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Insights SECURE SYNOPSIS: 31 MARCH 2018


SECURE SYNOPSIS: 31 MARCH 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 – 1


Topic: Salient features of Indian society; Population and associated issues

1) The National Family Health Survey data indicates that the index of intensity of son preference, a crude measure based on attitude, has declined—so has the measure based on behaviour. Examine the causes of this decline. (250 Words)

EPW

Background:-

  • More than 2 million women go missingacross age groups every year either due to sex-selective abortion, disease, neglect, or inadequate nutrition, according to the National Family and Health 

Causes of the decline in this trend :-

  • The intensity of son preference among women declined in all subgroups of the population . It has drastically dropped among urban, educated, Hindu, Muslim, and Sikh women as well as among women from Scheduled Castes (SCs) and Other Backward Classes (OBCs). This can be attributed to development or the attitudinal changes that urban residence and education bring.
  • It goes down with increasing levels of education and economic status. Socio-economic development can alter mindsets and lead to shifts in thinking.
    • There is lesser son preference and a greater number of daughters-only families among urban families and socio-economically advanced classes, highest wealth quintile .
    • In this subsection of the population, parents are unlikely to be compelled by a lack of resources to discriminate between sons and daughters. Both sons and daughters receive equal opportunities in terms of education and employment. 
  • Poorer populations tend to exhibit higher son preference than the higher classes. However, son preference is expected to weaken even in this class.
  • Strict implementation of laws and schemes :-
    • PCPNDT act to avoid sex determination.
    • Beti Bachao and Beti Padhao with Sukanya Samriddhi yojana is a positive initiative to improve girl child delivery and education through financial incentives.

How to further make this trend effective:-

  • Raise the economic value and prospects of women by subsidizing female education and promoting the role of women in society.
    • Daughters and wives who earn good salaries are valued by their natal and marital families, and have more to aspire to than being the mothers of sons. This must happen society-wide, not just in higher castes or wealthier groups.
  • Change and enforce laws on property ownership and inheritance that discriminate against wives, daughters and granddaughters
  • Challenge, where possible, burial and worship customs that require the agency of sons or male relatives.
  • Educate society to warn of the dangers of male-biased sex ratios, the shortage of brides and the consequences of hypergyny.
  • Reduce the dependence of aging parents on sons by building retirement savings and old age support, and by making it easier for daughters to support parents equally.
  • Strictly enforce laws forbidding sex selective abortion and IVF-based sex selection.
  • In India, there is a more pressing need than ever to strictly enforce the ban on dowries or dowry-like payments across society, reducing the economic burden of having daughters as well as the incentive for the wealthiest and most powerful families to raise the intensity of hypergyny.
  • Lessons from South Korea:-
    • These changes included a strictly-enforced 1987 government ban on sex-selective abortion 
    • The ‘Love your Daughter’ public awareness campaign warning of the dangers of biased sex ratios and the shortage of women.
    • Broader access to old age security, better prosecution of violators of laws against sex determination and sex-selective abortions
    • Better enforced equal inheritance laws
    • Cultural inducements such as allowing parents to choose either maternal or paternal surnames for their children seem to have all contributed not only to improving the status of daughters but also to lowering the value of sons.
    • In turn, these measures have made women and families more indifferent to the sex of their children.

Topic: Changes in critical geographical features (including waterbodies and ice-caps) and in flora and fauna and the effects of such changes.

2) What is heat wave? Why is India experiencing more heat waves? Also examine what strategy is being followed by states to address the consequences of heat waves. (250 Words)

Down to Earth

Down to Earth

 

Background:-

  • According to a study by the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Gandhinagar, the frequency of severe heat waves in India will increase 30-fold by 2100 under a 2°C warming scenario.

Heat wave:-

  • IMD recently improved the definition for heat waves and provided temperature triggers for different geographical regions. According to the new definition a heat wave condition takes place if the temperature is more than 40˚C in plains, 37˚C in coastal regions, and 30˚C in hilly areas. 

Reasons why India is experiencing more heat waves are :-

  • Magnified effect of paved and concrete surfaces in urban areas and a lack of tree cover 
  • Urban heat island effects can make ambient temperatures feel 3 to 4 degrees more than what they are.
    • More heat waves were expected as globally temperatures had risen by an average 0.8 degrees in the past 100 years. Night-time temperatures are rising too.
  • Climate change is expected to cause an increase in the frequency and intensity of heatwaves.
    • Higher daily peak temperatures and longer, more intense heat waves are becomingly increasingly frequent globally due to climate change
  • High intensity of UV rays in medium-high heat wave zone
  • Combination of exceptional heat stress and a predominantly rural population makes India vulnerable to heat waves.
    • Vegetable vendors, cab drivers, construction workers, police personnel, road side kiosk operators and mostly weaker sections of the society have to work in the extreme heat to make their ends meet and are extremely vulnerable to the adverse impacts of heat waves such as dehydration, heat and sun strokes.

Actions taken by states:-

  • States are now significantly better equipped to deal with severe heat waves. Key states are taking action to help reduce the number of deaths caused by heat waves. Working with state leaders, NDMA is aiming to inspire innovative action that improves on state and local preparedness efforts
    • In 2016, the National Disaster Management Agency prepared guidelines for state governments to formulate action plans for the prevention and management of heat waves, outlining four key strategies:
      • Forecasting heat waves and enabling an early warning system
      • Building capacity of healthcare professionals to deal with heat wave-related emergencies
      • Community outreach through various media
      • Inter-agency cooperation as well as engagement with other civil society organizations in the region.
    • NDMA encourages states across India to develop their own heat action plans to combat heat waves. Through these plans, governments, health officials, and communities promote simple and practical actions, such as drinking water and avoiding the sun that will save lives.
  • Adopting these measures has brought heat wave-related mortality down in many places such as
    • Adopted a “Heat Action Plan” that has reduced mortality in succeeding years. The primary objective of the plan is to alert populations most at risk of heat-related illness to existing or impending extreme heat conditions, and to take precautions
  • Key element of many states response strategy has been enhancing health risk communications on the impact of heat waves and how citizens can take simple steps to reduce their exposure and protect their health.
  • Andhra Pradesh:-
    • Andhra Pradesh has strong inter-agency coordination across multiple departments
    • Andhra Pradesh has also set up 1168 stations approximately one for every hundred square kilometers  for weather forecasting and modelling.
    • It has developed a mobile app to disseminate information about heat waves and advice on precautionary steps; the app is available in English and Telugu.
  • Telangana:-
    • Telangana developed one of the first state-wide heat action plans in 2016. The state is now integrating the heat action plan with its action plan on climate change. The Telangana plan focuses on training district officials and health staff
  • Odisha:-
    • It has declared heat waves as a state specific disaster.
    • It is developing local thresholds and analyzing vulnerability of communities in different parts of the state.
    • Odisha’s activities focus on awareness raising, capacity building and training of healthcare staff, interagency coordination, and enabling provision of water for vulnerable communities.
  • Various states and municipalities have introduced early warning systems, public awareness campaigns and increased training for medical professionals.
    • Ahmedabad, Nagpur and Odisha have made pioneering efforts with respect to heat-health warning systems (HHWS).
    • Such warning systems include providing weather forecasts in advance, issuing warnings to people, providing readiness of emergency response systems, and preparing doctors and health facilities to handle a sudden influx of patients. Warnings facilitate people in taking appropriate actions against heat-related harm.
  • Access to cool environments remains the mainstay of preventing heat stress:-
    • In rural areas, where electricity access is a challenge, supplementing power supply of primary health centres with solar-based systems should be undertaken. Chhattisgarh, Maharashtra and Tripura have already deployed such systems.

Way forward:-

  • Policy intervention and coordination across three sectors health, water and power is necessary.
  • Expedite the rollout of the National Action Plan on Climate Change and Health
    • Preventing temperature-related morbidity and mortality could be a key programme under this mission.
  • Ensure an adequate supply of water. Timely access to drinking water can help mitigate this escalation. 
    • Provision of drinking water within housing premises and indoor toilets.
  • Further research using sub-district level data to provide separate indices for urban and rural areas to enable more targeted geographical interventions.
    • Deeper analysis of urban ward-level data to provide intra-city vulnerability patterns.
  • Provision of public messaging (radio, TV), mobile phone-based text messages, automated phone calls and alerts.  
  • Promotion of traditional adaptation practices, such as staying indoors and wearing comfortable clothes.  
  • Popularisation of simple design features such as shaded windows, underground water storage tanks and insulating housing materials.  

Topic:  Urbanisation

3) Recent studies prove that  urban climate has been significantly modified by rapid urbanisation. Examine how this process is taking place with what consequences. (250 Words)

Down to Earth

 

Background:-

  • The conversion of Earth’s land surface to urban uses is one of the most irreversible human impacts on the global biosphere.

Urban climate is modified by rapid urbanisation:-

  • More the construction, lower is the moisture content and more is heat in the environment.
    • Rapid construction directly increases ambient temperatures, as the thermal heat capacity of the built-up area is more than the non-built-up area, which eventually reduces the atmospheric moisture content and that in turn drives up the temperatures and causes dryness and an increase in dust levels.
    • Unbridled urbanisation in Delhi-NCR region in the last five decades has led to rise in surface and air temperatures in the region. 
  • Urban heat island effect:-
    • Rapid urbanisation combined with changes in land use pattern between 2000 and 2014 led to about 1.8°C warming of Bhubaneswar compared with surrounding non-urban areas
  • Increase in night-time temperature tends to reduce the number of comfortable hours.
  • Also, as people’s dependence on air conditioners went up, the increase in heat emissions also happened.
  • Pollution:-
    • The secondary pollutant such as ozone also went up:-
    • High temperature reduced the wind speed, which, in turn, decreased the ‘heat and pollutant flushing capacity’ of the region.

Consequences:-

  • It hastens the loss of highly productive farmland, affects energy demand, alters the climate, modifies hydrologic and biogeochemical cycles, fragments habitats, and reduces biodiversity.
  • It has started having multiple effects on health of the citizens.
    • potential health hazards of increased night-time temperatures. The transmission window for malaria and other diseases has widened
    • Respiratory diseases.
  • Increase in temperatures in the cities ushers in increased energy demands for air conditioning and refrigeration. This has upped the energy costs as well.
  • Increased exposure to high temperature throughout the day has also lead to increased thermal stress in people.
  • Rapid urbanisation has also exacerbated air pollution levels.
    • Due to the dominance of stagnation conditions over cities, the climatic conditions favour high atmospheric pollution potential.
    • Direct loss in vegetation biomass from areas with high probability of urban expansion is predicted to contribute about 5% of total emissions from tropical deforestation and land-use change.
  • Decrease in crop areas could either be due to urbanisation or fields remaining fallow. These changes have led to increase in the urban heat island effect.
    • In rapidly urbanizing areas, agriculture intensifies on remaining undeveloped land and is likely to expand to new areas, putting pressure on land resources.
  • Worsening conditions on the rising temperature and pollution fronts have spurred the Delhi Government to explore extraordinary measures such aerial sprinkling of water from helicopters in bid to bring down temperature, dust and pollution levels. 
  • In the Delhi – NCR region this fast pace of urbanisation has led to 40 per cent decrease in water bodies in the region.The encroachment of riverbeds for construction happened.

Conclusion:-

  • Government must embark on proactive policies and action oriented programme and the adverse conditions  need urgent attention from public, private enterprises, policy makers and regulatory bodies so that the ecological threats and challenges can suitably be reversed and effectively mitigated.

Topic: Changes in critical geographical features (including waterbodies and ice-caps) and in flora and fauna and the effects of such changes.

4) Examine the impact of climate change on desertification. (250 Words)

Down to Earth

Background:-

  • Desertification is not just an ecological issue but also one of shrinking food and water supplies, a loss of jobs and mass migration. 
  • Currently, some two billion people are affected by desertification and the degradation of land and 41 per cent of the landmass worldwide is prone to desertification. 

Impact of climate change on desertification:-

  • Expansion  of deserts leading to  humanitarian and economic consequences:-
    • The Sahara, which is already the biggest desert in the world, is getting bigger and expanding to what was once an arable land, says a study.  The desert has expanded significantly in the 20th century, by 11–18 per cent 
    • As temperatures rise across the globe and weather patters are thrown in turmoil, this kind of an expansion of extremely dry landscapes will not just be limited to the Sahara.
  • Expansion of dry lands is now being increasingly linked to Intensification of Hadley cell. Scientists fear that Climate change may widen the Hadley cell and lead to northward expansion of subtropical deserts.
  • The impact of desertification is intensifying due to climate change, which is reducing the
    availability of freshwater, fertile soil, and forest and vegetatio
    As the degraded land loses value, investments in agriculture and rural development decline even more
  • Hundreds of thousands of hectares in the arid and semi-arid regions and drylands around the world are becoming sand dunes every year.
    • This means fewer and fewer hectares are available for agriculture, livestock rearing and allied activities that offer livelihood sources to hundreds of millions of world population, especially the poor. 
  • Due to climate change desertification cuts on the availability of food and water even as the global population is increasing. It also causes disasters such as sandstorms which wipe out large swathes of habitable lands. Aquifers vanish and biodiversity is greatly reduced.

Way forward:-

  • Setting up of an Intergovernmental Panel on Land and Soil will be very helpful in speeding up efforts to check desertification.
  • Developing countries need to integrate their poverty eradication programmes with strategies to fight desertification. 
  • Lessons from the world:-
    • In Africa, several countries have come together to form a 12,000 sq.km “great green wall” extending from Senegal to Djibouti with the participation of local communities.
    • People’s participation is crucial in reclaiming lands. China’s “great green wall” project is on a massive scale and is now starting to show results.
  • The techniques include agro-forestry and farmer-managed natural regeneration. Small community initiatives like
    • Closure of degraded lands for grazing
    • Curtailing farming
    • Growing fast-growing plants
    • Raising tall trees that serve as a barrier against winds and sandstorms are very effective.
  • National governments could consider building large green belts, prioritise forestry programmes and launch projects of fixing and stabilising sands.

Conclusion:-

  • Both desertification and climate change are mutually inclusive so a comprehensive sustainable developmental approach is needed by the countries.

 


General Studies – 2


Topic: Indian Constitution- historical underpinnings, evolution, features, amendments, significant provisions and basic structure.

5) The recent verdict of the Gauhati High Court has reiterated the need to ascertain the constitutional validity for preventive detention, irrespective of the circumstances and pretexts of the detention. Briefly discuss the issues that the High Court has highlighted. (250 Words)

EPW

Background:-

  • Recently The Gauhati high court quashed the detention order issued by the state government of Assam under the National Security Act (NSA) against Akhil Gogoi, a farmer activist.
  • Experts note that according to a 1993 report, 72.5% of the 3,783 people arrested under the law were released for lack of evidence. 

Issues highlighted by the High court:-

  • The court observed that activist’s detention under the NSA was violating his fundamental rights under Article 22 (5) and has reaffirmed the primacy of the constitutional rights regarding preventive detention.
  • The judgment has also exposed the laxity and casualness of the state authorities in exercising power under the National Security Act (NSA), 1980
    • In the case of  preventive detention authorities are neglecting process of adjudication at all.
  • The procedural lapses in the application of the NSA were enough to quash the detention order. 
  • The unexplained delay in disposing of the representation of the petitioner both by the state and central governments
  • The failure to communicate all the grounds of detention to the detenue the serious discrepancies in the process of transacting the detention order. 
  • The issue of the right of the detenue to legal assistance has also figured as an important issue of concern in the judgment.
  • NSA  is a law for preventive detention, which allows the problematic practice of incarcerating a person before trial, usually for the purposes of security or maintaining public order. Most Western democracies have strong safeguards against it. India, however, seems to have few qualms about using such a measure, even in peacetime.

Way forward:-

  • The high court also asked the state government to set up an enquiry to find out the reasons behind such delays and irregularities in procedure in this particular case.
    • suggested taking a person into custody under laws of Preventive detention should be strictly scrutinised under “Right to Life” under Article 21 and 22(5)

General Studies – 3


Topic: Infrastructure: Energy, Ports, Roads, Airports, Railways etc.

6) The current Smart Cities Mission needs to be linked to India’s villages, that too smart villages. Analyse (250 Words)

EPW

Background:-

  • India has built a reputation as a global leader in pursuing smart city initiativesin its larger urban areas. But critics are worried that villages, where most of the Indian population still resides, are being forgotten in the rush to convert the big metropolises into connected cities.
  • The villager is strongly attracted to the city and is too bored to live in a village, whereas the urbanite is tired of ‘stressful city life’ and literally looking for greener pastures. Thus is the link between cities and villages.

Why smart cities needs to be linked to India’s villages:-

  • Smart villages lead to sustainability:-
    • Must give top priority to the development of ‘smart villages’ as preserving the sustainability of villages will positively impact cities in the long run.
    • Villages rather than cities need to be made smart for the overall progress and development of the country. Without making the villages smart, nation cannot become developed and progressive.
    • By making available new-age technology, the government will enable village farmers produce better.
  • Ease stress on cities and encourage reverse migration:-
    • Creation of opportunities for youths in villages will thereby discouraging migration to cities easing pressure on cities.
    • The arts and crafts ecosystem of villages is impossible to recreate in cities. A great deal of export potential is hidden here.
    • Smart villages can translate into improved farm productivity, water conservation and economic independence to village youth. It makes great social, economic and political sense.
    • On the other hand, if villages are developed as growth centres of a city, there would be a lot of incentive to remain there. Developing smart villages will be actually a tool to balance the skewed urban-rural population ratio of the country.
    • By moving people and businesses to smart villages, revenue, resources and job opportunities will increase in rural India, while cities can decongest.
  • Lack of facilities in villages :-
    • There is a stark contrast in basic facilities and infrastructure between rural and urban areas. The solution is not to stop improving urban facilities, but to ensure that rural areas get as much attention.
    • Developing villages is in line with the concept called Providing Urban Amenities in Rural Areas (PURA).This is the approach needed right now to upgrade infrastructure in the rural hinterland. That is, to provide the same amenities in the rural heartland as in metropolitan areas.
    • Vast majority of Indians live in villages, with 70% of India’s 1.25 billion people considered villagers.
    • Because the bulk of Indians live in villages governments are neglecting a critical opportunity to both improve economic potential and basic services by creating smart villages. Most villages lack essential infrastructure like roads, electricity and drinking water.
  • Facilities available in cities must be made available to villages. The idea is that the soul of a village is retained while amenities of cities are provided.
  • Smart cities alone is not enough .They need smart villages:-
    • Smart City initiative, which is promoted by central governments is insufficient and inadequate for the country’s smaller population centers.
  • The current policy framework for power that emphasises renewable energy as a strategic policy to reduce GHGs in India requires a strong link between state-level policy and the provision of off-grid electricity to all rural households. This can be provided by developing a policy model that builds on smart cities–smart villages linkages.

 

How to achieve the goal:

  • Farming should be made a remunerative occupation, with guidance and mentoring to small farmers on how to get the best yield and market at remunerative prices. It’s important to train them to develop a secondary source of income.
  • The government should launch a national programme whereby they take infrastructure to the villages in exchange for subsidised markets for the private sector
  • The benefits of schemes such as crop insurance, soil health card, and neem pesticides must reach the grassroots. Proper implementation is key. 
  • Projects supported by Digital India and Skill India should be integrated through a unified agency to reach villages. 

 


General Studies – 4


Topic: Ethics and Human Interface: Essence, determinants and consequences of Ethics in human actions; dimensions of ethics
 

 

Answer:-

 

Social media held out the promise of a more enlightened politics, as accurate information and effortless communication helped good people drive out corruption, bigotry and lies.

Role played by social media during Arab Spring for instance Twitter played a major role in the awakening process of the general public, and then the nations like Tunisia, egypt protested to bring democracy to their country..

 

In the recent years modern nation-state is best understood as an “imagined community” partly enabled by the rise of social media. The degree to which people could be considered part of a national community was one that was both artificial and facilitated by social media.

 

However Social media networks reach is extraordinarily wide and fast, but the messages conveyed through them need relentless repetition, suggesting ephemeral value. This disbalance gets magnified in social media such as Facebook and Twitter. These platforms excite the public space on a constant basis. This duality explains the attraction they exercise despite the risk their users face of being manipulated.

 

Democracy is based on the idea of participation of the largest number of people, even if that slows down decision-making. On the face of it, social media creates the illusion of maximal participation, but in reality it promotes the culture of mass ‘following’. This model of communication has smoothly pushed American democracy towards an unfamiliar wilderness. Its electoral process compromised by manipulation of voters’ minds.

 

There is never any independent verification of that news as people live with in a filter bubble where the views they do not agree with are not even showed to them and the biases they have are further  strengthened. It is this pair of features of filter bubbles, preselection and confirmation bias  that fake news exploits with precision breaking the essence of democracy.

 

The rise of these social media companies has coincided with major changes in the nature of the state and its duties towards citizens. Surveillance as a means of providing safety has gained acceptability even legitimacy in many parts of the world. Advances in communication technology have encouraged systems of governance to concentrate decision-making power at the higher rungs, leaving compliance and implementation to people placed at the lower rungs.

 

Social media is being abused. But, with a will, society can harness these platforms through effective checks, accountability mechanisms .The stakes for liberal democracy are definitely higher.