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SECURE SYNOPSIS: 9 October 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 : Structure, organization and functioning of the Executive and the Judiciary—Ministries and Departments of the Government; pressure groups and formal/informal associations and their role in the Polity.

1. Do you think Judicial Activism plays a key role in keeping a check on the powers of the Parliament? Critically examine.  (250 words)

Reference: Indian polity by Lakshmikant

Why the question:

The question aims to ascertain the role of judicial activism.

Key Demand of the question:

One has to explain in what way the power of judicial activism is key to the system of checks and balances.

Directive:

Critically examine – When asked to ‘Examine’, we have to look into the topic (content words) in detail, inspect it, investigate it and establish the key facts and issues related to the topic in question. While doing so we should explain why these facts and issues are important and their implications. When ‘critically’ is suffixed or prefixed to a directive, one needs to look at the good and bad of the topic and give a fair judgment.

Structure of the answer:

Introduction:

Define first what you understand by judicial activism.

Body:

Judicial activism in India implies the authority of the Supreme Court and the high courts, but not the subordinate courts, to declare the regulations unconstitutional and void if they breach or if the legislation is incompatible with one or more of the constitutional clauses.

One can as well mark at the difference between judicial activism and judicial overreach.

Depict with suitable examples the role played by Indian judiciary through judicial activism.

Conclusion:

Conclude with importance.

Introduction:

Judicial activism means the proactive role played by the judiciary in the protection of the rights of citizens and in the promotion of justice in the society. In other words, it is the role played by the judiciary to force the other two organs of the government (legislature and executive) to discharge their constitutional duties.

Body:

How judicial activism strengthen Indian democracy?

  • Judicial activism allows judges to adjudicate in favour of progressive and new social policies helping in social engineering.
  • In a modern democratic set up, judicial activism act as a mechanism to curb legislative adventurism and executive tyranny by enforcing Constitutional limits.
  • Judicial activism helps in protecting or expanding individual rights. Where the legislature and the executive fail to protect the basic rights of citizens, like the right to live with dignity, judicial activism plays an important role.
  • Failure of Legislature and Executive to discharge their respective functions results in erosion of the confidence in the Constitution and democracy amongst the citizens. Judicial activism helps in upholding faith of citizens in constitution and judicial organs.
  • Judicial activism helps in ensuring freedom of citizens and help in providing social justice to suffering masses.
  • Judicial activism fills Legislative Vacuum i.e. areas, which lack proper legislation. This help country to meet the changing social needs.
  • In case of a ‘hung’ legislature when the government is weak and insecure, judicial activism play an important role in ensuring social justice.
  • Sometime politicians afraid of taking honest and hard decisions for fear of losing power. Judicial activism helps in plugging such active political lacunae.
  • Judicial activism helps in enhancing administrative efficiency and help in good governance.
  • Judicial activism sometimes helps in balancing powers among various organs of government through judicial control over discretionary powers.
  • Judicial activism allows participation of judiciary in advancement of country and upholding democracy by extending the standard rules of interpretation in achieving economic, social and educational objectives.

How judicial activism undermine parliamentary democracy?

  • The line between judicial activism and Judicial Overreach is very narrow. When judicial activism crosses its limits it leads to Judicial Overreach.
  • It may interfere with the proper functioning of the legislative or executive organs of government.
  • It destroys the spirit of separation of powers. Thus damage balance between various organs of government.
  • Judicial activism may lead to inactivity of legislature and executive, leading to running away from duties and responsibilities which they hold for people of India.
  • In many cases, courts are often ill-equipped and lack experience to weigh the economic, environmental and political costs involved like liquor ban case.
  • The executive remains “accountable” to the people through 5-year election process but judges exercise self-regulation and are insulated from any external control and thus accountable only to themselves, and their own sense of their limits.
  • Sometimes when judicial activism is exercised it is done for solely selfish, political or personal reasons.
  • It reduces the trust people pose in the Parliament and elected representatives as frequent overreach signals executive inactivity and incompetency.
  • It appears as an act of ‘tyranny of unelected’ in a democracy.

Conclusion:

In India judicial activism has played an important role in keeping democracy alive. Pronouncements like Kesavananda Bharti case, Minerva Mill Case etc has helped in keeping all the organs of government in balance and help in keeping society healthy and progressing. Judiciary is expected to maintain its primary allegiance to the law and the Constitution i.e. to the text of legal instruments and legal interpretation, and to the body of judicial precedents.

 

Topic : Indian Constitution—historical underpinnings, evolution, features, amendments, significant provisions and basic structure.

2. While upholding the right to peaceful protest against a law, it is important to set limits for tolerance of dissent in a democracy. Comment. (250 words)

Reference: Indian Express

Why the question:

The Supreme Court said the indefinite occupation of a public road by the Shaheen Bagh protesters unacceptable.

Key Demand of the question:

Discuss the importance of setting limits for tolerance of dissent in a democracy.

Directive:

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

Structure of the answer:

Introduction:

Discuss briefly the context of the question.

Body:

Explain in what way while upholding the right to peaceful protest against a law, it is important to set limits for tolerance of dissent in a democracy.

The judgment upheld the right to peaceful protest against a law. It also made clear that public ways and public spaces cannot be occupied, especially indefinitely.

Discuss in detail the associated nuances; present the verdict of the apex court.

Conclusion:

Conclude by suggesting the way forward and need to respect the limit to tolerance of dissent in a democracy.

Introduction:

The Right to Dissent is an important addition of expressing one’s view, and on many of its most important constituent elements. It will enable practitioners and citizens to claim their rights and participate more effectively in the project of democracy. Disagreeing with each other is a fundamental human trait. There is not a single individual who does not disagree with something or the other all the time.

For instance, the quick arrest of academicians, human rights activists’ journalists and thinkers by the Maharashtra police in connection with the Bhima-Koregaon violence has brought out an interesting remark from the Supreme Court of India.

The apex court said, Dissent is a safety valve for democracy. If this safety valve is not allowed to function, then the pressure cooker will burst.

Body:

Meaning of Dissent:

  • Dissent means “a strong difference of opinion on a particular subject, especially about an official suggestion or plan or a popular belief”.
  • India’s constitutional democracy is predicated on the people’s right to call state power to account.
  • Even at Household level also, there is no family without dissent between parents and the children, or between the siblings. A family which learns to deal with dissent rather than authoritatively dismissing it is a more harmonious family.
  • Recently, while hearing a petition on the ban of protest on the Jantar Mantar in New Delhi, the SC held that Right to peaceful protest is the fundamental right guaranteed under the constitution.
  • The constitution under Article 19(1)(a) provides for freedom of speech and expression and also under Article 19(2) provides for reasonable restrictions on such freedom.
  • This particular right is also subject to reasonable restrictions in the interest of sovereignty and integrity of India, as well as public order.
  • A distinguishing feature of any democracy is the space offered for legitimate dissent, which cannot be trampled by any executive action.
  • Thus, the Court recognises that legitimate dissent is a distinguishable feature of any democracy.
  • Also observed that, every individual or a group of individuals, whether they are minority or poor or marginalised, have the right to express their dissent to the government policies and fight their social circumstances.
  • Protest strengthen representative democracy by enabling direct participation in public affairs where individuals and groups are able to.

Right to Dissent: Also promoted by International Institutions:

  • Dissent involves the exercise of individual and collective rights of expression, association, assembly, and participation in public affairs.
  • These freedoms encompass rights to receive and impart information, inspire debate, and influence decision-making about issues of public concern.
  • Article 7 of the Declaration on Human Rights Defenders explicitly recognises that ‘Everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, to develop and discuss new human rights ideas and principles and to advocate their acceptance’.
  • Despite legal duties imposed on States to respect, protect and fulfil the rights to dissent and protest, these rights are routinely misunderstood and increasingly violated, with dissenters facing dire consequences including arrest, imprisonment, displacement, disappearance, and death.

Need for Limitations on Right to Dissent:

  • Violent protests and rebellions affect democratic fabric and disregard the law of land.
  • While exercising the right to equality in context of demand for reservation one should not forget the fundamental duty to safeguard public property and abjure violence for E.g.: destruction of Munak canal by protestors.
  • FR cannot be talked in isolation, they are entangled with Fundamental Duties and Natural duties so need to identify the fine balance.
  • Rights and demands should be in consonance with the constitutional ideals and its basic structure.
  • Protestors should come up with collective interest keeping aside their vested or personal interest.
  • Integrity and sovereignty of nation should not get affected.
  • Government should come up with certain guidelines for protests that incite violence and create disharmony:
  • Penalties should be imposed for destruction of public property. (as it is also a FD)
  • Protest should not result into abrupt failure of basic public services (like water supply and food supply).
  • Identification of Fringe elements with vested interest. (strong surveillance system)

CONCLUSION:

  • The course of democracy anywhere in the world is defined by events that test the resilience of democracy and also add to it.
  • Indeed, dissent is the quintessential part of democracy and allows people to have their opinions and to voice those without fear of intimidation.
  • ‘Freedom of expression, freedom of association and the right to peaceful assembly are often compartmentalised and discussed individually, with little regard to their interdependence.
  • This unique guide of Protests provides activists, human rights defenders, jurists, NGOs, corporate actors, and government authorities with the tools and knowledge necessary to ensure rights, protect the lives and liberty of dissenters, enable meaningful participation in public life, and promote the rule of law.
  • The philosophy of dissent and democracy has also inspired our freedom movement and defines India’s constitutional democracy, which is predicated on the people’s right to call state power to account, albeit within the constitutional framework.

Thus, when we hear the voices of dissent from the oppressed and the marginalised, it is ethically incumbent upon those who are better off than them to give them greater space and greater freedom to dissent.

 

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

3. In what way Natural Gas Marketing Reforms will help in taking another significant step to move towards gas based economy? Explain. (250 words)

Reference: pib.gov.in

Why the question:

CCEA approved natural Gas marketing reforms recently thus the question.

Key Demand of the question:

Explain in what way Natural Gas Marketing Reforms will help in taking another significant step to move towards gas based economy.

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 present the natural gas marketing reforms.

Body:

Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs approved ‘Natural Gas Marketing Reforms’, taking another significant step to move towards gas based economy.

The policy aims to provide standard procedure for sale of natural gas in a transparent and competitive manner to discover market price by issuing guidelines for sale by contractor through e-bidding.

This will bring uniformity in the bidding process across the various contractual regimes and

Policies to avoid ambiguity and contribute towards ease of doing business.

List down the benefits of such reforms.  

Conclusion:

Conclude that such reforms will ensure sustainability of the domestic production in long run.

Introduction:

Natural gas is a fossil fuel source consisting primarily of methane. It is the cleanest fossil fuels among the available fossil fuels. It is used as a feedstock in the manufacture of fertilizers, plastics and other commercially important organic chemicals as well as used as a fuel for electricity generation, heating purpose in industrial and commercial units.

Body:

Natural gas scenario in India:

  • The share of domestic gas and imported RLNG was about 48% & 52% respectively. The City Gas Distribution (CGD) accounts for the largest consumption of natural gas followed by fertilizers, power and other industrial sectors.
  • Natural gas currently makes up for 6.2 per cent of all energy consumed in the country. To cut dependence on polluting coal and liquid fuels, the government is targeting its share to rise to 15 per cent by 2020-30.

Benefits of moving towards Natural Gas usage:

  • Energy Efficient:Natural gas produces more energy than any of the fossil fuels in terms of calorific value.
  • Cleaner fuel:Natural gas is a superior fuel as compared with coal and other liquid fuels being an environment-friendly, safer and cheaper fuel.
  • Economy of use:Natural Gas (as CNG) is much cheaper compared with petrol or Diesel.
  • Emission commitments:India made a commitment to COP-21 Paris Convention in December 2015 that by 2030, it would reduce carbon emission by 33%-35% of 2005 levels.
  • Diverse applications:Natural gas can be used as domestic kitchen fuel, fuel for the transport sector as well as a fuel for fertilizer industries and commercial units.
  • Supply-chain convenience: Natural Gas is supplied through pipelines just like we get water from the tap. There is no need to store cylinders in the kitchen and thus save space.

Various government initiatives:

  • The Hydrocarbon Exploration and Licensing Policy (HELP) is a policy indicating the new contractual and fiscal model for the award of hydrocarbon acreages towards exploration and production (E&P).
  • The Pradhan Mantri Urja Ganga (PMUG) pipeline project currently under will provide connectivity to another flagship project, the North-East Gas Grid.
  • The Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana, which aims to provide free cooking gas connections to poor families is also a roaring success.
  • Moreover, India is constantly moving to revive the 1,814-kilometre-long Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI)transnational gas pipeline which is in shamble for years.

 Natural Gas Marketing Reforms:

  • Gas-based economy implies gas as the main commercial energy source in the energy mix of an economy.
  • The reforms aim to provide a standard procedure for the sale of natural gas in a transparent and competitive manner to discover market price by issuing guidelines for sale by the contractor through e-bidding.
  • This will bring uniformity in the bidding process across the various contractual regimes and policies to avoid ambiguity and contribute towards ease of doing business.

Components of the policy

  • The objective of the policy is to prescribe standard procedure to discover market price of gas to be sold in the market by gas producers, through a transparent and competitive process.
  • It would permit affiliates to participate in bidding process for sale of gas and allow marketing freedom to certain Field Development Plans (FDPs) where Production Sharing Contracts already provide pricing freedom.

Objectives of these reforms

These reforms will build on a series of transformative reforms rolled out by the Government in last several years. These reforms in gas sector will further deepen and spur the economic activities in the following areas:

  • The whole eco-system of policies relating to production, infrastructure and marketing of natural gas has been made more transparent with a focus on ease of doing business.
  • These reforms will prove very significant for Aatmanirbhar Bharat by encouraging investments in the domestic production of natural gas and reducing import dependence.
  • These reforms will prove to be another milestone in moving towards a gas-based economy by encouraging investments.
  • The increased gas production-consumption will help in the improvement of the environment.
  • These reforms will also help in creating employment opportunities in the gas-consuming sectors including MSMEs.
  • The domestic production will further help in increasing investment in the downstream industries such as City Gas Distribution and related industries.

Challenges:

  • Lack of infrastructure:  India has enough storage capacity of the current state of domestic consumption of natural gas. However, to fill the entire energy bucket, we need to increase energy storage.
  • Import dependence: Energy consumption in India is growing at 4.2 per cent per annum, which is the fastest among major economies of the world. Presently 52% of our domestic consumption relies on imported LNG. Moreover, the global disruptions in the import supply-chain can wreak havoc as the general hikes in Diesel prices do.
  • Safety concerns:The global oil and gas market remains vulnerable to a wide range of risk factors, including natural disasters, major technical accidents, and geopolitical tensions among others.
  • Domestic issues and delays:Petroleum including gas falls under the Union List. Pipeline laying has faced land acquisition challenges due to local farmers’ protest and unviable routes causing major project delays.
  • Less-feasible power alternative:Within the power sector, natural gas has received little traction primarily because the per-unit cost of electricity generated by a gas-fired power plant in India is higher than that from fossil fuels such as coal.
  • Ecological concerns:Offshore drilling operations can possibly affect fish, lead to a build-up of heavy water contaminants, disorient whales and sea life that rely on sonar for navigation and exacerbate the risk of oil spills.
  • Energy Trilemma: In order to build a strong basis for prosperity and competitiveness, India must balance the three core dimensions of the energy trilemma: affordability and access, energy security and environmental sustainability.

Conclusion

A shift to a gas-based economy has to ensure both availability and affordability. Availability may be ensured by increasing production or import, developing the requisite delivery infrastructure — terminals, stations and pipelines.

The current gas market is dominated by countries such as the US, Qatar and Russia. India must make use of these multiple gas production centres and ensure a balanced geographical portfolio of imports to ensure a robust and secure natural gas strategy as it does for Oil.

India will have to embark on a balanced approach to develop indigenous gas resources, maybe through technology-intensive deeper drilling techniques and large scale import tie-ups.

 

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

4. Triumph of Atmanirbhar Bharat initiative hinges upon Skill India. Analyse. (250 words)

Reference: pib.gov.in

Why the question:

The question is in the context of Minister of Skill development conversation at PHD Chamber on its 115th Annual Session.

Key Demand of the question:

Explain in what way success of Atmanirbhar Bharat initiative hinges upon Skill India.

Directive:

AnalyzeWhen asked to analyse, you have to examine methodically the structure or nature of the topic by separating it into component parts and present them as a whole in a summary.

Structure of the answer:

Introduction:

Briefly write about Atmanirbhar Bharat.

Body:

Write the challenges associated with respect to lack of skills. 

Then move onto explaining about the prospect of integrating Make in India with Skill India.

Talk about Skilling, re-skilling, up-skilling and industry-connect skilling, relate it with Atmanirbhar Bharat.

Conclusion:

Conclude with importance of Atmanirbhar Bharat initiative and integrating it with skill India.

Introduction:

The Aatmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan (meaning self-reliant India scheme) was announced in four tranches by the Union Finance Minister in May 2020. The economic stimulus relief package announced by the government is touted to be worth Rs.20 Lakh crores. This includes the already announced Rs 1.70 lakh crore relief package, as the PMGKY, for the poor to overcome difficulties caused by the coronavirus pandemic and the lockdown imposed to check its spread.

Body:

5 Pillars of Aatmanirbhar Bharat Scheme

  • The Prime Minister announced that an Aatmanirbhar Bharat or a self-reliant India should stand on the following five pillars:
  • Economy
  • Infrastructure
  • 21st-century technology-driven arrangements and system
  • Demand
  • Vibrant Demography
  • The 20 lakh crore worth package is almost 10% of the GDP of the country.
  • The package emphasizes on land, labour, liquidity, and laws.
  • The package includes measures across many sectors such as MSME, cottage industries, middle class, migrants, industry, etc.

Context

  • The effects of the pandemic are expected to have a lasting impact on every sphere of activity.
  • Considering this impact, India announced the Aatmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyanto propel the country on the path of self-sustenance.

Objectives

  • Aatmanirbhar Bharat has twin objectives- short term and long term.
    • Reviving different spheres of the economy in the short term.
    • Insulating India from any future global economic downturn, by making it robustin the long run.
  • The Abhiyan seeks to build capacities across sectors and promotelocal products.
  • Further, it would focus on scaling up manufacturing, accelerating infrastructure developmentattracting investmentsand promoting a consumption-led growth.

Youth: Strength of India

  • About 65 per cent of India’s population is below 35 years and50 per cent is below 25 years.
  • With a huge, educated young population, India is uniquely poisedto realise its demographic potential.
  • The fact that Indians are heading several MNCs shows that there is no dearth of knowledge and talent in the country.
  • However, we need to upgrade the skills or upskill the youth to meet the employment needs of technology-driven 21st century.

Opportunities and challenges

  • Pandemic and is being seen by many as an opportunity to upgrade their knowledge and acquire new skills.
  • The fourth industrial revolution has triggered a paradigm change in which digital technology drives the job market.
  • Remote workingwith increasing adoption of digital technology might continue to be dominant mode of working for the near future.
  • It is estimated that nearly 70 per cent of the world’s learners are affected by school closures due to pandemic across education levels.
  • Artificial intelligence, machine learning, data science, cloud computing and Internet of Things will be area of interest for companies.
  • With people opting to online buying, companies will seek to adopt new online marketing strategies.
  • Another important issue that needs to be addressed is ensuring equitable employmentthrough higher participation of women in the workforce.

Way forward for Aatmanirbhar Bharat

 Local to glocal

  • There have been some reassuring developments with an accent on “local to glocal”
  • The production of several lakh PPE kits, a collaboration of automobile industries to produce ventilators, manufacture of more than 70 Made in India products by the DRDO are just a few examples of the capability of Indian scientists, IT professionals and technocrats.

 Reducing import

  • We must aim to gradually reduce importsin every sector from crude oil to heavy machinery.
  • This reduction should be based on the locally available resources, talent, and skills of the human capital.

 Globally competitive product

  • While remaining vocal about local, we must aim at making Indian products to be globally competitive. 
  • We should try to stay ahead in the innovation-led knowledge economy.
  • PSUs and the private sector should not only complementbut collaborate wherever feasible.
  • The private sector must massively step up investments R&D. PSUs too need to modernise in terms of technology.

Conclusion

To remain globally competitive with a well-assured future, we need to focus on “skills, scale and speed”. India has the potential to emerge as the global hub for providing skilled manpower to other nations.

 

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

 GS-3: Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization, of resources, growth, development and employment.

5. The new labour codes do little to provide better pay and definitive rights to platform workers, critically examine. (250 words)

Reference: The Hindu 

Why the question:

The article analyzes the impact of the new labour codes on the platform workers.

Key Demand of the question:

Critically analyse in what way the new labour codes do little to provide better pay and definitive rights to platform workers.

Directive:

Critically examine – When asked to ‘Examine’, we have to look into the topic (content words) in detail, inspect it, investigate it and establish the key facts and issues related to the topic in question. While doing so we should explain why these facts and issues are important and their implications. When ‘critically’ is suffixed or prefixed to a directive, one needs to look at the good and bad of the topic and give a fair judgment.

Structure of the answer:

Introduction:

Three new labour codes were passed by the Parliament recently. One of them is the Social Security Code Bill.

Body:

The new labour codes acknowledge platform and gig workers as new occupational categories in the making.

What a platform worker is allowed to claim as rights, responsibilities and working conditions that can be legally upheld is a key aspect in these codes.

One of the major proposals of the Social Security Code is to bring unorganised sector, gig workers and platform workers under the ambit of social security schemes, including life and disability insurance, health and maternity benefits, provident fund and skill up-gradation.

Present the associated concerns, highlight the core issues and analyse what needs to be done.

Conclusion:

Conclude that the lack of guarantees for better and more stable days for platform workers, even though they are meant to be ‘the future of work’ is a cause of concern and needs to be addressed.

Introduction:

The three new labour codes passed by Parliament recently acknowledge platform and gig workers as new occupational categories in the making.

Body:

Definition issue

  • The specific issues of working in factories, the duration of time needed on a factory floor, and associated issues are recognised as the parameters for defining an ideal worker.
  • The Code on Wages, 2019, tries to expand this idea by using ‘wages’ as the primary definition of who an ‘employee’ is.
  • Yet, the terms ‘gig worker’, ‘platform worker’ and ‘gig economy’not defined with in connection with their wages.
  • The new Code on Social Security allows a platform worker to be defined by their vulnerability — not their labour, nor the vulnerabilities of platform work.

Issues with the code

  • Since the laws are prescriptive,what is written within them creates the limits to what rights can be demanded, and how these rights can be demanded.
  • Platform delivery people can claim benefits, but not labour rights.
  • This distinction makes them beneficiaries of State programmes.
  • This does not allow them to go to courtto demand better and stable pay, or regulate the algorithms that assign the tasks.
  • This also means that the government or courtscannot pull up platform companies for lapses [ex. choice of pay, work hours etc.].

Benefits with no guarantee

  • In the Code on Social Security, 2020, platform workers are now eligible for benefitslike maternity benefits, life and disability cover, old age protection, provident fund, employment injury benefits, and so on.
  • None of these are secure benefits.
  • This means that from time to time, the Central government can formulate welfare schemes that cover these aspects of personal and work security, but they are not guaranteed.
  • Actualising these benefits will depend on the political will at the Central and State government-levels and how unions elicit political support.
  • The language in the Code is open enough to imply that platform companies can be called upon to contribute either solely or with the government.

Conclusion

The ‘platform worker’ identity has the potential to grow in power and scope, but it will be mediated by politicians, election years, rates of under-employment, and large, investment- heavy technology companies that are notorious for not complying with local laws.

 


General Studies – 3


 

Topic : Disaster and disaster management.

6. Analyze the current flood forecasting system in India and its lacunae and suggests appropriate measures to improve it. (250 words)

Reference: The Hindu 

Why the question:

The article analyzes the current flood forecasting system in India and its lacunae and suggests appropriate measures to improve it. Thus the question.

Key Demand of the question:

Analyze the current flood forecasting system in India and its lacunae and suggests appropriate measures to improve it.

Directive:

AnalyzeWhen asked to analyse, you have to examine methodically the structure or nature of the topic by separating it into component parts and present them as a whole in a summary.

Structure of the answer:

Introduction:

Start by explaining the current flood forecasting system in India.

Body:

Present the flood scenario in India first. Floods have been a recurrent phenomenon in India and cause huge losses to lives, properties, livelihood systems, infrastructure and public utilities.

According to the National Disaster Management Authority, around 40 million hectares of land in India are exposed to floods (around 12 percent of the total land area).

The most flood-prone basins are those of the Ganga and Brahmaputra in Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, West Bengal and Assam, followed by Baitarni, the Brahmani, and the Subarnarekha basin in Odisha.

Explain then the lacunae present in the current flood forecasting system.

Conclusion:

Conclude with measures and solutions.

Introduction:

When the time available to act is just 24 hours regarding flood forecast, there is no clear idea of the area of inundation, its depth, and the accuracy of the forecast in India. These scenarios are often experienced across most flood forecast river points in Assam, Bihar, Karnataka, Kerala or Tamil Nadu.

Body:

Current flood forecasting system

  • In India, local agency makes a decision in a flood forecast in a way they merely use the words “Rising” or “Falling” above a water level at a river point.
  • There are many times this happens in India during flood events, when the district administration, municipalities and disaster management authorities receive such forecasts and have to act quickly.
  • Ensemble forecast
  • In India, there is a form of flood forecast known as the Ensemble forecast that provides a lead time of 7-10 days ahead, with probabilities assigned to different scenarios of water levels and regions of inundation.
  • An example of the probabilities ahead could be something like this: chances of the water level exceeding the danger level is 80%, with likely inundation of a village nearby at 20%.
  • The Ensemble flood forecast certainly helps local administrations with better decision-making and in being better prepared than in a deterministic flood forecast.

Multiple agencies in India

  • The India Meteorological Department (IMD) issues meteorological or weather forecasts while the Central Water Commission (CWC) issues flood forecasts at various river points.
  • The end-user agencies are disaster management authorities and local administrations.
  • Therefore, the advancement of flood forecasting depends on how quickly rainfall is estimated and forecast by the IMD and how quickly the CWC integrates the rainfall forecast (also known as Quantitative Precipitation Forecast or QPF) with flood forecast.
  • Thus, the length of time from issuance of the forecast and occurrence of a flood event termed as “lead time” is the most crucial aspect of any flood forecast to enable risk-based decision-making and undertake cost-effective rescue missions by end user agencies.
  • Outdated technologies and a lack of technological parity between multiple agencies and their poor water governance decrease crucial lead time.

Issues

  • IMD has about 35 advanced Doppler weather radars to help it with weather forecasting.
  • Compared to point scale rainfall data from rain gauges, Doppler weather radars can measure the likely rainfall directly from the cloud reflectivity over a large area; thus, the lead time can be extended by up to three days.
  • But the advantage of advanced technology becomes infructuous because most flood forecasts at several river points across India are based on outdated statistical methods (of the type gauge-to-gauge correlation and multiple coaxial correlations) that enable a lead time of less than 24 hours.
  • This is contrary to the perception that India’s flood forecast is driven by Google’s most advanced Artificial Intelligence (AI) techniques.
  • These statistical methods fail to capture the hydrological response of river basins between a base station and a forecast station. They cannot be coupled with QPF too.
  • Google AI has adopted the hydrological data and forecast models derived for diverse river basins across the world for training AI to issue flood alerts in India. This bypasses the data deficiencies and shortcomings of forecasts based on statistical methods.
  • Just as the CWC’s technological gap limits the IMD’s technological advancement, the technological limitations of the IMD can also render any advanced infrastructure deployed by CWC infructuous.
  • The limitations of altitude, range, band, density of radars and its extensive maintenance enlarge the forecast error in QPF which would ultimately reflect in the CWC’s flood forecast.
  • Forecasting errors increase and the burden of interpretation shifts to hapless end user agencies. The outcome is an increase in flood risk and disaster.

Government’s efforts

  • IMD has begun testing and using ensemble models for weather forecast through its 6.8 peta flops supercomputers named Pratyush and Mihir.
  • The forecasting agency has still to catch up with advanced technology and achieve technological parity with the IMD in order to couple ensemble forecasts to its hydrological models.
  • It has to modernise not only the telemetry infrastructure but also raise technological compatibility with river basin-specific hydrological, hydrodynamic and inundation modelling.
  • It is only then that India can look forward to probabilistic-based flood forecasts with a lead time of more than seven to 10 days and which will place it on par with the developed world.
  • Central Water Commission (CWC) has modernised its flood management system over the years, there are still massive gaps that need to be filled to make it a much more responsive system.
  • Two types of measures are taken for flood protection: Structural (embankments, dams, reservoirs, and natural detention basins), and non-structural (flood forecasting and warning, floodplain zoning).

Global lessons

  • The developed world has shifted from deterministic forecasting towards ensemble weather models that measure uncertainty by causing perturbations in initial conditions, reflecting the different states of the chaotic atmosphere.
  • India has moved to using hydrological (rainfall-runoff models) capable of being coupled with QPF.
  • The United States which is estimated to have a land area thrice that of India, has about 160 next generation S-band Doppler weather radars with a range of 250-300 km.
  • The United States, the European Union and Japan have already shifted towards Ensemble flood forecasting along with Inundation modelling.
  • India has only recently shifted towards Deterministic forecast i.e. Rising or Falling type forecast per model run.
  • India will need at least an 80-100 S-band dense radar network to cover its entire territory for accurate QPF.

Suggestions

  • On the structural side, the management of reservoirs and dams, maintenance of embankments and data collection on a river’s silt-bearing capacity have to be improved.
  • On the non-structural side, data on river flow and discharge must be enhanced; the installation and maintenance of technical equipment such as gauges have to be expedited.
  • The information on floods is given to the public; it has to be timely, useful and in a non-technical language.
  • An independent evaluation of the flood forecasting system must be put in place to identify the gaps in the system, and ensure that CWC performs its role better than it is doing now.

Conclusion:

India has a long way to go before mastering ensemble model-based flood forecasting. With integration between multiple flood forecasting agencies, end user agencies can receive probabilistic forecasts, reducing flood hazard across the length and breadth of India.

 

 


General Studies – 4


 

Topic : Probity in Governance: Concept of public service; Philosophical basis of governance and probity; Information sharing and transparency in government, Right to Information, Codes of Ethics, Codes of Conduct, Citizen’s Charters, Work culture, Quality of service delivery, Utilization of public funds, challenges of corruption.

7. Probity and efficiency need not necessarily be exclusive. Explain with suitable examples. (250 words)

Reference: Ethics, Integrity and Aptitude by Lexicon Publications

Why the question:

The question is premised on the importance of probity and efficiency.

Key Demand of the question:

Explain with examples in what way probity and efficiency need not necessarily be exclusive.

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:

Probity in governance is an essential and vital requirement for an efficient and effective system of governance and for socio-economic development.

Body:

Define what probity is, what efficiency is to administration.

Discuss the importance of probity and efficiency in governance and in general administration.

Such questions are best explained with examples; discuss how efficiency and probity can mutually inclusive. Give examples from government offices.

Conclusion:

Conclude with importance of the two and highlight their mutual inclusiveness.

Introduction:

Probity is the act of strict adherence to highest principles and ideals (integrity, good character, honesty, decency) rather than avoiding corrupt or dishonest conduct. It balances service to the community against the self-interest of individuals.

Body:

Importance of probity in the public life:

Probity in public life requires adherence to high moral and ethical standards like integrity, honesty, impartiality, commitment to constitutional principles, dedicated and selfless public service on the part of all public servants. Public servants include not only legislature, executive (temporary and permanent) and judiciary, but also scientists, technocrats, members of statutory, advisory bodies and even non-governmental organisations, educational and research institutions receiving government grants in the conduct and performance of their official duties and responsibilities.

Probity has been described as a risk management approach ensuring procedural integrity. It is concerned with procedures, processes and systems rather than outcomes.

According to Second Administrative Reforms Commission, apart from the traditional civil service values of efficiency, integrity, accountability and patriotism, it is necessary for civil servants to inculcate and adopt ethical and moral values including probity in public life, respect for human rights and compassion for the downtrodden and commitment to their welfare.

Importance of probity in civil services:

  • Our civil servants who should set an example are the worst offenders. Corruption, favouritism, criminalisation of governance, self-centred functionaries etc. have hit at the trust of the people.
  • Poverty, illiteracy, low health care, and unemployment are the major challenges before the country and the biggest hurdle that prevents us from overcoming these challenges is the lack of probity in public life.
  • Probity in public life does not appear to be a serious concern of anyone in India.
  • Probity in governance is the antithesis of corruption in public life.
  • Probity is emphasised by the UN Convention against corruption. Probity is the evidence of ethical behaviour in a particular process.
  • For Government employees and agencies, maintaining probity involves more than simply avoiding corrupt or dishonest conduct. It involves applying public sector values such as impartiality, accountability and transparency.
  • For example: Tough action against illegal sand Mining by IAS officer Durga Shakti Nagpal or against illegal land deal by Ashok Khemka sets an example of essence of probity among govt. officers.

Conclusion:

Probity in governance is an essential and vital requirement for an efficient and effective system of governance and for socio-economic development. Ensuring probity in public sector activities by civil servant is part of every public official’s duty to adopt processes, practices and behaviour that enhance and promote public sector values and interests.


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