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SECURE SYNOPSIS: 13 February 2021

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


1. Compare and contrast Nagara and Dravida style of architecture. (250 words)

Reference: Indian art and culture by Nitin Singhania.


Temple architecture of high standard developed in almost all regions during ancient India. The distinct architectural style of temple construction in different parts was a result of geographical, climatic, ethnic, racial, historical and linguistic diversities. Ancient Indian temples are classified in three broad types. This classification is based on different architectural styles, employed in the construction of the temples. Three main style of temple architecture are the Nagara or the Northern style, the Dravida or the Southern style and the Vesara or Mixed style. But at the same time, there are also some regional styles of Bengal, Kerala and the Himalayan areas.


In India, every region and period produced its own distinct style of temples with its regional variations. However, the basic form of the Hindu temple comprises the following:

  • Sanctum (garbhagriha literally ‘womb-house’): A small cubicle with a single entrance and grew into a larger chamber in time. The garbhagriha is made to house the main icon which is itself the focus of much ritual attention;
  • the entrance to the temple which may be a portico or colonnaded hall that incorporates space for a large number of worshippers and is known as a Mandapa;
  • freestanding temples tend to have a mountain-like spire, which can take the shape of a curving Shikhar in North India and a pyramidal tower, called a Vimana, in South India;
  • The Vahan, e., the mount or vehicle of the temple’s main deity along with a standard pillar or dhvaj is placed axially before the sanctum.

Differences between the North Indian (Nagara style) and South Indian (Dravida style) of temple architecture:


Basis Dravidian style of architecture Nagara style of architecture
Location According to the Silpasastras, those temples which are situated between the Krishna River and Kanyakumari are Dravida style. According to the Silpasastras, north Indian temples are Nagara style.
Central Tower It has pyramidical shaped central tower (called Vimana in Dravida style). In this style, there is only one single Shikhara or Vimana. It is characterized by a beehive shaped curvilinear tower (called a Shikhara, in northern terminology) made up of layer upon layer of architectural elements and a cruciform ground plan. In this style, there is a multiple Shikharas.
Gopuram Gopuram is the most prominent. It is stylized and big in size. In Nagara style, the Shikhara remains the most prominent element of the temple and the gateway is usually modest or even absent.
Boundary In this style, temples have elaborated boundary. In this style, boundary has less emphasised.
Entrance In this style, Dwarpalas are there on the entrance. In this style, Ganga and Yamuna rivers are depicted in personified form at the entrance of Garbhagriha or sanctum sanctorum.
Tower Dravidian temple architecture usually has a Raja Gopuram (biggest tower) at the main gate and a small tower for the sanctum sanctorum (exception being Tanjore Big temple). South Indian temple gopurams are extremely intricate filled with statues. This is quite the reverse in North Indian temples, where the height of the structure is progressive starting from a lower height gate leading to a tall tower where the sanctum is present. Also North Indian temple towers are mostly presented in a minimalist fashion with less or no statues in them.
Pedestal In this style, pedestals are more or less at ground level. In this style, pedestals are higher than ground.
Prakarams or corridors South Indian temples have various layers of long corridors surrounding the main temple structure. Prakarams aren’t a usual part of North Indian temples.
Deities In South Indian temples, the deities are decorated with precious ornaments and stones. Even the smallest temple will be having a Utsava murthy made of PANCHA LOHA (5 type of metals) and all the big temples have elephants for temple procession and a chariot to carry the Utsava murthy. The deities present in these North Indian temples are mainly made up of Marble stones. The deities are not decorated with jewels or precious stones as people are allowed near god. There are no Utsava murtis in these temples. Chariots are not there except Puri Jagannath temple.
Sculptures on the outside In this style, temples have deities outside. In this style, temples have deities inside.
Water bodies Southern temples have large ponds within the temple premises. North India has a lot of rivers, so it doesn’t need any ponds (except in places like Gujarat, which has beautiful ponds).
Purpose Temples in South have not only been religious centres, but were also used for administrative activities, controlling vast areas of land and were also centres of education. Most of the temples in Nagara style had only religious purpose.



The temple architecture was mainly influenced by geographical, ethnic, racial, historical and linguistic diversities of Indian sub-continent. Every region and period produced its own distinct style of images with its regional variations in iconography.  The temple is covered with elaborate sculpture and ornament that form a fundamental part of its conception.


2. Discuss the gradual evolution of Stupa architecture in ancient India. (250 words).

Reference: Indian art and culture by Nitin Singhania, TN Class – XI History book.


The stupa (“stupa” is Sanskrit for heap) is an important form of Buddhist architecture, though it predates Buddhism. It is generally considered to be a sepulchral monument—a place of burial or a receptacle for religious objects. At its simplest, a stupa is a dirt burial mound faced with stone. In Buddhism, the earliest stupas contained portions of the Buddha’s ashes, and as a result, the stupa began to be associated with the body of the Buddha. Adding the Buddha’s ashes to the mound of dirt activated it with the energy of the Buddha himself.



Evolution of Stupa architecture in India:

Early Stupas & the Buddha:

  • The earliest known mention of the word ‘Stupa’ occurs in several ancient scripts.
  • Rigveda refers to a Stupa raised by the King Varuna above the forest in a place having no foundation.
  • The word ‘estuka’ is also used in the same sense in Rigveda, probably by then anything raised on the ground like a heap/pile might have been known as Stupa.
  • However, the Pali word ‘thupa’ is quite similar to the term Stupa.
  • Thupa means a conical heap, a pile or a mound or a conical or bell-shaped shrine containing a relic.
  • The earliest stupas were tumuli erected over the remains of mystics, ascetics, teachers, or others who had displayed profound spiritual insight.
  • These early structures were heaps of earth and stone which either covered the cremated remains of the individual or their corpse, which was buried in a seated, meditative, position.
  • The mound was constructed to cover the body with a wide base tapering up toward the head.
  • This shape was used even in cases where the person had been cremated in order to symbolize the meditative posture assumed by enlightened sages.
  • The Buddha left instructions for his followers that his remains were to be honoured in this same way.
  • These stupas followed the earlier shape but were more elaborate and more carefully constructed to represent the seated Buddha in the lotus position.
  • The sites of these stupas were chosen to correlate to the most important events in the Buddha’s life, including Lumbini (his birthplace), Bodh Gaya (where he attained enlightenment), the Deer Park at Sarnath (where he preached his first sermon), Kushingara (where he died).
  • Buddhist adherents would make pilgrimages to the individual sites or, depending on their ability or level of devotion, to all of them along a sacred route whereby they would symbolically relive the Buddha’s earthly existence.

Buddhism & Ashoka the Great:

  • Buddhism was not a major religion in India even a hundred years after his death.
  • It was a minor philosophical school which had developed, along with others, from the religious tradition of Hinduism.
  • Buddhism gained more ground earlier than Jainism, and both more than Charvaka, but it still remained a minor philosophical school until the reign of Ashoka the Great.
  • The first true stupas were constructed after the reign of Ashoka.
  • Emperor Ashoka, 236 BCE Maurya Empire, redistributed the relics housed in the original stupas into 84,000 stupas throughout the world.
  • While this is an exaggeration and the stupas were built by Ashoka some 250 years after the Buddha’s death, Ashoka is also credited with the construction of numerous stupas that remain to this day, including those at Sanchi and Sarnath.
  • While Indian stupas consist of a solid hemisphere surrounded by a railing, other stupas such as the great stupa at Borobudur (built a thousand years after the one at Sanchi) are considerably more complex.
  • Unlike the Sanchi stupa, the one at Borobodur consists of a polygonal base, with steps leading up to the summit and punctuated by as many as 72 smaller stupas along the way.
  • Another distinct type of stupa architecture prevalent in India during Ashoka’s reign was associated with rock-cut caves.
  • The term ‘chaitya’ is derived from the Sanskrit word ‘Chita’ (The mound of ashes formed by the cremation of a dead body).
  • The earliest ‘rock-cut’ sanctuaries date back to c. 200 B.C.
  • Eventually, it came to mean the earth mound heaped over the ashes or relics of a saint, and chaitya became thus ‘worshipful’.
  • These chambers were carved as retreats for ascetics and monks.
  • The architecture resembled the wooden structures of the time, with barrel-vaulted interiors and vertical grooves on the walls to imitate wooden beams and members.
  • Even the thatched vedikas and toranas of the ‘built-up’ stupas were made to resemble parallel developments in wood-work.

Present Day Stupas:

  • The core ideology of the stupa is retained in terms of architectural design across millennia, and even to this day. However, the difference lies in the material used in the modern-day stupa.
  • For instance, the Sambodhi Chaithya is a stupa built with reinforced concrete on a platform supported by two interlocking arches.
  • Apart from this, stupa is also having access via Elevators.
  • Patliputra karuna Stupa is having glass facade, along with void stupa concept so people can see the holy relics along with ramp design for entrance instead of stairs which makes it barrier free for everyone.


It is thus apparent that the stupa, which was conceived as a simple monument for the Buddha’s corporeal relics, has over time transformed in its form and nomenclature and resulted in various types of structures all over the world. In some regions, even supplementary structures like monasteries have come up alongside stupas, fuelling the inception of new Buddhist orders and sects. However, the core ideology of the stupa remains constant throughout each new development, as does its symbolism and several crucial architectural features. These characteristics must, therefore, be given due consideration and importance while designing any stupa project.


General Studies – 2


3. Uncertainties around the Iran nuclear agreement could lead to tectonic changes in the new global and regional order. Critically Examine. (250 words)

Reference: The Hindu


The 2015 nuclear deal with Iran has gone into a lull. The new Biden administration also has taken a stern view saying that they will not come to the negotiating table unless Iran stops the breach of its commitments. The possible revival of the deal or otherwise will have a great impact on West Asian geopolitics as well as the global and regional order.


Iran Nuclear deal: Background

  • In 2015, Iran with the P5+1 group of world powers – the USA, UK, France, China, Russia, and Germany agreed on a long-term deal on its nuclear programme.
  • The deal was named as Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) and in common parlance as Iran Nuclear Deal.
  • Under the deal, Iran agreed to curb its nuclear activity in return for the lifting of sanctions and access to global trade.
  • The agreement allowed Iran to accumulate small amounts of uranium for research but it banned the enrichment of uranium, which is used to make reactor fuel and nuclear weapons.
  • Iran was also required to redesign a heavy-water reactor being built, whose spent fuel would contain plutonium suitable for a bomb and to allow international inspections.
  • In May 2018, the USA abandoned the deal criticising it as flawed and reinstated and tightened its sanctions.

Impact on the global and regional order:

  • West Asia Turmoil: Israel, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates will be in a face-off with Iran and its allies, Iraq, Syria and its Shia militia — in a prolonged war of attrition that does not resolve any issue, but continues to wreak death and destruction.
  • New dynamics: Alternatively, we could see a genuine regional effort to ease tensions and promote regional confidence, spearheaded by Qatar, working with Russia and, possibly, China.
    • Qatar’s Foreign Minister has already proposed direct engagement with Iran.
  • Russia-China-Iran axis: Not only is Russia now an influential player in the region, China, too, with its Belt and Road Initiative, has high stakes in regional stability.
    • The Sino-Iran 25 years’ agreement, which was leaked last year, envisages their substantial and long-term cooperation in political, security, military, economic, energy and logistical connectivity areas.
  • India’s role: India will find itself in a precarious situation with Iran and its Balancing act may no longer hold good, if Iran is pushed towards China.
  • Iran’s defence capacity: The capabilities of Iran’s precision missiles and drones are also a matter of regional anxiety.
    • Iran has focused on the domestic development of missiles due to international sanctions on defence supplies.
    • This will threaten regional security and a new arms race in West Asia.
  • Support to militia: Despite the sanctions, Iran’s regional influence remains significant, based on the backing of Shia militia in such diverse locales as Lebanon, Iraq, Yemen and Syria.
    • The Iranian ability to mobilise militants across the region is viewed by Israel and some the Gulf Arab states as threatening their security, the latter being concerned about Iran’s influence with their Shia populations as well.
  • USA views Iran as a “malign actor” in the region. USA has referred to Iran’s “active ballistic missiles” programmes, the fact that it is still “re-spinning centrifuges”, and highlighted the need to protect the U.S.’s regional partners from Iran’s “acts of terrorism”


All countries part of the 2015 deal should engage constructively and resolve all issues peacefully and through dialogue. Both the USA and Iran must act with strategic restraint as any crisis in West Asia will not only affect the region as a whole but will have a detrimental impact on global affairs as well.


4.  In the rapidly evolving global geo-political landscape, the healing and supportive actions by India through ‘Vaccine Maitri’ initiative will have a huge impact in promoting peace, security, cooperation and prosperity in the region and the world. Comment. (250 words)

Reference: Indian Express


India will officially start its vaccine diplomacy with the name “Vaccine Maitri” under its Neighbourhood First policy. Vaccine Diplomacy is the use of vaccines to increase a country’s diplomatic relationship with other countries.



  • India is the largest producer of vaccines and 60% global vaccine production comes from India.
  • It is a leader in supply of BCG, DPT and Measles vaccine.
  • It supplies 1.5 million doses of various vaccines to 150 countries.
  • WHO sources 70% of essential immunisation medications from India.

Vaccine Maitri:

  • India will supply Made-in-India Covid-19 vaccines to its neighbouring and key partner countries Under its Neighbourhood First policy.
  • Bhutan, Maldives, Bangladesh, Nepal, Myanmar and Seychelles will be some of the first nations to get vaccines from India.
  • As part of India’s vaccine donation programme, a consignment of 50,000 (fifty thousand) doses of COVISHIELD vaccine is reaching Seychelles soon, making it one of the four Indian Ocean countries to receive the doses.
  • Myanmar is one of the first countries to receive government of India’s gift of the “Make in India” 1.5 million doses of COVIDSHIELD vaccines, manufactured by the Serum Institute of India (SII).
  • Sri Lanka, Afghanistan and Mauritius will also get doses once they give necessary regulatory approvals.
  • Mauritius, one among the Indian Ocean countries is set to receive a consignment of 100,000 (1 lakh) doses of COVISHIELD vaccine, as Indian grant. The country is also an important part of India’s vision of SAGAR.
  • Pakistan has not been named as a neighbouring country which will get the vaccine.
  • Vaccine will be Supplied to the partner countries in a phased manner, keeping in mind the demand.

Vaccine Diplomacy:

  • India has taken a position that a significant percentage of the approved doses will be permitted for exports.
  • India’s vaccine diplomacy has reached 17 nations, including neighbouring countries as well as those in West Asia, Africa and Latin America.
  • The latest figures indicate that India has supplied 56 lakh doses of Covid-19 vaccines as part of an international grant while another 1 crore doses have been shipped or flown out of the country commercially.
  • While its exports to neighbouring counties will be under grant mode, initial shipment of vaccines to least developed countries will be free of cost.
  • On the contrary, China’s Sinovac has received lukewarm response due to new info unveiled on its efficacy from Brazil and Pakistan.
  • The ability to produce large volumes of vaccine at an affordable cost underlines India’s importance to developing countries when it comes to drug access.


India’s approach only reinforces the need of having coordinated global efforts in bringing COVID-19 under control. It also shows that, more commitment is needed from the developed world, going beyond nationalist values to attain the SDG 3 (“Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages).


General Studies – 3


5. A stable and equitable trade policy with clear direction will provide clear price signals for different market stakeholders and boost the domestic production of oilseed crops. Examine. (250 words)

Reference: Down to earth


India holds a significant share in world oil seed production. The oilseed accounts for 13% of the Gross Cropped Area, 3% of the Gross National Product and 10% value of all agricultural commodities. The diverse agro-ecological conditions in the country are favourable for growing 9 annual oilseed crops, which include 7 edible oilseeds (groundnut, rapeseed & mustard, soybean, sunflower, sesame, safflower and niger) and two non-edible oilseeds (castor and linseed). Oilseeds cultivation is undertaken across the country in about 27 million hectares mainly on marginal lands, of which 72% is confined to rainfed farming. In 2019, India imported around 15 million tons of edible oils worth approximately Rs 7,300 crore.


The major regions in India that produce Oilseeds are:


  • India’s largest oilseed producing state is Gujarat, thanks to its position as top groundnut producing state of India.
  • Rajasthan is India’s top Rapeseed & Mustard producing state, followed by Madhya Pradesh and Haryana. Almost half (48.12%) of Rapeseed and Mustard is produced by only Rajasthan.
  • India’s top Soyabean producing state is Madhya Pradesh with a share of 44% in India’s total production of this protein rich crop.
  • Among other oil crops, Karnataka is largest producer of Sunflower.

Despite such huge production of oilseeds, India’s dependence on imports of oilseeds is increasing by the day. India’s vegetable oil imports crossed 14.5 million tonnes in 2016, worth around Rs 66,000 crores or around US $10 billion. About 60 per cent of the edible oil-related imports are of palmolein, with the remaining made up by soybean, sunflower and rapeseed. The reasons for the same are:

  • Demand-supply gap:
    • Assuming a country-wide average of 28 per cent oil recovery, 32 million tons of oilseeds will yield around 8.4 million tons of edible oil. The domestic production can only meet a little over 30 per cent of the total demand for edible oils, necessitating its import.
    • In 2019, India imported around 15 million tons of edible oils worth approximately Rs 7,300 crore, which accounted for 40 per cent of the agricultural imports bill and three per cent of the overall import bill of the country.
    • Domestic demand for vegetable oils and fats has been rising rapidly at the rate of 6% per year but domestic output has been increasing at just about 2 per cent per annum.
  • Unhealthy dietary habits: The WHO recommended annual per capita oil consumption is 10.5 kgs, Indians consume 14.8 kgs. Not enough effort is being put to curb unhealthy dietary habits, or ensuring that those who consume lower than recommended levels, get their share of edible oil through the Public Distribution System at subsidised prices.
  • Poor Agricultural Planning: Mustard experts point out that on at least 2 million hectares of paddy land in India, which remains fallow after the monsoon season of paddy cultivation, relay cropping of mustard can be taken up which will use residual moisture, and could yield an additional 3.5 to 4 million tonnes of rapeseed-mustard. There is proof of concept in place already in non-conventional mustard-growing areas.
  • Low yield: In India, the average yields of most oilseeds are extremely low as compared to those other countries of the world.
  • Rain-fed cultivation: Most of oilseed production is rain-fed and high risk regions where there are uncertain returns on the investments.
  • Failure of Oilseed missions after 2007-08: The Oilseeds Mission in the 1980s and 1990s increased the area as well as yield of oilseeds impressively. As a result, up until 2007-08, India’s edible oil production exceeded its imports. Post that, the mission has poor direction with low output.
  • Non-adoption of GM crops: The lack of conclusive evidence from GEAC, fears of corporate monopoly and illiteracy of farmers are hindering the adoption of GM crops. The proven facts of higher yield are being missed.

The measures to increase our oilseed production and reduce import bills are:

  • Farm-level measures
    • Irrigation increases the yield. Example: groundnut oil production swings up and down on a wide basis with just 20-25 per cent of the crop under irrigation. Soybean oil, production of which nearly doubled between 2003-04 and 2013-14, has been able to contribute what it did with just less than 1% of the crop under irrigation cover (in contrast, rapeseed-mustard crops have 70-75 per cent irrigation cover).
    • Targeted focus based on the agro-climatic conditions and incentivization of farmers to cultivate the suitable crop of region. Example: oil palm cultivation where India imports the maximum from South-east Asian countries.
    • Large scale adoption of agro-ecological methods like System of Crop Intensification, Relay Cropping is needed. This will not only increase productivity but also reduce use of water resources, and reduce cost of cultivation for farmers.
  • Institution-level measures
    • Better extension systems with downward accountability with the last mile extension gaps plugged as is happening with many agro-ecology centred programmes, productivity can be improved. The practising farmers become Community Level Resource Persons (CRPs).
    • Community level planning processes and institutional frameworks have enabled better utilisation of scarce resources like groundwater for emergency irrigation for groundnut cultivation in states like Andhra Pradesh. These need to be replicated on a large scale.
  • Policy-level measures
    • Higher import duties for imported oil, Remunerative prices, Assured procurement, Domestic pricing will enthuse farmers by increasing their net returns.
    • Policies and missions like NMOOP, ISOPOM to incentivise the very cultivation of oilseeds on a per hectare basis.
    • Provide incentives to private sector participation in processing and value addition in oilseed crops. Also, constraints for low capacity utilization should be addressed.
  • Research and Development
    • There is a need to enlarge the scope of research, technology diffusion and institutional intervention to re-energize the oil sector.
    • This would include increase public research spending in oilseed crops for development of biotic and abiotic stress tolerant varieties.


With growing population and increasing disposable income, the demand for oil will increase. Public funds should be spent on lasting solutions for India’s edible oil crisis. A stable and equitable trade policy with clear direction will provide clear price signals for different market stakeholders and boost the domestic production of oilseed crops.


6. The government will have to walk the talk with result-oriented policies and measures to protect and rejuvenate wetlands. Analyze. (250 words)

Reference: Business – Standard 


Wetlands are Ecotones between terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems. They get periodically get inundated with water. They support a flourishing community of aquatic organisms including frogs and other amphibians. Swamps, marshes and mangroves are examples of wetlands. India has rich wetlands famous for its biodiversity. As of December 2020, there are 42 Ramsar sites in India.

The Government recently set up a new body called Centre for Wetlands Conservation and Management in Chennai on the 50th anniversary of the United Nations-brokered Ramsar Convention on Wetlands. Government seems to have restated its commitment to preserve the biodiversity-rich ecosystems like swamps, marshes, peatlands, coastal lagoons, mangroves, and others.


Rapid degradation of wetlands

  • India has witnessed a rapid degradation of its wetlands. In the last three decades alone, nearly one-third of natural wetlands have been lost to urbanisation, agriculture expansion and pollution.
  • The loss of wetlands in urban areas has been more rapid. Data from 26 cities and towns show that since 1970s, for every one square kilometre increase in built up area, 25 ha of wetlands has been lost.
  • Wetlands loss needs to be seen not just as a biodiversity crisis, but as a development crisis, which could lead to more water, food and climate insecurity for society.
  • A transformed response to address rapid wetlands degradation and loss would be to pursue the integration of wetlands, and their wide-ranging values, within developmental programming at various levels.
  • The Wildlife Institute of India’s survey reveals that 70-80% of individual freshwater marshes and lakes in the Gangetic flood plains have been lost in the last five decades
  • The loss of wetlands leads to environmental and ecological problems, which have a direct impact on the socio-economic benefits of the associated populace. Serious consequences, including increased flooding, species decline, deformity, or extinction and decline in water quality could result.

The importance of wetlands to the ecosystem:

  • Wetlands play an integral role in the ecology of the watershed. The combination of shallow water, high levels of nutrients and primary productivity is ideal for the development of organisms that form the base of the food web and feed many species of fish, amphibians, shellfish and insects
  • Wetlands are among the most productive ecosystems in the world, comparable to rain forests and coral reefs. An immense variety of species of microbes, plants, insects, amphibians, reptiles, birds, fish and mammals can be part of a wetland ecosystem.
  • Wetlands are indispensable for the countless benefits or “ecosystem services” that they provide humanity, ranging from freshwater supply, food and building materials, and biodiversity, to flood control, groundwater recharge, and climate change mitigation.
  • Wetlands are an important resource for sustainable tourism.
  • They carry out water purification, filtration of sediments and nutrients from surface water.
  • They help in nutrients recycling, groundwater recharging and stabilization of local climate.
  • Buffer (act as a riparian buffer) shorelines against erosion and pollutants.
  • They act as a genetic reservoir for various species of plants (especially rice).
  • Wetlands function as natural sponges that trap and slowly release surface water, rain, snowmelt, groundwater and flood waters.

Threats to wetlands:

Urbanization Wetlands near urban centers are under increasing developmental pressure for residential, industrial and commercial facilities. Urban wetlands are essential for preserving public water supplies.
Anthropogenic activities Due to unplanned urban and agricultural development, industries, road construction, impoundment, resource extraction and dredge disposal, wetlands have been drained and transformed, causing substantial economic and ecological losses in the long term.
Agricultural activities Following the Green Revolution of the 1970s, vast stretches of wetlands have been converted to paddy fields. Construction of a large number of reservoirs, canals and dams to provide for irrigation significantly altered the hydrology of the associated wetlands.
Hydrologic activities Construction of canals and diversion of streams and rivers to transport water to lower arid regions for irrigation has altered the drainage pattern and significantly degraded the wetlands of the region.
Deforestation Removal of vegetation in the catchment leads to soil erosion and siltation
Pollution Unrestricted dumping of sewage and toxic chemicals from industries has polluted many freshwater wetlands
Salinization Over withdrawal of groundwater has led to salinization
Aquaculture Demand for shrimps and fishes has provided economic incentives to convert wetlands and mangrove forests to develop pisciculture and aquaculture ponds.
Introduced species Indian wetlands are threatened by exotic introduced plant species such as water hyacinth and salvinia. They clog waterways and compete with native vegetation.
Climate change Increased air temperature; shifts in precipitation; increased frequency of storms, droughts, and floods; increased atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration; and sea level rise could also affect wetlands.

Conservation of wetlands:

  • Showing an early commitment to protecting wetlands, India became one of the first signatories to the Ramsar Convention in 1981.
  • The good work in Chilika continues and today it is the largest wintering ground for migratory birds on the subcontinent.
  • The Indian government has been updating Ramsar Sites Information Service (RSIS), an international resource guide and information database for Ramsar wetlands globally.
  • Through this searchable database, one can track spatial boundary, management plans and up-to date information on any wetland of importance.
  • India has also identified 115 sites as wetlands of national importance so far, and the maintenance of these sites is funded through the MoEF&CC
  • National Wetland Conservation Programme (NWCP), a MoEF&CC scheme under which funds are allocated to wetland site management, and asking the states to identify wetlands of importance in their state for such management.
  • Wetlands (Conservation and Management) Rules, 2017:
  • In September 2017, India adopted the Wetlands (Conservation and Management) Rules, 2017.
  • It prohibits conversion of wetland for non-wetland uses, setting up of industries near wetlands, and waste dumping into the water.
  • The Wetlands Rules 2017 require setting up of a State Wetlands Authority in each state and union territory to monitor the notified wetlands in their state.
  • This is a move in the right direction.

Protection laws and government initiatives

Wetlands conservation in India is indirectly influenced by an array of policy and legislative measures (Parikh & Parikh 1999). Some of the key legislations are given below:

  • The Indian Fisheries Act – 1857
  • The Indian Forest Act – 1927
  • Wildlife (Protection) Act – 1972
  • Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act – 1974
  • Territorial Water, Continental Shelf, Exclusive Economic Zone and other Marine Zones Act – 1976
  • Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act – 1977
  • Maritime Zone of India (Regulation and fishing by foreign vessels) Act – 1980
  • Forest (Conservation act) – 1980
  • Environmental (Protection) Act – 1986
  • Coastal Zone Regulation Notification – 1991
  • Wildlife (Protection) Amendment Act – 1991
  • National Conservation Strategy and Policy Statement on Environment and Development – 1992
  • National Policy and Macro Level Action Strategy on Biodiversity-1999

Way forward:

  • Protection: The primary necessity today is to protect the existing wetlands. Of the many wetlands in India only around 68 wetlands are protected. But there are thousands of other wetlands that are biologically and economically important but have no legal status.
  • Planning, managing and monitoring: Wetlands that come under the Protected area network have management plans but others do not. It is important for various stakeholders along with the local community and corporate sector to come together for an effective management plan. Active monitoring of these wetland systems over a period of time is essential.
  • Comprehensive inventory: There has been no comprehensive inventory of all the Indian wetlands despite the efforts by the Ministry of Environment and Forests, Asian Wetland Bureau and World Wide Fund for Nature. The inventory should involve the flora, fauna, and biodiversity along with values. It should take into account the various stakeholders in the community too.
  • Legislation: Although several laws protect wetlands there is no special legislation pertaining specially to these ecosystems. Environment Impact Assessment needed for major development projects highlighting threats to wetlands need to be formulated.
  • Coordinated approach: Since wetlands are common property with multi-purpose utility, their protection and management also need to be a common responsibility. An appropriate forum for resolving the conflict on wetland issues has to be set up. It is important for the ministries to allocate sufficient funds towards the conservation of these ecosystems.
  • Research: There is a necessity for research in the formulation of national strategy to understand the dynamics of these ecosystems. This could be useful for the planners to formulate strategies for the mitigation of pollution. The scientific knowledge will help the planners in understanding the economic values and benefits, which in turn will help in setting priorities and focusing the planning process.
  • Building awareness: For achieving any sustainable success in the protection of these wetlands, awareness among the general public, educational and corporate institutions must be created. The policy makers, at various levels along with site managers need to be educated. As the country’s wetlands are shared, the bi-lateral cooperation in the resource management needs to be enhanced.


Communities engage with wetlands in various ways – from seeking livelihoods to spiritual fulfilment. The values community hold for wetlands are expressed in diverse ways. It is important to integrate community linkages in wetlands management planning, and incentivise community stewardship. This is crucial as over 85% of wetlands in India are in the form of village ponds and tanks.


General Studies – 4


7. Morality is not properly the doctrine of how we may make ourselves happy, but how we may make ourselves worthy of happiness. Explain. (150 words)


This quote is given by Immanuel Kant. Two things that are not compatible are what an individual should do and what the individual wants to do. When an individual does what they want to do they end up in a road that will lead them into immediate happiness but will not benefit them in the long run. On the other hand, when the individual is doing what they should do it will bring them a feeling of discomfort and unhappiness but will benefit them at the end.


Making oneself happy would lead to anarchy and chaos in the world devoid of morality. Morality is the sense which guides us to differentiate between right and wrong. It is the most basic touchstone of ethical behaviour to be able to decide what is right and what is not.

When we make ourselves worthy of happiness it means that our actions are ethical, moral and neutral. When we act under our inclinations, we are happy but it may be prejudiced against someone and we shall not be worthy of that happiness as it comes at the cost of snatching someone else’ happiness.

  • Satisfaction: Morality teaches us not only to take the right decision but to be happy with whatever consequences thus follows.
  • Public Regard: A moral person would always be celebrated and respected by the society.
  • Coherence in actions and thoughts: There is no difference between what our conscience tells us and what we actual do. Hence as a result we don’t suffer from guilt, depression.
  • Self-Worth: When we follow the path shown by our sense of morality, we enjoy our daily work. We take a pride in us and our work. However, if we act out of rationality knowing that what we are doing is the right thing to do will put us in exalted domain of morality.

It means that our act shall be governed by moral duty and not our inclinations. This rational and reasoned act will give us inner satisfaction and peace and happiness thus gained would be absolute and free from any worldly determinant. This way we will make ourselves worthy of happiness.


The purpose of Kantianism is to tell us that morality is not to make us happy but the whole purpose is to do the right thing just for the sake of doing it. It is similar to Gandhiji’s view that only Pure means leads to Purest of the ends. Because he that soweth vice does not reap virtue.

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