SECURE SYNOPSIS: 14 MAY 2018

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SECURE SYNOPSIS: 14 MAY 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:  Role of women and women’s organization. Social empowerment, communalism, regionalism & secularism.


1) Temple movements in India have shifted focus from being caste based to gender based. Examine. (250 words)

 

Key demand of the question

The question makes an assertion that the focus of temple entry movements has shifted from ensuring non discrimination on the basis of caste to non discrimination on the basis of gender. This issue also gains importance in terms of the protests and court’s involvement required in Sabarimala etc. We have to first examine how the temple entry movements of early years were caste based and how they are placing greater emphasis on gender now.

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. Here we have to probe deeper into the aims and objectives of the temple entry movement of past and present.

Structure of the answer

Introduction – Mention about the various fault lines in Indian society which gets exacerbated when religion is introduced into the picture leading to demands for reforms.

Body

  • Examine the temple entry movements such as Aravipuram, Sikh Gurudwara reform movements etc and how caste was the dominant theme in those movements
  • Examine the recent demands for reforms in case of Sabarimala etc and how gender is also becoming a major issue
  • Examine whether caste is no longer relevant in temple reform movements now – talk about discrimination still persisting etc

Conclusion – Mention your view on the assertion made in the question based on your arguments above.

 

 Background:-

  • India is a country of temples and people have been congregating at temples for various reasons. Different religions have their own temple .Over of period of time, because of wealth and influence temple had on masses, it was a seat of power struggle. Certain classes or castes were not let entry in temples. These led to different kind of movements in  the country.

 

Temple movements in India were earlier caste based:-

  • The Aravipuram movement was of far-reaching importance in South India. Inspired by its success, a number of socio-religious reform movements were launched in the South. The Temple Entry Movement is the more prominent among them.
  • The struggle against the disabilities imposed on the avarnasor members of depressed classes in various parts of South India was being waged since the end of the 19th century. In Kerala, leading the struggle were several reformers and intellectuals such as Sri Narayana Guru, N. Kumaran Asan and T.K. Madhavan. In 1924, another beginning was made for opening the doors of the temples for the avarnas. 
  • The temple entry movement was the Gandhian or nationalist approach to fight caste oppression.
  • As a result of the movement, in November 1936, the Maharaja of Travancore issued a proclamation throwing open all government controlled temples to all Hindus irrespective of caste. Madras also followed suit.
  • Vaikom Satyagraha :-
  • First systematically organized agitation in Kerala against orthodoxy to secure the rights of the depressed classes.
  • The agitation brought forward the question of civil rights of the low caste people into the forefront of Indian politics.
  • Gurdwara Reform Movement,which was actually a legislation  passed by the Punjab Legislative Council which marked the culmination of the struggle of the Sikh people from 1920-1925 to wrest control of their places of worship from the mahants or priests into whose hands they had passed during the eighteenth century.

Now the shift is towards gender based:-

  • Preventing women’s entry to the Sabarimala temple with an notion of “purity” clearly offends the equality clauses in the Constitution.
  • It denotes a patriarchal and partisan approach.The entry prohibition takes away the woman’s right against discrimination guaranteed under Article 15(1) of the Constitution
  • It curtails her religious freedom assured by Article 25(1)
  • Prohibition of women’s entry to the shrine solely on the basis of womanhood and the biological features associated with womanhood is derogatory to women, which Article 51A(e) aims to renounce
  • The classification based on age is, in essence, an act of discrimination based on sex
  • Trimbakeshwar temple, Nashik
    • The Shiva temple is also one of the places that restrict entry to women in the core area. 
  • Even now, some women are discouraged from approaching their temples at home or even entering the kitchen while menstruating.
  • Yielding to campaign by activists, the Shani Shingnapur temple trust allowed women to enter the sanctum sanctorum, breaking the tradition followed for several decades.

 

Still caste discrimination persists:-

  • Many temples around still practice casteism, discrimination and untouchability in the name of ‘ancient tradition.
  • Lakshmi Ranganatha Swami temple in Karnataka serves as a good example of this practice. When the idol of the presiding deity is taken out for a procession during the Utsava , Dalit households are exempted.
  • Though this issue can be solved if instruments like education ,rationality ,and proper implementation of law and order act as bulwark against them.
  • The Travancore Proclamation was not the be-all and end-all of social reforms. Nor did things dramatically change for the better for Dalits immediately after 1936. But there is no doubt that the Proclamation indeed was a big step in establishing the rights of the lower castes in Kerala, and indeed the nation as a whole.

Way forward:-

  • Judiciary is playing a significant role in  upholding constitutional guarantees of equality for women and dalits by allowing them to enter temples .The temple being a place of faith needs to not discriminate prejudices but treat everyone equally.
  • Enactment and enforcement of atrocities laws and the steps taken by temples in Maharashtra and Kerala which allowed women and persons from depressed class to be priests that there is social transformation
  • It is essential to prevent monopolisation of religious rights by a few under the guise of management of religious institutions

General Studies – 2


Topic – Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests

2) Critically analyze whether India needs a modification in its nuclear doctrine to secure national interest?(250 words)

 Hindustantimes

Why this question

20 years post Pokhran II, and the prevailing geopolitical and geostrategic flux provides an opportune moment for India to analyze whether its current nuclear doctrine is best suited to secure India’s national security.

Key demand of the question

Following points needs to be covered in your answer

  • What is India’s nuclear doctrine
  • How the current doctrine helps India achieve India’s national security interests
  • How the current doctrine falls short
  • Expert opinion on modifications required in India’s nuclear doctrine
  • Your own view

Directive word

Critically 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. You need to conclude with  a fair judgement, after analyzing the nature of each component part and interrelationship between them.

Structure of the answer

Introduction – Highlight the changes happening in geopolitical and geostrategic status quo which makes it prudent to revise our nuclear doctrine. Also mention that global disarmament is a distant dream and securing national interest is the priority.

Body

  • Discuss India’s nuclear doctrine, discuss India’s national interest and how the current doctrine helps in fulfilling it.
  • Discuss how the current doctrine falls short. Examine it from various angles such as as a deterrent, in line with foreign policy objectives , geopolitical status quo, technological advancement such as strategic nuckes etc
  • Discuss the changes that can be brought in
  • Summarise your arguments by providing your view

Conclusion – Highlight the need for constant review of India’s nuclear doctrine and the way forward.

Background:-

  • Last year the defence minister’s statement questioning the need and desirability of the ‘no first use’ of nuclear weapons policy has spurred a flurry of commentaries reviewing India’s nuclear doctrine, even though it does not reflect any change in India’s no first use commitment per se

India’s nuclear doctrine:-

  • India’s nuclear doctrine was first enunciated following a Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) meeting in January 2003.
  • Some of the main features of India’s nuclear doctrine are :-
    • Building and maintaining a credible minimum deterrent
    • A “No First Use” posture; nuclear weapons to be used only “in retaliation against a nuclear attack on Indian territory or on Indian forces anywhere
    • Nuclear retaliation to a first strike will be “massive” and designed to inflict “unacceptable damage”
    • Nuclear retaliatory attacks to be authorized only by civilian political leadership through the Nuclear Command Authority.
    • Non use of nuclear weapons against non nuclear weapon states.
    • India to retain option of retaliating with nuclear weapons in the event of a major attack against it with biological or chemical weapons;
    • Continuance of strict controls on export of nuclear and missile related materials and technologies, participation in FMCT negotiations, continued moratorium on testing;
    • Continued commitment to goal of nuclear weapon free world, through global, verifiable and non discriminatory disarmament

No change is necessary:-

  • India’s current doctrine has helped India secure crucial international deals, such the Nuclear Supplier Group (NSG) waiver as part of the Indo-U.S. nuclear deal in 2008.
    • More recently, India signed a nuclear cooperation agreement with Japan, which is quite surprising as Japan is known for its staunch anti-nuclear stance and India is not a signatory of the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).
    • India is currently also seeking to join the NSG as a permanent member which is a doctrinal shift and is only going to give China more reason to delay India’s entry. This posture would also play into the hands of Pakistan, which has long accused India of duplicity over its no first use policy and called India’s expanding arsenal a threat to the region’s stability.
  • No First Use works well:
    • It builds stability into deterrence by credibly promising nuclear retaliation in the face of extreme provocation of a nuclear first strike by one’s adversary.
  • Change in stance will create issues:-
    • All the gains enjoyed by India in the international community by the restraint of India nuclear posture would be frittered away if there is change in stance of nuclear doctrine
    • It would enormously complicate and increase the expenditure incurred by us in regard to our command and control mechanisms which would have to be reconfigured to engage in calibrated nuclear war fighting.
    • It would weaken the possibility of our engaging in conventional warfare insulated from the nuclear overhang.
    • It would encourage the use of tactical nuclear weapons against under the illusion of no massive response.
    • It would facilitate the painting of South Asia as a nuclear flashpoint and thereby encourage foreign meddling.

Change is needed :-

  • No first use :-
    • Such an approach unnecessarily kept India on the back foot and on the defensive and made it axiomatic that India would have to face the consequences of a first strike before being able to respond. Moreover, it prevented India from keeping a potential adversary off balance. 
  • There is increasing evidence of Pakistan’s proclivity to use tactical nuclear weapons against India.
    • Pakistan’s acquisition of a TNW such as the Hatf IX missile, with a range of 60 kilometres and capable of carrying a nuclear warhead of an appropriate yield, has attracted widespread attention in various Indian debates on strategic stability.
    • It has been argued that Pakistan’s acquisition of TNWs has lowered the deterrence threshold and thereby affected the overall strategic stability in the region.
    • Emphasising this change in India’s strategic environment, the proponents of doctrinal review argue that India’s existing doctrine is ill-suited to deter Pakistan from using TNWs against India
  • Advocates of a change in India’s NFU policy would like its nuclear doctrine mimic those of most of the established Nuclear Weapon States which contemplate the use of nuclear weapons even in sub nuclear conflicts.

Way forward:-

  • Periodic statements about the nurturing and upgradation of India’s nuclear arsenal and systems including alternate command structure.
  • An indication that India’s nuclear arsenal will be large enough to take care of all adversaries and will have to be in the mid triple digits.
  • Appointment of a Chief of Defence Staff and upgradation of the NTRO as a capable apex techint organization which would in a fool proof manner provide indicators of any attack on us and ensure swift and massive nuclear retaliation inflicting unacceptable damage.
  • Nuclear testing:-
    • Two things need to be done to configure and laboratory-test sophisticated thermonuclear weapons designs.
    • The laser inertial confinement fusion facility at the Centre for Advanced Technology, Indore, needs to be refurbished on a war-footing, and a dual-axis radiographic hydrodynamic test facility constructed.

Topic:  Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or
affecting India’s interests

 

3) In order to make Paris Climate deal successful, it is essential to create a fair and equity based rule book at the earnest. Comment.(250 words)

Reference

Why this question

Paris Climate deal is a historic agreement that aims to address climate change and global rise in ambient temperatures. The rule book under the Paris agreement, which will lay down the rules for operation of the agreement is to be finalised by this year end. The issue is related to GS-2 syllabus under the following heading-

Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests

Key demand of the question

The question wants us to deliberate on the rule book under the Paris agreement, its significance, key issues involved and present our opinion on the need to finalise it by the year end.

Directive word

Comment- we have to present our opinion on the given issue and put behind a context and a body of arguments in its support.

Structure of the answer

Introduction- Give a brief description of the meaning of rule book under Paris agreement and different subsidiary parties to be formed.

Body

Discuss in points various issues responsible for disagreement and slow progress.

e.g issues of Stocktake, accounting, finance, enhanced transparency framework, adaptation communications etc.

Opposition by developed countries to launch a process on deciding new quantitative goal for finance by 2025, to provide ex-ante biennial communication under Article 9.5 of the Paris Agreement and to operationalise the Adaptation Conclusion- Mention the overall imperative of addressing Climate Change and global warming and need for the developing and developed countries to work together to frame a fair and equity based rule book under the Paris agreement.

Background:-

  • The recentsession of Subsidiaries Bodies concluded in Bonn with very slow progress on formation of rule book for implementation of Paris Agreement.

Paris climate deal:-

  • The Paris Agreement was adopted in December 2015. After its coming into force a year later, Parties started working on negotiating bodies
  • Subsidiary Body for Finance (SBI), Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technical Advice (SBSTA) and Ad-hoc working group on Paris Agreement (APA) under the Paris Agreement Work Programme (PAWP) for detailing the modalities, procedures and guidelines (MPGs) or the ‘rule book’ of various elements under the climate deal.
  • The mandate is to create the rule book by the end of this year

Issues regarding disagreement :-

  • Parties struggled to have a comprehensive text which could form the basis of discussions resulting in the rule book.
    • Discussions took place on different agenda items related to Global Stocktake, Transparency Framework, Information on NDCs (nationally determined contributions), new market mechanisms, adaptation fund and other issues related to Paris Agreement.
  • Instead, informal consultations resulted in emergence of informal texts with successive iterations that do not have any legal standing. 
  • Developed countries vs developing countries divide:-
    • The same old divide between developed and developing countries continued  over the issue of differentiation across a range of issues, including accounting, finance, enhanced transparency framework, global stocktake, adaptation communications.
    • Parties also discussed issues like common time frames for NDCs, capacity building, and information to be reported in adaptation communications that should not be duplicated under transparency framework.
    • Developed countries, led by the US and EU, opposed constructive outcomes on pre-2020 actions
    • They also opposed to launch a process on deciding new quantitative goal for finance by 2025, to provide ex-ante biennial communication under Article 9.5 of the Paris Agreement and to operationalise the Adaptation Fund.
    • Regarding technology transfer, developing countries underlined the lack of discussion on institutional arrangements domestically.
  • Finance is the most significant element for implementation of Paris Agreement:-
    • Developing countries are pushing for predictable and sustainable finance and developed countries arepushing for increasing donor base.
    • There needs to be clarity on achieving the mandate of US$100 billion by 2020 and discussions need to be initiated for increasing the amount by 2025.
    • Since finance is cross cutting in nature, its operationalisation in Adaptation Fund and loss and damage gains paramount importance as both adaptation and loss and damage issues suffer for lack of funds.

 

Therefore to not discredit the process and follow the mandate that Parties themselves agreed, it is essential to prepare the rule book by 2018 to build trust, identify areas of cooperation and raise ambition


Topic – Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the Centre and States and the
performance of these schemes

4) Mere construction of toilets to achieve ODF status will not lead to improvement in access to basic sanitation for Indians. Critically Examine.(250 words)

Reference

Why this question

Under the transformation of aspirational districts initiative, government is pushing for fulfillment of target of toilet construction under SBM. Whether or not this will help in achieving improvement in SDG targets etc needs to be analyzed in greater depth, now that 2019 is near. Status of toilet construction, other shortcomings in sanitation etc needs to be analyzed in greater depth.

Key demand of the question

Following points have to be incorporated in the answer

  • Details about SBM, the status of toilet construction and what it is trying to achieve
  • Examine why construction of toilets is not going to be sufficient – associated issues of maintenance etc, related issues of improving sanitation that includes solid and liquid waste management, clean water availability, behaviour change etc needs to be brought about
  • Also analyze the penchant of government to implement policies by a target based approach which shifts the focus away from the broader problem and instead makes us myopic in our vision
  • Discuss the way forward

Directive word

Critically 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. When ‘critically’ is suffixed or prefixed to a directive, all you need to do is look at the good and bad of something and give a fair judgement.

Structure of the answer

Introduction – Discuss about the ODF target of the government under SBM and the current focus on achieving numbers prior to 2019 through transformation of aspirational districts initiative. Also mention what the government is trying to achieve – improvement in sanitation

Body

  • Mention how far India has come in construction of toilets – mention the benefits that will accrue through this step
  • Probe deeper to bring out the issues linked to improving sanitation that is being ignored – solid and liquid waste management, behavioural change etc.
  • Discuss why these issues are critical in improving India’s ranking in SDG and improving the sanitation situation in rural India
  • Discuss the shortcoming of adopting a target based policy approach
  • Summarise your arguments and present your point of view

Conclusion – highlight the need for broadening our outlook when it comes to questions of sanitation and discuss way forward.

Background:-

  • As on April 2018, the number of households not having toilets is just 27.8 million. By March 2019, all these households will have toilets, if the current pace of construction sustains.

Focusing on constructing toilets will not lead to improvement in sanitation:-

  • The rate of construction in Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and Odisha in the last 10 months was approximately 15 toilets, 12 toilets and four toilets per minute, respectively.
    • Such construction spree makes one wonder whether the whole idea of SBM is just about having toilet in every household. 
  • Unable to reach target:-
    • Access to free toilets has not helped resolve open defecation in India.The programme is unlikely to succeed in its primary task of eliminating open defecation by October 2019.
  • The rate of open defecation is not decreasing much:-
    • India has far higher levels of open defecation than other countries of the same GDP per capita. For example, India has a higher GDP per capita than Bangladesh, but in Bangladesh only 8.4% households defecate in the open, compared to 55% in India.
  • Purity and pollution:-
    • The key reason for this is that basic latrines that need to be emptied out manually or pumped by simple machines are unacceptable to higher caste Hindus.
    • It is considered polluting to the individual and the home, and historically associated with untouchability. So people rather defecate in open than having a toilet at home.
    • It is not just a matter of access but a problem of perceptions of pollution, ritual purity, and caste.
    • Even if the government builds free toilets without any leakage or corruption, India will at best have 80 million new toilets that a large proportion of Indians do not want to use.
  • By 2015, India had missed the target of reducing number of people without sustainable access to basic sanitation by 50 per cent under Millennium Development Goal (MDG) No 7 by a wide margin
  • States are yet to spend on solid liquid waste management (SLWM), which is a major part of safe sanitation. 

Way forward:-

  • Deeply entrenched cultural contexts must be taken into account for successful policy outcomes. India needs to change perceptions of ritual purity through education and awareness in rural areas. This can be done by investing in sewage systems.
  • Enabling local governments to construct sewage systems will solve the purity issue :-
    • A toilet that flushes away human waste into the sewage and waste management system solves the problem. If there is a functional sewage system, it is relatively low cost for households to build a toilet in every home that is connected to the sewage system. 
    • Developing proper sewage system in village would also have wider impact with water not stagnating any more, lesser vector borne diseases etc so the wider objective of sanitation will be achieved.
    • Also it would not put stress on manual scavenging and this occupation can slowly fade away giving sense of dignity and equality to the most vulnerable sections.
  • Pursuit of Swachh Bharat also requires strengthening public health services.
  • Services such as good drainage systems, absence of swamps and ponds that are home to stagnant water, and the supply of safe drinking water all of which reduce exposure to and spread of diseases  are classic examples of public goods and require effective government intervention. 

General Studies – 3


TOPIC:Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization of resources, growth, development and employment.
Inclusive growth and issues arising from it.

5) Discuss the reasons behind farmer suicides in some of the agriculturally most productive regions of India like Punjab.(250 words)

EPW

Why this question

Farmer and farming distress is one of the burning issues for India, which witnesses one of the highest farmer suicide rates in the world. However, not only agriculturally impoverished states but also agriculturally productive ones like Punjab are grappling with the situation. The issue is related to GS-3 syllabus under the following heading-

Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization of resources, growth, development and employment.
Inclusive growth and issues arising from it.

Key demand of the question

The question wants us to highlight and explain the reasons behind farmer suicides in agriculturally productive regions of India.

Directive word

Discuss- we have to write in detail about the given issue- reasons behind farmers suicide in regions which are agriculturally very productive, like Punjab.

Structure of the answer

Introduction– Give a brief description of farmer suicides in India, worst affected states, share of agriculture in GDP and employment etc.

Body– Discuss in points, about the probable causes of farm suicides in agriculturally prosperous  regions like Punjab and briefly elaborate each point.

e.g Low per capita land, financial intermediaries, high loan rates, high costs of production and labour, inability to pool up resources, need for hiring labor due to shortage of time, low agriculture products prices and low MSPS, decreasing water tables and increasing  costs of pumping water out, economic exploitation by dealers selling agriculture equipment, seeds, fertilizers etc.

Conclusion– Suggest some measures to ameliorate the situation. e.g Waiving off loan of small and marginal landholders, enhancing institutional credit, Zero Budget natural farming etc.

Background:-

  • The changed pattern of land holdings, changed cropping pattern due to shift from light to cash crops, liberalisation policies which pushed Indian agriculture into the global markets without a level playing field, growing cost of cultivation, uncertainty of crop output, lack of profitable prices, indebtedness, neglect of agriculture by the government and its agencies, decline of public investment, individualisation of agricultural operations, so on and so forth. This constitutes the vicious cycle a farmer is trapped in.

Punjab farmer crisis:-

  • Due to unseasonal rains and hailstorms since mid-February last year Rabi crops like wheat, cereals, mustard, vegetables (potato) have been damaged greatly. Consequently, many Farmers in the state have ended their lives
  • Magnitude and seriousness of the farm crisis can be gauged from the fact that 6,926 farmers and agricultural labourers committed suicide in the state during 2000–10 as per the census-based study .Among the victim farmers, about 79% were small farmers cultivating up to two hectares of land. 

Reasons behind farmer suicides in India in agriculturally productive regions :-

  • The high debt burden was the primary reason behind 75% of farmer suicides. 
  • Large chunk of persons were underemployed or disguisedly unemployed during 2016–17 in Punjab.
  • In Punjab, the annual income of farmers from crop farming is found to be insufficient to meet their expenditure and debt servicing.
    • The mismatch between farm inputs and output prices, crop failures, and unfavourable terms of trade between prices paid and received by the farmers have contributed fairly to declining farm incomes.
  • Cost of cultivation:-
    • The MSP of wheat and paddy increased at the rate of 2% per annum while the cost of cultivation increased at the rate of 7.9% during the last one and a half decades.
  • With a growth rate of around 1.6% (during 2012–17) and the stress on natural resources, the farm sector is trapped in a vicious circle of crisis. Expectedly, small farmers are the worst sufferers.
  • Due to the declining water table, the cost of irrigation structures has increased as the farmers have to replace centrifugal pumps by costly submersible pumps.
  • The farmers are being exploited by traders and dealers providing them spurious seeds and agrochemicals.
  • Plummeting incomes, mounting debt, and high interest rates (particularly of non-institutional sources) have pushed the peasantry towards deprivatio
  • Agriculture in Punjab suffers from mono-crop culture of mainly wheat and paddy. With this cropping pattern, farming itself is becoming an unviable occupation, due to rising fixed and variable input costs, and low remuneration leading to falling profit margins.
  • Cost of inputs:-
    • Variable costs increase due to rising prices of inputs like fertilisers, pesticides, weedicides, diesel etc.
    • Fixed costs like installation and deepening of submersible pumps due to the dipping water table increase the financial woes of farmers.
    • For a small and marginal farmer, it is economically unviable to make such investments, especially by borrowing from informal sources at high rates of interest

Way forward:-

  • The “Scheme for Debt Swapping of Borrowers” should be made more effective for converting the non-institutional debt into institutional debt.
  • Also, the MSP as per the Swaminathan report (cost plus 50%) needs to be honoured and implemented
  • The AMSCs should be set up at every village to provide custom-hiring services to small farmers on a priority basis.
  • Quality farm inputs like seed, fertilisers, and pesticides must be supplied to the farmers at subsidised prices.
  • Rationalisation of subsidies, especially in favour of small farmers may control appreciating farm costs and making small farming viable.
  • For alternative employment, the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme should be effectively implemented by ensuring stipulated annual employment of 100 days, rather than the existing 30 days, to each family in the state.
  • Identifying and developing crop niches that will encourage allied activities in appropriate agro-climatic zones of the state, and developing cooperative primary processing and marketing units for crops and activities in these zones can help improve the economic well-being of the farmers.

Topic: Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment

6) Critically analyze the health and environmental effects of using water and air purifiers.(250 words)

EPW

 

Why this question

Air and water purifiers have become quite common and their demand has also been increasing across India. However, there are many issues associated with their usage, as they affect the health and environment. The issue is related to GS-3 syllabus under the following heading-

Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment

Key demand of the question

The question wants us to delve deeper into the issue and bring out the effects of using water and air purifiers- positive and negative, and then form an opinion on their efficacy and desirability.

Directive word

Critically analyze- We have to discuss the pros and cons of using water and air purifiers, and form an opinion on their use based on the discussion.

Structure of the answer

Introduction- Mention the growing popularity of air and water purifiers and reasons behind that- growing pollution, growing population,  growing income, growing consciousness about pollution etc.

Body

  1. discuss the pros of using air and water purifiers.

    e.g air purifiers- recommended in highly polluted areas for children, asthma patients and patients suffering from some cardiovascular disease etc.

   water purifiers- recommend in areas where untreated water is supplied etc.

 

  1. discuss the cons of using water and  air purifiers.

   e.g air purifiers- no indicator for ensuring proper working of the equipment, outdoor pollution remains same and even aggravates, outdoor pollution can’t be avoided altogether etc.

   water purifiers- no indicator, wastage of water,  pollution of outdoor water, irrational use like in areas getting supply of treated water etc.

Conclusion- mention the lack of BIS standards and need to educate people about the usage of water and air purifiers, and the imperative to holistically address pollution at individual and collective levels.

Background:-

  • In recent years, purifiers have captured the imagination of people as a solution to the pollution menace despite not doing much to alleviate the situation. Two of the most prominent types of purifiers used at the household level to alleviate the influence of pollution are air and water purifiers.

Health and environmental impacts:

  • Water purifier :-
    • Positives:-
      • One of the primary reasons people need to shift from tap water to filtered water is to ensure the least amount of exposure to water borne disease such as diarrhea, cholera, dysentery, etc. About 1.8 million people die every year of diseases like cholera. Millions of others are seriously sickened by a variety of water-related ailments many of which are easily preventable.
      • Having a true HEPA filter air purifier does not produce ozone as a biproduct like Ionic air cleaners do.
      • In essence, a good air purifier can keep the air indoors much cleaner and healthier to breathe no matter if you have pre existing respiratory conditions or not.
      • RO water purifier removes toxin such as lead, mercury, Fluoride, Arsenic, Chlorine which case human body to be ill. Lead metal can cause brain damage and anaemia.
    • Negatives:-
      • HEPA filters get choked with dust, and have to be replaced every few months. “If they are not replaced, they can actually cause far more harm.
      • While RO water purifier removes dissolved impurities it removes natural mineral such as iron, magnesium, calcium and sodium which are essential to the human body and cause a mineral deficiency in the body
      • No such standards are available for purification devices. This leaves the users in a dilemma as they cannot test the quality of the water that they get from source or even after purification from the device. They can only test the taste and appearance of the water that they get.
      • Home water filters may help remove chlorine and other heavy metals such as mercury, but they may not be able to remove pesticides
      • Does not kill bacteria, viruses: 
        • RO water purifier does not kill waterborne disease-causing bacteria and viruses. There is high probability that microorganisms can pass through RO membrane( It is advisable to pass RO water through the UV water purifier to treat microorganisms )
      • Water taste altered: 
        • As natural minerals are removed water gets de-mineralized as a result water taste affected, it becomes tasteless.
      • More time to purify: 
        • RO water purifier takes too long to the purification of water.
      • Water wastage: 
        • Approximately much more water compared to filtered out water flushed down as waste water.
      • Air purifiers:-
        • Positives:-
          • Air purifiersare especially important in houses because they quickly and quietly clear allergens and other particles, effectively remove odor, pollen, smoke, dust, pet dander, and almost all other pollutants present in the air.
          • Control unwanted odors in the home like smoke, lingering cooking smells, pet odors (especially great for cat box odors), kitchen garbage odors, etc.
          • Filters mold spores out of the air :-
            • It is known that mold can be extremely detrimental to your health and can aggravate respiratory conditions like asthma, sinusitis, and hay fever. Mold is also dangerous for those with compromised immune systems or those who suffer from more serious respiratory conditions like COPD, emphysema, chronic bronchitis, and pneumonia.
          • Removes other asthma and allergen triggers from the air like dry skin cells, second-hand smoke, asbestos particles, radon gas, fumes, volatile organic compounds, and other pollutants.
        • Negatives:-
          • Some purifiers do, in fact, bring down particulates, have also cautioned that many purifiers emit negative ions and ozone as byproducts of the filtering process, which are hazardous to health.
          • Carbon filters do little to control gaseous pollutants. They do not address pollutants like benzene, other hydrocarbons and NO2.
          • They shift the pollutants from inside the house to the outside, contributing to overall pollution
          • The utility of air purifiers to asthma patients, children, and the elderly cannot be denied, even when they might not serve well to prevent pollution or saving people from the harmful effects of pollution
          • Purifiers have a threshold of clearing the air depending on their size, size of the room, pollutant levels, etc, leading to their usage being restricted to specific environs.
          • There may also be certain contaminants, dangerous, but not being removed by the purifier that one uses.
          • The purifier might also not work efficiently all the time leading to contamination
          • The problems of leakages will always be eminent. Finally, being in an overly purifier environment might lead to reduction in the adaptability to endure one’s outside environment.
          • Absence of regulation or standardisation of any kind in India
            • It is very difficult to ascertain the quality and usability of these devices, which are quite popular, especially after the increase of pollutants in air to dangerous levels in most parts of India 

 

Conclusion:-

  • Only solution to the current air quality problems is an improvement in the ambient air quality

Topic: Infrastructure: Energy

7)100% village electrification is a huge achievement but not sufficient to end India’s energy poverty. Discuss(250 words)

The hindu

Why this question

100% village electrification is a huge milestone. India has been making rapid strides in the power sector with steps like UDAY, Saubhagya scheme etc. This historic milestone needs to be discussed in greater detail to appreciate how far we have come and how far we still have to go.

Key demand of the question

The question makes an assertion that despite 100% village electrification, the energy woes from India are not going to get over. Thus we have to first explain the significance of achieving 100% electrification and thereafter discuss the problems that still plague the energy sector in India. We should also discuss some way forward.

Directive word

Discuss – This is an all-encompassing directive – you have to debate on paper by going through the details of the issues concerned by examining each one of them. You have to give reasons for both for and against arguments.

Structure of the answer

Introduction – Discuss the huge challenge that was before India in connecting every village to the grid. Discuss Saubhagya scheme as a way out of this problem.

Body

  • Explain in detail the achievement of achieving 100% village electrification. How many villages have been connected and other such detail
  • Explain the benefits of the move in brief
    • Discuss the improvement in power he generation and distribution that made it possible
    • Etc
  • Explain the other issues that lead to India’s energy poverty – continuous supply of affordable electricity, cooking fuel etc – discuss how they contribute to energy poverty
  • Discuss why these problems persist, what needs to be done for resolving this problem

Conclusion – Emphasize that many more miles are yet to be covered and discuss way forward

 

Background:-

  • Recently Indian government announced that all inhabited villages now enjoy electrification. This signalled a significant milestone in the country’s development. It is an achievement that will raise aspirations in the remotest districts.
  • According to the government data, all of India’s 597,464 census villages have been electrified
  • Subnational endeavours and the Centre’s pump priming seem to have addressed the regional imbalances in electrical development which concerned India’s early planners

Not sufficient to end India’s energy poverty:-

  • India continues to harbour energy poverty as 31 million rural households and about five million urban households are still to be connected to the grid the highest in any single country.
  • Rural vs urban consumption:-
    • The per capita consumption between rural and fast-rising urban India also represents a challenge, since there is a divergence between the two. There are twin challenges to be faced in improving access and equity. 
    • A significant portion of connected rural households is yet to get adequate quantity and quality of supply. 
  • Regional imbalances in electricity access have persisted:-
    • Seven States (Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Odisha, Jharkhand, Assam, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh) account for 90% of un-electrified households. 
    • Rural household electrification has a wide range across States, from 47% to 100%.
    • The average hours of power supplied in a day to rural areas in January 2018 ranged from 11.5 in Mizoram to 24 hours in Kerala, Gujarat and Tamil Nadu.
    • These anomalies are often the result of infrastructure deficits and administrative inefficiency and the Power for All 24×7 goal adopted by States and Union Territories with a deadline of 2019 is far from realistic.
  • Cost of supply :-
    • Electricity distribution companies (discoms) in these seven States are already highly indebted.Their debts account for 17% of accumulated liabilities of the States.
    • Despite continued State subvention (except by Odisha), all these discoms have been consistently running at a loss, accounting for about 47% of the loss in electricity distribution business
    •  Existing subsidised lifeline tariffs in these States appear unaffordable to the poor and certainly higher than in States with universal (or high) access. 
  • Distribution network capacity:-
    • Distribution infrastructure is overburdened, as the demand has grown, causing a high level of technical losses and frequent breakdowns.
    • The distribution network capacity in several States is inadequate to carry available electricity. Subsequently, discoms have been resorting to load shedding while their contracted generation capacities are underutilised.
    • Adding new load to the existing fragile distribution network will only compromise the quality and reliability of supply. It could result in continued blackouts for the rural poor during peak hours.
  • Many States have failed to utilise the limited funding:-
    • Current allocations under the Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Gram Jyoti Yojana (DDUGJY) and Integrated Power Development Scheme (IPDS), to augment rural and urban distribution networks, respectively, are only a fraction of the requirement. Moreover, disbursement of these grants has been much slower, 17% under DDUGJY and 31% under IPDS, reflecting sluggish implementation.
  • Low achievement of earlier electrification schemes has often been blamed on incompatibility and a lack of cooperation between the Centre and States.
  • Renewable energy constraints:-
    • The evidence from States such as Maharashtra, which made an claim to full electrification six years ago relying partly on solar power, shows that theft, damage and lack of technical capacity can pose serious hurdles.

Way forward:-

  • The answer may lie in a hybrid solutionthat ensures
    • Continued scaling up of both grid-connected and standalone solar systems in appropriate areas
    • Augmenting conventional sources of electricity with a clear emphasis on rooftop solutions for cities.
  • Cheaper renewables will enable differential pricing for households in remote areas, a key determinant of wider social benefits of electricity. 
  • The next step now is to provide electricity connections to more than 40 million families in rural and urban areas by March 2019 under the Pradhan Mantri Sahaj Bijli Har Ghar Yojana(Saubhagya), wherein all households will be targeted.

Conclusion:-

  • India has traversed a long, hard, impressive journey towards achieving 100 per cent electrification. In fact, according to the International Energy Agency, by providing energy access to over 500 million people since 2000, India has become one of the greatest-ever success stories in electrification.