1.What do you mean by culture? Discuss the role of culture in human life. (GS Paper-1, Art & Culture) (150 words)
Structure of the Answer
· Introduction: Briefly define culture
· Discuss the role of culture
Culture refers to the sum total of human beings’ behaviour, feelings, beliefs, thoughts; it connotes everything that is acquired by them as social beings. Culture can be defined as “that complex whole which includes knowledge, belief, art, morals, law, custom and any other capabilities and habits acquired by man as member of society.”
Role of Culture
Culture has two distinctive, but inter-related aspects.
- On the one hand, it is an expression of human beings ingenuity; it cannot be adequately understood without reference to certain characteristics which are unique to human beings. These unique characteristics include rationality and imagination, capacity for self-awareness and self-reflection, and capacity for symbolic communication or language.
- On the other hand, culture has played a crucial role in the fulfilment of capacities and potentialities. Their survival in the evolutionary process was made possible due to culture. Such factors as co-operations, the domestication of plants and animals, the discovery and use of fire, the making of tools and implements, and the invention and use of language greatly facilitated their adaptation to the natural environment. Thus, unlike animals, human beings played an active role in their own evolutionary career.
Co-operation among human beings provided security from wild animals and external threats. It facilitated the hunting of wild animals by making it a group activity. The domestication of plants and animals helped in the adaptation of human groups and communities to the environment. Obtaining food through gathering, fishing and hunting was made easier by the use of tools and implements. The discovery and use of fire provided security from wild animals. Language made possible the sharing, accumulation and transmission of experience and skill.
If not for culture, human beings would have probably perished in the long and arduous process of evolution.
2.The health of a nation is an essential component of development, vital to the nation’s economic growth and internal stability. State the important causes of poor health in India. (GS Paper-2, Polity) (250 words)
Structure of the Answer
· Discuss the causes of poor health in India
Assuring a minimum level of health care to the population is a critical constituent of the development process. Since Independence, India has built up a vast health infrastructure and health personnel at primary, secondary, and tertiary care in public, voluntary and private sectors. Considerable achievements have been made over the period in our efforts to improve health standards, such as life expectancy, child mortality, infant mortality and maternal mortality. Nevertheless, problems abound.
Malnutrition affects a large proportion of children. An unacceptably high proportion of the population continues to suffer and die from new diseases that are emerging; apart from continuing and new threats posed by the existing ones.
The important causes of poor health in India are as follows:
- a) High birth rate and fast growth of population
- A number of health risks derive from high fertility rates in India. When large number of people lives in poor households located in crowded, unsanitary surroundings, communicable diseases spread easily. High mortality results therefrom, especially among the children.
- High mortality rates, in turn, induce families to have many children so that they can assure themselves of a few surviving children. This circular pattern adversely affects the health standards.
- Similarly, population growth makes it more difficult to provide safe or sufficient water supply, garbage disposal and sanitation for the community.
- It increases the cost of providing adequately trained health manpower and medical facilities.
- b) Malnutrition
- Widespread malnutrition contributes to the incidence and severity of health problems. It poses a major threat to the children and, in extreme cases, threatens their lives.
- In addition, malnutrition creates serious health problems by contributing to premature births and to abnormally low weight at birth.
- Malnutrition is also a major contributing factor in spreading infectious diseases. By weakening the body response to diseases, malnutrition reduces acquired immunity.
- The problem of inadequate nutrition is compounded by rapid population growth. Large family size and close spacing of births frequently preclude sufficient food and care for children.
- c) Unsanitary conditions and housing
- The contamination of food, water or soil with human waste is a cause of a number of diseases.
- If water is not safe for drinking, or is insufficient for personal hygiene and sewage disposal, diseases spread more easily. This reduces the health status of the country.
In addition to poor sanitation and water supply, very sizeable proportion of the total population of cities lives in substandard dwellings lacking in space, ventilation and sunlight. Such conditions tend to increase the incidence of diseases.
3.The problem of water scarcity in urban areas is of particular concern. Discuss the major Issues in Urban Water Supply. (GS Paper-3, Environment) (250 words)
Structure of the Answer
· Introduction: Point out major reason of urban water crisis
· Then discuss the issues in urban water supply
· Also highlight the solutions of issues in urban water supply
The consistent increase in the rate of growth of India’s population has also led to the increase in demand for water, particularly in the urban areas where the rate of increase is higher compared to rural areas. In 2001, urban population was 285 million whereas in 2011 urban population was 377 million. It shows that growth in urban population leads to additional water demand in urban areas.
The major issues in urban water supply can be identified as follows:
- i) Sustainability and Equity:
Sustainability in the urban water supply is addressed mainly through supply side augmentation. Distant perennial sources are identified and long distance piped water transfer to the cities and towns are made. Augmentation plans are generally gigantic and engineering-oriented and have greater acceptability at all level. In contrast, demand management is a lesser preferred option. However, when it comes to payment of water charges, the decision is invariably with the elected government and not with the executing agency. The executing agency has to depend on the grants for O&M, for sustaining the quantity and quality.
It is not uncommon that pockets of urban areas would get higher service levels both in terms of number of hours of water availability as well as per capita availability. Leaking water supply systems and illegal tapping reduces water availability. The average water loss in the leaking supply system varies from place to place in the range of 20-50%. Dedicated efforts to plug the leakages in addition to demand management measures are required for achieving sustainability and equity.
- ii) Demand and Supply Management:
There is a huge gap between the demand and supply of water in urban areas. This is ever increasing due to growing population and urbanisation. Recycling and reuse of water, reducing the water demand through rain-water harvesting, using water-efficient household equipment, etc. would go a long way in conserving water and reducing demand. Proper metering of water and rational tariff would reduce water demand and encourage conservation. We need to have a concept of water efficient homes in urban areas and for this there is a need to have a well-orchestrated information campaign. Demand management is necessary to achieve sustainability.
iii) Financing and Institutional Issues:
Provision of water supply in urban areas is basically a responsibility of urban local bodies. The public-private partnership (PPP) efforts to attract financing of water supply projects are finding its place, though so far only in a few cases. PPP is important to leverage government investments and to access private sector management efficiencies. Reforms are a necessary pre-condition for gaining success through PPP.
- iv) Tariff and Operation and Maintenance (O&M):
Evolving realistic water tariff so as to discourage excessive use of treated/potable water is one of the important management reform tools for demand management. Not much has been done on this important aspect in many urban local bodies in India except in a few large cities that have undertaken some measures by way of installing water meters for consumers. The major reason for slow progress in this regard is that good quality meters are not available on a large scale.
Poor O&M practices due to inadequate financial resources are few of the primary reasons for low sustainability and equity in water supply. Assessment of demand and willingness to pay by the communities would help to arrive at a basis for proper pricing of water management services and to enhance the scope for adopting ‘full cost recovery’ policies to achieve financial sustainability.
4.How are values different from norms? Explain with examples. (GS Paper-4, Ethics) (250 words)
Structure of the Answer
· Briefly define of value and norm
· Distinguish between values and norms
· Give examples to illustrate
Reference: Lexicon’s Ethics
Values and norms are deeply related to each other; both are concerned with accepted assumptions about what is considered to be right or wrong, or desirable or undesirable.
- Values constitute the basis of norms. Norms depend upon values and are justified through standards of “true”, “good” and “beautiful”.
- Relatively speaking, values are more general and abstract then norms. Norms are relatively more specific: they refer to sets of expected behaviour associated with a particular situation or with a given position in the social order.
- Widely shared values such as truthfulness, loyalty or respect for elders find expression through (relatively) concrete norms which vary with different situations; strata and professions.
- Norms themselves are sometimes evaluated. Behaviour conforming to two different norms (both of which may be acceptable) may be regarded as better or worse in terms of values which are more fundamental.
- Norms provide specific rules about what should be done or should not be done by various kinds of actors in particular situations. On the other hand values are abstract standards of desirability, so that they are relatively independent of specific situation.
- Since values are more general, the same value may be embedded in a wide variety of norms. For instance, the values of respect and obedience to superiors underline various sets of norms related to widely different institutions such as the family, military, schools, and administrative, political or religious organisation.
- On the other hand, it is not unusual for a particular norm to embody simultaneously a number of separable values. For example, the norms which forbid cheating in an examination are based on several values such as those of honesty, achievement, equality of opportunity and pursuit of knowledge.
- We can also define values as the preferred mode of orientation to specified categories of human experience. The characteristics of norms can be best explained in comparison with categories of values. Therefore, since values involve preferences whereas norms involve prescriptions, there are higher degrees of freedom and more room for deviance in the realm of value orientation.
- Values provide standards for judging a wide variety of aspects of socio-cultural life: actions, goals, means, ideas, attitudes, qualities, objects, persons and groups. Dominant values have been found to involve (i) extensiveness, (ii) persistence (duration), (iii) intensity (iv) prestige of value carriers.
Apart from the differences in the levels of generality and specificity, another useful basis of distinction exists between values and norms. This is the field of value inquiry which refers to attitudinal directives like choice preference, likes and dislikes while the field of normative inquiry refers to those attitudinal directives which consist of obligations and prescriptions.
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