Mains Question for UPSC Aspirants

Mains Question for UPSC Aspirants

05 Jul 2022 gs-mains-paper-3 INDIAN ECONOMY     
Question : Q. How nutritional deficiency needs to be tackled? Discuss with ongoing initiatives and suggested improvements.

Decode the Question:
  • Start with presenting some data about the malnutrition status of India. 
  • Discuss some ongoing initiatives associated with Nutritional deficiency such as POSHAN Abhiyaan,  Mid-Day Meal Scheme etc.
  • Suggest some measures to improve Nutritional deficiency.
  • Provide a suitable conclusion.

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It is disconcerting that even after seven decades of Independence, India is afflicted by public health issues such as child malnutrition (35.5% stunted, 67.1% anaemic) attributing to 68.2% of under-five child mortality.
Poor nutrition not only adversely impacts health and survival but also leads to diminished learning capacity, and poor school performance. And in adulthood, it means reduced earnings and increased risks of chronic diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, and obesity.

Ongoing initiatives and Nutritional deficiency:
POSHAN Abhiyaan and Nutritional deficiencies:
  • The Prime Minister’s Overarching Scheme for Holistic Nutrition or POSHAN Abhiyaan or National Nutrition Mission (NNM) has the objective of reducing malnutrition in women, children and adolescent girls.
  • The Ministry of Women and Child (MWCD) is the nodal Ministry implementing the NNM. The programme through the targets will strive to reduce the level of stunting, under-nutrition, anaemia and low birth weight babies.
  • It will create synergy, ensure better monitoring, issue alerts for timely action, and encourage States/UTs to perform, guide and supervise the line Ministries and States/UTs to achieve the targeted goals. POSHAN Abhiyaan (now referred as POSHAN 2.0) rightly places a special emphasis on selected high impact essential nutrition interventions, combined with nutrition-sensitive interventions, which indirectly impact mother, infant and young child nutrition, such as improving coverage of maternal-child health services, enhancing women empowerment, availability, and access to improved water, sanitation, and hygiene and enhancing homestead food production for a diversified diet.
Child undernutrition and practice of exclusive breastfeeding (EBF):
  • Data from the National Family Health Survey (NFHS)-5 2019-21, as compared to NFHS-4 2015-16, reveals that the country has not progressed well in terms of direct nutrition interventions.
  • India has 20% to 30% undernutrition even in the first six months of life when exclusive breastfeeding is the only nourishment required. Despite a policy on infant and young child feeding, and a ban on sale of commercial milk for infant feeding, there has only been a marginal improvement in the practice of exclusive breastfeeding (EBF). Child undernutrition in the first three months remains high.
  • Creating awareness on EBF, promoting the technique of appropriate holding, latching and manually emptying the breast are crucial for the optimal transfer of breast milk to a baby.
  • Recent evidence from the Centre for Technology Alternatives for Rural Areas (CTARA), IIT Mumbai team indicates that well-planned breastfeeding counselling given to pregnant women during antenatal checkup prior to delivery and in follow up frequent home visits makes a significant difference. The daily weight gain of a baby was noted to average 30 to 35 grams per day and underweight prevalence rate reduced by almost two thirds.
Protein Deficiency and Mid-Day Meal Scheme:
  • Pulses are a major contributor to address protein hunger. The Mid-Day Meal Scheme aims to enhance the nutrition of school children by providing a balanced diet in schools.
Micronutrient Deficiency and Sub-Mission on Nutri-Cereals (Millets):
  • The Department of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare (DA&FW) is implementing a Sub-Mission on Nutri-Cereals (Millets) under National Food Security Mission (NFSM). The Millets are a rich source of Protein, Fibre, Minerals, Iron, Calcium and have a low glycemic index.
Suggested improvements:
Awareness at the right time with the right tools and techniques: Need to create an awareness at the right time with the right tools and techniques regarding special care in the first 1,000 days deserves very high priority. We must act now and invest finances and energy in a mission mode.
  • Overhauling POSHAN 2.0 flows: There is a pressing need to revisit the system spearheading POSHAN 2.0 and overhaul it to remove any flaws in its implementation.
  • Revisiting Integrated Child Development Scheme (ICDS): There is a need to revisit the nodal system for nutrition programme existing since 1975, the Integrated Child Development Scheme (ICDS) under the Ministry of Women and Child and examine whether it is the right system for reaching mother-child in the first 1000 days of life.
  • Nutrition orientation of Public Distribution (PDS): There is also a need to explore whether there is an alternative way to distribute the ICDS supplied supplementary nutrition as Take- Home Ration packets through the Public Distribution (PDS).
  • Empowering the anganwadi workers: free the anganwadi workers of the ICDS to undertake timely counselling on appropriate maternal and child feeding practices.
  • Develop integrated system: There is a need to systematically review the status and develop and test a new system that would combine the human resource of ICDS and health from village to the district and State levels. This would address the mismatch that exists on focussing on delivery of services in the first 1000 days of life for preventing child undernutrition by having an effective accountable system.
It is time to think out of the box and overcome systemic flaws and our dependence on the antiquated system of the 1970s that is slowing down the processes. Moreover, mass media or TV shows could organise discourses on care in the first 1,000 days to reach mothers outside the public health system.
Governance can be termed ‘good’ only when it banishes hunger and starvation.
The poor must also be valued like the rest of the population since attaching less value to their lives is one unstated reason why their nutritional needs are not taken care of as they should be.
The dream of a New India cannot be built on a large population of children and mothers deprived of nutritional sufficiency.

Source: The Hindu

04 Jul 2022 gs-mains-paper-3 INDIAN ECONOMY      
Question : Q. In the context of decarbonizing the economy, discuss the importance of the National Mission on Transformative Mobility and Battery Storage.

Decode the Question:
  • In Introduction,  recent developments regarding decarbonizing the economy should be discussed. 
  • Discuss the importance of the National Mission on Transformative Mobility and Battery Storage.
  • Provide a suitable conclusion. 

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During the Global Mobility Summit held in September 2018, Prime Minister had outlined a vision for the future of mobility in India based on the 7 C’s: Common, Connected, Convenient, Congestion-free, Charged, Clean and Cutting-edge mobility.
Mobility has the potential to drive our economy forward and positively impact the lives of citizens, both in urban and rural areas. With recent climate change, India has made various efforts to decarbonize its the economy. The country is strengthening its policies for climate action and emerging as a global leader, whether by keeping energy transition as one of the four high priority agendas in the Union Budget 2022 or setting ambitious targets at the 26th Conference of Parties to decarbonise the economy.
National Mission on Transformative Mobility and Battery Storage is the framework for a Phased Manufacturing Program (PMP), aimed at localising the production of electric vehicles (EV) and its components within the country is an important mission.
Importance of the National Mission on Transformative Mobility and Battery Storage:
  • Promotion to Electric vehicles in India: The Mission will provide mobility solutions that will bring in significant benefits to the Electric vehicle industry, economy and country. The Mission will recommend and drive the strategies for transformative mobility and Phased Manufacturing Programmes for Electric Vehicles, EV Components and Batteries.
  • Solution to Air Pollution in Cities: This mission will help in improving air quality in cities.
  • Reducing oil import dependence: It will help in reducing India’s oil import dependence and enhance the uptake of renewable energy and storage solutions.
  • Development of domestic manufacturing ecosystem: The Mission will lay down the strategy and roadmap which will enable India to leverage upon its size and scale to develop a competitive domestic manufacturing ecosystem for electric mobility.
  • Improve quality of life: It will deliver societal and environmental benefits that will improve quality of life for citizens.
  • Employment generation: It will also provide employment opportunities through ‘Make-in-India’ across a range of skills.
The Indian off-grid energy storage market is expected to expand exponentially as the country aims to fulfil 50 per cent of its energy demands from renewable sources by 2030, resulting in high demand for storage batteries.
India wants to further increase the demand for storage batteries. Hence, it plans to have electric vehicle (EV) sales penetration of 30 per cent for private vehicles, 70 per cent for commercial vehicles, 40 per cent for buses and 80 per cent for two and three-wheelers by 2030.
In achieving such ambitious targets, the National Mission on Transformative Mobility and Battery Storage can play a vital role.

02 Jul 2022 gs-mains-paper-3 INDIAN ECONOMY      
Question : Q. Problem in poverty reduction is also due to the lack of its measurement data. Discuss some approaches to measure poverty in India.

Decode the Question:
  • Start with defining poverty and parameters used to measure poverty. 
  • Discuss the lack of measurement data and poverty reduction relation.
  • Discuss  various committees and approaches for poverty measurement in India.
  • Provide a suitable conclusion.

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Poverty entails more than the lack of income and productive resources to ensure sustainable livelihoods. Its manifestations include hunger and malnutrition, limited access to education and other basic services, social discrimination and exclusion, as well as the lack of participation in decision-making.
Since poverty has many facets, social scientists look at it through a variety of indicators. Usually, the indicators used relate to the levels of income and consumption. But now poverty is looked at through other social indicators like illiteracy level, lack of general resistance due to malnutrition, lack of access to healthcare, lack of job opportunities, lack of access to safe drinking water, sanitation etc.
Analysis of poverty based on social exclusion and vulnerability is now becoming very common.
Lower-income countries are too often disadvantaged due to a lack of institutions, decision-making autonomy, and financial resources, all of which hold back their effective implementation and effectiveness of data systems and governance frameworks.
These are no proxies for poverty since their linkages with nutritional indicators are considered tenuous and these can be explained in terms of intra-household distribution, poor dietary habits, improper water/sanitation facilities, etc.
The computation becomes far more challenging in the absence of data on consumption expenditure as is the case in India and several developing countries. Intending to provide inputs for policy making, researchers have evolved ingenious methods of estimating the data, using past datasets and those that have not been designed to get robust expenditure estimates.
So, the problem in poverty reduction is also due to the lack of its measurement data.

Some approaches to measure poverty in India:
India has a long history of studies on measurement of poverty. Dadabhai Naoroji’ in his book ‘Poverty and Un-British Rule in India,’ made the earliest estimate of poverty line at 1867-68 prices (Rs.16 to Rs.35 per capita per year) based on the cost of a subsistence diet for the emigrant coolies during their voyage living in a state of quietude.
The erstwhile Planning Commission was the nodal agency in India for estimation of poverty. Based on the methodology suggested by the Expert Groups/Committees set up by the Planning Commission from time to time, India has undertaken periodic assessments of the incidence of poverty since the 1960s.

A. Poverty Line Estimation
  • Working Group (1962):  A nine-member working group set up by the Planning Commission proposed the poverty line at Rs 20 per capita per month in the early Sixties, loosely ensuring the adequacy of minimum requirements.
  • Study by VM Dandekar and N Rath (1971): They went into detail about minimum calorie needs, based on the average consumption pattern. They made the first systematic assessment of poverty in India, based on National Sample Survey (NSS) data.
  • Alagh Committee (1979): It determined a poverty line based on a minimum daily requirement of 2400 and 2100 calories for an adult in Rural and Urban areas respectively.
  • Lakdawala Expert Group (1993): It did not redefine the poverty line and retained the separate rural and urban poverty lines recommended by the Alagh Committee at the national level based on minimum nutritional requirements. However, it disaggregated them into state-specific poverty lines in order to reflect the inter-state price differentials.
  • Tendulkar Expert Group (2009): The Tendulkar Committee formally announced delinking of nutritional norms from poverty in 2010.
  • Rangrajan Committee (2014): It recommended separate consumption baskets for rural and urban areas which include food items that ensure recommended calorie, protein & fat intake and non-food items like clothing, education, health, housing and transport. This committee raised the daily per capita expenditure to Rs 47 for urban and Rs 32 for rural from Rs 32 and Rs 26 respectively at 2011-12 prices.
B. Use of Consumption Expenditure Surveys
  • Incidence of poverty is estimated by the Planning Commission on the basis of the large sample surveys on household consumer expenditure conducted by the National Sample Survey Organisation (NSSO) on a quinquennial basis.
  • The NSSO regularly conducts surveys on household consumer expenditure, in which households are asked about their consumption of the last 30 days and is taken as the representative of general consumption. This was considered a much better data to estimate the incidence of poverty at national and sub-national levels by adjusting for inter-state and inter-region differences in price changes over time.
There are two critical issues in the discourse on poverty in India. One relates to poverty measurement. Second relates to effective poverty elimination.
  • Poverty measures compare people in a society, in order to assess the extent of unacceptable disadvantages that exist. Yet any poverty measure is itself imperfect. Imperfections stem primarily from two factors: data limitations and the diversity of human lives being assessed more so in a vast country like India.
  • Poverty lines have to be recalibrated depending on changes in income, consumption patterns and prices. In India, poverty measurement has repeatedly led to contentious debates on the poverty line.
  • Despite these shortcomings, conceptually having a poverty line and related poverty estimates help to concentrate the public policy discourse around an agreed set of numbers as well as to track the progress in combating poverty.

01 Jul 2022 gs-mains-paper-3 INDIAN ECONOMY      
Question : Q. Low female labour force participation is the result of structural factors. Discuss. How can this be tackled with careful drafting policies for the gig economy and start-up ecosystem in India?

Decode the Question:
  • Start with explaining India’s demographic dividend position.
  • Discuss the structural issues responsible for low female labour force participation.
  • Discuss the ingredients required for better policy development for the gig economy and start-up ecosystem in India to deal with low female labour force participation .
  • Conclude it by the recent NITI Aayog report on the gig economy.

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By 2025, it is estimated that 70 per cent of Indians will be of working age. This ‘demographic dividend’ could give India an edge over the developed countries where a larger segment of the population would by then be past retirement.
However, this demographic dividend can easily turn into a demographic disaster if a majority of the working age population remains unemployable due to a lack of skills. India has one of the youngest populations globally, and women comprise a significant number of them.
Youth participation in the workforce is vital for economic growth and development as they are equipped with new-age skills, adapt to new changes and present a new perspective. However, if nearly half the youth population is excluded from the workforce, then economic growth is compromised, trapping women at the bottom of the economy.
Female labour force participation rate (FLFPR) in India has been one of the lowest among the emerging economies and has been falling over time. This has resulted in a decrease in the ratio of working females to the population of females in the working age group.
NITI Aayog said in a report titled ‘India’s Booming Gig and Platform Economy’ female labour force participation in India has remained low, oscillating between 16 per cent to 23 per cent in the last few years. Structural barriers like access to education and lack of skilling have hindered participation of the female workforce in the country’s labour force.
Low participation of women in the labour force in India is attributed to the lack of employment opportunities, rising education levels and household incomes, and problems in measurement, such as under-reporting of women’s work.
Religion and social perceptions of women and the presence of young children in the household all influence the likelihood of India’s women to participate in the labour market. Structural characteristics in the labour market have played a more important role than changes in the underlying characteristics of the female working-age population in influencing participation rates.
These structural barriers, such as norms that inhibit women’s labour market options, in conjunction with a consistent decline in agricultural employment, are likely to be key factors in explaining the long-term stagnation in female participation rates.  Therefore, it is right to say that low female labour force participation is the result of structural factors.

‘India’s Booming Gig and Platform Economy’ report of NITI Aayog
According to the report, the expected expansion of India’s gig workforce by 2029-30 from 77 lakh in 2020–21 is to 2.35 crore. India requires a framework that balances the flexibility offered by platforms while also ensuring social security of workers.
The consequent platformisation of work has given rise to a new classification of labour — platform labour — falling outside of the purview of the traditional dichotomy of formal and informal labour. In an attempt to increase participation of women in the gig economy, the NITI Aayog has proposed fiscal incentives like tax breaks or startup grants for companies with about one-third of their workforce as women.

Ingredients of Better Policy:
  • Fiscal incentives:  such as tax-breaks or startup grants may be provided for businesses that provide livelihood opportunities where women constitute a substantial portion (say, 30%) of their workers. 
  • Platformisation of work and incentivising platforms: platform companies offer flexibility and choice of labour to all workers in general, and women in particular, empowering them to monetise their idle assets when and where they want — a benefit missing in traditional employment sectors — making them an attractive opportunity for women.
  • Higher share of women managers and supervisors: businesses have a higher share of women managers and supervisors in the organisation to ensure that communication to workers does not perpetuate gender stereotypes.
  • Better infrastructure and work design: To encourage more women, platforms may develop better infrastructure and work design.
  • Enhance skill development: Empowerment of women, which can to an extent be addressed by integrating life skills coaching into skilling programs, and interfacing with their families and communities to change backward mindsets - are critical aspects of helping women reach their potential.
  • Asset ownership: Ownership of assets have huge implications on the lives of women.
  • Access to digital skills and technology: The gender skill gap is vast, especially for digital skills as women continue to work in more stereotypically ‘feminised’ sectors such as beauty, retail etc. and men continue to work in mechanised, technologically advanced sectors. The lack of digital skills prevents women from entering the rapidly advancing workforce.
  • Gender sensitisation and accessibility awareness programmes: undertaking gender sensitisation and accessibility awareness programmes for workers and their families can improve female labour participation.
  • Formal credit for women: Niti Aayog added that access to institutional credit could be enhanced through financial products specifically designed for platform workers and those interested to set-up their own platforms. Special emphasis may be placed on access to formal credit for women.
The participation of women in the country’s workforce has been woefully inadequate, and this needs to change for India to reap its demographic dividend. Capacitating our women is also the key to generational social transformation.
Empowerment of women is a critical part of a nation’s development and it is a balanced equation of her education, health, employability and decision-making power. Availability of agency and removal of constraints faced by women is imperative for sustainable and equitable development of both the community as well as the nation.
India needs to adopt a gendered lens in education and skilling programs to overcome the challenges of an underrepresented section of youth in the workforce, as well as support women in securing and retaining jobs. Introducing a ‘Platform India initiative’ on the lines of the ‘Startup India initiative’ can help in improving the female workforce.

29 Jun 2022 gs-mains-paper-3 INDIAN ECONOMY      
Question :
Q. MSMEs hold the potential not only to increase economic benefits but also the environmental merits as well. How can Climate finance aid in this context?

Decode the Question:
  • Start the introduction by highlighting the role of MSMEs in India.
  • Discuss the economic potential of MSME.
  • Discuss the role of MSME in environmental issues.
  • Discuss the role of Climate finance for MSME.
  • Conclude with a balanced way forward.

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The Micro, Small and Medium Scale (MSME) sector in India enjoys a distinct position in view of their contribution to the socio-economic development of the country.
The emphasis on MSME has always been an integral part of India’s industrial strategy. Development of MSME prevents migration of rural population to urban areas in search of employment and contributes to other socio-economic aspects, such as reduction in income inequalities, dispersed development of industries and linkage with other sectors of the economy.

Economic Potential of MSME:
  • GDP contributions: MSME sector contributes around 30 per cent to India’s gross domestic product. Small industries in India account for 95 per cent of the industrial units in the country.
  • Employment: MSME are the second largest employers of human resources, after agriculture. This is a boon for a labour surplus country like India. The MSME sector employs around 120 million people.
  • Entrepreneurship: MSME provides ample opportunity for entrepreneurship.
  • Exports: In terms of exports, they are an integral part of the supply chain and contribute about 40% of the overall exports.
  • Rural development: MSMEs are intertwined with the rural economy as well, as more than half of the MSMEs operate in rural India.
Environmental Merits of MSME:
  • This sector generates around 110 million tonnes of CO2 equivalent. To attain net zero carbon emissions by 2070, India needs to gradually phase out the use of coal, increase investment in renewable energy sources, stop deforestation and speed up the transition to electric vehicles.
  • The CSTEP report also highlighted that the sector used 13 per cent (81 million tonnes) of the total coal / lignite, seven per cent (8.5 million tonnes) of petroleum products and eight per cent (3.3 billion cubic metres) of the natural gas supplied in India in 2015-16. The MSME sector needs a push to adopt new technologies that quickly minimise its carbon footprints and make it less vulnerable to climate change and risk. The sector can achieve this transformation with the aid of climate finance.
Need of Climate financing:
  • The MSME sector in India faces a huge credit gap. Climate finance is money paid by developed countries to developing countries to help them pay for emissions reduction measures and adaptation. Climate finance will open doors and enable the transfer of technology and expertise from developed to developing nations, which require these resources and capacity to combat climate change at the rate that the world currently demands.
Way forward
The Indian government needs to work on strategies and try to bring finance to MSMEs so that the sector can decarbonise.
Climate finance should be routed to the MSME sector. The sector needs to be connected with a more formal financial credit system, which will enable them to achieve climate finance and bridge the huge credit gap.
Promotion of MSME and rural industrialisation has been considered by the Government of India as a powerful instrument for realising the twin objectives of ‘accelerated industrial growth and creating additional productive employment potential in rural and backward areas.’

References: Down To Earth

11 May 2022 gs-mains-paper-2 GOVERNANCE      
Question : Discuss the policy initiatives taken by the Government for strengthening of the farm credit delivery system to support the resource requirements of the agricultural sector.

(GS Mains; Paper 2)
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10 May 2022 gs-mains-paper-3 INDIAN ECONOMY      
Question : Critically discuss the trends in productivity of food crops during the last 5 years as per the latest report of Department of Agriculture, Cooperation & Farmers’ Welfare (Ministry of Agriculture & Farmers’ Welfare).

(GS Mains; Paper 3)
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30 Apr 2022 gs-mains-paper-4 ETHICS, INTEGRITY & APTITUDE       
Question : As a Secretary to the Ministry of Education, what would you do to enhance the motivational level of students reducing the dropouts from schools in India ?

(GS Mains; Paper 4)
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