current-affairs-based-mains-drill-30-january-2021

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Q.1) India-Israel relations have evolved over the past 29 years since they established full diplomatic relations. Critically evaluate the importance of Israel for India with respect to the geopolitics of West Asia.

Why this question:

Recently there have been important relations w.r.t. Israel in West Asia and it can have a significant change in India- Israel relations.

Key demand of the question:

Explain the recent developments in West Asia and analyze its impact on India Israel relations.

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:

Write about the evolution of India Israel relations giving a historical perspective.

Body:

In the first part, mention the importance of Israel for India- Defence, Agriculture, economic, water management and strategic. 

In the next part, mention recent developments that have occurred in West Asia w.r.t. relations of other countries with Israel, eg.- Bahrain and UAE normalizing ties with Israel, growing isolation of Israel, etc. Analyze the impact of these changes on India Israel relations.

Conclusion:

Conclude with a way forward.

Model Answer

  1. India formally recognized Israel in 1950 but India and Israel established full diplomatic relations in 1992 and since then the bilateral relationship between the two countries has blossomed at the economic, military, agricultural and political levels. Both the countries share common interests and are facing similar challenges in the evolving geopolitical scenario.

Significance of Israel for India:

  1. Defence- India is Israel’s top destination for arms exports, buying 41% of Israel’s arms export between 2012 and 2016, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute. Israel is India’s third-largest source of arms, with a 7.2% share of imports between 2012 and 2016, next to the USA (14%) and Russia (68%).
  2. Agriculture- an Indo-Israel agriculture action plan for 2015-18 is operational, and 15 of the proposed 26 centers of excellence in agriculture are being developed in India with Israel’s help to showcase the latest technology to Indian farmers. India has benefited from Israeli technologies in horticulture mechanization, micro-irrigation and post-harvest management, etc.
  3. Water Management- in 2017, the union cabinet approved a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Israel on the National Campaign for Water Conservation in India. Technologically-adept Israel has developed water-management technologies, located as it is in a semi-arid region with limited sources of fresh drinking water.
  4. Science and Technology –an MoU on space cooperation was signed and a fund for Research and Development called India-Israel Industrial Innovation Fund (I4F) was set up.
  5. Intelligence sharing- Counter-terrorism and intelligence sharing are two significant field of India-Israel cooperation, intelligence agencies of the both of the countries have robustly followed close co-operation to achieve common strategic goals. During the Kargil war Israel’s intelligence agency MOSSAD helped India’s RAW by providing critical intelligence inputs

Israel plays an important role in West Asia. It had strained ties with a lot of Arab countries like Saudi Arabia, UAE due to the unsettled Israel- Palestine issue, until recently when the Abraham accord was signed between Israel, UAE and Bahrain to normalize ties between them. 

India has stronger, multifaceted and growing socio-economic engagements with Israel and the Gulf countries. Therefore, any changes in regional dynamics will impact India's Strategic interests in the region. Geopolitically, India has welcomed the establishment of diplomatic relations between the UAE and Israel, calling both its strategic partners. The new accord widens the moderate constituency for peaceful resolution of the Palestine dispute, easing India’s diplomatic balancing act. India should use this opportunity to give itself a larger role in a region which is its strategic backyard.

 

 

Q.2)“FCRA regulates foreign donations to an NGO and ensures that such contributions do not adversely affect the internal security of the country”. Discuss.

Why this question:

Recently India has tightened oversight on funds received by NGOs.

Key demand of the question:

Key provisions of the FCRA and the way it regulates NGO funding and its impact.

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:

Give a brief introduction about the FCRA.

Body:

In the first part, mention the key provisions of FCRA and what all it deals with.

In the next part, write about the provisions of the act related to regulation of funding of NGOs- who can receive the donations and the organizations that cannot. Present an analysis of the regulations

Conclusion:

Conclude with a way forward. 

Model Answer

  1. The Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act or FCRA is an act of Parliament enacted in 1976 to regulate foreign donations and to ensure that such contributions do not adversely affect internal security. It is applicable to all associations, groups, and NGOs which intend to receive foreign donations. It is mandatory for all such NGOs to register themselves under the FCRA. The registration is initially valid for five years and it can be renewed subsequently if they comply with all norms. 

The Ministry of Home Affairs recently laid down a charter for banks which says that “donations received in Indian rupees” by NGOs from “any foreign source even if that source is located in India at the time of such donation” should be treated as “foreign contribution”.

Need for the Act

  1. Misuse of funds- foreign contributions from some unknown sources can be used to threaten India’s security and for other causes against India.
  2. Transparency and accountability- The annual inflow of foreign contribution has almost doubled between the years 2010 and 2019, but many recipients of foreign contribution have not utilised the same for the purpose for which they were registered or granted prior permission.
  3. Regulate NGOs: Many organisations were not adhering to statutory compliances such as submission of annual returns and maintenance of proper accounts.
  4. Loss of GDP- IB Report suggests that 1-2% of GDP is lost due to subversive activities of NGOs. A reform in their administrative structure is a must.

Criticisms of the Act

  1. It puts excessive conditions on civil society organizations, and educational and research institutions that have partnerships with foreign entities
  2. The United Nations Human Rights Council resolution on protecting human rights defenders says that no law should criminalize or delegitimize activities in defense of human rights on account of the origin of funding.
  3. Many NGOs serve extremely disadvantaged sections. Only presumption of guilt against them all, followed by control, restricts their scope of voluntary actions.
  4. It has serious consequences on freedom of association Article 19(1)(c) of the Constitution.

NGOs are helpful in implementing government schemes at the grassroots. They fill the gaps, where the government fails to do their jobs. Restrictions by the government should not become a roadblock in their smooth functioning. Instead there should be a proper mechanism to hold the NGOs accountable for the work they do. Proper dialogue mechanisms between civil society and government should be designed to make necessary regulations. Complete crackdowns on them can amount to trust deficit and lead to their withdrawal from society.

 

Q.3)The Economic Survey predicted 11% growth in the next fiscal year. Critically analyze the factors that can help in boosting India’s economy in the coming year.

Why this question:

The Economic Survey for 2020-21 was recently released.

Key demand of the question:

Factors that can help in boosting Indian economy

Directive:

Critically analyze- 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:

Mention about the recent crisis that the Indian economy has gone through during the times of the pandemic.

Body:

In the first part, mention the key factors that the Economic Survey entails regarding a boost for the Indian economy to achieve 11% growth rate in the next fiscal year.

In the next part, highlight the steps that are needed for the expected growth rate.

Conclusion:

Conclude with a way forward.

Model Answer

  1. Economic Survey 2020-21 projects that India’s real GDP would record a growth of 11 per cent in 2021-22. These projections are in line with IMF estimates of real GDP growth of 11.5 per cent in 2021-22 for India and 6.8 per cent in 2022-23.

The factors that will help India in achieving the projected growth in the coming fiscal year are:

  1. Consumer demand- the decisions by the government to boost the credit supply in the economy would increase the liquidity in the market, acting as a demand side factor for growth
  2. Infrastructural investment- the pandemic has presented grounds for increasing investment in infrastructure across different sectors like health, education, transport, etc.
  3. Manufacturing sector- Government can boost the sector through the Productivity Linked Incentive Schemes.
  4. Services sector- government can take steps to boost the services sector like strengthening public private partnerships.
  5. Targeted support to selected industries- Industries such as hospitality has been affected most by the pandemic. Government can take steps to boost them. This will create more employment opportunities and in turn increase consumer demand.
  6. Easing regulations- government will have to focus on relaxing regulations to attract foreign and domestic investments and prevent crowding-out from the Indian economy.
  7. Exports- with changing geo-political scenarios across the world, India has been presented an opportunity in disguise to use it to boost the manufacturing and exports sector and emerge as a strong global player.
  8. Startups- they have the potential to be the engine of growth in the medium to long run. The Indian start-up ecosystem has been progressing well despite the conditions of the pandemic.

The good news is the government has already initiated several of these measures. What will be important is to keep the foot on the pedal and prioritize spending on productive projects while de-risking them. The government should build on forward-looking initiatives by focusing on digitization and identifying areas and strengths for indigenous production, and ensuring that no one is left behind.

 

Q.4)The government provides subsidized food grains to ration card holders under the National Food Security Act. Critically examine the feasibility of this policy with bulging subsidy cost on the government.

Why this Question:

Economic Survey 2020-21 has recommended the revision of Central Issue Prices (CIP) of food grains released from the central pool.

Key demand of the Question:

Evaluation of providing subsidized food grains to ration card holders.

Directive:

Critically examine - This question expects you to first present the judgment, then put forward your opinion on the judgment and substantiate it. Mention the opposite argument and highlight the drawbacks of the argument. Conclude by giving your firm opinion on the topic

Introduction:

Give an introduction of the National Food Security Act, 2013

Body:

In the first part, write about the provisions related to subsidy on food grains to ration card holders under the National Food Security Act, 2013.

In the next part, write about the recommendation of the Economic Survey 2020-21 to reduce the subsidies and the feasibility of such a move- the positive impact it will have on the exchequer and the negative impact it will have on those who need subsidized food grains.

Conclusion:

Conclude by giving a way forward to rationalize the distribution system of subsidized food grains so that it reaches those who actually need it.

Model Answer

  1. The National Food Security Act (NFSA), 2013 aims to provide subsidized food grains to approximately two-thirds of India’s 1.2 billion people. The objective is to provide for food and nutritional security in the human life cycle approach, by ensuring access to adequate quantities of quality food at affordable prices to people to live a life with dignity.

Key provisions of the Act

  1. Coverage of upto 75% of the rural population and upto 50% of the urban population for receiving subsidized foodgrains under Targeted Public Distribution System (TPDS).
  2. Eligible persons will be entitled to receive 5 kgs of foodgrains per person per month at subsidized prices of Rs.3/2/1 per Kg for rice/wheat/coarse grains.
  3. The Act also has a special focus on the nutritional support to women and children. Besides meals to pregnant women and lactating mothers during pregnancy and six months after the child birth, such women will also be entitled to receive maternity benefit of not less than Rs.6,000.
  4. Children upto 14 years of age will be entitled to nutritious meals as per the prescribed nutritional standards.
  5. In case of non-supply of entitled foodgrains or meals, the beneficiaries will receive food security allowance.
  6. The Act also contains provisions for setting up of grievance redressal mechanism at the District and State levels.

Food subsidy is the largest component of the Department of Food and Public Distribution’s expenditure.  It accounts for 95% of the allocation to the Department in 2020-21 Given the “economic cost” for the Food Corporation of India (FCI) to procure, store and distribute wheat and rice, the annual losses on nearly 60 million tonnes (mt) of subsidized grain sales under the NFSA are huge. This is clearly unsustainable in the long run. Hence, it is important for the government to reconsider and rationalize the food subsidy to prevent leakages and ensure that it reaches the actual beneficiaries.

 

 

Q.5)The Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana (PM­JAY) contributed to improvement of healthcare services in India. Discuss.

Why this question:

The Economic Survey 2020-21 has said that the states who adopted PM- JAY have better health outcomes.

Key demand of the Question: 

Key provisions of the PMJAY and the impact it has generated on the health outcomes.

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:

Give a brief introduction about the PM JAY.

Body:

In the first part, mention the key provisions of the policy.

In the next part, mention the merits of the policy and the impact it has created especially during the health crisis it has created during the COVID crisis. Also mention the concerns related to the policy.

Conclusion:

Conclude with a balanced view on the PMJAY.

Model Answer

  1. Pradhan Mantri-Jan Arogya Yojana is the largest health assurance scheme in the world which aims at providing a health cover of Rs. 5 lakhs per family per year for secondary and tertiary care hospitalization to over 10.74 crores poor and vulnerable families (approximately 50 crore beneficiaries) that form the bottom 40% of the Indian population. It is under the wider umbrella of Ayushman Bharat. The other component of Ayushman Bharat is the wellness centres.

Key features of the scheme

  1. It will cover beneficiaries identified on the basis of Socio Economic Caste Survey (SECC) 2011.
  2. It will be implemented in conjunction with existing state insurance schemes.
  3. An autonomous and empowered National Health Agency (NHA) has been established with corresponding state level health agencies (SHAs).
  4. There will be no cap on family size and age under this scheme.
  5. The benefit cover under it also includes pre and post-hospitalisation expenses.
  6. Unlike private insurance schemes, PMJAY does not exclude a person on account of pre-existing illnesses.
  7. PMJAY is nationally portable once fully operational.

Benefits of PM-JAY

  • It has created a massive demand for private (and public) sector services by making hospital facilities accessible to 55 crore people.
  • It significantly reduces out of pocket expenditure for hospitalization.
  • It strengthens public health care systems through infusion of insurance revenues.
  • It enables creation of new health infrastructure in rural, remote and under-served areas.
  • It crossed a significant milestone of one crore hospitalisations, worth over Rs. 13,412 crores, in less than 20 months of its launch.
  • For around 53 crore poor and vulnerable beneficiaries, testing and treatment for COVID-19 are free of cost under PM-JAY including the private hospitals.
  • According to the Economic Survey 2020-21, states that implemented PM-JAY performed better in the health sector than others.

A good beginning has been made, but a lot needs to be achieved like better quality of healthcare services, exploiting the potential of collective bargaining and leveraging economies of scale, strategic funding through various other internal and external sources to sustain Ayushman Bharat, equal focus on all the regions, etc.

 

 

Q.6)“India must keep its focus on economic growth, rather than trying to alleviate inequality”. Critically analyze in the light of inclusive development in India.

Why this question:

The above statement has been mentioned in the Economic Survey 2020-21.

Key demand of the Question:

Present a relation between inclusive growth and elimination of inequalities in India

Directive:

Critically analyze- 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:

Mention the context in which the above statement was made in the Economic Survey.

Body:

In the first part, highlight the need of promoting economic growth in India to increase the overall wealth and resources in the country. This has to be done to meet the increasing needs and demands of the large population of the country and also for the upcoming generations i.e. sustainable development.

In the next part mention that this growth needs to be balanced and inclusive in order to cater to the needs of all parts of the population- most importantly the vulnerable sections who have already been disturbed due to the COVID crisis. 

Conclusion:

Conclude with a way forward.

Model Answer

  1. “India must keep its focus on economic growth, rather than trying to alleviate inequality.” This statement was made in the economic Survey in the context that given India’s current stage of development, redistribution of wealth is not feasible without growing the overall pie.

As per the UN, India is set to become the highest populated country by surpassing China by 2027. The increase in population comes with its own set of needs and demands- employment, resources, health needs, social needs, educational needs, etc. To meet the rising demands of the rising population it is important for India to take steps towards economic growth. This growth has to be sustainable i.e. it should meet the needs of the present generation and also focus on the upcoming generations.

On the other hand, with the rising population, India is also witnessing a stark rise in inequalities. The 2019 report by Oxfam, titled "Public good or Private Wealth?" showed that India’s top 10% holds 77.4% of the total national wealth, while the top 1% holds 51.53% of the wealth. The bottom 60% population holds only 4.8% of the national wealth. If this pattern of growth continues in the future, it can have serious repercussions on the majority of the population in India. 

Therefore, though economic growth cannot be neglected, at the same time it has to be made sure that this growth has to be inclusive- catering to the needs of every section of the population. Government should take steps to make the less developed sections the drivers of growth in the coming years like boosting the MSME sector, giving thrust to the rural enterprises and local industries,  promoting the startups, focusing on R&D to build innovative ways to further boost development.

 

Q.7) Discuss the historical significance of the Red fort, a historic fort in the city of Delhi in India. (15 Marks - 250 Words)

Why this question? - The Red Fort of India,  a historic fort in the city of Delhi (in Old Delhi) in India, has become a popular site for anti-government protest. 

Key demand of the question - Highlight the importance of Red fort in the history of India - The seat of power. Then mention how it evolved after independence.

Directive - Discuss is an all-encompassing one. One has to debate on paper by going through the details of the issues concerned by examining each one of them. Then give reasons for both for and against arguments. And once all the discussion is done, a suitable apt conclusion may be given at the end of the answer.

Intro - A brief about the Red Fort

Body -

  • Red fort under Mughal, East India Co. and British colonial govt and how it emerged as a seat of power.
  • After independence - Once representing the might and power of the British colonial government, the Red fort of India symbolically reclaimed for the Indian people after independence.

Conclusion - It was for this reason, the hoisting of the national flag on 15th August by the Prime Minister of India from the ramparts of the Red Fort became a tradition.