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[Mission 2022] Insights SECURE SYNOPSIS: 7 December 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: 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.

1. India’s preparedness to handle cyclones depends on developing greater expertise in forecasting and disaster mitigation, and crafting policies to increase resilience among communities. Discuss. (250 words)

Difficulty level: Easy

Reference: Hindustan Times

Why the question:

Cyclone Jawad, as predicted by the India Meteorological Department (IMD), weakened into a deep depression and subsequently to a depression before turning into a low-pressure area. However, the remnants of the cyclonic storm has caused heavy rainfall to many states, especially West Bengal.

Key Demand of the question:

To write about the disaster preparedness and management of cyclones in India.

Directive word: 

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

Structure of the answer:

Introduction: 

Start with brief introduction on cyclones that have affected India in recent times.

Body:

First, explain that Cyclone Disaster Management encompasses mitigation and preparedness measures for cyclones. The location of India in the north Indian Ocean makes it vulnerable to the tropical cyclone.

Next, write about the measures that are needed – Climate-proofing lives and dwellings is a high priority now, a task that warrants a multi-sectoral approach: to build sturdy homes of suitable design, create adequate storm shelters, provide accurate early warnings, and ensure financial protection against calamities through insurance for property and assets.

Conclusion:

Conclude by writing a way forward.

Introduction

Cyclone is a region of low atmospheric pressure surrounded by high atmospheric pressure resulting in swirling atmospheric disturbance accompanied by powerful winds. They occur mainly in the tropical and temperate regions of the world.

Body

Background

  • Cyclone Jawad, as predicted by the India Meteorological Department (IMD), weakened into a deep depression and subsequently to a depression before turning into a low-pressure area.
  • However, the remnants of the cyclonic storm has caused heavy rainfall to many states, especially West Bengal.

India’s preparedness to handle cyclones

  • National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) has responsibility of formulating National Guidelines for Management of Cyclonesand India Meteorological Department (IMD) is the nodal agency for providing cyclone warning services to communities and important officials in affected areas.
  • The National Cyclone Risk Mitigation Project (NCRMP), to be implemented with financial assistance from the World Bank, is envisaged to have four major components:
    • Component A: Improvement of early warning dissemination system by strengthening the Last Mile Connectivity (LMC) of cyclone warnings and advisories.
    • Component B: Cyclone risk mitigation investments.
    • Component C: Technical assistance for hazard risk management and capacity-building.
    • Component D: Project management and institutional support.
  • These components are highly interdependent and have to be implemented in a coherent manner.
  • Its aim is to undertake suitable structural and non-structural measures to mitigate the effects of cyclones in the coastal states and UTs of India.
  • The NDMA had come up with its National Guidelines of Management of Cyclones in 2008. The basic premise of these guidelines is that the mitigation has to be multi-sectoral.

Challenges posing the Cyclone Management in India

  • India has a coastline of about 7,516 km, 5,400 km along the mainland, 132 km in Lakshadweep and 1,900 km in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.
  • On an average, five to six tropical cyclones form every year, of which two or three could be severe.
  • More cyclones occur in the Bay of Bengal than the Arabian Sea and the ratio is approximately 4:1. This is now changing due to impact of climate change.
  • There is an over-emphasis on a total evacuee figure, particularly in states such as Odisha.
  • There exists an inadequate focus on response aspects other than evacuation, such as measures to minimise crop damage, assistance for quick harvest, adequate relief and timely distribution of post-cyclone assistance such as for damaged houses, etc.

Way forward

Short term measures:

  • provide cyclone forecasting, tracking and warning systems
  • Construction of cyclone shelters, cyclone resistant buildings, road links, bridges, canals, drains etc.
  • Establishing Early Warning Dissemination System (EWDS), and Capacity building for coastal communities.
  • Mock drills, and training of local population and police by NDRF and SDRF
  • Plantations of strong rooted trees, canopies, mangroves and proper vegetation cover which act as first line of defence.
  • Proper drainage system throughout the city to discharge the water as soon as possible to avoid flood like conditions
  • Use of NAVIC and RESOURCESAT-2 for disseminating coastal information and helping in disaster management.
  • Implementation of National Cyclone Risk Mitigation Project

Long term measures:

  • The National Cyclone Risk Mitigation Project (NCRMP) should be implemented with financial assistance from the World Bank
  • The NDMA had come up with its National Guidelines of Management of Cyclones in 2008. The basic premise of these guidelines is that the mitigation has to be multi-sectoral.
  • Developing Integrated Coastal Zone Management (ICZM) frameworks for addressing the sustainability and optimal utilisation of coastal resources as also cyclone impact minimisation plans.
  • Ensuring cyclone resistant design standards are incorporated in the rural/ urban housing schemes in coastal areas
  • Implementing coastal flood zoning, flood plain development and flood inundation management and regulatory plans.
  • Coastal bio-shields spread, preservation and restoration/ regeneration plans.
  • There is a need for private sector participation in designing and implementing policies, plans, and standards.
  • Need of Disaster Management program to be inclusive including women, civil society, and academia.

Conclusion

Cyclone Disaster Management encompasses mitigation and preparedness measures for cyclones. Installing disaster-resilient power infrastructure in the coastal districts, providing concrete houses to poor and vulnerable households, and creating massive community awareness campaigns are essential.

 

Topic: Issues relating to poverty and hunger.

2. The consequences of poor nutrition are too costly for society to ignore and hence unrelenting focus is needed to tackle malnutrition. Analyse. (250 words)

Difficulty level: Moderate

Reference: The Hindu

Why the question:

The National Family Health Survey (NFHS)-5 shows negligible gains in nutritional outcomes among under-five children. There has been tardy progress in reducing undernutrition, wasting and stunting. It is a national shame that even now, 35.5% of under-five children are stunted and 19.3% are wasted.

Key Demand of the question:

To write about the impact and suggest measures to tackle malnutrition in India.

Directive word: 

Analyse – When asked to analyse, you must examine methodically the structure or nature of the topic by separating it into component parts and present them in a summary.

Structure of the answer:

Introduction: 

Begin by giving statistic regarding malnutrition in India based on NFHS-5.

Body:

In the first part, write about the consequences of malnutrition – which includes stunting (low height for age), wasting (low weight for height), underweight (low weight for age) and micronutrient deficiencies or insufficiencies (a lack of important vitamins and minerals). The other is overweight, obesity and diet-related non-communicable diseases (such as heart disease, stroke, diabetes and cancer).

Next, write about various policy measures taken so far. Suggest measures to further improve them.

Conclusion:

Conclude by writing a way forward to achieve SDG-2

Introduction

India, currently has the largest number of undernourished people in the world i.e. around 195 million. Nearly 47 million or 4 out of 10 children in India do not meet their full human potential because of chronic undernutrition or stunting. India ranks 94/ 107 countries in the Global Hunger Index 2020. Malnutrition is caused by a lack or imbalance of certain types of nutrients necessary for a healthy life.

Body

Consequences of Poor nutrition

  • The National Family Health Survey (NFHS)-5 shows negligible gains in nutritional outcomes among under-five children.
  • There has been tardy progress in reducing undernutrition, wasting and stunting.
  • It is a national shame that even now, 5% of under-five children are stunted and 19.3% are wasted.
  • Childhood anaemia has worsened from NFHS-4.
  • Anaemia among adolescent girls and women aged 15-49 has also worsened.
  • Malnutrition results in a reduced ability to work and increased susceptibility to disease, and depending on the nutrients lacking: anaemia, blindness, mental retardation, or death.
  • India loses 4% of its GDP annually due to malnourishment.

Measures needed

  • Continued monitoring
    • After monitoring the successful initiation of breastfeeding in the hospital, anganwadi workers, ASHA workers and Auxiliary Nurse Midwives must continue to monitor exclusive breastfeeding till the infant is six months old.
    • they must record the timely initiation of complementary feeding with soft gruel
  • Ration supply without break
    • We must also ensure that there is take-home ration for under-three children through the regular supply of supplementary nutrition from the Integrated Child Development Services.
  • Monitoring PDS
    • Real-time monitoring of the Public Distribution System (PDS) will go a long way in ensuring food at the family level.
  • Community involvement
    • Both Poshan Abhiyan and the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana need to be monitored with the help of the community to ensure sustainable nutrition security.
  • Other measures
    • Whether anganwadis are intermittently closed without any valid reason;
    • whether the supervisors are erratic in field monitoring;
    • how we can capture the regularity and quantity of dry rations supplied to anganwadi centres and schools for mid-day meals;
    • whether there is live web-based centrally monitorable data on the movement of dry rations to anganwadis and schools;
    • whether parents and teachers can monitor the serving of hot, cooked meals;
    • whether self-help groups of women are involved in preparing the menu and procuring locally available vegetables, grains and millets to ensure dietary diversification
    • whether eggs are being denied or stopped for sociopolitical reasons.
  • Food fortification of staples (including wheat, flour, rice and edible oils)
    • It represents a cost-effective and scalable solution to enhance nutrient intake.
    • Standards for food fortification should be established, and guidelines changed to promote the use of fortified inputs in ICDS-provided hot cooked meals.
  • Increasing dietary diversity
    • It is the preferred way of improving the nutrition of a population because it has the potential to improve the intake of many food constituents like antioxidants and probiotics not just micronutrients simultaneously.
    • There are several low-cost, food-based measures that can be promoted at the community level to improve micro nutrient status.
  • Culturally appropriate dietary modifications
    • should be developed to help people identify concrete actions that can improve both dietary supply and the absorption of micronutrients.
    • This information needs to be disseminated to the public through traditional information channels.
  • public-private partnerships
    • Private sector engagement can leverage technological solutions for scaling up food fortification initiatives, and complement the government’s outreach efforts through mass awareness and education campaigns in communities.

Conclusion

Prioritizing early childhood nutrition is key to ensuring India’s development rests on strong and steady shoulders. India’s ability to harness long-term demographic dividends rests on it prioritizing nutrition in its health agenda, and reforming the institutional framework through which interventions are delivered.

 

 


General Studies – 2


 

Topic: India and its neighborhood- relations.

3. Emphasis on rule of law and commitment to democratic processes, must be the long-term approach in dealing with Myanmar. Elaborate. (250 words)

Difficulty level: Easy

Reference: The Hindu

Why the question:

A special court in Myanmar’s capital sentenced the country’s ousted leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, to four years in prison on Monday after finding her guilty of incitement and violating coronavirus restrictions.

Key Demand of the question:

To write about the long term approach with emphasis on rule of law and democracy in Myanmar.

Directive word: 

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

Structure of the answer:

Introduction: 

Begin by giving context of the recent Coup of overthrowing democratically elected Parliament and establishing military dictatorship.

Body:

In the first part, trace the historic developments in Myanmar. The New constitutuion of 2008, subsequent release of Aung San Suu Kyi, subsequent elections and a fragile balance between the civilian and military leadership in Myanmar.

Next, write about the impact of the recent coup. Declared state of an emergency, threat of sanctions from the U.S, role of China and the benefits it can accrue from this, India’s security relationship with the Myanmar military, further stalemate on Rohingya issue etc.

Finally, write about what should be the possible India’s response to this. Considering the new geopolitical realities, emphasis on restoring the democratically parliament and popular leadership, maintaining its existing strategic interests despite the turmoil and denying China a monopoly on Myanmar’s infrastructure and resources etc.

Conclusion:

Conclude by writing a way forward

Introduction

                The elected leaders of Myanmar were overthrown on February 1, 2021 in a coup by the army, which accused Aung Sang Suu Kyi’s ruling party of cheating in the November 2020 elections. The army’s allegation has been rejected by the previous election commission and international monitors.

A special court in Myanmar’s capital sentenced the country’s ousted leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, to four years in prison on Monday after finding her guilty of incitement and violating coronavirus restrictions.

Body

Background and Reasons for failure of democracy

  • The Myanmar military seized power yet again after the military coups of 1962, 1988 and 1990, turning a partial democracy into a full-fledged military rule. The swift operation has wiped out a decade of the country’s democratisation process.
  • Between March 2016 and January 2021, the National League for Democracy (NLD) led by Aung San Suu Kyi shared power with the military. This was a bold experiment to govern an intensely complex nation in Southeast Asia. Myanmar thus became a car driven by two drivers.
  • The newly elected National Assembly was due to meet in Naypyidaw on Monday, despite the Tatmadaw’s (Army’s) claims that the November general elections had several irregularities, and its contestation of the NLD’s landslide victory.
  • Suu Kyi had refused to bow to Gen. Hlaing’s demand that the results, which also saw the military-backed Union Solidarity and Development Party with a reduced strength in Parliament, be set aside.
  • the Army, which still nominates a fourth of the parliamentary seats and retains the important Defence, Borders and Interior portfolios, felt it was better to dismiss the NLD government before it increased its clout.

Impact of the recent coup

  • The step is a setback for the international community’s efforts to engage with Myanmar, after a strict sanctions regime.
  • While not a fully globalized nation, the political crisis in Myanmar does threaten to impact a number of companies around the world, ranging from rare-earth miners in China to global oil and gas majors.
  • Under the military government, it will be very difficult for investors to know, in the short term, whether they plan to revert to protectionist policies that had worked so well for the elite, even while promising to maintain some form of democracy

Impact on India:

  • Strategic interests of the North East will be affected, leading to increased insurgency in the Myanmar border areas.
  • The dream of North East India to be benefitted from the ‘Act East Policy’ may be a shattered dream
  • India has all set for penetrating its market to the South East Asia by implementing the Act East Asia. India as of now is no member of the RCEP. Even though India managed to promote better relationship with Myanmar without being a member of RCEP, change of Military regime in Myanmar perhaps may be a hurdle.
  • The geographically strategic location of Myanmar makes it a bridge between South Asia and Southeast Asia, and India needs a good working relationship with the Myanmar government for its diplomatic and strategic initiatives. This is especially due to China’s nefarious designs in Myanmar, which wants to develop it as a geopolitical base against India.
  • China has its own designs and wants to use Myanmar as another base in its ‘string of pearl’ strategy against India. Through the string of pearls approach, China intends to encircle India by developing military bases in India’s neighbouring countries and Myanmar has long been on China’s radar.
  • The Myanmar Military is corrupt, it is quite possible that the Military junta Government may take loans from China, siphon it off, just like the Pakistan army and would push Myanmar to a Chinese debt trap.
  • New Delhi will have to deal with the fallout of crackdowns on pro-democracy activists as well as these could prompt a flight of refugees into India.
  • While its foreign policy concerns will direct New Delhi to avoid ruffling the feathers of Myanmar’s generals, there are humanitarian concerns and democratic commitments that India must not ignore.

Response of India:

  • India has shown commitment to build robust relationship with Myanmar over the past two decades which intensified after the democratic process began in 2011.
  • Whenever democracy suffers, India feels concerned, even anguished.
  • However, India is committed to the policy of non-interference in another state’s internal affairs. It is also guided by the national interest.
  • Therefore, in managing relations with Myanmar, India will astutely balance its principles, values, interests and geopolitical realities.
  • It would be best to strike a middle ground, as Delhi has done, by calling for upholding the democratic process and urging the generals to release Suu Kyi at the earliest.

Conclusion

The military coup in Myanmar is a devastating setback to the country’s efforts to build an inclusive democracy. The Indian government will need to craft its response taking into consideration the new geopolitical realities of the U.S. and China as well as its own standing as a South Asian power, and as a member of the UN Security Council. India must push for the restoration of democracy at the earliest.

 

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

4. Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act of 1958 (AFSPA) has often been criticised as a “draconian Act” for the unbridled power it gives to the armed forces. Should it repealed? Comment. (250 words)

Difficulty level: Moderate

Reference: The Hindu

Why the question:

The killing of civilians in a botched ambush by the armed forces in Nagaland’s Mon district on Saturday and its violent fallout have put the spotlight on the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act of 1958.

Key Demand of the question:

To comment as to whether or not AFSPA be repealed.

Directive word: 

Comment– here we must express our knowledge and understanding of the issue and form an overall opinion thereupon.

Structure of the answer:

Introduction: 

Begin by writing about aims of AFSPA.

Body:

First, mention the broad features of AFSPA.

Next, giving context of killing of innocent civilians in Nagaland and other instances of its misuse. Mentions pros and cons of AFSPA.

Conclusion:

Conclude by commenting on the action that India must take with regards to AFSPA.

Introduction

The Armed Forces Special Powers Act commonly known as AFSPA came in to force decades ago in the context of increasing violence in the North Eastern states. Passed in 1958 for North East and in 1990 for Jammu and Kashmir , the law gives armed forces necessary powers to control disturbed areas which are designated by the govt.

Following the recent killings of 14 civilians in Nagaland, the Chief Minister has demanded the repeal of the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act.

Body

Key features of act

  • In simple terms, AFSPA gives armed forces the power to maintain public order in “disturbed areas”.
  • They have the authority to prohibit a gathering of five or more persons in an area, can use force or even open fire after giving due warning if they feel a person is in contravention of the law.
  • If reasonable suspicion exists, the army can also arrest a person without a warrant; enter or search premises without a warrant; and ban the possession of firearms.
  • Under the provisions of the AFSPA armed forces are empowered with immunity from being prosecuted to open fire , enter and search without warrant and arrest any person who has committed a cognizable offence.
  • As of now this act is in force in Jammu and Kashmir , Assam , Nagaland and parts of Arunachal Pradesh and Manipur.

 

AFSPA – a draconian act

  • It has been dubbed as a license to kill. The main criticism of the Act is directed against the provisions of Section 4, which gives the armed forces the power to open fire and even cause death, if prohibitory orders are violated.
  • Human rights activists object on the grounds that these provisions give the security forces unbridled powers to arrest, search, seize and even shoot to kill.
  • Activists accuse the security forces of having destroyed homes and entire villages merely on the suspicion that insurgents were hiding there. They point out that Section 4 empowers the armed forces to arrest citizens without warrant and keep them in custody for several days.
  • They also object to Section 6, which protects security forces personnel from prosecution except with the prior sanction of the central government. Critics say this provision has on many occasions led to even non-commissioned officers brazenly opening fire on crowds without having to justify their action.
  • Critics say the act has failed to contain terrorism and restore normalcy in disturbed areas, as the number of armed groups has gone up after the act was established. Many even hold it responsible for the spiralling violence in areas it is in force.
  • The decision of the government to declare a particular area ‘disturbed’ cannot be challenged in a court of law. Hence, several cases of human rights violations go unnoticed.

Should AFSPA be repealed?

  • The Army clearly sees AFSPA as a capstone enabling Act that gives it the powers necessary to conduct counter-insurgency operations efficiently.
  • If AFSPA is repealed or diluted, it is the army leadership’s considered view that the performance of battalions in counter-insurgency operations will be adversely affected and the terrorists or insurgents will seize the initiative.
  • Many argue that removal of the act will lead to demoralising the armed forces and see militants motivating locals to file lawsuits against the army.
  • Also, the forces are aware that they cannot afford to fail when called upon to safeguard the country’s integrity. Hence, they require the minimum legislation that is essential to ensure efficient utilization of combat capability.
  • AFSPA is necessary to maintain law and order in disturbed areas, otherwise things will go haywire. The law also dissuades advancement of terrorist activities in these areas.
  • Also, extraordinary situations require special handling.

Way forward

  • Security forces should be very careful while operating in the Northeast and must not give any chance to the militants to exploit the situation.
  • Indiscriminate arrests and harassment of people out of frustration for not being able to locate the real culprits should be avoided. All good actions of the force get nullified with one wrong action.
  • Any person, including the supervisory staff, found guilty of violating law should be severely dealt with.
  • The law is not defective, but it is its implementation that has to be managed properly.
  • The local people have to be convinced with proper planning and strategy.

Conclusion

The practical problems encountered in ensuring transparency in counter-insurgency operations must be overcome by innovative measures. The army must be completely transparent in investigating allegations of violations of human rights and bringing the violators to speedy justice. Exemplary punishment must be meted out where the charges are proved.

Value addition

Expert recommendations

  • A committee headed by Justice Jeevan Reddy was appointed in 2004 to review AFSPA. Though the committee found that the powers conferred under the Act are not absolute, it nevertheless concluded that the Act should be repealed.
  • However, it recommended that essential provisions of the Act be inserted into the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act of 1967.
  • The Second Administrative Reforms Commission headed by then Union law minister M Veerappa Moily also recommended that AFSPA should be repealedand its essential provisions should be incorporated in the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA).

 

 


General Studies – 3


 

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

5. Differentiate between Bio-accumulation, Bio-concentration and Bio-magnification with examples. Examine the impact of Bio-magnification. (250 words)

Difficulty level: Easy

Reference: Insights on India

Why the question:

The question is part of the static syllabus of General studies paper – 3 and mentioned as part of Mission-2022 Secure timetable.

Key Demand of the question:

To Differentiate between Bio-accumulation, Bio-concentration and Bio-magnification.

Examine – When asked to ‘Examine’, we must investigate 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: 

Begin defining Bio-accumulation, Bio-concentration and Bio-magnification.

Body:

First, give examples of the all the above mentioned phenomenon in various terrestrial and aquatic systems.

Next, write about the impact of Bio-magnification – Persistent Pollutants, Buildup in Fats, permanently damage various body systems, impact of animals and birds etc.

Conclusion:

Conclude by mentioning various measures taken to tackle Bio-magnification.

Introduction

food chain is a linear sequence of organisms through which nutrients and energy pass as one organism eats another. In a food chain, each organism occupies a different trophic level, defined by how many energy transfers separate it from the basic input of the chain.

Due to the increasing levels of pollution, there is a transfer of chemicals and pollutants as well along with the nutrients leading to accumulation & concentration at different trophic levels.

Body 

Biomagnification (Bioamplification) is the process by which chemical contaminant are concentrated at levels that exceed chemical equilibrium from dietary absorption of the chemical. It refers to an increase in the concentration of a substance as you move up the food chain. This often occurs because the pollutant is persistent, meaning that it cannot be, or is very slowly, broken down by natural processes. These persistent pollutants are transferred up the food chain faster than they are broken down or excreted.

In contrast, bioaccumulation occurs within an organism, where a concentration of a substance builds up in the tissues and is absorbed faster than it is removed. Through the food chain, chemicals like PCBs, DDT, dioxins, and mercury build up in the bodies of organism.

Bioaccumulation often occurs in two ways, simultaneously: by eating contaminated food, and by absorption directly from water. This second case is specifically referred to as bioconcentration.

Bioconcentration is the intake of chemical contaminants through an organism’s epithelial tissues or gills, and the subsequent concentration of that chemical contaminant within the organism’s tissues to a level that exceeds ambient environmental concentrations.

Bioconcentration and bioaccumulation happen within an organism, but biomagnification occurs across levels of the food chain.

An example: phytoplankton and other microscopic organisms take up methylmercury and then retain it in their tissues. Here, mercury bioaccumulation is occurring: mercury concentrations are higher in the organisms than it is in the surrounding environment. As animals eat these smaller organisms, they receive their prey’s mercury burden. Because of this, animals that are higher in the food chain have higher levels of mercury than they would have due to regular exposure. With increasing trophic level, mercury levels are amplified.

Conclusion

                The need of the hour is to prevent biomagnification or biological magnification by reducing agricultural runoff, restricting use of some heavy metals like lead, mercury and harmful compounds like DDT.

 

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

6. Analyse the consequences of human intervention in nature in terms of nutrient cycles. Analyse. (250 words)

Difficulty level: Tough

Reference: Insights on India

Why the question:

The question is part of the static syllabus of General studies paper – 3 and mentioned as part of Mission-2022 Secure timetable.

Key Demand of the question:

To describe briefly how nutrient cycle are affected by human activities.

Directive word: 

Analyse – When asked to analyse, you must examine methodically the structure or nature of the topic by separating it into component parts and present them in a summary.

Structure of the answer:

Introduction: 

Begin defining nutrient cycle.

Body:

First, elaborate upon the various components of nutrient cycles.

Next, mention the impact of anthropogenic activities on nutrient cycles like Carbon, Sulphur, Phosphorus cycles etc. Suggest measures to rectify the same.

Conclusion:

Conclude with a way forward.

Introduction

The nutrient cycle describes how nutrients move from the physical environment into living organisms, and subsequently are recycled back to the physical environment. It is the cyclic pathway by which nutrients pass-through, in order to be recycled and reutilised. The pathway comprises cells, organisms, community and ecosystem. Examples of a nutrient cycle: carbon cycle, nitrogen cycle, water cycle, oxygen cycle, etc.

Body

Consequences of human intervention in nature in terms of nutrient cycles

  • In recent decades, population growth and resulting human activities such as large-scale farming have caused some significant changes in nutrient cycles.
  • Depletion of soils:
    • The accumulation of nutrients in the seas means that they are depleted elsewhere, i.e., to a large extent from soils.
    • This leads to the fact that many of the fruit and vegetables that animals and humans are consuming, essentially contain less nutrients, minerals, vitamins etc. that they have some decades ago.
    • Applying more artificial fertilisers is not the solution: it is energy and cost intensive; it can lead to salinisation, and, because artificial fertilisers which are mainly based on the three main components Nitrogen, Phosphorus and Potassium, are essentially incomplete.
    • Furthermore, soils that do not contain adequate amounts of organic material (e.g. from compost, dead plant material etc.), are not able to adsorb much of the nutrients added, and also have a low water holding capacity.
  • Depletion of nutrient sources:
    • While nitrogen can be gained from the air, it is an energy intensive process that is mainly based on the use of fossil fuels.
    • Other components of artificial fertiliser, are based on fossil resources, such as phosphorus.
    • The amount that is easily mined, is limited (see above). If these easily mineable resources are deplete, this means that phosphorus prices will increase drastically.
  • Affordability & food security:
    • “Fertilisers are bound to world market prices which are already substantially high for many farmers from developing countries.
    • An increase in price, as is to be expected in the case of phosphorus, will make them unavailable for many farmers.
    • This may make agricultural products, especially in developing countries, more expensive and thus lead to a decreased food security.”.
  • Eutrophication of waterways and dead zones:
    • Fertiliser runoff and wastewater discharge contribute to eutrophication, uncontrolled blooms of algae in rivers, lakes and oceans, feeding on nitrogen and phosphorus from fertilisers.
    • When they die, their decomposition depletes the water of oxygen and slowly chokes aquatic life, producing “dead zones.”
  • Air pollution:
    • Humans are overloading ecosystems with nitrogen through the burning of fossil fuels and an increase in nitrogen-producing industrial and agricultural activities, according to a new study.
    • While nitrogen is an element that is essential to life, it is an environmental scourge at high levels.
  • Essentially, the problem with the human alterations to natural nutrient cycle is the one that we are extracting nutrients from the soil, and discharging them essentially in aquatic environment – this leads to a heavy imbalance with severe consequences.

Conclusion

At the moment, humans influence natural nutrient cycles in an unsustainable way, and in a one-way direction. Too many nutrients end up in the sea, and are lacking on the land, leading to the above mentioned consequences. A new approach in nutrient management is needed, essentially incorporating a new way to look at what we commonly call wastewater too: this is, not to consider wastewater as a waste, but as a resource, full of nutrients that can be recycled and reused .

 

 


General Studies – 4


 

Topic: Attitude: content, structure, function; its influence and relation with thought and behaviour;

7. What do you understand by altruism? Discuss. (150 words)

Difficulty level: Moderate

Reference: plato.stanford.edu

Why the question:

The question is part of the static syllabus of General studies paper – 4 and part of ‘Conceptual Tuesdays’ in Mission-2022 Secure.

Directive:

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

Structure of the answer:

Introduction: 

Define altruism.

Body:

Elaborate, Everyday life is filled with small acts of altruism, from holding the door for strangers to giving money to people in need. News stories often focus on grander cases of altruism, such as a man who dives into an icy river to rescue a drowning stranger or a donor who gives thousands of dollars to a local charity.

Conclusion:

Summarise by highlighting the importance of altruism in present day and the need to use it for positive outcomes.

Introduction

‘The Best Way to Find Yourself Is To Lose Yourself In The Service Of Others’  – Mahatma Gandhi.

Altruism means acting in the best interest of others rather than in one’s own self-interest. Altruism or selflessness is the opposite of selfishness. Some people believe altruism constitutes the essence of morality. The above quote captures the essence of Altruism.

Body

Although we often act selfishly, we also seem to be wired to cooperate with others. For example, studies show that when people look for mates, they tend to look for kindness more than any other quality.

People’s moral judgments are often driven by emotion. And empathy for others seems to encourage altruism. Altruism is when we act to promote someone else’s welfare, even at a risk or cost to ourselves. Studies have found that people’s first impulse is to cooperate rather than compete. For e.g.: Good Samaritans are driven by sheer altruism to help road users involved in a crash.

Altruism has deep roots in human nature because helping and cooperation promote the survival of our species. Darwin himself argued that altruism, which he called “sympathy” or “benevolence,” is “an essential part of the social instincts.”

Another emotion, called “elevation,” appears to inspire altruistic behaviour, too. We feel elevation when we see another person act virtuously, such as by helping someone in need. For e.g.: Helping the homeless can be altruistic as long as it is not done for recognition or to make oneself feel better.

Altruism also builds social connections. For example, studies show that people who are altruistic tend to be happier, to be healthier, and to live longer.

So, while altruism leads us to do what’s best for others, it also makes us feel good in the process.

Conclusion

Individuals come to exhibit charitable, philanthropic, and other pro-social, altruistic actions for the common good both by nature and by training. Moral education, law, civic leadership also establish ethos to develop altruism. Building social capital is crucial for good governance, economic development and social harmony. At its heart lies altruism and cooperation.


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