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[Mission 2023] Insights SECURE SYNOPSIS: 10 February 2023

 

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: population and associated issues

1. With Indian becoming world’s most populous nation in 2023, it offers opportunities as well as poses a lot of concerns. It will depend on how the government frames policies and strategies to effectively unleash the full potential of its young people. Analyse. (250 words)

Difficulty level: Easy

Reference: Insights on India

Why the question:

The question is part of the static syllabus of General studies paper – 1 and mentioned as part of Mission-2023 Secure timetable.

Key Demand of the question:

To write about to opportunities and concerns associated with a large population and need for proper policymaking to reach the full potential of population.

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 advantages of a having a large population – demographic dividend, More working-age population, more tax revenues and high growth rate etc.

Next, write about the disadvantages of a having a large population – resource crunch, high rate of poverty and hunger, unemployment etc.

Next, write about the need to have proper policymaking and strategy to reap the full potential of India’s demographic dividend and components of policy.

Conclusion:

Conclude by writing a way forward.

Introduction

With a population of 1.4 billion, India accounts for about 17.5 per cent of the world’s population, 1 of every 6 people on the planet live in India.

According to the 2022 edition of the United Nations’ World Population Prospects (WPP), India is projected to surpass China as the world’s most populous country in 2023. India is currently at a stage of demographic transition with a substantial percentage of the youth population.

 

Body

Opportunities offered by huge demographic dividend

  • Increase in Fiscal Space: Fiscal resources can be diverted from spending on children to investing in modern physical and human infrastructure that will increase economic sustainability of India.
  • Rise in Workforce: With more than 65% of the working age population, India can rise as an economic superpower, supplying more than half of Asia’s potential workforce over the coming decades.
    • Increase in the Labour Force that enhances the productivity of the economy.
    • Rise in Women’s Workforce that naturally accompanies a decline in fertility, and which can be a new source of growth.

Concerns associated

  • Unfulfilled Educational Requirements: While over 95% of India’s children attend primary school, the National Family Health Surveys confirms that poor infrastructure in government schools, malnutrition, and scarcity of trained teachers have resulted in poor learning outcomes.
    • The gender inequality in education is a concern as in India, boys are more likely to be enrolled in secondary and tertiary school than girls.
      • However, in the Philippines, China and Thailand, it is the reverse and in Japan, South Korea, and Indonesia, the gender differences are rather minimal.
    • Low Human Development Parameters: India ranked at 131st position by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Human Development Index 2020, which is alarming.
      • Therefore, health and education parameters need to be improved substantially to make the Indian workforce efficient and skilled.
    • Jobless Growth: There is mounting concern that future growth could turn out to be jobless due to de-industrialization, de-globalization, and the industrial revolution 4.0.
      • As per the NSSO Periodic Labour Force Survey 2017-18, India’s labour force participation rate for the age-group 15-59 years is around 53%, that is, around half of the working age population is jobless.
        • The informal nature of the economy in India is another hurdle in reaping the benefits of demographic transition in India.
      • Absence of Proper Policies: Without proper policies, the increase in the working-age population may lead to rising unemployment, fuelling economic and social risks.
      • Rise in the Share of Elderly Population: A greater proportion of youth at present will result in a greater proportion of elderly in the population in future.
        • This will create a demand for better healthcare facilities and development of welfare schemes/programmes for elderly people.
          • People, typically in informal employment, don’t have social security, it will add burden to the respective state.

Framing the right policies and strategy to leverage demographic dividend

  • Building human capital: Investing in people through healthcare, quality education, jobs and skills helps build human capital, which is key to supporting economic growth, ending extreme poverty, and creating a more inclusive society.
  • Skill development to increase employability of young population. India’s labour force needs to be empowered with the right skills for the modern economy. Government has established the National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC) with the overall target of skilling/ up skilling 500 million people in India by 2022..
  • Education: Enhancing educational levels by properly investing in primary, secondary and higher education. India, which has almost 41% of population below the age of 20 years, can reap the demographic dividend only if with a better education system. Also, academic-industry collaboration is necessary to synchronise modern industry demands and learning levels in academics.
    • Establishment of Higher Education Finance Agency (HEFA) is a welcome step in this direction.
  • Health: Improvement in healthcare infrastructure would ensure higher number of productive days for young labourforce, thus increasing the productivity of the economy.
    • Success of schemes like Ayushman Bharat and National Health Protection scheme (NHPS) is necessary. Also nutrition level in women and children needs special care with effective implementation of Integrated Child Development (ICDS) programme.
  • Job Creation: The nation needs to create ten million jobs per year to absorb the addition of young people into the workforce. Promoting businesses’ interests and entrepreneurship would help in job creation to provide employment to the large labourforce.
    • India’s improved ranking in the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business Index is a good sign.
    • Schemes like Start-up India and Make in India , if implemented properly, would bring the desired result in the near future.
  • Urbanisation: The large young and working population in the years to come will migrate to urban areas within their own and other States, leading to rapid and large-scale increase in urban population. How these migrating people can have access to basic amenities, health and social services in urban areas need to be the focus of urban policy planning.
    • Schemes such as Smart City Mission and AMRUT needs to be effectively and carefully implemented.

 

Conclusion

India is on the right side of demographic transition that provides golden opportunity for its rapid socio-economic development, if policymakers align the developmental policies with this demographic shift.

To reap the demographic dividend, proper investment in human capital is needed by focussing on education, skill development and healthcare facilities.

Value-addition

Steps taken by government in recent times

  • Dedicated Shram Suvidha Portal: That would allot Labor Identification Number (LIN) to units and allow them to file online compliance for 16 out of 44 labor laws.
  • Random Inspection Scheme: To eliminate human discretion in selection of units for Inspection, and uploading of Inspection Reports within 72 hours of inspection mandatory.
  • Universal Account Number: Enables 4.17 crore employees to have their Provident Fund account portable, hassle-free and universally accessible.
  • Apprentice Protsahan Yojana: Government will support manufacturing units mainly and other establishments by reimbursing 50% of the stipend paid to apprentices during first two years of their training.
  • Revamped Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojana: Introducing a Smart Card for the workers in the unorganized sector seeded with details of two more social security schemes.
  • The National Career Service is being implemented as a mission mode project to provide various job-related services information on skills development courses, internships etc

 

Topic: urbanization, their problems and their remedies.

2. We must rethink, reimagine and re-establish the very purpose and approach towards planning of cities and towns in India. We need to urgently and significantly ramp up the present cumulative capacity of urban planning in the country to avoid the creeping and silent crisis that is overtaking urban settlements. Examine. (250 words)

Difficulty level: Moderate

Reference: Insights on India

Why the question:

The question is part of the static syllabus of General studies paper – 1 and mentioned as part of Mission-2023 Secure timetable.

Key Demand of the question:

To write about the various issues due to poor planning of urban cities and measures needed to rectify it.

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 mentioning the lack of proper planning has been a bane for urban cities of India.

Body:

First, mention the various issues plaguing urban areas such as a need for affordable housing, issues of urban slums, waste management, poor drainage etc. Cite statistics to substantiate.

Next, mention about the major aspects that needs to change with regards to urban planning and mention the various factors that must be taken in to account in urban planning to have sustainable and resilient cities.

Conclusion:

Conclude by writing a way forward.

Introduction

In the recent few years, the growth of the economy and urbanization have accelerated. Rapid unplanned urbanization has put extreme pressure on natural resources. Now, more than 30%  population is in cities and this will increase to 50% by 2050.

Unplanned urbanization, however, exerts great strain on our cities. In fact, the Covid-19 pandemic has revealed the dire need for the planning and management of our cities.

Body

Issues plaguing urban areas

  • Rise in Slums: Few of the Asia’s largest slums are in Delhi and Mumbai where unplanned urbanisation led to polluted water, health issues and rising rate of crimes.
  • Urban flooding: Floods in Mumbai and Chennai are examples of urban flooding. These are results of unsustainable urbanisation.
  • Rising number of accidents: Fires in buildings and deaths in various urban accidents are daily routine in Indian cities.
  • Degrading environment: According to WHO report, out of 20 most polluted cities, 14 are in India.
  • Uneven urbanisation: The distribution of urban centres and the pace of urbanisation is not uniform across the country.
    • States such as Bihar, Odisha, Assam, and Uttar Pradesh continue to be at a lower level of urbanisation than the national average of 31.1%.
    • Over 75% of the urban population of the country is in 10 States: Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal, Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, and Kerala.
  • Sub-Optimal Utilisation of Urban Land: Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs (MoHUA) noted that paradoxically congested land parcels of high population densities co-exist with vast parcels of under-utilized lands.
    • A major reason for this is the fragmented and poorly recorded ownership of urban land. Moreover, multiple public sector organizations/agencies (ports, railways, ULBs, etc.) own land under their jurisdictions.
    • This hinders holistic planning and development. Non-optimal utilization creates scarcity of land which raises land price and reduces space for affordable housing.
  • Pressures on Coastal Habitations: The coastal cities are home to 14% of the population in India and are vulnerable to floods due to multiple causes, that include faulty urban design and planning, dynamic coastline, flash floods, storm surges, cyclones, and tsunamis. Coastal habitations and infrastructural investments are vulnerable to rise in sea levels due to climate change and cyclones.
  • Increasing Risk of Water Scarcity in Cities: The World Wide Fund for Nature India (2020) has found that Indian cities dominate current and future lists of global cities with the highest overall water risk.
    • This situation is further exacerbated by the lack of adequate infrastructure in cities and towns to handle their own wastewater and solid waste.
    • NITI Aayog in its Composite Water Management Index noted that hunt for additional water resources to sustain Indian cities will lead to “serious harm to the country’s biodiversity, environment, and ecological balance” (2019).

Significance of sustainable urbanization:

  • Safe drinking water: According to a report by NITI Aayog, 21 cities will run out of groundwater by 2020. To avoid further worsening of such crisis we need careful urban planning.
  • Affordable housing: One of the largest government programmes is to provide affordable housing to citizens. Sustainable urban planning will help to manage land resources in equitable way.
  • Urban sewage and solid waste management: In India less than quarter of the waste generated gets proper treatment. For rapidly growing urban agglomerations we need planning to manage this rising challenge.
  • Transportation and communication: Sustainable urban planning will provide efficient and eco-friendly public transport facilities to overpopulated urban cities of India.
  • Sustainable urban planning will also help in equitable resources distribution and affordable service delivery.
  • It will also help in creating sustainable environment and disaster management.

 

Measures needed

  • India needs to work on achieving the goals set by United Nations under SDG-11 to be achieved by 2030.
  • Need for Comprehensive National urban plan for effective and timely implementation of policies and schemes
  • Ensure access for all through adequate, safe and affordable housing and basic services and upgrade slums, transport systems for all, improving road safety, notably by expanding public transport.
  • Give special attention to the needs of those in vulnerable situations, women and children, persons with disabilities and older persons.
  • Reduce the adverse per capita environmental impact of cities, including by paying special attention to air quality and municipal and other waste management.
  • Provide universal access to safe, inclusive and accessible, green and public spaces.
  • Support positive economic, social and environmental links between urban, peri-urban and rural areas by strengthening national and regional development planning
  • Substantially increase the number of cities and human settlements adopting and implementing integrated policies and plans towards inclusion, resource efficiency, mitigation and adaptation to climate change, resilience to disasters, and develop and implement, in line with the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction.

 

Conclusion

India is rapidly urbanizing. The cities and their infrastructure are coming under increasing pressure. It is thus imperative to enhance the urban planning capacity of the ULBs. As India reaches the tipping point of transitioning from a mostly rural to an urban society, the time to undertake planning reforms is now, because the process is irreversible. This has become vital to ensure that the growth of cities is sustainable and inclusive in the future.

Value addition

Government efforts towards sustainable urbanization:

  • Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation (AMRUT) as a step towards harnessing the agglomeration economies of the urban centres and making cities engines of growth.
  • It envisages convergence across various initiatives such as Amrut, Smart Cities, Hriday (National Heritage City Development and Augmentation Yojana), Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana and Swachh Bharat.
  • Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana for affordable housing with credit linked subsidy.
  • Smart cities Mission- It is an urban development programme launched by the government of India with the mission to develop 100 cities across the country and making them citizen friendly and sustainable.

 


General Studies – 2


 

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

3. What are the reasons for low Female Labour Force Participation Rate in the country? Evaluate the governmental measures that have been taken to promote women in the workforce. (250 words)

Difficulty level: Tough

Reference: Indian ExpressInsights on India

Why the question:

Economic Survey tries to address a longstanding policy problem by developing a better method to count women’s participation in the labour force

Key Demand of the question:

To write about the reasons for low Female Labour Force Participation Rate and governmental measures to improve it, their successes and limitations.

Directive word: 

Evaluate – When you are asked to evaluate, you have to pass a sound judgement about the truth of the given statement in the question or the topic based on evidence.  You must appraise the worth of the statement in question. There is scope for forming an opinion here.

Structure of the answer:

Introduction: 

Begin by citing statistic regards to Female Labour Force Participation Rate in the country.

Body:

First, write about the reasons for low Female Labour Force Participation Rate in the country – educational enrolment of young women, lack of employment opportunities, effect of household income on participation etc.

Next, write about the various measures taken by the government for promoting women in labour – cite policy measures and schemes. Evaluate their successes and limitations.

Conclusion:

Conclude by writing a way forward.

Introduction

While gender gaps in education and nutrition have been closing over time the disadvantaged position of women is very visible in the labour market. Women Labour force participation is only 25% in India whereas the global average is 60%, to become world power, we cannot afford women to be out of service.

Body

Reasons for women staying out of labour market

There are non-economic, social and cultural factors over and above the economic factors. When increase in family incomes are there, due to the cultural factors, women leave the work to take care of the family.

  • Deep rooted patriarchy: The cultural baggage about women working outside the home is so strong that in most traditional Indian families, quitting work is a necessary precondition to the wedding itself.
  • Childcare responsibility solely on women: One big factor is maternity. Many women who join the workforce are unable to re-join after having a child. This is because, childcare is mainly seen as a woman’s job.
  • Bias at workplace against women: The landmark legislation, which entitles a woman to 26 weeks of paid maternity leave is becoming a big hurdle.
    • As per a study this increased cost for companies and this may discourage them from hiring women.
    • Mothers are also not given preference because they are seen to take less official responsibilities due to family.
  • Safety: The safety in metropolitan, tier 1 and tier 2 cities is the major issue. Concerns about safety and Harassment at work site, both explicit and implicit.
  • Education: Higher Education levels of women also allow them to pursue leisure and other non-work activities, all of which reduce female labour force participation.
    • When income increases, men allow Indian women to withdraw from the labour force, thereby avoiding the stigma of working (cultural factors).
  • Insufficient availability of the type of jobs that women say they would like to do, such as regular part-time jobs that provide steady income and allow women to reconcile household duties with work.
  • Unpaid work: Social norms about household work are against women’s mobility and participation in paid work. Childbirth and taking care of elderly parents or in-laws account for the subsequent points where women drop off the employment pipeline.

 

Measures that are required to overcome this trend

  • Emancipation of women: Creating safe workplaces to bring more women to labor force should take front seat. Better targeting of education and reducing digital divide in post pandemic world should become a priority.
  • Women Empowerment: Through education, women have better access and opportunities in the workforce, leading to increased income and less isolation at home or exclusion from financial decisions.
  • Removing work place bias against working mothers: Pregnancy discrimination, hiring of women based on skill and diversity hiring after career gap, should become a norm.
  • Behavioral Nudge:For instance, by using taxes to incentivize fairly sharing child-care responsibilities, or by encouraging women and girls to enter traditionally male-dominated sectors such as the armed forces and information technology. , Supreme Court in India declared that women could now hold commanding positions in Army.
    • Paternity leaves for men, to share the responsibility of child rearing.
    • Incentivizing companies to employ women, and reach 50% target.
  • Strong laws and policies wrt equal pay for equal work, maternity benefits are needed to promote women’s representation in economy.
  • Maternity and paternity: . An amendment to the Act in 2017 increasedpaid maternity leave from 12 to 26 weeks. Though well-meaning, this unfortunately fortifies notions of care-giving being primarily the onus of the woman, and thus reinforces and raises the risk of women being subject to the motherhood penalty.
    • An explicit law for mandatory paternity benefitswill go a long way towards equalizing gender roles and reducing employer bias
  • Better work conditions:The provision and strengthening of childcare facilities for working mothers are very important.
    • The Maternity Benefit Act mandates the setting up of creche facilities for organizations with over 50 employees.
    • A better policy measure would be to provide mothers in need of childcare with a monthly allowance. This will also help mothers working from home.
  • Political Representation:India has provided 33% reservation for women in the Panchayats and Local Bodies. Capacity Building and training can increase their capabilities further.

Conclusion and way forward

  • Existing patriarchal norms pose a significant constraint to the take-up of public or market services.
  • Addressing the issue of childcare and flexible work could help initiate positive social norms that encourage the redistribution of unpaid care and domestic work burden.
  • A huge spectrum of women’s skilled but unpaid work contributes directly to the economy. Yet, its devaluation by not being accounted for ‘work’ weakens women’s status, leading to their vulnerability.
  • Sharing the responsibilities of childcare can be difficult in a culture where parental leave is given only to the mother.
  • This further reinforces the notion that unpaid care work is the sole responsibility of the women.
  • The government has a crucial role to play in promoting gender equality by ensuring equality of opportunity in public services.
  • However, these solutions will have a limited impact unless the behavioural change of each and every individual is targeted.

 

Value addition

Statistics on women issues

  • High gender divide: The gender gap in the country has widened, with only 62.5% of it closedand especially low gender parity in political empowerment and economic participation and opportunity.
  • Wage gap:Women are paid considerably less than men, with some research showing that the gender pay gap between women and men in the same jobs with equivalent qualifications can be as much as 34%.
  • Labour force participation:India, as of 2020, has the lowest female labour force participation rate among South Asian nations, with four out of five women neither working nor looking for jobs.
  • High Job loss:According to Oxfam, 17 million women in India lost their jobs in April 2020, with their unemployment rate rising far higher than that among men.
  • Lesser opportunities for women:Women were found to be seven times more likely to lose their jobs during the lockdown phases, and if rendered unemployed, were 11 times more likely to remain jobless than their male counterparts.
  • Uneven domestic responsibility: Potential reasons for this include the increased burden of domestic responsibilitiesthat Indian women typically had to bear, in terms of not just household chores but extra time needed for elderly care and children’s studies, with schools shut.
  • Even pre-pandemic,a Time Use Survey conducted by the National Sample Survey Office showed that women spent nearly 4.5 hours on childcare and other care-giving responsibilities, in contrast with the meagre 0.88 hours for men.

 

Topic: Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests.

4. India and France are time tested partners with their 25 years of strategic partnership covering range of bilateral issues such as defence cooperation, space, blue economy, civil nuclear and people-to-people ties. Elaborate. (250 words)

Difficulty level: Moderate

Reference: The HinduInsights on India

Why the question:

The celebration by India and France of 25 years of their strategic partnership (January 26) presents an important opportunity for both to introspect on their relations. Signed in 1998, the time-tested strategic partnership has continued to gain momentum over shared values and aspirations of peace, stability and, most importantly, their desire for strategic autonomy.

Key Demand of the question:

To write about the achievements in 25 years of Indo-France strategic partnership.

Directive word: 

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

Structure of the answer:

Introduction: 

Begin by giving context of 25 years of Indo-France strategic partnership.

Body:

First, discuss about the historic relations between the India and France in brief.

Next, write about the major areas of cooperation and major achievements in the Indo-France relationship in the past 25 years.

Next, write about the further potential in the Indo-French relations especially given the current geopolitical turmoil in Europe. Elaborate on the aspect of importance of multilateralism and have a common respect for international rules and regulations that both the countries share.

Conclusion:

Conclude by writing a way forward in order to achieve the potential.

Introduction

India and France have traditionally close and friendly relations. In 1998, the two countries entered into Strategic Partnership which is based on three pillars of defence cooperation, space cooperation and civil nuclear cooperation. In the recent years, there have been increasing convergences between both the countries.

Body

Time tested India France relationship

  • Partnership in the Indian Ocean: France was the first European country to launch an IndoPacific strategy and India is a key pillar in that strategy. Thus, the relationship between India France has grown beyond bilateral to focus and includes intensified maritime and naval cooperation in Indian Ocean and more broadly the Indo Pacific.
    • France has specific interests in the Indian Ocean due to its overseas territories (Reunion Island and Mayotte) home to over a million French citizens, and more than 10% of the Indian Ocean’s surface.
  • Strategic convergence: On the regional front, France is as concerned as India at the rising Chinese profile in the Indo-Pacific. Both would like to work to offer credible alternatives to Chinese economic and military assistance in the region.
    • On the international front, both are deeply concerned about the breakdown of the rules based global order.
  • Global cooperation: After their joint efforts to limit climate change and develop the International Solar Alliance, India and France have turned to more ambitious ideas. In this direction, both countries issued the road map on cybersecurity and digital technology.
  • France’s support on international platforms: France is among the countries that have consistently supported India’s permanent membership to UNSC.
    • Also, France has offered unstinted support for India on targeting the sources of violent extremism in Pakistan and helped limit the international backlash against India’s effort to rewrite the rules of engagement in J&K.
  • Nuclear Cooperation: After the nuclear tests in May 1998 when India declared itself a nuclear weapon state, France was the first major power to open dialogue and displayed a far greater understanding of India’s security compulsions compared to other countries. Both signed, civil nuclear cooperation agreement in 2008.
    • “Industrial Way Forward Agreement” was signed in 2018, between France and India for the construction of six nuclear reactors at Jaitapur.
  • Defence Cooperation: France remains a vital source of arms supply to India. Defence cooperation with France began in the 1950s when India acquired the Ouragan aircraft and continued with the Mystères, Jaguar, Rafale, Scorpène submarines, etc.
    • Both countries also signed reciprocal logistics support agreement to receive logistical support, supplies and services from each other during authorised port visits, joint exercises, etc.
  • Cooperation in Space and Technology has continued since the 1960s when France helped India set up the Sriharikota launch site, followed by liquid engine development and hosting of payloads. Currently, other projects include joint satellite mission – TRISHNA (for eco-system stress and water use monitoring) and also accommodation of French instrument on India’s OCEANSAT-3 satellite.
  • Counter terrorism: Terror strikes in France by home-grown terrorists provide much scope for counterterrorism cooperation, in terms of both intelligence-sharing and de-radicalisation strategies.
  • Given its expertise in the sphere of urban planning France is also helping in the Smart Cities Mission. The three such smart cities are Chandigarh, Nagpur and Puducherry.

 

Conclusion and way forward

  • Even though above specified areas provided a robust basis for engagement, it remained primarily at a government-to-government level.
  • In recent years, it was clear that for a wider partnership, strengthening business-to-business and people-to-people relationships was essential. Also, the trade between India and France, although growing, is yet to reach its potential.
  • By leveraging the potential of convergences, France can be India’s gateway to Europe and India France’s first strategic partner in Asia.
  • The underpinnings of global geopolitics are being rapidly altered with China’s rise, the West being consumed by internal problems and Russia, the “America First” priorities of the US Administration, and growing threats to globalization.
  • With such background, France and India have a shared interest in developing a coalition of middle powers with a shared commitment for a rule-based multipolar world order.

 


General Studies – 2


 

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

5. What are Kelp forests? Write about their ecological and economic importance. Examine the various threats faced by these forests and possible conservation strategies to safeguard them with a special emphasis on the role indigenous knowledge could play in the conservation efforts.  (250 words)

Difficulty level: Moderate

Reference: Down to Earth

Why the question:

Even as large underwater forests of kelp, brown marine algae seaweeds, are declining by roughly 1.8 per cent annually, there is little information on how local conditions impact their response to global stress factors.

Key Demand of the question:

To write about Kelp forests, their ecological and economic importance and strategies needed for their conservation.

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 Kelp forests.

Body:

First, write about the economic significance of Kelp forests – fisheries, aquaculture and recreational activities etc.

Next, write about the ecological significance of Kelp forests – ecosystem services, carbon sequestration etc.

Next, write about the various threats faced by Kelp forests – climate change, eutrophication and shoreline development, among other human-induced stressors.

Next, write about the conservation strategies needed to protect Kelp forests and role that Indigenous knowledge can play in this regard.

Conclusion:

Conclude by writing a way forward.

Introduction

Kelp are large brown algae that live in cool, relatively shallow waters close to the shore. They grow in dense groupings much like a forest on land. These underwater towers of kelp provide food and shelter for thousands of fish, invertebrates, and marine mammal species.

Among the many mammals and birds that use kelp forests for protection or feeding are seals, sea lions, whales, sea otters, gulls, terns, snowy egrets, great blue herons, cormorants, and shore birds.

These dense canopies of algae generally occur in cold, nutrient-rich waters. Because of their dependency upon light for photosynthesis, kelp forests form in shallow open waters and are rarely found deeper than 49-131 feet.

 

Body

Ecological and economic importance

  • Kelp forests harbor a greater variety and higher diversity of plants and animals than almost any other ocean community.
  • Shelter sea life: Many organisms use the thick blades as a safe shelter for their young from predators or even rough storms.
  • Fighting climate change: Kelp and other types of marine vegetation absorb an estimated 20 times more carbon dioxide per acre than forests on land, making it a powerful force in storing this persistent greenhouse gas and mitigating the effects of climate change. In addition, studies suggest that kelp sequesters more carbon than all other marine plants combined.
  • Protect the shoreline: Nearshore kelp forests serve as a buffer against waves, a particularly valuable function during the storms that frequently batter the West Coast. Kelp also helps to prevent coastal erosion and filter pollutants from the water.
  • Support coastal economies: Kelp forests provide vital habitat for red abalone and red urchins, which are prized by fishermen, along with other important species such as rockfish and cabezon.
  • Fuel the food web: Kelp forests are an important part of the marine food web, absorbing nutrients such as nitrogen from the water and making them available to a variety of species that feed on their leaves (blades).
  • This, along with kelp’s role in mitigating the impacts of climate change, nurturing fish and wildlife, and supporting coastal economies, makes kelp protection and restoration vital to the future of the West Coast’s nearshore marine environment.

Threats faced

  • Climate change and human-induced stressors: Kelps are increasingly threatened by climate change, eutrophication and shoreline development, among other human-induced stressors.
    • Destructive fishing practices, coastal pollution, and accidental damage caused by boat entanglement are known to negatively affect kelp forests.
  • Warming of oceans
    • Warmer than normal summers and seasonal changes to currents that bring fewer nutrients to kelp forests combine to weaken kelps and threaten their survival in some years.
  • Bryozoa
    • One such threat is from bryozoa, moss animals that grow as mats on kelps. They drive the seaweed to sink into the seafloor and disintegrate.
      • The bryozoa outbreak can be linked to high temperatures as high temperature and kelp density results in more bryozoan.
      • Dense kelp beds in warmer and less wave-exposed sites are more susceptible to bryozoan outbreaks
    • Storms:
      • Strong individual storms can wipe out large areas of kelp forest, by ripping the kelp plants from the seafloor.

 

Mitigating the risk

  • Active restoration of kelp ecosystems is an emerging field that aims to reverse these declines by mitigating negative stressors and then, if needed, introducing biotic material into the environment. To date, few restoration efforts have incorporated positive species interactions.
  • Currently, genomics is being applied and used in kelp forest conservation primarily as an informational input to evaluate and prioritize among traditional conservation or management options.
    • There is an accumulating body of knowledge revealing genetic differences through the geographic range of giant kelp that indicates adaptation to local environmental conditions.
  • Emerging technologies in genetic and microbial selection and manipulation can increase the tolerance of target species to warming and other stressors.

Conclusion

While there will be no substitute for rapid reductions in greenhouse gas emissions to mitigate climate change, kelp forests provide a valuable addition to the arsenal of tools for reducing its effects. Therefore, understanding the impact changing environmental conditions will have on kelp itself is key to predicting future changes in its distribution and functions, including its blue carbon role.

 

Topic: Disaster and disaster management.

6. What is a glacial lake outburst flood (GLOF)? Analyse India’s vulnerabilities to GLOF. Is India prepared and equipped to handle a GLOF disaster? (250 words)

Difficulty level: Moderate

Reference: Down to EarthInsights on India

Why the question:

Three million Indians live in areas where a glacial lake outburst flood (GLOF) can happen at any time, the first global assessment of such areas has found.

Key Demand of the question:

To write about GLOF, India’s vulnerability and preparedness in tackling 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 defining a GLOF.

Body:

First, write about how vulnerable India is to a GLOF. Cite statistics to substantiate and previous GLOF disaster faced by India.

Next, write about preparedness of India in handling a GLOF disaster – mention the steps that have been already taken, their strengths and limitations. Mention further steps that can be taken in this regard.

Conclusion:

Conclude by writing a way forward.

 

Introduction

A glacial lake outburst flood (GLOF) is a release of meltwater from a moraine- or ice-dam glacial lake due to dam failure. GLOFs often result in catastrophic flooding downstream, with major geomorphic and socioeconomic impacts.

Glacial lakes form when a glacier retreats, leaving the debris mass at the end of the glacier – the end moraine – exposed. The moraine wall can act as a natural dam, trapping the meltwater from the glacier and leading to the formation of a lake. The moraine dams are composed of unconsolidated boulders, gravel, sand, and silt. As with landslide dams, they can eventually break catastrophically, leading to a glacial lake outburst flood or GLOF.

Body

India’s vulnerabilities to GLOF

  • In August 2014, a glacial lake outburst flood hit the village of Gya in Ladakh, destroying houses, fields and bridges.
  • Many settlements at Chungthang are potentially exposed to the future GLOF of South Lohnak Lake, one of the fastest-growing glacial lakes in Sikkim,
  • Several Indian states are considered vulnerable as there are 9,575 glaciers in the Himalayan region contiguous to the country.
  • According to an estimate, over 200 of these are susceptible to outbursts.
  • Research by a group of scientists last year found that the highest GLOF risk currently is in the eastern Himalayan region where the risk level is at least twice that in adjacent regions.
    • The scientists were of the view that the possibility of hazards in the future in this zone would “almost triple” due to more lake formations.
  • In the Indian Himalayan region, the first GLOF was reported in 1926 in Jammu and Kashmir.
  • In the 1980s, scientists observed two instances of sudden emptying of moraine-dammed lakes in Himachal Pradesh.
  • In 2013, Uttarakhand faced an unprecedented flood after the Chorabari glacier melted, leaving a death toll of more than 5,000 people.

Preparedness to handle disaster of GLOF

NDMA guidelines are extensively given to handle GLOF disasters as follows.

  • Identifying Potentially Dangerous Lakes: Potentially dangerous lakes can be identified based on field observations, records of past events, geomorphologic and geotechnical characteristics of the lake/dam and surroundings, and other physical conditions.
  • Use of Technology: Promoting use of Synthetic-Aperture Radar imagery (a form of radar that is used to create two-dimensional images) to automatically detect changes in water bodies, including new lake formations, during the monsoon months.
    • Methods and protocols could also be developed to allow remote monitoring of lake bodies from space.
  • Channeling Potential Floods: To manage lakes structurally, the NDMA recommends reducing the volume of water with methods such as controlled breaching, pumping or siphoning out water, and making a tunnel through the moraine barrier or under an ice dam.
  • Uniform Codes for Construction Activity: Developing a broad framework for infrastructure development, construction and excavation in vulnerable zones.
    • There is a need to accept procedures for land use planning in the GLOF prone areas.
  • Enhancing Early Warning Systems (EWS): The number of implemented and operational GLOF EWS is very small, even at the global scale.
    • In the Himalayan region, there are at three reported instances (two in Nepal and one in China) of implementation of sensor- and monitoring-based technical systems for GLOF early warning.
  • Training Local Manpower: Apart from pressing specialised forces such as National Disaster Response Force (NDRF), ITBP and the Army, NDMA has emphasised the need for trained local manpower.
    • It has been observed that over 80% of search and rescue is carried out by the local community before the intervention of the state machinery and specialised search and rescue teams.
    • The local teams could also assist in planning and setting up emergency shelters, distributing relief packages, identifying missing people, and addressing the needs for food, healthcare, water supply etc.
  • Comprehensive Alarm Systems: Besides classical alarming infrastructure consisting of acoustic alarms by sirens, modern communication technology using cell and smartphones can complement or even replace traditional alarming infrastructure.

 

Conclusion and way forward

  • Early warning system: There is an urgent need to use multiple methods for better risk assessment and early warning. It is important to regularly monitor lake development and dynamics. This approach could help limit the damages caused by the glacial lake outburst events.
  • Better land planning: Further development processes in these ecologically fragile areas should be guided by better land-use planning.

Value addition

Causes of GLOF

  • Rapid slope movement into the lake
  • Heavy rainfall/snowmelt
  • Cascading processes (flood from a lake situated upstream)
  • Earthquake
  • Melting of ice incorporated in dam/forming the dam (including volcanic activity-triggered jökulhlaups)
  • Blocking of subsurface outflow tunnels (applies only to lakes without surface outflow or lakes with a combination of surface and subsurface outflow)
  • Long-term dam degradation

 


General Studies – 4


 

Topic: Case Study

7. Titu is hesitant to talk about his work. All the 32-year-old is willing to say is that he is a cleaner. In reality, Titu and many other manual scavengers like him dive into sewer tanks to flush out stagnant filth inside. In the name of protective gear, all they have is a belt tied around their torso and attached to a rope.

Titus’s plight resonates with thousands of his brethren who continue to do this work that is prohibited by laws. Since Independence, the Indian government has adopted several measures and policies to end this practice. The Civil Rights Act of 1955 protects anyone from being forced to engage in manual scavenging. The Employment of Manual Scavengers and Con­struction of Dry Latrines (Prohibition) Act of 1993, and the Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and Their Rehabilitation Act, 2013 that the Indian Parliament has pas­sed, all reaffirm its commitment to eradicating manual scavenging. Further, on March 27, 2014, the Supreme Court ruled that India’s Con­­­stitution requires the government to intervene to prohibit manual scavenging and to “reh­abilitate” all those involved.

Many manual scavengers have lost their life due to toxic fumes in the pits and this inhuman practise has continued unabated.

    1. As an administrator what measures will you take to combat manual scavenging?
    2. What steps will you take as administrator for successful rehabilitation of manual scavengers like Titu?

(250 words)

Difficulty level: Moderate

Why the question:

The question is part of the static syllabus of General studies paper – 4 and part of ‘Case Study Fridays’ in Mission-2023 Secure.

Structure of the answer:

Introduction:

Begin by giving context.

Body:

  1. Write about various steps that you will take to end the practise of Manual scavenging.
  2. Mention the Write about various steps that you will take rehabilitate manual scavengers.

Conclusion:

Conclude by summarising.

Introduction

The occupation of sanitation work in India is intrinsically linked with the system of hierarchy and exclusion: The Caste System. As B R Ambedkar pointed out, caste leads not only to the division of labour but of labourers as well.

All cleaning jobs are viewed as lowly and are assigned to people from the lowest rung of the social hierarchy. Dalits are mainly employed as sanitation workers – manual scavengers, drain cleaners, garbage collectors, and road sweepers.

 

Body

  1. Measures to combat manual scavenging
  • Proper Identification: Manual scavenging is both a violation of human rights and a disgrace to humanity at large. State governments should therefore identify the workers who clean toxic sludge on a priority basis to ensure effective policy implementation.
  • Proactive Involvement of Stakeholders: In order to tackle this problem it would be necessary to involve all the major skateholders involved.
    • They include the District Administrative Officers, Chief Medical Officer, NGOs and Municipal Corporation among other relevant officials.
    • The inclusion of the community around the areas that are most affected into the program is also of equal importance.
    • Seeking information from officials and the community will help in coming up with an informed decision on the best way to proceed with the initiative.
  • Mass Awareness: Conducting a workshop with locals would assist the officials in spreading awareness regarding the legal implications that are related to engaging in scavenging and having dry toilets as well as understanding the cause of the practice.
    • The awareness campaigns should not only address the dangers of scavenging but also give the community affected an alternative method of making money.
    • Locals can also be allowed to suggest solutions they feel comfortable with.

 

  1. Rehabilitating manual scavengers like Titu
  • Rehabilitation and Compensation of Manual Scavengers: Creation of more employment is one of the most important rehabilitation processes.
    • The jobs created would aim to offer equal opportunities to the locals. The jobs created also act as a means to assimilate manual scavengers into the community.
    • In 2014, a Supreme Court order made it mandatory for the government to identify all those who died in sewage work since 1993 and provide 10 lakh each as compensation to their families.
    • I will make sure Titu and more such families get this money to get away from scavenging
  • Investing in Proper Human Waste Management: Solving solid and liquid waste segregation problems, as well as bio composting at Municipal level, are some of the ways through which we can utilise waste for the benefit of humanity.
    • By treating waste as an asset, rather than a liability, manual scavenging will be reduced in the future making a way to Swacch Bharat and Swasth Bharat.
  • Robotic Scavenging: With the help of robotics and artificial intelligence, machines can be devised that can replace humans in manual labour.
    • Bandicoot is one such robotic machine that is engineered for cleaning any type of sewer manholes
  • Towards Social Integration: The scavenging work generates little money that is not enough to educate a child. The child ends up dropping out and joining their parents in the same line of work.
    • Implementation of schemes that would help these children finish their studies would be an effective strategy in discarding the theories and myths associated with manual scavenging.

 

Conclusion

Society must come together to prevent the “murder in the sewer”. To stop this menace, targeting the root of the problem is the key ie to remove all manual pits that require scavenging. Technology must be leveraged in this day and time to ensure such work is not done by human beings.


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