SYNOPSIS: Insights Secure Q&A August 17, 2016
SYNOPSIS: Insights Secure Q&A August 17, 2016
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General Studies – 1;
Topic: Changes in critical geographical features (including waterbodies and ice-caps) and in flora and fauna and the effects of such changes
1) Recently, a committee of experts, appointed by the National Green Tribunal (NGT) to assess the damage caused to the Yamuna floodplain in Delhi where the World Culture Festival was held, has found that the event has extensively damaged Yamuna floodplain. Critically examine how such religious or spiritual congregations affect ecology of regions where such events are held. (200 Words)
- The Shashi Sekhar committee which was appointed to look into the adverse impact caused by the world culture festival to the Yamuna floodplain submitted its Assessment recently.
Adverse effects on ecology by such events:
- The use of big diesel power generators during ongoing World Culture Festival (WCF) at Yamuna floodplains is expected to have serious impact on the air quality.
- The main event site has been totally destroyed by complete clearing of all kinds of vegetation on the floodplain (and loss of all dependent biodiversity), filling in of water bodies and all depressions, dumping of debris and garbage followed by levelling and heavy compacting of the ground”.
- Most of the ecosystem functions of natural wetlands have been completely lost. This is an ‘invisible’ loss of biodiversity which cannot be easily assessed, and most may never be able to return.
- Construction of ramps and roads, filling up of water bodies and levelling of the ground together with compaction have almost completely eliminated the natural physical features and diversity of habitats.
- Physical changes also occurred in the river channel due to the removal of riparian vegetation, construction of road and pontoon bridges, blocking of the side channel that would invariably disturb the flow and bottom sediments besides bringing in particulate material into it.
- The simplification of habitat into a flat land has eliminated all water bodies in the impacted area .These water bodies control floods, help groundwater recharge, support vegetation, fish and other biodiversity. Overall, the floodwater retention capacity of the area has been severely compromised.
- The floodplain has lost almost all of its natural vegetation – trees, shrubs, reeds, tall grasses, aquatic vegetation including water hyacinth. The vegetation also includes numerous microscopic forms of algae, mosses and some ferns which inhabit the soil and water bodies.
- Loudspeakers, fire crackers and loud musical instruments, appear to be one of the biggest culprits of noise pollution during festivals in India. A study by World Health Organisation (WHO) asserts that noise pollution is not only a nuisance to the environment but it also poses considerable threat to public health.
- Polluter pays principle has to be implemented strictly
- Social impact assessment has to be prepared before hand
- Centre and state government need to have provisions for arranging these kind of festivals in temporary structures.
Religion culture and environment are different things . People need to be aware that sustainable quality of life is very important and religious practices which impact environment adversely need to be avoided
General Studies – 2
Topic: Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests
Cooperative components :
- Over the years, China has become India’s primary trading partner and the volume of trade between these countries annually grows at a breakneck speed. The countries have set a goal to increase trade from its current $80 billion to $100 billion by 2015.
- Chinese businesses play an important role in improving Indian infrastructure and hold a stable position on the Indian market in sectors like electricity, communications and metallurgy
- NDB and AIIB: India and China have a significant role to play in the success of these two initiatives
- Modernisation of infrastructure :India plans to invest one trillion U.S. dollars in infrastructure in the next five years and we would welcome China’s expertise and investment in this sector.
- In recent years, through BRICS, the BASIC Countries, G20 and other joint associations like SCO China and India have pursued effective cooperation in areas like combating the financial crisis and climate change, assisting in multi-polarizing the world today, democratising international communications as well as protecting the rights of developing countries
- One belt one road project
- Both India and China have been the victims of terrorism especially the Xinjiang region in China . Internationally both countries have increased cooperation in terrorism .
- Climate change:
- Both have similar views with respect to climate change and are supportive of funds from the developed countries for increase in technology support to deal with this issue.
Competitive components :
- Nuclear proliferation and military competition :
- China’s nuclear and missile proliferation is another significant source of contention. It is the adversarial nature of the Sino-Indian relationship that has driven India’s and Pakistan’s nuclear weapons program.
- Both keep a close watch on changes in military doctrines, defense spending, capabilities and related activities and remain committed to neutralizing perceived security gains of the other side.
- Both preach nuclear disarmament but continue to expand their nuclear arsenals.
- Economy and Trade:
- However, Indian and Chinese economies are still more competitive than complementary.
- Both look to the West and Japan for advanced technology, machinery, capital, and investment.
- Many Indians see China as predatory in trade, worry about China’s robust growth rates, and fear getting left behind.
- The Chinese economy is about 2.3 times greater than India, and China receives ten times more foreign investment than India.
- Energy security spawns maritime rivalry:
- The traditional Sino-Indian rivalry has now acquired a maritime dimension. Both face growing demand for energy and are locked in fierce competition for stakes in overseas oil/gas fields in Russia, Burma, Iran, Iraq, Sudan, Vietnam, and Libya
- The predominance of the U.S. and Indian navies along these sea-lanes of communication (SLOCs) is viewed as a major threat to Chinese security. To protect its long-term economic security interests, China is now laying the groundwork for a naval presence along maritime chokepoints in the South China Sea, the Malacca Straits, the Indian Ocean, and the Strait of Hormuz in the Persian Gulf.
- Border issues
- South China Sea and relations with US :-
- Beijing is concerned about a shift in the regional balance of power in view of Indo-U.S. strategic engagement and is proactively wooing India to prevent Washington and New Delhi from coming too close for China’s comfort.The recent LEMOA agreement is a cause of concern for China .
- This closeness is causing China to act against Indian interests in its opposition for NSG membership of India , expansion of UNSC and its closeness to Pakistan ..
Some other areas where the two countries can cooperate are :
- China has significant experience of urbanisation and national planners, city administrators and entrepreneurs should share experiences and seek solutions in dealing with the physical, social, environmental and human challenges of mobility and urbanisation.
- China’s strength in the manufacturing sector, which is vital for providing mass employment. India, for its part, has strength in services, innovation and certain manufacturing sectors, which can benefit China. A linked challenge for India is in skill development, where both can learn from each other’s experience.
- As large and growing consumers of energy, both should intensify cooperation on the shared challenges of energy security, including joint development of renewable energy resources, as well as working jointly with third countries.
- Growing population, shrinking land, improving consumption levels and price volatility make food security a key policy priority for us. India has launched a major legislation-based food security programme. Both countries should pool our resources and expertise in this area.
- More broadly, in an uncertain global environment, India and China can work together to impart stability to the global economy and sustain growth in the two economies by leveraging their resources, large unsaturated demand, economies of scale and growing income levels.
Maritime security in the Pacific and Indian Oceans is vital for these economies just as peace and stability in West Asia and Gulf are essential for the energy security
Topic: Structure, organization and functioning of the Executive and the Judiciary
3) Recently, the Chief Justice of India publicly complained over executive delay in clearing judicial appointments. Critically examine how the executive has tried to stifle judiciary in various ways since independence. (200 Words)
How Executive stifled judiciary?
- In the past there have been instances where the relationship between the government and judiciary was fraught with confrontation and conflict.
- When the Supreme Court’s 11-judge ruling in the Golaknathcase put property rights on a fundamentally unbreachable pedestal, then government promoted to the Supreme Court, judges who were against the judgement.
- Similarly in Kesavananda Bharaticase-Though Golaknath was overruled, parliamentary power to amend the Constitution was also restricted to not damaging its basic structure.Government wanted parliament to have extensive powers regarding amendment of constitution.Government tried to undermine the role of judiciary by framing 42nd constitutional amendment act.
- During emergency inconvenient high court judges were transferred to faraway courts. Other less documented measures to render judges docile were also used.
- lack of funds by the government to the judicial infrastructure and computerization
- Lamenting the plight of litigants and people languishing in jails and making a case for the development of the country
- Government sought to take away the power of appointments and transfers from the collegium and vest it in a new body called National Judicial Appointments Commission (NJAC), where judges would be represented but would not have a dominant say.
- The constitutional amendment was struck down in 2015 by the Supreme Court as violative of judicial independence, which is part of the Constitution’s basic structure.
- A memorandum of procedure has been framed but not finalised.government wants to maintain its power of veto with respect to public order and national security .Because of this over 75 appointments to the high courts and some transfers appear to be stuck in the process for over eight months.Also The power to increase the size of the Supreme Court judges is with the parliament the present judge strength is very inadequate.
- Entirely blaming government is not right . Though there are 462 vacancies for high court judges, only 170 names have been recommended by the collegium.
- Sometimes judiciary overstepped its mandate in the form of judicial activism and separation of powers got even more blurred leading to lack of trust between the two important organs of a country .
Both worked in tandem :
- In the first decades after Independence, despite government’s own misgivings with the judiciary’s interpretation of the new Constitution it showed a healthy institutional respect, with the legislature and judiciary working in tandem.
- Public Interest Litigation (PIL) became a new mantra for judicial intervention in fields of executive neglect. Soon the judiciary became an active stakeholder in governance
The 1982 judgment in S.P. Gupta began defining the judiciary and executive’s roles in consultations on the appointment and transfer of judges.
General Studies – 3
Topic: Infrastructure; Investments; Security issues; Industrial policy
Role of private players in meeting India’s defence needs:
- To meet the goal of Indian government’s focus for the defence sector i.e.., indigenization of the industry. it would lead to enhancement of indigenous production capacity which is vitally needed to overcome the chronic deficiencies which the military is currently suffering from. In fact, surplus capacity, if created, can be beneficially used to take advantage of in the lucrative defence exports industry.
- Will lead to competition which was not present earlier .The absence of competition and the presence of a secure market led to complacency, which left little room for product innovation, technology upgradation, quality control, export promotion, finance and human resource management. It would result in lesser costs, better quality equipment and adherence to laid down delivery schedules.
- The new defence offset policy, whereby foreign suppliers of equipment need to manufacture a certain percentage of their products in India, has given Indian firms a chance to play partners to global companies.
- Need not dependent on foreign powers during times of crises
- The world defence market climbed to $65 billion in 2015, up $6.6 billion from 2014.For these Indian companies, queuing up for a lucrative new business, there is the promise of the vast domestic market as well as a global market
- For any company that builds domain expertise in a business like defence, the spin-off benefits are also enormous. Over the years, as Israel developed capabilities in defence electronics, it has also built a reputation in areas such as medical equipment, digital communication and advanced agricultural technologies.
- For the year 2015-2016, India’s defence budget was $40.4 billion, an increase of nearly 8% over the previous year, and it is likely to continue growing at a similar rate of growth over the next five years.This can be reduced if private players play a significant role
- It would lead to generation of additional jobs and employment opportunities within the country.
- Impetus would be given to the field of research in defence equipment sector indigenously. DRDO is way behind expectations of the nation in coming up with technological advances while a revolution in military affairs is taking place across the globe. To remain relevant, the Indian military needs to have modern, state-of-the-art weapon systems and platforms. Entry of private sector would add to the overall research capability of the nation.
- Private sector participation in India’s defence sector has led to fruitful results. The involvement of Tata Power SED in building the Samyukta — India’s first major electronic warfare system — and L&T’s contribution to the nuclear submarine programme are noteworthy examples.
- A quick entry with the intention of an equally quick cash-out and exit can, in the long run, actually hurt India’s security.
- Less Government support:
- Defence industry continues to be dominated by companies based in the US and Western Europe, with firms from these areas taking up the top 10 positions on the list of the biggest arms makers.
- Largest weapons manufacturer in the world, Lockheed Martin, which makes fighter aircraft such as the C-130 Hercules and the fifth generation F-35 Lightening II, receives nearly 10% of the Pentagon’s funds as the largest US government contractor.
- Creating such a powerhouse in India is crucial to its long-term security needs. But it isn’t going to be easy and is made doubly difficult if too many fly-by-night operators get into the business.
- Another recent example, which has dented private sector confidence, is the IAF Avro replacement programme. This was the first ‘Buy & Make’ programme.Recently, this programme has run into rough weather.
What is needed to be done?
- With FDI limit raised to 49% . The FDI policy also has two grey areas prone to subjective and arbitrary decisions.
- The caveat that FDI beyond 49% will be allowed only for modern and state of art technology will raise issues about what is modern and state of art. This could be problematic.
- To expect companies to be self sufficient in product design and development, ab initio, is impractical and is likely to be observed in the breach, thereby creating complications while granting approvals.These provisions of the FDI policy require review.
- Lesson for India is that it will simply not be possible to build up Indian private sector defence manufacturing capability unless cost audit functions of the Ministry of Defence are not upgraded
Topic: Achievements of Indians in science & technology; indigenization of technology and developing new technology
- This is an India’s indigenous global navigation satellite system for critical National applications.
- The main objective is to provide Reliable Position, Navigation and Timing services over India and its neighbourhood, to provide fairly good accuracy to the user.
- The IRNSS will provide basically two types of services
- Standard Positioning Service (SPS)
- Restricted Service (RS)
- Consisting of a constellation of three geostationary, four geosynchronous and two on-standby satellites, NAVIC will facilitate accurate real-time positioning and timing services over India and the region around it extending to 1,500km.
- While India is joining a club of global powers the US, EU, China and Russia who control their own navigation satellite systems, NAVIC’s reach is regional. This is an auspicious occasion for South Asian cooperation.
- its full operationalization carries profound implications and opportunities for the South Asian region at large. Sharing the benefits of NAVIC could countenance India’s credentials as a collaborative partner in the region.
- Through land-area mapping, yield monitoring and precision-planting of crops, NAVIC allows for the development of civic capabilities in food and livelihood security.
- In the wake of the 2015 earthquake in Nepal, NAVIC also arrives as an instrument for environmental and meteorological monitoring, as well as climate research. These capabilities can be leveraged to design reliable and efficient response mechanisms for natural disasters, alleviating the devastation they wreak through well-managed disaster relief.
- NAVIC should also propel technological innovations that render South Asia progressively less reliant on technological imports from the West and elsewhere.
- At the same time, NAVIC’s interoperability with GPS can ensure the minimization of technical snags when used complementarily with existing GPS-enabled solutions.
- Indeed, NAVIC might even go some way to mend and meliorate relations with a Pakistan.
- NAVIC could establish a tradition of regional monitoring whereby India leverages its technological edge to safeguard citizens across the subcontinent. Such gestures could blunt the adversarial nature of Indo-Pakistan relations in the long run.
- NAVIC exemplifies a hybrid technology, providing both civilian and military benefits:
- It serves Indian security interests in the sense that many of India’s weapon systems, such as guided missiles and bombs, as well as fleet management, rely on satellite navigation.
In dedicating itself to exploring and actualizing the civilian and commercial potential of NAVIC, India can signal to its regional partners that its rise is not only passively peaceful but also directly beneficial to those it can lift up in its tide.
Topic: Environmental pollution
Costs of inaction are huge compared to costs of action:
- Air pollution takes years off people’s lives. It causes substantial pain and suffering, among adults and children alike. And it damages food production, at a time when there is a need to feed more people than ever. This is not just an economic issue; it is a moral one.
- Air pollution can be produced both outdoors and indoors. For the poorest families, indoor smog from coal- or dung-fired cooking stoves is typically the more serious problem. As economies develop and start to electrify, motorize and urbanize, outdoor air pollution becomes the bigger issue.
- OECD study:
- outdoor air pollution will cause 6-9 million premature deaths annually by 2060, compared to three million in 2010. That is equivalent to a person dying every 4-5 seconds.
- There will also be more pollution-related illness. New cases of bronchitis in children aged 6-12 are forecast to soar to 36 million per year by 2060, from 12 million today.
- The direct market impact of this pollution in terms of lower worker productivity, higher health spending and lower crop yields could exceed 1% of gross domestic product, or $2.6 trillion, annually by 2060.
- Premature deaths from breathing in small particles and toxic gases, and the pain and suffering from respiratory and cardiovascular diseases, do not have a market price. Nor does the experience of constantly inhaling foul-smelling air, or forcing the child to wear a face mask just to play outside.
However governments are greatly realising the need to take charge against pollution:
- The Delhi government has proposed the odd/even rule wherein cars with odd-numbered registration plates would ply on odd dates and those with even-numbered registration plates would do so on even dates. The idea is to reduce congestion as well as to reduce pollution resulting from vehicular emissions.
- The top court has asked the Centre to supply the Delhi traffic police with proper masks. The court noted that the policemen, who stand for long hours at traffic signals, should be supplied with masks so that their health is not compromised.
- The Supreme Court has also banned the registration of luxury SUVs and diesel cars above 2000cc in the national capital. Diesel cars are believed to be a major source of vehicular emissions.
- The green cess on commercial vehicles entering Delhi has been hiked by the top court by a whopping 100 per cent.The SC has directed the Delhi government to install boards notifying the new cess in 125 toll booths across Delhi.
5.The top court has ordered that all taxis plying in the city must convert to CNG from March next year
- The NGT has asked the central and state government not to buy diesel vehicles for its personnel. It also asked public administration departments and municipal bodies to take efforts to gradually phase out diesel vehicles.
Some of the latest technologies available are :-
1.There is an incredible global effort to implement known pollution abatement technologies on key sources of this non-carbon pollution. CristalACTiV Titanium Dioxide is one of several technologies that curb the emission of pollutants during combustion.
- In electrical power generation plants, selective catalytic reduction, utilising ultrafine titanium dioxide (TiO2) as a DeNOx catalyst, has been demonstrated to remove over 90 percent of the NOx generated by the combustion of coal, gas or other fossil fuels to produce electricity.
- TiO2 acts as a catalyst to convert the harmful gases into harmless nitrogen and water vapour. This technology has been available for up to 30 years and has been demonstrated to be very effective.
2.Ener-Core’s Power Oxidation technology and equipment, which generates clean power from low-quality and waste gases that are produced as an undesirable by-product from various industries.
- By replacing a gas turbine’s traditional combustor with Power Oxidation technology, low-quality and previously unusable waste gases that are currently flared, scrubbed or directly vented into the atmosphere, can now be converted into heat that can be used to spin a turbine or power a steam boiler, thereby generating low-cost on-site clean power and steam.
3.Gas to Liquids: Whilst electric and LPG offer completely separate fuel systems, there are also other options which offer the potential to clean up existing diesels. For example, Shell has developed a new synthetic “gas to liquid” (GTL) fuel derived from natural gas which is a “drop in” replacement for diesel (i.e. the engine requires no modification).
- Testing has shown that the use of GTL in heavy duty vehicles such as trucks, buses and ships could reduce Nitrogen Oxide (NOx) emissions by 5-37%, and Particulate Matter (PM) emissions by 10-38%, depending on the vehicle age.
4.Autonomous vehicles: one of the mega-trends in the automotive sector is the move towards autonomous vehicles or “self-driving cars”.This could fundamentally change the way that vehicles use the road network, reducing the stop-start nature of traffic and opening up the possibility of “vehicle platooning” on motorways.
5.Photo-catalytic materials: An alternative to cleaning up emissions from vehicles directly could be to deploy technologies which remove pollution from the ambient air. For example, a number of companies are developing photo-catalytic treatments which remove pollutants from the air in the presence of sunlight
6.Air purification: Developers are also looking at other ways of cleaning air in urban environments. The “Smog Free Tower” – an air purifying tower which sucks in pollution and expels clean air.
What needs to be done ?
- Increase public awareness of air pollution:
- Educate and inform people about what they can do to reduce air pollution.
- Put out public health messages on the metro, buses, billboards, and radio to help change public behaviour.
- Increase pollution monitoring stations. Make pollution masks available in health clinics and promote them to the most vulnerable workers, such as traffic cops, auto drivers, street vendors, and municipal workers.
- Also raise awareness of indoor pollution.
- Raise and enforce emission standards.
- India is still on Bharat III and IV emission standards for our vehicles and fuels. This is 10-15 years behind the West, where vehicles spew one-tenth of India’s emissions or less.
- The same auto makers who operate under higher standards in the West supply inferior technology to us. Some of our refineries make Bharat VI fuel for export but not for us.
- India should also require automakers to sell a minimum percentage of electric vehicles in Delhi, Undertake a comprehensive audit of polluting industries in Delhi NCR, tighten and enforce emission norms.
- Improve public transportation and traffic management:Expand the fleet of CNG buses. Create better urban traffic management on the roads to reduce congestion and related idling.Augment car parking at metro stations so that people choose public transport.
- Discourage vehicle use: Promote cab-sharing, carpooling, and shuttle services. Create a network of safe bike paths. Create incentives and tax exemptions for hybrid and electric vehicles.
- Penalise big and non-compliant polluters:Like Beijing, ban the sale and registration of all new private diesel vehicles in major cities of the country. Spot-check fuel pumps for adulteration. Promote renewable energy and avoid building coal power plants near dense population zones in north India.
- Reduce road and construction dust:The problem of dust plagues the entire Indo-Gangetic plain. It can be mitigated by changing how urban surface infrastructure is built. Issue guidelines to regulate pollution at construction sites; notify and enforce regulations.
- Reduce domestic sources of pollution, improve waste management:According to the 2011 census, over ten percent of Delhi’s households still use biomass for cooking. Improve waste collectionservices, so there will be no trash or leaves left to burn. Ensure strict emission norms for waste-to-energy plants. Ban fire-crackers for all private and public events, and discourage their use during festivals.
Topic: Employment; Effects of liberalization
- Mint has reportedthat there are currently 28000 seats in government medical colleges in India. According to the AICTE website, the sanctioned intake for under graduate course in government engineering and technology colleges for 2015-16 was 67,571. So, it is more difficult to get into a government medical college than an engineering college.
- Growth in medical college seats has been a fraction of the growth in the number of engineering college seats.
- Economic reforms led to service sector boom in India which lead to plethora of engineering graduates.
- The World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends one doctor per thousand people in a country. The latest figures for India are below this benchmark, and much behind that for countries such as China and Brazil.
- The rapid growth in the number of engineering graduates suggests that India should be ahead of its peers in cutting edge research in technology. Even that does not seem to be true. World Bank data suggests that India’s progress in increasing the number of researchers (in R&D) has been insignificant compared to that made by China and Brazil.
- More than 80% of Indian engineers remained unemployable.These figures also underline the challenge of maintaining even a minimum standard of education with increasing privatization
- Check on increasing private medical colleges has not helped create a commendable medical education set-up. A Reutersreport published last year exposed fraudulent practices in India’s private medical colleges.
- It gave opportunities for doctors to choose other fields with increased exposure this led to further decline in doctor population
- Recruitment process was not upto the standard especially in an engineering college which led to not very qualified graduates in sync with the industrial demands.
- India’s engineers found a new impetus to get into engineering colleges in India. After graduation, they could attend some of the most prestigious universities abroad – Stanford, MIT, Harvard, Cambridge, Oxford – all expenses paid, because these universities recognized the Indian engineers as hardworking, intelligent and massively competitive.
- It gave opportunity for engineers to have increased exposure in the industry and knowledge.
- It is not the reforms but the apex organisations and education system which concentrates more on examination success rather than learning and innovation to be blamed for the apathy in the engineering and medical system in India .
The government think tank NITI Aayog recently released a draft bill to overhaul the state of medical education in the country. The bill calls for radical reforms including scrapping of the MCI, allowing for-profit medical colleges after doing away with capitation and other hidden fees, and tapping the pool of qualified doctors to meet a shortage of faculty.This is a step in the right direction.
According to the 2011 census, India has 35 doctors for every 100 engineers in the 60-plus age-group. The doctor- engineer ratio keeps declining among younger people and falls to 15.7 for the 20-24 year age-group.
General Studies – 4
Topic: Ethics in international relations;