SECURE SYNOPSIS: 17 SEPTEMBER 2018

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SECURE SYNOPSIS: 17 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 – 1


Topic– Geographical features and their location- changes in critical geographical features (including water bodies and ice-caps) and in flora and fauna and the effects of such changes.

1) Explain the mechanism of cloud formation? Discuss the impact of air pollution on rainfall patterns in India?(250 words)

Indian express

Why this question

The question highlights the increase in the spate of erratic rainfall in India, and links it to the changes caused by air pollution. In GS1, UPSC at times asks questions linked to current happenings, and this would help you prepare about cloud formation as well as the impact of air pollution.

Key demand of the question

The question, in its first part, expects us to explain the factors impacting cloud formation, the mechanism of cloud formation. Next, we need to bring out how increasing air pollution has had an impact on rainfall patterns and the reasons for the same.

Directive word

Discuss – Your discussion should focus on explaining how increasing air pollution has had an impact on rainfall patterns and the reasons for the same.

Structure of the answer

Introduction – Discuss the factors responsible for cloud formation – moisture, condensation nuclei. Explain how clouds are formed – condensation or deposition of water above the Earth’s surface creates clouds. In general, clouds develop in any air mass that becomes saturated (relative humidity becomes 100%). Saturation can occur by way of atmospheric mechanisms that cause the temperature of an air mass to be cooled to its dew point or frost point. The following mechanisms or processes can achieve this outcome causing clouds to develop:

Body –

  • Explain the mechanism of cloud formation – clouds develop in any air mass that becomes saturated (relative humidity becomes 100%). Saturation can occur by way of atmospheric mechanisms that cause the temperature of an air mass to be cooled to its dew point or frost point, etc.
  • Explain the change in pattern of rainfall – the erratic behaviour of monsoon rainfall, including the phenomenon of concentrated heavy rainfall on a small number of days, could, at least in part, be attributed to the rising air pollution. Explain that excess aerosols, suspended solid particles like dust, smoke and industrial effluents, in the atmosphere is changing cloud patterns, its shape, size and other properties like temperature, which in turn is resulting in variability in rainfall over the Indian sub-continent during the monsoon season.

Background:-

  • The erratic behaviour of monsoon rainfall, including the phenomenon of concentrated heavy rainfall on a small number of days could be attributed to the rising air pollution, especially the increase in suspended particles in the atmosphere according to a new study by scientists from IIT Kanpur. 

Mechanism of clouds formation:-

Clouds are made of water droplets or ice crystals that are so small and light they are able to stay in the air.

The water or ice that make up clouds travels into the sky within air as water vapour. Water vapour gets into air mainly by evaporation as some of the liquid water from the ocean, lakes, and rivers turns into water vapor and travels in the air.

When air rises in the atmosphere it gets cooler and is under less pressure. When air cools, it’s not able to hold all of the water vapor it once was. Air also can’t hold as much water when air pressure drops. The vapour becomes small water droplets or ice crystals and a cloud is formed.

It’s easier for water vapour to condense into water droplets when it has a particle to condense upon. These particles, such as dust and pollen, are called condensation nuclei. Eventually, enough water vapour condenses upon pieces of dust, pollen or other condensation nuclei to form a cloud.  

Some clouds form as air warms up near the ground and rises. Heated by sunshine, the ground heats the air just above it. That warmed air starts to rise because, when warm, it is lighter and less dense than the air around it. As it rises, its pressure and temperature drop causing water vapor to condense. Eventually, enough moisture will condense out of the air to form a cloud. Several types of clouds form in this way including cumulus, cumulonimbus, mammatus, and stratocumulus clouds.

Some clouds, such as lenticular and stratus clouds, form when wind blows into the side of a mountain range or other terrain and is forced upward, higher in the atmosphere. This can also happen without a dramatic mountain range, just when air travels over land that slopes upward and is forced to rise. The air cools as it rises, and eventually clouds form. Other types of clouds, such as cumulus clouds, form above mountains too as air is warmed at the ground and rises.

Air is also forced upward at areas of low pressure. Winds meet at the center of the low pressure system and have nowhere to go but up. Air is also forced upward at weather fronts – where two large masses of air collide at the Earth’s surface

  • At a warm front, where a warm air mass slides above a cold air mass, the warm air is pushed upward forming many different types of clouds – from low stratus clouds to midlevel altocumulus and altostratus clouds, to high cirrus, cirrocumulus and cirrostratus clouds. Clouds that produce rain like nimbostratus and cumulonimbus are also common at warm fronts
  • At a cold front, where heavy cold air mass pushes a warm air mass upward, cumulous clouds are common. They often grow into cumulonimbus clouds, which produce thunderstorms. Nimbostratus, stratocumulus, and stratus clouds can also form at cold front.

Impact of air pollution on rainfall patterns:-

 

  • Excess aerosols, suspended solid particles like dust, smoke and industrial effluents, in the atmosphere change cloud patterns, its shape, size and other properties like temperature, which in turn result in variability in rainfall over the Indian sub-continent during the monsoon season.
  • Aerosols:-
    • Aerosols are extremely important for cloud formation. In fact, in the absence of aerosols, no clouds would be formed and consequently no rainfall will take place.
    • An increase in the aerosol content in the atmosphere, a direct consequence of rising air pollution, is interfering with the stable cloud formation system and influencing rainfall patterns.
    • In short term, these changes in cloud structure and cloud dynamics lead to sharp variability in rainfall, the kind of which is being witnessed very often in India in the last few years.
    • In the long term, it is likely to lead to an overall suppression of rainfall during the monsoon season.
    • Aerosols reduce speed of winds near the earth’s surface, thus leading to reduction of rainfall
      • Particles of aerosols floating in the atmosphere absorb sunlight and prevent it from reaching the earth’s surface. This cools down the earth’s surface and prevents daytime vertical convention that mixes slower winds near the earth’s surface with faster winds at higher altitudes. 
      • Slower winds cause less evaporation from oceans, rivers and lakes, and hence formation of rain-clouds is reduced. Besides, cooling of the ground provoked by the aerosol particles, reduces the evaporation of soil water.
      • Also, accumulation of aerosol particles in the atmosphere makes clouds last longer without releasing rain.
    • Atmospheric water forms deposits on naturally occurring particles, like dust, to form clouds. But if there is pollution in the atmosphere, the water is bound to deposit on more particles. Spread thin, the water forms smaller droplets, which in turn take longer to coalesce and form raindrops. In fact, rain may not ever happen, because if the clouds last longer they can end up moving to drier air zones and evaporating.

Topic World History

2) Democracy in this world has come in waves. Explain this statement while also discussing the status of democracy in the South Asia?(250 words)

Indian express

Why this question

The article highlights the status of democracy in South Asia, it examines the problems faced by democracy. The question would help you prepare how democracy has come in waves and the issues and challenges faced by democracy today.

Key demand of the question

The question expects us to explain the spread of democracy, how democracy has spread in phases. Next, we need to explain what democracy stands for and the status of democracy in the countries of south Asia.

Directive word

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

Structure of the answer

Introduction – Explain that democracy has expanded in phases.

Body

  • Explain the 1st phase – when the ideas of French and American revolution were still taking root and mention that in the first phase, the questions were limited to issues of political equality, freedom and justice.
  • Explain the 2nd phase which came alongside decolonisation. Explain how the newly independent countries, adopted democracy, although not every country could succeed.
  • Explain the 3rd phase  – at the end of cold war when USSR disintegrated and several East European countries became democratic
  • Explain the 4th phase – Highlight that it started with Arab Spring.
  • Explain the status of democracy in south Asia as discussed in the article

Conclusion – Discuss how the idea of democracy needs to be understood and implemented properly.

Background:-

  • The world saw a huge wave of democratisation after World War II. The newly-liberated states in Latin America, Africa and Asia adopted democratic forms of government after centuries of colonial subjugation. Today more people live under various forms of democracy than ever before.
  • More than 120 of the 192 countries in the world have some form of democracy in contrast to only 11 parliamentary democracies existed in 1941. This indicates the appeal of democratic ideas and systems.

Waves of democracy :-

  • First wave
    • The first wave began in the early 19th century across North America and Western Europe in outcome of the American and French revolutions. 
    • The First wave of democracy began in the early 19th century when suffragewas granted to the majority of white males in the United States At its peak, the first wave saw 29 democracies in the world.
    • This continued until 1922, when Benito Mussolinirose to power in Italy.
    • The ebb of the first wave lasted from 1922 until 1942, during which the number of democracies in the world dropped to a mere 12.
  • Second wave
    • The Second wave began following the Allied victory in World War II, and crested nearly 20 years later in 1962 with 36 recognised democracies in the world.
    • The Second wave ebbed as well at this point, and the total number dropped to 30 democracies between 1962 and the mid-1970s.
  • Third wave
    • The Third wave began in 1974 and included the historic democratic transitions in Latin America in the 1980s, Asia Pacific countries and regions (Philippines, South Korea, and Taiwan) from 1986 to 1988, Eastern Europe after the collapse of the Soviet Union, and sub-Saharan Africa beginning in 1989.
  • Fourth wave:-
    • In 2011 revolution took place in the Arab world.
    • The fall of the autocratic regimes particularly in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya had also led many political analysts to label the Arab Spring as the start of the new forth wave of democracy.

Democracy in south Asia:-

  • South Asia is home to 3 per cent of the world’s area and 21 per cent of the world’s population. It’s significant that 50 per cent of the world’s population living under some form of democratic rule resides in this region.
  • Representative government:-
    • When it comes to representative government, India and Sri Lanka have maintained relatively high scores. Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Nepal and Pakistan have had periods of non-elected regimes. The general trend in South Asia in this respect has, however, been positive.
  • Fundamental rights :-
    • With respect to ensuring fundamental rights, the region’s score matches that of Asia Pacific but it is slightly below the global average. At the country level, Afghanistan and Nepal have seen the most improvement. Sri Lanka and Pakistan saw a slight decline in the 1970s and 1980s.
    • India’s score has been stable since the late 1970s. However, a decline has been observed since 2015.
  • Gender equality:-
    • South Asia shows a steady improvement on the yardstick that measures gender equality with Nepal standing out. India’s score was better than the world average till 2003 but there has been a dip in the country’s performance on the gender equality yardstick since then.
  • When it comes to checks on government, South Asia has shown a steady increase from 1975 to 1994. Afghanistan, Nepal and Pakistan have shown the most improvement. Bangladesh, India and Sri Lanka have remained relatively stable with scores in line with the global average.
  • In the yardstick on impartial administration, South Asia follows both the regional and global trends with no significant change, except in Nepal, which has seen a significant improvement.
  • Civil society participation has increased in India by leaps and bounds between 1978 and 2012 after which it declined drastically to fall below the average of Asia Pacific and that of the World. In 2017, it was the lowest since 1975.
  • Popularity of democracies is still visible .Factors contributing are :-
    • Transparency in political processes, accountability of elected representatives, basic freedoms for all citizens, equal rights for women and minorities and high rates of voter participation.
  • India’s performance on the yardstick to measure media integrity was better than the global and South Asian average between 1994 and 2012. However, the country’s score has fallen below the global and Asia-Pacific average in 2017. Given that a free and fair media is crucial to a meaningful democracy, this is a worrying tendency.
  • The Election Commission has played an important role in conducting free and fair elections in the country. The Commission’s Systematic Voters Education for Electoral Participation Programme role has been crucial in this respect.
  • An independent judiciary is another reason for the resilience of democracy in India. The apex court has given judgments that keep a check on the government and ensure a transparent and accountable system.
  • Challenges still exist :-
    • Despite the democratic upsurge, there are significant challenges like poverty, inequality, gender injustice, nepotism and corruption.
    • Elected despots and authoritarian leaders are weakening democracies across the world.
    • Political experts have argued that democratic values are on the decline, especially in the West.
    • One of the major challenges to democracy is people losing faith in it. There are many reasons for such disillusionment, including corruption, nepotism and unemployment. This often leads to people disengaging with key public policy issues which, in turn, makes those in power less accountable.
    • In the last decade, there has been a significant dip in the India’s record on civil liberties, personal integrity and security, freedom of association, media integrity, gender equality and basic welfare.

General Studies – 2


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

3) How far will the legal emphasis on “self-determination” go in helping LGBTQ persons navigate their lives in a society full of prejudices. Comment, in the light of the recent SC judgment on section 377.(250 words)

epw

Why this question

Recently the SC in its historic judgement has decriminalised homosexuality by declaring section 377 as unconstitutional. However, given the prejudices and patriarchal mindset of Indian society, legal solution alone would not be enough for LGBTQ persons. It is therefore necessary to understand the issue holistically, including its social aspects.

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 knowledge and understanding and come up with an overall opinion as to how far will the legal emphasis on “self-determination” go in helping LGBTQ persons navigate their lives in Indian society. We have to bring forward the non- legal issues faces by the LGBTQ community and thereof form an overall opinion.

Structure of the answer

Introduction- write a few introductory lines about the recent SC judgement which decriminalised homosexuality.

Body-

Discuss the issues involved. E.g The amount of protection that the law provides is determined by the level of privilege one wields and other intersectional positions in society, and it can be argued that the decriminalisation of sexual acts in private would do little to limit the harassment LGBTQ persons are subjected to in public spaces and the discrimination they face in employment opportunities; mention the the state of the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Bill, 2016; it is stereotypes about gender roles that constituted the basis of criminalising same-sex relations, and which ensure discrimination etc.

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

Background :-

  • The Supreme Court’s judgment in 2018, which read down Section 377 to declare that sex in private between consenting adults is legal, is an ode to self-determination of identity.
  • This judgment of the apex court overrules its 2013 judgment in Suresh Kumar Koushal and Another v Naz Foundation and Others which had pushed India’s LGBTQ community into more years of indignity.

How will legal emphasis on self determination help LGBT citizens :-

  • The recent judgment has been welcomed by activists and LGBTQ persons, who have admired its insistence on the right to dignity for the identity that one chooses for themselves.
  • The NALSA (National Legal Services Authority v Union of India 2014) judgment has been instrumental in making this possible.
    • The recognition of transgender persons as the third gender showed the way out of gender binaries, emphasising that gender identity is one of the most fundamental aspects of life. Crucially, the judgment defined gender identity as each person’s deeply felt internal and individual experience of gender, which may or may not correspond with the sex assigned at birth.
  • There is hope that this could lead to affirmative action that can structurally address the economic exclusion of LGBTQ persons, and an anti-discrimination law to protect against discrimination in housing and education. 
  • The SC judgment has now affirmed that LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer) persons are entitled to equal rights under Articles 14, 15, 19, and 21, and other fundamental rights that the Constitution provides its citizens.
  • One of the SC judge also noted that the protection granted for consensual acts in private must also be extended to public spaces where sexual minorities are vulnerable on account of their sexuality and appearance. Thus sexual privacy should include the expression of one’s identity in public. 
  • It has freed the LGBTQI communities from the yoke of a colonial law. 
  • With the judgement the supreme court thrusted diversity and pluralism into the centre stage of India’s public discourse.
  • 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.
  • People will now have a better understanding of equality and it won’t be limited to just gender and other stereotypes.

 

Issues:-

  • The judgment reiterates that constitutional morality trumps societal morality, but it is the latter that will determine the day-to-day struggles of a community that defies heterosexual normativity, and hence is at increased risk of being subjected to violence and humiliation.
  • The amount of protection that the law provides is determined by the level of privilege one wields and other intersectional positions in society, and it can be argued that the decriminalisation of sexual acts in private would do little to limit the harassment LGBTQ persons are subjected to in public spaces and the discrimination they face in employment opportunities.
  • The state of the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Bill, 2016, four years after the NALSA judgment, raises doubts about adequate protection to transgenders.
  • It is stereotypes about gender roles that constituted the basis of criminalising same-sex relations, and which ensure discrimination.

Way forward:-

  • Periodic sensitisation and awareness programmes for all government officials, particularly police officials, any sensitisation will be incomplete without the systematic devaluation of heterosexism, the institutionalised valorisation of heterosexual activity. 
  • The challenges of social mindset need to be changed with people educated that this aspect is not unnatural and is innate to a human being.

Topic-  Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.

4) Some of the mainstream arguments against the potential threat of blasphemy laws to a liberal democracy seem to be operating within a minimalist understanding of secularism. Critically analyze.(250 words) 

epw

Why this question

Punjab government is contemplating an anti-blasphemy laws which covers the religious books of all the major religions of India. However, the move has attracted a lot of criticism. It is essential to understand that criticism and see how the arguments put forward lack the proper understanding of the meaning and essence of secularism.

Directive word

Critically 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. Based on our discussion we have to form a concluding opinion on the issue

Key demand of the question.

The question wants us to dig deep into the arguments put forward against the anti blasphemy law. We have to analyze and  bring out the deficiencies in those arguments and discuss how they don’t conform to the core principles and the essence of the secularism.

Structure of the answer

Introduction– write a few lines about the recent proposal of the Punjab government to introduce an anti blasphemy laws which will provide protection to the religious books of all the major religions of India.

Body-

Discuss the arguments made against the anti blasphemy laws and how those arguments lack a thorough understanding of the concept of secularism. E.g One line of criticism faults the bill for defiling the sacred or the transcendental character of holy texts by using this-worldly state power to protect it. This attempt to expose the apparent irony underlying the bill is inadequate, for it misses the very political purpose of blasphemy laws. To deem certain ideas/thoughts/norms/values to be out of bounds for criticism or contestation is to argue that certain forms of power are beyond criticism or contestation. The creation, delimitation and expansion of the domain of the sacred is always a political (and not merely theological) exercise to create barriers of defiance for entrenched power; A second line of criticism faults the bill for importing the “Judeo-Christian” concept of blasphemy into Hinduism by including the Bhagavad Gita among the holy books. This is taken as a violation of traditions of pluralism and tolerance. However, this view ignores the historical fact of persecution, social boycott, outcasting of nastika/non-vedic/pakhandi heterodox streams, and the individuals and groups associated with these. Whatever apparent tolerance there is for the deviance from sacred texts is overshadowed by the fierce/violent opposition to the deviance in practice, particularly the practice of caste-based norms etc.

Conclusion- based on your discussion form a fair and a balanced conclusion on the given issue as to what should be our approach in dealing with the issue.

Background :-

  • The Indian Penal Code (Punjab Amendment) Bill, 2018, mooted and passed by the Government of Punjab seeks to amend Article 295-A to make the sacrilege of the Guru Granth Sahib, Koran, Bible and Bhagavad Gita a punishable offence attracting life imprisonment.

The arguments made against the anti blasphemy laws and how those arguments lack a thorough understanding of the concept of secularism:-

 

  • One line of criticism faults the bill for defiling the sacred or the transcendental character of holy texts by using this-worldly state power to protect it.
    • This attempt to expose the apparent irony underlying the bill is inadequate, for it misses the very political purpose of blasphemy laws.
    • To deem certain ideas/thoughts/norms/values to be out of bounds for criticism or contestation is to argue that certain forms of power are beyond criticism or contestation.
    • The creation, delimitation and expansion of the domain of the sacred is always a political (and not merely theological) exercise to create barriers of defiance for entrenched power.
  • A second line of criticism faults the bill for importing the “Judaeo-Christian” concept of blasphemy into Hinduism by including the Bhagavad Gita among the holy books.
    • This is taken as a violation of traditions of pluralism and tolerance.
  • The Punjab legislation can lead to other states similarly pandering to the demands of different communities and groups. Such legislation would hinder the possibility of the immanent critique of religious/community practices, beliefs, and norms, as blasphemy laws strengthen the position of the dominant within the community by accepting their interpretation as authoritative.
  • Even more serious is the danger of such legislation indicating to the extremist and vigilante groups that their actions have the overt or tacit backing of state power. Therefore, the bill needs to be seen as a vigilante legislation that could potentially legalise vigilantism. 
  • Legal protection for the text in the domain of the sacred, even as hate speech and hate crimes against human individuals and collectives go unabated and unpunished, is a definite indicator of the extent of erosion of the secular principle in polity and society. 
  • International example :-
    • In Pakistan, the progressive strengthening of anti-blasphemy laws during the Seventies was a sign of a toxic combination of greater intolerance and authoritarianism.
  • Rather than being luminous, potent and transcendent texts, their status is now reduced to a section of the Indian Penal Code. 
  • Liberal state needs two sensibilities which are neglected in this scenario:-
    • The first is that many good things are good and derive their authentic meaning precisely from the fact that there is no coercion behind them.
    • The second is that beliefs and faith, even if entirely sound, do not by themselves provide sufficient ground for the state using its coercive power to enforce them.
    • The argument that the state needs to use coercive power in deference to religious sentiments is illiberal.
  • The law is still sectarian in that it protects four texts, and the state has decided which texts get protection.
  • Any law that empowers the state to give upto life imprisonment for injury to the book will create a pall of fear. Its effect will not be the number of prosecutions. Its effect will be more palpably felt in people not even daring to push the boundaries of protest.

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.

5) Despite the law banning manual scavenging, it is a harsh reality that the practice still exists in India. Critically examine.(250 words) 

Reference

Why this question

Manual scavenging is responsible for hundreds of deaths every year. It is a harsh reality that the inhuman practice still exists in India. In this connection it is important to understand the reasons behind this.

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 explain why the practice of manual scavenging still exists in India despite the law strictly banning it. We have to form an opinion on the issue based on our discussion.

Structure of the answer

Introduction– write a few introductory lines about the manual scavenging in India- present some statistics about the number of people involved and mention the Employment of Manual Scavengers and Construction of Dry Latrines (Prohibition) Act, 1993;  ‘Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Act.

Body-

  • Discuss the reasons as to why the practice still exists in India. E.g mention the insanitary latrines; Septic tanks are designed badly. They have engineering defects which means that after a point, a machine cannot clean it; Under the Swachh Bharat Mission, millions of septic tanks are being built in rural India. By 2019, some 30 million septic tanks and pits would have been dug along the Ganga. If the Central, state and local sanitation programmes do not take up faecal sludge management as a priority, the onus will shift to the lowest rung of the society to clean millions of dry toilets built with tearing hurry; open drains which badly designed, allowing people to dump solid waste into them, which accentuates the problem. Improper disposal of condoms, sanitary napkins and diapers clog the drains, which machines cannot clear etc.

Conclusion– form an opinion as to what should be done in this regard. E.g using technology and machines for the scavenging work etc.

Background :-

  • Manual scavenging was banned 25 years ago with the passing of the Employment of Manual Scavengers and Construction of Dry Latrines (Prohibition) Act, 1993, but it continues to find practitioners. The occupation persists mainly because of the continued presence of insanitary latrines.
  • There are about 2.6 million insanitary latrines (dry toilets) that require cleaning by hand, according to Safai Karmachari Andolan.

 

 

Measures taken:-

  • The Employment of Manual Scavengers and Construction of Dry Latrines (Prohibition) Act was passed by the parliament in 1993, and set imprisonment of up to one year and a fine of Rs 2,000 for pushing a person to manual scavenging.
  • Self Employment Scheme for Rehabilitation of Manual Scavengers(SRMS), a successor scheme to NSLRS ( National Scheme for Liberation and Rehabilitation of Scavengers and their Dependents), was introduced in 2007 with the objective to rehabilitate remaining manual scavengers and their dependents in alternative occupations, in a time bound manner.
  • Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Act, 2013, forbids the employment of any person for the task of manual scavenging by any agency or individual.
    • As picking up untreated human excreta is harmful to one’s health and hygiene, the Act seeks to completely ban the practice.
  • Supreme Court issued a slew of directions in 2014 to prevent and control the practice and also to prosecute the offenders.
    • It also directed the government to pay a compensation of 10 lakh rupees to the family members of those killed in acts of manual scavenging since 1993.
  • Also, the right to live with dignity is implicit in the Fundamental Rights guaranteed in Part III of the Constitution. Article 46 of the Constitution, on the other hand, provides that the State shall protect the weaker sections particularly, the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes  from social injustice and all forms of exploitation.
  • Apart from these under Swachh Bharat Mission focus has been given on conversion of insanitary latrines into sanitary latrines.

Challenges remain :-

  • However, the dehumanising practice of manual scavenging, arising from the continued existence of insanitary latrines and a highly iniquitous caste system, still persists in various parts of the country. 
  • Design:-
    • Septic tanks are designed badly. They have engineering defects which means that after a point, a machine cannot clean it.
  • Under the Swacch Bharat Mission, millions of septic tanks are being built in rural India
    • By 2019, some 30 million septic tanks and pits would have been dug along the Ganga. If the Central, state and local sanitation programmes do not take up faecal sludge management as a priority, the onus will shift to the lowest rung of the society to clean millions of dry toilets.
  • Sewage issues :-
    • Many cities do not have sewerage that covers the whole city. Sometimes, sewage lines are connected to storm water drains which get clogged and demand human intervention.
  • Open drains:-
    • Open drains are also badly designed, allowing people to dump solid waste into them, which accentuates the problem. Improper disposal of sanitary napkins, diapers etc clog the drains, which machines cannot clear.
  • Manual scavenging is not only a caste-based but also a gender-based occupation with 90 per cent of them being women.
  • Irony of Swachh Bharat Mission :-
    • On the one hand it aims at protecting dignity of women by providing them with private sanitation spaces, and on the other, it is perpetuating humiliation of women manual scavengers as they are the ones who clean human excreta from dry-pit latrines.
  • Legislative failure:-
    • In 2013, the ‘Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Act came into force. However this law leaves people helpless.
    • In the earlier Act, the district magistrate had the power to solve all the cases, but that’s not the case with the current one. If the assigned public official isn’t doing his duty of identifying manual scavengers and processing their rehabilitation, there is no mechanism to pull them up
    • The Act does not address critical aspects of provisions like the rehabilitation of those who were liberated from manual scavenging before passing the law in 2013.
    • Liberated manual scavengers regularly face brutal atrocity and violence.
  • Safety issues:-
    • Requirements of oxygen cylinder, torches, and constant monitoring of workers through computers etc. are not mentioned in the act and hence are not provided to the cleaners.
  • Lack of education:-
    • Low level of education, awareness about their rights, laws and low self esteem force them to take such work.
  • National Safai Karmachari Commission which was mandated to implement the act has not been functioning properly. Its website has not been updated about recent developments and new initiatives.

Way forward:-

  • It is a social and gender issue and can be eradicated by sensitising people about its ills.
  • The implementation of these laws and provisions should be ensured by appointing people who can make sure that these are being followed, and that anybody who does not follow the rules and regulations is punished.
  • Entire process of the liberation of scavengers includes not just talks about value conflicts or rehabilitation and the few changes in their means of livelihood. The liberation of these people is also closely associated with the change in their social status and the ‘mould’ of their social relationships. All these aspects of liberation can be achieved only when dry latrines are not used at all. 
  • Swachh Bharat Mission may be used to actively target conversion of insanitary latrines on priority basis. Liberated manual scavengers must be linked to social security and other welfare schemes to ensure that they are not dependent on this inhuman work for their survival. 

 


General Studies – 3


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

6) Draft Electricity Amendment Act, 2018 proposes a slew of measures to bring transparency in power generation market. Discuss.(250 words)

Reference

Why this question

The draft electricity amendment act has forwarded a slew of measures aimed at bringing transparency in the power generation market. It is therefore essential to know those provisions.

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 salient provisions of the draft Electricity Amendment Act and bring out how these provisions aim at bringing transparency in the power generation market.

Structure of the answer

Introduction– write a few introductory lines about the draft act- e.g The draft Electricity (Amendment) Act 2018, which is an amendment to  the Electricity Act, 2003 aims at being in line with the country’s changing electricity markets and systems, with their large renewable capacities and the emergence of a smart grid network.

Body-

Discuss in points, the salient provisions of the act and discuss how the act aims to provide transparency in the power generation market. E.g licensing requirements extended explicitly to all electricity suppliers except a few exempted categories; Specific caveats for conventional assets, including mandatory spinning reserves (extra generating capacity) for new or expanding thermal power capacities, have been introduced in the proposed amendment. There have also been upward revisions of penalties to better reflect the market in 2018; the amendment allow for more than one distribution licensee to operate in a single area, signaling an end to area monopolies. Open access (OA) has also been structured further in the draft amendment. The proposal deems that every OA power purchase agreement (PPA), be it long-, medium- or short-term, shall be subject to review by the appropriate electricity regulatory commission. Their PPAs cannot be terminated without approval from the said commission and violation of terms can invite penalties up to Rs 1 crore etc.

Conclusion- sum up your discussion and form a fair and a balanced conclusion on the given issue.

Background:-

  • Draft Electricity (Amendment) Act 2018, which is an amendment to  the Electricity Act, 2003 aims at being in line with the country’s changing electricity markets and systems, with their large renewable capacities and the emergence of a smart grid network.
  • The Act tries to bring in greater structural accountability into the market in several ways, with licensing requirements extended explicitly to all electricity suppliers. 

Provisions and their significance:-

  • Accountability of power distribution companies
    • The highlight of the Amendment is the strong focus on resolving multiple issues plaguing the distribution sector. The proposed amendment puts the onus of supplying 24×7 power to all consumers squarely on the DISCOM.
    • The amendments propose a biennial review of the DISCOM to ensure that sufficient PPAs have been signed to meet the customer demand and see that customer complaints and other operational glitches are solved on time.
    • Failing to do so will invite revocation of the DISCOM license, with the state government empowered to transfer its assets to another supply company that is incorporated or pre-existent.
    • The amendment allow for more than one distribution licensee to operate in a single area, signaling an end to area monopolies.
      • Open access (OA) has also been structured further in the draft amendment. The proposal deems that every OA power purchase agreement (PPA), be it long-, medium- or short-term, shall be subject to review by the appropriate electricity regulatory commission.
      • Their PPAs cannot be terminated without approval from the said commission and violation of terms can invite penalties up to Rs 1 crore.
    • Ceiling on cross-subsidisation of tariffs:-
      • The draft amendment proposes that the cross-subsidy component within an area cannot exceed 20 per cent, and is to be phased out in three years. Additionally, the time-of-day tariffs finds mention in the draft alongside pre-paid electricity billing.
      • The amendment also states that costs borne due to inefficiency of DISCOMs cannot be passed on to the customers through additional tariffs. This has the potential to make DISCOMs accountable if they fail to reduce their commercial losses.
    • Important proposal is the use of direct benefit transfer for providing subsidy to lower income group customers. It is an attempt at eliminating consumers misusing the subsidy, thus, improving efficiency in DISCOM business.
    • Transparency in power generation market
      • Specific caveats for conventional assets, including mandatory spinning reserves (extra generating capacity) for new or expanding thermal power capacities, have been introduced in the proposed amendment.
    • Penalties:-
      • There have also been upward revisions of penalties to better reflect the market in 2018. For instance, non-compliance with load dispatch centres now carries a penalty of Rs 1 crore, up from Rs 1.5 million. These penalties fall in line with the regulations being proposed to hold power generators accountable for make variation in scheduled generation, especially in renewable energy.
    • Open access is to be allowed provided wheeling charges are paid, along with the surcharge, which cannot exceed 20 per cent of the wheeling charges.
    • Renewable energy:-
      • In a positive move to support renewable energy, rural standalone mini-grid systems are restricted to renewable sources only: solar, wind, biomass, biogas, etc. This is likely to boost the decentralised energy sector.
    • Three-level committees to facilitate efficient, economical and integrated transmission and supply of electricity :-
      • The committees will aid voluntary inter-connections and coordination of facilities for inter-State, regional and inter-regional generation and transmission of electricity.
      • At the top will be the National Power Committee, established by the Centre to facilitate integrated operations of the power system at the national level.
      • The Centre shall also establish a Regional Power Committee. The third layer is the State Power Committee that will be established by the respective State governments.
      • These committees are expected to set the base for the Centre’s larger goal of having a national-level discom that can balance the integration of renewable energy in the national grid
    • Separation of content & carriage:
      • The long-pending demand to separate the infrastructure builder for power distribution to consumers and the licensee to supply has been introduced in the Act.
      • This would entail more than one electricity supplier in an area and consumer will have options to choose their preferred electricity supplier.
    • Getting smarter: 
      • The Electricity Act for the first time has mentioned Smart Meter and Prepaid Meters and regulations related to the same, making it mandatory to install smart meter. This would help proper accounting of power consumption and wastage.
    • 24*7 Power supply is an obligation: 
      • The draft amendments propose that 24X7 power supply is an obligation and the state electricity regulatory commission can penalise the power distribution company (discoms), if it fails to do so.
      • The Commission can suspend or revoke the license of the discoms as well, which has been mandated for the first time.
    • Violation of PPA to be penalised: 
      • The Act said that violation of PPA will lead to penalties which may be as determined by the Appropriate Commission which may be fines which may extend to Rupees One crore per day and, in case of licensees may also extend to suspension and cancellation of licence.
      • This comes as a major relief for power generators which lately have been facing brunt of states cancelling PPA citing high cost or lack of funds.

TopicPart of statistics series under the heading – “Himalayas”

7) Himalayas are not only the physical barrier, they are also a climatic, drainage and cultural divide. Analyze. (250 words)

NCERT India Physical environment Pg 11

Key demand of the question

The focus of the question is explaining the multiple role played by Himalayas which impact India’s climate, drainage and culture. We need to explain first the physical presence of Himalayas and next, explain how are they a climatic, drainage and cultural divide.

Directive word

Analyze – When asked to analyze, you  have to examine methodically the structure or nature of the topic by separating it into component parts and present them as a whole in a summary.

Structure of the answer

Introduction – Explain how Himalayas serve as the physical barrier of India. Highlight that Himalayas has great impact on climate, drainage and culture

Body

  • Explain impact on climate – The Himalayas play a very important role in influencing the climate of India. India is a monsoon land only because of the presence of Himalayas. It traps the monsoon winds from Arabian sea and Bay of Bengal and forces them to shed their moisture content within the Indian sub-continent in the form of snow and rain. It also blocks the cold winter storms of East Asia from entering India, thus protecting us from severe cold. The Himalayas splits the westerly jet streams into two branches such that the southward branch entering India plays a significant role in bringing the monsoon.
  • Explain impact on drainage system of India – Discuss the drainage patterns of India’s Himalayan rivers and how Himalayas is the source of such rivers
  • Explain impact of Himalayas on culture

Conclusion – Explain that Himalayas play immense role in India’s context.

Background:-

  • Himalayas are relatively young with unique geographical significance for India. Himalaya stretching from J&K to the North -East of India has always been a physical ,climatic ,drainage and a cultural divide .

How Himalayas are physical barrier:-

  • Divides India from central Asia and thereby protected India from their direct attack through this route.
  • Isolates Indian Sub-continent from the rest of Asia .

How Himalayas create cultural divide:-

  • Himalayas have three distinct chain of mountains, the upper himalayas or himadri, Himachal or lesser himalayas and Shiwaliks.
  • The Himadri which is very prominent in Kashmir region has many highest glaciers of the world leading to unique pattern of living.
  • In Uttarakhand Siwaliks or dun formations caused some cultivation and transhumance of tribes like Bhutias.
  • In sikkim and Darjeeling the Duar formation and moderate slopes  gave rise to tea cultivation here too tribes like Lepcha lead a unique way of life.
  • In North East Himalayas because of rain all around the year Tropical evergreen forests predominate which are cleared by the inhabiting tribes for Jhum cultivation.

How Himalayas create climatic divide:-

  • It blocks the Monsoon winds and forces them to shed their moisture causing heavy rainfall in Northern India
  • It protects the Northern plains from the cold winds from the central Asia .
  • Himalayas represent a long chain of  mountains that separate India from rest of Asia making India a subcontinent with its own climatic features. During winters when freezing temperatures 
    prevail in North Asia, Himalayas object these cold winds and thus preventing the Ganga plains from freezing leading to sustenance in agriculture.
  • Himalayas also obstruct the South West monsoon winds thus producing rains thus helps in maintaining the monsoon nature of our climate in North India.

How Himalayas create drainage divide:-

  • Himalayas is the birthplace for three major river systems the Indus, Ganga and Brahmaputra 
    river systems which are one of the longest in the world. The rivers that flow through India originate due to melting of glaciers in the upper reaches and maintained by rain in the lower reaches thus leading to many perennial rivers which are vital for agriculture.
  • Also a lot of rivers forms flood plains in the lower reaches and bring alluvium which is very productive.
  • The Himalayas is the abundant reservoir of Great Indian rivers such as Ganga, Indus and Brahmaputra. The snow melt in summer and precipitation in winter makes them perennial rivers. i.e, having water throughout the year. The abundant waterfall, huge snowfield and large glaciers feed these drainage systems. The Himalayan rivers give life to the northern India.