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SECURE SYNOPSIS: 20 August 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.


General Studies – 2


 

Topic : GS-1: population and associated issues, poverty and developmental issues, urbanization, their problems and their remedies. GS-2: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.

1. Shall urban India focus beyond toilets to address sanitation woes? Give arguments in support of the opinion. Suggest measures to make urban India open-defecation free. (250 words)

Reference: Hindustan Times 

Why the question:

Result of Swachh Survekshan 2020 will be announced today, thus the context of the question.

Key Demand of the question:

The question is intended to anticipate the need to recognize sanitation woes beyond toilets in the country.

Structure of the answer:

Introduction:

Start by defining what you understand by sanitation in detail.

Body:

Sanitation is intrinsically linked to health, and unless faecal waste is treated properly and disposed of safely, it will find its way back into the food chain. In India, there is increasing awareness about the importance of using toilets, largely due to flagship programme Swachh Bharat Mission launched in 2014.

Then move onto discuss India’s approach to sanitation and related issues.

Explain the problems with focusing on toilets alone.

Discuss why India needs to focus beyond toilets.

Conclusion:

Conclude with efforts of the government in this direction, suggest solutions.

Introduction:

Urban India was declared open defecation free (ODF) on October 2, 2019. All states have been certified as ODF, according to the statistics of the urban affairs ministry. However, the reality is different compared to claims. The Swachh Bharat Abhiyan has made a significant impact on both rural and urban sanitation and the announcement of open defecation free (ODF) cities is becoming frequent now than in the last three years. But with ODF comes the next challenge, the sustainability of ODF status something many urban bodies are likely to face in the coming days.

Body:

The results of the fifth edition of the annual cleanliness survey ‘Swachh Survekshan 2020’ was released recently. The survey was completed in 28 days and 1.87 crore people across 4,242 cities, 62 cantonment boards and 92 towns along river Ganga participated in it. Sanitation in urban areas is a different challenge from sanitation in rural areas. People in urban spaces are more mobile, use public and community toilets more frequently and many households in urban areas do not have adequate space for individual toilets. Sustaining ODF status in a city is huge challenge the key is to cover every aspect of sanitation related behaviour in the urban space

Sanitation woes continue in Urban India:

  • Non-usage of toilets:
    • One independent survey shows toilets are not used by up to half the population in some places, underscoring the challenge ahead.
  • Poor quality of toilets:
    • The challenges for the campaign will be to build toilets which are women and physically disabled friendly and have continuous piped water supply.
    • many of these toilets do not have proper water supply, lighting, ventilation and liquid waste management system.
    • Instead of chasing numbers, the focus should be on building quality toilets for people to use
  • Piped Water Supply:
    • Water supply remains a critical area even under the Swachh Bharat Mission.
    • Piped water supply is one of the essentials of having a sound sanitation system. But laying of pipes for water supply is a huge challenge in urban India.
    • It becomes even more challenging to draw plans and restructure existing water pipelines in urban areas due to involvement of various agencies like civic bodies and urban local bodies.
    • There is often non-cooperation at various levels, resulting in delays in implementation of plans.
    • This leads to a big gap between the number of toilets constructed and toilets with piped water supply
  • Sanitation Problem:
    • Drainage is a more severe problem in urban areas as many drainage systems in urban India are old constructions which often lead faecal sludge directly to water bodies, resulting in environmental pollution.
    • Absence of proper drainage means that faecal waste accumulates near the toilet area, resulting in health hazards.
    • Many of the toilets built under the mission had drainage systems which carried sewage directly to rivers.
  • Some of the other impediments in achieving ODF cities or villages include lack of clarity and motivation at local level, lack of funds for construction of toilets, lack of space for construction of individual toilets, issues linked with building permissions to toilets, construction and maintenance of community toilets and lack of awareness and behavioural issues at household level.

Measures to make urban India open-defecation free:

  • ODF sustenance in urban areas can be achieved after a number of ancillary factors related to sanitation are taken into consideration.
  • Regular monitoring of open spaces to discourage open defecation:
    • A strict and uncompromising clause of an ODF area is that at any point of time, no person should be seen defecating in the open.
    • Open spaces near railway tracks and slums should be developed to create gardens, playgrounds or any recreational space.
    • Conversion of open spaces into gardens or playgrounds also inculcates a sense of cleanliness among people habituated to defecating in the open, and compels them to use toilets.
  • Encouraging construction of own toilets:
    • Space in urban households is a major hindrance in construction of individual toilets.
    • In case of severe constraint, group toilets can be constructed where two-three households knowing each other well come together to build and use a toilet and contribute towards a city’s ODF sustenance.
    • Geo-tagging of toilets available in nearby areas, accessible from smartphones is a trend that is helping people discover toilets nearest to them.
    • In many cities like Delhi, Bengaluru and Mumbai, toilets in petrol pumps, malls and restaurants have been allowed to be used by the public for nominal charges, ensuring that people who do not have access to a household or public toilet yet, can use alternatives available to them.
  • Ensuring uniform sewage disposal mechanisms across an ODF urban area:
    • Disposal of septage should be directly linked to sewage treatment plants, so as to ensure that the waste from the toilets go straight for treatment.
    • The Smart Cities Mission looks to connect the drainage systems of public and household toilets to sewage treatment plants, and smoothen the flow of septage.
  • Strengthening complaint redressal systems:
    • In an ODF city, instances of open defecation should be dealt with strictly.
    • A separate system of taking in and dealing with complaints related to open defecation, unclean open spaces and ill-maintained community and public toilets will help in the sustenance of a city’s ODF status.
    • Civic bodies in charge of building and maintaining toilets should also be responsible towards ensuring that breaching the ODF rule must be penalised accordingly.
  • Promoting ODF status of a city among residents:
    • The Swachh Bharat Abhiyan has been repeatedly called out as a people’s movement.
    • The ODF tag for a city is a success for its residents, as much as it is for the civic body in charge. Residents must be made aware of the role they played in a city becoming ODF.
    • Civic bodies must promote the ODF tag of a city among residents and ask for their cooperation in maintaining the ODF status.
    • This can inculcate a sense of responsibility associated with cleanliness among the residents, and will motivate them to do their bit to maintain the ODF status of their city.

Conclusion:

Efforts should be focused on harnessing social movements to create new social norms for ending open defecation while challenging deeply entrenched practices of caste, gender inequity and social exclusion. Advocacy to promote the installation of mass handwashing stations in schools and preschools to allow for daily handwashing exercises to teach good hygiene habits.

 

Topic : Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests. Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests, Indian diaspora.

2. Discuss in detail the Tension in the eastern Mediterranean region with Turkey and Greece having overlapping maritime claims recently. (250 words)

Reference: The Hindu 

Why the question:

Recently there have been tensions in the eastern Mediterranean region. Thus the question.

Key Demand of the question:

One must discuss in detail the Tension in the eastern Mediterranean region with Turkey and Greece having overlapping maritime claims recently.

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:

Start by narrating briefly the background of the issue.  Turkey and Greece have overlapping maritime claims. The maritime dispute is with respect to the Aegean Sea. The dispute is related to the maritime jurisdiction areas, including the territorial waters and the continental shelf and their delimitation.

Body:

The dispute has to do with Turkish claims to maritime territories in the eastern Mediterranean Sea. Turkey has been arguing that the many Greek islands off Turkey’s Aegean coast should be only entitled to a much reduced Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) as compared to the normal 200 nautical miles limit.

It is a fundamental rule of international law that delimitation of maritime boundaries between adjacent and opposite states in locations where maritime areas overlap or converge should be effected by agreement on the basis of international law. However, the maritime boundaries between Turkey and Greece are yet to be delimited by agreement.

Discuss in detail the recent developments in this direction.

Conclusion:

Conclude that there is an urgent need to bring down tensions and find a diplomatic and mutually acceptable solution to the gas contest.

The maritime dispute which happens to fuel tensions in the region must be resolved in line with the established related jurisprudence, while taking into consideration the equity and security requirements of the stakeholders.

Introduction:

The worsening stand-off in the eastern Mediterranean, frequently described as a gas conflict, has been gaining momentum. Tensions in the eastern Mediterranean has soared due to the issues between Turkey and Greece. Turkey sent an exploration vessel, accompanied by a Navy fleet, to the disputed waters.

Body:

cyprus

Reasons for the trigger of issue:

  • The trigger for the recent hostility between Turkey and Greece, which have historically shared troublesome relations, has been the discovery of gas in the Mediterranean waters.
  • The EU’s plans to transport the gas to its mainland, which would help reduce its dependency on Russia, have raised the region’s geopolitical profile.
  • Turkey and Greece have overlapping maritime claims.
  • But when EU members and its allies in West Asia and North Africa made plans to build a gas pipeline from the Mediterranean to Europe’s mainland, they kept Turkey out of it, which infuriated Ankara.

Issues Involved:

  • Overlapping Claims:
    • Turkey and Greece, vehemently disagree over overlapping claims to hydrocarbon resources in the region based on conflicting views on the extent of their continental shelves in waters dotted with mostly Greek islands.
    • Turkey says that despite having the longest coastline in the eastern Mediterranean it is confined into a narrow strip of waters due to the extension of Greece’s continental shelf, based on the presence of many Greek islands near its shore.
    • The island of Kastellorizo, which is about 2 km off Turkey’s southern coast and 570 km from the Greek mainland, is a particular source of Turkish frustration.
  • Many stakeholders involved:
    • The highly complicated issue now has the potential to involve Europe, West Asia and North Africa.
    • France, the EU’s most powerful military force, has thrown its weight behind Greece and Cyprus.
    • Cyprus is physically divided with the southern part ruled by the internationally-recognised government and the northern part controlled by Turkey.
    • An alliance is also emerging among Greece, Cyprus, Italy and France, which is backed by Egypt, Israel and the UAE.
    • Turkey stands almost isolated, but remains a key power in the Mediterranean.

Conclusion:

The tensions should be dialled down, in everybody’s interest. A diplomatic and mutually acceptable solution to the gas contest should be found. Excluding Turkey, which has a long Mediterranean coast, is unwise. Allowing a resurgent Turkey to bully smaller powers in the region would be strategically disastrous. The EU has to strike a balance between these two options.

 

Topic : Government Policies and Interventions for Development in various sectors and Issues arising out of their Design and Implementation.

3. Discuss the key features of Atma Nirbhar Bharat scheme for migrants and its utility especially in the current covid-19 conditions. (250 words)

Reference: pib.gov.in

Why the question:

The article titled “Atma Nirbhar Bharat Scheme for Migrants – A holistic perspective” discusses in detail the nuances of the scheme specifically for migrants amidst the Covid-19.

Key Demand of the question:

Discuss the key features of Atma Nirbhar Bharat scheme for migrants and its utility especially in the current covid-19 conditions.

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:

Amidst the outbreak of novel coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis in the country, the Government of India had announced various economic measures under the Atma Nirbhar Bharat Package (ANBP) in the middle of May 2020 for migrant workers across the country.

Body:

Discuss the key features of the scheme- The number of inter-state migrants was not

Documented liberal estimate of about 8 Crore migrants/stranded migrant persons across the country was made.

Food grains will be provided to projected 8 crores migrant laborers, stranded and needy families, who are not covered under NFSA or State scheme PDS cards.

5 kg of food grain per person, 1 kg of gram/dal per family for the month was to be distributed free of cost for the months of May and June to all migrants.

Conclusion:

Conclude with importance of such scheme especially in such testing times.

Introduction:

Prime Minister recently announced an economic package totalling Rs 20 lakh crore to tide over the Covid-19 crisis under ‘Aatmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan’. The Rs 20 lakh crore package includes the government’s recent announcements on supporting key sectors and measures by Reserve Bank of India. the economic package would be around the 10 per cent of the GDP. The package is expected to focus on land, labour, liquidity and laws. It will cater to various sections including cottage industry, MSMEs, labourers, middle class, and industries, among others.

 Body:

Key features of Atma Nirbhar Bharat scheme for migrants:

  • One Nation One Card:
    • Migrant workers will be able to access the Public Distribution System (Ration) from any Fair Price Shop in India by March 2021 under the scheme of One Nation One Card.
    • The scheme will introduce the inter-state portability of access to ration for migrant labourers.
    • By August 2020 the scheme is estimated to cover 67 crore beneficiaries in 23 states (83% of PDS population).
    • All states/union territories are required to complete full automation of fair price shops by March 2021 for achieving 100% national portability.
  • Free food grain Supply to migrants:
    • Migrant workers who are not beneficiaries under the National Food Security Act ration card or state card will be provided 5 kg of grains per person and 1 kg of chana per family per month for two months.
    • Rs 3,500 crore will be spent on this scheme, and eight crore migrants are estimated to benefit under it.
  • Affordable Rental Housing Complexes (ARHC) for Migrant Workers / Urban Poor:
    • The migrant labour/urban poor will be provided living facilities at affordable rent under Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (PMAY).
    • This will be achieved by:
    • converting government funded housing in the cities into ARHCs through PPPs.
    • incentivising manufacturing units, industries, institutions, associations to develop ARHCs on their private land and operate them.

Significance of self-reliance and self-efficiency in the times of crisis like the COVID pandemic:

  • The coronavirus disease pandemic (Covid-19) has offered India a valuable lesson on the importance of self-reliance and self-sufficiency, and the country, each state within it, each district within every state, and each village within every district must aspire to attain the twin goals.
  • The definition of self-reliance has undergone a change in the globalized world and clarified that when the country talks about self-reliance, it is different from being self-centred.
  • Self-reliance will prepare the country for tough competition in the global supply chain, and it is important that the country wins this competition. It will not only increase efficiency in various sectors but also ensure quality.
  • Global supply chains have been disrupted and all nations have become preoccupied with meeting their own challenges.
  • The importance of local manufacturing, local market and local supply chains was realized during pandemic time. All our demands during the crisis were met ‘locally’. Now, it’s time to be vocal about the local products and help these local products become global.
  • For instance, the supply chain and global manufacturing controlled by Chinese economy got disrupted due to COVID. Thus there is a need to become self-reliant for essential goods and service like N95 masks, ventilators etc.
  • Restrictions on travel and mobility have meant tight controls over the flow of goods, services and labour across international, state and district borders.
  • The international economic order is changing; the possibility of greater economic cooperation is diminishing. So the emphasis should be on the need to leverage India’s inner potential.
  • India has entered in the period of demographic dividend from 2018 and thus working age population has increased which needs to be employed at home. This helps in capitalizing the Demographic dividend of India.
  • With India (1.37bn) set to surpass China (1.43bn) in becoming country with largest population by 2027, it also provides for increasing domestic demand which can be catered with locally produced goods.
  • The Self-Reliance neither signifies any exclusionary or isolationist strategies but involves creation of a helping hand to the whole world.
  • This is not a rejection of globalisation, but a call for a new form of globalisation — from profit-driven to people-centric which takes into account the needs of labors, vulnerable and have nots.

Means to achieve the self-reliance and self-sufficiency:

  • Several bold reforms are needed to make the country self-reliant, so that the impact of crisis such as COVID, can be negated in future.
  • These reforms include supply chain reforms for agriculture, rational tax system, simple and clear laws, capable human resource and a strong financial system.
  • These reforms will promote business, attract investment, and further strengthen Make in India.
  • Local Governments should be playing a key role in supporting the government’s outreach in vast belts of rural India to spread awareness about the coronavirus disease.
  • Local governments can undertake door-to-door campaigns; stitched masks; made hand sanitisers for local populations; and provided support to the local administrative and security machinery in both providing basic services to residents and enforcing the lockdown.

Conclusion:

The slowing down economy as well as weaker forces of globalization demands a new path for the New India. Aatmanirbhar mission is a bridge for transforming into NEW INDIA which need balancing the interest of capital as well as labour to be effective and efficient.

 

Topic : GS2- Government Policies and Interventions for Development in various sectors and Issues arising out of their Design and Implementation. GS3- Major Crops – Cropping Patterns in various parts of the country, – Different Types of Irrigation and Irrigation Systems; Storage, Transport and Marketing of  Agricultural Produce and Issues and Related Constraints; E-technology in the aid of farmers.

4. “Self-reliant agriculture is critical for the goal of an Atmanirbhar Bharat”, in this context discuss the importance of agricultural exports to India. (250 words)

Reference: pib.gov.in

Why the question:

Exports of agricultural commodities during March to June 2020 increased by 23.24% compared to corresponding period in 2019. Thus the question about self-reliance in agriculture.

Key Demand of the question:

Explain in detail in what way self-reliance in agriculture is critical for the goal of Atmanirbhar Bharat.

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:

Agricultural export is extremely important as besides earning precious foreign exchange for the country, the exports help farmers/ producers/ exporters to take advantage of wider

International market and increase their income.

Body:

Start with key statistics related to agri imports in the country and highlight the importance of self-reliance under atma Bharat for Agri sector.

The agricultural exports as a percentage of India’s agricultural GDP has increased from 9.4 % in 2017-18 to 9.9 % in 2018-19.

Agricultural imports as a percentage of India’s agricultural GDP has declined from 5.7 % to 4.9 % indicating exportable surplus and decreased dependence on import of agricultural products in India.

Discuss in detail the efforts of the government in this direction.

Conclusion:

Conclude with importance of recognising self-reliance for Agri sector.

Introduction:

India produces about 280 million tonnes of food grain every year. India leads the world in the production of basmati rice, millets, pulses, chickpea, ginger, chilli, okra, banana, mango and papaya. For dairy, marine, poultry and meat products, India is a significant player in the global market. Despite such riches, farmers’ income are miserly and suffer from poor remunerative prices for their products. Government presented the vision of doubling farmer incomes by 2022-23. To achieve government’s goal by 2022-23, the Ashok Dalwai Committee points out that farmers’ real incomes need to grow at 10.4 % per annum that is 2.8 times the growth rate achieved historically.

Body:

India’s Agri Export Status:

  • India’s share in global exports of agriculture products was merely 2 % in 2016.
  • India has remained at the lower end of the global agriculture export value chain given that the majority of its exports are low value, semi-processed and marketed in bulk.
  • The share of India’s high value and value-added agriculture produce in its agri-export basket is less than 15% compared to 25% in the US and 49% in China.
  • India is unable to export its vast horticultural produce due to lack of uniformity in quality, standardization and its inability to curtail losses across the value chain.

The importance of agricultural exports to India:

  • India, with a large and diverse agriculture, is among the world’s leading producer of cereals, milk, sugar, fruits and vegetables, spices, eggs and seafood products.
  • Indian agriculture continues to be the backbone of our society and it provides livelihood to nearly 50 per cent of our population. India is supporting 17.84 per cent of world’s population, 15% of livestock population with merely 2.4 per cent of world’s land and 4 per cent water resources.
  • Agricultural export is extremely important as besides earning precious foreign exchange for the country, the exports help farmers/producers/exporters to take advantage of wider international market and increase their income.
  • Exports have also resulted in increased production in agriculture sector by increasing area coverage and productivity.
  • As per WTO’s Trade Statistics, share of India’s agricultural exports and imports in the world agriculture trade in 2017 was 2.27% and 1.90%, respectively.
  • Even during the difficult time of pandemic lockdown, India took care to not to disturb the world food supply chain and continued to export.
  • The exports of Agri commodities during March 2020 to June 2020 were Rs. 25552.7 Crore against an export of Rs. 20734.8 Crore during the same period in 2019, showing a sharp increase of 23.24%

Measures needed to bring in self-reliance in agriculture:

  • The first set of measures rely on branding of local farm products to be sold globally, the branding helping to tide over price spirals and making farmers quality-conscious.
  • There is a need to include standardisation and promotion of indigenous technology knowledge (ITK) in agriculture, where techniques are dependent on local resources in dealing with nutrition, disease and pests.
  • These are the sort of rural innovations that need to be registered at a national-level innovation registry, which, in turn, can help in the filing of patents and get micro-venture capital support for enterprises.
  • farm producer organisations (FPOs) are currently out of ambit of interest subvention that is available to individual farmers under the priority sector lending (PSL) scheme. Extending PSL to FPOs would certainly align them to self-help groups (SHGs).
  • Aligning with grades and quality controls of international consumers will help these products cross the Indian border as well. Entrepreneurship in the farm and agri-business sector should be encouraged.
  • Integrating the efforts of these organisations to identify niche areas — value addition, rural infrastructure, logistics, warehousing, quality certification, etc — can provide livelihood opportunities for migrant workers bearing the brunt of the Covid-19 lockdown.
  • The effective utilisation of MGNREGA can also create adequate work days, with a thrust on rural infrastructure creation.
  • Finally, recognising allied activities in agriculture — dairy, animal husbandry, bee-keeping, herbal cultivation and fisheries — in Aatmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan (ABA) is welcome.
  • Infrastructure supporting these allied activities must be encouraged as a standalone enterprise, especially among the tribal farming communities.

Way forward:

  • The Agriculture Export Policy (AEP) is a welcome development for several reasons:
  • First, the policy has been developed in close consultation with states recognizing the geographic diversity of production and states’ constitutional role in nurturing agricultural development.
  • Second, it is a nuanced approach by geography and products rather than the previous approach of simply increasing inputs.
  • Finally, it tackles the entire ecosystem related to enabling market access and acceptability based on the introduction of agricultural clusters.
  • Promoting Value Added Exports of indigenous and tribal products through the National Programme on Organic Production (NPOP), organic food parks and by the uniform quality and packaging standards India can tap the potential for increasing organic exports.
  • Research and Development led by private industry along with higher infrastructure spend by the government will be the key to boosting agricultural exports.
  • Infrastructure and Logistics Boost by identifying ports for the export of agricultural products. Development in port infrastructure like dedicated perishable berths.
  • Post-Harvest Infrastructure that can support the smooth logistical movement of agri-produce exports. This will have a direct co-relationship in increasing export volumes, assuring quality & ensuring better price realization per unit.
  • Development of “Brand India” in campaign mode to help penetration into new foreign markets and of new products which automatically translates into higher value realisation
  • A product market matrix can be made containing list of products of strength which could be expanded in new geographies and list of known markets which can be introduced with newer products.
  • It is the right time to establish an Agricultural Development Council (ADC) on the lines of the GST Council so as to accelerate the pace of reforms to enhance land leasing, private investment, agricultural R&D, etc.

Conclusion:

Continuous innovation and efforts towards productivity, pre & post-harvest management, processing and value-addition, use of technology and infrastructure creation is an imperative for Indian agriculture. Agro processing and agricultural exports are a key area and it is a matter of satisfaction that India’s role in global export of agricultural products is steadily increasing.

 


General Studies – 3


 

Topic : Disaster and disaster management.

5. What is an oil spill? Discuss and suggest its impact while highlighting the methods through which oil spills can be cleaned. (250 words)

Reference: bbc.com

Why the question:

India has sent copters and equipment to help Mauritius deal with an oil spill. Thus the question.

Key Demand of the question:

Explain in detail what oil spills are and discuss their impact while also discussing methods through which they can be cleaned.

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:

Define what oil spills are.

Body:

One can start by quoting the recent incidence of oil spill in the Mauritius. Japanese bulk carrier MV Wakashio struck a coral reef off the capital, Port Louis, in July 2020 resulting in an oil spill of over 1,000 tonnes into the Indian Ocean.

Then discuss the concerns of it – It has raised concerns over the ecological damage caused to the region. The accident had taken place near two environmentally protected marine ecosystems and the Blue Bay Marine Park Reserve, which is a wetland of international importance.

Explain how dangerous are oil spills? – Oil spills affect marine life by exposing them to harsh elements and destroying their sources of food and habitat.

According to the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), both birds and mammals can die from hypothermia as a result of oil spills. For instance:

The insulating ability of fur-bearing mammals such as sea otters is destroyed by oil.

It also decreases the water repellency of birds’ feathers, without which they lose their ability to repel cold water.

Then discuss methods and procedures of cleaning oil spills in detail.

Conclusion:

Conclude with way forward.

Introduction:

OECD defines an oil spill as oil, discharged accidentally or intentionally, that floats on the surface of water bodies as a discrete mass and is carried by the wind, currents and tides. Oil spills can pollute land, air, or water, though it is mostly used for oceanic oil spills.

A Japanese bulk-carrier ship MV Wakashio which was carrying fuel oil has split into two parts near Blue Bay Marine Park, a Ramsar site, in south-east Mauritius. The ship was already leaking and has caused an oil spill of over 1000 tonnes in the Indian Ocean. The presence of coral reefs, mangroves, seagrass meadows, and macro algae make Blue Bay Marine Park an ecologically sensitive zone.

Body:

mauritius

Oil spill: An Environmental Hazard

When an oil spill occurs, many elements of the environment may be affected. Depending on the magnitude of the spill and its location, the effects can vary, ranging from minimal to serious ones.

  • Ecosystem Destruction: Oil spills can have a major impact on the temporary animal and fish loss of habitat. Heavy oils may affect several organism functions like respiration, feeding, and thermo-regulation.
    • At the same time, the entire ecosystem can change temporarily because of the chemical components and elements of the spilled oil that are toxic to the environment.
    • If an aquatic oil spill is substantial enough (such as in the case of Exxon Valdez 1989 spill or the April 2010 BP spill in the Gulf of Mexico from offshore drilling) then the effects on marine life, birds, humans and ecosystems (including marshes and wetlands, as well as shorelines or gulf coasts) could be serious.
  • There are immediate effects on humans, fish, animals, birds and wildlife in general, mainly due to:
    • direct contact with the spilled oil including breathing of volatilized oil components (hydrocarbons) from the spill;
    • direct contact with the environment polluted with spilled oil components (some of which may persist a long time), such as drinking polluted water or breathing polluted dust particles;
    • consumption of polluted food – at any level within the food chain, with a higher risk for food pollution at the higher levels of the food chain, i.e. humans and animals.
    • If the oil washes into coastal marshes, mangrove forests, or other wetlands, fibrous plants and grasses absorb oil, which can damage plants and make the area unsuitable as wildlife habitat.
      • g.: Despite massive clean-up efforts following the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill, a 2007 study conducted by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) found that 26,000 gallons of oil were still trapped in the sand along the Alaska shoreline.
    • Although some organisms may be seriously injured or killed very soon after contact with the oil in a spill, other effects are more subtle and often longer lasting.
      • For example, freshwater organisms are at risk of being smothered by oil that is carried by the current, or of being slowly poisoned by long-term exposure to oil trapped in shallow water or stream beds.
    • On Marine Organisms: Oil spills frequently kill marine mammals such as whales, dolphins, seals, and sea otters.
      • Oil can clog blowholes of whales and dolphins, making it impossible for them to breathe properly and disrupting their ability to communicate.
      • Oil coats fur of otters and seals, leaving them vulnerable to hypothermia.
      • Marine mammals that eat fish or other food exposed to an oil spill may be poisoned by oil and die or experience other problems.
      • Oil spills often take a deadly toll on fish, shellfish, and other marine life, particularly if many fish eggs or larvae are exposed to oil.
      • Eg: Fisheries impacted by the Exxon Valdez took over three decades to recover.
    • On Birds: Oil spills also damage nesting grounds, potentially causing serious long-term effects on entire species.
      • The 2010 BP Deepwater Horizon offshore oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, for example, occurred during prime mating and nesting season for many bird and marine species, and long-term environmental consequences of that spill won’t be known for years.
      • Oil spills can disrupt migratory patterns by contaminating areas where migrating birds normally stop.
      • By coating feathers, oil not only makes flying impossible but also destroys birds’ natural waterproofing and insulation, leaving them vulnerable to hypothermia or overheating.
      • As birds frantically preen their feathers to restore their natural protections, they often swallow oil, which can severely damage their internal organs and lead to death.
    • On Economy:
      • If beaches and populated shorelines are fouled, tourism and commerce may be severely affected.
      • The power plants and other utilities that depend on drawing or discharging sea water are severely affected by oil spills.
      • Major oil spills are frequently followed by the immediate suspension of commercial fishing.

Methods through which oil spill can be cleaned:

  • Oil spills can be partially controlled by chemical dispersion, combustion, mechanical containment and adsorption.
  • Containment Booms: Floating barriers, called booms are used to restrict the spread of oil and to allow for its recovery, removal, or dispersal.
  • Skimmers: are devices used for physically separating spilled oil from the water’s surface.
  • Sorbents: Various sorbents (e.g., straw, volcanic ash, and shavings of polyester-derived plastic) that absorb the oil from the water are used.
  • Dispersing agents: These are chemicals that contain surfactants, or compounds that act to break liquid substances such as oil into small droplets. They accelerate its natural dispersion into the sea.
  • Bio-agents: Nutrients, enzymes, or microorganisms such as Alcanivorax bacteria or Methylocella silvestris that increase the rate at which natural biodegradation of oil occurs are added.

Conclusion:

Ultimately, the severity of environmental damage caused by an oil spill depends on many factors, including the amount of oil spilled, type and weight of oil, location of the spill, species of wildlife in the area, timing of breeding cycles and seasonal migrations, and even the weather at sea during and after the oil spill.

 


General Studies – 4


 

Topic : Quotation based ethics question

6. “Never waste a good crisis”, remarked Winston Churchill. Do you think that a moral crisis is an essential precondition for the conscience to come alive? Elaborate. (250 words)

Reference: Quotation based questions

Why the question:

The question is based on the theme of “Moral crisis” and in what way it is an essential precondition for the conscience to come alive.

Key Demand of the question:

Discuss in detail the essence of the quote in question; explain how moral crisis is an essential precondition for the conscience to come alive.

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:

Start by defining what you understand by a crisis.

Body:

A crisis is a situation that leads to the disruption within the functioning of a system; it could be a political, social, economic, physiological, moral or any other organized system of function. There are three attitudes that can be taken in response to a crisis

  1. To wish away the crisis and think of it as a curse – which is dogmatic
  2. To indulge excessively in a crisis in the name of being anti-establishment – which is fatal 3. To capitalize on the crisis by using its energies appropriately to bring a transformation – this is ideal.

Demonstrate the above with suitable ideas.

Conclusion:

Conclude with importance of moral crisis as an essential precondition for the conscience to come alive

Introduction:

As Winston Churchill was working to form the United Nations after WWII, he famously said, “Never let a good crisis go to waste”. A crisis situation always tests the tenacity and temperament of an individual. It is at such situations, a person faces moral and ethical crises.

Swami Vivekananda once said “Whenever there is a conflict between the heart and the brain, follow your heart”, hence conscience is the voice of heart and it is often right which helps us to sail through ocean of dilemmas and help us to find the direction.

Body:

Conscience is the inner voice of a person which guides the right and wrong. Conscience aims to make moral decisions in ‘overwhelming forces of inescapable situations’ despite the risk of adverse consequences. If conscience goes, then everything collapses, conscience is central to our identity and it is as component in the moral decisions making process.

For example, the concept of Enlightenment, Nirvana etc. are associated with highest stage of development of human Conscience. Gandhiji’s civil disobedience movement was true to his conscience although it broke the law.

Conscience is the intrinsic intuitive capacity to discriminate between right and wrong. A moral crisis is not a prerequisite for the conscience to come alive. Conscience is our inner guide and it helps you figure out how to make good choices. As we grow up, we learn right from wrong. Our conscience is the thought and feeling we have that tells us whether something is a right or wrong thing to do or say.

Conscience is a consistent guide to ethical decision making:

  • A human being always comes across ethical dilemmas in the decision making the process. Conscience acts as the guide for taking correct decisions when we have to choose between competing sets of principles in a given, usually undesirable or perplexing, situation.
  • For instance, helping an accident victim during the golden hour.
  • The conscience of an individual helps in analyzing the situation from different perspectives and help in taking the right decision.
  • For instance, one will not turn away genuine people in times of distress, like an old destitute woman who has lost all her documents and is trying to register for a government scheme.
  • Conscience helps in avoiding Conflicts of interest for better decision making.
  • For e.g. deciding between personal gains and public welfare.
  • Conscience is our ability to make a practical decision in light of ethical values and principles. Example:  Follow the orders from superior vis-à-vis to follow the right path.
  • Conscience indicates ‘a person’s moral sense of right and wrong’ as well as the consciousness of one’s actions. Expressions such as ‘gut feeling’ and ‘guilt’ are often applied in conjunction with a conscience. In this sense, the conscience is not essentially a product of a rational deduction but is something that can be influenced by the indoctrination of one’s parentage, social class, religion or culture.

On the other hand, it is an arguable topic whether or not the conscience is the most reliable form of decision making or not. The concept of conscience may not bear any connection with any particular substantial moral view. The good ethical decision and conscience are not always in sync; it depends on the situation, stakeholders and perceiving the issue. For Example, a radicalised youth may agree to be a suicide bomber, or take up gun violence, riots or Lynching in the blindfold of religion, considering it to be right.

The voice of conscience might suggest different principles and different behaviours to different people. For example, while some health practitioners raise “conscientious” objection to abortion and refuse to provide the service, someone’s conscience might demand the exact opposite, i.e., to perform abortions to respect what is conscientiously believed to be a woman’s right.

Conclusion:

A conscience which is both well-formed which is shaped by education and experience and well informed due to awareness of facts, evidence. This enables us to know ourselves and our world and act accordingly. Voice of conscience is the source of ethical decision making.


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