UPSC Mains Daily Answer Writing (05-09-2022)

UPSC Mains Daily Answer Writing

Questions

  1. Highlighting the issues associated with power discoms in India, discuss whether privatizing discoms can help in this regard. (150 words)
  2. Hybrid Warfare is a multi-pronged warfare methodology, thus to negate it, the response should also be holistic in nature. Discuss. (250 words)

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Model Solutions

1. Highlighting the issues associated with power discoms in India, discuss whether privatizing discoms can help in this regard. (150 words)

Model Structure
Introduction

  • India became the third largest electricity generator in the world. However, the discoms i.e. power distribution companies, continue to be faced with following issues:

Main Body

  • Operational inefficiencies due to huge technical and commercial losses (AT&C) at 21.4% which are primarily caused by power theft, poor payment collection procedures, and inadequate tariff hikes.
  • Increasing open access transactions: Big commercial customers who pay higher tariffs are engaging in private power purchase through open access i.e. directly buying from the suppliers bypassing discoms.
  • Lack of political will and transparency in dealing with phasing out of energy subsidies for the consumers.
  • Decline in demand during lockdown: Revenue of discoms have fallen due to halt in commercial activities while domestic users pay lower tariffs.
  • Increased Power Purchase Cost: After the one-time measures under UDAY, the power purchase costs have now increased by 5 per cent in the first nine months of 2018-19. Further the input costs of coal and freight have gone up.
  • Indebtedness: According to the PRAAPTI portal, power producers' total outstanding dues owed by discoms rose over 47% year-on-year to Rs. 1.33 lakh crore in June 2020.
  • Financial incompetence: DISCOMs have delayed payments owed to solar and wind energy developers making investments into the sector extremely challenging.
    Privatization of discoms is being seen as a measure to revitalize discoms due to following reasons-
  • Past experiences: There are sufficient case studies when private players have been proved to run cash strapped discoms successfully via more efficiency, increased revenue and improved consumer services. For e.g. the AT&C losses in Delhi after the privatization in 2002 has been brought down from a high of 53% to around 8%.
  • Operational autonomy: Due to improved network efficiency and lack of political interference.
  • Operational efficiencies: Privatization will eliminate issues such as payment delays, power cuts, and lack of market-based electricity pricing and stimulate economic activity.
  • Generating private sector appetite: Amongst Indian and international investors, various PPP models will be tested and it will also provide confidence to larger states and utilities to undertake privatisation based on improvements achieved.

Conclusion

  • However, privatization of discoms needs to be accompanied by other measures such as providing autonomy to regulatory bodies; cooperative federalism between centre and state; reinventing the revenue model of discoms which should be conducive to the growth of rooftop solar and open access power.

  1. Hybrid Warfare is a multi-pronged warfare methodology, thus to negate it, the response should also be holistic in nature. Discuss. (250 words)

Model Structure
Introduction

  • Hybrid warfare refers to the use of unconventional methods as part of a multi-domain warfighting approach. In Hybrid warfare, apart from conventional military tactics, non-military tools are used to achieve dominance or damage, subvert or influence.
    • These tools may include information pollution, perception management and propaganda. These methods aim to disrupt and disable an opponent’s actions without engaging in open hostilities.

Main Body

  • Characteristics of Hybrid Warfare
    • Multi Domained: This warfare is a combination of activities, including disinformation, economic manipulation, use of proxies and insurgencies, diplomatic pressure and military actions.
    • Maximum Damage With Minimum Effort: It tends to target areas which are highly vulnerable and where maximum damage can be caused with minimum effort.
    • Deploying Non-State Actors: It usually involves non-state actors indulging in subversive roles supported by states in order to exonerate themselves of any involvement if their activities are detected.
  • Threats Emanating From Hybrid Warfare:
    • Cyber Attacks: This may include attacks on critical infrastructure like power grids, water supplies, business systems, and defence systems.
      • These may be used to disrupt economic activities, undermine institutions, and discredit political leadership and the intelligentsia.
    • Evolving Nature of Terrorism: The idea of Hybrid Warfare encourages new forms of terrorist attacks such as ‘lone-wolf’ attacks and creation of ‘sleeper cells’. These attacks are extremely difficult to detect.
    • Adversaries could also act on the lines of radicalization of the population, which leads to issues like Communalism, Naxalism and Separatism in the long run.
    • Undermining Democracy: The foreign government may manipulate the data, spread propaganda and misinformation and influence democratic systems like elections through use of social media, websites, advertisements etc.
    • Use of techniques from campaigning through the media and social networks to securing financial resources for a political group may indirectly influence the outcome of an election in a direction that favors the adversary's political interests.
    • Disinformation and Fake News: An adversary can create a parallel reality and use falsehoods to fuel social fragmentation. It could disorient the public and make it difficult for a government to seek public approval for a given policy or operation.
  • Holistic Responses to Combat Hybrid Warfare
    • Adopting multinational frameworks: National governments should coordinate a coherent approach amongst themselves to understand, detect and respond to hybrid warfare to their collective interests. Multinational frameworks should be developed to facilitate cooperation and collaboration across borders.
    • Institutional measures: To keep vulnerabilities in check and estimate possible hybrid threats, conducting self-assessments of critical functions and vulnerabilities across all sectors and ensuring regular maintenance. For example, regularly upgrading critical Fintech systems in the country.
    • Training of armed forces: In hybrid warfare, armed forces have a dual role in protecting civilian population and disabling the enemy. Thus it needs to upgrade itself by adopting the following:
      • Training in special battle techniques, as well as conditioning to overcome urban combat stress.
      • Training in use of technological tools such as smart robots, Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs)
      • Deploying Intelligence tools like Real Time Situational Awareness (RTSA) for precise operations.
  • Strengthening the democratic institutions: This helps the government negate various forms of hybrid warfare such as disinformation and radicalization.
    • Inclusion of Civil Society Institutions such as think tanks multiply the government’s capabilities to counter such threats.
  • Investing in Journalism to raise media literacy: It has been often reported that uses of the term “hybrid threats” by the media are often inaccurate.
    • As a result, investing in journalism will indirectly help citizens in understanding the threat in a better way.

Conclusion

  • Thus, the governments across the world should establish a process to develop a national approach of self-assessment and threat analysis. Institutionalizing a process regarding threat and vulnerability information will enhance hybrid warfare early warning efforts, assist resiliency efforts, and may even have a deterrent effect.

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