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[Mission 2022] Insights SECURE SYNOPSIS: 30 October 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.

Answer the following questions in 150 words:


General Studies – 1


 

1. What are the factors that impact the rainfall over an area? Examine the impact of air pollution on rainfall patterns in India? ( (150 words)

Reference: Insights on India

Introduction

The primary source of water for agricultural production for most of the world is rainfall. Three main characteristics of rainfall are its amount, frequency and intensity, the values of which vary from place to place, day to day, month to month and also year to year. Precise knowledge of these three main characteristics is essential for planning its full utilization.

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Several factors influence the proportion of effective rainfall in the total received and these may act singly or collectively and interact with each other.

FactorRelevant characteristics
RainfallAmount, intensity, frequency, distribution over area as well as time;
Other meteorological parametersTemperature, radiation, relative humidity, wind velocity;
LandTopography, slope, type of use;
SoilDepth, texture, structure, bulk density, salt and organic matter content;
Soil waterHead, suspended matter, turbidity due to clay or colloids, viscosity, temperature, nature of dissolved salts (Na+, N03);
GroundwaterDepth from surface, quality;
ManagementType of tillage, degree of levelling, type of layout (bunding, terracing, ridging), use of soil conditioners;
ChannelSize, slope, shape, roughness and back water effect;
CropsNature of crops, depth of root system, degree of ground cover, stage of growth, crop rotations,

Impact of air pollution on rainfall patterns in India

  • A recent analysis by Climate Trends, a Delhi based communications initiative building a narrative around climate ambition and low carbon development pathways, highlighted how high pollution levels impacted monsoon patterns in a region.
  • The analysis said with the levels of toxic pollution increasing, in the coming years, monsoon rain may reduce by at least 10%.
  • Rising levels of air pollution adversely impacts  as the concentration of aerosols increases, it leads to warming of the atmosphere but simultaneously cooling of the land surface.
  • The air pollutants block the sun rays and interfere with the heating of the ground. Also, these particles decrease the heat received by the ground as they absorb a fraction of the heat energy within themselves.
  • For instance, the required surface temperature is 40°C, while the presence of air pollution will result in restricting temperature up to 38°C or 39°C.

Conclusion

Although there are wide variations in weather patterns across India, the monsoon brings some unifying influences on India. The Indian landscape, its flora and fauna, etc. are highly influenced by the monsoon. The entire agricultural calendar in India is governed by the monsoon. Due to these reasons, monsoon is often a great unifying factor in India. India needs to invest more resources in better prediction of Monsoon forecast in order to achieve reliability and sustainability.


General Studies – 2


 

2. Robust institutional mechanisms must be constituted in order to maintain the fine balance of public privacy and national security. Analyse this statement in the context of recent Pegasus controversy. (150 words)

Reference: Indian Express

Introduction

The Supreme Court’s much-awaited judgement in the Pegasus case is an important landmark in the history of the fight for the fundamental rights of citizens and institutional protection for them. Pegasus symbolised one of the most serious of such challenges. Revelations in the international media had pointed to extensive surveillance and hacking of citizens’ phones for the past many years with the help of a software from an Israeli company.

The Supreme Court of India has appointed a committee presided by Justice (Retd.) R V Raveendran to inquire into the Pegasus revelations.

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Background

  • When damning revelations emerged that many phones of journalists, activists and even doctors and court staff were targets of military-grade spyware designed not only to grab data but also take control of devices, the Government ought to have responded, as some nations did, with alarm and alacrity.
  • Instead, it resorted to a bald claim that illegal surveillance is not possible in India, and that the disclosure of whether or not a particular software suite was used by its agencies would compromise national security.

Balancing public privacy and national security

  • Article 21 under its ambit, provides Right to privacy. Though this right is not absolute, that does not give license to the government to abrogate the same under the pretext of national security.
  • Surveillance, or even the knowledge that one could be spied upon, affects the way individuals exercise their rights, warranting the Court’s intervention.
  • There is no omnibus prohibition on judicial review merely because the spectre of national security is being raised.
  • The Court deemed unacceptable the Government’s refusal to shed any light on a controversy that involves possible violation of citizens’ rights and made it clear that national security considerations cannot be used by the state “to get a free pass”.
  • The Court has approached the issue as one that raises an “Orwellian concern”, recognising that intrusive surveillance not only violates the right to privacy but also has a chilling effect on the freedom of the press.

Need for accountability

  • The Supreme Court’s decision to set up a committee under a former judge of the court, Justice R V Raveendran, to investigate the charges of illegal surveillance and hacking, under its own supervision, is welcome because it will hopefully bring out the truth and fix responsibility.
  • An important feature of the court’s decision is that it has rejected the government’s offer to set up a committee to probe the matter.
  • The government has been evasive and was unwilling to provide the information that the court wanted, and tried to hide behind the excuse of national security. The court has done well to reject this, and this should be relevant in other cases also where the government has tried to curb the rights of citizens.
  • The committee will also make recommendations for enactment of legal measures and other steps for better protection of rights.

Conclusion

The power of the state to snoop in the name of national security into the “sacred private space” of individuals could not be absolute as reiterated by the state. The Court-supervised panel appears to have the required expertise and independence, but its success in unravelling the truth may depend on how much information it can extract from the Government and its surveillance agencies.

 

3. Equality forms the bedrock on which democracy and welfare can be sustained. Elaborate. (150 words)

Reference: The Hindu

Introduction

Equality, which means state of being equal, signifies ‘having the same rights, privileges, treatments, status, and opportunities’. Equality is treated as something that relates to distributive principle because of which rights, treatments, and opportunities are distributed amongst the beneficiaries in a fair manner.

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The welfare state is a concept of government in which the state plays a key role in the protection and promotion of the economic and social well-being of its citizens. It provides a social security net which may include education, housing, sustenance, healthcare etc.

Equality as basis of Democracy and Welfare

India at the dawn of the independence inherited several economic (chronic poverty) and social challenges, for example, vulnerable sections of the society such as women, Dalits, children were deprived of basic means of living.

  • India is a democratic nation but without economic freedom, inequality becomes the very base of India’s culture sheltering injustice, regional and sectoral imbalances etc.
  • The welfare state is the mandate of any mature democracy. Therefore, both citizenry and government should strive to make society more inclusive and equitable.
  • Without ensuring equality of opportunity and equitable distribution of wealth, the welfare of the marginalised and deprived sections of society cannot be ensured.
  • While equality of opportunity provides all the sections of the society a level playing field, equitable distribution of wealth empowers them to maximise their productivity and contribution in society.
  • Government schemes like Stand up India, Start-up India, Jan Dhan Yojana and policies like land reform policies, reservations for the marginalised sections in job opportunities are some of the steps being taken by the government in this direction to ensure equitable distribution of wealth and to provide equality of opportunity.
  • Economic democracy is the real democracy which should be ensured through economic packages of the government.
  • In this context, the Indian Constitution imbibes the concept of the welfare state, which can be depicted in the form of Fundamental Rights and the other as Directive Principles of State Policy (DPSP).
  • Fundamental rights sought to implement political equality and Directive Principles of State Policy sought to implement socio-economic equality.

In pursuance of this, the Indian state has provided many schemes and policies.

For example:

  • Enforcing Article 16(4) the government can provide for reservation of appointments or posts in favour of any backward class that is not adequately represented in the state services.
  • In pursuance of Article 21A, the Parliament enacted the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education (RTE) Act, 2009.
  • This Act seeks to provide that every child has a right to be provided full-time elementary education.
  • The Maternity Benefit Act (1961) and the Equal Remuneration Act (1976) have been made to protect the interests of women workers.
  • Schemes like Ayushmann Bharat, Jal Jeevan Mission, Saubhagya scheme etc. are all steps towards fulfilling the mandate of the welfare state.

Conclusion

Fairness does not mean all to be treated equally in all circumstances. In fact it very well means unequal treatment for those who are unequal. Essentially it relates to the principle of justice because it requires fair distributive principle. However those who are equal should not be treated as unequal and the unequal as equal.


General Studies – 3


 

4. Examine as to why missile defence remains vital for India’s effort to maintain its strategic stability. How can India take advantage of ongoing ‘missile race’ between China and U.S? (150 words)

Reference: Live Mint

Introduction

The Indian ballistic missile defence program aims to develop multi layered ballistic missile defence system for protecting the Indian Territory from ballistic missile attacks. The advancements in Technology has allowed various countries to develop anti-ballistic missiles for destroying the incoming ballistic missiles before they hit the ground.

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Importance of Ballistic Missile Defence System of India

  • India has faced the threat of ballistic missile attacks since the early 90s from China and Pakistan. The increase in tensions with Pakistan after the deployment of M-11 missiles by Pakistan forced India to think about development anti-ballistic missile defence system.
  • After the nuclear test of India conducted in May 1998, Pakistan also tested nuclear weapons due to which the threat of nuclear weapons and missile delivery systems intensified. The Kargil War of 1999 between India and Pakistan further increased this tension.
  • India began the development of anti-ballistic missile system in late 1999 in light of Pakistan eschewing of a nuclear no first use policy. The development of ballistic missile defence system accelerated after USA vetoed India’s attempt to acquire Israeli Arrow-2 interceptor missile in 2002.
  • The ballistic missile defence system consist of two land and sea based interceptor missiles, viz. The Prithvi Air Defence for high altitude interception and the Advanced Air Defence for lower altitude interception.
  • India tested the Prithvi Air Defence (PAD) missile in November 2006, and the Advanced Air Defence (AAD) in December 2007. After the test of PAD missile, India became the fourth country to develop an anti-ballistic missile system after USA, Russia and Israel.
  • The ballistic missile defence program consists of two phases. The first phase enables the intersection of missiles up to 2000 km, and the second phase will be able to intercept missiles up to 5000 km range.
  • India is developing two new anti-ballistic missiles that can intercept the intermediate range ballistic missiles. The Missile will be similar to the Terminal High Altitude Area Defence missile of USA.
  • Hypersonic technology has been developed and tested by both DRDO and ISRO. Recently, DRDO has successfully flight-tested the Hypersonic Technology Demonstrator Vehicle (HSTDV), with a capability to travel at 6 times the speed of sound.
  • Hypersonic Wind Tunnel(HWT) test facility of the DRDO was inaugurated in Hyderabad. It is a pressure vacuum-driven, enclosed free jet facility that simulates Mach 5 to 12.

Current Status

  • Reports have expressed shock at Beijing’s missile development.
  • It is compared to China’s hypersonic missile tests to a “Sputnik moment”, a Cold War reference recalling how the Soviet Union surprised the world in 1957 by being the first to put an artificial satellite in orbit.
  • Indeed, Washington’s unwarranted public consternation on the count of China’s hypersonic missile tests may well be part of its defence establishment’s political-bargaining process.

The current trajectory of US-China relations opens three important opportunities.

  • New Delhi should seize an emerging interest in arms control to reframe the issue from non-proliferation to non-use of nuclear weapons.
  • India is ideally placed to champion a Global No First Use (GNFU) treaty as the first step. Beijing, like India, has a no-first-use policy, and a post-Trump Washington is likely to be more receptive to the idea.
  • A window of opportunity is opening up and Indian diplomacy is well capable of seizing it.
  • Even as China, Russia and the US develop hypersonic missiles and their counter-defences, Space Situational Awareness (SSA) becomes extremely important.
  • With the recent liberalization of India’s space industry, Indian companies can aim to acquire a competitive advantage in the tracking of space objects, both from the ground as well as from space.
  • Not only is an independent SSA crucial for space defence, but it has the potential to become strategic technology that other countries will require.
  • New Delhi can take advantage of space reforms by focusing public investment in the physics, materials and engineering of anti-satellite and hypersonic systems.
  • The point is not so much to emulate the path chosen by China or the US, but to acquire enough of a knowledge base in key technology areas that keep options available.

Conclusion

As an advocate of minimum credible deterrence, as long as China remains vulnerable to India’s nuclear weapons, the size and sophistication of Beijing’s arsenal need not concern us too much. The bigger China’s arsenal, the bigger the problem for Beijing. New Delhi has wisely achieved strategic deterrence without getting into an arms race. We should stay the course.

 

5. Analyse the potential of blockchain technology in transforming the public sector works and citizen service delivery. (150 words)

Reference:  New Indian Express

Introduction

A block chain is a public ledger of all transactions that have ever been executed. It is constantly growing as ‘completed’ blocks are added to it with a new set of recordings. The blocks are added to the blockchain in a linear, chronological order through cryptography, ensuring that they remain meddle-proof. The blockchain thus stands as a tamper-proof record of all transactions on the network, distributed to all participants.

Blockchain technology has a lot of advantages especially regarding security and processing. It has a lot of potential applications in various fields that make it one of the 21st century technological developments.

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Potential of Blockchain Technology in transforming the public sector works and citizen service delivery

Governments in particular are keen to use blockchain to streamline services. According to an IBM survey (conducted by the Economist Intelligence Unit) of 200 government leaders in 16 countries, nine in 10 government organizations plan to use the technology for “financial transaction management, asset management, contract management and regulatory compliance by 2018.”

  • Governments around the world have established pilot projects to integrate blockchain technology into their operations. In developed countries, blockchain will help streamline government functions to make them more efficient.
    • For example, The Illinois government is conducting five focused pilots for blockchain across multiple government departments. The range of functions envisaged for the technology include record keeping (for properties and births) and an energy credit marketplace to track renewable energy credits.
  • In emerging economies, blockchain has the potential to help governments achieve policy goals by leapfrogging intermediate layers of technology.
    • For example, it can help in social welfare objectives by eliminating the need for credit cards or bank accounts to disburse funds to those who are unbanked.
  • Building Trust with Citizens: According to the Pew Research Centre, Only 18 percent of Americans say they can trust the government to do what is right most of the time. Reasons for this distrust are numerous and complex, but there’s potential for blockchain to contribute to a reversal of this trend.
  • Protecting Sensitive Data: Blockchain technologies have the potential to revolutionize the way we manage online identity and access the internet; this R&D project will help bring this potential closer to reality.
  • Reducing Costs & Improving Efficiency: Blockchain solutions could reduce redundancy, streamline processes, decrease audit burden, increase security, and ensure data integrity.
  • To further illustrate how blockchain solutions could increase efficiency, consider the federal government’s ongoing challenge with reconciling intra-governmental transfers.
  • A payment and accounting system that used blockchain could provide a permanent audit trail and facilitate faster reconciliation.

Conclusion

Being a relatively new technology in practice, but more importantly, a new tradecraft, the blockchain ecosystem is quickly evolving to narrow in on use cases and collaborate to test and explore its potential. With many possibilities for ledger-based solutions, the first step is to responsibly identify viable blockchain challenges, then test and develop the corresponding solution. As blockchain matures, we anticipate new and previously unforeseen applications for the government, ultimately increasing trust, security, and efficiency for citizens.

Value addition

Potential applications of blockchain technology:

  • Governance:Blockchain technology can help in ensuring good governance. It ensures transparency of the public records through the usage of a digital form platform and allows auditing of government documents. Moreover it allows to maintain the authenticity of the document and clearly reduces the processing time.
  • Banking: Blockchain can help in avoiding risk of payment losses involved in banking transactions by adopting secure distributed ledger platform. It reduces transaction fees across cross-borders, corporate payments and remittances.
  • Food & Supply Chain:It creates a tamper proof record to check the real information about expiration date, product journey from the farm to the shop. The real information of the product can help in improving the reliability and efficiency of the supply chain system.
  • Insurance: Blockchain technology can change the ways the insurance documents, claim settlements and fraud handlings are carried out. It allows the creation of transparent, secure, decentralized and immutable insurance network.
  • Healthcare:It helps to prioritize patient health at all costs without compromising the quality of the health care service. By establishing a secure chain of network blockchain can help in handling the patient records, consent forms, billings and public health monitoring.
  • Automotive:Blockchain can solve the challenges in automotive manufacturing, car deliveries, and billings. It can help in the creation of an after sales support ecosystem to keep track of the maintenance record of vehicle owners.
  • Tourism:Blockchain can reduce the delay time of passenger document handling, creates a decentralized hotel booking ecosystem at the least transaction fee and also keeps passengers private information safe.

Answer the following questions in 250 words:


General Studies – 1


 

6. The balancing act of solar and terrestrial energy flows defines the energy balance of the planet. Earth’s heat balance is an extremely important factor in making the Earth liveable. Discuss. (250 words)

Reference: Insights on India

Introduction

Temperature differs from one part of the world to the other. Since Insolation is the basic source of energy for the atmosphere, the distribution of insolation would determine the temperature of the earth. Thus latitude, altitude, distance from sea, features of the surface, nature of the landscape are some important factors that affect the distribution of temperature.

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The earth as a whole does not accumulate or lose heat. It maintains its temperature. This can happen only if the amount of heat received in the form of insolation equals the amount lost by the earth through terrestrial radiation. This balance between the insolation and the terrestrial radiation is termed as the heat budget or heat balance of the earth.

Various Factors that cause temperature distribution:

  • The latitude of the place
  • The altitude of the place
  • Distance from the sea
  • The air- mass circulation
  • The presence of warm and cold ocean currents
  • Local aspects such as Soil devoid of vegetation.

Importance of Heat Budget of the Earth

  • Earth’s heat balanceis and extremely important factor in what makes the Earth habitable.
  • The fact that the Earth can respond to slight changes in the amount of incoming radiation to maintain a fairly stable temperature is a result of Earth’s energy budget.
  • This phenomenon is also closely connected to flows on the Earth, and the Solar energy to the Earth.
  • Essentially all of the energy the Earth receives is in radiant energy that originates from the Sun.
  • The temperature of the Earth is a balancing act, with greenhouse gases in the atmosphere contributing to a planet that is inhabitable.
  • Changing factors such as these result in a very small, but significant energy imbalance on the Earth.
  • This energy imbalance continues to grow as a result of human activities, and the energy imbalance amounts to approximately

Conclusion

Thus, the temperature distribution determines the climate of a particular area. Global warming and climate change effects are altering the temperature distribution, thus affecting the climate across the globe.


General Studies – 2


 

7. Insufficient budget allocation is choking MGNREGA which is very vital enhance the livelihood security of the rural Indians. Critically Analyse. (250 words)

Reference: The Hindu

Introduction

The year 2020 saw an unprecedented return of migrant workers to rural India during the lockdown. This has increased the pressure on the already stressed rural employment scheme MGNREGS. However, 2020-21 budget allocation for MGNREGS is inadequate to meet the demand, as it is much lower than the revised estimates of FY21.

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current affairs

According to a recent study by the State Bank of India (SBI), the demand for work under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) 2005 has increased.

Importance of MGNREGA

  • MGNREGA is vital for addressing India’s current problems.
  • It boosts rural demandand ensure economic development of the rural population
  • It seeks to bridge the gap between the rich and the poor.
  • This Act aims to improve the purchasing power of the rural population by providing them primarily the semi-skilled or unskilled work, especially to those living below the poverty line.
  • This can help solve rural poverty, farmer suicides, unemployment crisis in rural areas etc.
  • Furthermore, it is a scheme that has the potential to undertake progressive measures like infrastructure development in rural India, improving agricultural productivity through labour-intensive, supportive projects related to water conservation, drought relief measures, flood control etc.
  • This Act is also highly significant because it allows for grass-root level development as it is implemented mainly by the Gram Panchayats. It does not allow the involvement of contractors so that the workers under this scheme are not exploited.
  • It also stands out in its worker-centric legislationwith a high emphasis on transparency and accountability.
  • If the government supports this Act, then it can become the solution to the present-day problems like water scarcity, climate change etc.
  • It is demand-driven wage employment scheme that provides additional 50 days of unskilled wage employment during drought/natural calamities.
  • Section 3(4) of the Act allows states/Centre to provide additional days beyond the guaranteed period from their own funds.

Challenges to MGNREGA

  • Low Wage Rate: These have resulted in a lack of interestamong workers making way for contractors and middlemen to take control. Currently, MGNREGA wage rates of 17 states are less than the corresponding state minimum wages.
  • Insufficient Budget Allocation:The funds have dried up in many States due to lack of sanctions from the Central government which hampers the work in peak season.
  • Payment Delays:Despite Supreme Court orders, various other initiatives and various government orders, no provisions have yet been worked out for calculation of full wage delays and payment of compensation for the same.
  • Corruption and Irregularities:Funds that reach the beneficiaries are very little compared to the actual funds allocated for the welfare schemes.
  • Discrimination:Frequent cases of discrimination against the women and people from the backwards groups are reported from several regions of the country and a vast number goes unreported.
  • Non-payment of Unemployment Allowance:There is a huge pendency in the number of unemployment allowances being shown in the Management Information System (MIS).
  • Lack of Awareness:People, especially women, are not fully aware of this scheme and its provisions leading to uninformed choices or inability to get the benefits of the scheme.
  • Poor Infrastructure Building:Improper surveillance and lack of timely resources result in the poor quality assets.
  • Non Purposive Spending:MGNREGA has increased the earning capacity of the rural people but the spending pattern of the workers assumes significance because there is hardly any saving out of the wages 
  • Workers penalised for administrative lapses: The ministry withholds wage payments for workers of states that do not meet administrative requirements within the stipulated time period.
  • Too much centralisation weakening local governance:A real-time MIS-based implementation and a centralised payment system has further left the  representatives of the Panchayati Raj Institutions with literally no role in implementation, monitoring and grievance redress of MGNREGA schemes.

Way forward

  • It is evident that the jobs under MGNREGS can only be revived through:
    • Adequate allocation of Budget funds
    • Timely payment for workers
    • Complete decentralisation of the implementation
    • Improving entitlements (wages, compensations and worksite facilities)
    • Allocation for a year should include pending liabilities of previous years.
  • It should also respect the idea of the decentralised planning processes through Gram Sabhas across the country and allow adequate fund allotment as per labour budgets provided by each Gram Panchayats.
  • The government should come up with only one delay-payment report that accounts for the entire time taken and delays during the closure of muster roll and wages credited to workers’ accounts.
  • Also, the MGNREGA payment procedures should be simplified to ensure transparency and accountability.
  • Better coordination must be ensured among various government departments involved.
  • Better mechanism must be provided to allot and measure work.
  • Gender gap in wages under this scheme must be addressed. In this scheme, women earn 22.24% less than their male counterparts..
  • MGNREGA has been implemented for more than a decade now. It is necessary to understand its performance through output indicators like the number of workers, person days of work generated, quantum of assets completed etc.
  • The data collected can be used to compare inter-state and inter-district differences in performance.
  • In addition, MGNREGA must encompass provision for safe working conditions for the beneficiaries, like temperature checks, masks, hand washing facilities, proper hydration etc.

Conclusion

MGNREGA is playing a critical role in providing economic security for the rural population amid the COVID-19 crisis. Therefore, the government must take steps to ensure that it is made use of to its fullest extent to address the current economic problems and bringing the economy back on track.

 

8. A more transparent Judiciary can lead to efficient and accountable judicial System. In the larger public interest, do you think the Legal Information Management and Briefing System (LIMBS) should be made accessible to public? Comment. (250 words)

Reference: scroll.in

Introduction

Legal Information Management and Briefing System (LIMBS) is a web-based application created by the Department of Legal Affairs under the Ministry of Law and Justice. The idea is to make the legal data available at one single point and streamline the procedure of litigation matters conducted on behalf of Union of India. It is in line with Digital India to digitalise the details of court cases and bring various stakeholders on a single platform.

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Rationale behind LIMBS

  • LIMBS would help the government in achieving its objectives of “Minimum government, maximum governance”, “Digital India”, “Ease of doing business” and enhance the Transaction Capacity Governance of the government with an efficient legal framework for speedy resolution of disputes.
  • LIMBS reduces the huge expenditures involved in resolving the cases, saves time and makes the working of different departments under a ministry, efficient.
  • Once data are available in this form, several questions can be asked about the cases like the types of cases, financial implication etc
  • LIMBS is meant to improve the Union government’s handling of cases and would lead to some reduction of cases in courts.

Pros of making LIMBS accessible to public

  • A simple way to check the accuracy of the information available on LIMBS is to open up the entire database for public viewing so that citizens and academics can independently audit the working of LIMBS.
  • Not only is such transparency mandated by Section 4 of the Right to Information Act, 2005, which requires proactive disclosures of information by the government, but it would also be in line with the National Data Sharing and Accessibility Policy announced by the government many years ago.
  • Given that all the data in LIMBS pertains to litigation taking place in open courts, the data is most certainly not sensitive information.
  • The inexplicable and illegal decision of the Department of Legal Affairs to deny public access to LIMBS also means that academics attempting to understand the workings of the government through litigation data, are often required to build their own datasets from the judiciary’s websites.
  • This is a painful, time-consuming and expensive exercise because of the poor quality of judicial websites.
  • The transparency of the LIMBS database is not just a question of administrative efficiency but also a question of accountability of public funds spent on expensive government litigation.

Way forward

  • A multi-pronged approach needs to be adopted to tackle the issue of “government litigation”, depending on the kind of litigation.
  • A relook at the functioning of litigation-prone departments and formulating solutions unique to each department.
  • Robust internal dispute resolution mechanisms within each department as a means of addressing their grievances against the management.
  • The state must ensure that quasi-judicial authorities are judicially trained or create a separate class of judicial officers to discharge quasi-judicial functions.
  • Ministries and departments should conduct focused monitoring on pending cases particularly those pending for more than 10 years.
  • To further bring down pendency of cases in courts, both the Centre and states should withdraw “frivolous and ineffective cases”.
  • To discourage future litigations, the government should compulsorily introduce arbitration and mediation clauses in work contracts of its staff and public sector employees.
  • Learn from other countries like France who are following a model approach toward government ligation.
  • Data deficiency coupled with restricted access with regard to government litigation is a serious concern.
  • In addition to making the performance evaluation of panel counsels impossible, the lack of granular data on department-wise litigations makes it difficult to review the role of the courts in matters where the government is a party.
  • Given that government litigation is funded by the public exchequer the burden of disclosure should be even higher.

 


General Studies – 3


 

9. The present Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act of 1985 is more punitive than reformative in its approach since drug peddling is part of Organised crimes. However, there is a need for the act to treat user as a victim rather than as a criminal. Critically comment. (250 words)

Reference: The Hindu

Introduction

The Union Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment has proposed certain changes to some provisions of the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act of 1985. The recommendations have assumed importance in the backdrop of some high-profile drug cases as well as corruption and extortion charges alleged against the NCB.

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NDPS Act

  • The NDPS Act, 1985 is the principal legislation through which the state regulates the operations of narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances.
  • It provides a stringent framework for punishing offenses related to illicit traffic in narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances through imprisonments and forfeiture of property.
  • This is a stringent law where the death penalty can be prescribed for repeat offenders.

Punitive and reformative aspects: Issues with NDPS Act

  • “First arrest and then investigate” seems to be the principle for investigations under the NDPS Act.
  • Section 50 of the Act (conditions under which search of persons shall be conducted) needs to be followed scrupulously.
  • Punitive not reformative: Those addicted to drugs need to be rehabilitated rather than punished in jails. Minor offences must not lead to individuals taking up major crimes.
    • Rehabilitation centres must be opened and youth must be counselled against drug injection and consumption.
  • No distinction between end user and peddler: The Act currently views everyone as a supplier. The recent case of Aryan Khan and others is an example. High Court ultimately granted bail and rejected Special court’s orders.
    • A drug user needs to be seen as a patient.
    • The Act as of now prescribes jail for everyone, the end user and the drug supplier.

Challenges in enforcing the NDPS Act

  • Peddling: Since drug peddling is an organised crime, it is challenging for the police to catch the persons involved from the point of source to the point of destination.
    • Identifying drugs that are being transported is a challenge since we cannot stop each and every vehicle that plies on Indian roads.
  • Transportation: Most drug bust cases are made possible with specific information leads. Unless we check every vehicle with specially trained sniffer dogs, it is difficult to check narcotic drugs transportation.
  • Production: The main challenge is to catch those producing these substances. Secret cultivation are mostly carried on in LWE affected areas.
    • Going beyond State jurisdiction, finding the source of narcotic substances and destroying them is another big challenge.
  • Delay in trials: Securing conviction for the accused in drugs cases is yet another arduous task.
    • There are frequent delays in court procedures. Sometimes, cases do not come up for trial even after two years of having registered them.
    • By then, the accused are out on bail and do not turn up for trial.
    • Bringing them back from their States to trial is quite difficult let alone getting them convicted.
  • Flaws in the legal system: The cause behind drug menace is the drug cartels, crime syndicates and ultimately the ISI which is the biggest supplier of drugs.
    • Rave parties have been reported in the country where intake of narcotic substances is observed.
    • These parties are orchestrated by the drug syndicates who have their own vested interests.
    • Social media plays an important role in organising these parties.
    • The police have not been able to control such parties.

Conclusion

There is a need to examine the root cause of the problem such as operations of drug syndicates especially in the border areas. Civil society and governments will have to work together to create an enabling environment to address the issue. Moreover, the reformation aspect must be taken up more vigorously than the punitive aspect especially for end-users falling prey to drug addiction.

Value-addition

Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985:

  • India is a signatory to the United Nations (UN) Single Convention on Narcotics Drugs 1961, the Convention on Psychotropic Substances, 1971 and the Convention on Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances, 1988.
  • They prescribe various forms of control aimed to achieve the dual objective of limiting the use of narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances for medical and scientific purposes as well as preventing the abuse of the same.
  • The basic legislative instrument of the Government of India in this regard is the NDPS Act, 1985.
  • The Act provides stringent provisions for the control and regulation of operations relating to narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances.
  • It also provides for forfeiture of property derived from, or used in, illicit traffic in narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances.
  • It also provides for death penalty in some cases where a person is a repeat offender.
  • The Narcotics Control Bureau was also constituted in 1986 under the Act.

 

10. Increasing occurrences of heatwaves can be attributed to climate change. Comment (250 words)

Reference: Down to Earth

Introduction

Heat wave is a period of abnormally high temperatures, more than the normal maximum temperature that occurs during the pre-monsoon (April to June) summer season.

According to Indian Meteorological Department, Heat wave is considered if maximum temperature of a station reaches at least 40°C or more for Plains, 37°C or more for coastal stations and at least 30°C or more for Hilly regions.

The heatwaves in India are likely to “last 25 times longer by 2036-2065” if carbon emissions remain high and push global temperature rise to 4 degrees Celsius by the end of the century, according to an international climate report published recently covering G20 countries.

Body

heat_wave

Increasing occurrence of heat waves is due to climate change

  • Heat waves have happened in the past, but climate change is making heat waves longer, more extreme, and more frequent.
  • Humans have pumped so much carbon dioxide and other planet-warming greenhouse gases into the atmosphere that what’s “normal” has shifted.
  • Emissions from the burning of fossil fuels have been trapping heat in the atmosphere since the start of the industrial era. As a consequence, average temperatures have risen by 1.2C.
  • This additional energy is unevenly distributed and bursts out in extremes like heatwaves.
  • To understand the impact of small changes to average temperatures, you need to think of them as a bell curve, with extreme cold and hot at either end, and the bulk of temperatures in the middle.
  • A small shift in the centre means that more of the curve touches the extremes – and so heatwaves become more frequent and extreme.

Measures to mitigate heat waves:

  • Switching to lighter-colored paving or porous green roads and cool roofs, to reflect more solar radiation.
  • For instance, after a severe 2010 heat wave, the city of Ahmedabad implemented a Heat Action Plan, including a cool-roofs program; research has shown this plan has prevented thousands of deaths.
  • Cities could increase their share of tree cover, which is significantly lower than what’s required to maintain an ecological balance.
  • People in urban areas could be encouraged to grow climbing plants and curtains of vegetation outside their windows.
  • Greenbelts around cities, for wind paths, would allow the passage of exhaust heat from urban air conditioners and automobiles.
  • Finally, air-quality standards should be enforced rigorously and continuously—not just when air pollution reaches hazardous levels.

Way forward

  • In 2016, the National Disaster Management Agency prepared guidelines for state governments to formulate action plans for the prevention and management of heat waves, outlining four key strategies:
    • Forecasting heat waves and enabling an early warning system
    • Building capacity of healthcare professionals to deal with heat wave-related emergencies
    • Community outreach through various media
    • Inter-agency cooperation as well as engagement with other civil society organizations in the region.
  • Scientific Approach:
    • Climate data from the last 15-20 years can be correlated with the mortality and morbidity data to prepare a heat stress index and city-specific threshold.
    • Vulnerable areas and population could be identified by using GIS and satellite imagery for targeted actions.
  • Advance implementation of local Heat Action Plans, plus effective inter-agency coordination is a vital response which the government can deploy in order to protect vulnerable groups.
  • This will require identification of “heat hot spots”, analysis of meteorological data and allocation of resources to crisis-prone areas.
  • The India Cooling Action Plan must emphasize the urgency and need for better planning, zoning and building regulations to prevent Urban Heat Islands.
  • Provision of public messaging (radio, TV), mobile phone-based text messages, automated phone calls and alerts.
  • Promotion of traditional adaptation practices, such as staying indoors and wearing comfortable clothes.
  • Popularization of simple design features such as shaded windows, underground water storage tanks and insulating housing materials.

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