SECURE SYNOPSIS: 29 NOVEMBER 2019

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SECURE SYNOPSIS: 29 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: Indian Constitution– historical underpinnings, evolution, features, amendments, significant provisions and basic structure. 

1) “Interpretation of the Constitution is a work in progress.” Comment. (250 words)

Indian polity by Lakshmikant

 

Why this question:

The President of India, Shri Ram Nath Kovind inaugurated the Constitutional Day celebrations organized by Supreme Court to mark the 70th Anniversary of the adoption of our constitution.

Key demand of the question:

The answer must analyse in what way the process of interpretation of Indian constitution is a work in progress.

Directive:

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

Structure of the answer:

Introduction: 

Highlight the mechanisms that allow interpretation of the Indian constitution.

Body:

Explain the role of Judiciary and the parliament, explain in what way they interpret the Indian constitution continuously and explain the role played by them in different cases (examples).

Conclusion:

Conclude with way forward.

Introduction:    

Parliament, the Judiciary and the Executive are the three key arms of the Indian state, with well-defined spheres of authority under the Constitution. Parliament represents the law making arm, the Executive is responsible for enforcement of laws, and the Judiciary is in charge of interpretation of the Constitution and laws as well as dispute resolution.  Each institution acts as a check and balance on the others’ powers, which may create tension in their relationships.

Body:

Role of Judiciary in interpreting constitution:

  • The higher judiciary (Supreme Court and High Courts) acts as the custodian of the Constitution because it is responsible for its interpretation and enforcement. The higher judiciary also has the power to strike down laws of Parliament and actions of the Executive as invalid, if they violate the Constitution.  This is called the power of judicial review.
  • For example, a law may be declared as invalid if it violates the fundamental rights guaranteed by the Constitution. A law may also be declared invalid if its subject-matter is outside Parliament’s area of competence (e.g. a central law on police may be invalid because police falls within the state legislatures’ domain).
  • Striking down of Section 66A of the Information Technology Act, 2000: The Supreme Court exercised its power of judicial review and struck down its provision as unconstitutional. It held that Section 66A violates Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution that protects freedom of speech and expression.
  • The Judiciary also exercises oversight over the Executive, when it decides matters related to constitutionality and legality of executive actions. Occasionally it has also set up investigative and monitoring committees to monitor and oversee executive decisions.
  • For example, in 2011, it set up a Special Investigation Team to investigate money laundering and unaccounted money held abroad by Indians.10In another case, the Supreme Court required the state governments to report on forest conservation and industrial activities around forest.
  • The Supreme Court has held that Parliament’s power to amend the Constitution is limited, that is, Parliament cannot amend the ‘basic structure’ of the Constitution.
  • The Judiciary has used its power of interpretation to identify fundamental aspects of the Constitution that cannot amended. These include ‘supremacy of the Constitution’, ‘separation of powers’, ‘judicial review’ and ‘judicial independence’. This is an open list to which the Judiciary may add new aspects.

Role of Parliament in interpreting Constitution:

  • Parliament has the power to amend the Constitution.
  • To check against the misuse of this power, a higher threshold of support is required to amend the Constitution as compared to a simple law.
  • A Constitution Amendment Bill needs the support of more than half the members in each House of Parliament, and atleast two-thirds of the members present and voting.
  • Additionally, ratification by more than half the states is required for amendments that affect powers of the states and the Judiciary. A recent example of this is the Constitution (101stAmendment) Act, 2016that enabled introduction of the Goods and Service Tax.
  • Parliament may examine the constitutionality and legality of executive actions.
  • It also debates whether the policies address the needs of the people, financial allocations and issues with implementation.
  • For example, Rajya Sabha took up a discussion on demonetisation of currency during the Winter Session 2016 and MPs raised questions around implementation of the decision.

Conclusion:

The Constitution of India keeps responding to the situations and circumstances arising from time to time. Even after so many changes in the society, the Constitution continues to work effectively because of this ability to be dynamic, to be open to interpretations and the ability to respond to the changing situation. This is a hallmark of a democratic constitution. Indian Constitution can be changed according to the requirement and the needs of the present society and its future, it is not a constant and static document rather it is fluid and it can be changed by the process of amendment.


Topic: Appointment to various Constitutional posts, powers, functions and responsibilities of various Constitutional Bodies. Statutory, regulatory and various quasi-judicial bodies

2) Discuss how National Commission for Scheduled Tribes (NCST) institution has evolved over time? Elaborate upon its objectives and responsibilities. (250 words)

Indian Polity by Lakshmikant

Why this question:

The question is straightforward and from the static portions of the GS paper II. From Polity section.

Key demand of the question:

One must elaborate upon the objectives and responsibilities of National Commission for Scheduled Tribes (NCST) institution while tracing the evolution of the same.

Directive:

Elaborate – Give 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: 

In brief introduce about NCST.

Body:

One must briefly introduce the coming of NCST.

Explain its origin and its evolution.

Discuss its objectives in detail and what is it upto.

Conclusion:

Conclude with way forward.

Introduction:    

National Commission for Scheduled Tribes (NCST) was established by amending Article 338 and inserting a new Article 338A in the Constitution through the Constitution (89th Amendment) Act, 2003. In order to provide safeguards against the mistreatment of SCs & STs and to promote and protect their social, educational, economic and cultural interests, special provisions were made in the Constitution.

Body:

Evolution of NCST:

  • National Commission for Scheduled Tribes was formed on the 89th Amendment of the Constitution coming into force from 19 February 2004, under Article 338A on bifurcation of former National Commission for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes to supervise the implementation of various safeguards provided to Scheduled Tribes under the Constitution.
  • By this amendment, the erstwhile National Commission for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes was replaced by two separate Commissions specifically:
    • The National Commission for Scheduled Castes (NCSC).
    • The National Commission for Scheduled Tribes (NCST).
  • For effective functioning of the office of the Commissioner for SCs & STs in accordance with the needs of the time, 17 regional offices of the Commissioner were established in different parts of the country, which were regulated by Assistant Commissioners for SCs & STs who were, in July, 1965 re-designated as Deputy Commissioners.
  • In June, 1967, the 17 Regional Offices were re-organized into five Zonal Offices and placed under the control of a newly formed Directorate General of Backward Classes Welfare in the Department of Social Welfare.
  • Each Zonal Offices was headed by a Zonal Director, Backward Classes Welfare (a newly created post) and the post of Deputy Commissioner for SCs & STs was re-designated as Deputy Director, Backward Classes Welfare and placed under the control of a Zonal Director located at Chandigarh (Northern Zone), Bhopal (Central Zone), Patna (Eastern Zone), Baroda (Western Zone) and Madras (Southern Zone).

Functions of NCST:

  • To investigate & monitor matters relating to Safeguards provided for STs under the Constitution or under other laws or under Govt. Order, to evaluate the working of such Safeguards.
  • To inquire into specific complaints relating to Rights & Safeguards of STs;
  • To participate and advise in the planning process relating to Socio-economic development of STs, and to evaluate the progress of their development under the Union and any State;
  • To submit report to the President annually and at such other times as the Commission may deem fit, upon/ working of Safeguards, Measures required for effective implementation of Programmers/ Schemes relating to Welfare and Socio-economic development of STs;
  • To discharge such other functions in relation to STs as the President may, subject to the provisions of any law made by Parliament, by rule specify;
  • The Commission would also discharge the following other functions in relation to the protection, welfare and development & advancement of the Scheduled Tribes, namely
    • Measures that need to be taken over conferring ownership rights in respect of minor forest produce to the Scheduled Tribes living in forest areas.
    • Measures to be taken to safeguard rights to the Tribal Communities over mineral resources, water resources etc. as per law.
    • Measures to be taken for the development of tribals and to work for move viable livelihood strategies.
    • Measures to be taken to improve the efficacy of relief and rehabilitation measures for tribal groups displaced by development projects.
    • Measures to be taken to prevent alienation of tribal people from land and to effectively rehabilitate such people in whose case alienation has already taken place.
    • Measures to be taken to elicit maximum cooperation and involvement of Tribal Communities for protecting forests and undertaking social afforestation.
    • Measures to be taken to ensure full implementation of the Provisions of Panchayats (Extension to the Scheduled Areas) Act, 1996 (40 of 1996).
    • Measures to be taken to reduce and ultimately eliminate the practice of shifting cultivation by Tribals that lead to their continuous disempowerment and degradation of land and the environment

Conclusion:

To summarize, National Commission for scheduled Tribes was set up with the major aim to protect the weaker section of society. Commissioner for STs was allocated the duty to examine all matters relating to the safeguards for STs in various statutes and to report to the President upon the working of these protections.


Topic:Appointment to various Constitutional posts, powers, functions and responsibilities of various Constitutional Bodies. Statutory, regulatory and various quasi-judicial bodies.

3) The Governor’s meddling with the democratic process is both genuine and on-going. In this backdrop, critically examine if the constitutional post of the Governor serves any valid purpose. (250 words)

The hindu

 

Why this question:

The actions of the Maharashtra Governor have invited scrutiny with the way the office of the Governor worked over the appointment of Chief Minister. The question is amidst the challenging role that Governor post has been facing off late in the Indian political setup.

Key demand of the question:

Explain the role of Governor in detail and examine the constitutional aspects of it as to what extent is it successful.

Directive:

Critically examineWhen asked to ‘Examine’, we have to look into the topic (content words) in detail, inspect it, investigate it and establish the key facts and issues related to the topic in question. While doing so we should explain why these facts and issues are important and their implications. 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: 

Briefly indicate the recent situations witnessed by Governors of the different states in the country.

Body:

Explain with recent examples and critically examine if the constitutional post of the Governor serves any valid purpose. 

Discuss the constitutional roles and responsibilities.

Conclusion:

Conclude with what should be the way ahead.

Introduction:    

The office of Governor is a British Indian transplant with a federalistic flavour. The role of office of Governor was confined to normal routine ceremonial functions earlier but now enjoys more powers. Discretionary powers of Governor in state are much more extensive in comparison to the President in centre in India. He/She is not bound to act on the advice of the council of Ministers in certain circumstances, even he need not seek its advice.

Body:

Issues related to abuse of post of Governor in federal polity:

  • Appointment of Governor: Article 155 says that governor should be appointed (not elected) from amongst persons of high status with eminence in public. The elected government at the state is not even consulted while making appointment of the Governors. Further successive governments have reduced this important constitutional office to a sinecure and resting place for loyal and retired / about to retired / about to retire politicians apart from docile bureaucrats.
  • Appointment and dismissal of the Chief Minister: Governor appoints Chief Minister, other ministers, Advocate General, Chairmen and members of the State Public Service Commission in the state. After elections in the state, there is a convention to invite the largest party to form government in the state. This convention has been flouted many times at the whim of the governor. E.g.: the recent episode of Karnataka after 2018 hung assembly elections.
  • Reservation of Bills for Consideration of President: As per Article 200 of the Constitution, the governor can reserve certain types of bills passed by the State Legislature for the President’s consideration. The President can either give assent to it or ask the governor to send it back for the state legislature to reconsider it, along with his comments. The chief intent of this provision is for the centre to keep a tab on the legislation in the interest of the nation. However, the central government, through the office of the governor, has used this provision to serve partisan interests.
  • Misuse of Article 356: Article 356 is the most controversial article of the Constitution. It provides for State emergency or President’s rule in State if the President, on receipt of report from the Governor of a State or otherwise, is satisfied that a situation has arisen in which the Government of the State cannot be carried on in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution. The duration of such emergency is six months and it can be extended further. In the Constituent Assembly, Ambedkar had made it clear that the Article 356 would be applied as a last resort. He also hoped that” such articles will never be called into operation and that they would remain a dead letter.”
  • Removal of the Governor: Article 156 says that the governor will hold office during the pleasure of the President for five years. President works on aid and advice of the Council of Ministers under Article 74. In effect it is the central government that appoints and removes the Governors. The governor has no security of tenure and no fixed term of office. E.g.: The mass changing of the governors of state whenever a new government comes to power at Centre.

Major recommendations to improve Governor’s office in federal polity of India:

Supreme Court rulings:

  • On Appointment of CM during hung assembly:
    • Recent Karnataka case, 2018: SC observed that Governor’s discretion cannot be arbitrary or fanciful.
  • On President’s rule:
    • SR Bommai vs. Union of India, 1994: The case was about the limits to the Governor’s powers in dismissing a state government under Article 356 of the Constitution. The floor of the Assembly is the only forum that should test the majority of the government of the day, and not the subjective opinion of the Governor.
    • Rameshwar Prasad Case, 2006: Supreme Court was called upon to pronounce its verdict on the validity of the proclamation of President’s Rule and the dissolution of the Assembly in Bihar in 2005. The SC held that the Governor could not decide based on his subjective assessments.
  • On removal of Governor:
    • BP Singhal vs Union of India: The Supreme Court ruled that even though the President could dismiss a Governor without having to provide reasons for doing so, this power could not be exercised in an “arbitrary, capricious or unreasonable manner”

Sarkaria Commission Report (1988)

  • On appointment of Governor:
    • Governor should be an eminent person and not belong to the state where he is to be posted.
    • State chief minister should have a say in the appointment of governor
    • Governor should be a detached figure without intense political links or should not have taken part in politics in recent past.
    • Governor should not be a member of the ruling party.
  • On Removal of Governor
    • Governors must not be removed before completion of their five-year tenure, except in rare and compelling circumstances
  • On appointment of Chief Minister during a hung assembly:
    • Leader of the majority party or parties,
    • Should seek the vote of confidence in the assembly within 30 days of his appointment as the CM.
    • As long as the council of ministry possess a majority in the assembly the governor cannot use his discretionary powers.

Venkatachaliah Commission (2002):

  • On Appointment of Governor:
    • Governor’s appointment should be entrusted to a committee comprising the prime minister, the home minister, the speaker of the Lok Sabha and the chief minister of the concerned state.
  • On removal of Governor
    • If governor to be removed before completion of term, the central government should do so only after consultation with the Chief Minister.

Punchhi Commission (2010)

  • The phrase “during the pleasure of the President” should be deleted from the Constitution
  • Governor should be removed only by a resolution of the state legislature.
  • It recommended the localizing of emergency provisions under Articles 355 and 356 of the Constitution. According to it, President’s rule should be imposed in those parts of the state where there is constitutional breakdown of machinery — rather than the whole state. This will go a long way in preventing the dismissal of state governments on petty and manufactured grounds of lawlessness

Way forward:

  • The recommendations of the Sarkaria Commission and the Punchhi Commission report need to be examined closely to make proper amendments to the functions of the post of governor.
  • The Supreme Court Judgement (BP Singhal case) which curtailed the power of the Centre to dismiss state governments arbitrarily is commendable. Further the removal of governor from office must entail impeachment proceedings in the state assembly.
  • Governor’s office should be apolitical. There should be a panel involving the opposition, ruling party, civil society and the judiciary in the selection process of Governor. Governor should be appointed only after consultation with the CM of the state where he/she will work
  • Discretionary powers should be curtailed. There should be proper guidelines on the appointment of CM.
  • According to ex-PM Manmohan Singh, Governor’s office should facilitate in maintaining internal security, ensure communal harmony and welfare of SCs and STs and rise above partisan politics while discharging Constitutional obligations.

Topic:Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation. Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization of resources, growth, development and employment.

4) With India at the heart of a web of the illicit trade of gold, and threads spanning the globe and almost certainly financing conflict and corruption, Discuss how the authorities must take action to remove incentives for gold smuggling and ensure the gold industry implements due diligence. (250 words)

The hindu

Why this question:

International non-government organization IMPACT, in its latest report, has said that India has become one of the largest gold smuggling hubs in the world. It is headquartered in Canada.

Key demand of the question:

Highlight the issue of illegal Gold trade and explain how it leads to conflicts and corruption in the country. Discuss the concerns and methods to address 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 discuss the current situation highlighted by the report.

Body:

Explain the following aspects :

Gold possibly tied to conflict, human rights abuses and corruption in Africa and South America is entering legal international markets through India, said IMPACT, in a statement.

Actors across India’s gold industry are failing to do proper checks on where gold comes from to ensure it’s not financing conflict and human rights violations.

The report said that one-third of the world’s gold passed through India, identifying three primary factors for smuggling: tax breaks, falsified origin documents and complicit allies.

To boost India’s refinery sector, the government had introduced tax breaks in 2013 for unrefined gold. According to the report, this led to traders covering up questionable provenance claims by falsifying documentation to take advantage of lower taxes. The import of unrefined gold shot from 23 tonnes in 2012 to over 229 tonnes in 2015.

Conclusion:

Conclude by suggesting way forward.

Introduction:    

According to the World Gold Council, India has gold reserves totalling 618 tonnes, the 10th largest gold reserve in the world. India in 2018 produced 281.3 tonnes of fine gold from both gold and silver dore that were imported to the country. It was the highest on record and its share to gross gold imports touched 37 per cent, and it share of total imports for domestic consumption (net imports) touched 55 per cent. International non-government organisation IMPACT, in its latest report, has said that India has become one of the largest gold smuggling hubs in the world.

Body:

Findings of the report:

  • Gold possibly tied to conflict, human rights abuses and corruption in Africa and South America is entering legal international markets through India, said the Canada-headquartered organisation in a statement.
  • The NGO said it had uncovered how the country imported about 1,000 tonnes of gold per year — a quarter more than the official figures indicated.
  • The report said that one third of the world’s gold passed through India, identifying three primary factors for smuggling: tax breaks, falsified origin documents and complicit allies.
  • To boost India’s refinery sector, the government had introduced tax breaks in 2013 for unrefined gold. this led to traders covering up questionable provenance claims by falsifying documentation to take advantage of lower taxes.
  • The report says gold is either smuggled into India surreptitiously, “with tons of refined bullion evading the authorities”, or it simply enters with the help of “falsified paperwork”.
  • The source of spikes in gold doré imports can be traced to countries that “lack strong internal controls or are linked to supply chains with weak evidence of due diligence”
  • The import of unrefined gold shot from 23 tonnes in 2012 to over 229 tonnes in 2015.
  • The report said that refined gold was being smuggled into India primarily from the United Arab Emirates, while key traders and refiners in Africa’s Great Lakes region with links to India were identified as being part of the illicit gold trade.

Measures needed:

  • There is a need to address the issue of gold smuggling in India: the harmonisation of taxes, followed by an enhanced regulatory system at the border to filter falsified documentation.
  • Harmonising of taxes and enhanced regulatory controls with additional valid information for all imports to discourage smuggling.
  • Authorities must take action to remove incentives for gold smuggling and ensure the gold industry implements due diligence.
  • There is a need to strengthen the detection of the smuggling of gold through the border areas, which is challenging due to the topography and porosity of the land border.

Conclusion:

IMPACT also calls on actors across India’s gold industry to implement due diligence on their gold supply chains. Gold traders, refiners, and jewellers have a responsibility to understand, mitigate, and publically report on any risks in their supply chain—all the way back to the mine site.


Topic:Linkages between development and spread of extremism.

5) Extremism originating from the region can be fought successfully if the historical and sociological reasons for it are suitably addressed. Do you agree? Elucidate. (250 words) 

The hindu

 

Why this question:

The article brings out a report  that highlights the fact that Pakistan

failed to “significantly limit” Punjab militant outfits like the Lashkar

And the Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) which has posed significant threats to India’s security interests.

Key demand of the question:

One has to explain in what way extremism originating from the region can be fought successfully if the historical and sociological reasons for it are suitably addressed.

Directive:

ElucidateGive 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: 

In brief highlight the situation.

Body:

First explain what the reasons for increased militancy are in this region.

Discuss that Political marginalization, weak governance, economic neglect and glaring income inequity are also some of the main reason violent extremism in this region.

Discuss what needs to be done to overcome it.

Conclusion:

Conclude with solutions.

Introduction:    

The U.S. Congress’s just-released ‘Country Reports on Terrorism’ for 2018 has mentioned that Pakistan failed to “significantly limit” Punjab-based militant outfits like the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) and the Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM). Contemporary discussions on extremism originating from the province are mostly framed around the Pakistani military’s support to these extremist groups.

Body:

Historical and Sociological reasons behind the extremism in J&K:

  • The dominant province:
    • Punjab overshadows other provinces in Pakistan primarily due to its size, resources and representation in elite institutions.
    • It can be broken into three broad sub-cultural units: The Punjabi-speaking eastern and central Punjab; the Pothwari-speaking northern Punjab that includes Rawalpindi and Islamabad; and the Saraiki-speaking southern Punjab.
    • a less-acknowledged fact in Partition studies is the massive outflow of Muslims from the plains of J&K, mostly the southern part i.e. Jammu, in 1947.
  • Seasonal water scarcity:
    • Another issue used by militants to gain support is that of seasonal water scarcity.
    • The name ‘Punjab’ was derived from the Persian words panj (five) and ab (waters). The five rivers referred to here — Chenab, Jhelum, Beas, Sutlej and Ravi — flow through the Punjab’s territory.
    • Whenever there is seasonal water scarcity, terrorist outfits such as LeT point fingers at India. The ‘jihad in Kashmir’ is presented as a necessity by organisations like the Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD) to save Punjab’s agriculture.
    • In the past, Hafiz Saeed, LeT founder and alleged mastermind of the Mumbai attacks, has repeatedly tried rallying support of locals alleging that ‘India is in the process of constructing several dams on Chenab, Jhelum and Indus rivers in a bid to completely stop the flow of water towards Pakistan’.
  • Political marginalisation:
    • A 2016 International Crisis Group paper, written exclusively on violent extremism in southern Punjab, had stated that among the reasons for support for militancy in the “rural and relatively poorly developed” part of the province were “political marginalisation, weak governance, economic neglect and glaring income inequity”.
    • the role played by economically poor Muslim migrants from India in the spread of a radical version of the Deobandi School of Islam.
    • The poverty of the Muslim migrants from India was in marked contrast to the prosperity of large landowners in rural areas, who were mostly Shias and Barelvis and formed the political elite.

Measures needed:

  • Deal with the separatist elements with a heavy hand and place a blanket ban on their conspiratorial confabulations with the Pak authorities, both in Delhi and in Islamabad.
  • Any contacts with the terrorist outfits active in/ J&K should be dealt with under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.
  • ensure comprehensive socio- economic development of the State, ensuring accountability in the utilization of funds;
  • Initiate appropriate measures to bring back and rehabilitate the Kashmiri Pandits who were dislodged from their homes and forced to seek shelter in other parts of the country.
  • Keep the issue of Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (PoK) alive and put pressure on China to withdraw from the areas it has occupied in J&K.

Conclusion:

Apart from dealing with the challenge posed by the deep state’s support for these outfits, we also need knowledge of the sociological and historical nuances pertaining to the Punjab province. Such an understanding is necessary to develop a holistic response to counter the extremist threat.


Topic:  Achievements of Indians in science & technology; indigenization of technology and developing new technology.

6) While ISRO’s credentials as a poster child for India’s technological abilities have been fortified, it still has a long way to go in terms of its reputation as an enabler of local business. Discuss.(250 words)

The hindu

Why this question:

The Indian Space Research Organization’s successful launch on Wednesday of Cartosat-3, along with 13 other small U.S. satellites, marks a major technological milestone for India. 

Key demand of the question:

One must analyse the future of ISRO owing to aspects of commercialistion.

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 narrate the achievements of ISRO.

Body:

Explain that While satellite launches make for a good spectacle, they are meaningful only in so far as they aid commerce and generate revenue and jobs. Indian regulations restrict access to satellite images sharper than one meter to the government. Other than for transponders, there is a long way to go for Indian private companies sending innovative payloads aboard ISRO launch vehicles. ISRO recently launched a company called New Space India Limited (NSIL), a competitor to Antrix, but like it, is another public enterprise meant to commercialize space products and satellite development deals with private entities.

Conclusion:

Conclude with what needs to be done and suggest way forward.

Introduction:    

The Indian Space Research Organisation’s recently launched successfully Cartosat-3, along with 13 other small U.S. satellites. This marks a major technological milestone for India as Cartosat-3, as a commercial spacecraft, creates a wealth of applications. However, it is ironic that India—whose space-faring tradition is decidedly in the service of human development—is lagging in harnessing the power of private innovation in the space domain. This not only limits the exploitation of space for economic development, but has serious national security implications.

Body:

Applications of Cartosat-3:

  • Cartosat-3 is capable of unprecedented image resolution of nearly 25 cm on the ground as against the best global military-grade satellites that can provide a 10 cm resolution.
  • The best satellite images commercially available are between 25-30 cm.
  • Military espionage is the lowest hanging fruit.
  • It is believed that surveillance by the earlier Cartosat-2 satellite series — with a resolution, though coarser, of about 65 cm — was used to plan and execute military operations such as ‘surgical strikes’ across the Line of Control in 2016 and the Manipur-Myanmar border in 2015.
  • For the government, such resolution can help monitor progress of road construction, coastal land-erosion, forest conservation, oceanic changes and infrastructure development.

Challenges faced:

  • Processing Issues:
    • Image resolution is good to have but secondary to image processing.
    • That means unless and until there is sophisticated technology available to analyse the generated images, it will forever be inferior, and less valued, than coarser images scanned by better processing-software
  • Legal Issues:
    • Indian regulations restrict access to satellite images sharper than one metre to the government.
  • Technical Issues:
    • ISRO’s key capability still lies in developing and launching small- and medium-sized satellites. There is a need to explore bigger sized satellites

 

Challenges for private space entities in India:

  • Monopoly: In India ‘Space’ means Indian Space Research Organisation. Globally the technology is highly protected because of its dual use capability. Even if it was not, it would be prohibitively expensive.
  • Funding: A major challenge in setting up a space business in India is funding. Space industry is capital intensive and upstream activities come with a long gestation period.
  • Investor’s Dilemma: The lack of clarity among the investors and lack of the ecosystem required for significant contribution is a challenge for the investors.
  • Lack of Regulation: India is a party to the Outer Space Treaty, where one of the fundamental requirements laid upon states is the supervision of space activities within its borders, the country did not have any formally legislated laws. This is a potential roadblock for commercialization.
  • Growth Challenges: Scaling up, international marketing and funding are challenges.
  • Lack of Support: The Indian ecosystem has neither incubation support nor pointers to seek support of leaders such as ISRO for space start-ups.
  • Political and bureaucratic hurdles limit private space operations in India.
  • Low in-house capacity of ISRO restricts them to very few launches in a year. Privatization can offload 30-40% of the work and help them work more efficiently.

Way forward:

  • India should have national space activities legislation which takes on board all stakeholders.
  • A public-private partnership (PPP) model can be looked into to realise ISRO’s workhorse Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV), with a joint venture between ISRO and the private sector.
  • In the UK, space ventures are treated as a complement to big organizations and not a competitor. This should be encouraged in India too.
  • A supportive international partner and likeminded local partners helps to set up a space business.
  • The idea should be to let the private industry build their own facilities after gaining enough expertise.
  • ISRO has built a space technology park spread over 25 acres in Bengaluru where the entire range of facilities have been set up for use by the industry.

Conclusion:

The private sector already supplies majority of the sub-systems in satellite manufacturing. This can be further scaled up into other activities with proper regulation and partnership of the ISRO and private sector. The country must deregulate the space sector to encourage private enterprise if we are to compete in the new space economy.


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

7) The growing intensity of wildfires and their spread to new corners of the globe raise fears that climate change is exacerbating the dangers. Explain how the recent reports commemorate the above fact.(250 words)

Indianexpress

Why this question:

As the leaders of the world’s nations assemble in Madrid for the 2019 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP25) beginning December 2, recent news on the global fight against climate change has been consistently disappointing.

Key demand of the question:

Discuss the growing intensity of wildfires and their spread to new corners of the globe raise fears that climate change is exacerbating the dangers.

Quote the significance of the reports highlighting the same.

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: 

In brief narrate the coming of recent reports that have highlighted the alarming situations across the world.

Body:

The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) flagship Emissions Gap Report, which went online on Tuesday (November 26), said in its executive summary: “The summary findings are bleak. Countries collectively failed to stop the growth in global GHG emissions, meaning that deeper and faster cuts are now required.”

Despite scientific warnings and political commitments, GHG emissions continue to rise, including by China and the United States, the two biggest polluters.

GHG emissions have risen at a rate of 1.5 per cent per year in the last decade, stabilizing only briefly between 2014 and 2016.

Although the number of countries announcing net zero GHG emission targets for 2050 is increasing, only a few countries have so far formally submitted long-term strategies to the UNFCCC. 

Discuss what needs to be done.

Conclusion:

Conclude with way forward.

Introduction:    

The National Institute of Disaster Management (NIDM), India defines forest fire as an unclosed and freely spreading fire that consumes the natural fuels. When a fire burns out of control it is known as Wild Fire. The Sentinel-3 World Fire Atlas showed that, compared to August 2018, there were almost five times as many wildfires across the world in August 2019. This has led to increased GHG emissions across the globe. The collective failure of the global fight against climate change and the countries to stop the growth in global GHG emissions gains significance as the leaders of the world’s nations assemble in Madrid for the 2019 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP25)

Body:

Findings from the various climate reports:

  • The Emissions Gap Report by The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP):
    • Despite scientific warnings and political commitments, GHG emissions continue to rise, including by China and the United States, the two biggest polluters.
    • GHG emissions have risen at a rate of 1.5 per cent per year in the last decade, stabilizing only briefly between 2014 and 2016.
    • Total GHG emissions, including from land-use change, reached a record high of 55.3 GtCO2e [gigatonnes (thousand million tonnes) of carbon dioxide equivalent] in 2018
    • Although the number of countries announcing net zero GHG emission targets for 2050 is increasing, only a few countries have so far formally submitted long-term strategies to the UNFCCC.
    • The emissions gap is large. In 2030, annual emissions need to be 15 GtCO2e lower than current unconditional NDCs [Nationally Determined Contributions; the heart of the 2015 Paris Agreement] imply for the 2°C goal, and 32 GtCO2e lower for the 1.5°C goal.
    • Dramatic strengthening of the NDCs is needed in 2020. Countries must increase their NDC ambitions threefold to achieve the well below 2°C goal and more than fivefold to achieve the 1.5°C goal.
  • World Metrological Organization:
    • The emissions of carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide — all major greenhouse gases — have increased in the atmosphere since the middle of the 18th century.
  • The Production Gap Report by UNEP:
    • Governments are planning to produce about 50% more fossil fuels by 2030 than would be consistent with limiting warming to 2°C and 120% more than would be consistent with limiting warming to 1.5°C”.
    • The production gap is the largest for coal and by 2030, countries plan to produce 150% (5.2 billion tonnes) more coal than would be consistent with a 2°C pathway, and 280% (6.4 billion tonnes) more than would be consistent with a 1.5°C pathway.
    • Oil and gas are also on track to exceed carbon budgets as countries continue to invest in fossil fuel infrastructure that “locks in” oil and gas use.
    • The effects of this lock-in widen the production gap over time, until countries are producing 43% (36 million barrels per day) more oil and 47% (1,800 billion cubic metres) more gas by 2040 than would be consistent with a 2°C pathway.

Measures needed to tackle wildfires:

  • The previous UNFCCC COP meetings have not hammered out the final rules on implementing the Paris climate accord. This should be finalized at COP25 in Madrid.
  • At the national level, a cohesive policy or action plan should be formulated to set forth the guiding principles and framework for FFPM. The policy and programmes for forest fire management should incorporate the dimension of climate change
  • Forest fire prevention and management practices used by state forest departments also need to be strengthened
  • Incorporate Forest Fire Prevention and Management (FFPM) in existing policy and planning documents
  • Establish National Forest fire Knowledge Network
  • Capacity building of forest officials for better use of early warning systems
  • Assess risk and prepare vulnerability and risk maps
  • Document national and international good practices and utilise them for making forest fire management more effective and practical
  • Increase community awareness

Conclusion:

The current increase in extreme fires in some regions is part of a global ecosystem shift driven by human-caused global warming. To minimize that risk as much as possible, very strong climate policy focussing on reducing the carbon emissions must be implemented.