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
Reference: Indian Express
The lateral entry mode, which pertains to the appointment of specialists from private sector in government organizations, is an attempt by the government to bring in fresh talent into the bureaucracy.
The lateral entry into administration was recommended by NITI Aayog, in its three-year Action Agenda. The induction of personnel will take place at the middle and senior management levels in the central government. These ‘lateral entrants’ would be part of the central secretariat which in the normal course has only career bureaucrats from the All India Services/ Central Civil Services.
- Recently, the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) issued an advertisement seeking applications “from talented and motivated Indian nationals willing to contribute towards nation building” for three posts of Joint Secretary and 27 of Director in central government Departments.
- These individuals, who would make a “lateral entry” into the government secretariat,would be contracted for three to five years.
- These posts were “unreserved”,meaning were no quotas for SCs, STs and OBCs.
- Civil servants enter public service as generalists and have grassroots realities. Building specific domain expertise starts quite late for career bureaucrats.
- To bring in fresh ideas and new approaches to governance. Expert advice and opinion for efficient administration and fulfilling the aspirations of people
- The present system of frequent and arbitrary transfers hinders gaining of the relevant experience by incumbent officers. They spend less than 16 months, on average, in any post; and studies shows only 24% of postings are viewed as “merit-based” by bureaucrats themselves.
- Former instances:
- Lateral entry into finance ministry produced illustrious public servants like Manmohan Singh, Montek Singh Ahluwalia and Vijay Kelkar etc.
- Outside talent from the private sector is more likely to be target-oriented, which will improve the performance of the government.
- Lateral entry scheme, if implemented properly, may foster more competitive spirit, break the complacency of the higher civil servants and eventually prove to be a pioneering initiative in public interest.
- Question often raised in this context is whether the higher bureaucracy is equipped to comprehend complex economic and technical issues in order to properly aid and advise the Minister. Doubts are raised whether civil servants can handle diverse portfolios from civil aviation to power to defence.
- The three-year action agenda released by NITI Aayog in August 2017 said “policymaking is a specialized activity” and “lateral entry will have the beneficial side effect of bringing competition to the established career bureaucracy”.
- Lateral entry at the level of Secretary has met with some success earlier:
- Besides, Secretaries to the Departments of Atomic Energy, Science & Technology, Scientific and Industrial Research, Health Research, and Agricultural Research have always been scientists of eminence.
- Similarly, in departments like the Railways, Posts, etc., all senior positions are manned by Indian Railway or Postal Service officers. Therefore, there is nothing very original in the new initiative to allow entry at the level of Joint Secretary.
However, it has challenges too:
- Many serving Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officers see this move as threatening their hegemony.
- Experts criticize this move as the beginning of the end of a neutral and impartial civil service with the likely induction of loyalists to the current dispensation.
- Doubts have been expressed if private business houses would plant their people in order to influence government policies.
- Differences in work culture may often come in the way.
- The width and depth of field experience which the civil services provide is not available with outside talent.
- Interests and motivation vary from person to person. Therefore, short term entry of officers through lateral entry might lead to corrupt practices.
- The private sector who ran Air India, Indian Airlines and Vayudoot proved to be failures.
- Lateral entry into civil services undermines reservation policy.
- If a person from a private infrastructure company is appointed in an infra ministry it will lead to questions of morality, ethics and conflict of interest.”
- Lack of transparency, honesty and political interference in the selection process.
- Nobody knows why a particular individual was selected and why others more qualified were left out.
- It is difficult to assess the performance of a secretary to the government due to complex nature of the job. So it would be difficult to measure the performance of lateral entrants.
- If the selection is politically motivated, it may degrade the system.
- An intensive training program for entrants from the private sector to civil services need to be formulated which help them understanding the complex nature of work in Government.
- There should be open competition for the Lateral entry with due transparent process including all necessary checks and balances to ensure persons with integrity and political neutrality enters the government service.
- Government must ensure that only candidates, the likes of whom are not available in the existing system, are appointed. If they turn out to be truly outstanding, there should be provisions to induct them permanently in the government, with approval of the UPSC, and consider them for higher postings.
- Government must also allow deputation of its officers to private sector as well so that they get exposure to market practices and fresh ideas.
- The remedy lies not through lateral induction but through more rigorous performance appraisal and improved personnel management.
- The government can consider lateral entry to head certain mission-mode projects and public-sector entities where private-sector expertise actually matters.
- The process of selection needs to be transparent.
- A credible statutory agency like UPSC should be entrusted with the responsibility of recruitment.
After all, the structure that we have inherited is largely a colonial structure which regrettably, hasn’t undergone many changes even after 70 years of Independence. Thus, this ‘revolving-door’ which is there in some countries can be adopted by us as long as we keep an open mind, and see how it functions. But the key again to the success of this scheme would lie in selecting the right people in a manner which is manifestly transparent.
Reference: Indian Express
Universal health coverage means that all people have access to the health services they need (prevention, promotion, treatment, rehabilitation and palliative care) without the risk of financial hardship when paying for them.
Health accessibility and affordability remain a crucial healthcare problem even in the 21st century. Therefore, World Health Organisation chose “Universal Health Coverage” as the theme for World Health Day 2019. India started working towards the universal problem of affordability and accessibility with the introduction of Ayushman Bharat.
Significance of UHC:
- Universal health coverage has a direct impact on a population’s health and welfare.
- Access and use of health services enables people to be more productive and active contributors to their families and communities.
- It also ensures that children can go to school and learn.
- At the same time, financial risk protection prevents people from being pushed into poverty when they have to pay for health services out of their own pockets.
- Universal health coverage is thus a critical component of sustainable development and poverty reduction, and a key element of any effort to reduce social inequities.
- Universal coverage is the hallmark of a government’s commitment to improve the wellbeing of all its citizens.
Issues and Challenges:
- Finance: At about 1.3% of the national income, India’s public healthcare spending between 2008 and 2015, has virtually remained stagnant. This is way less than the global average of 6 per cent. It is a herculean task to implement a scheme that could potentially cost Rs 5 lakh per person and benefit 53.7 crore out of India’s 121 crore citizenry, or roughly about 44% of the country’s population. Over 70 per cent of the total healthcare expenditure is accounted for by the private sector.
- Crumbling public health infrastructure: Given the country’s crumbling public healthcare infrastructure, most patients are forced to go to private clinics and hospitals. There is a shortage of PHCs (22%) and sub-health centres (20%), while only 7% sub-health centres and 12% primary health centres meet Indian Public Health Standards (IPHS) norms.
- High Out of Pocket Expenditure: Reports suggest that 70% of the medical spending is from the patient’s pockets leading to huge burden and pushing many into poverty. Most consumers complain of rising costs. Hundred days into the PMJAY, it remains to be seen if private hospitals provide knee replacement at Rs 80,000 (current charges Rs 3.5 lakh) bypass surgery at Rs 1.7 lakh (against Rs 4 lakh).
- Insurance: India has one of the lowest per capita healthcare expenditures in the world. Government contribution to insurance stands at roughly 32 percent, as opposed to 83.5 percent in the UK. The high out-of-pocket expenses in India stem from the fact that 76 percent of Indians do not have health insurance.
- Doctor-Density Ratio: The WHO reports the doctor-density ratio in India at 8 per 10,000 people as against one doctor for a population of 1,000. To achieve such access, merely increasing the number of primary and secondary healthcare centres is not enough.
- Shortage of Medical Personnel: Data by IndiaSpend show that there is a staggering shortage of medical and paramedical staff at all levels of care: 10,907 auxiliary nurse midwives and 3,673 doctors are needed at sub-health and primary health centres, while for community health centres the figure is 18,422 specialists.
- Rural-urban disparity: The rural healthcare infrastructure is three-tiered and includes a sub-center, primary health centre (PHC) and CHC. PHCs are short of more than 3,000 doctors, with the shortage up by 200 per cent over the last 10 years to 27,421. Private hospitals don’t have adequate presence in Tier-2 and Tier-3 cities and there is a trend towards super specialisation in Tier-1 cities.
- Social Inequality: The growth of health facilities has been highly imbalanced in India. Rural, hilly and remote areas of the country are under served while in urban areas and cities, health facility is well developed. The SC/ST and the poor people are far away from modern health service.
- Poor healthcare ranking: India ranks as low as 145th among 195 countries in healthcare quality and accessibility, behind even Bangladesh and Sri Lanka.
- Commercial motive: lack of transparency and unethical practices in the private sector.
- Lack of level playing field between the public and private hospitals: This has been a major concern as public hospitals would continue receiving budgetary support. This would dissuade the private players from actively participating in the scheme.
- Scheme flaws: The overall situation with the National Health Mission, India’s flagship programme in primary health care, continues to be dismal. The NHM’s share in the health budget fell from 73% in 2006 to 50% in 2019 in the absence of uniform and substantial increases in health spending by States.
Steps taken up currently:
- The National Health Policy (NHP) 2017 advocated allocating resources of up to two-thirds or more to primary care as it enunciated the goal of achieving “the highest possible level of good health and well-being, through a preventive and promotive healthcare orientation”.
- A 167% increase in allocation this year for the Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana (PMJAY) — the insurance programme which aims to cover 10 crore poor families for hospitalisation expenses of up to ₹5 lakh per family per annum.
- The government’s recent steps to incentivise the private sector to open hospitals in Tier II and Tier III cities.
- Individual states are adopting technology to support health-insurance schemes. For instance, Remedinet Technology (India’s first completely electronic cashless health insurance claims processing network) has been signed on as the technology partner for the Karnataka Government’s recently announced cashless health insurance schemes.
Measures needed to strengthen the existing state of Health infrastructure in the country are:
- There is an immediate need to increase the public spending to 2.5% of GDP, despite that being lower than global average of 5.4%.
- The achievement of a distress-free and comprehensive wellness system for all hinges on the performance of health and wellness centres as they will be instrumental in reducing the greater burden of out-of-pocket expenditure on health.
- there is a need to depart from the current trend of erratic and insufficient increases in health spending and make substantial and sustained investments in public health over the next decade.
- A National Health Regulatory and Development Framework needs to be made for improving the quality (for example registration of health practitioners), performance, equity, efficacy and accountability of healthcare delivery across the country.
- Increase the Public-Private Partnerships to increase the last-mile reach of healthcare.
- Generic drugs and Jan Aushadi Kendras should be increased to make medicines affordable and reduce the major component of Out of Pocket Expenditure.
- The government’s National Innovation Council, which is mandated to provide a platform for collaboration amongst healthcare domain experts, stakeholders and key participants, should encourage a culture of innovation in India and help develop policy on innovations that will focus on an Indian model for inclusive growth.
- India should take cue from other developing countries like Thailand to work towards providing Universal Health Coverage. UHC includes three components: Population coverage, disease coverage and cost coverage.
- Leveraging the benefits of Information Technology like computer and mobile-phone based e-health and m-health initiatives to improve quality of healthcare service delivery. Start-ups are investing in healthcare sector from process automation to diagnostics to low-cost innovations. Policy and regulatory support should be provided to make healthcare accessible and affordable.
India needs a holistic approach to tackle problems in healthcare industry. This includes the active collaboration of all stakeholders’ public, private sectors, and individuals. Amore dynamic and pro-active approach is needed to handle the dual disease burden. A universal access to health makes the nation fit and healthy, aiding better to achieve the demographic dividend.
General Studies – 3
Reference: The Hindu
India’s National Digital Communications Policy 2018 highlights the importance of 5G when it states that the convergence of a cluster of revolutionary technologies including 5G, the cloud, Internet of Things (IoT) and data analytics, along with a growing start-up community, promise to accelerate and deepen its digital engagement, opening up a new horizon of opportunities. According to a separate report by telecom gear maker Ericsson, 5G-enabled digitalization revenue potential in India will be above $27 billion by 2026.
Role of 5g mobile technology in telecommunication sector of India:
- Faster Data Speed:
- Currently 4G networks are capable of achieving the peak download speed of one gigabit per second. With Fifth Generation (5G) the speed could be increased up to 10Gbps.
- Ultra-low latency:
- Latency refers to the time it takes for one device to send a packet of data to another device. In 4G the latency rate is around 50 milliseconds but 5G will reduce that to about 1 millisecond.
- A more Connected World:
- 5G will provide the capacity and bandwidth as per the need of the user to accommodate technologies such as Internet of Things.
- Thus, will help to incorporate Artificial Intelligence in our lives. It can also support Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality services.
- Bringing Internet Connectivity Everywhere:
- The speed of 5G will have ripple effects across many industries and geographies.
- High speed internet access is critical to pushing rural industries — like farming and agriculture — to evolve.
- 5G networks stand to unlock that innovation, but it’s highly dependent upon how it’s implemented.
- Better Coverage in Densely Populated Areas:
- Small cell deployments will be made more effective through high-speed internet, allowing lightweight, easy-to-mount network base stations to increase capacity and coverage in densely populated areas.
- Though their range is much shorter, they will be able to alleviate overloaded networks in cities and other densely populated regions.
- Networking as a Service:
- Network slicing allows multiple virtual networks to be created on top of a shared physical infrastructure, so different types of applications and services will be able to run on shared infrastructure.
- This enables telecommunications companies to provide networking on-demand in the same way that we currently access other services on-demand, creating a user experience that’s indistinguishable from a physically separated network.
- radio access networks (RAN):
- This is creating a new set of ecosystem players dominated by smaller and more innovative companies, which can make way for unknown companies from countries such as India, to emerge as mainstream mobile infrastructure technology providers for the world
- Huge Investment Required: India needs a massive Rs 5 lakh crore ($70 billion) investment to bring in 5G.
- Expensive spectrum: Indian spectrum prices are some of the highest in the world and the allocated quantity is well below global best practices, while 40% of the spectrum is lying unsold.
- Lack of uniform policy framework: Delays due to complex procedures across states, non-uniformity of levies along with administrative approvals have impacted telecom service providers in rolling-out Optical Fiber Cables (OFC) and telecom towers.
- Local Regulatory Issues: Many of the local rules and regulations are prohibiting the rapid and cost-effective roll-out of small cells in city centres where Fifth Generation (5G) is initially expected to be most in demand.
- Debt scenario in the industry: According to ICRA, the collective debt of telecommunications service providers (TSPs) stands at Rs 4.2 lakh crore.
- Low optical fiber penetration: India lacks a strong backhaul to transition to 5G. Backhaul is a network that connects cells sites to central exchange. As of now 80% of cell sites are connected through microwave backhaul, while under 20% sites are connected through fiber.
- High Import of Equipments: Imports account for a 90 per cent of India’s telecom equipment market. However due to lack of local manufacturing and R&D, Indian telecom providers have no option other than to procure and deploy 5G technologies from foreign suppliers.
- Security: According to the Global Cyber Security Index released by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), only about half of all the countries had a cybersecurity strategy or are in the process of developing one. The index, which was topped by Singapore at 0.925 saw India at 23rd position.
- Possibility of increased digital divide: Initial deployment of 5G networks in dense urban areas could left behind rural areas due to commercial viability, may led to increase the digital divide.
- Human exposure to radiofrequency electromagnetic fields: There has been concern about the said impact of these frequencies on health of human as well as on animals.
- Spectrum Policy: India’s spectrum allocation for public wireless services should be enhanced significantly. Also, the cost of spectrum relative to per capita GDP is high and should come down.
- Create a Fifth Generation (5G) Program Office within Department of Telecommunications and an Oversight Committee.
- New civil infrastructure like highways, roads, canals and utilities (gas, electricity, water) lines should be mandated to provide Common Telecom Infrastructure resources such as ducting and power junction boxes to support 5G infrastructure.
- Security audits, a prerequisite for importing of equipment before deploying in Indian networks, needs to be simplified.
- Favorable Taxation Policy: Reducing taxation and regulatory fees on revenues could contribute to further evolution of the tax framework.
- Fifth Generation (5G) Pilot: Policy-makers may consider encouraging 5G pilots and test beds to test 5G technologies and use cases and to stimulate market engagement.
- Support Fifth Generation (5G) investment: Indian government and regulators should ensure the long-term sustainability of the industry and its ability to fund the significant investment required for 5G network deployments.
- Policy-makers may consider the use of licensed, unlicensed and shared spectrum to create a balanced spectrum ecosystem – one that encourages investment, makes efficient use of spectrum and promotes competition.
- Where market failure has occurred, governments may consider stimulating investment in fibre networks and passive assets through setting up PPPs, investment funds and offering grant funds, etc.
Reference: Live Mint
A World Bank survey defines a development bank as ‘a bank or financial institution with at least 30 per cent State-owned equity that has been given an explicit legal mandate to reach socioeconomic goals in a region, sector or particular market segment’. It uses the terms Development Bank and Development Financial Institution interchangeably.
The development finance institutions(DFIs) or development finance companies are organizations owned by the government or charitable institution to provide funds for low-capital projects or where their borrowers are unable to get it from commercial lenders.
Scope and role of DFI in India:
- The role of DFIs—as development finance institutions making impact investments for sustainable development, generating profits—allow them to be a catalytic intermediary between private capital and the markets in the developing world.
- These institutions are meant to provide long term finance to agriculture, industries, trade, transport, and basic infrastructure.
- A DFI provides financing for development activities at less than strictly commercial terms. It delivers this through technical assistance grants, structured loans, different types of guarantees and credit enhancement and sometimes even equity.
- DFIs can have a specific sectoral or broad focus. The specific sector ones typically cover infrastructure, core industries, small and medium enterprises, agriculture, and exports. Broadly focused ones tend to cover some or all of these sectors.
- Meeting the SDGs by 2030 is not impossible but it will require over US$11.5 trillion in investments, according to United Nations estimates.16Donors and aid agencies have been playing an indispensable role in helping low- and middle-income countries achieve these goals.
- DFIs were transformational for many countries in their digital revolution and they can continue to play an important role as developing countries undergo the fourth industrial revolution.
- DFIs can help finance the expansion of new technologies in the emerging markets that will bring us closer to achieving the sustainable development goals.
- By making targeted investments to fund innovative ventures, they can leverage many additional billions of dollars and turn the hopes and aspirations of the developing world into real opportunities.
- DFIs can once again take center stage and use their resources to mitigate the risks posed by new technologies while creating an enabling environment that will foster innovations that can spur long-term economic development
Development finance institutions (DFIs) have emerged as one of the fastest growing agencies pursuing innovative financial solutions to support development efforts worldwide. A new-age DFI would have to come to terms with governance issues if it is not to eventually become a fiscal burden. One way would be to subject it to the discipline of the stock market.
Reference: The Hindu
An electric vehicle, uses one or more electric motors or traction motors for propulsion. An electric vehicle may be powered through self-contained battery, solar panels or an electric generator to convert fuel to electricity.
Need for EVs in India
- Climate change: India has committed to cutting its GHG emissions intensity by 33% to 35% percent below 2005 levels by 2030.
- Rapid urbanization: According to a recent study by WHO, India is home to 14 out of 20 most polluted cities in the world. EVs will help in tackling this problem by reducing local concentrations of pollutants in cities.
- Energy security: India imports oil to cover over 80 percent of its transport fuel.
- Innovation: EVs manufacturing capacity will promote global scale and competitiveness.
- Employment: Promotion of EVs will facilitate employment growth in a sun-rise sector.
- Clean and Low Carbon Energy: Cost reduction from better electricity generating technologies. This has introduced the possibility of clean, low-carbon and inexpensive grids.
- Cutting edge Battery Technology: Advances in battery technology have led to higher energy densities, faster charging and reduced battery degradation from charging.
- There is a strong believe that electric infrastructure will have a massive scale going forward.
- In fact, Ather has more than 30 charging stations in Bengaluru while the other companies in this space are yet to foray into support infrastructure.
- As of today, there are only 250 charging stations in the country and they mostly catering to three-wheelers. To make this transition viable, infrastructure is a key factor.
- SIAM (Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers) the nodal body for Indian automobile industry reports that the country currently sells close to 750,000 electric vehicles a year, a majority of these are three wheelers, which sold 6,30,000 units, with 1,26,000 of these three-wheelers.
- A longer-term policy priority has to be the setting up of lithium battery production and solar charging infrastructureof a scale that matches the ambition. The Centre has accepted some of the demands of the auto industry to popularize EVs.
- The government should provide incentives for CNG vehicles and should also come out with a scrappage plan for vehicles to incentivize customers to buy new vehicles.
- Government has set a target of electric vehicles making up 30 % of new sales of cars and two-wheelers by 2030 from less than 1% today.
- To build a sustainable EV ecosystem initiative like – National Electric Mobility Mission Plan (NEMMP) and Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of (Hybrid &) Electric vehicles in India (FAME India) have been launched by India.
- NEMMP: It was launched in 2013 with an aim to achieve national fuel security by promoting hybrid and electric vehicles in the country. There is an ambitious target to achieve 6-7 million sales of hybrid and electric vehicles year on year from 2020 onwards.
- FAME: FAME India Scheme [Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of (Hybrid &) Electric Vehicles in India] was launched in 2015 with the objective to support hybrid/electric vehicles market development and manufacturing ecosystem. The scheme has 4 focus areas i.e., Technology Development, Demand Creation, Pilot Projects and Charging Infrastructure.
- The government aims to see 6 million electric and hybrid vehicles on the roads by 2020 under the National Electric Mobility Mission Plan 2020.
- Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of Electric Vehicles in India (FAME India Scheme) for improving electric mobility in India.
- The GST reduction for electric vehicles from 12% to 5%.
- The Union power ministry categorized charging of batteries as a service, which will help charging stations operate without licenses.
- Implementation of smart cities would also boost the growth of electric vehicle.
Policy challenges for EV Industry in India
- Lack of a stable policy for EV production: Anuncertain policy environment and the lack of supporting infrastructure are major roadblocks.
- Technological challenges: India is technologically deficient in the production of electronics that form the backbone of EV industry, such as batteries, semiconductors, controllers, etc.
- Lack of associated infrastructural support: The lack of clarity over AC versus DC charging stations, grid stability and range anxiety (fear that battery will soon run out of power) are other factors that hinder the growth of EV industry.
- Lack of availability of materials for domestic production: India is dependent on countries like Japan and China for the import of lithium-ion batteries. Local production of inputs for EVs is at just about 35% of total input production.
- Lack of skilled workers: EVs have higher servicing costs and higher levels of skills is needed for servicing. India lacks dedicated training courses for such skill development.
- The Indian electric vehicle (EV) market currently has one of the lowest penetration rates in the world.
- Capital costs are high and the payoff is uncertain.
- Affordability of e-vehicles (EVs) and the range they can cover on a single battery charge.
- The Indian EV industry has been hit hard due to rupee’s dramatic depreciation in recent months.
- The Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of (Hybrid) and Electric Vehicles (Fame) framework has been extended repeatedly.
- High rate of GST on EVs when government is trying to promote EVs.
- Lack of attention on building charging infrastructure.
- For EVs to contribute effectively, we need commensurate efforts in developing an entire ecosystem.
- Need to shift the focus from subsidizing vehicles to subsidizing batteries because batteries make up 50% of EV costs.
- Increasing focus on incentivizing electric two-wheelers because two-wheelers account for 76% of the vehicles in the country and consume most of the fuel.
- A wide network of charging stations is imminent for attracting investment.
- Work places in tech parks, Public bus depots, and Multiplexes are the potential places where charging points could be installed. In Bangalore, some malls have charging points in parking lots.
- Corporates could invest in charging stations as Corporate Social Responsibility compliances.
- Addressing technical concerns like AC versus DC charging stations, handling of peak demand, grid stability etc.
- Private investment in battery manufacturing plants and developing low cost production technology is needed.
- India is highly dependent on thermal sources, which account for about 65% of current capacity. As EV adoption increases, so should the contribution of renewables.
- Need for a policy roadmap on electric vehicles so that investments can be planned.
- Acquiring lithium fields in Bolivia, Australia, and Chile could become as important as buying oil fields as India needs raw material to make batteries for electric vehicles.
- Providing waiver of road tax and registration fees, GST refunds and free parking spaces for EVs.
6. “With water scarcity on the rise, India must act quickly on de-silting dams and shifting to less water-intensive crops”, in the backdrop of the statement discuss the water issues in the country and suggest solutions to address the same. (250 words)
Reference: The Hindu
The NITI Aayog report on Composite Water Management Index (CWMI) said that India is facing its ‘worst’ water crisis in history. Taps in Shimla went dry in summer of 2018, posing an unprecedented water crisis in the hill town. According to a forecast by the Asian Development Bank, India will have a water deficit of 50% by 2030. Recent studies also ranked Chennai and Delhi at the top of the 27 most vulnerable Asian cities in terms of low per-day water availability Mumbai and Kolkata follow close.
India’s water crisis is more serious that its energy crisis:
- The water crisis in India is more dire than imagined.
- The annual per capita availability of water continues to decline sharply from about 5,177 cubic metres in 1951 to about 1,720 cubic metres in 2019.
- The NITI Aayog in its report on Composite Water Management Index (2018) has underlined that currently 600 million people face high to extreme water stress.
- Twenty-one cities, including Delhi, Bengaluru, Chennai and Hyderabad will run out of groundwater by 2020, affecting 100 million people.
- Apart from mega cities, many fast-growing small and medium cities such as Jamshedpur, Kanpur, Dhanbad, Meerut, Faridabad, Visakhapatnam, Madurai and Hyderabad also figure in this list.
- The demand-supply gap in most of these cities ranges from 30 per cent to as much as 70 per cent.
- About two lakh die every year due to inadequate access to safe water, about three-fourths of the household do not get drinking water at their premise and about 70 per cent of water is contaminated.
- The rate of groundwater extraction is so severe that NASA’s findings suggest that India’s water table is declining alarmingly at a rate of about 0.3 metres per year.
- At this rate of depletion, India will have only 22 per cent of the present daily per capita water available in 2050, possibly forcing the country to import water.
- About 81 per cent of India’s ultimate irrigation potential, estimated at 140 million hectares, has already been created and thus the scope for further expansion of irrigation infrastructure on a large scale is limited.
- Climate experts have predicted that there will be fewer rainy days in the future but in those days it would rain more.
Causative factors for water crisis:
- A combination of population explosion, unplanned growth of the city and its expansion to some traditional catchment areas (a region from which rainfall flows into a river, lake, or reservoir) have led to a reduction in the natural flow of water, and large-scale deforestation.
- Climate change, leading to much lower precipitation during the winter months. As a result, the natural flow and recharge of water in the region has fallen sharply
- Failure of State governments to check unplanned development and exploitation of water resources. There is no attempt at the central or state levels to manage water quantity and quality
- The vegetation pattern has changed, tree cover is shrinking and unscientific dumping of debris in water streams is rampant.
- The debris blocks the natural course of water bodies.
- Increasing number of tube wells resulting in depletion of groundwater.
- Changes in farming patterns lead to consumption of more water for irrigation and also change the soil profile because of the use of fertilizers
- The states ranked lowest like Uttar Pradesh, Haryana and Jharkhand – are home to almost half of India’s population along with the majority of its agricultural produce.
- There is also a lack of interest in maintaining India’s traditional water harvesting structures.
- Structural measures:
- Putting in place an efficient piped supply system (without leakage of pipes) has to be top on the agenda.
- Ancient India had well-managed wells and canal systems. Indigenous water harvesting systems need to be revived and protected at the local level. Examples: Karez, Bawli, Vav etc
- Digging of rainwater harvesting pits must be made mandatory for all types of buildings, both in urban and rural areas.
- Treating the Greywater and reusing it needs to be adopted by countries like Israel (upto 85%). It could be used to recharge depleted aquifers and use on crops.
- Initiatives such as community water storage and decentralized treatment facilities, including elevated water towers or reservoirs and water ATMs, based on a realistic understanding of the costs involved, can help support the city’s water distribution.
- Technologies capable of converting non-drinkable water into fresh, consumable water, offering a potential solution to the impending water crisis are needed. Example: Desalination technologies in Coastal areas, Water-sterilization in polluted water areas.
- Non-structural measures:
- The World Bank’s Water Scarce Cities Initiative seeks to promote an integrated approach, aims at managing water resources and service delivery in water-scarce cities as the basis for building climate change resilience.
- Groundwater extraction patterns need to be better understood through robust data collection
- Decentralization of irrigation commands, offering higher financial flows to well-performing States through a National Irrigation Management Fund.
- Public awareness campaigns, tax incentives for water conservation and the use of technology interfaces can also go a long way in addressing the water problem. Example, measures such as water credits can be introduced with tax benefits as incentives for efficient use and recycling of water.
- A collaborative approach like the adoption of a public-private partnership model for water projects can help. Example, in Netherlands, water companies are incorporated as private companies, with the local and national governments being majority shareholders.
- Sustained measures should be taken to prevent pollution of water bodies and contamination of groundwater.
- Ensuring proper treatment of domestic and industrial waste water is also essential.
- India’s water problems can be solved with existing knowledge, technology and available funds.
- NITI Aayog has prescribed only a continuation of past failed policies.
- India’s water establishment needs to admit that the strategy pursued so far has not worked.
- Only then can a realistic vision emerge.
Primarily water is not valued in India. “People think it is free”. In order to meet the future urban water challenges, there needs to be a shift in the way we manage urban water systems. An Integrated Urban Water Management approach must be adopted which involves managing freshwater, wastewater, and storm water, using an urban area as the unit of management.
General Studies – 4
7. “Lack of knowledge confuses the intellect, while education provides the knowledge to the true soul- Rabindranath Tagore” Explain and elaborate upon its relevance in the contemporary times.(250 words)
Reference: Ethics, Integrity and Aptitude by Lexicon Publications
The above quote implies that lack of knowledge is detrimental to intellect and wisdom. Self-realization is the aim of education for Tagore. It means the realization of the universal soul in oneself. The aim of life is to achieve this status. It is a process, which cannot be realized without education.
The aim of education, as Rabindranath Tagore sees it, is to give one a sense of one’s identity as a total man and to bring education in harmony with life. It is self-realisation. He believed that this realisation was the goal of education. A total man is the one who thinks of himself first and foremost as human being. What matters to him is not his birth and social status. What crucially matters to him, rather, is the conviction that he is above all a man, irrespective of his socio-economic placing, of his caste, creed, and religion.
- According to him, “Education means enabling the mind to find out that ultimate truth which emancipates us from the bondage of dust and gives us wealth not of things but of inner light, not of power but of love. It is a process of enlightenment. It is divine wealth. It helps in realization of truth”.
- The aim of education is to bring about perfection of man by dispelling ignorance and ushering in the light of knowledge. It should enable us to lead a complete life – economic, intellectual, aesthetic, social and spiritual.
- The main objective of his school – Shantiniketan was to cultivate a love for nature, to impart knowledge and wisdom in one’s native language, provide freedom of mind, heart and will, a natural ambience, and to eventually enrich Indian culture.
- There are four fundamental principles in Tagore’s educational philosophy; naturalism, humanism, internationalism and idealism.
Relevance in contemporary times:
Today’s education system is concentrated more towards surfeiting pupils with knowledge and skills that could make them earn good livelihood, inculcation of moral wisdom and spiritual self-understanding isn’t being given adequate leverage. Thus the following aspects of Tagore’s ideas on education are needed to be included in the existing education system:
- Self-Realization:Spiritualism is the essence of humanism; this concept has been reflected in Tagore’s educational philosophy. Self-realization is an important aim of education. Manifestation of personality depends upon the self-realization and spiritual knowledge of an individual.
- Intellectual Development:Tagore also greatly emphasized the intellectual development of the child. By intellectual development he means development of imagination, creative free thinking, constant curiosity and alertness of the mind. Child should be free to adopt his own way of learning which will lead to all round development.
- Physical Development:Tagore’s educational philosophy also aims at the physical development of the child. He gave much importance to a sound and healthy physique. There were different kinds of exercises. Yoga, games & sports prescribed in Santiniketan as an integral part of the education system.
- Love for humanity:Tagore held that the entire universe is one family. Education can teach people to realize oneness of the globe. Education for international understanding and universal brotherhood is another important aim of his educational philosophy. The feeling of oneness can be developed through the concepts like fatherhood of God and brotherhood of man all creatures are equal on this earth.
- Establishment of relationship between man & God:Man bears the diverse qualities and potentialities offered by God. These qualities are inborn and innate. The relationship between man and God is strong and permanent. However, the dedication to spiritualism and sacredness will lead to the harmonious relationship with man, nature and God.
- Freedom:Freedom is considered as an integral aspect of human development. Education is a man-making process, it explores the innate power that exists within the man. It is not an imposition rather a liberal process that provides utmost freedom to the individual for his all-round development.
- Correlation of Objects:Correlation exists with God, man and nature. A peaceful world is only possible when correlation between man and nature will be established.
- Moral and Spiritual Development:Tagore emphasized moral and spiritual training in his educational thought. Moral and spiritual education is more important than bookish knowledge for an integral development of human personality. There must be an adequate provision for the development of selfless activities, co-operation and love fellow feeling and sharing among the students in educational institutions.
- Social Development:According to Tagore, “Brahma” the supreme soul manifests himself through men and other creatures. Since He is the source of all human-beings and creatures, so all are equal. Rabindranath Tagore therefore said, “service to man is service to god”. All should develop social relationships and fellow-feeling from the beginnings of one’s life.
Thus, Tagore envisioned a holistic education that was deeply rooted in one’s culture and surroundings but also connected to the wider world. His ideas on education would be valued in every age because they are based on inculcation of morality and spiritual understanding, intercultural understanding and peace, respect and intimacy with nature, social engagement and artistic abilities and creativity.
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