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[Mission 2023] Insights SECURE SYNOPSIS: 30 September 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: Social empowerment

1. Examine as to how the practise of manual scavenging is rooted in caste. What lessons can we learn from Mahatma Gandhi and Dr B.R Ambedkar’s life in order to end this inhuman practice?  (250 words)

Difficulty level: Tough

Reference: The Hindu

Why the question:

Bezwada Wilson, 56, born in Kolar to manual scavenger parents, has dedicated his life to the cause of eradicating the demeaning practice in India. He leads the Safai Karmachari Andolan, a movement for and with sanitation workers, women, men and children, whose social background and economic marginality push them into a type of labour that should have been eliminated long ago.

Key Demand of the question:

To write about the caste discrimination and its role in the practice of manual scavenging and lessons from life of Gandhi and Ambedkar to eliminate this practice.

Directive:

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 context.

Body:

First, Present few facts about manual scavenging in the country and its association with caste system. Explain why it is more of a social evil in our country. Discuss the efforts of the government to curb such a system and highlight the lacunae in the measures taken by the government.

Next, write about lessons we can take from the life of Mahatma Gandhi and Dr B.R Ambedkar to put an end to this practice.

Conclusion:

Conclude by writing a way forward.

Introduction

Manual scavenging refers to the practice of manually cleaning, carrying, disposing or handling in any manner, human excreta from dry latrines and sewers. The practice of manual scavenging is linked to India’s caste system where so-called lower castes were expected to perform this job. Manual scavengers are amongst the poorest and most disadvantaged communities in India.

Body

Background

  • Manual scavenging is violative of Article 21 of the Indian Constitutionthat guarantees ‘Right to live life with dignity’.
  • The Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation (Amendment) Bill, 2020proposes to completely mechanise sewer cleaning, introduce ways for ‘on-site’ protection and provide compensation to manual scavengers in case of sewer deaths.
    • It is still awaiting cabinet approval.

Manual scavenging: Rooted in caste

  • Caste leads to the division of labour as well as labourers. Dalits often face discrimination when seeking employmentin sectors that are considered “pure”.
    • Manual scavenging or cleaning of dry latrines, for instance, is a job that the Dalit classes have been burdened with.
  • They are expected to carry loads of human excrement, and clear sewage for little or no income. They aretrapped in a vicious cycle of poverty and social exclusion.
  • Although banned under the Prohibition of Employment of Manual Scavengers Act, 2013, the inhumane exercise still continues.
    • According to government data, 97% of manual scavengers are Dalits– about 42,594 manual scavengers belong to SCs, 421 belong to STs and 431 belong to OBCs.
  • The statistics are a disturbing reminder of our collective failure to rise above caste linesand provide dignity of labour to all.

 

Lessons from Mahatma Gandhi and Dr Ambedkar: Ending manual scavenging

  • Gandhi tried to bring about change through moral betterment, while Ambedkar looked for systemic reform
  • Gandhi insisted that everyone clean latrines in his ashram. He did not make exceptions for family and friends, nor any exemptions on grounds of caste, age and religion.
  • Babasaheb was the only one to advocate that Dalits, especially women, must absolutely abandon manual scavenging, that there is no justification for it.
  • Many may have tried to claim dignity of labour in manual scavenging, or argued that it is a necessary part of human life in any social structure.Ambedkar took the veneer of respectability off this horrible practice.

Way forward

  • Implementation of Existing Welfare Policies:The government’s response reflects a deep sense of apathy. It needs to realise that denial only contributes to the delay in solving the problem. Sewer deaths are still a reality.
    • India is still a long way from the rehabilitation of manual scavengers. The government scheme provides for one-time cash assistance of Rs 40,000, skill development training, and capital subsidyfor self-employed projects.
    • Effective implementation of these schemes is needed.
  • Stringent and Integrated Laws:If a law creates a statutory obligation to provide sanitation services on the part of state agencies, it will create a situation in which the rights of these workers will not hang in the air.
    • As of now, the provisions for punishment are both weakand more importantly, as highlighted by activists, there have been next to no serious legal proceedings against people and organisations accused of engaging workers for manual scavenging.
    • There are demands by activists that thelaw needs to be read along with the SC & ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989 in order to strengthen it.
  • Behavioural Change:To address the social sanction behind manual scavenging, it is required first to acknowledge and then understand how and why manual scavenging continues to be embedded in the caste system.
    • It is important to understand that manual scavenging is not just a problem of technologyor financial assistance but also of social prejudice.
    • The state must accept the role of caste and should actively solve it. We must show impatience and a sense of urgency and should not make equality, justice and the dignity of labour wait any longer.
  • Social Awareness:To end the problem of Manual Scavenging, it is obsessively necessary to work from the core of the problem. Lack of skills for doing another job and discrimination from the society itself are the reason they all are engaged in such kind of occupations.
    • It is a collective responsibilityof the governments at all levels, NGOs, health officers and social communities to create awareness among the manual scavenger community regarding health issues, hygiene practices, and sanitization processes.
    • The general public should also be made aware of legal implicationsregarding employment of manual scavenging.

Conclusion

Work is fundamental to how we realise our destiny in this world, to provide economically for oneself and one’s family is central to dignity — a lack of it leads to alienation and stunted human growth.

 


General Studies – 2


 

Topic: Important International institutions, agencies and fora- their structure, mandate.

2. The Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCOs) purpose is increasingly in question, considering the fact that there are serious internal disagreements and suspicions within the group. Analyse. (250 words)

Difficulty level: Moderate

Reference: Insights on India

Why the question:

The question is part of the static syllabus (Revision) of General studies paper – 2 and mentioned as part of Mission-2023 Secure timetable.

Key Demand of the question:

To write about the issues in SCO and its impact on the overall efficacy of the organisation.

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 writing about aims and objectives of SCO.

Body:

In the first part, write about the various disagreements withing the SCO – India-China, Russia-China, Impact of Ukraine war, lack of consensus etc

Next, Highlight the importance of SCO for India – focus on the advantages that India can gain in bilateral relations and in the larger Eurasian region.

Next, write the measures that need to be taken to enhance the efficacy of SCO.

Conclusion:

Conclude with a way forward.

Introduction

Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) is a permanent intergovernmental international organization. It’s a Eurasian political, economic and military organization aiming to maintain peace, security and stability in the region. It was created in 2001. The SCO Charter was signed in 2002, and entered into force in 2003.

Body

Disagreements within SCO

  • The SCO faces the challenges of improving cohesion, better managing relations with external parties, enlargement, variations of economic cooperation between member states, a slow pace of decision making and poor quality decision implementation.
  • In the recent summit in Samarkand, support for Russia’s agenda differed between certain countries, with Turkey, China and Iran displaying some degree of understanding.India’s agenda focussed on its concern about the impacts of the Ukrainian war on the world economy.
  • The Shanghai Cooperation Organization is often stated as a club of autocrat powers.The members follow the principle of non-interference in the internal affairs of other states. However, China and Russia adhere this principle rhetorical basis but not in reality.
  • China and Russia are the primary drivers of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization but have different visions for this organization. Although they share common interest of regional stability within the organization but at the same time their geopolitical interests pull them in different directions.
  • India has presented consistent opposition to the violation of sovereignty and territorial integrity by the BRI’s China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC)through Indian territory in Jammu and Kashmir
  • But, the meetings of SCO have endorsed Russia’s initiative to connect the SCO with the Eurasian Economic Union and ASEAN,placing the predominantly East-West connectivity alignment of China’s BRI alongside the North-South connectivity alignment of Russia’s proposal
  • Despite the establishment of the SCO’s Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure (RATS),the SCO has not taken visible counterterrorism measures against the main threat facing its members, which emanates from terrorists and terrorist entities located in the Af-Pak region
  • China and Pakistan have deliberately tried to bring bilateral issues into SCO.This violates the well-established principles and norms of the SCO Charter. Such acts are counterproductive to the spirit of consensus and cooperation that define this organisation and should be condemned.

Significance of SCO for India

  • India acquired the observer status in the grouping in 2005 and was admitted as a full member in 2017.
  • Discuss differences with other members on the sidelines: SCO hosts have encouraged members to use the platform to discuss differences with other members on the sidelines
  • Bilateral meeting with Pakistan: It was on such an occasion that the Prime Minister of India held a bilateral meeting with the former Pakistani Prime Minister in 2015 in Ufa.
  • Negotiation of five point agreement with Chinese counterpart: Foreign Minister of India negotiated a five-point agreement with his Chinese counterpart on the sidelines of the Moscow conference in 2020.
  • Strategic autonomy and multi-alignment: India is also a part of the ‘Quadrilateral’ grouping with the U.S, Japan and Australia.
    • Its association with the grouping of a rather different nature is part of its foreign policy that emphasizes on principles of “strategic autonomy and multi-alignment”.
  • Connectivity and stability across borders: India’s membership of SCO can help in achieving regional integration, promote connectivity and stability across borders.
  • Fulfilling energy demand: India being an energy deficient country with increasing demands for energy, SCO provides it with an opportunity to meet its energy requirements through regional diplomacy.
    • Talks on the construction of stalled pipelines like the TAPI (Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India) pipeline; IPI (Iran-Pakistan-India) pipeline can get a much needed push through the SCO.
  • Economic ties:Central Asian countries provide India with a market for its IT, telecommunications, banking, finance and pharmaceutical industries.
  • Geopolitical: Central Asia is a part of India’s Extended Neighbourhood, SCO provides India an opportunity to pursue the “Connect Central Asian Policy”.
    • Helps India fulfill its aspiration of playing an active role in its extended neighborhood as well as checking the ever growing influence of China in Eurasia.
    • Platform for India to simultaneously engage with its traditional friend Russia as well as its rivals, China and Pakistan.

Way forward

  • Important group for India: India considers the SCO as an important regional group to promote cooperation in various fields based on universally recognised international norms, good governance, rule of law, openness, transparency and equality.
  • Addressing the concerns of members: Need of working group to address the concerns of all entities, considering the territorial integrity of each nation involved.
  • More measures against terrorism: Despite the establishment of the SCO’s Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure (RATS), the SCO has not taken visible counterterrorism measures against the main threat facing its members.
    • There is a need for the Summit to play a central and coordinating role to enforce the Council’s sanctions against concerned entities.
  • Engagement: It provides a platform for India to simultaneously engage with its traditional friend Russia as well as its rivals, China and Pakistan and provides India an opportunity to pursue the “Connect Central Asian Policy”.
  • Agreements on connectivity and high-efficiency transport corridors: Samarkand summit is expected to have agreements on connectivity and high-efficiency transport corridors and a roadmap for local currency settlement among member states.
  • SCO’s rising international influence:The significant round of expansion by inclusion of Iran and Belarus shows SCO’s rising international influence and that the principles of the SCO charter are widely accepted.

 

 

Topic: Important International institutions, agencies and fora- their structure, mandate.

3. Do you think the Non-Proliferation of nuclear weapons (NPT) has been effective enough to prevent the proliferation of nuclear weapons? State your opinion. (250 words)

Difficulty level: Tough

Reference: Insights on IndiaInsights on India

Why the question:

The question is part of the static syllabus (Revision) of General studies paper – 2 and mentioned as part of Mission-2023 Secure timetable.

Key Demand of the question:

To write about the efficacy of NPT in preventing the proliferation of nuclear weapons.

Directive:

Structure of the answer:

Introduction: 

Begin by giving the aims and objectives of NPT and context of its inception.

Body:

First, write about the successes of NPT in preventing the proliferation of nuclear weapons – cite examples to substantiate your points.

Next, write about the limitations of the NPT in the checking the growth and spread of the nuclear weapons – Cite facts and examples.

Conclusion:

Conclude by writing a balanced opinion regarding NPT.

 

Introduction

The Non-Proliferation of nuclear weapons (NPT) is a multilateral treaty aimed at limiting the spread of nuclear weapons including three elements – Non-proliferation, Disarmament, Peaceful use of nuclear energy. The treaty was signed in 1968 and entered into force in 1970. The Treaty does not affect the right of state parties to develop, produce, and use nuclear energy for peaceful purposes. India is one of the only five countries that either did not sign the NPT or signed but withdrew.

The Tenth Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) in last week of August 2022 in New York.

Body

Effectiveness of NPT in preventing proliferation

  • Talks between the US and Russia: Arms control talks between the U.S. and Russia did take place and succeeded in bringing collective arsenals from about 65,000in the early 1980sto less than 12,000
  • Four countries have tested and developed nuclear arsenals: In the last 50 years, only four more countries have gone on to test and develop nuclear arsenals — India, Israel, North Korea and Pakistan, despite apprehensions that by the 1980s, there would be close to 25 nuclear powers.
  • Reagan-Gorbachev declaration: All that the five nuclear-weapon-states parties to the NPTreiterated at the conference., the 1985Reagan-Gorbachev declaration that ‘a nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought’.

Limitations with NPT

  • Consensus document: Since 1970, when the NPT entered into force, only four of the 10 review conferences have concluded with a consensus document.
  • Differences among members: the United States, the United Kingdom and Russia were earlier always on the same page, but now Russia has adopted a different point of view.
    • The difference in 2022 was that it pitched Russia against the West.
  • No discussions: No meaningful discussions or negotiations on nuclear disarmament have ever taken place in the NPT framework.
  • Failure of Disarmament Process:The NPT is largely seen as a Cold War era instrument that has failed to fulfil the objective of creating a pathway towards a credible disarmament process.
  • System of Nuclear ‘Haves’ and ‘Have-Nots’: NNWS criticizes the treaty to be discriminatory as it focuses on preventing only horizontal proliferation while there is no limit for vertical proliferation.
  • NWWS also feels that the restrictions on Peaceful Nuclear Explosion (PNE) technology are one-sided.
  • Withdrawal from ABM treaty: S withdrew from the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty in 2002on the grounds that it unduly constrained its missile defence activities.
  • US withdrawal from INF: In 2019, the U.S. decided to quit the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty.
    • It had obliged both the US andRussiato get rid of all ground-launched missiles with a range of 500-5,500 km.

Way forward

  • Rising energy demands have led to a growing number of countries pursuing nuclear energy, and many countries wish to be energy-independent, in order to ensure a sustainable and dependable domestic energy supply. As clean energy, development, and peaceful coexistence are essential for every country.
  • Thus, the challenge for the international community will be to reconcile states’ desire for energy independence with their desire to both reduce the intrusiveness of IAEAsafeguards and diminish the possibility of proliferation.
  • Also, NNWS welcomesNew STARTand other initiatives, but is anxious to see more concrete actions on reducing the role of nuclear weapons in national security doctrines, reducing alert levels, increasing transparency, and other steps.
  • More regions in the world (preferably comprising NWS) should enter into an arrangement of establishing Nuclear-weapon-free zones.
  • Further, Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons is a step in the right direction for nuclear disarmament.

 

 

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

4. The landmark SC judgement that has extended the right to safe and legal abortion up to 24 weeks to unmarried and single women will go a long way in addressing anomalies in India’s abortion law and ensure right to bodily autonomy. Analyse. (250 words)

Difficulty level: Moderate

Reference: Indian ExpressThe Hindu

Why the question:

The historic judgment of the Supreme Court Bench led by Justice D.Y. Chandrachud that unmarried women in a consensual relationship are also entitled to safe and legal abortion along with its strong emphasis on women’s right to bodily autonomy without the need for authorisation from a third-party to access abortion was welcomed as “progressive” and a “ray of hope” at a time sexual and reproductive rights have come under threat globally.

Key Demand of the question:

To write about the various issues in India’s abortion law and the impact of recent SC judgement on it.

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.

Body:

First, write about the various issues Medical Termination of Pregnancy (Amendment) Act 2021 as to why the practise of illegal and unsafe abortions continues in the county – distinction between married and unmarried, lack of awareness, discrimination, stigma, lack of counselling etc. Write about its impact on the women

Next, write about how the recent judgement of SC will impact the above.

 Conclusion:

Comment with a balanced way forward.

Introduction

Recently, the Supreme Court of India allowed an unmarried woman to end her pregnancy at 24 weeks, after the Delhi High Court refused to allow it, citing the provisions of the Medical Termination of Pregnancy (MTP) Act.

Body

Supreme court Ruling in extending right to safe and legal abortion

  • It took an expansive view of the issue and interpreted MTP Act 2021,as the word partner instead of husband, exhibiting the intention of the law of the land to not confine it to only marital relationships.
  • It also said that the petitionercannot be denied the benefit of the law, on the ground that she was unmarried, and that doing so would be contrary to the ‘object and spirit’ of the legislation.
  • Further, the bench directed thedirector of the All-India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) to set up a medical board of two doctors to examine the woman (as per the provisions of the MTP Act) to determine if it was safe and not a risk to the life of the mother to terminate the pregnancy.
    • If it is their opinion that it is safe to do so, then AIIMS can conduct the procedure on her.

Addressing anomalies

  • While the law recognizes changes in a pregnant woman’s marital status with her spouses — such as divorce and widowhood — it does not address the situation for unmarried women.
  • It is a highly regulated procedure whereby the law transfers the decision-making power from the pregnant woman to the Recognized Medical Practitioner (RMP)and provides great discretion to the RMP to determine whether abortion should be provided or not.
  • The court noted that the Rules permit termination of pregnancies of up to 24 weeks in seven specific categories, including survivors of rape or sexual assault, minors, in case of physical disabilities and fetal malformation.
    • The court said that unmarried women whose pregnancy is over 20 weeks may have also conceived in a similarly vulnerable situation.
  • Pregnancy within and outside marriage: The legislature has not just used the word ‘husband’. It has also used the word ‘partner’.
    • So the legislature is not just concerned about women who undergo pregnancy within marriage, but outside marriage too.
    • Medical risk is the same for both married and unmarried women
  • Sec 3 of MTP Act: Section 3 (when pregnancies may be terminated by registered medical practitioners) of 1971 Act allows women who are less than 20 weeks’ pregnant to terminate if they had conceived due to the “failure of a family planning device”.
    • The law presumes that such a pregnancy would be a cause of mental anguish and constitute a “grave injury to the mental health of the pregnant woman”.

Conclusion

Access to abortion is critically tied to preserving and upholding the human rights of pregnant women, girls, and others, and hence to attaining social and gender justice. Only expanding the definition of women in the law can go a long way in making safe abortion a norm.

 

 


General Studies – 3


 

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

5. The draft Indian Telecommunications 2022 bill, which seeks to address problems in the telecom sector, may have far reaching effects on OTT services, spectrum allocations and other fields. Critically examine. (250 words)

Difficulty level: Tough

Reference: The Hindu

Why the question:

The Ministry of Communications released a draft of the Indian Telecommunication Bill, 2022 last week for public comments. Since then, the draft has generated a significant amount of discussion on various changes that it proposes to make to the current telecom regulatory framework.

Key Demand of the question:

To critically examine the draft Indian Telecommunications 2022 bill, its positives and limitations.

Directive word: 

Critically examine – When asked to ‘Examine’, we have to look into the topic (content words) in detail, inspect it, investigate it and establish the key facts and issues related to the topic in question. While doing so we should explain why these facts and issues are important and their implications. When ‘critically’ is suffixed or prefixed to a directive, one needs to look at the good and bad of the topic and give a fair judgment.

Structure of the answer:

Introduction: 

Begin by giving aims and objectives of the draft Indian Telecommunications 2022 bill

Body:

In the first part, mention salient features of the draft Indian Telecommunications 2022 bill

Next, write about how the draft Indian Telecommunications 2022 bill will result in addressing problems in the telecom sector by generating more revenue, equitable growth etc.

Next, write about the limitation the proposed draft bill.

Conclusion:

Conclude with a way forward.

Introduction

The draft Bill consolidates three separate acts which currently govern the telecommunication sector — the Indian Telegraph Act, 1885, Indian Wireless Telegraphy Act, 1933, and The Telegraph Wires (Unlawful Protection) Act, 1950.

Body

Draft Telecommunications 2022 bill: Features

  • OTT regulation: The government has included internet-based and OTT communication servicessuch as WhatsApp calls, Facetime, Google Meet etc under telecom services.
    • It was the long-standing demand by telecom operators for creating a level playing field. At present, whiletelecom companies need a licence to offer services, OTT platforms do not.
    • Further, bringing OTTs under the ambit of telecom services means that OTT and internet-based communications would require a licence to offer services.
  • Consumer protection: To curtail the ever-increasing incidence of spam calls and frauds, the draft Bill proposes that the identity of the person communicating using any form of telecommunication services shall be available to the user receiving such communication.
  • Role of TRAI:The current draft considerably dilutes TRAI’s position in a number of ways reducing it from a regulatory to a recommendatory body.
    • First, the government would no longer be required to seek recommendations from the TRAI before issuing licences.
    • Second, it also removes the power of the TRAI to requisition from the government information or documents that are necessary to make such recommendations.
    • Moreover, the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) will no longer be required to refer back to TRAI the recommendations for reconsideration — those recommendations that it does not agree with, as it was required to do previously.
  • Internet shutdown: For the first time in the Indian legal framework, a specific provision enabling the government to order suspension of internet power has been introduced through the draft Bill.

Challenges being addressed

  • Declining Average Revenue Per User (ARPU):ARPU decline now is sharp and steady, which, combined with falling profits and in some cases serious losses, is prompting the Indian telecom industry to look at consolidation as the only way to boost revenues.
    • In 2019, the Supreme Court allowed the government’s plea to recover adjusted gross revenue of about Rs 92,000 crore from telcos, that further adds to their stress.
  • Limited Spectrum Availability: Available spectrum is less than 40% as compared to European nations and 50% as compared to China.
  • Low Broadband Penetration:Low broadband penetration in the country is a matter of concern. As per white paper presented on broadband at the last International Telecommunication Union (ITU), broadband penetration in India is only 7%.
  • Over the Top (OTT) applications such as WhatsApp, OLA and so on do not need permission or a pact with a telecommunications company. This hampers the revenue of telecommunication service providers.
  • Huge fluctuations in the duties on Telecom Equipmentwhich contribute to connecting the whole system from the central server to the consumer.

Limitations and concerns with the draft bill

  • Regulatory overlaps:The broad of the definition of ‘telecommunication services’ include OTT communication platforms such as WhatsApp, Telegram, Signal among others, may potentially lead to regulatory or jurisdictional overlaps.
  • Unchecked use of State powers:The Bill gives broad powers to the central government in prescribed situations without any accompanying checks and balances. The Bill empowers the central and state government to intercept messages in the interest of public safety and emergency without the providing clearly defined guardrails for it.
  • Undefined National security: The term, national security is left undefined and does not match constitutional precedent or text which instead uses the phrase,in the interests of the security of state
  • Users Less choice in the privacy and security of their digital footprint:
  • Power to prescribe standards under Clause 23, which may result in regulations as recently issued by the Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-In) that have resulted in the closure of servers or services by leading, global VPN providers such as Proton and TunnelBear.
  • All of this practically means that users will have less choice in the privacy and security of their digital footprint, as these powers will lead to requirements to locally register and host data, and comply with requirements to identify users (KYC requirements).

 

 

Conclusion

There should be some reasonable basis or some tangible evidence to initiate or seek approval for interception by State authorities. Any digression from the ethical and legal parameters set by law would be tantamount to a deliberate invasion of citizens.

 

 

Value addition

India’s telecom industry

  • The Telecom industry in India is the second largest in the worldwith a subscriber base of 1.17 billion as of 2022. India has an overall teledensity of 85.11%.
  • The industry’s exponential growth over the last few years is primarily driven by affordable tariffs, wider availability, the roll-out of Mobile Number Portability (MNP), expanding 3G and 4G coverage,and evolving consumption patterns of subscribers.
  • The Telecom sector is the3rd largest sector in terms of FDI inflows, contributing 6.44% of total FDI inflow, and contributes directly to 2.2 million employment and indirectly to 1.8 million jobs.
  • Between 2014 and 2021, the FDI inflows in the Telecom sector rose by 150%to USD 20.72 billion from USD 8.32 billion during 2002-2014.
  • 100% Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) has now been allowed in the Telecom sector under the automatic route.
  • India is on its way to becoming the second-largest smartphone market globally by 2025 with around 1 billion installed devicesand is expected to have 920 million unique mobile subscribers by 2025 which will include 88 million 5G connections.

 

 

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

6. Critically analyse the potential of Geo-engineering as a climate change mitigation strategy. (250 words)

Difficulty level: Easy

Reference: Down to Earth

Why the question:

Some governments might decide to “geoengineer” the planet by spraying substances into the upper atmosphere to form fine reflective aerosols — a process known as stratospheric aerosol injection.

Key Demand of the question:

To analyse if Geo-engineering could be a viable option to overcome the climate crisis.

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 fair judgement.

Structure of the answer:

Introduction: 

Begin the answer by defining geo-engineering.

Body:

You can use a bubble diagram to show the various modes of geo-engineering such as Shoot Mirrors into Space (Solar Sunscreen), Copy a Volcano, Build Fake Trees etc.

In the first part of the body, write about how the above strategies work and will be beneficial for the planet above and over existing mitigation strategies to tide over the climate crisis. Clearly outline as to why it may be needed.

In the next part, mention about the major drawbacks, impediments and concerns regarding the implementation of the above strategies

Conclusion:

End your answer that existing strategies should be implemented on a war footing, but alternative ideas must also be considered, planned and studied about just in case of a climate emergency.

 

Introduction

Geoengineering interventions are large-scale attempts to purposefully alter the climate system in order to offset the effects of global warming. Most geoengineering proposals can be divided into two types: solar radiation management (SRM) and carbon dioxide removal (CDR). Geoengineering offers the hope of temporarily reversing some aspects of global warming and allowing the natural climate to be substantially preserved whilst greenhouse gas emissions are brought under control and removed from the atmosphere by natural or artificial processes.

Body:

 

 

Positives of geoengineering:

  • As expected, the climate would begin to cool once geoengineering commences. This initial cooling phase, would provide relief, particularly for species that were unable to keep up with past warming.
  • Also, birds and fish which may have moved in response to elevated temperatures in the past  will possibly turn back.
  • If solar geoengineering were ramped up slowly to half the rate of warming over the coming decades, then it seems likely it would reduce many climate risks. Solar geoengineering deployment can be ended without the impacts of a termination shock if it is gradually ramped down over decades.
  • The climate models reveal that the large-scale action would indeed calm things down a bit and potentially reduce the number of North Atlantic cyclones.

Negatives of geoengineering:

  • A recent study shows that rapid application, followed by abrupt termination of this temporary tech-fix can in fact accelerate climate change.
  • The increase in temperature from the abrupt termination is so quick that most species, terrestrial or marine, may not be able to keep up with it and eventually perish.
  • The increase in temperature is two to four times more rapid than climate change without geoengineering. This increase would be dangerous for biodiversity and ecosystems.
  • Reptiles, mammals, fish and birds that have been moving at 1.7 km/year on average will now have to move faster than 10 km/year to remain in their preferred climatic zones. This raises serious concerns, especially for less-mobile animals like amphibians and corals.
  • Not just species but entire ecosystems could collapse by suddenly hitting the stop button on geoengineering.
    • For example, temperate grassland and savannahs, which are maintained by specific combinations of temperature and rainfall, may experience increasing rates of temperatures, but an opposing trend in rainfall, after 2070.
  • Ineffectiveness
    • The effectiveness of the techniques proposed may fall short of predictions.
    • In ocean iron fertilization, for example, the amount of carbon dioxide removed from the atmosphere may be much lower than predicted, as carbon taken up by plankton may be released back into the atmosphere from dead plankton, rather than being carried to the bottom of the sea and sequestered.
  • Model results from a 2016 study, suggest that blooming algae could even accelerate Arctic warming.
  • Moral hazard or risk compensation
    • The existence of such techniques may reduce the political and social impetus to reduce carbon emissions
  • Albedo modification strategies could rapidly cool the planet’s surface but pose environmental and other risksthat are not well understood and therefore should not be deployed at climate-altering scales.
  • In the case of environmental risks, the offsetting of greenhouse gases by increasing the reflection of sunlight is not going to be perfect. Some people, potentially a small minority, will get less rainfall. There is concern about what particles might do to the ozone layer.
  • The drop off of tropical storms in one area would actually lead to a spike in drought in parts of Africa, according to the data.

Way forward:

  • The potential of natural systems as an effective solution for sequestering carbon dioxide has led to several efforts to scale nature-based solutions to mitigate climate change.
  • These proliferating efforts, however, must take cognisance of the fact that these solutions are effective only when applied while protecting the already existing forest.
  • Additionally, we must not run blindly after planting trees; instead, we must back reason with science.
  • Trees should be planted where they belong, that too with native species, and in consultation with local communities.

Conclusion:

In any case in the meantime, two aspects are certain: under no scenario could climate engineering serve as a substitute to reduced greenhouse gas emissions, and it would be better to implement such technologies with more nuanced research.

Value addition

Some geoengineering techniques and its drawbacks:

Carbon capture and storage technologies:

  • This carbon dioxide removal approach focuses on removing greenhouse gases from the atmosphere and locking them away.
  • The process starts with the capture of generated CO2 which undergoes a compression process to form a dense fluid. This eases the transport and storage of the captured CO2.
  • The dense fluid is transported via pipelines and then injected into an underground storage facility.
  • Captured CO2 can also be used as a raw material in other industrial processes such as bicarbonates.
  • The CCS has significant backing from the International Energy Agency and the IPCC.
  • However, it still is hanging in uncertainty due to high upfront costs in the instalment of such plants.
  • A growing number of corporations are pouring money into so-called engineered carbon removal techniques.
  • However, these technologies are at a nascent stage and need an overhaul to be exploited.
  • Carbon dioxide may be stored deep underground. Reservoir design faults, rock fissures, and tectonic processes may act to release the gas stored into the ocean or atmosphere leading to unintended consequences such as ocean acidification etc.

solar radiation modification:

  • This process does not affect atmospheric greenhouse gases but aims to reflect the solar radiation coming to the earth.
  • The science of the method is, however, largely model-based, and the impacts of deflecting the solar radiations could be unpredictable.
  • Additionally, due to the thermal inertia of the climate system, removal of the radiation modification could result in the escalation of temperature very quickly, giving significantly less time to adapt.
  • Another side effect of the radiation modification process could be natural vegetation.
  • Since solar radiation is responsible for photosynthesis, sudden masking of solar radiation could significantly affect the process.
  • While these questions remain unanswered, the futures of these technologies remain uncertain.

 


General Studies – 4


 

Topic: Case Study

7. You are appointed as an officer heading the section in Environment Pollution Control Board to ensure compliance and its follow – up. In that region, there were large number of small and medium industries which had been granted clearance. You learnt that these industries provide employment to many migrant workers. Most of the industrial units have got environmental clearance certificate in their possession. The environmental clearance seeks to curb industries and projects that supposedly hamper environment and living species in the region. But in practice, most of these units remain to be polluting units in several ways like air, water and soil pollution. As such, local people encountered persistent health problems.

It was confirmed that majority of the industries were violating environmental compliance. You issued notice to all the industrial units to apply for fresh environmental clearance certificate from the competent authority. However, your action met with hostile response from a section of the industrial units, other vested interest persons and a section of the local politicians. The workers also became very hostile to you as they felt that your action would lead to the closure of these industrial units, and the resultant unemployment will lead to insecurity and uncertainty in their livelihood. Many owners of the industries approached you with the plea that you should not initiate harsh action as it would compel them to close their units, and cause huge financial loss, shortage of their products in the market. These would obviously add to the sufferings of the labourers and the consumers alike. The labour union also sent you representation requesting against the closure of the units, You simultaneously started receiving threats from unknown corners. You however received supports from some of your colleagues, who advised you to act freely to ensure environmental compliance. Local NGOs also came to your support and they demanded the closure of the polluting units immediately.

(a) What are the options available to under the given situation?

(b) Critically examine the options listed by you.

(c) What type of mechanism would you suggest to ensure environmental compliance?

(d) What are the ethical dilemmas you faced in exercising your option? (250 Words) (20 M) (UPSC 2022)

Difficulty level: Moderate

Structure of the answer:

Introduction:

Start by giving the context. Bring out the key stakeholders in the above case study and major ethical issues present.

Body:

In the body, write about the rational course of action available for you as the officer in charge.

Next, give valid arguments for the both the above-mentioned courses of action that you can take. Evaluate its pros and cons in detail.

Next, write about the compliance you will take suggest justify that ethically.

Next, write about major ethical dilemmas you will face.

Conclusion:

Conclude by stressing on the importance of rationality and courage in decision making.

 

Introduction

As per Gandhian philosophy, the public servants are the trustees of natural resources, therefore the development process should be inclusive of the voice of all without compromising on future developmental needs.

Body

Stakeholders

  • Government
  • Environment and Development dichotomy
  • Livelihoods of labours and their families
  • Health of the people and future generations
  • Myself as an officer in charge
  • Industries and politicians with vested interests
  • Nature and surroundings

Ethical issues involved

  • Development vs Environment debate
  • Inequalities to access clean air and land: Poor being exploited to do polluting jobs and making their lives dependent on it. While such work is hazardous to their health.
  • Exploitation of resources: Flouting environmental norms legally with a piece of paper that allows them to pollute without any monitoring.

Options in the situation and their critical analysis

Option 1:  Withdraw the notice to re-apply for fresh clearance

Merits: This would mean employees/labours get to keep their jobs. No more threats to life.

Demerits: Environment is exploited perpetually without accountability on anyone. Health of people living around and labourers are also affected. Flouting norms will continue and repercussions will be more on the poor.

Option 2:  Go ahead with the notice and implore companies to renew their issuance with strict process of compliance

Merits: This will force the polluting industries to comply with environmental clearance. And ensure that proper discharge mechanisms are installed in place to enable industries to get license.

Demerits: Threats to life will continue and politicians may be irked leading to transfers.

Course of action: Suggested mechanism for compliance

I would go ahead with option 2, as environmental degradation is a major problem that can lead to hazardous living situations especially for the poor. By making industries accountable, safe discharge mechanisms can be put in place, without some capital investment. This can go a long way in safe future for next generations without disrupting livelihoods of labours while making it safer and non-polluting. Fixing of responsibility is needed as land degradation is already a major issue in India.

Ethical dilemmas faced

Even though the decision to ensure environmental compliance is a must, enforcing that decision has a lot of obstacles including one from labours who would lose their livelihoods if the industries shutdown. With unemployment running high, it is difficult to make such decisions as it would affect the governments stature in the eyes of the people who are a major vote bank. But responsibility towards the planet weighs in more than other issues which can be easily solved by better treatment mechanism.

 

Conclusion

As the population in cities is increasing, infrastructural development is essential to accommodate the growing demand, but environmental protection is a necessity for the sustainability of life which cannot be neglected at any cost.

 


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