Mains Q & A 31 December 2022
Q1. Holistic urbanisation must be implemented in order to create resilient cities that can withstand the destruction wrought by pandemics, improve living conditions for all citizens, and support the battle against poverty. Discuss. (250 words)
Paper & Topic: GS I Urbanization related issues
The process of urbanisation includes relocating to cities, transitioning from rural to urban areas, changing from agriculture to other industries including trade, manufacture, industry, and management, as well as any corresponding changes in behavioural patterns. More than 30% of Indians lived in urban areas as per the 2011 Census, and by 2030, that number is anticipated to rise to 41%.
The pandemic’s effects on the nation’s urbanisation:
Up until now, India has dealt with the problems associated with housing, transportation, water, and sanitation as separate, fragmented problems.
The epidemic further highlighted their interconnectedness. The virus spread notably faster during the initial wave in densely populated slums with poor access to hygiene facilities and water.
As a result, we must regard a city as “a living whole” and approach urbanisation planning from a holistic perspective.
The outbreak served as a welcome reminder that different urban dweller groups live in quite different circumstances. The urban poor lost their means of support, were left stranded, and continued to live in dangerously congested neighbourhoods while many of us switched to distant employment pretty simply.
The economical effects of the epidemic were mostly felt by women.
Urban planning ought to prioritise the most marginalised and disadvantaged citizens, particularly those who make up the lowest 60% of our income distribution.
The significance of “city resilience” has been emphasised during the past year. Environmental and climate change-related threats, such as flooding in Kerala or water shortages in Chennai, are escalating.
Furthermore, this epidemic is not likely to be the last one. As a result, medium- to long-term risks must be actively considered throughout the urban development process.
What should be done is:
One approach to deal with congestion is to increase per-capita floor area consumption by dramatically lowering regulatory obstacles to construction. This is one of the more expedient policy approaches that will considerably help India.
The crisis has demonstrated to us that a pandemic response requires a decentralised, localised, and responsible strategy and cannot be imposed from above. More power must be given to city authorities in order for this to be feasible.
In addition to the existing emphasis on rural communities, social protection programmes need to be modified to assist the poor and vulnerable in urban regions.
Restoring the balance between health care and robust public health that focuses on improving health outcomes for all is crucial for nations like India with high out-of-pocket costs for private health care. The latter can only be provided by a State that is functioning.
A detailed strategy for city investment Investing in four crucial areas is required to build fully connected, inclusive, and resilient communities, as we have learned from the epidemic. Among them are information, technology, participation in the community, and innovation.
The public health catastrophe known as COVID-19, which has affected cities, is neither the first nor the last of its sort. Cities have historically been destroyed by a variety of diseases, including the Spanish flu, bubonic plague, the Black Death, and international conflicts. Every time, people believed that important cities would disappear before being revived and became more dynamic. Nothing will change this time.
Q2. A strong democracy needs dissenting and critical voices. To prevent hate speech that is harmful to public order, vigilance is necessary. Examine the laws that govern how hate speech is handled. Are they sufficient? (250 words)
Paper & Topic: GS II Constitution related issues
The freedom to disagree with the majority must be included in the right to express one’s opinions. Both professionals and citizens will be better equipped to defend their rights and take part in the democratic endeavour. People disagreeing with one other is a fundamental element of human nature. Everybody in the world has ongoing disagreements with someone or something. The top court claims that dissent acts as a safety valve for democracy. The pressure cooker will rupture if you don’t allow this safety valve to open.
Hate speech is not specifically defined in India. Information that has been purposefully misrepresented or that only contains a partial truth in order to hurt or deceive a specific group of people is considered fake news. Yellow journalism is the deliberate dissemination of false information or hoaxes through traditional print, broadcast, or online social media.
Among the dangers posed by hate speech are:
Hate speech is when someone incites hatred toward a certain group of people who are marginalised due to their religion, sexual orientation, gender, or other characteristics.
The Law Commission’s 267th report on hate speech asserts that such statements have the potential to motivate individuals and entire societies to engage in acts of terrorism, genocide, and ethnic cleansing.
Legal safeguards against hate speech:
Sections 153A and 153B of the Indian Penal Code penalise acts that incite animosity and hostility between two communities (IPC).
Acts that intentionally or purposely offend someone’s religious sensibilities are prohibited by Section 295A of the IPC.
Sections 505(1) and 505 prohibit the publication or distribution of anything that may incite hatred or hostility between different communities (2).
Section 8 of the 1951 Representation of People’s Act (RPA) states the following:
Bans a person who has been found guilty of abusing their right to free expression from being able to run for office.
The RPA’s Sections 123(3A) and 125 forbid and designate as corrupt electoral practises any conduct that incites hatred on the grounds of race, religion, community, caste, or language in connection with elections.
How extensive are legal protections?
It could be challenging to distinguish between free speech and hate speech in a nation like India, which has a sizable population and a broad spectrum of backgrounds and traditions.
Speech restrictions should take into account a number of variables, including the frequency of strongly held beliefs, the potential to offend certain communities, and the potential impact on the ideals of equality, liberty, and dignity.
Even if such crimes are prohibited by law, more needs to be done.
Clarity, technological advancement, and a method to capture such content are essential in dealing with this, which threatens to disrupt society’s established order.
raising the bar for educating law enforcement and legal organisations on equality and non-discrimination, promoting the dissemination of this knowledge, and advancing research.
The Indian government has pushed internet service providers to set up their servers there in order to block offensive remarks in real time.
fostering many opinions on social media and educating the public through campaigns to stop extremism.
There may be an internationally accepted law requiring social media corporations like Facebook to remove anything that is obviously illegal within 24 hours of receiving a request from the government of a particular jurisdiction.
It is the duty of social media platforms to uphold transparency, accountability, and a set of norms that users can recognise as guidelines and which, when consistently upheld, can begin to establish precedents. Users, police, and members of the civil society will all be aware of the kind of content that are most likely to be removed as a result.
The first step in tackling the problem would be to define hate speech clearly; other action, such as raising public awareness, is also urgently needed.
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