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SECURE SYNOPSIS: 05 NOVEMBER 2019


SECURE SYNOPSIS: 05 NOVEMBER 2019


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.


Topic: women empowerment.

1) Economic upliftment is one of the most enabling elements to release women from oppression, violence and powerlessness. Discuss and also throw light on how far India has been successful in empowering women(250 words)

The hindu

Why this question:

The question is based on the theme of women empowerment and its relevance to the development aspects of the country. 

Key demand of the question:

Explain the importance of Economic upliftment of women to ensure they are free from oppression, violence and powerlessness.

Directive:

DiscussThis 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: 

Present a Brief introduction about status of women.

Body:

Explain in what way economic independence becomes an enabling element for development.

Comment upon the areas of success regarding women empowerment.

Give examples of recent government initiatives and policies that aimed to empower women economically and make them independent.

Discuss the challenges involved.

Conclusion:

Conclude with way forward.

Introduction:    

Empowerment of women is perceived as equipping them to be economically independent, self-reliant, with positive esteem to enable them to face any situation and they should be able to participate in the development activities. However, Social mores, rising incomes of men, and gender-based segregation in the job market are limiting women’s economic empowerment in India. A Supreme Court Bench has once again proved that our judiciary can be the torchbearer of progressive attitudes towards women.

Body:

Economic upliftment and women empowerment:

  • The agency, freedom and intra-household power of women are strengthened when women are given an economic value; when they are enabled to hold a position in the economy through employment.
  • Scholars who have explored and studied women’s work, especially among the poorest in the most marginalised locales and communities, have been highlighting the importance of recognising women’s work, the importance of women as economic agents.
  • Economic power for women within and outside the household makes a difference to gender relations.
  • There is a bidirectional relationship between economic development and women’s empowerment, defined as improving the ability of women to access the constituents of development — in particular health, education, earning opportunities, rights, and political participation

Gender based segregation limits women’s empowerment:

  • The under-representation of women in the workforce is both a social and economic loss.
  • A McKinsey Global study in 2015 found that India could increase its GDP by 16-60% by 2025 by simply enabling women to participate in the economy at par with men.
  • Three key factors that have limited the role of women in the Indian economy: the role of entrenched gender norms in our society, the rising incomes of men (which raises family income and makes it easier for women to quit working), and the lack of quality jobs for women.
  • The latest evidence on regressive attitudes towards women comes from the Social Attitudes Research India survey covering Delhi, Mumbai, UP and Rajasthan in 2016.
  • A new study based on the survey shows that a significant share of men and women feel that married women whose husbands earn a good living should not work outside the home.

However, the idea of women- empowerment just doesn’t imply economic empowerment by increasing their Labour force participation, job creation, entrepreneurship opportunities. There is a grave necessity of social and political empowerment due to.

  • Crimes:
    • Crimes against women are discussed merely as a barrier to women’s mobility, one that hampers their supply in the labour market.
    • NCRB data recording an 83 per cent increase in crimes against women between 2007 and 2016, and the Thomson Reuters Foundation’s global poll in 2018 naming India as the most dangerous country for women.
    • The MeToo movement tumbled out many skeletons from the drawers showing most women kept quiet about the sexual harassment due to fear of losing jobs and affecting their livelihoods and career.
  • Social barriers:
    • Married women are not allowed to work in some religions and culture. Further, the patriarchal mindset prevalent in Indian people forces such barriers on women.
    • According to recent research by Public Affairs Centre (PAC), a major metropolis like Delhi has only 196 female workers per 1,000 workers, and Mumbai has only 188. In contrast, a state like Nagaland, which has historically been matrilineal, has more than 500 women workers per 1,000 in most districts.
  • Unpaid care:
    • Unpaid work done by women in the household demonstrates no understanding of how it constrains women from entering the labour force.
    • The lack of basic facilities like drinking water, cooking gas in rural areas forces women into drudgery to arrange the basic stuff.
  • Fixed Gender Roles:
    • There are fixed gender roles in most families, again a consequence of patriarchal mindset.
    • The concept of paternity leave and mainstreaming of gender education in schools is still miles away in India.
    • Without the renegotiation of gender roles, most women will only juggle jobs and not enjoy fulfilling careers.
  • Gender-wage gap:
    • Unequal pay for equal work is a stark feature which directly violates the fundamental right to equality of women.
    • A government report in 2018 finding a 30 per cent wage gap even for men and women with the same qualifications.
    • Women also lack equal inheritance rights leading to Feminization of poverty.
    • There is absence of any discussion on over-representation of economically active women in the informal sector, which leaves them poor and vulnerable, deprived of many work benefits.

Way Forward:

  • Implementation of the laws viz. Protection of women from sexual harassment at workplace act, maternity benefit Act in true letter and spirit.
  • Breaking the social barriers by gender sensitization and education at families, schools and workplaces.
  • Incentivising companies to employ women and promoting safe work spaces are necessary.
  • Companies must compulsorily grant paternity leave so that the responsibility is shared.
  • Gender-wage gap should be reduced by bringing in stringent laws.
  • Formalization of jobs should be pushed to avail benefits to many women. Until then, social security benefits should be provided to women in unorganized sector.

Conclusion:

The need of the hour to reap economic benefits is by addressing the issues of gender rights and justice. Economic agency is one of the most enabling elements to shift gender relations of power, to release women from the kind of oppression, violence and powerlessness that they experience. Women’s inclusion in the development design would enhance the outcomes of development it the self. All the Departments of States at all levels, to Ministries, to Niti Aayog and its State-level counterparts, as well as to research and policy forums should work and implement the schemes realizing the importance of women in the economy.


Topic: Factors responsible for the location of primary, secondary, and tertiary sector industries in various parts of the world.

2) Australia is a major supplier of wool but not a major supplier of finished woolen garments, why? Analyse the aspects leading to such a trend.(250 words)

Human and Economic geography by Goh Cheng Leong

Why this question:

The question is based out of static portions of GS paper I.

Key demand of the question:

One must provide for a detailed analysis as to what has led to such a trend wherein Australia is a major producer yet not a supplier of finished woolen garments.

Directive:

AnalyzeWhen asked to analyse, 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: 

In first explain and justify the fact that Australia is one of the major producers of wool.

Body:

Explain in detail the factors necessary for producing wool – climatic factor, land size, economy of scales etc.

Explain the nature of raw material, market locations etc.

Then discuss why Australia despite being major producer of wool is not  a major finished garments producer – explain the factors of demand, market etc.

Conclusion:

Conclude with way forward.

Introduction:    

The major wool-producing countries, with the exception of the U.S.S.R. are in the southern continents, where the warmer climates related to the limited southerly extent of the continents, provide better con­ditions for wool production than the damper, cooler conditions of many temperate areas in the northern hemisphere.

Body:

The rather dry climates of interior Aus­tralia and South Africa and the rain-shadow region of Patagonia in Argentina are ideal for wool production. Sheep farming on a very extensive scale is often the most economic use of land in the drier regions and in turn extensive production has economies of scale which make for lower-cost production.

Wool Production in Australia:

Australia is the world’s leading wool producer:

  • More than two-thirds of the approxi­mately 135 million sheep are merinos, kept for wool production.
  • Merinos were first introduced into Australia in the early nineteenth century, but the advantages of wool production were only realized between about 1860 and 1890.
  • There was a great expansion both in sheep numbers and in the area used for sheep farming.
  • Sheep farming is now concentrated in New South Wales, especially in the rolling Downs on the western side of the Great Dividing Range.
  • In the favoured areas crossbred sheep are increasingly kept, and form part of a system of mixed farming.
  • Australian merinos yield between 12 and 22 kg (25 and 45 lb) each of wool per year.
  • Australia has only a small woollen textile industry and exports 90 per cent of its wool production, the main markets being Japan, Britain, and other European countries.

Australia thus accounts for only 1 per cent of the world’s woollen textiles. There are several reasons for this:

  • Firstly, woollen textiles require greater skill and fewer workers than cotton textiles and are thus well-suited to the indus­trial nations.
  • Secondly, markets for woollen goods are largely in the colder northern countries.
  • The producers in the southern continents have generally warmer cli­mates and thus constitute a smaller market.
  • A third reason is the sparse population of many wool-producing areas. This reduces market potential and means that wage rates for workers are as high or higher than in established areas.
  • Woollen textile business requires skilled workers. In Australia, low-population which leads to higher wage rates.

Conclusion:

Therefore, Australia leads in wool production but not in textile. The competition from synthetic textiles has also added to the competition to the woollen textiles.


Topic:  Factors responsible for the location of primary, secondary, and tertiary sector industries in various parts of the world.

 3) To what extend has proximity to water transport or railways influenced timber exploitation? Explain with examples from India.(250 words)

Indian Geography by Majid Hussain

Why this question:

The question is based on the Timber industry prevalent in the country and the factors affecting its location.

Key demand of the question:

Examine the key factors involved in deciding the location of Timber industry in the country. Explain the influence of Railways and water transport on the location of these.

Directive:

Explain – Clarify the topic by giving a detailed account as to how and why it occurred, or what is the particular context. You must be defining key terms where ever appropriate, and substantiate with relevant associated facts.

Structure of the answer:

Introduction: 

Lay out the expanse of Timber industry in the country.

Body:

Explain what are the geographical factors affecting location of this industry – raw material, transport; river, waterways, railways, labour, Market etc.

Then explain the importance of Lumbering. And the influence of above factors affecting it. Quote examples to justify.

Conclusion:

Conclude with significant contribution of the industry to the economy.

Introduction:    

India has a thriving range of industries for semi-processed and value-added timber products, including wooden handicrafts, pulp and paper, plywood and veneer and wooden furniture. Exports of wooden handicrafts in particular are on the rise.

Body:

Factors affecting the location of timber industries are:

  • Raw materials: The raw material needed for timber industries are wooden logs. These are high weight loss raw materials as only 40% of the weight of logs are converted to timber and the rest is discarded as waste. Thus to save the cost of transporting waste materials the timber industries are located in jungles near the source of raw materials.
  • Rivers: The transportation of logs is difficult hence flow of rivers is used for this purpose. The rivers have to clean and pollution free. Thus transportation also determines the location of timber factories.
  • River direction: This should be towards the market.
  • In temperate forest the commercial exploitation is easier as small number of species are located in a region. Softwood trees are found that are easier to chop.
  • The forest areas are connected by roads. Ground is covered by snow making it easier to push logs.
  • The winter seasons make agriculture tough. Hence farmers find lumbering as suitable alternative. The lumbering activity is highly mechanized due to which small manpower is needed.
  • The proximity to markets e.g. US meant that demand would be there.
  • Government policy on Silviculture and strict regulation of timber industry ensure that reforestation takes place and forests grow back

India being a tropical country timber exploitation has been difficult due to the following reasons:

  • In tropical areas some tree-species are extremely valuable, but they are scattered. This heterogeneous supply of timber leads to high cost of commercial exploitation.
  • Unlike temperate regions tropical forests have large number of tree species in a particular location. This made commercial exploitation tough.
  • The hardwood trees found in such areas are difficult to float on water and thus difficult to transport.
  • The market areas are also far from these regions.
  • Transportation of timber to market is difficult due to inadequate facilities.
  • In India, people are dependent more on bamboo, softwood. E.g. South Gujarat, Odisha, MP
  • India is one of the world’s largest importers of timber, having imported over 3 mn cubic meters of tropical logs in 2016 and 346,000 cubic meters of tropical veneer.

The presence of waterways and railways has helped in transportation of raw materials from the forests to the places of processing. Further the transportation has helped in accessing the far away markets by exporting through waterways and railways. On the other hand, the transportation has led to increased imports to provide raw materials to the timber-based industries.

Conclusion:

India’s growth in timber consumption is underpinned by robust private and public consumption. Consumption is supported by lower energy costs, public sector salary and pension increases, and favourable monsoon rains, which boosted urban and rural incomes. This is aptly bolstered by the railways and waterways.


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

4) With the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) negotiations concluding, estimate India’s associated concerns in being a part of the RCEP due to which India preferred to stay out of the trade pact. Discuss the way forward.(250 words)

The hindu

Why this question:

Seven years after India joined negotiations for the 16-nation ASEAN (Association for South East Asian Nations)-led RCEP (Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership) or Free Trade Agreement, India opted out of the agreement, citing its negative effects on “farmers, MSMEs and dairy sector”. 

Key demand of the question:

The answer must highlight the concerns India is apprehensive of with respect to joining RCEP and discuss the possible way ahead.

Directive:

DiscussThis 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: 

In brief explain the recent happenings at RCEP.

Body:

Explain the recent conclusion of trade pact at the RCEP.

Highlight that RCEP negotiations were meant to create the world’s biggest free trade region that represented half the world’s population and one-third of the global GDP.

Discuss the challenges and concerns associated.

Conclusion:

Conclude the way forward.

Introduction:    

Seven years after India joined negotiations for the 16-nation ASEAN (Association for South East Asian Nations)-led RCEP (Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership) or Free Trade Agreement, Prime Minister announced recently that India was dropping out of the agreement, citing its negative effects on “farmers, MSMEs and dairy sector”. India has expressed its concerns over lowering and elimination of tariffs on products from other countries, as it would negatively affect the domestic agricultural and industrial sector.

Body:

Concerns flagged by India:

  • Trade deficit:
    • India’s trade deficit (Imports > Exports) with various countries have always widened after signing FTAs with them. Example – ASEAN, Japan, Korea, and Singapore, most of which are RCEP nations.
    • India has a “huge trade imbalance” with China to the tunes of $53 billion deficit.
    • The lack of assurances on market access, and RCEP negotiators’ insistence on keeping 2014 as the base year for tariff reductions are other irritants.
  • Trade tariffs:
    • Farmers fear that the RCEP will permanently bring down import duties on most agricultural commodities to zero which will lead to countries looking to dump their agricultural produce in India which would lead to a drastic drop in prices.
  • This will aggravate the agrarian crisis even as the input prices in India are heavily taxed and farmers are not given profitable prices, resulting in substantial losses and farmer debts.
  • The dairy sector and plantations sector are going to be hit very hard. It is because New Zealand and Australia being part of RCEP will invariably lead to the dumping of their dairy products into India.
  • The southeast Asian countries have larger and cheaper production of plantation crops like rubber, coconut, palm oil as compared to India and opening up of the markets will lead to a large inflow of these products given their price competitiveness.
  • The China factor:
    • India fears that the RCEP pact will enable China to dump its products at lower prices and finally capture the market.
    • India had $105 billion trade deficit with RCEP members in FY19.
    • India’s trade deficit with China is already at $63 billion which will further rise if India joins RCEP.
    • Security concerns have also arisen over Chinese companies influencing market trends in sectors like telecommunication.
  • Make in India:
    • Indian manufacturing is not competitive enough to face the consequences of a free trade regime.
    • Rationalisation of multiple GST rates is still a work-in-progress.
    • The compliance with the complex GST norms adds to the transaction costs.
    • Labour productivity in manufacturing in India is still one of the lowest in the world with regionally fragmented labour laws increase the cost of doing business.
    • Make in India seeks to create enabling conditions not only for domestic industries but also for foreign industries = more competition.
    • Considering the above issues, the Indian industry is hardly in a position to compete in a free trade region.
  • Skewed sectorial growth:
    • The issue of trade liberalisation in services is still a bone of contention among RCEP Nations.
    • India wants to capitalise on its pool of skilled labour from improved access to these economies.
    • Thus it sought binding commitments to simplify services trade.
    • India is even willing to trade up its remaining tariff policy powers in the manufacturing sector to get these concessions for services sector in RCEP.
    • However, given the situation of the manufacturing and agriculture sectors in India, it is definitely not a good idea to sacrifice them for the services sector. It will promote the skewed nature of sectorial growth.
  • Raising trade barriers with non-members:
    • A preferential trade agreement such as RCEP provides preferential access to certain products by reducing trade barriers such as tariffs for member countries and not for others.
    • Hence, a preferential reduction of trade barriers = rise in relative trade barrier against non-members countries of RCEP.
  • Affect economic sovereignty:
    • Harmonisation of foreign investment rules and IPR laws = take away India’s ability to calibrate trade policies according to its needs.
  • Rigid tariff regime:
    • India needs a tariff regime that must be flexible enough to allow tariffs to be calibrated.
    • Such flexibilities are provided by WTO’s tariff regime, but not in other FTAs like RCEP.
  • IPR provisions:
    • Japan and South Korea are proposing intellectual property provisions referred to as TRIPS-plus, which go far beyond the obligations under the WTO’s agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS).
    • The proposed provisions seek to extend pharma firms’ patent terms beyond the usual 20 years (patent term extensions) and also require data exclusivity that limits competition by encouraging monopoly. These will hit our access to affordable medicines.
    • Issues related to Intellectual Property Chapter, particularly pacts that constrain our farmers’ ability to produce, preserve, exchange and sell seeds need to be rejected.
    • If India makes any agreement like the International Union of New Plant Varieties (UPOV) 1991 (that favours multinationals and is against farmers’ interests), it will kill the livelihood of our farmers.

Way Forward:

  • All trade is based on comparative advance and we have it in services sector which we need to look properly.
  • Indian policymakers need to be mindful of domestic industry’s concerns before getting into a deal with respect to the RCEP.
  • We need to focus on improving the competitiveness of the Indian economy.
  • India must play its due role to get its due place in the regional economic configurations.

Conclusion:

Bilateral talks between India and China are crucial for an early conclusion of RCEP negotiations as agreed by other members. Indian policymakers need to be mindful of domestic sectors’ concerns before agreeing on terms of deal. Simultaneously, there is a necessity to improve our competitiveness in the economy. India must play its due role to get its due place in the regional economic configurations.


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

5) Discuss the possible effect that Naga peace process would have on the neighboring States. Also, comment on the role played by the NSCN-IM in resolving the issue.(250 words)

The hindu

Why this question:

The Naga peace process appears to have hit a roadblock after 22 years of negotiations. The Centre’s push for a solution to the issue by October this year and the non-flexibility of the Isak-Muivah faction of the National Socialist Council of Nagaland (NSCN-IM) on the “Naga national flag” and “Naga Yezhabo (constitution)” are said to be the primary reasons. 

Key demand of the question:

Explain the Naga peace process and the possible effect it will have on neighboring States. Comment on the role played by the NSCN-IM in resolving the issue.

Directive:

DiscussThis 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: 

In brief explain what has triggered the current situation in the Peace process. 

Body:

Bring out the history of Naga issue.

Explain in detail the Framework Agreement – An agreement on the political parameters of the settlement was worked out with the working committee of these groups, clubbed the Naga National Political Groups (NNPGs), on November 17, 2017. This agreement ostensibly made the peace process inclusive but it bred suspicion about the central government exploiting divisions within the Nagas on tribal and geopolitical lines.

Discuss the effect on Neighbors.

Conclusion:

Conclude with way forward.

Introduction:    

The NSCN (IM), the largest Naga group, is unwilling to sign an accord with the Centre without a separate Naga flag and constitution. Naga peace accord was signed in August 2015 by the Government of India and the National Socialist Council of Nagaland (NSCN) to end the insurgency. The framework agreement is based on the “unique” history of Nagas and recognising the universal principle that in a democracy sovereignty lies with the people.

Body:

Role of NSCN-IM:

  • In August 2015, after two decades of the Naga separatist movement, the Centre signed a framework agreement with the NSCN (I-M) in the presence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
  • The agreement paved the way for the ongoing peace talks by derecognising the outfit as a militant organisation.
  • What followed was nearly 80 rounds of talks with between the two parties, which assured the Nagas about the seriousness of the central government to settle the dispute.
  • The Centre clubbed various divisions among the Nagas on tribal and geopolitical lines into the Naga National Political Groups (NNPGs) to smoothen the talks.
  • On agenda for discussion are issues on AFSPA, demographic changes due to cross-border migrations, a separate Naga flag and constitution, etc.
  • The Khaplang faction died down in its political significance with the death of its leader SS Khaplang in 2017.
  • Isak Chishi Swu from the NSCN (I-M) also passed away in 2016, making Muivah the most senior Naga rebel leader.
  • However, this wasn’t the first attempt at total ceasefire and peace in the hill state.
  • Earlier, in 1997, following multiple rounds of talks, the NSCN (I-M) had signed a ceasefire agreement with the Centre.
  • The group had assured that there would be no insurgent offensive against the army, while the Centre agreed not to launch counter-insurgency operations against rebels.

Possible effect that Naga peace process would have on the neighbouring States:

  • While the Naga rebel outfits have successfully been able to get the Centre to the table for talks, neighbouring states are wary of the impact of the peace talks.
  • This makes the Naga issue a tricky space for a lasting solution.
  • Assam, Arunachal Pradesh and Manipur are sceptical about the demand for creation of Greater Nagalim because it could lead to the redrawing of their boundaries.
  • The final outcome may affect the states in terms of trade and commerce, as well as cultural and ethnic unity.
  • In a petition, Manipur has voiced protest against the dilution of the state’s territorial integrity.
  • Similarly, Arunachal Pradesh has also raised similar concerns, with the All Arunachal Pradesh Students’ Union (AAPSU) demanding that the Pema Khandu government in the state should take a stand on the matter.

Way forward:

  • The history of Indo-Naga conflict shows that various past agreements have broken down due to different interpretations of the provisions by the parties at their convenience.
  • Failure of government to address the issue holistically will result in new revolutionary Naga movement which will be much dangerous due to globalisation, greater availability of resources for sustaining any rebellion, and greater scope for international intervention in case of a violent struggle.
  • A greater understanding of the issue, especially the tribal factor and changing aspirations of the civil society, needs to be developed in order to bring an acceptable and comprehensive solution to the Naga problem.
  • One way of dealing with the issue can be maximum decentralisation of powers to the tribal heads and minimum centralisation at the apex level, which should mainly work towards facilitating governance and undertaking large development projects.
  • For any peace framework to be effective, it should not threaten the present territorial boundaries of the states of Assam, Manipur and Arunachal Pradesh. As it will not be acceptable to these states.
  • Greater autonomy for the Naga inhabited areas in these states can be provided which would encompass separate budget allocations for the Naga inhabited areas with regard to their culture and development issues.
  • A new body should be constituted that would look after the rights of the Nagas in the other north-eastern states besides Nagaland.
  • Any final resolution package must also have the consent of the NSCN (K) as well. Only then will the Naga inhabited areas in Northeast India witness real peace after decades of violence.
  • A non-territorial resolution for one of the oldest armed ethnic conflicts in the Northeast will offer a way forward to resolving many other ethnic conflicts such as those involving the Kukis, Meiteis, Bodos, Dimasas, Hmars, and Karbis.
  • Any arrangement thus worked out should lead to social and political harmony, economic prosperity and protection of the life and property of all tribes and citizens of the states.

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

7) Do you think mere amendment of Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) act, 1981 will aid the fight against pollution in the country? Critically analyse.(250 words)

Indianexpress

 

Why this question:

The article explains that amending and updating the 1981 Air Act will help in the battle against pollution.

Key demand of the question:

One has to explain that Air pollution in India is not simply an environmental problem, but a major public health concern. It impacts all those breathing in the polluted air — children, the elderly, women and men alike. As its concentration worsens in India and statistics grow grimmer, so do our policymakers’ reactions. 

Directive:

Critically analyzeWhen asked to analyse, 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. When ‘critically’ is suffixed or prefixed to a directive, one needs to look at the good and bad of the topic and give a fair judgment.

Structure of the answer:

Introduction: 

In brief set the context of the question by highlighting the air pollution concerns being witnessed in the capital.

Body:

Explain that Statistics show that India is in a worse situation compared to its global counterparts. According to Greenpeace, 22 of the world’s 30 most polluted cities are in India and Delhi has yet again bagged the position of the world’s most polluted capital. These are grim figures, especially when compared to India’s neighbours: Five in China, two in Pakistan and one in Bangladesh. In 2018, India was placed in the bottom five countries on the Environmental Performance Index, ranking 177th out of 180 countries, along with Bangladesh, Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo, and Nepal.

Then explain what the root causes of the situation are.

Discuss most importantly significance of amending the air pollution act.

Conclusion:

Conclude with way ahead.

Introduction:    

The Air Quality Index in Delhi has crossed 500, the national capital has officially entered the public health emergency category. Schools have been shut, children are complaining of breathing problems. The state and Central governments are simply indulging in blame-games. This forms the basis of the need for amending the 1981 Air Act and making it more compatible with contemporary India.

Body:

India’s air pollution scenario:

  • Statistics show that India is in a worse situation compared to its global counterparts.
  • According to Greenpeace, 22 of the world’s 30 most polluted cities are in India and Delhi has yet again bagged the position of the world’s most polluted capital.
  • These are grim figures, especially when compared to India’s neighbours: Five in China, two in Pakistan and one in Bangladesh. In 2018, India was placed in the bottom five countries on the Environmental Performance Index, ranking 177th out of 180 countries, along with Bangladesh, Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo, and Nepal.
  • Air pollution in India is not simply an environmental problem, but a major public health concern.
  • It impacts all those breathing in the polluted air — children, the elderly, women and men alike.
  • Recently, the Centre for Science and Environment reported that air pollution kills an average 8.5 out of every 10,000 children in India before they turn five.
  • Similarly, the WHO in 2016 reported that pollution has led to the deaths of over 1 lakh children in India.
  • Overall, several internationally acclaimed studies have affirmed that life expectancy in India has declined anywhere between two to three years.

A strong legislation will help curb air pollution:

  • The Indian government needs to identify the tangible benefits that concrete legislation on air pollution has brought across the world.
  • In the United States, the Clean Air Act has proven that public health and economic progress can go together.
  • For instance, the aggregate national emissions of the six common pollutants in the USA dropped an average of 73 per cent from 1970 to 2017.
  • Through one piece of legislation, the US has challenged multiple sources of pollution, airborne or motor vehicle-led.
  • Similarly, after declaring a war on pollution, Chinese cities reduced particulate concentration by 32 per cent in 2018.
  • In a country with a human power and technical know-how like India, achieving a better feat is not impossible.
  • In recent times, the government has worked on a much hyped “mission-mode” — drafting policies and programmes to alleviate pollution.
  • But with little to no legal mandate or a budgetary allocation of as little as Rs 300 crore under programmes such as the National Clean Air Programme, no true enforcement of targets and goals is guaranteed.
  • In such dire circumstances with high stakes, higher targets need to be set, penalties need to be stricter, and the mandate needs to be stronger.

Need for amendment of Air Pollution Act:

  • There is unanimous consensus amongst many court rulings, Parliament Committee reports, media investigations, and several environmentalists that under the 1981 Air Act, the Pollution Control Boards are presently unable to fulfil their mandate as watchdogs against polluting industries.
  • A new bill will plug many loopholes in the 1981 Act and would align the functions and priorities of the Pollution Boards towards reducing the adverse impact of pollution on human health in India.
  • India’s pollution liability regime has never prioritised the adverse impact of pollution on health.
  • In its present form, India’s Air Act does not mention or prioritise the importance of reducing the health impact of rising pollution.
  • This is the first change that a new law on air pollution should bring, protecting health needs to become the central mission that the boards work towards.
  • For instance, at any point that the State Boards find evidence of excess air pollution, they should take all measures possible to actively disseminate this information to the masses.
  • When the air quality goes from normal to toxic and hazardous, the boards must be empowered to declare public health emergencies, with the power to temporarily shut down all polluting activities.
  • While these changes might introduce an additional burden on industries to proactively check their emissions, the additional burden is worth the lives that will be saved as a result.

Need for other actions along with Air Pollution Act:

  • It is caused by emissions from vehicles, industries and agriculture, construction dust, and other factors related to household consumption and municipal planning.
  • The new law must push Central and state boards to convene joint sittings with a multi-sectoral participation from ministries such as housing, urban development, agriculture and road transport.
  • Pollution control boards must be empowered sufficiently to ensure that pollution does not take more lives or hinders the overall progress of India.
  • To incentivise the industries to better themselves through environmental compensations, the industries and their respective state boards must be ranked in order of their efficiency and programme delivery.
  • The new law on air pollution must give an additional mandate to either a senior minister, such as the minister of environment, forest and climate or the prime minister’s office needs to be involved directly.
  • Greater public transparency is essential to the success of winning the war on air pollution.

Conclusion:

Breathing clean air is the fundamental right of every Indian citizen. Human health must become a priority when it comes to legislating on air pollution.