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Insights SECURE SYNOPSIS: 19 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 – 2


 

Topic: Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests.

1. Critically analyse the growing fissures and challenges to the unipolar global order led by the US. (250 words)

Reference:  The Hindu

Why the question:

The article presents an analysis on growing fissures and challenges to the unipolar global order led by the US.

Key Demand of the question:

Comment on the changing global order and analyse the challenges of unipolar global order led by the US.

Directive:

Critically analyze – When 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. 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 with brief history of power-centric global order.

 Body:  

From the Renaissance period onwards (14th-15th century) – an era of Eurocentrism: Europe began its hegemonic ambitions through trade and commerce, taking almost 500 years to colonize.

 Post-colonial phase: Pax Britannica gave way to Pax Americana: American ascendency began after the end of British imperialism in the aftermath of the Suez Crisis (1956). Defining third world aspirations: Bandung Conference of 1955 set the schema for the rise of Asia, politically and economically.

Then present an overview of widening fissures in the present global order- talk about Trumpism and far-right ultra-nationalism, Rising scepticism on China, Rising threat of military conflict, Unquestionable capabilities of the rising economies.

Conclusion:

Conclude that a kind of dualism persists in the world order with no clear hegemony that can be bestowed on one single nation. Global power gradually extends across many countries.

Introduction

The primary geopolitical rivals, namely Russia and China may possibly provide the strategic and tactical counterbalance to the hegemony of America. Also, the international order is under threat of the rising economic power of the BRICS nations, with China dominating in its economic and military capacity. This calls for the analysis of the role of USA in coming years and its hegemonic position in the world.

Body

Changing global order

  • From the Renaissance period onwards (14th-15th century) there was an era of Eurocentrism.
  • Europe began its hegemonic ambitions through trade and commerce, taking almost 500 years to colonize.
  • Post-colonial phase: Pax Britannica gave way to Pax Americana.
  • American ascendency began after the end of British imperialism in the aftermath of the Suez Crisis (1956).
  • It was the Bandung Conference of 1955, a meeting of Asian and African states, most of which were newly independent, that set the schema for the rise of Asia, politically and economically.
  • But post-cold war, the world order was largely unipolar in nature, with USA at the helm of global affairs.

Challenges to unipolar global order led by USA

  • Rise of China has been the single most challenge to American hegemony, with China’s economy set to surpass America in few years.
  • China’s Belt and Road Initiative with 68 countries participating is one of a kind infrastructure project, with which China aims for global domination.
  • Chinese aggression in the Pacific, South China sea has been the reason for rise of Quad and Indo-Pacific.
  • China-Russia axis is viewed with hostility by America and has been called as a threat to its security.
  • Russia has kept USA embroiled in middle east, especially in Afghanistan and until late even in Syria.
  • Trump’s policy of threatening to leave NATO, Paris and such other well-established agreements like JCPOA nuclear deal, have eroded American hegemony greatly.
  • President Trump’s open desire to remove American military forces from South Korea was damaging to U.S.-Korean relations.
  • Other threats such as terrorism, ethnic conflicts and the warning of annihilation owing to climate change necessarily demand joint international action where American “exceptionalism” becomes an incongruity and an aberration. This indeed has chipped away at the American global supremacy.

Importance of USA still remains

  • With an average military expenditure under two percent of GDP, European states remain dependent on Washington to meet their security needs, just as in the 1960s.
  • Alternatively, the explosive growth of the Chinese military, coupled with Beijing’s territorial claims, underline the importance of the U.S. presence to Asian leaders who are often facing funding challenges of their own.
  • Indo-Pacific and Quad can counter an aggressive China in the region and uphold freedom of navigation in high seas.
  • Collective condemnation of treatment of Uighur Muslims in Xin Jiang shows how nations can press on issues on global front, led by USA.
  • No nation has the capability yet to challenge America in technology front and also on innovation. Thus, USA still has a huge leverage over the world and must ensure that liberal global order is restored.

Conclusion

It is feared that there could be a possibility of a multipolar world turning disordered and unstable, but it is up to the rising nations to attempt to overcome territorial aspirations and strike a forceful note of faith on cultural mediation, worldwide legitimacy, and the appeal of each society in terms of its democratic values.

Topic: Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the Centre and States and the performance of these schemes; mechanisms, laws, institutions and Bodies constituted for the protection and betterment of these vulnerable sections

2. Supreme Court’s recent ruling on disposing of an application seeking the release of Rohingya refugees ignores India’s commitments to international law. Examine. (250 words)

Reference:  Indian Express

Why the question:

Despite the detained refugees having United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) refugee cards, over 170 Rohingya refugees were detained in Jammu after a biometric verification drive.

Key Demand of the question:

Examine in what way Supreme Court’s recent ruling on disposing of an application seeking the release of Rohingya refugees ignores India’s commitments to international law.

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:

Start with brief background of the question.

Body:

Discuss the concerns of India’s treatment of Rohingyas as refugees.

Absence of domestic legislation: While the difference between illegal migrants and refugees is not clear due to the absence of legislation, despite that, India in the past has allowed for a differentiated.

Bias against: Rohingyas is even excluded from the purview of the Citizenship Amendment Act despite their fleeing described as a ‘textbook example of ethnic cleansing. Explain the lack of judicial consciousness.

Conclusion:

Conclude with way forward.

Introduction

The recent order of the Supreme Court disposing of an application seeking the release of Rohingya refugees detained illegally in a sub-jail in Jammu and threatened with deportation to Myanmar, a country currently in the grip of a violent military coup, is bereft of any cogent legal reasoning and lacks an understanding of international law obligations and constitutional protections for refugees and devoid of humanity.

Body

Background to plight of Rohingya Refugees

  • The United Nations has termed the Rohingya as the world’s most persecuted ethnic minority who are left stateless.
  • In August 2017, the Myanmar military launched a clearance campaign in the Rakhine state (home to the ethnic Rohingya), forcing over 7,50,000 of them to flee to neighbouring states, escaping a military operation that killed, burnt and wiped-out entire villages.
  • Thousands of women were raped and tortured and thousands of children orphaned.
  • Fleeing genocide at the hands of the Burmese military and ultra-religious Buddhist mobs in their home state, about 40,000 Rohingya entered India in waves, and settled in refugee camps across the country.
  • They live in deplorable conditions, with scant access to drinking water, electricity or sanitation.

Concerns against India’s stance on Rohingyas

  • The Indian government has in the past differentiated between illegal immigrants and refugees in the absence of domestic legislation, such as, in its treatment of Afghan, Sri Lankan or Tibetan refugees.
  • They have been granted the right to apply for long-term visas for refugees in accordance with the government’s 2011 protocol, thereby reaffirming its respect for the institution of asylum.
  • They are also excluded from the purview of the Citizenship Amendment Act, despite their fleeing what has been described as a “textbook example of ethnic cleansing”.
  • In India, no legislation has been passed that specifically refers to refugees. Hence, the Rohingya refugees are often clubbed with the class of illegal immigrants deported by the government under the Foreigners Act 1946 and the Foreigners Order 1948.

Lack of judicial consciousness

  • The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, while hearing the application seeking a restraint on the deportation of those detained in Jammu jail, and their immediate release, asked how refugees could invoke Article 32 rights.
  • He had to be reminded that Article 14 and 21 constitutional protections were equally available to every “person”, including refugees. This set the tone for the order that followed.
  • The court first decided to distance itself from the genocide in Myanmar, with which four Indian states share borders stating that it “cannot comment upon something happening in another country”.
  • Despite India’s binding obligations, the Supreme Court chose to turn a blind eye to this factual reality of genocide and ethnic cleansing facing the Rohingya.

 

Conclusion

India must have a common refugee principle laid out clearly backed by a legislation. The consideration of religion, nation or their numbers must not become a hindrance for any refugee fleeing persecution and seeking asylum in India. As a signatory to human rights declaration and genocide convention 1948, India must uphold its end of the bargain.

Topic: GS-1: Social empowerment

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

3. Critically analyse the performance of the gender quota policy (At least one woman on board) for corporate boards, mandated under Indian Companies Act, 2013. (250 words)

Reference:  The Hindu

Breaching The Boys’ Club – The Economic Times

Why the question:

The article presents a critical analysis of the performance of the gender quota policy (At least one woman on board) for corporate boards, mandated under Indian Companies Act, 2013.

Key Demand of the question:

In detail critically analyse the gender quota policy mandated under Indian Companies Act, 2013.

Directive:

Critically analyze – When 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. 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 with the nuances of the Act.

Body:

The answer body must have the following aspects covered:

Present first the positive aspects of the policy: Indian Companies Act, 2013 mandated the presence of at least one woman on boards of public and private companies that meet a certain threshold of paid-up capital or turnover.

Account for the criticisms of the policy –

Anti-meritocratic: As it puts gender over merit in board appointments.

Symbolic female appointments: 5% of companies only met the lowest threshold required by the quota of appointing one woman on board.

There is a continuance of rigid corporate work culture that relies on old boys’ clubs for director-level recruitment, male-heavy networks of existing board members etc.

Reinforcing fiefdoms: One-fifth of companies appointing at least one woman have familial ties to their board.

Discrimination in the role: Women directors are often sidelined in committees like nomination committees that are responsible for director- and executive-level recruitment.

No positive spillovers: In the form of recruitment of more women at lower levels.

Conclusion:

Suggest way forward.

Introduction

Women’s share in boards of Nifty-500 firms has tripled to 15 percent over the past six years but a majority of firms have just one woman on their board. This change was seen after the mandate was made under the Companies Act 2013, to include one woman director on the board of directors of the company.

Body

Performance of the gender quota policy for corporate boards

  • Yet, a majority of firms have not cared to go beyond the mandated requirement. 60% of the Nifty-500 firms had just that one woman on board that the law mandates as of fiscal 2019.
  • 31% had two women on their boards. Only 5% had three women. And only eleven companies, or 2.2% of the Nifty-500 firms, had more than three women on board.
  • As of fiscal 2019, not a single Nifty-500 firm had more women than men on their board, the NSE Infobase data.
  • While a large number of companies, as high as 96 per cent, have at least one woman on their boards, they have only 17 per cent of representation as of 2020 so far in the overall pie of board positions. However, this percentage is increasing, albeit slowly. It has increased by a mere 8.6 per cent since 2012-2013.
  • The survey Global Board Diversity Tracker found that 20 percent of female directors in India hold more than 1 board seat compared to 8 percent of men within the sample. This mirrors the global finding that women are slightly more likely to hold multiple board seats than men.
  • Even today, women comprise just 16.3 per cent of new board appointments. In India, women held 11 per cent of committee chairs. However, women comprise just 2.1 per cent of all board chairs, up from 1.5 per cent in 2018.
  • Sectors such as healthcare, telecom, consumer goods, and construction have a relatively larger share of women directors, the data shows. Mining, metals, banking and finance have a relatively smaller share of women directors.
  • Across sectors, few make it to the corner office. When it comes to positions such as the Chief Executive Officer (CEO), or the Chief Financial Officer (CFO), the gender gap is yawningly large.

Conclusion

The narrative today needs to move from counting women on Board to making women on Board count. It is important to ensure that women are being heard and they are given opportunities to make impact within the companies.

 


General Studies – 3


 

Topic: Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization, of resources, growth, development and employment

4. As the antitrust movement against Big Tech gathers steam, Government of India needs to find solutions for better innovation in field of technology. Elucidate. (250 words)

Reference:  Financial Express

Why the question:

The article explains that as the government seeks to promote the use and adoption of technology across sectors, it must first adopt a whole-of-government approach.

Key Demand of the question:

Discuss the need for the government of India to find better innovation in the field of technology.

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:

Start with brief background of the question.

Body:

The Antitrust watchdog Competition Commission of India (CCI) recently launched an investigation into the new WhatsApp privacy policy (it allowed the platform to share metadata with parent company Facebook), even as the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) has urged the Delhi High Court to restrain WhatsApp from implementing this.

There’s nothing reprehensible about being big and established. But it is the ‘how’ of their growth that raised concerns. Governments globally have questioned some of these investments alleging that their objective is to neutralize competition, leading to monopolization and stifling of innovation.

Discuss what India must do.

Conclusion:

Conclude with way forward.

Introduction

Antitrust watchdog Competition Commission of India (CCI) recently launched an investigation into the new WhatsApp privacy policy (it allowed the platform to share metadata with parent company Facebook), even as the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) has urged the Delhi High Court to restrain WhatsApp from implementing this.

Body

Big tech companies and antitrust

  • In January 2020, it launched an investigation into Amazon and Flipkart for abusing their dominant positions and carrying out acquisitions with the aim to stifle competition and for using predatory pricing tactics.
  • The companies have managed to obtain a stay on the CCI investigation from the Karnataka High Court.
  • In October 2020, the CCI started a probe against Google for pre-installation of G-Pay on Android phones and for forcing exclusivity for in-app purchases.
  • In another case in 2018, the CCI imposed a penalty of $20 million on Google for abusing its dominant market position and for bias in search activities on the internet.
  • Governments globally have questioned some of these investments alleging that their objective is to neutralise competition, leading to monopolisation and stifling of innovation

 

Measures to be taken by government

  • Governments must look at solutions that create a level-playing field, a fair marketplace and promote consumer welfare as well as innovation in the industry.
  • One such solution is stricter merger control, in addition to the financial thresholds, by a nation’s antitrust watchdog prior to a merger or acquisition which will entail a detailed investigation including a comprehensive due diligence into a potential transaction by the regulator.
  • India is trying to update its regulation to deal with fast-moving Big Tech. The Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade introduced amendments to the FDI policy in 2018. It
  • imposed embargoes on product exclusivity and prohibited inventory-based models for foreign e-commerce players. While Flipkart and Amazon protested, they did have to change their business models to align with the new regulations.
  • In India, as the government seeks to promote the use and adoption of technology across sectors, it must first adopt a whole-of-government approach.
  • The tech sector will benefit immensely if policymakers across ministries align and expedite policymaking—from the MeitY on data protection (personal and non-personal data) and AI, to the Ministry of Commerce and Industry on e-commerce and FDI, to the Ministry of Home Affairs on national security concerns, to the CCI on antitrust and merger control.
  • This inter-ministerial collaboration can reap immense socio-economic benefits for the economy, resulting in policies that reflect the ‘new India’.

Conclusion

Governments globally have questioned some of the Big Tech companies’ investments alleging that their objective is to neutralise competition, leading to monopolisation and stifling of innovation. Legal vacuum has led to this phenomenon where they leverage the non-existent laws leaving governments in a position of ‘too little too late’. Hence, there is a need for proper framework with holistic approach factoring all dimensions of regulating tech companies and their monopoly.

 

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

5. Give an account of fire prone regions in India. Explain what are the major challenges in controlling the forest fire? (250 words)

Reference:  BBC

Why the question:

Uttarakhand has witnessed over 1,000 incidents of forest fire over the last six months. Since the start of 2021, there has been a series of forest fires in Himachal Pradesh, Nagaland-Manipur border, Odisha, Madhya Pradesh, and Gujarat, including in wildlife sanctuaries.

Key Demand of the question:

Account for the fire prone regions in India and explain the major challenges in controlling the forest fires.

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 some data related to forest fires in India.

Body:

The answer body must have the following aspects covered:

Briefly discuss the importance of forest fires in India. Forests play an important role in mitigation and adaptation to climate change. They act as a sink, reservoir and source of carbon.

Spatially account for Fire-prone forest region in India. Draw a map to support it well.

Discuss the causes of forest fires. Then examine the major challenges in handling them.

Discuss the Government efforts in controlling forest fire.

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. Around 95 percent of the forest fires in India are on account of human activity.

Around 21 percent of the total forest cover is highly to extremely fire prone, adds the latest forest survey.

Body

Fire prone regions in India

forest fires india map

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.

 

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

6. Explain conditions leading to acid rain. How does acid rain affect biotic and abiotic things on earth and what measures are needed to stop acid rain? (250 words)

Reference:  NCERT Class VIII Science Chapter – 18

Why the question:

The question is based on the theme of Acid Rains and its impact on Earth.  

Key Demand of the question:

Discuss the conditions that lead to acid rains and its impact on biotic and abiotic components of Earth while highlighting the measures needed to stop the same.

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 what you understand by Acid rains. Acid rain is the rain that has been acidified – with a pH less than 5.6 – formed when oxides of sulphur and nitrogen react with moisture in the atmosphere. .

Body:

Explain first the major reasons behind the occurrence of acid rains.

Discuss that acid rains are harmful for both biotic and abiotic elements. it corrode the surface and rendered it riddled with hole. Yellowing of marble and lime stone and other such delicate surface gets destroyed. It is also harmful for textile and metals as it reduce their quality and make them weak. Moreover it makes the soil acidic and reduces the fertility.

Discuss what needs to be done. Highlight the efforts of the government in this direction.

Conclusion:

Conclude with way forward.

Introduction

Acid rain is caused by a chemical reaction that begins when compounds like sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides are released into the air. These substances can rise very high into the atmosphere, where they mix and react with water, oxygen, and other chemicals to form more acidic pollutants, known as acid rain.

Body

Conditions and causes of acid rain

  • Both natural and man-made sources are known to play a role in the formation of acid rain. But, it is mainly caused by the combustion of fossil fuels which results in emissions of sulfur dioxide (SO2) and nitrogen oxides (NOx).
  • The major natural causal agent for acid rain is volcanic emissions.
  • Decaying vegetation, wildfires and biological processes within the environment also generate acid rain forming gases.
  • Dimethyl sulfide is a typical example of a major biological contributor to sulfur-containing elements into the atmosphere.
  • In particular, the use of coal for electrical power generation is the biggest contributor to gaseous emissions leading to acid rain.
  • Automobiles and factories also release high scores of gaseous emissions on a daily basis into the air, especially in highly industrialized areas and urban regions with large numbers of car traffic.

Effect on biotic and abiotic components

  • Aquatic organisms: The aquatic plants and animals need a particular pH level of about 4.8 to survive. If the pH level falls below that the conditions become hostile for the survival of aquatic life.
  • Rivers and lakes: Acid rain runoff from catchment areas into rivers and lakes has also reduced biodiversity as rivers and lakes become more acidic.
  • On Forests: It makes trees vulnerable to disease, extreme weather, and insects by destroying their leaves, damaging the bark and arresting their growth.
  • Soil: The soil needs to maintain an optimum pH level for the continuity of biological activity. When acid rains seep into the soil, it means higher soil pH, which damages or reverses soil biological and chemical activities. Hence, sensitive soil microorganisms that cannot adapt to changes in pH are killed.
  • On Architecture and buildings: Acid rain on buildings, especially those constructed with limestone, reacts with the minerals and corrode them away. This leaves the building weak and susceptible to decay. Modern buildings, cars, airplanes, steel bridges and pipes are all affected by acid rain. Irreplaceable damage can be caused to the old heritage buildings. Eg: Taj Mahal was damaged and Taj Trapezium zone was declared.
  • Public Health: When in the atmosphere, sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide gases and their particulate matter derivatives like sulfates and nitrates, degrades visibility and can cause accidents, leading to injuries and deaths.
  • Other effects: Acid rain leads to weathering of buildings, corrosion of metals, and peeling of paints on surfaces. Buildings and structures made of marble and limestone are the ones especially damaged by acid rain due to the reactivity of the acids in the rain and the calcium compounds in the structures.

Measures to stop acid rain

  • Cleaning up Exhaust Pipes and Smokestacks: Washing coal, use of coal comprised of low sulphur, and use of devices known as “scrubbers” can provide a technical solution to SO2 emissions. “Scrubbing” also called flue-gas desulfurization (FGD) typically works to chemically eliminate SO2 from the gases leaving smokestacks.
  • Restoring Damaged Environments: Use of limestone or lime, a process called liming, is a practice that people can do to repair the damage caused by acid rain to lakes, rivers and brooks. Adding lime into acidic surface waters balances the acidity.
  • Alternative Energy Sources: Besides fossil fuels, there is a wide range of alternative energy sources that can generate electrical power. These include wind energy, geothermal energy, solar energy, hydropower, and nuclear power.
  • Behavioural nudge: Also, each person can do their part by reducing their vehicle use. Using public transportation, walking, riding a bike or carpooling is a good start.

Conclusion

The only way to fight acid rain is by curbing the release of the pollutants that cause it. This means burning fewer fossil fuels and setting air-quality standards. India has set up 90GW of renewable green energy already and is on its way to reach 175GW by 2022. More nations following suit can reduce release of pollutants from conventional energy and lower the instances of acid rain.

 

Topic: Linkages between development and spread of extremism.

7. Extremism is a major hindrance to the development of a region. Discuss in the context of North east Insurgency. (250 words)

Reference:  jstor.org

Why the question:

NEI has been witnessing insurgency since 1950s and there is no end in sight. Even though some states in the NEI have remained peaceful after ending insurgencies, overall the situation in the region is not conducive to peaceful living and corresponding prosperity. Thus the question.

Key Demand of the question:

Discuss the issue of extremism in North Eastern States.

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 North East States.

Body:

The answer body must have the following aspects covered:

First explain why Extremism in NE has become a major challenge to the development of the region.

Present an overview of conflict in North East.

Explain the general conditions favoring Insurgency. Large scale migration has created a fear in the minds of people that they will be reduced to minority in their own states or regions. Migrants threaten their culture and traditions and also occupy already limited employment opportunities. Migration of Muslims has also imparted it a communal color. Lack of economic opportunities and governance deficit making it easier for people to feel alienated and left out and thus providing support for insurgency. Porous international borders and easy availability of arms. Difficult terrain and weak infrastructure facilitating insurgents involved in conflict. Deep sense of alienation due to human right violation and excesses by security forces.

Conclusion:

The insurgencies of NEI have continued for the past seven decades despite various efforts by GoI for a permanent solution. Resolving the ongoing insurgencies in NEI will be the harbinger of peace and consequent economic prosperity for the millions of people in NEI.

Introduction

North East India (NEI) has been witnessing insurgency since 1950s and there is no end in sight. Even though some states in the NEI have remained peaceful after ending insurgencies, overall, the situation in the region is not conducive to peaceful living and corresponding prosperity.

Body

Historical background and genesis

  • The British had generally followed a policy of non-interference in the NEI. However, the newly independent India in 1947 had the formidable task of uniting various princely states not only of NEI but of the country as a whole.
  • The integration of these distinct cultures of NEI into the “mainstream” was generally met with resentment. The insurgencies started with Naga Hills.
  • Under the leadership of Phizo, the Naga National Council (NNC) declared independence from India on 14 Aug 1947.
  • Despite efforts at political settlement by various leaders of that time, the unrest did not die. As a result, Indian Army (IA) was ordered to undertake Counter-Insurgency (CI) operations in Jan 1956, after the Government of India (GoI) declared Naga Hills as a disturbed area.
  • Thereafter, various regions proactively voiced their demands for freedom/independence, and initiating insurgencies in the region.
  • Major outfits fuelling insurgency in the northeast were United Liberation Front of Assam (U.L.F.A.), National Democratic Front of Bodoland (N.D.F.B.) who laid down their arms after Bodo peace accord in 2020, Garo National Liberation Army (GNLA) etc.

Extremism hindrance to development

As security is the primary infrastructure of economic activities and social stability and certainty about future are the essential prerequisite of investment, the persistent insurgency atmosphere has been the most important contributor to economic stagnation of the region.

  • The first casualty of insurgency has been its already weak infrastructure especially, its transport
  • The subversive activities of the insurgents’ damage rail tracks, cause accidents leading to loss of life and property, create terror among the travellers and throw the entire system out of gear.
  • The next important target of the insurgents is the resource-based industries like petroleum and tea which form the core of the modern organised sector in the region.
  • Oil pipelines are often blown up by the insurgents, tea gardens are targeted for extortion and sometimes, tea garden executives are abducted.
  • The attack of the insurgents on tea and petroleum is bound to convey negative signal to the prospective investors. The potential of using gas reserve of the region will also be seriously hampered because of insurgency situation.
  • The third, but first from long term point of view, victim of insurgency in the region is environment. On the one hand, insurgents damage forests by taking shelter there and on the other, anti-insurgency operations also lead to denudation of forests.
  • The insurgency has aggravated the problem to such an extent that development workers of both the Government and NGOs are utterly discouraged from going to the hilly and rural areas as they face constant extortions and threats of abduction or death.
  • It is extremely difficult to build up rural infrastructure like roads and communication links, power grid, irrigation arrangements etc. It is also equally difficult to build up and administer schools, hospitals, agricultural extension centers etc in such a condition.
  • Consequently, insurgency is pushing the backward areas of the region to the darkness of greater underdevelopment and is acting as a retarding force rendering disservice to rural poor especially the indigenous people whose causes, they are supposed to uphold.

Reasons that sustain insurgency in north east India

  • Sense of Isolation, Deprivation and Exploitation: Distance from New Delhi and meagre representation in the Lok Sabha has further reduced the vox populi being heard in the corridors of powers, leading to more disillusionment in the dialogue process, thereby making call of the gun more attractive.
  • Demographic Changes: The influx of refugees from former East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) into Assam led to a dramatic change in the demographic landscape of the region.
  • Lack of Economic Development: GoI’s economic policies have also fuelled resentment and insecurity amongst the people. Due to various factors, the development of NEI has lagged behind thereby resulting in lack of employment opportunities. Thus, the youth are easily lured by various insurgent groups in order to earn easy money.
  • Internal Displacement: Internal displacement is also an ongoing problem. From the 1990s to the start of 2011, over 800,000 people were forced to flee their homes in episodes of inter-ethnic violence in western Assam, along the border between Assam and Meghalaya, and in Tripura.
  • External Support: There is ‘increasing evidence’ of China’s revival of its ‘covert offensive’ in the region. Pakistan’s Special Services Group (SSG) also trained the Naga guerrillas in the 1960s through their bases in East Pakistan (now Bangladesh).

Way forward

  • Enhance communication and connectivity, infrastructure improvement for better integration of the region with the mainland.
  • Stringent law and fast criminal justice system for quick disposal of insurgent’s attack cases.
  • Greater coordination between central forces and state forces for better tactical response.
  • Greater cultural interaction with the rest of the country and socio-economic development that includes a holistic inclusive development.
  • Decentralization with alertness, improving administrative efficiency, pro-people governance and coping up with regional aspirations

Conclusion

The insurgencies of NEI have continued for the past seven decades despite various efforts by GoI for a permanent solution. However, with the older generation passing away and the new generation having little interest in insurgencies, the time is ripe to hammer out a long-term strategy for elimination of residual insurgencies. A wise mix of socio-economic development and political settlement are the pillars of an everlasting peace in the NEI. Winning the hearts and minds should be the cornerstone for achieving conflict resolution in NEI.


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