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[Mission 2022] Insights SECURE SYNOPSIS: 2 June 2022

 

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: Salient features of world’s physical geography.

1. Examine the various factors influencing spatial variation of rainfall. How does air pollution impact rainfall patterns in India? (250 words) (250 words)

Difficulty level: Easy

Reference: Insights on India

Why the question:

The question is part of the static syllabus of General studies paper – 1.

Key Demand of the question:

To write about factors affecting rainfall and impact of air pollution.

Directive word: 

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 by giving the factors that affect rainfall over an area.

Body:

In the first part write about the factors controlling the distribution of rainfall over the earth’s surface are the belts of converging-ascending air flow (see doldrums; polar front), air temperature, moisture-bearing winds, ocean currents, distance inland from the coast, and mountain ranges.

Next, Explain the change in pattern of rainfall – the erratic behaviour of monsoon rainfall, including the phenomenon of concentrated heavy rainfall on a small number of days, could, at least in part, be attributed to the rising air pollution. Explain that excess aerosols, suspended solid particles like dust, smoke and industrial effluents, in the atmosphere is changing cloud patterns.

Conclusion:

Conclude by writing a way forward to mitigate the above.

Introduction

As temperatures increase, the amount of water vapour in the atmosphere increases and the temporal and spatial distributions of precipitation change, resulting in large precipitation differences in different regions of the world. Spatial variation of rainfall can be influenced by many factors like for instance elevation, slope, aspect and prevailing wind directions. This depends on the geographical and climatological characteristics of the area.

Body

Factors influencing spatial variation of rainfall

Factors controlling the distribution of rainfall over the earth’s surface are the belts of converging-ascending air flow ( doldrums; polar front), air temperature, moisture-bearing winds, ocean currents, distance inland from the coast, and mountain ranges.

  • Ascending air is cooled by expansion, which results in the formation of clouds and the production of rain.
  • Conversely, in the broad belts of descending air ( horse latitudes) are found the great desert regions of the earth, descending air being warmed by compression and consequently absorbing instead of releasing moisture.
    • If the temperature is low, the air has a small moisture capacity and is able to produce little precipitation.
  • When winds blow over the ocean, especially over areas of warm water (where evaporation of moisture into the air is active) toward a given coastal area, that area receives more rainfall than a similar area where the winds blow from the interior toward the oceans.
  • Areas near the sea receive more rain than inland regions, since the winds constantly lose moisture and may be quite dry by the time they reach the interior of a continent.
  • The windward slopes of mountain ranges generally receive heavy rainfall; the leeward slopes receive almost no rain.
    • The southwest coast of Chile, the west coast of Canada, and the northwest coast of the United States receive much rain because they are struck by the moisture-bearing westerlies from the Pacific and are backed by mountains that force the winds to rise and drop their moisture.
    • The territories immediately east of the regions mentioned are notably dry.
  • EL-NINO: EI-Nino is a complex weather system that appears once every three to seven years, bringing drought, floods and other weather extremes to different parts of the world.
    • The system involves oceanic and atmospheric phenomena with the appearance of warm currents off the coast of Peru in the Eastern Pacific and affects weather in many places including India.

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

With climate change and changing rainfall patterns predicting weather and climate has become a challenging task. Rainfall patterns need more research especially with the looming danger of climate change. World over, people are dependent on rains for various activities including food security. Hence more research and better prediction models are needed to under rainfall patterns today.

 

 


General Studies – 2


 

Topic: Indian Constitution—historical underpinnings, evolution, features, amendments, significant provisions and basic structure.

2. Is it time to revisit the criteria for special category status (SCS) and include others into this exclusive category by excluding those who do not need such assistance any longer? Critically 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 – 2.

Key Demand of the question:

To write about performance of SCS and need to revisit the criteria of SCS.

Directive word: 

Critically 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. When ‘critically’ is suffixed or prefixed to a directive, one needs to look at the good and bad of the topic and give a balanced judgment on the topic.

Structure of the answer:

Introduction: 

Begin by mentioning the aims and objectives behind the grant of SCS.

Body:

First, mention the various criteria on which SCS is granted to states that face geographical and socio-economic disadvantages. Mention the various benefits associated with it.

Next, analyse the performance of states granted SCS over the years. With facts and examples write as to what extent they befitted from the grant of SCS. Mention the drawbacks of grant of SCS.

Next, write about the changes needed in the SCS categorisation and steps required for the same.

Conclusion:

Conclude by giving a balanced opinion about SCS.

Introduction

Special Category Status (SCS) a classification given by the Centre to assist development of states that face geographical and socio-economic disadvantages. This classification was done on the recommendations of the Fifth Finance Commission in 1969. It was based on the Gadgil formula.

Body

Background: Objectives of SCS and reasons for implementation

  • The concept of a special category status was first introduced in 1969 when the fifth Finance Commission sought to provide certain disadvantaged states with preferential treatment in the form of central assistance and tax breaks, establishing special development boards, reservation in local government jobs, educational institutions, etc.
  • This formula was named after the then Deputy Chairman of the Planning Commission, Dr Gadgil Mukherjee and is related to the transfer of assistance to the states by centre under various schemes.
  • Initially, three states; Assam, Nagaland and Jammu & Kashmir were granted special status but from 1974-1979, five more states were added under the special category. These include Himachal Pradesh, Manipur, Meghalaya, Sikkim and Tripura.
  • In 1990, with the addition of Arunachal Pradesh and Mizoram, the states increased to 10. The state of Uttarakhand was given special category status in 2001.
  • But after the dissolution of the planning commission and the formation of NITI Aayog, the recommendations of the 14th Finance Commission were implemented which meant the discontinuation of the Gadgil formula-based grants.

Various criteria on which SCS is granted

  • The rationale for special status is that certain states, because of inherent features, have a low resource base and cannot mobilize resources for development.
  • The state which is facing the problem of resources crunch must get the benefit.
  • Main key criteria are:
    • Low per capita income
    • Non-viable nature of state finances
    • Economic and infrastructural backwardness
    • Presence of sizeable tribal population
    • Hilly and difficult terrain
    • Strategic location along international borders
    • Low population density
  • Must be economically backward with poor infrastructure.

 

Performance of states granted SCS over the years

  • States which are granted special category status enjoy several benefits.
  • These include :
    • Preferential treatment in getting central funds
    • Concession on excise duty to attract industries to the state
    • A significant 30% of the centre’s gross budget also goes special category states
    • These states can avail the benefit of debt-swapping and debt relief schemes
  • In the case of Centrally Sponsored Schemes and external aid, Special Category States get it in the ratio of 90% as grant, and 10% as loans.
  • Other states, however, get 30% of their funds as grants f) Special Category States also get tax breaks to attract investment
  • A Special Category Status catalyses the inflow of private investments and generates employment and additional revenue for the state.
    • Besides, the State can create more welfare-based schemes from the new savings since the Center bears 90% of the expenditure on all Centrally Sponsored Schemes.
    • Further, more grants from the Center helps in building state infrastructure and social-sector projects.
  • The Constitution of India does not include any provision for the categorization of any state as a Special Category Status state.
    • However, in the past, Central Planned Assistance were given to certain states on the ground that they are historically disadvantaged in comparison to others.

Issues with SCS status

  • 14th Finance Commission recommendation: The Commission did away with the ‘special category’ status for states, except for the North-eastern and three hill states.
  • NDA government which came to power at the Centre in 2014 has been saying that the 14th Finance Commission doesn’t provide for such treatment to Andhra Pradesh.
  • The Constitution never mentioned it: The commission appears to have been guided by the fact that the Constitution never categorized some states as special, treating all of them on an equal footing.
  • No power to allocate funds: the NITI Aayog, which has replaced the Planning Commission, has no powers to allocate funds. Therefore, the discretion that the ruling party at the Centre had to dole out special favors to states through the Plan panel, no longer exists.

Measures needed

  • The Constitution of India does not include any provision for the categorization of any state in India as a ‘special category state.
  • However, a wide range of provisions are available to as many as 10 states that have been listed under Articles 371, 371-A to 371-H, and 371-J.
  • Some of these states are Maharashtra and Gujarat, Nagaland, Assam, Manipur, Andhra Pradesh, Sikkim, Mizoram, Arunachal Pradesh and Telangana.
  • Moreover, if states are in need of additional support, Centre may give a special package on case-to-case basis.

Conclusion

The intention behind these provisions is to safeguard the interest and aspirations of certain backward regions or to protect cultural and economic interests of the tribal people or to deal with the disturbed law and order in some parts. However, such categorisation leads to States playing victim card for ulterior motives as well. Hence, special packages to states based on merit can be a good way forward. An independent committee with statutory backing and executive powers with representation from states and centre may make a recommendation in this regard.

 

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

3. While gig work has become a necessity for both the workers and the platforms hiring them, regulation of the gig work remains vital to ensure that these classes of workers are given the same opportunities and protections as other employees covered under various labour laws in India. Comment. (250 words)

Difficulty level: Moderate

Reference: The Hindu

Why the question:

Concerned at the lack of job and social security among gig and platform workers, the Centre has decided to train officials of Central and State Governments on the technological change, new forms of employment, working conditions, and the mechanisms to protect labour and social security rights of these workers.

Key Demand of the question:

To write about the need to ensure and protect rights of gig workers.

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 defining gig workers and present a statistic regarding the number of gig workers in the Indian economy.

Body:

In the first talk about the ambiguity in gig economy which results in the exploitation of gig workers – lack of formal employer-employee relationship, remuneration, rigidity of working hours and the working conditions etc.

Next, write about the benefits of regulating the gig economy.

Conclusion:

Conclude by writing a way forward.

Introduction

According to the Oxford Internet Institute’s ‘Online Labor Index’, India leads the global gig economy with a 24% share of the online labor market. A gig economy is a free market system in which temporary positions are common and organizations contract with independent workers for short-term engagements Examples of gig employees in the workforce could include freelancers, independent contractors, project-based workers and temporary or part-time hires.

 

Body

Issues faced by gig economy workers

  • This workforce has limited employment rights like minimum wages, health benefits, sick leaves or even retirement benefits to fall back on.
  • Also, the payment is assured only on the completion of the project giving a sense of financial insecurity.
  • The lack of any kind of protection was also deterring several talented workers against participating in the economy
  • No stable and secure employment: These so-called jobs do not provide health insurance, nor pay for overtime with no sick leave.
  • Lack of income security: There is no room for wage negotiations, and unions are absent. In the gig economy, job creation should be seen as the provision of livelihoods for entrepreneurs.
  • Grievance redressal mechanism: For instance, when Ola and Uber started cutting back incentives, the drivers in Mumbai decided to go on ‘strike’.
    • But there was no clarity against whom they were striking. When the strikers agitated at a local transport commissioner’s office, he had to tell them that he did not regulate the hail-a-taxi business.
  • The Central government recently passed the social security code which could cover gig worker as well.
  • One of the key proposals includes the creation of a social security fund which is around 1 per cent of the aggregators’ annual turnover.
  • This fund would be used primarily for the welfare of the unorganized and the gig workforce

 

Regulation of gig economy

  • Constant upskilling and reskilling is required for such talents to stay industry relevant and market ready.
  • A categorical clarification could ensure that social security measures are provided to workers without compromising the touted qualities of platform work.
  • Countries must come together to set up a platform to extend their labour protection to the workforce who are working part-time in their country.
  • Companies employing the workforce on a temporary basis should also be made responsible to contribute to their insurance and social obligation other than just their tax commitment.
  • There is a need for a socio-legal acknowledgement of the heterogeneity of work in the gig economy, and the ascription of joint accountability to the State and platform companies for the delivery of social services.
  • In the Code on Social Security, 2020, platform workers are now eligible for benefits. Actualising these benefits will depend on the political will at the Central and State government-levels and how unions elicit political support.

 

Way forward

  • The government needs to come out with some more regulations to protect the workforce of the gig economy.
  • Also, at present, there is no mechanism to address the issue of redress of disputes.
  • It could also mean countries coming together to set up a platform to extend their labour protection to the workforce who are working part-time in their country.
  • Companies employing the workforce on a temporary basis should also be made responsible to contribute to their insurance and social obligation other than just their tax commitment.

 

Conclusion

The scope of the gig economy in a country like India is enormous. The government needs to come out with a comprehensive legislation to empower and motivate many to take this path. The gig economy and its workforce cannot be overlooked when we talk about the future of employment.

With a population of over 1.3 billion, and a majority of them below the age of 35, relying on the “gig economy” is perhaps the only way to create employment for a large semi-skilled and unskilled workforce. Therefore, it is important to hand-hold this sector and help it grow. We need policies and processes that give clarity to the way the sector should function.

Value addition

Statistics

  • Human resources firm TeamLease estimates that 13 lakh Indians joined the gig economy in the last half of 2018-19, registering a 30% growth compared to the first half of the fiscal year.
  • Better Place, a digital platform that does background verification and skill development in the informal sector, estimates that of the 21 lakh jobs that will be created in the metros in 2019-20, 14 lakh will be in the gig economy.
  • Food and e-commerce delivery will account for 8 lakh positions and drivers will account for nearly 6 lakh positions, says the report, based on 11 lakh profiles in over 1,000 companies.
  • Delhi, Bengaluru and other metros are expected to be the biggest drivers of this sector. And two-thirds of this workforce will be under the age of 40.

 

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

4. Awarding of death penalty and its sentencing needs a relook in the light of recent supreme court judgement. Elaborate. (250 words)

Difficulty level: Tough

Reference: The Hindu

Why the question:

The Court’s recent judgment in Manoj and Ors. vs State of MP seeks to address this long ignored yet critical aspect of death penalty sentencing.

Key Demand of the question: 

To write about the reforms needed in awarding and sentencing of capital punishment.

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: 

Start giving the awarding of capital punishment in ‘rarest of rare’ case.

Body:

First, write about the various developments regarding capital punishment over the years – Bachan Singh vs State of Punjab, context death penalty.

Next, write about the various lacunae in the awarding of death penalty in Indian criminal justice.

Next, suggest reforms based on recent SC judgement and various recommendations of commissions.

Conclusion:

Conclude by writing a way forward.

Introduction

Capital punishment also called as death penalty is the execution of an offender sentenced to death after conviction by a court of law. The debate on whether to abolish the death penalty or not, has been raging in India and in several other countries for decades.

Body

Background

  • The Supreme Court’s recent judgment in Manoj and Ors. vs State of MPseeks to address this long-ignored yet critical aspect of death penalty sentencing.
  • This specific attempt in Manoj must be seen with the Court’s apparent discomfort over the last year with procedural unfairness in sentencing being carried out by the lower courts.

Rationale behind death penalty

  • The punishment is not arbitrarybecause, it comes out of a judicial process. To call it arbitrary, one has to necessarily prove the process as flawed.
  • It is being implemented in the “rarest of the rare” casesand the fact is during the last 13 years, only four people have been executed.
  • The hanging of Ajmal Kasab and Yakub Memon strongly affirms India’s commitment to the protection of life.
  • People criticise it on arbitrariness, irreversibility and human rightsand these are not valid arguments.
  • Its constitutionality is upheld, even in liberal democracies like U.S. It is not reflection of uncivilised society.
  • India’s neighbourhood is not peaceful, unlike Scandinavia. It is not in a group of countries, like European Union.
  • India has got troubled borders. Several forces are trying to destabilise the very idea of our Nation from across the Border.
  • The sacredness of life can only be seen to be protected, if those who take it away are proportionately punished.

Efficiency of death penalty

  • A study by the Centre of Death Penalty – at the National Law University Delhi (NLUD) — in 2015 analyzed data of 15 years to conclude that less than 5 per cent death penalties awarded by trial courts were confirmed by the time the cases passed the tests in high courts and the Supreme Court.
  • Another NLU Delhi study found that 162 death sentences were awarded across the country in 2018. Only 23 were confirmed by the high courts.
  • The Supreme Court heard 12 death penalty cases in 2018 but confirmed death penalty in only one case – of Nirbhaya gangrape and murder.
  • The Justice JS Verma committee, appointed after the Nirbhaya case, too had examined the efficiency of death penalty for rape. In its report, Justice Verma did not prescribe death penalty for rape for the lack of correlation in preventing the crime of rape or gangrape.

Death Penalty is not the panacea

  • It unfairly targets poor and marginalised, that means, those without money & power.
  • Executions occurred in around five cases for every 1 lakh murdersand it looks quite arbitrary. It depends on judges personal beliefs.
  • India’s murder rate has declinedcontinuously since 1991 and at present the lowest, except for 1963.
  • Punishment should not imitate crime.
  • As per the recent Death Penalty India Report by the National Law University, Delhi, the structural flaws in our criminal procedure and criminal justice system are most pronounced in death penalty cases.
  • Most of the civilised world abolished it. Death penalty has not deterred terrorism, murder or even theft.
  • From 200-2015, Supreme Court imposed 60 death sentencesand subsequently admitted that it had erred in 15 of them. So, it clearly admitted that it has arbitrarily imposed the most extreme punishment.
  • The Police is not known for its probity or efficiencyin our Country.
  • Delays in the Criminal Justice Systemdisproportionately affects those, who suffer the tyranny of the uncertainty of their life.

Measures needed

  • Law Commission in its 262nd report submitted recently recommended the abolition of capital punishment for all crimes in India, except the crime of waging war against the nation or for terrorism-related offences.
  • It cited several factors to justify abolishing the death penalty, including its abolition by 140 other nations, its arbitrary and flawed application and its lack of any proven deterring effect on criminals.
  • Taking empirical lessons from the fate of Bachan Singh, the Supreme Court may have to now ask the more fundamental question posed and negatived in Bachan Singh — the question of the constitutional validity of death penalty.
  • The Court may have to revisit Bachan Singh itself in so far as it refused to declare the death penalty as violative of the right to life envisaged under Article 21 of the Constitution.
  • Across the world, 108 nations have abolished death penalty in law and 144 countries have done so in law or practice, according to the Amnesty Report of 2021.
  • In the Indian context, where judgmental error is quite frequent and the quality of adjudication is not ensured, what is required is a judicial abolition of death penalty.

Conclusion

As Law Commission said that it is the not right time of abolition experiment, the issue needs to be debated  and  researched  in  more  detail.  But,  capital  punishment  should  not  become  a  pent-up  of  society’s misplaced anger and sense of judgment. It is also against the reformative purpose of the Criminal Justice System and we must remember the words of Oscar Wilde, “Every saint has a past and every sinner a future.”

 

 


General Studies – 3


 

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

5. As the economy recovers from the impact of the pandemic, a coordinated policy response – fiscal, monetary, trade and industry – will be required for balancing the multiple macroeconomic policy objectives and achieve even growth. Analyse. (250 words)

Difficulty level: Moderate

Reference: Indian Express

Why the question:

At 8.7 per cent, the National Statistical Office’s latest estimate for GDP growth in 2021-22, while marginally lower than the 8.95 per cent projected in late February, is quite good given the headwinds the economy faced.

Key Demand of the question:

To write about the policy response to ensure even growth in all sectors in post pandemic recovery.

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 context and cite statistic to substantiate the same.

Body:

First, write in detail about the various issues that led to uneven growth in the post pandemic recovery– inflation, uneven focus, lack of coordination, disproportionate impact of pandemic on various sectors etc.

Next, write about the coordinated policy response that is needed in order to overcome the same. Mention the various components of fiscal, monetary, trade and industry which should be part of the response.

Conclusion:

Conclude with a way forward.

Introduction

Pandemic shattered the upward growth of Indian economy, even though economic slow-down had seeped in even before covid-19 hit the world. At 8.7 per cent, the National Statistical Office’s latest estimate for GDP growth in 2021-22, while marginally lower than the 8.95 per cent projected in late February, is quite good given the headwinds the economy faced. The slower growth in 2021-22 was due to a downward revision of the estimates in the first two quarters of the year. However, these numbers need to be interpreted carefully, given the base effects of a 6.6 per cent contraction in 2020-21

Body

Coordinated policy response is the need of the hour

  • Managing the Elevated Inflation Levels: India is at the risk of inflation; it is at an elevated level which is why the RBI has been conservative.
    • India has to walk on a very fine line balancing the growth imperatives and inflation
    • The RBI has also adopted a policy to support economic growth.
    • It has increased the limit of ways and means advances to the states and has allowed them to borrow more amounts from the RBI.
  • Role of Government Policies: The growth projection also depends upon policies adopted by the government, especially the fiscal policy and monetary policies.
    • So far India has proved to adopt such policies more wisely as compared to other countries.
    • India implemented massive economic reforms in the year 2020 (Atmanirbhar Abhiyan) when the pandemic was at its peak.
    • Also, India has freed up a lot of sectors from the over regulation by the government interference which will be fruitful in better and faster economic growth.
  • Address the issues facing agricultural sector: It will have a direct impact on the welfare of nearly half the country’s workforce, increase in domestic demand, reduce the rural-urban earnings gap, migration, informality and unemployment, and therefore lead to better working conditions in the cities and a fall in commodity prices and reduced inflationary pressures.
  • Targeted Programmes for Employment Generation: Programmes like Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme must be reformed to ensure that rural unemployed find adequate employment on a more sustainable basis and there are increased opportunities for women and other socially disadvantaged groups.
  • Education and Skill Development: Government must ensure that the education, training and skill development system is aligned with the changing requirements of the economy.
    • It includes measures to integrate vocational education with formal education (NEP 2020), ensure greater participation of the private sector in skill development and wider use of the apprenticeship programmes by all enterprises.

Way forward

  • The government must spend where necessary at this time to alleviate the pain in the most troubled areas of the economy.
  • Announcing a credible target for the country’s consolidated debt over the next five years coupled with the setting up of an independent fiscal council to put forward on the quality of the budget would be very useful steps.
  • Budgetary resources can be expanded through asset sales, including parts of government enterprises and surplus government land.

Conclusion

India as the fifth largest economy in the world has to focus on growth recovery that is more sustainable and by just drawing satisfaction from just the growth numbers would not do much. India is slowly but surely on the path to economic recovery and investment is the way to sustain this growth momentum.

 

Topic: Infrastructure: Energy, Ports, Roads, Airports, Railways etc.

6. Biomass being a product of natural resources viz. land, water, air and sun’s energy, gives much hope as an alternative, reliable and renewable source of energy. Discuss. (250 words)

Difficulty level: Moderate

Reference: Down to Earth

Why the question:

Biomass-based electricity is gaining attention of regulators and policy makers, as the country moves towards power generation that is not carbon-intensive. A new technology introduced this year that accommodates all kinds of agricultural residue to be used as fuel can be cost-effective, greener and help reduce the burden of stubble.

Key Demand of the question: 

To write about the importance of biomass energy in India’s energy security and clean energy objectives.

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: 

Begin by defining and mentioning various components of biomass energy.

Body:

First, write about the scenario of biomass energy in India and cite statistics.

Next, write about the advantages offered by biomass energy – Biomass is always and widely available as a renewable source of energy, carbon neutral, reduces the overreliance of fossil fuels and less expensive than fossil fuels etc.

Next, write about the various steps taken to harness biomass energy and suggest measures that are further needed in this regard.

Conclusion:

Conclude by writing a way forward.

Introduction

Biomass is plant or animal material used as fuel to produce electricity or heat. Examples are wood, energy crops and waste from forests, yards, or farms. Biomass has always been an important energy source for the country considering the benefits it offers. The biomass materials used for power generation include bagasse, rice husk, straw, cotton stalk, coconut shells, soya husk, de-oiled cakes, coffee waste, jute wastes, groundnut shells, sawdust, etc.

Biomass-based energy is gaining attention of regulators and policy makers, as the country moves towards power generation that is not carbon-intensive.

Body

Scenario of biomass energy in India

  • About 32% of the total primary energy use in the country is still derived from biomass and more than 70% of the country’s population depends upon it for its energy needs.
  • As on 30.06.2021, a total capacity of 10170 MW has been installed in Biomass Power and Cogeneration Sector.
  • India has achieved the target of 10 gigawatts of biomass power before 2022 with the present installed capacity of 10.17 GW of biomass power.
  • However, unlike the solar and wind power targets, the central government has no plans to scale up the biomass power and cogeneration target for 2030, even as the sector has potential.

Potential

  • As per a recent study sponsored by MNRE, the current availability of biomass in India is estimated at about 750 million metric tonnes per year.
  • The Study indicated estimated surplus biomass availability at about 230 million metric tonnes per annum covering agricultural residues corresponding to a potential of about 28 GW.
  • This apart, about 14 GW additional power could be generated through bagasse based cogeneration in the country’s 550 Sugar mills, if these sugar mills were to adopt technically and economically optimal levels of cogeneration for extracting power from the bagasse produced by them.

Advantages offered by biomass energy

  • Meet energy demand: Bioenergy can help to meet the growing demand for energy within
    the country, especially in rural areas. Nearly 25% of its primary energy comes from biomass resources and close to 70% of rural population depend on biomass to meet their daily energy needs. Biomass can further help in meeting rural energy demands.
  • Climate change mitigation: Bioenergy provides important benefits compared to fossil fuels, in particular regarding GHG emissions. Biomass recycles carbon from the air and spares the use of fossil fuels, reducing the additional fossil carbon from the ground into the atmosphere.
  • Market growth: The market for renewable energy systems in rural and urban markets in India is set to grow exponentially. Despite this, bioenergy does not figure in most energy studies and is classified as ‘non-commercial’ energy. Plants like Jatropha, Neem and other wild plants are identified as the potential sources for biodiesel production in India.
  • Waste to energy: Biofuels can augment waste to wealth creation. Being a derivative of renewable biomass resources such as plastic, municipal solid waste, forestry residues, agricultural wastes, surplus food grains etc. it has huge potential to help the country achieve the renewable energy goal of 175 GW.
  • Income generation: Adopting biofuels as an alternative source of energy can significantly improve farmers’ income, generate employment opportunities etc.
  • Reduce imports:India’s energy demands met by imports are about 46.13% of total primary energy consumption. Bioenergy can help in reducing these imports and boost India’s energy security and self-reliance.

Various steps taken to harness biomass energy

  • 10 GW national target: Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) has set the national target is to achieve 10 GW of installed biomass power by 2022.
  • National Policy on Biofuels: The policy is aimed at taking forward the indicative target of achieving 20% blending of biofuels with fossil-based fuels by 2030.
  • Policy for biomass and bagasse cogeneration:MNRE has further developed a policy for biomass and bagasse cogeneration that will help in meeting India’s energy demands. It includes financial incentives and subsidies, both for biomass projects and sugar mills that use this technology.
  • Fiscal Incentives: Government gives 10 years Income tax holidays. Concessional customs and excise duty exemption for machinery and components for initial setting up of Biomass power projects. General sales tax exemption is available in certain States.
  • Waste to energy projects: Waste to energy projects are also being set up for generation of energy from urban, industrial and agricultural waste such as vegetable and other market wastes, slaughterhouse waste, agricultural residues and industrial wastes & effluents.
  • National Biomass Repository:MNRE also plans on creating a ‘National Biomass Repository’ through a nation-wide appraisal program which will help ensure availability of biofuels produced from domestic feedstock

Way forward

  • Utilising wastelands: There are about 63 million ha waste land in the country, out of which about 40 million ha area can be developed by undertaking plantations of Jatropha.
  • Reducing capital costs: Efforts must be made for reduction in the capital cost of biogas plants, development of materials and techniques.
  • Institutional support:Establishing institutional support for programme formulation and implementation is important to utilise established energy mechanisms.
  • Development of second-generation bi-fuels:Government must support and promote development of second-generation bio-fuels and related applications.
  • Establishing standards:It is important to lay down standards for various bio-energy components, products and systems.

Conclusion

Biomass in Indian energy matrix is very important for remote villages. Even with decades of experience in managing biomass power, still there exists lots of gaps in the supply chain. The main scope for interventions are in collection, improving design and engineering aspects, conducting feasibility studies and focused research and development.

 

 


General Studies – 4


 

Topic: ethical concerns and dilemmas in government and private institutions;

7. With the continuing decline in people’s trust in public authorities, the fight against nepotism and the need to ensure impartial recruitment procedures have never been so important. Discuss. (150 words)

Difficulty level: Moderate

Why the question:

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

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 by defining nepotism.

Body:

First, mention the various way in nepotism affects public administration – conflict in the work place, low staff morale, loss of competent employees, use of the job to carry out unethical acts etc.

Next, mention how nepotism can be avoided in administration. Cite examples to substantiate.

Conclusion:

Conclude by summarising.

Introduction

Nepotism and favouritism at local and regional level can hinder the effectiveness and efficiency of local public service delivery, diminish public trust and damage the perception that local and regional public authorities are serving the interests of their constituents.

As public trust levels in public institutions are often linked to the quality and performance of their staff, sound human resources management practices need to be put in place, to ensure that local and regional administrations hire the people who are best suited, qualified and motivated.

Body

Background

  • Since the days of Plato and Aristotle, the distinctive feature that differentiates good from bad governance has been the prevalence of public over the private interests.
  • Corruption related activities, such as favouritism, nepotism and abuse of power, can affect virtually all human resource activities, with recruitment, promotion, training and transfer of staff being among the most vulnerable ones.
  • The risks of buying and selling positions, appointing and promoting friends, relatives and party affiliates, are particularly high when the positions are considered lucrative, or provide opportunities for illicit enrichment and/or when unemployment rates are high and public service positions can bring stability of income and a range of other benefits.
  • In such situations, the existence of high discretionary powers, combined with lack of strong accountability systems, checks and balances and weak transparency mechanisms serve as enablers that facilitate corrupt practices.

Fight against nepotism and ensuring impartial recruitment

The establishment of merit-based recruitment and promotion policies, merit-based appraisal systems and performance management, transparent and attractive pay and an efficient system of internal controls come to play a vital role in preventing corruption. Steps needed in this regard are as follows:

  • The elaboration of job profiles/descriptions, clearly indicating the requirements and qualifications needed from the job holder;
  • Transparency in advertising open positions;
  • Clear and transparent procedures for selection;
  • Clear and transparent appointment/selection criteria;
  • The provision of evidences, confirming the qualifications of the successful candidates;
  • The inclusion of unambiguous terms and conditions of service in the job contracts/appointments;
  • Establishing a remuneration that corresponds to the duties and responsibilities of the post;
  • Establishing a system for annual performance appraisals for determination of effectiveness, training needs, career progression and promotion
  • Preventing conflict of interest:
    • Public officials should not be involved in any recruitment and selection procedures that question their impartiality;
    •  Family members cannot be in a situation where one is the direct supervisor of the other;
    • Any conflict of interests of a candidate for the position of public official should be resolved before the appointment.

Conclusion

Given that public confidence levels and corruption perceptions are determined by the quality and the performance of the employees working in each particular institution, the establishment of sound human resources management practices, ensuring that local and regional administrations hire the people who are best suited, qualified and motivated, is of utmost importance for underpinning public trust and fighting corruption. Such practices serve ‘as a steward of democracy’


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