UPSC Mains Daily Answer Writing (02-11-2022)

UPSC Mains Daily Answer Writing

Questions

Q1. What are Hypersonic Weapons? Highlight their significance and discuss the challenges in their adoption and use.(150 words)  10 marks

Q2. What do you mean by Metaverse? Discuss the impact it is going to have on everyday’s life ? (150 words)   10 marks


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Model Solutions

Q1. What are Hypersonic Weapons? Highlight their significance and discuss the challenges in their adoption and use.(150 words) 10 marks

Model Structure
Introduction:

  • Hypersonic Weapons are those that can travel at 5 times the speed of sound, or faster, in the air (greater than 5000 km per hour).
  • Hypersonic cruise missiles use high-speed, air-breathing scramjet engines to push them to hypersonic speeds, while hypersonic glide missiles are launched from a rocket from space and glides to a target at an unpredictable trajectory.

Main Body:

  • Significance of Hypersonic technology:
    • Faster and long-range cruise missiles: A hypersonic cruise missile, flying faster than any fighter, would strike its target well before it can be intercepted.
    • Undetectability: These missiles can fly lower than the traditional ballistic missiles, thus, they tend to avoid radar detection.
    • Quick reaction missile: Hypersonic Missile is a “quick reaction missile" which can be used to intercept incoming missiles in the outer atmosphere or in the inner atmosphere.
    • Maneuverability: Hypersonic weapons travel within the atmosphere and can maneuver midway which combined with their high speeds, which makes their detection and interception extremely difficult.
    • Role in other areas: This technology will also allow India to launch satellites into space at a significantly reduced cost, and is fundamental to India's drive towards the development and deployment of reusable rockets.
    • Boost to India missile defense capabilities: development of a range of cruise and ballistic missiles including Prithvi and Agni missiles, anti-tank Nag, and surface-to-air Akash under the Integrated Guided Missile Development Programme.
  • Challenges in their adoption and use:
    • At such high speeds, handling extreme heat produced, as well as accurately positioning and maneuvering missiles.
    • Both Hypersonic Cruise Missiles (HCM) and Hypersonic Glide Vehicles (HGV) involve esoteric technologies.
      • Operationalising them would also require ‘intelligence, surveillance, target acquisition, and reconnaissance’ (ISTAR) assets.
    • Hypersonic weapons fly at a low altitude only, for instance, HGVs do not rise above 100-110 km altitude and HCMs fly even lower, at about 20-30 km altitude.
    • Principles for when to use Hypersonic Weapons have not been set and the ramifications of using them have not been thought through, thereby raising tough questions about their efficacy.
    • Increases the ongoing modernization of nuclear weapons in a competitive global environment.
      • For example, China and Russia are developing hypersonic glide vehicles, and Russia is probably developing a nuclear-armed, nuclear powered underwater vehicle.

Conclusion:

  • India has developed a surface to surface tactical missile codenamed Shaurya, which has a hypersonic speed of 7.5 Mach. Also, BrahMos 2 is under joint development by India and Russia.

Q2. What do you mean by Metaverse? Discuss the impact it is going to have on everyday’s life ? (150 words) 10 marks

Model structure
Introduction:

  • The metaverse is a virtual-reality space in which users can interact with a computer-generated 3D environment and with each other.
  • People can create their own avatar or character that represents them, place that avatar in a virtual space, manipulate them with hardware like virtual reality tools and effectively live a life in this environment.

Main Body

  • Positive Impact of Metaverse:
    • Changed gaming and entertainment experience: Players can not only play games but use it for other activities as well.
      • For example, in the multiplayer game Fortnite, 12.3 million players took part in a virtual in-game music tour.
    • New forms of social and commercial interactions: Extended reality and blockchain will produce applications that increasingly blend our physical and digital identities.
    • Digital economy: where users can create, buy or sell goods.
      • In an advanced and interoperable version of metaverse, people can take virtual items like clothes or cars from one platform to another.
    • Ownership: Cryptocurrencies and NFTs (Non-Fungible Tokens) could enable the ownership of virtual items and real estate within the metaverse.
    • Defense: connecting virtual environments for acquisitions with those used for experimentation or training.
      • Allowing quick test or assessment of designs in a future operating environment-like virtual world.
    • Industrial Revolution 4.0: revolutionize customer expectations, product improvement, and collaborative innovation, thus giving a fillip to industrial revolution 4.0.
    • New job profiles: Metaverse will further create and augment new job profiles such as AR/VR software engineers, 3D game designers, hardware engineers, Metaverse marketing specialists etc.
  • Negative impact of Metaverse:
    • Cyber-attacks: Infrastructure required for the new environment is exponentially more extensive and with every such endpoint there is possibility to take over identities on the network or block access through denial-of-service attacks or to pull data from virtual meetings and presentations.
    • Threat to privacy: Metaverse platforms would be able to collect images and other personal details of their users, which would threaten the privacy of users.
    • Misdirection of avatars: Attackers could manipulate a virtual reality platform to reset the physical boundaries of hardware.
      • With augmented reality a user could be misdirected into a dangerous physical situation, such as a robbery or sexual harassment of other avatars.
    • Mental health related issues could arise due to long-term immersion in the virtual world.
      • For example, users might experience “phantom timeline syndrome”, where the lines between the virtual world and physical world become blurred.
  • Way forward:
    • Digital literacy: Digital literacy, safety and wellbeing of users should be promoted so that users can consciously navigate harmful content and behaviors.
    • Meta-governance: Steps should be taken to make the metaverse as open and interoperable as possible and should not be controlled by big tech companies only.
    • Policies and laws: Policies and laws should be in place to ensure that the metaverse is not used for unethical purposes such as sexual harassment of women and children etc.

Conclusion:

  • Thus, the metaverse opens up a new world of opportunities but at the same time it also brings challenges for society. Steps should be taken so that the new virtual world remains inclusive.
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