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Mains Answer Writing

One of the key components of these exams is the written test, which consists of a number of essay and comprehension questions. Candidates are expected to write clear and well-structured answers that demonstrate their knowledge and understanding of the topics being tested.

17-August-2023

Q1. Why is Himachal Pradesh experiencing recurring disasters? Discuss the causes and the effective solutions to mitigate the crisis.

Ans:

The large toll taken by cloudbursts and landslides in Himachal Pradesh is another reminder to respect the Himalayan region’s fragile ecology. Many people have lost their lives as torrential rains hit the state in the past three days making the already precarious hill slopes unstable.

Reasons for such natural disasters

  • According to the Himachal Pradesh State Disaster Management Authority, higher than normal rainfall claimed more than 150 lives in the state between June 24 and July 22.
  • Floods and landslides are not uncommon in the Himalayan region. The young mountains are geologically active and the region has a long history of down slope movement of rocks and boulders.

Other Manmade reasons

Faulty structural design is one of the reasons for such a havoc. People construct houses without applying scientific methods.

Poor drainage system in recently built buildings resulting in fragile hills and damaged roads.

Standards of structural engineering not followed.

Unavailability of local masons and architects who would have better knowledge about the terrain. Hence state is dependent on migrant masons and architects for construction work.

Faulty cutting of rocks to widen highways could be a reason for landslides.

Improper ways of cutting hills. Hills are always cut in slopes at an angle of 45degree, 60degree etc but not at 90degree, as was done at many locations between Kalka and Shimla.

Indiscriminate construction

Possible Solutions

Tougher building rules required.

National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) should go for more tunnelling instead of widening the roads, and its engineers need to cut the mountains more scientifically.

Tunnels are the only viable and feasible way to tackle the vehicle pressure.

Change in central government norms for helping states that face natural calamities. The hill states and those in the North east should get more priorities through special packages.

Installation of Early Warning Systems (EWS) that alert people to impending landslides which are at a nascent stage of development in the country can be used.

EWS systems need to be more efficient in detecting landslides. For instance in Kangra, the EWS failed to alert people of a landslide in the first week of this month.

Responding to weather vagaries will require paradigm shifts and interventions at various levels.

The Himachal tragedy should serve as an example for policy makers against delaying such endeavours.

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Q2. The recent trade data projections show a grim scenario in terms of India’s exports.Highlight the major concerns and the policy that should be adopted to boost it.

Answer:

The Trade Data released by the Ministry of Commerce and Industry recently  points towards a continuing weakness in India’s exports.

Major Highlights of the report

Merchandise exports fell to a nine month low of $32.25 billion in July, a decline of almost 16 percent.

Goods imports also fell by 17 percent to $52.9 billion.

In the first four months of the financial year (April-July), exports and imports have now contracted by 14.5 percent and 13.8 percent respectively.

While part of the decline can be traced towards lower commodity prices, both non-oil exports and imports have fallen indicating weak global and domestic demand. These are worrying signs.

The disaggregated data shows that 19 of the 30 major export items have declined during April-July. These also include labour intensive sectors such as gems and jewellery, leather products, textiles and others.

As per an analysis by Crisil, the decline in India’s exports has been more pronounced in the Asia Pacific region. As per this analysis, the share of APAC in India’s goods exports has been on a decline since the beginning of the pandemic.

While in 2019, the region accounted for 33 percent of India’s merchandise exports, by2022-23, its share in the country’s export basket had declined to 26.5percent, while the combined share of the US and the EU rose to 34 per cent.

WAY FORWARD

Considering its broader economic implications such as on job creation and the current account, policy must focus on boosting merchandise exports.

Active participation of states to strengthen export infrastructure: For smooth flow of trade, well-established facilities like air cargo, multimodal logistic hubs, ICDs, etc., are vital. Therefore, to drive India’s exports further, states must evaluate the sectoral-based interventions to improve infrastructure for cost-competitive exports.

Mutually beneficial trade agreements: The new trade agreements must focus on sectors with higher complementarities and potential. In addition, FTA negotiation strategies must be aligned with the self-reliant strategy and the states must actively engage domestic stakeholders to bring their perspectives to the table.

Trade Monitoring at the State level: To augment the country’s exports, it is imperative to continuously track and monitor progress of various parameters such as export growth trends, status of logistics and infrastructure facilities, progress of export action plans, progress against the gaps in indices of trades, etc at the state level. For this, a crystal-clear plan is to be developed for rigorous trade monitoring.

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