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[Mission 2023] Insights SECURE SYNOPSIS: 7 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: Important Geophysical phenomena such as earthquakes, Tsunami, Volcanic activity, cyclone etc.

1. Discuss the factors that cause earthquakes. Why the Anatolian Plate is one of the most seismically active regions in the world? (250 words)

Difficulty level: Moderate

Reference: Down to EarthInsights on India

Why the question:

An earthquake of magnitude 7.8 struck Turkiye, one of the most seismically active regions in the Mediterranean and the world, in the wee hours of February 6, 2023. The epicentre was Pazarcik near Gaziantep, a city near the country’s border with northern Syria.

Key Demand of the question:

To write about causes of earthquakes and reasons for higher degree of seismic activity in the Anatolian plate.

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 an Earthquake.

Body:

In first part, write about the various natural as well as anthropogenic causes that cause earthquakes.

Next, write about Anatolian plate and regions surrounding more prone to earthquakes than the others. Account for reasons for the same.

Conclusion:

Conclude by writing about the importance of preparedness to deal with earthquakes.

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.

Body

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.

 

Topic: Important Geophysical phenomena such as earthquakes, Tsunami, Volcanic activity, cyclone etc.

2. Has climate change increased the frequency of floods in India, making them more recurrent and intense? Critically analyse (150 words)

Difficulty level: Tough

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 extent of impact of climate change on floods in India.

Directive word: 

Critically analyze – When asked to analyse, you must examine methodically the structure or nature of the topic by separating it into component parts and present them in a summary. When ‘critically’ is suffixed or prefixed to a directive, one needs to look at the good and bad of the topic and give a balanced judgment on the topic.

Structure of the answer:

Introduction: 

Begin by giving context.

Body:

In first part, write about the impact of climate change on flood in India and how it has made the more recurrent and intense. Cite facts and examples to substantiate.

Next, write about the floods as natural phenomenon and other anthropogenic factors apart from climate change contributing to it.

Conclusion:

Conclude by writing a way forward to deal with floods.

Introduction

Floods have been recurrent phenomenon in many parts of India causing loss of lives and public property and bringing misery to the people. The approach to flood management need to have a relook to have an integrated strategy for policy and management related to floods.

India is highly vulnerable, as most of its geographical area is prone to annual flooding. The high losses and damages due to floods show the poor adaptation and mitigation status of India and inadequacy in disaster management and preparedness.

Body

Floods in India:

  • India is one of the most flood-affected nations in the world, after Bangladesh.
  • Floods constitute 52% of all natural disasters in India, and the costliest as well, with over 63% of all damages attributed to it.
  • The economic losses due to this destruction was 0.43% of GDP.
  • The damages translate to 2.68% of the Centre’s total expenditure every year.

Impact of climate change on floods

  • According to the International Panel for Climate Change, the rainfall intensity, duration and frequency are going to increase in the future.
    • Also, incidence of cyclonic circulations andcloud bursts that cause flash floods are increasing due to Climate change.
  • As the climate warms, higher rates of evaporation cause soils to dry out more rapidly. For those moderate and more commonplace floods, the initial conditions of soil moisture is important, sincedrier soils may be able to absorb most of the rainfall.
  • Climate change is affecting our water cycle, which refers to the way water moves about our planet. Generally speaking, wet areas are getting wetter and dry areas are getting drier. Moreover, we are experiencing more of our rain in the form of intense downpours, leading to a greater risk of floods.
  • When there is heavy downpour of waterover land that is already degraded then flooding becomes more severe. It also increases the possibilities of flash floods and landslides. Eg: Kerala in recent times.
  • The land degradation report shows that many of the flood affected states likeMaharashtra and Rajasthan also have large tracts of degraded land. While Rajasthan accounts for 20 per cent of the degraded land in the country, Maharashtra has 12 per cent of degraded land. In the flood affected states of Maharashtra and Odisha the major cause for land degradation was water erosion.
  • Floods are one of the major causes of water erosion which means that floods would further induce more floods.

Adaptation Measures needed to build resilience

  • India’s policymakers must do away with the pro-embankment strategy; restore agricultural practices that make best use of floods; ensure re-vegetation of catchments to control rapid soil loss; revive dry springs; and ensure greater percolation of rainwater.
  • The dire need is for watershed-based master planning and development legislated guidelines for each major river basin, especially those that impact densely populated settlements.
  • There must be a demarcation of ecologically sensitive zones using existing village survey maps and public participation.
  • There must be clear land use plan for these zones specifying flood plains, protected forest areas, agricultural and plantation zones, with details of the types of crops, building usages permitted and the density of buildings permitted.
  • To compensate owners in non-buildable areas, there must be strategies such as Transfer of Development Rights to buildable zones in cities.
  • The master plan should focus on permitting only ecologically sensitive building strategies for these areas by proposing new construction techniques.
  • Controlled development can be proposed using building height rules, floor area ratio control, and restrictions on cutting and filling natural land.
  • Strategies to make sure that all infrastructure projects are carried out in a scientific manner with strict scrutiny must be specified.
  • This should include roads built on difficult terrain and all public infrastructure projects in wetlands and the High Ranges.
  • Copenhagen in Denmark, which faces a similar problem of repeated flooding, has come up with active cloudburst responsive planning as a process to develop the city in line with climate change needs.

Other Measures needed to tackle climate change impacts

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

Conclusion

Climate change is set to inescapably alter the ocean temperatures around the Indian neighborhood. So, giving more importance to understanding the vagaries of the NE monsoon should be among India’s key priority in adapting to climate change. India needs to step up research to improve the performance of the monsoon prediction models. Preparedness is the best way forward.

 


General Studies – 2


 

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

3. Throw light on the importance of the fundamental right to freedom of speech and expression. Analyse the various threats which curtail this fundamental right.  (250 words)

Difficulty level: Moderate

Reference: The Hindu

Why the question:

The freedom of speech is one of the most cherished freedoms. The Constitution of India, too, declares that Indians possess this freedom, but makes it subject to the interest of public order, or the sovereignty and integrity of India.

Key Demand of the question:

To write about the importance of freedom of speech and various threats to it.

Directive word: 

Analyse – When asked to analyse, you must examine methodically the structure or nature of the topic by separating it into component parts and present them in a summary.

Structure of the answer:

Introduction: 

Begin by giving context of Article 19 (1)(a) of the Indian constitution

Body:

First, write about the importance of freedom of speech – core pillars upholding the democratic process and protecting it is essential if we want to live in a society that is fair and equal for everyone. Cite examples and case substantiate.

Next, write about the various threats to freedom of speech – mention the reasonable restrictions, Authoritarian government, exceptional emergency measures to curb freedom of expression, censorship and Attacks on journalists and Whistleblowers etc.

Next, write about the steps that are needed to protect and promote this sacrosanct fundamental right.

Conclusion:

Conclude with a way forward.

Introduction

Freedom of Speech and expression means the right to express one’s own opinions freely through speech, writing, printing, pictures or any other mode. In India, under Article 19(1), the Constitution of India guarantees to all its citizens the right to freedom of speech and expression. However, this freedom is not absolute and under Article 19(2) reasonable restrictions can be imposed on the exercise of this right for certain purposes.

Body

Importance of fundamental right to freedom of speech and expression

  • Societal good: Liberty to express opinions and ideas without hindrance, and especially without fear of punishment plays a significant role in the development of a particular society and ultimately for that state. It is one of the most important fundamental liberties guaranteed against state suppression or regulation.
  • Self-development: Free speech is an integral aspect of each individual’s right to self-development and fulfilment. Restrictions inhibit our personality and its growth. The reflective mind, conscious of options and the possibilities for growth. Freedom of speech is also closely linked to other fundamental freedoms. Thus, for full-fledged development of personality, freedom of speech and expression is highly essential.
  • Democratic value: Freedom of speech is the bulwark of democratic Government. This freedom is essential for the proper functioning of the democratic process as it allows people to criticise the government In a democracy, freedom of speech and expression open up channels of free discussion of issues. Freedom of speech plays a crucial role in the formation of public opinion on social, political and economic matters.
  • Ensure pluralism: Freedom of Speech reflects and reinforces pluralism, ensuring that diversity is validated and promote the self-esteem of those who follow a particular life-style.

Threats that curtail freedom of speech

These restrictions include state security, defamation, public order, morality and decency, contempt of court, sovereignty and integrity of India, incitement to offence and friendly relations with foreign states. It is one of the most important fundamental rights in the interest of upholding the democratic values of India.

  • Press Freedom: Government’s pressure in the name of regulations, bombardment of fake news and over influence of social media is dangerous for the occupation. Corruption-paid news, advertorials and fake news are threats to free and unbiased media.
    • Security of journalists is the biggest issue, killings and assaults on the Journalists covering sensitive issues are very common.
    • Hate speech targeting journalists shared and amplified on social networks are targeted against journalists using social media.
    • Corporate and political power has overwhelmed large sections of the media, both print and visual, which lead to vested interests and destroy freedom.
    • The arrest of the co-founder of the fact-checking website AltNews Muhammad Zubair allegedly on grounds of attacking religious sentiments under sections 153A and 295 of IPC signifies the silencing of journalists questioning the Government of India and its allies.
  • Sedition: One of the most notable examples concerning the bar on free speech is the imposition of restrictions upon the freedom of the press by charging journalists and dissenters for sedition under Section 124 A of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) of 1860. Such instances were rife before the intervention of the Supreme Court of India to stay the proceedings on cases relating to sedition.
    • Comedians being jailed for making satirical comedy on politics and government.
  • Ban culture on movies: Motivated ban culture due to certain elements not agreeable with the conservative chauvinists of Indian society and politicians. It can lead to losses of livelihoods of those people involved in making the movie.

 

 

Conclusion

Several factors are to be considered while restraining speeches like the number of strong opinions, offensive to certain communities, the effect on the values of dignity, liberty, and equality.

 

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

4. 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.  (250 words)

Difficulty level: Moderate

Reference: The Hindu

Why the question:

When the Supreme Court granted legal status to the concept of ‘advance medical directives’ in 2018 and allowed passive euthanasia, subject to stringent safeguards, it was seen as a vital recognition of both patient autonomy over end-of-life decisions and the right to a dignified death. However, doctors later found that some of the specific directions turned out to be “insurmountable obstacles”. In a recent order, a Constitution Bench modified the directions to make them more workable and simple.

Key Demand of the question:

To write about the legal status of euthanasia, need for a law to regulate it and comment on allowing active euthanasia.

Directive word: 

Examine – When asked to ‘Examine’, we must investigate the topic (content words) in detail, inspect it, investigate it and establish the key facts and issues related to the topic in question. While doing so we should explain why these facts and issues are important and their implications.

Structure of the answer:

Introduction: 

Begin by giving context of the concept of Euthanasia.

Body:

First, trace the development of issues surrounding over euthanasia in the country – active and passive euthanasia, Aruna Shanbaug case, Article 21 and right to die with dignity SC directives and the concept of living will.

Next, write about the need to have comprehensive law to deal with the concept of passive euthanasia and a law will bring more transparency, legitimacy and simplify the process.

Next, write about the pros and cons of making active euthanasia legal.

Conclusion:

Conclude with a balanced opinion forward.

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.

Body

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.

 


General Studies – 3


 

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

5. While ethanol blending can reduce carbon emissions and contribute towards energy security, inefficient land and water use for ethanol extraction as well as food security concerns still remain. Analyse. (250 words)

Difficulty level: Moderate.

Reference: Down to Earth

Why the question:

Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched petrol blended with 20 per cent ethanol (ethyl alcohol), also called ‘E20’, at the India Energy Week February 6, 2023. This is touted to be a landmark green initiative to help the country reduce carbon emissions.

 Key Demand of the question: 

To write about ethanol blending, economic and ecological benefits of ethanol blending and concerns associated with it.

Directive word:

Analyse – When asked to analyse, you must examine methodically the structure or nature of the topic by separating it into component parts and present them in a summary.

Structure of the answer:

Introduction: 

Begin by defining ethanol blending and the mechanism behind it.

Body:

First, write the economic benefits of ethanol blending – foreign exchange per year, energy security, self-reliance, increasing farmers’ incomes, employment generation, and greater investment opportunities. Mention the various initiatives of government to promote it.

Next, write about the ecological benefits – lower carbon emissions, better air quality and use of damaged foodgrains etc. Mention the various schemes for promotion of ethanol blending in India.

Next, write about the concerns associated with it – food security, lack of acceptance, costs etc.

Conclusion:

Conclude by writing a way forward to promote ethanol blending.

Introduction

An ethanol blend is defined as a blended motor fuel containing ethyl alcohol that is at least 99% pure, derived from agricultural products, and blended exclusively with petrol. Blending ethanol with petrol to burn less fossil fuel while running vehicles is called ethanol blending. Ethanol is an agricultural by-product which is mainly obtained from the processing of sugar from sugarcane, but also from other sources such as rice husk or maize. Currently, 10% of the petrol that powers your vehicle is ethanol. 

Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched petrol blended with 20 per cent ethanol (ethyl alcohol), also called ‘E20’, at the India Energy Week recently. This is touted to be a landmark green initiative to help the country reduce carbon emissions.

Body:

the economic and ecological benefits of promoting ethanol blending in India:

  • Ethanol has become one of the major priorities of 21st Century India.
  • Mixing 20 percent ethanol in petrol holds multiple attractions for India.
  • First, it can potentially reduce the auto fuel import bill by a yearly $4 billion, or Rs 30,000 crore.
  • Second, it also provides for farmers to earn extra income if they grow produce that helps in ethanol production.
  • Third, and no less important, is the fact that ethanol is less polluting than other fuels and, per the NITI Aayog paper, “offers equivalent efficiency at lower cost than petrol”.
  • Using ethanol fuel to power automobiles results in significantly low levels of toxins in the environment.
  • Specifically, ethanol to gasoline ratio of 85:15. The little composition of gasoline acts as an igniter, while ethanol takes up the rest of the tasks. This ratio of ethanol to gasoline minimizes the emission of greenhouse gases to the environment since it burns cleanly compared to pure gasoline.
  • The combustion of ethanol fuel only releases carbon dioxide and water. The carbon dioxide released is ineffective regarding environmental degradation.
  • Use of ethanol-blended petrol decreases emissions such as carbon monoxide (CO), hydrocarbons (HC) and nitrogen oxides (NOx), the expert committee noted. Higher reductions in CO emissions were observed with E20 fuel — 50 per cent lower in two-wheelers and 30 per cent lower in four-wheelers.
  • It also helps in energy security, lower carbon emissions, better air quality, self-reliance, use of damaged food grains, increasing farmers’ incomes, employment generation, and greater investment opportunities.

Challenges involved:

  • Less Production: Currently, domestic production of bioethanol is not sufficient to meet the demand for bio-ethanol for blending with petrol at Indian OMCs.
    • Sugar mills, which are the key domestic suppliers of bio-ethanol to OMCs, were able to supply only 57.6% of the total demand.
    • Sugar mills do not have the financial stability to invest in biofuel plants.
    • There are also concerns among investors on the uncertainty on the price of bioethanol in the future as the prices of both sugarcane and bio-ethanol are set by the central government.
    • Compatible vehicles: vehicles need to be produced with rubberised parts, plastic components and elastomers compatible with E20 and engines optimally designed for use of E20 fuel”
    • The NITI Aayog paper said that two-wheelers and passenger vehicles that are now being made in the country “are designed optimally for E5 (5 percent ethanol blend with petrol) while rubber and plastic components are “compatible with E10 fuel”.
  • Water Footprint: While India has become one of the top producers of ethanol but it lags top producers, the USA and Brazil, by a huge margin and remains inefficient in terms of water usage.
    • India’s water requirements for producing ethanol are not met through rainwater and the groundwater is used for drinking and other purposes.
    • Water footprint, that is water required to produce a litre of ethanol, includes rainwater at the root zone used by ethanol-producing plants such as sugarcane, and surface, ground water, and fresh water required to wash away pollutants.
  • Limited Sugarcane Availability: Sugarcane is another limited resource that affects the ethanol blending in the country.
    • In order to achieve a 20% blend rate, almost one-tenth of the existing net sown area will have to be diverted for sugarcane production. Any such land requirement is likely to put a stress on other crops and has the potential to increase food prices.
    • India’s biofuel policy stipulates that fuel requirements must not compete with food requirements and that only surplus food crops should be used for fuel production, if at all.
  • Lack of Alternatives: Producing ethanol from crop residue can be a good alternative but the annual capacity of biorefinery is still not enough to meet the 5% petrol-ethanol blending requirement.
    • Other biofuels such as Jatropha have often proven to be commercially unviable.
  • Handling issues: Ethanol being a highly flammable liquid marks obligatory safety and risk assessment measures during all phases of production, storage and transportation, thus increasing the cost and risk factor.

Way forward:

  • In order to introduce vehicles that are compatible the committee recommends roll out of E20 material-compliant and E10 engine-tuned vehicles from April 2023 and production of E20-tuned engine vehicles from April 2025.
  • The Centre must look at ways to reduce the programme’s dependence on the sugarcane.
  • Alternative feedstock like agricultural waste, recycled cooking oil, provides for more environmentally friendly bio-fuels.
  • There is a need to focus on raising the non-cane contribution to the ethanol mix.
  • This can be done by incentivising both public and private players to set up second-generation ethanol facilities.
  • as we progress towards higher blending of ethanol, careful monitoring and assessment of emissions changes will be needed to make sure that emission reduction potential can be enhanced both for regulated and unregulated pollutants.

Value addition

Ethanol blending programme in India:

  • the Centre had “launched pilot projects in 2001 wherein 5 percent ethanol blended petrol was supplied to retail outlets”.
  • Success of field trials eventually paved the way for the launching of the Ethanol Blended Petrol (EBP) Programme in January, 2003 for sale of 5 percent ethanol blended petrol in nine States and four UTs.
  • Currently, 5 per cent of ethanol is blended with petrol in India.
  • The government of India has advanced the target for 20 per cent ethanol blending in petrol (also called E20) to 2025 from 2030. E20 will be rolled out from April 2023.
  • The central government has also released an expert committee report on the Roadmap for Ethanol Blending in India by 2025.
  • The roadmap proposes a gradual rollout of ethanol-blended fuel to achieve E10 fuel supply by April 2022and phased rollout of E20 from April 2023 to April 2025.
  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced that India has achieved its target of blending 10% sugarcane-extracted ethanol in petrol, ahead of schedule.
  • the prime minister said India has also achieved its goal of having 40 per cent of its installed power generation from non-fossil fuel-based sources nine years before the deadline.

Differences between first generation and second generation ethanols

  • First-generation ethanolare produced from crops directly from the fields, such as cereals, maize, sugar beet and cane, and rapeseed. In Europe rapeseed oil is primarily used for biodiesel.
  • Second-generation ethanolsare produced from residual and waste products from, for example, industry and households. Large quantities of used frying oil and slaughterhouse waste are also used.

 

Topic: Awareness in the fields of IT, Space, Computers, robotics, Nano-technology, biotechnology and issues relating to intellectual property rights.

6. The collaboration between ISRO and NASA for NISAR mission which demonstrated the capability of radar as a science tool and help us study Earth’s dynamic land and ice surfaces in greater detail than ever before. Elucidate. (250 words)

Difficulty level: Moderate

Reference: Indian Expressfirstpost.com

Why the question:

The NASA-ISRO Synthetic Aperture Radar (NISAR) will observe nearly the entire planet every 12 days, night and day, in all weather conditions. Likely to be launched into near-polar orbit in 2024, it will also help scientists gain a better understanding of the Earth’s crust.

Key Demand of the question:

To write about the advantages offered by the NISAR mission.

Directive word: 

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

Structure of the answer:

Introduction: 

Begin by giving aims and objectives of NISAR mission.

Body:

First, give context of the NISAR mission as the join collaboration between ISRO and NASA and need for doing so.

Next, write about the importance of NISAR mission – changes in Earth’s surfaces, natural disasters, such as volcanic eruptions, earthquakes and landslides, measure groundwater levels, track flow rates of glaciers and ice sheets, and monitor the planet’s forest and agricultural regions

Conclusion:

Conclude by summarising.

Introduction

NASA-ISRO Synthetic Aperture Radar (NISAR) is a joint Earth-observing mission between NASA and the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO). NASA and ISRO are providing two radars that are optimized each in their own way to allow the mission to observe a wider range of changes than either one alone. NISAR will detect movements of the planet’s surface as small as 0.4 inches over areas about half the size of a tennis court.

The NISAR will observe nearly the entire planet every 12 days, night and day, in all weather conditions. Likely to be launched into near-polar orbit in 2024, it will also help scientists gain a better understanding of the Earth’s crust.

Body:

About NISAR:

  • It’s an SUV-sized satellite that is being jointly developed by the space agencies of the US and India.
  • The partnership agreement was signed between NASA and ISRO in September 2014, according to which NASA will provide one of the radars for the satellite, a high-rate communication subsystem for science data, GPS receivers and a payload data subsystem.
  • ISRO, on the other hand, will provide the spacecraft bus, the second type of radar (called the S-band radar), the launch vehicle and associated launch services.
  • The satellite will be launched in 2022 from the Satish Dhawan Space Center in Sriharikota, India, into a near-polar orbit and will scan the globe every 12 days over the course of its three-year mission of imaging the Earth’s land, ice sheets and sea ice to give an “unprecedented” view of the planet.
  • The goal of NISAR is to make global measurements of the causes and consequences of land surface changes using advanced radar imaging.
  • This mission concept and the resulting partnership are in response to the National Academy of Science’s 2007 survey of Earth observational priorities for the next decade, known as the decadal survey.
  • One of the top priorities identified in this survey was to gain data and insight in three Earth science domains: ecosystems, deformation of Earth’s crust and cryospheric sciences.

Applications of NISAR:

  • A dedicated U.S. and Indian InSAR mission, in partnership with ISRO, optimized for studying hazards and global environmental change.
  • Earth’s surface is constantly changing as a result of both natural and human processes, and humanity’s exposure to natural hazards is increasing. NISAR will measure these changes, from small movements of the crust up to volcanic eruptions.
  • The NASA-ISRO SAR (NISAR) Mission will measure Earth’s changing ecosystems, dynamic surfaces, and ice masses providing information about biomass, natural hazards, sea level rise, and groundwater, and will support a host of other applications.
  • NISAR will observe Earth’s land and ice-covered surfaces globally with 12-day regularity on ascending and descending passes, sampling Earth on average every 6 days for a baseline 3-year mission.
  • NISAR’s data can help people worldwide better manage natural resources and hazards, as well as providing information for scientists to better understand the effects and pace of climate change. It will also add to our understanding of our planet’s hard outer layer, called its crust.
  • NISAR’s global and rapid coverage will provide unprecedented opportunities for disaster response, providing data to assist in mitigating and assessing damage, with observations before and after disasters in short time frames.
  • NISAR maps will allow initial damage estimates to guide ground inspections for damage assessment.
  • In Short, NISAR will help track changes in Earth’s surfaces, natural disasters, such as volcanic eruptions, earthquakes and landslides, measure groundwater levels, track flow rates of glaciers and ice sheets, and monitor the planet’s forest and agricultural regions

Conclusion

Greater U.S.-India space cooperation – across multiple segments of society – could inspire the next phase of Indo-American potential.  It could vividly demonstrate how India and the United States, working together, can be of service to the world.  Space research and exploration drive innovation and technology development for the benefit of all people – from satellite navigation and smart cities, to water purification technology and medical imaging.  Space also inspires young minds and sparks passions, encouraging students to study science, technology, engineering, and math – skillsets that launch high-tech careers and stimulate entrepreneurship.  Space, as part of the global commons, is a precious frontier that will allow for the continued advancement of mankind.  It is an area in which international cooperation is not only important, it has become a necessity.  As Ex-President Obama said “what was once a global competition has long since become a global collaboration.”

 


General Studies – 4


 

Topic: Aptitude and foundational values for Civil Service, integrity, impartiality and nonpartisanship, objectivity, dedication to public service, empathy, tolerance and compassion towards the weaker-sections.

7. Explain moral muteness. What are the causes behind it and ways to overcome it? (150 words)

Difficulty level: Moderate

Why the question:

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

Key Demand of the question:

To write about moral muteness, causes for it and ways to overcome it.

Directive:

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 moral muteness.

Body:

Write about the impact of moral muteness – violation of rights, corruption etc and reasons why people are morally mute – lack of courage, obedience to authority, threats, coercion etc. Cite suitable examples to substantiate your points.

Conclusion:

Complete the answer by ways one can overcome moral muteness and develop courage.

Introduction

Moral muteness or Moral Silence occurs when people witness unethical behavior and choose not to say anything. It can also occur when people communicate in ways that obscure their moral beliefs and commitments.

Body

When we see others acting unethically, often the easiest thing to do is look the other way. Studies show that less than half of those who witness organizational wrongdoing report it. To speak out risks conflict, and we tend to avoid conflict because we pay an emotional and social cost for it.

For example, in one study, psychologist Harold Takooshian planted fur coats, cameras, and TVs inside 310 locked cars in New York City. He sent a team of volunteers to break into the cars and steal the valuables, asking the “thieves” to act in an obviously suspicious manner. About 3,500 people witnessed the break-ins, but only 9 people took any kind of action. Of those who spoke up, five were policemen

Causes behind moral muteness

  • Cumbersome processes of public service give very little time for moral reasoning
  • Red Tapism
  • Lack of Public officials to complete the assigned task
  • Irregularity of the public officials
  • Corruption in public service

Ways to resolve moral muteness:

  • Imparting value-based code of ethics
  • Encouraging moral reasoning
  • Reducing cumbersome processes of public service using e- governance
  • Giving value-based training for public officials

Conclusion

Courage and self confidence stand out in morally defiant individuals. Education and awareness can also help people become morally defiant.


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