[Mission 2023] SECURE SYNOPSIS:20 August 2022

[Mission 2023] SECURE SYNOPSIS:20 August 2022

 

NOTE: Please remember that following ‘answers’ are NOT ‘model answers’. They are NOT synopsis too if we go by definition of the term. What we are providing is content that both meets demand of the question and at the same time gives you extra points in the form of background information.

 

Answer the following questions in 150 words:


General Studies – 1


 

1. In the context of Nehru’s “temples of modern India”, discuss their contribution to India’s growth and development since independence.

Reference: The Hindu

 

Introduction

Temples of modern India was a term coined by India’s first Prime Minister Jawahar Lal Nehru while starting the construction of the Bhakra Nangal Dam to describe scientific research institutes, steel plants, power plants, dams being launched in India after independence to jumpstart scientific and industrial progress. The Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs), Indian Institutes of Management (IIM), the All India Institute of Medical Sciences, the LIC, the Oil and Natural Gas Corporation, Indian Oil Corporation, the National Library of India and the National Institute of Design were envisaged as temples as they would rebuild India and take it to its rightful place in the world.

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Contribution to India’s growth and development

  • Nehru’s vision of India was anchored in a set of ideas such as democracy, secularism, inclusive economic growth, free press and non-alignment in international affairs and also in institutions that would lay the foundation for India’s future growth.
    • These institutions touched every kind of economic activity, ranging from agriculture to aviation and space research.
  • Nehru saw these temples occupying the commanding heights of a stable, self-sustaining economy with people’s welfare as their central mission.
  • Nehru’s inclusive vision ensured that these institutions spanned the entire social spectrum. When the IITs were planned, Nehru also established a network of Kendriya Vidyalayas.
    • Along with large projects in steel and petroleum, Nehru saw the importance of promoting small and cottage industries and set up the Khadi and Village Industries Commission.
  • When Bhilai, Durgapur and Rourkela were taking shape as functional townships, the Prime Minister also felt the need for a well-designed, modern city and thus was born Chandigarh. Chandigarh was perhaps India’s first ‘smart city’ when that term was not yet fashionable.
  • Two of these institutions deserve special mention: the Election Commission of India and the Planning Commission. They relate to the fundamentals of the Nehruvian vision: the triumph of democracy along with development.
  • Nehru’s institutions flourished under the management of a group of accomplished persons who shared his idealism and his vision of a modern India.
    • These were people of stature and high learning. They were technocrats, scientists and professionals with impressive records of past achievements.
    • They included Homi Bhabha, Vikram Sarabhai, P.C. Mahalanobis, Verghese Kurien, S.S. Bhatnagar, S.Bhagavantam and C.D. Deshmukh.
    • Each of them steered the fortunes of the project under them with high professional standards, laying down benchmarks for the performance of the project and identifying second layers of leadership for the project’s future growth.
  • Many of these institutions, over the years, rose to global standards. Indian Oil became the first Indian company to be listed in the Fortune 100, in 2014. Amul emerged as the country’s best known consumer brand and India became the largest milk-producer in the world.

Conclusion

Prime Minister Nehru’s 17-year rule set the stage for momentum in the Indian economy and his management model became a template for many succeeding Prime Ministers. This was a period which saw seismic shifts in the Indian economy. The Green Revolution which transformed India from a basket case to a grain-exporting nation, the telephone revolution that changed the telephone from being a symbol of elite lifestyle to mass ownership, and the digital revolution which turned India into a global technology hub all played out one after another.

The success of these missions owed a great deal to the Nehruvian model, with several scientists and technocrats playing a central role in these accomplishments. Collectively, these shifts have lifted over 300 million Indians above the poverty line and heralded the arrival of a modern, diversified globally connected economy with a significant digital component.

 


General Studies – 2


 

2. Do you think India is ready to have health as a fundamental Right? Critically examine.

Reference: Indian Express Insights on India

 

Introduction

Amidst the pandemic, the frantic cries for oxygen, hospital beds, medicine and even a place to cremate their own, laid bare our failure to extend dignity in both life and death. This was compounded with the loss of income, debt, food insecurity, and illiteracy. That is the situation of lakhs of families in India today. The most profound loss is of people’s faith in the ability of the country’s healthcare system to protect them. It is the primary responsibility of government to reinstate this faith.

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Background

  • India has never spent more than 2% of its GDP on healthcare. And healthcare facilities across the country straddle different levels of efficiency and sufficiency.
  • The impact of COVID-19 has shaken even States like Kerala and Tamil Nadu that traditionally did well in the area of healthcare.
  • There are other dimensions to making health a fundamental right. For example, Delhi is the world’s most polluted city. In winter especially, you can barely venture out in the morning smog without catching an infection.
  • If health was a fundamental right, then the government would be compelled to think seriously about the pollution aspect or the environmental impact when, say, granting permissions for new industries or framing development policies.

Need for making healthcare a fundamental right

  • The right to equality guaranteed under Article 15 upholds non-discrimination on the basis religion, race, caste, gender, place of birth, etc.
  • However, the dismal investment in public health for decades has made healthcare a privilege available to a few.
  • The constitutional right to health is critical to breaking discriminatory structures that will otherwise continue to perpetuate inequality in all spheres of life, including education, opportunity, wealth, and social mobility.
  • The judicial interpretation of the right to life and liberty under Article 21 in several judgments as inclusive of health was crucial, but has its limitations.
  • The universal access to healthcare is now as achievable as it is indispensable. The rights of people are not stagnant, and must evolve as the country evolves.
  • Ayushman Bharat is an ambitious scheme with great potential, but there is a difference between a rights and a service-delivery model of development.
  • If health is a fundamental right, it will give a spine to the entire health ecosystem, empower doctors and healthcare workers, and ensure transparency, inclusivity, and accountability.
  • Moreover, it will pave the way for special legislation, capable institutions, increased budgets, medical training and research, wellness and prevention, and outreach of services; thereby instilling immense confidence and positivity amongst the citizens.
  • In a country where 63 million people slip back into poverty due to catastrophic healthcare costs, it is hard not to see the logic of legally mandating health as a right, and thereby empowering the citizen to hold the state accountable for it.

Conclusion

As the legal guardian responsible for the safety and security of all its citizens, it is the state’s duty to protect its citizens from mortality and morbidity caused by disease and illness as well. Making health a fundamental right would thus give citizens the power to hold the state accountable for fulfilling its responsibility toward them.

 

3. Both India and the EU have been keen to maintain the momentum in their bilateral interactions, despite various challenges. Can the unfulfilled bilateral potential be realised? Comment.

Reference: The HinduInsights on India

Introduction

India-EU relationship dates back to 1960s when India was the first country to establish relationship with European economic union which later evolved into common market -European union. For more than a decade, the EU and India partnership had been slow-moving and fragmented, struggling to maintain momentum. India was acknowledged as a strategic partner in 2004. But seventeen years on there is still no mutually agreed set of clear priorities. The EU-India relationship fails to acknowledge each partner’s individual realities. Today’s changed circumstances provide the two sides with a new set of opportunities to move forward on the long-stalled agenda of stronger ties between India and European Union.

While India celebrates its 75th year of Independence, it also celebrates 60 years of diplomatic relations with the European Union (EU). A cooperation agreement signed in 1994 took the bilateral relationship beyond trade and economic cooperation..

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Various facets of India-EU bilateral relations:

  • Trade and Investment:
    • The EU is India’s largest trading partner, accounting for 12.9% of India’s overall trade. Further the trade in services have almost tripled in last decade.
    • Overall, the EU is the second largest investor in India, with €70 billion of cumulative FDI from April 2000 to March 2017, accounting for almost one quarter of all investments flows into India.
  • EU and India remain close partners in the G20 and have developed a regular macroeconomic dialogue to exchange experience on economic policies and structural reforms.
  • Energy Cooperation:EU – India Clean Energy and Climate Partnership.
  • Research and Development:India, participates in international ITER fusion. India also participates in research and innovation funding programme ‘Horizon 2020’
  • Environment and Water:The EU and India also cooperate closely on the Indian Clean Ganga initiative and deal with other water-related challenges in coordinated manner.
  • Migration and mobility:The EU-India Common Agenda on Migration and Mobility (CAMM) is a fundamental cooperation agreement between India and EU.
  • Development cooperation:Over €150 million worth of projects are currently ongoing in India.

India and the EU have been keen to maintain the momentum in their bilateral interactions due to the opportunities

  • The EU wants to pivot away from China. It recently signed a Comprehensive Agreement on Investment with China, which has drawn a lot of flak and its ratification has now been suspended because of diplomatic tensions.
  • The European Parliament remains overwhelmingly opposed to this deal after China imposed sanctions on some of its members, in response to the EU imposing sanctions against China for its treatment of the Uyghur Muslim minority in the Xinjiang region.
  • With the EU being India’s largest trading partner and the second-largest export destination, the economic logic of strong India-EU economic relations is self-evident.
  • The virtual summit saw India and the EU launching an ambitious “connectivity partnership” in digital, energy, transport, and people-to-people sectors, enabling the two to pursue sustainable joint projects in regions spanning from Africa, Central Asia to the wider Indo-Pacific.
  • Exports to EU: India has an untapped export potential of $39.9 billion in the EU and Western Europe. The top products with export potential include apparel, gems and jewellery, chemicals, machinery, automobile, pharmaceuticals and plastic.
  • India benefits from tariff preferences under the EU’s Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) for several of these products.
  • In fact, India is among the major beneficiaries of the EU’s GSP, with exports under the GSP valued at nearly $19.4 billion in 2019, accounting for nearly 37% of India’s merchandise exports to the EU.
  • New emerging world order after COVID-19:As EU seeks to move away from a global supply chain that is overly dependent on China, India can emerge as its most natural ally.
  • There is a significant untapped potential to expand India-EU bilateral trade relation through an FTA.
  • The FTA will deliver on enhancing India’s market access in key services.
  • For this to happen, regulatory barriers in cross-border supply as well as provision of services through temporary movement of professionals will need to be addressed.

Concerns in India-EU ties

  • Stalled EU-India BTIA: It is being negotiated since 2007 and both sides have major differences on crucial issues such as: –
    • EU’s demands: significant duty cuts in automobiles, tax reduction on wines, spirits etc, a strong intellectual property regime, relaxation in India’s data localisation norms, protection to all its items with Geographical Indication etc.
    • India’s demands: Data secure’ status (important for India’s IT sector); Ease norms on temporary movement of skilled workers, relaxation of Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) and Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT) norms etc.
  • Trade imbalance: India accounts for only 1.9% of EU total trade in goods in 2019, well behind China (13.8%). Trade imbalance is expected to further increase with ratification of the European Union Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA) and the EU-Vietnam Investment Protection Agreement, which will make Indian exports less competitive.
  • India’s perception of EU:It views EU primarily as a trade bloc, preferring bilateral partnerships with Member States for all political and security matters. This is evident from lack of substantive agreements on matters such as regional security and connectivity.
  • Brexit:It is unclear how U.K.’s withdrawal from EU will affect India’s relation with EU as whole.
  • Human Rights concerns of EU: The European Parliament was critical of both the Indian government’s decision to scrap Jammu and Kashmir’s special status in 2019 and the Citizenship (Amendment) Act.

Way Forward

  • To translate their common values into common action, EU and India in can work in third countries to consolidate democratic processes and build capacities of transitioning regimes through strengthening electoral and parliamentary institutions.
  • EU can collaborate with India to facilitate connectivity and infrastructure projects in third countries, particularly smaller states in South Asia that often fall prey to power politics and fiscal instability resulting from China’s loans and political influence as part of its BRI.
  • Thus, as highlighted by EU strategy on India, adopted in 2018, India EU should take their relations beyond “trade lens”, recognizing their important geopolitical, strategic convergence.

 

 


General Studies – 3


 

4. Discuss the contributions of Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) in developing the science, technology and innovation ecosystem in the nation.

Reference: The Hindu

 

Introduction

Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) is the largest research and development (R&D) organisation in India. CSIR has a pan-India presence and has a dynamic network of 37 national laboratories, 39 outreach centres, 3 Innovation Complexes and 5 units. CSIR is funded by the Ministry of Science and Technology and it operates as an autonomous body through the Societies Registration Act, 1860.

The objectives of the Council are scientific and industrial/applied research of national importance.

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Contributions of CSIR

  • CSIR covers a wide spectrum of streams – from radio and space physics, oceanography, geophysics, chemicals, drugs, genomics, biotechnology and nanotechnology to mining, aeronautics, instrumentation, environmental engineering and information technology.
  • It provides significant technological interventionin many areas with regard to societal efforts which include the environment, health, drinking water, food, housing, energy, farm and non-farm sectors.
  • Leather industry
    • The CSIR’s footprint in this sector has been transformative. Indian exports in this sector are close to $6 billion.
    • First, when the CSIR-Central Leather Research Institute (CLRI) was established in 1948, it developed technologies for finished leather products, such as the first ever indigenous manufacture of leather chemicals, making the transition from semi-finished to finished leather possible.
    • Further, the CSIR-CLRI routinely trained the next generation manpower for the leather industry. As a result, more than 40% personnel employed in the leather industry have been trained directly or indirectly in the CSIR-CLRI.
  • Green Revolution
    • During the Green Revolution, the CSIR’s footprint could be seen in the development of agrochemicals and the mechanisation of agriculture.
    • The mechanisation of agriculture was achieved through the indigenous development of the Swaraj tractor at the CSIR-Central Mechanical Engineering Research Institute (CMERI), leading to the formation of Punjab Tractors Ltd. in 1970.
  • Chemicals
    • Two public sector companies were founded, post-Independence, based on technologies developed in the CSIR’s laboratories — the Hindustan Insecticides Ltd. and Hindustan Organic Chemicals Ltd., the former to make agrochemicals.
    • Similarly, production of anti-HIV drugs by processes developed in CSIR laboratories provided the necessary impetus to the growth of generic pharmaceutical companies.
  • food and nutrition industry
    • in the 1950s, when solving the infant food problem appeared impossible, the CSIR successfully developed technologies to convert buffalo milk into powder and commercialised it with the help of Amul Industries.
  • Promoting crops to enhance farmers income
    • The Aroma Mission of the CSIR in recent times has been transforming the lives of thousands of farmers across the country.
    • The cultivation of lavender in the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir has been attracting attention worldwide as India’s ‘Purple Revolution’.
  • CSIR has done commendable work in the aerospace sector, in the health and biotechnology industry, in protecting India’s traditional knowledge systems

Way forward

  • Human resource development across all sectors, dominantly that in science, technology and innovation, has been the hallmark of CSIR.
  • Even as we attribute the growing affluence of Indian society to science, technology and innovation-led developments, the challenges for the future remain intimidating.
  • Reducing dependence on natural resources, making all industrial processes circular so that no footprint of human activity is left, making technologies environmentally friendly, providing sufficient opportunities to all for living either in cities or in villages will remain priorities of science and technology.
  • The ancient wisdom of integrating science and spirituality by enhancing our understanding of nature in association with that of the human mind and spirit will be the fond hope of the science and technology community of India.

 

5. What is a carbon market? Evaluate the potential to have a carbon market framework in India to incentivize carbon emission reduction and fight climate change.

Reference: Live Mint

Introduction

Carbon markets allow for buying and selling of carbon emissions with the objective of reducing global emissions. Carbon markets existed under the Kyoto Protocol, which is being replaced by the Paris Agreement in 2020. Carbon Markets can potentially deliver emissions reductions over and above what countries are doing on their own.

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About carbon market

  • Carbon Markets and Carbon Credits are components of emissions trading, a market-based approach to to reduce the concentration of Greenhouse gases (GHG) in the atmosphere. It works by providing economic incentives for reducing the emissions of the designated pollutants. A carbon market allows investors and corporations to trade both carbon credits and carbon offsets simultaneously.
  • Carbon credits (or allowances) work like permission slips for emissions.
    • When a company buys a carbon credit, they gain permission to generate more CO2 emissions.
    • One tradable carbon credit equals one tonne of carbon dioxide or the equivalent amount of a different greenhouse gas reduced, sequestered or avoided.
  • Credits are measured against ‘benchmarks’ or allowed GHG emissions. If emissions are below the allowed limit, the emitter earns carbon credits (reducing 1 tonne of CO2 earns 1 carbon credit).
    • If emissions are above the allowed limit, the emitter must buy carbon credits from those who have excess credits.
    • Thus, crossing the emissions limit imposes a cost (amount spent on purchase of carbon credits) on the emitter. The idea is that this cost will force the emitters to be more efficient and reduce emission.

 

Potential to have carbon market framework In India

  • First, it will help in mitigating the adverse impacts of climate change by reducing the GHG emissions.
  • Second, there are multiple co-benefits of offset projects such as: ecosystem management, forest preservation, sustainable agriculture, renewable energy generation in third-world countries, etc.
  • Third, the voluntary carbon market for offsets is smaller than the compliance market, but expected to grow much bigger in the coming years. It’s open to individuals, companies, and other organizations that want to reduce or eliminate their carbon footprint, but are not necessarily required to by law.
  • Fourth, consumers are increasingly aware of the importance of carbon emissions. Consequently, they’re increasingly critical of companies that don’t take climate change seriously. By contributing to carbon offset projects, companies signal to consumers and investors that they’re paying more than just lip service to combat climate change.
  • Fifth, it opens an additional revenue stream for environmentally beneficial businesses. For instance, Tesla, the electric car maker, sold carbon credits to legacy car manufacturers to the tune of $518 million in just the first quarter of 2021.

Challenges with carbon market

  • There are concerns regarding the effectiveness of carbon markets in curbing emissions.
    • Some companies simply buy credits without making any effort to reduce emissions themselves. It is cheaper for them to buy carbon credit than to invest in emission reducing technologies
  • The issue of old carbon credits (certified carbon emissions, or CERs), issued under — the Clean Development Mechanism of the Kyoto Protocol — are still valid.
    • Counting them as valid would slow down climate action because those who are under commitments to reducing emissions would just buy the CERs and call it a done deal.
    • However, declaring them invalid would disappoint all those entities that were given the credits.
  • Phenomenon of ‘double counting’ exists. If an emission reduction takes place in one country and another entity in another country buys the carbon credits, only one of the two countries should be logically allowed to use the activity against its own commitments — not both.
  • Issues related to a fee levied on each carbon trading transaction for a fund to help poor countries adapt to the vagaries of the climate change.
  • Buying carbon credits can deviate the rich nations from the path of reducing emissions. They can simply continue to emit and buy cheap carbon credits from developing countries.
  • It is difficult to establish the amount of carbon reduced by offset projects (like afforestation or wind energy project). The complexity is in establishing baseline emissions (Emissions baseline represents what would happen if your project did not occur i.e., the emissions in the absence of the project).
    • This makes it difficult to verify emission reductions and assigning carbon credits.
  • India’s own PAT (Perform, Achieve, Trade) Scheme has failed to achieve meaningful emissions reduction. According to an analysis by the Center for Science and Environment, the emission reduction under the scheme has been only 1.57% and 1.44% over the two cycles.

Conclusion

The establishment of a domestic carbon market is a progressive step. However, the actual benefit will depend upon the effectiveness of the market. For this, the Government must ensure that proper regulations are established. Moreover, there must be periodic assessment of its functioning and corrective steps its necessary. Climate Change is real and imminent, Government must take all possible steps to mitigate the challenges.

 

Answer the following questions in 250 words(15 marks each):


General Studies – 1


 

6. The journey towards equality and equity with inclusion is still long and tedious and appears to be a pipe dream for many in the country. Hence, Women’s emancipation and empowerment needs to be prioritised. Analyse.

Reference: Indian Express

 

Introduction

There are different kinds of inequalities in India that are multidimensional and intersectional in nature. Gender inequality has been a crucial social issue in India for centuries. Census 2011 shows the child sex ratio among children of 0-6 years to be 918 girls for every 1000 boys in India.

With the prevalence of gender discrimination, and social norms and practices, girls become exposed to the possibility of child marriage, teenage pregnancy, child domestic work, poor education and health, sexual abuse, exploitation and violence. Many of these manifestations will not change unless girls are valued more.

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India’s performance in Gender Gap and inequality

  • India scores quite low in when it comes to gender inequality, according to latest UNDP Human development report, India is ranked 125 of 159 countries in the Gender Inequality Index (GII).
  • Labour participation: In terms of labour participation only 23.3% of women (79.1% men) above 15 years are part of India’s labour force.
  • Wage gap: Research from India’ leading diversity and inclusion consulting firm Avtar Group shows that women are paid 34% less than men for performing the same job with the same qualifications.
  • Lack of Economic Empowerment: Women are underrepresented in senior managerial position and overrepresented in low paying jobs. Oxford Survey shows that globally only 19% firms have a female senior manager.
  • Access to productive capital: It is harder for women to access funds and capital for farming, starting a business or for other developmental works.
  • Secondary Education for women is lower than man in majority of countries while this stands at less than 80% in India.
  • Social norms and stereotypes: Classifying men as “bread winners” and women pursuing jobs as “career women” was reported by Oxford University Survey. It also highlighted that most of the unpaid work is seen as a women’s job.

 

Need of the hour

  • Behavioral Nudge: For instance, by using taxes to incentivize fairly sharing child-care responsibilities, or by encouraging women and girls to enter traditionally male-dominated sectors such as the armed forces and information technology. Eg Supreme Court in India declared that women could now hold commanding positions in Army.
    • Paternity leaves for men, to share the responsibility of child rearing.
    • Incentivizing companies to employ women, and reach 50% target.
  • Gender Justice at Work
    • Bridging the wage gap for equal work.
    • Making work places safer through strong laws. India has enacted Sexual Harassment at workplaces act.
    • Promote diversity and anti-bias courses for all employees.
    • Comprehensive leadership training for women to excel in their fields.
  • Gender sensitization: Breaking the social barriers by gender sensitization and education at families, schools and workplaces. Eg : In the NCERT Books, gender roles, bias and prejudice inducing writings were removed.
  • Social security and financial literacy: Formalization of jobs should be pushed to avail benefits to many women. Until then, social security benefits should be provided to women in unorganized sector. Eg : Self Help Group-Bank Linkage Programme in India
    • Embedding financial literacy in programmes where women have significant representation could be a good starting point.
  • Strong laws and policies wrt equal pay for equal work, maternity benefits are needed to promote women’s representation in economy.
  • Political Representation: India has provided 33% reservation for women in the Panchayats and Local Bodies. Capacity Building and training can increase their capabilities further.

Way forward

  • Learning from the Nordic region, noteworthy participation of women in politics, institutions and public life is the catalyst for transformational change.
  • Women need to be equal participants in the labour force to pioneer the societal changes the world needs in this integral period of transition.
  • Every effort must be directed towards achieving gender parallelism by facilitating women in leadership and decision-making positions.
  • Social protection programmes should be gender-responsive and account for the differential needs of women and girls.
  • Research and scientific literature also provide unequivocal evidence that countries led by women are dealing with the pandemic more effectively than many others.

Conclusion

Gender equality is a human right which entitles all persons irrespective of their gender to live with dignity and with freedom. Gender equality is also a precondition for development and reducing of poverty. Gender shouldn’t be an unreasonable determining factor curbing the potential of women.

 


General Studies – 2


 

7. The isolated and diverse North-East India continues to witness serious challenges of integration and under development. Unless there is a change in the mindset of policy makers as well as policies responsive to the changing needs of the people, the problems will continue in the region. Analyse.

Reference: The Hindu

Introduction

India’s North Eastern Region is a rainbow country, known for its diversity. It stretches from the foothills of the Himalayas in the eastern range and is surrounded by Bangladesh, Bhutan, China, Nepal and Myanmar. The region is rich in natural resources, covered with dense forests, has the highest rainfall in the country, with large and small river systems nesting the land and is a treasure house of flora and fauna. Marked by diversity in customs, cultures, traditions and languages, it is home to multifarious social, ethnic and linguistic groups.

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Efforts towards integration of NE to mainstream India

  • The integration of Northeast India into mainstream Indian life has been on the national agenda from the very start of India’s journey as an independent nation.
  • The region has always been seen to be somewhat alien and needing assimilation, which found (and finds) reflection in administrative terms too.
  • Two such measures, on opposite ends of the spectrum, should characterise this predicament: the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution introduced in 1949 and the draconian Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act (AFSPA), promulgated in 1958.

Issues hindering the growth of Northeast India

  • Geographical Challenges:
    • Very high rainfall, shifting river courses, poor drainage system and narrow valleys are regularly causing severe floods, erosion, landslides and sand deposition in the North East causing loss of huge areas of valuable agricultural land.
    • Hilly, inaccessible and undulating terrain has led to underdeveloped transport links.
    • Large area of land is under ‘Jhum cultivation’ which leads to large scale deforestation resulting in soil erosion and loss of soil fertility.
  • Disaster Proneness of North East:
    • High rainfall and large river basins of the Brahmaputra and the Barak along with their narrow valleys regularly cause severe floods, erosion, landslides and sand deposition leading to loss of huge areas of valuable agricultural land and thereby reduction of the average size of land holdings in the region.
    • The region is highly prone to Earthquakes and post the great earthquake of intensity of 8.5 in Richter scale of 1950 in Assam, flood and erosion have increased in the state and till date about5000-6000sq.km of land has been lost due to erosion by rivers. This has made lakhs of people landless and homeless in the state.
  • Historical Challenges:
    • Despite the above mentioned challenges, the North-eastern region was at par with rest of the country at independence but post-independence events have retarded the development of the region.
    • Partition of the country: When the major road, rail and river routes connecting North East to the rest of the country suddenly got snapped.
    • The Bangladesh Liberation was of 1971: When crores of people from Bangladesh entered some states of North East as refugees which changed the demographic situation in some state of North-East bordering Bangladesh.
    • Insurgencies: From the end of the seventies of the last century problems of insurgency started in states like Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura and Manipur, Insurgency affected the present day Nagaland and Mizoram in the fifties and sixties of the last century. Now, of course, due to various actions taken by the Central and State governments, insurgency in this region is no longer a matter of great concern.
  • Infrastructural Factors:
    • NER has about 6 per cent of the national roads and about 13 percent of the national highways. However, their quality is not good due to poor maintenance.
    • The prominent indicators of shortfalls in infrastructure in this region are: increasingly congested roads, power failures, shortage of drinking water etc.
  • Political challenges:
    • Chinese Aggression on Arunachal Pradesh (called NEFA at that time) in 1962, apparently refrain large scale investment from private player in North East.
    • Large scale Migration from Bangladesh led to various socio-economic- political problem
    • The culture of ‘bandhs’ is peculiar problem of NER, widely prevalent in Assam, Manipur and Nagaland.
    • Three fourth of NER have no proper land records and Individual ownership of land is not well established
  • Social Challenges:
    • Remarkable growth of migration from the North East to different parts of the country mostly in search of education and job opportunities gives big blow to the local society.
    • Drug abuse is a serious problem among youth of North east with more than 30% of its youth being drug abusers.
    • The pandemic of HIV/AIDS, spreading fast in Manipur, Nagaland and Mizoram, is also a matter of grave concern.
    • Migration from surrounding areas of NERs (Bangladesh and states of Bihar and Bengal) reduced the average size of land holding to about one hectare.
  • Lack of Social Infrastructure:
    • Inadequate number of polytechnics and higher institutions for engineering, medical and nursing studies etc.
    • Teachers’ Training is poor thereby leading to poor standards of education

Measures needed:

  • Proper Demarcation of Borders
    • There is a need for a legitimate ‘Centre led’ initiative to resolve the border issues.
    • The Centre can decide to maintain the status quo in the region or find a ‘common rationale’ to demarcate the border.
  • People to People Engagement
    • All ethnic majority and minority tribes residing in the region, must be respected and developed.
    • The concept of a ‘shared’ North East Identity could bring the people together. Education can be an effective tool to facilitate people-to-people connect.
  • The Act East Factor
    • Maintaining a peaceful North East is vital for India’s ‘Act East Policy’ as the NorthEast Region is the doorway to the ASEAN regions.
    • All the states gain by being connected to one another and for this peaceful border to ensure ‘free’ movement of people and trade are essential.
  • Empowerment of the people by maximizing self-governance and participatory development throughgrass-roots planning. Such planning will help to evolve development strategy based on the resources, needs and aspirations of the people.
  • Rural development with a focus on improving agricultural productivity and the creation of non-farm avocations and employment.
  • Development of sectors with comparative advantage agro-processing industries, modernization and development of sericulture, investment in manufacturing units based on the resources available in the region,harnessing the large hydroelectric power generation potential and focus on developing services such as tourism that will help to accelerate development and create productive employment opportunities.
  • Capacity developmentwill have to address the issue of imparting skills among the people to enhance their productivity, generating a class of entrepreneurs within the region willing to take risks.
  • Augmenting infrastructure, including rail, road, inland water and air transportation to facilitate a two-way movement of people and goods within the region and outside, communication networks including broadband and wireless connectivity,and harnessing of the vast power generation potential, all of which will open up markets for produce from the region, attract private investment, create greater employment opportunities and expand choices for people of the region.
  • Ensuring adequate flow of resources for public investments in infrastructure, implementing a framework for private participation in augmenting infrastructure and creating an enabling environment for the flow of investments to harness the physical resources of the region for the welfare of the people.

Conclusion

Innovation, Initiatives, Ideas and Implementation–all the four needs to go together. Inclusive growth is possible through improved governance, doing away with the draconian laws and ensuring the local communities are empowered to implement basic services. For this, all the stakeholders need to formulate a comprehensive realistic plan for the overall development of North East.

Value addition

Government Initiatives for NE Region

  • Ministry of Development of North Eastern Region (DoNER):A Department of Development of North Eastern Region (DoNER) was established in 2001. It was elevated to a full ministry in 2004.
  • Infrastructure Related Initiatives:
    • Under Bharatmala Pariyojana (BMP),road stretches aggregating to about 5,301 km in NER have been approved for improvement.
    • The North East has been kept as a priority area under RCS-UDAN(to make flying more affordable).
  • Connectivity Projects:Kaladan Multi-Modal Transit Project(Myanmar) and Bangladesh-China-India-Myanmar (BCIM) Corridor.
  • For Promoting Tourism:Under the Swadesh Darshan Schemeof the Ministry of Tourism, projects worth Rs.1400.03 crore have been sanctioned for the NER in the last five years.
  • Mission Purvodaya:Purvodayain the steel sector is aimed at driving accelerated development of Eastern India through the establishment of an integrated steel hub.
    • The Integrated Steel Hub, encompassing Odisha, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, West Bengal and Northern Andhra Pradesh, would serve as a torchbearer for socio-economic growth of Eastern India.
  • North-East Industrial Development Scheme (NEIDS):In order to promote employment in the North East States, the Government is incentivizing primarily the MSME Sector through this scheme.
  • The National Bamboo Missionhas a special significance for the Northeast.
  • North Eastern Region Vision 2020:The document provides an overarching framework for the development of the NE Region to bring it at par with other developed regions under which different Ministries, including the Ministry of DoNER have undertaken various initiatives.
  • Digital North East Vision 2022:It emphasises leveraging digital technologies to transform lives of people of the north east and enhance the ease of living.

 

8. The shortcomings of the UN system is manifestation of its structural inadequacy. Without comprehensive reforms of UN structure and without democratisation in decision-making, the UN might progressively lose its effectiveness and relevance. Critically examine.

Reference: Indian Express Insights on India

Introduction

The United Nations (UN) was set up, 75 years ago, with the principal aim of maintaining world peace and security. It has been successful in the decolonization process and preventing another World War. However, the 21st century world is very different from that 20th century and poses many new problems and realities.

Body

Article 1 of UN charter: Objectives of UN

  • Maintaining international peace and security
  • Developing friendly relations among nations
  • Achieving international cooperation in solving international problems
  • Harmonising the actions of nations in the attainment of these common ends.

Shortcomings in the UN system

  • Failures of the UN
    • Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty (NPT): Complete denuclearisation is still a distant dream with Russia and US at logger heads and China becoming powerful by the day.
    • UN failed to resolve the disputes during cold war era like Vietnam crisis or Cuban missile crisis incident.
    • Israeli occupation (1948-Now) and creation of the Jewish state in 1948. Israel’s ethnic cleansing of Palestinians was a huge failure. It also imposes a crippling blockade on Gaza and continues its construction of illegal settlements on occupied lands in defiance of several UN resolutions.
    • Syria war, Libya crisis and the current Russia-Ukraine war are a blot on UN’s history.
  • Rise of New Cold War: Conflict between the US on the one hand and China and Russia on the other has become a new reality in West-East Conflict.
  • Divided West: Despite the enduring post-War alliances, there is a growing divergence between US and its European partners on many global issues.
    • Some of the differences between the US and the other powers is very visible in the Iran Nuclear Deal.
    • Further, rejection of post-War multilateralism and post-Cold War globalism is at the heart of Trump’s “America First” foreign policy.
  • Ineffectiveness of UN: The UN has been unable to respond effectively to the once-in-a-century global crisis triggered by the coronavirus.
    • At the UN Security Council, China blocked a serious discussion on the origin and sources of the crisis. While the US walked out of the World Health Organisation on allegation of supporting China.
  • Toothless UN Peacekeeping Operation: While the vast number of international law treaties affecting international trade, economics and human rights has proved very effective, laws prohibiting the use of force have been less so.
    • Thus, there is a need to include more personnel and carry out structural reforms for the UN Peacekeeping Operations.

Reforms needed

  • UN Charter reforms: Article 2(7) of the UN charter doesn’t permit UN intervention in the domestic affairs of sovereign states.
    • UN intervenes on the basis of UNGA resolution based on ‘responsibility to protect’. U.N. Charter’s anachronistic enemy state clauses has discriminatory arrangements against the former enemy states of World War II.
    • Article 53 provides that “no enforcement action shall be taken under regional arrangements or by regional agencies without the authorization of the Security Council, with the exception of measures against any enemy state,”
    • Article 77 contains reference to enemy states in relation to the U.N. trusteeship.
  • UN General Assembly: UNGA needs greater role as UNSC remains paralyzed due to veto power and UNGA must be able to override veto by special majority.
  • UNSC reforms: The current membership of UNSC reflect post-WWII structure.
    • It doesn’t actually reflect the changes that have occurred in the international system after the end of the cold war.
    • Emerging nations like India, Brazil, South Africa etc needs representation in the UNSC as permanent members.
    • The existing membership reflects a regional imbalance, with no representation from Africa or Latin America and Europe being over-represented in the council

 

Conclusion

The UN was not created to take mankind to heaven, but to save humanity from hell. This was told by former United Nations Secretary-General Dag Hammarskjöld. No reform of the UN would be complete without reform of the Security Council. Therefore, equitable representation as well as expansion of the UNSC is the desired reform that India and the world envisages.

 


General Studies – 3


 

9. Evaluate the role that the Energy Conservation (Amendment) Bill, 2022 can play in ensuring greater use of renewable energy and enforcing penalties on industrial polluters for carbon emissions.

Reference: Down to Earth

 

Introduction

The government has tabled the Electricity (Amendment) Bill 2022 in the Lok Sabha and then referred it to the parliamentary standing committee on energy for wider consultation. Electricity Act, 2003 regulates the electricity sector in India by setting up the Central and State Electricity Regulatory Commissions (CERC and SERCs) to regulate interstate and intrastate matters, respectively.

 

Body

Role of Energy Conservation (Amendment) Bill, 2022 in ensuring use of renewable energy

  • Obligation to use non-fossil sources of energy: The Act empowers the central government to specify energy consumption standards. The Bill adds that the government may require the designated consumers to meet a minimum share of energy consumption from non-fossil sources.
    • Different consumption thresholds may be specified for different non-fossil sources and consumer categories.
    • Designated consumers include: (i) industries such as mining, steel, cement, textile, chemicals, and petrochemicals, (ii) transport sector including Railways, and (iii) commercial buildings, as specified in the schedule.
    • Failure to meet the obligation for use of energy from non-fossil sources will be punishable with a penalty of up to Rs 10 lakh.
    • It will also attract an additional penalty of up to twice the price of oil equivalent of energy consumed above the prescribed norm.
  • Carbon trading: The Bill empowers the central government to specify a carbon credit trading scheme.
    • Carbon credit implies a tradeable permit to produce a specified amount of carbon emissions.
    • The central government or any authorised agency may issue carbon credit certificates to entities registered under and compliant with the scheme.
    • The entities will be entitled to purchase or sell the certificate. Any other person may also purchase a carbon credit certificate on a voluntary basis.
  • Energy conservation code for buildings: The Act empowers the central government to specify energy conservation code for buildings.  The code prescribes energy consumption standards in terms of area.
    • The Bill amends this to provide for an ‘energy conservation and sustainable building code’.
    • This new code will provide norms for energy efficiency and conservation, use of renewable energy, and other requirements for green buildings.
  • Penalty: Consumers who utilise excess energy will be penalized according to their excess consumption.
    • Any appeals against any such order passed by the Central or state government will be heard by the appellate tribunal already established under the Electricity Act, 2003.

Other provisions

  • Benefits for consumers:
    • Allows multiple Discoms in the same area: More than one power distributor can operate in an area. This is aimed at boosting competition and giving more choice to the consumers. The new supplier can use existing supply lines.
    • Regulator must decide in 90 days or the application will be deemed to be approved.
    • It will end distribution monopolies and improve the viabilities of business.
  • Benefit for DISCOMs:
    • Fixing of Tariffs: There will be “mandatory” fixing of minimum as well as maximum tariff ceilings by the “appropriate commission” to avoid predatory pricing by power distribution companies and to protect consumers.
    • It aims to ensure graded and timely tariff revisions.
  • Benefits for remote areas and farmers:
    • Cross-subsidy Balancing Fund: Cross-subsidy refers to the arrangement of one consumer category subsidizing the consumption of another consumer category. E.g. commercial consumers subsidies residents or farmers. The state government will set up such a fund.

 

Conclusion

While the provisions are beneficial in many ways for India’s commitments to climate change and nationally determined contribution, any such changes must be made after wide consultation with states and other stakeholders.

 

10. Accelerating environmental crisis is without doubt the most urgent. At the same time, rapid technological change is transforming many aspects of our economies. In the above-mentioned context, reinventing the economic growth model is the need of the hour. Examine.

Reference: Down to earth

Introduction

Economic and environmental performance must go hand in hand. The natural environment is central to economic activity and growth, providing the resources we need to produce goods and services, and absorbing and processing unwanted by-products in the form of pollution and waste.

‘Development which meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs” in other words sustainable development is the answer.

Body

Background

  • Climate change is an existential threat, we know that. But what we continue to deny is the need for drastic emission reduction, that too in a world where millions still need the right to development.
  • In India, the poor, already surviving on the margins, are severely impacted by extreme weather events. They are the first victims of climate change — and they have not contributed to the stock of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.
  • We must recognise the imperative of climate justice.  Carbon dioxide (CO2) has a long residence time in the atmosphere and so, what is emitted in the past has accumulated and will “force” temperatures to rise. For this common but differentiated responsibility must be enforced.
  • Then, CO2 is linked to the way the world runs the economy — fossil fuels (coal or gas) are still determinants of growth. Most importantly, millions of people are still waiting to get the benefits of economic progress — which means access to affordable energy. And, this at a time when the world has literally run out of carbon space to accommodate their need for development.
  • In such a scenario the only solution is sustainable development.

 

Re-inventing economic growth model

  • Policies need to be simplified to create an ecosystem for new sustainable businesses to flourish.
  • ICT can help drive socio-economic achievements via e-health, e-government services and smart grids for utilities.
  • Good environmental governance which limits exploitation of natural resources to sustainable levels.
  •  Our policy should not be based on the “pollute-first; clean-up-later” approach.
  • We need to strengthen participatory processes such as public hearings in the environmental and forest clearance process.
  •  Developing and reporting measures of human well-being other than GDP that better account for environmental and social costs of resource use.
  • The Green GDP is a step forward for India if it wishes to account for true economic growth and its holistic wealth.
  • Strict environmental regulation may reduce environmental damage significantly.
  • India should work with foreign governments and global organizations to find ways of subsidizing clean fuel and cleaning our rivers and aquifers.

 

Conclusion

The transition to economic growth coupled with efficiency in natural resource use and its conservation can help India attain its goals of inclusive growth with sustainable development.  The time has indeed come to add “swachh paani” and “hawa” to “roti-kapada-makaan-aur-bijli”, to begin our journey towards sustainable growth

 


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