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
Reference: New Indian Express
The Sangam Age constitutes an important chapter in the history of South India. According to Tamil legends, there existed three Sangams (Academy of Tamil poets) in ancient Tamil Nadu popularly called Muchchangam. These Sangams flourished under the royal patronage of the Pandyas.
- The first Sangam, held at then Madurai, was attended by gods and legendary sages but no literary work of this Sangam was available.
- The second Sangam was held at Kapadapuram but the all the literary works had perished except Tolkappiyam.
- The third Sangam at Madurai was founded by Mudathirumaran. It was attended by a large number of poets who produced voluminous literature but only a few had survived.
Sangam Literature: Literary masterpiece
- The corpus of Sangam literature includes Tolkappiyam, Ettutogai, Pattuppattu, Pathinenkilkanakku, and the two epics- Silappathigaram and Manimegalai.
- It is a work on Tamil grammar but it provides information on the political and socio- economic conditions of the Sangam period.
- Both Ettutogai and Pattuppattu were divided into two main groups – Aham (love) and Puram (valour).
- Pathinenkilkanakku contains eighteen works mostly dealing with ethics and morals. The most important among them is Tirukkural authored by Thiruvalluvar.
- Silappathigaram written by Elango Adigal and Manimegalai by Sittalai Sattanar also provides valuable information on the Sangam polity and society.
Sangam Literature: source of Ancient Indian history
- Political history: The Tamil country was ruled by three dynasties namely the Chera, Chola and Pandyas during the Sangam Age. The political history of these dynasties can be traced from the literary references.
- Position of women: There is a plenty of information in the Sangam literature to trace the position of women during the Sangam age. Women poets like Avvaiyar, Nachchellaiyar, and Kakkaipadiniyar flourished in this period and contributed to Tamil literature. The courage of women was also appreciated in many poems.
- Sangam Society: Tolkappiyam refers to the five-fold division of lands – Kurinji (hilly tracks), Mullai (pastoral), Marudam (agricultural), Neydal (coastal) and Palai (desert).
- Tolkappiyam also refers to four castes namely arasar, anthanar, vanigar and vellalar.
- The ruling class was called arasar. Anthanars played a significant role in the Sangam polity and religion. Vanigars carried on trade and commerce. The vellalars were agriculturists.
- Sangam Polity: Hereditary monarchy was the form of government during the Sangam period. Land revenue was the chief source of state’s income while custom duty was also imposed on foreign trade.
- Trade: Both internal and foreign trade was well organized and briskly carried on in the Sangam Age. The Sangam literature, Greek and Roman accounts and the archaeological evidences provide detailed information on this subject.
- Spinning and weaving of cotton and silk clothes attained a high quality.
- The poems mention the cotton clothes as thin as a cloud of steam or a slough of a snake.
- There was a great demand in the western world for the cotton clothes woven at Uraiyur.
- Agriculture: Agriculture was the chief occupation. Rice was the common crop. Ragi, sugarcane, cotton, pepper, ginger, turmeric, cinnamon and a variety of fruits were the other crops.
However, there are dispute among the exact period of sangam age and its chronology. The most probable date of the Sangam literature has been fixed between the third century B.C. to third century A.D. on the basis of literary, archaeological and numismatic evidences.
The Sangam age Tamil literary works remain useful sources to reconstruct the history of the period providing major insights into the social and economic life of people, especially in the Southern India.
Reference: The Hindu
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.
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.
- 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.
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
Reference: The Hindu
A Uniform Civil Code is one that would provide for one law for the entire country, applicable to all religious communities in their personal matters such as marriage, divorce, inheritance, adoption etc. It proposes to replace the personal laws based on the scriptures and customs of each major religious community in the country with a common set of laws governing every citizen.
Article 44 of the Constitution lays down that the state shall endeavor to secure a Uniform Civil Code for the citizens throughout the territory of India.
- While delivering a judgment legitimising the Portuguese Civil Code of 1867, the Supreme Court reportedly described Goa as a “shining example” with a Uniform Civil Code
- The previous Chief Justice of India (CJI) S A Bobde recently lauded Goa’s Uniform Civil Code, and encouraged “intellectuals” indulging in “academic talk” to visit the state to learn more about it.
- The Delhi High Court, in a very revolutionary decision, backed the need for a Uniform Civil Code observing that there is a need for a Code – ‘common to all’ in the country and asked the central government to take the necessary steps in this matter.
Time is ripe for UCC in India
- Promotion of secularism: One set of laws to govern the personal matters of all citizens irrespective of religion is the cornerstone of true secularism. A secular republic needs a common law for all citizens rather than differentiated rules based on religious practices. It would help end gender discrimination on religious grounds and strengthens the secular fabric of the nation.
- Protection of Vulnerable & Women’s Rights: It will protect the vulnerable sections of society. Women have been denied via personal laws in the name of socio cultural-religious traditions. Therefore UCC could bring all communities together to ensure Women the Right to a dignified life and control over their life as well as body.
- Gender justice:The rights of women are usually limited under religious law, be it Hindu or Muslim. Many practices governed by religious tradition are at odds with the fundamental rights guaranteed in the Indian Constitution. Courts have also often said in their judgements that the government should move towards a uniform civil code including the judgement in the Shah Bano case.
- Prevents religion-based discrimination: Personal laws differentiate between people on grounds of religion. A unified law having the same provisions regarding marital affairs would provide justice to those who feel discriminated against.
- Ending unjust customs and traditions: A rational common and unified personal law will help eradicate many evil, unjust and irrational customs and traditions prevalent across the communities. For example, Law against Manual scavenging. It might have been a custom in the past but in a mature democracy like India, this custom cannot be justified.
- Indian laws do follow a uniform code in most civil matters –Indian Contract Act, Civil Procedure Code, Sale of Goods Act, Transfer of Property Act, Partnership Act, Evidence Act etc. States, however, have made hundreds of amendments and therefore in certain matters, there is diversity even under these secular civil laws.
- Justice Prathiba M Singh of Delhi HC stated that the modern Indian society was gradually becoming homogenous, the traditional barriers of religion, community and caste are slowly dissipating and thus UCC ought not to remain a mere hope.
- Eases Administration: UCC would make it easy to administer the huge population base of India.
Challenges facing the passage of UCC:
- Violation of fundamental rights:Religious bodies oppose uniform civil code on the ground that it would be interference into religious affairs which would violate fundamental rights guaranteed under article 25 of the constitution.
- Reduces diversity:It would reduce the diversity of the nation by painting everyone in one colour. Tribals have their unique customs and traditions as per their culture. Replacing their customs and traditions with a unified law may lead to the identity crisis of the tribals. This may further lead to social tension.
- Communal politics:It would be a tyranny to the minority and when implemented could bring a lot of unrest in the country.
- Threat to Multiculturalism: Indian society has a unique identity in the form of its being multiculturalism, and unified law might do away with these unique characteristics of this nation.
- Affects Majority as well: For example, even Hindus themselves have separate Hindu laws for themselves. Thus, it is not merely a question for minorities but it also affects the majority.
- Lacking Political Will: Bigger issues have been resolved by the BJP Government like Ayodhya Dispute, repeal of Article 370, so with adequate will from the political community, UCC could also be implemented
- Sensitive and tough task – Such a code, in its true spirit, must be brought about by borrowing freely from different personal laws, making gradual changes in each, issuing judicial pronouncements assuring gender equality, and adopting expansive interpretations on marriage, maintenance, adoption, and succession by acknowledging the benefits that one community secures from the others. This task will be very demanding time and human resource wise. The government should be sensitive and unbiased at each step while dealing with the majority and minority communities. Otherwise, it might turn out to be more disastrous in a form of communal violence.
- Time is not yet suitable for this reform – Considering a major opposition from Muslim community in India over this issue overlapping with controversies over beef, saffronization of school and college curriculum, love jihad, and the silence emanating from the top leadership on these controversies, there needs to be given sufficient time for instilling confidence in the community. Otherwise, these efforts towards common will be counterproductive leaving minority class particularly Muslims more insecure and vulnerable to get attracted towards fundamentalist and extremist ideologies.
- Major sensitization efforts are needed to reform current personal law reforms which should first be initiated by the communities themselves.
- Current institutions need to be modernized, democratized and strengthened for this change. Sincere efforts towards women empowerment have to be taken for all women of all religions.
- UCC can only emerge through an evolutionary process, which preserves India’s rich legal heritage, of which all the personal laws are equal constituents.
- The social transformation from diverse civil code to uniformity shall be gradual and cannot happen in a day. Therefore, the government must adopt a piecemeal approach and no knee-jerk decisions.
- There is need for deliberations and discussions among members of various communities to reach a common ground.
The guiding principles of the Constitution itself visualize diversity and have tried to promote uniformity among peoples of different denominations. A uniform law, although highly desirable but may be counterproductive to the unity and integrity of the nation. Hence, only those elements of customs and traditions should be brought into a unified law that causes injustice to individuals. In a democracy and rule of law, a gradual progressive change and order must be brought about.
Reference: Insights on India
Desertification is the degradation of land in arid, semi-arid and dry sub-humid areas. It is caused primarily by human activities and climatic variations. Desertification does not refer to the expansion of existing deserts. It occurs because dryland ecosystems, which cover over one-third of the world‘s land area, are extremely vulnerable to overexploitation and inappropriate land use. Poverty, political instability, deforestation, overgrazing and bad irrigation practices can all undermine the productivity of the land.
The Punjab Vidhan Sabha committee, constituted to study water table depletion, has recently said that the state will turn into a desert in the next 25 years if the present trend of drawing water from underground aquifers continues.
Main reasons that cause desertification in India are:
- Water erosion (10.98 per cent).
- Wind erosion (5.55 per cent).
- Human-made/settlements (0.69 per cent).
- Vegetation degradation (8.91 per cent).
- Salinity (1.12 per cent).
- Others (2.07 per cent).
Need for sustainable land management for combating desertification and land degradation
- By 2025, 1.8 billion people will experience absolute water scarcity, and 2/3 of the world will be living under water-stressed conditions.
- A complex and slowly encroaching natural hazard with significant and pervasive socio-economic and environmental impacts to cause more deaths and displace more people than any other natural disaster.
- India has witnessed increase in the level of desertification in 26 of 29 states between 2003-05 and 2011-13, according to the State of India’s Environment (SoE) 2019 in Figures.
- More water is being drawn than it is being replenished. g.: The rate of water extraction in Punjab is 1.66 times against the rate of replenishment.
- Because of the adoption of a faulty cropping pattern. Paddy crop hampers water recharging because of the puddling method used to prepare fields for transplanting.
- Human Security:
- By 2045 some 135 million people may be displaced as a result of desertification.
- Achieving land degradation neutrality -by rehabilitating already degraded land, scaling up sustainable land management and accelerating restoration initiatives- is a pathway to greater resilience and security for all.
- Restoring the soils of degraded ecosystems has the potential to store up to 3 billion tons of carbon annually.
- The land use sector represents almost 25% of total global emissions. Its rehabilitation and sustainable management are critical to combating climate change.
- UNCCD 2018-2030 Strategic Framework: It is the most comprehensive global commitment to achieve Land Degradation Neutrality (LDN) in order to restore the productivity of vast expanses of degraded land, improve the livelihoods of more than 1.3 billion people, and reduce the impacts of drought on vulnerable populations to build.
- Setting up of an Intergovernmental Panel on Land and Soil will be very helpful in speeding up efforts to check desertification.
- Farmers must be incentivised to choose cropping patterns that require less water, and go for drip irrigation or other water management mechanisms to save our only available deeper aquifers.
- Developing countries need to integrate their poverty eradication programmes with strategies to fight desertification.
- Lessons from the world:
- In Africa, several countries have come together to form a 12,000 sq.km “great green wall” extending from Senegal to Djibouti with the participation of local communities.
- People’s participation is crucial in reclaiming lands. China’s “great green wall” project is on a massive scale and is now starting to show results.
- The techniques include agro-forestry and farmer-managed natural regeneration. Small community initiatives like
- Closure of degraded lands for grazing
- Curtailing farming
- Growing fast-growing plants
- Raising tall trees that serve as a barrier against winds and sandstorms are very effective.
- National governments could consider building large green belts, prioritise forestry programmes and launch projects of fixing and stabilising sands.
Desertification is being accentuated by climate change. Thus, a comprehensive sustainable developmental approach is needed by the countries.
General Studies – 3
Reference: Indian Express
Optical communication is communication at a distance using light to carry information. It can be performed visually or by using electronic devices. In radio communication systems, information is carried across space using radio waves.
Comparison between Optical fiber and Radio communication
- Fiber optic cables have a much greater bandwidth than metal cables. The amount of information that can be transmitted per unit time of fiber over other transmission media is its most significant advantage.
- Radio waves cannot propagate above the horizon, earth curvature prevents radio waves to propagate above the horizon on frequencies above 30 MHz
- To have reliable radio link above 30 MHz over the horizon using troposcatter there is a need for expensive large parabolic antennas and very powerful amplifiers
- Radio waves at the frequencies below 30 MHz can propagate above the horizon, but this propagation is not stable and changes during the day.
- Power Loss
- An optical fiber offers low power loss, which allows for longer transmission distances. In comparison to copper, in a network, the longest recommended copper distance is 100m while with fiber, it is 2km.
- Radio waves lose strength with distance and need repeaters/boosters to strengthen the signals.
- Broadband reliable radio wave links above the horizon require repeaters, ground or satellite or wired/fiber optical extensions
- Fiber optic cables are immune to electromagnetic interference. It can also be run in electrically noisy environments without concern as electrical noise will not affect fiber.
- Radio waves are bad in penetrating matter
- In comparison to copper, a fiber optic cable has nearly 4.5 times as much capacity as the wire cable has and a cross sectional area that is 30 times less.
- Radio waves enable mobility, you can drive your car and listen to the FM radio
- Fiber optic cables are much thinner and lighter than metal wires. They also occupy less space with cables of the same information capacity. Lighter weight makes fiber easier to install.
- Optical fibers are difficult to tap. As they do not radiate electromagnetic energy, emissions cannot be intercepted. As physically tapping the fiber takes great skill to do undetected, fiber is the most secure medium available for carrying sensitive data.
- An optical fiber has greater tensile strength than copper or steel fibers of the same diameter. It is flexible, bends easily and resists most corrosive elements that attack copper cable.
- Radio waves enable mobility, you can drive your car and listen to the FM radio
- The raw materials for glass are plentiful, unlike copper. This means glass can be made more cheaply than copper.
- Radio communication is cheaper to send information using radio waves than to send information using atoms
Optical communications systems are smaller in size, weight, and require less power compared with radio instruments. Currently, most NASA spacecraft use radio frequency communications to send data. Optical communications will help increase the bandwidth 10 to 100 times more than radio frequency systems.
Answer the following questions in 250 words:
General Studies – 1
Reference: The Hindu
Solid waste management (SWM) refers to the process of collecting and treating solid wastes. It also offers solutions for recycling items that do not belong to garbage or trash. In a nascent effort to look beyond toilets and kick off its ODF+ phase — that is, Open Defecation Free Plus — focussing on solid and liquid waste management, the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan (SBA) has included the prevalence of plastic litter and water-logging in villages as indicators of cleanliness in its 2019 rural survey.
Current Situation of SWM in India:
- As per the SBM 2.0 guidelines, the total quantity of waste generated by urban areas in India is about 32 lakh tonnes daily. This adds up to 4.8 crore tonnes per annum.
- Of this only about 25% is being processed; the rest is disposed of in landfills every year.
- Given that the waste dumpsites have been operational since the early 2000s, more than 72 crore tonnes of waste need to be processed.
- Most cities have confined themselves to collection and transportation of solid waste. Processing and safe disposal are being attempted only in a few cases.
- The CPCB report also reveals that only 68% of the MSW generated in the country is collected of which, 28% is treated by the municipal authorities. Thus, merely 19% of the total waste generated is currently treated.
- According to a UN report, India’s e-waste from old computers alone will jump 500 per cent by 2020, compared to 2007.
- Disappearance of urban water bodies and wetlands in urban areas can be attributed to illegal dumping of Construction & Demolition waste.
Role of SBM 2.0
- The recently released Swachh Bharat Mission (SBM) 2.0 guidelines continue to take forward the aims of the SBM launched in 2014, but add an important dimension focused on solid waste management.
- This goes beyond the efficient collection and transportation of waste and brings focus on processing all types of waste like plastic, construction and demolition waste, as well as providing budgetary support for remediating old waste disposed in all dumpsites across 4,372 cities in India before March 2023.
- Its components include source segregation; door-to-door collection of waste; separate transportation of different types of wastes; processing of wet waste, dry waste, and construction and demolition waste.
- The total funding dedicated for implementation of SBM 2.0 is ₹1.41 lakh crore of which about ₹39,837 crore is set aside for solid waste management.
- This mission commits to providing financial assistance to set up fresh waste processing facilities and bioremediation projects across all the ULBs.
- SBM 2.0 allocates funding only to set up waste processing facilities.
- SBM 2.0 is committing to paying a significant portion of the project cost, the ULBs are likely to take up projects by matching the shortfall with their reserved funds, thereby hoping to achieve the GoI target of waste disposal sites being free from old waste by March 2023.
- Also, the transformation of waste disposal sites to processing sites is likely to produce 72 lakh tonnes of organic compost per annum from 4.8 crore tonnes of waste generated across all ULBs in the country.
Solid waste management is one of the major environmental problems of Indian cities. The need of the hour is scientific, sustainable and environment friendly management of wastes.
General Studies – 2
Reference: The Hindu
A cooperative is an autonomous association of persons united voluntarily to meet their common economic, social and cultural needs and aspirations through a jointly-owned and democratically controlled. The need for profitability is balanced by the needs of the members and the wider interest of the community.
- India is an agricultural country and laid the foundation of World’s biggest cooperative movement in the world.
- For instance, Amul deals with 16 million milk producers, 1,85,903 dairy cooperatives; 222 district cooperative milk unions; marketed by 28 state marketing federations.
- Amul is an example of what 36 lakh women dairy farmers can achieve if they work together with transparency
- There are over 8 lakh cooperatives of all shapes and sizes across sectors in India.
- The Union government of India in July 2021 created a new Ministry of Cooperation for strengthening cooperative movement.
- It was created for realizing the vision of ‘Sahakar se Samriddhi’ (Prosperity through Cooperation) and to give a new push to the cooperative movement.
Challenges faced by Cooperatives currently:
- Government control on cooperatives has increased, violating a core cooperative principle of political neutrality. This reflects a collective failure of the political class..
- Cooperatives have become avenues for regulatory arbitrage, circumventing lending and anti-money laundering regulations.
- The Registrar of Cooperative Societies (RCS) has become an instrument of inspection and domination, one which imposes uniform by-laws, and amends them when individual societies do not fall in line.
- The rural-urban dichotomy in the regulatory treatment of cooperatives is specious and outdated.
- In India, adopting a multi-agency approach, especially after bank nationalisation, has affected the efficiency of both commercial and cooperative banks.
- Lack of genuine cooperation between the states and the centre wrt Cooperatives and centralization of power.
- There should be a focus on women cooperatives because they are less than three per cent of the 8 lakh cooperatives in the country.
- People are not well informed about the objectives of the Movement, rules and regulations of co-operative institutions.
Renewed focus on cooperatives is need of the hour
- The RCS should stick to its original role of facilitator: : a friend, philosopher, and guide to cooperative societies.
- The regulation is to be based on the cooperative nature of organisations.
- The regulation and the supervision of cooperative banks should move to a new body from the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) for urban banks and the National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) for rural banks.
- Lessons from the Netherlands, where cooperative banks owe their success to a segmented market, are pertinent.
- Commercial bank-cooperative sector linkages at various levels could alternatively provide better synergies.
Principle of the cooperative movement is to unite everyone, even while remaining anonymous. The cooperative movement has the capacity to solve people’s problems. However, there are irregularities in cooperatives and to check them there have to be rules and stricter implementation.
Reference: The Hindu
As Russia and India both desire a multi-polar world, they are equally important for each other in fulfilling each other’s national interests. However, due to the changing geopolitical scenario, Russia is growing closer to China and becoming anti-west, while it is vice-versa for India. Despite the changing dynamics, Indo-Russia ties have stood the test of times especially in defence sector.
21st annual India-Russia summit was held recently under the leadership of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Russian President Vladimir Putin. Alongside, the inaugural 2+2 ministerial meeting was also held. The meeting saw the signing of 28 agreements across sectors from defence to energy to space exploration, science and technology, heavy engineering, to trade and investment.
Indo-Russia relations: Crucial Significance for India
- Defence: The relations between India and Russia are one of “Special and Privileged Strategic Partnership” and the ongoing military contracts between the two sides will be maintained as the defence minister reiterated the same.
- Russia is the key and principal supplier of arms and armaments to the Indian armed forces accounting for over 60% of weapons.
- It comprises the whole gamut covering the Indian Army, Indian Air Force and Indian Navy. India recently inducted the S-400 Triumf missile systems.
- Sukhoi Su-30 fighter aircraft, T-90 tanks, and the Talwar and the Krivak class stealth frigates are key weapons in the armoury of the Indian armed forces.
- The India-Russia defence cooperation has evolved from a buyer-seller model to new areas of military-technical collaboration.
- The BrahMos missile system was a successful collaboration of joint research, development, and production. Science and technology, nuclear, energy, space have been key driving forces.
- Nuclear: Russia is an important partner in peaceful uses of nuclear energy and it recognizes India as a country with advanced nuclear technology with an impeccable non-proliferation record.
- Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant (KKNPP) is being built in India with Russian cooperation.
- India and Russia are also working on building nuclear plant in Bangladesh.
- Rooppur nuclear plant in Bangladesh will be constructed jointly with help of India.
- Maritime corridor: Chennai Vladivostok Maritime Corridor is a sea route covering approximately 5,600 nautical miles, or about 10,300 km, aimed at increasing bilateral trade between India and Russia.
- Despite India-China border aggression, be it during Doklam or Galwan clash, Russia never once made a statement against India despite their closeness to China. In all fairness, Russia would never want to play second fiddle to China.
- Make in India initiative has welcomed Russian companies from the public and private sectors. Russian firms have shown a willingness to invest in India in construction, major infrastructure projects such as dedicated freight corridors and industrial clusters, smart cities, and engineering services, sharing technologies and skills.
Glitches in India Russia relationship
- India’s growing proximity to the United States: Rapidly expanding ties and growing defence relationship between India and US and, India joining quadrilateral group led by the US has led to a strategic shift in Russia’s foreign policy.
- For Russia it has been a period of great hostility with West, thus pushing it to align with China.
- One-dimensional trade: Trade has been one-dimensional i.e. defence based. India-Russia trade was valued at the U.S.$10.11 billion in 2019–20, but is not a true reflection of the potential that can be harnessed.
- Leaning with China: Increasing strategic military relations between Russia China also impacted India Russia relations. Russia has sold advanced military technology to Beijing, endorsed China’s One Belt One Road.
- There has also been concern about Moscow leaning toward Beijing in forums like the BRICS.
- Distance and language barriers: With Afghanistan turmoil, the future of INSTC is in limbo. Easier routes to Russia can elevate energy cooperation. There is also language barrier that exists which hinders better partnership in energy and renewables.
Russia with its global status and presence presents a win-win situation for deeper cooperation. This relation between both countries has evolved with time, deepening the integration and widening the breadth of the relation. Finally, Buddhism can be an area where both countries can expand their interaction, where peace and sustainability can act as a balm in this turbulent world.
- Even as India is diversifying its defence trade partners, Russia still dominates the Indian defence inventory to the tune of about 60 per cent.
- Russia remains the only partner that is still willing to give India critical technologies, such as a nuclear submarine.
- Russia also reaffirmed its “unwavering support” to India for a permanent seat in an expanded UN Security Council.
- Russia expressed its support for India’s membership of the Nuclear Suppliers Group.
- Both countries have mutual benefits in supporting struggle against terrorism, Afghanistan, climate change; organisations like SCO, BRICS, G-20 and ASEAN.
General Studies – 3
9. Plastic waste is filling up our oceans and destroying marine life and even invading our food chain to get into our bodies. Examine the various measures to tackle plastic pollution in India. (250 words)
Reference: Insights on India
In 2019, the Union government in a bid to free India of single-use plastics by 2022, had laid out a multi-ministerial plan to discourage the use of single-use plastics across the country. In this direction, the Environment Ministry recently issued draft rules that mandate producers of plastic packaging material to collect all of their produce by 2024 and ensure that a minimum percentage of it be recycled as well as used in subsequent supply.
Plastic waste scenario in India
- According to the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), India generates close to 26,000 tonnes of plastic a day and over 10,000 tonnes a day of plastic waste remains uncollected.
- According to a Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI)study the plastic processing industry is estimated to grow to 22 million tonnes (MT) a year by 2020 from 13.4 MT in 2015 and nearly half of this is single-use plastic.
- India’s per capita plastic consumptionof less than 11 kg, is nearly a tenth of the United States of America (109 kg).
Impact of Plastic Waste
- Economic Losses:Plastic waste along shoreline has a negative impact on tourism revenue (creates an aesthetic issue).
- For example, the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, are under the plastic threat and facing the aesthetic issue because of the international dumping of plastic wasteat the island.
- Implications for Animals:Plastic wastes have profoundly affected animals in aquatic, marine, and terrestrial ecosystems.
- Plastic ingestionupsets or fills up the digestive systems of the animals thus contributing to their death due to intestinal blockage or starvation.
- Marine animals can also be trapped in plastic wastewhere they are exposed to predators or starve to death.
- The plastics may also contain toxic chemicalswhich can harm the animal’s vital organs or biological functions.
- Implications for Human Health:The chemicals leached from the plastics contain compounds, like polybrominated diphenyl ether (anti-androgen), bisphenol A (mimics the natural female hormone estrogen) and phthalates (also known as anti-androgens), impact human health leading to various hormonal and genetic disorders.
- These chemicals can interfere with the functioning of the endocrine systemand thyroid hormones and can be very destructive to women of reproductive age and young children.
- Land Pollution:Plastics leach hazardous chemicals on land, resulting in the destruction and decline in quality of the earth’s land surfaces in term of use, landscape and ability to support life forms.
- Air Pollution:Plastic burning releases poisonous chemicals into the atmosphere impacting general well-being and causing respiratory disorders in living beings.
- Groundwater Pollution:Whenever plastics are dumped in landfills, the hazardous chemicals present in them seep underground when it rains. The leaching chemicals and toxic elements infiltrate into the aquifers and water table, indirectly affecting groundwater quality.
- Water Pollution:Many lakes and oceans have reported alarming cases of plastic debris floating on water surfaces, affecting a great number of aquatic creatures. It leads to dreadful consequences to marine creatures that swallow the toxic chemicals. In 2014, United Nation report estimated the annual impact of plastic pollution on oceans at US$ 13 billion.
- Interference with the Food Chain:Studies determine that the chemicals affect the biological and reproduction process resulting in reduced numbers of offspring thus disrupting the food chain.
- When the smaller animals (planktons, mollusks, worms, fishes, insects, and amphibians) are intoxicated by ingesting plastic, they are passed on to the larger animals disrupting the interrelated connections within the food chain.
- Poor Drainage:Drainage system clogged with plastic bags, films, and other plastic items, causes flooding.
- Impact on Habitats:Seafloor plastic waste sheets could act like a blanket, inhibiting gas exchange and leading to anoxia or hypoxia (low oxygen levels) in the aquatic system, which in turn can adversely affect the marine life.
- Invasive Species:Plastic waste can also be a mode of transport for species, potentially increasing the range of certain marine organisms or introducing species into an environment where they were previously absent. This, in turn, can cause subsequent changes in the ecosystem of the region.
Measures taken so far to tackle plastic pollution
- In 2019, the Union government in a bid to free India of single-use plastics by 2022, had laid out a multi-ministerial plan to discourage the use of single-use plastics across the country.
- Currently, the Plastic Waste Management Rules, 2016, prohibits manufacture, import, stocking, distribution, sale and use of carry bags and plastic sheets less than 50 microns in thickness in the country.
- The Environment Ministry has notified the Plastic Waste Management Amendment Rules, 2021.
- These rules prohibit specific single-use plastic items which have “low utility and high littering potential” by 2022.
- The permitted thickness of the plastic bags, currently 50 microns, will be increased to 75 microns from 30th September, 2021, and to 120 microns from the 31st December, 2022.
- At the policy level, the concept of Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR), already mentioned under the 2016 Rules, has to be promoted.
- The Central Pollution Control Board, along with state pollution bodies, will monitor the ban,identify violations, and impose penalties already prescribed under the Environmental Protection Act, 1986.
- The Central Pollution Control Board has reported that 22 States have, in the past, announced a ban on single-use plastic, but this has had little impact on the crisis of waste choking wetlands and waterways and being transported to the oceans to turn into microplastic.
- So far, 22 States and Union Territories have joined the fight to beat the plastic pollution, announcing a ban on single-use plastics such as carry bags, cups, plates, cutlery, straws and thermocol products.
- India has also won global acclaim for its “Beat Plastic Pollution” resolve declared on World Environment Day last year, under which it pledged to eliminate single-use plastic by 2022.
- As consumers, we should ensure that all plastic waste leaving our homes is segregated and is not contaminated with food waste.
- Managing plastic waste requires effective knowledge, not only among those who produce the plastic but also among those who handle it.
- The brand owner and manufacturer should try and understand the fates a plastic packaging material would meet after its purpose of packaging has been served.
- Citizens have to bring behavioural change and contribute by not littering and helping in waste segregation and waste management.
- To encourage innovation in development of alternatives to identified single use plastic items and digital solutions to plastic waste management, the India Plastic Challenge – Hackathon 2021, has been organized for students of Higher Educational Institutions and start-ups recognized under Start-up India Initiative.
The pressure on producers to streamline the collection, recycling and processing of all forms of plastic is bound to grow. Individuals and organizations should now actively remove plastic waste from their surroundings and municipal bodies must arrange to collect these articles. Startups and industries should think of newer ways of recycling plastic.
Reference: The Hindu
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.
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.
- 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.
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.
- 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).