Computer Fundamentals and practice MCQs



Deepak Singla IAS Topper 2011 Study Strategy

My Strategy:


Before Prelims, till February I prepared for Public Ad and Prelims only. After February, I studied completely for Prelims. My coaching timing was 8-10.30 in the morning. After coaching classes my rest of time was divided into 2 parts. First part was dedicated to GS which covered newspaper reading, class revision and other subjects like History, Geography,
CSAT, etc. Other part was dedicated to Pub Ad paper and thus almost 10 hours were devoted to both the parts. After February, my 100% attention was on Prelims which covered GS and CSAT papers.
For Pub Ad paper, I relied on traditional books and friends notes, who took coaching from Vajiram. Nowadays, optional plays a bigger role than GS in total marks and needs to be prepared thoroughly.
I used to read The Hindu regularly and prepared my own notes as well, apart from CSR and other magazines. Here, it is important to note that discipline is very necessary to cover the huge syllabus. So, this way I devoted my time to all the areas equally. Here candidates must note that every stage is eliminating stage and hence it should be ensured that he/she has to prepare to clear that stage.
In Prelims, you have to be among top 3% students (assuming 4 lakh candidates write Prelims). If a candidate secured 50% net score in Prelims aggregate then he is likely to clear Prelims. So target should be to attempt 60-70% questions so that score should be above 50%. But this can change depending on the difficulty’ level of the exam.
For CSAT, a student should cover diverse area like decisionmaking, data interpretation, number system, RC, syllogism, general mental ability’ etc. so that he should not be surprised by the questions. For prelims, I prepared extensively and covered large number of books and facts. Paper is objective question-based, so care must be taken while attempting the questions as negative marking can reduce your score. So during exam, first of all those questions should be attempted for which you are 100% sure. So in initial first hour, if a candidate is able to attempt 40% question with huge accuracy, it will give a huge confidence and remaining part can be devoted to winning the battle only. Now those questions can be picked where 50% answer correctness possibility is available and reasonable risks should be taken to take the score up to 60-70%.
During CSAT paper, if somebody is not able to crack the question within 2 minutes, he should leave the question and should attempt some other questions rather than wasting time there. The same question can be attempted at a later time. A candidate should leave his ego regarding why he is not able to crack that question because it doesn’t matter what questions you are attempting rather than how many correct questions a person is attempting.


Immediately after my Prelims, I gave my body rest for 10 days’ as I was very tired due to Prelims preparation. I will suggest candidates to go for vacation for 7-10 days after Prelims before starting for Mains preparation; it will recharge your body and mind.
After 10 days I started my preparation for Mains. One should not wait for Prelims result for Mains preparation, as there will be little time after result for Mains. It can be disaster for candidates if they do not study before Prelims result. I had 4 months in hand before Mains, so I divided 4 months into 2 parts again. I covered Public Ad and GS Paper-1 within 2 months after my Prelims. I joined test series immediately for both which gave my energy to prepare for both subjects. The same 5-5 hours I devoted to both the subjects. Test series is must for UPSC candidate as it helps you to identify your weak and strong areas and helps you in writing practice. It increases’ your speed and tells your exam mistakes beforehand. So test series is a MUST for every candidate.
After my Prelims result, my coaching for GS Mains started and I prepared GS Paper-2 and Commerce Paper-2 during this one month along with my test series. Ideally, a candidate must prepare both Optional and GS papers within 3 months after Prelims paper or at least one month should be in hand for revision before Mains.. This set for most of the syllabus in hand and now time is for revision.
After 3 month-study and test series, a candidate is well aware of his/ her strength, weakness and area to be covered. During this last month, revision depends on the Optional selected by a candidate. In my case, there were 14 days of leave for Commerce paper as this was my last paper, so I devoted my entire month to Public Administration and GS paper. Thoroughly revise each and every topic in this month for both the papers and do not worry about whether you will remember those areas or not.
For Public Administration paper, I daily wrote one question in my note book and get it checked by teachers to improve my writing skills. At the end of 3 months, I had a copy with entire previous year questions with remarks on it by teachers and I revised all these questions and was careful for the mistakes I committed in these questions. It was really a big booster for me. Writing practice is the key to success in Public Administration paper and a candidate should take pains to write as many questions as possible.
For Commerce paper, I prepared mainly for the second paper which was relatively new to me. To first paper, I did not pay much attention due to my thorough studies in my CA study, but this proved fatal for me as I found first paper difficult to solve due to adequate practice. So I suggest to candidates that they should not ignore their strength and should maintain it, otherwise it will turn into their weakness.

Essay Paper

I did not prepare anything specific for essay paper except one or two classes given by Vajiram during GS classes only. I wrote 2 essays on myself and got it evaluated by my teachers and friends. My essay, according to my teachers, was average. I relied on my GS preparation for essay and I think that I wrote well during Mains for essay paper. I will suggest to candidates that they should write in simple language and with new ideas to make essay scoring. One need, not to be Munshi Vremchand to score good marks in essay paper. One should see the writing style during reading of editorial page in newspapers and should write in a logical way and to the pojnt.

Language Paper

For language paper, one need not spend too much time for preparation. Just prepare last 5 years’ question papers and see if you are getting comfort in those papers. Depending on language knowledge, one can easily prepare for it. But this paper should not be taken too lightly as it can prove a disaster for the candidates.


I was hopeful of getting interview call after my Mains. I started preparing for Interview and Prelims after one month of rest. I enrolled with Vajiram for Prelims test series, to keep myself updated on and regular in the studies. I suggest to candidates that they should simultaneously prepare for Prelims, because there is no certainty regarding the interview call. Also, it will help you better prepare for interview. After getting interview call, I got 18 days for my interview preparation as my interview was on the 2nd day from the start of interview date. I enrolled for 4 mock interviews but they were of limited use as I did not find them very useful. My corporate life experience was a great asset for me and I was well versed in interview techniques, but the UPSC interview is still very different and needs to be tackled accordingly. Believe me, job experience is a great asset for the UPSC interview. I thoroughly prepared on my profile, my State, hobbies, district and job experience. During interview, your honest views and good preparation are great asset for you.


Somebody has rightly said, “A healthy mind lives in a healthy body”. Believe me guys—good health is a prerequisite for clearing such tough exams. I kept one hour daily to reinvigorate myself through gym, yoga or jogging, etc. It was must for me and for other successful candidates. It helps you keep your energy level high, avoid boredom and prevent you from stress. So, keep your one hour daily as exercise regime irrespective of your busy schedule.
Apart from exercise regime, it is necessary to have good diet.
I know people preparing for Civil Services have to go outside their home for preparation and cannot have home-cooked food. Still it is necessary to avoid too much junk and oily food. Take special care before exam days to keep yourself healthy.
Also, it is necessary to take one-day break every week to reenergise for the next week; it may be a complete one-day break or half-day break, depending on schedule of candidate. Before exam day do not study at all and relax as much as possible except in Mains during Optional paper when only one or two days are available for revision. Also have some hobbies to keep you happy.


One of the biggest reasons for my success in first attempt is my attitude towards life. Even an average I.Q. person with right attitude can easily clear Civil Services Examination in first attempt itself. Follow the Gita Saar, “Just do your work and don’t worry about your result”. Too much thinking about result creates fear in the mind and reduces your productivity. Some people take Civil Service as their end goal of life like if they do not clear this exam, they don’t have any life or career. I started preparation without worrying about my result. Always have a smile on your face and keep your fire burning in your stomach, not on your face. Civil Services Exam allows you to learn a lot in a very little time and I took this time as golden period of my life as I was back to my schooldays.

Writing Exam

One of the most important things in exam is to perform in those 3 hours. If you perform well in those 3 hours, you are in, otherwise you are out. So while attempting paper, first read the paper completely (give 10 minutes at least to reduce the error and get the right understanding of questions). Attempt those questions first of which you are very confident.
It will increase your speed, give initial impression very good and will give you confidence. Do not leave even a single question whether you know the answer or not. Even if you do not know the answer, use common sense and write whatever seems fit for that answer. It will give the examiner impression that you have at least attempted that question. A candidate who attempts 2,000 marks’ paper will get marks out of 2,000, but if a candidate attempts say 1,700 marks’ paper he has lost 300 marks immediately as compared with
his peers. Suppose, out of 1,700 his accuracy is 55% then 1 score will be 935 and if accuracy of the first candidate 50%, he will secure 1,000 marks. Although some candidati may not agree with this calculation, it really works and mak< the difference of 40-50 marks between two students wit similar capabilities.


I have heard most of the time candidates complaining aboi their bad memory like “I study everyday but I am not able remember things or I have a fear I won’t be able to recal etc. Believe me guys, everybody is blessed more or less wi: the same memory, but still I give you some tips to increas your recalling power.
Recalling ability depends on the number of times you read something, so number of revisions is important. The more the revision is the better is the memory. It is like when w first meet with some stranger we are not able to recall his her face, but if you meet somebody daily you remember almost each and everything about him/her. Other way to improve the memory is to eat less, yes to eat less. This is a scientific reason when we eat more food, blood circulation moves from brain to stomach to digest the food and we feel drowsy. So every next time, eat half chapati less than your real hunger. Third tip is good sleep; again studies have prove that a good sleep helps in good recalling of things. Depending on person to person, one should take a sleep of 7-9 hour daily. Last but not least, a good exercise regime, yoga or exercise fills your mind with fresh oxygen which again help you in recalling more facts.


This is the most important paragraph of my strategy. A number of candidates will read the above good things which I have discussed above, but very few will implement it. It is very easy to read or listen to good things that motivate a person but it is really painful to implement the advice. Everyone wants to be a champion but nobody wants to work like a champion I am reproducing the famous line by Muhammad Ali (the greatest boxer of the previous century):
I hated every minute of training, but I said. “Don’t quit. Suffer now and live the rest of your life as champion”.
So guys, do more and talk less, success will definitely be yours.
My Strong points for Civil Service Exam were:
1. Well-planned and time-tested strategy
2. Self-belief and self-confidence
3. Guidance from successful candidates
4. Right attitude towards life and exam
5. Discipline
6. Regular revision of class-notes
7. Limited books, but multiple revisions.


There is only one substitute to hard work—“Hard Work” There is no short cut to success except self- belief and hard work. I will strongly advise Civil Service aspirants to believe in themselves rather than running after coaching centres, asking too much of teachers and reading too many books. Instead look out for previous exam papers and devise your own strategy. Start predicting the UPSC pattern and think like an examiner. It will allow you to broaden your own min Candidates always have a myth that IAS exam cannot be cleared in the first attempt. Believe me guys, first attempt is the best attempt and put maximum energy into it to get through in the very first attempt.
Throughout in this journey, Durga Nagpal (20th AIR in 2009 exam), my friend and my senior, was a great support to me. She guided me in this difficult journey. I thank Durga for believing in my capabilities and sparing her precious time for me.


From plate to plough: On the farm front, make a bold move  {Agriculture  – Paper III}

The first advance estimates of GDP growth, at 2011-12 constant prices, put the growth for FY16 at 7.6 per cent over the previous year. This is the highest growth rate in the first four years of the forgotten 12th Five-Year Plan. No wonder this makes the Narendra Modi-led NDA government somewhat upbeat. Much of the focus of the new government is on Make in India, especially in the manufacturing sector. But the manufacturing sector has not yet registered impressive growth, which makes several economists sceptical of the high overall GDP growth rates.

However, very few are talking about agriculture, whose pulse is sinking by the day. The optimistic growth forecast for FY16 is 1.1 per cent over the previous year’s minus 0.2 per cent. The first two years of the NDA government will give an average agri GDP growth of just 0.45 per cent, way below even the population growth rate of about 1.3 to 1.4 per cent. This, in effect, means that per capita income in agriculture has declined in the first two years of the Modi government. In contrast, the two terminal years of the UPA government registered an average agri GDP growth of 2.85 per cent (1.5 per cent in FY13 and 4.2 per cent in FY14).

Overall, the first four years of the 12th Five-Year Plan have registered an average agri GDP growth of just 1.65 per cent against an overall GDP growth rate of 6.75 per cent, a ratio of roughly 1:4, while the target always hovers around 1:2 — 4 per cent for agri GDP and 8 per cent for overall GDP. This may be the worst performance of agriculture in any Plan since the reforms began in 1991.

It is important to put these facts on the table because almost half of India’s workforce is engaged in agriculture, and almost three-fourths of India’s poor and malnourished reside in rural areas, where the main occupation is agriculture. What is the purpose of public policy? Is it not to alleviate poverty and malnutrition at the fastest rate possible? The UPA government in its second term had focused on the “dole” model — the National Food Security Act and the MGNREGA — and was ready to throw thousands of crores on these schemes in the hope that they would wipe out poverty and malnutrition. The intention was right but the model was not only conceptually weak but the programmes were destined to fail given the large leakages in them. The PDS had leakages of more than 40 per cent, and is actually nothing short of an annual scam in the country. Almost Rs 1,25,000 crore is shown in the budget as food subsidy for this flagship programme but few know that another Rs 70,000 crore-plus is pushed under the carpet as unpaid bills of the FCI. Similarly, the MGNREGA, though supposed to be self-targeting and a fall-back programme in years of distress (like droughts), not only has high leakages but the most important criticism, which even P. Chidambaram pointed out, is that the quality of assets created is poor, making it more like a dole. It is much better to spend money on programmes like the Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana, which helps in building infrastructure and contributes to faster growth and reduction of poverty.

So I am not in favour of the dole model of the PDS and the MGNREGA type, but would support the growth model with at least one rider. It is not just growth per se but the nature of growth that also matters a lot if the objective of public policy is to wipe out poverty and malnutrition. It is in this context that agriculture must register at least half the rate of overall GDP growth in the economy. From that angle, targets of 8 per cent of overall GDP growth and 4 per cent for agriculture are fine and on conceptually robust ground. But the actual performance has always lagged a bit, and more so for agriculture, except in the 11th Five-Year Plan (FY08 to FY12), when agri GDP also grew at 4.1 per cent. The result of this high growth in agriculture was that poverty declined three times faster during 2004-11 than during 1993-2004.

The big question, therefore, for the Modi government is: Can it give at least 4 per cent growth in agriculture on a sustainable basis? When I politely asked the PM this in my last brief encounter, his reply was what could we do as these turned out to be drought years. Yes, fair enough, but visionaries and stalwarts are tested in difficult times. If the monsoons were good and prices were remunerative for farmers, they wouldn’t need government support. But today, the situation is grim in agriculture.

Farmers had great hopes from the NDA government, especially because the BJP had promised in its manifesto that it would make Indian agriculture more remunerative, assuring 50 per cent profits over costs. This was a great increase compared to the UPA government years, when most principal crops had profit margins of between 20 to 30 per cent. But the reality of the first two NDA years turned out to be nightmarish for farmers, with profits plunging to less than 5 per cent for most crops.

One after the other, farmer groups, which were great supporters of the Modi government, have been feeling disillusioned and deserting it. Even BJP workers who have links with the farming community whisper about their frustration in private with the agenda of their government, as they know it is elitist, which will accentuate inequality at the cost of simmering discontent in rural areas, for which they will have to pay a heavy political price.

Can the PM and finance minister show some bold moves in the forthcoming budget to put agriculture back on track to 4 per cent growth? I have serious doubts as the agenda has already been hijacked by the elites who want bank loans worth lakhs of crores of rupees to be written off for big business while the honest and hardworking farmer looks up with blank and hopeful eyes.

The writer is Infosys chair professor for Agriculture at Icrier, Delhi


A judgement for women’s right  {Women’s right – Paper I & II}

A Supreme Court Bench has once again proved that our judiciary can be the torchbearer of progressive attitudes towards women.

In 2013, the Justice J.S. Verma Committee, while responding to the horrific December 16, 2012 gang rape in Delhi, prepared a report that drew from the observations of members of the women’s movement among other sources. The report was heralded as one of the most comprehensive reports not only in India but in the world.

The judgment

The latest evidence of such progressive and informed thinking is a directive given to the Chhattisgarh government by a Bench of the Supreme Court comprising Justices A.K. Sikri and A.M. Sapre. The Bench directed the State government to appoint a woman Excise Sub Inspector as Deputy Superintendent of Police after granting her relief in the upper age limit.

Richa Mishra’s name was not included in the list of successful candidates for the post as she had crossed the age limit stipulated for the same. As per the Chhattisgarh Police Executive (Gazetted) Service Recruitment and Promotion Rules, 2000, the upper age limit for appointment to the post of Deputy Superintendent of Police is 25 years and Ms. Mishra had already crossed that age.

But the judges overruled this proposition by referring to another rule which was quoted by Ms. Mishra in the court: age relaxation as per Rule 8 of the Rules, 2000 which states, “there shall be age relaxation of ten years for women candidates for direct appointment in all posts in the services under the State in addition to the upper age limit prescribed in any service rules or executive instructions”.

The judges said: “It is to encourage women, hitherto known as weaker section, to become working women, by taking up different vocations, including public employment. It would naturally lead to empowerment of women, which is the need of the hour… Empowerment of women… is perceived as equipping them to be economically independent, self-reliant, with positive esteem to enable them to face any situation and they should be able to participate in the development activities.”

Message of the women’s movement

For decades, the women’s movement has been underlining many important aspects of women’s role in the economy, as was outstandingly articulated in ‘Towards Equality: report of the Committee on the Status of Women in India’ in 1975. The movement has been highlighting the need to recognise the vital, if invisible and uncounted, role which women play in the economy and argues for their recognition in policy, data collection and programme design. It has been emphasising that economic agency or a livelihood is a critical requirement for self-affirmation. It also emphasises that economic power within and outside the household makes a difference to gender relations.

We see these thoughts resonating in this judgment which says that the agency, freedom and intra-household power of women are strengthened when women are given an economic value; when they are enabled to hold a position in the economy through employment. And by relating women’s economic empowerment to their ability to access, contribute to and direct economic development, the judges further expand on the value of their order. They state: “There is a bidirectional relationship between economic development and women’s empowerment, defined as improving the ability of women to access the constituents of development — in particular health, education, earning opportunities, rights, and political participation”.

Scholars who have explored and studied women’s work, especially among the poorest in the most marginalised locales and communities, have been highlighting the importance of recognising women’s work, the importance of women as economic agents. These include those who try and understand self-employed working women and those whose work focuses on revealing the value that women bring to agriculture, food production, and the handicaps they suffer from lack of recognition. Further, activists have been detailing how women organise themselves to escape from various types of bondage, exclusion and exploitation.

During the preparation of the 11th Five Year Plan, women scholars highlighted the kinds of changes that were required to be initiated in the development, design and allocation of funding in the Plan if women’s roles in the economy were to be taken into account.

All this affirms what the judges said: economic agency is one of the most enabling elements to shift gender relations of power, to release women from the kind of oppression, violence and powerlessness that they experience. Women’s inclusion in the development design would enhance the outcomes of development it the self.

The message in this 38-page verdict does more than simply allow Richa Mishra to get her posting. It is an advisory to all the Departments of States at all levels, to Ministries, to Niti Aayog and its State-level counterparts, as well as to research and policy forums about the importance of women in the economy.

(Devaki Jain is an economist and founderof the Institute of Social Studies Trust, New Delhi.)

Economic agency is one of the most enabling elements to release women from oppression, violence and powerlessness


Insight current affairs compilation January 2016


Insight current affairs compilation December




India’s challenge of securing the seas (Livemint ,GS 3 ,Security )

Three recent events underline India’s efforts to highlight its growing maritime interests and ambitions in order to secure them unilaterally and in partnership with others. The first was the quiet release of the Indian Maritime Security Strategy (IMSS) titled Ensuring Secure Seas in October. The second was the holding of the combined senior commanders’ conference, with top officers from all three services, on board INS Vikramaditya, the Indian Navy’s latest aircraft carrier and its largest platform, in December. The last and most recent was India’s hosting of its second International Fleet Review (IFR) at Visakhapatnam in early February.
While the pomp and circumstance as well as the photo-ops of the IFR, which attracted naval vessels from 50 countries, predictably, created the biggest splash, its significance is best understood in tandem with the 185-page IMSS-2015. Although the document is simultaneously comprehensive, conservative and cautious, it conveys one key message: India is now willing to provide “net maritime security” either by itself or in cooperation with other navies in its primary and secondary areas of interest, which now extend from the west coast of Africa to the south-east Indian Ocean, “including sea routes to the Pacific Ocean”. One instance of this cooperation was the IBSAMAR V exercise conducted with Brazilian and South African ships off the coast of Goa just after the IFR.
Although IMSS-2015 stresses that the principal threat “would be from states with a history of aggression against India”, it shies away from naming them; concerns vis-à-vis China’s growing role in the Indian Ocean are not mentioned. Instead, recognizing the complexity of an interconnected world, it cautions that even countries with “divergent national interests can be significant trade partners today (read China)” while there may be divergent security perceptions “with nations that may be traditional friends (read United States)”.
Similarly, the document is also coy about the role of India’s sea-based nuclear deterrence against other nuclear-armed states. It merely notes that the primary objective of the nuclear-powered submarine armed with nuclear-tipped missiles is to convey “credibility, effectiveness and survivability” of India’s nuclear arsenal to its nuclear-armed adversaries.
In addition to the traditional threats from states, IMSS-2015 also stresses a number of non-traditional maritime threats that now confront India, ranging from terrorism, piracy and organized crime to climate change and natural disasters. In fact, since the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, the Indian Navy has been increasingly involved in humanitarian assistance and disaster relief operations, most recently in 2014 when cyclone Hudhud ravaged Visakhapatnam and other parts of Andhra Pradesh.
Moreover, following the turmoil in West Asia, naval ships have been involved in the evacuation of Indian and other nationals from Libya and Yemen. Such operations are likely to continue until a modicum of stability is restored in the region.
While the document dutifully records the various maritime initiatives annou-nced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, including Project Mausam, Blue Chakra (from the Ashoka chakra on the Indian flag) and SAGAR (Security and Growth for All in the Region), it does not explain how they relate to each other or how they would be operationalized.
Curiously, in his uncharacteristically lacklustre speech on the occasion of the IFR, Modi recited the Blue Chakra and SAGAR mantra but made no mention of the IMSS-2015, which could tie these various initiatives together. Instead, he announced the decision to host the first Global Maritime Summit in April without elaboration.
Clearly, despite articulating its intentions and working with several other nations, India faces formidable internal and external challenges in securing its interests at sea. While the IMSS-2015, despite its limitations, is a good beginning, it will come to naught unless there is buy-in and coordination at the highest level to ensure its implementation.
W.P.S. Sidhu is a senior fellow at the New York University’s Center on International Cooperation and non-resident senior fellow at Brookings Institution.


State overreach on the campus  {Right to Expression – University Campus  – Paper II}

The Union government’s response to the recent developments at Jawaharlal Nehru University betrays a disquieting intent to create an atmosphere of fear amongst its students and teachers. The rationale for the police action was an event to mark the anniversary of the execution of Afzal Guru, a convict in the Parliament attack case, and it is alleged that slogans were raised against India’s sovereignty. However, unless there was actual incitement to violence, there really was no case for the police to swoop down on the campus, arrest students, and slap charges of sedition and criminal conspiracy on them. The Delhi Police seemed to have taken the cue from a remark made by Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh that “anti-national activities” would not be tolerated, and invoked the draconian pre-Constitution law of sedition. The arrest of Kanhaiya Kumar, president of the JNU Students’ Union, who belongs to the All-India Students’ Federation, an organisation known to be affiliated to the CPI, is quite inexplicable, except in terms of the theory that he was chosen for his political antipathy to the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad, the RSS’s student wing. Neither his union nor the party to which it is affiliated supports separatism in Kashmir or opposes parliamentary democracy. The union has in fact disassociated itself from the views expressed by a small group of students who organised the event. Yet, an impression is sought to be created that Mr. Kumar and many other like-minded student activists in JNU are ‘anti-national’.

Once again, Section 124-A of the Indian Penal Code, which makes sedition punishable with life imprisonment, has been casually invoked despite the Supreme Court repeatedly cautioning that even words indicating disaffection against the state will not constitute the offence, unless there is a call for violence or a pernicious tendency to create public disorder. It is difficult to dismiss the police action as a routine or expected response by the state to reports of allegedly anti-national speeches. The JNU campus nurtures political opinion of all shades. It is a haven for legitimate dissent and a locus of inevitable differences. Its atmosphere should not be undermined by some to whom its intellectual space is an eyesore. In recent times, the suicide of a scholar in the University of Hyderabad roiled the student community across the country and created an upsurge against the ruling dispensation wielding its ideological influence on campus activities. The misconceived manner in which Afzal Guru was commemorated by a handful of JNU students should not be a provocation for tarring the students’ union with the brush of alleged anti-nationalism. The government should not sense in these developments an opportunity to suppress all dissent and seek to kill the ideological orientation of some student groups. Deviation from its own notion of nationalism cannot be treated as sedition. The line between dissent and treason may be thin to some, but the ability to distinguish between the two is a constitutional duty of the state. And given the history of its misuse and its incompatibility with a modern Constitution, Section 124-A of the IPC ought to be junked altogether.


A terrific time to prioritize Indian manufacturing (Livemint ,GS 3)

 India could be an antidote to global concerns around slowing growth and plateauing corporate profits as the country will see a surge in consumption demand and that would require a lot of innovation from multinational companies (MNCs), Rajat Dhawan, a director in McKinsey’s New Delhi office and its leader of operations practice across the Asia-Pacific region said in an interview. India’s manufacturing push will require the government to frame policies that are enablers of growth, Dhawan said. Edited excerpts:
What is your overview of India’s manufacturing sector now?
I think it is a terrific time for India to prioritize manufacturing. If I look at the global scenario, it feels like the forces are all aligning right now for India to put forward its manufacturing sector on the global stage. If I just look at the evolution of global corporate profits, some three decades ago, corporate profits were 7.5% of the global GDP. Over a good 30-year run, they grew to about 10%. We feel that’s the peak of global profits. It is a peak because bottoming out of cost improvements have happened. Many of the economies globally are actually slowing down. Growth has gone away from many developed economies and many developing economies are going through their own bumpiness. We also believe that a couple of decades of run that China has will plateau. But India offers a superb antidote to all these issues that the global MNCs have seen. India is where the consumption demand will be. This is where a lot of innovation can happen. We have lots of young people who will drive productivity growth. India could really position itself for the next 30 years and say that here is a large bunch of answers to MNCs to invest here, leverage the domestic market for innovation, productivity growth and use it to make for the world and hence use India as an antidote to plateauing corporate profits.
Historically, was there a point when India had this kind of an opportunity?
We have industrialized in a manner where we have lagged some of the other economies. We have seen what Japan did in 1960s and ’70s and then the baton went to Korea and some of the South-East Asian economies and then to China. Could we have raised our hands at some point in time? Possibly, mid-90s, we had this kind of an opportunity when China was rising. Last 15-20 years, it was like a batsman who was smacking sixes and it was very difficult to come in front of the Chinese juggernaut. Right now, you feel there is the China+1 question being asked. Which is, where else apart from China can I be as an MNC? India definitely has a pretty significant stake.
Is the China story really over?
I would not say that. It is one of the largest and most important economies. It is one of the largest manufacturers globally. It is 10 times the size of India’s manufacturing GDP. By no means is the story over. There is a little moderation that has to come in terms of expectations about how many dollars that country can continue to pump into infrastructure growth. There may be some structural questions to be asked about the level of debt that is there in the system and how much it can carry. But, there are other countries who can raise their hands now.
Where do we stand when it comes to the skill sets and manufacturing culture vis-a-vis countries like Germany?
I think Germany and Japan are superb examples of countries which have reached the highest levels of maturity in terms of manufacturing. I think a couple of things really worked there. One is a very different level of engineering and innovation. Second is the softer aspect of culture, which is very disciplined and very quality driven. Frankly, there is no reason why Indian companies or MNCs in India cannot replicate that. We have large numbers of Deming Prize (a global quality award) winners in India across many sectors. Some of the sectors such as auto components and pharma have really proven that. Together, they do $25 billion of exports and they have very high demands on precision, quality and engineering fronts. I think it is about broad-basing the revolution.
Frugal engineering is something that has come out of India and now we see global companies doing the same thing. Why is it that our innovation fails to make a global impact? Tata Nano is one such example.
I think there are several examples where frugal innovations have succeeded in the country and those innovations have travelled outside India. I can cite examples from water coolers, smaller refrigerators, water purifiers to medical devices. Frankly, entrepreneurial spirit in the country is so strong that one or two failures really do not stop people. The company that you mentioned has not stopped innovating and I am sure it will meet global success.
On the policy front, what are the basic factors that one needs to keep in mind?
The lion’s share of the work has to be done by corporates in terms of the culture of innovation, productivity, cutting waste and ensuring quality. They have to watch for their return on capital employed so that they continue to generate sustainable returns and can bring capital back in terms of investments. Having said that, manufacturing is an ecosystem game. To that extent, it is different from agriculture and services. There, the government policy needs to continue to be a big enabler. Clear shifts are needed on areas such as infrastructure, power, ports, logistics and roads. It is going to be a slow revolution. The second big piece is labour. One side is hiring and retrenchment, the other side upskilling labour. The third is land. It is a state topic. Many states have come forward. I hope that consensus gets built on the back of some successes. Finally, everything around product market barriers and ease of doing business. A lot has been said. I think Make in India can really make a dent. These are sufficient conditions. The necessary condition is any entrepreneur who puts in money needs to see returns. Therefore, I have always maintained that the lion’s share of the work will be done by corporates.
How big is the debt problem?
I think debt remains a challenge, but thankfully it remains limited to resource-intensive industries, by and large. It is accentuated given the fact that commodity prices are on a big downswing and debt levels on books do not have adequate coverage vis-a-vis the Ebitda. I think it will remain a dampener in commodity industries.
What could GST do in this regard?
It will have a huge streamlining and ease-of-doing business impact. The real impact on bottom line will probably be hard to guess. It depends which sector you are in, in terms of GST slabs, etc. I guess there is a huge benefit just in terms of streamlining and ease of doing business.
What are the sectors where India can make an impact in the next 10 years?
We believe that sectors where innovations can happen in the local markets, that becomes a great test bed to take them global. Sectors where we can leverage fundamental talent pool and demographic advantages that we have, those are sectors where opportunities are the most. That does not mean there are no other opportunities. Just to take some examples, I would say in the category of global innovations but for local markets, I believe automotive in general has huge potential. We can be a leader of small to medium car production and exports. In components, we have $12 billion of exports. That has to go up 5-6 times in the next 10 years and that potential exists. I would say branded generic pharma is another industry where we have a dozen or so leading companies that have really established themselves. They now have capabilities to scale up. I would say even in some of the tougher industries to compete in such as aerospace and defence, there is a ton of opportunities in the next 5-10 years to take part in the global supply chain.
Whether we will see a systems integrator, an aircraft manufacturer in the next five years, that is probably difficult. In 15-20 years, can we have a staircase of capabilities assembled by one or two companies? I think we can definitely do that. Even on naval side and on defence side, there are companies which are OEMs (original equipment manufacturers) and that continues to be another sector where domestic consumption could be served by local players.


Meeting the challenges of Make in India (GS 3 ,Livemint )

The commerce minister explains the challenges facing India’s manufacturing sector and how the government will tackle them
A little more than a year after it launched Make In India to boost the country’s manufacturing sector and create millions of jobs for its young and skilled, the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government is celebrating the initiative through a week-long event in Mumbai, which will showcase India’s manufacturing capabilities. Commerce and industry minister Nirmala Sitharaman, who is directly in charge of the programme, explains the challenges facing India’s manufacturing sector and how the government will tackle them. Edited excerpts:
What is Make in India? Is it a scheme, a slogan or a campaign?
It is none of that. It is an initiative. What India has done in last 60 years is confining manufacturing largely to the public sector. I would not say deliberately but as a result of a socialist school of thought that was nurtured by the government of India. Private entrepreneurship was never given encouragement. So, you had a public sector as a major investor and manufacturer, while the big private sector companies, whoever have been there since the British days, they continued. The small enterprise that prevailed all over India was never given its due share. Second Five-Year Plan, of course, spoke of manufacturing, but that looked at large-scale investment in manufacturing… looking at encouraging entrepreneurship, giving them space to grow in manufacturing did not happen in a concerted way. What was needed as a result is to remove the approach that had almost stifled individual entrepreneurship, remove the role of the government as a regulator, remove the need for constantly asking for certification, inspection, licences. We are saying none of that should happen. You self-certify and if there is minimum requirement, then you do it online.
Do we have an estimate as to how many new companies have actually set up shop in India after Make In India was launched and how many additional jobs have been created?
No, not yet. I don’t think we have even started looking at it from that angle.
What is the idea behind the Make In India celebration?
The momentum was never lost since it was launched. That’s why ease of doing business was possible at the initial stages with the state governments participating with us. Now, more such issues have been identified and those issues have already been shared with the state governments. They are working on it to remove hurdles to make it possible. Now that more than a year has been completed, we wanted to make sure that everything which is under Make in India is being showcased. Remember, we had identified 25 sectors for focus and have opened up newer areas (for foreign investment) such as railways and some parts of defence, all these will find a place in the Make in India Week where 18 states and more than 65 countries are participating. So, it will be a major event and the scale of it and the way in which we are presenting it will make India proud and show what India is capable of.
With large-scale automation happening in manufacturing, some experts say using manufacturing to create large-scale jobs may be an outdated concept. Do you agree?
Large-scale automation may happen in very large industries which need robotics for precision. But in India, it has not reached that level, which should worry us. If anything, the government’s focus is on small and medium enterprises and all enterprises that create more jobs than what is scalable for their size and the capital investment they bring in. So, that does not worry me at all. Let automation happen, but it is not happening at the cost of workers.
Experts say India cannot boost its manufacturing without being part of a global value chain. What are the efforts being made towards that direction?
I agree on that aspect and we are working to make sure that linkages as a part of global value chain, which have to be made by Indian manufacturer, is being made. We have opened up a lot of sectors in such a way that the global value chain idea is not lost. Those who are in manufacturing have to see how their focus will have to be for linking with the global value chain. Government can only be a facilitator. We will certainly do that.
“Those who are in manufacturing have to see how their focus will have to be for linking with the global value chain. Government can only be a facilitator. We will certainly do that”– Nirmala Sitharaman, minister for commerce and industry
Many claim that by focusing excessively on manufacturing, the government may be neglecting the services sector where India has a natural advantage. Do you agree?
In fact, I have just been asked the opposite—that we are over-emphasizing on services and ignoring manufacturing. We recognize that services contribute more than 50% to the Indian economy. We also recognize the fact that the national manufacturing policy wanted to increase the contribution of manufacturing from where it is today to 25% by 2022. So, there has to be focus on product manufacturing both for India and for exports, otherwise we will not be able to meet the target set by the manufacturing policy.
One example often cited is your policy towards the retail sector where many claim the current foreign direct investment (FDI) policy hinders growth of the sector by limiting its potential for job creation. Is there a rethink on the FDI policy in retail?
Retail sector already provides a lot of jobs and that is one of the reasons why in order to understand how that will be affected if you open the windows without even preparing that sector, we took a decision that multi-brand retail should be kept aside from FDI (reforms).
Is there any thought of changing that policy?
At the moment, there is not any. If there is any, I will let you know.
In e-commerce also, the same issue is raised that because the FDI policy is not clear, it fails to create large-scale jobs.
I am not sure it is the case. E-commerce is already happening in the country… we will come out with something on it in terms of defining e-commerce because every state has taken its own approach. But to say that will have an impact on job creation, I don’t believe that is true.
So, we are working on definitional issues, not on FDI issues in e-commerce, because there were some reports suggesting government will allow 100% FDI in marketplace e-commerce?
That’s right. We are talking about definitional issues. I don’t respond to reports.
You recently said India may require to undertake structural reforms like it did in the early 1990s to respond to the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). What are these reforms we would need?
The question about the value chains you raised is a very important thing and a lot of activity needs to happen on that front. Second, you have to beat the rules of origin argument. We will now need to see whether we can establish manufacturing facilities in areas where we have a global recognition in countries which are part of the TPP. So, sectors who otherwise think they may lose out their market because of TPP can now hopefully set up units in such countries and manufacture so that they can gain from the rules of origin restrictions. Third, all said and done, we have to work on standards. Once India’s own standards of goods, some of which have global recognition, are able to match up with markets that are now having their pluriliteral understandings, you can reach out to these markets which are otherwise not covered (by our trade deals). So, standards are very demanding, but necessary work.
You have said at the Partnership Summit in Visakhapatnam that India will renegotiate some of the free trade agreements (FTAs) to address the concerns of the industry. How exactly will you do this, given the complications involved?
Well, I am not going to start renegotiating them now; there is always a time for it. Some of them are negotiated for a certain period and when they come for a negotiation or renewal, that is the time when we have to look at it again. Because the experience of a lot of manufacturers and exporters are reaching us. We will have to see how best they have understood the FTAs or is it that many of our exporters fully not utilizing the provisions which are available under the FTAs. So, it’s a constant exercise of looking at how best we can help the situation. I certainly did say that if at all when an FTA comes for review, we will certainly look at it.
After the Nairobi ministerial meeting of the World Trade Organization (WTO), what will be India’s approach at the WTO?
Post-Nairobi, we will have to see those commitments, reiterations which have been made there are carried forward. We ensured that we just didn’t get a reiteration but also a commitment for a work programme for each of them, whether it is for food security or it is for special safeguard mechanism (SSM). So, our first effort will be to get a work plan out. We will also make sure that many of the other unfinished agenda of the Doha round also start getting traction before the next ministerial happens in two years.
But for us, is the Doha round alive or dead, because there was no consensus on it at Nairobi.
There is no consensus means status quo continues.


Unravelling mysteries of coral bleaching  (Biodiversity)

Oceanographers are diving deep into the aquamarine seas of Lakshadweep to unravel the mysteries of marine life that thrive and wither deep down there around the colourful corals.

A group of researchers from Kerala are looking at the science behind the defence mechanism of corals to resist coral bleaching, the biggest threat to their beautiful submarine world. In the process, they also hope to tell the world how the unique multi-hued organisms come back to life and support the marine ecosystem in the process.

Anu Gopinath, Assistant Professor in Chemical Oceanography of the Kerala University of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences, Kochi and B. Prakash Kumar of Mahatma Gandhi University, Kottayam, are currently working on the role of Mycosporine-like Amino Acids (MAA) in preventing coral bleaching in the reefs of Lakshadweep Archipelago. The researches are supported by the Department of Science and Technology and the Kerala State Council for Science Technology and Environment.

Coral bleaching is considered as a stress response of corals to a few biotic and abiotic factors. Increased solar irradiance (photosynthetically active radiation and ultraviolet band light) is an important factor. Exposure to UV radiation when combined with thermal stress could be lethal for corals.” It could lead to the loss of algal symbionts from coral tissue and coral bleaching, the project note explained.

MAA are small secondary metabolites produced by organisms that live in environments with high volumes of sunlight. Besides protecting cells from mutation due to UV radiation, they also boost cellular tolerance to desiccation and salt and heat stress. The role of MAA in supporting the life of corals in Lakshadweep will be tracked, explained Dr. Anu.

The coral bleaching that the world witnessed in 1998 created ripples in Lakshadweep too. Another incident of limited impact was reported four years ago. It is estimated that there are over 100 species of corals in the Lakshadweep sea though one may encounter up to 20 during a normal collection dive, she said. The coral reefs are highly sensitive ecosystems facing the threat of extinction. They are often compared to tropical rainforests considering the ecosystem services they deliver, explained the researcher. Coral reefs are considered valuable source of pharmaceutical compounds from which drugs for the treatment of cancer, HIV, cardiovascular diseases, ulcers, and other ailments are extracted, highlighting the medicinal value of corals, the researchers noted.