[Mission 2023] Insights SECURE SYNOPSIS: 21 April 2023

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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


General Studies – 1


 

Topic: Distribution of key natural resources across the world (including South Asia and the Indian sub-continent); factors responsible for the location of primary, secondary, and tertiary sector industries in various parts of the world (including India).

1. Export hotspots play a crucial role in driving India’s export growth by acting as key centers of production and trade. Discuss the features of major export hotspots of India. (250 words)

Difficulty level: Tough

Reference: The Hindu

Why the question:

The article provides an overview of India’s export hotspots based on data from the Ministry of Commerce and Industry.

Key Demand of the question: 

To write about major export hotspots of India, their features and advantages offered by them.

Directive word: 

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

Structure of the answer:

Introduction: 

Begin by giving context of an export hotspot.

Body:

First, draw a neat representative map highlighting the major export hotspots of India.

Next, write the major features of export hotspots of India – high levels of industrial activity, skilled labour, and access to transportation networks, which enable efficient movement of goods to international markets etc.

Next, write about the advantages of these hotspots and a couple of their limitations.

Conclusion:

Conclude by a way forward to further promote export hotspots.

Introduction

Export hubs are collaborative business networks that help small to medium enterprises (SMEs) in the Growth Centre sectors harness opportunities in global marketplaces. Export hubs will boost the export capability of small to medium local and regional businesses, through supporting activities such as to developing collective brands, leveraging local infrastructure to scale business operations, and positioning regional businesses to participate in global supply chains.

Body

Major features

Export hubs will undertake activities such as:

  • help to address barriers to SME participation in global supply chains
  • deliver improved local business capability
  • increase information and resource sharing between SMEs
  • provide market intelligence about export opportunities
  • enhance workforce skills through training and seminars.
  • Export hubs will develop export strategies, based on local strengths, which will align with the national strategies and networks of the Growth Centres.

 

Advantages of Export hubs

  • Every District has products and services which are being exported, and can be further promoted, along with new products / services, to increase production, grow exports, generate economic activity and achieve the goal of AtmaNirbhar Bharat, Vocal for local and Make in India.
  • Helps to target export promotion, manufacturing and employment generation at grass root level.
  • Enhances manufacturing activities, promote goods and services exports, support MSMEs and local artisans/craftsmen, broaden coverage of e-commerce linkages with Districts, promote GI products, improve logistics & agricultural sectors and support employment opportunities in the Districts, leading to wide-ranging economic benefits, including investment, manufacturing & export growth.

 

Way forward

  • India should focus on diversifying its export basket by promoting and supporting the export of non-traditional items such as electronic goods, pharmaceuticals, and automobiles.
  • India needs to improve its export infrastructure, such as ports, roads, and railways, to reduce the cost of exports and improve efficiency.
  • The government should develop regional export hubs that specialize in certain export commodities. This would help in creating economies of scale, reducing costs, and promoting competitiveness.
  • Investment in research and development is critical to help Indian exporters produce high-quality goods at lower costs, making them more competitive in the global market.
  • The government should simplify export procedures and reduce red tape to make it easier for Indian exporters to do business with foreign partners.
  • Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) should be encouraged to participate in exports by providing them with easy access to credit, technology, and infrastructure.
  • Indian exporters should leverage digital technology to reach out to global customers and promote their products. The use of e-commerce platforms can help Indian exporters to reach a wider market at a lower cost.

 


General Studies – 2


 

Topic: Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the Centre and States and the performance of these schemes; mechanisms, laws, institutions and Bodies constituted for the protection and betterment of these vulnerable sections.

2. Despite being a basic human right, many migrant workers are not covered under the National Food Security Act, highlighting the issue of food insecurity among internal migrant workers in India. In this context, examine the challenges they face and identify measures that can be taken to address this issue. (250 words).

Difficulty level: Moderate

Reference: The HinduInsights on India

Why the question:

The Supreme Court on Thursday, April 20, 2023 directed States and Union Territories to provide ration cards to about eight crore migrant workers registered in the eShram portal but not covered under the National Food Security Act.

Key Demand of the question:

To write about the issues faced by migrant workers and evaluate government measures for their protection.

Directive word: 

Examine – When asked to ‘Examine’, we must investigate 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 statistic regarding internal migration in India.

Body:

First, elaborate upon the issues faced by migrant workers – Distress migration: due to non-existent social security and unilateral decisions. Loss of livelihoods, Devastating impact on women and children’s nutrition etc. Account the reasons for the same.

Next, discuss the policies and initiatives of the government in this direction to have a social security and inter-state coordination.

Next, suggest what needs to be done further to alleviate the issues of migrant workers.

Conclusion:

Conclude by writing a way forward.

Introduction

The fundamental right to life under Article 21 of the Constitution may be interpreted to include the right to live with human dignity, having the right to food and other basic necessities.

The Supreme Court on Thursday, April 20, 2023 directed States and Union Territories to provide ration cards to about eight crore migrant workers registered in the eShram portal but not covered under the National Food Security Act. The portal has 28.6 crore registrants. Of this, 20.63 crore are registered on ration card data.

 

Body

 

Background

  • There are around 38 crore workers engaged in the unorganized sectors (National Statistics Office (NSO) data of 2017-2018).
  • These unorganized workers did not have any permanent source of employment and have engaged themselves in small time vocations and occupations at various places away from their native places.
  • Contributions of these labourers towards different projects, industries, make considerable additions in the economic development of the country.

 

Issues faced by migrant workers

  • State of affairs: Repeated surveys have found that the incomes of migrant households continue to be lower than pre-pandemic levels, even after returning to cities.
    • Migrants are finding less work and their children eating less.
    • The post-1991 poverty alleviation of almost 300 million Indians, driven by migration out of farm work, is being undone.
    • Despite this, a cohesive migration policy guidance remains elusive.
  • Lack of portability of benefits: Migrants registered to claim access to benefits at one location lose access upon migration to a different location. This is especially true of access to entitlements under the PDS. The ration card required to access benefits under the PDS is issued by state governments and is not portable across states.  This system excludes inter-state migrants from the PDS unless they surrender their card from the home state and get a new one from the host state.
  • Lack of affordable housing: The proportion of migrants in urban population is 47%. In 2015, the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs identified migrants in urban areas as the largest population needing housing in cities. There is inadequate supply of low-income ownership and rental housing options.
  • Issues with finding local Employment: Most migrant workers have a seasonal nature of employment. During off-seasons, they struggle to feed their families. Repeated lockdowns made situations more difficult for migrants to find jobs in their localities. They faced travel restrictions which hindered their job search as well.
  • Lack of Insurance Benefits in a Pandemic Environment: Migrant workers work in precarious conditions with little wages and no access to government schemes and services. Poor and unsafe working and living conditions make them prone to diseases. Greater threats of occupational illnesses, nutritional diseases, alcoholism, HIV, and communicable diseases are rampant in the migrant workforce.
  • Issue of timely and Fair Payment of Wages: The informal workforce in India consists of more than 150.6 million regular and daily wage earners. Most of these workers are unaware of their rights as ‘migrant workers. Many unscrupulous agents coerce them and don’t pay minimum wages as per law.

 

Measures needed

  • ONE nation ONE ration card: Distribution of PDS must be portable and should happen irrespective of location of migrant worker and the implementation must become 100% effective.
  • Providing digital public infrastructure (DPI): Digital public infrastructure systems that enable the effective provision of essential society-wide functions and services  can enable a paradigm shift, allowing governments to co-create solutions with the private sector and civil society.
  • Adopting Public private partnership models: There are three key areas where DPI can enable public-private partnerships (PPP) in the delivery of social protection of migrants.
  • Awareness of entitlements: One barrier faced at the initial stage is lack of awareness of entitlements or of the need to reapply, when migrants move from one state to another. Jan Saathi is an application that provides migrants with information on eligible social security schemes. Organisations such as Haqdarshak not only inform potential beneficiaries about their eligibility for various schemes, Central or State, but also help them avail entitlements.
  • Information about livelihoods and housing: The informal nature of the labour market makes access to affordable and safe living conditions a challenge, especially if the family migrates as a unit. Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs has introduced the Affordable Rental Housing Complexes under PMAY-Urban but the availability of such facilities is inadequate compared to the number of migrants. Bandhu’s ecosystem of applications connect migrant workers directly with employers and housing providers, to give them more informed choices. Jobsgaar and MyRojgaar also play a similar role by connecting workers to employers.
  • Healthy Grievance redressal Mechanism: Gram Vaani bridges the gap in grievance redressal by providing a platform where citizens can use Interactive Voice Response (IVR) to record their grievance in accessing entitlements. Aajeevika Bureau and The Working People’s Charter built the India Labourline to provide legal aid and mediation services to migrant workers.
  • Adopting a well-designed data: While a growing ecosystem of private players (NGOs, civil society organisations, not-for-profit and for-profit entities) are addressing these needs, well designed data exchanges can help unlock a strong public-private collaboration in the delivery of social protection.

 

Conclusion and way forward

  • Creating centralized data: The state’s digital efforts are often in siloes and the need to maximize the use of data across schemes and departments is a high priority.
  • E-Shram: Initiatives such as direct benefit transfers and linking schemes for the portability of entitlements have shown promise. e-Shram, which is a national database of unorganized workers, aims to reduce access barriers to social protection for migrants.
  • Making portable entitlement: Recent announcements of API-based integration of e-Shram with the various state government labor departments and with the One Nation One Ration Card scheme are a step in that direction.
  • Working with the private sector: Enabling linkages of migrant data with the private sector can lead to benefits on the demand side, in the form of reduced transaction costs in identifying jobs, affordable housing, and redressal of grievances.
  • Engaging the private sector: Private players who have established relationships with these mobile populations can help the state in planning and forecasting the demand for benefits. An example of this is the digital payment ecosystem since the introduction of UPI.

 

 

Value addition

Government measures for migrant workers

  • Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana: After the lockdown, Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana with a financial package of Rs. 1.7 lakh crore was launched to help poor, needy, and unorganized sector workers of the country.
  • PM SVANidhi Scheme: PM SVANidhi Scheme was launched to facilitate collateral-free working capital loans up to Rs.10,000/- of one-year tenure, to approximately, 50 lakh street vendors, to resume their businesses.
  • Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Rojgar Abhiyan: In order to facilitate the employment of migrant workers who have gone back to their home state, Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Rojgar Abhiyan was initiated in 116 districts in Mission Mode.
  • State migrant cell: Migrant workers’ Cell is being created to prepare a database of migrant workers in states with mapping.
  • eShram portal: It is a national database created to register the unorganised workers in the country, including the migrant workers.
  • National policy on migrant workers: NITI Aayog has been mandated to prepare a draft national policy on migrant workers to reimagine labour-capital relations while integrating the migrant workers within the formal workforce.

 

Topic: Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, and Human Resources.

3. Despite various measures, tuberculosis continues to be a major health challenge in India. Discuss the challenges faced in combatting the disease and suggest innovative approaches that could be adopted to achieve the goal of a TB-free India by 2025. (250 words)

Difficulty level: Easy

Reference: The HinduInsights on India

Why the question:

The article discusses the current state of tuberculosis (TB) in India and the need for innovative approaches to combat the disease.

Key Demand of the question:

To write about the challenges posed by TB and ways to end it.

Directive word: 

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

Structure of the answer:

Introduction: 

Begin by giving statistic highlighting the incidence and impact of TB in India.

Body:

First, write about the various measures taken and progress made in fight against TB in India.

Next, write about the shortcomings of the above and other major challenges in India’s fight against TB.

Next, write about the possible solutions to the above issue to end TB in India – improving awareness, strengthening healthcare infrastructure, expanding access to diagnostics and treatment, targeting high-risk populations, and promoting research and innovation etc.

Conclusion:

Conclude by writing a way forward.

Introduction

Tuberculosis (TB) remains the biggest killer disease in India, outnumbering all other infectious diseases put together — this despite our battle against it from 1962, when the National TB Programme (NTP) was launched. According to the World Health Organization’s “Global Tuberculosis Report 2018“, India accounted for 27% of the 10 million people, who had developed TB in 2017, besides making up 32% of global TB deaths among HIV-negative people, and 27% of combined TB deaths. In India, the TB capital of the world, the disease kills some 1,400 persons every day.

The world got a wake-up call in 1993 about tuberculosis (TB) when the World Health Organization declared it a global health emergency. The 1993 World Development Report labelled TB treatment for adults as the best buy among all developmental interventions. The response in the 30 years since has been short on urgency and long on processes. The current goal is to end TB by 2030, but clarity on definitions of ‘end’ and the means of verification are not fully in place.

Body

India’s efforts to eliminate TB:

  • In the 1950s and ’60s, India was the global leader in research in epidemiology, transmission and domiciliary treatment of TB. The National TB Control Programme of 1962 was a district-based one with public-private participation.
  • Revised National Tuberculosis Control Program(RNTCP)
    • It was renamed to National Tuberculosis Elimination Programme (NTEP))
    • It is the state-run tuberculosis control initiative of the Government of India.
    • RNTCP incorporates the principles of directly observed treatment-short course (DOTS).
  • In 1992, the WHO devised the Directly Observed Treatment-Short Course (DOTS) strategyand advised all countries to adopt the strategy to combat the menace of tuberculosis. The DOTS strategy is based on 5 pillars:
    • political commitment and continued funding for TB control programs
    • diagnosis by sputum smear examinations
    • uninterrupted supply of high-quality anti-TB drugs
    • drug intake under direct observation
    • accurate reporting and recording of all registered cases
  • The Indian government has been implementing Programmatic Management of Drug Resistant TB (PMDT) services, for the management of multi-drug resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB) and TB-HIV collaborative activities for TB-HIV
  • Nikshay,” (2012) an online tuberculosis reporting system for medical practitioners and clinical establishments was set up. The aim is to increase the reporting of tuberculosis, especially from the private sector.
  • In 2018, Indian government launched Joint Effort for Elimination of Tuberculosis (JEET), to increase the reporting of TB cases by the private sector.
  • National Strategic Plan (NSP) for TB Elimination (2017-2025) was launched in 2017. The government also called for the elimination of TB by 2025, five years prior to the international target (2030).
    • The NSP plans to provide incentives to private providers for following the standard protocols for diagnosis and treatment as well as for notifying the government of cases.
    • Further, patients referred to the government will receive a cash transfer to compensate them for the direct and indirect costs of undergoing treatment and as an incentive to complete treatment.

Challenges to achieve TB free India by 2025:

  • Poor socio-economic conditions:
    • Poverty remains a stark reality in India with associated problems of hunger, undernourishment and poor and unhygienic living conditions.
    • According to GTB Report, 2018, a majority of TB patients (6lakhs) in India are attributable to undernourishment.
  • Underreporting and misdiagnosis:
    • According to GTB Report 2018, India is one of the major contributors to under-reporting and under-diagnosis of TB cases in the world, accounting for 26% of the 3.6 million global gap in the reporting of tuberculosis cases.
    • Biomarkers and other diagnostics that identify individuals at highest risk of progression to disease are inadequate.
  • Treatment:
    • Inequitable access to quality diagnosis and treatment remains a major issue in combating tuberculosis. Further, the private sector which contributes a major part of TB care is fragmented, made up of diverse types of healthcare providers, and largely unregulated.
    • Standard TB treatment is not followed uniformly across the private sector, resulting in the rise of drug resistance.
  • Follow-up treatment:
    • Though the reporting of TB cases has increased lately, the reporting of treatment outcomes has not been robust.
    • The absence of consistent follow-up of treatment regimens and outcomes may result in relapse of cases and MDR-TB and XDR-TB. India has already been facing the problem of increasing MDR-TB cases
  • Drugs:
    • The drugs used to treat TB, especially multidrug-resistant-TB, are decades old. It is only recently that Bedaquiline and Delamanid (drugs to treat MDR-TB) has been made available. However, access to such drugs remains low.
  • Funds:
    • The RNCTP remains inadequately funded. There has been a growing gap between the allocation of funds and the minimum investment required to reach the goals of the national strategic plan to address tuberculosis.
  • Issues with RNCTP:
    • No prescribed methods of monitoring: First, for a programme that is heavily funded by the government, there is no prescribed method of monitoring the trajectory of TB control.
    • Programme is based on assumptions: The assumption that treating pulmonary TB patients alone would control TB was epidemiologically fallacious in India.
    • Failed to elicit people’s participation: RNTCP has failed to elicit people’s partnership in TB control. In India’s AIDS Control Programme, public education was given high priority. Red ribbon clubs in schools and colleges are its legacy.
  • R&D:
    • R&D for new methods and technologies to detect the different modes of TB, new vaccines, and new drugs and shorter drug regimens have been slow, as compared to other such diseases like HIV/AIDS.
  • Social Stigma:
    • According to a study which assessed social stigma associated with TB in Bangladesh, Colombia, India, India had the highest social stigma index.
    • Patients often hesitate to seek treatment or deny their condition altogether for fear of social discrimination and stigmatization.

Measures needed:

  • It is important to address the social conditions and factorswhich contribute to and increase vulnerability to tuberculosis. Concerted efforts should be made to address the issues of undernourishment, diabetes, alcohol and tobacco use.
  • Increased political will, financial resources and increasing researchto develop new ways to diagnose, treat and prevent TB will help achieve the goal.
  • Private sector engagementin combating TB needs to be strengthened. The private sector should also be incentivised to report TB cases. Example: The Kochi Model– Increasing TB cases reporting from private sector
  • There is an urgent need for cost-effective point-of-care devicesthat can be deployed for TB diagnosis in different settings across India.
  • Universal access to drug, susceptibility testing at diagnosis to ensure that all patients are given appropriate treatment, including access to second-line treatment for drug-resistant TB.
  • To ensure public participation — a missing element in the RNTCP —in public-private participation mode.
  • Mass awareness campaignslike ‘TB Harega Desh Jeetega’ can play an important role in breaking social taboos regarding TB.
  • India’s leadership of the G20 and the focus on health could be catalytic, in the same manner, that the Japanese G7 presidency in 2001 was for the creation of the Global Fund.
  • Providing historical symmetry, Japan leads the G7 in 2023, providing leaders of both nations and groupings to act synergistically towards ending TB.

Conclusion

India has the highest TB burden in the world. Given our inter-connected world and the airborne spread of TB, we need collective global action. Ending TB in India will have massive global impact in addition to saving the lives of tens of millions of India’s people over the next 25 years. Even if ending TB by 2025 is not complete, pulling the TB curve down by 2025 and sustaining the decline ever after is a possibility.

 


General Studies – 3


 

Topic: Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization, of resources, growth, development and employment.

4. India’s dependence on imports for critical minerals poses significant challenges for its economy. What are the geopolitical and economic risks associated with this dependence? Evaluate the steps taken by India to diversify its supply chain and promote domestic production of critical minerals. (250 words)

Difficulty level: Tough

Reference: Indian Express

Why the question:

The article discusses the challenges India faces in securing critical minerals for its economy. Critical minerals are essential raw materials for industries such as electronics, renewable energy, and defense.

Key Demand of the question: 

To write about the ways to ensure resilient supply chains of critical minerals.

Directive word: 

Evaluate – When you are asked to evaluate, you have to pass a sound judgement about the truth of the given statement in the question or the topic based on evidence.  You must appraise the worth of the statement in question. There is scope for forming an opinion here.

Structure of the answer:

Introduction: 

Start by giving context of critical minerals with examples.

Body:

Firstly, in detail, mention the various threats and impediments to supply of critical minerals and how any disruption in their supply will affect India.

Next, write about the risks posed by their shortage.

Next, write about the measures taken by the government to ensure their supply and their successes and limitations

Conclusion:

Conclude by writing a way forward to ensure their seamless supply and for India to get self-reliant in supply chain.

Introduction

Critical minerals are elements that are the building blocks of essential modern-day technologies, and are at risk of supply chain disruptions. These minerals are now used everywhere from making mobile phones, computers to batteries, electric vehicles and green technologies like solar panels and wind turbines. Based on their individual needs and strategic considerations, different countries create their own lists. Minerals such as antimony, cobalt, gallium, graphite, lithium, nickel, niobium, and strontium are among the 22 assessed to be critical for India. Aerospace, communications, green technologies and defence industries also rely on several such minerals as they are used in manufacturing fighter jets, drones, radio sets and other critical equipment.

Body

Various threats and impediments to supply of critical minerals

  • India faces global and domestic challenges in assuring resilient critical minerals supply chains. On the international front, there currently exist four significant risks.
  • China, the most dominant player in the critical mineral supply chains, still struggles with Covid-19-related lockdowns. As a result, the extraction, processing and exports of critical minerals are at risk of slowdown.
  • Russia is one of the significant producers of nickel, palladium, titanium sponge metal, and the rare earth element scandium.
  • Ukraine is one of the major producers of titanium. It also has reserves of lithium, cobalt, graphite, and rare earth elements, including tantalum, niobium, and beryllium. The war between the two countries has implications for these critical mineral supply chains.
  • As the balance of power shifts across continents and countries, the critical mineral supply chains may get affected due to the strategic partnership between China and Russia. As a result, developed countries have jointly drawn up partnership strategies, including the Minerals Security Partnership (MSP) and G7’s Sustainable Critical Minerals Alliance, while developing countries have missed out.

Risks posed by their shortage

  • Manufacturing renewable energy technologies would require increasing quantities of minerals, including copper, manganese, zinc, and indium.
  • Likewise, the transition to electric vehicles would require increasing amounts of minerals, including copper, lithium, cobalt, and rare earth elements.
  • However, India does not have many of these mineral reserves, or its requirements may be higher than the availability, necessitating reliance on foreign partners to meet domestic needs.

 

Measures taken by the government to ensure their supply

  • India has set up KABIL or the Khanij Bidesh India Limited,a joint venture of three public sector companies, to ensure a consistent supply of critical and strategic minerals to the Indian domestic market.
  • It ensures the mineral security of the nation;it also helps in realizing the overall objective of import substitution.
  • India and Australia have reached asignificant milestone in working towards investment in critical minerals projects to develop supply chains between the two countries.
  • In mid-2020, India, through a newly floated state-owned company, had signed an agreement with an Argentinian firm to jointly prospect lithium in the South American country that has the third largest reserves of the metal in the world.
  • India has shown interest in joining the USA-led Minerals Security Partnership (MSP) but has not found a place in the grouping because the country does not bring much expertise to the table.
  • It would be desirable to participate in such multi-country dialogues.

Way forward and conclusion

  • India has a geological potential similar to mining-rich Western Australia, much still needs to be explored.
  • Given the increasing importance of critical and strategic minerals, there is an imperative need to create a new list of such minerals in the MMDR Act.
  • The list may include minerals such as molybdenum, rhenium, tungsten, cadmium, indium, gallium, graphite, vanadium, tellurium, selenium, nickel, cobalt, tin, the platinum group of elements, and fertiliser minerals such as glauconitic, potash, and phosphate (without uranium).
  • These minerals must be prospected, explored, and mined on priority, as any delays may hinder India’s emissions reduction and climate change mitigation timeline.
  • The reconnaissance and exploration of minerals must be encouraged, with particular attention given to deep-seated minerals. This will call for a collective effort by the government, ‘junior’ miners, and major mining companies.
  • An innovative regime must be devised to allocate critical mineral mining assets, which adequately incentivises private explorers, including ‘junior’ explorers.
  • Given the long lead times of setting up new exploration, extraction, and processing activities, these issues must be addressed soon if India is to utilise its natural wealth for its manufacturing needs.
  • India needs to determine where and how the processing of minerals and assembly of critical minerals-embedded equipment will occur. Currently, India relies on global supplies of various processed critical minerals, as there are limited domestic sources.
  • India requires a critical minerals strategy comprising measures aimed at making the country AatmaNirbhar (self-reliant) in critical minerals needed for sustainable economic growth and green technologies for climate action, national defence, and affirmative action for protecting the interests of the affected communities and regions.
  • In addition, India must actively engage in bilateral and plurilateral arrangements for building assured and resilient critical mineral supply chains.
  • Furthermore, the assessment of critical minerals for India needs to be updated every three years to keep pace with changing domestic and global scenarios.
  • A national critical minerals strategy for India, underpinned by the minerals identified in this study, can help focus on priority concerns in supply risks, domestic policy regimes, and sustainability.

 

Topic: money laundering and its prevention.

5. While the Prevention of Money Laundering Act has been a significant step in combating money laundering and other financial crimes, its efficacy in holding those engaging in money laundering accountable before the law has been subject to criticism. Examine. (250 words)

Difficulty level: Tough

Reference: Insights on India

Why the question:

The question is part of the static syllabus of General studies paper – 3 and mentioned as part of Mission-2023 Secure timetable.

Key Demand of the question:

To write successes and limitations of PMLA in achieving its state objectives.

Directive word: 

Examine – When asked to ‘Examine’, we must investigate 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 writing about the aims and objectives of PMLA.

Body:

First, write about the various features of PMLA – its successes and limitations when it comes to holding the launderers accountable.

Next, write about the steps that have been taken to improve the conviction rate in the PMLA. Write about its impact.

Conclusion:

Conclude with a way forward to holistically address the issue of money laundering in the country.

Introduction

The Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) was enacted in 2002 and it came into force in 2005. The chief objective of this legislation is to fight money laundering, that is, the process of converting black money into white. The act aims at Preventing money laundering, Combating the channelising of money into illegal activities and economic crimes, Providing for the confiscation of property derived from or involved in money laundering and Providing for any other matters connected with or incidental to the act of money laundering.

Body

About PMLA

  • It is a criminal law enacted to prevent money laundering and to provide for confiscation of property derived from, or involved in, money-laundering and related matters.
  • It forms the core of the legal framework put in place by India to combat Money Laundering.
  • The provisions of this act are applicable to all financial institutions, banks (Including RBI), mutual fundsinsurance companies, and their financial intermediaries.
  • PMLA (Amendment) Act, 2012:
    • Adds the concept of ‘reporting entity’ which would include a banking company, financial institution, intermediary etc.
    • PMLA, 2002 levied a fine up to Rs 5 lakh, but the amendment act has removed this upper limit.
    • It has provided for provisional attachment and confiscation of property of any person involved in such activities.

Efficacy of PMLA

  • Indian banks were reluctant to depart from their strict bank secrecy policies, and this further allowed individuals in India to launder money. The problem of money laundering in India is complicated further by Hawala’s ancient underground banking system.
  • ED has been given the responsibility to enforce the provisions of the PMLA by conducting investigation to trace the assets derived from proceeds of crime, to provisionally attach the property and to ensure prosecution of the offenders and confiscation of the property by the Special court.
  • ED has been given the responsibility to conduct investigation into suspected contraventions of foreign exchange laws and regulations, to adjudicate and impose penalties on those adjudged to have contravened the law.

Issues with PMLA

  • PMLA is pulled into the investigation of even “ordinary” crimes and assets of genuine victims have been attached.
  • PMLA was enacted in response to India’s global commitment (including the Vienna Convention) to combat the menace of money laundering. Instead, rights have been “cribbed, cabined and confined”.
  • PMLA was a comprehensive penal statute to counter the threat of money laundering, specifically stemming from trade in narcotics.
    • Currently, the offences in the schedule of the Act are extremely overbroad, and in several cases, have absolutely no relation to either narcotics or organised crime.
  • Even the Enforcement Case Information Report (ECIR) – an equivalent of the FIR – is considered an “internal document” and not given to the accused.
    • The ED treats itself as an exception to these principles and practises [of criminal procedure law] and chooses to register an ECIR on its own whims and fancies on its own file.
  • There is also a lack of clarity about ED’s selection of cases to investigate. The initiation of an investigation by the ED has consequences which have the potential of curtailing the liberty of an individual.

Conclusion

The evolving threats of money laundering supported by the emerging technologies need to be addressed with the equally advanced Anti-Money Laundering mechanisms like big data and artificial intelligence. Both international and domestic stakeholders need to come together by strengthening data sharing mechanisms amongst them to effectively eliminate the problem of money laundering.

 

Topic: Challenges to internal security through communication networks, role of media and social networking sites in internal security challenges, basics of cyber security;

6. The challenges to India’s cyber security are numerous and complex, but can be addressed through a comprehensive approach that combines policy and technology solutions. Analyse. (250 words)

Difficulty level: Easy

Reference: Insights on India

Why the question:

The question is part of the static syllabus of General studies paper – 3 and mentioned as part of Mission-2023 Secure timetable.

Key Demand of the question:

To write about India’s traditional cybersecurity challenges as well challenges posed by emerging technology and ways to address them.

Directive word: 

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: 

Begin by giving context of the cyber security scenario in India.

Body:

First, write about the major cyber security challenges of India – cyber-attacks, lack of infrastructure, digital illiteracy etc.

Next, write about how emerging technologies such as 5G, IoT, cryptocurrency, Metaverse etc have complicated the cyber-security scenario in the country.

Mention the steps that can be taken in the above regard to address the above-mentioned challenges.

Conclusion:

Conclude with a way forward.

Introduction

Cyber Security refers to protecting cyber space including critical information infrastructure from attack, damage, misuse and economic espionage. Cyber security is a broad spectrum phrase and relates to preventing any form of unauthorized and malafide access to a personal computer, a laptop, a smartphone or a major network like the national banking system or the railway network or a national information technology asset that also has military implications.

Body

Incidences of cyberattacks in India:

  • In India, too, attacks have been happening with increasing frequency.
  • The AIIMS, New Delhi – the country’s premier health institute – has been forced back in time after a major cyberattack took all of its servers offline. Experts worry that this cyberattack could’ve compromised the data of the large number of patients. The crucial data including personal credentials of patients, lab reports, medical history & health records etc. – is now at risk of being sold on the dark web.
  • The Union government has confirmed reports that Chinese hackers continue to target Indian power plants, especially those close to the Line of Actual Control (LAC) even as a U.S. based cyber security firm report claimed that Chinese State-sponsored actors have targeted seven power grid assets, the national emergency response system and an Indian subsidiary of a multinational logistics company since September 2021.
  • India’s national airline Air India has said a cyber-attack on its data servers affected about 4.5 million customers around the world. The breach was first reported to the company in February 2021.
  • Nearly 1.16 million cases of cyberattacks were reported in 2020, up nearly three times from 2019 and more than 20 times compared to 2016, according to government data presented in the Parliament on Tuesday. On an average, 3,137 cyber security-related issues were reported every day in 2020.
  • More than 4,000 fraudulent portals emerged within two months, and on a typical day in April 2020, Google alone blocked 240 million spam messages and 18 million phishing scams.
  • In 2016, banks had reportedly announced a leak of personal information of 3.2 million debit cards.
  • In 2018, Pune-based Cosmos Bank lost Rs 94 crore in a malware attack. Last year, the Kudankulam plant was attacked using malware.

Need for an updated cyber-security strategy for India:

  • With the vision of a trillion-dollar digital component, accounting for one-fifth of the $5-trillion national economy, the importance of cyberspace in India would only keep growing as Indians have taken to mobile broadband like fish to water, driven by affordable tariffs, low-cost smartphones and a spurt in availability of audio-visual content in Indian languages.
  • Financial services, payments, health services, etc are all connected to digital mediums; and thanks to Corona, this is expected to increase.
  • CERT-IN has recently issued an advisory that there is a threat of a massive phishing attack.
  • India was one of the few countries to launch a cybersecurity policy in 2013, not much has transpired in terms of a coordinated cyber approach.
  • Unlike the US, Singapore, and the UK where there is a single umbrella organization dealing in cybersecurity, India has 36 different central bodies—most ministries have their own—that deal with cyber issues, and each has a different reporting structure; each state government has its own CERT.
  • Add to this the fact that while the National Cyber Security Strategy 2020 was to devise a cyber-readiness roadmap for organisations and the government for cyber-readiness, this is yet to be announced.
  • India is not even a signatory to some of the basic international frameworks on Cybersecurity like the Convention of Cybercrime of the Council of Europe which not only European nations but Japan, US, South Africa have become signatories to, except India.
  • Indian laws are not in tandem with the ever-changing global cyberspace.
    • The laws are old and hence need to be more dynamic in nature to deal with issues like cyber-espionage, data theft and so on.
    • The Information Technology Act, 2000 (IT Act 2000) is the sole law that deals with cyberspace in India and was passed way back in 2000.
  • Also, the Cyber Law of India has been subject to amendments on various occasions but hasn’t served the changing dynamics and the growing threats and manifestations of cyberwar.

Steps taken by the Government to spread awareness about cyber crimes:

  • Online cybercrime reporting portalhas been launched to enable complainants to report complaints pertaining to Child Pornography/Child Sexual Abuse Material, rape/gang rape imageries or sexually explicit content.
  • A scheme for establishment of Indian Cyber Crime Coordination Centre (I4C)has been established to handle issues related to cybercrime in the country in a comprehensive and coordinated manner.
  • Establishment of National Critical Information Infrastructure Protection Centre (NCIIPC)for protection of critical information infrastructure in the country.
  • All organizations providing digital services have been mandated to report cyber security incidents to CERT-In
  • Cyber Swachhta Kendra(Botnet Cleaning and Malware Analysis Centre) has been launched for providing detection of malicious programmes and free tools to remove such programmes.
  • Formulation of Crisis Management Planfor countering cyber attacks and cyber terrorism.

 

Measures needed:

  • A Defence Cyber Agency could be the first step the government plans to for critical infrastructure and military networks that are increasingly becoming dependent on the Internet, thus increasing vulnerabilities.
  • The Defence Cyber Agency will work in coordination with the National Cyber Security Advisor. It will have more than 1,000 experts who will be distributed into a number of formations of the Army, Navy and IAF. According to reports, the new Defence Cyber Agency will have both offensive and defensive capacity.
  • Equally important is cyber propaganda. During the Doklam conflict, China tried its best to unleash cyber propaganda on India and indulged in complex psy-ops
  • Critical cyber infrastructure needs to be defended and the establishment of the National Critical Information Infrastructure Protection Centre(NCIIPC) is a good step in this direction
  • Individual ministries and private companies must also put procedures in place to honestly report breaches. It is only then that the NCIIPC can provide the requisite tools to secure these networks. This partnership must be transparent and not mired in the usual secrecy of intelligence organizations.
  • The upgrading of the Defence Cyber Agency to a Cyber Command must be implemented at the soonest.
  • A robust ecosystem must be built to secure India from acts of state and non-state actors, including protocol for grievance redressal in international forums.
  • Better capabilities must be built to detect and deflect attacks.
  • The computer emergency response team (CERT) must be strengthened and aligned with military and foreign affairs operations.
  • Building a joint task force between the government and key technology players will be crucial.
  • The government should push for the creation of a global charter of digital human rights.
  • A national gold standard should be created, which ensures that Indian hardware and software companies adhere to the highest safety protocols
  • Impart cybercrime investigation training and technological know-how to the various law enforcement agencies.
  • Cyber awareness must be spread and there should be multi-stakeholder approach- technological inputs, legal inputs, strengthening law enforcements, systems and then dealing with transborder crime involves lot of international cooperation.

Conclusion

Cyber security has many degrees of relevance as far as India is concerned and is applicable across most domains. Cyber security has become a global challenge and countries like India will have to acquire much higher levels of national capacity and niche expertise to ensure composite national security whether it is cyber technology, commerce, law or global internet management. Young India should become more cognizant of this orientation and the collective effort must be there to give this sector the attention it requires.

 


General Studies – 4


 

Topic: Case Study

7. As a junior officer in the education department, Rohit was used to handling routine administrative work, but he never expected to come across a scam of such magnitude. One day, he stumbled upon evidence of a paper leak racket that involved some of his higher-ups.

Rohit had always been a stickler for rules and regulations, and he couldn’t turn a blind eye to the corruption he had uncovered. However, he knew that reporting the matter would mean going up against powerful people who could easily ruin his career.

The ethical dilemma that faced Rohit was whether to keep quiet and let the corrupt officials get away with their crime, or to risk his career by speaking out and exposing the truth. He was torn between his desire to do the right thing and his fear of the consequences.

Over the next few days, Rohit spent a lot of time thinking about what he should do. He consulted some of his trusted colleagues, but nobody seemed willing to stick their neck out and support him.

    1. Mention ethical dilemmas in the above case.
    2. What are the options available to Rohit? Critically examine them.
    3. What course of action should Rohit take in the above case?
    4. Why is the menace of paper leaks for various exams so rampant in the country?

(250 words)

Difficulty level: Moderate

Introduction

Body

Ethical dilemmas and issues

  • Honesty, integrity and dedication of one officer against the short term immoral monetary gains of a few insiders.
  • Commercialisation of education against aspirations of many students.
  • Public pressure and populism force a compulsive action on a system which was designed to serve them only.

Options available

Option 1: Make the matter public

Merit: Those involved will be exposed and government will be made to investigate and take action against those involved.

Demerit: People involved may get away with the scam and investigation may be foiled and shelved. My career also may be impeded as a revenge tactic. The truth may not come out as powerful people are involved.

Option 2:  Keep it under wraps

Merit: My career would be saved and no fear of retribution from any quarters

Demerit: The matter of paper leak would continue, and aspirations of genuine students will continue to fall apart.

 

Course of action

Any matter before being made public must be backed by strong evidence. Rohit should ensure that those indicted should not get away at any cost. Hence building evidence that would stand in court and in law must be first step before taking any other action. Only after having the evidence the matter must be made public so that the powerful people behind the scam are served justice.

 

Menace of paper leaks

  • Cheating or paper leak is not just a menace but also a protracted problem. It cannot be treated as an on-the-spot concern, but has to be tackled by nurturing right mindsets and creating a sense of integrity among learners, educators and all other stakeholders.
  • In the rat race of securing top scores, some students or people from the education fraternity may go to any extent to procure a paper, hence there are agents who are into leaking the same. So, going deep into the problem, we need to strengthen the moral fabric of our education system where there is no need to resort to such malpractices if we are satisfied with our performance.
  • Use of different sets of question papers: a minimum of three sets having different questions can be prepared to mitigate cheating.
  • Finally, ensure that teachers and classroom aides proctor tests with vigilance and integrity. Multiple layers of security can be implemented, including surveillance cameras, checks on random identification of question paper bundles, and secure transportation of the question papers. Strict punishments should also be enforced upon those found guilty of related offences.

Conclusion

A ‘Good governance’ model must ensure that menace of paper leaks ends  across India. Else demographic dividend of large youth population will end in a disaster.


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