SECURE SYNOPSIS: 10 SEPTEMBER 2018

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SECURE SYNOPSIS: 10 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– Important aspects of governance, transparency and accountability, e-governance- applications, models, successes, limitations, and potential.

1) Discuss the recent IT initiatives taken by Indian railways to improve train operations and provide better passenger experience. (250 words)

pib

Why this question

Indian railways has been at the forefront in adopting technology and has recently undertaken several IT initiatives to improve train operations and provide better passenger experience. It is important to know about and discuss those initiatives.

Directive word

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

Key demand of the question.

The question wants us to write in detail about the IT initiatives taken by Indian railways recently, to improve train operations and provide better passenger experience.

Structure of the answer

Introduction- write a few lines about the growing adoption of IT technology in its operations and service delivery by the Indian railways e.g  e-ticketing.

Body-

Discuss in points/ paragraphs the recently undertaken initiatives by the Indian railways. E.g

Real Time Train Information System (RTIS) is being implemented, whereby GPS tracking devices would communicate using satellite communications; In an effort to computerise the transactions of the station master, a Computerised Train Signal Register is going live at 650 stations and this enables arrival/departure information to be transmitted to the Control Office Application (COA) and the National train Enquiry System (NTES) directly from the station master’s desk; Handheld Terminals (HHTs) are being provided to the Train Ticket Examiners (TTEs) to be able to check the reserved coaches, allot the vacant berths and transmit information on available berths to the subsequent stations; Modernisation of Ticketing Website (IRCTC) etc.

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

Background:-

  • India has one of the world’s largest railway networks. Such a dynamic and thriving organisation is trying to innovate and reinvent its practices through technology.
  • From bio-toilets to faster online ticket booking, the ministry of railways has tried to leverage technology to make things easier and better for its passengers.

IT initiatives:-

  • Removing unmanned railway crossings
  • WiFi:-
    • Wi-Fi is already available in all A1 and A category stations and now the service will be extended to B category stations as well.
  • Tracking goods:-
    • Introduced radio frequency identification (RFID) technology that would allow real-time tracking of freight and freight wagons.
  • Train drivers will undergo advanced training on digital crew simulation systems with 3D technology to improve their alertness and enhance safety in train operations. 
    • Provision for advanced simulators has been made under Rashtriya Rail Sanraksha Kosh for providing simulator-based training of crew across Indian Railways in the budget for 2018-19.
  • Tracking of trains using newer technologies:
    • Railways have experimented with tracking of trains using GPS devices with these GPS devices located in the locomotive.  For a sustainable solution, a Real Time Train Information System (RTIS) is being implemented, whereby GPS tracking devices would communicate using satellite communications. 
    • Data logger systems already available in track circuited stations are being used at major interchange points to capture arrival/departure information on trains. 
  • In an effort to computerise the transactions of the station master, a Computerised Train Signal Register is going live at 650 stations and this enables arrival/departure information to be transmitted to the Control Office Application (COA) and the National train Enquiry System (NTES) directly from the station master’s desk.
  • Handheld Terminals (HHTs) are being provided to the Train Ticket Examiners (TTEs) to be able to check the reserved coaches, allot the vacant berths and transmit information on available berths to the subsequent stations.
  • Modernisation of IRCTC website:-
    • Apart from the capacity, the entire user experience has been improved substantially with the launch a new interface with easier navigation and standard views that enable the passengers to transact smoothly. 
  • Paperless Unreserved Ticketing through Mobile Phones eliminated the need for passengers to stand in queue for getting tickets for journey in unreserved compartments of trains.  
  • Indian Railway e-Procurement System (IREPS):
    • Complete tendering activity of Indian Railways for procurement of goods, services & works and e-auction of scrap sale is on IREPS.   IREPS system is largest such G to B portal in India.  It has helped in achieving objectives of transparency, efficiency and improving of ease of doing business. 
  • Indian Railways to install one lakh digital display screens at stations
    • The railways will install about one lakh digital display screens across more than 2,000 stations to disseminate passenger-related information.
    • RailTel, a PSU of railways, has been given the task of developing the Railway Display Network (RDN) under which around1,00,000 digital display screens will be put up at over 2,000 railway stations.

 


General Studies – 3


TopicConservation, environmental pollution and degradation

2) The problem of crop residue burning in India is intensified because of technological limitations or policy confusion. Evaluate. (250 words)

epw

Why this question

The article highlights the problem of crop residue burning, which is a significant factor for the worsening of AQI over Northern parts of the country. The article examines the various technological interventions and the associated issues, as well as the policy lacunae that leads to this problem being persistent over the years. This article will help us in preparing this issue in comprehensive detail.

Key demand of the question

The question expects us to explain the issues involved in this annual saga where the burning of crop residue causes immense problems related to air quality. Next, we are expected to attribute the causes of this persistent issue to either technological issues or policy issues. In this part, we need to examine the present technological and policy challenges and explain why one is a bigger cause than the other. Finally, we need to provide a way forward.

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 – explain the problem of crop residue burning and why is it such a huge environmental challenge.

Body

  • Discuss the technological solutions available to deal with this issue such as alternative use of paddy straw, power generation using paddy straw, ethanol production, production of bio CNG etc. Discuss the reasons why these solutions are not working out effectively.
  • Next, highlight the policy confusions which has led to the festering of this problem. Highlight issues such as national policy on biofuels does not cover support to bio-CNG produced from paddy straw in the form of minimum support price for straw , subsidy provided with a date of lapse which creates issues etc
  • Discuss how the issue can be resolved – effective coordination, need to take a relook at the national policy on biofuels, and budgetary allocation of `1,151 crore for machinery subsidy in light of the emergence of new and efficient technologies for bio-CNG, ethanol, and manure production, factor in the cost of using groundwater for crops that produce paddy for future policy decisions

Conclusion – Give your fair and balanced view on the cause of the persistent nature of this problem.

Background :-

  • Punjab, Haryana and western Uttar Pradesh produce nearly 40 million tonnes of paddy straw annually. This precious raw material, when burnt, causes pollution, environment degradation, and warming of temperature, leading to accidents as well as afflicting people with breathing-related diseases. So there need to be mechanisms created to convert crop residue into an useful resource.

Problem of crop residue burning in India :-

  • Burning of agricultural biomass residue, or Crop Residue Burning (CRB) has been identified as a major health hazard. In addition to causing exposure to extremely high levels of Particulate Matter concentration to people in the immediate vicinity, it is also a major regional source of pollution, contributing between 12 and 60 per cent of PM concentrationsas per various source apportionment studies.
  • An increase in finer black carbon (BC) particles and greenhouse gases from crop residue burning (CRB) has made the Indo-Gangetic basin a global hotspot for atmospheric pollutants and a place for recurring winter haze and toxic fog.

Technological solutions were tried earlier:-

  • In terms of efforts being made to reduce crop residue burning, the following approaches have been used by various state and central administrations and regulatory bodies so far:
    • Banning Crop Residue Burning:
      • Crop residue burning was notified as an offence under the Air Act of 1981, the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 and various appropriate Acts. In addition, a penalty is being imposed on any offending farmer. Village and block-level administrative officials are being used for enforcement.
    • Detection and prevention:
      • A combination of remote sensing technology use of satellite imagery and a team comprising local officials–Sub-Divisional Magistrates, Tehsildars, Block Development Officers, Patwarisand village-level workers is being used to detect occurrences of crop residue burning in real-time and to prevent them from taking place.
    • Establishment of a marketplace for crop residue burning:
      • Efforts are being made to increase the avenues for the alternate usage of paddy straw and other crop residue. For instance, paddy straw has a considerable calorific value, making it suitable for use as a fuel in biomass-based power plants. Similarly, it can be utilised for the preparation of bio-fuels, organic fertilisers and in paper and cardboard making industries. The strategy, broadly, is to assign a real economic and commercial value to the agricultural residue and making burning it an economic loss to the farmer.
    • Outreach and public awareness campaigns:
      • There are ongoing efforts to highlight the health effects of crop residue burning. It produces extremely high levels of toxic particulates, which affect the health of the people in the direct vicinity of the burning. In addition, efforts are also being made through kisancamps, trainings and workshops, apart from campaigns through various print media, televised shows and radio jingles, in informing farmers about the alternative usage of crop residue.
    • Subsidy on agri-implements:
      • The state governments, in collaboration with the Centre, has rolled out schemes for providing subsidy on mechanical implements that help tillage of soil, so that the crop residue can be retained in the soil, adding to its fertility, or alternately, collection of crop residue for putting it to commercial usage.
      • However, the high cost of these implements means that in spite of subsidies, only a small number of farmers have access to these implements at the moment.
    • Crop Diversification:
      • There are various ongoing, long-term efforts at diversification of cropping techniques, such that crop residue burning can be effectively prevented. This is being attempted through cultivation of alternate crops (apart from rice/paddy and wheat) that produce less crop residue and have greater gap periods between cropping cycles.

Reasons why this menace is still continuing:-

  • Labour intensive process:-
    • There is a very short window of time between harvesting of paddy and cultivation of wheat, at the end of the Kharif season.
    • Removal of the paddy stalk that remains on the field is a labour-intensive process. With labour being unavailable and the time window for preparing the field for wheat cultivation being limited crop residue is burnt in the fields by farmers after harvesting during October–November.
  • The problem becomes severe in winters when large parts of northern India choke on smog and haze triggered by large scale crop residue burning.
  • Technological limitations:-
    • The power generation technology using paddy straw could not become a commercially viable business model due to the fact that it involved high costs of production 
    • National policy on biofuels supports G-2 technology for ethanol production from paddy straw. However an alternative technology of production of methane gas through anaerobic digestion provides 37% more energy compared to ethanol production by fermentation.
    • Governments have been issuing orders to fine those farmers found burning crop residue in accordance with NGT directions but these orders have been largely defied by farmers who find no other alternative to burning. Farmers hold the view that alternatives are costly.
      • For instance Zero tillage technology requires purchase of costly machines beyond their reach. India also lacks skilled personnel but we will also require tractors with higher horsepower to drive the zero-till machines.
    • Policy confusion and failure:-
      • Farmers have to be convinced that their yields will not suffer should they choose to use a Happy Seeder. States have not initiated this crucial first step at least not in desirable numbers.
      • The national policy on biofuels does not cover support to bio-CNG produced from paddy straw in the form of minimum support price for straw
      • Lack of coordination between the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare and Ministry of New and Renewable Energy as policy documents create confusion among the state governments, which are supposed to tackle the issue of paddy straw burning under the directions of NGT. 

What needs to be done?

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

TopicIndian polity – issues

3) The Constitution Bench judgment in Navtej Singh Johar and Others v Union of India is a watershed moment in Indian constitutional jurisprudence for it enhances the scope of rights enjoyed under golden Trinity of rights enshrined in part 3. Examine. (250 words)

Indianexpress

 

Why this question

The article discusses the constitutional implications of the historic Section 377 judgment of Supreme Court. What was said in the court judgement along with its implications on the nature of rights enjoyed under the constitution is the focus of the article. Hence this article is important to prepare about the section 377 judgment as well as note down the important observations of the judgment to embellish your GS2 answers.

Key demand of the question

The question expects us to discuss the reasons why the supreme court judgement making section 377 ultra vires to the constitution, is a watershed moment in Indian judiciary and how it expand the scope of rights enjoyed under Articles 14, 19 and 21. Thereafter, we need to discuss the impact of such expansion of rights and discuss what more needs to be done to ensure that the judgment is implemented in law and in spirit.

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 .BIn the case of above question, you have to probe the reasons why this can be considered as a watershed moment in Indian judiciary and how it expands the scope of fundamental rights.

Structure of the answer

Introduction – Highlight the SC’s verdict in aforementioned case.

Body

  • Give a brief insight into the stand taken by court in case of individual vs collective rights, how the stand of SC itself over article 377 has evolved over time. Highlight that since the Maneka Gandhi verdict in 1980, SC has constantly expanded the scope of rights and its verdict in Sec 377 case is indeed a watershed moment, for it has extended the cloak of constitutional protection to LGBT citizens, it has relevance to all minorities and indeed to all individuals. The judgment articulates a vision of constitutional supremacy that will guide Indian democracy well into the future. It protects LGBT citizens under the right to equality, along with privacy and dignity.
  • Highlight how the verdict has enhanced the rights enjoyed under articles 14, 19 and 21. Mention that the judgment puts the individual, at the heart of the constitutional scheme. In the Chief Justice’s words, “Destruction of individual identity would tantamount to crushing of intrinsic dignity that cumulatively encapsulates the values of privacy, choice, and freedom of speech and other expressions.” Highlight that the court has emphatically held that fundamental rights do not hinge on the number of people who claim them. Also, mention that Johar also builds on the Supreme Court’s right to choice jurisprudence. Starting with Common Cause v Union of India, the court held that choice was constitutionally protected under Article 21 of the Constitution.
  • Discuss the impact of the verdict on LGBT community

Conclusion – Give your view on the verdict and briefly highlight what the logical next step should be.

Background :-

  • Recently the supreme court overturned the 2013 Suresh Kumar Koushal judgement diluting section 377 andupheld homosexuals right to have intimate relations with people of their choice, their inherent right to privacy and dignity and the freedom to live without fear. 

Golden trinity of rights :-

  • Article 14 – Equality before the law, the state shall not deny any person equality before the law or equal protection of law within the territorial limits of India or prohibition on the grounds of race, caste, religion, sex or place of birth.
  • Article 19 – Protection of certain rights regarding freedom of speech and expression. All citizen shall have the right
    • To freedom of speech and expression
    • To assemble peacefully and without arms
    • To form associations or unions
    • To move freely throughout the territory of India
    • To reside and settle in any part of the territory of India, and
    • To practice any profession or to carry on any occupation, trade or business
  • Article 21 – Protection of life and personal liberty, no person shall be deprived of his personal liberty except according to the procedures established by law.
  • These rights are regarded as the basic principles for the smooth running of life for the citizens of our country. The golden triangle provides full protection to individuals from any encroachment upon their rights from the society and others as well. 

The judgement is a landmark one due to the following reasons:-

  • The message from the Supreme Court’s landmark judgment decriminalising gay sexis that social morality cannot trump constitutional morality. It is a reaffirmation of the right to love.
  • Dilution of Section 377 marks a welcome departure from centuries of heteronormative thinking. 
  • It has freed the LGBTQI communities from the yoke of a colonial law. 
  • SC’s judgment will, however, now ensure that military personnel can no longer be tried under Section 69 (civil offences) of the Army Act (or similar sections in the Navy and IAF Acts).
  • With the judgement the supreme court thrusted diversity and pluralism into the centre stage of India’s public discourse.
  • It  legitimized same-sex relationships, which also signalled an end to prejudice, which it argued has bedevilled India.
  • The judgement marks the end of the first leg of the long-drawn battle for social legitimacy by the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ+) community.
  • Treating homosexuality as a disorder or disease had a severe impact on the mental health of homosexuals. The judgement can ensure this does not happen anymore.
  • The judgement also flows from an August 2017 judgement of the Supreme Court upholding the right to privacy, which laid the legal ground for a fresh interpretation of decriminalization of homosexuality.
  • This will help the community claim equal constitutional status as other citizens. It also affirms their right to claim the right to adopt, marry and have a family
  • It may also prevent social ostracism with the court declaring affirmatively that it was not a mental disorder. But something inate to a human being.
  • Verdict has opened a window for the community to seek dignity in every sphere of life.
  • People will now have a better understanding of equality and it won’t be limited to just gender and other stereotypes.

How the SC judgement enhances the scope of rights enjoyed under the golden trinity of rights enshrined in part 3 :-

  • The judgment articulates a vision of constitutional supremacy that will guide Indian democracy well into the future. 
  • Focus on individual:-
    • The judgment has extended the cloak of constitutional protection to LGBT citizens, it has relevance to all minorities and indeed to all individuals.
    • It protects LGBT citizens under the right to equality, along with privacy and dignity.
    • Individual identity is constitutionally protected. It is this focus on the individual that leads SC to overturn Suresh Kumar Koushal vs Naz Foundation (2013).
  • The court has thus reiterated its commitment to its counter-majoritarian role:
    • Court has emphatically held that fundamental rights do not hinge on the number of people who claim them. Koushal’s reasoning that Section 377 should not be struck down because LGBT people constitute a “minuscule minority” has been put to rest.
  • The court has emphasised the dynamic nature of constitutional interpretation and indeed of the Constitution itself:-
    • Constitutional courts breathe life into the Constitution through their dynamic and purposive interpretation of the constitutional text. This dynamic interpretation ensures that the Constitution endures across generations.
  • Starting with Common Cause v Union of India, the court held that choice was constitutionally protected under Article 21 of the Constitution
  • Court has, finally, struck down Section 377 because it violates Articles 14, 15, 19, and 21 of the Constitution. Performing its classic function of judicial review, the court has struck down Section 377 as being violative of Articles 14 and 15.
  • Supreme court judges have also found that Section 377 violates Article 15’s prohibition against sex discrimination, specifically noting that sex under Article 15 includes sexual orientation.
    • The judgment has struck down Section 377 to the extent that it relates to sexual relations between consenting adults. 

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

4) Critically examine the need for removal of restriction on direct sugar use as feedstock for ethanol production.(250 words)

Epw

Why this question

Sugar is an important agricultural produce for millions of Indian farmers. However recently Indian sugarcane producers as well as sugar mill have been facing several issues including decreasing sugar prices. In this respect it is important to examine what would be the impact of removing restrictions on direct use of sugar as a feedstock for ethanol production.

Directive word

Critically examine- Here we have to probe deeper into the topic,  get into details, and find out the causes or implications if any. Based on our discussion we have to form a concluding opinion on the issue.

Key demand of the question.

The question wants us to delve deep into the issue and bring out why there is a need to remove the restrictions placed on direct use of sugar as a feedstock for ethanol production. It also wants us to bring out the effects of such a policy decision.

Structure of the answer

Introduction- write a few introductory lines about Indian sugar industry- rank in production, imports, exports etc.

Body-

  • Discuss why there is a need to remove such restrictions. E.g discuss the falling sugar prices and anticipation of a further fall in price levels; increasing production of sugar which will further impact prices; limited blending ratio and a lot of scope to increase the blending rates; less scope for export in the face of global competition etc.
  • Discuss the impact it would have on all stakeholders. E.g removing restrictions will enhance ethanol production; make prices remunerative for millers who in turn can pass on the fair price to the sugarcane producers; additional land required to meet ethanol blending programme by 2020 will not be needed etc.

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

Background:-

  • India’s domestic sugar market is in the doldrums as the price of sugar in the international market has been falling.
  • Diverting significant portion of the current sugar stocks to renewable fuel, mainly ethanol production, also has its own challenges with government restrictions on food-based feedstock use on energy production.

Why there is a need to remove restrictions:-

  • Higher production leading to further problems:-
    • Higher sugar cane production in 2017–18 crop year makes the problem more complex. This will certainly result in further glut in the sugar market making it harder for the mill owners to pay the dues to the sugar cane farmers.
  • Increasing sugar export is not easy when the world sugar prices are sluggish:-
    • According to the World Bank, world sugar price in 2018, will be 12% below the 2016 peak price. India being the second largest producer of sugar, the domestic sugar mills are also facing the downward pressure in the sugar price as both the international and domestic prices continue to plunge.
  • Sugar can used for Ethanol production :-
    • GOI has initiated programmes to encourage sugar mills to produce ethanol. In 2018, the GOI announced payment of 5.50 per 100 kg of sugar cane crushed to certain sugar mills which have ethanol production capacity.
    • The sugar mills which have signed the ethanol supplying contracts with oil marketing companies and satisfied 80% of their proposed ethanol supply obligation under the ethanol blending programme (EBP) are eligible for that payment.
    • Thus, if implemented it could be a win-win situation for the sugar cane farmers, the sugar mill owners and of course the final consumers through reduction in the national crude oil imports bill.
    • Also through EBP, the blending of ethanol with the petroleum fuel would reach 20% by 2020. India has been only able to reach the blending level of 3.3% in 2016, which is significantly below the actual target of 10% ethanol-blending mandate. Therefore already the GOI will face major challenges in terms of meeting the EBP targets.
    • In addition, the current restriction on the direct use of sugar juice to ethanol production could make the implementation of the E20 mandate by 2020 even harder. 
  • Additional land required to meet ethanol blending programme by 2020 will not be needed.
  • Subsidising sugar export may also land India in World Trade Organization disputes with its competitors.

What needs to be done?

  • Lessons from Brasil:-
    • The government needs to consider seriously and urgently policies and programmes that will support sugar mills to develop ethanol production and capacity. In this case, lessons learned from Brazil might be highly useful.
    • The government needs to be careful in sequencing their interventions as initial growth in the ethanol production might need public assistance and as the industry grows further the policies should change to support the transition towards market economy.
  • India should put in place a long-term ethanol policy on pricing, and enable higher pricing of better quality ethanol. The sugar industry report says that this will encourage new investments on setting up new distilleries and help in diversion of sucrose to ethanol and to balance out the excess production of sugar.

Topic – Part of static series under the heading – “ocean currents”

5) Explain the factors that give rise to ocean current and discuss the impact of ocean currents on climate?(250 words)

GC Leong Physical geography ch 12

Key demand of the question

The question expects us to list the various factors impacting ocean current and discuss in detail how they impact ocean current. Next, we need to highlight the impact of ocean currents on climate.

Directive word

Discuss – Here, your discussion should focus on bringing out the impact of ocean current on climate.

Structure of the answer

Introduction – Briefly explain what ocean current are.

Body

  • List the various factors that cause ocean current and explain how. The factors that need to be explained are Planetary winds, Temperatures, Salinity, The earth’s rotation and Obstruction from land
  • Discuss the impact of ocean current on climate such as on local climate and on rains and desert formation. Explain the impact such as Gulf Stream which is driven to the western coast of Europe as the North Atlantic Drift keeps the coasts of North Sea warm which is unusual for such high latitudes and Cold currents are one of the reasons why deserts are located the western margins of continents in the sub-tropical belts.

Background:-

  • Ocean currents can be generated by wind, density differences in water masses caused by temperature and salinity variations, gravity, and events such as earthquakes

Factors leading to ocean currents:-

  • There are a variety of factors that affect how ocean currents (water in motion) are created, including a combination of two or more factors.
  • The different types of currents (referred to as surface or thermohaline, depending on their depth) are created by, among other things, wind, water density, the topography of the ocean floor and the coriolis effect.
  • Wind
    • Prevailing or planetary winds (e.g., trade winds, westerlies and polar winds) play major roles in the origin of ocean currents. The wind blowing on the water surface also moves water in its direction due to its friction with the water.
    • Most of the ocean currents of the world follow the direction of prevailing winds. For example, equatorial currents flow westward under the influence of N.E. and S.B. trade winds. The Gulf Stream in the Atlantic and the Kuroshio in the Pacific move in northeastern direction under the influence of the westerlies.
  • Air pressure:-
    • Air pressure on the oceanic water causes ocean currents through density variations. The areas of high atmospheric pressure are characterized by low volume of water and thus lowering of water level. Contrary to this the areas of low atmospheric pressure record higher volume of water and higher water level. Thus, water moves as surface current from the areas of higher water level (Low pressure areas) to low water level areas (high pressure areas).
  • Temperature
    • The amount of insolation received at the earth’s surface and consequent temperature decreases from equator towards the poles. Due to high temperature in the equatorial region the water density decreases because of greater expansion of water molecules whereas the density of sea water becomes comparatively greater in the polar areas.
    • Consequently water moves due to expansion of volume from equatorial region (of higher temperature) to polar areas (colder areas) of relatively very low temperature.
    • There is movement of ocean water below the water surface in the form of subsurface current from colder polar areas to warmer equatorial areas in order to balance the loss of water in the equatorial areas. Thus, the poleward surface current and Equatorward subsurface currents form a complete circulatory system of ocean water.  The Gulf Stream and Kuroshio warm currents moving from equator towards north are examples of such currents
  • Water Density
    • Another major factor in the creation of currents is water density, caused by the amount of salt in a body of water, and its temperature. Water with a higher salinity, or colder water, is more dense and likely to sink. Sinking water pushes the water below it up. The combination of sinking and rising in the same area causes a current.
  • Ocean Bottom Topography
    • Water contours to the topography of the ocean floor or bed. If the ocean bottom “drops out,” like in a valley or trench, the moving water will move downward. If there is a rise in the ocean bottom, like a ridge or mountain, the water moving along it will be forced upward. The sudden upward or downward change of direction causes water displacement, creating a current.
  • Coriolis Effect
    • When a rotating object collides with another moving or stationery force, it creates a new motion. The Earth’s rotation creates two currents: one, a clockwise movement of water in the Northern Hemisphere; the other, a counter-clockwise movement of water in the Southern hemisphere. When these currents are deflected by land masses, they create huge ocean currents called gyres.
  • Salinity
    • Oceanic salinity affects the density of ocean water and density variation causes ocean currents. Ocean currents on the water surface are generated from the areas of less salinity to the areas of greater salinity. 

How ocean currents regulate climate:-

  • Ocean currents act much like a conveyer belt, transporting warm water and precipitation from the equator toward the poles and cold water from the poles back to the tropics. Thus, currents regulate global climate, helping to counteract the uneven distribution of solar radiation reaching Earth’s surface. Without currents, regional temperatures would be more extreme super hot at the equator and frigid toward the poles and much less of Earth’s land would be habitable.
  • Ocean water and currents affect the climate. Because it takes far more energy to change the temperature of water than land or air, water warms up and cools off much more slowly than either. As a result, inland climates are subject to more extreme temperature ranges than coastal climates, which are insulated by nearby water.
  • For instance, water from the tropical Atlantic moves northwards through Atlantic in a Gulf Stream suffusing the Western Europe’s shores thus producing a mild climate.
    • The mild climate raises the temperatures of the region higher than the regions across the Atlantic but on the same latitude. The Gulf Stream explains why Canada’s east coast is locked in ice while England is not especially during winter.
    • The current cooling events being experienced in Western Europe is attributed to the Gulf Stream slowing down as a result of the global warming which has caused the polar ice cap to melt and slowing down the Great Ocean Conveyor Belt.

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

6) The development of the guidance on Adaptation Communications offers a ray of hope for the larger process. Analyze, in context of the concerns of the developing countries.(250 words)

Reference

Why this question

Climate change is a big threat for humanity and enhancing adaptive capacities is a critical component of our strategy to combat it. The Paris agreement provides for a regular adaptation communications (AC) from all the signatories. We need to understand the significance of these ACs and see whether there are any issues involved, which need to be discussed.

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 issue and bring out the significance of ACs and how the recent development of the guidance on ACs offers a ray of hope vis a vis our fight against climate change. We have to discuss the issue in the context of the concerns of the developing countries.

Structure of the answer

Introduction– write a few introductory lines about the Paris agreement and ACs. e.g The Paris Agreement requires countries to report regularly on various aspects of their climate policy and important element of reporting is adaptation communication (AC), which requires that Parties “submit and update periodically” an AC, which would ideally include their adaptation priorities, implementation and support needs, plans and actions.

Body-

  • Mention that the cost of adaptation in developing countries is likely to be US$ 140-300 billion per year by 2030. So, these countries have a strong interest in making sure the cost factor is at the centre of climate deliberations, especially through regular reporting of their adaptation priorities; support is currently being provided, to a limited extent, by the Green Climate Fund, the Global Environment Facility and a few other financial institutions but the amount available does not match the true cost of adaptation etc.
  • Discuss how the development of guidance on ACs offers a ray of hope. E.g The Bangkok climate negotiations have  proposed a draft of this guidance on ACs. The document outlines the purpose of adaptation communications, the principles underpinning them, the modalities for communicating, submitting and updating them, and modalities to update/revise/review the guidance. Crucially, it also includes sections relating to (i) support for the preparation, updating and implementation of ACs and (ii) the linkages between ACs and other obligations in the Paris Agreement; one of the options that the document offers is to urge “developed country Parties to channel new and additional public climate funds to support adaptation activities in developing countries”. The same option places this exhortation for support in the context of “the importance of adaptation communications as a key step toward achieving the global goal on adaptation”. This is a constructive language that emphasises the need for support for adaptation communications as well as the purpose of the support etc.

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

Background:-

  • The Paris Agreement requires countries to report regularly on various aspects of their climate policy. This reporting mechanism is aimed at getting countries to think ambitiously and scale up action on climate priorities.
  • An important element of reporting is adaptation communication (AC), which is dealt with by Article 7, paragraph 10 of the Agreement. It requires that Parties submit and update periodically an adaptation communication, which would ideally include their adaptation priorities, implementation and support needs, plans and actions.

Why this provision is important:-

  • This is an important provision, particularly for developing countries.
    • The UNEP estimated in 2016 that the cost of adaptation in developing countries is likely to be US$ 140-300 billion per year by 2030. So, these countries have a strong interest in making sure the cost factor is at the centre of climate deliberations, especially through regular reporting of their adaptation priorities. 
  • Continuous and enhanced international support shall be provided to developing country Parties to implement this reporting requirement. This kind of support is currently being provided, to a limited extent, by the Green Climate Fund, the Global Environment Facility and a few other financial institutions. However, the amount available does not match the true cost of adaptation needs assessment and reporting.
  • This reporting requirement must be set in the larger context of the global goal on adaptation, which is described in Article 7, paragraph 1.
    • The goal is to enhance adaptive capacity, strengthen resilience and reduce vulnerability to climate change. This means that the AC is not simply a reporting requirement; it is expected to result in increased action and support for adaptation needs in developing countries.

How it is a ray of hope:-

  • The Bangkok climate negotiations have  proposed a draft of this guidance on ACs.
    • The document outlines the purpose of adaptation communications, the principles underpinning them, the modalities for communicating, submitting and updating them, and modalities to update/revise/review the guidance.
    • Crucially, it also includes sections relating to
      • (i) support for the preparation, updating and implementation of ACs
      • (ii) the linkages between ACs and other obligations in the Paris Agreement
    • One of the options that the document offers is to urge developed country Parties to channel new and additional public climate funds to support adaptation activities in developing countries.
    • The same option places this exhortation for support in the context of the importance of adaptation communications as a key step toward achieving the global goal on adaptation. This is a constructive language that emphasises the need for support for adaptation communications as well as the purpose of the support etc.

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

7) In a rapidly transforming mobility paradigm, India has some inherent strengths and comparative advantages. Discuss. Also discuss the strategy envisaged by India towards its future mobility.(250 words)

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Why this question

Mobility is one of the fundamental key to development and India recently held a Global Mobility Summit in New Delhi. In this context it is necessary to discuss the issue vs a vis India and also the strategy envisaged in this direction

Directive word

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

Key demand of the question.

The question wants us to write in detail about the strengths of India in the context of future mobility. It also wants us to write in detail about the strategy envisaged by India towards its future mobility.

Structure of the answer

Introduction– write a few lines about mobility and its importance- e.g Mobility is a key driver of the economy. Better mobility reduces the burden of travel and transportation and can boost economic growth. It is a key element of ‘ease of living’ as well as for  preserving our planet etc.

Body-

  • Discuss the inherent advantages of India to implement future mobility solutions. E.g fewer vehicles per capita than other major economies. This gives us the window of opportunity to create an all-new, seamless mobility ecosystem; On the technology front, our strengths lie in information technology, big data, digital payments, and the internet-enabled shared economy; Aadhaar, and its India-stack ecosystem, has laid down a comprehensive public digital infrastructure. India can demonstrate how such digital infrastructure can be combined with new mobility business models; 175 GigaWatts of energy from renewables by 2022; a fast growing manufacturing base, especially in the automotive sector; a large, digitally literate, young population. This provides millions of educated minds, skilled hands and aspirational dreams for powering the future.  
  • Discuss the strategy envisaged. E.g Discuss the concept of 7 C’s –

Common, Connected, Convenient, Congestion-free, Charged, Clean and Cutting-edge.  Discuss what these terms represent in the strategy.

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

Background:-

  • Mobility is a key driver of the economy as it can boost economic growth and create employment opportunities. Mobility is a key element of ‘ease of living’ and also urbanisation.

India has inherent strengths:-

  • Fewer vehicles per capita than other major economies.
  • On the technologyfront, India’s  strengths lie in information technology, big data, digital payments, and the internet-enabled shared economy. These elements are increasingly becoming the drivers of the global future of mobility.
  • India’s unique identity program, Aadhaar, and its India-stackeco-system, has laid down a comprehensive public digital infrastructure.
  • India can demonstrate how such digital infrastructure can be combined with new mobility business models. 
  • India’s  renewable energy push will ensure that the environmental benefits of electric mobility can be fully realized. India plans to draw 175 GigaWatts of energy from renewables by 2022. 
  • Fast growing manufacturing base, especially in the automotive sector.
  • A large, digitally literate, young population. This provides millions of educated minds, skilled hands and aspirational dreams for powering the future.  

Problems with current model and why precautions need to be taken:-

  • Most worries hinge on battery costs and manufacturer readiness. Also at current the electric vehicles take longer time to charge than conventional vehicles.
  • EV battery production:
    • India does not produce lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries currently, and companies making battery packs are dependent exclusively on imports from China. 
    • This is a cost-saving strategy as setting up a cell manufacturing unit in India would be expensive. 
    • But, accelerating EV use in India should be linked to the “Make in India” goal and domestic battery production.
  • A more India-specific concern will be that of the electricity gridas there are doubts when it can successfully handle the demand.
  • India needs to focus on ecosystem EV because the present system does not help environment as most power comes from coal-fired power
  • Will use solar photovoltaics (PV) to charge EVs.This means that Renewable energy may at best contribute some fraction of energy at different times but with personal vehicles and public transport mostly charged at night solar energy advantage as an alternative is constrained.
  • International experiences:-
    • There have been some concerns about previous experiences in China and Israel. But these models were meant for personal cars andwere costly. Besides, lack of marketing, proper execution and mismanagement led to the failure of the promising EV start-up in Israel Better Place. The subsidy structure also became distorted, favouring large batteries.
  • Policies have to be developed to facilitate the indigenization of battery assembly, and manufacture of EVs and their basic components. Currently, there are distortions with the goods and services tax (GST). The GST rate on batteries is 28%, while it is 12% for electric vehicles.
  • Coordination among various stakeholders:
    • EVs, unlike ICE vehicles, involve several actors at the national, State and city levels, respectively
    • Multiple ministries such as Road Transport and Highways, Housing and Urban Affairs, Heavy Industries, Power, New and Renewable Energy, External Affairs as well as national institutes such as NITI Aayog should work together.
    • State and city-level players need to be involved so as to address several technical and infrastructural needs.
  • Charging infrastructure:
    • Charging infrastructure for electric vehicles in India has not been fully developed yet. 
    • EV charging is more than just using electricity. It involves exchange of informationrequiring a communication protocol. 
    • The absence of a standard global infrastructure is a major deterrent for EV penetration in India, as creating infrastructure can be cost-intensive. 
    • The government needs to select or develop appropriate and safe charging technology that avoids multiplicity and reduces the cost of infrastructure.

Strategy envisaged by India:-

  • Recently Indian Prime Minister also outlined the vision for the future of mobility in India based on 7 C’s.The 7 C’s are Common, Connected, Convenient, Congestion-free, Charged, Clean and Cutting-edge. 
    • Common:
      • Public Transport must be the cornerstone of mobility initiatives. New business models driven by digitization, arere-inventing the current paradigm. Big Data is enabling smarter decision-making by better understanding India’s patterns and needs.
      • Focus must also go beyond cars, to other vehicles such as scooters andrickshaws. Large segments of the developing world depend on these vehicles for mobility. 
    • Connected mobility implies integration of geographies as well as modes of transport. The internet-enabled Connected Sharing Economy is emerging as the fulcrum of mobility.  
      • India must leverage the full potential for vehicle pooling and other innovative technical solutions to improve private vehicle utilization. People from villages should be able to bring their produce to the cities with ease and efficiency.  
    • Convenient mobility means safe, affordable and accessible for all sections of the society. This includes the elderly, the women and the specially abled. India need s to ensure that public transport is preferred to private modes of travel. 
    • Congestion free mobility is critical to check theeconomic and environment costs of congestion. Hence, there should be emphasis on ending bottlenecks of networks. This would result in fewer traffic jams and lower levels of stress for people travelling.   It would also lead to greater efficiency in logistics and freight. 
    • Charged mobility is the way forward. India wants to drive investments across the value chain from batteries to smart charging to Electric Vehicle manufacturing. India’s business leaders and manufacturers are now poised to develop and deploy break-through battery technology.  
      • The India Space Research Organization uses one of the best battery systems to run satellites in space. Other institutions can partner with ISRO to develop cost effective and efficient battery systems for electric cars. 
      • India will soon put in place a stable policy-regime around electric and other alternative fuel vehicles. Policies will be designed as a win-win for all, and enable huge opportunities in the automotive sector.  
    • Clean Mobility powered by Clean Energy is one of the most powerful weapons in  fight against Climate Change. This means a pollution-free clean drive, leading to clean air and better living standards for our people.  
      • ‘Clean kilometres’ could be achieved through bio-fuels electric or solar charging. Electric Vehicles in particular can complement India’s investments in renewable energy.  
    • Cutting-edge
      • Entrepreneurs should see mobility as a sector with immense opportunity for innovation and growth. It is a sector where innovation can help solve problems for public good.

 What more needs to be done?

  • EVs and the grid can have enormous synergy.
    • Not only can EVs charge whenever there is “surplus” power, they have a battery useful for absorbing variable renewable energy. They can even offer backup power for the grid.
  • Time-of-day pricing(cheap charging when power is surplus)is missing today. Without this, India cannot have signalling to purposely make demand vary to match supply conditions. Such responsiveness is a hallmark of the “future grid”
  • EVs can and should use Renewable energy as much as possible as it helps in cleaning the environment.
  • India could compensate cleaner vehicles through reduced registration charges, or even aim for mandating EVs for taxis and selected (urban) public transport vehicles.
  • There are other ways to spur EVs, including dedicated charging spots, and discounted or free parking.
  • The long-run goal isn’t just to make vehicles electric but to reduce personal driving. This means urban redesign for walking/biking, more shared services, and more and better public transport 
  • The government mainly needs to create the right frameworks and help overcome “network effect” problems, covering both the grid and charging infrastructure.
  • To meet India’s demands for batteries  amid a global surge in electric vehicle demand, the entire mineral supply chain needs to be overhauled and expanded
    • In order to avoid a scenario like the one that played during the oil crises of the 1970s  it is imperative that India secure mineral supplies for its domestic industry by acquisition of overseas assets such as mineral reserves and the associated production.
    • India has long-term trade relations with lithium-producing countries in Latin America through preferential trade agreements (PTAs).  
    • India needs to formulate policies incentivising domestic public and private mining companies to invest in overseas lithium mining assets.
    • Reducing the battery size and adopting “swappable” battery technology are other alternatives
  • India does need to have a low-emission vehicle policy, one that surrounds alternative energy sources such as bio-gas and bio-diesel.
  • Because hybrids are a mesh of existing and future technologiesand do not require the establishment of charging infrastructure, although popularising plug-in hybrids that can be charged both from their own engines and the grid, will actually help in the gradual seeding of such infrastructure before a shift to electric vehicles.
  • Focus on wireless rangingas it allows for significantly smaller batteries or the ability to travel longer distances with a larger battery.
  • Efficiency in terms of total cost per kilometre, not capital costs or larger batteries, should be incentivized
  • Ideally, the best course would be to select five smart cities with the objective of fully electrifying their public transportation as well as 50% of their two-wheelers by 2025.
  • Figuring out the best mode forward:
    • Different countries have different approaches to increase the EV penetration.
    • For example China has focused on Electric busesas catalyst for EV penetration.
    • On the other hand, Netherlands has captured the EV market using a simple yet well-crafted strategy of creating charging infrastructureand encouraging investment in charging technology. It’s a major exporter of this technology too.
  • Hence, the impact on employment in the wake of shift to Electric vehicles needs to be thoroughly studied. Bold initiatives and robust investments in technological research are required to turn its EV dream into reality.