Q1. What were the causes for rise of Napoleon and how did he manage to dominate politics of France?
Napoleon was charismatic, a master psychologist and politician, and dominated his period of polity. To a large extent, Napoleon’s career resulted from the military and political forces he inherited from the Revolution and exploited for his own purposes.
Politically, France had suffered a full decade of revolutionary turmoil by 1799, making the government unstable and corrupt. Church policies were unpopular, especially since they had triggered rampant inflation.
People were sick of this turmoil and longed for a more stable government that would make their lives more secure. Therefore, the interplay of military innovations that made Napoleon a national hero and the longing for a strong, secure government that Napoleon promised led to his seizure of power in 1799.
Further military victories, once again against the Austrians in Italy allowed Napoleon to consolidate his hold on power and declare himself emperor of France in 1804.
Napoleon was also a very active administrator, and his internal reforms did a great deal as far as both consolidating some accomplishments of the French Revolution and suppressing others. He centralized the tax system (still used today) and established the Bank of France to stabilize the economy of France.
The Revolution’s system of free but mandatory education was kept and expanded with military uniforms and discipline being imposed. Napoleon also consolidated many of the Revolution’s social and legal advances into five law codes.
Napoleon largely suppressed civil and political liberties with strict censorship and the establishment of a virtual police state in order to protect his power. However, Napoleon saw equality as a politically useful concept that he could maintain with little threat to his position.
One of his main accomplishments as a ruler was the establishment of the Napoleonic Civil Law Codes, which made all men equal under the law while maintaining their legal power over women.
Napoleon saw nationalism as indispensable to maintaining the loyalty of the French people to his regime. He built personality cult around himself so that the French people would identify him with France itself and therefore make loyalty to him equivalent to loyalty to France.
However, by identifying national loyalty with one man, Napoleon inadvertently weakened the inspirational force of nationalism and thus his own power.
Overall, Napoleon’s internal policies strengthened France and allowed it to dominate most of Europe after a series of successful military campaigns (1805-7).
Q2. Government’s new policy paying dividends in containing Left Wing Extremism.Comment
The Union Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has been implementing the ‘National Policy and Action Plan’ since 2015 to combat Left Wing Extremism (LWE). This envisages a multi-pronged strategy involving security and development related measures.
The significant features of the new policy were zero tolerance towards violence coupled with a big push to developmental activities so that benefits of development reached the poor and vulnerable in the affected areas.
MHA had categorized 106 districts in 10 states as Left Wing Extremism affected. These districts are covered under the Security Related Expenditure Scheme (SRE) of the MHA for the purpose of reimbursement of security related expenditure like transportation, communication, hiring of vehicles, stipend for surrendered Maoists, temporary infrastructure for forces etc to the states.
Out of 106 districts, 35 districts which accounted for 80-90 % of country-wide LWE violence were categorized as ‘Most Affected Districts’. This categorization provided the basis for focused deployment of resources – both security and development related. Over the last few years, a number of districts have been carved into smaller districts. This has resulted in the geographical area of the 106 SRE districts to be spread over 126 districts and that of the 35 most affected districts to be expanded to 36 districts.
Over the last four years, there has been a substantial improvement in the LWE scenario. Incidents of violence have seen a 20% decline with a 34% reduction in related deaths in 2017 as compared to 2013. The geographical spread of LWE violence also shrunk from 76 districts in 2013 to just 58 districts in 2017. Besides, just 30 of these districts account for 90% of the LWE violence in the country. At the same time certain new districts have emerged as the focus of expansion by the Left Wing Extremists.
MHA recently undertook a comprehensive exercise in consultation with the States to review the affected districts in order to ensure that the deployment of resources is in sync with the changed ground reality. Accordingly, 44 districts have been excluded and 08 new districts have been added to the list of SRE districts.
In order to counter Maoist efforts to expand their influence in the tribal areas at the tri-junction of Kerala, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu, three districts of Kerala have been included in the list of SRE Districts. Despite the fact that there is hardly any violence in the new districts, the move is pre-emptive.
As a result of the exercise, 90 districts in 11 States will now be covered by the Scheme, down from 126. The list of ‘Most Affected Districts’ has been pruned to 30, down from 36. The revised categorization is a more realistic representation of the actual LWE scenario.
Q3. Why India is on US currency monitoring list?
The US Treasury Department delivered to Congress the semi-annual Report on Macroeconomic and Foreign Exchange Policies of Major Trading Partners of the United States Treasury, which found that six major trading partners warrant placement on the ‘Monitoring List’ for their currency practices. Five of these countries — China, Germany, Japan, Korea and Switzerland — were already on the list, India has been added this year.
Frequent intervention by the central bank in the foreign exchange market means that India has increased its purchases of foreign exchange over the first three quarters of 2017.
Despite a sharp drop-off in purchases in the fourth quarter, net annual purchases of foreign exchange reached $56 billion in 2017, equivalent to 2.2% of the GDP. The pick-up in purchases came amidst relatively strong foreign inflows, both of FDI and portfolio investment.
So India met two of the three criteria for the first time in this report — having a significant bilateral surplus with the US and having engaged in persistent, one-sided intervention in foreign exchange markets.
Central banks intervene in the foreign exchange market to reduce volatility in the exchange rate and often to build foreign exchange reserves or to manage these reserves.
They intervene to ensure that their currencies are neither overvalued or undervalued. If the currency is overvalued, it can hurt a country’s competitiveness in exports while an undervalued currency will have an impact on inflation.
The US report says India has generally been a net purchaser of foreign exchange since late 2013, when the RBI sought to build a stronger external buffer in the wake of large emerging market outflows globally.
Prior to 2013, intervention for several years had generally been less frequent, and when it had occurred, it had been broadly symmetric, as for example during 2007 and 2008, when the RBI engaged in both purchases and sales of foreign exchange at various points in the midst of volatile global financial markets.
Foreign exchange intervention picked up in the first three quarters of 2017, in the context of strong capital inflows, with FDI of $34 billion and foreign portfolio flows of $26 billion over the first three quarters of the year.
Q4. Explain how tropospheric ozone can endanger food security in developing countries like India?
Ozone is a well-known and interesting gas. It is thought of as a “good” gas when present in the stratosphere, where it forms the ozone layer sitting 15 to 30 kilometres above Earth that protect life from detrimental ultraviolet radiation.
But when present in the lowest atmospheric layer – the troposphere, which extends 8 to 14 kilometres above earth – ozone becomes a concern for human and plant health. It is also the third most important greenhouse gas after carbon dioxide and methane. There’s substantial evidence that ozone is one of the most phytotoxic (toxic to plants) air pollutants, causing significant damage to agricultural crops worldwide.
This is partly because ozone is a secondary air pollutant: it is not emitted directly, but is formed when other primary pollutants – mainly oxides of nitrogen, carbon monoxide and volatile organic compounds, which are emitted mainly from the burning of fossil fuels in transport, industry and power generation – undergo photochemical reactions under sunny conditions.
Several hours are required for these photochemical reactions to occur, meaning that ozone concentrations are often higher downwind of urban and industrial centres.
Some important agricultural regions located close to urban and industrial centres experience elevated ozone concentrations, these include the Midwestern USA, much of mainland Europe, the South Asia’s Indo-Gangetic plains, and the coast of China.
In these regions, ozone concentrations frequently become high enough to affect crop physiology, growth and yield. Hemispheric transport of ozone and its precursors can also occur so that emissions in one continent influence concentrations in another, for example, North American emissions can affect ozone-induced yield losses in Europe.
Ozone enters plant leaves through stomata – pores that facilitate gas exchange – where it reacts with cellular components, producing a series of chemical reactions that create strong oxidative stress. Damage ranges from visible leaf injuries such as yellowing (chlorosis) and stippling and localised cell deaths (necrosis), to subtle physiological changes such as reduced photosynthesis and premature senescence. These effects ultimately reduce crop yields.
Ozone levels have doubled since pre-industrial times due to anthropogenic emissions. Because of stringent air-quality controls, peak ozone levels have declined over the last few decades in Europe and North America. However, the “background ozone”, which is the ozone concentration in absence of local anthropogenic sources, has been increasing over the past few years globally.
In developing countries, especially South and East Asia, ozone levels are rising and this trend will continue at least until 2030 unless emissions of ozone precursors (NOx and VOCs) are reduced significantly.