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Insights SECURE SYNOPSIS: 8 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: Structure, organization and functioning of the Executive and the Judiciary—Ministries and Departments of the Government; pressure groups and formal/informal associations and their role in the Polity.

1. Access to justice for the deprived is a constitutional decree to ensure fair treatment under our legal system.  In this context, analyse the success of Lok Adalat in India. (250 words)

Reference:  The Hindu

Why the question:

The article presents to us an analysis of successes and failures of Lok Adalat.

Key Demand of the question:

One must analyse in detail the success of the idea of Lok Adalat in the Indian setup of judiciary in presenting access to justice for the deprived.

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 Lok Adalats are.

Body:

First talk about the constitutional status of Lok Adalats. Briefly discuss the History and Evolution of Lok Adalats in India.

Discuss the provisions given in the constitution with respect to access to justice for the deprived.

Present the merits and demerits of the system, weigh the successes achieved.

Account for challenges and shortcoming if any.

Conclusion:

Conclude with their importance.

Introduction

Lok Adalat (People’s Court) is one of the alternative dispute resolution mechanisms, where the cases or disputes which are pending in a court or which are at pre-litigation stage are settled in an amicable manner. It is a statutory body under the Legal Services Authorities Act, 1987. This system is based on Gandhian principles.

Body

Lok Adalat: Background

  • NALSA along with other Legal Services Institutions conducts Lok Adalats.
  • The Constitution (42nd Amendment) Act, 1976, inserted Article 39A to ensure “equal justice and free legal aid”.
  • To this end, the Legal Services Authorities Act, 1987, was enacted by Parliament and it came into force in 1995 “to provide free and competent legal services to weaker sections of the society”
  • Under the said Act, the award (decision) made by the Lok Adalats is deemed to be a decree of a civil court and is final and binding on all parties and no appeal against such an award lies before any court of law.
  • If the parties are not satisfied with the award of the Lok Adalat though there is no provision for an appeal against such an award, but they are free to initiate litigation by approaching the court of appropriate jurisdiction by filing a case by following the required procedure, in exercise of their right to litigate.
  • The objective of Lok Adalat is to settle the disputes which are pending before the courts, by negotiations, conciliation and by adopting persuasive common sense and human approach to the problems of the disputants.
  • As an alternative dispute resolution tool, Lok Adalats are regularly organised to help parties reach a compromise.
  • Motor-accident claims, disputes related to public-utility services, cases related to dishonour of cheques, and land, labour and matrimonial disputes (except divorce) are usually taken up by Lok Adalats.

Success of Lok Adalat: Access to justice for deprived

  • Access to justice for the poor is a constitutional mandate to ensure fair treatment under our legal system. Hence, Lok Adalats (literally, ‘People’s Court’) were established to make justice accessible and affordable to all.
  • It was a forum to address the problems of crowded case dockets outside the formal adjudicatory system.
  • The State Legal Services Authorities (SLSAs) have been organising Lok Adalats on a daily, fortnightly and monthly basis.
  • Data from the National Legal Services Authority (NALSA) show that Lok Adalats organised across the country from 2016 to 2020 disposed of 52,46,415 cases.
  • Similarly, National Lok Adalats (NLAs) organised under the aegis of NALSA settle a huge number of cases across the country in a single day.
  • For instance, NLAs conducted on February 8, 2020, disposed of 11,99,575 cases. From 2016 to 2020, NLAs have disposed of a total of 2,93,19,675 cases.
  • To overcome the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, e-Lok Adalats were organised at both national and State level.

Inherent issues of Lok Adalat

  • The Supreme Court, in State of Punjab vs Jalour Singh (2008), held that a Lok Adalat is purely conciliatory and it has no adjudicatory or judicial function.
  • As compromise is its central idea, there is a concern, and perhaps a valid one, that in the endeavour for speedy disposal of cases, it undermines the idea of justice.
  • In a majority of cases, litigants are pitted against entities with deep pockets, such as insurance companies, banks, electricity boards, among others.
  • In many cases, compromises are imposed on the poor who often have no choice but to accept them.
  • In most cases, such litigants have to accept discounted future values of their claims instead of their just entitlements, or small compensations, just to bring a long-pending legal process to an end.
  • Similarly, poor women under the so-called ‘harmony ideology’ of the state are virtually dictated by family courts to compromise matrimonial disputes under a romanticised view of marriage.
  • Even a disaster like the Bhopal gas tragedy was coercively settled for a paltry sum, with real justice still eluding thousands of victims.

Measures to make Lok Adalats function as an effective dispute redressal mechanism

  • Though the execution of the legal aid programme has been yielding favorable results but much more is needed to be reformed
  • Using the various forms of ADRs like Arbitration, conciliation, Negotiation and Mediation in the settling of disputes especially those involving matrimonial problems can prove to be an effective legal aid tool providing quick and inexpensive justice to the masses.
  • Substantial allocation of financial resources should be made at Revised Estimate stage to make the functioning of NALSA more effective.
  • Free legal aid must not be read to imply poor or inferior legal services. The lawyers in the panel should be experienced. The law ministry should ensure the senior lawyers do at least ten cases a year free of charge in the Courts.
  • Efforts should be made to inform the public of the existence of these services by using electronic media and aggressive campaigns.
  • Awareness of schemes and programs to be able to guide the poor litigants in this regard

Conclusion

Lok Adalat has a positive contributory role in the administration of justice. It supplements the efforts and work of the courts. Area of contribution chosen for the purpose specially concerns and helps the common man, the poor, backward and the needy-most sections of the society. Lok Adalats play a very important role to advance and strengthen “equal access to justice”, the heart of the Constitution of India, a reality. This Indian contribution to world ADR jurisprudence needs to be taken full advantage of. Maximum number of Lok Adalats need to be organized to achieve the Gandhian Principle of Gram Swaraj and “access to justice for all”.

 

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

2. Account for land degradation in India. Also, highlight the steps taken to check growing land degradation in India. (250 words)

Reference:  Geography of India by Majid Hussain

Why the question:

The question is based on the theme of land degradation and its spatial aspects in the country.

Key Demand of the question:

One must discuss the state of land degradation in India and highlight the steps taken to check growing land degradation in India.

Directive:

Account – Weigh up to what extent something is true. Persuade the reader of your argument by citing relevant research but also remember to point out any flaws and counter- arguments as well. Conclude by stating clearly how far you are in agreement with the original proposition.

Structure of the answer:

Introduction:

Explain shortly what you understand by land degradation.

Body:

Land degradation is defined as the long term/temporary loss of ecosystem functions and

Productivity caused by disturbances from which land cannot recover unaided. It can be caused by natural as well as anthropogenic factors.

Give the current status of land degradation and reasons behind the same in India.

Enumerate the steps taken to check growing land degradation in India.

Conclusion:

Conclude by highlighting the steps, which should be taken towards the same.

Introduction

Land degradation is defined as the temporary or permanent decline in the productive capacity of the land, and the diminution of the productive potential, including its major land uses (e.g., rain-fed arable, irrigation, forests), its farming systems (e.g., smallholder subsistence), and its value as an economic resource.

Body

Status of Land Degradation in India

  • About 29.32% of the Total Geographical Area of the country is undergoing the process of desertification/land degradation.
  • This equals nearly 94.6 million hectares in India.
  • Approximately 6.35% of land in Uttar Pradesh is undergoing desertification/degradation.
  • The State of India’s Environment report, 2017 calculates that nearly 30 per cent of India is degraded or facing desertification. This figure touches 40 to 70 percent in eight states—Rajasthan, Delhi, Goa, Maharashtra, Jharkhand, Nagaland, Tripura and Himachal Pradesh.
  • Various estimates put the economic costs of degradation in the country at 2.54% of its GDP.

Causes of Land Degradation

  • Nearly 30% of India’s land area has been degraded through deforestation, over-cultivation, soil erosion and depletion of wetlands, as per a 2016 study by Space Applications Centre of the Indian Space Research Organisation.
  • Agricultural production systems made less resilient by the loss of biodiversity.
  • Natural factors such as climate variability and extreme weather events.
  • Overgrazing and over grafting, inappropriate irrigation, Urban sprawl and commercial development and Soil Pollution.

Steps taken to check growing land degradation in India

  • To fight this menace, India will convert degraded land of nearly 50 lakh (5 million) hectares to fertile land in the next 10 years (between 2021 and 2030).
  • A Centre for Excellence would be set up in Dehradun for land degradation neutrality.
  • Bonn Challenge: “Bonn Challenge” is a global effort to bring 150 million hectares of the world’s deforested and degraded land into restoration by 2020, and 350 million hectares by 2030.
    • 5 million hectares are part of the Bonn Challenge
    • At the UNFCCC (COP) 2015 in Paris, India joined the voluntary Bonn Challenge and pledged to bring into restoration 13 million hectares of degraded and deforested land by 2020, and an additional 8 million hectares by 2030.
    • India’s pledge is one of the largest in Asia.
  • Soil Health Card: Farmers will be provided with a scientific assessment card of their field soil. This will help in mixing right amount of fertiliser to ensure fertility of land.
  • Micro-irrigation: This will prevent soil-erosion and land degardation by preserving top soil.
    • Government has set up Micro-irrigation fund under NABARD to help states increasing land under drip irrigation.
  • National Afforestation & Eco Development Board (NAEB) Division of the MoEFCC is implementing the “National Afforestation Programme (NAP)” for ecological restoration of degraded forest areas.
  • Various other schemes like Green India Mission, fund accumulated under Compensatory Afforestation Fund Management and Planning Authority (CAMPA), Nagar Van Yojana also help in checking degradation and restoration of forest landscape.
  • MoEF&CC also promote tree outside forests realizing that the country has a huge potential for increasing its Trees Outside Forest (TOF) area primarily through expansion of agroforestry, optimum use of wastelands and vacant lands.

Conclusion

India must commit itself towards Land degradation neutrality. The impact can be reduced by proper management of mining process, using advanced technologies rather than conventional methods. Agricultural intensification needs to be managed properly to reduce the environmental effect. This can be done through education of the farmers. The government must take the warning on desertification seriously because land has synergistic benefits for biodiversity and creating carbon sink.

 

 


General Studies – 2


 

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

3. Myanmar crisis is India’s opportunity to develop long-term refugee policy. Analyse. (250 words)

Reference:  Indian Express

Why the question:

The column in Indian express presents to us the ongoing Myanmar refugee crisis and emphasizes on the urgency and need to come up with a concrete long term refugee policy.

Key Demand of the question:

Discuss in detail the need to develop a long term refugee policy for the country.

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 brief background of the ongoing Myanmar refugee crisis.

Body:

The answer body must have the following aspects covered:

Discuss what constitutes Refugees, why they are a cause of concern.

Account for the existing provisions and policies associated to them.

Give example of the refugee crisis owing to the Myanmar crisis.

Discuss the need for adopting a long term refugee policy that addresses associated concers.

Conclusion:

Conclude with solutions.

Introduction

The Ministry of External Affairs has underlined the government’s changing position on the Myanmar crisis, moving to a more pro-active stand as concerns grow worldwide about growing internal strife and instability there. After a closed-door UNSC meeting on Myanmar, Tirumurti’s tweets condemned the violence, condoled the loss of lives, called for the release of detained leaders and urged maximum restraint.

Body

An opportunity to develop long-term refugee policy

  • Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Manipur and Mizoram — have long borders with Myanmar and the last two states have taken some 1,500 persons, including a number of junior police officials, fleeing from the crackdown in the bordering Chin State.
  • India does not have a National Refugee Law nor is it a signatory to the UN Convention governing refugees.
  • India has allowed Tibetans, Tamil refugees from Sri Lanka, Chakmas of Bangladesh, the Lothsampas of Nepali origin from Bhutan, Afghans, Somalis and many others into this land. But these remain ad hoc approaches.
  • This has been sought to be addressed for six “minority” communities of Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan in a long-term manner by the controversial Citizenship Amendment Act.
  • However, the CAA does not cover many of the cases such as those fleeing Myanmar now or issue of Rohingyas etc.
  • A national mechanism needs to be developed which goes beyond short-term measures and takes into account a needs-based assessment of how best to handle rapid outflows of persecuted persons.
  • India must also consider to become part to non-refoulement, which will reinforce its place in the UN Human rights council.
  • Any decision of the Indian government to grant refugee or asylum status cannot be isolated from its international responsibility under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness, and the Convention on the Rights of the Child (of which India is a signatory).
  • These international regimes coupled with the guidelines under the Constitution make it necessary for India to adopt a refugee policy that is non-discriminatory and includes everyone who has faced persecution, despite their nationality, religion, gender or place of birth.

Conclusion

Additionally, resettlement efforts must be made with the country from which such refugees arrive after strife is over. Resettlement engagements may also be undertaken between India and other affluent countries that have better physical and economic infrastructure so that the refugee influx is better managed and does not cause a permanent strain on the resources of a less wealthy host country.

 

Topic: GS-2: Issues relating to poverty and hunger.

GS-4: Attitude: content, structure, function; its influence and relation with thought and behaviour; moral and political attitudes; social influence and persuasion.

4. Explain in what way attitude and Behaviour can be a game changer in addressing the problems of food wastage in India. (250 words)

Reference:  Indian Express

Why the question:

According to the Food Waste Index Report 2021 published by the United Nations Environment Programme, 50 kg of food is thrown away per person every year in Indian homes. Thus the question.

Key Demand of the question:

Discuss the possible role that attitude and behaviour of people can play in addressing the problems of food wastage in India.

Directive:

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

Structure of the answer:

Introduction:

Start with socking facts related to food wastage in India such as quote the statistics of the report.

Body:

The answer body must have the following aspects covered:

Firstly discuss the causes for food wastage in India. Nearly 40 per cent of the food produced in India is wasted every year due to fragmented food systems and inefficient supply chains — a figure estimated by the Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO). This is the loss that occurs even before the food reaches the consumer.

Highlight the effects of problem of food waste in the country. s per the Food Waste Index Report 2021, a staggering 50 kg of food is thrown away per person every year in Indian homes. This excess food waste usually ends up in landfills, creating potent greenhouse gases which have dire environmental implications. Meanwhile, we continue to be green washed into amassing more “organic” and “sustainable” products than we really need.

Discuss the role of attitude and behaviour of individuals in addressing the issue.

Conclusion:

Conclude with way forward.

Introduction

According to the Food Waste Index Report 2021 published by the United Nations Environment Programme, 50 kg of food is thrown away per person every year in Indian homes. Nearly 40 per cent of the food produced in India is wasted every year due to fragmented food systems and inefficient supply chains — a figure estimated by the Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO). This is the loss that occurs even before the food reaches the consumer.

Body

Issue of food wastage

  • The excess food waste usually ends up in landfills, creating potent greenhouse gases which have dire environmental implications. Meanwhile, we continue to be greenwashed into amassing more “organic” and “sustainable” products than we really need.
  • In the wake of the lockdown imposed last year, surplus stocks of grain — pegged at 65 lakh tonnes in the first four months of 2020 — continued to rot in godowns across India.
  • Access to food became extremely scarce for the poor, especially daily-wage labourers.
  • Although essential commodities were exempt from movement restrictions, farmers across the country struggled to access markets, resulting in tonnes of food waste.
  • Meanwhile, instinctive hoarding by the middle class disrupted the value chain, further aggravating the situation.

Behaviour and attitude change needed to prevent food wastage

  • The astonishing statistics of food waste attributed to households and their irresponsible consumption patterns means that change needs to begin in our own homes.
  • Calculated purchasing when buying groceries, minimising single-use packaging wherever possible, ordering consciously from restaurants, and reconsidering extravagant buffet spreads at weddings can go a long way.
  • At the community level, one can identify and get involved with organisations such as Coimbatore-based No Food Waste which aim to redistribute excess food to feed the needy and hungry.
  • A strong sense of judiciousness in how we consume our food is the next logical step. We must attempt to change our “food abundance” mindset to a “food scarcity” one, working our way towards a zero-waste end goal.
  • Feed someone else or, at the very least, compost it so it doesn’t end up in landfills. Be open to incorporating nose-to-tail cooking when it comes to meat and seafood. The roots, shoots, leaves and stalks of most vegetables are perfectly edible.

Conclusion

Acquaint oneself with and support initiatives proactively working towards reducing food waste, such as Adrish, India’s first chain of zero-waste concept stores, which is focused on getting people to shift from harmful, artificial consumption to an eco-friendly, zero-waste lifestyle. And a long, hard look at ourselves and the way we consume is, perhaps, what we need right now to begin making even a small difference.

 

 


General Studies – 3


 

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

5. Climate justice is vital for India for realizing its green commitment to ensure its developmental and global targets of climate change. Explain. (250 words)

Reference:  The Hindu

Why the question:

The article explains that along with comparable levels of commitments, there need to be equally comparable metrics for well-being.

Key Demand of the question:

Discuss the importance of climate justice for India to realize its green commitments and ensure developmental and global targets of climate change.

Directive:

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

Structure of the answer:

Introduction:

Start with the definition of climate justice.

Body:

Background to the concept of climate justice: In 2015, at the UN General Assembly when the Sustainable Development Agenda 2030 was adopted and at the Paris Conference, Prime Minister Narendra Modi stressed a reframing of climate change to climate justice.

The Paris Agreement explicitly recognise this justice by acknowledging that peaking will take longer for such countries and is to be achieved in the context of sustainable development.

Unfortunately, this balance is now being upset for a common target and timetable.

Explain the issues with achieving climate justice.

Conclusion:

Conclude with the importance of recognising the need for a new framework and new understanding for climate justice.

Introduction

Climate justice is a term used for framing climate change as an ethical and political issue, rather than one that is purely environmental or physical in nature.

Clean air, clean energy and clean power balanced with growth were the priorities for India in its mission to combat climate change. The government had pursued voluntarily set targets with commitment, conviction and followed-up action and had played an active and positive role in tackling the Climate Change.

Body

Issues with climate justice

  • First, inequity is built into the Climate Treaty. Annual emissions make India the fourth largest emitter, even though climate is impacted by cumulative emissions, with India contributing a mere 3% compared with 26% for the United States and 13% for China.
  • According to the United Nations, while the richest 1% of the global population emits more than two times the emissions of the bottom 50%.
  • India has just half its population in the middle class and per capita emissions are an eighth of those in the U.S. and less than a third of those of China.
  • The current framework considers symptoms, emissions of carbon dioxide, and was forced onto developing countries to keep the discussion away from the causes of the problem, the earlier excessive use of energy for high levels of well-being.

India’s role in ensuring Climate Justice

  • India is currently setting up voluntary targets in the international forums to commit itself to the mission to combat climate change. It is also playing a major role in climate change mitigation.
  • India’s proactive role in mitigating climate change is due to the domestic compulsion of tackling issues like the need for poverty eradication, food and nutritional security, universalization of health and education, water security, sustainable energy, employment
  • India is of the opinion that the developing countries’ need for inclusive growth, sustainable development, poverty eradication and universal access to energy must be made the fundamental differentiation between them and the developed nations.
  • Currently, the Conventions recognise that the historical emissions of the developed nations as the basis for differentiation between the developed and developing nations.
  • Being a developing nation, India also has come up with many initiatives to make India a carbon neutral economy, especially with schemes such as Mega Solar park, FAME and so on.

Steps taken in this regard

  • National Action Plan on Climate Change (NAPCC): The Action plan covers eight major missions on Solar, Enhanced Energy Efficiency, Sustainable Habitat, Water, Sustaining the Himalayan Ecosystem, Green India, Sustainable Agriculture and Strategic Knowledge on Climate Change.
  • International Solar Alliance (ISA): ISA was jointly launched by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and the then President of France, Francois Hollande in Paris on the side-lines of CoP 21 in 2015. The vision and mission of the alliance is to provide a dedicated platform for cooperation among solar resource rich countries that lie completely or partial between the Tropics of Capricorn & Cancer.
  • State Action Plan on Climate Change (SAPCC): State governments have drafted climate strategies aligned with the eight National Missions under the NAPCC. The strategies focus on issues ranging from climate mitigation, energy efficiency, and resource conservation to climate adaptation.
  • FAME Scheme for E-mobility: Union Government in April 2015 launched Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of Hybrid and Electric vehicles (FAME) – India Scheme with an aim to boost sales of eco-friendly vehicles in the country. It is a part of the National Mission for Electric Mobility.
  • Atal Mission for Rejuvenation & Urban Transformation (AMRUT) for Smart Cities.
  • Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana: The scheme provides LPG connections to five crore below-poverty-line beneficiaries. The connections are given in the name of women beneficiaries to reduce their dependence on fossil fuels and conventional fuel like cow dung for cooking food, thus reducing air pollution.
  • UJALA scheme: The scheme was launched by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi in January 2015 with a target of replacing 77 crore incandescent lamps with LED bulbs. The usage of LED bulbs will not only result in reducing electricity bills but also help in environment protection.

Conclusion

In the Paris Agreement, ‘climate justice’ was relegated to the preamble as a political, not policy, statement. It needs to be fleshed out with a set of ‘big ideas’. The first is a reframing of the global concern in terms of sustainable development for countries with per capita emissions below the global average, in line with the Paris Agreement. Second, the verifiable measure should be well-being within ecological limits. Third, international cooperation should centre on sharing technology of electric vehicles and hydrogen as a fuel, as they are the most effective response to climate change.

 

Topic: Challenges to internal security through communication networks, role of media and social networking sites in internal security challenges, basics of cyber security; money laundering and its prevention.

6.  Recent Mumbai cyber-attacks point to the need to rethink what constitutes a force and what a justified response can be. In this context analyse   issues in contextualizing cyber-attack. (250 words)

Reference:  The Hindu

Why the question:

Recent Mumbai cyberattacks point to the need to rethink what constitutes a force and what a justified response can be.

Key Demand of the question:

Analyse the issues in contextualizing cyber-attack in detail.

 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 a brief background of cyber-attacks and their impact.

Body:

Discuss the issues in contextualizing cyberattacks; Changing definitions: The definition of combat and combatants undergoes fast mutation and excluded cyber-attacks for E.g. Lieber Code of 1863: Defines a combatant as “So soon as a man is armed by a sovereign and takes the soldier’s oath of fidelity, he is a belligerent.”

The 1899 Hague Convention: Clarity of what constitutes a regular force.

  • Force should be commanded by a person responsible for his subordinates.
  • It must have a distinctive emblem recognizable at a distance.
  • It must carry arms openly.
  • It must conduct operations in accordance with laws and customs of war.

Present India’s stand. India has given its view of the right to self-defence In a February 24, 2021, UN Arria Formula meeting on ‘Upholding the collective security system of the UN Charter.

Conclusion:

India seems to have made its intentions clear at the UN meet, but this is a game that two can play; if not regulated globally, it could lead to a wild­ West situation.

Introduction

A report in The New York Times on the October 2020 breakdown of the Mumbai power distribution system points a finger at Chinese cyber hackers. With rising cyberattacks, there is a need for redefining who combatants are and what constitutes a force. The next logical question is, when, and under what conditions, would a non-kinetic strike, say a cyberattack, be considered an attack on the state

Body

Existing literature on definition of combatants and force

  • The universally accepted Lieber Code of 1863 defines a combatant. It says, “So soon as a man is armed by a sovereign and takes the soldier’s oath of fidelity, he is a belligerent…”; all others are non-combatants.
  • An organised group of “belligerents” constitutes a regular armed force of a state.
  • The 1899 Hague Convention brings in further clarity of what constitutes a regular force.
  • First, the force should be commanded by a person responsible for his subordinates.
  • Second, it must have a distinctive emblem recognisable at a distance.
  • Third, it must carry arms openly. And last, it must conduct operations in accordance with laws and customs of war.

Those who conducted the (yet unproven) Mumbai ‘cyberattack’ or the 2007 attack on Estonia’s banking system did not meet any of the four conditions of being called combatants, but still wreaked havoc. A combatant, thus, needs to be redefined due to three reasons

Practical considerations while redefining the exisiting literature

  • First, a cyber ‘army’ need not be uniformed and may consist of civilians. After the cyberattack on Estonia, the government set up a voluntary Cyber Defence Unit whose members devote their free time towards rehearsing actions in case of a cyberattack.
  • A rogue nation could well turn these non-uniformed people into cyber ‘warriors’.
  • Second, cyber ‘warriors’ do not carry arms openly. Their arms are malicious software which is invisible.
  • And finally, the source of the attack could be a lone software nerd who does not have a leader and is up to dirty tricks for money, blackmail or simply some fun.
  • None of these meet the requirements of The Hague Convention but the actions of these non-combatants fall squarely in the realm of national security.

India’s stance on the issue

  • In a February 24, 2021 UN Arria Formula meeting on ‘Upholding the collective security system of the UN Charter’, the Indian statement says, “a State would be compelled to undertake a pre-emptive strike when it is confronted by an imminent armed attack from a non-state actor operating in a third state.”
  • It adds that “this state of affairs exonerates the affected state from the duty to respect, vis-a-vis the aggressor, the general obligation to refrain from the use of force.”
  • It is a clear departure from established practices for India. India showed its position on the question of the right of self-defence against the acts of non-state actors in international law.
  • Though used with reference to an “armed attack”, the implications of the statement, when viewed vis-à-vis cyberattacks done by faceless persons who are non-combatants as per international law, open up an avenue that requires careful examination; cyberattacks may not kill directly but the downstream effects can cause great destruction.
  • In 2014, for the first time, a nation (the U.S.) initiated criminal actions against foreign nationals (five Chinese operatives of Unit 61398 of the People’s Liberation Army) for computer hacking and economic espionage.
  • The question is, how long before this escalates to covert and/or overt kinetic retaliation.

Conclusion

India seems to have made its intentions clear at the UN meet, but this is a game that two can play; if not regulated globally, it could lead to a wild-west situation, which the international community should best avoid by resolute action.

 

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

7. Do you think the interlinking of river in India is a sustainable water management practice? Analyse with suitable examples. (250 words)

Reference:  Indian Express

Why the question:

The article presents the case of Ken-Betwa river linking project.  

Key Demand of the question:

One is expected to analyse if interlinking of river in India is a sustainable water management practice.

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 importance of water management practice in the country.

Body:

The answer body must have the following aspects covered:

What is River Inter-interlinking? – The National River Linking Project (NRLP) formally known as the National Perspective Plan, envisages the transfer of water from water ‘surplus’ basins where there is flooding, to water ‘deficit’ basins where there is drought/scarcity, through inter-basin water transfer projects.

Briefly present the history behind River Interlinking in the country.

Present the scope of the project and then critically evaluate the concerns posed by it using suitable example.

Suggest solutions like – Local solutions (like better irrigation practice) and watershed management, should be focused on. The government should alternatively consider the National Waterways Project (NWP) which “eliminates” friction between states over the sharing of river waters since it uses only the excess flood water that goes into the sea unutilized. The necessity and feasibility of river-interlinking should be seen on case to case basis, with adequate emphasis on easing out federal issues.

Conclusion:

Conclude with a fair and balanced opinion.  

Introduction

The Indian Rivers Inter-linking is a proposed large-scale civil engineering project that aims to link Indian rivers by a network of reservoirs and canals and so reduce persistent floods in some parts and water shortages in other parts of India. It will divert water from surplus regions to deficit regions and can lead to seamless navigation.

Body

The government plans to work on an $87 billion scheme to connect nearly 60 rivers in the country. The idea is to connect the Himalayan and peninsular rivers via a network of canals so that excess water can be diverted. The project includes Ken-Betwa, Par-Tapi-Narmada and Damanganga-Pinjal river inter-linking projects and building Pancheshwar and North Koel dam.

 

Advantages of river water inter-linking

  • Improving irrigation: Linking of rivers will reduce dependence of farmers on monsoon. The land under irrigation will increase by about 15%. It will lead to additional irrigation of 35 million hectares in the water-scarce western and peninsular regions.
  • Reducing disasters: By creating network of canal, flood and drought problem will be resolved by channelling excess water to scarce areas.
    • This will help in saving lives and will reduce economic loss that occur due to floods and droughts.
  • Hydro-electricity: With creation of new dams and canals to link and store water, it will lead to generation of hydroelectricity that will help in providing energy security.
    • The river interlinking project will generate power of about 34,000 MW (34 GW).
  • Waterways development: Newly created network of canals will open up new routes and ways of water for navigation which is generally more efficient and cheaper compared to road transport. 1
    • 5,000 km of river and 10,000 km of navigation will be developed. Thereby reducing the transportation cost.
  • Water security: It will provide drinking water to many. By interlinking rivers scarce area will get more water that is usually wasted in oceans. It will also lead to ground water recharging.
  • Large scale afforestation around the renewed rivers and newly drained area will make environment greener.

Critical Analysis: Is interlinking sustainable?

  • Displacement: Half a million people are likely to be displaced in the process that will create the huge burden on the government to deal with the issue of rehabilitation of displaced people.
  • Submergence of land: The Ken-Betwa link threatens about 200 sq. km of the Panna tiger reserve
  • Panel report: The Shah committee pointed out that the linking of rivers will affect natural supply of nutrients for agricultural lands through curtailing flooding of downstream areas.
  • Unavailability of data: National level comprehensive all year data on rivers is unavailable. Feasibility studies and ecological impact on rivers and biodiversity is also not done.
  • River course: Usually rivers change their course and direction in about 100 years and if this happens after interlinking, then the project will not be feasible for a longer run
  • Experience of other nations: Less than positive experience that other countries have, like diversion of Amu Darya and the Syr Darya or the Australia’s experiments in its Murray Darling basin.

Way Forward

  • The biggest, cheapest, most benign, possibly fastest and most decentralized storage option for India is the groundwater aquifer.
  • Invest in water conservation, more efficient irrigation and better farm practices.
  • We need a mandatory enforceable river policy aimed at treating rivers as national treasure.
  • Accumulation of silt in huge quantities, particularly the Ganga and its tributaries. These rivers need to be desilted.
  • Planting trees on the river banks is one way of bringing life back to the rivers.
  • Forest catchments will need to be restored, wastewater from industries and towns will need to be treated, sand mining needs to be stopped.

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