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SECURE SYNOPSIS: 30 September 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 – 1


 

Topic : Social Empowerment

1. Discuss in detail features of Caste System in India, also, identify various reasons for strengthening of caste based identity in today’s times. (250 words)

Reference: bbc.com

Why the question:

The question is from the static portions of GS paper I.

Key Demand of the question:

One has to explain in detail the features of caste system in India and also explain the causative factors that have strengthened caste based identity in current times.

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:

Briefly state the background and roots of caste system in the country.

Body:

Explain some of the several theories that explain prevalence/coming of caste system in India like The traditional theory says that four varnas originated from different parts of Brahma’s body {Brahmin-mouth; Kshatrita-arms; Vaishyas- Stomach and Shudra-feet}; and all other castes were born due to their intermixing. The occupational theory says that castes evolved from the occupations of people which were not hereditary in the beginning.

Then move on to explain the key features such as – it has resulted in segmental division of the Indian society, they create a hierarchy on the basis of their social precedence and many others.

Discuss in short the functions and maladies of the caste system. Explain in what way caste identities are further strengthened in today’s times.

Conclusion:

Conclude with need to accept and believe in humanity as a bigger religion than creating differences and gaps through such caste identities.

Introduction:

India’s caste system is perhaps the world’s longest surviving social hierarchy. A defining feature of Hinduism, caste encompasses a complex ordering of social groups on the basis of ritual purity. A person is considered a member of the caste into which he or she is born and remains within that caste until death, although the particular ranking of that caste may vary among regions and over time. Differences in status are traditionally justified by the religious doctrine of karma, a belief that one’s place in life is determined by one’s deeds in previous lifetimes.

Traditional scholarship has described this more than 2,000-year-old system within the context of the four principal varnas, or large caste categories. In order of precedence these are the Brahmins (priests and teachers), the Ksyatriyas (rulers and soldiers), the Vaisyas (merchants and traders), and the Shudras (laborers and artisans). A fifth category falls outside the varna system and consists of those known as “untouchables” or Dalits; they are often assigned tasks too ritually polluting to merit inclusion within the traditional varna system.

Body:

Features of caste system:

  • Hereditary in nature: It implies that caste system is based on heredity. It is based on ascribed values rather than achieved qualities.
  • Segmental division of society: It means Indian social stratification is largely based on caste. There are various castes having a well-developed life style of their own. The membership of a caste is determined by birth. Thus caste is hereditary in nature.
  • Hierarchy: It indicates various castes according to their purity and impurity of occupations are ranked from higher to lower positions. It is like a ladder where pure caste is ranked on the top and impure is ranked at the bottom. For example the occupation of Brahmin is that of performing rituals and teaching. It is considered to be the purest occupation; hence they are placed at the top of the hierarchy. On the other hand sweeper, whose occupation is cleaning and scavenging, is placed at the bottom the bottom of the hierarchy because of impure occupation.
  • Restrictions on food, drink and smoking: Usually different castes do not exchange food and drink, and do not share smoking of hukka among them. For instance, Brahmins do not take food from any other caste.
  • Endogamy: It indicates members of the caste have to marry within their own caste only. Inter-castes marriages are prohibited. However, among educated people, particularly in the urban areas, inter-castes marriages are gradually increasing.
  • Purity and pollution: It is one of the important features of the caste system. Purity and pollution are judged in terms of deeds, occupation, language, dress patterns, as well as food habits. For example liquor consumption, consuming nonvegetarian food, eating left-over food of the high castes, working in occupations like leather craft, lifting dead animals, sweeping and carrying garbage etc. are supposed to be impure.
  • Occupational association: Each caste has a specific occupation and cannot change the occupation. For instance, Brahmins do priesthood and teaching, Kayasthas maintain revenue records and writing. Baniyas are engaged in business and Chamars are engaged in leatherwork, etc.
  • Distinction in custom, dress and speech: Each caste has distinct style of life, i.e. having its customs, dress patterns and speech. The high caste use pure language (sometimes use literally words), whereas, the low caste use colloquial language.
  • Conflict resolving mechanisms: The castes having their own conflict resolving mechanisms such as Caste Panchayats at the village and inter-village levels.

Reasons for strengthening of caste based identity:

  • Reservations: In recent years, there have been demands from several communities to be recognised as OBCs – in 2016 there were violent protests by the Jat community in Haryana and the Patel community led huge protests in Gujarat in 2015 demanding access to caste quotas.
  • Caste based politics: At elections, many caste groups still vote as a block and are wooed by politicians looking for electoral gains.
  • Dominant Caste: In the 20th century, the phenomena of dominant caste have emerged. It means some caste becomes economically and politically dominant virtually rules over other castes in the region.

Conclusion:

                In this manner, caste system has undergone many changes due to the above processes and it has adapted to the new socio-economic condition. In urban areas, today people do not adhere to caste norms. The only aspect where caste comes is that during marriage they still become endogamous. However, some people have adopted to inter-caste marriage and inter-religious marriages.

 

Topic : Important Geophysical phenomena such as earthquakes, Tsunami, Volcanic activity, cyclone etc., geographical features and their location-changes in critical geographical features (including water-bodies and ice-caps) and in flora and fauna and the effects of such changes.

2. Explain how earthquake waves are used as an indirect source for understanding the structure of the interior of the earth. (250 words)

Reference: Class XI NCERT – Fundamentals of World Physical Geography

Why the question:

The question is from the static portions of GS paper I.

Key Demand of the question:

One must explain in detail how earthquake waves are used as an indirect source for understanding the structure of the interior of the earth.

Directive:

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

Structure of the answer:

Introduction:

Understanding the structure of the earth’s interior (crust, mantle, core) and various forces (heat, seismic waves) emanating from it is essential to understand the evolution of the earth’s surface, its current shape and its future.

Body:

The knowledge about interior of the earth is obtained through direct sources and indirect sources. Direct sources include rock materials from mining areas and molten magma from volcanic eruptions and earthquakes.

Seismic waves produced during an earthquake are recorded by a seismograph when these waves reach the surface of the earth. Then explain in detail how earthquakes form key sources in understanding the Earth’s interiors.

Conclusion:

Conclude with importance and relevance.

Introduction:

                Understanding the structure of the earth’s interior (crust, mantle, core) and various forces (heat, seismic waves) emanating from it is essential to understand the evolution of the earth’s surface, its current shape and its future, the geophysical phenomenon like volcanism, earthquakes, earth’s magnetic field, the internal structure of various solar system objects, the evolution and present composition of the atmosphere for mineral exploration.

Body:

The interior of the earth can be understood by:

  • Direct Sources:
    • The most easily available solid earth material is surface rock or the rocks we get from mining areas. Gold mines in South Africa are as deep as 3 – 4 km. Going beyond this depth is not possible as it is very hot at this depth.
    • Besides mining, scientists have taken up a number of projects to penetrate deeper depths to explore the conditions in the crustal portions. Scientists world over are working on two major projects such as “Deep Ocean Drilling Project” and “Integrated Ocean Drilling Project”.
    • The deepest drill at Kola, in Arctic Ocean, has so far reached a depth of 12 km. This and many deep drilling projects have provided large volume of information through the analysis of materials collected at different depths.
    • Volcanic eruption forms another source of obtaining direct information. As and when the molten material (magma) is thrown onto the surface of the earth, during volcanic eruption it becomes available for laboratory analysis. However, it is difficult to ascertain the depth of the source of such magma.
  • Indirect sources:
    • Analysis of properties of matter indirectly provides information about the interior. We know through the mining activity that temperature and pressure increase with the increasing distance from the surface towards the interior in deeper depths.
    • Moreover, it is also known that the density of the material also increases with depth. It is possible to find the rate of change of these characteristics. Knowing the total thickness of the earth, scientists have estimated the values of temperature, pressure and the density of materials at different depths.
    • Another source of information are the meteors that at times reach the earth. However, it may be noted that the material that becomes available for analysis from meteors, is not from the interior of the earth.
    • The material and the structure observed in the meteors are similar to that of the earth. They are solid bodies developed out of materials same as, or similar to, our planet. Hence, this becomes yet another source of information about the interior of the earth.
    • The other indirect sources include gravitation, magnetic field, and seismic activity. The gravitation force (g) is not the same at different latitudes on the surface. It is greater near the poles and less at the equator. This is because of the distance from the center at the equator being greater than that at the poles.
    • The gravity values also differ according to the mass of material. The uneven distribution of mass of material within the earth influences this value. The reading of the gravity at different places is influenced by many other factors. These readings differ from the expected values. Such a difference is called gravity anomaly. Gravity anomalies give us information about the distribution of mass of the material in the crust of the earth.
    • Magnetic surveys also provide information about the distribution of magnetic materials in the crustal portion, and thus, provide information about the distribution of materials in this part.
    • Seismic activity is one of the most important sources of information about the interior of the earth.

Earthquake waves and interior of the earth:

They are the most important source available to understand the layered structure of the earth.

  • All natural earthquakes take place in the lithosphere. Earthquake waves are basically of two types — body waves and surface waves.
  • Body waves are generated due to the release of energy at the focus and move in all directions travelling through the body of the earth. Hence, the name body waves.
  • The body waves interact with the surface rocks and generate new set of waves called surface waves. These waves move along the surface.
  • The velocity of waves changes as they travel through materials with different densities. The denser the material, the higher is the velocity. Their direction also changes as they reflect or refract when coming across materials with different densities.
  • There are two types of body waves. They are called P and S-waves. P-waves move faster and are the first to arrive at the surface. These are also called ‘primary waves’.
  • The P-waves are similar to sound waves. They travel through gaseous, liquid and solid materials.
  • S-waves arrive at the surface with some time lag. These are called secondary waves. An important fact about S-waves is that they can travel only through solid materials. This characteristic of the S-waves is quite important.
  • It has helped scientists to understand the structure of the interior of the earth. Reflection causes waves to rebound whereas refraction makes waves move in different directions.
  • The variations in the direction of waves are inferred with the help of their record on seismograph. The surface waves are the last to report on seismograph. These waves are more destructive. They cause displacement of rocks, and hence, the collapse of structures occurs.
  • Earthquake waves get recorded in seismographs located at far off locations. However, there exist some specific areas where the waves are not reported. Such a zone is called the ‘shadow zone’. The study of different events reveals that for each earthquake, there exists an altogether different shadow zone.

Conclusion:

The velocity of seismic waves changes as they travel through materials with different elasticity and density. The more elastic and denser the material is, the higher is the velocity. They also undergo refection or refraction when they come across materials with different densities. Earth’s internal structure can be understood by analysing the patterns of reflection, refraction and change in velocity of the seismic waves when they travel through it.

 


General Studies – 2


 

Topic : GS-2:  Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.

 GS-3: Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment.

3. Why is it important to reduce food loss and waste? Explain in the backdrop of international day of awareness on food loss and waste reduction that was celebrated recently. (250 words)

Reference: www.fao.org

Why the question:

With a view to promote and implement global efforts to resolve the issue of food wastage, the United Nations General Assembly in 2019 designated 29 September as International Day of Awareness of Food Loss and Waste. Thus the question.

Key Demand of the question:

One has to emphasize and explain why reducing food losses and waste is essential in today’s times. Discuss the factors responsible to it and explain what needs to be done.

Directive:

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

Structure of the answer:

Introduction:

Briefly explain with key statistics the food waste and loss being generated across the world.

Body:

Explain why is it important to reduce food loss and waste?

Reducing food losses and waste is essential in a world where the number of people affected by hunger has been slowly on the rise since 2014, and tons and tons of edible food are lost and/or wasted every day.

Globally, around 14 percent of food produced is lost between harvest and retail. Significant quantities are also wasted in retail and at the consumption level.

Food loss and waste also puts unnecessary pressure on the natural resource base and on the environment, depleting the natural resource base and generating greenhouse gases etc.

Conclusion:

Conclude with importance.

Introduction:

                This year we celebrated the first ever observance of the International Day of Awareness of Food Loss and Waste(IDAFLW). It also comes during the global COVID-19 pandemic, that has brought about a global wake-up on the need to transform and rebalance the way our food is produced and consumed.

Body:

Food wastage crisis in India:

  • Around 67 million tonnes of food is wasted in India every year which has been valued at around `92,000 crores; enough to feed all of Bihar for a year.
  • Annually, close to 21 million metric tonnes of wheat rots in India; a figure that is equal to Australia’s total annual production.
  • According to the BMC, Mumbai generates close to 9,400 metric tonnes of solid waste per day, from which 73% is food, vegetable, and fruit waste, while only 3% is plastic. The garbage dumps in Mumbai are as tall as five or six storey buildings.
  • Delhi generates around 9000 metric tonnes of waste per day, with the country’s largest landfill located in East Delhi. This landfill is 70 acres vast and contains close to 12 million tonnes of waste that are as high as 50 feet.

Global scenario:

  • Globally, around 14 percent of food produced is lost between harvest and retail. Significant quantities are also wasted in retail and at the consumption level.
  • According to the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization, one-third of the total global food production is wasted, costing the world economy about $750 billion.
  • Annually, close to `31 million (70-75%) of waste is dumped into open landfill sites. Globally, India currently ranks seventh in terms of overall food wastage agricultural produce, poultry and milk.

Impact of food loss and waste:

  • Reducing food losses and waste is essential in a world where the number of people affected by hunger has been slowly on the rise since 2014, and tons and tons of edible food are lost and/or wasted every day. Food loss and waste also puts unnecessary pressure on the natural resource base and on the environment, depleting the natural resource base and generating greenhouse gases.
  • When food is loss or wasted, all the resources that were used to produce this food -, including water, land, energy, labour and capital – go to waste. In addition, the disposal of food loss and waste in landfills, leads to greenhouse gas emissions, contributing to climate change.
  • With numbers as high as this, current systems in the country are not able to cope with the burden, subsequently leading to negative effects on the environment and public health. Open landfills lead to the development of methane, which absorbs the sun’s heat, warms the atmosphere and contributes to global warming. Methane is also known to cause fire or explosions.
  • Further, several toxins and/or a black liquid known as leachate, oozes from the waste, which is absorbed by the soil/ground, leading to the contamination of ground water. These overflowing landfills have today become the root cause of blocked drains, soil and water pollution.
  • As well as reducing pollution emitted by wasted food, lots of energy and resources are also conserved in the process. From growing crops, manufacturing, transportation, and selling of food — all of these processes consume energy and resources.

Importance of reducing food loss and waste:

  • When reductions in food loss occur close to the farm, they are most effective in addressing food insecurity and in alleviating stress on land and water.
  • When reductions in food waste occur downstream in the supply chain and at the consumer level they are key to cutting greenhouse gas emissions.
  • The largest improvements in food security are likely to occur by reducing food losses in the early stages of the supply chain, especially on-farm and at harvest in countries with high levels of food insecurity.
  • Nutrient loss due to quantitative and qualitative food loss and waste may represent a missed opportunity to reduce malnutrition and micronutrient deficiencies.
  • Reduces methane emissions from landfills and lowers carbon footprint.
  • Conserves energy and resources, preventing pollution involved in the growing, manufacturing, transporting, and selling food (not to mention hauling the food waste and then putting it in the landfill).
  • Supports community by providing donated untouched food that would have otherwise gone to waste to those who might not have a steady food supply.

Way forward:

In the households:

  • Shop and cook smartly to avoid waste
  • Make a list before your grocery shopping day to avoid bringing in unnecessary food products to your kitchen
  • Make the children aware of the importance of food and the impact of food waste on environment
  • Make it a habit to give the uneaten food left from your household parties to donate to charities through NGOs in your area.
  • Create your own compost at your premises to make fertilizers for your gardens

In the commercial/industrial/other sectors:

  • Follow essential food safety techniques to avoid food waste
  • Set up of food waste audit will help realize how and why food has been wasted.
  • Maintain a weekly record of tracking the quantities of served food and sales
  • Trained staff and correct techniques in food handling and safety does reduce food waste
  • Keep skins on vegetables and to avoid food waste
  • Maintain a correct temperature and good storage facility for perishables items
  • Regular checking of temperatures, seals on fridges and freezers and rotation of stock to keep them fresh will bring down spoilage.
  • Offering flexible serving sizes and assessing portion sizes in favour of the customers would lead to prevent food waste.

Adopting international practices:

  • In France, it is mandatory for supermarkets to donate unsold food items to charity or farmers to convert them into fertilizers
  • Canada recovers unused food items from manufacturers, retailers, restaurants, etc. and delivers these food ingredients to be used to cook over 22,000 meals every day
  • Sweden implemented a recycling revolution, wherein less than 1% of household waste ends up in landfills and of the 4.4 million tons of household waste produced every year, 2.2 million is converted into energy.

Conclusion:

This year, although we marked IDAFLW 2020 in very unprecedented circumstances, you can still take advantage of this important opportunity to call for action. This will push us closer in achieving the SDG 12.3 of preventing food loss and wastage.

 


General Studies – 3


 

 Topic : 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. “The story of the pulses revolution is another chapter about accomplishments by the Indian farmers.” In this context discuss the Pulse revolution witnessed by Indian agriculture and what are the learnings out of it. (250 words)

Reference: Financial Express 

Why the question:

The article narrates to us the journey of how India moved from scarcity to sufficiency in pulse production.

Key Demand of the question:

Discuss the pulses revolution witnessed by Indian agriculture and highlight the key learnings out of it.

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 giving key numbers/statistics related to pulse production in the country. Present some comparison of past to present.

Body:

Explain that India used to import pulses in large quantities. With MSP & procurement schemes for pulses, domestic production shot up, putting us on the path to Atmanirbharta.

India moved from a situation of acute scarcity of pulses in 2015-16, when the country witnessed unprecedented shortage and inflation due to successive droughts, to providing free pulses to most of the citizens in the country.

Explain how the transformation took place and in what way self-sufficiency was achieved.

Take hints from the article and explain.

Conclusion:

Conclude by suggesting the need to replicate the same kind of self-sufficiency in other fields of agriculture.

Introduction:

                Pulses occupy an important place in Indian agriculture. They provide protein and fibre, and are a great source of vitamins and minerals such as iron, zinc and magnesium. In India, pulses are grown over an area of 2.38 crore hectares with a total production of 1.86 crore tonnes. The average yield of pulses in India is about 735 kg/hectare. Pulses are generally grown in irrigated as well as rainfed area and belong to leguminaceae family.

Body:

Pulses revolution in India:

  • India moved from a situation of acute scarcity of pulses in 2015-16, when the country witnessed unprecedented shortage and inflation due to successive droughts, to providing free pulses to most of the citizens in the country.
  • The 2015-16 pulses crisis was not a wasted opportunity; it set forth an ambitious and desirable outcome to make the country self-sufficient in pulses production. The government acted on supply, demand and regulatory fronts with equal emphasis. The twin factors critical to an immediate increase in pulses production was the minimum support price (MSP) and procurement from farmers directly at MSP.
  • Additional coverage was provided for pulses under the National Food Security Mission (NFSM) launched in 2016-17. The government aimed at increasing acreage productivity and production of pulses through distribution of seed mini-kits, subsidy on the production of quality seed and creation of 150 seed hubs that involved ICAR institutes and state agriculture varsities for frontline demonstrations.
  • The government increased MSP on pulses by 8-16% in 2016-17. Elaborate arrangements were made for procuring of pulses from farmers under the Price Support Scheme (PSS). The government guarantee for procurement operation was increased manifold.
  • Foreseeing the need to have a strategic buffer of pulses, a 20-lakh-tonne buffer stock was formed through the Price Stabilisation Fund (PSF), with a corpus of more than Rs 10,000 crore. The state governments, particularly of pulse-production leaders like Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Maharashtra, and Karnataka, worked in close coordination for the procurement of pulses.
  • Farmers were greatly enthused by the attractive MSP. There was a 42% increase in production of pulses, unheard of in any other category of food articles.
  • National Agricultural Cooperative Marketing Federation Of India Ltd (Nafed) played a pivotal role in procurement under PSS and PSF, by procuring 8.7 lakh tonnes in 2016-17. This was equivalent to the procurement made in the last 15 years put together!
  • The government continued its focus on pulses production in 2017-18. The MSP for pulses saw an increase of 7-10%. To provide impetus to domestic production, import of pulses was suitably calibrated from time to time. Import policy and customs duty was tuned to give priority to Indian farmers.
  • The favourable monsoon and the continued enthusiasm in farmers to make India self-sufficient in pulses resulted in the highest ever production of pulses in the country, at 254 lakh tonnes, in 2017-18.
  • Procurement of pulses from farmers was more than doubled, by about 20 lakh tonnes. During 2018-19, total procurement of pulses was more than twice that of the previous year, at about 42 lakh tonnes.
  • Even in the lockdown period, the government continued to support farmers by implementing the MSP and procuring about 23 lakh tonnes of pulses and 8.2 lakh tonnes of oilseeds at MSP.
  • While announcing the MSP for kharif 2018, a longstanding demand was fulfilled with the promise to provide MSP equal to 1.5 times the production cost. The MSP of moong was increased by 25%, and the result was an increase in production by 22%.
  • Similarly, in the case of grams, the increase in production has been in line with the MSP increase. Farmers’ responding to MSP increase by producing more rice and wheat is a well-documented story. MSP increase is a strong signal to the farmer that market prices are going to increase, and hence, a decisive factor in determining which crop to grow depending on the soil type and other environmental factors. This direct and strong correlation between MSP and production holds good for pulses also.
  • As in the wheat and rice revolutions, the rewards of the increased pulse production are also being reaped by a few farmers, concentrated mostly in irrigated areas. Attracted by the high prices that such pulses as pigeon pea and chick pea fetch in the market, these farmers are now growing them on a regular basis.
  • The increase in pulse production is primarily because farmers in irrigated areas, especially tail-enders in canal command areas of northern India, have taken to growing them as a summer crop.

Learnings from Pulse revolution:

  • The riches remained confined to a few farmers. For the marginal farmers in rainfed areas, who are responsible for 90 to 92 per cent of the country’s pulse production, the situation has not changed a great deal.
  • Despite the increasing yields of some pulses, the demand for pulses has consistently exceeded production. Though India is the world’s largest producer of pulses, it is also the largest importer.
  • Pulse consumption, on the other hand, he explains, has decreased over the years. A survey undertaken by ICRISAT and the Hyderabad-based National Institute of Nutrition (NIN) reveals most people in the rural areas only receive some 37 gm of pulses each day, against a Indian Council of Medical Research recommendation of 40 gm, and an FAO/WHO recommendation of at least 80 gm in order to meet minimum protein requirements.
  • Notwithstanding the nutritional benefits that pulses confer on an otherwise predominantly cereal-based diet, and the agronomic advantage legume crops lend to the production system, neither their output nor their consumption levels have improved.
  • Though the technology mission approach has been adopted to boost pulse production in the country, it is likely to be a long haul. Pulses are a far more risky proposition than cereals, with the yields tending to be unstable. They are more susceptible to the vagaries of weather, pests and disease. Therefore, developing pulse varieties, which are both high-yielding and tolerant of stress and pests, is difficult.
  • According to ICRISAT there has been no concerted research effort on a particular pulse. The All India Coordinated Pulses Improvement Project has had to concentrate on 10 different crops simultaneously, so the relative research attention on each crop has been less than on rice or wheat.
  • There is ample scope for bringing additional area under these pulses in newer niches areas such as rice fallows, tal (lake) areas, hill agriculture and in intercropping for remunerating cropping system.
  • An estimated additional 3.0 million hectare can be brought under such pulses cultivation across the country.
  • The possibility of further processing or value addition may be another source of revenue while also generating employment opportunities.
  • The crop residues left after harvest may be used to feed livestock, further contributing to a diversified diet and potential source of income.
  • Pulses production can help curb the import bill of the country which can be used for other socio-economic development.
  • Minimum support price for pulses is expected to help push up their output and thereby contain food inflation
  • New research efforts should be initiated to achieve a breakthrough in the productivity.
  • Innovative ideas need to be implemented instead of conducting routine research and material evaluation.
  • Scientists to work for development of shorter duration, widely adaptable and biotic and abiotic stress resistant varieties to boost the production of pulses.
  • Modernization of pulse breeding programme, supporting genetic gains through transgenic technology, enhancing biological nitrogen fixation through development of super nodulating plant types and breeding short duration varieties for achieving self sufficiency in pulses.
  • Extension workers and agriculture technology information centers should work more towards development and dissemination of newer technologies.

Conclusion:

India need to produce 40-50 lakh tonnes of additional pulses for meeting the domestic requirement and this can be possible only if we develop high yielding short duration, drought and insect-pest resistance varieties of pulses. The important role that pulses can play in sustainable crop production systems, in particular through their contribution to improved soil fertility and to agro-biodiversity along with providing a balanced and healthy diet as evidenced by their use by the World Food Programme and other food aid initiatives makes it a naturally optimal choice.

 

Topic : GS-2: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.

GS-3: Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment.

5. Discuss the Status of Groundwater Depletion in the country and account for the associated problems and suggest measures on the lines of ground water extraction norms that have been notified recently. (250 words)

Reference: Live Mint

Why the question:

The question aims to ascertain the Status of Groundwater Depletion in the country and discuss the factors responsible for the depletion.

Key Demand of the question:

Discuss the Status of Groundwater Depletion in the country and account for the associated problems and suggest measures to overcome 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:

India is the world’s largest user of groundwater, withdrawing about 250 cubic kilometers per year, more than twice that of the US.

Body:

Firstly discuss the issue at hand. With around one-sixth of assessed ground water units in the country facing over-exploitation, the Centre Govt has issued revised guidelines for groundwater use. The new guidelines prohibits new industry and mining projects in over-exploited zones and makes it mandatory for existing industries, commercial units and big housing societies to take no objection certificate’ (NOC).

With map of India one can provide a spatial aspect of ground water depletion in the country.

Suggest measures to address the issue.  Also throw light on the recently proposed Groundwater Extraction Norms.

Conclusion:

Conclude with way forward.

Introduction:

                Today, India is the largest user of the groundwater in the world with almost 90% being used for drinking water and almost 60-70% for irrigation. Current statistics also show that nearly 50% of urban water supply comes from groundwater. India is on the threshold of a very serious groundwater crisis, which needs mitigation both in the fields and at the policy corridors of the country.

Body:

Status of Groundwater Depletion in India:

  • India accounts for 16-17% per cent of the world’s population living in less than 5 per cent of the global area, and has just 4 per cent of the global water resources.
  • According to the Central Water Commission (CWC), the estimated water resources potential of the country, which occurs as natural runoff in the rivers, is 1,999 billion cubic metres.
  • Of this, the estimated utilisable resources are 1,122 billion cubic metres per year 690 BCM per year surface water and 432 BCM per year replenishable groundwater.
  • With the population rising, demand for water will increase manifold in coming years. According to the CWC, per capita availability in the country will decrease from 1,434 cubic metres in 2025 to 1,219 cubic metres in 2050.
  • By CWC benchmarks, a water-stressed condition happens when per capita availability is less than 1,700 cubic metres, and a water-scarcity condition when per capita availability falls below 1,000 cubic metres. Some river basins are facing a water-scarcity condition.
  • Among these are the basins of the Indus (up to the border), Krishna, Cauvery, Subarnarekha, Pennar, Mahi, Sabarmati and east-flowing rivers, and west-flowing rivers of Kutch and Saurashtra including Luni.
  • ‘Water and Related Statistics 2019’ report: 
    • According to ‘Water and Related Statistics 2019’, a report published by the CWC, the annual replenishable groundwater resources in India (2017) are 432 BCM, out of which 393 BCM is the annual “extractable” groundwater availability.
    • Fifteen states account for about 90 per cent of the groundwater potential in the country. Uttar Pradesh accounts for 16.2 per cent, followed by Madhya Pradesh (8.4%), Maharashtra (7.3%), Bihar (7.3%), West Bengal (6.8%), Assam (6.6%), Punjab (5.5%) and Gujarat (5.2%).
    • The current annual groundwater extraction is 249 BCM, the largest user being the irrigation sector. This is why the government has called for alternatives to water-intensive crops such as paddy and sugarcane.
    • Compared to the decadal average for 2009-18, there has been a decline in the groundwater level in 61% of wells monitored by the Central Ground Water Board (CGWB).
    • Among the states where at least 100 wells were monitored, the highest depletion has been in Karnataka (80%), Maharashtra (75%), Uttar Pradesh (73%), Andhra Pradesh (73%), Punjab (69%).

Problems with groundwater depletion:

  • Lowering of the water table
  • Reduction of water in streams and lakes
  • Land subsidence: A lack of groundwater limits biodiversity and dangerous sinkholes result from depleted aquifers.
  • Increased costs for the user
  • Deterioration of water quality
  • Saltwater contamination can occur.
  • Crop production decrease from lack of water availability (40% of global food production relies on groundwater).
  • Groundwater depletion interrupts the ‘natural’ water cycle putting disproportionately more water into the sea.
  • As large aquifers are depleted, food supply and people will suffer.

Ground water extraction norms notified recently:

  • The guidelines notified by the Central Ground Water Authority (CGWA) under the Jal Shakti ministry on Thursday prescribes a minimum environmental compensation of ₹1 lakh on industrial, mining and infrastructure users for extracting ground water without a no objection certificate (NOC). These can rise, depending on the quantum of water extracted and the duration of the breach.
  • The notification exempts domestic consumers, rural drinking water schemes, armed forces, farmers and micro and small enterprises drawing water up to a limit from the requirement of a no objection certificate from the CGWA.
  • The new guidelines, which come into force immediately, seek to plug a regulatory vacuum in granting no objection certificates for groundwater use as the earlier set of rules was struck down by the NGT in January 2019.
  • That had led to a situation where all applications for renewal of NOC were put on hold pushing many industries into potential regulatory non-compliance in spite of them complying with all the riders in the NOC. In June, different industry bodies appealed to the government to resolve this regulatory uncertainty.
  • Although the new rules exempt farmers from the need for obtaining an NOC from CGWA, it highlights a key factor that leads to excessive groundwater extraction in the agriculture sector—free electricity supply to farmers.

Other measures need – A way forward to prevent ground water depletion:

  • As aquifers and other groundwater sources are depleted at a rate greater than the recharge rate, artificial recharge is needed to maintain a lasting water supply to prevent complete withdrawal of groundwater in the near future.
  • To combat overpumping of groundwater and achieve stability in the water table, artificial recharge is another water source that will help alleviate the stress on groundwater supply. For arid climates with little precipitation, recharging groundwater can be achieved through using treated wastewater, natural runoff, and runoff from irrigation. Soil-aquifer treatment (SAT).
  • The primary challenge of desalination is its high cost and energy consumption. Electricity makes up 63 per cent of the operational costs of seawater desalination plants. The plants contribute to water security but add stresses to the energy security.
  • Some of the other methods and techniques for groundwater recharge:
    • Roof Top Rain Water, runoff harvesting through Recharge Pit, Recharge Trench, Tubewell, Recharge Well. Rain Water Harvesting through Gully Plug, Contour Bund, Gabion Structure, Percolation tank, Check Dam, Cement Plug, Nala Bund, Recharge shaft, Dugwell Recharge Ground Water Dams, Subsurface Dyke.

Conclusion:

                The focus will be on arresting the rate of decline of groundwater levels as well as water consumption. Leveraging schemes like Atal Bhujal Yojana which seeks to strengthen the institutional framework and bring about behavioural changes at community level for sustainable groundwater resource management is vital. We need to have more community-led Water Security Plans.

 

 


General Studies – 4


 

Topic : Ethical issues in international relations

6. Discuss any four Ethical concerns that are often witnessed in International relations. (250 words)

Reference: Ethics, Integrity and Aptitude by Lexicon publications.

Why the question:

The question is premised on the theme of ethical concerns associated with international relations.

Key Demand of the question:

Discuss in detail any four key ethical concerns in IR according to you.

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 explaining the reasons and possibility of ethical concerns in IR.

Body:

Such answers are best explained with examples, Terrorism and use of state sponsored terrorists and militia, climate change, trade, growth and poverty, Disarmament, Organized crime and human trafficking, Tax havens, Competition for capital among developing and resources among developed, Human rights, Responsibility to protect others, like genocide, ethnic cleansing, issue of Global commons, Strengthening/weakening international institutions, etc. all these can be your four selected themes.

Pick any four and explain in detail.

Conclusion:

Conclude with ways to resolve and overcome such ethical concerns.

Introduction:

International ethics refers to the good that international interactions, exchanges, relations can bring to our planet earth and to all life forms and which can be harmed by unfriendly, hostile, uncooperative behaviours.

Body:

Ethical Concerns in International relations:

Defence and military enterprise:

Every country may be seen as using the power it has to achieve its global interests. International ethics can also be regarded as the use of power by one country against another country to achieve its global goals and protecting its national interests. When aggressively pursued it may lead to certain conflicts. Military involvement and military strengths, strategies and calculations may drive in part international presence, international relations, and influence international ethics through its (propaganda) media.

International conflict and wars are still a possibility and it may even be influenced by the defence related establishments which have international reach and influence. Countries choosing to live side by side by the “law of war” cannot easily be persuaded to give up war or preparations for long term uncertain wars. International conventions on “international law of war” may be binding only when international community scrutinizes and insists on it. For example, the recent news flash about “China-Pakistan Nuclear Deal” provides a competitive nuclear flash point counter to “USA-India Nuclear Deal” making the region more vulnerable to military presence in the Himalayas or border regions, and thus putting a counter weight to world peace and security and international relations.

The inequality of nations:

There are various dimensions that one can compare nations and their strengths, the wellbeing of their population etc. We are in an unequal world and facts point out to a world growing in inequalities. Inequalities point to certain conflicts which may be domestic in origin or international, but they are indicators of disturbing trends. In an unequal world, expectations of equity, international equity are high. In other words, demands of justice may require that we prefer a more equitable world to a less equitable world brought about by international action. It would possibly imply that any international action must aim at benefiting the least advantaged nations more than that would be expected for a most advantaged nation.

Scientific research agendas and projects:

Science has been a driver of international and global developments. Every country has its community of scientific advisers to offer best science advise to their governments and these are in constant international and global contact with their counter parts in exchanging ideas and scientific research trends and information that could be strategically employed. International ethics may be influenced and driven by developments in the scientific research fields. Different research fields have different contexts and so research ethics may be more contextual and 9 international ethics then follows various contextual offerings and multidimensional.

Power and international ethics:

At various times the world attention, gets itself focused on the most powerful nation, both domestically and internationally, a nation that is willing to impose its powerful will on the world, taking into task any nation that challenged its authority and its interests. Many wars and conflicts are indeed triggered by the unilateral moves of dominant nations against other nations that threatened its global interests. What powerful nations have done to other nations cannot be forgotten. International ethics is influenced by various philosophies of international and national power and how this power is played out.

 

Topic : Ethics and Human Interface: Essence, determinants and consequences of Ethics in-human actions; dimensions of ethics; ethics – in private and public relationships. Human Values – lessons from the lives and teachings of great leaders, reformers and administrators; role of Family society and educational institutions in inculcating values.

7. Is society ever justified in regulating so-called victimless crimes like drug use, not wearing a helmet or a seatbelt? Give your opinion from an ethical perspective and justify. (250 words)

Reference: Ethics, Integrity and Aptitude by Lexicon publications

Why the question:

In the current context of ongoing incidences of drug abuse the question hints at the ethical perspectives involved in it.

Key Demand of the question:

One has to analyse if the societal regulation of victimless crimes like drug use, not wearing a helmet or a seat belt is justified.

Structure of the answer:

Introduction:

Discuss the context of the question.

Body:

Ethical issues abound in contemporary society. Ethical issues involve questions of the ethical rightness or wrongness of public policy or personal behavior.  Actions or policies that affect other people always have an ethical dimension, but while some people restrict ethical issues to actions that can help or harm others (social ethics) others include personal and self-regarding conduct (personal ethics).

Many of today’s most pressing issues of social ethics are complex and multifaceted and require clear and careful thought. To reach careful conclusions, these public policy issues require people to engage in complicated ethical reasoning, but the ethical reasoning involving personal issues can be just as complex and multifaceted.

Discuss the approach and solutions according to you and suggest solutions.

Conclusion:

Conclude with solutions and a fair and balanced approach.

Introduction:

A victimless crime is an illegal act that involves consenting adults and lacks a complaining participant.  Such acts have been defined as illegal, but there is no victim that claims to have been harmed; either no harm has occurred, or if harm has occurred to those involved, it is negated because its willing participants have given informed consent to the activity.

Body:

Victimless crimes are also sometimes referred to as public order offenses.  Although there has been some disagreement over which crimes are victimless, five of the most commonly identified victimless crimes are gambling, drug use, pornography, prostitution, and homosexuality.  Additionally, abortion is sometimes referred to as a victimless crime, although this classification has been highly controversial.  Adultery and fornication might formerly be referred to as victimless crimes, but in most states these acts are no longer crimes.

Victimless crimes have been the topic of heated debate, primarily centering on the question as to whether these acts ought to be crimes at all. The arguments take several forms.  One of the controversies involves the importance of personal freedom versus society’s imperative to uphold moral standards.  A second issue addresses the problem of the concept of harm. Concerns are raised as to whether victimless crimes are harmful not only to the participants but to others in society, and whether such acts result in negative consequences that might not be immediately apparent.

The oldest argument concerning victimless crimes concerns personal freedom.  If the individuals involved are consenting adults, they should be free in a democratic society to engage in these behaviors, even if that conduct should be unwise for the individual.  According to this perspective, the government should not be involved in enforcing morality and coercing its citizens to follow particular standards of behavior, thus interfering with their liberty.  On the other hand, some scholars have argued that it is important to uphold moral standards in society.  Such acts should be against the law because they are wrong (sometimes referred to as legal moralism).  If a society does not have standards, there will be chaos.   There are acts that are generally regarded as immoral in a culture; a policy that allows such acts would weaken the social cohesion and consensus about appropriate behavior and ultimately lead to the collapse of society.

The second argument against victimless crimes is that they harm no one else, except possibly the individuals involved, who are free to do as they please.  Some scholars, however, have argued that participants in these crimes do not hurt only themselves.  The offenders’ families may be hurt, and victimless crimes could even lead to other problems where there are unwilling victims.  For example, prostitution and homosexuality might lead to the spread of AIDS.  Drug abusers might commit crimes to obtain drugs; pornography, it is argued, leads to the degradation not only of the participants but of women in general.

In response, critics of victimless crime laws point out that families are often hurt by many acts a family member could commit, and people generally may engage in acts that are indirectly harmful to others, such as investing unwisely in the stock market, eating fast food that results in medical bills which increase insurance costs, and other practices that are not illegal.  The law cannot begin to prohibit so many potentially harmful practices, so it should not forbid other practices that are less socially acceptable.

However, some researchers have indicated that victimless crimes are harmful in ways that do argue for their control and criminalization.  The broken windows argument of crime prevention has altered the harm argument significantly.  This theory states that if such phenomena as minor disorderly conduct, prostitution, liquor shops, illicit drugs and the sale of pornography go unattended, serious crime will increase in a neighborhood.  An area that appears disorderly, (broken windows), is vulnerable to invasion by criminals, thus affecting the quality of lives of its residents and with potentially devastating economic effects.

Yet another problem is that victimless crime provides revenue for organized crime.  Victimless crimes often provide goods and services (such gambling, prostitution, and drugs) for which there is considerable demand.  Organized crime has been able to provide these desired commodities, and victimless crimes serve to fund these groups, creating a lucrative market and keeping such groups in business.

More subtly, the enforcement of victimless crime laws might lead to public disrespect for the law.  If citizens believe that such laws are overreaching and interfere with their liberties, this perception might affect their general views of the criminal justice system.  These laws are difficult to enforce, since they are usually not even reported, and provide goods and services that are in demand.  As such, the laws are likely to be violated, weakening law abiding behaviors.  If they are associated with police corruption and organized crime enterprises, negative views of the police and the law again seem likely to result.

A small number of studies of public perceptions of victimless crimes have indicated that the public finds these acts less serious than other types of crimes, ranking them relatively low in terms of crime seriousness. Drug use, once allowed and even socially acceptable, is now punished much more severely, and increases in prison populations reflect this change in policy. Therefore, the prosecution of victimless crimes also reflects changes in attitudes and moral standards, as well as political factors and social forces, complicating the debate even further.

Conclusion:

It seems unlikely that the debates concerning such acts as homosexuality, prostitution, drug use, gambling and pornography will be resolved.  There are not clearly accepted definitions of “consensus” or “harm” or “offender” or” victim” concerning such acts.  The issue of harm is a major point of contention in the debate.  It is not clear whether the concept of harm should be confined to the actions of the individuals involved, or whether potential harm to others or society should be a factor, and to what degree.  Even then, the question is whether ignoring victimless crime does more harm than good versus prosecuting such acts, as either policy potentially appears to have both positive and negative consequences, for both citizens and the criminal justice system.


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