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[Mission 2023] SECURE SYNOPSIS: 10 November 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

 

 


General Studies – 1


 

Topic: Effects of globalization on Indian society.

1. While the process of globalization was inevitable, it could lead to unemployment and social injustice, as well as to imposing cuts on social programme. Examine. (250 words)

Difficulty level: Tough

Reference: Insights on IndiaIndian Express

Why the question:

Meta Platforms Inc on Wednesday became the latest US company to cut jobs to rein in costs amid tightening monetary policy and growing fears of a recession. Job cuts announced by US-based employers jumped 13 per cent to 33,843 in October, the highest since February 2021, a report said.

Key Demand of the question:

To write about the negative impact of globalisation on the society in terms of unemployment and social injustice.

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 defining globalisation.

Body:

First, write about the double edged that that is globalisation as it has positive as well as negative impacts.

Next, write about the negative impacts of globalisation on unemployment and social justice. Cite examples to substantiate.

Conclusion:

Conclude by writing a way forward.

Introduction

Globalization is a process of interaction and integration among the people, companies, and governments of different nations, a process driven by international trade and investment and aided by information technology. Being multi-dimensional and global in nature, this process has effects on the environment, on culture, on political systems, on economic development and prosperity, and on human physical well-being in societies around the world.

Meta Platforms Inc recently became the latest US company to cut jobs to rein in costs amid tightening monetary policy and growing fears of a recession. Job cuts announced by US-based employers jumped 13 per cent to 33,843 in October, the highest since February 2021, a report said.

Body

Globalization has increased inequalities

  • Globalization created opportunities only for the skilled or wealthy people. This increases the inequality between the rich and poor. This has made urban poor lives much harder, and caused the creation of slums.
  • On top of that, unhealthy process of urbanization is causing the deficiencies in the basic services such as housing, water supply, sanitation. This eventually made the poor as worst victims.
  • With globalisation, a trend of establishing industries in the rural areas has started as the availability of land is cheaper as well as unorganized labor. This may sound fruitful but because of the pollution from the industries, lives of the rural people have deteriorated.
  • Unemployment rate has increased and the growth of employment was slowed down during post-globalization period.
  • The inequality also increased in terms of sectoral share in GDP and employment, and inter-states per capita income.
  • In India, globalisation is leading to growth of a new generation of young and rich, and then there are millions of rural and urban poor and this inequality is growing. The rich are becoming preoccupied with their own advancement, given global complexities, the poor are in a state of existential poverty.
  • India is also infamous for child labour and underpayment.
  • The problem of jobless growth persisted with many people participating in agriculture (disguised employment)
  • Greater incorporation of technology which was ill suited for Indian labour market and gave rise to informal sector.

HoweverGlobalisation has also helped to reduced poverty

  • High economic growth
    • Globalization has become a major factor behind the high economic growth in the country. The favorable economic conditions have put a positive impact on the overall standard of living of the country.
    • Between 1981 and 2001 the percentage of rural people living on less than $1 a day decreased from 63 to 42 per cent in India
  • Percapita income increase
    • Due to the high economic growth, there has been rapid progress in the civic amenities. The per capita income has increased which has improved the standard of living of the masses. As economic growth is a great factor behind the improvement of the poverty, the rise in the economic condition of India had a favorable impact on the reducing the rate of poverty in the country.
  • Employment
    • Due to the high demand and the supply chains, there has been significant growth in the market. As such, more and more job opportunities are being created in different sectors. This has increased the per capita income considerably which has improved the poverty level to a great extent.
  • Agriculture benefitted
    • Due to the globalization, Indian agriculture has improved to some extent which has helped to reduce the poverty problems of the rural masses. Due to the globalization and introduction of better equipments, there has been a stark improvement in the techniques of agriculture.
  • Improvement in health care costs
    • Globalization has also positively affected the overall health care situation in the country. More and more medical innovations are coming in which are improving the health situation in India. The infant mortality rate and the malnutrition rate have significantly come down since the last decade.
  • Women
    • Technology has also increased access to education in India, especially to women. This has decreased the gap between men and women which was created by stratified gender roles.
  • Industrialization
    • It offers advantages such as production-scale efficiency, innovative technology, efficient utilisation of labour, net of tax price equalisation, and equalisation of productive world savings and investment resources.

Conclusion

The gap between rich and poor cannot be resolved without deliberate inequality-busting policies. Despite the onslaught of second-generation reforms and India joining the club of top economic actors at the global level, there is a long way to go for India before it can boast of substantive achievements in these critical areas. Apart from economic factors, non-economic factors such as deepening democracy and decentralisation can help in reducing inequalities.

Value addition

Key findings of the World Inequalities Report, 2022:

  • The gap between the rich and the poor in terms of share of national income is quite large, and growing rapidlyas a result of government policies that favour the affluent elite. The richest 10% of the global population takes home 52% of the global income, whereas the poorest 50% got only 8.5% of it.
  • Global wealth inequities are worse than income inequalities. While the poorest 50% own just 2% of the global wealth, the richest 10% own 76% of all the wealth.
  • Inequality between countries was narrowing while inequality within countries was increasing. While the gap between the average incomes of the richest 10% of countries and the average incomes of the poorest 50% of countries has dropped from 50x to less than 40x, the gap between the average incomes of the top 10% and the bottom 50% of individuals within countries has almost doubled, from 8.5x to 15x.
  • Countries are growing richer, governments are becoming poorer:The share of privately owned wealth in national wealth was rising, while that of public wealth (buildings, universities, roads, hospitals etc) was shrinking.

 

 

Topic: Social empowerment, communalism, regionalism & secularism.

2. Discuss the role that television and cinema can play in fostering national interest and building social solidarity in the country. Do you think mandatory playing of national interest content on television channels can help us achieve promote the best interests of society? (150 words)

Difficulty level: Moderate

Reference: Indian ExpressDeccan Herald

Why the question:

The Union Cabinet has approved the ‘Guidelines for Uplinking and Downlinking of Television Channels in India, 2022’, under which it has become obligatory for channels to telecast content in national and public interest.

Key Demand of the question:

To write about the role television and cinema in promoting national interest as well the if mandatory rules can achieve that.

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.

Introduction: 

Begin by giving context regarding the new guidelines on national content.

Body:

First, write about the ways in which cinema and television can promote national interest – awareness, spread patriotism, social influence etc.

Also, write about the mandatory playing of national interest content on tv channels – mention the ways it can be effective in achieving the desired aims as well as its shortcomings.

Conclusion:

Conclude by writing a balanced opinion.

Introduction

The Union Cabinet has approved the ‘Guidelines for Uplinking and Downlinking of Television Channels in India, 2022’, under which it has become obligatory for channels to telecast content in national and public interest.

TV channels will have to broadcast 30 minutes of public interest content everyday, including themes of national interest such as education, literacy, agriculture and rural development, health and family welfare, science and technology, women welfare, welfare of weaker sections of the society, environmental protection, cultural heritage and national integration.

Body

Background

  • Under the new guidelines, at least 30 minutes are to be given every day to telecast content pertaining to “public service and national interest”, for which eight themes have been given to channels for creation of content.
  • The rationale behind the move, according to the government, is that airwaves are public property and need to be used in the best interest of society.

Role of television and cinema in fostering national interest and solidarity

  • Certain themes or stories in television and cinemas can bring people together and unite them transcending religion, caste, and other such fault lines that divide the society. For instance, the movie Chak De India was a huge hit and it fostered patriotic feeling in minds of all Indians.
  • The content in television reaches billions of Indians at the same time. Content being consumed becomes important as we tend to become what we see. It leads to positive conditioning of people.
  • Behavioral Nudge is possible. For instance, lighting the diyas during covid was done as a support to corona warriors. This was disseminated through television and media.
  • Youth are easily influenced by cinemas of mega stars who have a huge fan base. If such movie stars are roped in for a movie on nation, it can lead to social change. Eg, Movies such as Shershah, Uri etc.

Critical analysis

  • Mandating tv channels may not serve the purpose as people may not consume this content.
  • Entertainment being a key factor, television channel may lose subscribers if such guidelines are to be followed.
  • Not all channels have the capacity to air or make content as per guidelines and violation may cost the business dearly.
  • This may go against rights of people to decide what to watch and what to consume on television.
  • Democratic nations should not make airing of any content mandatory, like in China and North Korea. It goes against the ethos of democracy and becomes authoritarian.

Conclusion

Though a novel idea, feasibility of such guidelines must be seen through lens of people and tv channels. Stakeholder consultations must be carried out calling for comments both from public and tv channels as well.

 


General Studies – 2


 

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

3.  The Economically Weaker Sections (EWS) judgment fails to uphold the constitutional values meant to end the perpetuation of discrimination against the SCs, STs and other backward classes. Critically Examine. (250 words)

Difficulty level: Tough

Reference: Indian ExpressThe Hindu

Why the question:

The Supreme Court of India’s recent decision, upholding the constitutional validity of the law granting 10% reservation to Economically Weaker Sections (EWS) of the upper castes, has ignited much debate. Some pundits have affirmed the judgment marks the death knell of caste as a factor in reservation, while others argue that it underscores its perpetual relevance.

Key Demand of the question:

To write critically examine the EWS judgement of the SC and give a balanced opinion regarding EWS reservation.

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 the context of 103rd constitutional amendment act and what it introduced.

Body:

First, write about the how the above judgement could adversely affect the members of SC, ST and OBC communities and how non-discrimination and compensatory discrimination does not violate the equality code.

Next, write about the need of EWS reservation and the need to move away from caste-centric definition of backwardness.

Conclusion:

Conclude by writing a balanced opinion.

 

Introduction

The Constitution (103 Amendment) Act, 2019 was enacted which provides 10% reservation in jobs and educational institutions to the economically weaker sections in the general category.  Recently, the Supreme Court has upheld the validity of the 103rd Constitutional Amendment which provides 10% reservation for the Economically Weaker Sections (EWS) among forward castes in government jobs and colleges across India. The SC said that EWS quota does not violate equality and the basic structure of the constitution. Reservation in addition to existing reservation does not violate provisions of the Constitution.

The Supreme Court of India’s recent decision, upholding the constitutional validity of the law granting 10% reservation to Economically Weaker Sections (EWS) of the upper castes, has ignited much debate. Some pundits have affirmed the judgment marks the death knell of caste as a factor in reservation, while others argue that it underscores its perpetual relevance.

Body

Reservation leads to casteless and classless society:

  • The 10% quota law is a step towards a classless and casteless society, the Union government has indicated in the Supreme Court.
  • The Centre referred to the court’s past decisions that called for the “attainment of economic equality as the final and only solution to the besetting problems” of the country. The Constitution (103rd Amendment) Act, 2019, was meant to benefit the economically weaker sections of society who were not covered by the existing schemes of reservation.
  • It said the law was meant to benefit a large section of the population of 135 crore people, who are mostly lower middle class and below the poverty line.
  • The government quoted the 2010 report of the Commission for Economically Backward Classes, chaired by Major General S.R. Sinho (retired), which said 18.2% of the general category came under the below poverty line (BPL).
  • The Government took support of the 13-page affidavit quoted from a 1985 Constitution Bench judgment in K.C. Vasanth Kumar vs Karnataka, which quotes Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru and Mahatma Gandhi to drive home the point that the economy of a family, and not its caste, should be the determining factor of social and educational backwardness.
  • Article 15(6) and Article 16(6) are enabling provisions for advancement of the economically weaker sections and are, in fact, in conformity with the principle of reservation and affirmative action, It argued that a “mere amendment” to an Article would not violate the basic structure of the Constitution.
  • Furthermore, the 50% ceiling applied to the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes and Other Backward Classes. The new provision dealt with the economically weaker sections. “The limit of 50% is only applicable to reservation under Articles 15(4), 15(5) and 16(4) and does not apply to Article 15(6).”

The pros of the reservation Act are:

  • Alleviation of Poverty: It is expected to help the needy among the higher castes.
  • Reduces ghost beneficiaries: In some cases, it is expected to eliminate the desperation of those who, in the past, would resort to obtaining fake Scheduled Caste (SC) and Scheduled Tribe (ST)certificates that were used to seek entry into professional courses.
  • Removes Prejudice: The reservation will prevent these higher castes from holding reservations responsible for national disintegration and perpetuation of casteism, as they widely believe.
  • Reduces Unwanted Adoptions: The legislation is also expected to keep savarna-caste aspirants from seeking adoption into SC/ST families in order to procure SC/ST certificates.
  • No deceptive self-characterisation:Ironically, the 10% quota can help these savarnas retain their authentic caste identity. In this way, they can now avoid facing humiliation in courts of law on account of being exposed as fake caste certificate holders.

The cons of the reservation are:

  • Discredits the moral foundation of the principle of social justice:
    • The principle of social justicecalls for ‘equal treatment of equals’ and ‘affirmative action for less advantage sections’.
    • Constitution outlines special provisions for only four classes– SCs, STs, Backward Classes and Anglo Indians in the Articles 330-342 under Part 16.
    • The provision is clearly mentioned as reservation is explicitly for ‘social exclusion and discrimination’. Notably, the “socially and educationally backward classes” was the target group in quotas for OBCs.
    • Unfairness or an element of injusticeis rooted in the practice of untouchability, whereas pure economic backwardness is rooted in the systemic inability to provide jobs to the higher castes.
    • The lack of opportunities is not due to untouchability, but due to the inability of the state and the market to provide enough jobs for the qualified and the needy.
    • The new reservation policy has transformed from a policy meant to provide a level playing field for those suffering from historical discrimination and those who are weaker sections of the society to a policy meant as a dole for those sections of society who are poor and lack jobs.
    • The Indira Sawhney casehad further held that social backwardness cannot be determined only with reference to an economic criterion.
  • Violation of DPSP:
    • The Article 46, which is a non-justiciable Directive Principle, says that the state shall promote educational and economic interests of “weaker sections”, in particular SCs and STs, and protect them from “social injustices” and “all forms of exploitation”.
    • While the 103rd Amendment mentions Article 46 in its statement and objects, it seems the government overlooked the fact that upper castes neither face social injustice nor are subjected to any form of exploitation.
    • Moreover, the Constitution makes provisions for commissions to look into matters relating to implementation of constitutional safeguards for Scheduled Castes (Article 338), Scheduled Tribes (338A) and Socially and Educationally Backward Classes (339),but has not created any commission for the economically backward classes.
  • Unavailability of Data:
    • The Union or state governments have no such data to prove that ‘upper’ caste individuals, who have less than Rs 8 lakh annual income, are not adequately represented in government jobs and higher educational institutions. There is a strong possibility that they are actually over-represented in these places.
  • Arbitrary Criteria:
    • The criteria used by the government to decide the eligibility for this reservation is vague and is not based on any data or study.
    • Even the SC questioned the government whether they have checked the GDP per capita for every State while deciding the monetary limit for giving the EWS reservation.
    • Statistics show that the per capita income in states differs widely – Goa is the state having the highest per capita income of almost Rs. 4 lakhs whereas Bihar is at the bottom with Rs.40,000.
  • Sincerity of the Government
    • Centre did not give enough time for discussion on it before it was tabled in Parliament for its final approval.
  • Lack of objectivity
    • an objection is raised about the procedure that the government adopted in order to fix the criteria for educational and economic backwardness. The government arrived at the figure of 10%, without any proper and thorough documentation by a duly constituted commission.

Conclusion:

Thus, the quota for the economically poor among the upper castes has been seen essentially as a poverty alleviation move dressed up as reservation. It is high time now that the Indian political class overcame its tendency of continually expanding the scope of reservation in pursuit of electoral gains, and realised that it is not the panacea for problems.

Instead of giving reservation based on different criteria, the government should focus on quality of education and other effective social upliftment measures. It should create a spirit of entrepreneurship and make them job-givers instead of a job seeker.

 


General Studies – 3


 

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

4.  Enumerate the five nectar elements of Panchamrit declaration of India’s climate action. What steps are needed for India to achieve net zero by 2070? (250 words)

Difficulty level: Easy

Reference: Insights on India

Why the question:

The question is part of the static syllabus of General studies paper – 3 and mentioned as part of Mission-2023 Secure timetable.

Key Demand of the question:

To write about the elements of Panchamrit declaration and to suggest ways for India to achieve net zero emissions by 2070.

Structure of the answer:

Introduction: 

Begin by giving context regarding India’s announcement at cop-26 at Glasgow.

Body:

First, write the 5 elements of Panchamrit declaration.

Next, part suggest innovative measures that India can take to cut down emissions – mainstreaming solar, harnessing nuclear energy, moving towards EV, bio fuels, carbon capture and storage etc.

Conclusion:

Conclude by writing a way forward.

 

Introduction

Net-zero emission is the method of balancing the greenhouse gas emissions in the atmosphere by the greenhouse gas absorption from the atmosphere. In zero-carbon emission, the country will focus on limiting carbon emission. But in Net-zero carbon the country will focus on bringing the net carbon emission to zero.

At the 26th Conference of Parties (CoP26), Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi declared a five-fold strategy — termed as the panchamrita — to achieve this feat.

Body

Panchamrit strategy

The five-fold strategy include:

  • India will get its non-fossil energy capacity to 500 gigawatt (GW) by 2030
  • India will meet 50 per cent of its energy requirements from renewable energy by 2030
  • India will reduce the total projected carbon emissions by one billion tonnes from now onwards till 2030
  • By 2030, India will reduce the carbon intensity of its economy by less than 45 per cent
  • So, by the year 2070, India will achieve the target of Net Zero.

Background

  • India has ratified pledges made by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Glasgow last November to accelerate India’s reliance on renewable energy to power the economy and be effectively fossil fuel-free by 2070.
  • However the approved pledges were fewer than those Mr. Modi committed to.
  • The Union Cabinet, chaired by Mr. Modi, on Wednesday approved an update to India’s Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC), which is a formal communication to the United Nations, spelling out steps to be taken by the country towards keeping global temperatures from rising beyond 2°C by the end of the century.

Measures needed to achieve net zero emissions

  • Focus on Energy Efficiency:
    • Will need energy efficient buildings, lighting, appliances and industrial practicesto meet the net-zero goal.
  • Increased usage of Biofuels:
    • Can help reduce emissions from light commercial vehicles, tractors in agriculture.
    • In aviation, the only practical solution for reducing emissions is greater use of biofuels, until hydrogen technology gains scale.
  • Transition towards Electric vehicles:
    • This will further help curb the carbon emissions.
  • Carbon Sequestration:
    • India willhave to rely on natural and man-made carbon sinks to soak up those emissions. Trees can capture 0.9 billion tons; the country will need carbon capture technologies to sequester the rest.
  • Carbon Pricing:
    • India, which already taxes coal and petroleum fuels, should consider putting a tax on emissions to drive change.
  • Deploying lower-carbon Energy:
    • There are four main types of low-carbon energy: wind, solar, hydro or nuclear power. The first three are renewable, which means these are good for the environment – as natural resources are used (such as wind or sun) to produce electricity.
    • Deploying lower carbon energy would help address both domestic and international climate challenges while simultaneously improving the economic well-being of India’s citizens.
  • Mainstreaming Renewable energy:
    • India’s energy mix is dominated by coal powered electric generation stations as of now.
    • The need of the hour is increase the share of renewable energy in this energy mix.

Way forward for India:

  • Given the massive shifts underway in India’s energy system, we would benefit from taking stock of our actions and focusing on near-term transitions.
  • This will allow us to meet and even over-comply with our 2030 target while also ensuring concomitant developmental benefits, such as developing a vibrant renewable industry.
  • We can start putting in place the policies and institutions necessary to move us in the right direction for the longer-term and also better understand, through modelling and other studies, the implications of net-zero scenarios before making a net-zero pledge.
  • It would also be in India’s interest to link any future pledge to the achievement of near-term action by industrialized countries.
  • That would be fair and consistent with the principles of the UNFCCC and also enhance the feasibility of our own actions through, for example, increasing availability and reducing costs of new mitigation technologies.

Conclusion

India has made strong progress on its climate commitments and remains a key international stakeholder when it comes to increasing ambition and charting a low carbon future. India has a pivotal role in future greenhouse gas mitigation and at the same time has massive climate adaptation needs with millions already suffering due to extreme heat, drought, and floods. With most of the country’s infrastructure still being built and the energy supply of the future yet to be installed, India has the opportunity to establish a low carbon development paradigm for the rest of the developing world.

 

 

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

5. As wetlands are very important for ecological processes as well as for their rich flora and fauna, the broad objectives of the Ramsar Convention are to stem the loss of wetlands and to ensure their conservation. Discuss. (250 words)

Difficulty level: Moderate

Reference: Insights on India ,Insights on India

Why the question:

The question is part of the static syllabus of General studies paper – 3 and mentioned as part of Mission-2023 Secure timetable.

Key Demand of the question:

To write about the importance of wetland ecosystem and how Ramsar convention helps protect wetlands.

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 a wetland and its types.

Body:

Write about the various functions performed by a wetland- water-related ecosystem services, productive areas for plant life and animals, major habitat for most of the world’s waterbirds and key habitat for migratory species, important source of food and high recreational, historical, scientific, and cultural values.

Next, write about Ramsar convention, its achievements in protecting wetlands and limitations.

Conclusion:

Conclude by writing a way forward.

 

Introduction

The Ramsar Convention on wetlands defines wetland as including a wide variety of habitats such as marshes, peatlands, floodplains, rivers and lakes, and coastal areas such as salt-marshes, mangroves, and seagrass beds, also coral reefs and other marine areas no deeper than six metres at low tide. Wetland also includes human-made wetlands such as waste-water treatment ponds and reservoirs.

Wetlands are ecotones between terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems. They get periodically get inundated with water. They support a flourishing community of aquatic organisms including frogs and other amphibians. Swamps, marshes and mangroves are examples of wetlands.

 

India added 11 more wetlands to the list of Ramsar sites to make total 75 Ramsar sites covering an area of 13,26,677 ha in the country in the 75th year of Independence. India is one of the Contracting Parties to Ramsar Convention, signed in Ramsar, Iran, in 1971. India signed it on 1st Feb 1982. During 1982 to 2013, a total of 26 sites were added to the list of Ramsar sites, however, during 2014 to 2022, the country has added 49 new wetlands to the list of Ramsar sites.  

Body

Critical role played by Wetlands in the Ecological conservation of Earth:

  • Carbon Sequestration:Swamps, mangroves, peat lands, mires and marshes play an important role in carbon cycle. Wetland soils may contain as much as 200 times more carbon than its vegetation.
    • : In India, coastal wetlands are playing a major role in carbon sequestration. The total extent of coastal ecosystems (including mangroves) in India is around 43000 km. Overall, mangroves are able to sequester about 1.5 metric tonne of carbon per hectare per year and the upper layers of mangrove sediments have high carbon content, with conservative estimates indicating the levels of 10 percent.
  • Flood attenuation: Wetlands function as natural sponges that trap and slowly release surface water, rain, snowmelt, groundwater and flood waters. Many water-stressed regions in South Africa are subject to high intensity rainfall over very short periods, often resulting in flash floods. Wetlands are effective in spreading out and slowing down floodwaters, thereby reducing the severity of floods downstream.
    • :A large network of lakes and ponds in major cities like Srinagar, Bhopal, Bengaluru, Chennai and Hyderabad were constructed with the objective of flood control
  • Regulation of stream flow & groundwater recharge:wetlands are often compared to sponges, in their ability to absorb water in wet periods, and release it during dry periods. The absorption thus helps in groundwater recharging too.
    • :floodplains of rivers like Ganga and Brahmaputra
  • Nutrient assimilation & recycling: removal by the wetland of phosphates and nitrates carried by runoff water. This takes place through the presence of wetland vegetation and the action of anaerobic bacteria (which would otherwise not exist in fast-flowing, energized streams or rivers). Thus, they help in nutrients recyclingand they carry out water purification by filtration of sediments and nutrients from surface water.
  • Erosion control:wetlands can limit the extent of erosion, predominantly through the protection provided by vegetation, and through their ability to reduce stream flow velocity. Buffer (act as a riparian buffer) shorelines against erosion and pollutants.
    • the mangroves along the sea shores, especially on the western coast in West Bengal and Odisha have been playing a major role in protecting the coastal environment from the destruction of cyclones that frequently emanate in the Bay of Bengal.
  • Microclimate regulation: Wetland ecosystems play an important role in regulating local and regional climates through evaporative cooling effects that affect the exchange of energy and water with atmosphere.
    • For every land cover type in wetlands, vegetation has a better stabilizing effect on temperature, whereas a water body has a better stabilizing effect on wind speed and humidity. Dal lake in Kashmir has a cooling effect on surroundings.
  • Promotes Biodiversity: Wetlands are important in supporting species diversity. Because wetlands provide an environment where photosynthesis can occur and where the recycling of nutrients can take place, they play a significant role in the support of food chains.
    • In India lakes, rivers and other freshwater bodies support a large diversity of biota representing almost all taxonomic groups. For example, freshwater ecosystems of Western Ghats alone have 290 species of fish. Similarly, Loktak Lake is famous for being the only refuge of the endangered Sangai (Manipur brow-antlered deer).
  • Productive Ecosystem: Wetlands are among the most productive ecosystems in the world, comparable to rain forests and coral reefs. An immense variety of species of microbes, plants, insects, amphibians, reptiles, birds, fish and mammals can be part of a wetland ecosystem.
    • In many such wetland areas of India, like Bharatpur wild life sanctuary in Rajasthan, and little Rann of Kutch and coastal areas of Saurashtra in Gujarat, many migratory species of birds, including siberian crane, from western and European countries come during winter.
  • Promotes Genetic diversity:They act as a genetic reservoir for various species of plants, especially rice.
  • Tourism:Wet-lands such as coral reefs, beaches, reservoirs, lakes and rivers are considered to be a significant part of the tourism experience in the country.
    • For instance,as per an estimate, every year, around seven million tourist visit Kerala’s backwaters, beaches and wildlife sanctuaries, 3 million visit Uttarakhand’s lakes and other natural wetlands and one million visit Dal lake in Jammu and Kashmir.
  • Cultural Significance:Wetlands especially lakes and ponds are intrinsically linked to the local culture. They are revered by the masses in recognition of the fact that they are the means of sustenance of their livelihood.
    • Pushkar lake in Rajasthan and Ramappa lake in Telangana

Ramsar “Wise use concept” requires that wetlands’ ecological character should be maintained within the framework of sustainable development. This concept recognizes that:

  • Developmental activities are inevitablein wetland areas such as construction of roads, electricity infrastructure, schools and hospitals for poor families.
  • Economic activities are also inevitablein wetland areas such as fisheries, farming and tourism.
  • Such activities aid in human development and economic developmentin a wetland area.
  • And for these activities, wetland’s land, water and bio-resources will have to be used.
  • However, these resources should not be used in a manner that wetland’s ecological character is harmed.

The practical applications of “Wise Use” concept are as following:

  • Use of Water:Farmers in wetland region require freshwater for cultivation of paddy, fruits and vegetables. But, it should not lead to overexploitation of freshwater else wetland’s regenerative capacity will suffer. Fish, reptiles and amphibians will die. Therefore, Government may impose legal ‘upper limits / ceiling’ on water use.
  • Use of Land:Wetlands purify air and water, they moderate adverse weather impacts and thus protect human health. However, mining, infrastructure and transportation services harm wetlands, and thereby indirectly harm human health. Hence, the ‘land’ of wetland should be generally not used for such activities.
  • Use of Biomass:Fishing is one of the primary occupations of people in Wetland area. But excessive fishing, especially during reproduction season will harm wetland’s foodweb. Hence, government may impose restriction and encourage aquaculture and ‘rice-fish’ management practices.

Measures needed to protect wetlands

  • Protection:The primary necessity today is to protect the existing wetlands. Of the many wetlands in India only around 68 wetlands are protected. But there are thousands of other wetlands that are biologically and economically important but have no legal status.
  • Planning, managing and monitoring:Wetlands that come under the Protected area network have management plans but others do not. It is important for various stakeholders along with the local community and corporate sector to come together for an effective management plan. Active monitoring of these wetland systems over a period of time is essential.
  • Comprehensive inventory:There has been no comprehensive inventory of all the Indian wetlands despite the efforts by the Ministry of Environment and Forests, Asian Wetland Bureau and World Wide Fund for Nature. The inventory should involve the flora, fauna, and biodiversity along with values. It should take into account the various stakeholders in the community too.
  • Legislation:Although several laws protect wetlands there is no special legislation pertaining specially to these ecosystems. Environment Impact Assessment needed for major development projects highlighting threats to wetlands need to be formulated.
  • Coordinated approach:Since wetlands are common property with multi-purpose utility, their protection and management also need to be a common responsibility.
  • Research:There is a necessity for research in the formulation of national strategy to understand the dynamics of these ecosystems. This could be useful for the planners to formulate strategies for the mitigation of pollution.
  • Building awareness: For achieving any sustainable success in the protection of these wetlands, awareness among the general public, educational and corporate institutions must be created.

Conclusion

Communities engage with wetlands in various ways – from seeking livelihoods to spiritual fulfilment. The values community hold for wetlands are expressed in diverse ways. It is important to integrate community linkages in wetlands management planning, and incentivize community stewardship. This is crucial as over 85% of wetlands in India are in the form of village ponds and tanks.

 

 

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

6. What do you understand by ‘environmental integrity’?  (250 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-2023. Secure.

Key Demand of the question:

To write about environmental integrity, its features and its importance.

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 defining ‘environmental integrity’.

Body:

In the first part, write about the various features of environmental integrity and its dimensions.

Next, write about the importance of environmental integrity and cite examples to substantiate your points.

Conclusion:

Conclude by summarising.

Introduction

Environmental integrity is a condition where the natural processes of a place occur with the strength and frequency expected in the region. Places with environmental integrity experience normal patterns of rainfall, fires, and other processes and contain ecosystems that house the living and non-living species native to the area.

“Environmental integrity” is often used in legal and philosophical writing to refer to an undisturbed state of natural conditions. These are circumstances in which plant, animal, and human life can continue freely. Living beings can receive all of the resources essential to their growth and reproduction, such as water, food, and shelter.

 

Body

The concept of environmental integrity in philosophy was developed in the early twentieth century by a philosopher and ecologist named Aldo Leopold. His seminal “land ethic” philosophy looked at the holistic relationship between living beings, with homo sapiens as mere members of the land community.

Food webs, nutrient cycling, natural disturbances, and other natural processes have to be present to allow animal and plant species to thrive, reproduce, and populate the area naturally. Any human activity that disturbs the development of a healthy natural system negatively impacts the notion of environmental integrity.

This very intersection between human activity and environmental integrity is an area of continued contention. Humans have exploited the natural environment, particularly in the past few centuries, for their survival at the cost of other plant and animal lives. We’ve turned forests into farms and wetlands into housing projects with almost no regard for the health of the environment.

 

Conclusion

Establishing a balance between the well-being of humans and other living beings in the environment is the key objective of environmental integrity. As some writers have argued, it’s morally important for the environment to remain intact for all living beings, including humans. Only then can the environment have positive instrumental value for all of its inhabitants.

 


General Studies – 4


 

Topic: Human Values – lessons from the lives and teachings of great leaders, reformers and administrators;

7. One needs to order different virtues in a hierarchy in order to help one to make a decision in the case of a conflict. Elaborate. (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-2023. Secure.

Key Demand of the question:

To write about taking decision and overcoming conflicts by having a hierarchy of values.

Directive word: 

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

Structure of the answer:

Introduction:

Begin by giving context regarding conflicts in decision making.

Body:

First, write about the ways conflicts impact decision making and its outcome – delays, improper decision making, dereliction of duty etc.

Next, write about how having a set of hierarchy of virtues can help in resolving conflicts.

Conclusion:

Conclude by summarising.

Introduction

There are many putative virtues, and they often appear to conflict: courage against prudence, love against fidelity. honesty against kindness, loyalty against common decency. Such conflicts raise questions about the coherence of the list of traits called virtues. And even when those traits coincide rather than conflict, as when both love and prudence recommend marriage. coherence is a problem because the question of motive is almost always significant.

Body

Hierarchy of values is an illusion

Isiah Berlin came up with the concept of Value Pluralism. Hierarchy of values is impossible. The conflict and ethical dilemma always occurs because the virtues are incompatible with each other sometimes. That does not mean one can rank these virtues and use this hierarchy to solve the problems. For example, liberty is not just distinct from equality, justice or compassion but is in some ways in unavoidable conflict with them. You can’t have everything: ‘freedom for the wolves has often meant death for the sheep’, he writes. In addition, Berlin argues that irreducible diversity and confrontation between moral ends is ubiquitous rather than exceptional within our own lives and in our social interactions. And, finally, we are told that the idea that there exists some absolute and universal moral yardstick that permits us to rank human values and ideals and resolve moral disagreement is an illusion.

Conclusion

Some societies may give higher priority to equality while some in West may give significance of liberty. Decisions involving moral turpitude requires careful circumstantial evidence before taking any decision. Value systems of people differs in different societies and must be taken into cognizance. There cannot be a Univeral hierarchy of virtues. Infact, some may think in utilitarian terms, and some may think of individual justice. There is no one size fits all approach here.

 


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time gives you extra points in the form of background information.