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[Mission 2023] Insights SECURE SYNOPSIS: 6 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: Salient features of world’s physical geography.

1. Discuss the various divisions of northern plains of India.  Write about their geomorphological characteristics and their economic importance.  (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 the regional divisions in the northern plains, its geomorphological features and significance.

Directive word: 

Discuss – This is an all-encompassing directive – you must debate on paper by going through the details of the issues concerned by examining each one of them. You must give reasons for both for and against arguments.

Structure of the answer:

Introduction: 

Start by mentioning about Northern Plains of India and their composition.

Body:

In the first part of the body, bring forth the regional divisions: Sindh Plain, Rajasthan Plain, Punjab Plain, Ganga Plain, Brahmaputra Plain, Ganga – Brahmaputra Delta and explain them briefly.

In the next part, bring out the geomorphological features such as The Bhabar, The Terai, The Bhangar, The Khadar, Reh or Kollar and explain them briefly.

In the final part, mention about the significance such as Agriculture, Toursim, Soil profile, Ecology and cultural aspects etc.

Conclusion:

Conclude by summarising.

Introduction

The great Northern Plains of India are an aggradation surface of great extent formed after the Himalayas. They are comparatively of recent origin and are believed to have formed by the filling up of a depression resulting from the uplifting of the Himalayas, by deposition of sediments brought by swift-flowing Himalayan rivers, originated in Himalayas. This plain is mainly developed by rivers Ganga, Indus and Brahmaputra. The fine and the deep alluvium deposits by the rivers make the northern plains one of the most fertile plains in the world.

Body

Regional divisions:

  • Plains of northern India, a flat and enormous plain, extend in the east west direction between the Himalayan in the north and Great Indian Peninsular Plateau in the south.
  • They are divided into three parts:
    • Indus plain
    • Ganga plain
    • Brahmaputra plain.
  • Northern plains are the youngest physiographic feature in India. They lie to the south of the Shivaliks, separated by the Himalayan Frontal Fault (HFF).
  • These plains form an unbroken belt of alluvium varying in thickness from east Bihar Plain to Punjab and northern Rajasthan.
  • Sutlej Plain in the west, the Ganga Plain in the middle, the Ganga Delta and the Brahmaputra Valley in the east constitute the northern plains.
  • The southern boundary is a wavy irregular line along the northern edge of the Peninsular India.
  • On the eastern side, the plains are bordered by the Purvanchal hills.
  • These are among the largest plains of the world. 

Geomorphological features:

  • The most characteristic feature of the great plains of Northern India is their extreme horizontality. From the geomorphological aspect there is no difference between the Indus basin and the Ganga-Brahmaputra basin.
  • They are classified into four distinct divisions:
    • Bhabar belt: made up of pebbles and boulders, the streams flow underground, adjacent to foothills
    • Terai belt: composed of new alluvium, region is damped and thickly forested and receives heavy rainfall throughout the year and has a variety of wildlife.
    • Bangar Belt: composed of old alluvium, forms Gangetic delta, covered by laterite deposits
    • Khadar Belt: made up of new alluvium of the flood zones.
  • They are formed by the alluvial deposits of the rivers and their tributaries.
  • They extend from Sutlej river in the west to Brahmaputra in the east.
  • The northern plains are the largest alluvial tract of the world. These plains extend approximately 3200 km from west to east.
  • The average width of these plains varies between 150 and 300 km. In general, the width of the northern plains increases from east to west (90-100km in Assam to about 500km in Punjab).

Importance of Northern Plains:

  • The northern plains are a riverine region, being bountifully endowed with the fertile soil, favourable climate, flat surface rendering possible the construction of roads and railways, and slow moving rivers. All these factors have made this plain very important.
  • Heavy Concentration of Population:
    • The great plain of India with its deep, fertile, stoneless, alluvial soil and its many rivers, is the most favourable and most desirable part of the sub-continent.
  • Economic Significance:
    • The plains have a fertile soil and because of the slow moving perennial water courses and favourable climate and they are, the great agricultural tracts of the country, raising bumper crops of rice, wheat, oilseeds, sugarcane, tobacco and jute.
    • They are even now the foci of industrial and commercial activities.
    • Rivers are navigable throughout the year and support inland transportation
    • Flat land- good for roads and railways,
    • Irrigational facilities.
    • For construction of H.E.P. Plants
    • It has well developed roads, railways and navigable waterways which promotes trade and commerce in this region
    • Northern Plains produces 60% of food in India. It is home to around 65 crore people.
    • Agriculture, livestock, power plants, industries and tourism provide employment to more than half of population in India.

Conclusion

Altogether, the great Indian Northern plains play a substantial function in the geographical richness of India. One of the densely populated regions of the country, the plains add to the cultural and the traditional heritage of India. In a nutshell, the plains are a land of favorable attraction, tourism, and employment opportunities.

 

Topic: Salient features of world’s physical geography.

2. The Indian monsoon is an important part of the global monsoon system. Account of changing patterns of Indian monsoon over the subcontinents and bring out its impact.  (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 importance of monsoon for India and causes for its variation.

Structure of the answer:

Introduction: 

Start by introducing Indian monsoon and its importance briefly.

Body:

First, write in detail about the overall importance of Indian monsoon.

Start by briefly mentioning about mechanism of the monsoon and the reasons for fluctuations in Indian monsoon according to the seasons. Divide the answer in to various months and how monsoon varies with it. Use a diagram to explain it more systematically. Do include the Western Disturbances, Somali Jet Streams, Easterly Jet streams etc, climate change. Write about its impact.

Next, write about the impact of the above.

Conclusion:

Conclude with a way forward to deal with excess and well as deficit of monsoonal rain.

Introduction

Monsoons are seasonal winds which reverse their direction with the change of season. The monsoon is a double system of seasonal winds. They flow from sea to land during the summer and from land to sea during winter. Monsoons are peculiar to Indian Subcontinent, South East Asia, parts of Central Western Africa etc. Indian Monsoons are Convection cells on a very large scale. They are periodic or secondary winds which seasonal reversal in wind direction.

Body

Indian Monsoon and its significance to global monsoon

  • Monsoon rainfall is the life-blood of more than half the world’s population, for whom agriculture is the main source of subsistence.
  • The monsoon affects a region comprising nearly 25 countries and its influence stretches across a distance of 18,000 kilometres (from east to west) and 6,000 kilometres (from south to north).
  • Over half of the globe’s population, most in developing countries, live under the influence of monsoon-dominated climates.
  • Their culture and lifestyle have evolved around its cyclical nature, and agriculture is still the most common form of land use in most of these regions.
  • The dependency of the agricultural sector on monsoonal rains – particularly in countries with poor infrastructure and increased urbanisation – results in societies that are highly vulnerable to variability in monsoonal characteristics, such as onset and termination dates, total rainfall amounts, and rainfall intensities

Changing patterns of Indian monsoon over the subcontinents

  • Climate Change has been ruining quite a few things such and Indian Monsoon might be one of them.
  • The worst part here is that the effects of the Indian Monsoon are also felt by others and not just India, making it an active feature of the weather across the globe.
  • Research has confirmed that Monsoon in Asia is entwined with several aspects of global climate along with having an influence over the global atmospheric circulation as well.
  • Since the year 1950, average summer rains in India have declined by around 7 percent.
  • In 1990s, high concentrations of aerosols were found in the northern Indian Ocean. In fact, satellite images even showed a stain across the Indo-Gangetic Plain and over the Indian Ocean, which was named as the “brown cloud”. In 1999, a team of investigators set out to understand what brown cloud exactly was.
  • Black carbon combines with sulfates and other aerosols, wherein the Indo-Gangetic Plain contributes highly due to intensive industrial and extractive activity.
  • Regional Climate Change has been occurring also because of changes in land use.
  • In the last 15 decades, forest cover over Asia has reduced significantly.
  • Increase in agricultural production in India, excessive use of water for irrigation has caused a negative impact on the moisture of the soil thereby diminishing its capability to reflect or absorb heat.
  • Due to all these factors, Monsoon is shifting its patterns.
  • Aerosols absorb solar radiation due to which less of it reaching the surface of the Earth.
  • This leads to cooling of land, reducing the contrast of temperature between sea and land, thereby weakening the atmospheric circulation that sustains the Indian Monsoon.
  • Not only this, changes in circulation in the Indian subcontinent affect air-sea interaction which is the binding factor between Asia and the Indian Ocean.

Way forward:

  • Monsoon does play a big role in India. It has social, political, as well as economic implications.
  • Thus monsoon doesn’t only affect the crops but all the industries in the country.
  • The monsoon-dependent Indian economy needs climate-sensitive budgeting.
  • The excessive dependence on monsoon may be mitigated by the construction of modern irrigation canals, afforestation, and diversification of Indian industries.
  • Farmers, especially smallholder farmers, need advance warning of emergent weather conditions at a local level.
  • Develop climate-smart agriculture practices.
  • Build adaptive capacities to climate variability and strengthen the sustainability of farming systems.
  • Preventive measures for drought that include growing of pulses and oilseeds instead of rice.
  • Mobile telecommunication systems are increasingly cost-effective and an efficient way of delivering weather-based agro-advisories to farmers at a large scale.

Conclusion

Monsoon does play a big role in India. It has social, political, as well as economic implications. Thus, monsoon doesn’t only affect the crops but all the industries in the country. The monsoon-dependent Indian economy needs climate-sensitive budgeting. The excessive dependence on monsoon may be mitigated by the construction of modern irrigation canals, afforestation, and diversification of Indian industries.

 


General Studies – 2


 

Topic: Statutory, regulatory and various quasi-judicial bodies.

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.  (250 words)

Difficulty level: Moderate

Reference: Live Mint

Why the question:

Global suspicions that the Adani rout caught Indian regulators either dozing or looking away may prove costly for our economy.

Key Demand of the question: 

To write about the functions and power of SEBI, issues faced by it and possible solutions.

Directive word:

Discuss – This is an all-encompassing directive – you must debate on paper by going through the details of the issues concerned by examining each one of them. You must give reasons for both for and against arguments.

Introduction: 

Begin by writing about the aims and objectives of SEBI.

Body:

First, write about the major powers and functions of SEBI – quasi-legislative, quasi-judicial and quasi-executive. It drafts regulations in its legislative capacity, it conducts investigation and enforcement action in its executive function and it passes rulings and orders in its judicial capacity.

Next, write about the major issues faced by SEBI in its functioning – lack of independence, reactive approach, insufficient oversight etc. Cite examples.

Next, write about the measures that are needed to improve the performance of SEBI.

Conclusion:

Conclude by writing a way forward.

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.

Body

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


 

Topic: Government Budgeting.

4. 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. (250 words)

Difficulty level: Moderate

Reference: The HinduInsights on India.

Why the question:

MISHTI is a new programme that will facilitate mangrove plantation along India’s coastline and on salt pan lands. The programme will operate through “convergence between MGNREGS, Campa Fund and other sources,”

Key Demand of the question:

To write about the conditions to grow mangrove ecosystem, threats faced by them and MISHTI initiative.

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 the answer by briefly writing about mangroves and their ecosystem.

Body:

First, write about the condtions that are required to grow and sustain mangrove ecosystem and their importance. first line of defense against erosion and flooding. Also mention about the other ecological benefits of mangroves as well as its unique flora and fauna.

Next, write about the various types of natural and anthropogenic threats faced by mangroves. Coastal development, clearing for agriculture, excessive Aquaculture &Salt Production, River changes: Dams and irrigation, Destruction of coral reefs, Pollution and Climate change etc. Cite necessary examples, facts and figures to substantiate your point.

Next, write about the MISHTI initiative – its features and how it will protect the mangrove ecosystem.

Conclusion:

Conclude by writing a way forward.

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.

 

Body

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.

 

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

5. Climate change is likely to increase the potential of hydropower generation in India but it has associated risks. India needs to take a well-balanced approach towards clean energy sources for sustainable development. Discuss. (250 words)

Difficulty level: Moderate

Reference: The HinduThe Hindu

Why the question:

Based on observations and climate projections, a two-member team from IIT Gandhinagar studied the hydroclimatic changes in the catchment areas and their implications for hydropower generation in 46 major dams located in north, central and south India.

Key Demand of the question:

To write about the impact of climate change on hydropower potential, opportunities and risks associated with it and need for a balanced approach on clean energy.

Directive word:

Discuss – This is an all-encompassing directive – you must debate on paper by going through the details of the issues concerned by examining each one of them. You must give reasons for both for and against arguments.

Structure of the answer:

Introduction: 

Begin by defining hydroelectric energy and give the statistic highlighting extent of it being generated in India.

Body:

First, write about the possible impact of climate change on hydropower generation and how it will lead to hydroclimatic changes in the catchment areas. Write about the various opportunities and risks associated with the same.

Next, write about the need to have well balanced approach of all clean energy sources – Solar, Atomic, Wind, Biomass, hydrogen, Bio mass etc in order to have sustainable development.

Conclusion:

Conclude with a way forward.

Introduction

Hydroelectric power projects basically generate electricity from flowing water.  Pumped storage hydro (PSH) plants are storage systems based on hydropower operations between two or more reservoirs (upper and lower) with an elevation difference. PSH plants are highly useful options for the integration of Renewable Energy power with the power system. India is blessed with immense amount of hydro-electric potential and ranks 5th in terms of exploitable hydro-potential on global scenario.

Unlike coal-powered power plants, hydropower, which is the second highest power producing source at 13%, is a significant contributor to clean global electricity generation. Based on observations and climate projections, a two-member team from IIT Gandhinagar studied the hydroclimatic changes in the catchment areas and their implications for hydropower generation in 46 major dams located in north, central and south India.

Body

India’s Energy scenario

  • As of December 2021, the installed generation capacity of the country stood at 393GW.
  • It comprises 235GW of thermal, 151GW of renewable (wind, solar, hydro and biomass) and 78GW of nuclear.
  • India saw its peak electricity demand surpass 200GW in 2021.
  • India is the third largest producer and consumer of electricity globally, with annual electricity production of around 1,200-1,300TWh and one of the largest synchronous power grids.

Potential of hydroelectric power in meeting India’s energy security targets

  • In India, PSH potential of about 120GW has been identified at about 120 sites.
  • Only nine plants with an installed capacity of 4,785MW have been commissioned so far, and three with a capacity of 2.7GW are under construction.
  • Apart from these, about 17 PSH projects with a capacity of 16.5GW in different states are under various stages of implementation.
  • Pumped storage schemes use domestically produced material and even the electrical mechanical parts are made in India, so PSH plants can serve the aims of Aatmanirbhar Bharat.

Associated risks which affect hydro power generation

  • Generation of Hydro power depends on the availability of water. When water is not available in the lean season, in summer and in drought year the generation drops.
  • Other issues like social impact, where lot of people get displaced, livelihood and resources are affected. There are environmental impacts, Disaster related impacts.
  • Most of the new projects are coming up in Himalayan region which is vulnerable to disaster in terms of earth quake, landslides, erosion, and flash floods. In the era of climate change there are glacial lake outburst flood (GLOF)which is because of the lakes which are created by the melting of glaciers which consists of boulders and silt.
  • There are issues of generation performance. 89% of India’s installed capacity does not generate power at the promised level.
  • There is the issue of Siltation and maintenance of Hydro power projects. Silt reduces the storage capacity and proportionally the power generation also goes down.
  • Hydro power projects do not consume fuel and it is assumed that there is no carbon foot print which is not correct. The World Commission on Damshas shown how the power generated particularly in tropical countries generates Methane. In one molecule of Methane there is 22 times more potent Green House Gas than CO2.
  • Hydro power projects involve deforestation which reduces the carbon sinks and thereby putting back more carbon into the atmosphere.
  • With climate change on the rise, the frequency and intensity of Droughts will increase in the coming years. The rainfall patterns are changing. This will impact the power generation capacity of the Hydro power projects.
  • Every Hydro power projects are plagued by cost and time overruns. The reason is lack in the appraisal mechanism particularly geological appraisal.
  • Hydro and PSH projects are a state government legislative subject, and require the support of many policymakers, including the MoP, MoEF&CC and electricity regulators, apart from state governments.

Way forward and conclusion

  • There is a need to appraise the projects properly, have proper Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA)and proper public consultation process.
  • We should maintain the catchment area properly if not the rainfall which comes as flash floods damages the project.
  • Micro-hydel projects may also be promoted, as these have less of an adverse social and environmental impact on local communities.
  • Large, ‘smart’ hydropower projects may be developed, taking into account the economic, environmental and social concerns of local and downstream communities, in addition to national economic benefits.
  • Technical provisions in smart projects can minimize the impacts on aquatic life and terrestrial ecosystems.
  • India is using more of ground water and this reduces the surface water flow in the downstream area. All these factors should be taken into account while assessing the generation of Hydro power projects.
  • For prioritizing projects, in addition to capital cost and energy supplied, PSH developers and policymakers should consider factors that include the location of the project, duration of storage, availability of a pre-feasibility report, detailed surveys, investigations and project reports, etc, and the cost of the energy supplied, as well as the value of the flexibility assured by it.
  • An appropriate policy framework that lets costs and benefits be shared can increase the overall value for primary and end consumers.

 

Topic: Science and Technology- developments and their applications and effects in everyday life.

6. Explain the various types of subatomic particles that make up an atom. What are the technological applications of cosmic-ray muons? (150 words)

Difficulty level: Tough

Reference: Indian Expresswikipedia.org

Why the question:

As per a new study, researchers are examining the fortress wall of Xi’an, an ancient city in China, by using tiny outer space particles that can penetrate hundreds of metres of stone surfaces. Known as muons, these particles have helped them find small density anomalies, which are potential safety hazards, inside the wall.

Key Demand of the question:

To write about sub-atomic particles and application of muons.

Directive word: 

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

Structure of the answer:

Introduction: 

Start by defining subatomic particles.

Body:

First, in brief, explain about the various types of subatomic particles – quarks, leptons: electron, electron neutrino, muon, muon neutrino, tau, tau neutrino, gauge bosons (force carriers) and The Higgs boson.

Next, write about the applications of technological applications of cosmic-ray muons across diverse fields such as nuclear physics, medicine, archaeology, disaster management etc.

Conclusion:

Conclude by summarising.

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).

Body

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.

 


General Studies – 4


 

Topic: Contributions of moral thinkers and philosophers from India and world.

7. Examine the relevance of Rawls’ theory of justice in the present day. (150 word)

Difficulty level: Tough

Reference: stanford.edu

Why the question:

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

Key Demand of the question:

Using the metaphor of the moral compass to describe conscience, our inner sense of right and wrong offers a framework to guide our actions.

Directive:

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

Structure of the answer:

Introduction:

Start by explaining Rawls’ theory of justice.

Body:

First, explain in detail the various components of Rawl’s theory of justice.

Next, use examples to cite its contemporary relevance. Mention in what ways it is relevant and what ways it can be applied to present day situations in India and across the world.

Conclusion:

Conclude with a balanced way forward.

Introduction

John Rawls was an American moral and political philosopher in the liberal tradition. Rawls’s theory of justice revolves around the adaptation of two fundamental principles of justice which would, in turn, guarantee a just and morally acceptable society. The first principle guarantees the right of each person to have the most extensive basic liberty compatible with the liberty of others. The second principle states that social and economic positions are to be to everyone’s advantage and open to all.

Body:

Relevance of John Rawls theory of Justice

  • Rawls’ theory of justice as fairness encompasses a central contention that principles of justice is essential to the structure of a constitutional democracy. It must be viewed as political in contrast to more comprehensive moral, philosophical or religious doctrines.
  • His concept of justice gives emphasis to fairness, it must be fair to all, to the most talented as well as the most disadvantaged section.
  • Rawls uses the idea of a veil of ignorance to argue that fair and just distribution can be defended on rational grounds. He says that if a person keeps herself/himself under the ‘veil of ignorance’ then s/he would come up with the just distribution, fair laws and policies that would affect the whole society.
  • Rawls further says that the institutions must be fair or just. They must keep themselves above parochial interests. In many societies there are such institutions which have been created to serve group’s interests and such institutions cannot serve the interests of justice.
  • The contents of the “social primary goods” specified by Rawls are of particular importance, for the fair distribution of them, namely, liberty and opportunity, income and wealth and basis of self-respect in a society will undoubtedly help to achieve the much-needed social justice.
  • For example: The recent 10% reservation for the Economically Weaker Sections in education and jobs; reservations for SC/ST etc.
  • Another important aspect of his theory is that while laying emphasis on the equal distribution of the “social primary goods”, he envisages “an unequal distribution” of the “social primary goods” if such unequal distribution is “to the advantage of the least favoured”.
  • Example: progressive tax system in India, multi-tiered GST system, Philanthropy.
  • In envisaging such “unequal distribution” of the social primary goods to benefit the “least favoured” in the society.

Relevance of John Rawls in India

  • Reservation Issue: That whether demand some high castes to get reservation is valid or not. We can also look any amendment in present reservation policy according to it.
  • Environment to maintain balance between biodiversity and development. For example, increase in area of eco-sensitive zones.
  • Economy issues like increase in FDI, monetary policy or even present demonetization issue can be examined though spectrum Rawls’ concept.
  • Traditions: We can also examine and introspect various traditional practices and customs like Jallikattu, entry of women in certain temples or religious places etc.

Conclusion

Rawls’ works have influenced famous thinkers like Amartya Sen, Thomas Nagel, Thomas Pogge etc. The concept of Social and Economic Justice is adopted in our Constitution in the form of Directive Principles of State Policy.

Value addition:

Basic principles of his theory:

  • Rawls suggests two basic principles of justice.
  • Principle of Equal Liberty:
    • It means each person is to have an equal right to the most extensive basic liberty compatible with a similar liberty for others.
    • Examples: freedom of thought, speech and expression, universal suffrage, freedom from arbitrary arrest and seizure, the right to hold public office etc.
  • Difference Principle: There are 2 parts under this
    • Fair equality of opportunity: It postulates that public policies are reasonably expected to be to everyone’s advantage and public position and offices are open to all.
    • Difference principle: It justifies only those social and economic inequalities that maximize benefits to the least advantaged citizens.
    • These principles provide an operating logic for the determination of public interest by the decision- makers.

 


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