current-affairs-based-mains-drill-15-february-2021

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Q.1) Self-reliance in defence manufacturing is one of the crucial components of “Atmanirbhar Bharat”. Discuss.

Why this Question:

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday handed over the indigenous main battle tank Arjun Mk­1A to the Army

Key demand of the question:

Importance of achieving self-reliance in the defence sector and ways to achieve 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 mentioning the level of GDP that India spends on defence procurements.

Body:

In the first part, write about the benefits of defence manufacturing in India- reduce imports, promote exports, reduce dependence of such a crucial sector, etc.

In the next part, mention some of the initiatives taken by the government in this context. Also mention the challenges ahead.

Conclusion:

Conclude with a way forward. 

Model Answer

The report on Trends in World Military Expenditure released by Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) placed India among the top three spenders in the defence sector after the US and China. India’s military expenditure grew by about 259% over the 30-year period (1990-2019) and by 37% over the decade (2010–19). It amounted to 2.4% of GDP in 2019. A large part of this allocated amount goes into imports of defence equipment from countries like Russia, US, etc. and due to this despite having one of the largest defence budgets in the world India procures 60% of its weapon systems from foreign markets. Hence, the government has started to implement policies to achieve self-reliance in the defence sector.

Significance of Self-reliance in defence sector

  1. Economic- Indigenization of defence procurement will help reduce the huge defence import bill. India was the largest importer in the past decade accounting for about 12% of global arms imports. It would also reduce the overall fiscal deficit of the government.
  2. Security Imperative- Domestic production reduces vulnerabilities during crises by reducing dependence on imported spares, ammunition and weapons. India being surrounded by porous borders and hostile neighbours needs to be self- sufficient and self- reliant in defence production to meet any unforeseen circumstances.
  3. Technological- It keeps intact the technological expertise in the country and encourages spin-off technologies and innovation that often stem from it.
  4. Promote Exports- production of high quality defence equipment within the country can facilitate its sale to other developing countries.
  5. Employment Generation- it will lead to opening up of new industries as manufacturing hubs for defence procurement and thus create employment for a lot of people in various sectors like designing, manufacturing, innovating, etc.
  6. Strategic- self-sufficiency in defence production is one of the fundamental steps in realizing the goal of being a global power.

However, this also has a few challenges ahead like lack of adequate resources- both financial as well as human, not so developed technology, Lack of an institutional capacity and capability, limited private sector involvement, lack of proper infrastructure, lack of dispute resolution mechanism in case of disputes, land acquisition issues, etc.

Way Forward

  1. Strengthening the institutional capacity and capability.
  2. Permanent Arbitration Cell can be set up to deal with all objections and disputes.
  3. Encouraging the private sector to invest in defence manufacturing. It can infuse efficient and effective technology and human capital required for modernization of indigenous defence industry.
  4. A level playing field should be ensured for the private as well as the public players participating in this sector.
  5. Development of technological innovations like Artificial Intelligence and their integration with the defence equipment.
  6. Robust supply chain is critical for a defence manufacturer looking to optimize costs. Indian SMEs are playing a key role in the global supply chain of OEMs (Original Equipment Manufacturer).

Self-reliance in defence manufacturing is a crucial component of effective defence capability and to maintain national sovereignty and achieve military superiority. The government aspires to make India ‘Atmanirbhar” or self-reliant and the defence sector is a crucial part of it. Above all, it will also strengthen India’s aspirations of Asian century, SAGAR, secure Indo- Pacific and a multipolar world.

 

Q.2) Critically examine the role of the private sector in achieving the goal of Universal Health Coverage in India. 

Why this question:

Important part of GS paper- II.

Key demand of the question:

Role of private sector in the healthcare sector and challenges ahead. Also provide adequate solutions for this.

Directive:

Critically examine- Look in close detail and establish the key facts and important issues surrounding the topic. Try and offer reasons as to why the facts and issues identified are most important, as well as explain the different ways they could be construed.

Introduction:

Introduced by the importance of healthcare in India and the involvement of the private sector in it.

Body:

In the first part, write about the advantages of the involvement of the private sector in the healthcare sector- Quality of services, timely delivery, better infrastructure, reduced government spending, etc.

In the next part, write about challenges involved in this process. Also provide adequate solutions for it.

Conclusion:

Conclude with the role it can play in achieving the goal of Universal health coverage in India.

Model Answer

Healthy individuals form an integral part of a well-developed economy. The recent Covid19 crisis has once again highlighted the need for a robust healthcare sector and universal health coverage. Universal Health Care does not mean healthcare is free, but that personal out-of-pocket payments do not prevent or dissuade people from using health services, and that people are shielded from catastrophic health expenditure. This will require governments to not just expand the capacity within the public sector, but also to tap into the available capacity in the private sector.

Advantages of Private sector participation in Healthcare

  1. Quality – private hospitals provide high quality of healthcare with better treatment facilities.
  2. Timely treatment- private hospitals provide on time treatment especially during emergencies. They also offer faster access to medical specialists.
  3. Infrastructure- most of the public hospitals have age old infrastructure and continue to operate with them while the private hospitals are equipped with modern infrastructure and facilities.
  4. Personalized Care- The care provided at public hospitals is often constrained due to limitations related to staffing, budgets, and other resources. As a result, patients often receive generalized care. This is not the case with private hospitals.
  5. Round the clock support- private hospitals provide continuous care and support to the patients with 24-hour customer support teams and aftercare plans in place to give more hands-on care.

However, there are certain challenges of participation of private sector in healthcare sector:

  1. Cost- the cost of treatment in private hospitals is exorbitantly high and it becomes a burden on the patients.
  2. Neglect of rural population- the private hospitals mostly operate in urban areas and not in the rural areas because they work for profit motive and not welfare motive.

Way Forward:

  1. Robust check mechanism to the high prices charged by the private sector hospitals.
  2. Encouraging Public Private Partnerships (PPP) in the healthcare sector.
  3. Encouraging private investments in public hospitals.

Public Health expenditures around the world, particularly India, are rising. It is driven by the emergence of the dual burden of communicable and non-communicable diseases and the increasing life expectancy across all demographic segments. Government spending as percent of GDP has stayed between 1.1-1.4% of the GDP over last decade. To achieve the goal of Universal Health Coverage by 2030, involvement of the private sector is crucial.

 

Q.3)The entry of students from marginalized communities in Ph.D. programmes in the higher education institutes in India remains skewed despite reservations in their favour. Critically examine the causes for this and suggest measures to overcome it.

Why this Question:

RTI data for 2015 to 2019 reveal poor acceptance rate for students from marginalized communities.

Key demand of the question:

Causes of lower acceptance rate of students from marginalized communities and measures to overcome it.

Directive:

Critically examine- Look in close detail and establish the key facts and important issues surrounding the topic. Try and offer reasons as to why the facts and issues identified are most important, as well as explain the different ways they could be construed.

Introduction:

Introduce by providing details about the reservation for marginalized communities in higher education institutes and the fundamental principle behind it.

Body:

In the first part, write about the causes for lower acceptance rate of students from marginalized communities in higher education institutes like IITs. Use statistics to back up the answer.

In the next part, provide adequate solutions in this regard that are needed from the government and the society.

Conclusion:

Conclude with the importance of growth of marginalized communities to achieve the goal of inclusive growth in India.

Model Answer

Reservation policy demands a minimum allocation of 27% to the OBCs, 15% to the SCs and 7.5% to the STs in Indian universities. But recent RTI reports have reported the acceptance rate, which refers to the number of students selected for every 100 applicants, to be lower for students from reserved categories than those from GC. While the acceptance rate was 3.8% for GC, it was 3.1% for OBCs and STs and 2.5% for SCs. 

Major causes behind this

  1. Selection Bias- There has been long-standing opposition among IIT administrators and faculty to reservations, which they see as a form of unjust government intervention in their meritocratic institution.
  2. Lack of check mechanism- though the government has provided for reservations, these institutions lack a robust mechanism to keep a check on their admission and other related procedures.
  3. Excuse of merit- the higher education institutions often believe that people from marginalised communities do not possess enough merit to get enrolled in such prestigious institutions. This allusion to a “lack of merit” has been constantly rejected by student groups and activists.
  4. History of discrimination- the marginalized communities have faced discrimination since ages and the situation remains quite similar in spite of efforts to prohibit it.

Discrimination on the basis of caste, creed religion, sex and place of birth has been prohibited by the Constitution of India under Article 17. But the above situation calls for immediate action to overcome the loopholes that have occurred in the system over the years. For India to achieve the goal of inclusive growth the marginalised communities have to be brought into the mainstream and education is the fundamental part of it.

Way Forward 

  1. Robust check mechanisms to keep vigil on the admission and selection procedures. 
  2. Strict action against those not implementing the reservation policy.
  3. Taking the help of civil society to create an environment of awareness among the marginalised communities about their rights.

 

Q.4)The government aspires to achieve the goal of doubling farmers’ income by 2022 but this requires addressal of some of the fundamental problems in the agriculture and allied sectors. Discuss.

Why this Question:

There have been reports that the mission has gone off target.

Key demand of the question:

Fundamental problems that have crippled the growth of agriculture and allied sectors and measures to solve them

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 the high level of dependency of Indian population on the agriculture sector but still less contribution to the GDP.

Body:

In the first part, highlight the fundamental problems in the sector- dependence on rainfall, irregular marketing facilities, dominance of middlemen, supply chain issues, etc.

In the next part, provide adequate solutions to overcome these problems. Reference can be given of various committee reports on agriculture sector reforms. 

Conclusion:

Conclude by giving examples of a few initiatives that the government has taken in this regard.

Model Answer

The Indian economy is primarily an agricultural economy. Agriculture, with its allied sectors, is the largest source of livelihoods in India. 70 percent of its rural households and 48% of its total population still depend primarily on agriculture for their livelihood, with 82 percent of farmers being small and marginal. The government in 2018 came out with the objective of doubling farmers’ income by the year 2022.

However, realization of this objective requires the addressal of some of the fundamental problems in this sector:

  1. Rainfed- most of the net sown area (60%) in India is still rainfed with lack of proper irrigation facilities. Rainfed crops account for 48% under food crops and 68% under nonfood crops in India.
  2. Credit facility- agriculture and other allied activities still depend largely on the informal credit mechanisms which charge exorbitant rates of interest. The realisation of the objective of doubling farmer’s income need to overcome the challenge of access to institutional credit.
  3. Middlemen- most of the farmers depend on middlemen for the sale of their produce to traders. This results in exploitation of farmers especially the smaller ones. 
  4. Insurance coverage- agriculture in India is prone to vulnerabilities due to acts of nature. However, only 30% of the gross cropped area (against a target of 40%) is yet covered under Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana leaving the rest farmers vulnerable to farm risks.
  5. Farm mechanization- most of the farmers still depend on age old techniques of sowing, ploughing, harvesting, etc. leading to lower agricultural productivity. The level of farm mechanization is very low especially in smaller landholdings.
  6. Infrastructure- it is a post-harvest facility that includes logistics, storage, etc. which is not developed efficiently leading to post-harvest losses that ultimately fall upon the farmers.
  7. Cropping Patterns- cropping patterns in India remains highly skewed owing to a variety of factors including government policies like Minimum Support Price (MSP). To achieve the goal of doubling farmers’ income, this has to be made uniform.
  8. Focus on global markets: There is a need to give increased focus on exploring global markets for agricultural commodities to give an additional source of market for the surplus of agricultural produce India currently has.

These problems continue to withhold the agriculture sector thus preventing it from attaining maximum growth. This situation calls for urgent interventions by the government to overcome them. The government has taken initiatives like PM KISAN, KUSUM, farm laws, etc. to achieve the goal it has set.

Way Forward 

  1. Building a robust credit mechanism especially in rural areas. 
  2. Expanding the scope of insurance programmes to cover more crops and areas.
  3. Removing the monopoly of the middlemen. 
  4. Focusing on farm mechanization but in a sustainable way. 
  5. Focus on building efficient supply chain mechanisms 
  6. Opening up the doors of global markets for agricultural produce in India.

 

Q.5)Judicial independence is directly linked with human rights and liberties of the society. In this context, critically evaluate the problems in the Indian judiciary and the judicial reforms needed.

Why this question 

Part of GS paper- II.

Key demand of the question 

Problems that the Indian judicial system is currently facing and reforms that are needed.

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:

Introduce by giving the importance of an effective judicial system to ensure the protection of fundamental rights of citizens.

Body:

In the first part, categorically explain the problems that the Indian judiciary is facing- pendency of cases, judicial overreach, political interference, infrastructural issues, etc.

In the next part, provide adequate solutions for these problems. Reference of several committees on judicial reforms can be given- Malimath Committee, Law Commission, etc.

Conclusion:

Conclude with a way forward.

Model Answer

The judiciary is regarded as the third pillar of a robust and efficient democracy apart from the legislature and the executive. An independent and impartial judiciary, and a speedy and efficient system are the very essence of civilization.

However, the Indian judiciary in recent times has been facing a lot of challenges and is in urgent need of reforms. 

Challenges in Indian Judiciary 

  1. Pendency- According to the Economic Survey 2018-19, there were about 3.5 crore cases pending in the judicial system, especially in district and subordinate courts and more than 64% of the cases were pending for more than a year. 
  2. Delay in Justice- Justice delayed is justice denied. Since the cases continue in courts for many years, the absolute purpose of getting justice is dissolved.
  3. Complex procedures- the judicial process in India is very complex, costly and dilatory putting the poor at risk of not getting justice. This is the situation inspite of having free legal aid given by the Constitution.
  4. Political interference- the courts especially at the lower levels are highly politicized undermining the justice delivery mechanism. 
  5. Vacancies- there is a huge amount of vacancies especially in the lower and district courts, this increasing the judge to population ratio.
  6. Infrastructure- the Courts in India have been working with the same age old infrastructure with little or no focus on updating it as per the needs of the modern world like digital facilities, etc.

Reforms Suggested 

For enhancing productivity in the judiciary, the Economic Survey 2018-19 suggests:

  1. Increasing number of working days;
  2. Establishment of Indian Courts and Tribunal Services to focus on the administrative aspects of the legal system;
  3. Deployment of technology to improve efficiency of the courts, e.g. eCourts Mission Mode Project and the National Judicial Data Grid being rolled-out in phases by the Ministry of Law and Justice.

Other reforms 

  1. Filling the number of vacancies as soon as possible.
  2. Updating the infrastructure of courts according to the modern requirements. 
  3. Setting up of Tribunals, Fast Track Courts and Special Courts to dispense important cases at the earliest.
  4. Effective utilization of Mechanisms such as ADR (Alternate Dispute Resolution), Lok Adalats, Gram Nyayalayas.

It is the solemn duty of the judiciary to deliver prompt and inexpensive justice marked by fairness and impartiality. However, for justice to be delivered in a meaningful way, it must be delivered within a reasonable time frame. Hence, judicial reforms have to see the light of the day in order to make the third pillar of the Indian democracy work effectively as per the demands of the Constitution.