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SECURE SYNOPSIS: 03 SEPTEMBER 2018

Are you Ready for Insta 75 Days Revision Plan (UPSC Prelims - 2020)?


SECURE SYNOPSIS: 03 SEPTEMBER 2018


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


General Studies – 2


Topic– Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the Centre and States and the performance of these schemes; mechanisms, laws, institutions and Bodies constituted for the protection and betterment of these vulnerable sections.

1) In order to safeguard the rights of the transgender community in India, there is an urgent need for affirmative action. Examine in the light of the shortcomings of the transgender bill.(250 words)

epw

Economictimes

Why this question

Transgender community in India is one of the most discriminated community. Facing economic deprivation and social ostracisation, they have very limited opportunities for development. In this context, it is essential to examine the need for affirmative action in their case.

Directive word

Examine- Here we have to probe deeper into the topic,  get into details, and find out the causes or implications if any.

Key demand of the question.

The question wants us to dig deep into the issue and bring out the shortcomings of the Transgender bill and discuss the reasons as to why there is a need to provide affirmative action to the transgender community in India.

Structure of the answer

Introduction– write a few lines highlighting the plight of transgender persons in India. E.g Recently, the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) conducted the first-ever nationwide survey of the transgender community in India and found that 92% of the people belonging to the community are subjected to economic exclusion.

Body-

  • Discuss the shortcomings of the Transgender bill. E.g the bill has neglected to incorporate two crucial recommendations made by a standing committee to review its provisions in 2017. The first recommendation made a case for reservation for transgender persons in educational institutions and for jobs; denial of legal recognition of the rights of transgender persons to marriage and partnerships, which is difficult in a country that largely recognises only two genders. Indians have stubbornly stuck to the gender binary as a basis for defining their sociocultural reality etc.
  • Discuss the discrimination and deprivation faced by the transgender community in India. E.g they have to either resort to—or are forced into—begging or sex work since they remain socially circumscribed from other forms of employment; denial of sexual citizenship; face social rejection;  cannot inhabit public spaces and command the same respect that a heterosexual cis-man would receive from his fellow citizens because their bodies themselves are stigmatised presences. The transgender community occupies a very specific intersection among marginalised communities that makes them uniquely vulnerable to sexual violence and medical neglect. Largely, they are estranged from their families, which removes them from one of the most primary forms of social legitimacy. As per the NHRC survey, only 2% of transgender persons in India live with their families; face sexual violence and are more predisposed to sexual diseases etc.

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

Background:-

  • The Supreme Court gave a landmark judgment granting India’s transgender community the right to be recognised as a third gender category and  ruled that it was every human being’s right to choose one’s own gender.
  • While in 2014, based on the Census, five million acknowledged their transgender status, activists say their number could be much higher. Over 66% of them live in the rural areas. 
  • The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) conducted the first-ever nationwide survey of the transgender community in India and found that 92% of the people belonging to the community are subjected to economic exclusion

Why there is a need for affirmative action :-

  • Historical:-
    • Indian Penal Code enacted by the Britishrecognised only two genders, creating a binary that never existed.
    • Over time, these constructs were absorbed in Indian society. The community has since faced extreme forms of violence for not conforming to socially dictated gender identities.
  • Poverty:-
    • In too many cases, this lack of legal protection translates into unemployment for transgender people.
  • Harassment and stigma:-
    • The community still faces considerable stigma .
    • They have to either resort to or are forced into begging or sex work since they remain socially circumscribed from other forms of employment.
    • When the Kochi Metro Rail Limited formally employed 23 transgender persons, eight of them dropped out after being unable to find suitable accommodation based on the monthly wages they drew (between Rs.9,000 and Rs.15,000). Many households were unwilling to let out their houses to them.
    • Despite recruited in government services like police ,principal etc they drop out due to immense pressure and insensivity by the public.
    • Sex work makes this community a high-risk group for HIV according to India’s National Aids Control Organisation (NACO), compounding the stigma they face 
    • According to the NHRC data, 99% of the transgender community in India have faced social rejection.
    • Transgender persons cannot inhabit public spaces and command the same respect because their bodies themselves are considered as stigmatised presences.
  • Violence:-
    • The community, especially those who are a part of the ‘guru-chela’ structure in Hijra gharanas and practise the traditions of “mangti” and “badhai”, are often harassed, detained under begging prohibition laws, and forced into begging homes.
  • Barrier to healthcare:-
    • Face barriers to obtaining medically-necessary health services and encountering medical professionals who lacked transgender health care competency.
  • Identity Documents :-
    • The widespread lack of accurate identity documents among transgender people can have an impact on every area of their lives, including access to emergency housing or other public services.
    • The primary crisis faced by the transgender community is a denial of sexual citizenship.
  • Exclusion:-
    • In the case of transgender children, their families, unable to accept their status, subject them to domestic violence, which often compels these children to leave home.
    • Largely, they are estranged from their families, which removes them from one of the most primary forms of social legitimacy. As per the NHRC survey, only 2% of transgender persons in India live with their families.
  • Drawbacks in law:-
    • Transgender identity is not yet recognised in criminal law, whether as the third gender or as a self-identified male or female.
    • There is also no clarity on the application of gender-specific laws to transgender persons.
  • There are other issues that worry transgender persons such as their right to property, adoption, marriage, pension, and care for the old and the disabled.

Transgender bill:-

  • The latest draft of the bill defines a transgender person as a person whose gender does not match with the gender assigned to that person at birth
  • The 2016 Bill says that no transgender shall be separated from parents or immediate family except on the order of a competent court in the interest of such a person and that if the family is unable to care for the person, the transgender should be placed in a rehabilitation centre.

Issues with the bill:

  • Government, however, has refused to address two major issues – decriminalising homosexuality under Section 377 that directly concerns transgenders and reservation for transgender community in educational institutions and government organisations. 
  • Absence of a definition of “discrimination”.
  • The Bill provides for the right of a transgender to ‘self perceived gender identity.’ But there are no such mechanisms provided for the enforcement of a right. No corresponding remedy has been provided for this right.
  • The right to self-determination of a transgender has been rightly recognized by the Supreme Court under right to life in Article 21 of the Constitution of India, but the objective means to achieve this has not been focused upon. 
  • The appointment of the District Screening Committee is also against the NALSA judgement which recognized right to self-identity as an inalienable right under Article 21 of the Constitution of India
  • Similarly, the bill is silent in areas of health, affirmative action,and decriminalising activities that marginalised trans communities are compelled to undertake to eke out a living. There are also no penal provisions in the law to guard against the trans community being subjected to atrocities and to protect its members in prisons and juvenile homes.
  • Another shortcoming in the implementation which the Bill will face is lack of mechanism for representation of the transgenders. For example, as we have a National Commission for Women and for lower castes, a similar type of provision ought to be made here too.
  • Although the Bill may come into force, it may still not be effective due to lag in the authorities to act for the rights of the transgenders.
  • Further, some provisions of the Bill are also in conflict with the international conventions on transgenders.

Solutions:-

  • Sensitising the workforcein protecting the rights and dignity of the community. 
  • Implement transgender bill effectively :-
    • The Bill recommends the formation of a National Council for Transgender Persons that is tasked with monitoring and evaluating policies formulated for transgender persons. This may pave the way for fulfilling the community’s long-standing demand for representation in the Rajya Sabha.
  • Leading voices from the community have called for vocational programmes in creative fields, a recommendation made by the Standing Committee too.
  • There is need for a comprehensive surveyon the socio-economic status of the community.
  • Transgender welfare boardsare needed in different States.
  • Transgender persons should take part in the national Census to generate accurate data.
  • Explicit policies on transgender-friendly registration and non-discriminationand healthcare workers need to be trained to provide non-judgmental care.
  • Standing committee recommendations:-
    • Recommended re-drafting the definition of a ‘transgender person’ to make it inclusive and accurate; providing for the definition of discrimination and setting up a grievance redress mechanism to address cases of discrimination and granting reservations to transgender persons. 
  • There is a requirement of special courts which can deal with the offences against transgenders speedily and effectively.

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

2) The growing countrywide demand for the inclusion of new castes in the reservation quotas has entered an interesting phase. Analyze.(250 words)

epw

Why this question

Reservation policy of the government of India has entered an interesting phase. The discourse around reservation policy has witnessed a remarkable shift which needs to be probed in detail.

Directive word

Analyze- Here we  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.

Key demand of the question.

The question wants us to delve deep into the issue of reservation policy in India and bring out the change in the discourse around it, as has happened in the recent years. We have to look at the issue through a wide lens and appreciate the changes therein.

Structure of the answer

Introduction– write a few lines about the reservation policy in India- e.g mention the historical wrongs inflicted on the communities which were given reservation. Mention the constant and fierce criticism of reservation policy by groups not covered under reservation etc.

Body-

Discuss how the discourse on reservation policy has changed recently in India. E.g mention that a few decades ago, the critics of reservation  sought to stigmatise the reservation principle by deploying a morally ­offensive language to describe its beneficiaries, more particularly the Scheduled Castes (SCs), as the “sons-in-law” of the government and “enemies of merit” and “stumbling block for efficient functioning.” Thus, the target of such malicious critiques was specifically a concrete social group. The opponents used public good such as institutional well-being as the pretext to express their hate and anger against a particular group rather than ­reservation itself; Today, in the wake of the growing demand for reservation across several castes, those  opponents in their public expression seem to be underplaying at least some words like “merit” and “efficiency.” However, at the subterranean level or even on social media, the language against reservation continues to remain quite vicious; today opposition to quota is less on grounds of merit and efficiency, and more on those of integration of society and development of the nation; The new turn in the discourse on reservation has helped us separate the principle of reservation from the stigma that was attached to the SCs. This could be seen as a gain since it is satisfying to see that the ­democratisation of the demand for reservation would neutralise the harsh and malicious ire against the system of reservation. And some may think it a welcome development in terms of ­easing out the social tension that seems to be active among ­several caste groups in India etc.

Conclusion-Conclusion- Based on your discussion, form a fair and a balanced conclusion on the given issue.

 

Background :-

  • Reservation in India is the process of facilitating people in education, scholarship, jobs etc that were faced historical injustice.
  • Reservation is a form of quota-based affirmative action.Reservation is governed by constitutional laws, statutory laws, and local rules and regulations.
  • The reservation is undertaken to address the historic oppression, inequality and discrimination faced by those communities and to give these communities a place. It is intended to realise the promise of equalityenshrined in the Constitution.
  • The communities excluded from reservations harbour animosity and prejudice against the castes included in the reservation category. 

Inclusion of new castes in the reservation quotas :-

  • The Maratha reservationdemands, like those of the Patidars in Gujarat, the Kapus in Andhra Pradesh and the Jats in Haryana, are the inevitable outgrowths of the political warping of the logic of reservations.
  • Few recent incidents indicate that this policy has ended up as a tool that discriminates against the high caste youths in favour of the low caste youths, sometimes coming from the same economic background. Few experts argue that the tool of reservation has failed miserably in removing caste differences and has promoted the caste divide and caste conflicts.
  • A few decades ago, the critics of reservation  sought to stigmatise the reservation principle by deploying a morally ­offensive language to describe its beneficiaries, more particularly the Scheduled Castes (SCs), as the “sons-in-law” of the government and “enemies of merit” and “stumbling block for efficient functioning.” Thus, the target of such malicious critiques was specifically a concrete social group.
  • The opponents used public good such as institutional well-being as the pretext to express their hate and anger against a particular group rather than ­reservation itself
  • Today, in the wake of the growing demand for reservation across several castes, those  opponents in their public expression seem to be underplaying at least some words like “merit” and “efficiency.”
  • However, at the subterranean level or even on social media, the language against reservation continues to remain quite vicious. Today opposition to quota is less on grounds of merit and efficiency, and more on those of integration of society and development of the nation
  • The new turn in the discourse on reservation has helped us separate the principle of reservation from the stigma that was attached to the SCs. This could be seen as a gain since it is satisfying to see that the ­democratisation of the demand for reservation would neutralise the harsh and malicious ire against the system of reservation.
  • And some may think it a welcome development in terms of ­easing out the social tension that seems to be active among ­several caste groups in India etc.

Way forward:-

  • First, while caste will continue to be the mainstay of reservation policies, the benefits should flow to the vast majority of underprivileged children from deprived castes; not to a few privileged children with a caste tag.
  • Second, we have to address the anger and aspirations of poor families among unreserved communities.
  • These efforts should be coupled with a vigorous national effort to improve school education outcomes.

General Studies – 3


Topic– Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization of resources, growth, development and employment.

Effects of liberalization on the economy.

3) Informalisation of employment in India is policy induced and a corollary of neoliberalism. Comment.(250 words)

epw

 

Why this question

Employment is a critical issue for any country, especially for India which is home to the world’s largest demographic dividend. Thus it is important to discuss how informalization of employment is a result of neoliberalism and policy environment.

Directive word

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

Key demand of the question.

The question wants us to express our opinion on the statement- Informalisation of employment in India is policy induced and a corollary of neoliberalism. Whether we agree or not we have to present our facts/ arguments and then sum up the discussion with an overall opinion.

Structure of the answer

Introduction– write a few lines impressing upon the informalization of employment in India. E.g While the low level of education and skill is used to explain away the unorganised sector informalisation, informalisation in the organised sector, with presumably higher level of education and skill, is widespread and perplexing.

Body

  • discuss how this is a result of policy environment in India. E.g Driven by the traditional perception that the government is the most secure employer in the country, the pressure of aspiration that the public sector handles has been perpetually high; the cost of entering the government job market is prohibitive. Jobseekers, unable to crack though such a system, are more likely to fall back on informal arrangements;pay hikes through successive pay commissions, have made recruitment an expensive affair for the government itself, particularly for the state governments, who find it difficult to match up to the central government pay-packages with their limited resources. Permanent posts lie vacan and are replaced with increasing number of contractual or casual recruitment etc.
  • Discuss how neoliberalism is responsible for informalization of employment in India. E.g From the perspective of businesses, informal employment (casualisation per se) can keep costs down, a factor that is perhaps more important than incremental productivity, in staying competitive. At the same time, it gels well with the principle of fiscal austerity of the neo-liberals etc.

Conclusion– sum up your discussion in a few lines and form a fair and a balanced conclusion on the above issue.

 

Background:-

  • Over the past decade, an organised sector-driven informalisation of employment has been an issue of concern of development practitioners in India.While the low level of education and skill is used to explain away the unorganised sector informalisation, informalisation in the organised sector, with presumably higher level of education and skill, is widespread and perplexing

How informalisation is result of policy of neoliberalism:-

  • Surfeit of vacant permanent posts in the government’s own backyards is indicative of a policy impulse that is supportive of such informalisation of labour. A backlog of 0.24 million unfilled posts in the public sector is reported by the media recently
  • Employment policies driving informalisation cannot be attributed to any particular government. It fits the bill of the neo-liberal states, in general.
    • On one side, it favours the private sector-led growth strategy. From the perspective of businesses, informal employment (casualisation per se) can keep costs down, a factor that is perhaps more important than incremental productivity, in staying competitive.
    • At the same time, it gels well with the principle of fiscal austerity of the neo-liberals. 
  • Predominance of service-sector led growth which requires skilled labour that was available with a miniscule section of the population.
  • The advent of the Fourth Industrial Revolution and automation poses even more dangers to present formal sector jobs since workers with current skills will be rendered obsolete unless they undergo skill reorientation.
  • India, with increasing integration into global economy, also suffered during various global crises such as the Southeast Asian crisis, Global Financial Crisis in 2008 and the Eurozone crisis in 2011. This shelved corporate expansion plans and led to closure of several industries, reducing formal sector employment.

Result of policy making:-

  • Traditional perception that the government is the most secure employer in the country and the pressure of aspiration that the public sector handles has been perpetually high
  • Potential factor fuelling this ratcheting aspiration is the vicious cycle of misallocation of personnel and rent-seeking, which has characterised public sector employment in India, historically.
  • At the same time, it also makes the cost of entering the government job market prohibitive. Jobseekers, unable to crack though such a system, are more likely to fall back on informal arrangements.
  • People-pleasing policies, such as pay hikes through successive pay commissions, have made recruitment an expensive affair for the government itself, particularly for the state governments, who find it difficult to match up to the central government pay-packages with their limited resources. Permanent posts lie vacant.
  • Restrictive labour laws which promote contract hiring in order to circumvent rigid hiring and firing provisions.
  • Absence of thrust on manufacturing can lead to creation of formal employment for millions looking to move away from agriculture.
  • Market-mechanisms and competition led to closure of obsolete industries such as textile mills, reducing formal jobs. The newer industries were capital intensive rather than labour intensive, thus absorbing lesser workforce than what they laid to retrenchment of.
  • Lack of an exit mechanism such as insolvency and bankruptcy laws has led to firms remaining small, barely breaking even, and not scaling up. Such small firms can circumvent formal sector laws such as mandatory registrations with the EPFO etc. rendering them informal.

Topic – Indigenization of technology and developing new technology

4) With growing applications of drones, regulatory framework of drones has come not a day too early. Examine the lacunae and impact of the policy?(250 words)

Financial express

Why this question

The application of drones in recent years has seen a marked increase. While this opens up several new opportunities, it also highlights the need for having regulations for drone usage. The article highlights this issues and examines the lacunae in the policy.

Key demand of the question

The question expects us to first explain whether the application of drones is growing and how. Through this we have to establish the need for a policy regulating usage of drones. Next, we need to highlight the details of the policy and the issues in them. Finally, we need to highlight how this policy will impact us in the days to come.

Directive word

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

Structure of the answer

Introduction – In the initial section of your answers establish the necessity for a policy regulating drone usage. You can highlight the growing application in sectors as diverse as defence to YouTube videos.

Body

 

  • Mention that the  government has done well to set up a regulatory framework for drone operations, including commercial use.
  • Highlight the details of the policy –
  • Requirement of UIN and UAOP
  • Who all can obtain license
  • Other details related to drone usage such as substantial ownership etc
  • Creation of buffer zones
  • Discuss the impact of the policy in  the area of security, disaster management etc
  • Highlight the gaps in the policy or where some changes could have been made – strict criteria for grant of licenses, whether the safety criteria in deciding buffer zones could have been changed etc

 

Conclusion – Give your view on the policy and the way forward.

Background:-

  • Global spending on drones over the next five years will be approximately $100 billion.
  • In recent years, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) or Remotely Piloted Aircraft System (RPAS) — often called drones have exponentially grown in popularity.

Drone applications :-

  • Use of drones for civilian purposes remain underdeveloped, because regulations regarding the technology are not yet fully established. 
  • Use of UAVs in the commercial and social sectors has increased.For instance, Amazon stated in 2013 that it will use drones for delivery of packages and has been exploring its feasibility since then.
  • Monitoring critical infrastructuresuch as ports, power plants, and infrastructure construction with drones are other important civilian functions that are being explored.
  • Possible commercial applicationsinclude package delivery, photography or spraying pesticides on crops.
  • Various state departments and police forces are also using UAVs for various activities. Areas like aerial photography, surveying, crop spraying, inspection of transmission power lines and gas pipelines etc are seeing a huge demand for use of drones,
  • Advancements in fields such as automation, robotics, miniaturization, materials science, spectral and thermal imaging, and light detection and ranging have resulted in drone-enabled solutions in areas as diverse as the agriculture, power, infrastructure, and telecom sectors, as well as crowd and disaster management.

New frame work for drones:-

  • The Director General of Civil Aviation has finally announced its policy for remotely piloted aircraft or drones. Set to come into effect from December 1, 2018, the new policy defines what will be classified as remotely piloted aircraft, how they can be flown and the restrictions they will have to operate under. 
  • The DGCA has defined remotely piloted aircraft (RPA) as an unmanned aircraft piloted from a remote pilot station.
    • The remotely piloted aircraft, its associated remote pilot station(s), command and control links and any other components forms a Remotely Piloted Aircraft System (RPAS).
    • Also, as per the civil aviation requirements issued under the provisions of Rule 15A and Rule 133A of the Aircraft Rules, 1937  these RPAs will need a Unique Identification Number (UIN), Unmanned Aircraft Operator Permit (UAOP) and need to adhere to other operational requirements.
  • The DGCA has segregated drones into five different categories
    i) Nano : Less than or equal to 250 grams.
    ii) Micro : From 250 grams to 2kg.
    iii) Small : From 2kg to 25kg.
    iv) Medium : From 25kg to 150kg.
  1. v) Large : Greater than 150kg.
    • All drones, other than in the nano category, shall apply to DGCA for import clearance and based on that Directorate General of Foreign Trade  shall issue license for import of RPAS.
  • Unmanned aircraft operator permit:-
    • Operators of civil drones will need to get a permit from the DGCA. There are exceptions for:
      • i) Nano RPA operating below 50 feet (15 m) in uncontrolled airspace / enclosed premises.
      • ii) Micro RPA operating below 200 feet (60 m) in uncontrolled airspace / enclosed premises but will need to inform local police 24 hours prior.
      • iii) RPA owned and operated by NTRO, ARC and Central Intelligence Agencies but after intimating local police
    • The DGCA has to issue the UAOP within seven working days provided all the documents are complete.
    • This UAOP shall be valid for five years and not transferrable.
  • Who can fly?
    • The policy also stipulates that RPAs shall be flown only by someone over 18 years of age, having passed 10th exam in English, and undergone ground/ practical training as approved by DGCA.
    • Under the new framework, civilian users seeking UIN/UAOP have to be Indian citizens.
    • Companies seeking permits for commercial use must be registered in India, with two-thirds of the board members, including the chairman, being Indian nationals. Their primary place of business must be India and “substantial ownership” and this has not been defined must be resting with Indian nationals.
  • The basic operating procedure will restrict drone flights to the daytime only and that too within Visual Line of Sight (VLOS). This applies to all categories.
  • Also, along with other SOPs, the DGCA has clarified that no remote pilot can operate more than one RPA at any time. Manned aircraft will also get priority. There can’t be any human or animal payloads, or anything hazardous. It cannot in any manner cause danger to people or property. An insurance will be mandatory to cover third-party damage.
  • Where can drones not be flown?
    • RPAs cannot be flown within 5km of the perimeters of the airports in Mumbai, Delhi, Chennai, Kolkata, Bengaluru and Hyderabad and within 3km from the perimeter of any other airport.
    • It cannot fly within permanent or temporary Prohibited, Restricted and Danger Areas and within 25km from international border which includes the Line of Control (LoC), Line of Actual Control (LAC) and Actual Ground Position Line (AGPL).
    • It cannot fly beyond 500 m into sea from the coast line and within 3 km from perimeter of military installations.
    • It also cannot be operated from a mobile platform such as a moving vehicle, ship or aircraft.
    • Eco-sensitive zones around National Parks and Wildlife Sanctuaries are off-limits without prior permission.
    • Violations will be acted on under relevant sections of the IPC and the Aircraft Act 1934.
  • Imported models:-
    • India is one of the largest importer of drones barring those in the lowest weight category, as per the DGCA classification, must get an import clearance from the DGCA, and subsequently, an import licence from the directorate general of foreign trade.

Benefits of the policy:-

  • Setting up a legal framework for commercial use of drones could help in developing the drones market and encourage investments for local production.
    • According to an estimate by EY and industry chamber Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry, the adoption of drones is increasing in India and the projected market size is $885.7 million by 2021.
  • Drones are also not allowed to fly above the obstacle limitation surfaces of an operational aerodrome and this has been prescribed to avoid interference with the flight plan of airlines.

Concerns:-

  • There are some reasonable restrictions buffer zone and no-fly restrictions around airports and certain government facilities, including military and strategic ones.
  • Mandating all drones must fly within the visual line of sight of the remote pilot, placing explicit restrictions on dropping and discharging substances without prior permission, the numerous and complicated police approval requirements, etc, will all prove to be hurdles for efficient commercial application.
  • The ban on substance discharge without prior permission means that India won’t see the same farm applications drones are being put to in other countries like France where fertiliser and pesticide application over cropped area is carried out via drones.
  • Requiring police clearance for every planned flight 24 hours prior to flight will prove a regulatory headache for delivery services

Way forward:-

  • India must also examine prevailing policy mechanisms in other countries to adopt their best practices as it formalises its regulatory framework. However, a point to be underlined is that guidelines alone are not sufficient; key is ensuring implementation and compliance.

Topic –   Climate change ; Disaster Management

5) What do you understand by climate resilient infrastructure? Evaluate whether our infrastructure is climate resilient, and suggest steps to better it, in light of the recent Kerala floods? (250 words)

Reference

Why this question

The article highlights how the lack of climate resilient Infrastructure and related policies played a role in magnifying the impact of the disaster in Kerala. With the frequency of extreme weather events seeing an upswing in recent years, we need to upgrade our disaster preparedness. One area is creation of climate resilient infrastructure. The article explains the need, gaps in policy and implementation which needs to be prepared.

Key demand of the question

The question expects us to explain what climate resilient infrastructure is, examine why it needs to be focussed upon, the gaps in our current policy and implementation. Finally we need to come up with suggestions to improve the situation.

Directive word

Evaluate – When you are asked to evaluate, you have to pass a sound judgement about the truth of the given statement in the question or the topic based on evidences.  You have to appraise the worth of the statement in question. There is scope for forming a personal opinion here.

Structure of the answer

Introduction – Mention that While a lot is being planned to ensure that the march of climate change is halted, the truth is that we are not investing enough in resilience and adaptability. In this context, mention that climate resilient infrastructure is the need of the hour.

Body

  • Explain climate resilient infrastructure – Climate change will affect all types of infrastructure, including energy, transport and water. Rising temperatures, increased flood risk and other potential hazards will threaten the reliable and efficient
    operation of these networks, with potentially large economic and social impacts. Decisions made now about the design, location and operation of infrastructure will determine how resilient they will be to a changing climate.
  • Discuss why investing in climate resilient infrastructure is important – disaster preparedness, prevention of economic losses, minimal disruption to society etc. Give illustration from the recent floods in Kerala and elsewhere to explain why this issue needs redressal.
  • Highlight the gaps in our approach to climate resilient infrastructure – lack of finance despite promising steps by central and state governments, lack of research in the area, policy not formulated, reactive rather than proactive approach to disaster management etc

Conclusion – Summarize your answer by establishing that our preparedness should improve and suggest ways to do so.

Background:-

  • In an age of climate variability, infrastructure must be climate resilient. Climate change is an emerging concern for city governments across the world. Though, in India, climate change does not yet figure as one of the primary considerations while urban planning.
  • According to world bank India as a country has been ranked one of the most vulnerable countries to climate change.

Climate resilient infrastructure:-

  • Infrastructureby its very nature, and often by design, is vulnerable to the impacts associated with climate Climate resilient infrastructure can safeguard and strengthen developing countries’ economic growth from current and future climate impacts.
  • Climate resilient infrastructure is important in the light of extreme weather events ,global warming leading to sea level rise, adequate disaster preparedness, prevention of economic losses, minimal disruption to society , even in the recent Kerala floods resilient infrastructure would have led to much lesser loss of property.

Issues with Indian infrastructure which is not climate Resilient:-

  • Number of studies commissioned by the government and think tanks have outlined the steps that need to be taken on a national and sub-national level to make current and future infrastructure resilient to climate and extreme weather events. However, no significant steps have been taken.
  • No adequate standards:-
    • The qualification of what makes infrastructure climate resilient is not codified. The 2018 budget allocated a significant amount of funding to create standards, but there hasn’t been any progress. Without these standards, any labelling of infrastructure projects as climate resilient will be ad hoc.
  • Lack of finances:-
    • Finding ways to finance infrastructure projects is already one of India’s largest challenges. According to the Economic Survey of 2017-2018, the current infrastructure gap stands at $526 billion. 
  • Climate resilient infrastructure measures may be planned in advanceor put in place spontaneously in response to a local pressure.
    • They include large-scale infrastructure changessuch as
      • Building defences to protect against sea-level rise 
      • Improving the quality of road surfaces to withstand hotter temperatures
      • Behavioural shifts such as individuals using less water, farmers planting different crops etc.
    • Adaptation measures can help reduce vulnerabilityfor example by lowering sensitivity or building adaptive capacity as well as allowing populations to benefit from opportunities of climatic changes, such as growing new crops in areas that were previously unsuitable
    • Low-income countries tend to be more vulnerable to climate risks and some adaptation measures such as increasing access to education and health facilities will overlap with existing development programmes. But adaptation goes beyond just development to include measures to address additional risks specifically caused by climate change, such as raising the height of sea defences. 
    • When Cyclone Hudhud hit the coast of Andhra Pradesh near the city of Vishakhapatnam, the impact was immense. While the decades of development that had gone into the Indian cyclone warning system ensured that the death toll was minimal, the loss to infrastructure was high.
    • Destruction of coastal sand dunes, cutting down mangroves, dredging coastal mudflats, or building a bund across a coastal wetland would all worsen the local adverse impact of sea level rise. India’s coastal infrastructure development plans include many examples of such ill-planned development.

Way forward:-

  • It is critical to invest in climate-smart infrastructure like water management, transport, and energy because they provide critical social and economic services not only to the city but also to regions beyond that. These need to be done now because changing them requires a significant amount of lead time to design and implement
  • There is a need to build the principles of climate resilience into coastal infrastructure development. This would mean incorporating them into already-existing urban infrastructure. For future infrastructure development, climate resilience will need to be built in right from the planning stage.
  • Main challenges for incorporating climate resilience into coastal infrastructure starts with the non-availability of fine-resolution data such as sea level measurement and variation in precipitation. Such location-specific information within the larger picture of how climate change is affecting or will affect the Indian coast can help planners and administrators to build in climate resilience.
  • At present there is no window for financing climate resilient infrastructure, according to the TERI study. One avenue could have been the National Mission on Sustainable Habitat, one of the eight missions initiated under the National Action Plan on Climate Change. 
  • Both short- and long-term, detailed design features and interventions that would need expert engineering solutions are critical to planning for new infrastructure or retrofitting/climate proofing of existing ones.
  • Planning for climate resilience would need to start from the time of locating the infrastructure facilities. For instance, infrastructure for solid waste management, especially landfills, have to be located keeping in mind the projected sea level rise. Similarly, planning for climate resilience would mean ensuring water supply channels have back-ups for extreme weather events.

Topic–  Part of static series under the heading – “Major climatic regions of the world”

6) Discuss the main features of equatorial vegetation and explain why tropical countries are net timber importers?(250 words) 

GC Leong Physical Geography Ch 15

Key demand of the question

The question expects us to explain the type of vegetation found in equatorial climate, their key features. Based on that, we need to explain the reason why they are timber importers.

Directive word

Discuss – Here you need to explain the features of equatorial vegetation and the reason why they are timber importers.

Structure of the answer

Introduction – Explain the type of climate found in equatorial region

Body

  • Discuss the type of vegetation found in equatorial forests. Explain their key features – great variety, distinct layer arrangement, multiple species and forests clearings.
  • Explain the reason why they are timber importers – presence of tropical hardwood, poor quality of secondary vegetation and multiple species

Background:-

  • High temperature and abundant rainfall in the equatorial regions support a luxuriant type of vegetation-the tropical rain forest. In the Amazon lowlands, the forest is so dense and so complete in its vegetational extravagance that a special term ‘selvas’ is used.

Main features of equatorial vegetation:-

  • Vertical layer arrangement:-
    • From the air, the tropical rain forest appears like a thick canopy of foliage, broken only where it is crossed by large rivers or cleared for cultivation. All plants struggle up­wards for sunlight resulting in a peculiar layer arrangement. The tallest trees attain a height of over 150 feet 
    • Their slender trunks pierce skywards with wide-spread branches at the top. The smaller trees beneath form the next layer, and the ground is rooted with ferns and herbaceous plants which can tolerate shade. Because the trees cut out most of the sunlight the undergrowth is not dense
  • Great Variety of Vegetation:
    • The equatorial vegetation comprises a multitude of evergreen trees that yield tropical hardwood, e.g. mahogany, ebony, greenheart, cabinet woods and dyewoods.
    • There are smaller palm trees, climbing plants like the lianas or rattan which may be hundreds of feet long and epiphytic and parasitic plants that live on other plants. Under the trees grow a wide variety of ferns, orchids and lalang
  • Multiple Species:
    • Unlike the temperate forests, where only a few species occur in a particular area, the trees of the tropical rain forests are not found in pure stands of a single species. It has been esti­mated that in the Malaysian jungle as many as 200 species of trees may be found in an acre of forest.
  • Forest Clearings:
    • Many parts of the virgin tropical rain forests have been cleared either for lumbering or shifting cultivation. When these clear­ings are abandoned, less luxuriant secondary forests, called belukar in Malaysia, spring up. These are characterized by short trees and very dense under­growth. In the coastal areas and brackish swamps, mangrove forests thrive.

Why tropical countries are net timber importers:-

  • Many species are found in a smaller area. For example Malaysian jungles have around 200 species in a acre of forest land. Hence, commercial exploitation of trees becomes difficult.
  • This has made commercial exploitation of tropical timber a most difficult task. Many of the tropical hardwoods do not float readily on water and this makes haulage an expensive matter. It is therefore not surprising that many tropical countries are net timber importers.
  • In tropical areas some tree-species are extremely valuable, but they are scattered. This heterogeneous supply of timber leads to cost of gathering very high.
  • Valuable trees are scattered throughout jungle, you need some land transport before logs reach the rivers. But road construction is difficult due to rain, dense vegetation.
  • Poor quality of secondary vegetation 

 


Topic- Inclusive growth and issues arising from it.

7) India Post Payments Bank (IPPB) is a historic decision towards achieving the goal of financial inclusion. Discuss.(250 words) 

pib

Economictimes

Why this question

India recently launched IPPB, which is a historic step towards financial inclusion, due to the sheer extent of its penetration and potential. It is important to discuss in detail the benefits and advantages offered by the system and know its working.

Directive word

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

Key demand of the question.

The question wants us to write in detail about IPPB- what it means, how it is a significant step towards financial inclusion.

Structure of the answer

Introduction– write a few introductory lines about IPPB- e.g IPPB is a public sector company under the Department of Posts and the Ministry of Communication with a 100 percent equity of the Government of India, and governed by the Reserve Bank of India.

Body-

Write about the IPPB further in detail. E.g

IPPB will focus on providing banking and financial services to people in rural areas, by linking all the 1.55 lakh post office branches (that’s nearly 2.5 times the bank network) with IPPB services by the end of 2018; Postmen in rural and urban areas will provide doorstep banking services. This will create the country’s largest banking network with a direct presence at the village level; it will enable money transfer, transfer of government benefits, bill payments and other services such as investment and insurance etc.

Conclusion– mention how IPPB complements Jan Dhan Yojana and how Aadhaar can be leveraged to faster and more reliable transactions, verifications etc.

 

Background:-

  • IPPB is a public sector company under the Department of Posts and the Ministry of Communication with a 100 per cent equity of the Government of India, and governed by the Reserve Bank of India
  • To build the most accessible, affordable and trusted bank for the common man and to spearhead the financial inclusion agenda by removing the barriers for the unbanked and underbanked population is the prime vision and mission behind the launching of IPPB

India post payments bank and financial inclusion:-

  • IPPB will focus on providing banking and financial services to people in rural areas, by linking all the 1.55 lakh post office branches (that’s nearly 2.5 times the bank network) with IPPB services by the end of 2018.
  • Postmen in rural and urban areas will provide doorstep banking services. This will create the country’s largest banking network with a direct presence at the village level.
  • IPPB will offer a range of products such as savings and current accounts, money transfer, direct benefit transfers, bill and utility payments, and enterprise and merchant payments.
  • IPPB has permission to link around 17 crore postal savings bank (PSB) account with its account.
  • IPPB will also launch a mobile app to facilitate online banking service as well as payment for various utilities and services like phone bill, DTH, gas connection, electricity, etc.
  • IPPB will also facilitate digital transactions, and help deliver the benefits of schemes such as Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana, which provide assistance to farmers.
  • IPPB will leverage public infrastructure like National Payments Corporation of India, Payment Settlement System and will lead to security of financial sector besides giving fillip to indigenization
  • It will enable money transfer, transfer of government benefits, bill payments and other services such as investment and insurance.
  • The bank will offer quick response (QR) cards to customers as an additional service, along with mobile banking, phone banking and SMS banking.
    • The QR card will have the customer’s account number embedded and the customer does not have to remember his/her account number to access the account

Way forward:-

  • IPPB complements Jan Dhan Yojana and Aadhaar can be leveraged to faster and more reliable transactions, verifications etc.