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SECURE SYNOPSIS: 11 March 2020


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: Urbanization, their problems and their remedies..

1. What do you understand by “Urban commons”? Examine their importance in ensuring ‘Just and liveable cities’ to all in the urban areas. (250 words)

Reference: Down to earth

Why this question:

Urban commons represent those rare spaces in increasingly segregated cities where the rich and the poor can still meet, children of all classes play together and collaborations for conservation can occur. Yet, across cities the commons seem to be the most dispensable of spaces. Forests like Mumbai’s Aarey are threatened for infrastructure projects, wetlands in Thiruvananthapuram acquired for technoparks and trees in South Delhi felled to build apartments.

Key demand of the question:

One must discuss the importance of urban commons and how they act as a nutritional buffer and safety net for migrants who flock to cities from distressed parts of the country as well as for other classes in the urban areas.

Directive:

Examine – When 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.

Structure of the answer:

Introduction:

Give a definition of Urban commons with examples.

Body:

Discuss the importance of urban commons in urban areas

They act as a nutritional buffer and safety net for migrants who flock to cities from distressed parts of the country by providing them with wild plants, greens and brushwood, places to bathe, defecate, wash clothes and protection from winter nights.

The middle-class and wealthy residents of the city are no less dependent on the commons, though they may not recognise the extent of it.

Lakes, parks, wetlands, rivers and even roadside trees play a role in cleaning the air, raising groundwater levels and maintaining people’s physical and mental well-being.

Discuss about the various challenges faced by the urban commons and how we have failed in India to conserve the same

Forests like Mumbai’s Aarey are threatened for infrastructure projects, wetlands in Thiruvananthapuram acquired for technoparks and trees in South Delhi felled to build apartments..

smart city plans and restoration projects take an approach that de-commonises the commons by evicting people who depend on them most.

Beach sides, river fronts, lakes and parks become gated spaces, accessible only to those who can pay, and available only for recreational use, often coupled with “entertainment” in the form of flashing lights, loud music and food courts that evict wildlife.

What measures are needed to tackle it?

Conclusion:

Conclude with way forward about how Our cities can hold out any promise of a better future only if the commons play a central role in urban planning

Introduction

The world is on a headlong rush towards urbanization, with more than 75% of its people expected to live in the cities by 2050. Urban commons represent those rare spaces in increasingly segregated cities where the rich and the poor can still meet, children of all classes play together and collaborations for conservation can occur.

Body

Two types of urban commons are worth foregrounding in this regard:

  • Urban ecological commons (such as air, water bodies, wetlands, landfills, and so on).
  • Urban civic commons (such as streets and sidewalks, public spaces, public schools, public transit, etc).

Each of these is rapidly diminishing due to erasure, enclosure, disrepair, rezoning, and court proscriptions, replaced in many instances by new – privatized, monitored – public spaces, such as malls, plazas, and gated venues. The ongoing diminution of urban commons is cause for concern because they are critical to economic production in cities, to cultural vibrancy and democracy, to regenerating the sense of place that forms communities and, ultimately, to the reproduction of urban populations and ecosystems.

Challenges and threat to urban commons

  • Urban common property regimes are facing increasing threat due to state and private capture in cities across the world.
  • Forests like Mumbai’s Aarey are threatened for infrastructure projects, wetlands in Thiruvananthapuram acquired for technoparks and trees in South Delhi felled to build apartments.
  • Smart city plans and restoration projects take an approach that de-commonises the commons by evicting people who depend on them most.
  • Beach sides, river fronts, lakes and parks become gated spaces, accessible only to those who can pay, and available only for recreational use, often coupled with “entertainment” in the form of flashing lights, loud music and food courts that evict wildlife.

Importance of urban commons in urban areas

  • Urban parks and gardens play a critical role in cooling cities, and also provide safe routes for walking and cycling for transport purposes as well as sites for physical activity, social interaction and for recreation.
    • As per WHO estimates, physical inactivity linked to poor walkability and lack of access to recreational areas, accounts for 3.3% of global deaths.
  • Mental well-being: Green spaces also are important to mental health. Having access to green spaces can reduce health inequalities, improve well-being, and aid in treatment of mental illness.
  • Pollution Reduction: Through improved air and water quality, buffering of noise pollution and mitigation of impacts from extreme events, urban green spaces can reduce environmental health risks associated with pollution from urban sprawl.
  • Wetlands act as filters and also help in preventing urban floods.
  • Green spaces can reduce the ambient temperature of cities by 1°C, thus reducing the urban heat island and harmful city smog. In this sense, 1°C cooler urban environments prevent the harmful ozone layer that is triggered during intense heat episodes from forming.
  • According to recent studies, cities with more Urban commons, especially parks and public spaces boost social cohesion and relations, since they are meeting points to share and create links between city inhabitants.

Way Forward

  • Integrated Planning: Urban Commons such as parks, sidewalks, public transit and landfills must be part of area planning.
  • Community Engagement: It is based on the concept of participatory democracy. These include projects such as decentralized use of regenerative energy sources, social housing, digital democracy, urban gardening, open spaces for culture and art, among others.
  • Government must create spatial GIS maps where common areas and their boundaries are clearly marked. This will solve the problem of information asymmetry today and communities will be empowered to fight for their common spaces.
  • Ward committees must be empowered to manage urban commons and protect them from encroachment and construction activities.

Conclusion

The ongoing diminution of urban commons is cause for concern because they are critical to economic production in cities, to cultural vibrancy and the cement of community, to “learning” how to do democracy through practices of creating, governing and defending collective resources, to regenerating the sense of place that forms communities and, ultimately, to the reproduction of urban populations and ecosystems. Hence it is important to realize that commons are not commodities and must be protected.

 

Topic: Post-independence consolidation and reorganization within the country

2. Land reforms remain an unfinished agenda even after 70 years of independence. Critically comment. (250 words)

Key demand of the question:

The question first expects us to explain why land reforms are criticized so many years post its initiation as being incomplete. Discuss the reasons why the task of land reforms is still incomplete. Discuss the steps being taken to complete it.

Directive:

Critically comment – When asked to comment, 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 ‘comment’ is prefixed, we have to express our knowledge and understanding of the issue and form an overall opinion thereupon.

Structure of the answer:

Introduction:

In brief highlight about the land reforms that have taken place in India post-independence.

Body:

Discuss how land reforms were carried out post-independence and their results.

Discuss the fact that only some state implemented it properly while the other sought to preserve the status quo.

Discuss why land reform is an unfinished agenda – non modernization of land records, increasing fragmentation of land holdings etc.

Discuss the steps being taken still to complete the task of land reforms.

Conclusion:

discuss the importance of completion of land reforms and highlight way forward.

Introduction

The Indian Government was committed to land reforms and to ensure distributive justice as was promised during the freedom struggle. Consequently, laws were passed by all the State Governments during the Fifties with the avowed aim of abolishing landlordism, distributing land through imposition of ceilings, protection of tenants and consolidation of land- holdings.

Body

Post-Independence: Institutional reforms

There were three major steps taken to ensure distributive justice in India:-

  1. Abolition of intermediaries like zamindars, jagirdars etc.
  2. Tenancy Reforms i.e. regulation of the rent, security of tenure for tenants and conferment of ownership on them.
  3. Ceilings on the size of landholdings.
  • Impact of these Reforms

The first phase also called the phase of institutional reforms continued till the early 1960s.

  • The most successful of all reforms were the abolition of intermediaries like zamindars.
  • Tenancy reforms were most successful in Kerala and West Bengal.
    • In the late 1960s a massive program of conferment of titles to lands, to hutment dwellers and tenants were highly beneficial.
    • Operation Barga: In West Bengal Operation Barga was launched in 1978 with the objective of achieving the registration of sharecroppers and provide them permanent occupancy and heritable rights and a crop division of 1:3 between landowner and sharecropper.
  • Cooperatives and community development programs were started.
  • Weakness of Phase-1 reforms
    • The absence of adequate land records made implementation of these acts difficult.
    • Zamindars resorted to large-scale eviction of tenants, mainly the less secure small tenants.
    • Even after the laws were enacted the landlords used the judicial system to defer the implementation of the laws.
    • Zamindars refused to hand over the land records in their possession, forcing the government to go through the lengthy procedure of reconstructing the records.
    • Bureaucratic Apathy: Implementation of the law was made difficult with the collusion between the landlords and lower-level revenue Officials.
    • Tenancy Reforms: Even today 5% farmers hold 32% of land holdings.
      • The right of resumption and the loose definition of ‘personal cultivation’ was used for eviction of tenants on a massive scale.
      • Voluntary surrenders by tenants also took place as they were ‘persuaded’ under threat to give up their tenancy rights ‘voluntarily’.
      • In West Bengal sharecroppers, known as Bargadars received no protection till as late as July 1970, when the West Bengal Land Reforms Act was amended to accord limited protection to them.
      • Most tenancies were oral and informal and were not recorded.
      • Providing security of tenure to all tenants, met with only limited success. There were still large numbers who remained unprotected. So reducing rents to a ‘fair’ level was almost impossible to achieve.
    • Ceiling reforms
      • Exemption to land held by cooperatives was open to great misuse with landlords transferring their lands to spurious cooperatives.
      • In most states the ceilings were imposed on individual and not family holdings, enabling landowners to divide up their holdings in the names of relatives or make benami transfers merely to avoid the ceiling.
      • Further, in many states the ceiling could be raised if the size of the family of the landholder exceeded five.
      • A large number of exemptions to the ceiling limits were permitted by most states following the Second Plan recommendations that certain categories of land could be exempted from ceilings.
    • Consolidation of holdings: The programme failed to achieve its desired objective because the farmers are reluctant to exchange their lands for the new one. The arguments given by the farmers is that there existing land is much more fertile and productive than the new land provided under land consolidation.
  • Phase-ll Reforms: It was during the mid 1960s Green Revolution was ushered in.
  • Land Record Digitization : To address the property fraud, the Digital India Land Records Modernisation Programme (DILRMP) was launched by the government of India in August 2008.
  • The main aim of the program, was to computerize all land records, including mutations, improve transparency in the land record maintenance system, digitize maps and surveys, update all settlement records and minimize the scope of land disputes.
  • Failure of Phase-ll reforms
    • Although the government wants complete digitisation of land records, due to the lack of clear and sufficient data and mismanagement between the various agencies handling land records, the data registered at various government levels is not identical.
    • Statistics from the DILRMP show that in most states, the digital land record database has not been synced with the digitised land registration database.

Current status

  • Niti Aayog came up with the Model Agricultural Land Leasing Act, 2016. To review the existing agricultural tenancy laws of various states, the NITI Aayog had set up an Expert Committee on Land Leasing headed by T Haque.
    • The model Act seeks to permit and facilitate leasing of agricultural land to improve access to land by the landless and marginal farmers.
    • It also provides for recognition of farmers cultivating on leased land to enable them to access loans through institutional credit.
    • The Prime Minister’s Office has set up a Group of Ministers (GoM) to resolve differences over the proposed Model Agricultural Land Leasing Act, 2016.
  • The National Land Records Modernization Programme (NLRMP) was launched by the Government of India in August 2008, aimed to modernize management of land records, minimize scope of land/property disputes, enhance transparency in the land records maintenance system, and facilitate moving eventually towards guaranteed conclusive titles to immovable properties in the country.
  • Currently land acquisition is governed by the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013 which came into force on January 1, 2014.
    • Prior to this, the Land Acquisition Act, 1894 governed land acquisition.
  • Some of the most interesting work of sorting out the land titling mess has been done by state governments, as has been the case with labour law reforms as well.
  • Digitization: First, the Bhoomi Project in Karnataka led the way even before the Union government got into the act. The state government began to digitize land records at the turn of the century.
    • Second, the Rajasthan legislature passed the Rajasthan Urban Land (Certification of Titles) Act in April 2016.
    • Third, Andhra Pradesh has taken a leap into the future. Its state government has tied up with a Swedish firm to use new blockchain technology to prevent property fraud.
  • Tamil Nadu became the first state to pass Contract Farming Act, as per the central guidelines.

Conclusion

India’s economy has already crossed $2.9 trillion and is the 5th largest economy in the world. But these figures cannot hide the fact that 69% of the population is rural, and 70% of this, or nearly half of all Indians, still depend on land and land-based activities for their livelihoods, as per the India Rural Development Report 2012-2013. Hence, the government must commit to rural development by addressing landlessness with the same vigor that it has shown towards urban development. Land rights therefore help rural families achieve independence and break out of the cycle of poverty. They also eventually enhance agricultural production.

 

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

3. A public school system that guarantees universal access, good learning and all facilities has to be among the highest national priorities. Examine. (250 words)

Reference : The Hindu

Key demand of the question:

The absence of basic infrastructure like toilets, playgrounds and electricity in govt. schools speaks poorly of policy priorities. Here, the question demands us to write in detail the issues faced, the implications of same on education and the possible way forward.

Directive word:

Examine – When 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.

Structure of the answer:

Introduction:

write a few introductory lines poor infrastructure conditions present in the Government schools in India. The lack of power in schools is taken note of by the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Human Resource Development in its latest report on budgetary grants for school education and literacy for 2020-21.

Body:

Discuss the various infrastructural issues found in our education system.

The panel found from data for 2017-18, only 56.45% of government schools had electricity and 56.98% a playground, while almost 40% lacked a boundary wall.

neglect of toilet construction for children with special needs, failure to build toilets for girls in a third of secondary schools and laboratories for higher secondary science students etc.

Reasons for such poor conditions:

the allocation to the School Education and Literacy department has suffered a cut of 27.52%, amounting to ₹22,725 crore in the Budget Estimate for 2020-21,

Implications of lack of basic infrastructure on children and demographic dividend on large.

Discuss about the policy measures needed. Talk about the Delhi model of education or any other successful model which could rejuvenate the broken infrastructure of our schools.

Conclusion:

based on your discussion, form a fair and a balanced conclusion on the given issue.

Introduction

Education is one of the most powerful instruments for reducing poverty and inequality. Education is equally key to enhance India’s competitiveness in the global economy. A public-school system becomes highly necessary to provide, universal and quality basic education for all, in particular for the poor and rural population. This is central to the economic and social development of India. According to the District Information System for Education (DISE), 65% of all school-going children, 113 million, get their education from government schools.

Body

Glaring gaps were noted by Parliamentary Standing Committee Report on Human Resource Development for school education and literacy for 2020-21.

  • Only 45% of government schools had electricity and 56.98% a playground, while almost 40% lacked a boundary wall.
  • There are some high-performing States, but even in politically well-represented Uttar Pradesh, almost 70% of schools lacked electricity.
  • Other depressing insights from the district information database as of end-2019 are, neglect of toilet construction for children with special needs, failure to build toilets for girls in a third of secondary schools and laboratories for higher secondary science students.

India’s Education Scenario: Problems

  • Elementary Education
    • According to ASER report, only 16% of children in Class 1 can read the text at the prescribed level, while almost 40% cannot even recognize letters.
  • Gender Gap: There is still a deep gender divide in education amongst Indians.
    • For instance, Literacy rate: Male: 82.1%; Female: 65.5%
    • Many Indian parents choose government schools for girls in the age group of 4 to 8 years while they favor private schools for boys (ASER 2019).
    • In case of higher education, GER of girls is marginally lower than that of boys at all India level and also in respect of most of the States.
  • There is a dual problem of both quality and quantity. At least 25% of school children in the four-eight age group do not have age-appropriate cognitive and numeracy skills, making for a massive learning deficit at a very early stage.
  • A National Council of Educational Research and Training study finds there is no systematic incorporation of teacher feedback into designing training, and little variation or consideration of local issues.

Importance of a good public school system

  • Demographic dividend : A study by National Academy of Sciences, USA noted a clear dominance of improving education over age structure and give evidence that the demographic dividend is driven by human capital. Declining youth dependency ratios even show negative impacts on income growth when combined with low education.
    • Unified growth theory has established human capital as a trigger of both demographic transition and economic growth.
  • Formal Vocation training: The proportion of formally skilled workers in India is extremely low, at 4.69% of total workforce, compared to 24% in China, 52% in the US and 68% in the UK.
  • Human capital: In the larger domain of human capital, education and skill development has a big role.
    • Between 1990 and 2017, India’s HDI value incased from 0.427 to 0.640, an increase of nearly 50 percent – and an indicator of the country’s remarkable achievement in lifting millions of people out of poverty.
    • Movements in the HDI are driven by changes in education, health and income.
  • Economic Development : Education raises people’s productivity and creativity and promotes entrepreneurship and technological advances. In addition, it plays a very crucial role in securing economic and social progress and improving income distribution.
    • Human capital is created initially by providing children with primary and secondary schooling.
    • Private financing of this type of investment is not feasible for poor children.
    • Countries that are highly developed today have a long history of providing free or highly-subsidized education to the poor.
  • Women Empowerment: Through education, women have better access and opportunities in the workforce, leading to increased income and less isolation at home or exclusion from financial decisions.

Steps being taken

  • Digital Gender Atlas for advancing Girls’ Education: This tool is developed by Department of School Education and Literacy with support from UNICEF. It will identify low performing geographic pockets for girls, especially from marginalized groups such as scheduled caste and scheduled tribes.
  • ‘Adarsh’ integrated school system of Rajasthan is an example of a school complex system. Here one school provides classes from l to XII under one principal. There is one such school in every gram panchayat.
  • Economic Survey 2018-19 opines that BBBP(Beti Bachao Beti Padhao) has been a success and propose to extend the cause of Gender equality by coining the slogan of BADLAV (Beti Aapki Dhan Lakshmi Aur Vijay-Lakshmi) to enhance the contribution of women in the workforce and the economy.
  • Padhe Bharat Badhe Bharat: Nationwide sub-program of SSA to improve comprehensive early reading, writing and early mathematics program for children in Classes I and II.
  • Teacher Competency: In line with this, MHRD and the National Council for Teacher Education launched the National Teacher Platform or Diksha in 2017. It is a one-stop solution to address teacher competency gaps.
  • Increasing focus on early childhood education as per the draft New Education Policy (under Chairmanship of Kasturirangan).

Conclusion

Global research shows that 90% of brain growth occurs by age 5, meaning that the quality of early childhood education has a crucial impact on the development and long-term schooling of a child. This will need the Anganwadi’s to be strengthened. The entire age band from 4 to 8 needs to be seen as a continuum, and curriculum progression across grades and schooling stages designed accordingly. For an effective and implementable curriculum, the process of designing, planning, piloting, and finalizing needs to keep ground realities in mind. Thus, Public School System needs to have quality infrastructure to ensure better learning outcomes which will eventually lead to a stronger Human Capital and Economic Development.

 

Topic: Agriculture- Issues; Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment.

4. Explain the concept of Agroforestry. Discuss how agroforestry could solve climate crisis. (250 words)

Reference : Down to Earth

Why this question:

Agriculture and climate change are deeply intertwined. Agriculture is responsible for almost 30 per cent of global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and is the root cause of 80 per cent of tropical deforestation. Intensive agriculture — characterised by monocultures and aimed at feeding farm animals — is one of the sectors that generates the highest amount of CO2 emissions.

Key demand of the question:

One must discuss in detail the concept of Agroforestry. The benefits of Agroforestry and how it can help tackle the climate change crisis being faced across the globe and India

Directive:

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:

In brief explain the scenario of how agriculture and monoculture has led to increasing emissions of GHG’s and adding to the climate change crisis

Body:

Explain the concept of Agroforestry in detail.

Discuss how Agroforestry can help mitigate the climate change effects.

Use case studies which has proven to be successful across the globe to substantiate your answers.

Give a brief idea about the agroforestry potential in India.

Conclusion:

Conclude with a way forward.

Introduction

Agroforestry is a collective name for sustainable land-use systems involving trees combined with arable crops and/or livestock on the same unit of land, either spatially or temporally.

Agroforestry can be classified into Agrosilvicultural systems, Silvipastoral systems and  Agrisilvipastoral systems.

Body

Features of Agroforestry

  • It has more than one crop at a time in which atleast one crop must be tree crops
  • It produces multiple outputs such as food, fodder, fuel and timber.
  • Crops are arranged in a multi-storey in such a way that it reduces competition among plants

Agroforestry Classfication

  • Agrisilvicultural systems:
    • Arable crops are suitably mixed with tree crops under Taungya System.
    • In another method, fuel wood species are inter-planted around agricultural lands. This system acts both as fence as well as shelter-belts besides providing fuel wood to local community. Eg : Acacia Nilotica, Dalbergia sisoo (Shisham) etc.
    • Alley cropping where woody plants are grown in rows with annual crops is also a type under this system.
  • Silvipastoral system : It refers to the production of woody plants in pasture lands.

Eg : Live fence of fodder trees and hedges.

  • Agrisilvipastural system : It refers to the production of woody perennial along with annuals and pastures.

Agroforestry and solution to Climate crisis

Farming is responsible for almost 30% of global greenhouse gas emissions. Agriculture is the root cause of 80% of tropical deforestation. Regenerative agroforestry, an agricultural method that mimics natural ecosystems, could help reverse these trends.

  • Carbon Sink : Regenerative agroforestry sequesters significantly more carbon than industrial agriculture and can help to restore degraded land. According to UN Scientists, restoring 900 million hectares could stabilize global GHG emissions for 15-20 years. With agroforestry, we can transform degraded land into food-growing carbon sinks.
  • Microclimate : It improves the microclimate of a region by lowering of soil temperature, reduction of evaporation and maintenance of soil moisture.
  • Improve soil management; deep-rooting trees improve soil stability; trees increase the soil’s ability to absorb and retain water, produce nutrients, improve and maintain organic soil matter and manage soil temperature.
  • Improve carbon sequestration; during the photosynthesis process, the tree absorbs carbon from the atmosphere. Studies have shown that a tropical tree absorbs about 22kg of carbon each year. By using this practice, farmers can significantly mitigate climate change;
  • Lessen the risk of salinization in coastal areas
  • Protecting the biodiversity : The diversity of plants creates biomass throughout the year, fertilizing the soil and increasing crop yields while providing fodder for livestock. Moreover, planting trees on a farm protects crops from wind and sunlight. It increases efficiency of land and eliminates need to expand into biodiversity rich areas.

Conclusion

Agroforestry is a resilient and future-proof agricultural method that could help solve the climate crisis. This smart farming system enables economically viable production while restoring land, mitigating climate change, protecting biodiversity and enhancing food security for growing populations.

It’s a nature-based practice that is globally applicable and an affordable promising solution to today and tomorrow’s biggest global challenges.

  

Topic: Infrastructure: Energy; Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment.

5. Despite attempts by the government to cut imports of coal, there has year on year growth in shipments of the fuel. Discuss the causes and measures needed to switch to renewables in light of India’s INDC goals. (250 words)

Reference : The Hindu

Why this question:

India’s thermal coal imports rose 12.6% to nearly 200 million tonnes in 2019, government data reviewed by Reuters showed, reflecting the second straight year of growth in shipments of the fuel despite attempts by the government to cut imports.

Key demand of the question

The question expects us to explain why there has been an increase in the coal imports in India. Further analyse the impacts of increased coal usage on environment. Conclude the answer with measures needed to switch to the Renewable sources of energy in line with India’s INDC goals.

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

Give a brief overview of India’s coal usage scenario.

Body

Explain how important is coal for increasing energy needs of India.

Discuss the various reasons for increased import of coal resources.

Discuss the various implications of increased coal usage on environment and climate change.

Finally, talk about the measures needed to switch to Renewable sources of energy

Conclusion

Conclude with a way forward.

Introduction

Coal accounts for around 70% of the country’s power generation. India’s thermal coal imports, rose 12.6% to nearly 200 million tons in 2019, as per government data reviewed by Reuters showed, reflecting the second straight year of growth in shipments of the fuel.

This, combined with the growth of coal-consuming industrial sectors like steel, is why the solid fuel source will continue to be integral to India’s economy in the next couple of decades. This is despite the government’s ambitious plans to increase the generation of renewable energy to 175GW by 2022.

Body

Coal Usage: Status

  • Coal still provides half of India’s commercial primary energy and is the dominant fuel for power generation.
  • India is the world’s second largest importer of thermal coal, and has the potential to be an ongoing source of demand growth.
  • Coal India has ambitions to raise domestic coal production to 1 billion tons by 2025–26.

Coal_1

Coal_2

Why switch to renewables?

  • Coal is a Dirty Fuel: It is a major source of water pollution. Drainage from mining sites, sediment runoff from mining site, erosion from overburden dumps and spoils heaps, leaking from tailing pond heated and heavy metals loaded effluents from coal industries and sewage effluents have environmental impact.
  • Blasting and drilling operations, coal fires, vehicular traffic, heavy trucks plying on haul roads, loading and unloading of coal, wind erosion from overburden dumps are air polluting sources.
  • Open Case Mining and underground mining changes the vegetation pattern.
  • Changes in topography can occur due to clearing of land for opencast mining, erecting infrastructure related to underground mining, dumping of solid wastes in nearby areas, subsidence due to fires.
    • Subsidence may lead to loss of infrastructure and may also lead to a change in the natural drainage pattern of the area.
  • Several occupational hazards are associated with coal mining: Pneumoconiosis (by inhaling coal dust), allergies and asthma, noise hazard etc.

Measures to switch to renewables

India has committed to achieve 40 % of India’s power capacity to be based on non-fossil fuel sources, by 2030 under the nationally determined contributions. Following measures are being taken:-

  • Policy Measures
    • Government is facilitating developers by allowing Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) of up to 100% through the automatic route.
    • Moreover, Inter State Transmission System (ISTS) charges and losses for inter-state sale of solar and wind power shall also be waived for renewable projects commissioned by December 2022.
    • The National Wind-Solar Hybrid Policy was issued in May 2018. The main objective of the policy is to provide a framework for promotion of large grid connected wind-solar PV hybrid system for optimal and efficient utilization of wind and solar resources, transmission infrastructure and land.
  • Solar energy
    • Programs such as PM-KUSUM, solar rooftop phase II, 12,000 MW CPSU scheme Phase II, have been introduced in the recent past to increase the share of solar energy usage.
    • Solar projects of aggregate capacity 4195 MW have been commissioned inside various solar parks. Total of 47 solar parks of aggregate capacity 26,694 MW has been approved in 21 States up to November, 2018.
  • Wind Energy
    • The country currently has the fourth highest wind installed capacity in the world with total installed capacity of 34.98 GW as on October, 2018 against a target of 60 GW by 2022.
    • Further, around 9.4 GW capacity is under implementation or have been tendered out.
    • The recent assessment conducted by National Institute of Wind Energy (NIWE) indicates a gross wind power potential of 302 GW in the country at 100 meter above ground level.
  • Small-Hydro power
    • A total capacity of 4.5 GW of grid connected small hydro power has been installed in the country as on October 2018 against a target of 5 GW small hydro power by 2022.
    • Further, 126 projects of capacity 0.73 GW are under various stages of implementation.
  • Off-grid Renewables : There is a need for implementing off grid and Decentralized renewables program for meeting energy demand for cooking, lighting, motive power, space heating, hot water generation among others.

Conclusion

India’s energy policy currently focuses on bringing affordable electricity to all homes. India’s per-capita electricity consumption is only one-third of the world average, and millions of homes still lack an electricity connection. The environment is equally important while climate change mitigation is the primary concern. Despite growing coal consumption, India is on track to meet its Nationally Determined Contribution under the Paris Agreement.

  

Topic: Challenges to internal security through communication networks, role of media and social networking sites in internal security challenges.

6. Curbing hate speech and fake news has emerged as a critical challenge for governments globally. But this is not just a technological issue; it is also a societal problem. Discuss. (250 words)

Reference : Hindustan Times

Why this question:

Online forums are often looked at in a vacuum, but they are merely a reflection of society. In India, polarising content and hateful material on the Internet has proliferated in the recent past. Opinions that an individual would earlier hold back for fear of societal backlash have now found their safe spaces online. The Internet harbours a variety of extreme statements.

Key demand of the question:

One has to discuss the various reasons for degradation of the lake ecosystems in India and provide the measures for safeguarding the same.

Directive:

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 the concept of fake news and hate speeches.

Body:

Give an account of how the fake news and hate speeches have manifested into various societal issues across the globe.

In 2019, a terrorist opened fire in two mosques that killed at least 49 worshippers and wounded dozens of others in Christchurch, New Zealand. The attack was live-streamed on Facebook by the perpetrator.

Discuss the challenges posed by hate speeches and fake news using social media?

Polarization of the society

Increased communal violence

Targeting of the minorities

Ghettoization etc.

Talk about how the Governments across the globe have started taking measures and implications of such stringent measures. Also, mention how Indian Cyber laws are toothless in tackling such cyber hate crimes.

       Discuss the feasible measures to overcome these menaces.

Conclusion:

Conclude with a way forward.

Introduction

Fake news is a deliberate lie or a half-truth circulated with the intention to mislead or cause harm to a section of people. It is a type of yellow journalism that consists of deliberate misinformation or hoaxes spread via the traditional print, broadcasting news media, or via Internet-based social media.

Hate speech is an incitement to hatred against a particular group of persons marginalized by their religious belief, sexual orientation, gender, and so on. The Law Commission, in its 267th report on hate speech, said such utterances have the potential to provoke individuals and society to commit acts of terrorism, genocide, and ethnic cleansing.

Both hate speech and fake news have overlapping areas and are a major threat to peaceful order of the society. Social Media aided by technological advancements has become a major vector of the two phenomenon.

Body

In the age of the internet (WhatsApp, Facebook, Twitter,) it is a serious problem as rumors, morphed images, click-baits, motivated stories, unverified information, planted stories for various interests spread easily among 35 crore internet users in India.

Why Hate Speech and Fake News are critical challenges for governments?

  • Internal Security: The Muzaffarnagar riots of 2013 was triggered by a fake video that incited communal passions. In the West, hate speech combined with fake news on minorities has induced an anti-immigration sentiment (eg : France, Italy, Greece)
  • User homophily and Bubble phenomenon: Users with matching political views exchange one-sided information and opinions that suit their own convictions, reinforcing them even further, even if those were based on false information. Eg : Twitter prompts users to follow those who express similar views or posts.
  • Igniting extremist sentiments: Fake news’ perpetuates, previously locally found, extremist ideas and groups together dangerously like minded people e.g. – Neo-Nazis in Germany, Separatists in Kashmir.
  • Mob lynching: Rumors of child lifting in Jharkhand led to mob lynching on innocent victims.
  • Violence: An atmosphere of violence and chaos is created directly or indirectly. The Christchurch Terror attack on a mosque by an extremist was a result of Islamophobia (a direct result of hate speech).
  • Misinformation and disinformation due to hate speech and fake news have led to riots as seen in the Delhi Riots case 2020.

Hate Speech and Fake News: A Societal Problem

  • Targeted propaganda: Democracy has been reduced to an advertisement campaign. The business conglomerates owned or tied up with political parties influence the views of the people by targeting their audience. Algorithmic filtering have created the cycle of enforcing and reinforcing belief systems and ensuring that we don’t open our minds to diverse opinions.
  • Election Manipulation: The issue of fake news has turned out to be a global menace. It has its role in deciding result of elections (Example: USA) to polarization of societies to communal riots to even crumbling the economies. Tolerance and harmony are victims of the new social media age.
  • Non-Utilitarian: The anonymity that the internet lends was supposed to aid freedom of speech and, thereby, help democracy thrive. But, political elites have managed to design a grim nexus between anonymity, capital, and technology to influence public opinion, promote political agendas, and disseminate fake and misleading news and information.
  • Tools for disharmony: Fake news can divide people based on many fault lines, especially in a diverse country like India. It increases Ghettoization.
  • Deep Fake, a new entrant to the arena is even vicious than spreading misinformation. It is used to combine and superimpose existing images and videos onto source images or videos using a machine learning technique known as generative adversarial network.

Measures to overcome the menace

  • The world’s biggest social media companies, including Facebook, Google, Twitter and ByteDance, are exploring an industry-wide alliance to curb fake news on their platforms in India.
    • The proposed alliance — to be named the Information Trust Alliance (ITA) — will be a grouping of digital platforms and publishers, fact checkers, civil society and academia that will aim to control the spread of harmful content, including fake news and hate speech.
    • Facebook has announced that it currently has over 500 full-time employees and at least 3,500 external contractors who focus on election work, on top of the 30,000 people across the company focused on safety and security issues.
  • Coordinated attempts to amplify and spread misleading and false information sometimes seem to emanate from major political parties and activists who support them. Election Commission of India must tie up with tech companies to identify the creator of such news.
  • Educating the end-users to be more discerning consumers of news by informing them of verification tools so that they can ascertain the accuracy of a news item before sharing it.
  • Press Council of India, a regulatory body, can warn, admonish or censure the newspaper, the news agency, the editor or the journalist or disapprove the conduct of the editor or the journalist if it finds that a newspaper or a news agency has violated journalistic ethics.
  • A better and more effective approach to limit the influence of hoaxes on WhatsApp and other platforms is to increase media literacy.
  • The government should bring out a policy framework on the possible harm due to the internet messaging platforms to engage at a deeper level.
  • Government of India could partner with local news groups to further educate citizens on how to identify real news from fake news.
  • Imposing hefty fines, like in Germany the Social media companies face fines of up to €50m if they persistently fail to remove illegal content from their sites.

Conclusion

Government should have a mechanism for immediately issuing of notice against sites/people/agencies involved in spreading fake news. Secondly, Social media websites should be made accountable of such activities so that it becomes their responsibility to have better control over the spread of fake news. Finally, ordinary consumers of news can play a big role by, first, waking up to the reality that all they read on WhatsApp and Twitter is not the gospel truth, and then, by refusing to pass on what they cannot independently verify with other sources.

 

Topic: Ethics and Human Interface. Public/Civil service values and Ethics in Public administration

7. Diligence is an imperative value for a civil servant as it stems from the belief that work is an end in itself and not a means to an end. Explain. (250 words)

Reference : Ethics by Lexicon

Why this question:

The question is about the concept of ethical due diligence, its importance in civil or public services.

Key demand of the question:

The answer must explain in detail the concept of ethical due diligence, discuss its significance and in the later part of the answer one has to explain how as an individual (as a civil servant) you would inculcate it in your daily life.

Directive word:

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 a few introductory lines define what is diligence.

Body:

Discuss the concept of diligence.

Then highlight its importance in civil services – why is it essential to profess due diligence? To what extent is it required by civil servants etc.

Discuss how to inculcate it.

Conclusion:

Conclude with significance of diligence in civil services.

Introduction

“What we hope ever to do with ease, we must first learn to do with diligence” Samuel Johnson

Diligence is to be earnest and to be assiduous. It is to consistently put the effort and persevere at work. For a civil servant, diligence is an imperative value because work is not in exchange for a tangible or material gain. Rather, work is an end in itself. A civil servant is dutybound to show diligence at his or her work.

Body

Gandhiji’s first hunger strike in India in Ahmedabad was to procure a hike in wages for the workers. He fasted for 21 days, until the demands of the workers were met. His aim was to ensure justice to the people and to boost their morale, he himself went on a hunger strike. This is the example of selfless diligence that is expected of a civil servant who is duty bound to the people.

Diligence is a virtue that enhances the work ethic. It encourages a person to go above and beyond what is expected of a civil servant. For instance, Armstrong Pame who is known as the Miracle man of Manipur , ensured that a 100-km road stretch was constructed even without substantial resources at his behest. It was his due diligence that people of the remote villages in Manipur had a secure means of transport, who otherwise had to wade through rivers or walk for hours.

It can only be inculcated by a strong motivation towards work and by attempting to think of work not only as a means to achieve something bigger and better like prestige, social status, power but as a reward in itself. Hence, this inculcation can only be an intrinsic one by a change in attitude and mindset towards work. While attitude alignment can be done by rewards and punishments coming from an external source, the transcendence of external gratification can only come from within.

Conclusion

“We know not what we shall be! We just follow the path with diligence pursuit” should be the motto of every civil servant. That being said, rightful application of aptitude, hard work and integrity along with diligence can go a long way to do good in the society, by a civil servant.