Q. Why do some scholars use the term ‘Neolithic Revolution’ for this period?
A. Neolithic, literally meaning neo = new, and lithic = stone, means new stone age.
10,000 BCE, the ice-age ended and consequently there were changes in flora and fauna.
The word ‘neo’ signifies new types of stone tools that were used by the man during the period.
These new tools were both an effect and a cause of the changes that had happened in man’s socio-economic life during the period.
The use of sharp and polished neolithic tools made it easier to cultivate the soil.
Consequently, the practice of domestication of animals began.
These changes, in turn, resulted in the emergence of settled agricultural communities.
The Neolithic people were the first to produce pottery for the purpose of storing grains.
All these changes paved the way for a settled life which was in stark comparison to the nomadic hunting gathering-fishing lifestyle during the Mesolithic period.
Hence, it was no less than a revolution in terms of the changes it brought.
However, the later stages of the Mesolithic period had paved the way for the changes which occurred in the Neolithic phase, so it may be argued that it was more of an ‘evolution’ rather than a revolution.
Q. The dynamism of Indian Constitution is a gift of its underlying philosophy. Comment.
A. The Indian Constitution derives its philosophical basis from its civilisational past, colonial experience as well as concepts of Western ideology like liberty, justice, equality that it strives to achieve. This philosophical vision was adequately and concisely reflected in the Objectives Resolution put forth by Jawaharlal Nehru.
As put forth by Granville Austin, the philosophy of the Indian Constitution embodi strands, that is-
• Protecting and enhancing national unity integrity;
• Establishing the institutions and spirit of democracy; and
• Fostering a social revolution to better the lot of the mass of Indians.
The Indian Constitution thus, is not just a document to cater to the needs of present polity but to envision a thriving future for generations to come.
The Indian Constitution is based on the philosophy of evolving a just and egalitarian society free from fear and bias based on promoting individual freedom in shaping the government of their choice. The whole foundation of constitutional democracy is building a system of governance in systematic machinery functioning automatically according to the regimes encoded within the supreme law of the land, free from arbitrariness.
It is to cater to these philosophical tenets, that the Constitution has undergone significant changes through amendments such as the 1st , 9th, 42nd, 44th, 73rd, 74th, 86th etc, incorporating features that try to bring to life this dynamism. Furthermore, the same is reflected in the Preamble that provides a guiding light to an activist judiciary as it further expands the horizons of Indian Constitution through PILs and activism.
The DPSPs as aspirations of a developing society, complementing Fundamental Rights of the citizens are another aspect of dynamism reflected in the philosophy of the Indian Constitution. This philosophy of constant evolution was built into the Constitution by its makers who sought to balance the rigidity and flexibility of the Constitution through its amending procedure as per article 368.
The Indian Constitution is thus a breathing document, constantly evolving to further the cause of the philosophy and goals that Constitution makers endowed the document with. Yet, moving forward, the idea of ‘basic structure’ enumerates certain core principles that make the vision of Constitution possible.
Q. Discuss the various impediments that our GDP is witnessing in its path of the growth.
A: Broader Structure:
– Some context, a few data points to highlight if the growth has indeed slowed down or not
– Factors that affect GDP growth
– Impediments in the case of India
– Impact of certain steps
– Way Forward
India’s GDP grew at 5.8% in the January-March 2019 quarter, dragging down the full year growth to a five-year low of 6.8%.
Growth in gross value added (GVA), which is GDP minus taxes and subsidies, fell to 6.6% in 2018-19, pointing to a serious slowdown.
The growth in core-sector output — a set of eight major industrial sectors — fell to 2.6% in April, compared to 4.7% in the same month last year.
GDP Growth depends on a lot of factors, such as
– Macroeconomic and political stability
– Physical infrastructure
– Digital Infrastructure
– Availability of financial capital
– Availability of human resources
– Institutional, policy, and regulatory architecture
– The transparent, stable and predictable investment climate
– Rule of Law: Proper contract enforcement and respect for property rights, embedded in sound macroeconomic policies and institutions
– Free and Fair competition
– Corruption Perception
– Global Economic Environment
Consequently, the business regulatory environment, taxation laws, and governance/institutional capacity often influence the ease and cost of starting a business as well as normal day-to-day operations.
– Depreciating rupee
– Rising bank bad loans and /or non-performing assets (NPAs) – Leading to lack of availability of Financial Capital
– The trade deficit that has shot up to a five-year high
– Retail fuel prices, embargo on buying fuel from Iran
– India’s GDP growth continues to be powered by consumption, not investments.
The economy is beset by a consumption slowdown as reflected in the falling sales of everything from automobiles to consumer durables, even fast-moving consumer goods.
– Private investment is not taking off
– Government spending was cut back in the last quarter of 2018-19 to meet the fiscal deficit target of 3.4%.
– The unemployment rate in the country rose to a 45-year high of 6.1% in 2017-18, as per official data released, leading to possible loss of consumption as well.
– The overall slowdown in global growth – The UN World Economic Situation and Prospects as of mid-2019 report said that the global economy is experiencing a broad-based growth slowdown led by slowing industrial production coupled with the weakening of international trade activity due in large part to the unresolved trade disputes between the U.S. and China.
(You can quote data, ranks from the following as well to make your answer more convincing:
Quantitative and qualitative determinants of the investment climate have been captured in the form of a single index that helps identify the relative rank of a country, such as the ease of doing business index of the World Bank, Competitiveness index (WEF), Policy Uncertainty Index, Corruption Index (Transparency International) and the like.
Impact of Certain Steps
Also, India has been making certain structural changes in the Economy, that are believed to cause a short-term drop in GDP growth rate but might prove useful in the long-term, such as:
– GST implementation
– Digitalisation of Monetary Transactions
– Digitalisation of Transactions with the Government using various portals and Apps
– Stringent laws on Black Money impacting sectors like Real Estate
– Amendment of DTAA with Mauritius and Singapore impacting investment inflows in India.
What else could be done: Way Forward
– Boost to consumption, which means putting more money in the hands of people. That, in turn, means cutting taxes, which is not easy given the commitment to rein in the fiscal deficit.
Proceeds of disinvestments can be roped in for meeting fiscal obligations.
– Measures to boost private investment.
These call for major reforms, starting with:
o Land acquisition.
o Labour reforms.
o Corporate taxes reduction and exemptions.
o Developing an alternate channel of capital like Corporate Bond Markets.
o Nursing banks back to health using options such as further recapitalisation of the ailing banks, and bank
– Increasing the competitiveness of exports using various short term and long term measures.
– Continuing with the focus on ‘Ease of Doing Business’ to facilitate Make in India and attract FDI.
– Focusing on regional trade pacts like RCEP to promote bilateral and multilateral trade.
– Focusing on select markets and select products for export promotion.
– Putting in practice the recommendations of the Baba Kalyani committee on SEZ to make SEZs drivers of India’s
– Investments in MSMEs and Start-Ups to be encouraged while avoiding disincentives like Angel Tax on Start-Ups.
The focus on growth shall also ensure that it is not only the quantitative growth in an economy that takes place but also the qualitative growth as well. Leading to the inclusive growth of various parts and sections of society.
Q. Do you think National Clean Air Policy will help Indian cities in combating air pollution?
Introduction – Mention the seriousness of air pollution and details about what exactly is NCAP
Agreement – On how it will help to combat air pollution
Disagreement – On its limitations to combat air pollution
Way Forward – Suggest other measures to combat air pollution
Conclusion – End on a positive note
According to State Of Global Air Report 2019, entire Indian population lives in areas with PM2.5 concentrations above the WHO Air Quality Guideline of 10 μg/m3, and only about 15 percent of the population lives in areas with PM2.5 concentrations below the WHO’s least-stringent target of 35 μg/m3.
Over 1.2 million Indians died early due to exposure to unsafe air in 2017.
Air pollution is now the third-highest cause of death among all health risks, ranking just above smoking, in India.
The Lancet has reported that air pollution killed an estimated 1.24 million people in India in 2017.
The average life expectancy in India would be 1.7 years higher if the air quality was improved.
According to WHO, some 25% of households in less-developed cities are reliant on solid fuels for cooking.
Those households face a double air pollution burden – polluted air outdoors as well as the polluted air inside the home.
NCAP is the first ever effort in the country to frame a national framework for air quality management with a time-bound reduction target.
It proposes a framework to achieve a national-level target of 20-30 percent reduction of PM2.5 and PM10 concentration by between 2017 and 2024.
This is an inescapable concern in a country where air pollution is the top killer.
The Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) shall execute the nation-wide programme for the prevention, control, and abetment of air pollution within the framework of the NCAP.
The approach for NCAP includes collaborative, cross-sectoral coordination amongst the relevant central ministries, state governments, and cities.
It aims to leverage existing policies and programs including the National Action Plan on Climate Change and other central government efforts to mitigate climate change
The plan covers 102 non-attainment cities, across 23 states and Union territories, which were identified by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) on the basis of their ambient air quality data between 2011 and 2015.
NCAP – POSITIVES
It might play a positive role in combating air pollution as –
The NCAP attempts to pull all previous air pollution control plans together under a single strategy that focuses on improving the air quality in 102 ‘non-attainment cities’ across the country.
The policy was launched by the environment minister, but it is massively cross-cutting, involving the ministries of road transport and highway, petroleum and natural gas, new and renewable energy, heavy industry, housing, and urban affairs, agriculture, and health.
The programme will partner with multilateral and bilateral international organizations, philanthropic foundations and leading technical institutions.
It is to bring down particulate matter 10 and 2.5 levels in the 102 non-attainment cities by 30% by 2024.
City-specific action plans
NCAP – POSITIVES
The overall objective of the programme includes comprehensive mitigation actions for prevention, control and abatement of air pollution besides augmenting the air quality monitoring network across the country and strengthening the awareness and capacity building activities.
NCAP – CONCERNS
But their certain concerns associated as well such as –
The review by Delhi-based non-profit Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) shows that the actual reduction target needed in most cities is much higher than the NCAP target.
It’s not legally binding.
NCAP is a top-down prescriptive approach.
NCAP has not provided for innovative financing mechanism at the central and state/city level.
The funds allotted are meagre which cannot sustain the grand plans.
Hence, the NCAP will have to be reinvented, to be on mission mode for well-aligned action across sectors with a clear budgetary provision, clearer role of the Central government, stronger reporting, monitoring and compliance mechanisms for on-ground changes
Other measures like –
Faster and seamless adoption of BS VI norms
Encourage a shift from private passenger vehicles to public transport
Faster and seamless adoption of new emission standards for thermal plants
Follow the Gujarat government which has launched ‘Emission Trading Scheme’ (ETS), under which a firm which reduces emissions below the stipulated limit can sell its surplus ’emission permits’.
Clean cooking and heating
Renewables for power generation
Energy efficiency for households
Continuous ban on stubble burning, burning of waste in open spaces, landfill sites, etc.
Suppress construction and road dust
Increase in green areas, etc
Should also be considered and adopted for improvement in air quality.
A pragmatic approach is required to reduce pollution levels.
Improving air quality demands consistent, sustained and coordinated government action at all levels.
Government has been working in the right direction but much more needed to overcome this situation.
SCIENCE & TECH
Q. Has the world entered a new normal where the space has become the next frontier?
Introduction ASAT US Space Force
Is it the next Frontier? Yes, it is No, it is not
The 1,300 active satellites above the Earth provide a wide array of services some of which are vital for emergency response and military.
An attack on a country’s satellite can be catastrophic and many worries that space could be the new theatre for war.
In this backdrop, nations are building technologies to neutralise such threats. India’s recent testing of the Anti-Satellite weapon and USA’s Space force can be studied in this context.
A lot has been happening in the last decade to consider the point that space has been turning out to be the next frontier.
Exploratory Missions: Countries both in collaborative and competitive spirit are sending deep space missions to explore newer territories and solve the greater mysteries of origin and evolution.
Commercialisation: Government space agencies along with private companies like SpaceX are working all out to make sure that the sky doesn’t stay the limit. Private Companies such as Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin are promoting space tourism
Defense: The protection of vital space infrastructure and the capabilities to destroy the enemy infrastructure are being tested and developed by countries including India (ASAT) so as not to be caught unaware
Technologies: Be it the precision in ground navigation (NavIC, Beidou) or the relay of day-to-day communication, nations are in a tug-of-war to develop sophisticated technologies so that they can become self-reliant and self-sufficient
But these things are not something that is new. Space has been in focus since the times of the Cold War and we could witness the space race even in those times.
Be it the race to reach the space first or land first on the moon
The only difference is, that earlier there were two mega-entities (i.e., the USA and allies, and the USSR) that gathered all the attention while the other newly born countries were learning to walk after being crippled by colonialism. But now, we can see such technologies developed by such nations as well.
India depicting its capabilities in inter-planetary missions such as Chandrayaan and Mangalyaan
Private industry in Israel preparing to reach the far side of the moon
The newer technologies that are developed in such high-stakes missions have also been used for civilian purposes, which has in many ways improved civilian life.
But the already scarce resources of our planet should not be wasted in infighting among the earthlings.
Rather, a collaborative approach would be far more fruitful, as concerns like space debris and Kessler syndrome, climate change and weather anomalies, etc. are upon every one of us, collectively.
Thus, “Spacecraft” should not be confused with “Warcraft” and be considered as a separate frontier, rather than the next frontier.
Q. Over the years, indiscriminate rathole mining of coal in Meghalaya, has taken a toll on its ecology and put many lives at risk. While some associate it with a lot of risks; others find it as a necessary evil. Discuss.
What is Rat Hole mining
Issues And Associated Risks:
1) Ecological Issues
2) Social issues
3) Health issues
5) Political Issues
Why Is It A Necessary Evil And Is Still Prevalent In Meghalaya?
➢ The question has been asked in the context of people trapped in a rat-hole mine in Meghalaya
➢ The National Green Tribunal (NGT) had banned rat-hole mining in 2014 on grounds of the practice being unscientific and unsafe for workers but The State Government has failed to check illegal mining effectively.
WHAT IS RAT HOLE MINING?
➢ Rathole mining involves digging of very small tunnels for the extraction of coal. It is called a rat hole because of the small height of the dug tunnel.
➢ Rat-Hole mining is broad of two types –
Side-cutting: narrow tunnels are dug on the hill slopes.
Box-cutting: a rectangular opening is made, varying from 10 to 100 sq.
➢ The coal is taken out manually dumped on a nearby un-mined area.
ISSUES AND ASSOCIATED RISKS:
➢ Meghalaya coal has high sulphur content, leading to discharge of sulphuric acid from these mines which made the rivers acidic, iron and toxic heavy metals, low dissolved oxygen (DO) and high BOD, showing its degraded quality in turn affecting aquatic life and corroding machinery at hydroelectric projects and dams
➢ Lack of safety norms has led to respiratory problems for the miners.
➢ The topsoils of the region have undergone degeneration.
➢ Roadside dumping of coal is a major source of air, water, and soil pollution.
➢ The mines are at constant risk of caving in or flooding.
➢ Ecologically Sensitive Zones are being degraded
➢ During the rainy season, water floods into the mining areas resulting in the death of many employees/workers. ➢ Rat-hole mines have encouraged child trafficking as well.
➢ No social security for migrants workers.
➢ Due to poisonous gases like Hydrogen Sulphide, Methane can cause instant death of miners.
➢ The State Government has failed to check illegal mining effectively.
➢ Meghalaya Mines and Mineral Policy, 2012 policy does not address rat-hole mining & states: “Small and traditional system of mining by local people in their own land shall not be unnecessarily disturbed.”
➢ Meghalaya is a Sixth Schedule state, and the power to make laws with respect to the land belongs to the Autonomous District Councils, landowners can mine without any permission from the state or the Union governments.
POLITICAL ISSUES :
➢ About 33% of political candidates have stakes in coal mining and transport companies, thus lobbying against the ban order.
WHY IS IT A NECESSARY EVIL AND IS STILL PREVALENT IN MEGHALAYA?
➢ Meghalaya has a total coal reserve of 640 million tonnes; Since the coal seam is extremely thin in Meghalaya, no other method would be economically viable.
➢ Low capital investment, low maintenance, and operational costs.
➢ Direct and indirect bases of livelihoods
➢ 2012 policy is inadequate as it does not address rat-hole mining.
➢ Biggest revenue earners for the state.
➢ Conflict of interest for various stakeholders
➢ For the resettlement process and package for protection of livelihood security NGT is silent at present.
➢ The government of Meghalaya controls only 5% of land rest either community or privately owned which undermines effective regulations
➢ Lack of Alternate Sources of Livelihood
➢ The need for framing new mining policy which allows scientific mining along with stringent regulations
➢ Effective implementation of 6th schedule provisions
➢ Diversifying livelihood opportunities
➢ Strict implementation of Child labor prevention laws
➢ Implementation of NGT order
➢ Use of Satellite imagery to find the locations of illegal mines.
➢ Involvement of Social Activists, NGO’s and Local community
➢ Educating people about issues of rathole mining.
➢ Mining has been an age-old practice in the State of Meghalaya and thousands of people earn their livelihood through this activity.
➢ Strict enforcement of the modified policy eventually should provide scope for the mining of minerals in a scientific and sustainable manner taking into account the interest of the state and its people.