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ESSAY

UPSC ESSAY: SCIENCE AND
TECHNOLOGY IS A PANACEA FOR THE
GROWTH AND SECURITY OF THE
NATION
DECEMBER 7, 2013 ABC 46 COMMENTS

Disclaimer: The below points have been reproduced from memory only and may
not be exactly what I wrote in the exam.
Introduction
India was one of the richest nations in the world in the medieval ages i.e. 16th
and 17th centuries. Then Akbar rejected the Guttenberg press. Jahangir rejected
the water lift. Indian mariners took little interest in adopting the compass and
other marine discoveries of the world from the Europeans. The result – within
less than a century and a half – India became a slave to those very Europeans!
India’s recent Mars mission – Mangalyaan – was criticised by some. Questions
were raised – can a country as poor as India afford to indulge in such scientific
‘extravaganza’? Wouldn’t this money be better spent on reducing poverty,
providing drinking water, sanitation etc.? But if history is any lesson, Mangalyaan
was every inch worth it at this cost (Rs. 450 crores), if for nothing else then
simply for keeping India on top of the technologies of the age and developing
scientific temper.
Science is essential for the development of a nation. Its most important
contribution is that it helps in creating the larger social ecosystem required for
growth. It promotes new ideas, removes all feudal institutions, conservatism,
superstitions. It makes society open to change – change which is essential for the
development of society. But it also creates many unintended challenges and also
may be inadequate by itself. So it is not a panacea and needs to be managed
well and supported by appropriate policy framework.
In the remaining paragraphs of the essay, we will explore each sector, see how
science is essential for the development of the sector and our security, yet it is
not the panacea and needs to be managed.
AGRICULTURE GROWTH AND FOOD SECURITY AND SCIENCE
– Talked about need of science for ensuring food security – our population is
growing, but acreage under cultivation is more or less stagnant. So need to
increase productivity which can come only by science.

How we need it to improve governance. INDUSTRY. – So science is essential but not the panacea. water user associations etc. develop our own resource base. It needs to be managed. – Talked about challenges created by science. – Talked about need of science in disaster warning. In water. science is absolutely essential. Bt makes agriculture riskier. We need good policies as well. – Gave the limitations of science here. need water audits. invest more etc. – Talked about how science can help us discover substitutes for imports. need to focus on inclusive growth else it won’t be sustainable. – Talked about use of biometrics in PDS to reduce leakages. marketing. – Moral of the story. On PDS. universalisation etc. – Talked about science alone not enough. . we need social audits. – All this way. SERVICES AND INFRASTRUCTURE DEVELOPMENT ISSUES AND SCIENCE – Talked about Industrial revolution. IT etc. crop survey. ENERGY SECURITY ISSUES AND SCIENCE – Talked about how we import most of our energy. mobiles. how it is ongoing and still needed. Suggested we need to include socio economic considerations as well apart from scientific safety while giving approvals. biometrics not the only solution. so need to encourage micro irrigation techniques. Bt crops and farmer suicides. – Talked about how technology has transformed our lives.– Talked about irrigation – india is a water scarce nation. hence higher number of suicides. because development of agriculture has highest impact on poverty. But this is not a sustainable system for a would be global power. we need to better supply chain. science can help us reduce poverty as well. but not the panacea. Talked about tribal displacement here.

again need science. – Also need to address the safety concerns of nuclear energy post Fukishama. planning. but is essential. ultra super power plants on the demand side. Phailin was so severe. on the supply side and need more efficient vehicles. IMD’s forecasts are not accurate. DISASTER PREPAREDNESS SECURITY ISSUES AND SCIENCE – Talked about cyclone Phailin and Uttarakhand floods.e. – But climate change affects poor most. So need to ensure that these scientific changes help the poor. – In research also. Need drought resistant crop varieties etc. To do that we need right policies. nuclear energy etc. though is imp. Need appropriate policy framework along with science. we will need to develop own science and tech. can’t import new technologies from west as they not giving aid any more. – But we also have lot of coal. – To adapt. – So science is not the panacea. supercomputers. – To mitigate i. vulnerability studies etc. Need other things also.– So we need shale gas. coal bed methane. vague and not actionable. So science needed. But in Uttarakhand. cyclones. Administrative will. global warming. we could accurately track phailin and give meaningful actionable warnings to administration. we need advanced satellites. reduce our emissions. green buildings. gas and oil which we need to explore. environmental clearances. other approvals etc. BIOMEDICAL SECURITY ISSUES AND SCIENCE . land acquisition. Gave the impact of climate change on wheat production. CLIMATE CHANGE SECURITY ISSUES AND SCIENCE – Gave some findings of recent IPCC report. So science again is not the panacea. – But there are so many other aspects of disaster preparation. yet life loss was so less… why? because of science. Indian monsoons. – Thus needs appropriate framework with science.

but science is not the panacea. So we absolutely need modern weapons. ESSAY UPSC ESSAY: IS THE CRITICISM THAT PPP MODEL OF DEVELOPMENT IS MORE OF A BANE THAN A BOON IN THE INDIAN CONTEXT JUSTIFIED? OCTOBER 7. It still needs to be fired.– Talked about recent Novartis. But said this cannot go on forever. We need intelligence coordination. terrorists getting most modern. drones etc. – Talked of NSA Prism. science is essential. – So again. science is essential. – So again. policies etc. boss. Need to safeguard our data. but not panacea. Issues such as clinical trials ethics is also there. We need to change this by becoming net patent generator. This can only happen with science. Tykreb and Bayer compulsory license issues. INTERNAL AND EXTERNAL SECURITY ISSUES AND SCIENCE – Wrote how china is developing its weapons ($100 bio defence budget). without science we can’t do anything. talked how naxals. We are a net patent importer. specially if we want more FTAs. CONCLUSION – Repeated. Need political will. – But then we ll have to ensure our own companies don’t become like these MNCs. So we need political will. – MNCs want profit. Needs proper policies. – But science can only give us the weapon. but not maai baap. 2012 ABC 12 COMMENTS Click Here To Download PDF . but we want public health. That will happen only with a political order. This conflict needs to be resolved.

Finally. PPP enables separation of jobs. Another reason for preferring PPP is that the governments are slow and tend to work in silos. . after liberalization PPP is back with a new vigor. the construction of Indian railways is a classic example of PPP in operation. However. In the age of the Chola kings as well the state used to give tax concessions and land grants to those who got tanks and canals built. Post Independence. But a project is a project and needs the success of all its parts for it to bear fruits. They tend to work in vacuum unmindful of what is happening to the other part. road maintenance falls under ‘non-plan expenditure’ and is often neglected. Thus the job of the government is to provide land. Just imagine. in favor of PPP is that the government simply doesn’t have enough money. Clearly our planners think that PPP is the way forward. The biggest rationale. Thus a project is broken into many parts and every part is handled by different people / departments. While road development is a part of the ‘plan expenditure’. the PPP took a back seat for some time. But what is a road without maintenance! PPP overcomes this by treating the project as a single unit. ports and airports to meet the demands of a rapidly growing economy like ours? Reliance on public funds alone would have choked off our growth even before it could have taken off. would we have been able to scale up our education. PPP is attractive because it is in alignment with the twin pillars of modern economic logic. Moreover wherever the social good is more and private benefit is less (for instance a road connecting a village to the highway). These pillars are Everyone should only do what he is good at or in other words everyone should assume only the risk one specializes in. power. and Governments must step in to correct the market failures. given our explicit preference for the state led development. Thus in the 10th Five Year Plan nearly 21% of the expenditure on infrastructure came from the private sector. still not a generation has passed when one had to wait for years to get a landline telephone connection. this climbed to 33% in the 11th Five Year Plan and in the 12th Plan it is expected to be about 50%. A good example here is the case of roadways. Closer to our times.Public Private Partnerships (PPP) model of development is no alien concept to India. So the operator itself is required to maintain the road in a good condition. roads. perhaps. After all. the government can always correct the likely market failure by its Viability Gap Funding Scheme. help the project in meeting various regulatory requirements while the job of the private party is to build and operate. so we must pause here and examine the rationale behind preferring it.

Perhaps the biggest among them is that it breeds corruption and rent seeking. And one of its ToRs is to specifically look into ways to monitor the project more effectively. If there is any truth in the CAG reports on coal. clearly no. There will be no contradiction between transparency and public good then. The government has appointed the Rangarajan committee for that. While in the 50s and the 60s this argument could have held great merit. Then some argue that the infrastructure projects require high end technology and have long gestation periods and hence are not suitable for private operators. today our companies own some of the most sophisticated technologies and have finished some massive projects. Next a case is made out that in PPP mode there is information asymmetry. A case can be made out of the many ‘super profitable’ toll roads like the Jaipur – Kishangarh one and the KG gas basin project. GMR or in the joint parliamentary committee report on CDSCO then indeed there appears to be a serious flaw in the model. If we had transparent processes in coal and 2G and strong regulators in GMR and CDSCO cases then the corruption would never have happened. We should instead find ways to tackle such corruption. Should we also close down MGNREGS and NRHM because there have been reports of corruption? No. For instance. An example here is the KG basin project where now the wells are full of water. Perhaps making the initial terms and conditions of the project clearer and having more regular and better audits can help here. by no means is corruption limited to PPP only. while auctioning the coal fields to power producers. a closer examination tells us that the flaw lies not in the model per se but in the method of implementation of the model. it must be emphasized that it is again specific to the implementation of the model. While this is a meritorious criticism. If the terms and conditions of the project clearly link the rewards to the private operator to certain well defined public good then such a situation will not arise. Because the operator is closest to the project. ‘Coincidently’ the operator is also demanding that the gas price be raised from $4. many criticisms are levied against PPP. However. . 2G. we should award the coal to the party which will provide electricity at the lowest cost. Another criticism levied against PPP is that often the ‘public purpose’ in the PPP is pushed to the background and private operators work simply to maximize their own profits. Moreover.2 per mmBtu to $14 per mmBtu. The alleged corruption happened in coal and 2G because of opaque processes and in GMR and CDSCO because of the weakness of the regulator. he can take the government for a ride.Despite these.

Finally before writing PPP off. There would be massive market failures – there would be no PURA. Similarly total reliance on private markets would generate their own complications as well. we need better terms and conditions and audits. implementation and regulation must be separated. Perhaps then PPP can truly be a boon for India. Thus what we need is transparency in procedures and strong. After all. The functions of policy planning. It may also be a good idea to make these regulatory bodies report directly to the parliament. Here the state government assists these SHGs by providing easy credit from the Rajiv Gandhi Vikas Nidhi. one should think of what really is the alternative? Clearly a return to the public funding is ruled off due to the reasons mentioned earlier. independent regulators. no electricity in our villages and who will teach our children? A good example of what can go wrong in private markets is the case of micro finance in Andhra Pradesh while that of what can be right with PPP is the case of self help group based finance in Assam. isn’t the parliament the supreme regulatory body in our country? Then to check the information asymmetry problem. .