[Mission 2023] SECURE SYNOPSIS: 28 July 2022 | #cybersecurity | #cyberattack


 

NOTE: Please remember that following ‘answers’ are NOT ‘model answers’. They are NOT synopsis too if we go by definition of the term. What we are providing is content that both meets demand of the question and at the same time gives you extra points in the form of background information.

 


General Studies – 1


 

Topic: Salient features of world’s physical geography.

1. Explain the factors leading to the development of pressures belts across the globe.  (250 words)

Difficulty level: Easy

Reference: Insights on India

Why the question:

The question is part of the static syllabus of General studies paper – 1 and mentioned as part of Mission-2023 Secure timetable.

Key Demand of the question:

To write about factors affecting horizontal movement of air, causes behind pressure belts and their distribution.

Directive word: 

Explain – Clarify the topic by giving a detailed account as to how and why it occurred, or what is the context. You must be defining key terms wherever appropriate and substantiate with relevant associated facts.

Structure of the answer:

Introduction: 

Define pressures belts.

Body:

First, draw a neat labelled diagram showing the global distribution of various pressure belts and explain each belt in detail.

Next, explain the factors that lead to the development of pressures belts – Atmospheric Pressure Gradient, Coriolis Effect, Frictional Force etc, Earth’s revolution, Seasonal variations.

Conclusion:

Write about the significance of pressure belts.

Introduction

The distribution of atmospheric pressure across the latitudes is termed global horizontal distribution of pressure. Its main feature is its zonal character known as pressure belts. All air movements have their roots in pressure differentials in the atmosphere, called pressure gradients. Systematic differences in the Earth’s land temperature affect air pressure, and significant patterns of pressure that persist over time are called pressure belts, or wind belts. Wind belts depend on temperature, so temperature changes can move the belts and also change wind patterns.

Body

The horizontal distribution of air pressure across the latitudes is characterized by high or low-pressure belts.

 

 

The factors responsible for development of pressure belts:

  • Thermal Factors
    • When air is heated, it expands and, hence, its density decreases. This naturally leads to low pressure.
    • On the contrary, cooling results in contraction. This increases the density and thus leads to high pressure.
    • Formation of equatorial low and polar highs are examples of thermal lows and thermal highs, respectively.
  • Dynamic Factors
    • Apart from variations of temperature, the formation of pressure belts may be explained by dynamic controls arising out of pressure gradient forces and rotation of the earth (Coriolis force).

Conclusion

The shifting of the pressure belts causes seasonal changes in the climate, especially between latitudes 30° and 40° in both hemispheres. The Monsoon climate is the result of the shifting of pressure and wind belts.

Value addition

These pressure belts are:

  • Equatorial Low-Pressure Belts
    • This low-pressure belt extends from 0 to 5° North and South of Equator.
    • Due to the vertical rays of the sun here, there is intense heating.
    • The air, therefore, expands and rises as convection current causing low pressure to develop here.
    • This low-pressure belt is also called as doldrums because it is a zone of total calm without any breeze.
  • Subtropical High-Pressure Belts
    • At about 30°North and South of Equator lies the area where the ascending equatorial air currents descend.
    • This area is thus an area of high pressure. It is also called as the Horse latitude. Winds always blow from high pressure to low pressure.
    • So, the winds from subtropical region blow towards the Equator as Trade winds and another wind blow towards Sub-Polar Low-Pressure as Westerlies.
  • Circum-Polar Low-Pressure Belts
    • These belts located between 60° and 70° in each hemisphere are known as Circum-Polar Low-Pressure Belts.
    • In the Subtropical region, the descending air gets divided into two parts.
    • One-part blows towards the Equatorial Low-Pressure Belt. The other part blows towards the Circum-Polar Low-Pressure Belt.
    • This zone is marked by the ascent of warm Subtropical air over cold polar air blowing from poles. Due to the earth’s rotation, the winds surrounding the Polar region blow towards the Equator.
    • Centrifugal forces operating in this region create the low-pressure belt appropriately called the Circumpolar Low-Pressure Belt.
    • This region is marked by violent storms in winter.
  • Polar High-Pressure Areas
    • At the North and South Poles, between 70° to 90° North and South, the temperatures are always extremely low.
    • The cold descending air gives rise to high pressures over the Poles. These areas of Polar high pressure are known as the Polar Highs.
    • These regions are characterized by permanent Ice Caps.

 

 


General Studies – 2


 

Topic: Indian Constitution—historical underpinnings, evolution, features, amendments, significant provisions and basic structure.

2. The Constitution of India is a document of compassion and understanding. It is the negation of hate in black and white. It is a unifying force. Discuss. (250 words)

Difficulty level: Moderate

Reference: Indian Express

Why the question:

Recently the Chief Justice of India (CJI) lamented the lack of adequate space for the opposition in the nation’s political scenario. He also expressed concern over the lack of democratic discourse in Parliament. Though on the face of it the observations would appear to be political, they are essentially constitutional concerns.

Key Demand of the question:

To write about the spirit of fraternity, inclusiveness and unity in the Indian constitution.

Directive:

Discuss – This is an all-encompassing directive – you have to debate on paper by going through the details of the issues concerned by examining each one of them. You have to give reasons for both for and against arguments.

Structure of the answer:

Introduction:

Begin your answer by writing about broad features of fraternity, inclusiveness and unity in the Indian constitution.

Body:

First, write about how the above spirit features of fraternity, inclusiveness and unity in the Indian constitution is manifested in the preamble, fundamental rights, DPSPs and other ways etc.

Next, write about how to maintain the same.

Conclusion:

Conclude by summarising.

 

Introduction

The Indian Constitution is unique in its contents and spirit. Though borrowed from almost every Constitution of the world, the Constitution of India has several salient features that distinguish it from the Constitutions of the other countries.

Body

Unique features of Indian Constitution

  • The Constitution contains not only the fundamental principles of governance, but also detailed administrative provisions. Further, those matters which in other modern democratic countries have been left to the ordinary legislation or established political conventions have also been included in the constitutional document itself in India.
  • The Directive Principles are meant for promoting the ideal of social and economic democracy. They seek to establish a ‘welfare state’ in India. However, unlike the Fundamental Rights, the directives are non-justiciable in nature, that is, they are not enforceable by the courts for their violation.
  • The Constitution of India stands for a Secular State. Hence, it does not uphold any particular religion as the official religion of the Indian State.
  • The Preamble secures to all citizens of India liberty of thought, expression, belief, faith and worship, through their Fundamental Rights, enforceable in court of law, in case of violation.
  • The Constitution promotes this feeling of fraternity by the system of single citizenship. Also, the Fundamental Duties (Article 51-A) say that it shall be the duty of every citizen of India to promote harmony and the spirit of common brotherhood amongst all the people of India transcending religious, linguistic, regional or sectional diversities.
  • The phrase ‘unity and integrity of the nation’ embraces both the psychological and territorial dimensions of national integration.
    • Article 1 of the Constitution describes India as a ‘Union of States’ to make it clear that the states have no right to secede from the Union, implying the indestructible nature of the Indian Union.
    • It aims at overcoming hindrances to national integration like communalism, regionalism, casteism, linguism, secessionism and so on.

Conclusion

Thus, above points highlight how the constitution of India is a unifying force. It is inclusive in nature and allows for affirmative action. It aims at making India a melting pot in truest sense. It is a living and evolving document that has changed according to the modern times.

 

Topic: Functions and responsibilities of the Union and the States, issues and challenges pertaining to the federal structure, devolution of powers and finances up to local levels and challenges therein

3. A number of constraints and challenges both in federal as well fiscal system are part of the problems that must be solved in order to achieve effective fiscal federalism in the country. Critically analyse. (250 words)

Difficulty level: Tough

Reference: The Hindu

Why the question:

Even the increased share of devolution, mooted by the Fourteenth Finance Commission, from 32% to 42%, was subverted by raising non-divisive cess and surcharges that go directly into the Union kitty. This non-divisive pool in the Centre’s gross tax revenues shot up to 15.7% in 2020 from 9.43% in 2012, shrinking the divisible pool of resources for transfers to States.

Key Demand of the question:

To write about the various issues regarding fiscal federalism in India and measures needed to rectify it.

Directive word: 

Critically analyze – When asked to analyse, you must examine methodically the structure or nature of the topic by separating it into component parts and present them in a summary. When ‘critically’ is suffixed or prefixed to a directive, one needs to look at the good and bad of the topic and give a balanced judgment on the topic.

Structure of the answer:

Introduction: 

Begin by defining fiscal federalism in India.

Body:

First, give a brief about the development of fiscal federalism in India since independence.

Next, write about the various issues with respect to fiscal federalism in India – opacity, GST issues, FRBMA, impact of the pandemic etc.

Next, write about the measures needed to rectify the above.

Conclusion:

Conclude with a way forward.

 

Introduction

Fiscal federalism is the financial relations between units of governments in a federal government system. It is part of broader public finance discipline. The term was introduced by the German-born American economist Richard Musgrave in 1959. Fiscal federalism deals with the division of governmental functions and financial relations among levels of government

Body

Various issues regarding fiscal federalism in India

  • Reduced Fiscal capacity of states:
    • The ability of States to finance current expenditures from their own revenues has declined from 69% in 1955-56 to less than 38% in 2019-20.
    • While the expenditure of the States has been shooting up, their revenues did not. They still spend 60% of the expenditure in the country — 85% in education and 82% in health.
    • Since States cannot raise tax revenue because of curtailed indirect tax rights — subsumed in GST, except for petroleum products, electricity and alcohol — the revenue has been stagnant at 6% of GDP in the past decade.
  • Shrunken divisible pool:
    • Even the increased share of devolution, mooted by the Fourteenth Finance Commission, from 32% to 42%, was subverted by raising non-divisive cess and surcharges that go directly into the Union kitty.
    • This non-divisive pool in the Centre’s gross tax revenues shot up to 15.7% in 2020 from 9.43% in 2012, shrinking the divisible pool of resources for transfers to States.
  • GST:
    • States have lost the autonomy to decide the tax rates of subjects that fall within the State List.
    • Previously, state governments used to fix tax rates by taking into account their spending requirements, revenue base, etc.
    • The inability of states to fix tax rates to match their development requirements implies greater dependence on the centre for funds.
  • Cess and surcharges:
    • Another emerging challenge is that cesses and surcharges are becoming a disproportionate proportion of the overall divisible revenue, with non-tax revenues being kept outside the divisible pool.
    • These are worrisome issues, and there should be some mechanism to ensure that the basic spirit of the devolution process should not be undercut by clever financial engineering or by the manipulation of methods that makes them technical and legally tenable, but perhaps not morally so.
  • Increasing dependency on Centre:
    • The dependency of states on the Centre for revenues has increased, with the share of the revenue from own sources declining from 55% in 2014-15 to 50.5% in 2020-21.
    • While part of this is inherent in India’s fiscal structure, wherein states are the big spenders and the Centre controls the purse strings, the situation has been exacerbated by the introduction of the GST.
    • Barring a few exceptions, such as petroleum products, property tax, and alcohol excise, indirect taxes have, to a large degree, been subsumed under the GST regime, eroding the ability of states to raise their own revenues.
  • Shortfall in devolution:
    • Adding to state woes is the significant divergence in past periods between the amount of GST compensation owed and the actual payments made, including for states such as Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Jharkhand that need greater fiscal support.
    • Even before Covid-19 hit, 11 states estimated a revenue growth rate below the estimated 14% level, implying higher amounts will be owed as GST compensation.
    • With the bulk of the states’ GST coming from goods such as electronics, fashion, and entertainment — all of which have been impacted by the pandemic — these revenues are likely to decline further.

Way-Forward

To sum up, for a large federal country of a mind-boggling diversity, India’s ability to fight Covid-19 pandemic largely rests on how well it manages its Centre-state relation.

  • When compared with other large federal countries such as the US, the country has done very well to minimize the frictions and provide a sense of direction to the states.
  • However, tackling Covid-19 as seen from the experience of other countries would require a differential and agile response across states and the Centre has at best to play the role of a mentor in providing leadership and resource support.
  • The rigid approach as evident in lockdown phase would prove a major hurdle. States must be cleared their dues and be given ample fiscal space to ensure economy is revived.
  • States must be allowed to lead in terms of reviving economy, generating income support, jobs while contain the virus at the same time.
  • The next big change will come when the current Centre-state relationship gets redefined in a way that enables the 28 states to become federal in the true sense – as self-sustaining economic territories in matters of energy, water, food production and waste recycling.
  • Our economic geography of production, transport and communication has to change – it has to become distributive rather than being focused towards the Centre.
  • Centrally distributed funds will need to be directed specifically to build the capacities of each state.
    • The instruments will enable them to embark on a sustainable economic recovery whose base is widely distributed across the various panchayats and districts of each state.
    • Driving distributive recovery will be energy, transport, supply chains, public administration, rule of law, agriculture and rural development.
  • a buoyant tax system can ease the battle for resources in our federal system, and hopefully minimize the mistrust that has grown in recent years between the Centre and states.
  • The 15th Finance Commission has thus recommended a slew of fiscal reforms to increase the tax-to-GDP ratio, especially through an overhaul of the goods and services tax.
  • In short, the real cooperative federalism which the Centre has been espousing for many years is now put on test and the Centre must ensure states are given full cooperation to battle the challenge.

Conclusion

It is important now to rethink the design and structure of a genuine fiscal partnership, which should not merely be a race to garner more resources, but a creative attempt to move towards a vibrant Indian value chain that can catapult India’s growth rate closer to the quest for double-digit growth. Times of economic slowdown must be viewed anecdotally as they are transient in nature and cannot impair India’s vision, both with regard to its potential and its historical compulsions. It is necessary to recast the ideology in a more contemporary context; only then will the practice become more transparent, and India will benefit from congruence between its precepts and practice.

 


General Studies – 3


 

Topic: Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment.

5. As India stares at a grave water crisis, urgent interventions and measures are needed with a special focus on sustainable water management to prevent acute water scarcity. Examine. (250 words)

Difficulty level: Moderate

Reference: Indian Express , Insights on India

Why the question:

A disastrous water crisis has been creeping up on us for years. Water tables have declined precipitously, even by thousands of feet in some parts of Punjab, Haryana and Andhra Pradesh. This calls for urgent intervention.

Key Demand of the question:

To write about urgent and immediate measures need to mitigate the water crisis in India.

Directive word: 

Examine – When asked to ‘Examine’, we must look into the topic (content words) in detail, inspect it, investigate it and establish the key facts and issues related to the topic in question. While doing so we should explain why these facts and issues are important and their implications.

Structure of the answer:

Introduction: 

Begin by giving the status of water stress in India. Mention facts from NITI Aayog reports of 2018.

Body:

First, you can draw a bubble diagram showing activities that are the major consumers of surface and ground water in India.

Next, Mention the urgent steps that are needed to make sustainable water practises in agriculture more mainstreamed. cropping pattern shifts, water-saving seed varieties, regulation of groundwater usage, rejuvenation of catchment areas, participatory and bottom-up systems led by farmer producer organizations at conservation etc.

Write about the other steps that are required to tide over the crisis. Innovative solutions, mission mode management, aquifer recharge, rainwater harvesting and technology to monitor progress, community participation and rejuvenating existing water bodies etc.

Conclusion:

Conclude with a way forward.

 

Introduction

“Blue Economy” refers to strategic and sustainable use of Marine Resources for the development of Economy and the well-being of human. Gunter Pauli’s book, “The Blue Economy: 10 years, 100 innovations, 100 million jobs” (2010) brought the Blue Economy concept into prominence. It offers “Green Approach” to meet the aspirations of mankind. India is endowed with a vast coastline of approximately 7500 Km and hence better placed to harness the “potential of oceans” – with an Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) of 2.02 mn. sq.km. It is an upcoming sunrise sector.

Union Minister of State (Independent Charge) Science & Technology, Jitendra Singh has said that the Union Ministry of Earth Sciences (MoES) is finalising a National Policy on the blue economy for the country.

Body

Potential of Blue economy in India:

  • Blue economy, through sustainable use of oceans, has great potential for boosting the economic growth by providing opportunities for income generation and jobs etc.
  • It can support food security, and diversification to address new resources for energy, new drugs valuable chemicals, protein food, deep sea minerals, security etc.
  • At least 3-5% of global GDP is derived from oceans
  • Socio-Economic Development:
  • Blue economy presents India with an unprecedented opportunity to meet its national socio-economic objectives as well as strengthen connectivity with neighbours.
  • Blue Economy can help in focusing on livelihood generation, achieving energy security, building ecological resilience, and improving health and living standards of coastal communities.
  • Blue economy would reinforce and strengthen the efforts of the Indian government as it strives to achieve the SDGs of hunger and poverty eradication along with sustainable use of marine resources by 2030.
  • Mangroves and other vegetated ocean habitats sequester 25 percent of the extra CO2 from fossil fuels, i.e., Blue Carbon.
  • Protection of coastal communities from disasters like floods and storms.
  • A Sustainable Blue Economy can help to achieve commitments under UN’s Sustainable Development Goals 2030, Paris climate agreement 2015 and the UN Ocean Conference 2017
  • Sustainable marine energy can play a vital role in social and economic development.
  • As energy sources on the surface are limited, in the near future the dependency on marine resources will increase, which will require more human resource to be deployed in the field of environment engineering and marine resource protection
  • According to ISA there are vast reserves of Poly-metallic Nodules, sulphides, cobalt rich ferro-mangenese crust( rich in cobalt, bismuth, iron, lead, platinum).
  • ISA has notified two major areas “clariton-clipperton fracture zone” and Central Indian Ocean Basin.
  • India has already signed a contract and entered in the league with Japan, USA, China
  • Sustainable fisheries can generate more revenue, more fish and help restore fish stocks.
  • Over 80% of international goods traded are transported by sea.
  • Marine services sector could serve as the backbone of its blue economy and help India become 10 trillion dollar economy by 2022.
  • Indian Ocean is a major conduit of trade with as much as 80% of global oil trade happening through it.
  • Ocean and coastal tourism can bring jobs and economic growth.
  • Climate Change and Bio-diversity:
  • Oceans are an important carbon sink (blue carbon) and help mitigate climate change.
  • Oceans protect biodiversity, keep the planet cool, and absorb about 30% of global CO2 emissions.
  • Oceans cover three-quarters of the Earth’s surface, contain 97% of the Earth’s water, and represent 99% of the living area on the planet.
  • Better waste management on land can help oceans recover.

Challenges associated:

  • Threat of sea borne terror:
    • Piracy and armed robbery, maritime terrorism, illicit trade in crude oil, arms, drug and human trafficking and smuggling of contraband etc.
  • Natural Disasters:
    • Every year tsunamis, cyclones, hurricanes typhoons etc leave thousands of people stranded and property worth millions destroyed.
  • Man-Made disasters:
    • Oil spills, climate change continue to risk the stability of the maritime domain.
  • Impact of climate change:
    • Threats of both slow-onset events like sea-level rise and more intense and frequent weather events like cyclones.
    • Long-term climate change impacts on ocean systems like changes in sea temperature, acidity, and major oceanic currents.
  • Marine pollution:
    • In form of excess nutrients from untreated sewerage, agricultural runoff, and marine debris such as plastics.
    • Deep sea mining can cause long term irreversible ecological damage to marine ecosystem.
  • Geopolitical issues:
    • Geopolitical tussle between in various regions like South China Sea, Indian Ocean Region etc. and undermining International Laws like UNCLOS limits the countries from achieving the full potential of Blue Economy.
  • Overexploitation of marine resources:
    • Illegal, unreported, and unregulated extraction of marine resources.
    • FAO estimates that approximately 57 percent of fish stocks are fully exploited and another 30 percent are over-exploited, depleted, or recovering.
  • Unsustainable development near marine areas:
    • Physical alterations and destruction of marine and coastal habitats & landscapes largely due to coastal development, deforestation, & mining

Way Forward:

  • India should look to adopt the sustainable approach of balancing economic benefits with sustainability for meeting the broader goals of growth, employment generation, equity and protection of environment.
  • We need to come up with technology to explore the minerals deep down at seabed.
  • India must focus on marine ICTs, and transport (shipping) and communication services, and the creation of a knowledge hub for marine research and development.
  • An effective response mechanism to address humanitarian crises and natural disasters should be made for the evolving Indian Ocean security strategy.
  • India should not look at its oceans as just water bodies, but as global stage for continued economic, social, and cultural dialogue.
  • Ever increasing marine pollution must be abated and India’s vow to curb plastic pollution must be pursued relentlessly.
  • Tackling the Global warming and submergence of low lying islands as part of Paris Climate deal agreement and initiatives like FIPIC.

Introduction

A disastrous water crisis has been creeping up on us for years. Water tables have declined precipitously, even by thousands of feet in some parts of Punjab, Haryana and Andhra Pradesh. Tanks and wells have gone dry. Some rivers have shrunk while other smaller ones have completely dried up. Water rationing is routine in many urban areas, while in many villages women are trudging longer distances to fetch water.

Body

Concerns posed by water-intensive crops:

  • India faces an unprecedented water shortage. A prime reason for this is inapt incentive structure to use water in agriculture that already consumes 89 per cent of the available groundwater.
  • The cropping pattern in India is highly skewed towards crops that are water intensive such as paddy and sugarcane which consume more than 60% of irrigation water available in the country, reducing water availability for other crops
  • Our main concern with the surging rice and sugar exports is on the sustainability front.
  • India is a water-stressed country with per capita water availability of 1,544 cubic-metres in 2011, likely to go down further to 1,140 cubic-metres by 2050.
  • One kg of sugar invariably has virtual water intake of about 2,000 litres. Exporting 7.5 mt of sugar implies exporting at least 15 bn cubic-metres of water.
  • In case of rice, irrigation requirements for one kg vary from 3,000-5,000 litres, depending upon topography.
  • If we take an average of 4,000 litres, and assume that half of this gets recycled back to groundwater, exporting 17.7 mt of rice means virtual export of 35.4 bn cubic-meters of water.
  • Together rice and sugar exports imply India exported over 50 bnn cubic-metres of water.

Case study of Marathwada:

  • Maharashtra is the epicentre of India’s farm quagmire and its landlocked Marathwada belt is a miserable state.
  • It has been among the worst affected by water shortages, having faced three bad monsoons in a row, although this year’s rains have given some reprieve to the farmers.
  • Farmers drawn to the region by government incentives have begun cultivating sugarcane, a water-intensive crop that is ill-suited to Marathwada’s semi-arid climate.
  • Sugarcane consumes about 22.5 million litres of water per hectare during its 14-month long growing cycle compared to just four million litres over four months for chickpeas, commonly grown in India and called gram locally.
  • Growing sugarcane in drought-prone areas is a recipe for water famine. Yet, the land area under sugarcane cultivation in Maharashtra has gone up from 1,67,000 hectares in 1970-71 to 1,022,000 ha in 2011-12.
  • Maharashtra is India’s second-biggest producer of this water-intensive crop, despite being one of the country’s drier states.
  • Sugarcane now uses about 70 percent of Marathwada’s irrigation water despite accounting for four percent of cultivated land.
  • A similar story is playing out in Punjab and Haryana, but with rice taking the place of sugarcane. Rice covers 62 percent of Punjab’s area under cultivation, up from 10 percent in 1970.
  • The expansion of rice has been similar in neighboring Haryana.
  • Though the droughts have hit all crops, India still produces more rice, wheat, and sugar than it consumes. It is quite natural for farmers to plant rice and cane when both power and water are almost free.

Measures needed:

  • Policy changes:
    • A NITI Aayog report has recommended shifting of some areas under sugarcane cultivation to less water-intensive crops by providing a suitable incentive to farmers.
    • The task force, headed by the NITI Aayog member Ramesh Chand, has recommended shifting sugarcane farmers to other crops on at least three lakh hectares by paying a remuneration of Rs 6,000 per hectare for alternative cultivation patterns.
    • The new scheme should be piloted for a three years’ implementation time, the task force recommended. The task force, which also consists of secretaries of a number of ministries, has recommended that only 85 per cent of the sale slip (purchase of sugarcane) to ensure that the farmers opt for alternative crops on at least 15 per cent of the land.
  • New methods of agriculture:
    • Alternate Wetting Drying (AWD):
      • Alternate Wetting and Drying (AWD) is a water-saving technology that farmers can apply to reduce their irrigation water consumption in rice fields without decreasing its yield.
      • In AWD, irrigation water is applied a few days after the disappearance of the ponded water.
      • Hence, the field gets alternately flooded and non-flooded. The number of days of non-flooded soil between irrigations can vary from 1 to more than 10 days depending on the number of factors such as soil type, weather, and crop growth stage.
    • Direct Seeding of Rice:
      • Direct seeded rice (DSR), probably the oldest method of crop establishment, is gaining popularity because of its low-input demand.
      • It offers certain advantages viz., it saves labour, requires less water, less drudgery, early crop maturity, low production cost, better soil physical conditions for following crops and less methane emission, provides better option to be the best fit in different cropping systems.
    • Re-designing the cropping pattern:
      • The cropping patterns in the states should be changed as per the agro-climatic zones. Improper cropping patterns affect both crop productivity and irrigation efficiency.
      • It is vital for the Centre to arrive at a policy that gives constructive advice to farmers on the ideal cropping mix and help them get the cost-plus-50% margin.
      • Growing less water-intensive crops in the dry season and transitioning away from irrigation-intensive systems where there is little water.
      • For instance, shifting rice cultivation in water-scarce areas like Punjab to Bihar, West Bengal, Assam, etc, and sugarcane cultivation to the traditional sub-tropical regions like UP and Bihar instead of Maharashtra.
      • Adopt drought-resistant crop varieties as has been done in some parts of Odisha for paddy/rice through the help of the International Rice Research Institute. This can maintain productivity and income of the farmers and also ensure price stability to the consumers.
    • Micro-irrigation:
      • Encouraging farmers to adopt micro-irrigation techniques such as drip irrigation and micro-sprinklers.
      • According to the CWMI report, adopting micro-irrigation techniques can save roughly 20% of the groundwater used annually on irrigation in India.
      • Water-deficient states should promptly move towards micro-irrigation systems. These techniques have significantly higher efficiency vis-à-vis flood irrigation techniques.
    • Reducing electricity subsidies:
      • An analysis of panel data across 370 districts in India found that a reduction in electricity subsidy was correlated with a decrease in groundwater extraction.
      • Most empirical studies are in favour of pricing electricity on the basis of actual consumption. They show that the energy prices at which the farmers start responding to tariff changes in terms of reducing the demand for water and electricity would be socio-economically viable.
    • Watershed Management:
      • Rainwater harvesting, an age-old technique for capturing monsoon run-off, can provide the country with reliable water supplies throughout the year. Building check dams on riverbeds will improve groundwater levels.
      • Farm ponds, percolation tanks, water reservoirs and small and medium-sized dams can help retain more surface water while increasing the groundwater recharge.
      • Crisis can be tackled by restoring and enhancing groundwater recharge areas, stopping polluted water from recharging groundwater, rainwater and roof top harvesting and the restoration of ponds, lakes and other river systems.
    • Creating awareness:
      • Creating sustainable change would require a bottom-up approach by empowering the local community to become active participants in managing groundwater.
      • Behavioural economics and other novel approaches can be brought to bear on maximizing agricultural production with minimal water use instead of focusing on marginal increases in yields with unbounded water use.

Way forward for water management in agriculture:

  • Cropping pattern shifts are essential for addressing the country’s water crisis. There is a need to incentivize a shift in cropping patterns towards nutri-cereals, pulses and oilseeds.
  • There is a need to shift to water-saving seed varieties even in rice and wheat.
  • Protective irrigation for conserving green water is another key measure, along with the protection and rejuvenation of catchment areas.
  • Governments have a crucial role in aggregating such local initiatives and scaling them up, but at the local level, participatory management by farmers is essential to ensure positive outcomes.
  • Top-down administrative arrangements will have to be replaced by participatory, bottom-up systems led by farmer producer organizations (FPOs) along the lines of the Kaira District Co-operative Milk Producers’ Union.
  • Women’s self-help groups (SHGs), which have gone beyond collective credit to various agricultural activities in several states, are closely-related institutions.
  • Governments need to support the development of these institutions but FPOs and SHGs will have to be the leading agents of change in this new paradigm.

Conclusion        

It is high time that policymakers revisit the entire gamut of rice and sugar systems, from their MSP/FRP to their production and procurement, ensuring ‘more crop per drop’. In case of rice, procurement will have to be limited to the needs of PDS, and within PDS it is high time to introduce the option of direct cash transfers. All these will go a long way to promote better diversification of our agri-systems, better use of our scarce water supplies, lesser GHG emissions, save on unproductive use of financial resources locked up in burgeoning grains stocks with the FCI. And all these savings can be used for doubling investments in agri-R&D to improve productivity on sustainable basis and improve farming practices for minimising carbon emissions. An export-led strategy also needs to minimise logistics costs by investing in better infrastructure and logistics. Only then one can ensure sharing the returns of these investments with farmers to give them better deal in terms of higher and more stable incomes.

 

Topic: basics of cyber security;

6. Consumers, businesses and governments are finding new ways to use cryptocurrency, but a recent string of cyber-attacks has highlighted security risks and shortcomings associated with crypto. Analyse. (250 words)

Difficulty level: Moderate

Reference: Indian Express

Why the question:

Cryptojacking’ attacks on computer systems have gone up by 30% to 66.7 million in the first half of 2022 compared to the first half of last year, according to a report by SonicWall, a US-based cybersecurity firm.

Key Demand of the question:

To write about the cyber security issues associated with crytpo currency and ways to tackle them.

Structure of the answer:

Introduction: 

Begin by giving context regarding the growth of crypto.

Body:

First, elaborate about the manner and ways vishing affects the cybersecurity of crypto currency. Cite examples to substantiate. Write about its impact.

Next, write about the measures that are needed to prevent these attacks in the country.

Conclusion:

Conclude by writing a way forward.

 

Introduction

Crypto has the potential to yield significant returns for users, especially because exchange rates are so volatile. However, investing in crypto can be potentially dangerous for those who fail to research or exercise best cybersecurity practices.

As crypto grows and becomes more widely used, the easier it becomes for hackers to use various methods to steal sensitive information and investor assets. In one case, the website crypto.com reported that it lost over $30 million in Ethereum and Bitcoin when hackers made unauthorized withdrawals.

Body

Security risks associated with cryptocurrency

  • Phishing Attacks: Hackers rely on phishing scams to have crypto users turn over their digital assets. Spear phishing, DNS hacking, phishing bots and fake browser extensions are examples of common phishing attacks hackers will use to take advantage of crypto investors.
  • Illegitimate Trading Platforms: Because cryptocurrency is still evolving, new trading platforms are emerging, hoping to gain the trust of people interested in investing in crypto. However, not all of these platforms are legitimate.
    • Consider One Coin, for example. One Coin was a seemingly reputable cryptocurrency company that lured users in by promising big returns, but the entire currency system ended up being a scam. It was found to be a multi-level marketing scam that ended up costing people a lot of money.
    • Not every risk associated with crypto comes in the form of a hack or data breach.
    • Sometimes, the fraudulent activity is happening in plain sight.
  • Using Third-Party Applications: In some cases, crypto investors will rely on third-party applications or software to manage their digital assets. For example, it’s common for investors to use crypto tax reporting services, but this can open them up to more cybersecurity risks.
    • It was reported that a hacker was able to steal data from over 1,000 users after breaking into CryptoTrader.Tax. The hacker gained access by entering a marketing and customer service representative’s account, which displayed all kinds of sensitive information that put users at risk.
  • Malware: Essentially, crypto-malware is a form of malware that allows unauthorized users to mine cryptocurrencies using someone else’s computer or server. Hackers will use one of two methods to infect someone’s computer.
    • Victims are tricked into installing malware code onto their computers using phishing-like tactics.
    • Cybercriminals inject malicious code into websites or ads. When victims interact with them, the code runs and gives hackers access. In 2018, Forbes reported that crypto-malware had grown by 4,000%.
  • Cryptocurrency Account Security: It’s critical to understand that users access their digital assets by using a “private key,” which is essentially a complex password code. Many users will store their private keys on their computers, but that comes with risk. If hackers gain access to your computer, they’ll also be able to use that private key to log in to your digital account.
    • Once a private key is stolen, there’s no way of getting it back because cryptocurrency is not highly regulated.
    • Investors are the only ones responsible for keeping their private keys out of the hands of hackers, which makes crypto investing riskier compared to traditional investments.
  • Unregulated Cryptocurrency Exchanges: As mentioned above, crypto is almost like the Wild West because it’s unregulated and a bit of a free for all. Cryptocurrency is decentralized, meaning that no agency, organization or governing body oversees the creation, management or movement of cryptocurrencies.

Prevention measures

  • An individual’s private key is the only way to access this kind of investment, therefore it’s vital to keep it safe.
  • One must not share the private key or login credentials with anyone, regardless of if they claim to represent a reputable cryptocurrency company. Consider keeping the key stored on an external device, such as a USB.
  • Do due diligence and research companies and their tokens before investing.
  • Don’t respond to unsolicited offers to invest in crypto. Avoid clicking on any suspicious links or ads — this could open you up to more cybersecurity risks.
  • Keep an eye on the latest crypto trends, news stories and any announcements related to cryptocurrencies you invest in.
  • Use strong, unique passwords at all times to make online accounts more secure and keep hackers at bay.

 

Conclusion

There are no signs of cryptocurrency slowing down. As it becomes more mainstream, hackers will use all the tools in their arsenal to target unsuspecting victims.

By understanding the risks that come with investing in cryptocurrency, one must be better prepared to fend off hackers and keep assets safe.

 


General Studies – 4


 

Topic: Ethics and Human Interface: Essence, determinants and consequences of Ethics in-human actions; dimensions of ethics; ethics – in private and public relationships.

7. Analyse the ethical issues associated with enforcing a blanket bank on the consumption of liquor. Is a total ban justified? (150 words)

Difficulty level: Easy

Reference: Ethics, Integrity and Aptitude by Lexicon Publications.

Why the question:

The question is part of the static syllabus of General studies paper – 4 and part of ‘Abstract Thursdays’ in Mission-2023 Secure.

Key Demand of the question:

To write about the ethical issues in banning liquor.

Directive:

Analyse – When asked to analyse, you must examine methodically the structure or nature of the topic by separating it into component parts and present them in a summary.

Structure of the answer:

Introduction:

Start by giving the rationale behind blanket ban on liquor.

Body:

Write about the various ethical issues in the ban on liquor – enforcing morality, preventing crimes, saving lives etc.

Next, analyse the pros and cons of a total ban on liquor.

Conclusion:

Conclude by giving your view regarding the justification on the total ban on liquor.

Introduction

India has a long history of various states experimenting with various laws on liquor, ranging from total prohibition to restricted sale of alcohol to phased closure of liquor shops. As liquor contributes sizeable revenue to the exchequer, it has never been an easy decision for any state government to impose the prohibition. It is evident that the problem is complex and there can be no easy solutions, especially one that fits all. Alcohol addiction and its ill-effects may affect the poor more.

Body

Is total ban on alcohol justified

YES

  • The Constitution places a responsibility on all state governments to “at least contain, if not curtail, consumption of alcohol” (Article 47).
  • Strict state regulation is imperative to discourage regular and excessive consumption of alcohol.
  • Alcohol denudes family resources and reserves and leaves women and children as its most vulnerable victims. A social stigma at least as far as the family unit is concerned is still attached to the consumption of alcohol.
  • Vulnerable persons, either because of age or proclivity towards intoxication or as a feature of peer pressure, more often than not, succumb to this temptation.
  • According to the Alcohol and Drug Information Centre of Thiruvananthapuram, 44% of Kerala’s road accidents, 19% of stays in government hospitals and 80% divorces are linked to alcohol abuse.
  • The drinking age is dangerously coming down. This clearly indicates alcohol has become a social sickness and we have to treat it.
  • Alcoholism does also critically impacts the household budgets of the poor and may lead to domestic violence.

NO

  • Banning food and beverages is neither desirable nor feasible. It puts unnecessary fetters on freedoms
  • Historical evidence shows that prohibition does not encourage or enable people to quit drinking. Rather, prohibition tends to drive the trade underground and creates a market for spurious liquor.
  • This policy is just a populist decision impelled by factional politics within the ruling party.
  • The policy may only help to shift the drinking space from bar to home or other private spaces.
  • Prohibition has criminalized certain societies where drinking is a social norm.
  • Prohibition may lead to widespread smuggling and illegal sale of liquors, thus defeating the very purpose.
  • The massive profits from the illicit liquor trade would act as the launchpad for a parallel economy with tentacles in everything from prostitution to gambling and terror.
  • Prohibition will increase the sale of spurious liquor which has adverse health impacts.

Way Forward

The principal reason why a lot of prohibition strategies fail is because they seem to be based on the simplistic assumption that cutting off the supply impacts effective demand for alcohol.

  • State governments should have to be prepared to deal rapidly with the management of man-made disasters such as liquor tragedies.
  • Increase legal age of drinking and bring about uniformity in the same across all the states.
  • Ban marketing and advertisement of all kinds so as to contain its reach and spread.
  • The medical fraternity needs to be educated in rapidly responding to and treating victims of liquor tragedies.
  • Governments could consider linking de-addiction centres with primary health centres in rural areas.
  • Invest in creating better awareness among citizens about the negative impact of alcohol consumption.
  • Document good practices tried and tested by NGOs and other institutions for managing alcohol problems not only within the country but also outside the country.
  • Civil society should demand from its political parties a comprehensive policy that addresses all the related issues instead of uncritically demanding or accepting proclamations of prohibition.

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