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SRIRAM's IAS Q & A

Que. Write on the recent history of Sinai Peninsula and the reasons why it is in news.

Ans. The Sinai Peninsula is a triangular peninsula in Egypt. It is situated between the Mediterranean Sea to the north, and the Red Sea to the south, and is the only part of Egyptian territory located in Asia, as opposed to Africa, serving as a land bridge between two continents. Israel invaded and occupied Sinai during the Suez Crisis of 1956, and during the Six-Day War of 1967. By 1982, as a result of Israel-Egypt Peace Treaty of 1979( Camp David Agreement), Israel had withdrawn from all of the Sinai Peninsula.

Today, Sinai has become a tourist destination due to its natural setting, rich coral reefs, and biblical history. Mount Sinai is one of the most religiously significant places in Abrahamic faiths.

ISIS launched terror attacks in Sinai in July 2015 that killed about 70 people.

 

Que. What is disruptive technology? Give ample examples.

Ans. A disruptive technology is one that displaces an established technology and shakes up the industry or a ground-breaking product that creates a completely new industry. Here are a few examples of disruptive technologies:

The personal computer (PC) displaced the typewriter and forever changed the way we work and communicate.

The Windows operating system's combination of affordability and a user-friendly interface was instrumental in the rapid development of the personal computing industry in the 1990s.

Personal computing disrupted the television industry, as well as a great number of other activities.

Email transformed the way we communicating, largely displacing letter-writing and disrupting the postal and greeting card industries. 
Cell phones made it possible for people to call us anywhere and disrupted the telecom industry.

The laptop computer and mobile computing made a mobile workforce possible and made it possible for people to connect to corporate networks and collaborate from anywhere. In many organizations, laptops replaced desktops.

Smartphones largely replaced cell phones and PDAs and, because of the available apps, also disrupted: pocket cameras, MP3 players, calculators and GPS devices, among many other possibilities. For some mobile users, smartphones often replace laptops. Others prefer a tablet.

Cloud computing has been a hugely disruptive technology in the business world, displacing many resources that would conventionally have been located in-house or provided as a traditionally hosted service.

Social networking has had a major impact on the way we communicate and -- especially for personal use -- disrupting telephone, email, instant messaging and event planning.

E-commerce is disrupting physical departmental stores and malls.

Thus, it is a technology that significantly alters the way that businesses operate. A disruptive technology may force companies to alter the way that they approach their business, risk losing market share or risk becoming irrelevant. Recent examples of disruptive technologies include smart phones and the e-commerce retailing. Clayton Christensen popularized the idea of disruptive technologies in the book “The Innovator's Dilemma” in 1997.

 

Que. What is "shock therapy" in economics? Critically comment.

Ans. it is a sudden and dramatic change in national economic policy that turns a state-controlled economy into a free-market one. Characteristics of shock therapy include the ending of price controls, the privatization of publicly-owned entities and trade liberalization. Shock therapy is intended to cure economic maladies such as hyperinflation, shortages and other effects of market controls in order to jump-start economic production, reduce unemployment and improve living standards.

Shock therapy can trigger a rough transition while prices increase from their controlled levels and people in formerly state-owned companies lose their jobs, creating citizen unrest that may lead to forced changes in a country's political leadership.

The opposite of shock therapy, gradualism, indicates a slow and steady transition from a controlled to an open economy.

It was implemented in Russia and its erstwhile communist partners in eastern and central europe in 1990's and early last decade.

 

Que. Differentiate between Bank Run, Bank Panic and Systemic Bank Crisis. What can be the Causes and Remedies?

Ans. Bank run is a situation that occurs when a large number of banks or other financial institution's customers withdraw their deposits simultaneously due to concerns about the bank's solvency. It may be beginning to happen in Greece as rthere is uncertainty about Greece's future in the Eurozone.As more people withdraw their funds, the probability of default increases, thereby prompting more people to withdraw their deposits. In extreme cases, the bank's reserves may not be sufficient to cover the withdrawals. A bank run is typically the result of panic, rather than a true insolvency on the part of the bank; however, the bank does risk default as more and more individuals withdraw funds - what began as panic can turn into a true default situation.

Because banks typically keep only a small percentage of deposits as cash on hand, they must increase cash to meet depositors' withdrawal demands. One method a bank uses to quickly increase cash on hand is to sell off its assets, sometimes at significantly lower prices than if it did not have to sell quickly. Losses on selling the assets at lower prices can cause a bank to become insolvent.

A "bank panic" occurs when multiple banks endure runs at the same time.

A systemic banking crisis is one where all or almost all of the banking capital in a country is wiped out. Something like what happened in 2008 in the USA after the Lehman bankrupcy was filed. The resulting chain of bankruptcies can cause a long economic recession as domestic businesses and consumers are starved of capital as the domestic banking system shuts down.

Several techniques have been used to try to prevent or mitigate the effects of bank runs. They have included government bailouts of banks, supervision and regulation of commercial banks, central banks acting as a lender of last resort, the protection of deposit insurance systems and after a run has started, a temporary suspension of withdrawals.

 

Que. Why does Raghuram Rajan think that 1929 type of Crash could recur soon?

Ans. In order to comprehend Raghuram Rajan's warning, the causes of 1930's Depression as they were linked to the Stock Crash of 1929 need to be understood.

The 1929 crash brought the Roaring Twenties to a shuddering halt. The crash marked the beginning of widespread and long-lasting consequences for the United States. Businesses found it difficult securing capital markets investments for new projects and expansions. Business uncertainty affected job security for employees, and as the American worker (the consumer) faced uncertainty with regards to income, the propensity to consume declined. The decline in stock prices caused bankruptcies and severe macroeconomic difficulties including contraction of credit, business closures, firing of workers, bank failures and other economic depressing events.

The resultant rise of mass unemployment is seen as a result of the crash. The Wall Street Crash is usually seen as having the greatest impact on the events that followed and therefore is widely regarded as signaling the downward economic slide that initiated the Great Depression. The consequences were dire for almost everybody. It wiped out billions of dollars of wealth in one day, and this immediately depressed consumer buying.

About 4,000 banks and other lenders ultimately failed.

Exuberance on stock markets drove the crisis. According to Raghuram Rajan, same could be happening now also with stock markets going higher by the day with real economy not supporting it and thus financial bubbles building that could eventually take down the real and financial economy with it.

 

Que. What is the rationale for gender sensitization training for police?

Ans. In order to make police officers behave and act in a gender sensitive manner in cases of violence against women and in the discharge of their duties in general, there is an urgent need to conduct gender sensitization training courses for police. At present, the concept of gender is grossly misunderstood by a large majority of police officers. There is also a lack of proper awareness of the prevailing gender inequalities among police officers. Even if there is awareness, the cult of masculinity prevailing in the police organizations does not easily permit a change in the attitude and behaviour of male police personnel toward women. The stereotypes held by the police about sexual violence/harassment and domestic violence (blaming the victim etc) indicate the general attitude of police towards women. The following findings of a research study about the opinion of male police personnel regarding the role of women colleagues also reflect the attitude of a majority of police officers towards women and the lack of awareness about the concept of gender:- 

1. There is no need to integrate women into the mainstream of police. 
2. Women police personnel should be given specific tasks related to women and children. 
3. Women are not enthusiastic about their jobs. 
4. Women may work as cooks in the police mess.
5. Women should escort only female prisoners and not male prisoners. 
6. Women should not be engaged in operations against militants, extremists and insurgents. 
7. Women police officers are very gentle and are not capable of handling hardened criminals.

In order to remove the prejudices and biases of police officers towards women in general and women victims as well as women colleagues in particular and to develop in them the required professionalism (in terms of knowledge, skills and attitudes) for dealing with cases of violence against women more effectively, it is imperative that all State police organizations undertake suitable initiatives, including organizing of training programmes to sensitize the police personnel at all levels. Such biases have serious consequences for morale of women, justice meted out to them, entry of women into police force etc.

 

Que. Discuss India’s Defense Offset policy, rationale and its advantages.

Ans. The global arms trade is increasingly becoming a two-way process. Instead of the traditional off-the-shelf procurement involving goods/ services being exchanged for money, more and more arms buyers are now demanding that some form of work should also directly flow from the contracts they sign with foreign entities. The flow back arrangement in the contract, widely known as offsets, is usually demanded as a certain percentage of the contract value. Offsets are also demanded in various other forms ranging from traditional counter trade practices (barter, buying goods from the purchasing country of defence equipment) to practices such as co-production, investment, and technology transfer. The purpose for demanding offsets also varies from country to country, depending upon their priorities. While some countries seek offsets in the form of foreign investment and the like for general economic development, others demand technology transfer and a definite work share in the items being procured.

India, predominantly an arms importer country, has evolved its offset policy over the years. Defence Offset Policy will enable creation of local employment, upgradation of technology levels while ensuring substantial increase in both domestic production and export capability. Offset also provides leverage to the domestic industry specifically the SMEs [Small and Medium Enterprises] to enter the sophisticated markets of defence products.

Offset obligations were introduced in 2005 to develop the defence industrial base in the country. It stipulates that for deals worth over Rs. 300 crore, the Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) has to reinvest 30 per cent of the contract value in the country.

 

Que. Comment on the role of major powers of the world in Central Asia

Ans. Central Asia is the core region of the Asian continent and stretches from the Caspian Sea in the west to China in the east and from Afghanistan in the south to Russia in the north. Central Asia includes five republics of the former Soviet Union: Kazakhstan (pop. 17 million), Kyrgyzstan (5.7 million), Tajikistan (8.0 million), Turkmenistan (5.2 million), and Uzbekistan (30 million), for a total population of about 66 million as of 2013–2014. Afghanistan (pop. 31.1 million) is also sometimes included.

Central Asia is rapidly changing after the world started taking more notice of this energy-rich region. Already the flow of capital and expansion of trade is triggering large-scale infrastructure, shipment of goods and flow of people across the region.

Owing to its energy resources and economic potential coupled with radicalism, great powers rivalry in the region has also increased. The major powers have responded in many ways to benefit from region’s strategic and energy resources. Russia is the traditional player and wishes to exert political influence. Moscow has strengthened the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) and now it is aggressively pushing the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) to keep Central Asia under its stiff economic control.

The main contestant in the region is China, which has been waiting in the wings, since the Soviet collapse, for fully entering into the region with multiple motives. China considers this region as a source of energy and a critical partner for stabilizing its restive Xinjiang province. China has fully used its geographical proximity to the region and while pursuing an ingenious soft-power policy, it has successfully converted every challenge in Central Asia into an opportunity. China has pursued its interest while using the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) as a multilateral vehicle for promoting multiple interlocking of economic, security and even cultural ties. In fact, China has rapidly challenged Russian monopoly over Central Asia’s energy exports. Massive infrastructure development including building of pipelines, roads, and railways completed in the recent years are facilitating transport of oil, gas, uranium and other minerals to the Chinese towns. Beijing’s latest Silk Road Economic Belt scheme envisages $40 billion fund for promoting infrastructure, industrial and financial co-operation from Asia to Europe through Central Asia. The countries have quickly pledged support to the ‘Silk Route Belt’ idea for deepening their ancient ties with China. Chinese-led multilateral development institutions such as the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) and the Shanghai-based BRICS New Development Bank can also be helpful to China.

During an October 2013 visit to Kazakhstan, Chinese President Xi Jinping outlined his vision of a Silk Road Economic Belt (SREB).SREB will encourage economic development in China’s restive Xinjiang region, and will boost Chinese exports to Central Asia. In addition, expanded land transit allows China to diversify its import and export channels, diffusing risk from maritime lanes still controlled by the U.S. The investment in new infrastructure also cements Chinese economic and, some fear, political influence. Part of the SREB vision is the creation of new institutions with a strong Chinese voice, like the AIIB, that could challenge existing U.S.-led alternatives. China has deployed massive diplomatic, military, academic, and business resources to support the realization of the SREB and this synergy of resources gives its vision the best likelihood of success. While the initial focus is economic, over the long term these developments could even pave the way for increased Chinese-led Asian security cooperation.

The US and its allies remained deeply engaged in the region and used it as a valuable supply hub for the Afghanistan war effort. However, against the backdrop of the crisis in Ukraine, the United States is likely to review its Central Asia strategy. Washington, it seems, is getting concerned about the situation in Central Asia. Russia’s standoff with the West, declining oil prices and overall Western sanctions is already having ripple effects on Central Asian economies, especially on the remittances from millions of migrants from the region working in Russia

The West is also worried about uncertainty looming in Central Asia stemming from the succession issue of regional leaders.

Europe is also taking a renewed interest in Central Asia following the crisis in Ukraine. The European Union is now trying to import energy directly from the source to offset fears of disruption by Russia. The EU is considering for the 3,300-kilometer Nabucco pipeline project to import gas directly from Azerbaijan and Central Asian nations to the heart of Europe. The EU has unveiled recently a new “Southern Corridor-New Silk Route” strategy for a multiple road, rail and pipeline links between the Caspian area and Europe.

 

Central Asia and regional and global security

The region is the northern frontier of the Islamic world hitherto unaffected by fundamentalist wave. There is a major shift to, religious pattern of society, underway in the region. Central Asia is now emerging as the next radical Islamic region. A series of serious explosions and terrorist acts by Islamists have been taking place in Kazakhstan since 2011. The area extending from Chechnya, Ferghana to Xinjiang, comprising 100 million people could form new arc of instability. The Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) is more entrenched not only in Af-Pak region but in Central Asia as well. The IMU has strong links with al Qaeda and is now expected to get stronger in Afghanistan after the NATO’s withdrawal. Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) has heavily recruited more and more Kazakhs, Uzbeks, Tajiks, and Kyrgyz. China’s concerns in Xinjiang underscore the gravity of extremist threat including from ISIS.

India’s interests also center around energy, uranium, trade, investment, national security. India “Connect central asia policy 2012” sumps up all these. Our entry into Shanghai Cooperation Organisation in July at Ufa will enable us to some extent to realize these goals.

 

Que. Discuss the Battle of Waterloo and the impact of it.

Ans. The Battle of Waterloo was fought on Sunday, 18 June 1815, near Waterloo in present-day Belgium, then part of the United Kingdom of the Netherlands. A French army under the command of Napoleon was defeated by the armies of the Seventh Coalition, comprising an Anglo-allied army under the command of the Duke of Wellington combined with a Prussian army.

Upon Napoleon's return to power in March 1815, many states that had opposed him formed the Seventh Coalition and began to mobilize armies. Two large forces assembled close to the north-eastern border of France. Napoleon chose to attack in the hope of destroying them before they could join in a coordinated invasion of France with other members of the coalition. The defeat at Waterloo ended Napoleon's rule as Emperor of the French.

The bicentenary of Waterloo has prompted renewed attention to the geopolitical and economic legacy of the battle and the century of relative transatlantic peace which followed.

The Battle ended the First French Empire and the political and military career of Napoleon Bonaparte, one of the greatest commanders and statesmen in history.

It was followed by almost four decades of international peace in Europe. No further major conflict occurred until the Crimean War. Changes to the configuration of European states, as refashioned after Waterloo, included the formation of the Holy Alliance of reactionary governments intent on repressing revolutionary and democratic ideas. Every generation in Europe up to the outbreak of the First World War looked back at Waterloo as the turning point that dictated the course of subsequent world history. In retrospect, it was seen as the event that ushered in the Concert of Europe, an era characterised by relative peace, material prosperity and technological progress.

 

 

 

Why do we attach "gate" at the end of each scam? It all began with Watergate. Here we go:

The Watergate scandal was a major political scandal that occurred in the United States in the 1970s as a result of the 1972 break-in at the Democratic National Committee (DNC) headquarters at the Watergate office complex in Washington, D.C., and the Nixon administration's attempted cover-up of its involvement. When the conspiracy was scooped up and investigated by the U.S. Congress, the Nixon administration's resistance to its probes led to a constitutional crisis. The term Watergate has come to encompass an array of clandestine and often illegal activities undertaken by members of the Nixon administration. Those activities included such "dirty tricks" as bugging the offices of political opponents and people of whom Nixon or his officials were suspicious. Nixon and his close aides ordered harassment of activist groups and political figures, using the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). The scandal led to the discovery of multiple abuses of power by the Nixon administration.

In India we have so many "gates" like Coalgate, Lalitgate and now Chikki-gate. Needless to say, each one of these "gates" threw up its own Bill Gates!

 

Que. What do you understand by the term “Youth”? Can we treat it as a social group?

Ans. “Youth” is best understood as a period of transition from the dependence of childhood to adulthood’s independence and awareness of our interdependence as members of a community. Youth is a more fluid category than a fixed age-group. However, age is the easiest way to define this group, particularly in relation to education and employment.

The UN, for statistical consistency across regions, defines ‘youth’, as those persons between the ages of 15 and 24 years.

Youth is the time of life when one is young, but often means the time between childhood and adulthood (maturity). Its definitions of a specific age range varies, as youth is not defined chronologically as a stage that can be tied to specific age ranges

Young workers are not a homogenous group. There are certain social groups that face distinct disadvantages which, intersecting with the social exclusion experienced by youth, broaden the challenge of their finding opportunities for decent work.

In general, young women have more difficulty in securing decent work opportunities. Unemployment rates for young women in the Middle East and North Africa are nearly twice as high as those of young men.

The very young in most countries also face difficulty in securing decent work opportunities. Unemployment rates among ethnic minorities tend to be higher.

 

Que. What is "middle income trap" and how can it be avoided?

Ans. The middle income trap is an economic development situation, where a country which attains a certain income (due to given advantages) will find further growth difficult.The concept was coined in 2007.A country in the middle income trap may lose competitive edge in the export of manufactured goods because wages are on a rising trend. An emerging market brimming with potential really starts growing rapidly, generating growth and prosperity, but as it moves into the middle of the global economic table, growth slows down. Hopes for future wealth diminish. It’s trapped.

For examples of this trend, you might look to Mexico, Brazil, Indonesia, or Thailand, countries that saw per capita income stagnate after achieving middle-income status. There are counter-examples, though: consider South Korea and Taiwan, which went from the range of 10% to 20% of US income up to the 60%-70% range with nary a pause.

Avoiding the middle income trap entails identifying strategies to introduce new processes and find new markets to maintain export growth. Ramping up domestic demand is also important—an expanding middle class can use its increasing purchasing power to buy high-quality, innovative products and help drive growth.

The biggest challenge is moving from resource-driven growth that is dependent on cheap labor and capital to growth based on high productivity and innovation. This requires investments in infrastructure and education--building a high-quality education system which encourages creativity and supports breakthroughs in science and technology.

 

Que. Justify the Draft National Medical Device Policy 2015.

Ans. The objective of the National Medical Device Policy 2015 is "strengthening the Make in India drive by reducing dependence on imports and setting up a strong base for medical devices, especially those with critical implications in terms of affordability and availability of patients". The draft policy, which has been put up on the department of pharmaceuticals (DoP) website and communicated to industry bodies and chambers, seeks comments within six weeks, after which a final note will be prepared for Cabinet approval. Medical devices, which are classified as equipment, implants and disposables, are mainly import driven, with nearly 70-80% high-end devices and equipment brought into the country, while the domestic industry manufactures disposables and medical supplies.

The Indian medical devices industry is estimated to be worth around $3 billion a year and is largely import-driven. The industry has been demanding a policy that will reverse their present status of “traders” into “manufacturers.” The emphasis of the draft policy is on the “Make in India” and the thrust is to reduce India’s dependence on imports. The draft policy has been formulated so as to work towards making India a global hub of production and innovation in medical devices. Towards this, it details the various measures and concessions that the union government is keen to put in place to help indigenous businesses to face competition, access foreign markets and find new business partners abroad. In the fourth largest market for medical devices in the world, the domestic producers have only a 25% share.

Over the last many months, there have been complaints about overcharging, with regulators investigating cases where patients have coughed up almost three to four times the landed cost (price at which these are imported) for certain devices like cardiac stents and, hence, sold with huge mark-ups of 250-400%.

In a patient-friendly measure, the draft mentions adopting policies on efficacy and safety testing, and quality control through a 'Made in India' marking (BIS) specific to medical devices in line with global standard.

It proposes creating an autonomous body — the National Medical Devices Authority (NDMA) — pricing control for medical devices by including them under the Essential Commodities Act and, most importantly, floating a separate pricing division in the drug pricing regulator, NPPA.

Significantly, the draft says the government may announce a separate policy for regulating prices of identified medical devices and implement it through a separate medical devices control order. Currently, prices of medicines are notified through the Drug Prices Control Order, by the department of pharmaceuticals.

 

Que. Elaborate on MERS. Differentiate between MERS and SARS.

Ans. An outbreak of Middle East respiratory syndrome (Mers) has claimed lives in South Korea. The World Health Organization (WHO) says the new coronavirus appears to be passing between people in close contact. It is the biggest outbreak of Mers, which is similar to the Sars virus, outside the Middle East.

It is a type of coronavirus. Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses which includes the common cold and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (Sars).The first Mers fatality was recorded in June 2012 in Saudi Arabia. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), at least 449 people have now died from the virus.

Mers is a virus that is transmitted from animals to humans. The WHO says that camels are likely to be a source of Mers infection but the exact route of transmission is not yet known. There have been cases where the virus has spread between two people but close contact seems to be needed.

Cases have been confirmed in 25 countries in the Middle East, Europe and Asia. The majority of the cases have been reported in Saudi Arabia. In May 2015, two new countries joined the list: China and South Korea.

Coronaviruses cause respiratory infections in humans and animals. Symptoms are a fever, cough and breathing difficulties. It causes pneumonia and, sometimes, kidney failure.

        It is possible the virus is spread in droplets when an infected person coughs or sneezes. The fact that close contacts appear to have been infected suggests that the virus does have a limited ability to pass from person to person.

        Mers is not thought to be very contagious. Up to now, most human cases have been the result of human-to-human transmission in a healthcare setting, the WHO says. How that infection occurs is still not fully understood.

        Experts believe the virus is not very contagious. If it were, we would have seen more cases. Coronaviruses are fairly fragile. Outside of the body they can only survive for a day and are easily destroyed by common detergents and cleaning agents.

The greatest global concern, however, is about the potential for this new virus to spread far and wide. So far, person-to-person transmission has remained limited to some small clusters. There is no evidence yet that the virus has the capacity to become pandemic.

Doctors do not yet know what the best treatment is, but people with severe symptoms will need intensive medical care to help them breath. There is no vaccine. As of June 2015, the WHO said about 36% of reported patients with Mers had died.

Experts do not yet know where the virus originated. It may have been the result of a new mutation of an existing virus. Or it may be an infection that has been circulating in animals and has now made the jump to humans.

Coronaviruses are common viruses that most people get some time in their life. Their name comes from the crown-like spikes that cover their surface. Human coronaviruses were first identified in the mid-1960s.Other variants infect many different animals, producing symptoms similar to those in humans.

Sars is thought to have infected more than 8,000 people, mainly in China and South-East Asia. Most coronaviruses usually infect only one animal species or, at most, a small number of closely related species. Sars was different: being able to infect people and animals, including monkeys, cats, dogs, and rodents.

Sars is thought to have infected more than 8,000 people, mainly in China and South-East Asia, in an outbreak that started in early 2003. The illness spread to more than two dozen countries in North America, South America, Europe, and Asia before the global outbreak was contained. Experts established that Sars could spread by close person-to-person contact. According to the WHO, 774 people died from the infection. Since 2004, there have not been any known cases of Sars reported anywhere in the world.

It's not known exactly how people catch this virus. However, some general measures may help prevent its spread - avoid close contact, when possible, with anyone who shows symptoms of illness (coughing and sneezing) and maintain good hand hygiene.

 

In the basket of currencies that determine the value of the International Monetary Fund’s reserve asset, the Special Drawing Right (SDR), the following currency does not find a place

a. Euro
b. Japanese yen
c. British pound
d. US dollar

Choose your answer from below:

1. b only
2. c only
3. a only
4. None of the above

 

Que. What was the background against which the imposition of national emergency should be understood in India? What was the criticism? How justified is it?

Ans. In India, " Emergency" refers to a 21-month period in 1975–77 when Prime Minister Indira Gandhi unilaterally had a state of emergency declared across the country. Officially issued by President Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed under Article 352(1) of the Constitution for "internal disturbance", the Emergency was in effect from 25 June 1975 until its withdrawal on 21 March 1977.

It was preceded by turbulence in India for some years. During 1973–75, political unrest against the Indira Gandhi government increased across the country. The most significant of the initial such movement was the Nav Nirman movement in Gujarat, between December 1973 and March 1974. Student unrest against the state's education minister ultimately forced the central government to dissolve the state legislature, leading to the resignation of the chief minister, Chimanbhai Patel, and the imposition of President's rule. After the re-elections in June 1975, Gandhi's party was defeated by the Janata alliance, formed by parties opposed to the ruling Congress party.

Raj Narain, who had been defeated in parliamentary election by Indira Gandhi, lodged cases of election fraud and use of state machinery for election purposes against her in the Allahabad High Court. Shanti Bhushan fought the case for Narain. Gandhi was also cross-examined in the High Court which was the first such instance for an Indian prime minister.

In June 1975, Allahabad High Court found the prime minister guilty on the charge of misuse of government machinery for her election campaign. The court declared her election null and void and unseated her from her seat in the Lok Sabha. The court also banned her from contesting any election for an additional six years.

Strikes in trade, student and government unions swept across the country. Led by JP and Morarji Desai, protestors flooded the streets of Delhi close to the Parliament building and the Prime Minister's residence.

Indira Gandhi challenged the High Court's decision in the Supreme Court. Justice V. R. Krishna Iyer upheld the High Court judgement but she was allowed to continue as Prime Minister. The next day, JP organised a large rally in Delhi, where he said that a police officer must reject the orders of government if the order is immoral and unethical as this was Mahatma Gandhi's motto during the freedom struggle. Such a statement was taken as a sign of inciting rebellion in the country. Indira Gandhi asked President Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed to issue a proclamation of a state of emergency. The proposal was sent without discussion with the Union Cabinet, who only learnt of it and ratified it the next morning.

Criticism of the Emergency-era may be grouped as:

1.     Detention of people by police without charge or notification of families

2.     Abuse and torture of detainees and political prisoners

3.     Use of public and private media institutions, like the national television network Doordarshan, for government propaganda Forced sterilisation.

4.     Destruction of the slum and low-income housing in the Turkmen Gate and Jama Masjid area of old Delhi.

5.     Large-scale and illegal enactment of laws (including modifications to the Constitution).

On 18 January 1977, Gandhi called fresh elections for March and released all political prisoners. The Emergency officially ended on 23 March 1977.

Shah Commission was a commission of inquiry appointed by Government of India in 1977 to inquire into all the excesses committed in the Indian Emergency.

Some say that Mrs.Gandhi imposed Emergency for her own survival. Others say that it was called for as the protests did not allow normal functioning of government. The question was: Should the democratically elected government be allowed to function for five years or civil and political agitation be permitted to derail it?

 

Que. Describe the "Total revolution" of Jayaprakash Narayan.

Ans. Bihar Movement was a movement initiated by students in Bihar in 1974 and led by the veteran Gandhian socialist Jayaprakash Narayan, popularly known as JP, against misrule of and corruption in the government of Bihar. It later turned against Prime Minister Indira Gandhi's government at the centre. It was also called Total Revolution Movement and JP Movement

Total Revolution of JP is a combination of seven revolu­tions, viz., political, social, economic, cultural, ideological or intellectual, educational and spiritual; and the main motive being to bring in a change in the existing society that is in tune with the ideals of the Sarvodaya. JP had a very idealistic notion of soci­ety and it is in this endeavor, he shifted from Marxism to Socialism and later towards Sarvodaya.

By the early 1970s, JP completely withdrew from party and power politics, and con­centrated more on social regeneration through peaceful means. In order to better the situation, despite his old age, he embarked on the task of working towards bringing in a complete change in the political and economic life of India.

JP began to organize youth to save the democracy from degeneration and called this revolution as Total Revolution. The momentum to the movement came when there were agitations in Gujarat and followed in Bihar as well.

In 1974, the Bihar agitations spiralled into massive protests by the people to bring about a change in the political, social and educational system. Explaining the term ‘peoples government’, JP stated that it would be a small unit of democracy at the village, panchayat, or the block level, at all the three levels, if possible.

These units were regarded as the sources of the power of the people in times of peace, as well injustice or tyranny, and mainly for the reconstruction of the society on the basis of equality and the elimina­tion of poverty, oppression and exploitation. JP further called upon the people of Bihar as well as the entire India to unite by cutting across their individual and party interests.

His motive behind charging up the Bihar students was to bring about a complete change in the entire governmental structure and the system of Indian polity. It is for this reason he called it a Total Revolution.

He was aiming at uprooting of corruption from political and social life in India. Besides this, JP wanted to create conditions wherein the people living below the poverty line could get the minimum necessities of life. Thus, total revolution was a device for bringing about a Gandhian humanist version of an ideal society.

 

Que. Trace the origins of the term "Sarvodaya" and state its post-Independence impact.

Ans. Sarvodaya is a term meaning 'universal uplift' or 'progress of all'. The term was first coined by Mahatma Gandhi as the title of his 1908 translation of John Ruskin's tract on political economy, Unto This Last, and Gandhi came to use the term for the ideal of his own political philosophy. Later Gandhians, like the Indian nonviolence activist Vinoba Bhave, embraced the term as a name for the social movement in post-independence India which strove to ensure that self-determination and equality reached all strata of Indian society.

Gandhi's ideals have lasted well beyond the achievement of one of his chief projects, Indian independence (swaraj). His followers in India (notably, Vinoba Bhave) continued working to promote the kind of society that he envisioned, and their efforts have come to be known as the Sarvodaya Movement. Sarvodaya workers associated with Vinoba, Jaya Prakash Narayan and others undertook various projects aimed at encouraging popular self-organisation during the 1950s and 1960s, including Bhoodan and Gramdan movements. Many groups descended from these networks continue to function locally in India today.

 

Que. Partially hydrogenated oils (PHO): Why do we hydrogenate edible oils and what is wrong with it?

Ans. Fatty acids are characterized as either saturated or unsaturated based on the presence of double bonds in its structure. If the molecule contains no double bonds, it is said to be saturated; otherwise, it is unsaturated to some degree.

To convert soybean, cottonseed, or other liquid oil into a solid shortening, the oil is heated in the presence of hydrogen and a catalyst. That hydrogenation process converts some polyunsaturated fatty acids to monounsaturated and saturated fatty acids. It also converts some monounsaturated fatty acids to saturated fatty acids. Thus, a healthy oil is converted into a harmful one. The problem arises when some of the fatty acids are converted to the “trans” form. The term “trans” comes from the fact that two parts of fatty acid molecules are on opposite sides
of double bonds. In the usual “cis” fatty acids, the two parts are on the same side of the double bonds. The degree of hydrogenation determines how solid the final product will be

Hydrogenated oils - treating with hydrogen- are more stable than corresponding natural oils with unsaturated fats. Saturated fats are mostly found in animal sources (Butter, Ghee etc) which are scarce and hence expensive. Oils from vegetable sources are mostly unsaturated, abundant and less expensive. So, partial hydrogenation of less expensive unsaturated fats from vegetable sources is an attractive commercial proposition. They are not only stable and make the fried food product last longer but also adds to the taste. That is why we find widespread use in commercial cooking in Breads, Cookies, Cream Biscuits, Sweets, fried snacks, chocolates and ice creams.

The primary health risk identified for trans fat consumption is an elevated risk of coronary heart disease. The reason is trans fat increases the level of LDL or bad cholesterol and decreases HDL or good cholesterol. Other ill-effects are Alzheimer’s disease, Cancer, Diabetes, Obesity, Liver dysfunction and infertility in women.

Artificial trans fat will be phased out in the USA as Food and Drug Administration has determined that its main source, partially hydrogenated oils, are not safe for human consumption. The FDA wants that food manufacturers must stop using partially hydrogenated oils within three years.

 

Red and Blue Notices of Interpol

An Interpol notice is an international alert used by police to communicate information about crimes, criminals and threats to their counterparts around the world. They are circulated by Interpol to all member states at the request of a member or an authorised international entity. The information disseminated via notices concerns individuals wanted for serious crimes, missing persons, unidentified bodies, possible threats, prison escapes etc.

There are eight types, seven of which are colour-coded by their function: Red, Blue, Green, Yellow, Black, Orange, and Purple. The most well-known notice is the Red Notice which is the "closest instrument to an international arrest warrant in use today."

Red Notice: To seek the location and arrest of a person wanted by a judicial jurisdiction or an international tribunal with a view to his/her extradition.

Blue Notice: To locate, identify or obtain information on a person of interest in a criminal investigation.

Green Notice: To warn about a person’s criminal activities if that person is considered to be a possible threat to public safety.

 

MCQ

AP Shah committee was recently set up by the Union Government for the following purpose

1. to look into the minimum alternate tax (MAT)
2. General Anti-Avoidance Rule (GAAR)
3. mobilisation of resources for major railway projects
4. Euthanasia

 

Que. How revolutionary is the "organ on a chip" technology?

Ans. The paradigm used by pharmaceutical companies to discover and develop new drugs is broken. Clinical studies take years to complete and testing a single compound can cost more than $2 million. Meanwhile, innumerable animal lives are lost, and the process often fails to predict human responses because traditional animal models do not accurately mimic human physiology. For these reasons, the pharmaceutical industry needs alternative ways to screen drug candidates in the laboratory. Therefore, organ chips are being tried.

An organ-on-a-chip (OC) is a multi-channel 3-D microfluidic cell culture chip that simulates the activities, mechanics and physiological response of entire organs and organ systems. It constitutes the subject matter of significant biomedical engineering research, more precisely in bio-MEMS. The convergence of labs-on-chips (LOCs) and cell biology has permitted the study of human physiology in an organ-specific context, introducing a novel model of in vitro multicellular human organisms. Soon, they will perhaps abolish the need for animals in drug development and toxin testing.

Research Institutes are engineering microchips that recapitulate the microarchitecture and functions of living organs, such as the lung, heart, and intestine. These microchips, called organs-on-chips, could soon form an accurate alternative to traditional animal testing. Each individual organ-on-chip is composed of a clear flexible polymer about the size of a computer memory stick that contains hollow microfluidic channels lined by living human cells. Because the microdevices are translucent, they provide a window into the inner workings of human organs.

However, building valid artificial organs requires not only a precise cellular manipulation, but a detailed understanding of the human body’s fundamental intricate response to any event.

 

Que. As far as bad loans of banks are concerned, who is a wilful defaulter and what can be done?

Ans. Wilful default broadly covers the following:

a. Deliberate non-payment of the dues despite adequate cash flow and good networth;
b. Siphoning off of funds to the detriment of the defaulting unit;
c. Assets financed either not been purchased or been sold and proceeds have been misutilised;
d. Misrepresentation / falsification of records;
e. Disposal / removal of securities without bank's knowledge;
f. Fraudulent transactions by the borrower.

Steps to be taken

1. While dealing with wilful default of a single borrowing company in a Group, the banks / FIs should consider the track record of the individual company, with reference to its repayment performance to its lenders. However, in cases where a letter of comfort and / or the guarantees furnished by the companies within the Group on behalf of the wilfully defaulting units are not honoured when invoked by the banks / FIs, such Group companies should also be reckoned as wilful defaulters.

2. Role of auditors: In case any falsification of accounts on the part of the borrowers is observed by the banks / FIs, and if it is observed that the auditors were negligent or deficient in conducting the audit, they should lodge a formal complaint against the auditors of the borrowers with the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India (ICAI) to enable the ICAI to examine and fix accountability of the auditors.

3. Grievances Redressal Mechanism should be set up

4. Banks/FIs should take quick measures in identifying and reporting instances of wilful default:like : decisions to classify the borrower as wilful defaulter should be entrusted to a Committee of higher functionaries headed by the Executive Director and consisting of two GMs/DGMs as decided by the Board of the concerned bank/FI; The decision taken on classification of wilful defaulters should be well documented and supported by requisite evidence. The decision should clearly spell out the reasons for which the borrower has been declared as wilful defaulter vis-à-vis RBI guidelines.

5. Monitoring of End Use

6. Criminal Action by Banks / FIs: It is essential to recognise that there is scope even under the existing legislations to initiate criminal action against wilful defaulters depending upon the facts and circumstances of the case under the provisions of Indian Penal Code (IPC) 1860.

 

Que. What is extradition and how far is extradition a judicial process?

Ans. Extradition is the legal process by which a person is transferred from one place to another without the person’s consent. This is a legal method to prevent people from evading justice. When a person commits a crime in a state and then goes to a different one, the person can be sent back to face charges in the state where the crime was committed. Generally, a country’s power to arrest a fugitive only extends within its borders. If there is no provision for extradition, people can evade justice by moving from one place to another. Extradition treaties are signed between nations with the intention to transfer criminals from a requested country to a requesting country. International extradition is allowed by nations only after imposing conditions to the process. When an extradition treaty is signed, the parties to the treaty provide the offenses for which an individual can be extradited. International extradition matters are negotiated by the executive branch of federal government.

Role of judiciary

However, even if the executive branch is in favor of the foreign nation’s request, extradition requests can be turned down by the judicial branch. The judiciary can dismiss an extradition request if the charges the foreign government leveled against the captive are not crimes in the country where the criminal has escaped to. The judicial branch can also dismiss an extradition request if the captive has a reasonable fear of facing cruel and unusual punishment if s/he was extradited, or if the captive had a reasonable fear that s/he would not face a fair trial.

A nation cannot surrender a fugitive to another nation or demand return of an offender from the nation if it is against the constitution of the nation.

In India the provisions of Indian Extradition Act, 1962, govern the extradition of a fugitive from India to a foreign country or vice-versa. The basis of extradition could be a treaty between India and a foreign country.

Underworld don and prime accused in the Mumbai blasts Abu Salem was extradited from Portugal along with wife Monica Bedi.
When India requested Portugal government for the extradition of Abu Salem, Portuguese court ordered their extradition after the Indian government, through its lawyer, gave an assurance that if convicted they would not be sentenced to death. The assurance was given since European law prohibits extradition of any accused to such a country where capital punishment is in vogue. As per the Portuguese Constitution, no one can be extradited in respect of offences punishable by death penalty under the law of the state requesting extradition.

* Lalit Modi episode fallout

 

Que. What is Magna Carta? Why is it important? How is it relevant today?

Ans. Magna Carta, which means ‘The Great Charter’, is one of the most important documents in history as it established the principle that everyone is subject to the law, even the king, and guarantees the rights of individuals, the right to justice and the right to a fair trial.In 1215 King John agreed to the terms of the Magna Carta following the uprising of a group of rebel barons in England.Magna Carta was created as a peace treaty between the king and the rebels.Magna Carta, among other things, gives all English subjects the right to justice and a fair trial. It says: “No free man shall be seized or imprisoned, or stripped of his rights or possessions, or outlawed or exiled, or deprived of his standing in any other way, nor will we proceed with force against him, or send others to do so, except by the lawful judgement of his equals or by the law of the land.

Why is it significant today?

The Magna Carta is considered one of the first steps taken in England towards establishing parliamentary democracy.

 

What wider role has it played?

There are strong influences from the Magna Carta in the American Bill of Rights, written in 1791. Indian Constitution has Fundamental Rights that were inspired by American Bill of Rights.

Even more recently, the basic principles of the Magna Carta are seen very clearly in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948.

 

Ethics and Integrity

Propriety and Public Life

Propriety means conformity to established standards of morals and appropriateness for the purpose or circumstances; suitability
rightness or justness. It is an essential attribute of those in public service.

The meaning of the term propriety encompasses ‘appropriateness’, ‘rightness’, ‘correctness in behaviour or morals’, ‘conformity with convention in conduct’, ‘the standards of behaviour considered correct by society’. The core principles of the concept of propriety could be summarised as under:

 

v Integrity

v Openness

v Objectivity

v Honesty

v Selflessness

The concept of propriety can be related to various other concepts. To list a few:

 

v Accountability

v Legality

v Probity

v Value for money

v Fraud & Corruption

v Governance

 

Though the concept of propriety is generally associated with public sector activities, the time has now come to apply this concept even in the private sector. With the changing environment, there is a greater emphasis on conformance with prescribed values, customs, procedures and practices, keeping in mind the public interest.

In India there is a Statement of Judicial Values that sets high benchmarks for judicial behaviour in line with propriety.

The Civil Service Code sets out the standards of behaviour expected of all civil servants, for example, participation of government servants in political activities and attendance by government servants at political meetings.

No member of the Civil Service shall use his position or influence directly or indirectly to secure employment for any member of his family with any private undertaking or Non- Government Organisation.

Civil servants should not abuse office and official power.

Auditors and companies also have demands of propriety. For example, recent examples of Nestle's Maggi being contaminated and the auditors of Satyam Computer Services Ltd overlooking best practices.

* Fallout of Sushma Swaraj episode

 

Que. How does one resolve the “Calorie Consumption Puzzle” in the case of India?

Ans. India's “Calorie Consumption Puzzle” has attracted the attention of many scholars in recent years. The relevant question is: why has the country’s nutritional intake been declining over the past few decades while people’s purchasing power is increasing. When it is generally true that richer people consume more calories, why is the Indian trend the opposite? Why do China and Vietnam show normal trend of rising food consumption with growth while only India is going the other way?

Several explanations for the puzzle have been offered by researchers. One theory that has become popular is declining calorie needs – people are choosing to consume fewer calories since they need less energy as s the workforce shifts from physically demanding agricultural work to while collar occupations in cities and as agriculture becomes mechanised, calorie requirements of the population are expected to decline. Another explanation centres on diseases such as diarrhoea that result in loss of energy. Greater availability of safe drinking water and better sanitation in India has led to better epidemiological conditions, resulting in fewer cases of diarrhoea and other diseases, and ultimately leading to falling calorie requirements.

Other explanations include increase in food inflation, supplies not matching demand in protein food, vegetarianism that shifts from cereals but can’t have protein as it costs more nor meat, voluntary choice of luxuries like TVs over food, and underreporting of calorie intake due to eating outside the home.

 

Que. Write on Sufism in Indias: Its origins, Main Silsilas and Impact

Ans. The early Sufi mystics stressed on the virtues of repentance, abstinence, renunci­ation, poverty and trust in God. The early Sufis were wanderers but in due course of time the Sufi groups had become orders and we notice the formation of Sufi orders or Salsilas. After the establishment of the Delhi Sultanate, many Sufi orders were established in different parts of India and Sufism became very influential by the 14th century. They believed in the equality of all human beings and brotherhood of man. Their concept of universal brotherhood and the humanitarian ideas of the Sufi saints attracted the Indian mind. A movement similar to Sufism, called the Bhakti cult, was already afoot in India on the eve of the Muslim conquest of the country. The liberal-minded Sufis were, therefore, welcomed in India. The Sufi movement proved very helpful in bridging the gap between the followers of the two religions and in bringing the Hindus and the Muslims together.
Three of the most important Silsilas during the period of the Sultanate are as follows:

1.    The Suhrawardi Silsila which was founded in India by Shaik Bahauddin Zakaria (AD 1182-1262).After his death in 1236 A.D., his devotees continued to celebrate an annual Urs festival at Ajmer.

2.    Nizamuddin Auliya. He led a simple austere life and lived in Delhi. By his vast learning, religious knowledge, and tolerant attitude to all religions, he earned devotion of both the Hindu and Muslim masses.

3.    The Chisti Silsila introduced in India by Khwaja Moinuddin Chisti, who died in AD 1236. Even today he is venerated by Muslims and his tomb is located at Ajmer, which became a sacred pilgrimage. Besides the above two orders, there existed the orders of the Firdausi, the Qadiri, the Shatauri, Qalandari, etc.

While Sufism reached India in the 12th century A.D, ts influence grew considerably during the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. In India, Chisti and Suhrawardi Silsila were most prominent.

A critical study of the tenets of Sufism indicates that it was acquainted with Hinduism and Hindu thought and had imbibed certain elements of Indian idealism and adopted many Yogic practices and also was influenced by Upanishadic idealism and Vedanta.

The early Sufis were not only ascetics but also lived a life of voluntary poverty shunning all types of worldly pleasures. Khwaja Fariduddin, popularly known as Baba declared, “The main purpose of this path is the concentration of heart which can be achieved only by the abstination from prohibited means of livelihood and association with kings”. Thus, most of the Sufis in India conceived and preached divine unity in terms of idealistic monoism while many Hindus found the Sufi ideas very similar to those of Vedantic philosophy.

The lower strata of Hindu community appear to be greatly attracted by the ideas of social equality and fraternity of Islam. Thus the simplicity, toleration and liberation of the Sufis in India released syncretic forces and led to a sort of cultural synthesis.

The Sufi movement gained impetus during the reign of Akbar who adopted a liberal religious policy under the influence of the Sufi saints.

Abul Fazal had mentioned the existence of 14 Silsilahs in India. A close link that existed between the leader or Pir and his murids or disciples was a vital element of the Sufi system.

The Sufi Movement in India helped in establishing peace and amity among the Hindus and Muslims.

Impact of Sufism

The liberal ideas and unorthodox principles of Sufism had a profound influence on Indian society. The liberal principles of Sufi sects restrained orthodox. Muslims in their attitude and encouraged many Muslim rulers to pursue tolerant attitude to their non-Muslim subjects. Most Sufi saints preached their teachings in the language of common man that contributed greatly to the evolution of various Indian languages like Urdu, Punjabi, Sindhi, Kashmiri and Hindi. The impact of Sufi Movement was deeply felt on some renowned poets of the period, like Amir Khusrau and Malik Muhammad Jayasi who composed poems in Persian and Hindi in praise of Sufi principles.

 

Que. What is a social dilemma? How is it related to social capital?

Ans. A social dilemma occurs when an individual faces the choice of incurring a personal cost for a greater benefit for others. When social capital (trust, cooperation, understanding and sharing among members of society) is high, individuals are more prepared to incur such individual costs for the greater good; and when most people in society behave in that manner, society as a whole benefits in higher economic productivity, stronger social insurance, greater social resilience to natural hazards, and greater mutual care (such as Good Samaritans coming to the emergency aid of others).

Many social dilemmas occur in countless face to-face encounters in daily life and business dealings. When two individuals engage in a business encounter, there are the possibilities that they may engage in deceitful behavior such as theft, fraud, or even violence. Some of these threats can be controlled by legal contracts, but writing and enforcing contracts can be costly or even impossible in some circumstances. Thus, trust is critical: the confidence that the counterparty will behave honestly or morally and transparently.

Without social trust, a wide range of mutually beneficial economic and social arrangements may be impossible to negotiate, much less to sustain.

Other social dilemmas occur at the societal scale. When social capital is high, individual citizens are more prepared to pay their taxes honestly, more prepared to support investment in public goods, and more likely to support social insurance policies. The Scandinavian countries, with perhaps the highest social capital in the world, also have the most extensive social welfare systems (broadly classified as social democracy). High social capital is conducive to electoral support for a strong social safety net and extensive social services.

Social capital is best built by exemplary laws, execution, systems and behaviour of leaders in all walks of life.

 

Que. Differences between pre-emptive strike, preventive strike, covert and clandestine operations, under cover operations and hot pursuit. Where does the recent Army operation in Myanmar fit in?

Ans. A preemptive war is a war that is commenced in an attempt to repel or defeat a perceived imminent offensive or invasion, or to gain a strategic advantage in an impending (allegedly unavoidable) war shortly before that attack materializes. The term: 'preemptive war' is sometimes confused with the term: 'preventive war'. The difference is that a preventive war is launched to destroy the potential threat of the targeted party, when an attack by that party is not imminent or known to be planned, while a preemptive war is launched in anticipation of immediate aggression by another party.

A covert operation is "an operation that is so planned and executed as to conceal the identity of or permit denial by the sponsor." Covert operations aim to fulfill their mission objectives without any parties knowing who sponsored or carried out the operation.

To go "undercover" is to avoid detection by the entity one is observing, and especially to disguise one's own identity or use an assumed identity for the purposes of gaining the trust of an individual or organization to learn or confirm confidential information or to gain the trust of targeted individuals in order to gather information or evidence. Traditionally, it is a technique employed by law enforcement agencies or private investigators, and a person who works in such a role is commonly referred to as an undercover agent. It is a part of covert/clandestine operations.

Covert operations and clandestine operations are distinct. A covert operation differs from a clandestine operation in that emphasis is placed on concealment of identity of sponsor rather than on concealment of the operation itself."

An overt operation is one conducted openly, without concealment.

In a covert operation, the identity of the sponsor is concealed, while in a clandestine operation the operation itself is concealed. Put differently, clandestine means "hidden," while covert means "deniable."

What then is stealth? The term stealth refers to tactics aimed at providing and preserving the element of surprise and reducing enemy resistance; and to a set of technologies (stealth technology) to aid in those tactics. Secrecy and stealthiness are often desired in clandestine and covert operations.

Covert operations are employed in situations where openly operating against a target would be disadvantageous. Covert operations may include sabotage, assassinations, support for coups d'état, or support for subversion. Tactics include the use of a false flag or front group.

Hot pursuit implies pursuit without unreasonable delay and generally is immediate pursuit. It can also refer to chasing a suspect into a neighboring jurisdiction in an emergency, without time to alert law enforcement people in that area.

Now, how do we characterise the Indian army's killing of the insurgents in Myanmar? It was clandestine and covert till it lasted. It has become overt when declared. Undercover agents must have been active. Stealth, there was. Hot pursuit, it was not as we did not chase them after they ambushed. We took time to plan and execute. Pre-emptive, it was for future militant actions. The question of it being "preventive" does not arise.

 

Que. What is the controversy around Monosodium glutamate (MSG) in India and elsewhere?

Ans. Monosodium glutamate (MSG) is a flavor enhancer commonly added to Chinese food, canned vegetables, soups and processed meats. Authorities classified MSG as a food ingredient that's "generally recognized as safe," but its use remains controversial. For this reason, when MSG is added to food, it is required that it be listed on the label.

MSG has been used as a food additive for decades. Over the years, many complaints have been received of adverse reactions to foods containing MSG. These reactions — known as MSG symptom complex — include:

Headache

Sweating

Numbness

Heart palpitations

Chest pain

Nausea

Weakness

However, researchers have found no definitive evidence of a link between MSG and these symptoms. Researchers acknowledge, though, that a small percentage of people may have short-term reactions to MSG. Symptoms are usually mild and don't require treatment. The only way to prevent a reaction is to avoid foods containing MSG.

In May 2015 Food Safety Regulators from the Uttar Pradesh, India found that Maggi 2 Minute Noodles had up to 17 times beyond permissible safe limits of lead in addition to monosodium glutamate in it. On 3 June 2015, New Delhi Government banned the sale of Maggi in New Delhi stores for 15 days because it found lead and monosodium glutamate in the eatable beyond permissible limit. The Gujarat FDA on June 4, 2015 banned the noodles for 30 days after 27 out of 39 samples were detected with objectionable levels of metallic lead, among other things. Some of India's biggest retailers like Future Group, Big Bazaar, Easy day and Nilgiris have imposed a nationwide ban on Maggi. Thereafter multiple state authorities in India found unacceptable amount of lead and it has been banned in many states in India. On June 4 2015 Govt. Of Tamil Nadu also bans maggi and other four brand noodles due to unacceptable amount of lead and other components.

On June 5, 2015, Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) ordered recall of all nine approved variants of Maggi instant noodles from India, terming them "unsafe and hazardous" for human consumption. On the same day, Food Safety Agency of United Kingdom launched an investigation to find levels of lead in Maggi noodles. Nepal also indefinitely banned Maggi over concerns about lead levels in the product.

Que. What is lead poisoning and how is it harmful to humans?

Ans. Lead poisoning (also known as plumbism, colica pictorum, saturnism, Devon colic, or painter's colic) is a type of metal poisoning and a medical condition in humans and other vertebrates caused by increased levels of the heavy metal lead in the body. Lead interferes with a variety of body processes and is toxic to many organs and tissues including the heart, bones, intestines, kidneys, and reproductive and nervous systems. It interferes with the development of the nervous system and is therefore particularly toxic to children, causing potentially permanent learning and behavior disorders. Symptoms include abdominal pain, headache, anemia, irritability, and in severe cases seizures, coma, and death.

Routes of exposure to lead include contaminated air, water, soil, food, and consumer products. One of the largest threats to children is lead paint that exists in many homes. Prevention of lead exposure can range from individual efforts (e.g., removing lead-containing items such as piping or blinds from the home) to nationwide policies (e.g., laws that ban lead in products, reduce allowable levels in water or soil, or provide for cleanup and mitigation of contaminated soil, etc.)

Elevated lead in the body can be detected by the presence of changes in blood cells visible with a microscope and dense lines in the bones of children seen on X-ray. No safe threshold for lead exposure has been discovered—that is, there is no known sufficiently small amount of lead that will not cause harm to the body.

 

Que. Comment on the causes for the increasing incidence of woman-headed households in India.

Ans. According to census 2011, a little over 13% of households in the country are headed by women. With about four in every ten houses headed by a women, Lakshadweep has the highest proportion of such households. It is followed by Kerala, Goa, Meghalaya and Himachal Pradesh. Apart from the matrilineal tradition, there are other social and economic reasons behind the presence of female headed households. These include widowhood, divorce, separation, migration of male members for long periods and loss of economic ability of males because of disability.

 

Que Differentiate between "essential amino acids" and others and also define "complete protein".

Ans. Proteins are composed of 21 biological amino acids. 9 of these are “essential amino acids”, which means our bodies cannot produce them, and they must be derived from food sources. The essential amino acids are phenylalanine (25 milligrams per kg of body weight), leucine (39), lysine (30), valine (26), threonine (15), methionine (15), isoleucine (20), histidine (10), and tryptophan (4). When we digest a food with protein, it breaks down into its amino acids, and each is used by the body for slightly different purposes.

A complete protein is one that includes all 9 essential amino acids. Most animal sources are complete proteins, and some plant proteins are as well. By combining several types of plant proteins (beans and rice for example), even non-meat eaters get complete protein.

 

Que. What is biological value and its importance to diet?

Ans. Biological value (BV) is a measure of the proportion of absorbed protein from a food which becomes incorporated into the proteins of the organism's body. It captures how readily the digested protein can be used in protein synthesis in the cells of the organism. Proteins are the major source of nitrogen in food. BV measures the proportion of this nitrogen absorbed by the body which is then excreted. The remainder must have been incorporated into the proteins of the organisms body. The higher the Biological Value of the protein you use, the more nitrogen your body can absorb, use, and retain. Whey protein has the highest BV value, rating as a 104. Egg protein is only second to whey rating as a 100 with milk proteins being a close third rating as 91Beef rates as an 80 with soy proteins a distant 74. High biological value proteins are provided by animal sources of protein, such as meat, poultry, fish, eggs, milk, cheese and yogurt. Low biological value proteins are found in plants, legumes, grains, nuts, seeds and vegetables. The topic assumes relevance in the context of the recent decision of some state governments in India like Madhya Pradesh where egg is being replaced with vegetable and fruit.

 

Que. Write a short note on “ Goldilocks economy.”*

Ans. In economics, a Goldilocks economy sustains moderate economic growth and low inflation, which allows a market-friendly monetary policy. Goldilocks economy is characterized by a low unemployment rate, increasing asset prices (stocks, real estate, etc.), low interest rates, steady GDP growth and low inflation.
A bullish economy, with steep growth in market values and low losses due to inflation, denotes strong economic growth, though it may lead to rising inflation. In contrast, a bearish economy is the opposite, with stagnant economic performance and inflation rates soaking up any gains. In either extreme, the RBI acts to either cool off or heat up the economy, primarily by raising or lowering the official interest rates. When there is a balance, i.e. not rapid or stagnant growth, but sustained growth and a reasonably low inflation rate, it is a comfortable zone for investors to find long term growth and attractive values in various asset classes. Therefore, experts have labeled this balance between a bull economy and a bear economy, the Goldilocks Economy.

The name Goldilocks economy comes from children's story, The Three Bears, when Goldilocks proclaims that the porridge is "not too hot and not too cold…it is just right." Indeed, with sustained growth and a low inflation rate, the economic is usually considered "just right."

* RBI Governor used the term while delivering the bimonthly credit and monetary policy yesterday.

 

Que. Is altruism a core value for civil servants? Answer with an introduction of altruism.

Ans. Altruism or selflessness is the principle or practice of concern for the welfare of others. It is a traditional virtue in many cultures and a core aspect of various religious traditions and secular worldviews. Altruism or selflessness is the opposite of selfishness. The word was coined by the French philosopher Auguste Comte as the opposite of egoism.

Altruism is when we act to promote someone else’s welfare, even at a risk or cost to ourselves. Studies have found that people’s first impulse is to cooperate rather than compete.

Altruism has deep roots in human nature because helping and cooperation promote the survival of our species. Darwin himself argued that altruism, which he called “sympathy” or “benevolence,” is “an essential part of the social instincts.”

This does not mean that humans are more altruistic than selfish; instead, evidence suggests we have deeply ingrained tendencies to act in either direction. Our challenge lies in finding ways to evoke the better angels of our nature.

Individuals come to exhibit charitable, philanthropic, and other pro-social, altruistic actions for the common good both by nature and by training. Moral education, law, civic leadership also establish ethos to develop altruism. Building social capital is crucial for good governance, economic development and social harmony. At its heart lies altruism and cooperation.

In a welfare state like ours that has the responsibility to eradicate poverty; bring about social equality and deliver goods and services to the deprived and vulnerable, civil service has to be altruistic. It is written in the Code as well. The welfare schemes that we have require our Civil Service to be sensitive , compassionate and generous which is the crux of altruism.

 

Que. Comment on " currency manipulation" and its effects.

Ans. Currency manipulation occurs when countries sell their own currencies in the foreign exchange markets, usually against dollars, to keep their exchange rates weak and the dollar strong. These countries thereby subsidize their exports and raise the price of their imports, sometimes by as much as 30-40%. They strengthen their international competitive positions, increase their trade surpluses and generate domestic production and employment at the expense of others. It becomes competitive devaluation whcih is a form of " Beggar , thy neighbour policy" in which those economies that can afford to devalue lose.

Currency manipulation extends throughout the Pacific Rim: in Japan, where Tokyo’s central bank has printed more yen to help its slumbering economy grow; in China, where the renminbi has long been fixed to the dollar rather than allowed to fluctuate in response to market forces; and in Malaysia, where the government has intervened to protect the ringgit against currency traders.The Swiss National Bank (SNB) undervalued swiss francs saying the high value of the franc is a threat to the economy. The SNB said it would enforce the minimum rate by buying foreign currency in unlimited quantities.

India is running a huge trade deficit with China and is becoming de-industrialised because of the undervaluation of Chinese renminbi through manipulation.

The U.S. trade deficit has been several hundred billion dollars a year higher as a result and lost several million additional jobs during the Great Recession. As a result, it joined the currency wars through QE. Currency manipulation is, by far, the world’s most protectionist international economic policy in the 21st century, but e International Monetary Fund and the World Trade Organization failed to check it.

 

Que. What is " big data" ? How is it useful in commerce and governance?

Ans. The basic idea behind the phrase ‘Big Data’ is that everything we do is increasingly leaving a digital trace (or data), which we (and others) can use and analyse. Big Data therefore refers to that data being collected and our ability to make use of it.Data collection itself isn’t new. We as humans have been collecting and storing data since as far back as 18,000 BCE. What’s new are the recent technological advances in chip and sensor technology, the Internet, cloud computing, and our ability to store and analyze data that have changed the quantity of data we can collect.Things that have been a part of everyday life for decades — shopping, listening to music, taking pictures, talking on the phone — now happen more and more wholly or in part in the digital realm, and therefore leave a trail of data.

The other big change is in the kind of data we can analyze.Now data analysts can also look at “unstructured” data like photos, tweets, emails, voice recordings and sensor data to find patterns.

As with any leap forward in innovation, the tool can be used for good or nefarious purposes. Some people are concerned about privacy, as more and more details of our lives are being recorded and analyzed by businesses, agencies, and governments every day.

Companies are using big data to better understand and target customers. Using big data, retailers can predict what products will sell, telecom companies can predict if and when a customer might switch carriers etc.

It’s also used to optimize business processes. Retailers are able to optimize their stock levels based on what’s trending on social media, what people are searching for on the web, or even weather forecasts. Supply chains can be optimized so that delivery drivers use less gas and reach customers faster.

Big data analytics enable us to find new cures and better understand and predict the spread of diseases. Police forces use big data tools to catch criminals and even predict criminal activity and credit card companies use big data analytics to detect fraudulent transactions.

As the tools to collect and analyze the data become less and less expensive and more and more accessible, we will develop more and more uses for it — everything from smart yoga mats to better healthcare tools and a more effective police force.

 

Que. Is organic farming the answer to climate change?

Ans. Organic farming, as an adaptation strategy to climate change is a concrete and sustainable option and has additional potential as a mitigation strategy. The careful management of nutrients and carbon sequestration in soils are significant contributors in adaptation and mitigation to climate change.

Organic agriculture is a holistic production management system. It emphasizes the use of management practices in preference to the use of off-farm inputs, taking into account that regional conditions. This is accomplished by using, where possible, cultural, biological, and mechanical methods, as opposed to using synthetic materials. An organic production system is designed to a) enhance biological diversity within the whole system; b) increase soil biological activity; c) maintain long-term soil fertility; d) recycle wastes of plant and animal origin in order to return nutrients to the land, thus minimizing the use of nonrenewable resources; e) rely on renewable resources in locally organized agricultural systems; f) promote the healthy use of soil, water, and air, as well as minimize all forms of pollution thereto that may result from agricultural practices;

Organic farming increases resilience to respond to the risk of climate variability. Where a region relies predominantly on rain fed agriculture, organic farming can respond well to droughts. In India, 60% of agriculture depends on rains. They are prone to drought.Climate change may make drought conditions even more common in the future thereby increasing food insecurity and migration rates.

From field trials conducted in arid, semi-arid, sub-humid and humid regions of India, it was found that organic farming techniques can improve soil carbon levels by five per cent to 25 per cent and increase the water holding capacity of soils between two per cent to 17 per cent. Organic agriculture provides environmental benefits through the sequestration of atmospheric carbon in soil organic matter.

Soils with higher concentration of carbon content are better able to absorb and retain water because the organic matter acts like `sponge` absorbing excess water and retaining it in the soil. More moisture in the soil is particularly valuable for farmers in drought prone, dry regions.

Organic farming systems also increase biodiversity by cultivating different genetically diverse crop varieties.

Together with using adaptation strategies such as water efficient irrigation techniques and drought tolerant seed varieties, organic farming can help farmers cope with the impacts of the changing climate.

 

Que. With examples from National Action Plan on Climate Change(NAPCC), differentiate between adaptation and mitigation.

Ans. In 2008, GOI released India’s first National Action Plan on Climate Change (NAPCC) policies and programs addressing climate mitigation and adaptation. The plan identifies eight core “national missions” running through 2017. Most of them address mitigation needs while adaptation issues are also covered.

1. National Solar Mission
2. National Mission for Enhanced Energy Efficiency
3. National Mission on Sustainable Habitat( To promote energy efficiency as a core component of urban planning, the plan calls for:
• Extending the existing Energy Conservation Building Code;
• A greater emphasis on urban waste management and recycling, including power production from waste;
• Strengthening the enforcement of automotive fuel economy standards and using pricing measures to encourage the purchase of efficient vehicles; and
• Incentives for the use of public transportation)
4. National Water Mission: With water scarcity projected to worsen as a result of climate change, the plan sets a goal of a 20% improvement in water use efficiency through pricing and other measures.
5. National Mission for Sustaining the Himalayan Ecosystem: The plan aims to conserve biodiversity, forest cover, and other ecological values in the Himalayan region, where glaciers that are a major source of India’s water supply are projected to recede as a result of global warming. 
6. National Mission for a “Green India”: Goals include the afforestation of 6 million hectares of degraded forest lands and expanding forest cover from 23% to 33% of India’s territory.
7. National Mission for Sustainable Agriculture: The plan aims to support climate adaptation in agriculture through the development of climate-resilient crops, expansion of weather insurance mechanisms, and agricultural practices.
8. National Mission on Strategic Knowledge for Climate Change: To gain a better understanding of climate science, impacts and challenges, the plan envisions a new Climate Science Research Fund, improved climate modeling, and increased international collaboration. It also encourage private sector initiatives to develop adaptation and mitigation technologies through venture capital funds.

While the last Mission addresses both, the last but one Mission is essentially adaptation-centered. Others are primarily mitigation-focused.

 

Que. In climate talks, the terms adaptation and mitigation are used often. What do they mean? Are they complementary? Give examples.

Ans. The challenge of dealing with the impacts of climate change is framed in terms of adaptation and mitigation. Mitigation involves cutting down emissions and thus reducing the magnitude of climate change itself. Mitigation of climate change means reducing greenhouse gas emissions and taking care of greenhouse gas sinks. Renewable energy, afforestation etc are mitigating agencies.

Adaptation, by contrast, involves efforts to limit our vulnerability to climate change impacts through various measures, while not necessarily dealing with the underlying cause of those impacts. Adaptive measures typically only deal with impacts on humans and not on ecosystems and our environment. Coral reefs, for example, are unlikely to adapt to the twin impacts of global warming and ocean acidification.

Restricting emissions is intended to slow and eventually reverse the growth of carbon dioxide (CO2) levels particularly in the atmosphere. Reducing emissions will affect CO2 levels slowly though because this gas has a long lifetime in the atmosphere. Therefore the effect of reductions in emissions on the average global temperature will not be seen for decades. Thus, mitigation has to coexist with adaptation.

Adaptation means to try to reduce the effects of climate change on vulnerable communities. It is thus preparing for a time when the climate, i.e. the average weather, is markedly different from what we experience today. As a word, “preparedness” describes better the active nature of adaptation; we try to forecast future weather conditions and create structures and operating models which will work in these new conditions.

In agriculture, drought resistant varieties, conservation of water structures etc are adaptation measures. Green Climate Fund
As explained above, Measures to mitigate climate change and to adapt to it complement each other. Without taking measures to mitigate climate change, there is a threat that the average temperature could rise to such levels that people's lives in many regions of the world would be significantly affected or be made impossible. In such a case even adaptation measures would not be able to guarantee everyone’s well-being. Even if emissions were successfully restricted, the slow elimination of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere would affect the climate for decades and centuries. That is why at the local level it is necessary to prepare for the future in any case and attempt to forecast the nature of the change and its effects. Thus some degree of preparation for the future is essential.

Measures to mitigate climate change and to adapt to it generally complement each other. Unless greenhouse gas emissions are mitigated, people's living conditions will become significantly more difficult and adaptation may become impossible in many parts of the globe. Take organic farming , for example, it adapts to climate change by keeping soil moist. At the same time, by avoiding agro chemicals, it also mitigates.

Green Climate Fund (GCF) that is set up internationally is an example for both.

 

Que. What is a heat wave and its effects? How can we minimise its negative effects on humans?

Ans. A heat wave is a prolonged period of excessively hot weather, which may be accompanied by high humidity, especially in oceanic climate countries. While definitions vary,a heat wave is measured relative to the usual weather in the area and relative to normal temperatures for the season. Temperatures that people from a hotter climate consider normal can be termed a heat wave in a cooler area if they are outside the normal climate pattern for that area.[2]

The term is applied both to routine weather variations and to extraordinary spells of heat which may occur only once a century. Severe heat waves have caused catastrophic crop failures, thousands of deaths from hyperthermia, and widespread power outages due to increased use of air conditioning. A heat wave is considered extreme weather, and a danger because heat and sunlight may overheat the human body.

The Odisha model of minimizing damage

After the heavy casualties in 1998, the Odisha government treats it as a disaster on the scale of cyclone or flood.By February-end, the government starts the preparation for fighting heat wave with a single objective in mind: no human casualty. Schools and colleges shift to early morning sessions. They open at 6.30am and end by 12 noon.Government offices also follow the same timings. Examinations are held by March. Public transport does not operate between 12 noon and 3.30pm. Public wage programmes like, MGNREGA is halted from 11.30am to 3.30pm.

A look at the heat wave deaths in Andhra Pradesh and Telengana would reveal that most of the people killed in the two states were labourers at construction sites who continued with their work even when the temperatures were at the peak.

There are other measures in place in Odisha to minimise heat wave impacts. Public health centres keep ice slabs ready to treat stroke patients. Panchayats across the state open water booths.
The state government also puts out continuous advertisements which guide people on how to combat heat wave. Hospitals in cities like Cuttack and Sambalpur deploy extra resources to attend to heat stroke patients. The ambulance network is activated and directed to be ready along the state and national highways. The government takes the help of the civil society in spreading awareness.

During April-June, the government’s state-level and district-level calamity centres continuously monitor the India Meteorological Department (IMD) temperature forecast and devise their strategies at local levels.

In Odisha, not all districts report high temperatures. But districts with high industrial activity report the maximum temperature rise. So, the district authorities devise their own action plans.
Heat wave is predictable and one can easily point out time band and places. We can’t stop it, but we can prepare well to reduce human casualties.

 

Que. Differentiate between Governor and Lt.Governor under the Indian law.

Ans. In India each state has a ceremonial Governor appointed by the President of India. Governor is the head of the state. Generally, a Governor is appointed for each state, but after the 7th Constitutional Amendment, 1956, a Governor can be appointed for more than one state.

Lieutenant-Governor is the head of a Union Territory. However the rank is present only in the Union Territories of Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Delhi and Pondicherry (the other territories have an administrator appointed).

Thus, Governors head the State Government in the states while Lieutenant-Governors exist in some union territories and in the National Capital Territory of Delhi.

The Governors and Lieutenant-Governors are appointed by the President for a term of 5 years.

 

 

Que. Describe the role and importance of Chief Secretary in State Government.

Ans. In India each state and some Union Territories have Chief Secretaries. Chief Secretary serves as head of all government staff in the state and is the Secretary of the State Cabinet of Ministers. The post of Chief Secretary is encadred within the Indian Administrative Service (IAS), meaning that only an IAS officer may hold this position. The Chief Secretary holds the same rank as a Secretary to the Government of India and the post falls within the "Apex Scale". Other positions in this payscale are Additional or Special Chief Secretary and Special Secretary to the Government of India. By tradition the seniormost IAS officer of the state cadre is chosen as the Chief Secretary but in many cases this is not so. The Chief Secretary heads the Department of General Administration as well.

Chief Secretary is appointed by the Chief Minister and the Ministers. Importance of the CS can be seen in these landmark Supreme Court judgments. E.P. Royappa (1974) states that “The post of Chief Secretary is a highly sensitive post…[Chief Secretary is a] lynchpin in the administration and smooth functioning of the administration requires that there should be complete rapport and understanding between the Chief Secretary and the Chief Minister. …” Similarly, Salil Sabhlok (2013) says: “it may be necessary for [the] Chief Minister of a State to appoint a ‘suitable’ person as a Chief Secretary or the Director General of Police…because both the State Government or the Chief Minister and the appointee share a similar vision of the administrative goals and requirements of the State. The underlying premise also is that the State Government or the Chief Minister has confidence that the appointee will deliver the goods, as it were, and both are administratively quite compatible with each other. If there is a loss of confidence or the compatibility comes to an end…”

 

 

Que. How can we prevent destruction of public property? Base your answer on the Justice K T Thomas committee report.

Ans. The Union Home Ministry has proposed a set of amendments to the Prevention of Damage to Public Property Act, 1984’ (PDPP) that seek to deter prospective violators from damaging public property during agitations and also make the office bearers of the organizations calling for such agitations responsible for any damage. These amendments follow the recommendations made by the Justice K T Thomas committee setup by the Supreme Court while dealing with a writ petition on this issue.

Damage to Public Property during violent protests is common place across the country. Public Transport Buses and other Public Property are the first victims during such protests. The government of India now proposes to the amend PDPP Act to put in place proper deterrents so as to prevent damage to public property.

Background

Taking a serious note of various instances where there was large scale destruction of public and private properties in the name of agitations, bandhs, hartals and the like, suo motu proceedings were initiated by a Bench of the Supreme Court in 2007. The court appointed two different committees, one headed by former supreme court judge, Justice K T Thomas and the other headed by Mr. Fali S Nariman. The Justice K T Thomas committee recommended:

1. The PDPP Act to contain provision to make the leaders of the organization, which calls the direct action, guilty of abetment of the offence.
2. Enable the police officers to arrange videography of the activities damaging public property

The court accepted these recommendations. The court also issued certain guidelines for effecting preventive action. It said, as soon as a demonstration is organized:

1. The organizer shall meet the police to review and revise the route to be taken and to lay down conditions for a peaceful march or protest
2. All weapons, including knives, lathis and the like shall be prohibited
3. An undertaking is to be provided by the organizers to ensure a peaceful march with marshals at each relevant junction
4. The police and State Government shall ensure videography of such protests to the maximum extent possible
5.In the event that demonstrations turn violent, the officer-in-charge shall ensure that the events are videographed through private operators and also request such further information from the media and others on the incidents in question.

 

Que. Does Project Mausam have strategic connotations? Answer with an introduction as to what is the project and its contents.

Ans. Project ‘Mausam’ is a multi-disciplinary project that rekindles long-lost ties across nations of the Indian Ocean ‘world’ and forges new avenues of cooperation and exchange. The project, launched by India in partnership with Indian oceran states is a significant step in recording and celebrating this important phase of world history from the African, Arab and Asian-world perspectives.

The project links historic coastal sites of countries in East Africa, along the Persian Gulf, UAE, Qatar, Iran, Myanmar, and Vietnam since the earlier Harappan civilization days - more than 5,000 years ago, to the present.

The Project tries to see how the monsoon winds helped maritime trade which, in turn, encouraged interaction between these Indian Ocean-connected countries. The winds also influenced local economies, scientific quests, modern statecraft, religion, politics and cultural identity.

The project will also record how religions like Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam and Christianity helped define the boundaries of this Indian Ocean 'world', creating networks of religious travel and pilgrimage through centuries.

This is said to be Indian counter-strategy to China’s Maritime Silk Road in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR). Project Mausam is essentially a Ministry of Culture project concerning the creation of cultural links with India’s maritime neighbours. Pursued in concert with the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), the project’s objective is two-fold: at the macro level to re-connect with the countries of the IOR with the aim of enhancing the understanding of cultural values and concerns; and, at a more localised level, to enable an understanding of national cultures in a regional maritime milieu.

The central themes that hold Project ‘Mausam’ together are those of cultural routes that not only linked different parts of the Indian Ocean littoral, but also connected the coastal centres to their hinterlands.

India's intention to carry out the Mausam project was announced on June 20 at the 38th session of the World Heritage Committee at Doha, Qatar.

Project Mausam is a strategic project aimed at re-establishing India's trade and shipping links with various Indian Ocean states.

India regards Indian Ocean as the key trade route as 90 per cent of its trade by volume and 90 per cent of its oil imports take place through sea.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visit to three Indian Ocean countries, Seychelles, Mauritius and Sri Lanka in March shows India is following throguh on Project mausam.

The Spice Route refers to revival of old links between 31 countries in Asia and Europe with India, particularly spice-rich Kerala .

 

 

Que. Comment on Kargil war and global response to it.

Ans. The Kargil War was an armed conflict between India and Pakistan that took place between May and July 1999 in the Kargil district of Kashmir and elsewhere along the Line of Control (LOC). The conflict is also referred to as Operation Vijay which was the name of the Indian operation to clear the Kargil sector.

The cause of the war was the infiltration of Pakistani soldiers and Kashmiri militants into positions on the Indian side of the LOC, which serves as the de facto border between the two states. During the initial stages of the war, Pakistan blamed the fighting entirely on independent Kashmiri insurgents, but evidence showed involvement of Pakistani paramilitary forces. The Indian Army, later on supported by the Indian Air Force, recaptured a majority of the positions. With international diplomatic opposition, the Pakistani forces withdrew from the remaining Indian positions along the LOC.

The war, to date, it is the only instance of direct, conventional warfare between nuclear weapon states.

Pakistan was criticised by other countries for instigating the war, as its paramilitary forces and insurgents crossed the Line of Control. Pakistan wanted the world to believe that it was an act of ' "Kashmiri freedom fighters". Veteran analysts argued that the battle was fought at heights where only seasoned troops could survive, so poorly equipped "freedom fighters" would neither have the ability nor the wherewithal to seize land and defend it. Moreover, while the army denied the involvement of its troops in the intrusion, former military dictator General Pervez Musharraf said Pakistan army entered Kargil from four points of which India was not aware(2015 May).Pakistan also attempted to internationalize the Kashmir issue, by linking the crisis in Kargil to the larger Kashmir conflict but, such a diplomatic stance found few backers on the world stage.

As the Indian counter-attacks picked up momentum, Pakistani prime minister Nawaz Sharif flew to meet U.S. President Bill Clinton to obtain support from the United States. Clinton rebuked Sharif, however, and asked him to use his contacts to rein in the militants and withdraw Pakistani soldiers from Indian territory. Clinton applauded Indian restraint for not crossing the LoC and escalating the conflict into an all-out war.

G8 nations supported India and condemned the Pakistani violation of the LOC at the Cologne summit. The European Union also opposed Pakistan's violation of the LOC. China, a long-time ally of Pakistan, insisted on a pullout of forces to the pre-conflict positions along the LoC and settling border issues peacefully. Other organizations like the ASEAN Regional Forum too supported India's stand on the inviolability of the LOC.

Que. How can we prevent destruction of public property? Base your answer on the Justice K T Thomas committee report.

Ans. The Union Home Ministry has proposed a set of amendments to the Prevention of Damage to Public Property Act, 1984’ (PDPP) that seek to deter prospective violators from damaging public property during agitations and also make the office bearers of the organizations calling for such agitations responsible for any damage. These amendments follow the recommendations made by the Justice K T Thomas committee setup by the Supreme Court while dealing with a writ petition on this issue.

Damage to Public Property during violent protests is common place across the country. Public Transport Buses and other Public Property are the first victims during such protests. The government of India now proposes to the amend PDPP Act to put in place proper deterrents so as to prevent damage to public property.

Background

Taking a serious note of various instances where there was large scale destruction of public and private properties in the name of agitations, bandhs, hartals and the like, suo motu proceedings were initiated by a Bench of the Supreme Court in 2007. The court appointed two different committees, one headed by former supreme court judge, Justice K T Thomas and the other headed by Mr. Fali S Nariman. The Justice K T Thomas committee recommended:

1. The PDPP Act to contain provision to make the leaders of the organization, which calls the direct action, guilty of abetment of the offence.

2. Enable the police officers to arrange videography of the activities damaging public property

The court accepted these recommendations. The court also issued certain guidelines for effecting preventive action. It said, as soon as a demonstration is organized:

1. The organizer shall meet the police to review and revise the route to be taken and to lay down conditions for a peaceful march or protest

2. All weapons, including knives, lathis and the like shall be prohibited

3. An undertaking is to be provided by the organizers to ensure a peaceful march with marshals at each relevant junction

4. The police and State Government shall ensure videography of such protests to the maximum extent possible

5. In the event that demonstrations turn violent, the officer-in-charge shall ensure that the events are videographed through private operators and also request such further information from the media and others on the incidents in question.

 

Que. Describe the role and importance of Chief Secretary in State Government.

Ans. In India each state and some Union Territories have Chief Secretaries. Chief Secretary serves as head of all government staff in the state and is the Secretary of the State Cabinet of Ministers. The post of Chief Secretary is encadred within the Indian Administrative Service (IAS), meaning that only an IAS officer may hold this position. The Chief Secretary holds the same rank as a Secretary to the Government of India and the post falls within the "Apex Scale". Other positions in this payscale are Additional or Special Chief Secretary and Special Secretary to the Government of India. By tradition the senior most IAS officer of the state cadre is chosen as the Chief Secretary but in many cases this is not so. The Chief Secretary heads the Department of General Administration as well.

Chief Secretary is appointed by the Chief Minister and the Ministers. Importance of the CS can be seen in these landmark Supreme Court judgments. E.P. Royappa (1974) states that “The post of Chief Secretary is a highly sensitive post…[Chief Secretary is a] lynchpin in the administration and smooth functioning of the administration requires that there should be complete rapport and understanding between the Chief Secretary and the Chief Minister. …” Similarly, Salil Sabhlok (2013) says: “it may be necessary for [the] Chief Minister of a State to appoint a ‘suitable’ person as a Chief Secretary or the Director General of Police…because both the State Government or the Chief Minister and the appointee share a similar vision of the administrative goals and requirements of the State. The underlying premise also is that the State Government or the Chief Minister has confidence that the appointee will deliver the goods, as it were, and both are administratively quite compatible with each other. If there is a loss of confidence or the compatibility comes to an end…”

 

Que. Differentiate between Governor and Lt.Governor under the Indian law.

Ans. In India each state has a ceremonial Governor appointed by the President of India. Governor is the head of the state. Generally, a Governor is appointed for each state, but after the 7th Constitutional Amendment, 1956, a Governor can be appointed for more than one state.

Lieutenant-Governor is the head of a Union Territory. However the rank is present only in the Union Territories of Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Delhi and Pondicherry (the other territories have an administrator appointed).

Thus, Governors head the State Government in the states while Lieutenant-Governors exist in some union territories and in the National Capital Territory of Delhi.

The Governors and Lieutenant-Governors are appointed by the President for a term of 5 years.

 

Que. What is Codex Alimentarius? Describe its work.

Ans. The Codex Alimentarius (Latin for "Book of Food") is a collection of internationally recognized standards, codes of practice, guidelines and other recommendations relating to foods, food production and food safety.

Its texts are developed and maintained by the Codex Alimentarius Commission, a body that was established in 1961 by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). World Health Organization (WHO) is associated with it. The Commission's main goals are to protect the health of consumers and ensure fair practices in the international food trade. The Codex Alimentarius is recognized by the World Trade Organization as an international reference point for the resolution of disputes concerning food safety and consumer protection. As of 2012, there were the 186 members.

The Codex Alimentarius covers all foods, whether processed, semi-processed or raw. In addition to standards for specific foods, the Codex Alimentarius contains general standards covering matters such as food labeling, food hygiene, food additives and pesticide residues, and procedures for assessing the safety of foods derived from modern biotechnology. It also contains guidelines for the management of official i.e. governmental import and export inspection and certification systems for foods.

* Remember, Maggie Noodles of Nestle is in news for violating food safety rules in Uttar Pradesh.

 

What is Bitcoin?

Bitcoin is a new type of money that is almost entirely virtual. It's like an online version of cash. We can use it to buy products and services, but not many shops accept Bitcoin yet.

 

Is it a currency?

Bitcoin is commonly referred to with terms like: digital currency, digital cash, virtual currency, electronic currency, or crypto currency Its inventor, Satoshi Nakamoto, used the term electronic cash. Bitcoins have 3 useful qualities in a currency, according to the Economist (2015): they are "hard to earn, limited in supply and easy to verify".

 

How does Bitcoin work?

Each Bitcoin is basically a computer file which is stored in a 'digital wallet' app on a smartphone or computer. People can send Bitcoins to our digital wallet, and we can send Bitcoins to other people. Every single transaction is recorded in a public list called the blockchain. This makes it possible to trace the history of Bitcoins so people can't spend coins they do not own or make copies.

 

How do people get Bitcoins?

There are three main ways people get Bitcoins.

• You can buy Bitcoins using 'real' money. At the moment one Bitcoin costs about £500.
• You can sell things and let people pay you with Bitcoins.

• Or they can be created using a computer.

 

How are new Bitcoins created?

In order for the Bitcoin system to work, people can make their computer process transactions for everybody. The computers are made to work out incredibly difficult sums. Occasionally they are rewarded with a Bitcoin for the owner to keep. People set up powerful computers just to try and get Bitcoins. This is called mining. But the sums are becoming more and more difficult to stop too many Bitcoins being generated. If one started mining now it could be years before she got a single Bitcoin. One could end up spending more money on electricity for your computer than the Bitcoin would be worth.

 

Why are Bitcoins valuable?

There are many financial assets other than money which we consider valuable like gold and diamonds. The Aztecs used cocoa beans as money! Bitcoins are valuable because people are willing to exchange them for real goods and services, and even cash.

 

Why do people want Bitcoins?

Some people like the fact that Bitcoin is not controlled by the government or banks. That means there are no taxes or bank fees to pay, at least for now. People can also spend their Bitcoins fairly anonymously. Although all transactions are recorded, nobody would know which 'account number' was yours unless you told them.

 

Is it secure?

Every transaction is recorded publicly so it's very difficult to copy Bitcoins, make fake ones or spend ones you don't own. It is possible to lose our Bitcoin wallet or delete our Bitcoins and lose them forever. There have also been thefts from websites that let us store our Bitcoins remotely. The value of Bitcoins goes up and down a lot, so it's impossible to say whether it's safe to turn our 'real' money into Bitcoins.

 

What are the advantages?

• Portfolio diversification

• Another vehicle for savings

• Safe in the face of banks going bankrupt

• Risk-return ratio is high

 

What are the issues?

1.     RBI should know how much such virtual currency is in circulation as a part of money supply estimates

2.     Money should be accounted for (Income Tax)

3.     It should not be drug or terror money

4.     The use of bitcoin by criminals has attracted the attention of financial regulators, legislative bodies, law enforcement, and media.

 

Que. Mention few women who were instrumental in causing changes in law either by judicial verdicts or parliamentary enactments.

Ans. Nirbhaya case led to tougher provisions and penalties under the Criminal Amendment Act of 2013. The victim died of the brutal injuries inflicted on her. The case also led to amendments in the Juvenile Justice Act as one of the accused in the case was a juvenile. On 7 May 2015, the Lok Sabha passed the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Bill, 2014, which seeks to allow children in the 16-18 age group to be tried as adults for heinous crimes. It is yet to be passed by the Rajya Sabha.

Bhanwari Devi case: Bhanwari Devi is an Indian dalit social-worker from Bhateri, Rajasthan, who was allegedly gang raped in 1992 by higher-caste men angered by her efforts to prevent a child marriage in their family. Her subsequent treatment by the police, and court acquittal of the accused, attracted widespread national and international media attention, and became a landmark episode in India's women's rights movement The apex court’s judgment in 1997, issued the Vishaka guidelines that put the onus on employers to provide a safe work environment for women.

Satya Rani Chadha case: Chadha launched the anti-dowry movement across India after her daughter died of burns in a dowry harassment case in 1979. Her agitation led to the government passing tighter laws against dowry deaths, shifting the burden of proof to the husband and his family, and making not just the husband but also his close relatives culpable.

Shah Bano case: On 23 April 1985, the Supreme Court granted maintenance to Shah Bano Begum, a 62-year-old Muslim mother of five who had been divorced by her husband, under Section 125 of the Criminal Procedure Code. Under pressure from the Islamic orthodoxy, the then Congress government, which had an absolute majority in Parliament, diluted this judgment by enacting The Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Divorce) Act, 1986—entitling a divorced Muslim woman to maintenance only during the period of iddat, or a period of 90 days after divorce, according to Islamic Law.

Aruna Shanbaug case: Passive euthanasia granted by apex court conditionally in 2011 though the judgement has been suspended and the issue has been refered to a Constitution bench.

 

Que. Explain seismic gap and decollement.

Ans. A seismic gap is a segment of an active fault known to produce significant earthquakes, that has not slipped in an unusually long time when compared with other segments along the same structure. Seismic gap hypothesis/theory states that, over long periods of time, the displacement on any segment must be equal to that experienced by all the other parts of the fault.Any large and longstanding gap is therefore considered to be the fault segment most likely to suffer future earthquakes.

One such is the central seismic gap, which runs northeast of Delhi along a region woven with unstable faults and including over 10 million people. Until April 25, observers had been concerned by the paucity of earthquakes in the gap: the longer there were no quakes, the more the pent up stresses, and the stronger a future quake will be. A research team’s conclusion describes an active thrust fault below Uttarakhand pregnant with enough tension to unleash a quake measuring at least 8 on the Richter scale. This, in a state already prone to crippling landslides and floods, and with 70% of its population (of about 10 million) residing in rural areas. They attribute the tremendous tension to a geometry of rock that has partially separated from a layer beneath and caused folds and deformations. The technical term for this geometry is a décollement:the landscape and erosion rate patterns suggest that the décollement beneath the state of Uttarakhand provides a sufficiently large and coherent fault segment capable of hosting a great earthquake.

Décollement (detachment) folds develop during folding, secondary to separation of a (more competent) layer from an underlying (less competent) layer as deformation proceeds.

 

Que. Differentiate among Client State, Satelite State, Buffer State, Buffer Zone, Protectorate and Neo-colony with examples.

Ans. Client State

A client state is a state that is economically, politically, or militarily subordinate to another more powerful state in international affairs.

Satellite State

The political term satellite state stands for a country that is formally independent in the world, but under heavy political, economic and military influence or control from another country. The term was coined by analogy to planetary objects orbiting a larger object, such as smaller moons revolving around larger planets, and is used mainly to refer to Central and Eastern European countries of the Warsaw Pact during the Cold War under the hegemony of the Soviet Union.

In times of war or political tension, satellite states sometimes serve as buffers between an enemy country and the nation exerting control over the satellites. Alleged subordination of one state to another is meant by it. Other such terms include puppet state and neo-colony. In general, the term "satellite state" implies deep ideological and military allegiance to the hegemonic power, whereas "puppet state" implies political and military dependence, and "neo-colony" implies economic dependence. Depending on which aspect of dependence is being emphasised, a state may fall into more than one category. All three are sovereign states. Scroll down the Page.

Buffer State

A buffer state is a country lying between two rival or potentially hostile greater powers. Its existence can sometimes be thought to prevent conflict between them. It is demilitarized in the sense of not hosting the military of either power (though it has its own military forces). The invasion of a buffer state by one of the powers surrounding it will often result in war between the powers.
Buffer states, when authentically independent, typically pursue a neutralist foreign policy.

The Himalayan nations of Nepal and Bhutan are some times refered to as buffer-states between China and India,

A buffer zone is generally a zonal area that lies between two or more other areas (often, but not necessarily, countries). In international relations, common types of buffer zones are demilitarized zones and border zones

Protectorate

A protectorate, in its inception adopted by modern international law, is an autonomous territory that is protected diplomatically or militarily against third parties by a stronger state or entity. In exchange for this, the protectorate usually accepts specified obligations, which may vary greatly, depending on the real nature of their relationship. However, it retains formal sovereignty and remains a state under international law. A territory subject to this type of arrangement is also known as a protected state. A Protectorate is quite similar to satellite state though the former has a treaty backing the status.

Neo-colonial state

Neocolonialism is the geopolitical practice of using capitalism, business globalization, and cultural imperialism to influence a country, in the place of either direct military control or indirect political control, i.e. imperialism and hegemony. 
In post-colonial studies, the term neo-colonialism describes the influence of countries from the developed world in the internal affairs of the countries of the developing world; that, despite the decolonisation that occurred in the aftermath of the Second World War (1939–45), the former colonial powers continue to apply existing and past international economic arrangements with their former colony countries, and so maintain colonial control. Earlier critique of neocolonialism included multinational corporations exploiting the natural resources of the former colony. Presently, the MNCs are in demand in the developing world as they bring certain benefits

 

Que. How does the Constitution protect labour in the country?

Ans. Preamble pronounces that India is committted to a socialist goal and should strive for social, economic and political justice.

Constitution of India, Articles 14,16, 19(1)(c), 23-24, 38, 39 and 41-43A directly concern labour rights. Article 14 states everyone should be equal before the law, Article 16 extends a right of "equality of opportunity" for employment or appointment under the State. Article 19(1)(c) gives everyone a specific right "to form associations or unions". Article 23 prohibits all trafficking and forced labour, while Article 24 prohibits child labour under 14 years old in a factory, mine or "any other hazardous employment".

Articles 38-39, and 41-43A, DPSPs (obligations of the State) in Part IV of the Constitution and thus are not enforceable by courts but aim at creating an aspirational "duty of the State to apply these principles in making laws". Article 38(1) says that in general the state should "strive to promote the welfare of the people" with a "social order in which justice, social, economic and political, shall inform all the institutions of national life. In article 38(2) it goes on to say the state should "minimise the inequalities in income" and based on all other statuses. Art.39 talks of equal pay for equal work. Article 41 creates a "right to work", which the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act 2005 attempts to put into practice. Article 42 requires the state to "make provision for securing just and human conditions of work and for maternity relief". Article 43 says workers should have the right to a living wage and "conditions of work ensuring a decent standard of life". Article 43A, inserted by the Forty-second Amendment of the Constitution of India in 1976 creates a constitutional right to "secure the participation of workers in the management of undertakings".

 

Que. How can poor people produce enough food to escape hunger and destitution in a manner that protects soils, mitigates climate change, and preserves biodiversity?

Ans. The United Nations has declared 2015 to be the International Year of Soils, and April 19-23 marks this year’s Global Soil Week.

Healthy soils are crucial to human nutrition and the fight against hunger. We rely on them not only for food production, but also to create new drinking water. They help to regulate Earth’s climate, storing more carbon than all of the world’s forests combined (only the oceans are a larger carbon sink), and are essential to maintaining biodiversity: a handful of fertile soil contains more microorganisms than there are humans on the planet. Two-thirds of Earth’s species live beneath its surface.

But erosion and contamination are placing soils under severe stress. Worldwide, 24 billion tons of fertile soil is lost annually, partly owing to the growth of cities and infrastructure. In Germany alone, construction projects claim an average of more than 75 hectares per day. Inappropriate agricultural practices are also to blame: the liberal use of synthetic fertilizer, for example, decimates organisms inhabiting the soil and changes its structure. It takes millennia for fertile topsoil to form; in many places, a cloudburst is now all it takes to wash it away.

At the same time, global demand for food, fodder, and biomass for fuels is growing, in turn driving up the value of land – a fact that has not escaped international investors’ attention. According to a World Bank estimate, 10-30% of arable land worldwide – land that would be used by millions of smallholders, pastoralists, and indigenous people – has been affected by large-scale investment.

Protecting soils need not undermine prosperity. On the contrary, sustainable soil-protection practices can actually boost agricultural yields – especially those of smallholders. Crop diversification, recycling, and soil cover can all contribute to living, fertile, and active soil capable of optimal water management.
One approach, agro-ecology, is based on small farmers’ traditional knowledge and experience, making it readily adaptable to local conditions. A study of agro-ecological farming practices in 2006 examined 286 sustainable agricultural projects in 57 countries and concluded that yields had increased an average of 79%.

Despite the proven success of such methods, the use of synthetic fertilizers has increased by a factor of more than five over the past 50 years. Particularly in tropical environments, such products lead to the destruction of the topsoil and biodiversity loss (and the runoff is transported to the oceans, where it damages marine ecosystems).

 

Que. What is Islamic Finance? Is it an answer to the volatile global financial system?

Ans. Since the global financial crisis, policymakers have sought to address the fault lines that helped trigger one of the most devastating financial crises in a century, and to enable a more inclusive, stable financial system that promotes stability as well as economic development and growth.

Islamic finance offers several features that are consistent with these objectives. Islamic finance refers to financial services that conform with Islamic jurisprudence, or Shari’ah. Instead of trading in money and earning profit from the interest, Islamic banking trades in goods and services and earns profit from real economic transactions. It also has restraints on highly speculative transactions, and refrains from financing or participating in businesses and activities dealing in alcohol, gambling, tobacco, and pornography, as these are not permissible under Islam. All other activities remain very much as with any other banking and financial institution. It requires fair treatment; and institutes sanctity of contracts. And these principles hold the promise of supporting financial stability, since a key tenet of Islamic finance is that lenders should share in both the risks and rewards of the projects and loans they finance.

Islamic finance has an important potential to act as an engine of stability and inclusion. Since investors are required to bear losses that may arise on loans. There is therefore less leverage, and greater incentive to exercise strong risk management. These risk-sharing features also serve to help ensure the soundness of individual financial institutions and help discourage the types of lending booms and real estate bubbles that were the precursors of the global financial crisis.

The focus on asset-backed and risk-sharing financing also has the potential to improve access to finance by small- and medium-sized enterprises, and to support inclusive growth- by having more money for lending to stable businesses.. It is well-suited to financing large-scale infrastructure projects, whereby—similar to public-private partnerships—investors finance the construction of roads, bridges, and similar projects, and receive the returns on these investments. Finally, Islamic financial services also promise to improve financial inclusion for the large number of Muslims that are discouraged from using banks for religious reasons.

Many secular countries such as the United Kingdom (UK), France, and Singapore are promoting Islamic finance to improve financial inclusion of their domestic population and also to attract funds and investments from other countries. UK alone has more than 25 Islamic financial institutions including five full-fledged Islamic banks. In June 2014, it became the first non-Muslim country to issue a sovereign sukuk (Islamic bond). Other countries which followed suit were South Africa and Thailand. The latter already has a state-run Islamic Bank since 2002. At present, more than 75 countries offer Islamic banking products and the global market for these assets is around $2 trillion.

However, India recently saw the deferment of the launch of State Bank of India's Shariah Equity Fund in December 2014.

 

Que. What is microzonation? Why is it necessary? State efforts made in India in this field.

Ans. Many earthquakes in the past have left many lessons to be learned which are very essential to plan infrastructure and even to mitigate such calamities in future. The hazards associated with earthquakes are referred to as seismic hazards. The practice of earthquake engineering involves the identification and mitigation of seismic hazards. Microzonation has generally been recognized as the most accepted tool in seismic hazard assessment and risk evaluation and it is defined as the zonation with respect to ground motion characteristics taking into account source and site conditions. Making improvements on the conventional macrozonation maps and regional hazard maps, microzonation of a region generates detailed maps that predict the hazard at much smaller scales. Seismic microzonation is the generic name for subdividing a region into individual areas having different potentials hazardous earthquake effects, defining their specific seismic behavior for engineering design and land-use planning.

The basis of microzonation is to model the rupture mechanism at the source of an earthquake, evaluate the propagation of waves through the earth to the top of bed rock, determine the effect of local soil profile and thus develop a hazard map indicating the vulnerability of the area to potential seismic hazard. Seismic microzonation will also help in designing buried lifelines such as tunnels, water and sewage lines, gas and oil lines, and power and communication lines.

Seismic microzonation is defined as the process of subdividing a potential seismic or earthquake prone area into zones with respect to some geological and geophysical characteristics of the sites such as ground shaking, liquefaction susceptibility, landslide and rock fall hazard, earthquake-related flooding, so that seismic hazards at different locations within the area can correctly be identified. Microzonation provides the basis for site-specific risk analysis, which can assist in the mitigation of earthquake damage. In most general terms, seismic microzonation is the process of estimating the response of soil layers under earthquake excitations and thus the variation of earthquake characteristics on the ground surface.

Regional geology can have a large effect on the characteristics of ground motion. The site response of the ground motion may vary in different locations of the city according to the local geology. A seismic zonation map for a whole country may, therefore, be inadequate for detailed seismic hazard assessment of the cities. This necessitates the development of microzonation maps for big cities for detailed seismic hazard analysis. Microzonation maps can serve as a basis for evaluating site-specific risk analysis, which is essential for critical structures like nuclear power plants, subways, bridges, elevated highways, sky trains and dam sites. Seismic microzonation can be considered as the preliminary phase of earthquake risk mitigation studies. It requires multi-disciplinary contributions as well as comprehensive understanding of the effects of earthquake generated ground motions on man made structures. Many large cities around the world have put effort into developing microzonation maps for the better understanding of earthquake hazard within the cities

As part of the national level microzonation programme, Department of Science and Technology, Govt. of India has initiated microzonation of 63 cities in India. Some of them are finished and some of them are ongoing. As an initial experiment, seismic hazard analysis and microzonation was taken up for Jabalpur city in Madhaya Pradesh. Further, for many other cities such as Sikkim, Mumbai, Delhi, North East India, Gauwhati, Ahmedabad, Bhuj, Dehradun and Chennai an attempt has been made to carryout microzonation considering geomorphological features and detailed geotechnical studies.

 

Que. Write on the importance of Salkhan Fossil Park. Which fossils is it known for? Describe the same.

Ans. Salkhan Fossil Park is a geological heritage of Sonbhadra district. The age of these tree fossils as estimated by geologists is around 1400 million years and dates back to Proterozoic Period. The fossils which are basically petrified tree stumps appear as rings on the boulders scattered around the area. These fossils are of Algae Stromotolites type. The fossil types found in Salkhan Fossil Park are algal stromatolites. The stromatolites are sedimentary structures consisting of laminated carbonate or silicate rocks produced over geologic time by the trapping, binding or precipitating of sediment by groups of microorganisms primarily cyano bacteria (blue green algae). Stromatolites are the oldest fossils found on the Earth. They are fossil evidence of the prokaryotic life.The fossil park is spread over an area of about 25 hectare inside Kaimoor Wildlife Sanctuary and is larger than the Yellow Stone National Park of USA.

The fossils found in Salkhan Fossil Park are lying neglected due to apathetic attitude of state government and local administration. The ignorance of the local people is also a reason for the deplorable state of this invaluable fossil park. Neither the state government nor the concerned officials are making any arrangements for the safety of the fossil park.

Cyanobacteria formerly known as blue green algae are Gram negative prokaryotic single celled or filamentous photoautotrophic micro-organisms. The cells of cyanobacteria are surrounded by mucilaginous sheath which provides protection against desiccation. The soil surface often becomes slippery in rainy season because of the luxuriant growth of cyanobacteria; and the slippery nature is due to the mucilaginous sheath surrounding the cyanobacterial cells. Filamentous cyanobacteria are often characterized by the formation of heterocysts and akinetes.

 

Que. “The Regiment indeed was a by product of the Treaty of Segauli.” What was it and how has it evolved since then?

Ans. The Gurkha War was fought between the Gorkha kings of Nepal and the British East India Company as a result of border tensions and ambitious expansionism especially into Kumaon, Garwhal and Kangra hills. Although the British East India Company's army defeated the Gorkha army led by General Amar Singh Thapa, they were nevertheless impressed by the skill and courage the Gorkhas had shown during the siege of Malaun fort in Bilaspur.As a result, during the post war settlement a clause was inserted into the Treaty of Segauli enabling the British to recruit Gorkhas. On 24 April 1815 at Subathu, the East India Company formed a regiment with the survivors of Thapa's army calling it the First Nusseree Battalion. The formation of this unit marks the beginning of the history of the first Gorkha regiment.

The Regiment soon saw its first battle when, in 1826, it took part in the Jat War where it helped in the conquest of Bharatpur, gaining it as a Battle Honour, the first Battle Honour awarded to the Gurkha units. In 1846 the First Anglo-Sikh War began and the Regiment was heavily involved in the conflict. The Battle of Aliwal was fought in 1846 between the British and the Sikhs. Sikhs were led by Ranjodh Singh Majithia. The British won. Gorkha regiment fought in it.

From 1857 until 1947, the Gurkhas were an important and dependable part of the British Indian military. The British ruled most of their Asian and Middle Eastern colonies from India, not England, so the Gurkhas played an important role in Britain’s colonial wars, fighting in Burma, Afghanistan, China, and elsewhere. During World War I, 200,000 Gurkhas served, especially in the Middle East theater. Around 250,000 Gurkhas served in World War II, and helped protect India and fight Japanese forces in Burma and Singapore.

In 1947, with the independence of India, six Gorkha regiments joined the Indian Army while four continued to serve in the British Army, though these were amalgamated as the Royal Gurkha Rifles (RGR) in 1994. The six Indian units became seven, and the Indian Gorkha Rifles have fought for India against Pakistan and China. In 1950 when India became a Republic, it was redesignated as the 1 Gorkha Rifles (The Malaun Regiment). It was a part of peacekeeping duties as part of the United Nations.

There are currently 30,000 Gorkhas serving in the Indian Army, serving under the motto “better to die than be a coward.”

 

Que. Describe Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD) and its impact on monsoon in India.Does IOD have any relation to El Nino?

Ans. The Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD) is defined by the difference in sea surface temperature between two areas (or poles, hence a dipole) – a western pole in the Arabian Sea (western Indian Ocean) and an eastern pole in the eastern Indian Ocean south of Indonesia. The IOD affects the climate of Australia and other countries that surround the Indian Ocean Basin, and is a significant contributor to rainfall variability in this region.

The IOD involves an aperiodic oscillation of sea-surface temperatures, between "positive", "neutral" and "negative" phases. A positive phase sees greater-than-average sea-surface temperatures and greater precipitation in the western Indian Ocean region, with a corresponding cooling of waters in the eastern Indian Ocean—which tends to cause droughts in adjacent land areas of Indonesia and Australia. The negative phase of the IOD brings about the opposite conditions, with warmer water and greater precipitation in the eastern Indian Ocean, and cooler and drier conditions in the west.

The IOD also affects the strength of monsoons over the Indian subcontinent. ‘Positive IOD’ has been found to be beneficial for the monsoon. On the other hand, a ‘negative IOD,’ when temperatures at either end of the Indian Ocean swing in the opposite direction, hampers the monsoon.

An IOD can counter or worsen an El Nino’s impact on the monsoon, according to recent research. A positive IOD had facilitated normal or excess rainfall over India in 1983, 1994 and 1997 despite an El Nino in those years. But during years such as 1992, a negative IOD and El Nino had cooperatively produced deficit rainfall.

 

Que. What is ‘Kaal Baisakhi’? Exemplify with current examples from Kosi-Seemanchal region.

Ans. During the hot weather period i.e from March to May the eastern and North-eastern states of the subcontinent like West Bengal, Bihar, Assam, Orissa (parts) and Bangladesh experience dramatic appearance of a special type of violent thunderstorm know as Nor’wester.The dramatic appearance of nor’wester in the afternoon or evening of pre-monsoon months over Bengal, Bihar, Assam and adjoining areas has been a matter of great interest not only to the meteorologists but to all sections of people and has a place in literature. Nor’wester not only gives relief after mid-day heat but helps crops.

It is known as ‘Kaal Baisakhi’ or calamity of the month of Baisakh (April,15-May,15). Apart from its destructive effects like sudden rise in wind speed, lightning, thunder and hail the rainfall associated with the storm although small in amount, is extremely helpful for the pre-Kharif crops like jute, Aus paddy, summer till and a large number of vegetables and fruits and the sudden drop in temperature gives relief after unbearable mid-day heat.

It struck Bihar yesterday and thirty-two people were killed and over 80 seriously injured as the nor'wester ravaged several districts last night, destroying thousands of huts and standing crops.

Maximum number of 25 deaths were reported from Purnia district, while six have died in Madhepura and one in Madhubani.

 

Que. What are the trends in Maternal Mortality Rate in India? Give explanation.

Ans. About 56,000 women in India die every year due to pregnancy related complications. Similarly, every year more than 13 lacs infants die within 1year of the birth and out of these approximately 9 lacs i.e. 2/3rd of the infant deaths take place within the first four weeks of life. Out of these, approximately 7 lacs i.e. 75% of the deaths take place within a week of the birth and a majority of these occur in the first two days after birth.

In order to reduce the maternal and infant mortality, Reproductive and Child Health Programme under the National Rural health Mission (NHM) is being implemented to promote institutional deliveries so that skilled attendance at birth is available and women and new born can be saved from pregnancy related deaths.

Several initiatives have been launched by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW) including Janani Suraksha Yojana (JSY) a key intervention that has resulted in phenomenal growth in institutional deliveries. More than one crore women are benefitting from the scheme annually.

Schemes like Janani Suraksha Yojana (JSY), Janani Shishu Suraksha Karyakram, access to skilled birth attendants, transportation access, sharpening the equity focus have enabled a higher rate of decline of Maternal Mortality Rates in India.India has registered an overall decline in MMR of 70% during 1990-2012 as compared to global decline of 45%.MMR in India declined from 178/100000 live births in 2010-12 to 167/100000 live births during 2011-13.

Steps Taken to Accelerate Pace of Reduction in MMR

The steps taken to accelerate the pace of reduction for Maternal Mortality Ratio (MMR) under the National Health Mission (NHM) are:

  • Promotion of institutional deliveries through Janani Suraksha Yojana.
  • Capacity building of health care providers in basic and comprehensive obstetric care.
  • Operationalization of sub-centres, Primary Health Centres, Community Health Centres and District Hospitals for providing 24x7 basic and comprehensive obstetric care services.
  • Name Based Web enabled Tracking of Pregnant Women to ensure antenatal, intranatal and postnatal care.
  • Mother and Child Protection Card in collaboration with the Ministry of Women and Child Development to monitor service delivery for mothers and children.
  • Antenatal, Intranatal and Postnatal care including Iron and Folic Acid supplementation to pregnant & lactating women for prevention and treatment of anaemia.
  • Engagement of more than 8.9 lakh Accredited Social Health Activists (ASHAs) to generate demand and facilitate accessing of health care services by the community.
  • Village Health and Nutrition Days in rural areas as an outreach activity, for provision of maternal and child health services.
  • Health and nutrition education to promote dietary diversification, inclusion of iron and folate rich food as well as food items that promote iron absorption.
  • Janani Shishu Suraksha Karyakaram (JSSK) has been launched on 1st June, 2011, which entitles all pregnant women delivering in public health institutions to absolutely free and no expense delivery including Caesarean section. The initiative stipulates free drugs, diagnostics, blood and diet, besides free transport from home to institution, between facilities in case of a referral and drop back home. Similar entitlements have been put in place for all sick infants accessing public health institutions for treatment.
  • To sharpen the focus on the low performing districts, 184 High Priority Districts (HPDs) have been prioritized for Reproductive Maternal Newborn Child Health+ Adolescent (RMNCH+A) interventions for achieving improved maternal and child health outcomes.

 

Que. Indian Constitution promises a living wage. What is it? Differentiate it from minimum wage.

Ans. Art. 43 (DPSP) promises a living wage. In public policy, a living wage is the minimum income necessary for a worker to meet their needs that are considered to be basic. This is not necessarily the same as subsistence, which refers to a biological minimum, though the two terms overlap a lot. These needs include shelter (housing) and others such as clothing and nutrition. This wage generally means that a person working forty hours a week, with no additional income, should be able to afford the basics for quality of life, food, utilities, transport, health care, and minimal recreation. However, in many cases education, saving for retirement, and less commonly legal fees and insurance, or taking care of a sick or elderly family member are not included. It also does not allow for debt repayment of any kind.

The living wage differs from the minimum wage in that the latter is set by law and can fail to meet the requirements to have a basic quality of life. Minimum Wages Act 1948 is an Act of Parliament concerning Indian labour law that sets the minimum wages that must be paid to skilled and unskilled workers. States have their own laws. These wages are periodically revised.

Employee, employer, and the community win with a living wage. Employees would be more willing to work, helping the employer reduce worker turnover, and it would help the community when the citizens have enough to have a decent life.

A related concept is that of a family wage – one sufficient to not only support oneself, but also to raise a family.

 

Que. Critically examine Bibek Debroy committee recommendations on revamping railways.

Ans. The railways operate more than 12,000 trains, carrying some 23 million passengers daily.This vast public enterprise is virtually a state within a state. It runs schools, hospitals, police forces and building companies and employs a total of 1.3 million people, making it the seventh biggest employer in the world. It is in need of modernization.

The high-level railway restructuring committee, chaired by noted economist Bibek Debroy, has recommended drastic reforms in the cash-strapped Indian Railways by suggesting to allow privatisation of railways to run passenger as well as freight trains, producing coaches, wagons and locomotives and switching over to commercial accounting of railway functions.Following are the main recommendations in its interim report.

1. Streamline recruitment & HR processes: "There is a multiplicity of different channels through which people enter the railway services. The committee recommended unifying and streamlining the process. At present there are eight organized Group 'A' services in Indian Railways. Deployment to these services is by direct recruitment from UPSC (Civil Service and the Engineering examinations) and also by promotion of Group 'B' officers of the department. There is also a small but significant element of recruitment of Mechanical Engineers through the Special Class Railway Apprentices examination, followed by training. The eight services can be broadly categorized in two bigger groupings viz. technical and non-technical services.

IR should consolidate and merge the existing eight organized Group 'A' services into two services i.e. the Indian Railway Technical Service (IRTechS) comprising the existing five technical services (IRSE, IRSSE, IRSEE, IRSME and IRSS) and the Indian Railway Logistics Service (IRLogS), comprising the three non-technical services (IRAS, IRPS and IRTS).

2. Focus on non-core areas: Many tasks carried out by the Indian Railways are not at the core of the prime business of rail transportation. These activities include running hospitals and schools, catering, real estate development, including housing, construction and maintenance of infrastructure, manufacturing locomotives, coaches, wagons and their parts, etc.To this list must be added the Railway Protection Force and Railway Protection Special Force, which carry out functions which should normally be performed by State Police forces, or conveniently outsourced. To maintain and run these diverse sets of peripheral activities, Indian Railways has created a monolith organizational structure. There is a strong case for revisiting these activities.Indian Railways should focus on core activities to efficiently compete with the private sector. It will distance itself from non-core activities, such as running a police force, schools, hospitals and production and construction units.

Immediate integration of the existing Railway schools into the Kendriya Vidyalaya Sangathana set-up. Needs of the children of Railway employees could be met through subsidizing their education in alternative schools, including private schools.

3. Indian Railway Manufacturing Company: Wagons are already produced by the private sector. Coaches and locomotives could follow. Unless they are freed from constraints, the existing production units will be unable to face this competition.

All the production units, all the production workshops whether it is coaches or locomotives must be under Indian railway manufacturing company. This is an institutional reform, not privaisation.

The Committee proposes that all these existing production units should be placed under a government SPV known as the Indian Railway Manufacturing Company (IRMC). IRMC remains a government SPV, at least initially, under the administrative control of the Ministry of Railways.

4. Encouraging private entry: Private entry into running both freight and passenger trains in competition with Indian railways should be allowed and private participation in various Railway infrastructure services and non-core activities like production and construction, should be encouraged by the Ministry of Railways.

"The reason private players find it unviable to operate is because they do not have access to the tracks. They do not have access to tracks because Indian Railways gives preference to the Indian Railway trains. Therefore, Debroy committee recommended having a separate track holding company, which remains public, from that part of Railways which runs trains. This track holding company will be neutral between Indian Railways and the private players.
5. RRAI, an independent regulator: Shift regulatory responsibility from the government to an independent regulator as the private sector will only come in if there is fair and open access to infrastructure. The independent regulator shall ensure fair and open access and set access charges; establish tariffs; and adjudicate disputes between competitors. This will make fair and open access a reality and open up both freight and passenger trains, in competition with IR.The report recommends setting up a Railway Regulatory Authority of India (RRAI) statutorily, with an independent budget, so that it is truly independent of the Ministry of Railways.

The RRAI will have the powers and objectives of economic regulation, including, wherever necessary, tariff regulation; safety regulation; fair access regulation, including access to railway infrastructure for private operators; service standard regulation; licensing and enhancing competition; and setting technical standards. It should possess quasijudicial powers, with appointment and removal of Members distanced from the Ministry of Railways.

The Railway Board should continue only as an entity for the Indian Railways (PSU).

6. Social costs & JVs to bear them: Constructing new suburban lines should be undertaken as joint ventures with state governments. There are too many Zones and Divisions and thus a rationalization exercise is required. Suburban railways should ideally be hived off to State governments, via the joint venture route. Until this is done, the cost of low suburban fares, if these fares are not increased, must be borne by State governments on a 50/50 basis, with MOUs signed with State governments for this purpose.

While competition makes efficient service delivery better and helps railways raise resources for reinvestment for modernization, criticism is that social commitments may take a hit; and privatization that hurts workers may be under contemplation.PM Modi ruled out privatization.

* Specially, for our friends currently in the Railway Services

 

Que. What is PM2.5 and what are its sources?Who is most at risk? What can be done to neutralize the pollution?

Ans. Particulate matter, or PM, is the term for particles found in the air, including dust, dirt, soot, smoke, and liquid droplets. Particles can be suspended in the air for long periods of time. Some particles are large or dark enough to be seen as soot or smoke. Others are so small that individually they can only be detected with an electron microscope.Many manmade and natural sources emit PM directly or emit other pollutants that react in the atmosphere to form PM. These solid and liquid particles come in a wide range of sizes.Particles less than 10 micrometers in diameter (PM10) pose a health concern because they can be inhaled into and accumulate in the respiratory system. Particles less than 2.5 micrometers in diameter (PM2.5) are referred to as "fine" particles and are believed to pose the greatest health risks. Because of their small size (approximately 1/30th the average width of a human hair), fine particles can lodge deeply into the lungs.

Sources of fine particles include all types of combustion activities (motor vehicles, power plants, wood burning, etc.) and certain industrial processes. Particles with diameters between 2.5 and 10 micrometers are referred to as "coarse." Sources of coarse particles include crushing or grinding operations, and dust from paved or unpaved roads. Other particles may be formed in the air from the chemical change of gases. They are indirectly formed when gases from burning fuels react with sunlight and water vapor. These can result from fuel combustion in motor vehicles, at power plants, and in other industrial processes.

One group at high risk is active children because they often spend a lot of time playing outdoors and their bodies are still developing. In addition, oftentimes the elderly population are at risk. People of all ages who are active outdoors are at increased risk because, during physical activity, PM2.5 penetrates deeper into the parts of the lungs that are more vulnerable to injury.

Government should take into account existing emission reduction programs (e.g. national emission standards for cars and trucks; and the pollution rules to reduce powerplant emissions; or local efforts such as diesel engine retrofit programs), plus any new programs or regulations that can be implemented within the state or local area.

Making people aware of the levels of pollution through color coded AQI announced by PM.Modi is the beginning of the onslaught on the problem.

 

Que. How will climate change affect the spread of tropical diseases?

Ans. Many tropical diseases such as malaria, Chikungunya and dengue are transmitted to humans via mosquitoes and other carriers known as vectors. These vector-borne diseases continue to have a major impact on human health in the developing world: each year, more than a billion people become infected and around a million people die. In addition, around one in six cases of illness and disability worldwide arise from these diseases.
Malaria continues to attract the most attention of all the vector-borne diseases by virtue of causing the greatest global disease burden. However, others such as dengue are not only resurgent in some regions, but threaten a vast proportion of the world’s population.

Climate change remains a substantial threat to future human health and since the behaviour of disease carriers like mosquitoes is known to be extremely sensitive to temperature and rainfall, it seems unquestionable that climate change will affect many, if not all, of these diseases. What is less clear, however, is the extent to which climate increases the risk of becoming infected in certain regions compared to other factors such as poverty or fragile health systems.

In addition, although the number of new cases of diseases such as malaria appears to be declining worldwide, it is still increasing in many regions for a variety of reasons; the continued spread of insecticide resistance, changes in land use etc. Which of these factors will be most influential over the coming decades remains a moot question as of now.

 

Que. What do you understand by Constitutional morality in general and with reference to Constitution of India?

Ans. Constitutional morality means adherence to the core principles of the constitutional democracy. The scope of constitutional morality is not limited only to following the constitutional provisions literally but it is so broad that it includes commitment to inclusive and democratic political process in which both individual and collective interests are satisfied. It encompasses ensuring the Constitutional values like rule of law; social justice; democratic ethos; popular participation in governance;individual freedom; judicial independence; egalitarianism; sovereignty and so on. While it is clear as to what Constitutional morality means, practical percolation of these values in governance and citizen entitlements requires a sensitive State apparatus- Parliament that is representative in a true sense; Executive that is responsive and empathic; and judiciary that is vigilant and empowering.

There are many laws made by Parliament that show great moral commitment like Food Security Law; CrPC amendments made in 2013 in favour of women. Similarly, judicial verdicts too. For example the recent verdict in Shreya Singhal case(2015) and various electoral reforms enforced by the apex court since 2013.

Preamble to our Constitution contains the most impeccable goals whose realization requires greatest commitment to morality. Corruption-free, transparent and accountable governance will go a long way in making one and all in India realize their potential: the sum and substance of Constitutional morality.

Que. Reserve Bank of India came into force in 1935. It is older than the central bank of the following country
a. England
b. Scotland
c. France
d. None of the above

Ans.: d

Que. Can stem cell therapy restore human sight? What can be the risks?

Ans. Transplant of stem cells helped restore the sight of patients suffering from incurable forms of blindness.18 patients with age-related macular degeneration (AMD) or Stargardt's macular dystrophy have been taking part in a three-year trial to see whether human embryonic stem cells could correct their vision loss.Scientists in the US announced that the transplants had been successful and disclosed that more than half of patients had seen significant improvement in their sight.The breakthrough, which could offer new hope to the millions people who suffer from AMD, was hailed as a ‘major accomplishment’ by experts.Results suggest the safety and promise of stem cells to alter progressive vision loss in people with degenerative diseases and mark an exciting step towards using embryonic stem cells as a safe source of cells for the treatment of various medical disorders.

No effective treatments exist for either (AMD) or Stargardt's macular dystrophy. Stargardt's macular dystrophy is an inherited disease that leads to premature blindness. In both diseases, people gradually lose retinal pigment epithelial (RPE) cells. These are essential for vision as they recycle protein and lipid debris that accumulates on the retina, and supply nutrients and energy to photoreceptors – the cells that capture light and transmit signals to the brain.

The new treatment uses stem cells to recreate a type of cell in the retina that supports those photoreceptors.Stem cells derived from embryos that are only a few days old have the ability to develop into any kind of tissue in the body.By bathing the stem cells in a specially formulated mix of chemicals the scientists were able to stimulate them into turning into fully mature retinal pigment epithelium cells. They were then transplanted directly into the eyes of patients suffering from blindness.Tests showed substantial improvement in 10 of 18 treated eyes. Eight patients were able to read more than 15 additional letters on a sight chart in their first year after treatment.

Embryonic stem cells have the potential to become any cell type in the body, but transplantation has been complicated by problems including the risk of tumour formation and immune rejection.As a result, sites that do not produce a strong immune response, such as the eye, have become the first parts of the human body to benefit from this technology.

Que. What are western disturbances and what explains their unusual behaviour lately?

Ans. Western disturbances are low-pressure areas embedded in the Westerlies, the planetary winds that flow from west to east between 30°-60° latitude. They usually bring mild rain during January-February, which is beneficial to the rabi crop. But in the past few years western disturbances have been linked to disasters. The cloud burst in Leh in 2010, the floods and landslide in Uttarakhand in 2013 and the excessive rain in Jammu and Kashmir in 2014 were all linked to these disturbances. This year, as per the India Meteorological Department (IMD), the average rain received between March 1 and March 18 was 49.2 mm—197 per cent above normal. This caused severe damage to crops in several states of the country. -crops in over 5 million hectares have been damaged.

Scientists agree that western disturbances are formed naturally. They originate in the Mediterranean region and travel over Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan to enter India loaded with moisture, where the Himalayas obstruct them, causing rain and snow in western Himalayas. The snow adds to the glaciers which provide water to India’s major perennial rivers. But we need to understand why this beneficial weather phenomenon increasingly disastrous.

Following views are significant

1. According to IMD, the severe rain this year is the result of the confluence of western disturbance and easterly wave from the Bay of Bengal. Easterly wave, or Easterlies, blow throughout the year from east to west. The confluence of the two winds happens throughout the year, but the results vary. They generally bring rain only to the northern part of the country but this year states in central and south India also received rain. Western parts of Madhya Pradesh, for instance, received over 2,025 times more than usual rainfall during March 1-18, while the rainfall in central Maharashtra was 3,671 times above normal(IMD data).

2. A phenomenon called Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO) is said to have contributed to the severity of this year’s rainfall. PDO is the name given to long-term fluctuations in the surface temperature of the Pacific Ocean.

3. Widely used weather models, such as the Global Forecast System, are consistently showing the movement of new upper air troughs into India. Such troughs in the jet streams (narrow bands of strong winds flowing in the upper troposphere) could be affecting the western disturbances which, IMD says, are present in the lower and middle troposphere. One such trough started forming in the upper troposphere over Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan on February 26 and intensified and moved towards north-western parts of India on February 28. This led to the formation of a low-pressure region in the lower troposphere over northwest India, causing an incursion of moisture from Arabian Sea, and produced heavy rains. This shows how problematic the combination of western disturbances and upper air troughs can be for India.

4. Climate change induced: A study by the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology (IITM), Pune, has directly linked western disturbances to global warming. Researchers say global warming is impacting air currents and causing freak weather events. Pronounced warming over the Tibetan plateau in recent decades has increased the instability of the Westerlies and this has increased the variability of the western disturbances. According to the study, the western Himalayan region has seen a significant rise in surface temperatures since the 1950s. Observations from the area show a significant increase in precipitation in recent decades.

Que. European Union is a member of the following world bodies/groups
a. World Trade Organisation
b. G-20
c. International Monetary Fund
d. International Bank for Reconstruction and Development(IBRD)

Choose your answer from below

1. a and b only
2. a,b and c only
3. a,c and d only
4. a,b,c and d

Que. Comment on the importance of Bab-el-Mandeb and the geopolitical fallout of the disturbances in the region currently.

Ans. Bab-el-Mandeb ( Arabic for "Gate of Tears" ) is a strait located between Yemen on the Arabian Peninsula, and Djibouti and Eritrea in the Horn of Africa. It connects the Red Sea to the Gulf of Aden.

Conflict in Yemen risks spilling and potentially disrupt the narrow Bab el-Mandeb passage through which nearly 4 million barrels of oil are shipped daily to Europe, the United States and Asia.

Oil prices rose as much as 6 percent after neighbouring Saudi Arabia and its allies launched air strikes on Yemen that targeted Iran-backed Houthi rebels fighting to oust Yemen's president.

The development is an attempt by the world's top oil exporter to check Iranian influence in its backyard.

The collapse of Yemen as a political reality and the power of the Houthis will enable Iran to expand its presence on both sides of the Bab el-Mandeb, in the Gulf of Aden and in the Red Sea.

As Saudis see it, if the Iranians were to gain access to a de facto base in some port or another controlled by the Houthis whom they have aided in the latter’s fight, the balance of power in the sub-region would shift significantly.

The United States and its allies regularly stage naval exercises in the Gulf. The head of U.S. forces in the region said that the U.S. military would work with Gulf and European partners to ensure the Bab el-Mandeb remained opened.

Yemen has a 1,900-km (1,181 mile) coastline that also opens into the Gulf of Aden and Red Sea.

Egypt has said it could not stand by if its interests were threatened.

The area has also witnessed multiple hijackings on merchant ships by Somali pirates in recent years, which has abated due to the presence of international naval forces including the United States and Iran.

Shipping and insurance sources say disruptions to shipping would raise costs. Yemen shut its major seaports due to the fighting.

Any closure of Bab el-Mandeb due to its precarious navigation, would close off the Suez Canal and the SUMED pipeline that connects to the Mediterranean and supplies oil to southern Europe.

If SUMED Pipeline is closed, navigation will have to diverted around the southern tip of Africa, a journey of at least 40 days.

Yemen was already considered a higher risk area than Syria and Iraq.

It is the extended neighbourhood of India and India has multiple interests in the region.

 

Que. What are zoonoses; how do they transmit; and what are the challenges in controlling them?*

Ans. Zoonoses are infectious diseases of animals (usually vertebrates), that can naturally be transmitted to humans. Major modern diseases such as Ebola virus disease and influenza are zoonoses. Zoonoses can be caused by a range of disease pathogens such as viruses, bacteria, fungi and parasites. Most human diseases originated in animals, however, only diseases that routinely involve animal to human transmission, like rabies, are considered as zoonoses.

Ebola is suspected of being bat-borne, though that has yet to be proved beyond doubt. Bats also look like the origin of MERS, a viral illness that appeared in 2012 in the Middle East, and SARS, another virus, which burst upon the world from southern China at the end of 2002. HIV, meanwhile, came from other primates. The pandemic version, HIV1, was once a chimpanzee virus. HIV2, largely restricted to west Africa, came from a monkey

Zoonoses have different modes of transmission. In direct zoonosis the disease is directly transmitted from animals to humans through media such as air (influenza) or through bites and saliva (Rabies). In contrast, transmission can also occur via an intermediate species (referred to as a vector), which carry the disease pathogen without getting infected. When humans infect other animals; it is called reverse zoonosis or anthroponosis.

Zoonoses are particularly likely to develop when people and animals live in close proximity to each other. One reason southern China often spawns them (SARS was not unique; a lot of influenza begins there, too) is that the region has a plethora of small farms, in which many species of animal live in close quarters with each other and with human beings. The constant crossing of pathogens between the species involved makes it more likely that one will emerge that can thrive in people. Agriculture is not the only sort of proximity that can foster zoonotic disease. HIV1 is suspected to have started with a hunter who killed a chimpanzee in the forest. In this context, the extensive clearance of forests, at present a serious environmental issue in many poor countries, brings people into habitats they might previously not have visited. That, in turn, is suspected by some to be increasing the amount of zoonotic disease.

All this suggests that disease-surveillance, which currently concentrates on people, needs to be expanded to look at animals as well. It is necessary to develop a network of investigators in tropical countries who are watching for signs of crossover by monitoring both animals and people.

* Inspiration from The Economist, latest copy.

Que. Differentiate between cognizable and noncognizable crimes. What kind of offences does the discarded Section.66A of the IT Act deal with?

Ans. Crime can be cognizable or non-Cognizable. Difference between a cognizable and a non-cognizable offence is that in a non-cognizable offence the Police cannot arrest a person without orders of the court, i.e. without a Court warrant.

In a cognizable offense the police can take cognizance of the offence on its own i.e. it need not wait for the court orders as the law envisages that in such offences permission of the court to the police to investigate the crime is implicit.

In India, crimes like rape, murder, theft etc. are considered cognizable, and crimes like public nuisance, simple hurt, mischief etc. are considered non-cognizable.

The offences under 66A are cognizable: police authorities were empowered to arrest or investigate without warrants, based on charges brought under the Section. This resulted in a string of highly publicized arrests of citizens for posting objectionable content online, where the ‘objectionable’ contents were more often than not, dissenting political or innocuous personal opinions.

 

Que. Critically examine the notion of Special Category State status.

Ans. 11 States in India were considered SCSs and enjoy benign terms in financial transfers from Union Government. The decision to grant special category status lies with the National Development Council.* The concept is discarded now. 45 years of the status has not worked effectively to develop these states. More states want the status as it makes them recieve central funds as grants or cheaply.

History of the concept: The concept of a special category state was first introduced in 1969 when the 5th Finance Commission sought to provide certain disadvantaged states with preferential treatment in the form of central assistance and tax breaks. Initially three states Assam, Nagaland and Jammu & Kashmir were granted special status but since then eight more have been included (Arunachal Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Sikkim, Tripura and Uttarakhand). The rationale for special status is that certain states, because of inherent features, have a low resource base and cannot mobilize resources for development. Some of the features required for special status are: (i) hilly and difficult terrain; (ii) low population density or sizeable share of tribal population; (iii) strategic location along borders with neighbouring countries; (iv) economic and infrastructural backwardness; and (v) non-viable nature of state finances.

*The status of NDC today seems unclear. It may be interpreted that NDC has become the Governing Council in Niti Aayog.

 

Que. What is hemagglutinin? How is it related to H1N1? Describe the challenges in developing a vaccine for it in India today.

Ans. H1N1 stands for Hemoagglutinine-1 and Neuroaminidase-1. Hemoagglutinine and neuroaminidase are two virus proteins found in Orthomyxoviridae, and are different in different virus types, so they can be used to identify the virus.

Influenza hemagglutinin is a glycoprotein found on the surface of the influenza viruses. It is responsible for binding the virus to cells with sialic acid on the membranes, such as cells in the upper respiratory tract or erythrocytes. The name "hemagglutinin" comes from the protein's ability to cause red blood cells (erythrocytes) to clump together ("agglutinate") in vitro.

Flu is a moving target, so scientists say they can’t predict how things will develop with the H1N1 flu outbreak that’s killed more than 1200 people in India. They agree that this virus is a descendant of the H1N1 “swine” flu that killed more than 18,000 people worldwide in 2009. But some researchers have found mutations that might make this virus more even virulent or more contagious, and might also allow it to elude the existing vaccination that were made to cover the 2009 strain.

Scientists examined genetic material from two strains in the Indian outbreak, and found several mutations in the hemagglutinin gene, which is the H in H1N1(Read ahead). Mutations in this gene influence the way the virus can enter human cells, and can potentially make the disease easier to catch and more likely to kill.

Que. How does Astra make India attain aerial supremacy? Answer with adequate description of the missile.

Ans. Earlier this week, India successfully tested its indigenously developed Astra supersonic air-to-air missile. The Astra, developed by India’s Defense Research and Development Organization (DRDO), is a Beyond Visual Range (BVR) missile capable of being launched from India’s Sukhoi-30 MKI twin-jet air superiority fighter. The Indian Air Force currently operates roughly 200 total Su-30 MKIs, but plans to eventually operate around 270. The Astra is 149 inches in length, making it the most compact missile developed indigenously in India.The all-weather, state-of-the-art missile developed by DRDO can engage and destroy enemy aircraft at supersonic speed.

Astra missile was successfully tested to prove the maneuvering capability against a simulated target and also to validate various subsystems. When fired from an altitude of at least 15,000 meters, the Astra can travel as far as 110 km. At lower altitudes, this range is reduced.

A longer range Mark 2 version of the Astra is planned which will increase its total range.

The Sukhoi-30 MKI, the intended bearer of the Astra, is a crucial asset for the Indian Air Force, particularly for a potential two-front war scenario. With a range of 1,800 km and high maneuverability, the Su-30 MKI is India’s primary aerial superiority and dominance fighter. The Astra, if it performs up to expectations, will give India’s MKI fleet considerable offensive power.

 

Que. “Pragati is an important governance reform.” Critically explain.

Ans.  Prime Minister Narendra Modi will be starting a monthly conference call with state chief secretaries and secretaries of the Union government starting March 25 for the speedy redressal of grievances and monitoring and implementation of projects.

The new governance programme has been called Pragati — Proactive Governance and Timely Implementation. Pragati is expected to be a credible mechanism for redressal of public grievances.

The Pragati sessions will take place every fourth Wednesday.

During the interaction, PM will discuss and understand the problem areas and will give suitable directions. These directions will remain in the system for further follow-up and review till finality of the matter."

Criticism is that: "greater respect for the federal structure of the country is necessary. It would be much better if the Prime Minister discusses the issues with the Chief Minister."

Thus, the PMO's monitoring of projects is helpful, but the initiative could give rise to concerns about the Centre-state framework.

The Pragati programme will attempt to find solutions for issues selected from the available data base regarding public grievances, on-going programmes and pending projects.

 

Que. "Supreme Court’s “social justice bench” hasn't come a day too soon." Examine the observation.

Ans. The Supreme Court in December 2014 set up a two judge special 'Social Justice Bench' to exclusively hear cases concerning social issues particularly those related to women, children and underprivileged saying that specialized approach is needed for dealing with these matters.

Emphasizing that judiciary needs to be proactive to ensure early disposal of such cases and to bring fruits of the rights provided under the Constitution to people, the apex court set up the bench which will function every Friday.

"In Supreme Court several cases relating to the domain of social justice are pending for several years. Chief Justice of India is of the view that these cases shall be given a specialized approach for their early disposal so that the masses will realize the fruits of the rights provided to them by the constitutional text.

The bench will deal exclusively with social matters, including the right to food and medical assistance. The move is designed to ensure that these cases can move quickly through the apex court

The range of issues identified includes access to food for drought-hit people and prevention of premature deaths caused by lack of nutrition. The right to health figures on the agenda with the mandate to make access to medical care a reality irrespective of people’s financial capacity. The bench will also determine availability of night shelters for the homeless and the destitute.

The “forest bench”, later renamed the “green bench”, has been dealing with environmental cases for nearly two decades. Similarly, the lower judiciary has courts dedicated to crimes against children and offences like sexual assault. Having a dedicated bench for matters of constitutional rights and societal concerns will reduce the pendency of cases arising from such matters. The new bench will take up not only pending matters but also new ones in order to “secure social justice, one of the ideals of the Indian Constitution”

The 'Social Justice Bench' of the Supreme Court took up matters of Narmada dam project, shelters for homeless persons, welfare of construction workers and exploitation of children in circuses, among others.

The problem is that the concept of rule of law promises equal treatment of all cases Constituting a special bench for a class of cases is antithetical to this concept. However, the rejoinder is that rule of law allows different sections to be treated differently and in fact this seub set is the basis of so much social progress in India and elsewhere.

It enhances space for PILs.

 

Que. "Aapravasi Ghat are among the earliest explicit manifestations of what would become a global economic system." Elaborate

Ans. Located on the bay of Trou Fanfaron, in the capital of Port-Louis, the Aapravasi Ghat is the remains of an immigration depot, the site from where modern indentured labour Diaspora emerged. The Depot was built in 1849 to receive indentured labourers from India, Eastern Africa, Madagascar, China and Southeast Asia to work on the island’s sugar estates as part of the 'Great Experiment’. This experiment was initiated by the British Government, after the abolition of slavery in the British Empire in 1834, to demonstrate the superiority of ‘free’ over slave labour in its plantation colonies. The success of the 'Great Experiment' in Mauritius led to its adoption by other colonial powers from the 1840s, resulting in a world-wide migration of more than two million indentured labourers, of which Mauritius received almost half a million.

The buildings of Aapravasi Ghat are among the earliest explicit manifestations of what would become a global economic system. The Aapravasi Ghat site stands as a major historic testimony of indenture in the 19th century and is the sole surviving example of this unique modern diaspora. It represents not only the development of the modern system of contractual labour, but also the memories, traditions and values that these men, women and children carried with them when they left their countries of origin to work in foreign lands and subsequently bequeathed to their millions of descendants for whom the site holds great symbolic meaning.

Aapravasi Ghat was the first site chosen by the British Government in 1834 for the ‘great experiment’ in the use of indentured, rather than slave labour.

The Immigration Depot's role in social history was recognized by UNESCO when it was declared a World Heritage Site in 2006.

 

Que. “ The Girmitiyas” have an important place in modern Indian memory.” Explain.

Ans. Girmityas are descendents of indentured Indian labourers brought to many countries like Mauritius, Fiji etc. to work on sugarcane plantations for the prosperity of the European settlers. Agreement" is the term that has been coined into "Girmit", referring to the "Agreement" of the British Government with the Indian labourers as to the length of stay in Fiji and when they would be allowed to go back to India.

In the years that immediately followed the abolition of slavery in most of the British Empire in 1834, nearly half a million Indians were forced to migrate to Mauritius, as the colonial system struggled to keep up the flow of captive agricultural workers for the sugar plantations there.

These ‘girmitiyas’, people from modern-day UP, Bihar, West Bengal and parts of southern India, who had signed the ‘agreement’ or contract with employers, mostly thought they were going to a better life “just a little way off north India” — but were instead sent on a long and arduous sea journey that took many of their lives.

These indentured labourers were never to return to India, but they went on to shape the future of Mauritius, and many other distant lands, in multiple ways.

Aapravasi Ghat was where the indentured labour force landed, in “Marich Desh”, or Mauritius.

 

Que. "Even though Self-respect Movement started with limited aims, it embraced wider social reform agenda in due course." Comment emphasising on its pro-women liberation content.

Ans. The Self-Respect Movement is a movement with the aim of achieving a society where backward castes have equal human rights the context of a caste-based society that considered them to be a lower end of the hierarchy. It was founded in 1925 by E. V. Ramasamy (Periyar) in Tamil Nadu, India. The movement was extremely influential not just in Tamil Nadu, but also overseas in countries with large Tamil populations, such as Malaysia and Singapore. Among Singapore Indians, groups like the Tamil Reform Association were prominent in promoting the principles of the Self-Respect Movement among the local Tamil population through schools and publications.

Started as a movement to promote rational behavior, the Self-Respect Movement acquired much wider connotation within a short period of time. The main tenets of the Self-Respect Movement in society were to be: abolition of all types of inequality among people; no difference as rich and poor in the economic life; men and women to be treated as equals in every respect without differences; attachments to caste, religion, varna, and country to be eradicated from society with a prevalent friendship and unity around the world.

Equality with stress on economic and social equality formed the central theme of the Self-Respect Movement was due to Periyar's determination to fight the inequalities ingrained in the caste system and religious practices.

One of the major sociological changes introduced through the self-respect movement was the self-respect marriage system, whereby marriages were conducted without being officiated by a Brahmin priest. Periyar had regarded the then conventional marriages were mere financial arrangements and often caused great debt through dowry. Self-Respect movement encouraged inter-caste marriages, replacing arranged marriages by love marriages that are not constrained by caste.

It was argued by the proponents of self-respect marriage that the then conventional marriages were officiated by Brahmins, who has to be paid for and also the marriage ceremony was in Sanskrit which most people did not understand, and hence were rituals and practices based on blind adherence.

Self-respect movement promoters argue that there was no reference to Thaali (Mangalsutra) in the Sangam literature which talk about the Tamils' lifestyle during the Sangam time period. The self-respect movement encouraged widow remarriage as well.

 

Que. An eight-year-old boy in Bengaluru has been diagnosed with Coats plus syndrome, making him the first Indian diagnosed with the rare disease.What do you know of the disease?

Ans. Coats plus syndrome is an inherited condition characterized by an eye disorder called Coats disease plus abnormalities of the brain, bones, gastrointestinal system, and other parts of the body.

Coats disease affects the retina, which is the tissue at the back of the eye that detects light and color. The disorder causes blood vessels in the retina to be abnormally enlarged (dilated) and twisted. These eye abnormalities often result in vision loss.

People with Coats plus syndrome also have brain abnormalities including abnormal deposits of calcium (calcification), the development of fluid-filled pockets called cysts, and loss of a type of brain tissue known as white matter (leukodystrophy). These brain abnormalities worsen over time.Other features of Coats plus syndrome include low bone density (osteopenia).

Coats plus syndrome results from mutations in the CTC1 gene.

Inherited from parents, the syndrome is present in one out of one million people across the globe.

 

Que. Explain how DISHA (Digital Saksharta Abhiyaan) is crucial for bridging digital divide in India.

Ans. GOI launched a programme to invest Rs.450-500 crore on providing basic computer education to about 50 lakh people over the next three years with the help of private companies.

The investment will be made under a project called Disha in certain identified districts.The computer literacy programme is critical for Prime Minister Narendra Modi's pet project, Digital India, which hopes to bridge the digital divide in the country.

The government will choose the districts where this programme will be run. One person would be chosen from every eligible household for training.

The main objective of the programme is to declare the selected blocks and districts 100 per cent digitally literate.

Computer literacy will be key to the success of the project through which the government hopes to connect 2.5 lakh gram panchayats throughout the country at a cost of Rs 1.13 lakh crore.

Government hopes to deliver a string of services such as e-education, e-health and e-governance through a national broadband network which is expected to be in place by 2017.

DISHA was launched by PM in Jharkhand in 2014. The programme offers two-hour, 10-hour and 20-hour courses in local languages. This will help in training the people.

 

Que. Critically examine the first river linking project launched in Madhya Pradesh last year.

Ans. Madhya Pradesh government built Narmada-Malwa river-link project, the first river-linking project of the country. Under the project, the government plans to transport Narmada water to the arid Malwa region. This will be done by linking five rivers of the Malwa region—the Kshipra, Gambhir, Parvati, Kali Sindh and Khan—to various dams on the Narmada through canals and pipelines.

The government says that together, these links would provide drinking water to 3,000 villages and 70 cities and irrigate about 680,000 hectares (ha) in the arid Malwa.

However,according to critics a close examination of the first phase of the project, linking the Narmada with the Kshipra, shows the Rs 26,000 crore Narmada-Malwa link project is not only expensive, but environmentally damaging. It was completed in February 2014. According to critics, while there is no evidence to show that the project would alleviate Malwa’s water crisis, it is already depriving people along the Narmada of water. Besides, the project is highly impractical as it requires transporting river water against gravity.

 

Que. What is Monroe doctrine? Is it applicable to the world today?

Ans. The Monroe Doctrine was a US foreign policy regarding European countries in 1823. It stated that further efforts by European nations to colonize land or interfere with states in North or South America would be viewed as acts of aggression, requiring U.S. intervention. President James Monroe first stated the doctrine during his annual State of the Union Address to Congress.

It is applicable to international relations today. For example, the Ukraine crisis. Russia is applying the US’s Monroe Doctrine to their own “near-abroad.” The US would not tolerate Mexico or Canada making a military alliance with China or Russia. Russia’s resistance to Ukraine joining the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) follows the same logic.

China is asserting sovereignty in the South China Sea, angering the Philippines and Vietnam. It is China's own version of the Monroe Doctrine.

Indian strategic experts believe that the Monroe Doctrine has become ‘an article of faith’ within the Indian strategic community. In policy terms, this means building a ‘blue-water navy’ capable of high-seas combat. It also means discouraging fellow South Asian governments from ‘granting military bases and facilities to great powers.’

Experts believe that the need of the hour for India is to think big and based on India’s geostrategic centrality, India should declare an Indian Monroe Doctrine sphere encompassing the South Asia and Indian Ocean. This grand vision of great power should be the lodestar guiding all policies.

 

Que. How do unseasonal rains damage crops? What is government's response?

Ans. The unseasonal heavy rains in March 2015 caused heavy damage to Rabi crops in north India, particularly in Bundelkhand region of Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh, Vidarbha region of Maharastra, Saurashtra region of Gujarat and Punjab and Haryana.

The unseasonal rains damaged crops like wheat, mustard, pea and barley.

The unseasonal rains brought along with it chill and gusty winds, causing the mercury to dip several notches and in some placed accompanied by hailstorm, severely damaged crops. Standing crops get flattened and thus damaged.

Rabi crops are grown mid-November to April. The main Rabi crop is wheat. According to a senior government official up to 20 per cent of total production could have been damaged.

Mostly, it is the wheat and mustard crops that have been damaged. The total cost of damage could be around Rs 10,000 crore.

Government compensates the farmers who suffered damage on the basis of a certain minimum amount of damage. However, victims complain of lack of transparency.

 

Que. Write in a detailed manner on Inner Line Permit.

Ans. Inner Line Permit (ILP) is an official travel document issued by the Government of India to allow inward travel of an Indian citizen into a protected/restricted area for a limited period. It is obligatory for Indian citizens from outside those states to obtain permit for entering into the protected state. The document is an effort by the government to regulate movement to certain areas located near the international border of India. This is an off-shoot of the Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulations, 1873, which protected Crown's interest in the tea, oil and elephant trade by prohibiting "British subjects" from entering into these "Protected Areas" (to prevent them from establishing any commercial venture that could rival the Crown's agents) . The word "British subjects" was replaced by Citizen of India in 1950. Despite the fact that the ILP was originally created by the British to safeguard their commercial interests, it continues to be used in India, officially to protect tribal cultures in northeastern India. There are different kinds of ILP's, one for tourists and others for people who intend to stay for long-term periods, often for employment purposes. ILP's valid for tourism purposes are granted as a matter of routine.

The states which require the permit are: Arunachal Pradesh, Mizoram and Nagaland. An ILP was previously required for certain parts of the Leh district in Jammu and Kashmir. This requirement was abolished in 2014, although foreign nationals are required to get Protected Area Permit for this region.

ILP required by outsiders to enter Nagaland and some other northeastern states has not been successful in tackling the influx of migrants or illegal Bangladeshi immigrants, according to some.

 

Que. What is "phage therapy"? Comment on its advantages. Why is the world showing renewed interest in it?

Ans. Phage therapy is the therapeutic use of bacteriophages to treat pathogenic bacterial infections. Bacteriophages are viruses that kill bacteria. Although extensively used and developed mainly in former Soviet Union countries, it is being explored in the western world of late (2015). Phage therapy has many potential applications in human medicine as well as dentistry, veterinary science, and agriculture.

Bacteriophages are much more specific than antibiotics, so they can be chosen to be harmless not only to the host organism (human, animal, or plant), but also to other beneficial bacteria reducing the chances of opportunistic infections. (An opportunistic infection is an infection caused by pathogens, particularly opportunistic pathogens—those that take advantage of certain situations—such as bacterial, viral, fungal or protozoan infections that usually do not cause disease in a healthy host, one with a healthy immune system. A compromised immune system, however, presents an "opportunity" for the pathogen to infect. For example, those with HIV)

They would have a high therapeutic index, that is, phage therapy would be expected to give rise to few side effects. Because phages replicate in vivo, a smaller effective dose can be used. On the other hand, this specificity is also a disadvantage: a phage will only kill a bacterium if it is a match to the specific strain. Consequently phage mixtures are often applied to improve the chances of success

Now, faced with the looming spectre of antibiotic resistance, Western researchers and governments are giving phages a serious look.

 

Que. What reasons did ISIS offer for its cultural vandalism? Examine them.

Ans. Early March, bulldozing of the ancient Assyrian city of Nimrud by Islamic State IS was reported. Nimrud was founded in the 13th Century BC.IS says ancient shrines and statues are "false idols" that have to be smashed. Nimrud lies about 30km (18 miles) south-east of Mosul. Many of the artefacts found there have been moved to museums in Baghdad and overseas, but many remain on site.

As an act of cultural vandalism, the attempt to destroy Nimrud is already being compared with the Taliban's demolition of the Bamiyan Buddha rock sculptures in Afghanistan in 2001.

As well as destroying artefacts, Islamic State also trades in them - and the trade is one of its key sources of revenue.

Local tribal source said: "Islamic State members came to the Nimrud archaeological city and looted the valuables in it and then they proceeded to level the site to the ground.

Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant occupied that area in 2014. ISIL had destroyed other holy sites, including the Mosque of the Prophet Jonah in Mosul. In early 2015, they announced their intention to destroy pre-Islamic artifacts as they offend their religious views and later ISIL destroyed Akkadian monuments in the Mosul Museum.

 

Que. Which part of the world do peacock spiders belong to? Name the two new species of peacock spiders discovered recently.

Ans. Peacock spiders are a group of spiders found in Australia that possess bright peacock-like colors, and elaborate (and bizarre) mating rituals and behaviors. Two new species of peacock spiders — which have been named “Skeletorus” and “Sparklemuffin” — have been discovered in Australia, according to recent reports.

 

Que. What is the "plug and play" model of infrastructural investment introduced in the Union Budget 2015-16? Comment on the challenges.

Ans. The Union Budget has proposed a `plug-and-play' model for big-ticket infrastructure projects such as power plants, airports and roads, where all regulatory clearances will be put in place before they are awarded to private developers through a transparent auction. Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, during his Budget speech, announced plans to set up five ultra mega power projects (UMPPs) of 4,000 mw each under the `plug-and play' model. This means winners of the contract can start implementing the project immediately, without worrying about all the regulatory clearances and coal or gas linkages -the biggest causes for so many stalled projects in the country. This should unlock investments to the extent of Rs.1 lakh crore. It is in line with long-term industry demand and will help the government attract foreign and domestic investments into much-needed infrastructure projects as it will significantly cut down project implementation time and cost and time overruns. The plug-and-play model is one of the most important announcements made by the government. That setting up an infrastructure project at present requires a minimum 70 statutory clearances from central and state authorities. The government has to spend a fair amount of time to do feasibility studies and the preparation required to incubate before it puts out the bids for private sector.

 

Que. What is JAM Trinity, according to the Economic Survey 2015 and why is it emphasized?

Ans. Government subsidises many commodities like rice, wheat, pulses, sugar, kerosene, LPG, naphtha, water, electricity, fertilizer etc. The estimated direct fiscal cost of subsidies is about Rs 3.78 lakh crore or about 4.24 per cent of GDP. Prime Minister Narendra Modi recently stated that leakages in subsidies must be eliminated without reducing the subsidies themselves. Price subsidies are often regressive, meaning "a rich household benefits more from the subsidy than a poor household". It gives the example of good, electricity and kerosene, to name a few, and explains how price subsidies distort and lead to leakages (leakages means that the intended beneficiaries do not receive the benefit).

Economic Survey says 'JAM Trinity' of Jan Dhan Yojana, Aadhaar and Mobile numbers should be linked effectively for better transfer of subsidies to the intended beneficiaries. JAM has potential to "wipe every tear from every eye" with direct transfer of benefits.

It says the JAM allows the state to offer this support to poor households in a targeted and less distorting way. There are many other benefits as we discussed in the class like fiscal savings etc.

The survey also made a case that Post Offices can fit into the Aadhaar linked benefits-transfer architecture.

India has the largest postal network in the world with over 1,55,015 Post Offices of which (89.76 percent) are in the rural areas.

"Similar to the mobile money framework, the Post Office (either as payment transmitter or a regular Bank) can seamlessly fit into the Aadhaar linked benefits-transfer architecture by applying for an IFSC code which will allow post offices to start seeding Aadhaar linked accounts," it said.

 

Que. What is the Economic Survey of India?

Ans. The Finance Ministry of India presents the Economic Survey in the parliament every year, just before the Union Budget. It is the ministry's view on the annual economic development of the country. A flagship annual document of the Ministry of Finance, Government of India, Economic Survey reviews the developments in the Indian economy over the previous 12 months, summarizes the performance on major development programs, and highlights the policy initiatives of the government and the prospects of the economy in the short to medium term. This document is presented to both houses of Parliament during the Budget Session. It contains certain prescriptions that may find a place in the Union Budget which is presented a day or two later. It is authored by the Chief Economic Advisor in the Finance Ministry. There is no statutory obligation to present the document.

 

Que. Why we should legalise prostitution?

Ans. Some social workers and policy makers in India recently said: "Unless we legalise prostitution, rapes and sexual harassment of women cannot be stopped. Legalising prostitution is the best deterrent to rapes.” The comment has drawn support from the National Commission of Women and prominent women activists. Chairperson of NCW said it would lead to better working conditions for sex workers as well as protect their health.

Sex workers are the most marginalized members of society. They need protection and help. Legalising the profession has multiple benefits.

Anyone who has worked with sex workers knows that they are normal people, with normal needs. They want bank accounts and schools for their children.

They are exploited by pimps, abusive clients and the police. They have nowhere to turn to because what they do is illegal, and considered morally reprehensible by the same society which uses them. Legalising prostitution would mean that abused sex workers would have the option of turning to the law for protection.

 

Regulation

The step will protect minors. Around ten million children worldwide are estimated to be in the profession. Legalising and regulating the profession will ensure that only willing, consenting adults are employed, not trafficked children.

There are enormous health benefits. Legalisation will reduce the transmission of sexually transmitted diseases. In the brothels of Singapore, every customer is provided with condoms as well as the facility to shower before and after the ‘session’. The prostitutes are also required to maintain health cards.

 

Taxation

              Legalisation would also translate into better work conditions and better wages for workers. Pimps and middlemen will gradually be eliminated. The job of the police will be to protect rather than extract ‘protection money’ from sex workers. The police can also then spend its time and resources tackling more serious issues than people having paid sex.

In countries like the Netherlands, prostitutes have been brought under the tax net. They pay their taxes like any other working citizen.

*We will discuss why we should not later.

In India, prostitution is estimated to be an 8.4billion dollar industry. Taxing it would also enable the government to channel money back into the profession, thus enabling it to protect the rights of sex workers better.

 

Prostitution has been legalized in the Netherlands, New Zealand, Germany, Iceland, Switzerland, Austria, Denmark, Greece, Turkey, Senegal, Venezuela, the state of Nevada in the U.S., and several Australian states (Victoria, Queensland, ACT and Northern Territory).

It is something we too should give serious thought to. Sex workers need to empower themselves and fight for their rights.

The Sonagachi project, run by Dr Smarjit Jana, designated a ‘best practice project’ by the WHO, is one way of doing it. 

He organized the workers like a labour collective. He lobbied with pimps, the police and government. Now the sex workers have access to literacy classes, technical training for jobs, schools and loan facilities and day care centres. In other words, they finally have a life.

 

Que. What is the legal status of prostitution in India?

Ans. A person above the age of 18 years, selling his/her body for sex against money or kind to another person of the opposite sex (the uncertainty on IPC Section-377 is temporarily over, with the Supreme court upholding it.) in his/her private premises (a privately-owned premise is not necessarily private), 200 meters away from a place of religious worship, a hospital, an educational institution or any place notified by the government (Sec-7) is not a crime under any Indian laws including The Indian Penal Code-1860 or The Immoral Traffic Prevention Act- 1956. The Indian law bans the acts of trafficking, procuring, detaining, pimping, lending a premise for carrying on prostitution for running a brothel. Soliciting in public places for prostitution is punishable (Sec-8) but a woman arrested under Sec-7 or Sec-8 is not to be punished but to be given a chance of rehabilitation at the state’s cost (Sec-10). In short, the Indian law aims to punish the exploiters like madams, pimps, traffickers, customers, and other partners aiding the exploitative sex trade but not the prostitute woman.

 

Que. Elaborate on the treatment of “population” as a criterion for distributing tax resources to a state as adopted by the Fourteenth Finance Commission.

Ans. The Presidential order setting up the FFC has “terms of reference” (ToR) which specifies that "in making its recommendations on various matters, the Commission shall generally take the base of population figures as on 1971 in all cases where population is a factor for determination of devolution of taxes and duties and grants-in-aid; however, the Commission may also take into account the demographic changes that have taken place subsequent to 1971". In other words, the ToR recognised the changing demographic realities and provided a space for the demographic changes across States in the last forty years to be taken into consideration while deciding on the devolution. The Commission deliberated on the possible demographic changes that have taken place since 1971, the obvious ones being the change in the composition of population and also migration. While some States have achieved replacement level fertility, some others still have a very high total fertility rate.

Migration is an important factor affecting the population of the State, apart from natural factors like fertility and mortality. A large number of in-migrants in a State poses several challenges resulting in additional administrative and other costs. There is no denying the fact that migrants contribute to the income of the destination States and help the State of origin through remittances. However, the pressure of migration to bigger cities does impose fiscal challenges on the destination. For example, Telangana state government's contention is that the growth of the migrant population surged in the eighties. It appealed to the FFC that the changes in population of the state subsequent to 1971 may be taken into account fully for the purpose of tax devolution as well as grants-in-aid.By the argument of the state, nearly 18% of the state's population comprises migrants, especially those who settled in Hyderabad and surrounding Ranga Reddy district.

The FFC says that it is of the view that the use of dated population data is unfair, but is nevertheless bound by ToR.Thus, it has performed a balancing act: assigned a 17.5 per cent weight to the 1971 population. A weight of 10% is assigned to the 2011 population to capture the demographic changes since 1971, both in terms of migration and age structure.

Is the FFC justified? Has it not rolled back the meaning of freezing the population figure at 1971 census for distribution of resources as otherwise it would promote reckless demographic expansion? Answer is partly yes because the 2011 population figure is a result of natural factors as well as migration.

*None of the Newspapers nor Channels nor blogs have covered it so far. That makes us THE FIRST.

 

Que. Kurds are spread across all but one of the following countries 

         i.      Syria                ii.      Turkey                    iii.      Armenia                         iv.      Jordan

        a)   ii and iii only        b)  iii and iv only

        c)   iii only                 d)  iv only

  

Que. What is social impact assessment (SIA)?

Ans. SIA is a process of analyzing the impact of public/government intervention on the social aspects of the human environment. These aspects include:

  1. The ways people cope with life through their economy, social systems, and cultural values.
  2. The ways people use the natural environment, for subsistence, recreation, spiritual activities, cultural activities, and so forth.
  3. The ways people use environment for shelter, making livelihoods, industry, worship, recreation, gathering together, etc.
  4. Organization of the community, social and cultural institutions and beliefs
  5. Preservation of the community identity.
  6. Art, music, dance, language arts, crafts, and other expressive aspects of culture.
  7. A group's values and beliefs about appropriate ways to live, family and extra-family relationships, status relationships, means of expression, and other expressions of community.
  8. The esthetic and cultural character of a community or neighborhood-its ambience.

 

Que. How do you explain the spike of 10% over 32% to make the devolution of 42% of net divisible tax resources from the Centre to the States?

Ans. Simple. The 14th Finance Commission is of the view that tax devolution should be the primary route for transfer of resources to the States. According to the Commission, the increased devolution of the divisible pool of taxes is a “compositional shift in transfers’’ – from grants to tax devolution. The Planning Commission does not exist any more. The Plan fund grants are merged with the tax devolution and thus there is a huge increase. Otherwise, it would have been about say 34% or so through the FC and the rest through the PC. It means that in capturing the States’ needs, it has ignored the Plan and non-Plan distinctions.

 

Que. What happens to centrally sponsored schemes?

Ans. Drastic reduction of their number. Some like Narega continue. For other schemes, money is transferred to the states with enormous autonomy.

 

Que. What is the basis- the criteria- for distributing among the states their respective shares from the total amount meant for them- called “horizontal distribution”?

Ans. In recommending an horizontal distribution, it has used following parameters with their respective weights in brackets:

o   Population (total weight of 27.5% with the break up like: 17.5% for population and 10% for Demographic Change). Demographic change is to compensate states for migration.

o   Income Distance (50%) 

o   Area (15%)

o   Forest Cover (7.5%)

Surely, these criteria and weights are very different from the earlier FC-13. Forest cover is new. Fiscal effort has been completely dropped. “Performing states” might protest.

 

Que. What do local bodies get?

Ans. It has recommended distribution of grants to States for local bodies using 2011 population data with weight of 90 per cent and area with weight of 10 per cent. Using 2011 population does not hurt as state is still the unit for grants.

 

Que. Does it follow the FC-13 it this matter?

Ans. Yes. it has divided grants into two parts like the earlier commission: a basic grant, and a performance one for gram panchayats and municipal bodies. The ration of basic to performance grant is 90:10 for panchayats; and 80:20 for municipalities. Basic is what all get. Performance grant is given on the basis of budgetary data being made available by the panchayat bodies and also on how far they have raised more.

 

Que. What are "smart syringes"? Why does the World Health Organisation want all countries to switch over to them? Comment on the challenge.

Ans. Use of the same syringe or needle to give injections to more than one person causes the spread of a number of deadly infectious diseases worldwide. Reusing syringes leads to more than two million people being infected with diseases each year, including HIV and hepatitis.

The smart ones prevent the plunger from being pulled back after an injection, so they cannot be used again. The new needles are more expensive, but the WHO says the changeover would be cheaper than treating the diseases. World Health Organization (WHO) is launching a new policy on injection safety.

A 2014 study sponsored by WHO estimated that in 2010, up to 1.7 million people were infected with hepatitis B virus, up to 315 000 with hepatitis C virus and as many as 33 800 with HIV through an unsafe injection.

WHO is urging countries to transition, by 2020, to the exclusive use of the new “smart” syringes.

* Doctors, please pick up the entire gamut of issues related safety of injection.

 

(The biggest biotech discovery of the century. Dealt with it in an earlier Q&A as well)

Q. "Metagenics has very useful applications for us." Introduce and elaborate the statement.

A. The genetic and biological diversity of microorganisms is an important area of scientific research. Unfortunately, scientists are able to grow less than 1% of all microorganisms observable in nature under standard laboratory conditions. This leaves scientists unable to study more than 99% of the biological diversity in the environment. Metagenomics is a new field combining molecular biology and genetics in an attempt to identify and characterize the genetic material from environmental samples and apply that knowledge. The genetic diversity is assessed by isolation of DNA followed by direct cloning of functional genes from the environmental sample.
Scientists can study the smallest component of an environmental system by extracting DNA from organisms in the system and inserting it into a model organism. The model organism then expresses this DNA where it can be studied using standard laboratory techniques.

Metagenomics is a four step process: (i) the isolation of genetic material, (ii) manipulation of the genetic material, (iii) library construction, and the (iv) the analysis of genetic material in the metagenomic library.

Applications :Many microorganisms have the ability to degrade waste products, make new drugs for medicine, make environmentally friendly plastics, or even make some of the ingredients of food we eat. By isolating the DNA from these organisms, it provides us with the opportunity to optimize these processes and adapt them for use in our society.

 

Q. What do you know of Swyer syndrome and why was it in news in India recently?

A. Swyer syndrome is a condition in which individuals with one X chromosome and one Y chromosome in each cell, the pattern normally found in males, have a female appearance. People with this disorder have female external genitalia and a normal uterus and Fallopian tubes. However, they do not have functional gonads (ovaries or testes). Instead, they have undeveloped clumps of tissue called streak gonads. These abnormal gonads often become cancerous, so they are usually removed surgically early in life.
People with Swyer syndrome are typically raised as females and have a female gender identity.

Thus, the Swyer's syndrome, also caled XY gonadal dysgenesis, is a type of hypogonadism in a person whose karyotype is 46,XY.

Hypogonadism is a medical term which describes a diminished functional activity of the gonads – the testes and ovaries in males and females, respectively

Affected individuals usually begin hormone replacement therapy during adolescence to induce menstruation and development of female secondary sex characteristics such as breast enlargement and body hair.

Last week,a woman in Meerut who is said be 'genetically male' has delivered twins helped by the doctors in the city. She has an XY gonadal dysgenesis with infantile uterus case and underwent a series of medical procedures for about three years to become a mother. Special hormonal and endocrinal treatment led the person to bear children by developing her uterus to a stage to conceive. The person had external female organs but had never menstruated and was almost a miracle to make her conceive and produce twins.

 

Q. Comment on Munshi-Ayyangar Formula and its significance.

A.Munshi-Ayyangar Formula was a constitutional compromise reached during the framing of the Indian Constitution. It shaped the Official language policy of the Republic of India. Named after K. M. Munshi and Gopalsamy Ayyangar - both members of the Indian Constituent Assembly - this formula ensured that the Indian constitution did not specify any "National language" and only mentioned "Official languages". It aims at comforting the non-Hindi speaking people.

An official language is used by the govt for administrative purposes and a national language is one which is spoken by a large no. of people in that country; is a major language; and can be developed as a language of national integration. That is, link language. Lingua franca (a bridge language):a language that is used among people who speak various different languages.

 

Q. What are the limitations on the political rights of civil servants under the Indian laws? Why are such limitations imposed?

A. Constitution makers in India and later the law makers adpted the modern Weberian model of efficient and neutral civil service. In our
country, the Civil Service Conduct Rules prohibit the government employees from activeparticipation in political activities. Except for the limited right of voting in secret, a government employee cannot participate in any way in any political movement or activity including
election campaigns. He cannot join a political party even as an inactive member or contribute financially to its funds; he cannot express any opinion on political issues; and he cannot
stand for election to any legislature.

An impersonal, strictly rule-bound, neutral bureaucracy was expected not only to provide the necessary administrative objectivity but also enhance the democratic principle of equality and provide protection from arbitrary rule.

However, such neutrality is becoming increasingly only a formal fact and in reality the pressures and temptations have been otherwise.

 

Q. Write on the need for a “New GDP Series” that was introduced in January 2015 and the impact it makes on three to four macroeconomic figures.

A. The Central Statistics Office (CSO) came out with a new series of national accounts with 2011-12 as base year for computing size of the economy and economic growth rate. It has the effect of broadening the coverage across segments including farm, corporate and unorganised sectors — a move that will likely expand the size the economy’s size.

The new series with a base year of 2011-12 was released on January 30. At present, GDP — the broadest measure of the total value of goods and services produced in the country — is computed on 2004-05 base year.

The base year of the national accounts is changed periodically to factor in structural changes in the economy and present a more realistic picture of the macroeconomic aggregates.

The new series will include data on unorganised manufacturing and services and income from public private partnership (PPP) projects among others.

The data for corporate income will be collated from the corporate affairs ministry’s MCA21 records, a comprehensive compendium that allows collecting granular information even from the level of the small firms.

In the earlier series such data was taken primarily from the Reserve Bank of India’s study on company and finances.

The series will also incorporate results of recent national sample surveys such as those on enterprises, unemployment, debt and investment, situation assessment of farmers and survey of land livestock holdings.

The new series will be released for three consecutive years from 2011-12.

The National Statistical Commission suggested that the base year for computing national account should be revised every five years.
India’s GDP at current market prices (2013-14) is valued at Rs 11,355,073 crore. Under the new series this could be at a higher value.

The first official estimates of national income were prepared by the Central Statistical Organisation (CSO) with base year 1948-49 for the estimates at constant prices.

GOI revised FY14 growth up to 6.9% from 4.7% after improving corporate coverage on rebasing GDP to 2011-12 from 2004-05. Similarly, the economic growth rate for 2012-13 has been revised upwards to 5.1 per cent, compared with 4.5 per cent estimated earlier.

The 2004-05 GDP data was under-estimating industrial growth as the coverage was low and the weights were wrong.

New GDP series has captured the changing structure of the Indian economy. The share of manufacturing has increased to 15.8% from 11.9% in the 2004-05 series.

Share of trade services is down to 10.9% from 15.2% in the 2004-05 series. Except real estate and construction, the share of all other services has also fallen in the new series. The share of agriculture has increased marginally in the new series to 17.2% from 16.8%.

The base year was last revised in January 2010.

 

Que. Describe the International Criminal Court. Why did India not join ICC?

Ans. The International Criminal Court is a permanent tribunal to prosecute individuals for genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes etc. It came into being in 2002. The Court's official seat is in The Hague, Netherlands, but its proceedings may take place anywhere.

123 states are states parties to the Statute of the Court.

The Court can generally exercise jurisdiction only when a case is referred to the Court by the United Nations Security Council. It is designed to complement existing national judicial systems: it can exercise its jurisdiction only when national courts are unwilling or unable to investigate or prosecute such crimes.. Primary responsibility to investigate and punish crimes is therefore left to individual states.

The Court does not have universal jurisdiction. The Court may only exercise jurisdiction if:
• The accused is a national of a State Party or a State otherwise accepting the jurisdiction of the Court; 
• The crime took place on the territory of a State Party or a State otherwise accepting the jurisdiction of the Court; or 
• The United Nations Security Council has referred the situation to the Prosecutor, irrespective of the nationality of the accused or the location of the crime.

Que. Why India did not join the ICC?

1. Made the ICC subordinate to the UN Security Council, and thus in effect to its permanent members, and their political interference, by providing it the power to refer cases to the ICC and the power to block ICC proceedings.
2. Refused to designate of the use of nuclear weapons and terrorism among crimes within the purview of the ICC, as proposed by India.

Critics say that ICC can be abused by countries like Pakistan for India’s actions in J&K or under AFSPA.

Que. Write on the need for a “New GDP Series” that was introduced in January 2015 and the impact it makes on three to four macroeconomic figures.

Ans. The Central Statistics Office (CSO) came out with a new series of national accounts with 2011-12 as base year for computing size of the economy and economic growth rate. It has the effect of broadening the coverage across segments including farm, corporate and unorganised sectors — a move that will likely expand the size the economy’s size.

The new series with a base year of 2011-12 was released on January 30. At present, GDP — the broadest measure of the total value of goods and services produced in the country — is computed on 2004-05 base year.

The base year of the national accounts is changed periodically to factor in structural changes in the economy and present a more realistic picture of the macroeconomic aggregates.

The new series will include data on unorganised manufacturing and services and income from public private partnership (PPP) projects among others.

The data for corporate income will be collated from the corporate affairs ministry’s MCA21 records, a comprehensive compendium that allows collecting granular information even from the level of the small firms.

In the earlier series such data was taken primarily from the Reserve Bank of India’s study on company and finances.

The series will also incorporate results of recent national sample surveys such as those on enterprises, unemployment, debt and investment, situation assessment of farmers and survey of land livestock holdings.

The new series will be released for three consecutive years from 2011-12.

The National Statistical Commission suggested that the base year for computing national account should be revised every five years.
India’s GDP at current market prices (2013-14) is valued at Rs 11,355,073 crore. Under the new series this could be at a higher value.

The first official estimates of national income were prepared by the Central Statistical Organisation (CSO) with base year 1948-49 for the estimates at constant prices.

GOI revised FY14 growth up to 6.9% from 4.7% after improving corporate coverage on rebasing GDP to 2011-12 from 2004-05. Similarly, the economic growth rate for 2012-13 has been revised upwards to 5.1 per cent, compared with 4.5 per cent estimated earlier.

The 2004-05 GDP data was under-estimating industrial growth as the coverage was low and the weights were wrong.

New GDP series has captured the changing structure of the Indian economy. The share of manufacturing has increased to 15.8% from 11.9% in the 2004-05 series.

Share of trade services is down to 10.9% from 15.2% in the 2004-05 series. Except real estate and construction, the share of all other services has also fallen in the new series. The share of agriculture has increased marginally in the new series to 17.2% from 16.8%.

The base year was last revised in January 2010.

Que. What are mitochondrial diseases. How does mitochondrial replacement therapy help? Mention the controversy.

Ans. Mitochondrial diseases result from failures of the mitochondria, specialized compartments present in every cell of the body except red blood cells. Mitochondria are responsible for creating more than 90% of the energy needed by the body to sustain life and support growth. When they fail, less and less energy is generated within the cell. Cell injury and even cell death follow. If this process is repeated throughout the body, whole systems begin to fail, and the life of the person in whom this is happening is severely compromised. The disease primarily affects children, but adult onset is becoming more and more common.

Diseases of the mitochondria appear to cause the most damage to cells of the brain, heart, liver, skeletal muscles, kidney and the endocrine and respiratory systems.

It can cause catastrophic organ failure in their children, as well as severe epilepsy or conditions such as muscular dystrophy. Children often die in an agony that can't be alleviated.

Scientists developed a technique that lets mothers with this genetic fault bear healthy children. Sometimes called "three-parent embryos", the method replaces the faulty mitochondria in the mother's egg with healthy mitochondria from a donor egg, to combine with the father's sperm. Mitochondrial DNA consists of just 37 genes, which perform a quite separate function from the 23,000 genes that determine our characteristics: the baby's nature will be drawn from its parents, the donor providing only "battery" support.

But tampering with any human DNA is illegal and requires new regulations to be agreed . Inevitably it has led to warnings of "genetically modified humans" and "GM babies", with questions raised about whether children should know they have a "third parent" so they can contact the mitochondrial donor mother.

Que. Write a short note on US-2 aircraft.

Ans. The Shin Maywa US-2 is an amphibious short take-off and landing (STOL) aircraft manufactured by Japan-based Shin Maywa Industries. Designed for air-sea rescue missions, Shin Maywa US-2 can quickly reach remote islands and sites of maritime accidents during search and rescue (SAR) operations. The US-2 amphibian aircraft was displayed at Defexpo India 2012. The aircraft has been offered to India in response to the Indian Navy's global request for information (RFI) for nine amphibious SAR aircraft. The Indian Navy is prepared to buy between 15 and 18 US-2 Amphibious Search and Rescue (SAR) aircraft at cost of $1.65 billion. It is expected that these amphibious aircraft will be stationed in the Andaman and Nicobar islands.

 

Que. A patient diagnosed with HIV smuggled unapproved pharmaceutical drugs into India despite the regulations of the Government prohibiting it. He used the smuggled drugs to treat himself and others with AIDS by establishing the “Live well Club”. These clubs sprang up during the HIV epidemic when patients and/or their friends pooled resources to smuggle in drugs as the drugs needed to treat AIDS were either not available or too expensive. You are the policeman on duty who saw m0bers of the club bring in several suitcases full of anti-retroviral medicines. What would you consider as the appropriate action and why? Choose one of the following courses of action or any other and explain.

a)  Arrest them and seize the drugs

b)  Seize the drugs and leave them alone

c)  Since they are doing it purely for humanitarian reasons and not for profit, ignore it.

Ans.

a)  It is the legal option to enforce law but ignores the human suffering. At the same time, the job of the civil servant, first and foremost, is to uphold law.

b)  It is not the option as: if drugs are seized for illegality, arrest is mandatory.

c)  On the face of it, in the humanitarian spirit, this option is valid. But there are so many aspects that disallow it: drugs are unapproved and prohibited. They may be spurious. In course of time, bribery may set in. Further, it is difficult to differentiate between smuggling and supplies that are brought in for genuine reasons. Thus there is a slippery slope potentially.

Therefore, Option A is the right one.

 

Que. What are the "pathfinder projects" under the Defence Trade and Technology Initiative (DTTI) that were agreed upon during Barak Obama's visit to India in 2015 January?

Ans. India and the US renewed an enhanced Defence Framework Agreement for the next ten years and identified four key "pathfinder projects" for joint development and production

The four are the next-generation Raven unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), “roll-on, roll-off “ intelligence gathering and reconnaissance modules for C-130J Super Hercules aircraft, mobile electric hybrid power sources and “uniform integrated protection ensemble increment-2 (chemical, biological warfare protection gear for soldiers)“.

The Raven is not an advanced spy or combat drone. It is a hand-launched mini drone which is used by soldiers in the battlefield to keep tabs on enemy formations within a range of 10km.The two sides, however, plan to extend its range to 18km and flying endurance to six hours from the existing four hours.

 

Que. What is the Convention on Supplementary Compensation and why did India join it?

Ans. The international convention provides for compensation in case of trans-national implications of a nuclear accident. Upon entry into force, the Convention on Supplementary Compensation for Nuclear Damage would establish a uniform global legal regime for compensation to victims in the unlikely event of a nuclear accident.

The CSC provides for establishment of an international fund, contributed by each member, to increase the amount available to compensate victims and allows for compensating civil damage occurring within a State's exclusive economic zone, including loss of tourism or fisheries related income.

It also sets parameters on a nuclear operator's financial liability, time limits governing possible legal action, requires that nuclear operators maintain insurance or other financial security measures and provides for a single competent court to hear claims. 
India signed the Convention on Supplementary Compensation (CSC) which sets parameters on a nuclear operator's financial liability, at the IAEA in Vienna in 2010.

The Indian move is seen as an effort towards allaying concerns of American companies on account of the newly-enacted Nuclear Liability law by Parliament.

 

Que. Can we end genetic diseases?

Ans. In October 2014, two scientists shared the $3 million Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences for inventing the CRISPR/Cas9 genome-editing technology that might help us end genetic diseases, like Huntington’s – by taking cells out of a patient, fixing the damaged gene, and then putting the cell back in again.

Over the last decade, there has been an explosion in genomics – we’ve had the human genome sequenced, and genome sequences of many other animals and plants. And this has meant that it is possible to read the code of life. We now have all the sequences of genes, including many that have mutations that lead to genetic disease.

The challenge has been that until now it has been either difficult or impossible to act on this information. There have been no good technologies to manipulate genomes, to correct the genetic mutations that lead to disease. And that’s what the CRISPR/Cas9 technology does – it allows specific changes to be made in the DNA of cells and organisms to enable the correction of mutations that could otherwise lead to disease.

You can think about it like a computer code. The DNA of the cell is analogous to the code that programmes a computer. Imagine that you try to run the code, and there’s an error in it – then the computer doesn’t run very well. It’s the same in the cell of an organism. If there’s a mutation in the DNA, it affects the cell’s ability to grow and function normally. This results in genetic diseases like Cystic Fibrosis, Huntington’s Disease and Muscular Dystrophy.

CRISPR/Cas9 will have a profound impact on the development of therapeutic drugs to treat genetic diseases because it is a precision tool that allows us to study how drugs affect cells.

 

Que. What is "Manav" in the field of robotics?

Ans.  At IIT in Mumbai, India, the country’s first 3D printed plastic robot MANAV, was featured in the country’s annual Tech Fest 2015. MANAV, which means “human” or “man” in Hindi, a 2-foot tall robot, with an entirely 3D printed body, weighs around 2kg and is powered by 21 servos. Two cameras are fixed in his eye and his ears carry two microphones to detect and respond to the direction of sound stimuli. It can execute a variety of animations and actions, such as playing football, exercising, and dancing. It is fully designed, printed and manufactured in India

 

Que. How significant is the synthesis of "Peptide M5" by Indian scientists recently?

Ans. A team of Indian scientists has developed a synthetic molecule that prevents malaria and tuberculosis microbes from invading human cells, raising hopes for a two-in-one drug to treat both infections, including drug-resistant versions of these microbes.

The molecule, code-named M5, works against both infections by targeting a key set of proteins in the human body that both the malaria parasite and the tuberculosis bacilli exploit to enter human blood cells and trigger the disease process.

The scientists at the International Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology (ICGEB), New Delhi, are hoping to use their strategy to target human protein machinery to tailor a new generation of single drugs to fight multiple microbes - bacteria, parasites, and viruses.

The synthetic molecule developed - M5 - doesn't target the microbes themselves, it interferes with key human protein machinery the bugs hijack to gain entry into human blood cells.

Most drugs used to treat infections, including malaria and tuberculosis, are intended to disrupt some biological process in microbes. Some antibiotics break down bacilli cell walls, other drugs block critical biochemical processes within bacteria, parasites or viruses.

The scientists focused on a set of proteins called intercellular adhesion molecules (ICAM), demonstrating through laboratory studies that tuberculosis germs cannot enter their target cells in the body - macrophages - without the aid of a protein called ICAM-1.

Their studies have also shown that the malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum similarly uses another protein called ICAM-4 to enter red blood cells, its primary destination in the body, where the parasite multiplies and proliferates and causes disease.

Our scientists designed a synthetic peptide they've named M5 - a molecule crafted from a chain of 84 amino acids - that has been shown in laboratory studies to interfere with the interactions of both the TB germs with ICAM1 and Plasmodium with ICAM4.

The scientists observed that M5 could block 80 per cent of parasite invasion into red blood cells and over 70 per cent of TB germs trying to enter macrophages.

This work raises the possibility of a novel strategy to fight multiple infections, The scientists believe their strategy could also be used to design molecules against viruses.

Several viruses, including the human immunodeficiency virus and the West Nile fever virus, also rely on variants of ICAM proteins to enter human cells.

The peptide M5 has also been shown to successfully block invasion by resistant strains of the malaria parasite as: microbes evade drugs by developing resistance to specific drugs but here, M5 targets a human protein - not the bugs.

 

Que. Describe the Salafis and Wahabis.

Ans. The Salafist movement is a movement within Islam that takes its name from the term salaf ("predecessors", "ancestors") used to identify the earliest Muslims, who, its adherents believe, provide the purest of Islamic practice. Salafism has become associated with strict and puritanical approaches to Islam – and, particularly in the West, with the Salafi Jihadis who espouse offensive jihad against those they deem to be liberals- enemies of Islam. They are the fundamentalists.They are sunnis.

Wahhabism is a religious movement/sect of Sunni Islam described as "orthodox"and "fundamentalist". It is an Islamic "reform movement" to restore "pure monotheistic worship". Adherents often object to the term Wahhabi or Wahhabism as derogatory, and prefer to be called Salafi .

Wahhabism is named after an eighteenth century preacher and scholar, Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab (1703–1792). He started a revivalist movement rejecting practices such as the popular cult of saints, and shrine and tomb visits, widespread among Muslims, but which he considered idolatry, impurities and innovations in Islam.

Thus, both are purist but came up at different points of time.

 

Que. What are the criteria for declaring a language as a Classicial Language in India? Mention the languages so declared.

Ans. Marathi may soon be included in the list of classical languages to become the seventh one. Odia was the sixth one declared in 2014, the first language from the Indo-Aryan linguistic group. They join the same league as Sanskrit, Tamil, Telugu, Kannada and Malayalam.

Odia is billed as the first language from the Indo-Aryan linguistic group and the case for making it a classical language was also premised on the fact that it has no resemblance to Hindi, Sanskrit, Bengali and Telugu.

Once a language is declared classical, it gets financial assistance for setting up a centre of excellence for the study of that language and also opens up an avenue for major awards for scholars of eminence. Besides, the University Grants Commission can be requested to create – to begin with at least in Central Universities – a certain number of professional chairs for classical languages for scholars of eminence in the language.

The criteria for declaring a language as classical mandates high antiquity of its early texts/recorded history over a period of 1,500-2,000 years, a body of ancient literature/texts which is considered a valuable heritage by generations of speakers and a literary tradition that is original and not borrowed from another speech community. Also since the classical language and literature is distinct from the modern, there can also be a discontinuity between the classical language and its later forms or its offshoots.

 

Que. On what basis is a case made that Marathi is a classical language according to the criteria laid down by the Government of India?

Ans. In order to probe the claim of Marathi as a classical language, the state government had set up a committee headed by author Ranganath Pathare, with historian-sociologist Hari Narke as the coordinator.

The committee had 10 other experts, including linguists, historians and language experts. It strongly recommended that Marathi be given the status of a classical language.

About the proof of Marathi's eligibility as a classical language, it says the earliest example of the existence of Marathi as an independent language dates back to more than 2,000 years. "A shilalekh (stone carving) discovered in Junnar taluka of Pune talks about Maharathi language, which is the same as Marathi. In fact, various references have been gathered that equate the Maharashtrian Parkit, Maharathi, Desi with that of present day Marathi".

Citing the independent witness of Sri Lankan seminal work of Deepavamsam, a Pali work dating back 2,000 years, it says the book mentions the existence of Marathi as an independent language during the time of emperor Ashoka. "The book states that Maharathi-speaking Bhikkhus (Buddhist monks) were sent to present day Konkan, Kundal and Kolhapur to spread Dhamma there." The Vinayapithaka (one of the canonical works of Buddhism) talks about an abbot named Mahadhammarakshak being sent to various parts of Maharashtra as he was well versed in Maharathi. This, Narke says, shows that Marathi existed as an independent language well before the common era.

 

Que. "The Dreyfus affair marked the birth of republican France as we know it today." Contextualise the statement and critically comment.

Ans.The Dreyfus affair was a political scandal that divided France from its beginning in 1894 until it was finally resolved in 1906. The affair is often seen as a miscarriage of justice, where a major role was played by the press and public opinion.

The scandal began in 1894, with the treason conviction of Captain Alfred Dreyfus, a young French artillery officer of Jewish descent. Sentenced to life imprisonment for allegedly communicating French military secrets to the German Embassy in Paris, Dreyfus was imprisoned on Devil's Island in French Guiana, where he would spend nearly five years.

Evidence came to light in 1896 identifying a French Army major named Esterhazy as the real culprit. After high-ranking military officials suppressed the new evidence, a military court unanimously acquitted Esterhazy after a trial lasting only two days. The Army then accused Dreyfus of additional charges based on falsified documents. Word of the military court's framing of Dreyfus and of an attempted cover-up began to spread. Activists put pressure on the government to reopen the case.

In 1899, Dreyfus was returned to France for another trial. The intense political and judicial scandal that ensued divided French society between those who supported Dreyfus (now called "Dreyfusards") and those who condemned him (the anti-Dreyfusards).

Eventually all the accusations against Alfred Dreyfus were demonstrated to be baseless. In 1906 Dreyfus was exonerated and reinstated as a major in the French Army.

The Affair from 1894 to 1906 divided France deeply and lastingly into two opposing camps: Catholic "anti-Dreyfusards" and the Dreyfusards. It embittered French politics and encouraged radicalization.

The conviction was a miscarriage of justice based upon faulty espionage and antisemitism.

The lasting impact of the affair is due not only to its direct consequences, but also to the broader principles it continues to represent - the dominance of freedom over repression, the confidence of France to stand up to those who challenge its values of liberty, equality and fraternity.

"The affair marked the birth of republican France as we know it today."

In accepting Dreyfus's innocence, France enshrined her most fundamental values: respect of the law, non-submission to clerical authority, the rights of the citizen.

But while the country proudly recalls how a Jewish citizen triumphed over anti-Semitism - the birth, it seemed, of racial equality - today's France remains tormented by racist and anti-Semitic crime.The Kosher supermarket hostage taking event on early January 2015 and other similar events are indicative of it.

 

Que. What are the conditions of domestic help in India? Critically comment on the new laws that are extended to or made for them.

Ans. Over the past few years, there have been innumerable cases of domestic workers—nearly all of them female, some of them minors—being abused and exploited by their employers. The abuses range from withholding of wages to starvation, not allowing time for sleep or rest. There has been much outcry and calls for legislation to regulate the employment of domestic workers and protect their rights. Laws have been unfavourable to them. Paid domestic work continues to be excluded from the central list of scheduled employments under the Minimum Wages Act of 1948. It is not covered under either the Payment of Wages Act (1936) or the Workmen’s Compensation Act (1923) or the Contract Labour (Regulation and Abolition) Act (1970) or the Maternity Benefit Act (1961).

In 2011 India became a signatory to the International Labour Organisation’s (ILO) Convention 189, which mandates decent working conditions for domestic workers, but it has not ratified it.

Good news is that of inclusion of domestic workers under the Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojana (RSBY). But a domestic worker cannot register for this scheme unless her employment is verified by two out of four authorized agencies-the police, the employer, the employers’ resident welfare associations, and unions.

The other two central government interventions in recent times, bringing domestic workers under the Unorganised Workers Social Security Act, 2008 and the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013 look good on paper but inspire little hope of making a difference in the real world in the absence of mechanisms for inspection and enforcement.

There has been some progress at the state level, with seven states—Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Karnataka, Kerala, Rajasthan, Jharkhand and Odisha—notifying minimum wages for domestic workers. But the wage rates have been set so low, and so arbitrarily, that they are irrelevant in the places where the largest proportion of domestic workers are employed—the metros, where due to rising demand the market rates are much higher than the minimum wages.

New laws alone are not the answer. They will not make an adequate impact unless efforts are made to understand, and then address, the broader social, cultural and economic factors that foster the exploitative dynamics at work.

 

Que. “We cannot any longer delay the introduction of “Choice Based Credit System” and “Credit Framework for Skills.” Clarify and justify.

Ans. The Ministry of Human Resource Development, Department of Higher Education convened a meeting of all State Education Ministers looking after Higher/Technical Education, on 6th January 2015, to discuss adoption of the Credit Framework for Skills and the Choice Based Credit System in Colleges and State Public Universities.

The Conference was unanimous that adoption of the Credit Framework for Skills and the Choice Based Credit System is one of the best ways to bring about changes to meet student aspirations and employment needs. The 'choice-based credit transfer' system will enable students to opt for courses of their choice, learn at their own pace, undergo additional courses and acquire more than the required credits and adopt an interdisciplinary approach to learning. Adoption of the grading system will facilitate seamless mobility of students across the institutions of learning in the country. The system offers flexibility as students get freedom to choose subjects. The system takes care of slow-learners as well as fast-learners.

The 'credit framework for skills', on the other hand, allows multiple pathways between vocational education, skills, education and job markets.

The Credit Framework for Skills signals respect for skills and vocational courses in mainstream higher education, an initiative that will help change the mind set about vocational education being an inferior option. The Choice Based Credit System opens up possibilities for students pursuing skills and courses of their choice to enhance their employability.

Thus, having an education system amalgamating knowledge and expertise is not a faraway dream.

 

Que. What is an algorithm? How is it relevant to our everyday “virtual life”?

Ans. An "algorithm" is nothing more than a set of instructions, just like a recipe or how-to book. And the Internet relies on many algorithms in order to function properly.

When we type search terms into Google, it follows a very complex algorithm to determine which results to show. When we buy something on Amazon with a credit card, it uses an algorithm to safely transmit our credit information. And just the simple act of navigating the Internet and loading a webpage requires the use of an algorithm.

We need to have safe transactions on the internet. Public-key encryptions are based on algorithms. Public key cryptography is the name for a broad collection of algorithms which lie at the heart of nearly every form of security online. Using what is perhaps best described as 'magic maths', public key cryptography lets people encode data with a key which cannot then decode it.

Lets exemplify: If Vandana has a piece of information which she needs to get to Bhupesh without anyone else seeing it – maybe a credit card number which she's using to buy a computer with – she has to encrypt it.Public key cryptography means that Bhupesh can tell the world his public key, and let them know that anything encoded with that will be readable by him and only him. Vandana sees the public key, locks up her credit card data using it, and then sends that packet on the way.Only Bhupesh, using a second, private, key can decrypt the data and read the number.

 

Que. what is satire?

Ans. Here are three overlapping definitions:

·  A literary work in which human foolishness or vice is attacked through irony, derision, or wit

·  Satire is a genre of literature, and sometimes graphic and performing arts, in which vices, follies, abuses, and shortcomings are held up to ridicule, ideally with the intent of shaming individuals, corporations, government or society itself, into improvement.

·  satire. the use of irony, sarcasm, ridicule, or the like, in exposing, denouncing, or deriding vice, folly, etc. a literary composition, in verse or prose, in which human folly and vice are held up to scorn, derision, or ridicule.

 

Que. Comment on the Overseas Indian Facilitation Centre.

Ans. The Overseas Indian Facilitation Centre (OIFC) was established in 2007 with the objective of supporting the Indian Diaspora connect better with India and assisting them in deepening their economic and intellectual engagement with India. Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs, Government of India, set up OIFC, a Public Private Partnership, in association with Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), India’s apex industry chamber.

OIFC has been uniquely constituted and positioned to serve as a single-point contact for the overseas Indians through its facilitation – whether in areas of information, economic engagement, knowledge partnering, mentoring or building any other association with Indian states that helps the Indian diaspora, professionals and small/ mid-sized entrepreneurs build strong inter linkages with India, thus effectively enabling them to build upon or expand their engagement with India.

The mandate of OIFC is to

·        Promote Overseas Indian investments into India and facilitate business partnerships

·        Establish and maintain a Diaspora Knowledge Network

·        Function as a clearing house for all investment related information

·        Assist Indian States to project investment opportunities

·        Provide advisory services to PIOs and NRIs

 

Que. Briefly state the advances in UAV(Unmanned Aerial Vehicle) technology in the defence sector in India.

Ans. Next generation unmanned aerial vehicle Rustum2, which is capable of operating at an altitude of 30,000 feet and 24-hour endurance with a payload of 350 kg, will be made available within a year in India.The UAV would be used for defence operations, including reconnaissance and target identification.

The UAV is capable of carrying sensors like aperture radar, maritime patrol radar, communication and electronic intelligence, optical and infrared imagery sensors, including those developed indigenously.

While the Nishant UAV is already in use by security forces, the RUSTOM1, with a capability of 7-8 hours of endurance is also ready. While aerostats, which operate at an altitude of 1 km for surveillance activities, have already been developed, a team of young scientists is working on lighter aerial platforms with a capability to fly at 60,000- 70,000 feet.

 

Que. What is "partculate matter" and how are we impacted by it?

Ans. Atmospheric particulate matter – also known as particulate matter (PM) or particulates – is microscopic solid or liquid matter suspended in the Earth's atmosphere. Sources of particulate matter can be man-made or natural. They have impacts on climate and precipitation that adversely affect human health. Subtypes of atmospheric particle matter include suspended particulate matter (SPM), respirable suspended particle (RSP; particles with diameter of 10 micrometres or less), fine particles (diameter of 2.5 micrometres or less), ultrafine particles, and soot.

We divide particles into two major groups. These groups differ in many ways. One of the differences is size, we call the bigger particles PM10 and we call the smaller particles PM2.5.

The big particles are between 2.5 and 10 micrometers (from about 25 to 100 times thinner than a human hair). These particles are called PM10 (we say "P M ten", which stands for Particulate Matter up to 10 micrometers in size). These particles cause less severe health effects.

The WHO designates airborne particulates a Group 1 carcinogen. Particulates are the deadliest form of air pollution due to their ability to penetrate deep into the lungs and blood streams unfiltered, causing permanent DNA mutations, heart attacks, and premature death.The smaller PM2.5 are particularly deadly, with a 36% increase in lung cancer per 10 μg/m3 as it can penetrate deeper into the lungs.

 

Que. What are Persistent organic pollutants(POP)? Why are there international efforts to eliminate them?

Ans. Persistent organic pollutants (POPs) are organic compounds that are resistant to environmental degradation through chemical, biological,and other processes. They chemical substances that persist in the environment, bio-accumulate through the food web, and pose a risk of causing adverse effects to human health and the environment. POPs are present in the atmosphere in the form of aerosols, they may be classified as airborne particles.

Many POPs are used as pesticides. Others are used in industrial processes and in the production of a range of goods such as pharmaceuticals. Most POPs are created by humans in industrial processes. They are

* Highly toxic to humans and the environment
*Persistent in the environment, resisting bio-degradation
*Taken up and bio-accumulated in terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems
*Capable of long-range, transboundary atmospheric transport and deposition

These substances affect plant and animal development and growth. They can cause reduced reproductive success, birth defects, behavioral changes and death. They are suspected human carcinogens and disrupt the immune and endocrine systems.Cardiovascular disease, cancer, obesity, and diabetes have also been linked to POPs. Exposure to POPs during pregnancy has been linked to developmental defects in the resulting offspring. There are many risks and effects of having these chemicals in our environment and none of them are a benefit to the Earth. After these pollutants are put into the environment, they are able to stay in the system for decades causing problems

With the evidence of long-range transport of these substances to regions where they have never been used or produced and the consequent threats they pose to the environment of the whole globe, the international community has now, at several occasions, called for urgent global actions to reduce and eliminate releases of these chemicals.The effect of POPs on human and environmental health was discussed, with intention to eliminate or severely restrict their production, by the international community at the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants in 2001.

 

Que. What is biomagnification? Explain with examples.

Ans. Biomagnification is bioaccumulation of a pesticide through an ecological food chain by transfer of residues from the diet into body tissues. The tissue concentration increases at each trophic level in the food web generally through a series of prey-predator relationships

Biological magnification often refers to the process whereby certain substances such as pesticides or heavy metals move up the food chain, work their way into rivers or lakes, and are eaten by aquatic organisms such as fish, which in turn are eaten by large birds, animals or humans. The substances become concentrated in tissues or internal organs as they move up the chain. Bioaccumulants are substances that increase in concentration in living organisms as they take in contaminated air, water, or food because the substances are very slowly metabolized or excreted.

The following is an example showing how bio-magnification takes place in nature: An anchovy eats zoo-plankton that have tiny amounts of mercury that the zoo-plankton has picked up from the water throughout the anchovies lifespan. A tuna eats many of these anchovies over its life, accumulating the mercury in each of those anchovies into its body. If the mercury stunts the growth of the anchovies, that tuna is required to eat more little fish to stay alive. Because there are more little fish being eaten, the mercury content is magnified.

Mercury, a very toxic and dangerous substance, has severely contaminated the environment and the food chain throughout India. Vembanadu Lake one of the Ramsar site in Kerala is polluted severely by heavy metals and mercury.The fishery sector in Vembanadu lake is under threat due to pollution. Vembanadu Lake once famous for its its rich source of fishes is in peril. Several species of fishes and other aquatic organisms were endangered. People who consume fishes and fishery products are susceptible to mercury and heavy metal pollution. If necessary steps were not taken we have to face bitter consequences.

 

Que. Write on what according to you is "Resilience". How is it important for an administrator?

Ans. Resilience is defined by most as the ability to recover from setbacks, adapt well to change, and keep going in the face of adversity.

The need to keep up with the inexorably accelerating pace of change, or the challenges of relating to peers are some of the stresses that can weigh down an officer for which resilience is necessary to restore normalcy. Managing difficult people or office politics at work can also strain one. For women, balancing work and life is one such. Stress brought on by overwork and by having to withstand personal criticism can also precipitate situations.

Experts have suggested that resilient people possess thee characteristics — a staunch acceptance of reality; a deep belief, often buttressed by strongly held values, that life is meaningful; and an uncanny ability to improvise. One may be quite resilient with one or two of these qualities as well having all three will make the comeback quite a learning experience.

 

Que. What do you know of the over-the-top operators (OTT)?

Ans. In broadcasting, over-the-top content (OTT) refers to delivery of audio, video, and other media over the Internet without the involvement of a multiple-system operator in the control or distribution of the content. The Internet provider may be aware of the contents of the Internet Protocol packets but is not responsible for, nor able to control, the viewing abilities, copyrights, and/or other redistribution of the content. OTT in particular refers to content that arrives from a third party, such as WhatsApp, Facebook and Skype and is delivered to an end-user device, leaving the ISP only the role of transporting IP packets.

Consumers can access OTT content through internet-connected devices such as desktop and laptop computers, gaming consoles (such as the PlayStation 4, Xbox One), smartphones , tablets etc.

 

Que. Who are the Razakars? How did their atrocities end?

Ans. The Razakars were a private militia to support the rule of Nizam Osman Ali Khan, Asaf Jah VII and resist the integration of Hyderabad State into India. They also attempted to make the Nizam accede his princely state to Pakistan instead of India.

The Razakar militia brutally put down the armed revolts by Communists and the peasantry and committed horrendous atrocities on the Hindu population and even eliminated patriotic Hyderabadi Muslims who advocated merger with India.

To counter the Razakars, people of Telangana under the leadership of Swami Ramanand Tirtha formed the Andhra Hindu Mahasabha which sought integration of the state with rest of India.

The Nizam sent a delegation to the United Nations to refer the Hyderabad State case to the UN Security Council.

Finally, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, the Indian Minister for Home Affairs, decided to undertake "police action" in Hyderabad State to force the King Nizam's hand . Operation Polo was launched under the Indian Army. The Razakars fought briefly against the overwhelming attack by Indian forces before surrendering in September 1948.

Nizam was forced to withdraw his complaint from the UN Security Council.

 

Que. State the relation between personal laws and Fundamental Rights.

Ans.  Art.13 states that if a law is inconsistent with FRs, it is invalid to that extent. Personal laws whether codified or uncodified are recognised as "laws" under Article 13.

Thus, personal laws will be void to the extent that they are in contravention with FRs: Articles 14, 15 and 21 of the Constitution. Article 14 guarantees equality before law and equal protection of laws. Article 15 prescribes that no law can discriminate only on the grounds of sex, caste, etc. Article 21 is the fundamental right of life and personal liberty.

Any personal law which discriminates against women would by its very nature be unequal and discriminatory and be in violation of Articles 14 and 15.

Article 25 which guarantees freedom to practice religion itself provides that the fundamental right of religion is subject to other provisions of Part III.

It may be assumed that Art.29 should be equally dependent on respect for other FRs like Art.14, 15 and 21.

However, courts did not rule consistently on the relation between FRs and personal laws.

 

Que. Is the cadre based civil service the reason for slow change in India?

Ans. At present all the civil services in India are cadre-based. i.e. a person joins the service and moves up the ladder. The natural corollary of this is that there are very few lateral entries and the civil services enjoy a virtual monopoly over the all the positions in the government.

CBCS is premised on the belief that only career-based civil servants are always best suited to occupy top government positions.

With rapid expansion of knowledge, increasing complexities in certain fields, rapid expansion of private sector, a large amount of expertise has developed outside government. The question that is raised is whether the senior positions in government can continue to be the exclusive monopoly of the civil services? For the reasons cited above, cadre-base civil services(CBCS) diluted the necessary specialisation.

Experts believe that lateral entry could bring in more professionalism and knowledge in the civil services.

Details however need to be worked as to at what levels lateral entries be should be allowed. There should also be a mechanism for such lateral recruitment.

Mains Test Series 2016
Mains Test Series will start after the Preliminary examination 2016.
Civil Services Preliminary 2015 Answers
Links for Dec-2015 Mains Examination

General Essay
Topics and Links
1. Common Sense is not so Common
http://scottberkun.com/2012/why-common-sense-is-not-common-practice/
http://philosiblog.com/2011/08/03/common-sense-is-not-so-common/
 
2. Importance of Social Sciences
http://www.japantimes.co.jp/opinion/2015/08/23/commentary/japan-commentary/humanities-attack/#.VfCN9Lyqqkr
 
3. Role of Intellectuals in our Society Today
https://agenda.weforum.org/2013/03/what-is-the-role-of-intellectuals-in-society/
 
4. Role of a Writer
http://www.livemint.com/Opinion/5nErFTVfxk0UPN2WT9QpAI/The-role-of-a-writer.html
 
5. Right to Dissent
http://thewire.in/2015/09/24/why-india-must-take-seriously-the-right-to-dissent-11476/
https://www.rbi.org.in/Scripts/BS_SpeechesView.aspx?Id=979
_________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
MUDRA Bank
https://in.news.yahoo.com/small-businesses-aided-mudra-bank-jaitley-103203857--finance.html
 
14th Finance Commission
Recommendations on Disaster Management:
1. The Commission has recommended that the Union Government consider ensuring an assured source of funding for the NDRF and the past trends of out flows from it should be taken into account by the Union Government to ensure adequacy of the Fund in order to assure timely availability and release of funds to the States.
2. A decision on granting tax exemption to private contributions to the NDRF be explored and that the Union Government consider invoking the use of Schedule VII of the Companies (Corporate Social Responsibility Policy) Rules 2014 as an enabling provision for financing the NDRF.
3. A review of the current arrangements for the reimbursement of expenditure incurred by the defence forces on disaster relief is also recommended.
4. Expediting the development and scientific validation of the Hazard Vulnerability Risk Profiles of States is also recommended by the commission to the union budget.
5. All States should contribute 10 % to SDRF during the award period of the Finance Commission with the remaining 90 % coming from the Union Government.
6. Union Government is also recommended to take account of the genuine concerns of the States in the consultative mechanism already in place.
7. Considering the need for flexibility in regard to state-specific disasters, it is recommended that up to 10 % of the funds available under the SDRF can be used by State Governments for natural disasters that they consider to be 'disasters' within the local context in the State and which are not included in the notified list of disasters of the Ministry of Home Affairs.
 
FFC and Population*
Commission is bound by its ToR which specifies that “in making its recommendations on various matters, the Commission shall generally take the base of population figures as on 1971 in all cases where population is a factor for determination of devolution of taxes and duties and grants-in-aid; however, the Commission may also take into account the demographic changes that have taken place subsequent to 1971" . In other words, the ToR recognised the changing demographic realities and provided a space for the demographic changes across States in the last forty years to be taken into consideration while deciding on the devolution. The Commission deliberated on the possible demographic changes that have taken place since 1971, the obvious ones being the change in the composition of population and also migration. While some States have achieved replacement level fertility, some others still have a very high total fertility rate. 
Migration is an important factor affecting the population of the State, apart from natural factors like fertility and mortality. A large number of in-migrants in a State poses several challenges resulting in additional administrative and other costs. The pressure of migration to bigger cities does impose fiscal challenges on the destination States.  FFC have assigned a 17.5 per cent weight to the 1971 population. A weight to the 2011 population would capture the demographic changes since 1971, both in terms of migration and age structure. It, therefore, assigned a 10 per cent weight to the 2011 population.
* We all know the reasons and effects of the compositional shift to 42% devolution from the divisible pool from our classroom discussions- from Prelims, Mains and Viva perspectives.
 
 
Law Commission of India*: 255th Report
Electoral Reforms
The law Commission of India submitted its Report No. 255 on “Electoral Reforms” to the Union Law and Justice Ministry. Following is the summary
 
1. Election Finance
The Law Commission has proposed wide ranging reforms on the issue of candidate expenditure limits; disclosure obligations of individual candidates and political parties; and penalties imposable on political parties; as well as examining the issue of state funding of elections.
a. Political parties should be required to maintain and submit annual accounts, duly audited by a qualified and practicing chartered accountant from a panel of such accountants maintained for the purpose by the Comptroller and Auditor General, to the ECI every financial year. These accounts will fully and clearly disclose all the amounts received by the party and the expenditure incurred by it. The ECI will then upload these accounts online or keep them on file for public inspection on payment of fee.
b.   Disclosure provisions governing political parties has been substantially recast:
      i.  mandatorily disclose all contributions in excess of Rs. 20,000;
     ii.  disclose the names, addresses and PAN card numbers (if applicable) of these donors along with the amount of each donation above Rs. 20,000;
   iii. disclose such particulars even for contributions less than Rs. 20,000 if such contributions exceed Rs. 20 crore or 20 % of the party’s total contributions, whichever is less. Consequential amendments will need to be made to the Election Rules and the IT Act.
c.  The disqualification of a candidate for a failure to lodge an account of election expenses and contributions reports under section 77 and proposed 77A should be extended from the current three period up to a five year period, so that a defaulting candidate may be ineligible to contest at least the next elections.
d.  The Commission does not consider a system of complete state funding of elections or matching grants to be feasible, given the current conditions of the country. Instead, it supports the existing system of indirect in-kind subsidies.
 
2. Regulation of Political Parties and Inner Party Democracy
A new Chapter IVC should be inserted dealing with the “Regulation of Political Parties”. It will deal with internal democracy, party Constitutions, party organisation, internal elections, candidate selection, voting procedures, and the ECI’s power to de-register a party in certain cases of non-compliance.
 
3. Proportional Representation
It is clear that both the electoral systems come with their own merits and demerits – proportional representation theoretically being more representative, while the FPTP system being more stable It is also clear, from the experience of other countries that any changes in India’s electoral system will have to follow a hybrid pattern combining elements of both direct and indirect elections. This, in turn will necessitate an increase in the number of seats in the Lok Sabha, which raises concerns regarding its effective functioning.
 
4. Anti Defection Law in India
The Law Commission recommends a suitable amendment to the Tenth Schedule of the Constitution, which shall have the effect of vesting the power to decide on questions of disqualification on the ground of defection with the President or the Governor, as the case may be, (instead of the Speaker or the Chairman), who shall act on the advice of the ECI. This would help preserve the integrity of the Speaker’s office.
 
5. Strengthening the office of the Election Commission of India
The ECI should be strengthened by first, giving equal constitutional protection to all members of the Commission in matters of removability; second, making the appointment process of the Election Commissioners and the CEC consultative; and third, creating a permanent, independent Secretariat for the ECI.
a. Article 324(5) of the Constitution should be amended to equate the removal procedures of the two Election Commissioners with that of the Chief Election Commissioner. Thus, equal constitutional protection should be given to all members of the ECI in matters of removability from office.
b. The appointment of all the Election Commissioners, including the CEC, should be made by the President in consultation with a three-member collegium or selection committee, consisting of the Prime Minister; the Leader of the Opposition of the Lok Sabha (or the leader of the largest opposition party in the Lok Sabha in terms of numerical strength); and the Chief Justice of India. Elevation of an Election Commissioner should be on the basis of seniority, unless the three member collegium/committee, for reasons to be recorded in writing, finds such Commissioner unfit. Amendments should be made in the Election Commission (Conditions of Service of Election Commissioners and Transaction of Business) Act, 1991 to reflect this.
c. Article 324 of the Constitution should be amended  to provide for a separate independent and permanent Secretariat for the ECI along the lines of the Lok Sabha/Rajya Sabha Secretariats under Article 98 of the Constitution. This will further improve the independence of the ECI.
 
6. Paid News and Political Advertisements
The issue of paid news and political advertisements should be regulated in the RPA in the following manner:
The consequences attached to those indulging in such practices should be delineated by creating an electoral offence of “paying for news” / “receiving payment for news” in a newly inserted section of the RPA.
 
7. Opinion Polls
Section 126(1)(b) of the RPA, which prohibits the display of any election matter forty-eight hours before polling begins, is limited to display by means of “cinematograph, television or other similar apparatus”; and does not deal with the independence and robustness of the opinion polls themselves. Thus:
a. The ban on opinion polls in the electronic media does not extend to the print media and section 126(1)(b) should be amended to prevent the publication, publicity, or dissemination of any election matter by print or electronic media.
b. The regulation of opinion polls is necessary  by amending RPA.
 
8. Compulsory Voting
The Law Commission does not recommend the introduction of compulsory voting in India and in fact, believes it to be highly undesirable for a variety of reasons described above such as being undemocratic, illegitimate, expensive, unable to improve quality political participation and awareness, and difficult to implement.
 
9. Election Petitions
Wide-ranging reforms have been suggested to Part VI of the RPA dealing with “disputes regarding elections” and the proposed amendments have been drafted in the annexure appended to this Report. These include, inter alia:
The introduction of one or more “election benches” in each High Court, designated so by the Chief Justice of the particular High Court, exercising jurisdiction over all election disputes under the RPA. A single Judge shall ordinarily exercise such jurisdiction, although the Chief Justice can assign more judges, if they so desire. The trial of election petitions by the election bench of the High Court should be expedited
 
10. NOTA and the Right to Reject
The Law Commission currently rejects the extension of the NOTA principle to introduce a right to reject the candidate and invalidate the election in cases where a majority of the votes have been polled in favour of the NOTA option. This is premised on the fact that, first, the underlying premise of the Supreme Court’s decision in NOTA was the importance of safeguarding the right to secrecy, and this secrecy rationale does not pre-empt the right to reject. Second, good governance, the motivating factor behind the right to reject, can be successfully achieved by bringing about changes in political horizontal accountability, inner party democracy, and decriminalisation. However, the issue might be reconsidered again in the future.
 
11. The Right to Recall
The Law Commission is not in favour of introducing the right to recall in any form because it can lead to an excess of democracy, undermines the independence of the elected candidates, ignores minority interests, increases instability and chaos, increases chances of misuse and abuse, is difficult and expensive to implement in practice, especially given that India follows the first past the post system.
 
12. Totaliser for Counting of Votes
The Commission reiterates and endorses the ECI’s suggestion for introducing a totaliser for the counting of votes recorded in electronic voting machines to prevent the harassment of voters in areas where voting trends in each polling station can be determined. Prior to the introduction of EVMs, ballot papers could be mixed under Rule 59A of the Election Rules, although this was not permitted for EVMs. Using a totaliser would increase the secrecy of votes during counting, thus preventing the disclosure of voting patterns and countering fears of intimidation and victimisation.
 
13. Restriction on Government Sponsored Advertisements
The Commission recommends regulating and restricting government sponsored advertisements six months prior to the date of expiry of the House/Assembly to maintain the purity of elections; prevent the use of public money for partisan interests of, inter alia, highlighting the government’s achievements; and ensure that the ruling party or candidate does not get an undue advantage over another in the spirit of free and fair elections.
 
14. Restriction on the Number of Seats from which a Candidate May Contest
The Commission recommends an amendment of section 33(7) of the RPA, which permits a candidate to contest any election (parliamentary, assembly, biennial council, or bye-elections) from up to two constituencies. In view of the expenditure of time and effort; election fatigue; and the harassment caused to the voters, section 33(7) should be amended to permit candidates to stand from only one constituency.
 
15. Independent Candidates
The Law Commission recommends that independent candidates be disbarred from contesting elections because the current regime allows a proliferation of independents, who are mostly dummy/non-serious candidates or those who stand (with the same name) only to increase the voters’ confusion. Thus, sections 4 and 5 of the RPA should be amended to provide for only political parties registered with the ECI under section 11(4) to contest Lok Sabha or Vidhan Sabha elections.
 
16. Preparation and Use of Common Electoral Rolls
The Law Commission endorses the ECI’s suggestions regarding the introduction of common electoral rolls for Parliamentary, Assembly and local body elections. However, given that introducing common electoral rolls will require an amendment in the State laws pertaining to the conduct of local body elections, the Central Government should write to the various States in this regard. We hope that the States will consider amending their laws based on the suggestions of the ECI and the Law Commission.
*Law Commission of India is an executive body established by an order of the Government of India. Its major function is to work for legal reform. Its membership primarily comprises legal experts, who are entrusted a mandate by the Government. The Commission is established for a fixed tenure and works as an advisory body to the Ministry of Law and Justice.


MUDRA Bank
https://in.news.yahoo.com/small-businesses-aided-mudra-bank-jaitley-103203857--finance.html
 
Project Lion
http://www.dailypioneer.com/todays-newspaper/centres-project-lion-to-preserve-girs-pride.html
 
Competitive Federalism *
http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/politics-and-nation/eight-states-including-gujarat-and-karnataka-heed-pm-narendra-modis-call-on-competitive-federalism/articleshow/50145655.cms
*Add to the Test Series material
 
Net Neutrality
http://indianexpress.com/article/explained/explained-skewing-the-level-playing-field/
 
India's Mausam and Spice Route as an answer to the OBOR
http://articles.economictimes.indiatimes.com/2015-03-26/news/60516221_1_indian-ocean-mausam-silk-road
 
Automation and our work
https://agenda.weforum.org/2015/08/how-automation-will-change-the-way-we-live-and-work1/
 
Indians in uae and govt schemes
http://epaperbeta.timesofindia.com/Article.aspx?eid=31815&articlexml=Goodies-for-the-Gulf-23082015019005
 
MSP: Introduction, details and current Issues*
http://vikaspedia.in/agriculture/market-information/minimum-support-price
http://www.business-standard.com/article/economy-policy/excessive-msp-bad-for-agri-govt-115042901216_1.html
*Very Imp
 
Crop Diversification:Need and Policies
http://www.business-standard.com/article/economy-policy/agri-scientists-bat-for-crop-diversification-in-punjab-114021801132_1.html

China-Taiwan
The leaders of China and Taiwan  held historic talks in Singapore  in November- their first in more than 60 years. Chinese President Xi Jinping and Taiwan's President Ma Ying-jeou shook hands at the start of the talks, which were seen as largely symbolic. Mr Ma proposed reducing hostility across the Taiwan Strait, expanding exchanges and establishing a cross-strait hotline.
China views Taiwan as a breakaway province which will one day be reunited with the mainland.But many Taiwanese see it as independent and are concerned at China's growing influence.
 
Background
After World War Two US and Britain agreed  that Taiwan should be handed over to their ally, Chiang Kai-shek's Republic of China government, which was then in control of most of China.But in the next few years, Chiang's troops were beaten back by the Communist armies under Mao Zedong. Chiang and the remnants of his Kuomintang (KMT) government fled to Taiwan in 1949. Chiang Kai-shek's Republic of China (ROC) government, which fled the mainland to Taiwan in 1949, at first claimed to represent the whole of China, which it intended to re-occupy. It held China's seat on the United Nations Security Council and was recognised by many Western nations as the only Chinese government.
But in 1971, the UN switched diplomatic recognition to Beijing and the ROC government was forced out. Since then the number of countries that recognise the ROC government diplomatically has fallen to about 20.
China regards Taiwan as a breakaway province which it has vowed to retake, by force if necessary. But Taiwan's leaders say it is clearly much more than a province, arguing that it is a sovereign state.It has its own constitution, democratically-elected leaders, and about 300,000 active troops in its armed forces.
After decades of hostile intentions and angry rhetoric, relations between China and Taiwan started improving in the 1980s. China put forward a formula, known as "one country, two systems", under which Taiwan would be given significant autonomy if it accepted Chinese reunification.
The offer was rejected, but Taiwan did relax rules on visits to and investment in China. It also, in 1991, proclaimed the war with the People's Republic of China over.
Relations between China and Taiwan have improved under Mr Ma since he took office in 2008, with better economic ties, improving tourism links, and a trade pact signed.
While political progress has been slow, links between the two peoples and economies have grown sharply. Taiwanese companies have invested about $60bn (£40bn) in China, and up to one million Taiwanese now live there, many running Taiwanese factories.
Some Taiwanese worry their economy is now dependent on China. Others point out that closer business ties makes Chinese military action less likely, because of the cost to China's own economy.
A controversial trade agreement sparked the "Sunflower Movement" in 2014 where students and activists occupied Taiwan's parliament protesting against what they call China's growing influence over Taiwan.
The US is by far Taiwan's most important friend, and its only ally.
 
One China Policy
One-China policy refers to the policy that there is only one state called China, despite the existence of two governments that claim to be "China".
As a policy, this means that countries seeking diplomatic relations with the People's Republic of China (PRC)  must break official relations with the Republic of China(ROC) which is Taiwan and vice versa.
India supports Beijing’s ‘One China’ policy, it would also expect China to adopt a ‘One India’ policy. India has concerns over Chinese military presence in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir and stapled visas for residents of Arunachal Pradesh.
 
RBI autonomy and Accountability
The RBI is not constitutionally independent, as the 1934 act governing its operation gives the government power to direct it. The government appoints the central bank governor and four deputies. “The Central Government may from time to time give such directions to the Bank as it may, after consultation with the Governor of the Bank, consider necessary in the public interest,” the act says. Technically, the government is also permitted by the Act to supersede the central bank if it believes the RBI has failed to carry out its obligations.
However, over the last quarter century, the RBI has been seen to be more independent as India’s economy has liberalised, although much consultation takes place between the central bank and the finance ministry .There is no legal act mandating autonomy of the RBI, but there is a growing convention that the RBI is allowed autonomy to do what it wants
The RBI and government have clashed over monetary policy in the past, notably during the tenure of the previous governor, Y.V. Reddy, and then-finance minister Palaniappan Chidambaram.In 2007, global interest rates were softening but the central bank under Reddy maintained a hawkish stance, citing inflationary risks stemming from high oil prices. The government favoured lower interest rates to help sustain high growth and bring relief to borrowers. The RBI’s view prevailed and it hiked policy rates. But generally, the finance ministry and the RBI try to find common ground on issues concerning monetary policy.
 
Autonomy and accountability
Neither the RBI Act nor any rules lay down a formal accountability mechanism. In the absence of a specific formulation, the fallback is on the general principle underlying a democracy - which is to render accountability to the parliament through the Finance Minister. The Reserve Bank assists the Finance Minister in answering parliament questions that pertain to its domain. Besides, the Standing Committee on Finance of Parliament summons the Governor for testimony on specific issues including legislations under consideration.
As regards autonomy, the Reserve Bank has not been accorded autonomy under the statute. The RBI Act  lays down that the Central Government may give directions to the Bank, from time to time, after consultation with the Governor, where considered necessary in public interest. (as mentioned elsewhere in this note)
Remaining relevant issues  in this area are all discussed in the class and given in the Study Material
 
PMLA 2012
Prevention of Money laundering Act (PMLA) was enacted in 2002, but was amended thrice, first in 2005, then in 2009 and then 2012. The 2012 version of the amendment received president’s assent on January 3, 2013 and the law became operational from February 15 on the notification of finance ministry.
 
Amendments
•   The PMLA (Amendment) Act, 2012 has enlarged the definition of money laundering by including activities such as Concealment, acquisition, possession and use of proceeds of crime as criminal activities.
•   Rigorous imprisonment of at least 3 years and up to 7 year
•    No upper limit on Fines (earlier it was up to Rs 5 Lakh)
•   It will also put the onus on banks, financial institutions, intermediaries or a person carrying on a specified business to report such instances by introducing the concept of a “reporting entity”.
•  The amendment will also link the provisions of Indian law with laws of other countries.
•   It also proposes to make a provision for attachment and confiscation of the proceeds of crime even if there is no conviction, so long as it is proved that a specific property was involved in money-laundering.
•   Power of Indian courts restored over other foreign courts.
•    To monitor money laundering through stock markets and trade. Only financial transactions above a certain level should be monitored to avoid over    burdening of existing staff.
Amendments will help India bring its anti-money laundering legislation on par with international standards. It will also address the deficiencies in the present Act that have been experienced by the implementing agencies. It also provides for appeal against an order of the Appellate Tribunal directly to the Supreme Court.
 
The economics of demographic shifts
http://www.livemint.com/Opinion/ihGJO1zl9D42gU5LHrUiHK/The-economics-of-demographic-shifts.html
 
One Year of CSR
http://www.downtoearth.org.in/news/irresponsible-gaps-in-corporate-social-responsibility-50990
 
Clinical trials
http://www.thehindu.com/opinion/lead/a-steel-frame-for-clinical-trials/article6479055.ece
 
India  USA visa issues
http://www.livemint.com/Politics/TSv76V518Okbi3VH6Y2YyI/India-to-oppose-US-move-to-set-occupationspecific-visa-norm.html
 
SDGs
http://epaper.indianexpress.com/598078/Indian-Express/26-September-2015#clip/6663900/77c1016d-9ca6-44b2-af0c-2bc1780ed3ee/452.6666666666667:1189.4654088050315
http://indianexpress.com/article/world/world-news/un-sustainable-development-goals-everything-you-need-to-know/
 
Narco-Terrorism 2015
http://www.rediff.com/news/report/ending-narco-terrorism-is-easier-said-than-done/20140428.htm
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Narcoterrorism
http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/terror-groups-involved-in-drug-trafficking-home-minister/article7633425.ece
 
BBIN
http://blogs.economictimes.indiatimes.com/et-commentary/virtues-of-being-well-connected/
 
Has POCSO been well implemented?
http://epaper.indianexpress.com/626936/Indian-Express/30-October-2015#clip/7061131/4ffa1774-b885-4dec-9c7e-29f54203d049/952.0000000000001:1637.2641509433963
http://epaperbeta.timesofindia.com/Article.aspx?eid=31818&articlexml=The-Gavel-that-Landed-Too-Hard-01112015017015
 
DMF and PMKKKY
http://www.greenclearancewatch.org/themes/phw/images/PM-Khanij-Kheshtra-Yojna-and-DMF.pdf
http://www.cseindia.org/content/reviews-pradhan-mantri-khanij-kshetra-kalyan-yojna-pmkkky-finds-it-a-mixed-bag-opportunities
 
New mid day meal rules
(Read along with Test Series  Q&As)
http://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-national/midday-meals-rules-lay-stress-on-quality-regularity/article7713825.ece
 
Inner Line Permit
http://www.dnaindia.com/india/report-all-you-need-to-know-about-the-inner-line-permit-issue-in-manipur-2116178
 
Transfer pricing
http://www.tp.taxsutra.com/experts/column?sid=182#content-bottom
 

RCT
A randomized controlled trial (RCT) is a type of scientific (often medical) experiment, where the people being studied are randomly allocated one or other of the different treatments under study.  It was originally popular in medicine and health. The RCT is often considered the gold standard for a clinical trial. RCTs are often used to test the efficacy or effectiveness of various types of medical intervention and may provide information about adverse effects, such as drug reactions.
RCTs are currently being used by a number of international development experts to measure the impact of development interventions worldwide. Development economists at research organizations including Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab have used RCTs to measure the effectiveness of poverty, health, and education programs in the developing world. In India it is used for Aadhar, Total Sanitation Programme (Swachh Bharat) etc. RCTs can be useful in policy evaluation.
For some development economists, the main benefit to using RCTs compared to other research methods is that randomization guards against selection bias, a problem present in many current studies of development policy.
RCTs have been used in evaluating a number of educational interventions.
 
UDAY
Power is a concurrent subject in the Constitution. The State government is the final contact point that deals with all customers. Tariffs, billing and collection, supplies, maintaining safe, efficient transmission and distribution, preventing electricity theft and technical losses, licensing new operators in the State, are all under the State government.
The bane of electricity distribution in India is free power to farmers. Free power is meant to draw ground water due to lack of irrigation capacities and erratic monsoons. States want the discoms to supply free power but do not reimburse them. Thus, they run into losses. They take loans from banks and can’t return them as their recoveries are low. There are also thefts of power.
Thefts are written off being shown as free power to agriculture. Gujarat initiated separate feeders for agriculture and has brought down the number of thefts.
DISCOMs in the country have accumulated losses of approximately Rs. 3.8 lakh crore and outstanding debt of approximately Rs. 4.3 lakh crore (2015). Financially stressed DISCOMs are not able to supply adequate power at affordable rates, which hampers quality of life and overall economic growth and development. Efforts towards 100% village electrification, 24X7 power supply and clean energy cannot be achieved without performing DISCOMs. Power outages also adversely affect national priorities like “Make in India” and “Digital India”. In addition, default on bank loans by financially stressed DISCOMs has the potential to seriously impact the banking sector and the economy at large. To tackle these maladies, in November 2015, Ujwal DISCOM Assurance Yojna or UDAY was introduced by GOI.  UDAY provides for the financial turnaround and revival of Power Distribution companies (DISCOMs), and importantly also ensures a sustainable permanent solution to the problem.
UDAY is a path breaking reform for realizing affordable and accessible 24x7 Power for All.
UDAY assures a permanent resolution and empowers DISCOMs with the opportunity to break even in the next 2-3 years. This is through (i) Improving operational efficiencies of DISCOMs; (ii) Reduction of cost of power; (iii) Reduction in interest cost of DISCOMs.
Operational efficiency improvements like compulsory smart metering, upgradation of transformers, meters etc., energy efficiency measures like efficient LED bulbs, agricultural pumps, fans & air-conditioners etc. will reduce the average AT&C loss from around 22% to 15%.
Reduction in cost of power would be achieved through measures such as increased supply of cheaper domestic coal, coal linkage rationalization.
States shall take over 75% of DISCOM debt. This will reduce the interest cost on the debt.States will show the debt in their fiscal deficit and thus will render thmselves accountable and efficient.
 
NFC Technology
Near field communication, abbreviated NFC, is a form of contactless communication between devices like smartphones or tablets. Contactless communication allows a user to wave the smartphone over a NFC compatible device to send information without needing to touch the devices together or go through multiple steps setting up a connection. Fast and convenient, NFC technology is popular in parts of Europe and Asia, and is quickly spreading throughout the United States.
The technology behind NFC allows a device, known as a reader, interrogator, or active device, to create a radio frequency current that communicates with another NFC compatible device or a small NFC tag holding the information the reader wants.
Both businesses and individuals benefit from near field communication technology. By integrating credit cards, subway tickets, and paper coupons all into one device, a customer can board a train, pay for groceries, redeem coupons or store loyalty points, and even exchange contact information all with the wave of a smartphone. Faster transaction times mean less waiting in line and happier customers. Fewer physical cards to carry around means the customer is less likely to lose one or have it stolen.
 
 
Plan and Non-Plan Distinction
http://www.thehindu.com/business/Economy/budget-may-drop-plan-nonplan-classification-of-expenditure/article7962577.ece
 
Rethinking role of Rajya Sabha
http://www.livemint.com/Opinion/afJGgl6KZ4qmwdWQR1agzM/Time-to-rethink-the-role-of-the-Rajya-Sabha.html
 
Infrastructure
http://www.business-standard.com/article/opinion/vinayak-chatterjee-swiss-challenge-indian-style-115120701266_1.html
 
 
International Organization for Migration (IOM)
The International Organization for Migration (IOM) is an intergovernmental organization. It was established in 1951 to help resettle people displaced by World War II. As of 2015, it has 162 member states. IOM is dedicated to promoting humane and orderly migration for the benefit of all. It does so by providing services and advice to governments and migrants.
IOM works to help ensure the orderly and humane management of migration, to promote international cooperation on migration issues, to assist in the search for practical solutions to migration problems and to provide humanitarian assistance to migrants in need, be they refugees, displaced persons or other uprooted people.
The IOM Constitution gives explicit recognition to the link between migration and economic, social and cultural development, as well as to the right of freedom of movement of persons.
IOM works in the four broad areas of migration management: migration and development, facilitating migration, regulating migration, and addressing forced migration. Cross-cutting activities include the promotion of international migration law, policy debate and guidance, protection of migrants’ rights, migration health and the gender dimension of migration.
IOM works closely with governmental, intergovernmental and non-governmental partners.
It is headquartered in Geneva. It is outside the UN.

 
FDI norms relaxation and their importance
http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/centre-relaxes-fdi-norms-in-15-sectors/article7865451.ece
 
 
Masala Bonds
http://www.thehindu.com/business/Industry/masala-bonds-the-flavour-of-the-moment/article7930287.ece
 
Robots
http://www.thehindubusinessline.com/opinion/the-brave-new-world-of-robots/article7949446.ece
 

Right to Privacy
Can it be read into Art.21? Supreme court in 1954 (8 judge bench) and 1963 (6 judge) said so. Since 1990's, the apex court felt otherwise. 
 
Relevant issues
a. Aadhaar
b. telephone tapping
c. emails, chat patterns etc
d. information related to disases like AIDS, TB etc
e. Central Monitoring System(CMS) today's Hindu
f. recent apex court verdict that an unwed woman need not disclose her child's father's name while applying to be his/her guadian ( aptly called ABC case 2015)
 
New PPP model for Highways(Infrastructure)
http://epaperbeta.timesofindia.com//Article.aspx?eid=31816&articlexml=Highway-Developers-to-Get-Equitable-Annuity-Payments-03122015019020&Mode=1
 
Is SEZ the God that failed?
http://www.livemint.com/Opinion/eRme1B9WpI5UwR84dhLwAJ/Is-SEZ-the-God-that-failed.html
 
 
India and Climate Talks
Why India prefers adaptation
Adaptation Fund
Adaptation means anticipating the adverse effects of climate change and taking appropriate action to prevent or minimise the damage they can cause, or taking advantage of opportunities that may arise. It has been shown that well planned, early adaptation action saves money and lives later.
Examples of adaptation measures include: using scarce water resources more efficiently; adapting building codes to future climate conditions and extreme weather events; building flood defences and raising the levels of dykes; developing drought-tolerant crops; choosing tree species and forestry practices less vulnerable to storms and fires; and setting aside land corridors to help species migrate.
India's Intended Nationally Determined Contribution (INDC) submitted in early October 2015  reiterated the need for better climate change adaptation by enhancing investments in development programmes in sectors vulnerable to climate change, particularly agriculture, water resources, Himalayan region, coastal regions, health and disaster management. 
India would require over $1 trillion in the next 15 years to adapt to the adverse impacts of the climate change, a latest study said.
The study, jointly prepared by IIM Ahmedabad, IIT Gandhinagar and the Council on Energy, Environment and Water (CEEW), identifies India's preliminary financial, technology, and knowledge needs in adaptation, as well as capacity building and institutional needs. 
 
Adaptation Fund
Government has established the National Adaptation Fund on Climate Change (NAFCC) with a budget provision of Rs.350 crores for the year 2015-16 and 2016-17, with an estimated requirement of Rs.181.5 crores for financial year 2017-18. The objective of the fund is to assist State and Union Territories that are particularly vulnerable to the adverse effects of climate change in meeting the cost of adaptation. The National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) has been appointed as National Implementing Entity (NIE) responsible for implementation of adaptation projects under the (NAFCC). The templates for project preparation and guidelines for implementation of the project have been prepared. The guidelines have outlined the objective, priorities, eligible activities, approval process, implementation, monitoring and evaluation mechanism. The focus of the fund is to assist adaptation projects and programmes to support concrete adaptation activities that reduce the effects of climate change facing communities and sectors. 
The Adaptation Fund is to assist States that are particularly vulnerable, based on the needs and priorities identified under the SAPCC and the relevant Missions under NAPCC.
India prefers adaptation to mitigation as the latters calls for emissions cuts which India can not afford beyond a point.

 
Concentrating Solar Power and Storage
Concentrating Solar Power (CSP) technologies use systems of mirrored concentrators to focus direct beam solar radiation to receivers that convert the energy to high temperature for power generation. CSP technology concentrates solar radiation to produce heat and convert water into steam. Typically, this heat is transformed to mechanical energy through a steam turbine and then to electricity. CSP has advantages compared to photovoltaic as it can readily incorporate thermal energy storage and/or hybridization to provide dispatchable power. The use of relatively ‘low tech’ manufacturing methods for solar collector fields, together with the use of available steam turbine technologies, makes the prospect of CSP capacity quite feasible to get rapidly scaled up. 
Solar energy map of India depicts that several states in India are suitable for solar thermal projects, namely Gujarat, Rajasthan and Maharashtra in the west, Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand in the north, and Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu in the south of India. Each square kilometre of hot desert receives solar energy equivalent to 1.5 million barrels of oil. Therefore, theoretically, India has a good potential for CSP technology.
The biggest advantage of installing a CSP plant is the opportunity of thermal storage capacity addition. Since a CSP plant primarily produces heat, the heat produced can be stored by using various technologies, most prevalent being molten salt technology. The stored heat can be released to produce electricity by running a steam turbine at a later stage.
Tesla Motors unveiled its Powerwall and Powerpack lithium ion batteries for homes and utility-scale applications, which could facilitate an increased role for wind and solar energy resources that have so far been limited by a need for storage options to address the intermittent nature of their generation.
 
PAC and CAG
http://www.thehindu.com/opinion/lead/empower-not-weaken-the-cag/article7703141.ece
http://www.deccanherald.com/content/504051/move-make-cag-answerable-parliament.html
http://www.thehindu.com/opinion/lead/empower-not-weaken-the-cag/article7703141.ece
http://speakerloksabha.nic.in/speech/SpeechDetails.asp?SpeechId=505
 
Accessible India
http://disabilityaffairs.gov.in/content/accessible_india.php
 
http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/economy/policy/pm-modi-to-launch-accessible-india-campaign-for-persons-with-disabilities-on-december-3/articleshow/49985348.cms
 
Health as a fundamental right
http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/centre-moots-health-as-a-fundamental-right/article6742882.ece
 
Colossal Science Lab in Tamil Nadu 
http://www.ndtv.com/india-news/indias-plan-to-build-colossal-science-lab-in-tami-nadu-hits-political-roadblock-1248744
 
India’s polio fight
http://www.thehindu.com/opinion/op-ed/a-vaccine-boost-to-indias-polio-fight/article7927744.ece
 
India and Floriculture
http://www.downtoearth.org.in/blog/india-must-reap-benefits-of-booming-floriculture-industry-51875
 
A setback for surrogacy in India?
http://www.thehindu.com/opinion/op-ed/a-setback-for-surrogacy-in-india/article7927730.ece
 
Diaaster Management: Case Study
http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/delhi/Mock-drills-to-tackle-Paris-like-strike-in-Delhi/articleshow/49965223.cms
 
Emission Norms
http://epaperbeta.timesofindia.com/Article.aspx?eid=31808&articlexml=Bring-Euro-VI-to-check-pollution-IIT-K-28112015006005
 
 Dealing with Dengue
http://www.livemint.com/Politics/HqatA9EzQGioSpzYGHnUTO/Dealing-with-dengue-annually.html
 
R&D in India
http://www.thehindubusinessline.com/news/science/india-still-lagging-in-innovation-rd-spend/article4459500.ece
 
Traditional healing: modern medicine's friend or foe?
http://www.theguardian.com/global-development-professionals-network/2014/sep/17/acupuncture-ayurveda-medicine-health-india
 
China-Japan Infrastructure War
http://indianexpress.com/article/opinion/columns/raja-mandala-japans-counter-to-chinas-silk-road/
 
Unifying agricultural markets
http://www.livemint.com/Opinion/HApj6pyvX6zKmcPLcqplIO/The-need-for-unifying-agricultural-markets.html
 
NFC
http://www.livemint.com/Industry/VZwwnInrzGBxBCpoxm05zN/A-new-wireless-reality.html
 
Social Issue
http://epaperbeta.timesofindia.com/Article.aspx?eid=31808&articlexml=ONLY-AND-OFTEN-LONELY-22112015023017
 
Landpooling 
http://epaperbeta.timesofindia.com/Article.aspx?eid=31808&articlexml=Castles-in-the-air-as-land-pooling-waits-22112015002014#
 
Kudumbasree
http://articles.economictimes.indiatimes.com/2014-09-14/news/53904000_1_small-savings-kerala-sanskrit
 
NITI Aayog
http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/opinion/interviews/government-has-experienced-hiccups-in-transition-from-planning-commission-to-niti-ayog-bibek-debroy/articleshow/49875293.cms
 
Schengen Agreement
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Schengen_Agreement
 
India's Tradition of Philanthropy
http://voices.mckinseyonsociety.com/india-philanthropy-impact/
 
3D Printing
http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/tech/tech-news/3D-printing-Just-imagine-an-image/articleshow/49867020.cms
 
Regulating Exit Polls
http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/pollsters-come-together-to-form-regulatory-body/article7862745.ece
 
Plan to tackle Bank NPAs
http://epaperbeta.timesofindia.com/Article.aspx?eid=31816&articlexml=TOP-PRIORITY-Govt-Chalking-Out-Detailed-Plan-to-13112015012022
 
JAM and subsidies
http://thewire.in/2015/11/06/jam-and-the-pursuit-of-nirvana-14873/
http://www.epw.in/commentary/will-jam-trinity-dismantle-pds.html
 
Swachh Bharat Cess:  Frequent recourse to cesses ansd surcharges ,Critical Comment
http://www.thehindubusinessline.com/opinion/editorial/in-praise-of-cessation/article7869839.ece
http://blogs.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/toi-editorials/roll-it-back-swachh-bharat-cess-exemplifies-how-the-indian-tax-payer-is-taken-for-granted/
 
India-EU   Free Trade Talks Hitches
http://swarajyamag.com/economy/india-eu-fta-the-gains-and-the-losses/
http://epaperbeta.timesofindia.com/Article.aspx?eid=31816&articlexml=Dont-Mix-Talks-on-Drugs-Trade-Pact-EU-17112015013018
 
From Production sharing to Revenue sharing
http://epaperbeta.timesofindia.com/Article.aspx?eid=31816&articlexml=ON-CARDS-PRICING-FREEDOM-FOR-GAS-FROM-NEW-17112015018017
http://www.livemint.com/Industry/tz1b3X6VbvSsXNm08PZq9M/Oil-and-gas-exploration-policy-set-for-a-major-shift.html

 





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