.

    Being one of the most vulnerable countries to climate change, it is high time that India should take corrective and mitigating actions to cope up with the upcoming challenges of climate change.

  • Disaster Management

    18. On December 2004, tsumani brought havoc on fourteen countries including India. Discuss the factors responsible for occurrence of tsunami and its effects on life and economy. In the light of guidelines of NDMA (2010) describe the mechanisms for preparedness to reduce the risk during such events. (2017)

    On December 26, 2004 the gigantic tsunami waves generated due to a great undersea earthquake off the coast of Banda Aceh, northern Sumatra. This earthquake occurred along a thrust fault in the subduction zone where the Indian tectonic plate was going below the overriding Burmese plate. As a result, the ocean floor broke and there was a vertical displacement of about 15 to 20 meters along the fault causing large scale displacement of water and thus, generating tsunami waves.

    • Typically, for an average ocean depth of 4 km, like in the Indian Ocean/Bay of Bengal region, the speed of the tsunami waves can go up to 720 km/h or about the speed of a jet airliner. As the tsunami waves approach the shore, the water depth becomes shallower, waves slow down, wavelength becomes shorter and the waves gain larger amplitude or heights and become destructive.

    Effect on life and economy

    • Tsunami waves destroy boats, buildings, bridges, cars, trees, telephone lines, power lines - and just about anything else in their way. Once the tsunami waves have knocked down infrastructure on the shore they may continue to travel for several miles inland, sweeping away more trees, buildings, cars and other man made equipment. Small islands hit by a tsunami are left unrecognizable.
    • After a tsunami strikes, landscapes that previously constituted picturesque beaches or seaside towns become a wasteland. In addition to the destruction of human construction, tsunamis destroy vegetation such as trees, resulting in landslides and coastlines that slip into the sea as deep root systems that previously held land in place are ripped out.

    Preparedness in light of NDMA Gudelines

    • The 2004 tsunami prompted NDMA to formulate Tsunami Risk Management Guidelines to outline inter-agency roles and responsibilities, tsunami risk preparedness, mitigation and response. 
    • In order to reduce risk of tsunami it is pertinent to explore options for effective dissemination of tsunami alert and warning messages generated by INCOIS to the concerned agencies and coastal vulnerable communities exposed to tsunamis in a coordinated manner.
    • Structural Mitigation measures, as envisaged in the Guidelines, gives a brief guidance on design and construction of new structures as well as strategies for protecting lifeline and priority structures from tsunamis along the seafront.
    • A robust techno-legal regime through efficient land use practices, bioshields, shelter belt plantation and mangrove regeneration with community involvement will also help towards the cause.

  • Internal Security

    19. Mob violence is emerging as a serious law and order problem in India. By giving suitable examples, analyze the causes and consequences of such violence. (2017)

    Over the past few years, there have been increasing incidents of loss of life and property due to mob violence – whether it be in Jharkhand over rumours of child kidnapping, in UP and Rajasthan by cow vigilantes, in Kashmir by violent crowds or over reservation by Jats in Haryana. Mob violence can be seen as a reflection of the displacement of responsibility by the state, which blames people for taking law into their own hands, and by citizens, who justify their actions on state inaction.

    Causes for Increasing Mob Violence

    • Motivated rumours spread through social media which acts as an anonymous force multiplier.
    • Climate of impunity - Mob violence and vigilantism happens because criminals expect to get away with it. State deterrence is not perceived to be credible, especially when policemen are rendered as mere by-standers at the scene of violence.
    • General erosion of law and order situation - inadequate response to societal disorder, and its inability to aggressively prosecute those involved in vigilante killings further encourages mob violence.
    • Silence by society – People who are mute witnesses to such incidents, are just as responsible when they stay away from expressing their disapproval to such incidents for the fear of being caught in the cross-fire.

    Consequences of increasing Mob Violence

    • There is deficit of justice when incidents of lynching across states happen, without those responsible being held accountable.
    • There is perversion of democracy, which confers upon the people an absolute monopoly on violence.
    • Mob Violence threatens the very existence of dignified and meaningful existence in India enshrined in one of the Fundamental rights i.e. “Right to Life” (Art 21).

    Therefore, there is need for comprehensive police reforms and efficient criminal justice delivery system which acts as a deterrence to people from resorting to mob violence in the name of justice.

  • Internal Security

    20. The scourge of terrorism is a grave challenge to national security. What solutions do you suggest to curb this growing menace? What are the major sources of terrorist funding? (2017)

    India has been hit by terrorism since a long time, like, 1993 Bombay blasts, attack on Parliament in 2011, the 26/11 Mumbai attacks, Pathankot attacks etc. In view of such attacks it becomes imperative for India to check this rising menace, for which the following steps can be taken:

    • Ensure co-ordination among the intelligence and security agencies to check infiltration of terror activity.
    • Empowering and engaging with civil society and local communities can help in countering radicalization and to stop the spread of violent extremism.
    • Given the important role of educational establishments in promoting the values of non-violence, peaceful coexistence and tolerance, education must feature prominently in counter radicalization programs.
    • Several initiatives that promote alliance of civilizations and intercultural dialogue must be promoted to counter terrorism. For instance, the Rashtriya Ekta Diwas celebrated on 31st October promotes unity in India.
    • Enhancing security presence along the international boundaries and seal the porous borders.
    • Undertaking policies to tackle economic and social inequalities will help in deterring disgruntled youth from being lured towards terrorism. 
    • Terrorist organizations have successfully taken advantage of the great benefits of the Internet. Hence, countering radicalization on digital media must be given priority. Governments should intervene in this matter through monitoring and counter-propaganda programs
    • Incorporating ‘SAMADHAN’ in security operations in LWE affected areas and at same time focusing on development projects in Red corridor districts.

    Sources of funding

    • NGO, charities and donations are an important sourcing of funds for terrorism. These funds are mostly claimed through religious appeal, coercion and fears of victimization.
    • Counterfeiting of Indian currency not only funds terrorism, but, more importantly, it is used as a tool by neighboring states to destabilize the Indian economy.
    • Drug financing are also a major sources of terrorism financing in India.
    • Biggest source of internal funding for terrorist groups in India remains extortion. This is especially relevant for groups in the North-East and the Maoist-affected areas.

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