February 28, 2024

CivlsTap Himachal, Himachal Pradesh Administrative Exam, Himachal Allied Services Exam, Himachal Naib Tehsildar Exam, Tehsil Welfare Officer, Cooperative Exam and other Himachal Pradesh Competitive Examinations.

General Studies Paper-3

Context: Recently, ISRO informed that the Plasma Analyser Package for Aditya (PAPA) payload onboard the Aditya-L1 has been operational and performing nominally.

About the Plasma Analyser Package for Aditya-L1 (PAPA)

  • It is one of seven scientific payloadsaboard the 1,480-kg Aditya-L1 (India’s first mission to study the Sun), the solar probe of the ISRO which was inserted into a halo orbit at L1 in early January 2024.
  • It is developed by the Space Physics Laboratory (SPL)at the Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre (VSSC).
  • It is designed to understand and gain deeper insights into the phenomenon of the ‘solar winds’(outward expansion of plasma or a collection of charged particles) from the sun’s corona and their composition.
    • Solar winds pose a threat to communications networks.
  • It is an energy and mass analyzer designed for in-situ measurements of solar wind electrons and ions in the low energy range.
  • The preliminary analysis shows that PAPA science data are of very good quality and the results match similar observations made by other instruments which are being operated at or around Lagrangian point L-1 by other space agencies.

 

Other Payloads in Aditya-L1

Visible Emission Line Coronagraph (VELC): It allows viewing of the corona (the outermost part of the sun’s atmosphere) by masking the glare of the photosphere (sun’s surface). It could help explain why the corona is 200 to 500 times hotter than the photosphere.

Solar Low Energy X-ray Spectrometer (SoLEXS): It studies solar flares. The sun’s interiors contort the magnetic field, throwing out high-energy particles that reach Earth in the form of solar flares, disrupting radio communication and damaging satellites.

High Energy L1 Orbiting X-ray Spectrometer (HEL1OS): It is designed to study solar flares in high-energy X-rays, with the acceleration and propagation of energetic electrons in the flare.

Solar Ultraviolet Imaging Telescope (SUIT): It is a UV telescope to image the solar disk in the near ultraviolet wavelength range to study complex active regions of the sun (where the magnetic field is more concentrated) and Coronal Mass Ejections.

Aditya Solar wind Particle EXperiment (ASPEX): It comprises two subsystems:

a.      Solar Wind Ion Spectrometer (SWIS): is a low energy spectrometer designed to measure the proton and alpha particles, the two primary ion components of solar winds.

b.      Suprathermal and Energetic Particle Spectrometer (STEPS): is designed to measure high-energy ions of the solar wind. They allow scientists to study the properties of plasmas and their role in the transfer of mass, momentum, and energy from the sun to Earth.

MAGNETOMETER: It will study the sun’s low intensity interplanetary magnetic field, which is carried by solar winds.

Key Features of PAPA

  • PAPA contains two sensors that are equipped to measure the direction of arrival of solar wind particles:
    • The Solar Wind Electron Energy Probe (SWEEP): It measures the solar wind electron flux.
    • The Solar Wind Ion Composition AnalyseR (SWICAR):It measures ion flux and composition as a function of direction and energy.

Role in the Aditya-L1 Mission

  • The Aditya-L1 mission was launched aboard the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle-C57 mission on September 2, 2023.
  • As Aditya traversed the 1.5 million km distance to L1, the PAPA payload was switched on for the first time on November 8.
  • The high voltage (HV) commissioning of the payload and science data observations were started on December 11.

Conclusion

  • PAPA payload onboard the Aditya-L1 Mission remains healthy and the scientific data sent by it are of very good quality.
  • The successful operation of PAPA is a testament to the capabilities of ISRO and its contribution to our understanding of the solar wind.
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General Studies Paper-3

Context: Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA) has created a dedicated organic promotion division for the promotion of organic exports.

Organic Farming in India

  • India occupies fifth place globally with a total area of 2.66 million hectares in organic farming.
  • Madhya Pradesh has the largest area under organic certification followed by Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Gujarat and Karnataka.
  • Sikkim is India’s first fully organic state, with implementing organic practices on around 75,000 hectares of agricultural land.
  • In 2022-23, India produced around 2.9 million metric tonnes of certified organic products like oil seeds, cereals and millets, cotton, pulses among others.
  • The exports of India’s organic products stood at $708 million in 2022-23 and considering the global market size of around $138 billion, there is a tremendous scope to increase the organic exports in the near future.

Advantages of Organic Farming

  • Healthier Food Products: Organic farming avoids the use of synthetic fertilizer, pesticides, herbicides etc. This results in food products that are free from harmful chemical residues with higher levels of essential nutrients.
  • Enhanced Soil Health: Organic farming methods focus on building and maintaining soil health by increasing organic matter content, microbial activity, and nutrient cycling.
  • Economic Opportunities: Organic farming provides economic benefits to farmers through premium prices for organic products, access to niche markets, and reduced input costs over the long term.
  • Climate Change Mitigation: Organic farming practices such as composting and organic soil management contribute to carbon sequestration in the soil, helping to mitigate climate change by reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Biodiversity Conservation: Organic farming practices support biodiversity by creating habitats for beneficial insects, birds, and other wildlife.

Challenges in Organic Farming

  • Yield Limitations: Organic farming typically yields lower outputs compared to conventional farming methods, at least in the short term.
  • Weed Control: Weed management is a significant challenge in organic farming, as synthetic herbicides cannot be used. Organic farmers rely on methods such as manual weeding, mulching, and cover cropping, which is labor-intensive and time-consuming.
  • Access to Organic Inputs: Organic farmers face difficulties in accessing certified organic seeds, fertilizers, and other inputs, especially in remote or underdeveloped regions.
  • Certification and Compliance: Obtaining organic certification requires adherence to strict standards and regulations, which is complex and costly for farmers, especially smallholders.

Organic Certifications Systems in India

  • National Programme for Organic Production (NPOP): It is under the Ministry of Commerce and Industry for development of the export market.
  • It is a third party certification programme where the production and handling of activities at all stages such as production, processing, trading and export requirements for organic products is covered.
  • Participatory Guarantee System (PGS-India): In the operation stakeholders (including farmers/ producers) are involved in decision making and essential decisions about the operation of the PGS-India certification itself by assessing, inspecting and verifying the production practices of each other and collectively declaring produce as organic.
  • It is under the Ministry of Agriculture and farmers Welfare for meeting the demand of the domestic market.
  • Food Safety Regulation has made it mandatory for organic products to be certified under NPOP or PGS for being sold in the domestic market under the Jaivik Bharat logo.

Government Schemes for Organic Farming

  • Paramparagat Krishi Vikas Yojana (PKVY): The schemes stress on end-to-end support to farmers engaged in organic farming i.e. from production to processing, certification and marketing and post-harvest management.

Training and Capacity Building are integral parts of the scheme.

  • Mission Organic Value Chain Development for North Eastern Region (MOVCDNER): The scheme is being implemented exclusively in the NE States to support farmers engaged in organic farming.

Way Ahead

  • The shift in global consumption patterns towards healthier, safer, sustainable and nutritious food has propelled organic products into the limelight.
  • The surge in demand presents a golden opportunity for India, to meet the growing global demand for organic products and to tap into the global organic food market.
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General Studies Paper-3

Context: Recently, it is proposed to change  the pattern of economic growth in India .

About Economic Growth

  • Economic growth refers to an increase in the size of a country’s economy over a period of time. The size of an economy is typically measured by the total production of goods and services in the economy, which is called gross domestic product (GDP)
    • GDP is the total monetary or market value of all the finished goods and services produced within a country’s borders in a specific time period.
  • The term economic growth is defined as the process whereby the country’s real national and per capita income increases over a long period of time.

Current Scenario

  • GDP growth has become the dominant measure of the health of all economies.
  • The dominant paradigm is, first, increase the size of the pie before its redistribution.
  • It has replaced “socialist” models which were concerned with conditions at the bottom.
  • All Indian governments, since the liberalisation of the economy in 1991, have focused on GDP. 
  • As per the First Advance Estimates of National Income of FY 2023-24, India’s Real GDP is projected to grow at 7.3 per cent.
    • This was stated in the Macro-Economic Framework Statement 2024-25.
  • As per the IMF, India is likely to become the third-largest economy in 2027 in USD at market exchange rate.
    • It also estimates that India’s contribution to global growth will rise by 200 basis points in 5 years.

Challenges and Concerns

  • GDP is not a measure of the overall standard of living or well-being of a country.
  • It does not capture things that may be deemed important to general well-being.
    • For example, increased output may come at the cost of environmental damage or other external costs such as noise.
    • Or it might involve the reduction of leisure time or the depletion of nonrenewable natural resources.
    • The quality of life may also depend on the distribution of GDP among the residents of a country, not just the overall level.
  • India is becoming one of the most unequal countries in the world with this flawed model of economic progress.
  • They need decent jobs, which the Indian economy has not provided despite impressive growth of GDP.

Fossil Fuels and the Modern Economy

  • Fossil fuels are an integral part of the global economy, with significant economic importance.
  • Fossil fuels(including coal, oil, and natural gas)in the modern economy are used in the production and the distribution of four foundational materials for modern civilization: steel, concrete, plastics, and food.
  • Fossil fuels are key to industrialization and rising prosperity, but their impact on health and the climate are concerning .

Suggestions and Way Forward

  • India must address the global climate crisis while growing its own economy to catch-up with developed countries.
  • India must find a new paradigm of progress, for itself and for the world, for more inclusive and environmentally sustainable growth.
  • India’s policymakers must free themselves from western-dominated theories of economics.
  • Rural Bharat can be a university for the world, producing innovations in institutions and policies for inclusive and sustainable growth.
    • Systems science reveals that local systems solutions, cooperatively developed by communities in their own villages and towns, are the way to solve global systemic problems of climate change and inequitable economic growth.
  • There is a need to focus more on Economic development which generally refers to the sustained, concerted endeavor of policymakers and community to promote the standard of living and economic condition in a country.
    • Economic development refers to the total quality of life of the population.
      • It includes the standard of its education, medical care, the diet, etc.
      • The greater a country’s economic development, the better the living standard of people is
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General Studies Paper-2

Context: There is a growing recognition of the crucial link between local governance, development, and gender equality.

About local self-governance

  • In December 1992, Parliament passed the 73rd and 74th constitutional amendments, which instituted panchayats and municipalities,
  • These amendments mandated that State governments constitute panchayats (at the village, block and district levels) and municipalities (in the form of municipal corporations, municipal councils and nagar panchayats) in every region.
  • They sought to institute a third-tier of governance in the federal framework through the devolution of functions, funds, and functionaries to local governments.
  • The amendments to the Constitution ensured the reservation of one third of the total seats for women in all elected offices of local bodies in both the rural and urban areas.
  • Emanating from the Central Act, various States Panchayati Raj Acts have made provisions for taxation and collection. 

Sources of Revenue

  • Property tax, cess on land revenue, surcharge on additional stamp duty, tolls, tax on profession, advertisement, user charges for water and sanitation and lighting are the major own source of revenues(OSRs)where panchayats can earn maximum income.
  • The huge potential for non-tax revenue includes fees, rent, and income from investment sales and hires charges and receipts.
  • There are also innovative projects that can generate OSR.
    • This covers income from rural business hubs, innovative commercial ventures, renewable energy projects, carbon credits. Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) funds and donations.

Importance

  • It provides for efficient provision of public goods since governments with smaller jurisdictions can provide services as per the preferences of their residents.
  • It promotes deeper democracy since governments that are closer to the people allow citizens to engage with public affairs more easily.
  • Gram sabhas have a significant role in fostering self-sufficiency and sustainable development at the grass-roots level by leveraging local resources for revenue generation.
  • They can be engaged in planning, decision-making, and implementation of revenue-generating initiatives that range from agriculture and tourism to small-scale industries.
  • They have the authority to impose taxes, fees, and levies, directing the funds towards local development projects, public services, and social welfare programmes.
  • Through transparent financial management and inclusive participation, gram sabhas ensure accountability and foster community trust, ultimately empowering villages to become economically independent and resilient.

Concerns and Challenges

  • Despite the constitutional promise of local self-governance, local governments operate with limited autonomy and authority.
  • Revenue raised by panchayats is meagre : Panchayats earn only 1% of the revenue through taxes”, with the rest being raised as grants from the State and Centre 
    • It specifically points out that80% of the revenue is from the Centre and 15 % from the States. 
  • Several impediments: Despite every enabling factor to raise revenue, panchayats confront several impediments in resource mobilisation:
    • The ‘freebie culture’ rampant in society is the cause for the antipathy in paying taxes.
    • Elected representatives feel that imposing taxes would alter their popularity adversely.
    • In several States, gram panchayats lack the authority to collect taxes, while in numerous others, intermediate and district panchayats are not delegated the responsibility of tax collection.

Suggestions and Way Ahead

  • There is a need to educate elected representatives and the public on the significance of raising revenue to develop panchayats as self-governing institutions.
  • Ultimately, the dependency syndrome for grants has to be minimised and in due course, panchayats will be able to survive on their own resources.
  • Panchayats can only achieve such a state of affairs when there are dedicated efforts in all tiers of governance, which includes even the State and central level.
  • Thus, gram sabhas need to promote entrepreneurship, and foster partnerships with external stakeholders to enhance the effectiveness of revenue generation efforts.
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General Studies Paper-3

Context: Recently various South Indian States raised issues about their less than proportionate share of receipt in tax revenue when compared to their contribution towards tax collection.

About the Financial Devolution Among States

  • It is a critical aspect of federalism in India involving the distribution of financial resources from the Union government to the states, enabling them to meet their expenditure requirements and provide public services.
  • The process of financial devolution is guided by the Finance Commission (FC).

The Divisible Pool of Taxes:

  • Article 270 of the Constitution provides for the scheme of distribution of net tax proceeds collected by the Union Government between the Centre and the States.
  • These include corporation tax, personal income tax, Central GST, and the Centre’s IGST
  • It does not include cess and surcharge that are levied by the Union Government.
  • States are provided grants-in-aidas per the recommendation of the FC, apart from the share of taxes.

Role of 15th Finance Commission

  • Vertical Devolution:The FC is responsible for recommending the distribution of the net proceeds of taxes of the Union between the Union and the States, commonly referred to as vertical devolution.
  • Horizontal Devolution:The FC determines the allocation between the States of the respective shares of such proceeds, known as horizontal devolution.
  • Criteria For Horizontal Devolution:
  • Income distance:It is the distance of a State’s income from the State with the highest per capita income.
  • States with lower per capita income are given a higher share to maintain equity among States.
  • Forest and Ecology:The share of dense forest of each State in the aggregate dense forest of all the States.
  • Currently, 41% of taxescollected by the Union Government (as per the recommendation of 15th Finance Commission) is devolved in 14 installments among States during a fiscal year.

Challenges and Concerns

  • Disproportionate Share of Receipt in Tax Revenue:Various Opposition-ruled States, especially from south India, have claimed that they have not been receiving their fair share as per the present scheme of financial devolution.
  • Cess and surchargecollected by the Union government is estimated at around 23% of its gross tax receipts for 2024-25, which does not form part of the divisible pool and hence not shared with the States.
  • Reduction in Financial Transfers to States:Since the start of the Fourteenth Finance Commission award period (2015-16), the Union government has been reducing financial transfers to States.
  • This is particularly strange given that the Fourteenth Finance Commission recommended devolving 42% of Union tax revenues to States, which is a 10 percentage points increase over the 13th Finance Commission’s recommendation.
  • State Wise Variations:The amount each State gets back for every rupee they contribute to Central taxes shows steep variation.
  • It can be seen that industrially developed States received much less than a rupee for every rupee they contributed as against States like Uttar Pradesh and Bihar.
  • The percentage share in the divisible pool of taxes has been reducing for southern States over the last six FCs.
  • It is attributable to the higher weightage being given for equity (income gap) and needs (population, area and forest) than efficiency (demographic performance and tax effort).
  • Increase in Union Government’s Discretionary Expenditure:The Union government not only reduced the financial transfers to States but also increased its own total revenue to increase its discretionary expenditure.
  • The discretionary expenditures of the Union government are not being routed through the States’ Budgets, and, therefore, can impact different States in different ways.
  • Decline in States’ Share in Gross Revenue:One of the reasons for the States’ share in gross revenue declining during this period is that the net tax revenue is arrived at after deducting the revenue collections under cess and surcharge.
  • Against the Federal Spirit:The Constitutional scheme has always favoured a strong centre in legislative, administrative and financial relations.
  • However, federalism is a basic feature and it is important that States don’t feel short-changed when it comes to distribution of resources.

Way Forward

  • The States generate around 40% of the revenue and bear around 60% of the expenditure. It is the responsibility of all States to contribute towards the more equitable development of our country.
  • However, there are three important reforms that may be considered for maintaining the balance between equity and federalism while sharing revenue:
  • The divisible pool can be enlarged by including some portion of cess and surcharge in it.
  • The weightage for efficiency criteria in horizontal devolutionshould be increased.
  • Similar to the GST Council, a more formal arrangement for the participation of States in the constitution and the working of the FC should be considered.
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General Studies Paper-2

Context: The World Health Organization (WHO) recently launched the Global Initiative on Digital Health (GIDH), a platform for sharing knowledge and digital products among countries.

Global Initiative on Digital Health (GIDH)

  • The GIDH will be a WHO Managed Network(“Network of Networks”) that will promote equitable access to digital health by addressing challenges such as duplication of efforts and “products-focused” digital health transformation.
  • Aim:
    • ALIGN efforts to support the Global Strategy on Digital Health 2020–2025;
    • SUPPORT quality assured technical assistance to develop and strengthen standards-based and interoperable systems aligned to global best practices, norms and standards;
    • FACILITATE the deliberate use of quality assured digital transformation tools that enable governments to manage their digital health transformation journey.
  • The GIDH will focus on following four foundational pillars:

Digital health in India

  • Digital health refers to the utilization of digital technologies across the healthcare ecosystem, aiming to improve accessibility, affordability, and efficiency of healthcare services for individuals and healthcare providers.

Significance

  • Improved Access: Digital tools can reach remote areas, connect patients to specialists, and enable virtual consultations, expanding healthcare access.
  • Enhanced Affordability:Telemedicine, electronic prescribing, and data-driven resource allocation can potentially reduce healthcare costs.
  • Personalized Care: Electronic health records (EHRs) and wearable devices facilitate personalized treatment plans and preventive care.
  • Empowered Patients: Digital platforms can educate patients, enhance medication adherence, and promote self-management of chronic conditions.
  • Streamlined Healthcare Delivery:Digitization empowers efficient data management, administrative processes, and resource optimization within healthcare systems.

Challenges

  • Infrastructure Gaps: Unequal access to internet connectivity, electricity, and digital devices hinders widespread adoption.
  • Data Privacy and Security:Concerns and regulations regarding patient data privacy and security require robust solutions.
  • Digital Literacy:Bridging the digital divide through training and awareness programs is crucial for patient and provider involvement.
  • Interoperability and Standards:Seamless integration and exchange of data across different healthcare IT systems is needed.
  • Skilled Workforce:Building a workforce equipped to handle digital health technologies and data analysis is vital.

Government initiatives

  • National Digital Health Mission (NDHM):Aims to create a national digital health ecosystem with unique health IDs, EHRs, and a health data exchange platform.
  • Ayushman Bharat Digital Mission (ABDM):Focuses on creating a digital infrastructure for ABHIM, with health registries, e-claim processing, and telemedicine.
  • E Sanjeevani Telemedicine Platform:Facilitates virtual consultations between doctors and patients across the country.
  • Jan Arogya Setu App and COWIN Platform: Provides access to health services, appointment booking, and COVID-19 information.
  • Digital Aarogya Mitra (DAM):A community health worker program leveraging technology for data collection and community health interventions.

Way Ahead

  • Digital health is a proven accelerator to advance health outcomes and achieve Universal Health Coverage (UHC) and health-related Sustainable Development Goals. Hence, it needs to be made integral to every health policy.
  • As Deputy Secretary-General of ITU said recently that nearly half the world’s population might not have access to health servicesthey need, but 90% have access to a 3G connection, showing the potential for digital health.

By scaling up existing initiatives, collaborating across stakeholders, and fostering innovation, India can leverage digital health to achieve its goal of universal healthcare and ensure better health outcomes for all.

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General Studies Paper-1

Context: Recently, the Supreme Court of India said that termination of a woman’s employment due to marriage is gender discrimination, and unconstitutional.

Status of Working Women in India:

  • As per the Union Budget 2022, the overall workforce participation rate in India is 20.3%, of which 18.2% is in Urban India.
    • Women’s employability stands at 51.44% for 2022, compared to 41.25% in 2021.
  • Periodic Labour Force Survey Report 2022-23:It shows that the Female Labour Force Participation Rate in the country has improved significantly by 4.2% points to 37.0% in 2023, as per the ‘usual status’ concept of measuring labour force participation.
  • The presence of girls/women in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) is 43%, which is one of highest in the world.
    • India is presently one of the only 15 countries in the world with a woman Head of State.
  • National Family Health Survey 5 (NFHS 5):It says 88.7% women participate in major household decisions today as against 84% five years ago.
  • Public Sphere:In the 2019 Lok Sabha election for the first time in the country since independence, 81 women were elected as Members of Lok Sabha.
    • There are over 1.45 million or 46% women elected representatives in Panchayati Raj Institutions (against mandatory representation of 33%).

Challenges faced by the working women:

  • Work-Life Balance:Indian working women often struggle to balance their professional responsibilities with their roles at home.
  • Workplace Complications:Women face complications in the workplace, including discrimination, bias, and sometimes even harassment.
  • Gender Bias:There is a prevalent assumption that women are only suitable for specific tasks, leading to discrimination among those who work with them.
  • Pay Disparity: Despite laws declaring equality in remuneration, it is not always followed.
    • The ingrained belief that women are incapable of doing difficult work and are less effective than men impacts the payment of differential salaries and compensation for the same job.
  • Security Issues:Safety and security are major concerns for working women, especially those who work at night or in remote locations.

Initiatives to tackle the issue:

  • Flexible Working Hours:Organisations are increasingly offering flexible working hours to accommodate the needs of their female employees.
  • Equal Women Representation:There is a growing emphasis on ensuring equal representation of women in planning and decision-making roles within organisations.
  • Gender Equality Initiatives:Organisations are driving transformative change for gender equality, which includes initiatives like leadership development programs, increased female recruitments, and transparent communication.
  • Support Services:Support services such as counselling sessions are being provided to help women cope with workplace challenges.
  • Safety and Security Measures: Organisations are implementing proper safety and security measures to ensure a safe working environment for women.
  • Effective Child Care Policies:Organisations are introducing effective child care policies to support working mothers.
  • Appropriate Grievance Redressal Mechanisms:Appropriate grievance redressal mechanisms are being put in place at workplaces to address issues faced by women.

Related Supreme Court’s Observations:

  • Marriage, Employment, and Gender Discrimination:The Supreme Court has stated that rules that edge out women from employment for getting married are ‘coarse’, unconstitutional.
    • It observed that terminating employment because a woman has got married is a coarse case of gender discrimination and inequality.
    • Acceptance of such patriarchal rule undermines human dignity, right to non-discrimination and fair treatment.
  • Safe Working Environment: The Supreme Court recognized that under Article 14 (2), 19 (1) (g), and 21of the Constitution, the fundamental rights also include the right to a safe working environment.
  • Sexual Harassment: The Apex court commissioned the Vishaka Guidelines (1997)that defined sexual harassment and put the onus on the employers to provide a safe working environment for women.

Statutory and Legal Provisions

  • The Prohibition of Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace Act, 2013:It provides a definition of sexual harassment and mandates employers to develop a complaint mechanism.
    • It also outlines procedural requirements for employers, including the establishment of an Internal Complaints Committee (ICC), conducting orientation and awareness programs, and displaying details of the penal consequences of indulging in acts of sexual harassment.
  • The Maternity Benefit Act, 1961:It regulates the employment of women in certain establishments for a certain period before and after childbirth and provides for maternity and other benefits.
  • The Factories Act, 1948:It mandates that any factory employing 30 or more women workers must provide creche facilities for the use of children under the age of 6 years.
    • It also stipulates that women cannot be made to lift more than the prescribed weight and cannot be made to clean or oil any moving machine.
  • The Equal Remuneration Act, 1976:It provides for the payment of equal remuneration to men and women workers for the same work or work of a similar nature.
  • Minimum Wages Act, 1948: It sets the minimum wages that must be paid to skilled and unskilled labourers.

Way Forward: What more to be done?

  • Work from Home:A survey conducted by UNICEF’s public-private youth platform YuWaah and U-Report revealed that 55% of women prefer to work from home so they can manage household chores.
    • It suggests that flexible work arrangements could be beneficial.
  • Access to Information and Opportunities:The same survey found that 52% of respondents believe that access to information and opportunities or support from families are key factors that influence young women’s decision to develop job-ready skills and join the workforce.
  • Family Influence: The survey also found that 56% of respondents believed that parents/family or partners are important actors in choosing aspirations and career options.
  • Education and Unemployment:A study by the Indian Institute of Management (IIM), Lucknow, found a rise in the unemployment rate with education levels.
    • It suggests that more job opportunities need to be created for educated women.
  • Labour-Intensive Manufacturing Sector:The researchers suggested that a conscious effort to identify and promote the labour-intensive manufacturing sector will help in accomplishing inclusive growth.
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General Studies Paper-3

Context: India is planning to invite private companies to invest approximately $26 billion in its nuclear energy sector.

About

  • The government plans to build 11,000 megawatts(MW) of new nuclear power generation capacity by
  • Under the funding plan, the private companies will make the investments in the nuclear plants, acquire land, water and undertake construction in areas outside the reactor complex of the plants.
  • However, the rights to build and run the stations and their fuel management will rest with the Nuclear Power Corporation of India (NPCIL).
  • The plan will not require any amendment to India’s Atomic Energy Act of 1962but will need a final go-ahead from the Department of Atomic Energy.
  • Though, Indian law bars private companiesfrom setting up nuclear power plants but allows them to supply components, equipment and sign construction contracts for work outside of the reactors.

Benefits of Private Investment

  • Achieve the energy target: The proposed funding is crucial forIndia to achieve its target of having 50% of its installed electric generation capacity sourced from non-fossil fuels by 2030, compared to the current 42%.
  • Increased Efficiency: Private companies bring in more efficient management practices, technological advancements, and innovation to the sector.
  • Innovation and Research: Private investment incentivizes the development of advanced reactor designs, fuel cycles, safety systems, and waste management solutions, leading to long-term sustainability and competitiveness in the sector.
  • Financial Resources: Private investment provides additional financial resources for the development and expansion of nuclear infrastructure.

What is Nuclear Energy?

  • Nuclear energy is the energy released during nuclear reactions, either through fission (splitting of atomic nuclei) or fusion (merging of atomic nuclei).
  • In nuclear fission,heavy atomic nuclei, such as those of uranium or plutonium, are split into lighter nuclei, releasing a large amount of energy.
  • This process is utilized in nuclear power plants to generate electricity.

India’s Nuclear Programme

  • Nuclear Energy is a non-carbon-emitting energy source that contributes less than 2% of India’s total electricity generation.
  • NPCIL owns and operates India’s current fleet of nuclear power plants, with a capacity of 7,500 MW, and has committed investments for another 1,300 MW.
  • India imports uranium fuel for nuclear plants from Russia, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, France and Canada under bilateral agreements.

Advantages of Nuclear Energy

  • Energy Security: Nuclear energy with its high power output can solve the energy crisis that the world is facing today. The fuel to power output ratio for nuclear energy is incredibly high. A relatively small amount of uranium can be used to fuel a 1000 Megawatts electric plant, thus providing enough electricity to power a city of about half a million people.
  • Clean energy:Nuclear power plants have a low greenhouse gas footprint. The World Nuclear Association found that the average emissions for nuclear power are 29 tonnes of CO2 per gigawatt-hour (GWh) of energy produced.
    • This compares favorably with solar (85 tonnes per GWh), wind (26 tonnes per GWh) and fossil fuels like lignite (1,054 tonnes per GWh).
  • Low Operating Costs: Nuclear power produces very inexpensive electricity and is cheaper than gas, coal, or any other fossil fuel plants.

Disadvantages of Nuclear Energy

  • Risky source of energy:The risks of nuclear power are ultimately uncontrollable. The Chernobyl disaster of 1986 and Fukushima disaster in Japan in 2011 have already shown the dangers of nuclear power.
  • Not really renewable: Uranium, the nuclear fuel that is used to produce nuclear energy, is limited and cannot be produced again and again on demand.
  • Radioactive Waste Disposal:A nuclear power plant creates 20 metric tons of nuclear fuel per year, and with that comes a lot of nuclear waste. The greater part of this waste transmits radiation and high temperature, causing damage to living things in and around the plants.
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General Studies Paper-3

Context: The article discusses India’s struggle with industrial growth and high unemployment. It critiques the focus on high-skill, service-based growth, arguing it increases inequality and neglects mass education, which is essential for successful industrialization and overall economic development. Why India needs deep industrialization

What are The Factors Affecting India’s Industrial Growth?

  • Stagnant Manufacturing Sector: Manufacturing has consistently been below 20% in output and employment for 75 years.
  • Ineffective 1991 Reforms: These reforms, aimed at labor-intensive industrialization, failed to significantly boost the manufacturing sector.
  • High Unemployment: Persistent unemployment issues, including chronic disguised unemployment, reflect industrial challenges.
  • Widening Trade Deficit: Driven by an increase in imported goods, indicating a lack of domestic manufacturing capacity.
  • Shift to Service-Based Growth: Since the late 1980s, the focus has been on high-skill, service-driven growth, which hasn’t absorbed labor from agriculture effectively.
  • Neglect of Mass Education: Emphasis on higher education at the expense of mass schooling has led to a workforce not adequately equipped for industrial jobs.
  • Cultural Impact on Industrial Growth: Cultural factors, such as the undervaluing of certain vocational skills (like electrical and welding work), have hindered the development of the manufacturing sector.

Why is Deep Industrialisation Important for India?

  • Broad-based Employment: Deep industrialization offers more employment opportunities, absorbing labor from sectors like agriculture, unlike the limited absorption capacity of service-driven growth.
  • Economic Stability: A strong industrial base can lead to more stable economic growth and reduce dependence on imports, addressing India’s widening trade deficit.
  • Skill Development: Industrial growth encourages the development of a wide range of skills, benefiting from a focus on both vocational and higher education.
  • Innovation and Efficiency: Deep industrialization fosters innovation, leading to increased efficiency and competitiveness in the global market.

What are The Challenges with India’s Service-Driven Growth?

  • Limited Employment Absorption: Service-driven growth since the late 1980s couldn’t adequately absorb labor exiting agriculture, unlike manufacturing.
  • Requirement for High Skills: The service sector demands a highly skilled workforce, which India struggles to supply due to educational inequalities.
  • Increased Inequality: Service sector growth leads to higher inequality. The Gini index for regular wages in services is 44, compared to 35 in manufacturing.
  • Neglect of Mass Education: A focus on higher education over mass schooling contributed to a workforce ill-equipped for service sector jobs.
  • Elite Dominance: Higher education institutions fostered elites who advanced in the IT sector but contributed to stagnation in broader industrial areas.
  • Limited Rural Entrepreneurship: Compared to countries like China, India’s poor human capital endowment in rural areas hampers entrepreneurship, crucial for service sector growth.

 What Should be Done?

  • Diversify Industrial Strategy: Instead of solely focusing on high-skill, service-driven growth, India should diversify its industrial strategy to include and boost manufacturing.
  • Address Educational Inequality: Tackling the disparity in education quality between rural and urban areas, and among different social classes, is vital to creating a more equitable and capable workforce.
  • Support Rural Entrepreneurship: Encouraging entrepreneurship in rural areas can help absorb labor from agriculture and contribute to more balanced economic growth.
  • Cultural Shift in Work Value: Cultivating a culture that respects and values all forms of work, including manual and vocational labor, is essential for comprehensive industrial development.
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General Studies Paper-2

Context: The article discusses how India is redefining its relationship with Western countries. India is not against the West, but has a distinct, non-Western identity. The US supports this approach, indicating strong India-US relations. India’s domestic politics are shifting away from anti-Western sentiments.

What is India’s new approach to international relations?

  • Non-Western Identity:India, led by External Affairs Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar, is positioning itself as non-Western, not anti-Western. This contrasts with other BRICS nations like Russia and China, which often appear more opposed to Western perspectives.
  • Flexible Alliances:India advocates for flexible international relationships, avoiding alignment against the West despite being a part of BRICS.
  • Stronger Ties with the West:India is strengthening its relationships with Western nations, particularly the US. Secretary of State Antony Blinken recognizes and supports this growing bond.

What is the US’s perspective on India’s position?

  • Support for Flexibility:The US, through Secretary of State Antony Blinken, endorses India’s flexible approach to international relations, valuing diverse collaborations over rigid blocs.
  • Recognition of Strong Bilateral Ties:US acknowledges the strength of the US-India relationship, stating it is the strongest it has ever been, despite India’s leading role in BRICS.
  • No Conflict with BRICS Membership: The US does not see India’s membership in BRICS as a hindrance to their bilateral relationship.
  • Encouragement for Variable Geometry:US emphasizes the importance of “variable geometry” in current global contexts, supporting India’s stance of maintaining multiple partnerships.

How is India’s domestic politics influencing its foreign policy?

  • Shift in Political Perspective: The present government in India has transcended the traditional anti-Western paradigm. This marks a significant shift from previous governments’ approach.
  • Strategic Engagement with the US:The present government ‘s administration is actively engaging with the United States, building a strategic partnership that is described as deeper and broader than ever before.
  • Decline of Traditional Resistance:With the weakening of the Congress party and the decline of the left in India, resistance to engaging with Western countries, particularly the US and Europe, has diminished.
  • Balancing Domestic Sentiments: The government’s characterization of India as “non-West” but not “anti-West” aligns with the rising conservative nationalist sentiments. This stance facilitates India’s foreign policy in balancing domestic and international interests.
  • Expanding Foreign Policy Horizons: This approach allows the government to maintain support from various domestic political factions while expanding India’s foreign policy horizons, especially in its relations with Western nations.
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