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[Mission 2023] Insights SECURE SYNOPSIS: 11 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

Answer the following questions in 150 words:


General Studies – 1


 

1. Discuss the factors that cause earthquakes. Why the Anatolian Plate is one of the most seismically active regions in the world?

Reference: Down to EarthInsights on India

Introduction

An earthquake is the shaking of the surface of the Earth, resulting from the sudden release of energy in the Earth‘s lithosphere that creates seismic waves. It is a natural event. Earthquake is the form of energy of wave motion transmitted through the surface layer of the earth. The location below the earth’s surface where the earthquake starts is called the hypocenter, and the location directly above it on the surface of the earth is called the epicenter.

Three earthquakes measuring — 7.8, 7.6, and 6.0 — magnitude on the Richter scale have devastated Turkey and Syria, while impacting regions as far away as Cyprus, Lebanon, Israel, and Egypt. Turkey has announced a Level 4 alert calling for international aid; India, U.S., European Union, Russia, and Azerbaijan have reportedly dispatched aid.

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Natural Causes

Fault Zones

  • The release of energy occurs along a fault. A fault is a sharp break in the crustal rocks.
  • Rocks along a fault tend to move in opposite directions. As the overlying rock strata press them, the friction locks them together.
  • However, their tendency to move apart at some point of time overcomes the friction. As a result, the blocks get deformed and eventually, they slide past one another abruptly.
  • This causes earthquake in the form of release of energy, and the energy waves travel in all directions.

Plate tectonics

  • The most common ones are the tectonic earthquakes.
  • The Earth’s crust consists of seven large lithospheric plates and numerous smaller plates.
  • Tectonic plates (Lithospheric plates) are constantly shifting as they drift around on the viscous, or slowly flowing, mantle layer below.
  • This non-stop movement causes stress on Earth’s crust. When the stresses get too large, it leads to cracks called faults.
  • When tectonic plates move, it also causes movements at the faults. Thus, the slipping of land along the faultline along convergent, divergent and transform boundaries cause earthquakes.

Volcanoes

  • A special class of tectonic earthquake is sometimes recognised as volcanic earthquake. However, these are confined to areas of active volcanoes.
  • Earthquakes produced by stress changes in solid rock due to the injection or withdrawal of magma (molten rock) are called volcano earthquakes.
  • These earthquakes can cause land to subside and can produce large ground cracks. These earthquakes can occur as rock is moving to fill in spaces where magma is no longer present.
  • Volcano-tectonic earthquakes don’t indicate that the volcano will be erupting but can occur at any time.

Anthropogenic causes

  • In the areas ofintense mining activity, sometimes the roofs of underground mines collapse causing minor tremors. These are called collapse earthquakes.
  • Blasting of rock by dynamites for construction purposes.
  • Deep underground tunnel excavations
  • Ground shaking may also occur due to the explosion of chemical or nuclear devices. Such tremors are called explosion earthquakes.
  • The earthquakes that occur in the areas of large reservoirs are referred to as reservoirinduced earthquakes. E.g: Koyna reservoir earthquake in Maharastra
  • Hydrostatic pressure of man-made water bodies like reservoirs and lakes.

Reasons behind Seismically Active Anatolia plate

  • In the region of Turkey, Syria, and Jordantectonicsare dominated by complex interactions between the African, Arabian, and Eurasian tectonic plates, and the Anatolian tectonic block.
  • Red Sea Rift, the spreading centre between the African and Arabian plates;
  • Dead Sea Transform, a major strike-slip fault that also accommodates Africa-Arabia relative motions;
  • North Anatolia Fault, a right-lateral strike-slip structure in northern Turkey accommodating much of the translational motion of the Anatolia block westwards with respect to Eurasia and Africa;
  • Cyprian Arc,a convergent boundary between the African plate and the Anatolia block.

Conclusion

Unlike other disasters, the damages caused by earthquakes are more devastating. Since it also destroys most of the transport and communication links, providing timely relief to the victims becomes difficult. It is not possible to prevent the occurrence of an earthquake; hence, the next best option is to emphasis on disaster preparedness and mitigation rather than curative measures.

 

2. Analyse the distribution and changing trends in distribution of Iron and steel industry in India. To what extent government policies determine their location?

Reference: Insights on India

Introduction

Iron and steel industry act as a backbone for the physical infrastructure development of the country. The inputs for the iron and steel industry include raw materials such as iron ore, coal and limestone, along with labour, capital, site and other infrastructure. Many important geographical factors involved in the location of individual industries are of relative significance. But besides such purely geographical factors influencing industrial location, there are factors of historical, human, political and economic nature which are now tending to surpass the force of geographical advantages.

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Distribution of Iron and steel industry in India

  • In India,   iron   and   steel   industry has developed taking advantage of raw materials, cheap labour, transport and market.
  • Iron and Steel industry uses a large quantity of heavy and weight losing raw material, so its location is primarily guided by the availability of raw material.
  • All the important steel producing centres such as Bhilai, Durgapur, Burnpur, Jamshedpur, Rourkela, Bokaro are situated in a region that spreads over four states — West Bengal, Jharkhand, Odisha and Chhattisgarh.
  • These states have coal and iron ore deposits in abundance and are important producers of these materials.
  • Bhadravati and Vijay Nagar in Karnataka, Vishakhapatnam in Andhra Pradesh, and Salem in Tamil Nadu are other important steel centres utilising local resources.

Changing patterns & Impact of Government policies

  • Before 1800 A.D. iron  and  steel  industry  was  located  where  raw  materials,  power  supply  and  running   water   were   easily
  • Later the    ideal    location  for  the  industry  was  near  coal  fields  and  close  to  canals   and
  • After 1950,  iron  and  steel  industry  began  to  be  located  on  large  areas  of  flat  land  near  sea    This  is  because  by  this  time  steel  works  had  become  very  large  and  iron  ore  had  to  be  imported  from  overseas
  • Optimum transportation cost of carrying raw material from source and finished products to market play important role in the location of Iron and Steel Industry.
  • Following the theory of minimum transportation cost many centres of iron and steel production tend to be attracted by the market.
  • Recent technological developments in transport, the use of scrap as raw material and the agglomeration economics have made market-oriented location more advantageous than ever before.

 

  • Port location provides easy and cheap means of transportation. These are highly helpful in the import of raw materials and export of the finished products. When some of the basic raw materials need to be imported or the finished Steel is to be exported, seaport locations are preferred.

 

  • The ultimate responsibility of balanced regional development rests with the government and in view of this Government has invested heavily in backward areas for developing these industries for example in Jharkhand, Orissa, Chhattisgarh, etc. This approach was in accordance with the principle of the Trickle-down theory of Growth.

Conclusion

The potential for growth of this sector is enormous. This can be gauged from the fact that the per capita consumption of steel is around 29 kg whereas the world average is 150 kg. The National Steel Policy, 2017 envisage 300 million tonnes of production capacity by 2030-31. Huge scope for growth is offered by India’s comparatively low per capita steel consumption and the expected rise in consumption due to increased infrastructure construction and the thriving automobile and railways sectors.

 


General Studies – 2


 

3. Discuss the powers and functions of SEBI. What are the major issues faced by the regulatory body for securities and commodity market in India? Suggest reforms that are needed in its functioning.

Reference: Live Mint

Introduction

SEBI is essentially a statutory body of the Indian Government that was established on the 12th of April in 1992. It was introduced to promote transparency in the Indian investment market. Besides its headquarters in Mumbai, the establishment has several regional offices across the country including, New Delhi, Ahmedabad, Kolkata and Chennai.

It is entrusted with the task to regulate the functioning of the Indian capital market. The regulatory body lays focus on monitoring and regulating the securities market in India to safeguard the interest of investors and aims to inculcate a safe investment environment by implementing several rules and regulations as well as by formulating investment-related guidelines.

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Power and functions of SEBI

Being a regulatory body, SEBI India has several powers to perform vital functions. The SEBI Act of 1992 carries a list of such powers vested in the regulatory body. The functions of SEBI make it an issuer of securities, protector of investors and traders and a financial mediator.

Powers

  • SEBI is a quasi-legislative and quasi-judicial body which can draft regulations, conduct inquiries, pass rulings and impose penalties.
  • By Securities Laws (Amendment) Act, 2014, SEBI is now able to regulate any money pooling scheme worth Rs. 100 cr. or more and attach assets in cases of non-compliance.
  • SEBI Chairman has the authority to order “search and seizure operations”. SEBI board can also seek information, such as telephone call data records, from any persons or entities in respect to any securities transaction being investigated by it.
  • SEBI performs the function of registration and regulation of the working of venture capital funds and collective investment schemes including mutual funds.
  • It also works for promoting and regulating self-regulatory organizations and prohibiting fraudulent and unfair trade practices relating to securities markets.

Functions

  • To protect the interests of Indian investors in the securities market. ,
  • To promote the development and hassle-free functioning of the securities market.
  •  To regulate the business operations of the securities market.
  •  To serve as a platform for portfolio managers, bankers, stockbrokers, investment advisers, merchant bankers, registrars, share transfer agents and other people.
  • To regulate the tasks entrusted on depositors, credit rating agencies, custodians of securities, foreign portfolio investors and other participants.
  •  To educate investors about securities markets and their intermediaries.
  • To prohibit fraudulent and unfair trade practices within the securities market and related to it.
  •  To monitor company take-overs and acquisition of shares.
  •  To keep the securities market efficient and up to date all the time through proper research and developmental tactics

Issues faced by SEBI in recent times

  • In recent years SEBI’s role became more complex, the capital markets regulator is at a crossroads.
  • There is excessive focus on regulation of market conduct and lesser emphasis on prudential regulation.
  • SEBI’s statutory enforcement powers are greater than its counterparts in the US and the UK as it is armed with far greater power to inflict serious economic injury.
  • It can impose serious restraints on economic activity, this is done based on suspicion, leaving it to those affected to shoulder the burden of disproving the suspicion, somewhat like preventive detention.
  • Its legislative powers are near absolute as the SEBI Act grants wide discretion to make subordinate legislation.
  • The component of prior consultation with the market and a system of review of regulations to see if they have met the articulated purpose is substantially missing. As a result, the fear of the regulator is widespread.
  • Regulation, either rules or enforcement, is far from perfect, particularly in areas like insider trading.
  • The Securities offering documents are extraordinarily bulky and have substantially been reduced to formal compliance rather than resulting in substantive disclosures of high quality.

Reforms needed

  • There is need of an attitudinal change, indeed, hundreds of inputs about the market being full of crooks necessitating a crackdown and severe intervention would be received.
  • The foremost objective of SEBI should be cleaning up the policy space in this area of the market.
  • SEBI must give special attention to human resources and matters within the organization. SEBI must encourage lateral entry to draw the best talent.
  • Alignment and fitment of senior employees upon merger of the Forward Markets Commission into Sebi remains an open area of work.
  • Enforcement can be strengthened with continuous monitoring and improving market intelligence.
  • India’s financial markets are still segmented. One regulator can’t be blamed for another’s failure when the remit over a financial product overlaps.
    • In this context a unified financial regulator makes eminent sense to remove both overlap and excluded boundaries.

Conclusion

While demanding greater financial autonomy, regulators must also show themselves to be accountable to the public by being more transparent about their financial affairs. SEBI must develop good market intelligence and preemptively stop the Adani like incidents from affecting trust in Indian capital market that will drive away investors.

 


General Studies – 3


 

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

Reference: Down to EarthInsights on India 

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.

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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

 

 

5. Explain the various types of subatomic particles that make up an atom. What are the technological applications of cosmic-ray muons?

Reference: Indian Expressen.wikipedia.org

Introduction

The atom is considered the basic building block of matter. Particles that are smaller than the atom are called subatomic particles.  According to the Standard Model of particle physics, a subatomic particle can be either a composite particle, which is composed of other particles (for example, a proton, neutron, or meson), or an elementary particle, which is not composed of other particles (for example, an electron, photon, or muon).

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Various types of Subatomic particles

  • Protonshave a positive electrical charge, so they are often represented with the mark of a “+” sign.
  • Neutronshave no electrical charge and are said to help hold the protons together since protons are positively charged particles and should repel each other.
  • Protons and neutrons make up the nucleus of an atom. All protons are identical to each other, and all neutrons are identical to each other.
  • Electrons are negatively charged subatomic particles that are as negative as protons are positive. In general, atoms like to have the same number of electrons as they have protons in order to be electrically balanced. Electronssurround the nucleus.
  • The Higgs boson (God Particle)is the fundamental particle associated with the Higgs field, a field that gives mass to other fundamental particles such as electrons and quarks. A particle’s mass determines how much it resists changing its speed or position when it encounters a force.
  • A quark is a subatomic particle found inside the protons and neutrons. They are considerably smaller than the protons, leaving much empty space inside the protons and neutrons. Quarks are 2% mass and 98% energy, but they create the heavy mass of the nucleons, based on Einstein’s relativity theory. Six “flavors” of quarks: up, down, strange, charm, bottom, and top.
  • Muon, elementary subatomic particle similar to the electron but 207 times heavier. It has two forms, the negatively charged muon and its positively charged antiparticle. The muon was discovered as a constituent of cosmic-ray particle “showers” in 1936 by the American physicists Carl D. Anderson and Seth Neddermeyer.
  • neutrino, elementary subatomic particle with no electric charge, very little mass, and 1/2unit of spin. Neutrinos belong to the family of particles called leptons, which are not subject to the strong force. Rather, neutrinos are subject to the weak force that underlies certain processes of radioactive decay. There are three types of neutrino, each associated with a charged lepton—i.e., the electron, the muon, and the tau—and therefore given the corresponding names electron-neutrino, muon-neutrino, and tau-neutrino. Each type of neutrino also has an antimatter component, called an antineutrino; the term neutrino is sometimes used in a general sense to refer to both the neutrino and its antiparticle.
  • meson, any member of a family of subatomic particles composed of a quark and an antiquark. Mesons are sensitive to the strong force, the fundamental interaction that binds the components of the nucleus by governing the behaviour of their constituent quarks.
  • hyperon, quasi-stable member of a class of subatomic particles known as baryonsthat are composed of three quarks.
  • gluon, the so-called messenger particle of the strong nuclear force, which binds subatomic particles known as quarks within the protons and neutrons of stable matter as well as within heavier, short-lived particles created at high energies.

technological applications of cosmic-ray muons

  • muon tomography or Muography is conceptually similar to X-ray but capable of scanning much larger and wider structures, owing to the penetration power of muons. Highly useful in archaelogy.
  • As these high-energy particles are naturally produced and ubiquitous, all one needs to do is place a muon detector underneath, within or near the object of interest.
  • CORMIS (Cosmic Ray Muon Imaging System) was used to examine the wall of Xi’an city
  • Apart from archaeology, muography has found use in customs security, internal imaging of volcanoes and others.
  • Around 2015, scientists used the technique to look inside the Fukushima nuclear reactors after the 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Japan. As the site was highly radioactive, they put the two muon detectors in 10 centimetres thick boxes to protect them from radiation and then carried out the scanning.
  • Muography is also being used by researchers to analyse Mount Vesuvius, a volcano in Italy. According to a 2022 study, with the help of this technique, researchers are trying to understand the finer details of the volcano’s internal structure.

Conclusion

With advancement in Science and continuous efforts at CERN’s LHC, there are newer subatomic particles being discovered. The potential of subatomic particles are huge which are helping humans in various endeavours.

 

 

Answer the following questions in 250 words(15 marks each):


General Studies – 1


 

6. 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.

Reference: Insights on India

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.

 

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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

 


General Studies – 2


 

7. What is the legal status of euthanasia in the country? Examine the need for a comprehensive legislation to implement the concept of a ‘living will’ and advance medical directives. Should active euthanasia be allowed? State your opinion.

Reference: The Hindu

Introduction

In the Common Cause v. Union of India  Supreme court upheld the right to die with dignity and gave legal sanction to passive euthanasia and execution of a living will of persons suffering from chronic terminal diseases and likely to go into a permanent vegetative state.

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Background

  • Passive euthanasia was recognised by Supreme court in Aruna Shanbaug in 2011.
  • In 2018 it has expanded the jurisprudence on the subject by adding to it the principle of a ‘living will’, or an advance directive, a practice whereby a person, while in a competent state of mind, leaves written instructions on the sort of medical treatment that may or may not be administered in the event of her reaching a stage of terminal illness.
  • The court has invoked its inherent power under Article 142 of the Constitution to grant legal status to advance directives, and its directives will hold good until Parliament enacts legislation on the matter.

Legal status on euthanasia in India

  • A living will was required to be signed by an individual seeking euthanasia in the presence of two witnesses.
  • It was to be further countersigned by a Judicial Magistrate of First Class (JMFC). Now, The requirement for the Magistrate’s approval has been replaced by an intimation to the Magistrate.
  • The treating physician was to constitute a board comprising three expert medical practitioners, with at least 20 years of experience.
  • If the board grants permission, the will had to be forwarded to the District Collector for his approval.
  • The Collector then forms another medical board of three expert doctors, including the Chief District Medical Officer.
  • Only if this second board agreed with the hospital board’s findings → the decision be forwarded to the JMFC → JMFC will visit the patient and examine whether to accord approval.
  • The medical board must communicate its decision within 48 hours (no time limit earlier).
  • Now a notary or gazette officer can sign the living will in the presence of two witnesses instead of the Magistrate’s countersign.
  • In case the medical boards set up by the hospital refuses permission, it will now be open to the kin to approach the High Court which will form a fresh medical team.

Need for a comprehensive legislation

  • It is time Parliament came out with a comprehensive law as the medical directive issued was back in 2018 and government must take comply.
  • Such a law could also provide for a repository of advance directives so that the need to ascertain afresh its genuine nature does not arise at the time of its implementation.
  • When the Supreme Court granted legal status to the concept of ‘advance medical directives’ in 2018 doctors later found that some of the specific directions turned out to be “insurmountable obstacles”.
  • A law can clarify grey areas that Supreme court has failed to consider.
  • Such a law will lead to better regulation of caring for terminally ill patients who otherwise may suffer in the bureaucratic hurdle.

Analysis

  • The government, represented by Additional Solicitor General said the legalisation of ‘advance directives’ would amount to waiving off the paramount fundamental right to life enshrined under Article 21 of the Constitution.
  • The government was opposing the concept of ‘Living Will’ as a principle of public policy. It said the State’s primary obligation is to sustain life and not legalise a person’s wish to die.
  • The government is rightly concerned that the idea may be misused and result in the neglect of the elderly. Persons who exercise the right of self-determination should know that there are many under-privileged persons who may be subjected to abuse if ‘living wills’ are legalised.
  • The government had said the passive euthanasia is the law of the land, with thousands of cases in which doctors withdraw life support after getting the informed consent of the relatives. The government pointed out that the Supreme Court itself, in 2011, issued comprehensive guidelines allowing passive euthanasia in the tragic case of the bed-ridden former Mumbai nurse Aruna Shanbaug which observed that right to live with dignity also includes right to die with dignity, to approve of passive euthanasia.

Conclusion

A living will makes sense if coupled with a medical power of attorney and independent third party monitoring. This will allow for a middle way between all the interests that are at play here. The Right of the patient, the State’s interest in human life and the interest of the family of the patient.

Value addition

Different countries, different laws:

  • NETHERLANDS, LUXEMBOURG, and BELGIUM allow both euthanasia and assisted suicide (active euthanasia) for anyone who faces “unbearable suffering” that has no chance of improvement.
  • SWITZERLAND bans euthanasia but allows assisted dying in the presence of a doctor or physician.
  • CANADA had announced that euthanasia and assisted dying would be allowed for mentally ill patients, however, the decision has been widely criticised.
  • The US has different laws in different states. Euthanasia is allowed in some states like Washington, Oregon, and Montana.
  • The UK considers it illegal and equivalent to manslaughter.

 

8. 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.

Reference: The HinduInsights on India

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.

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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 – 3


 

9. 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.

Reference: Down To Earth

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.

 

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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.

 

 

10. What is the ecosystem required to grow and sustain mangrove forests? Examine the various threats faced by the mangrove ecosystem. Throw light on MISHTI (Mangrove Initiative for Shoreline Habitats & Tangible Incomes) initiative for mangrove preservation and conservation as announced in the recent budget.

Reference: The HinduInsights on India

Introduction

Mangroves are the characteristic littoral plant formation of tropical and subtropical sheltered coastlines. They exhibit remarkable capacity for salt water tolerance, strong wind velocity, varying tides and high temperature (FAO-1952). Eg : Rhizopora, Avicenia, Bruguiera etc. Total cover of Mangroves In India is about 4,975 sq km as per State of Forest Report 2019.

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Ecological Services by Mangroves

  • Flood control
  • Groundwater refill
  • Shoreline stabilization & storm protection
  • Sediment & nutrient retention and export
  • Water purification
  • Reservoirs of biodiversity
  • Cultural values
  • Recreation & tourism
  • Climate change mitigation and adaptation

Ecosystem needed to sustain mangroves

  • Mangrove forests are formed when there is intertidal flow and where adequate sediments are available for the trees to set down roots.
  • Experts say aquaculture or fisheries along the coast obstructing tidal flow is one of the biggest threats to the mangrove ecosystem.
  • In the Sundarbans, the largest mangrove forest in the country, several instances of clearing mangroves for fisheries have come to light.
  • Along the country’s coastline, land reclamation for agriculture, aquaculture and industrial activities have occurred in areas which are under the Coastal Regulation Zone.
  • Restoration of the land and allowing intertidal flow is crucial for plantation and survival of mangrove forests.

Threats to Mangrove Cover

  • Man-made activities
    • Irresponsible tourism brings with them garbage, sewage, noise, fumes, lights, and other disturbances that can damage mangroves and its biodiversity.
    • Coastal Development leading to increasing pollutants and conversion of mangrove cover.
    • Pollution : Mangroves are being destroyed and facing severe threats due to urbanisation, industrialisation, and discharge of domestic sewage, industrial effluents and pesticides.
    • The rapid expansion of shrimp aquaculture on India’s flat coastal lands has been an important cause of conversion of mangroves. Eg : In Godavari delta area, about 14 percent of the aquaculture farms have been constructed on mangrove lands (FAO).
    • Nearly 40 per cent of mangrove forests in West Coast of India have been converted into farmlands and housing colonies over the last three decades.
  • Climate Change : Increase in sea level leading to inundation of mangroves and decreasing nutrients from freshwater. Mangroves are adapted to specific tidal regimes.
  • Shore line erosion receding mangrove covers. Mangroves shows Zonation and this gets disturbed.
  • Cyclones and storms cause defoliation in mangroves leading to mortality.
  • Changing sea temperatures disrupts the mangrove succession.
  • Eg: Avicenia and Sonneratia(pioneer species) –>Rhizopora–>Bruguiera

Role and Significance of Mangroves

  • Mangroves moderate monsoonal tidal floods and reduce coastal inundation.
  • It prevents coastal soil erosion.
  • It supplies firewood, medicinal plants to local inhabitants.
  • They support numerous flora, avifauna and wildlife.
  • Mangroves support seashore and estuarine fisheries.
  • It protects inland agricultural lands, livestock and coastal lands from hurricane and tsunami effect.
  • Mangroves enhance natural recycling of nutrients.
  • Mangroves are flood buffers and they also help in stabilizing the climate by moderating temperature, humidity, wind and even waves
  • They are natural carbon sinks.

Scientific Management of Mangroves

  • Nationwide mapping of the mangrove areas, by remote sensing techniques coupled with land surveys, and time series to assess the rate of degradation of the ecosystems.
  • Quantitative surveys of area, climatic regime, rate of growth of forest trees and seasonal variations of environmental parameters.
  • Inclusion of mangrove species under threat in the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) Red list. Eg
  • Assessment of suitable sites for reserve forests. Eg: Artificial regeneration through mangrove nurseries or aerial seeding.
  • Joint management of mangroves with local community participation.
  • Disease and pest control. Eg :   Crab cuts are prevented by painting hypocotyls in yellow or Placing seedlings inside bamboo containers.
  • Afforestation of degraded mangrove areas;
  • Study of management methods, the ecology of mangroves, their flora and fauna, their microbiology and the biochemistry of organic matter and sediments.

MISHTI (Mangrove Initiative for Shoreline Habitats & Tangible Incomes) initiative

The Union Budget for 2023-24 announced an initiative for mangrove plantation along the coastline and on salt pan lands, under MISHTI (Mangrove Initiative for Shoreline Habitats & Tangible Incomes).

  • The Budget states that MISHTI will be implemented through convergence between the MGNREGS (Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme), CAMPA (Compensatory Afforestation Fund Management and Planning Authority) Fund and other sources.
  • Organisations that have been involved in mangrove plantation say that the initiative requires extensive work with local communities.
  • The survival rate of mangrove seed plantation is 50% and of saplings is about 60% and it takes three years for a new plant to stabilise.
  • A contract-based one-time plantation under MGNREGS and CAMPA may not work unless the local communities take ownership of the forests.
  • Discharge of untreated domestic and industrial effluents into the rivers impede the natural inter-tidal flow along the coast and the mixing of freshwater and saline water which help in gradual formation of the mangrove forest.

Conclusion

With the threat of climate change and frequent tropical storms looming large, planting more mangroves is a welcome development for India which has a coastline of about 7,500 km.


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