1. What are main social problems in India? Enumerate characteristics of social problems. (GS Paper-1, Social Issues) (250 words)
Structure of the Answer
· Brief introduction on social problems and highlight few social problems of India
· After that discuss characteristics of social problems
· Give examples to explain
When a particular social phenomenon or condition disturbs the social order and hinders smooth working of social institutions that comes to be identified as a social problem. At the initial phase such conditions are neglected since they do not have any serious adverse effects on the social system. But gradually, they get accumulated and begin to affect normal social life. Then such condition is recognised as a social problem. Once social problem takes roots and develops beyond the bounds of tolerance, there arises resentment against it and there is a demand for remedy in the interest of social harmony.
The major social problems in India are: Population problems, casteism, untouchability, regionalism, linguism and communalism, beggary, unemployment, poverty, labour problems, rural problems, problems of industrialization and urbanization, prostitution, crime, suicide, juvenile delinquency, youth tensions and student unrest and finally the problems of democracy.
Characteristics of Social Problems
We can identify the following characteristics of social problems:
- i) A social problem is caused by many factors
Earlier, it was indicated that there is a cause-effect relation with regard to a social problem. This does not however mean that a social problem can be explained or understood by one cause only. Illiteracy is caused by many factors, such as attitude of people to education, lack of schools in many areas, status of girl child, care of the younger children by older children, malnutrition and poverty to name a few. To solve the problem of illiteracy, all these problems have to be taken into consideration.
- ii) Social problems are interrelated
Often there is a relation between various social problems. Ill-health is related to poverty, lack of education, attitude of sickness, unemployment, non-availability of medical care, status of women. It is not very difficult to see relations between all the ‘causes’ and the ‘effects’.
iii) Social problems affect individuals differently
- It is also possible that some groups are affected more than others; for example–women, weaker sections, minorities, rural and urban poor.
- Dowry is more a problem for the poor than for the rich. The family with a large number of daughters have a bigger problem in dowry than a family which has only sons. The problem of unemployment is more severe for those who are less educated and lack skills.
- iv) Social problems affect all people
The people in a society are interdependent. What affects one group will affect most members of the society also over time. Few persons are able to protect themselves fully against many of the social problems – violence, unemployment, inflation, communal riots and corruption etc.
- v) All social problems are deviations from the “ideal” situation.
2.In a popular talk the terms the ‘State’ and Government” are very often used synonymously, but there are many differences between State and government. Distinguish the State from the government. (GS Paper-2, Polity) (250 words)
Structure of the Answer
· Briefly define State and government
· Point out differences between State and government
Reference– Laxmikanth/ Current Affairs
- A government is the system by which a State or community is controlled. Government also refers to the group of people with the authority to govern a country or State at a given time.
- A State is a type of political entity. It is an organized political community that lives under a single system of government.
Following are the major differences between the State and government:
- The State is broader in nature and it includes all the institutions which are public in nature and also the private sector and citizens’ organisations, while government is a part of the State.
- The State is a permanent institution. The government is temporary as it is constituted, reconstituted and can also collapse at times. It is brought to power by the people. You can see how people exercise their right to vote in general elections and bring into office the governments of their choice.
- The State’s authority is exercised through the government. The policies and programmes of the State are implemented by the government.
- The State, in general, is said to represent the common interests of the society while the government can at times represent the interests of party in power.
Thus, it is clear that it is the government which plays a major role in providing direction to the State. The government is involved in the task of administration through various institutions. Administration in simple terms means putting into action or implementing the policies and programmes laid down by the government.
Therefore, we can conclude that the State encompasses government as one of the components and government on the other hand takes recourse to administration for smooth functioning of its activities and achievement of goals.
3.In recent years, the increasing threat to groundwater quality due to human activities has become a matter of great concern. Discuss the reasons for declining ground water quality. (GS Paper-3, Environment) (250 words)
Structure of the Answer
· Highlight the reasons of deteriorating quality of ground water
Groundwater is a vital natural resource. It is estimated that approximately one third of the world’s population use groundwater for drinking. A vast majority of groundwater quality problems are caused by contamination, overexploitation, or combination of the two. Most groundwater quality problems are difficult to detect as they may be concealed below surface. They are also hard to resolve. The solutions are usually very expensive, time consuming and not always effective. Many times the contamination is not detected until noxious substances actually appear in water used, by which time the pollution has often dispersed over a large area.
All kinds of activities, urban, industrial or agricultural carried out on land have the potential to contaminate groundwater. Industrial discharges, landfills and subsurface injection of chemicals and hazardous wastes, are an obvious source of groundwater pollution. These concentrated sources can be easily detected and regulated but the more difficult problem is associated with diffuse sources of pollution like leaching of agrochemicals and animal wastes, subsurface discharges from septic tanks and infiltration of polluted urban run-off and sewage where sewerage does not exist or defunct. Diffuse sources can affect entire aquifers, which is difficult to control and treat.
Following table presents land-use activities and their potential threat to groundwater quality.
Soil and groundwater contamination from industrial and population expansion is of widespread concern. The prevalence of contaminants at hazardous waste sites is well documented. If they are not removed or sequestered, they can contaminate millions of litres of groundwater over time scales of decades and centuries.
4.Discuss the important characteristics of governance. (GS Paper-4, Ethics) (250 words)
Structure of the Answer
· Brief introduction on governance
· Discuss characteristics of good governance
· Give examples to explain your argument
Reference: Lexicon’s Ethics
Governance aims at bringing an overall holistic development. According to United Nations Development Programme (1994), the goal of governance initiatives should be to develop capacities that are needed to realise development, that give priority to the poor and women, sustain the environment and create needed opportunities for employment and other livelihoods.
Several international institutions, researchers and policy-makers have identified certain basic characteristics of good governance. These include:
Participation: Any democracy to be truly representative needs to seek the participation of its citizens to the maximum extent in public affairs. In India, for example, the Panchayati Raj Institutions (PRIs) at the local level and municipal bodies participate in the management of the local rural and urban bodies. These bodies comprise people’s elected representatives who have an important role in participating in matters that affect their lives.
Rule of Law: Governance needs a fair legal framework to ensure the smooth functioning of administrative machinery. Rule of law protects the interests and, rights of citizens.
Transparency: Information is not generally shared with the citizens by organisations, public or private. But now people have become aware and are demanding that relevant information be made accessible to them. Governance is attempting to ensure openness and transparency in the system.
Responsiveness: As a citizen, we tend to avail different services from the government, for example, a driving license, ration card, passport etc. We also expect a positive response from the service providing agency. This applies to getting basic services from the government such as electricity, drinking water, better roads, etc., where a desired response is awaited. We want responsiveness from the elected political representatives. Similarly, the administration is expected to provide effective and efficient services to the citizens. Responsiveness has become a two-way interactive process between citizens and government.
Equity: Governance has to ensure participation and equity bringing all sections of the society within its purview.
Effectiveness and Efficiency: This implies better utilisation of resources towards improved service delivery. For instance if we go to the Railway Reservation Office for booking a ticket, it is expected that the service is provided efficiently and effectively without causing inconvenience to you in terms of effort, time and money.
Accountability: Accountability is making one responsible and accountable for actions. Governance requires accountability on the part of government, private sector, civil society or community based organisations for their activities. For example, during the question hour in the Parliament the Ministers, Members of Parliament, are held accountable for various aspects of the functioning of their ministries, and implementation of various programmes.
Good governance needs cooperation between government agencies, private sector and people.
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