SECURE SYNOPSIS: 15 OCTOBER 2018

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SECURE SYNOPSIS: 15 OCTOBER 2018


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.


General Studies – 2


Topic–  Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.

1) No amount of concern over India’s place in the world university rankings or pumping resources into infrastructure building can help, if the university culture is not conducive to creativity. Comment. (250 words)

The hindu

why this question

India’s poor performance in global university rankings has led to expression of concern from various quarters add sections of the society. There have been calls for providing more autonomy and funds  to universities at academic institutions providing higher education. In this context it’s important to understand the importance of University culture conducive to creativity.

Directive word

Comment- here we have to express our knowledge and understanding of the issue and form an overall opinion thereupon.  

Key demand of the question.

The question wants us to  Express our opinion on the importance of University culture which is conducive to creativity vis a vis the importance of  better performance in university rankings as well as allocation of more funds towards higher education.

Structure of the answer

Introduction– write a few introductory lines about the  performance of Indian universities in the global university rankings. Also mention the recent announcement by the PM of India to invest Rs One lakh crore for infrastructure in higher education by 2022.

Body-

Discuss why a culture conducive to creativity is important for a university. Bring out the role and relatively less importance of, improving university rankings and pumping more funds. E.g rankings, though imperfect, suggest that Indian universities are lagging in their research output. This by itself should be worrying, but another aspect, namely the migration overseas even at the undergraduate level, suggests that not even the dissemination of knowledge here is considered good enough by Indians; University teachers are paid well enough and the availability of material is no longer a problem, with highly affordable Indian editions of the best international textbooks; The crucial factor is the absence of the norms internal to the Indian university that enable desirable outcomes with respect to teaching and research. Among these norms would be an expectation of excellence from both teachers and students and the assurance of autonomy to the former. This autonomy, it may be asserted, is to be expected not only in relation to external agencies such as the UGC or the MHRD but also within the university, including from peers. In fact, within the university the latter is all that counts etc

Conclusion– based on your discussion, form a fair and a balanced conclusion on the given issue.

Background:-

  • There have been initiatives made recently in the form of institute of eminence tag and recent announcement by PM to invest Rs One lakh crore for infrastructure in higher education by 2022 however no Indian university or institution of higher education figures in the global top 100.

Indian universities lack creativity :-

  • Indian universities are lagging in their research output.
  • The migration overseas even at the undergraduate level, suggests that not even the dissemination of knowledge here is considered good enough by Indians.
  • Absence of the norms internal to the Indian university that enable desirable outcomes with respect to teaching and research. 
  • There are no norms making for the attainment of excellence or the empowerment of faculty so that they deliver to their highest potential.
  • On the other hand, one often encounters established practices that reward mediocrity and restrict autonomy of the faculty
  • Restricting freedom at early age in schools by expecting children to write exactly as written in text books reflects later in industry, which leaves less scope for innovation due to lack of creativity
  • Governments have interfered so much with the so-called autonomous Indian institutions that they no more remain academic but have become political battle-fields for different parties
  • Key characteristics that are vital to any world-class university were missing from the institute of eminence tag exercise of selecting institutions.
    • This includes, for instance, internationalisation of faculty, research, students, courses and outlook. Moreover, the selection process should have had a holistic approach to disciplines.
    • By giving pre-eminence to the sciences and engineering, this tag has completely neglected the humanities and social sciences etc.
  • The model for the sector remains dependent on state patronage. Besides, entry into the global education race could now become an overriding concern. To gauge institutions principally by their prospective rankings, without regard for the relevance of outcomes, would be reductionist.

Way forward:-

  • Research funding to universities should be linked to research performance.
  • Admission process and evaluation of doctoral degrees should be made more rigorous so that quality improves and scholars and stakeholders trust the degrees awarded by universities.
  • For any development in higher education to bear fruit, it will have to be supported by the strengthening of primary education. China succeeded in this. 
  • Universities, teachers and students need to create more forums for interaction with the wider world. It is such interaction that would lead to generation of workable ideas and workable courses that can generate wealth. 
  • Internships for students, work on real world problems and building databases of knowledge that could be useful for artificial intelligence. 
  • Universities need to set up structures to encourage people willing and able to devote their time to real world problems and to improving productivity.
  • Funding can be sourced from Special cess, CSR, alumina fund, easy loans from banks, progressive fee structure etc. 
  • Link major R&D centres of country with government colleges in all states, to encourage inclusion of students in research initiatives in the country 
  • Ensure ease in movement of personnel between universities and industry. 
  • The apprenticeship system in Germany has produced great results is the existence of a curriculum developed by educational institutions in collaboration with business groups and with employees.

Topic – Separation of powers between various organs dispute redressal mechanisms and institutions.

2) The judiciary alone cannot take forward the mission of deepening democracy and protecting social freedoms in India. Do you agree? Comment. (250 words)

The hindu

Why this question

India is the world’s largest democracy with one of the most proactive and forward looking higher judiciary. Indian judiciary has largely defended the constitution and its values very well in the face of a challenging political atmosphere and regressive socioeconomic conditions. However it has its limits and needs to be complemented by political and societal efforts as discussed by the article.

Directive word

Comment- here we have to express our knowledge and understanding of the issue and form an overall opinion thereupon.

Key demand of the question.

The question wants us to express our opinion as to whether or not the judiciary alone can take forward the mission of deepening democracy and protecting social freedoms in India. We have to form our opinion based on a proper discussion and backed by sufficient arguments/ facts/ examples.

Structure of the answer

Introduction- write a few introductory lines about India’s vital democratic institutions- The legislature and the executive; the judiciary; the press; and the civil society.

Body-

Discuss the reforms brought by Indian judiciary and its efforts towards deepening the democracy in India and protecting social freedoms of its citizens. E.g briefly discuss the slew of verdicts by the Supreme Court, on triple talaq, Section 377, adultery, and the Sabarimala temple. Also mention the ruling on right to privacy and briefly discuss the role played by PILs in strengthening democracy and protecting social freedoms in India.

Bring out the need for other institutions like the legislatures and the executive, the civil society, the press to supplement the efforts of the judiciary. E.g On the one hand there is a complete abnegation of the role of the legislature, and on the other there is a dichotomy between social morality and judicial morality (itself an interpretation of constitutional morality); If the judiciary has assumed the role of the single most important pillar of India’s parliamentary democracy, built on separation of powers, it is mainly because of the degradation and abuse of the roles of the legislature and the the executive, the press and the civil society; Parliament, instead of representing the highest democratic ethos, panders to electoral majorities, leaving it incapable of challenging barbaric social/religious practices enforced by dominant interests; the judiciary does not exist in a vacuum. Even when it attempts to correct regressive social practices, it is still a reflection of our society. Nothing could be more illustrative of this than the serious lack of diversity and representation, especially in the higher judiciary etc.

Conclusion– based on your discussion, form a fair and a balanced conclusion on the given issue.

Background:-

  • India is going through a deep crisis in which the mission of deepening democracy, and protecting and advancing social freedoms is placed solely upon the judiciary.

Judiciary role is very proactive :-

  • The Supreme Court verdicts on triple talaq , Section 377, adultery ,right to privacy, the Sabarimala temple etc have shown the strong role it plays in deepening democracy and protecting the social freedoms.

Why judiciary had to play such proactive role :-

  • There is a complete abnegation of the role of the legislature:-
    • It is mainly because of the degradation and abuse of the roles of the legislature and the the executive, the press and the civil society
    • Parliament, instead of representing the highest democratic ethos, panders to electoral majorities, leaving it incapable of challenging barbaric social/religious practices enforced by dominant interests
    • There has been a decline in the number of Parliamentary meetings and the number of bills passed by the Legislature.
    • Many bills have been passed without discussion in Parliament .
  • Role of executive has also largely declined due to coalition governments, vested interests, catering to specific sections of population against public interest ,vote bank politics etc .

Judiciary alone cannot take forward the mission of deepening democracy and protecting social freedoms in India :-

  • Task of democratising society cannot be left to the judiciary, an unelected body, the higher echelons of which self-appoint their members through the collegium system .
  • There is a huge pendency of cases and under trials are languishing in jails. Therefore, the valuable time of judiciary should be spent in clearing backlogs and dispensing justice.
  • When it attempts to correct regressive social practices, it is still a reflection of our society which is visible in the serious lack of diversity and representation, especially in the higher judiciary etc
  • A system of checks and balances exists in which the courts can strike down the unconstitutional amendments made by the legislature. This balance will be distorted if judiciary performs all the roles and functions.
  • Making Judiciary alone responsible will lead to violation of the Seperation of Power and in the process would undermine the basic structure of the constitution as well.

 


General Studies – 3


Topic– Indian economy : issues

3) Examine the issues that the collapse of IL&FS highlights and discuss steps that are needed for course correction?(250 words)

Financial express

Reference

Why this question

The collapse of IL&FS raises several questions with respect to corporate governance structure, lack of transparency and other issues which have been discussed in the articles. The topic has received widespread coverage in news and needs to be prepared in detail

Key demand of the question

We have to briefly explain the turn of collapse events leading to collapse of IL&FS, examine the learnings from the collapse of IL&FS, and discuss steps to prevent such incidents in the future.

Directive word

Examine – When you are asked to examine, you have to probe deeper into the topic,  get into details, and find out the causes or implications if any .

Structure of the answer

Introduction – Highlight that IL&FS is an infrastructure lending company, an NBFC, with significant shareholdings of public sector entities like LIC etc. The company which has several subsidiaries is in the eye of a storm because defaulted on a few payments and failed to service its commercial papers (CP) on due date—which means the company has run out of cash or it is facing a liquidity crunch.

Body

  • Discuss the effects of the crisis – company’s default spells trouble for its investors, which include banks, insurance companies, and mutual funds. Investors and traders have been worried over the cascading effects of IL&FS’s defaults, with further defaults hitting mutual funds with exposure to IL&FS and its group companies. Highlight that LIC has assured that it would not allow IL&FS to default, and that IL&FS has moved to NCLT for relief
  • Examine the learnings – poor quality of credit rating agencies, lack of transparency in functioning of such behemoths, poor regulatory oversight mechanism, issues for infrastructure lending etc
  • Discuss the course correction – better regulation of corporate structures, combined with greater disclosure and transparency and stronger corporate governance. Second, a clearer separation of public and private is needed, rather than the muddy links and ownership structures that now exist etc

Conclusion – Highlight that lessons needs to be learnt and discuss way forward.

Background:-

  • The collapse of Infrastructure Leasing and Financial Services (IL&FS) highlights India’s biggest economic problem how to finance large, necessary investments needed for sustained economic growth.
  • IL&FS is an over 30-year-old infrastructure lending giant that claims to have helped develop and finance projects worth $25 billion in Asia’s fastest-growing economy.
  • The company recently defaulted on a few payments, which means it has run out of cash. It has over Rs 91,000 crore in debt at the consolidated level.
  • The situation is so grim that it is being compared to the 2008 Lehman Brothers crisis that triggered a global financial meltdown.

Issues that the collapse of IL&LS highlights:-

  • This spells trouble not only for the firm but also its investors, which include banks, insurance companies and mutual funds. Even the value of unit-linked insurance plans, endowment plans, the National Pension Scheme, etc. will be hit.
  • The systemic problems created by the failure of firms like IL&FS is that Public money spent on a bailout is unavailable for other welfare-enhancing expenditures and private lending is adversely affected by such events, possibly for years.
  • Poor corporate governance and lack of adequate regulation for monitoring systemically important firms as IL&FS. These problems are not unique to India. They have caused problems in advanced economies, particularly the United States, in recent decades.
  • IL&FS has an extraordinarily complex corporate structure, with well over 100 subsidiaries. This kind of complexity makes it difficult to understand what is truly going on. Corporate boards, regulatory monitors and even auditors have difficulty in such circumstances. This means that problems can be hidden until they explode. 
  • Transparency and disclosure will also help markets work better. IL&FS was tapping bond markets while hiding its problems, so clearly lenders did not have an accurate picture of the company’s financial position nor did the rating agencies
  • Public ownership and influence can distort incentives and decision making. This has been a common problem in public sector banks, and was true for IL&FS.
  • IL&FS was not even a public limited company.
    • In retrospect, it is highly unusual that government financial institutions, as a group, were the largest shareholders of a private limited company with no market signals to go by except the credit rating.
  • Non-banking financial companies (NBFC) stocks will be under pressure due to higher valuations. With banks cutting fresh lines of credit, there will be acute liquidity issues, hitting the NBFCs. 
  • Most of the IL&FS group’s assets include financial claims on infrastructure projects such as roads, tunnels, water treatment plants, and power stations, etc. which cannot be liquidated to escape the mess.
  • A downgrade in the credit rating sends the bond’s price down, which affects debt funds.
  • IL&FS’s defaults can have a significant impact on India’s credit markets. The firm’s outstanding debentures and commercial papers accounted for 1% and 2%, respectively, of India’s domestic corporate debt market as of March 31, according to Moody’s Investor Services.
  • Its borrowings from banks around Rs 57,000 crore  made up between 0.5% and 0.7% of banking system loans. Defaults will spell more trouble for Indian lenders, already battling a huge toxic loan pile.
  • There may also be some indirect effects. For instance, several projects, including the Bengaluru Metro construction plans, are likely to be delayed, which will affect individuals, too, besides the firms involved.

Steps needed for course correction:-

  • Forcing as much disclosure and transparency as possible are necessary. Complexity of corporate structure and of asset portfolios can be counteracted by requiring more disclosure. 
  • Better regulation of corporate structures, combined with greater disclosure and transparency and stronger corporate governance.
  • A clearer separation of public and private is needed, rather than the muddy links and ownership structures that now exist.
  • If the institutional framework can be strengthened, greater entry and competition can generate the financing necessary for India’s infrastructure needs.

 

Topic:  Issues related to direct and indirect farm subsidies and minimum support prices

4) Discuss the problems faced by the scheme for  promotion of Agricultural Mechanization for in-situ Management of Crop Residue. (250 words)

Reference

Why this question

Burning of crop residues in the northern parts of India is one the main causes of several air pollution in cities like Delhi. In situ management of crop residue and promotion of agricultural mechanization has not yielded the desired results. It is important to discuss the failure of the scheme and the reasons behind it.

Directive word

Discuss- this is an all-encompassing directive which mandates us to write in detail about the key demand of the question. we also have to discuss about the related and important aspects of the question in order to bring out a complete picture of the issue in hand.

Key demand of the question.

The question wants us to write in detail about the scheme for Agricultural Mechanization for in-situ management of crop residue and bring out the reasons as to why the scheme has been unable to yield the desired outcomes and results.

Structure of the answer

Introduction– write a few introductory lines about the  problem of burning agricultural residue in India.

Body

Write a few introductory lines about the  scheme in question and bring out the reasons as to why it has failed to achieve the desired outcomes. E.g  the effectiveness of the machines made available to farmers, like chopper, happy seeders, super straw management system (Super-SMS) and rotavator, is questionable; happy seeder has the potential of causing a rat and termite attack when wheat seeds are sown; Even If a farmer buys all the machines at subsidised rates, he will have to spend hefty amounts; The machines require higher basic horsepower (BHP) tractors, which cost much higher than all these machines and also the operating costs are higher; the cost of various machines has jumped significantly in the past couple of years etc.

conclusion– based on your discussion, form a fair and a balanced conclusion on the given issue.  

Background:-

  • Punjab, Haryana and western Uttar Pradesh produce nearly 40 million tonnes of paddy straw annually. This precious raw material, when burnt, causes pollution, environment degradation, and warming of temperature, leading to accidents as well as afflicting people with breathing-related diseases. So there need to be mechanisms created to convert crop residue into an useful resource.
  • As per budget 2018-19 announcement, a special scheme to support the efforts of the Governments of Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh and NCT of Delhi to address air pollution and to subsidize machinery required for in-situ management of crop residue, a new Central Sector Scheme (100% Central share) in this regard in the States of Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh and NCT of Delhi for the period 2018-19 to 2019-20 has been proposed which is called as scheme for promotion of agricultural mechanization for in situ management of crop residue.

Scheme for promotion of agricultural mechanization for in situ management of crop residue:-

  • The total outgo from the Central funds would be Rs.1151.80 crore (Rs. 591.65 crore in 2018-19 and Rs. 560.15 crore in 2019-20).
  • Components of the Scheme
    • Establish Farm Machinery Banks for Custom Hiring of in -situ crop residue management machinery.
      • Financial assistance at 80% of the project cost will be provided to the cooperative societies of the farmers, FPOs, Self Help Groups, Registered Farmers Societies/ Farmers Group, Private Entrepreneurs, Group of Women Farmers.
    • Financial Assistance to the farmers for Procurement of Agriculture Machinery and Equipment for in -situ crop residue management.
      • Financial assistance at 50% of the machinery/ equipment will be provided to individual farmer for crop residue management.
    • Information, Education and Communication for awareness on in-situ crop residue management.
      • Financial assistance will be provided to the State Government/ KVKs, ICAR Institutes, Central Government Institutes, PSUs, etc. for the activities to be undertaken towards information, education and communication.
      • The activities will involve mass awareness campaigns through short and long films, documents, radio and TV programmes, demonstration camps at various levels, capacity building programme, advertisement in print media, star campaigning, award for Village/ Gram Panchayat for achieving Zero Straw Burning, panel discussions on Doordarshan, DD Kisan and other private channels, etc.

Problems faced by the scheme:-

  • The effectiveness of the machines made available to farmers, like chopper, happy seeders, super straw management system (Super-SMS) and rotavator, is questionable.
  • Happy seeder has the potential of causing a rat and termite attack when wheat seeds are sown. This machine just sows wheat without cutting paddy straw and this invites rats and termite to the field.
  • Even at subsidized rates the cost of the machinery is very expensive
  • The machines require higher basic horse power (BHP) tractors, which cost much higher than all these machines. 
  • The cost of various machines has jumped significantly in the past couple of years 
  • Farmers have to be convinced that their yields will not suffer should they choose to use a Happy Seeder. States have not initiated this crucial first step at least not in desirable numbers.

What needs to be done?

  • The farmers are willing to avoid paddy straw burning provided they get an assured price for it. The conversion of paddy straw into generation of bio-CNG can be a game changer.
  • A common agency like the National Institution for Transforming India (NITI) Aayog, can play coordinating role better by involving different ministries and experts. The states need to be given a solution acceptable to all the stakeholders.
    • In order to tackle this problem, there is a need to take a relook at the national policy on biofuels, and budgetary allocation of 1,151 crore for machinery subsidy in light of the emergence of new and efficient technologies for bio-CNG, ethanol, and manure production
  • Stronger monitoring and enforcement mechanism through the use of remote sensing technology–use of real-time satellite imagery, along with village-level enforcement teams with the aim of zero incidence rate of crop residue burning, through prevention and penalisation.
  • Policy approaches to be followed:-
    • The Union Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare has also announced a scheme to promote mechanisation of agriculture that envisages proper management of crop residue. The top two decision-making committees dealing with the scheme don’t have any representative from the states. It would be prudent to include a representative from Punjab because two-thirds of the total paddy burning in the country occurs in the state. A practising local zero-till farmer should be included in all district-level committees.
    • The capacity of the KVKs to reach out to lakhs of farmers is very limited. These central government-funded institutions must work under the guidance of state-appointed nodal agencies not vice-versa.
    • A far better alternative would be to invest Rs 5,000 per month for six months on a peer farmer-led person-to-person outreach programme. This programme that will use the services of trained village-level workers should run for two years.
    • Establishment of a larger number of biomass-based power projects utilising greater amounts of paddy straw is needed
    • Effective and greater scope of subsidy provision, so that agricultural implements can be made widely available:-
      • One way forward is to promote the co-ownership model. There are more than 1700 existing cooperative and privately-run Agricultural Machinery Service Centers (AMSC), which can be the focus of such subsidies. It is important that the farmer understands the value of the crop residue and wants to use these implements for extraction and packaging.
    • Creation of a market for paddy straw, along with a mechanism for commercial procurement of paddy straw for use in biomass-based power projects, as fuel in brick kilns and in production of ethanol. Establishment of bio-refineries for utilisation of paddy straw is another viable option.
    • Utilisation of paddy straw in the form of biomass pellet fuel, which can be commercially sold as the main fuel for an industrial boiler, as a replacement for coal. Micro-pelletisation establishments need to be incentivised and local usage promoted

Topic-  Effects of liberalization on the economy, changes in industrial policy and their effects on industrial growth.

5) A comprehensive protection of traditional knowledge in India can be secured only through a multipronged approach. Discuss.(250 words)

epw

Why this question

The article provides a deep and  a clear insights into the need for protecting Traditional Knowledge, challenges involved therein and possible solutions.

Directive word

Discuss- this is an all-encompassing directive which mandates us to write in detail about the key demand of the question. we also have to discuss about the related and important aspects of the question in order to bring out a complete picture of the issue in hand.

Key demand of the question.

The question wants us to write in detail about the need for a multipronged approach in order to secure a comprehensive protection of Traditional Knowledge in the current IPR regime.

Structure of the answer

Introduction- write a few introductory lines about the  Traditional Knowledge, its diversity, content, nature of record/ transmission etc.

Body-

Discuss the need for providing comprehensive protection to traditional knowledge. E.g Developing countries, traditional know­ledge holders and ILCs largely realised the imperative for the protection of traditional knowledge under the IPR regime administered internationally through the Agreement on Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS), 1992, in the wake of certain cases of biopiracy of plants such as neem, turmeric, and ayahuasca; the National IPR Policy insistently makes the case for defensive measures, or measures which are primarily targeted at preventing IPR claims on traditional knowledge being granted to unauthorised entities. It extensively advocates the use of documentation (strengthening and expanding the Traditional Knowledge Digital Library [TKDL]), as a means to establish prior art, made available to patent examiners across the world, thereby preventing IPR claims to traditional knowledge being granted to unauthorised entities, while also encouraging the possibility of its greater use for further research and development; It has been recognised that there are a number of gaps in securing positive patent protection for traditional knowledge, which includes both a formal gap in the legal scope of possible protection as well as practical gaps (WIPO 2008);  Concerns have also been manifest throughout the world about persons other than those belonging to ILCs or traditional knowledge holders exploiting or abusing the patent system to secure patents over traditional knowledge which are legitimately the property of the former

Discuss how Traditional Knowledge can be comprehensively secured. E.g comprehensive protection of traditional knowledge can be secured only through a multipronged approach which includes using the conventional IPR regime to the extent feasible to secure both negative and positive protection, increased interface between the IPR regime and other regimes (biodiversity, ABS regimes), amendments to the existing legislation to further strengthen the traditional knowledge enabling provisions, as well as considering the case for a sui generis mechanism. Such efforts are, however, not enough in a globalised world order and it is indispensable that the interests of a developing country like India, with rich traditional knowledge and ILCs dependent on it for livelihood, prevail in the rule-setting organisations at the global level, be it the TRIPS or CBD etc.

Take the help of the article attached to the question to understand the issue better and to frame your answer.

Conclusion– based on your discussion, form a fair and a balanced conclusion on the given issue.

Traditional knowledge in India:-

  • Traditional knowledge so called local knowledge or indigenous knowledge terms as the knowledge which come from the local communities and tradition of regional technology areas.
  • It is the technology which has orally passed over generation from person to person. The world intellectual property organization (WIPO) defines Traditional knowledge as “indigenous cultural and intellectual property”

Why there is a need for multipronged approach:-

  • The forest and dwellers gives to India an abundant of knowledge about the traditional value of various forest products.
    • India has around 100 million forest dwellers and most of whom belongs to tribal communities. But the way intellectual property rights have been designed in modern commerce, traditional knowledge cannot be protected.
  • One of the main reasons is in traditional knowledge there is lack of inventive step or character, because of inherent lack of novelty.
  • In the recent past years, there have been several cases of bio- piracy of traditional knowledge in India.
    • Developing countries, traditional know­ledge holders and Indigenous and local communities(ILC) largely realised the imperative for the protection of traditional knowledge under the IPR regime administered internationally through the Agreement on Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS), 1992, in the wake of certain cases of biopiracy of plants such as neem, turmeric etc
  • The lack of an internationally binding legal instrument for traditional knowledge is perceived to be the main reason for inadequate protection, in the absence of which national action to protect traditional knowledge is considerably watered down.
  • The National IPR Policy insistently makes the case for defensive measures, or measures which are primarily targeted at preventing IPR claims on traditional knowledge being granted to unauthorised entities.
    • It extensively advocates the use of documentation (strengthening and expanding the Traditional Knowledge Digital Library [TKDL]), as a means to establish prior art, made available to patent examiners across the world, thereby preventing IPR claims to traditional knowledge being granted to unauthorised entities, while also encouraging the possibility of its greater use for further research and development
  • Patent laws:-
    • It has been recognised that there are a number of gaps in securing positive patent protection for traditional knowledge, which includes both a formal gap in the legal scope of possible protection as well as practical gaps
    • Concerns have also been manifest throughout the world about persons other than those belonging to ILCs or traditional knowledge holders exploiting or abusing the patent system to secure patents over traditional knowledge which are legitimately the property of the former
  • Persistent efforts at the international level are required to make the IPR regime more equitable and beneficial for developing countrie
    • While the National IPR Policy makes the right noises when it refers to the need to engage constructively in the negotiation of international treaties and agreements in consultation with stakeholders such a pronouncement has to be backed by concerted action to defend the interests of the country and its people in a proactive fashion.

Way forward:-

  • Lessons from other countries:-
    • Peruvian legislation recognises upfront the rights and powers of indigenous peoples and communities to use and share their collective knowledge as they see fit.
    • The state merely acts as the facilitator and the ILCs, through their representative organisations, have primary rights and roles with respect to prior informed consent, licensing, use of the resources of the Fund for the Development of Indigenous Peoples, representation of ILCs in the implementing agency, etc. India could emulate this approach.
  • Comprehensive protection of traditional knowledge can be secured only through a multipronged approach which includes using the conventional IPR regime to the extent feasible to secure both negative and positive protection, increased interface between the IPR regime and other regimes (biodiversity, ABS regimes), amendments to the existing legislation to further strengthen the traditional knowledge enabling provisions, as well as considering the case for a sui generis mechanism.
  • Such protection should primarily be with regards to, firstly, the recognition of the rights of the original traditional knowledge holders and secondly, the unauthorized acquisition of rights by third parties over traditional knowledge.
  • The case for building capacity of the traditional knowledge holders to protect and derive economic gain from their traditional knowledge, through their participation in the prevalent regime cannot be overemphasised.
    • As WIPO observes, the protection provided should directly reflect the actual aspirations, expectations and needs of the traditional knowledge holders. 
  • There is a need for sizeable investments by the state in the direction of capacity building.
    • It is pertinent that the discourse on traditional knowledge and IPR should be placed in the local social and economic context in which the communities are living and protection mechanisms built from the bottom up.
  • The need of the hour is to create an enabling environment for traditional knowledge holders and ILCs to participate in the neo-liberal order on equal terms and benefit from it too.

Topic– Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation

6) The lack of success of Namami Gange is having adverse impact of biodiversity of Ganges river. Analyse. (250 words)

Reference

Why this question

The article assesses the status of river Ganga with respect to its biodiversity and highlights how the biodiversity of the river is being impacted due to various reasons. Namami Gange is in the news and assessing the impact of the programme, and the reasons why pollution of Ganga rivers continues unabated and the impact it has had on biodiversity etc is important and needs to be prepared.

Key demand of the question

The question expects us to discuss the status of Namami Gange programme and highlight the impact on biodiversity as a result of pollution, dam construction etc. First, we need to analyse how defective Namami Gange has been in achieving its stated objectives. Next, we need to analyze the impact of such pollution on biodiversity of Ganges. Finally, we need to discuss steps to correct the situation.

Directive word

Analyze – When asked to analyze, you  have to examine methodically the structure or nature of the topic by separating it into component parts and present them as a whole in a summary.

Structure of the answer

Introduction – Explain the objective and status of Namami Gange. Mention that according to a new report from the CAG, this new push to clean the Ganga is not delivering results. Government had only used $260 million of the $1.05 billion earmarked for the flagship programme between April 2015 and March 2017. All of these projects had a consistent list of problems: unused funds, an absence of a long-term plan, and delays in taking concrete action.

Body

  • Discuss the reasons why the flow of water, and the quality of water has deteriorated – dam construction, effluent discharge etc
  • Discuss the impact on biodiversity in various stretches of the river as highlighted in the WII report. Mention that the problem is only likely to worsen in the days to come as a result of promotion of waterways.
  • Discuss the steps that need to be undertaken to correct the situation – in the Upper Ganga, micro hydel power projects should be considered instead of larger dams, Flow Augmentation is a calculated release of water stored in reservoirs into the stream to maintain its natural flow. A good flow in the river will also help tackle huge pollution due to abundant dilution of water with the pollutants etc

Conclusion – highlight the emphasis government has put on Namami Gange and discuss the way forward.

Background:-

  • According to a map of Ganga river water quality presented by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) to National Green Tribunal (NGT) in August 2018, only five out of 70-odd monitoring stations had water that was fit for drinking and seven for bathing.
  • After three decades of efforts to clean the national river, it is a sad state of affairs that the river is not even fit for bathing

Namami Ganga:-

  • It is the biggest-ever initiative with financial support of over Rs 20,000 crore allotted to this scheme to clean Ganga by 2019 and it has now been extended to 2020.
  • Namami Gange is being implemented by the National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG), and its state counterparts State Programme Management Groups.
  • NMCG would establish field offices wherever necessary. The National Ganga Council (NGC) was created and the Prime Minister was made the head of it.
  • This council replaced the National Ganga River Basin Authority (NGRBA).
  • NGC would have on board the chief ministers of five Ganga basin states Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh (UP), Bihar, Jharkhand and West Bengal besides several Union ministers and it was supposed to meet once every year.
  • Focus on biodiversity:-
    • Apart from modernisation and redevelopment of Ghats and crematoriums, the programme involves development of sewage infrastructure and treatment, afforestation, deployment of trash skimmers and conservation of biodiversity.
    • Eight biodiversity centres will be developed along the Ganga for conservation of dolphins, turtles and different varieties of fish. These centres will be developed at Rishikesh, Narora, Dehradun, Allahabad, Bhagalpur, Varanasi, Sahibganj and Barrackpore.
    • NMCG has initiated a project, ‘Biodiversity Conservation and Ganga Rejuvenation’ in collaboration with the Wildlife Institute of India (WII), to restore the dwindling aquatic wildlife of the river. By stopping dumping of waste in the river and maintaining a continuous flow of water, the aquatic life can survive and revive, including a variety of fish which can clean the river.
    • A massive initiative under the Ganga tree plantation drive was also initiated. Under the drive, the government will plant 10 crore trees along the banks of the river from Haridwar to Kolkata.

Adverse impact on biodiversity:-

  • Gangetic dophin:-
    • Population of the Gangetic Dolphin, which was declared national aquatic animal in 2009, is on the verge of extinction due to construction of dams and barrages.
    • Continuous disturbance from movement of large vessels in the river may cause unprecedented decline in dolphin population and modification of the river habitat for navigation, such as dredging, river training and canalisation may damage its habitat.
  • Other species are also affected:-
    • Population of several other aquatic species along the Ganga is continuously going down.
    • The number of otters, various species of birds both resident and migratory crocodiles, turtles and amphibians are declining due to construction of large-scale hydroelectric projects, reclamation of wetlands for human settlement and poaching and contamination of waterways.
  • A recent survey revealed that aquatic life in 49% stretch of Ganga had recorded high biodiversity but the rest of the stretch may have been adversely affected due to sewage and pollution from industries and water being diverted for agricultural activities like irrigation.
  • Turtles:-
    • Survey report said that most of the freshwater turtle populations were declining in Ganga due to toxic chemical substances from agricultural fields and industries and altered natural flow regime by dams and barrages which can cause nest inundation among other factors.
  • Golden Mahaseer:-
    • Like the freshwater turtle, golden mahaseer is declining rapidly from its natural habitat due to urbanisation, chemical and physical alterations of their natural habitats due to the growing number of hydroelectric and irrigation projects, the report stated.
    • The report cited that Tehri Dam had acted as a barrier to migration of golden mahaseer, leading to a decline in its population.

Other issues :-

  • CAG in its report claimed that the NMCG neither circulated Ganga Rejuvenation Basin Management Programme  (GRBMP) to different ministries/departments for consultation and seeking their opinion, nor finalised the Ganga Rejuvenation Basin Management Programme  (GRBMP) for initiating the long-term intervention on the Ganga.
  • There have been issues regarding untreated waste that flows into the river, restoring the flow of the river, sludge management in Ganga basin towns, cost overruns in execution of projects and governance glitches.
  • Sewage treatment:-
    • As far as sewage infrastructure projects are concerned, 68 projects were sanctioned after the Namami Gange was approved by the cabinet and only six were completed till August.  
    • New projects are delayed because land acquisition and other related activities were taking a lot of time. 
  • A river is a self-purifying system only when water flows through it. The Ganga fails this basic test except during monsoons. So it’s not just about unclean Ganga. It is about the existence of Ganga.
  • The water resources ministry signed MOUS with 10 ministries for better implementation of Namami Gange. However, till date no detail is available as to how these ministries are functioning for better convergence. 

Way forward:-

  • There is an urgent need to create public awareness, at macro and micro levels, to help people see the severity of the situation.
  • Government should focus on promoting crop rotation and removing water-intensive crops in the belt to stop groundwater depletion. 

 


Topic – Part of static series under the heading – “Irrigation”

7) What do you understand by micro irrigation? Discuss its importance to a country like India?(250 words)

Key demand of the question

The question is quite straightforward in its demand. It expects us to explain what micro irrigation is and thereafter, give reasons for its importance to a country like India.

Structure of the answer

Introduction – Give a brief introduction to status of irrigation in India and highlight that micro irrigation is gaining currency.

Body –

  • Explain what micro irrigation is – Slow application of water on localized volume of soil by surface drip, subsurface drip, bubbler, and micro sprinkler systems.
  • Explain its importance for India – allows judicious use of water for a water stressed country like India. It also helps to save fertilizer consumption per unit of land etc

Conclusion – Discuss the status of micro irrigation in India and highlight the steps through which micro irrigation in India can be promoted.

 

Background:-

  • Due to recurring droughts in years 2012, 2015 and 2016, micro-irrigation has become a policy priority in India. The new catch-phrase in one of the central government’s schemes, Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchai Yojana (PMKSY or Prime Minister’s Agriculture Irrigation Programme), is “Per Drop More Crop” which is focused towards micro irrigation.

Micro irrigation:-

  • Micro-irrigation is the slow application of water as discrete or continuous drips, tiny streams or miniature spray on, above, or below the soil by surface drip, subsurface drip, bubbler and micro-sprinkler systems. It is applied through emitters connected to a water delivery line through low-pressure delivery

Importance of micro irrigation to India:-

  • As the agriculture sector consumes 80% of the freshwater in India, micro-irrigation is often promoted by central and state governments as a way to tackle the growing water crisis. This is because drip and sprinkler irrigation delivers water to farms in far lesser quantities than conventional gravity flow irrigation.
  • The shift towards micro-irrigation is thought to save water and boost crop yields.
    • Frequent watering eliminates moisture stress and yield can be increased up to 15-150% as compared to conventional methods of irrigation.
  • Micro irrigation system contains application of water at low volume and frequent interval under low pressure to plant root zone and it is considered as a very economic and efficient plan.
  • Water saving:-
    • 40-70% of water can be saved over conventional irrigation methods .Run off and deep percolation losses are nil or negligible.
  • Saving in labour:-
    • Labour required only for operation and periodic maintenance of the system
  • Weed infestation is almost nil
  • Frequent irrigation keeps the salt concentration within root zone below harmful level.
  • Diseases and pest problems are relatively less because of less atmospheric humidity.
  • Efficiency of fertilizer use is also very high due to reduced loss of nutrients through leaching and run off water.
  • Partial wetting of soil surface and slow application rates eliminate any possibility of soil erosion.
  • In India farmers of all the states have shown an increase in area under horticulture crops after the adoption of the Micro irrigation system.
  • Micro irrigation has generated benefits to the farmers in terms of enhancement of the productivity. The average productivity of fruits and vegetables has increased mainly because of crop spacing, judicious use of water and other inputs etc.
  • The overall benefits accrued from the micro irrigation system are reflected in the income enhancement of the farmers.

However the following issues need to be tackled:-

  • Micro-irrigation program in India is fraught with a risk of failure. This is because the program is ill-conceived, not holistic, and disintegrated from the basin/watershed perspective.
  • The meager farm income from declining landholdings challenges the sustainability of expensive micro-irrigation on Indian farms because farmers now have to invest further to replace obsolete components of drip/sprinkler systems such as filters, clogged pipe network, electrical/electronic components, pumps, silted water bodies etc., all of which are not covered in any of the governments’ financial schemes.
  • Another impediment to micro-irrigation in India is the expense of the system itself. 

Way forward:-

  • Alternatives such as the cultivation of low water intensive crops in place of water intensive crops across arid and semi-arid regions of India, virtual water trades, and water markets cause real water savings with little cost is necessary.
  • Governments have to prioritize planned cropping patterns backed by stringent laws and administrative capacity to monitor cultivation of less water intensive crops.