current-affairs-based-mains-drill-11-february-2021

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Q.1)“A multipolar Asia is an essential component for a multi-polar world.” Critically analyse in the recent context of India- China issues.

Why this question:

India and China have agreed to return to pre- April 2020 positions.

Key demand of the question:

Significance of peace between China and India and simultaneous growth of both for a multipolar world.

Directive:

Critically analyse- The key to tackling this question is providing ample evidence to support the claims. Ensure that the analysis is balanced by shedding light on, and presenting a critique of, and alternative perspectives. Present extensive evidence taken from a varying range of sources.

Introduction:

Briefly introduce the current situations between India and China.

Body:

In the first part, write about the significance of growth of both India and China for a multipolar world and how peace in Asia is crucial.

In the next part, write about the measures that should be adopted by both the countries in this context.

Conclusion 

Conclude with the significance of India- China peaceful relations for each other and the world.

Model Answer

The recent conflict at the LAC between India and China has aggravated the situation between the two countries whose relations were already not very cordial owing to the border issues, trade issues, BRI, String of Pearls, Quad and many others. Both China and India are two of the fastest growing economies of the world, China being the 2nd largest and India the 5th largest; and both have the capability to emerge as superpowers sooner or later.

China aspires to establish its dominance in Asia and eventually in the world while India believes in a multipolar Asia and a multipolar world. Despite difficulties, envisioning a stable relationship with China has been a prime objective in India’s foreign policy in the post-Cold War period.

Significance of a multipolar Asia:

  1. For India
  1. By advocating a multipolar Asia, India visualises a greater role for itself in the diffusion of power and seeks to better position its security interest vis-a-vis China.
  2. It strengthens India’s standing internationally, primarily at the United Nations Security Council (UNSC), as an emerging economy and a vibrant Asian democracy.
  3. Such openness would allow India to maintain strong connections with the biggest global powers- USA, China and Russia.
  4. A multipolar Asia corroborates India’s desire to reform the UNSC.
  5. It complements New Delhi’s notion of a maritime Asia with emphasis on a democratic rules-based order that promotes freedom of navigation and overflight, leading to protection of its commercial interests.
  1. For World
  1. It would make the global governance structure more equitable and representative.
  2. It would help in an equal distribution of power and responsibility that would be conducive for the rise of other developing countries.
  3. Minor and major powers in Asia have historically shared a role in the collective decision making process facilitating each other’s interests and a multipolar Asia would further facilitate it.
  4. It would help the developing countries of Asia like India in realising their interests without taking sides of any superpower.

As in the historical past, Asia is big enough for both Asian giants to have complementary roles, share prosperity and be independent of each other and of the West. However, all of these are subject to politics, sustainability and, most importantly, to commercial viability. India may need to rethink some of its traditional defensiveness but better articulate its own objectives and goals when it comes to future negotiations. India has done a lot more than looking east over the past quarter century but beyond tentative action, a lot more will be required before India can actualise its objective of a multipolar Asia.

 

Q.2)Abortion rights are central to the pregnant person’s autonomy to determine their life’s course. In this context, critically evaluate the Medical Termination of Pregnancy (MTP) (Amendment) Bill, 2020. 

Why this question 

Part of GS paper- II.

Key demand of the question 

Reforms that the MTP Bill intends to bring, issues with it and measures to overcome it.

Directive:

Critically evaluate - Give your verdict as to what extent a statement or findings within a piece of research are true, or to what extent you agree with them. Provide evidence taken from a wide range of sources which both agree with and contradict an argument. Come to a final conclusion, basing your decision on what you judge to be the most important factors and justify how you have made your choice.

Introduction 

Briefly introduce the MTP (Amendment) Bill, 2020.

Body:

In the first part, write about the provisions of the Bill and the reforms it intends to bring.

In the next part, highlight the issues in the Bill like not catering to choice of women; not considering the LGBTQ communities; personal opinion of the medical board, etc. 

Conclusion 

Conclude with a way forward. 

Model Answer

The Medical Termination of Pregnancy (Amendment) Bill, 2020 seeks to amend the MTP Act, 1971. It expands access of women to safe and legal abortion services on therapeutic, eugenic, humanitarian or social grounds and aims to increase upper gestation limit for termination of pregnancy under certain conditions and to strengthen access to comprehensive abortion care, under strict conditions, without compromising service and quality of safe abortion.

Salient features of the Proposed Amendments:

  1. It seeks to extend the upper limit for permitting abortions from 20 weeks to 24 under special circumstances.
  2. The “special categories of women” include rape survivors, victims of incest, the differently abled and minors.
  3. The Bill proposes a requirement of the opinion of one registered medical practitioner (RMP) for termination of pregnancy up to 20 weeks of gestation from the current law of 12 weeks.
  4. It also provides for the requirement of opinion of two RMPs for termination of pregnancy of 20 to 24 weeks. Currently, this is applicable for 12-20 weeks.
  5. All state and union territory governments will constitute a Medical Board.   The Board will decide if a pregnancy may be terminated after 24 weeks due to substantial foetal abnormalities.   Each Board will have a gynaecologist, paediatrician, radiologist/sonologist, and other members notified by the state government.
  6. A registered medical practitioner may only reveal the details of a woman whose pregnancy has been terminated to a person authorised by law.  Violation is punishable with imprisonment up to a year, a fine, or both.

Issues with the Bill:

  1. It does not give women control over their own bodies. The requirement of authentication by one or more doctors for terminating the pregnancy shows that it is not based on any request or isn’t at the pregnant person’s will but on a doctor’s opinion.
  2. Medical boards can rely on the facts of the case but personal beliefs could impact the medical board’s opinion, which is one of the biggest challenges in having a third-party opinion on a decision which is very personal.
  3. It fails to consider any other reason such as personal choice, a sudden change in circumstances due to separation from or death of a partner, and domestic violence.
  4. It uses the word “women” throughout, denying access to safe abortion to transgender, intersex and gender diverse persons.

The move to amend the MTP Act, 1971 is a progressive step towards empowerment of women. It will provide greater reproductive rights to women as abortion is considered an important aspect of the reproductive health of women. But the law still needs to be widened in perspective so that unsafe abortions that have ill impacts on the pregnant person’s health are eliminated.

 

Q.3)A free and independent media is often regarded as the fourth pillar/ fourth estate in any democracy. Discuss. 

Why this Question:

Recently ED raided the offices of an independent news agency.

Key demand of the question:

Importance of free and independent media and the challenges it is currently facing with adequate solutions.

Directive:

Discuss- back up the answer by carefully selected evidence to make a case for and against an argument, or point out the advantages and disadvantages of the given context and finally arrive at a conclusion.

Introduction:

Introduce by mentioning how the media is the fourth pillar of democracy.

Body:

In the first part, highlight the importance of a free and independent media in the modern times in any democracy.

In the next part, write about the challenges it is currently facing- political pressure; fake news; paid news, etc.

Conclusion:

Conclude with a way forward and how infringing press rights has a chilling effect on fundamental rights.

Model Answer 

The Indian media has over the years evolved as the fourth pillar or the fourth estate of democracy apart from the legislature, executive and the judiciary. It plays a pivotal role in influencing mind-sets across the country, which makes it essential for us to ensure that we are consuming information from the right channels.

Significance of free Media in a Democracy

  1. It becomes a voice of those who generally go unheard by the government and its organisations. 
  2. It keeps a check on any arbitrary functioning and decision making by the government in power.
  3. It ensures the delivery of true, unbiased and authentic information to the masses, thus playing the role of an educator.
  4. It keeps a check on the other three organs of the democracy and makes the citizens aware of their rights.
  5. It promotes open discussion of ideas that allows individuals to fully participate in political life, making informed decisions and strengthening society as a result — especially in large democracies such as India.

Threats to free Media:

  1. Political pressure- the powerful political groups try to exert their influence through various means so that news favourable to them are printed/ telecasted.
  2. Attacks on the journalists and reporters that sometimes even leads to their death.
  3. Corporate pressure- big industrial houses try to ensure that their wrongdoings are not highlighted by paying hefty amounts to the news agencies.
  4. Paid news- media houses telecast a certain type of news and minimise the others and they are paid heavily for this.
  5. Fake news- sometimes, the news telecasted turns out to be false but it causes immense damage in the society.

India ranks 142nd out of 180 countries in the World Press Freedom Index, 2020 published by the Reporters without Borders. India is the world’s largest democracy, but for that to function smoothly, freedom of media is a prerequisite which is an inherent part of freedom of speech and expression under Art 19 (1)(a) of the Indian Constitution. When we consume independent media, we are broadening their circulation and giving them a platform. A platform that is vital towards sustainable, good governance.

 

Q.4)Disinformation is still an emerging frontier for cyber security, and we will need unconventional techniques far beyond data breach notifications and regulatory fines. Comment.

Why this question:

Threat of disinformation is evolving day by day.

Key demand of the question:

How disinformation is a kind of cyber threat and the measures to curb it.

Directive:

Comment- Pick out the main points on a subject and give your opinion, reinforcing your point of view using logic and reference to relevant evidence, including any wider reading you have done.

Introduction:

Define what is cyber security and disinformation.

Body:

In the first part, establish a correlation between disinformation and cyber security threats.

In the next part, write about the measures that are needed to curb the spread of disinformation.

Conclusion:

Conclude by mentioning how increasing disinformation can have disastrous consequences.

Model Answer

Cybersecurity focuses on protecting and defending computer systems, networks, and our digital lives from disruption. Nefarious actors use attacks to compromise confidentiality, the integrity and the availability of IT systems for their benefit. 

Disinformation is an attack and compromise of our cognitive being. Nation-state actors, ideological believers, violent extremists, and economically motivated enterprises manipulate the information ecosystem to create social discord, increase polarisation, and in some cases, influence the outcome of an election.

Relation between Cybersecurity and Disinformation:

  1. Cyberattacks are aimed at computer infrastructure while disinformation exploits our inherent cognitive biases and logical fallacies
  2. Cybersecurity attacks are executed using malware, viruses, trojans, botnets, and social engineering. Disinformation attacks use manipulated, mis-contextualised, misappropriated information, deep fakes, and cheap fakes. Nefarious actors use both attacks in concert to create more havoc.
  3. Disinformation is used for social engineering threats on a mass scale. Like phishing attacks, to compromise IT systems for data extraction, disinformation campaigns play on emotions, giving cybercriminals another feasible method for scams. 

A report released by Neustar International Security Council (NISC) found 48% of cybersecurity professionals regard disinformation as threats, and of the remainder, 49% say that threat is very significant. 

Measures to curb this threat:

  1. Develop disinformation defence systems by studying strategy and tactics to understand the identities of malicious actors, their activities, and behaviours from the cybersecurity domain to mitigate disinformation threat.
  2. New alliances and partnerships between the industry and the government aimed at curbing disinformation.
  3. A defense in depth strategy for disinformation that identifies the disinformation actors and removes them like the cybersecurity firewalls.
  4. A mechanism like ISACs (Information sharing and analysis centres) to share the identity, content, context, actions, and behaviours of actors and disinformation across platforms.
  5. Invest in media literacy efforts to reach out to discerning public. Intervention with media education can make a big difference in understanding context, motivations, and challenging disinformation to reduce damage.

The digital economy contributes approximately 15% to India’s GDP and it is expected to grow to 20% by 2024 and e-Commerce as an industry is expected to grow to $25 Billion by 2024. The disinformation infodemic requires a concerted and coordinated effort by governments, businesses, non­governmental organisations, and other entities to create standards and implement defences. Taking advantage of the frameworks, norms, and tactics that we have already created for cybersecurity is the optimum way to meet this threat.

 

Q.5)Oil spills have deleterious impacts for the biotic and abiotic components of the ecosystem. Discuss and suggest measures to mitigate the impacts.

Why this question:

Recently, furnace oil from a titanium factory spilled into the sea in Kerala.

Key demand of the question:

Impacts of oil spills and measures to mitigate it.

Directive:

Discuss- back up the answer by carefully selected evidence to make a case for and against an argument, or point out the advantages and disadvantages of the given context and finally arrive at a conclusion.

Introduction:

Introduce by defining oil spills.

Body:

In the first part, write about the impact oil spills have on biotic components- humans, plants, animals; and abiotic components- seas, oceans.

In the next part, highlight the measures that should be adopted to mitigate the impact of oil spills and also to reduce such incidents. Mention a few laws by the government dealing with it.

Conclusion:

Conclude with why preventing oil spills is necessary for sustainable development.

Model Answer

An oil spill is an accidental/uncontrolled release of crude oil, gasoline, fuels, or other oil by-products into the environment. Oceanic oil spills became a major environmental problem in the 1960s, chiefly as a result of intensified petroleum exploration and production on continental shelves and the use of super tankers capable of transporting more than 500,000 metric tons of oil.

Impact of Oil Spills

  1. On Birds and Animals:
  1. Oil on ocean surfaces is harmful to aquatic life as it prevents sufficient amounts of sunlight from penetrating the surface, and it also reduces the level of dissolved oxygen.
  2. Crude oil ruins the insulating and waterproofing properties of feathers and fur, and thus oil-coated birds and marine mammals may die from hypothermia.
  3. Ingested oil can be toxic to affected animals, and damage to their habitat and reproductive rate may slow the long-term recovery of animal populations from the short-term damage caused by the spill itself.
  1. On Plant Life:
  1. Saltwater marshes and mangrove ecosystems suffer considerable damage from oil spills.
  1. On Environment:
  1. It causes significant damage to the ocean surface causing water pollution.
  1. On Humans:
  1. If beaches and populated shorelines are fouled, tourism and commerce may be severely affected.
  2. Humans get exposed to toxicity through breathing gaseous oil compounds and/or oil compounds adsorbed on particulate matter (dispersed through the air).
  3. Consumption of contaminated fish can lead to severe health problems.

Measures to mitigate the impact of oil spills:

  1. Floating barriers, called booms are used to restrict the spread of oil and to allow for its recovery, removal, or dispersal.
  2. Skimmers: They are devices used for physically separating spilled oil from the water’s surface.
  3. Various sorbents (e.g., straw, volcanic ash and shavings of polyester-derived plastic) that absorb the oil from the water are used.
  4. Dispersing agents are chemicals that contain surfactants, or compounds that act to break liquid substances such as oil into small droplets. They accelerate its natural dispersion into the sea.
  5. Nutrients, enzymes, or microorganisms such as Alcanivorax bacteria or Methylocella silvestris that increase the rate at which natural biodegradation of oil occurs are added.

Oil leaks or oil spills are considered among the worst ecological disasters. It has short as well as long term impacts that cannot be cured until and unless the appropriate measures are taken to prevent, control and remove the risk. The National Oil Spill Disaster Contingency Plan of the government is action oriented and covers such aspects as reporting, communication, alerting, assessment, operations, administration, finances, public relations and arrangements with other contiguous states. However, a long term and comprehensive plan is yet to be drawn up that effectively addresses all the challenges of an oil spill.