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SECURE SYNOPSIS: 5 April 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


 

Topic: Social empowerment

1. Do you agree Panchayat Raj can prove to be a silver bullet for development and empowerment of women in India? Analyse. (250words)

Reference:  The Hindu

Why the question:

The article discusses the role that Panchayat Raj can play in the development and empowerment of Women in India.

Key Demand of the question:

Question demands introspection of Panchayati Raj role in empowerment and development of women.

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:

Write about 73rd constitutional amendment act which made reservation of women in Panchayat justiciable right.

Body:

Write how Panchayati raj institution by giving political representation helped women. Role played by women in leadership role and her impact on village society. Write findings of some report to support your statement that reports that in villages where women are member or chairperson their infant mortality rate is low and female enrollment at primary school is high.

Then write political representation doesn’t mean empowerment and development. Women lack functional capability. How their work of political nature is performed by their husband. Women and especially lower-class women are denied respect.

 Conclusion:

In conclusion provide way forward talk about capacity building, economic rights, representation in apex legislative bodies for making women centric law and policies.

Introduction:

Political participation and grassroots democracy have been strengthened considerably by the 73rd and 74th Constitutional Amendment (1992- 1993), that have created new democratic institutions for local governance. It provides 33% reservation for women in Panchayati Raj system for the office of members and that of chairperson.

Body:

Background:

  • With the advent of this Act, India today has more than 500 district panchayats, around 5,100 block panchayats and more than 2,25,000 village panchayats, approximately 90 municipal corporations, 1,500 municipal councils, and 1,800 Nagar panchayats.
  • And there are also 6,81,258 women elected to Gram Panchayats; 37,109 women to Panchayat at the intermediate level and 3153 women to Panchayat at the district level.

Role of PRI institutions in women empowerment:

  • Women are taking up the challenge and gearing themselves up to enter politics at the lower level in the spirit of self-governance as committed Citizens.
  • Through the experience of the Indian Panchayat Raj Institutions, more than one million women have actively entered into the political life of India.
  • Women’s issues have come to the forefront at the local level and consequently state and national level.
  • PRIs through women can work on the creation, development and promotion of Self Help groups, Cooperatives, MSMEs for better employment and livelihood options in Rural areas.
  • Women leaders in the Panchayati Raj are transforming local governance by sensitizing the State to issues of poverty, inequality and gender injustice.
  • Through PRI, women are changing governance are evident in the issues they choose to tackle; water, alcohol abuse, education, health and domestic violence.
  • Take the example of Ms. Chhavi Rajawat, a sarpanch (village leader) from a village in the Tonk district of Rajasthan. She gave away a lucrative job in the city to head her village. She brought about substantial change in her village by establishing water supply and solar power provisions, constructing paved roads and toilets, and setting up banks.

Challenges faced by women:

  • Firstly, the lack of knowledge among the elected women themselves regarding the Panchayati Raj Act and rules is a major hurdle in their effective participation and this is compounded by illiteracy.
  • The lack of experience in political administration makes them dependent on other for validation.
  • There is still gender prejudice from predominantly male staff who work in the system. Moreover, the stigma surrounding women working in rural areas is yet to be eradicated.
  • There are restrictions around women’s mobility and non-conducive work environments act as a major hindrance to realise their full potential.
  • The phenomenon of Pati Panchayat i.e elected women being represented by their male relatives (as proxy or stand-in representatives) to lead deliberations and decisions, are all part of the problem.

Efforts taken by the government:

  • Government have also involved in implementing lot of schemes Pradhan Mantri Mahila Shakti Kendra, which will empower rural women through community participation to create an environment in which they realize their full potential.
  • The Ministry of Women and Child Development also conducts Training of Trainers of Elected Women Representatives of Panchayati Raj to deliberate upon issues related to empowerment of women and functioning of PRIs.
  • MoWCD also describes to women the processes of participatory planning in local governance and enable women to identify their own leadership potential to contribute effectively as change agents.

Conclusion:

PRIs can be the first step for political empowerment of women as the confidence and understanding of polity can allow them to participate in elections to state legislatures and Parliament paving the way from ‘Panchayat to Parliament’. It is the only beginning of a journey towards empowerment.

 

Topic: population and associated issues, poverty and developmental issues, urbanization, their problems and their remedies.

2. Megacities are engine of economic growth. Highlight the problems faced by Megacities in India. Do you agree that there is need of faster pace of spatial development in India? Elucidate. (250 words)

Reference:  Economic Times

Why the question:

The question is based on the theme of Megacities and in what way they can prove to be centres of economic growth.

Key Demand of the question:

The question is to analyse the urging need for spatial development to ensure faster growth and development of the country highlighting problems faced by existing cities.

Directive:

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

Structure of the answer:

Introduction:

Provide factual data about megacities for instance megacities comprises of 2% land but contribute 70% to GDP.

Body:

Explain why megacities are engine of growth write about amenities and facilities available at megacities which are imperative for development. Write what are obstacles which are preventing to unleash the highest potential of megacities.

Explain what spatial development means and why there is need for development of secondary cities.

Conclusion:

Conclude by writing megacities are overcrowded and some are performing above their potential hence to utilize demographic dividend of country spatial development is needed.

Introduction:

Uneven spatial development refers to the concentration of industries and services in high density economically developed areas. In other words, the clusters of economic activity are concentrated in a few highly dense megacities and engines of growth have failed to spread to less dense secondary cities.

India’s unprecedented economic growth during the last two decades has been spearheaded by lopsided spatial development.

Body:

To qualify as a megacity under the UN definition, an urban area must have a population of 10 million people. The UN takes into account urban sprawl and measures populations beyond official city limits. On these criteria, India currently has five megacities, viz. New Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Bengaluru and Chennai.

The growing rural-to-urban migration will result in two more urban areas viz. Hyderabad and Ahmedabad becoming megacities by 2030, says the UN.

Trends of Uneven Spatial Development in India:

  • Uneven spatial development is common in many countries, but it is much more pronounced in India.
  • A majority of the population in India still lives outside megacities, this has created huge spatial disparities.
  • Unlike in China, Europe and the US, where the engines of growth and job creation have spread to the secondary cities, in India medium-sized cities remain mired in joblessness and poverty.
  • India’s manufacturing sector is spatially spreading at a much faster pace than the services sector.
  • The low-density manufacturing districts are growing at a much faster pace than high-density districts in India.
  • High-density service clusters (Example: Bangalore, Mumbai) have continued to grow at a much faster pace than less dense areas (Example: Pune, Chandigarh) and denser locations have become more concentrated over time.

The reasons for such uneven spatial development are

  • Infrastructure:
    • The manufacturing sector has not spread to all districts. Only those districts that have improved their physical and human infrastructure have attracted manufacturing enterprises.
  • Employment Density prioritised:
    • Spatial development in any location is determined by the trade-offs between the forces of agglomeration economies and congestion costs.
    • Usually, Agglomeration economies are concentrated in locations with employment density below 150 employees per sq. km. Example: USA
    • In India, the concentration is in regions having density around 1000 employees per sq. km, giving higher priority to availability of labour.
  • Knowledge Spillover Benefits:
    • India’s megacities suffer from severe congestion costs, they also benefit from huge agglomeration economies and knowledge spillovers.
    • This leads to growth of many ancillary industries, start-ups especially in the services industry. With the IR4.0 on the rise, the congestion costs are overlooked for knowledge spillovers. 
  • Spatial development policies and frictions:
    • Poor developmental policies in secondary cities.
    • Poor access to telecommunication and post-secondary education in secondary cities.
    • Some states offer Tax-Holidays for companies which attract them over others.
    • Failure of models like SEZ in India vis-à-vis China.
  • Economic Opportunities:
    • Push and Pull Migration factors are still largely at play.
    • This leads to migration of a lot of people to Megacities, in search of job opportunities.

The impacts of uneven spatial development are

  • Congestion Costs:
    • Locations with employment density above 150 employees per sq. km have experienced reduced employment growth, indicating important congestion costs.
    • UN Population Fund predicts that by Urbanization in India will rise to 40% by 2030.
  • Environmental Costs:
    • Unsustainable development of cities has huge ramifications on the environment.
    • Example: India already hosts 14 out of 15 most polluted cities in the world.
    • Other impacts like depletion of groundwater, reduced green lung spaces.
  • Economic Costs:
    • Concentration of high demand in few megacities leads to high cost of rents and in turn high cost of living.
    • Real Estate Bubble leading to increased Black Money circulation.
  • Social Costs:
    • Lack of economic activity in smaller cities leads to inequality, poverty and conflicts.
    • The poor socio-economic development can lead to extremism, secessionism and other dangerous trends.

Way Forward:

  • Quick need to increase connectivity and Infrastructure of the secondary cities. Initiatives like AMRUT, Smart cities, Digital India, BharatMala, PMGSY etc. can play a big role in spreading the manufacturing sector evenly.
  • Proper planning of peri-urban areas, increased connectivity to spread out the population evenly. Example: RURBAN scheme
  • Policymakers should improve access to telecommunication and post-secondary education in secondary cities. This will help in the spread of service sector to these cities.
  • Incentivization for setting up manufacturing industries in underdeveloped areas. Example: National Industrial Manufacturing Zones can be set up.
  • Strengthening the allied activities like Food Processing through Food Parks. This will reduce the Push and Pull migration.
  • MSME’s are responsible for more than 14 crore jobs in India. Their growth must be boosted in smaller cities.

Conclusion:

The flawed perception of Engines of Growth are tied to big cities must be shed. Secondary cities and the rural areas should be developed to reduce the lopsided spatial development currently happening in India.

 


General Studies – 2


 

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

3. Enactment of the Places of Worship Act, 1991 in its current format damages the liberty of belief, faith and worship to all. Critically examine. (250 words)

Reference:  The Hindu.

Why the question:

The article explains that the Enactment of the Places of Worship Act, 1991 in its current format damages the liberty of belief, faith and worship to all.

Key Demand of the question:

Discuss in what way Enactment of the Places of Worship Act, 1991 in its current format damages the liberty of belief, faith and worship to all.

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:

Start by explaining how it is an Act of colorable Legislation.

Body:

The answer body must explain why the Places of Worship Act, 1991, demands a re-look? – Presence of exceptions: Section 5 of the act states, nothing in the Act shall apply to Ram-Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid situated in Ayodhya; this stimulates the need for more such exceptions. Ultra vires to the Fundamental Rights: Since it bars the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court and nullifies Article 32. Under Article 32 of the Constitution of India, the Supreme Court has the power to issue writs appropriate for enforcement of all the Fundamental rights conferred by Part III of the Constitution. Thus, it has acted as colorable legislation.

Talk about Controversy over the definition of ‘Places of worship.

Conclusion:

Conclude with way forward.

Introduction:

 The Places of Worship (Special Provisions) Act, 1991 seeks to maintain the “religious character” of places of worship as it was in 1947 except in the case of Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid dispute, which was already in court.

The law was brought in at the peak of the Ram Mandir movement, exactly a year before the demolition of the Babri Masjid. Introducing the law in 1991, then Home Minister S B Chavan said in Parliament that it was adopted to curb communal tension.

Body:

Background:

  • A co-mutawalli of 350-year-old” TeelyWali masjid” of Lucknow, Wasif Hasan, has approached the Supreme Court seeking intervention in the pending PIL challenging provisions of the Places of Worship Act.
  • The applicant has opposed the plea claiming that the petition is a mischievous one which aims at isolating the Muslim Community as a separate category from other religious communities in India.
  • The Supreme Court asked the Centre to respond to a plea challenging the Places of Worship (Special Provisions) Act, 1991 which freezes the status of places of worship as it was on 15th August, 1947.
  • In agreeing to examine the law, the court has opened the doors for litigation in various places of worship across the country including Mathura and Varanasi.

Provisions of the act:

  • The objective of the law describes it as an Act to prohibit conversion of any place of worship.
  • It aims to provide for the maintenance of the religious character of any place of worship as it existed on the 15th day of August 1947, and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto”.
  • Sections 3 and 4 of the Act declared that the religious character of a place of worship shall continue to be the same as it was on August 15, 1947.
  • No person shall convert any place of worship of any religious denomination into one of a different denomination or section.
  • Section 4(2) says that all suits, appeals or others regarding converting the character of a place of worship, that was pending on August 15, 1947, will stand abated when the Act commences and no fresh proceedings can be filed.
  • However, legal proceedings can be initiated after the commencement of the Act if the change of status took place after the cut-off date of August 15, 1947.

What does it say about Ayodhya, and what else is exempted?

  • Act does not to apply to Ram Janma Bhumi Babri Masjid.
  • Besides the Ayodhya dispute, the Act also exempted:
    • any place of worship that is an ancient and historical monument or an archaeological site, or is covered by the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act, 1958;
    • a suit that has been finally settled or disposed of;
    • any dispute that has been settled by the parties or conversion of any place that took place by acquiescence before the Act commenced.

Challenges posed by the law:

  • the law violates the right to practise and propagate religion, as well as the right to manage and administer places of worship.
  • The act goes against the principle of secularism and the state’s duty to preserve and protect religious and cultural heritage.
  • The cut-off date (August 15, 1947) as per the law bars Hindus, Jains, Buddhists, and Sikhs from approaching courts to “re-claim” their places of worship which were “invaded” and “encroached” upon by “fundamentalist barbaric invaders”.
  • The right-wing politicians have opposed the law even when it was introduced, arguing that the Centre has no power to legislate on “pilgrimages” or “burial grounds” which is under the state list.
  • Another criticism against the law is that the cut-off is the date of Independence, which means that the status quo determined by a colonial power is considered final.

Supreme Court’s view about the act:

  • In the 2019 Ayodhya verdict, the Constitution Bench led by former CJI Ranjan Gogoi referred to the law and said it manifests the secular values of the Constitution and strictly prohibits retrogression.
  • In providing a guarantee for the preservation of the religious character of places, Parliament determined that independence from colonial rule furnishes a constitutional basis for healing the injustices of the past.
  • The law addresses itself to the State as much as to every citizen of the nation. Its norms bind those who govern the affairs of the nation at every level.
  • Those norms implement the Fundamental Duties under Article 51A and are hence positive mandates to every citizen as well.
  • The court reportedly felt that by enacting a law upholding the equality of all religions and secularism, part of the Constitution’s basic structure, the State enforced a constitutional commitment.

Conclusion:

The Places of Worship Act imposes a non-derogable obligation towards enforcing our commitment to secularism.” To reopen the law, after such clear and firm words, would be unwise and would amount to opening Pandora’s box.

 


General Studies – 3


 

Topic: Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment.

4. Analyse the challenges associated with the pledge for net-zero emissions by the mid-century. (250 words)

Reference:  Times of India

Why the question:

The article analyses the challenges associated with the pledge for net-zero emissions by the mid-century.

Key Demand of the question:

Analyse the challenges associated with the pledge for net-zero emissions by the mid-century.

 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 with what is the pledge for net-zero emissions.

Body:

Net-zero or carbon neutrality means that the amount of CO2 produced by a country is balanced by the amount removed from the atmosphere.

According to Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), to limit the global temperature increase to 1.5°C, global net CO2 emissions should decline by 45% by 2030, reaching net zero in 2050. Discuss the global trend.

Talk about associated issues with Carbon Neutrality.

Conclusion:

Conclude with way forward.

Introduction:

A “net-zero” target refers to reaching net-zero carbon emissions by a selected date under which any emission (carbon dioxide or other GHGs) from any source is balanced by absorbing an equivalent amount of emission from the atmosphere. It differs from zero-carbon, which requires no carbon to be emitted.

Over 120 countries have already announced their intention to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050. China intends carbon neutrality before 2060, and the US is considering a 2050 pledge. Being the third-largest emitter, there is pressure on India to announce its commitment as well.

Body:

India’s Net Zero Emission targets:

  • India has been considering to achieve the target of net-zero emissions by 2050.
  • This pledge will earn India diplomatic credit by assuming climate leadership.
  • However, these diplomatic gains could come at the cost of domestic developmental objectives.
  • Recently, The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI) and Shell have released a report titled “India: Transforming to a Net-Zero Emissions Energy System”.
  • It illustrates a pathway to steer the domestic energy system towards net-zero emissions by 2050, while achieving India’s sustainable economic development ambitions.

Challenges associated for India with the pledge for net-zero emissions by the mid-century:

  • India is the world’s third-biggest emitter of GHG.
  • India’s per capita CO2 emissions – at 1.8 tonnes per person in 2015 – are around a ninth of those in the USA and around a third of the global average of 4.8 tonnes per person.
  • India must also meet the aspirations of 1.4 billion people for faster economic development. This will limit India’s development potential.
  • Meeting the nation’s existing target of 450 gigawatts of renewables by 2030 is already a massive lift. Hitting net zero will require an even more dramatic acceleration.
  • By 2050, India’s total electricity demand would be about 5500 to 6000 terawatt-hours (TWh), roughly a factor of five on today’s level.
  • In developed countries, emissions have already peaked. Their decision is only about the path to net-zero. Emerging economies like India, instead, will go through a high-growth phase with rising energy demand and emissions. So, before a net-zero year can be targeted, India must discuss options for its peaking year
  • Many argue that net zero is not equitable and fair as it does not differentiate between developing and developed countries in sharing the burden of mitigation.
  • Some also criticise mid-century net zero as allowing uncontrolled emissions today while relying on uncertain technologies to offset emissions in the future.
  • Many net zero pledges are premised upon trading and offsetting emissions, allowing the rich to continue emitting and buying their way out.

India can achieve the net zero emission targets:

  • With rising climate vulnerability and shrinking carbon space, India must act decisively, from a lower level of per capita incomes and cumulative emissions—and much more rapidly than others have promised.
  • This is not impossible, but will need a different order of effort. India needs to do its homework to determine a peaking year.
  • It must recognise the trade-offs such as rising electricity prices, rising rail tariffs, fiscal challenges for coal-dependent states, or jobs transition for coal workers.
  • Then, to tap opportunities in a green economy, it must design detailed sectoral roadmaps, strengthen institutions, attract international capital, co-develop disruptive technologies, and ensure that it always aims for jobs, growth and sustainability.
  • Renewables are already making some inroads in a system where coal is currently used for almost 70% of power generation. Since Modi took office in 2014 solar and wind capacity has expanded to about 93 gigawatts.
  • Few argue that India should pledge to reduce its “net” emissions (emissions minus uptake of emissions) to zero by 2050, backed by a climate law. This will make India “hypercompetitive”, attract investment and create jobs.
  • For example, more ambitious policies to promote electric vehicles along with cleaner electricity and hydrogen electrolysis can create jobs in the auto manufacturing industry and in the electricity and construction sectors

Measures needed:

  • Focus on Energy Efficiency:
    • Will need energy efficient buildings, lighting, appliances and industrial practicesto meet the net-zero goal.
  • Increased usage of Biofuels:
    • Can help reduce emissions from light commercial vehicles, tractors in agriculture.
    • In aviation, the only practical solution for reducing emissions is greater use of biofuels, until hydrogen technology gains scale.
  • Carbon Sequestration:
    • India willhave to rely on natural and man-made carbon sinks to soak up those emissions. Trees can capture 0.9 billion tons; the country will need carbon capture technologies to sequester the rest.
  • Carbon Pricing:
    • India, which already taxes coal and petroleum fuels, should consider putting a tax on emissions to drive change.
  • Deploying lower-carbon Energy:
    • There are four main types of low-carbon energy: wind, solar, hydro or nuclear power. The first three are renewable, which means these are good for the environment – as natural resources are used (such as wind or sun) to produce electricity.
    • Deploying lower carbon energy would help address both domestic and international climate challenges while simultaneously improving the economic well-being of India’s citizens.

Way forward for India:

  • Given the massive shifts underway in India’s energy system, we would benefit from taking stock of our actions and focusing on near-term transitions.
  • This will allow us to meet and even over-comply with our 2030 target while also ensuring concomitant developmental benefits, such as developing a vibrant renewable industry.
  • We can start putting in place the policies and institutions necessary to move us in the right direction for the longer-term and also better understand, through modelling and other studies, the implications of net-zero scenarios before making a net-zero pledge.
  • It would also be in India’s interest to link any future pledge to the achievement of near-term action by industrialised countries.
  • That would be fair and consistent with the principles of the UNFCCC and also enhance the feasibility of our own actions through, for example, increasing availability and reducing costs of new mitigation technologies.

Conclusion:

The world is not going to achieve its targets of halting global warming unless India is able to reduce its carbon emissions and India changes its trajectory right now. India is now rightly recognised for having come of age and becoming a major global power. But coming of age also brings with it the ability to take a stand, and resist being buffeted by the winds of shifting political agendas. While we, like others, have a responsibility to the international community, we also have a responsibility to our citizens to be deliberate and thoughtful about a decision as consequential as India’s climate pledge.

 

Topic: Science and Technology- developments and their applications and effects in everyday life.

5. India’s fight against the reappearance of the coronavirus is a test necessitating strengthened data and better science. Discuss. (250 words)

Reference:  The Hindu

Why the question:

The article talks about the missing science pillar in the COVID response.

Key Demand of the question:

Explain how India’s fight against the reappearance of the coronavirus is a test necessitating strengthened data and better science.

Directive:

Discuss – This is an all-encompassing directive – you have to debate on paper by going through the details of the issues concerned by examining each one of them. You have to give reasons for both for and against arguments.

Structure of the answer:

Introduction:

Start with brief background of COVID-19 resurgence.

Body:

The answer body must have the following aspects covered:

Present the reasons of why coronavirus cases are rising; talks about mutations, increased testing cases, multiple super spreader events happening in schools, colleges, offices, public transport.

Discuss the role that improved science and technology can play in facing the Covid situation.

 Conclusion:

India needs to increase the quantity, quality and public availability of actual data to guide decision-making.

Introduction:

India saw a single-day spike of more than 1 lakh Covid-19 cases on 4th April 2021, the highest since the pandemic began. The optimism that India might have beaten the COVID-19 pandemic has given way to pessimism from a sharp increase in new cases and deaths from the disease. India’s fight against the resurgence of the coronavirus is a challenge requiring strengthened data and better science

Body:

Resurgence of coronavirus in India:

  • First, the surge is probably driven by variants from the original, as variants worldwide comprise much of the current wave.
  • A resumption of global travel meant that spread of variants into India was inevitable, with the only question being when.
  • Evolutionary theory would expect SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, to mutate to become more transmissible. After all, the only task of a virus is to reproduce.
  • Anecdotal reports that the current surge is occurring more in younger adults and accompanied by unusual symptoms also support the idea that variants are responsible.
  • Direct evidence is needed from genetic sequencing of the virus.
  • The patterns of infection in India clearly suggest multi-generational transmission, with younger adults the engine of transmission into the elderly.
  • Various sero-surveys have consistently found that half or more of tested urban populations have antibodies to the virus.

Need for better science and data to combat coronavirus pandemic

India needs to increase the quantity, quality and public availability of actual data to guide decision-making.

  • A double mutant variation has been confirmed in India. Genetic sequencing data on this variant and more research can tell us about the transmissibility of the virus variant and its link to peaking cases in India.
  • The collection of anonymised demographic and risk details (age, sex, travel, contact with other COVID-19 patients, existing chronic conditions, current smoking) on all positive cases on a central website in each State remains a priority.
  • Expanded sequencing of the viral genome is needed from many parts of India, which can be achieved by re-programming sequencing capacity in Indian academic and commercial laboratories.
  • A far better reporting of COVID-19 deaths is needed. Daily or weekly reporting of the total death counts by age and sex by each municipality would help track if there is a spike in presumed COVID-19 deaths.
  • The Registrar General of India’s verbal autopsy studies are invaluable, but must be reactivated to review deaths occurring in 2020, given that the last available results are from 2013.
  • The science pillar of a response is complementary to action. The central and State governments must push for a rapid expansion of COVID-19 vaccination.

Way Forward:

  • COVID-19 could well turn into a seasonal challenge and thus, the central government should actively consider launching a national adult vaccination programme that matches India’s commitment and success in expanding universal childhood vaccination.
  • Affluent and connected urban elites of India are vaccinating quickly, but the poorer and less educated Indians are being left behind.
  • Vaccination campaigns need to reach the poor adults over age 45, without having to prove anything other than approximate age.
  • Similarly, India must capture and report data on who is vaccinated, including by education or wealth levels. The poor cannot be left in the dark.

Conclusion:

The resurgence of COVID-19 presents a major challenge for governments, yet the best hope is to rapidly expand epidemiological evidence, share it with the public and build confidence that the vaccination programme will benefit all Indians.

 

 

Topic: Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment.

6. What factors make forest fires a concern? What efforts are being taken to protect forests from fire in India? Discuss. (250 words)

Reference:  India Express

Why the question:

The article explains why forest fires break out in the spring, and why they have been so frequent this year.

Key Demand of the question:

Discuss the concerns of forest fires. And explain the efforts that are being taken by the government in addressing the same.

Directive:

Discuss – This is an all-encompassing directive – you have to debate on paper by going through the details of the issues concerned by examining each one of them. You have to give reasons for both for and against arguments.

Structure of the answer:

Introduction:

Start with some data relevant to forest fires in India.

Body:

The answer body must have the following aspects covered:

Discuss first the reasons of forest fires; Thunderstorms are the most likely natural cause for forest fires. Slash and burn techniques etc. The reasons are mainly manmade, particularly in cases where people visit forests and leave burning bidis, cigarette stubs or other inflammable materials.

Then explain the concerns posed by it. Explain why they are difficult to control.

Discuss the efforts being taken in this direction.

Conclusion:

Conclude with way forward.

Introduction:

Every year large areas of forests are affected by fires of varying intensity and extent. Based on the forest inventory records, 54.40% of forests in India are exposed to occasional fires, 7.49% to moderately frequent fires and 2.405 to high incidence levels while 35.71% of India’s forests have not yet been exposed to fires of any real significance.

Body:

The Forest Survey of India (FSI) has recently released a report on forest fires in the country.

Key findings:

  • At least 5,291 forest fires were recorded in Odisha between February 22 and March 1, 2021 — the highest in the country for the same period.
  • Collection of mahua flowers and kendu leaves, practice of shifting cultivation and grazing in forest areas are some of the reasons for forest fires in Odisha.
  • Telangana recorded the second-highest fires in the country at 1,527 during the same period, followed by Madhya Pradesh (1,507) and Andhra Pradesh (1,292), according to FSI data.

Vulnerability of Indian forests to fires

  • Natural causes – Many forest fires start from natural causes such as lightning which set trees on fire. However, rain extinguishes such fires without causing much damage. High atmospheric temperatures and dryness (low humidity) offer favorable circumstance for a fire to start.
  • Man-made causes – Fire is caused when a source of fire like naked flame, cigarette or bidi, electric spark or any source of ignition comes into contact with inflammable material.
  • Environmental causes are largely related to climatic conditions such as temperature, wind speed and direction, level of moisture in soil and atmosphere and duration of dry spells.
  • Other natural causes are the friction of bamboos swaying due to high wind velocity and rolling stones that result in sparks setting off fires in highly inflammable leaf litter on the forest floor.
  • The youngest mountain ranges of Himalayas are the most vulnerable stretches of the world susceptible to forest fires.
  • The forests of Western Himalayas are more frequently vulnerable to forest fires as compared to those in Eastern Himalayas.
    • This is because forests of Eastern Himalayas grow in high rain density.
  • With large scale expansion of chirr (Pine) forests in many areas of the Himalayas the frequency and intensity of forest fires has increased.

Challenges and issues due to forest fires:

Fires are a major cause of forest degradation and have wide ranging adverse ecological, economic and social impacts, including:

  • Loss of valuable timber resources.
  • Degradation of catchment areas.
  • Loss of biodiversity and extinction of plants and animals.
  • Loss of wildlife habitat and depletion of wildlife.
  • Loss of natural regeneration and reduction in forest cover.
  • Global warming.
  • Loss of carbon sink resource and increase in percentage of CO2 in atmosphere.
  • Change in the microclimate of the area with unhealthy living conditions.
  • Soil erosion affecting productivity of soils and production.
  • Ozone layer depletion.
  • Health problems leading to diseases.
  • Loss of livelihood for tribal people and the rural poor, as approximately 300 million people are directly dependent upon collection of non-timber forest products from forest areas for their livelihood.

Measures to control forest fires

  • Forest fire line: Successive Five Year Plans have provided funds for forests fighting. During the British period, fire was prevented in the summer through removal of forest litter all along the forest boundary. This was called “Forest Fire Line”.
    • This line used to prevent fire breaking into the forest from one compartment to another.
    • The collected litter was burnt in isolation.
  • Firebreaks: Generally, the fire spreads only if there is continuous supply of fuel (Dry vegetation) along its path. The best way to control a forest fire is therefore, to prevent it from spreading, which can be done by creating firebreaks in the shape of small clearings of ditches in the forests.
  • Forest Survey of India monitors forest fire events through satellites on two platforms– MODIS and SNPP-VIIRS, both in collaboration with the U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO).
    • While the SNPP-VIIRS identifies, alerts and tracks fire incidents on real time data at 375X375 sq meter pixel, the older version MODIS detects it in the range of 1kmX1km.
    • Forest fire suppression relies very heavily on “dry” firefighting techniques because of poor water availability.
  • Integrated forest protection: The main objective is to control forest fires and strengthen the forest protection. The works like Fireline clearing, assistance to Joint Forest Management committees, creating water bodies, purchase of vehicles and communication equipment, purchase of firefighting tools, etc., needs to be undertaken.
  • Prevention of human-caused fires through education and environmental modification. It will include silvicultural activities, engineering works, people participation, and education and enforcement. It is proposed that more emphasis be given to people participation through Joint Forest Fire Management for fire prevention.
  • Prompt detection of fires through a well-coordinated network of observation points, efficient ground patrolling, and communication networks. Remote sensing technology is to be given due importance in fire detection. For successful fire management and administration, a National Fire Danger Rating System (NFDRS) and Fire Forecasting System are to be developed in the country.
  • Introducing a forest fuel modification system at strategic points.
  • National Action Plan on Forest Fires (NAPFF): It was launched in 2018 to minimise forest fires by informing, enabling and empowering forest fringe communities and incentivising them to work with the State Forest Departments.

Conclusion:

It is important to prevent the lungs of the nation from ravages of fire. With climate change and global warming on the rise, India must prevent human-made disaster to ensure our carbon sinks are protected.

 


General Studies – 3


 

Topic: Issues related to direct and indirect farm subsidies and minimum support prices; Public Distribution System- objectives, functioning, limitations, revamping; issues of buffer stocks and food security; Technology missions; economics of animal-rearing.

7. Rampant use of antibiotics in farm industry has adversely affected humans and animals. Examine. (250 words)

Reference:  Down to Earth

Why the question:

The question is based on use of antibiotics in farm industry.

Key Demand of the question:

Answer must analyse the effect of use antibiotics in farm on human and animals.

Directive:

Examine – When asked to ‘Examine’, we must 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.

Structure of the answer:

Introduction:

Provide introductory background of use antibiotics in farm industry.

Body:

Explain why there is need of use of antibiotics.

 Then write how it is affecting humans.

Give evidence to explain the point.

Talk about the effect of it on animals.

Conclusion:

Conclude on way ahead & suggest measures to be taken by government and farmers.

Introduction:

Antibiotics are routinely administered to chickens on Indian poultry farms in small doses to promote growth and keep disease at bay, according to a study. A study led by Center for Disease Dynamics, Economics & Policy (CDDEP), finds high levels of antibiotic-resistant bacteria in chickens raised for both meat and eggs on farms in Punjab. Use of antibiotics for growth promotion in farm animals has increased worldwide in response to rising demand for food animal products

Body:

Antibiotics in poultry are used for the following reasons:

  • The issue of antibiotic use in livestock is particularly for non-therapeutic use such as mass disease prevention or growth promotion of poultry, pigs etc.
  • Studies conducted by the Centre for Science and Environment has shown the use of important antimicrobials, including critically important ones in poultry and aquaculture.
  • Indian chicken producers claim that antibiotics are used only for treating sick birds.

Rationale for the strict ban on rampant usage of antibiotics in Poultry:

  • Unregulated sale of the drugs for human or animal use accessed without prescription or diagnosis has led to unchecked consumption and misuse.
    • Of tested birds destined for meat consumption, 87% had the super germs based on a study published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives.
  • Farms supplying India’s biggest poultry-meat companies routinely use medicines classified by the World Health Organization (WHO) as “critically important” as a way of staving off disease or to make them gain weight faster, so that more can be grown each year for greater profit.
    • One drug typically given this way is Colistin which is used to treat patients critically ill with infections that have become resistant to nearly all other drugs.
  • In India, the poultry industry is booming. The amount of chicken produced doubled between 2003 and 2013. Chicken is popular because it can be eaten by people of all religions and affordable. Experts predict the rising demand for protein will cause a surge in antibiotic use in livestock. India’s consumption of antibiotics in chickens is predicted to rise fivefold by 2030 compared to 2010.
  • Lax regulation:
    • India does not have an effective integrated policy to control the use of antibiotics in livestock and poultry with a viewpoint of containing antibiotic resistance
    • In 2014 the Agriculture Ministry sent an advisory letter to all State governments asking them to review the use of antibiotic growth promoters. However, the directive was non-binding, and none have introduced legislation to date.
    • Even the guidelines of the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB)on poultry waste management do not adequately address ABR.
  • In India, at least five animal pharmaceutical companies are openly advertising products containing Colistin as growth promoters.
    • Chickens are fed antibiotics so that they gain weight and grow fast.
    • Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) has found residues of antibiotics in 40 per cent of the chicken samples it tested.
    • In Europe, Colistin is available to farmers only if prescribed by a vet for the treatment of sick animals. In India there is no such thing.
  • India, level of awareness regarding antibiotic resistance is very low.
  • Antibiotics are also coming from China as the imports are not regulated
  • Poultry farmers also ignore the mandatory withdrawal period, time gap between the use of antibiotics and when it is slaughtered that helps ensure that high levels of antibiotic residues do not pass on to humans.
  • While many poultry farmers are aware of other options or antibiotic-free growth promoter feed supplements, their high cost is prohibitive for smaller players. Bigger farmers are less keen because there is no incentive to make antibiotic-free chickens.

Impact on human health and animals:

  • Because resistance blunts the effectiveness of drugs designed to cure or prevent infection.
    • The bacteria survive and continue to multiply rendering ineffectual treatment for serious illnesses like pneumonia and tuberculosis, even prophylaxis in, say, caesarean deliveries. It hampers recovery in post-operative surgery.
  • Public health experts have suspected that such rampant use of antibiotics could be a reason for increasing antibiotic resistance in India.
    • These mutated robust strains bypass toxic effects of antibiotics, making them ineffective. They can easily spread among the flock and contaminate the food chain.
    • They can also alter the genetic material of other bacteria, often pathogenic ones, making them resistant to several drugs and resulting in a global pandemic.
  • Antibiotic residues present in the meat can directly unleash an assault on microbes in humans.
  • The mutated robust microbe strain can invade the body and cause diseases that are difficult to treat. Even mild infections require stronger dosage.
  • These drug-resistant bacteria could nullify the gains of modern medicine by compromising the success of organ transplants, high-end surgeries and cancer chemotherapy.
  • With drugs losing their effectiveness, the world would need newer antibiotics. Unfortunately, no new class of antibiotic has hit the market since late 1980s.
  • Annual healthcare cost due to antibiotic resistance is estimated to be as high as $20 billion, with an additional productivity loss of up to $35 billion in the US.
  • Treating fatal diseases like sepsis, pneumonia and tuberculosis (TB) are becoming tough because microbes that cause these diseases are increasingly becoming resistant to fluoroquinolones.
  • Farmhands which handle the birds often wear open-toe shoes, providing a conduit of entry for resistant bacteria and resistance genes into the community and hospitals, where further person-to-person transmission is possible.

Way ahead:

  • Ban the use of antibiotics for growth promotion and mass disease prevention. It should only be used to cure the sick animals based on prescription of veterinarians
  • Antibiotics should not be allowed in feed and feed The government should set standards for animal feed and regulate the business
  • Encourage development, production and use of alternative antibiotic-free growth promoters, such as herbal supplements
  • All animal antibiotics should be traceable from manufacturing site to user. Implement stringent control on import of antibiotics and feed supplements
  • Good farm management practices should be followed to control infection and stress among the flock.
  • Veterinarians should be trained and educated on judicious use of antibiotics and infection prevention. The government should ensure that veterinarians do not get incentives for prescribing more antibiotics
  • There is a need to introduce a labelling system wherein poultry raised without use of antibiotics should be labelled through reliable certified schemes to facilitate consumer choice.
  • It is necessary to create an integrated surveillance system to monitor antibiotics use and antibiotics resistance trends in humans, animals and food chain. A national-level database should be developed and kept in the public domain.
  • Citizens should be educated about what they are eating, what does their food contain, and what are the consequences.
  • Herbal feeds:
    • Other countries are importing herbal animal feeds from India. The effectiveness of these herbal feeds should be studied for Indian conditions. And if these feeds pass the test, Indian farmers should be advised to use them.
  • The government must issue advisories asking poultry farmers to stop the use of Colistin and maintain records of the overall use of all drugs given to poultry. This should become a strict requirement for the poultry industry.

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