These are SRIRAM’s IAS Mains 2014 Questions Compilation collected from their official page,and we express our sincere gratitude and thanks to SriRam Sir for these wonderful answers.And I would like to thank Ramesh for this word file compilation.
You can download this file from SriRam IAS Google Drive material
S&T Q. What is Turing Test? Which artificial intellegence experiment passed it recently?
A. A computer program(chatbot) called Eugene Goostman, which simulates a 13-year-old Ukrainian boy, is said to have passed the Turing test.The test investigates whether people can detect if they are talking to machines or humans.The experiment is based on Alan Turing’s question-and-answer game. No computer has passed the test before under these conditions, it is reported.The 65-year-old Turing Test is successfully passed if a computer is mistaken for a human more than 30% of the time during a series of five-minute keyboard conversations.In June 2014 Eugene convinced 33% of the judges at the Royal Society in London that it was human. Leading experts in robotic technology and artificial intelligence praised it.
Social Issues Q. What is Every Newborn Action Plan (ENAP)? How did India respond to it?
A. Every Newborn Action Plan (ENAP) was approved at the May 2014 World Health Assembly asking the countries to achieve by 2035 reduction in neonatal mortality rates to 10 or fewer per 1,000 live births and reduction in stillbirth rates to 10 or fewer per 1,000 total births.
India launched INAP in line with ENAP. With 13.3 lakh under-5 children dying every year, over half of them in their first month, Government launched an action plan aimed at reducing newborn deaths from 29 per thousand live births to single digit by 2030, ahead of global deadline of 2035 India Newborn Action Plan (INAP) hopes to bring down stillborn deaths from the current 22 per thousand live births.
13.3 lakh of children under the age of five years die in India and 7.56 lakh of them in their first month. While India has 17.5 per cent of the world population, its share in newborn mortality is a whopping 27 per cent.
INAP envisages to bring down neonatal and stillborn mortality rates to 24 and 19, 21 and 17 and 15 and 13 respectively by 2017, 2020, 2025 before containing these numbers to single digits by 2030.
While Kerala already has neonatal mortality rate of seven, states of Bihar, UP, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan are behind, accounting for 56 per cent of such deaths countrywide.
INAP spells out six key principles to achieve its targets including quality of care around the time of birth, convergence, partnerships and accountability.
It will focus on eliminating any gender-based differences in health care. It envisages synergising the efforts of various department while partnerships aim at joining hands with academic and professional groups. It will also stress on accountability by regular audits and transparency.
Q. Goldar Comittee was set up recently by the Government of India. Why?
A. Government of India set up a 13-member committee headed by Professor BN Goldar and has representation from various central ministries and departments to devise a Producer Price Index (PPI).It means prices of goods as they are sold to the wholesalers by the producers. The difference between WPI and PPI is accounted for by the margins and other transport, credit and distribution costs. Risks are also factored. Once PPI is in place, the difference with WPI can be seen clearly and statistically and it may be found to be regulated if it is unreasonably high.
The WPI, which tracks wholesale prices, has been seen as somewhat flawed for two main reasons. One, it does not cover services, which is the biggest contributor to gross domestic product (GDP). Two, it includes some taxes and levies –mandi tax in the case of agricultural goods. Monetary management for price stability can be more effective
Goldar committee will have to face the problem that there is no index to track prices of services (the CPI does but at the retail level).
Food Processing (An Article by Kunal Bose in the Hindustan Times recently)
Wastage of all kinds of food during farm-to-fork journey and also because of mindless indulgences by people with dispensable income whenever they visit supermarkets remains a global curse. It is known that over one-third of India’s fruit and vegetables valued at over Rs. 13,000 crore is wasted annually in the absence of adequate refrigerated storage infrastructure and logistics deficiencies.
The other villain is the anachronistic distribution system, favouring middlemen who do not have the vision or resources to create facilities that will not leave horticulture produce exposed to the blistering sun during the long Indian summer. At 2013-14 horticulture production of 280.7 million tonne, the country’s requirement of cold storage space to keep fruit and vegetables fresh and cosmetically appealing round the year is conservatively estimated 65 million tonne. But the available capacity is just over 30 million tonne distributed unevenly among the states. Harvesting of most fruit and vegetables is seasonal, while their demand remains constant through the seasons. Deficiencies in cold chain cause alternating glut and scarcity in the supply of horticulture products.
This apart, preventable post-harvest losses of foodgrains are around 20 million tonne. Wasted grains of this magnitude, according to the World Bank, would be good to mitigate the hunger of one-third of the country’s poor. Of around 65 million tonne of grains storage capacity, space to hold nearly 20 million tonne is just raised platform with some kind of temporary cover allowing quick deterioration in stored grain quality. The 2014-15 budget allocation of `5,000 crore for raising warehouse capacity is too little when unscientific storing by the Food Corporation of India is perennially causing big losses of grains, inviting unfavourable world attention. Equally disappointing the budget has not given a roadmap for development of cold chain across the country.
However, politicians of every hue routinely make noise about trade machinations that will deny fruit and vegetable growers due rewards for their efforts. At the same time, consumers do not enjoy the benefits of a competitive market. No wonder, our traders will go to any length to oppose foreign direct investment (FDI) in the retail sector. FDI, however, holds the promise of filling to some extent the disturbingly high gaps in the country’s cold chain that includes cold storage at strategic points and refrigerated trucks and railway wagons. Stuck with an inefficient distribution system, the country is losing food worth `45,000 crore a year.
Even while India remains at the top of the heap among major food wasters because of its production volume and spoilage percentage, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization says in a report that 42% of fruit and vegetables grown in the Asia Pacific region will routinely perish on account of poor post-harvest handling and lack of investment in cold chain. India, with 24.3 million hectare under horticulture, has a 17% share of global vegetable production and 14% of world fruit output.
“It is common wisdom that a good portion of fruit and vegetables grown here will routinely go waste in the field and during many layers of post-harvest handling. But percentages of crop loss projected by different agencies are all guesstimates. Let a comprehensive survey of wastages be done with assessors going to fields where fruit and vegetables are grown and then cover the entire supply chain up to the table,” says B Thiagarajan, member of the Planning Commission committee on encouraging investments in supply chains. His guess, which could be as off the mark as anybody else’s, of the loss of horticulture produce in the country is around 25%.
Marketing system here is so tilted in favour aggregators and traders that prices of fruit and vegetables at the first point of sale at large mandis as a proportion of final retail rates are in the range of 25% to 40%. Since there are at least a couple of layers between farm gate and large mandis, rewards for growers are much less than a quarter of prices at terminal retail point. To the disadvantage of growers, the loss of produce during the journey from growing field to retail outlets is factored in at farm gate prices. Agricultural Produce Market Committee (APMC) Acts in various states were conceived to protect farmers from exploitation by market intermediaries. In practice, however, farmers have become captive in the hands of licensed traders. This is why the Centre has decided to intercede with states for delisting fruit and vegetables from APMC Acts to enable farmers to sell their produce freely without being tied down to traders. Thiagarajan says: “Farmers will benefit immensely if they unite in groups to form marketing organisations. There are already a few instances of savvy farmer groups producing and marketing branded fruit which command premium prices.”
If Indian scourge is acute infrastructure deficit, the enormity of food wastage in developed countries has got to do with a popular culture of buying a lot more than what families will need over a week. The Americans are found throwing away food worth over $165 billion every year. The Waste and Resources Action Programme in Britain finds that Britons are guilty of annually chucking at least 7 million tonne of food. Millions of tonnes of foods are wasted because of confusion over ‘use by’ and ‘best before’ dates. As supermarket shopping is fast catching on in our cities, it is important that we should know the difference between the two food labels: ‘use by’ applicable to milk and shaved meats and ‘best before’ stamped on cereals, biscuits and canned and frozen foods. Items carrying ‘use by’ label must be junked after the date. However, foods coming with the ‘best before’ tag are safe to eat after expiry date unless they are found ‘damaged, deteriorated or perished.’ Our government agencies and supermarkets will be advised to launch campaigns to remove the confusion. After all, India can ill afford any more food waste.
Q. Indian Constitution at its core is multicultural- comment.
A. Multiculturalism is the cultural diversity of communities within a given society and the policies that promote this diversity. It encourages ideologies and policies that promote this diversity or its institutionalization. Multicultural societies comprise of different religions, races, languages and cultures. India , with rich diversity can not afford to be otherwise as any attempt at assimilation can be self-defeating and inclusion is the best way to build the nation. Indian Constitution amply reflects this conviction as multiculturalism is abundantly protected in the following provisions
a. Preamble promises rights for all the people of the country
b. FRs promise justiciably equality( Art.14,15 and 16) for all irrespective of race, religion, caste , place of birth etc
c. Art.25 is an essential entitlement for rights of people of different religions
d. Religious and linguistic minorities are given special rights under Art.29 and 30
e. FDs(Art.51A) want us to transcend narrow chauvinistic sentiments
f. Constitution provides for a Special Officer of Linguistic minorities
g. Eighth Schedule has 22 languages to promote diversity
h. Federalism is inherently a multicultural system
While the above is largely true, in practical functioning there have been pressures due to political mobilization based on identity politics.
Q. Comment on the role of SEBI in investor protection and capital market development.
A. Sebi has performed its role as the protector of investors, particularly small invesor and as a developer/regulator of the capital market very effectively. Financial literacy, warning investors about ponzi schemes, fly-by-night operators etc has been routinely done. Any investor frauded by any market player can report to Sebi and expect justice. Insider trading norms are very stringent. Its efforts to develop capital market have been equally commendable. They are
a. dematerialisation of shares
b. cutting down the time taken to settle the transaction to T plus 2
c. rolling settlement to reduce speculation
d. Clause 49 of the Listing Agreement to the Indian stock exchange formulated for the improvement of corporate governance in all listed companies as it mandates that there should be certain independent directors on the Board of a Company
5.making public holding of 25% of the total equity of a company -public or private- that is listed mandatory.
Q. What was the experience with NOTA (None of the Above) option in Lok Sabha and Assembly elections so far?
A. After the Supreme Court order in September last year, the Election Commission added the NOTA button on Electronic Voting Machines as the last option on the voting panel. Prior to the apex court order, those not inclined to vote for any candidate had the option of filling what is popularly called ‘form 49-O’. But filling the form at the polling station under Rule 49-O of the Conduct of Elections Rules, 1961, compromised with the secrecy of the voter. Supreme Court had, however, refused to direct the Election Commission to hold fresh polls if the majority of the electorate exercises the NOTA option while voting.
In the Lok Sabha General Elections, it was found that there was a strong correlation between how often NOTA was used and how rural a constituency was. It is the more rural and tribal constituencies where NOTA was used most often. The same is true of illiteracy – the more illiterate people in a constituency, the higher the NOTA vote tended to be.
Over 60 lakh NOTA votes were cast in the 16th Lok Sabha elections, the first time that this option was given. This accounts for 1.1 per cent of all the votes cast. High use of NOTA in reserved constituencies could be on account of upper caste candidates preferring to vote for no one to voting for a Dalit or tribal candidate.
The proportion of the negative votes was higher than the national average in Chhattisgarh (1.9 per cent), Gujarat (1.8 per cent), Jharkhand (1.5 per cent), with the highest of all in the two ST constituencies in Meghalaya. The number of NOTA votes was the highest of all in the SC constituency of Nilgiris in Tamil Nadu (over 46,000 votes). In Maharashtra, NOTA emerged to be more popular in rural areas of Marathwada than in Western Maharashtra.
Despite being widely seen as an option that will empower the educated voter, the proportion of NOTA was lower than the national average in States and UTs such as Chandigarh, Delhi, Karnataka, Maharashtra and Himachal Pradesh, and only slightly above the national average in Kerala (1.2 per cent).
Experts suspect that it is less to do with active political protest than with people spoiling their ballots.
On the other hand some Experts see strong NOTA showing as a moral victory for voters because if enough people make the effort of a trip to the polling station and voice their dissatisfaction, politicians may just take notice in future polls.
For NOTA to have teeth, legislation would be needed to force a re-election where there was a strong NOTA showing – something political parties are likely to oppose. Even many of those who used the option don’t expect it to make a breakthrough at these polls. But, in an electorate of India’s size, even a few percent using NOTA constitute tens of millions of people.
Q. Where is the world’s longest cross-border conveyor belt located?
A. Considered as an Engineering marvel, a 17-km (11-miles) industrial conveyor belt in northern Bangladesh over the Surma river, that carries limestone from a mine on the other side of the border with India, is the world’s longest cross-border belt.
On the river’s northern bank near Chhatak lies the end point of the conveyor belt: it feeds a massive cement-making factory. The plant accounts for nearly one-tenth of cement output in Bangladesh (of a total of about 15m tonnes) and serves a market that has yet to take off. An estimated 35,000 people move to urban areas every week; an additional 53m people will be living in the cities by the middle of the century in Bangladesh. Annual cement consumption there is 100kg per head, compared with less than 200kg in India and 1,000kg in China. It is expected to cement Bangladesh and India ties.
Q. What are “linear projects”? Why are they held up in recent years? How is the problem being resolved?
A. Linear projects are :constructing new roads, widening of existing highways, power transmission lines, pipelines, water supply lines and optic fibre cabling etc.
The environment ministry had, in 2009, made it mandatory to get the consent of all the gram sabhas whose lands were involved in a project, in order to protect the rights of scheduled tribes and other traditional forest dwellers under the 2006 Forest Rights law.Under FRA guidelines, the consent of the gram sabha — backed by a resolution and public hearing endorsing the project — is necessary for projects traversing forest land. The National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) and other agencies have been complaining that for linear projects, this requirement means that scores of gram sabhas have to be involved, prolonging the process. They are needed for roads and railways in tribal areas as well.
The environment ministry clarified that linear projects would be able to get a forest clearance without procuring the consent of all gram sabhas of villages that they pass through – one of the biggest factors delaying several investments as getting each village’s approval is time consuming.
TSR Subramanian Committee report in November 2014 recommends that in case of linear projects, such as roads or pipelines which benefit the larger section of communities, one party should not be allowed to hold up the whole thing. So many such projects are pending all over. So, for linear projects only, they recommended the ‘local consultation’ condition should be dropped. District or any higher authority should be given the power. It further recommended that In case of mining and power projects, there will be separate cells with experts of the fields to specifically look into these projects and prescribe specific conditions such as greening of unused portions of the mine.
Q. What are “white spaces” and “dynamic spectrum access”? How can they close the digital divide?
A. White spaces are radio frequencies allocated to broadcasting services that usually go unused locally. With the Dynamic Spectrum Access technology developed by Microsoft, the unused spectrums are identified and used to transmit broadband access to wider areas as compared to Wi-Fi services. These services have excellent obstacle penetration capabilities and are hence termed as ‘Super Wi-Fi’.
In collaboration with the Indian government, Microsoft is planning to provide White Spaces based free internet services through Doordarshan’s spectrum bands in two rural districts in India, on a pilot basis. The system has been developed by Microsoft engineers to adapt to the geographies of India.
Q. Empowerment of the people needs “bottom up” approach of development. How far is it reflected in Saansad Adarsh Gram Yojana (SAGY)?
A. Empowerment means the expansion of assets and capabilities of poor people to participate in, negotiate with, and hold accountable institutions that affect their lives. It means giving people access to voice and information, greater social inclusion and participation, greater accountability, and organizational strength.
Services are failing poor urban and rural people. This state of affairs prevails despite prolonged efforts by many governments to improve rural and urban services and development programs.
As a remedy, Government is trying to involve communities and local governments in their own development
Local development is encouraged to be planned and managed by local citizens, their communities, and their local governments within a clearly defined decentralized framework that devolves real power and resources to local governments and communities. Capacity support is provided by technical institutions and sectors, and non-governmental institutions.
While the vision was often piloted successfully in individual projects, it was again and again lost in the process of scaling up and, ironically, replaced by centralized, top-down bureaucratic approaches that failed. In these approaches local citizens were treated as passive recipients, and service delivery suffered because the service providers were not accountable to their clients.
Saansad Adarsh Gram Yojana (SAGY) aims at all-round development of villages in a bottom up manner. The Saansad Adarsh Gram Yojana will have three distinct features – it would be demand driven, inspired by society and will be based on people’s participation. MPs act as facilitators and catalytic agents. It will also make the members of parliament (MPs) driving the village project more aware about the issues of governance, the gaps in policies and loopholes in the government process. While various government schemes often worked in isolation the SAGY would help MPs get grass-root level feedback. This will enable them to demand scrapping of bad policies and help the government create better development frameworks, leading to an outcome-oriented approach
Q. Briefly introduce Saansad Adarsh Gram Yojana (SAGY). What values does it seek to inculcate in the village people?
A. GOI under Prime Minister Narendra Modi is set to restructure the existing Member of Parliament Local Area Development (MPLAD) scheme in a holistic way and launched the Saansad Adarsh Gram Yojana (SAGY) under which 2,379 model villages will be developed across the country in the next five years.
A model village will have integrated development of multiple areas such as agriculture, health, education, sanitation, environment and livelihoods. Besides infrastructure development, the scheme will also work towards inculcating key values.
SAGY aims at instilling certain values, such as people’s participation, gender equality, dignity of women, social justice, spirit of community service, cleanliness, eco-friendliness, maintaining ecological balance, peace and harmony, mutual cooperation, self-reliance, local self-government, transparency and accountability in public life, in the villages and their people so that they get transformed into models for others.
Q. Highlight the areas of cooperation between India and USA in the education sector. Focus on GIAN.
A. India -USA Education
In the Quacquarelli Symonds rankings not a single Indian university made it to the list of the world’s top 200 institutions. Fifty US universities found a place. Therefore, it makes eminent sense that India and the USA cooperate in education and skills development to boost the ‘employability’ of would-be entrants to the job market in India. There is an ongoing US-India collaboration in education :Obama-Singh 21st Century Knowledge Initiative, or OSI, named after US President Barack Obama and Modi’s predecessor Manmohan Singh. OSI aims to strengthen collaboration and build partnerships between American and Indian institutions of higher learning, with the goal of promoting educational reform and fostering academic cooperation. Cooperation is taking place in areas like online learning. Indian universities and their US counterparts have shown interest in scaling up efforts in online open education: MOOCs. Global Initiative of Academic Networks in Higher Education(GIAN) has been signed . It would also help tap the US talent pool of scientists and entrepreneurs to engage with Indian institutes.The government is likely to join hands with a consortium of American institutions to help develop the newly announced Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) in Goa. We are not looking at financial investment much but need their top institutions’ help in course designing, faculty training and exchanges of other intellectual capital. During secretary of state John Kerry’s visit to New Delhi in July, India and the US said in a joint statement that the two sides had identified “education and skills development as an important area of future cooperation”. They called for a partnership between Indian and the US testing services institutions to improve nation-wide student assessments in India. In 2013, India decided to open 200 community colleges, or institutions that will impart region-specific, demand-oriented skills to improve employability of job aspirants, and enlisted the American Association of Community Colleges for handholding. The project hasn’t made much headway and would need to find direction from the new government. The proposed foreign education Bill was a key topic of discussion during the Prime Minister’s US visit.
Global Initiative of Academic Networks(GIAN)
The Indo-US joint statement said: “The President (Obama) welcomed India’s proposal to establish the Global Initiative of Academic Networks (GIAN or knowledge) under which India would invite and host up to 1,000 American academics each year to teach in centrally-recognized Indian universities.The idea is to invite and host up to 1,000 American academics every year to teach in centrally-recognized Indian varsities. The academics -mainly from the fields of science and innovations -may visit India at their convenience. The purpose is to expose Indian students to the experience and expertise of the best of Indian scientists and US academicians.
Q. What are the applications of nanotechnology in food and agricultural fields?
A. Nanotechnology has an impact on several aspects of the food industry, from how food is grown to how it is packaged. Companies are developing nanomaterials that will make a difference not only in the taste of food, but also in food safety, and the health benefits food delivers.
Use of nanomaterials in food packaging is already a reality. One example is bottles made with nanocomposites that minimize the leakage of carbon dioxide out of the bottle; this increases the shelf life of carbonated beverages without having to use heavier glass bottles or more expensive cans. Another example is food storage bins with silver nanoparticles embedded in the plastic. The silver nanoparticles kill bacteria from any food previously stored in the bins, minimizing harmful bacteria.
There are other food packaging products currently under development. For example nanosensors in plastic packaging can detect gases given off by food when it spoils and the packaging itself changes color to alert us to food gone bad.
Nanosensors are being developed that can detect bacteria and other contaminates such as salmonella on the surface of food at a packaging plant. This will allow for frequent testing at a much lower cost than is incurred by sending samples to a lab for analysis. This point-of-packaging testing, if conducted properly, has the potential to dramatically reduce the chance of contaminated food reaching grocery store shelves.
There are also nanosensors being developed to detect pesticides on fruit and vegetables.
Nanomaterials are being developed to improve the taste, color, and texture of foods.
Nanoparticles are being used to deliver vitamins or other nutrients in food and beverages without affecting the taste or appearance. These nanoparticles actually encapsulate the nutrients and carry them through the stomach into the bloodstream. For many vitamins this delivery method also allows a higher percentage of the nutrients to be used by the body because, when not encapsulated by the nanoparticles, some nutrients would be lost in the stomach.
Researchers are working on pesticides encapsulated in nanoparticles; these only release pesticide in an insect’s stomach, which minimizes the contamination of plants themselves.
Another development being looked at is a network of nanosensors and dispensers throughout a food crop. The sensors recognize when a plant needs nutrients or water, before we could see any sign that the plant is deficient. The dispensers then release fertilizer, nutrients, or water as needed, optimizing the growth of each plant in the field one by one.
Q. What do you understand by “Minimum Government but Maximum Governance”?
A. It is the new driver of government in India today. It has many connotations.
Large governments have been built up to serve the people but they have been an obstacle to good quality of governance. Laws have multiplied, but services rendered have been quite poor. There has been more attention paid to the size of the government and not so much to its quality. Small yet efficient government is the need of the hour. One of the implications is that the role of a Government in businesses should be limited to that of a facilitator, the essence of economic reforms followed since 1991.Inspector raj needs to be selectively dismantled.
Allowing self-certification is another example.
Speed and quality of the justice mechanism depends as much on use of technology and innovations like Lok Adalats.
Decentralization is a basic pillar of good governance and adequate powers should be given to people.
When red tape is cut, citizen satisfaction is more and entrepreneurs are encouraged. Rules and regulations are a means to an end and not an end in itself. Some times, they become barriers to good governance.
In Gujarat, a ‘Special Purpose Vehicle’ called WASMO (Water and Sanitation Management Organization) was created to empower the rural communities to manage their water situation. Village level Pani Samitis (Water Councils) empowered rural communities.
Q. What was the outcome related to Kailash Mansarovar during Chinese President Xi”s visit to India in September? What are the benefits to yatris?
A. Indians travelling on the annual Kailash Manasarovar yatra have another route, with China agreeing to allow the yatra through the Nathula pass in Sikkim. The new route will pass through the city of Shigatse, which is part of the Tibetan Autonomous Region.
This new route will be in addition to the Lipulekh pass in Uttarakhand through which the yatracurrently takes place.
A Memorandum of Understanding between the Ministries of External Affairs of India and China signed during Xi’s visit allows for the opening of the new route for Indian pilgrims to the Tibet Autonomous Region in the People’s Republic of China.
The new route offers many benefits. It makes Kailash Mansarovar accessible by a motorable road, which is especially beneficial for older pilgrims. It offers a safer alternative in the rainy season, makes the pilgrimage shorter in duration and will enable a much higher number of pilgrims to go there.
Q. What do you know of ” Asia”s security diamond”? How far is it being realised?
A. Japan’s “Asian Security Diamond” strategic concept is the brainchild of Japan’s present Prime Minister Shinzo Abe as a strategic response to China casting menacing maritime shadows over the Western Pacific and Indian Ocean.
The “Asian Security Diamond” strategic concept was unveiled byPM Shinzo Abe as he assumed office for the second time as Japan’s Prime Minister last year. Earlier, in his first term as Japan’s Prime Minister on a visit to India addressing the Indian Parliament in 2007, PM Abe spoke of the “Confluence of Two Seas” (originally used by Dara Shikoh) alluding that the security and safety of the Western Pacific and the Indian Ocean were indivisible and that Japan and India should take the lead in conjunction with other like-minded nations to ensure the maritime security of what is now being referred jointly as Indo Pacific Asia.
The “Asian Security Diamond” strategic concept as spelt out by Abe envisaged a strategic coalition of Australia, India, Japan and the US State of Hawaii to safeguard the maritime commons extending from the Indian Ocean and extending to the entire Western Pacific. All four countries are democracies.
The emerging partnerships and security cooperation among the four countries, particularly after Modi’s arrival is proof of the value of the idea.
Q. What are reproductive rights and how far are they available practically to women in India?
A. Reproductive rights are legal rights and freedoms relating to reproduction. Reproductive rights may include some or all of the following:
a. the right to legal and safe abortion
b. the right to birth control
c. freedom from coerced sterilization and contraception
d. the right to access good-quality reproductive healthcare
e. the right to education and access in order to make free and informed reproductive choices
Reproductive rights may also include the right to receive education about sexually transmitted infections.
Women in ndia enjoy these rights but practically the limitations are due to lack of literacy; absence of institutional facilities; socially inferior status, for example, the tragedies from women-centered sterilisations as seen in Bilaspur last week.
Q.” Asset Reconstruction Company is an institutional innovation with significant benefit at the macro and micro level.” Substantiate.
A. An asset reconstruction company’s primary goal is to manage and to make profitable those assets which have been underperforming or become formally classified as NPA’s belonging to companies who have been unable to generate sufficient timely revenue to service their outstanding obligations. In the process, the whole economy benefits, as a previously non performing asset is now restored to function normally. That such an option exists itself is a means of boosting entrepreneur’s confidence, and gives other options than filing for bankruptcy or insolvency in times of stress.
ARC’s charge a management fee or commission for their services from the distressed company/individual.
In India the problem of recovery from NPAs was recognized in 1997 by Government of India. The Narasimhan Committee wanted to reduce the high level of NPAs as a means of banking sector reform.
Asset Reconstruction Company (Securitization Company / Reconstruction Company) is a company registered under Securitization and Reconstruction of Financial Assets and Enforcement of Security Interest (SRFAESI) Act, 2002. It is regulated by Reserve Bank of India as a Non Banking Financial Company
ARC has been set up to provide a focused approach to Non-Performing Loans resolution issue by:-
(a) Isolating Non Performing Assets (NPAs) from the Financial System
(b) Freeing the financial system to focus on their core activities and
(c) Facilitating development of market for distressed assets.
Asset Reconstruction Companies have seen an increase in their client base during the recession, with many companies experiencing financial difficulties and having distressed assets in their possession.
India’s first ARC was a company named ARCIL which has been a leader and a pioneer in this field, having established industry standards for the rest of the market to follow.
Q.What is anthrax? Why was it in news recently in India?
A.Anthrax is an acute disease caused by the bacterium Bacillus anthracis. Most forms of the disease are lethal, and it affects both humans and other animals. Effective vaccines against anthrax are now available, and some forms of the disease respond well to antibiotic treatment.
Like many other members of the genus Bacillus, B. anthracis can form dormant endospores that are able to survive in harsh conditions for. When spores are inhaled, ingested, or come into contact with a skin lesion on a host, they may become reactivated and multiply rapidly.
Anthrax commonly infects wild and domesticated herbivorous mammals that ingest or inhale the spores while grazing. Ingestion is thought to be the most common route by which herbivores contract anthrax. Carnivores living in the same environment may become infected by consuming infected animals. Diseased animals can spread anthrax to humans, either by direct contact (infected blood to broken skin) or by consumption of a diseased animal’s flesh.
At least seven persons died of suspected anthrax in the mid 2014 in Simdega district, Jharkhand – mostly tribals as , when a couple of bullocks died they ate their meat
Rural Development /Flagships/Current Affairs
Q. “Quality of assets created under MGNREGA has been a worrying aspect and needs constructive solution.” Comment and give suggestions.
A.An important objective of MGNREGA is the creation of durable assets to strengthen the natural resource base of rural India and perpetuate livelihood security. However, MGNREGA has come under strong criticism on the quality and sustainability of the assets created under it. What is required is emphasis on creation of durable and quality assets through convergence of MGNREGA with other Schemes
To strengthen quality and durability of assets, ensure optimal use of resources and livelihood security, the State Governments should proactively take up convergence of MGNREGA with Schemes of other departments with a greater focus on agriculture and allied activities.Convergence should be viewed in the sense of a value add to MGNREGA either through technical/human resources or financial resources through material component.
60:40 to be maintained at district level: To provide an impetus to convergence and creation of more durable assets, the 60:40 ratio for wage and material costs could be maintained at district level for all works taken together irrespective of the implementing agencies.
Capacity Building of Rural Development and Panchayat Raj functionaries through training modules is necessary.
Inadequate technical staff for measurement and monitoring are major constraints to ensuring good quality assets. The MGNREGA could move towards a more community based system of monitoring and supervision which would include building the capacity of and motivating the community and other stakeholders like NGOs, SHGs etc.
Ethics and Integrity
Q. “To see what is right and not to do it is want of courage.” Confucius.
Ethical dilemmas are faced by all people at various points of time in their relationships- personal and social. In such situations it is more or less clear as to what should be the right course of action. For example, not to join a company that has indulged in unethical practices. There are times when we have to blow the whistle. There are other times that demand resignation due to the moral pressures. Even as one sees the right course of action, if one does not do it, he is a coward. He does not have the courage of conviction. Such courage comes about by the education one receives; family is a source of conscience and courage; the ethics infrastructure like laws, institutions and how well they work. Courage comes when one disregards the consequences if one is adequately convinced of the rightness of action.
It means that if we are in a situation where we know what the right thing to do is, and we don’t do it anyway, then we are cowardly or weak of morale and lack courage.
Ethics and Integrity
Q. “Ethics may be only instrumental, it may be only a means to an end, but it is a necessary means to an end” (Dennis Thompson).Critically expand in the context of public service.
A. Ethics is the right way of doing things. It is a part of all or most of our actions. For a public agency, ethics is the other side of all its actions. Take the example of Government: Government is essentially in a country like ours a welfare institution. It is expected to provide and produce valued public goods and services such as justice, safety, security, transportation, clean air and water, parks and recreation, safe food and drugs, emergency services, and more. In every action mentioned above, ethics is a necessary part. For example: transportation. It involves transport for all sections- rich and poor. Similarly, water and security.
Ethics is thus the cornerstone of effective and democratic governance. The quotation says that ethics is in the nature of means. It is so. The means part is that performance of duty has to be honest. Delivery of services should be transparent and accuntable. Citizen participation, where necessary ,should be encouraged.
But it also is an end. In the Indian Constitution an entire Chapter on Directive Principles of State Policy is meant for ethical goals. Taking care of the vulnerable sections is an ethical end. Thus, ethics is both an end and a means to an end.
The challenge is to ensure that public officials, elected and appointed, understand the importance of ethics in carrying out the work of government and then act on that understanding.
- How do you aproach the question when asked to “critically evaluate”?A.Critically evaluate means: Give your opinion as to what extent a given statement is true and to what extent you agree with it . Provide evidence taken from a wide range of sources which both agree with and contradict an argument. Come to a final conclusion and justify it.
Take this statement: Critically evaluate Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act 2005 in the light of the last nearly one decade of experience.
Write your answer based on the evidence related to
2. impact on profitability in agriculture
3. fiscal burden
5. lack of maintenance of assets
6. manual labour without machines defeats construction of sound assets
1. checking migration
2. creation of green assets
3. empowerment through social audits
4. India’s improved position on the GH Index
Then, you take up a balanced position like change the wage-material ratio to spend more on materials; link it with skilling programmes; make it more transparent and accountable etc.
- What do you understand by the term ” analyse” in a question?A.Analyse means study the issue carefully to discover the meaning and to form an opinion. Take a question: The impact of “ taper” of Quantitative Easing can be better withstood by India today. All you need to do is understand QE; how it can impact us when it is being phased out; and how our BOP is stronger today to survive the impact.
Similarly, analyse this statement: “ Pakistan’s pursuit of “strategic depth” with domination of its western neighbor is undermining its own security.”
Q.What are Concentrated Solar Power(CSP) Technologies? Explain briefly how they operate. Which one is the most popular?
A.Concentrated solar power (also called concentrating solar power, concentrated solar thermal, and CSP) systems generate solar power by using mirrors or lenses to concentrate a large area of sunlight, or solar thermal energy, onto a small area. Electricity is generated when the concentrated light is converted to heat, which drives a heat engine (usually a steam turbine) connected to an electrical power generator.
CSP is being widely commercialized and t growth is expected to continue at a fast pace in India.CSP is not to be confused with concentrated photovoltaics (CPV). In CPV, the concentrated sunlight is converted directly to electricity via the photovoltaic effect.
Most current CSP plants( 90%) are based on trough technology, but tower technology is increasing and linear Fresnel installations emerging.
Parabolic trough technology
A parabolic trough consists of a linear parabolic reflector that concentrates light onto a receiver positioned along the reflector’s focal line. The receiver is a tube positioned directly above the middle of the parabolic mirror and filled with a working fluid. The reflector follows the sun during the daylight hours by tracking along a single axis. A working fluid is heated to 150–350 °C as it flows through the receiver and is then used as a heat source for a power generation system.
They are made of many thin, flat mirror strips to concentrate sunlight onto tubes through which working fluid is pumped. Flat mirrors allow more reflective surface in the same amount of space as a parabolic reflector, thus capturing more of the available sunlight, and they are much cheaper than parabolic reflectors. Fresnel reflectors can be used in various size CSPs
Solar power tower
A solar power tower consists of an array of dual-axis tracking reflectors (heliostats) that concentrate sunlight on a central receiver atop a tower; the receiver contains a fluid deposit, which can consist of sea water. The working fluid in the receiver is heated to 500–1000 °C and then used as a heat source for a power generation or energy storage system.
Trough systems are the most developed CSP technology.
See them here.To be discussed by Dr.Banerjee in the Class
Q.Write on recent Pro Kabaddi League games in India. Recount some successes at the international level for the Indian teams.
A.The Pro Kabaddi League (PKL) is a professional kabaddi league in India, based on the format of the Indian Premier League. The first edition of the tournament started on 26 July 2014 with eight franchises consisting of players from around the world. Pro Kabaddi takes the sport of Kabaddi to levels of new professionalism, which will benefit all stakeholders involved in the ecosystem of the game, Kabaddi, most of all, the players themselves, who will become the new role models for the youth of India. It highlights the new, modern, international and competitive face of Kabaddi throughout the length and breadth of the country, and beyond. Pro Kabaddi is an eight-city league with games played on a caravan format with each team playing each other twice in July and August, 2014. Maninder Singh got the title ‘Jaipur ka Panther.’ He helped Jaipur Pink Panthers win the inaugural Pro Kabaddi League.
India won gold in Men’s and Women’s Kabaddi beating Iran in Asian Games in Incheon in South Korea in October 2014.
Q.“ Judicial independence goes much beyond appointment and removal process.” Comment.
A. In the context of the 121st CAB and the National Judicial Appointments Commission (NJAC) Bill, passed by Parliament in the monsoon session, a debate is raging about how to ensure judicial independence. It is held that in order to insulate the judiciary from the political pressures, judges should appoint judges as said by the apex court in the 1993 ruling. Critics hold that the collegium system ushered in in that verdict lacks accountability and a system of checks and balances is necessary. The current Bills are partly related to it.
However, to enable the judges to function independently , it is necessary lay down clearly the qualifications for appointment in an elaborate way as to who is eligible and who is not. Conditions of service have to be made more attractive. Post-retirement engagement in Government needs to be restricted with a cooling off period. The presence of two civil society members as eminent persons in the NJAC will also enable selection of right persons. Removal process is difficult as it stands today and can continue to be so. However, judicial accountability for lesser misdemeanours needs to be introduced. Also, a judicial standards framework needs to be formulated.
Mother Goddess cult in primitive religion
Mother goddess is a goddess who represents, or is a personification of nature, motherhood, fertility, creation, destruction or who embodies the bounty of the Earth. When equated with the Earth or the natural world, such goddesses are sometimes referred to as Mother Earth or as the Earth Mother.
Mother Goddess worship is a recurrent theme in most early religions as well as many contemporary ones
In India, Mother Goddess worship of Indus Valley Civilization has been carried forward into contemporary Hinduism as ‘Adiparasakthi’ – the primeval energy that controls both time and space and all creation.
Hindu worship of the divine Mother can be traced back to pre-vedic, prehistoric India.In Hinduism, Durga represents the empowering and protective nature of motherhood.
In Christianity, Mother Mary is sometimes also revered as mother to all believers, allowing parallels with mother worship.
It has been speculated that Mother Goddess worship was prominent in the life of early civilizations where the relationship of man to nature was one of dependence and helplessness. As man’s relationship to nature became one of control and exploitation with growth in organizational and technological capabilities, Mother worship gradually gave way to patriarchy and Monotheism centered around a male God.
Why is “single directive” a violation of equality before law, according to a recent Supreme Court ruling?
Central Government had made it mandatory for the CBI to take the prior approval of the government to even conduct a preliminary inquiry into allegations of corruption against officers in all civil services of the rank/grade of Joint Secretary and above. This was called the ‘Single Directive’. A three-judge Bench of the Supreme Court struck down this Single Directive as being arbitrary and violative of the guarantee of equal treatment and equal protection of the law for all officers under Article 14 of the Constitution. That was in the Vineet Narain judgment. Central Government gave statutory status to the Central Vigilance Commission through the Central Vigilance Commission Act (CVC Act) and brought back the Single Directive in that law as well as by amending the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act (DSPE Act). What the Apex Court had struck down earlier was only an executive direction/resolution. Now the protective shield for senior officials was given legal sanction with the stamp of Parliamentary approval to the ‘Single Directive’. The Government argued that such protection was essential for senior level officers to function in an independent manner without fear of prosecution for every decision they made. This was like immunising the senior bureaucracy from any inquiry into allegations of corruption against it. On being challenged under a PIL, the Supreme Court referred the matter to a Constitution Bench How did the Court rule? The Constitution Bench of the Court held that the ‘Single Directive’ contained in the CVC Act and the DSPE Act violated the guarantee of Article 14 of the Constitution. Same is not granted to junior level officers. Further, equal grade officers at the state level do not enjoy such immunity. Therefore, it is violative of Art.14.
“SCO (Shanghai Cooperation Organisation) objectives can be better met with expanded participation in the organization.” Justify.
Shanghai Cooperation Organization is a Eurasian political, economic and military organisation which was founded in 2001 in Shanghai by the leaders six countries : China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan. India, Pakistan, Mongolia and Iran are observers. They are likely to be made members later in the year.
It seeks to combat extremism, separatism and terrorism. Its leaders want to see regional players, led by the SCO, handling regional security, thus eliminating the need for extra-regional actors (especially the U.S.)
Afghanistan’s stability remains a major concern for SCO members as post-US withdrawal, unless Afghanistan is stable, SCO members would be badly affected.
Its ambitious goals — ensuring regional stability, especially preventing terrorist activities; promoting Afghan security; furthering economic integration — make it imperative that SCO be expanded. India, Pakistan and Iran are neighbours of Afghanistan and stability there is not possible unless they are made members and taken into confidence. Economic integration and energy security can bring the countries together and ensure that they work for common goals as outlined above.
The SCO has not expanded since it was officially founded in 2001.
“The Sinjar massacre is the turning point in the international efforts to wipe out the terror.” Critically analyse.
The Sinjar massacre was conducted by Islamic State (ISIS) as part of the August 2014 offensive. Sinjar was one of many towns captured during the Islamic State’s offensive in early August 2014. Kurds appealed to the Government of Iraq and the United States for air support to assist their cause. Kurdish army officials Peshmerga appealed that air strikes are needed badly to stop a possible ISIS invasion into Iraqi Kurdistan.
According to the United Nations, thousands of refugees were expelled from the city and lacked basic amenities. About 500 Yazidis were massacred in the ISIS attack.Yazidis were besieged by IS on Mount Sinjar, facing starvation and dehydration.U.S. President, Barack Obama, stated that the U.S. would use air power to assist trapped civilians threatened with acts of genocide and attack ISIS forces.
The western decision to intervene is influenced by many factors. Among them was the western desire to protect religious minorities in Iraq while also combatting the terrorist threat of the Islamic State. American involvement also sought to protect US interests in the region : protecting oil supplies and investment by oil companies (such as Exxon Mobil and Chevron) across the Middle East. Thousands of Americans currently live in Erbil, the capital of Kurdish Regional Government. Prevention of regional instability from going out of control was another motive. Israeli security and status quo are the others.
Directive Principles of State Policy and nation building.
DPSP are ethical guidelines in part IV of the Constitution guiding government policy. They contain “Instruments of Instruction” in a variety of policy matters for building a strong and equitable nation. For example, Art.38 and 39 speak of social and economic justice and reduction of inequality. Equity is the sine quo non of a united and strong nation. UCC in Art.44 is necessary for social integration and feeling of oneness. Art.47 promises higher health standards: a precondition to build a powerful nation. A nation without internal divisions requires social justice: Art.46. Participative democracy gives a strong foundation for nation building: Art.40(PRIs).
Evolution of Uniform Civil Code in India: Trace it with the help of two legislations.
Uniform civil code is the goal of the country as given in the Art.44 (DPSP). Government is committed to striving for having similar personal laws for all religions in the country. The personal laws in matters of property, marriage, adoption etc have been in vogue historically for traditional reasons as population is not very literate and are attached to personal customs and habits. However, it is not advisable both for reasons of national integration and gender parity. Parliament made Special Marriage Act in 1954 for persons of two different religions to marry without having to follow either religion. Similarly, Juvenile Justice Act 2000 allows adoption under it even if personal laws do not permit adoption with full rights to the adoptee. For example, Shabnam Hashmi case verdict 2014 where apex court gave Shabnam Hashmi the right to adopt under JJ Act even as sharia law does not allow it and only recognizes guardianship rights over the adopted child.