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Answer the following questions in 150 words:
General Studies – 1
1. As urbanization and population growth increase, so does the amount of municipal solid waste produced, leading to a surge in unsanitary landfills that cause severe hazards. Examine.
India alone generates more than 1,00,000 metric tonnes of solid waste every day, which is higher than many countries’ total daily waste generation taken together. Large metropolis such as Mumbai and Delhi generate around 9,000 metric tonnes and 8,300 metric tonnes of waste per day, respectively. India suffers from inefficient and insufficient waste infrastructure and also from increasing rates of solid waste generation per capita. Besides, the infrastructure and technologies, we must also concede that we have not addressed the issue from a systemic perspective.
A massive fire broke out recently at Brahmapuram dumpsite in Kochi, Kerala which has caught national attention.
Current Situation of MSW in India:
- ULBs are responsible for segregated waste collection, transporting waste in covered vehicle, processing, recyclables, separating domestic hazardous waste and disposing inert material in sanitary landfills
- Various studies reveal that about 90% of MSW is disposed of unscientifically in open dumps and landfills, creating problems to public health and the environment.
- Over 377 million urban people live in 7,935 towns and cities and generate 62 million tonnes of municipal solid waste per annum.
- Only 43 million tonnes (MT) of the waste is collected, 11.9 MT is treated and 31 MT is dumped in landfill sites.
- Most cities have confined themselves to collection and transportation of solid waste. Processing and safe disposal are being attempted only in a few cases.
- The CPCB report also reveals that only 68% of the MSW generated in the country is collected of which, 28% is treated by the municipal authorities. Thus, merely 19% of the total waste generated is currently treated.
- Disappearance of urban water bodies and wetlands in urban areas can be attributed to illegal dumping of Construction & Demolition waste.
Some of the major issues concerning solid waste management are:
- Absence of segregation of waste at source
- Lack of funds for waste management at ULBs.
- Unwillingness of ULBs to introduce proper collection, segregation, transportation and treatment/ disposal systems.
- Lack of technical expertise and appropriate institutional arrangement
- lack of infrastructure and technology
- lack of involvement from the private sector and non-governmental organisations
- Indifference of citizens towards waste management due to lack of awareness
- Lack of community participation towards waste management and hygienic conditions
- Lack of sewage management plan.
- About 70% of the plastic packaging products turn into plastic waste within a short period.
- Unorganized vendors and markets, existence of slum areas and Corruption are other issues plaguing MSWM.
Remedies to tackle MSW
- State governments should provide financial support to ULBs to improve their waste management system under various schemes and programs.
- Initiatives like Smart Cities Mission, AMRUT should provide significant funding to improve civic services infrastructure.
- The key to efficient waste management is to ensure proper segregation of waste at source and to ensure that the waste goes through different streams of recycling and resource recovery as stated in the Solid Waste Management Rules, 2016.
- Waste to energy is a key component of SWM. Installation of waste-to-compost and bio-methanation plants would reduce the load of landfill sites
- There is a need to encourage research and development so as to reinvent waste management system in India.
- The focus should be on recycling and recovering from waste and not landfill. Further, it is important to encourage recycling of e-waste so that the problem of e-waste
- Public- Private Partnership models for waste management should be encouraged.
- Construction and demolition waste should be stored, separately disposed off, as per the Construction and Demolition Waste Management Rules, 2016.
- Responsibilities of Generators have been introduced to segregate waste in to three streams, Wet (Biodegradable), Dry (Plastic, Paper, metal, wood, etc.) and domestic hazardous wastes (diapers, napkins, empty containers of cleaning agents, mosquito repellents, etc.) and handover segregated wastes to authorized rag-pickers or waste collectors or local bodies.
- Sensitization of citizens as well as government authorities, community participation, involvement of NGOs. Littering should be prohibited.
- International Best practices should be emulated. South Korea is one of the few countries to separate and recycle food waste. It has also launched landfill recovery projects such as the Nanjido recovery project which have successfully transformed hazardous waste sites into sustainable ecological attractions.
Municipal solid waste management (MSWM) is one of the major environmental problems of Indian cities. The need of the hour is scientific, sustainable and environment friendly management of wastes.
2. What are the various natural and human-caused factors contributing to the rise in global sea levels? Analyse their potential long-term impacts on coastal communities and ecosystems.
Sea level rise is an increase in the level of the world’s oceans due to the effects of global warming and other factors. As per the WMO’s ‘State of the Global Climate 2022’ report, the world’s sea level is rising at an unprecedented rate. The rate of global mean sea-level [GSML] rise has doubled from 2.27 mm/year in 1993-2002 to 4.62 mm/year in 2013-2022.
Alarming rate of sea level rise
- Sea levels have risen by between 180 to 200 mm since 1900.
- Nearly5-0.7% of the world’s land area is at a risk of episodic coastal flooding by 2100, impacting5-4.1%of the population assuming there are no coastal defences or adaptation measures in place.
- By 2100, the global population potentially exposed to episodic coastal flooding will increase from 128-171 million to 176-287 million.
Causes behind sea-level rise
- Thermal expansion:
- When water heats up, it expands. About half of the sea-level rise over the past 25 years is attributable to warmer oceans simply occupying more space.
- Melting glaciers:
- Large ice formations such as mountain glaciers naturally melt a bit each summer.
- In the winter, snows, primarily from evaporated sea water, are generally sufficient to balance out the melting.
- Recently, though, persistently higher temperatures caused by global warming have led to greater than average summer melting as well as diminished snowfall due to later winters and earlier springs.
- That creates an imbalance between runoff and ocean evaporation, causing sea levels to rise.
- Loss of Greenland and Antarctica’s ice sheets:
- As with mountain glaciers, increased heat is causing the massive ice sheets that cover
- Greenland and Antarctica to melt more quickly.
- Scientists also believe that meltwater from above and seawater from below is seeping beneath Greenland’s ice sheets, effectively lubricating ice streams and causing them to move more quickly into the sea.
- While melting in West Antarctica has drawn considerable focus from scientists, especially with the 2017 break in the Larsen C ice shelf, glaciers in East Antarctica are also showing signs of destabilizing.
Consequences of sea-level rise on coastal states
- Loss of habitat: Almost 3 billion people are living within 200 km of the coasts and islands all over the world.
- A sea level rise will lead toloss of habitation and hence leads to de-urbanization.
- Indonesia is planning to shift its capital fromJakarta, the “world’s fastest-sinking city” owing to sinking of land by 25 cm per year.
- It may also significantlyaffect tourism and recreation through impacts on landscapes (e.g., beaches), cultural features etc.
- Agriculture: SLR will affect agriculture mainly through land submergence, soil and fresh groundwater resources salinisation, and land loss due to permanent coastal erosion, with consequences on production, livelihood diversification and food security.
- Coastal fisheries and aquaculture: The negative effects of SLR on fisheries and aquaculture are indirect, through adverse impacts on habitats (e.g., coral reef degradation, reduced water quality in deltas and estuarine environments, soil salinisation, etc.).
- Impact on Small Island Nations: Because of small islands’ high coastline to land area ratio, most of their human settlements, agricultural lands, and critical infrastructure are at or near the coasts.
Vulnerability of India to global warming induced sea level rise
- As per the study by Hyderabad-based Indian National Centre for Ocean Information Services,Sea levels along the Indian coast are projected to rise between 3.5 inches to 34 inch (2.8 feet) by the end of century due to global warming.
- India’s coastal regions, home to about 170 million of the country’s 1.4 billion people, are on the front lines of a shifting climate, experiencing sea-level rise, erosion, and natural disasters such as tropical storms and cyclones.
- The latest evidence of this vulnerability occurred in May 2020, as the strongest storm recorded in decades in the Bay of Bengal—Cyclone Amphan—hit, forcing several million people to evacuate.
- Climate change is expected toinundate significant sections of Mumbai by 2050, impacting millions of people.
- India lost 235 square kilometers of land to coastal erosionbetween 1990 and 2016, placing people’s livelihoods and homes in jeopardy, with flight to safer places occurring voluntarily or, as a last resort, through government intervention.
- Scientific prediction suggests that 36 million Indiansare likely to be living in areas experiencing chronic flooding by 2100.
- Sea level aroundAsia in the North Indian Ocean has increased faster than global average, with coastal area loss and shoreline retreat.
- Similarly, mega cities such as Mumbai, Chennai, and Kolkata are at high risk of flooding and sea-level rise, with millions living in these urban coastal areas likely to be relocated to safer places in the future.
- In such circumstances, forced migration and displacement would be inevitable in the absence of well-managed, pre-emptive relocation of populations from high-risk areas.
- Integrated coastal management: It will help in resource management following an integrative, holistic approach and an interactive planning process in addressing the complex management issues in the coastal area.
- Coastal Regulation Zone notifications issued under Environmental Protection Act, 1986 will help in this integrated management.
- Community ownership: Policy makers should engage stakeholders in the early stages of decision-making and throughout the entire decision-making process to enhance overall resilience in coastal areas, while supporting community ownership.
- Barriers to urban areas:Rotterdam has offered a model to other cities seeking to combat flooding and land loss. Rotterdam has built barriers, drainage, and innovative architectural features such as a “water square” with temporary ponds.
- Adaptation to Sea Level Rise
- Relocating utility infrastructure, such as treatment plants and pump stations, to higher elevations would reduce risks from coastal flooding.
- Understanding and modelling groundwater conditions will inform aquifer management and projected water quantity and quality changes.
- Coastal restoration plans may protect water utility infrastructure from damaging storm surge by increasing protective habitat of coastal ecosystems such as mangroves and wetlands.
- Theinjection of fresh water into aquifers can help to act as a barrier, while intrusion recharges groundwater resources.
- Limiting global warming: More use of renewable energy (wind, solar) can help reduce carbon emissions. Nations must act fast to attain their NDC’s and work on carbon sequestration.
The Paris Agreement provides a clear vision on limiting global warming and thus, Sea level rise. There must be awareness among the representatives of the public, different agencies of the government, scientists, industry and the communities on the threat posed by climate change and the steps to counter it. Sea level rise is a slow disaster that will become magnanimous and all steps must be taken to ensure that such disasters are mitigated.
General Studies – 2
3. Explain the meaning of “fraternity” as it appears in the preamble of our Constitution and why the founding fathers included it. Do you believe that the concept of fraternity is more important now than ever before in our country?
According to Dr. Ambedkar “Fraternity means a sense of common brotherhood of all Indians — of Indians being one people. It is the principle which gives unity and solidarity to social life,”. No one should treat a fellow citizen as inferior. While the morals of Preamble like- Justice, Equality, Liberty have been explicitly and implicitly ensured through Fundamental Rights, Directive Principles and other constitutional provisions, this is not the case with Fraternity.
Fraternity in Indian Context
- The concept of Fraternity signifies moral obligations rather than rights, an obligation to treat fellow human beings justly and respectfully. It implies placing social cohesion above individual identity.
- The Constitution views fraternity significantly as a source of affirming “the dignity of the individual” and the “unity” of the nation.
- The former is accomplished by recognising the moral equality of individuals, upheld through mutual respect, despite all our differences, of religious belief, caste, language, culture, ethnicity, class and gender.
- Both Ambedkar and the Constitution derive the unity of the nation from fraternity. Not from forcing minorities to adhere to majoritarian principles, but instead a sense of mutual belonging and respect that transcends all other differences between the people.
- Fraternity is both a way of feeling, and a political principle.
- The idea of fraternity is closely linked to that of social solidarity, which is impossible to accomplish without public empathy;the daily, lived realisation that human beings who look different, wear different clothes, worship different gods, speak different languages, have different political persuasions, actually have exactly the same intrinsic human dignity, and experience the same emotions—dreams, hopes, despair, pain, happiness, anger, love, triumphs and defeats—that we all do
- India which is divided on the basis of caste, which Ambedkar termed as anti-national, must overcome this hurdle to become a nation. Without fraternity, equality and liberty will be no deeper than coats of paint.
- Dignity of Individuals by maintaining material betterment of individual and democratic setup.
- Sense of common brotherhood transcending religion, language, regional or sectional diversities(Article 51A). This is to be promoted through single citizenship.
- The Supreme Court , as the ultimate protector and interpreter of our Constitution, has also invoked the principle of fraternity, though less frequently than the invocation of liberty and equality.
- “Fraternity”, thus, implies the acknowledgement that we share our space, our existence with others, including individuals of another family, tribe, group, race, or religion, who have been in India for ages, who have lived and died here, have made India what it is, a country of improbable diversity, multiplicity of religions and culture.
Relevance of fraternity in contemporary India:
- Our Constitution makers discussed about fraternity 75 years ago and their views seem relevant to a present India.
- There is simultaneously a precipitous decline in the civility of our public discourse, in which hectoring and blighting one’s adversaries are seen as markers of high oratory and political muscularity. These together constitute in India a grave threat to our constitutional values, and most of all to fraternity.
- Incidents such as communal violence during 2002 Gujarat riots, ongoing Citizenship Amendment Act protest and violence, North-South divide based on languages, and other social disturbances due to differences in diversity and inability to come to common terms for living in harmony are common.
- Still secessionist movements persist like demand for Greater Nagalim, lack of unified polity manifested in temporary provisions for certain states like Article 371, border disputes, especially with Pakistan and China. At psychological level issues include communalism, regionalism, linguism etc.
- In a nation where citizens are lynched for their choice of food or communities argue for cultural/religious practices to precede constitutional guarantees, we need to adopt a way of life wherein we live the value of fraternity – our success as a nation depends on this.
- The idea of fraternal relations does not exist in a vacuum, it is instead the foremost pillar on which a functioning democracy rests and we have somehow glossed over it entirely. In that respect, as we enter the 75th year of our independence, we need a re-imagination of community relations.
- The focal point of this re-imagination has to be fraternity, providing adequate shared spaces to empathise, evolve and foster a composite culture based on Constitutional and humanitarian ideals.
- Otherwise, we will be proving Ambedkar’s fears right: “Democracy is just a top dressing on the Indian soil which is essentially undemocratic.”
- Thus, Fraternity is the most radical and important idea of our times, the necessary foundation to fight all the world’s injustices, hate and inequalities.
A fine example of what fraternity can accomplish in times of hate was offered in the last months of Mahatma Gandhi’s life, which were surely his finest hour. In these months, he cemented powerfully the foundations of India as a humane, inclusive, secular country. He showed us the possibilities of fraternity to imagine – and live – a different India.
Fraternity is an important element for a strong nation-state that encompasses diversity as large as that of India’s. This had been cherished during nationalist freedom struggle also reminded by 42nd Constitutional Amendment Act by adding the word integrity.
General Studies – 3
4. Explain the concept of genome sequencing and highlight the significance of the Genome India Project.
Genome Sequencing refers to the method through which the order of DNA nucleotides, or bases, in a genome, the order of As, Cs, Gs, and Ts that make up an organism’s DNA are figured. The human genome is made up of over 3 billion of these genetic letters
About Genome sequencing
- A Genome is the complete genetic material of an organism. It is like an instruction manual which contains information about the make-up of the organism.
- While human genomes are made of DNA (Deoxyribonucleic acid), a virus genome can be made of either DNA or RNA (Ribonucleic acid).
- DNA and RNA provide genetic instructions for growth and functioning of organisms.
- Coronavirus is made of RNA. Genome sequencing is a technique that reads and interprets genetic information found within DNA or RNA.
Genome India Project
- Taking inspiration from the Human Genome Project, this year, the Department of Biotechnology (DBT) initiated the ambitious “Genome India Project” (GIP) on 3rd January 2020.
- The Genome India Project, a Centre-backed initiative to sequence 10,000 Indian human genomes and create a database, is about two-thirds completed and will be 100% complete by year-end.
- Of the 7,000 genomes sequenced about 3,000 are already available for public access (as per the Department of Biotechnology)
- This project is led by the Centre for Brain Research at Bengaluru-based Indian Institute of Science, which acts as the central coordinator between a collaboration of 20 leading institutions, each collecting samples and conducting its own research.
- Institutes involved include the Indian Institute of Science (IISc) in Bengaluru as well as several Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs).
- For conducting the project, investigators in hospitals will lead the data collection through a simple blood test from participants and the information will be added to biobanks.
Significance of Genome India Project
- India’s population of4 billion is made up of over 4,600 diverse population groups, many of which are endogamous or marry within close ethnic groups.
- These groups haveunique genetic variations and disease-causing mutations that cannot be compared to other populations.
- By creating a database of Indian genomes, researchers can learn about these unique genetic variants and use the information to create personalized drugs and therapies.
- The project aims to develop personalized medicine based on patients’ genomes to anticipate and modulate diseases.
- By mapping disease propensities to genetic variations, interventions can be targeted more effectively, and diseases can be anticipated before they develop.
- For example, variations across genomes may explain why cardiovascular disease leads to heart attacks in South Asians but to strokes in most parts of Africa.
- Similar benefits will come to agriculture if there is a better understanding of the genetic basis of the susceptibility of plants to pests, insects and other issues hampering productivity.
- This can reduce dependence on chemicals.
- Global science will also benefit from a mapping project in one of the world’s most diverse gene pools.
- The project is said to be among the most significant of its kind in the world because of its scale and the diversity it would bring to genetic studies.
Finally, genes account for less than 25 percent of the DNA in the genome, and so knowing the entire genome sequence will help scientists study the parts of the genome outside the genes. This includes the regulatory regions that control how genes are turned on and off, as well as long stretches of “nonsense” or “junk” DNA—so called because significance of it hasn’t been established.
Importance of genome sequencing
- Genome sequencing helps researchers understand the arrangement of the make up of DNA or RNA. Sequencing the genome will help us understand where the certain virus for instance of SARS-CoV-2 came from and how it spread
- Participants of genome-sample collections represent diversity of the country’s population. It will help in following ways:
- The first obvious use would be in personalised medicine, anticipating diseases and modulating treatment according to the genome of patients. Several diseases develop through the interplay of the environment with multiple genes, which differ across populations.
- Human genome sequencing is important to establish a link between diseases and the unique genetic make-up of each individual. For instance, cardiovascular disease generally leads to heart attacks in South Asians. If such propensities can be mapped to variations across genomes, it is believed public health interventions can be targeted better.
- While genes may render some insensitive to certain drugs, genome sequencing has shown that cancer too can be understood from the viewpoint of genetics, rather than being seen as a disease of certain organs.
- Another advantage of genome sequencing is that information regarding drug efficacy or adverse effects of drug usecan be obtained. Drugs developed in the Western world and sold in India are pricey and may not be effective on the Indian gene. Mapping of India’s genetic landscape is critical for next generation medicine.
- It will enhance India’s scientific capabilities. Next step would be genome sequencing of crops that would help in better understanding of the genetic basis of susceptibility of crops to blights, rusts and pests. It may become possible to deter them genetically, and reduce dependence on chemicals.
- Global science would also benefit from genome sequencing, which would provide data useful for the mapping of the spread and migration of a range of life forms in the old World and thus would help in better understanding of human evolution.
5. What is a Geographical Indication (GI) tag and how does it benefit traditional products and their producers?
A geographical indication (GI) is a name or sign used on products which corresponds to a specific geographical location or origin. It acts as a certification that the product possesses certain qualities, is made according to traditional methods, or enjoys a certain reputation. The registration of a geographical indication is valid for a period of 10 years. It can be renewed from time to time for further period of 10 years each.
In India, Geographical Indications registration is administered by the Geographical Indications of Goods (Registration and Protection) Act, 1999 which came into force with effect from September 2003. The first product in India to be accorded with GI tag was Darjeeling tea in the year 2004-05. The Manamadurai pottery recently earned a Geographical Indication (GI) tag.
Laws governing the GI tag:
- Under Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property, GIs are covered as an element of IPRs.
- GI is governed by WTO’s Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS).
- In India, GI tag is governed by Geographical Indications of Goods (Registration and Protection Act), 1999.
- This Act is administered by Controller General of Patents, Designs and Trade Marks, who is also Registrar of Geographical Indications.
Role that Geographical indication (GI) tags play in Rural Development of the country:
- GI tag helps the producers to differentiate their products from competing products in the market.
- It enables the producers to build a reputation and goodwill around their products, which often fetch a premium price.
- The products help in export earning, promotion of tourism, cultural heritage and national identity.
- For example, Kanjeevaram silk sarees and Pochampally Ikat contribute to exports and popularity.
- GIs have great potential to play a major role in trade between countries.
- Legal protection to GIs protect livelihoods and encourage employment generation.
- Owing to the premium prices that many GIs command today, there is a possibility of preserving many traditional skills.
- Benefit to the rural economy by improving the incomes of farmers or non-farmers
- GI allows genuine producers to capture the market and creates entry barriers for fakes
Concerns / Challenges:
- The special treatment to wines and spirits in TRIPS Agreement appears to be developed country-centric. Developing countries, including India, seek the same higher level of protection for all GIs as was given under TRIPS for wines and spirits.
- The battle for GI tag between states. For instance, the previous row between West Bengal and Odisha over the ownership of Rasogolla
- False use of geographical indications by unauthorized parties is detrimental to consumers and legitimate producers.
- Cheap Power loom saris are sold as reputed Banarasi handloom saris, harming both the producers and consumers
- Such unfair business practices result in loss of revenue for the genuine right-holders of the GI and also misleads consumers.
- Protection of GI has, over the years, emerged as one of the most contentious IPR issues.
- The benefits of GI tag are realised only when these products are effectively marketed and protected against illegal copying.
- Effective marketing and protection requires quality assurance, brand creation, post-sale consumer feedback and support, prosecuting unauthorised copiers, etc.
- For internationally recognised products like Darjeeling tea, international protection is of crucial importance.
- Legal protection to GIs also extends to protection of traditional knowledge and traditional cultural expression contained in the products.
- Hence Intellectual Property is a power tool for economic development and wealth creation particularly in the developing world.
- GIs have the potential to be our growth engine. Policy-makers must pay a heed to this and give Indian GI products their true reward.
Answer the following questions in 250 words(15 marks each):
General Studies – 1
6. If a positive and proactive approach is adopted towards India’s population growth, along with pragmatic policy moves, its large population, often seen as a burden, can actually become an asset in terms of economic growth and development. Analyse.
According to the UNFPA State of World Population (SOWP) Report 2023, China is projected to hand over the baton of the most populous country to India by mid-2023. The report further added that India will have a population of 142.86 crores by mid-2023, which is 2.9 million higher than China’s population of 142.57 crores.
Undoubtedly, India has a population problem, but any strategy to change fertility rates should be carefully thought out. India’s population concern is largely restricted to Bihar, UP, Jharkhand, Rajasthan and MP.
Rising population is a boon for India
- Population is a resource as long as the country’s carrying capacity is intact.
- There are greater prospects for demographic dividend than a disaster.
- With 68% of the working age population in 2023, the country continues to have a demographic window of opportunity for the next 35 years to reap an economic dividend.
- A demographic window of opportunity in itself will not automatically turn into an economic dividend.
- Declining and ageing populationin Japan, China, the US and other major economies.
- Potential to become a worldwide market for both production and consumption, with lower manufacturing costs due to a relatively cheaper workforce.
- This is very much evident in India’s IT sector.
- Potential to boost per capita GDPby an additional 43% by 2061, provided the socio-economic and political enabling environment is conducive.
Increasing Population is a bane for India
- Drastic population control methods run the risk of inducing forced population ageing.
- A total fertility rate of lessthan 8 may not be economically beneficial for India. Once fertility tends to decline, it is hard to reverse it.
- What the country needs are policies that support an enabling environment that can provide high-quality education, healthcare, employment, infrastructure, and gender empowerment.
- If India falls short in this, its “demographic dividend” can become a “demographic disaster”.
- Population growth acts as a hurdle in addressing effectively the problem of poverty, hunger and malnutrition and also in providing the better quality of health and education.
- SDGs 1, 2, 3 and 4are going to be affected adversely because of India’s existing pattern of growth in the population.
- Presently, India is producing around 25 million job seekers in the country, however, the country is able to provide jobs only to 7 million.This gap of 18 million is increasing the burden of unemployment and underemployment in the country, turning a demographic dividend into a demographic disaster.
- India’s population growth is not sustainable.India is only about 35-40% of China’s landmass.
- In the 19th century, when Europe had a demographic explosion, it had occupied America, Australia etc. India does not have another landmass to occupy and the available landmass cannot take this population growth.
Measures needed to ensure that population growth is a boon for India
- Employment or job creation: If India is able to generate sufficient and quality jobs for its bulging working age population.
- Education, skills generation and ensuring a healthy lifespan: It is critical not only for better productivity but it also reduces excessive public spending and helps in greater capital creation.
- Good governance: Reflected through conscientious policies, it will help in creating a healthy environment for increasing efficiency and productivity of the population.
- India needs to invest more in the health sector. India invests only 1.3% of its GDP. The family planning budget is only 4% of the entire health budget and within that India spends only 1.5% on birth spacing methods.
- Investments should be made particularly for the old people because by the year 2050, India’s population of old people is going to grow almost 10 times more.
- Education is very important, not only for empowering women but for fertility to decline.
- Education should be made free for women till college-level.
- Better education will help women in better decision making for family planning.
- Unless women are part of the workforce, no society can bring down fertility rates with progress. Therefore, policies must look at the whole issue of declining workforce participation by women.
- India needs to focus on some areas which are socially, culturally, economically depressed. Identification of 140 high focussed districts is the right step by the governmentin this direction. However, it needs to work in the whole of Bihar, U.P., Madhya Pradesh and Assam.
- India needs to give huge stress on declining sex ratiosand the discrimination towards girls so that people don’t have a high number of children in the hope of having a boy.
- India can achieve a number of SDGs if it links them with family planning.Family planning is a promotive and preventive method for bringing down maternal mortality and child mortality.
- It is important to see the issue of population growth not only from the national perspective but also from the state’s point of view i.e. different states need to be encouraged to take necessary steps for containing the population.
Opportunities and costs are the two sides of the coin when it comes to being the world’s largest populous country. However, the relatively younger population of India provides higher support ratios.
General Studies – 2
7. How can digitization of land records promote transparency, reduce corruption, and promote rural development? Discuss the government’s initiatives towards digitization of land records in India and the measures needed to improve the effectiveness of these programs.
Digitization of land records was introduced to computerize all land records including mutations, improve transparency in the land records maintenance system, digitize maps and survey, update all settlement records and minimize the scope of land disputes. This would provide clear titles of land ownership that could be monitored easily by government officials, facilitate quicker transactions, and reduce disputes. Most importantly it would reduce construction timelines and overall cost for the developer, the benefits of which can be transferred to consumer making property prices more attractive. Any reform or initiative that strengthens land governance, impacts the economy positively and has a ripple effect across sectors.
Significance of digitization of land records:
- High litigation:
- A World Bank study from 2007 states that some estimates suggest that land-related disputes account for two-thirds of all pending court cases in the country. These land disputes include those related to the validity of land titles and records, and rightful ownership.
- A NITI Aayog paper suggests that land disputes on average take about 20 years to be resolved. Land disputes add to the burden of the courts, tie up land in litigation, and further impact sectors and projects that are dependent on these disputed land titles.
- Agricultural credit:
- Land is often used as collateral for obtaining loans by farmers. It has been observed that disputed or unclear land titles inhibit supply of capital and credit for agriculture.
- Small and marginal farmers, who account for more than half of the total land holdings, and may not hold formal land titles, are unable to access institutionalised credit.
- Development of new infrastructure:
- Land that was earlier used for farming, is now being used to set up industries, power plants, manufacturing units, build roads, housing, and shopping malls.
- However, several of the new infrastructure projects are witnessing delays, with land related issues often being a key factor.
- These delays occur because of non-availability of encumbrance free land (evidence that the property in question is free from any monetary and legal liability), non-updation of land records, resistance to joint measurement survey of land records, demands for higher compensation by land owners, and filing of large number of arbitration cases by land owners.
- For example, obtaining a land ownership certificate can take around 60 days in Gujarat and up to 12 months in Chennai and Odisha.
- Urbanisation and the housing shortage:
- More recently, land use is also changing due to urbanisation and further expansion of such urban areas.
- While census towns are places with urban characteristics (population above 5,000, at least 75% of the population engaged in non-agricultural work, and a population density of at least 400 people per sq. km.), statutory towns are urban areas with a local authority.
- Under new schemes for urban development (Smart Cities Mission, AMRUT), cities are trying to raise their own revenue through property taxes and land based financing. This further necessitates the importance of providing a system of clear land titles in urban areas.
- Benami transactions:
- A Benami transaction is one where a property is held by or transferred to a person, but has been provided for or paid by another person.
- The White Paper on Black Money (2012) had noted that black money generated in the country gets invested in Benami properties.
- Unclear titles and non-updated land records enable carrying out property transactions in a non-transparent way.
- The Standing Committee on Finance (2015) examining the Benami Transactions Prohibition (Amendment) Bill, 2015 noted that generation of black money through Benami transactions could be pre-empted and eliminated by digitisation of land records and their regular updation.
- Unused land:
- A large proportion of government land lies unused. A large part of the unused land is high-value property in prime areas in major cities
- Land hoarding by government agencies has created artificial scarcityand is one of the main drivers of skyrocketing urban real estate prices.
- In India, we have a system of registered sale deeds and not land titles.
- The Transfer of Property Act, 1882, provides that the right to an immovable property (or land) can be transferred or sold only by a registered document.
- These documents are registered under the Registration Act, 1908. Therefore, the transaction gets registered, and not the land title.
- This implies that even bona fide property transactionsmay not always guarantee ownership, as earlier transactions could be challenged.
- Land ownership is established through multiple documents maintained by different departments, making it cumbersome to access them
- For example, sale deeds are stored in the registration department, maps are stored in the survey department, and property tax receipts are with the revenue department
- These departments work in silos and do not update the data in a timely manner, which results in discrepancies. One has to go back to several years of documentation to find any ownership claims on a piece of property, which causes delays.
- The cost of registering property is high and, hence, people avoid registering transactions
- While registering a sale deed, the buyer has to pay a stamp duty along with the registration fee.
- In India, stamp duty rates across states vary between 4% and 10%,compared to 1% and 4% in other countries. The registration fee is an additional 0.5% to 2%, on an average.
- Under the Registration Act, 1908, registration of property is not mandatory for transactions such as the acquisition of land by the government, property leased for less than one year, and heirship partitions
Government efforts towards digitization of land records so far:
- Unique Land Parcel Identification Number (ULPIN)
- It is an Aadhaar-like identification for a land parcel or plot. Each land parcel or plot is assigned a unique identification number.
- Like Aadhaar, the agencies and services can use the land database from anywhere in the country to authenticate a farmer or the beneficiary’s identity for the purpose of delivery of services.
- National Generic Document Registry System (NGDRS) — One Nation One Registration Software System
- It is undoubtedly a major initiative for urban property registration.
- It is a software application platform that facilitates online registration of immovable properties and documents as compared to the manual registration process used earlier.
- Transliterating the land records in any languageunder Schedule VIII of the Constitution.
- The objective is to break the linguistic barriers in land records.
- Presently, land records are largely in regional languages.
- These linguistic barriers need to be overcome in order to open up the national economy.
- The land digitisation efforts in India received a new boost at both the Centre and state levels after the launch of a survey of villages and mapping with improved technology in village areas under the SVAMITVAscheme in 2021.
- The scheme seeks to confer land titles in so far unmapped and inhabited parts of rural India and to distribute property cards in villages.
- The Digital India Land Records Modernization programme (DILRMP)was launched by Government of India in August 2008. The objective of the programme was to streamline and reduce the scope of land and property disputes, thereby improving transparency in the maintenance of land records. The main aim of the programme was to computerize all land records, digitize maps, upgrade the survey and settlement records and sustain the same.
- Karnatakawas the first state in India to computerize land records under the “Bhoomi Project” followed by Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu in the year 2001.
- Madhya Pradesh, West Bengal and Odisha are the best performing Indian states in land record digitisation, according to an annual land records index prepared by Delhi-based think-tank National Council of Applied Economic Research (NCAER).
- The NCAER’s Land Records and Services Index (NLRSI) 2020-21 released recently said nearly all states and union territories — 29 out of 32 — showed a gradual improvement in their efforts to digitise land records compared to the previous year.
A good land records system is a necessity for any harmonious and progressive society. The book would ultimately lead to an improved land governance system, reduction in land disputes, prevention of Benami transactions and a comprehensive Integrated Land Information Management System in the country, by sharing best practices.
8. The troika of the Northeast region, comprising the Centre, state governments, and indigenous communities, can be a critical component of India’s Act East policy. Critically examine the challenges and opportunities associated with this troika.
Reference: The Hindu
India’s North Eastern Region is a rainbow country, known for its diversity. It stretches from the foothills of the Himalayas in the eastern range and is surrounded by Bangladesh, Bhutan, China, Nepal and Myanmar. The region is rich in natural resources, covered with dense forests, has the highest rainfall in the country, with large and small river systems nesting the land and is a treasure house of flora and fauna. Marked by diversity in customs, cultures, traditions and languages, it is home to multifarious social, ethnic and linguistic groups.
North East Region
- The NER is strategically located with access to the traditional domestic market of eastern India
- It has proximity to the major states in the east and adjacent countries such as Bangladesh and Myanmar.
- The region comprising India’s eight northeastern States (Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Tripura and Sikkim).
- It has overcome several (but not all) security challenges and is now heading toward economic development.
- The extensive web of linkages with neighboring Bangladesh.
- Japan has emerged as a significant development partner for both India and Bangladesh.
Challenges in the north east region
- Geographical Challenges:
- Very high rainfall, shifting river courses, poor drainage system and narrow valleys are regularly causing severe floods, erosion, landslides and sand deposition in the North East causing loss of huge areas of valuable agricultural land.
- Hilly, inaccessible and undulating terrain has led to underdeveloped transport links.
- Large area of land is under ‘Jhum cultivation’ which leads to large scale deforestation resulting in soil erosion and loss of soil fertility.
- Disaster Proneness of North East:
- High rainfall and large river basins of the Brahmaputra and the Barak along with their narrow valleys regularly cause severe floods, erosion, landslides and sand deposition leading to loss of huge areas of valuable agricultural land and thereby reduction of the average size of land holdings in the region.
- The region is highly prone to Earthquakes and post the great earthquake of intensity of 8.5 in Richter scale of 1950 in Assam, flood and erosion have increased in the state and till date about5000-6000sq.km of land has been lost due to erosion by rivers. This has made lakhs of people landless and homeless in the state.
- Historical Challenges:
- Despite the above mentioned challenges, the North-eastern region was at par with rest of the country at independence but post-independence events have retarded the development of the region.
- Partition of the country: When the major road, rail and river routes connecting North East to the rest of the country suddenly got snapped.
- The Bangladesh Liberation was of 1971: When crores of people from Bangladesh entered some states of North East as refugees which changed the demographic situation in some state of North-East bordering Bangladesh.
- Insurgencies: From the end of the seventies of the last century problems of insurgency started in states like Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura and Manipur, Insurgency affected the present day Nagaland and Mizoram in the fifties and sixties of the last century. Now, of course, due to various actions taken by the Central and State governments, insurgency in this region is no longer a matter of great concern.
- Infrastructural Factors:
- NER has about 6 per cent of the national roads and about 13 percent of the national highways. However, their quality is not good due to poor maintenance.
- The prominent indicators of shortfalls in infrastructure in this region are: increasingly congested roads, power failures, shortage of drinking water etc.
- Political challenges:
- Chinese Aggression on Arunachal Pradesh (called NEFA at that time) in 1962, apparently refrain large scale investment from private player in North East.
- Large scale Migration from Bangladesh led to various socio-economic- political problem
- The culture of ‘bandhs’ is peculiar problem of NER, widely prevalent in Assam, Manipur and Nagaland.
- Three fourth of NER have no proper land records and Individual ownership of land is not well established
- Social Challenges:
- Remarkable growth of migration from the North East to different parts of the country mostly in search of education and job opportunities gives big blow to the local society.
- Drug abuse is a serious problem among youth of North east with more than 30% of its youth being drug abusers.
- The pandemic of HIV/AIDS, spreading fast in Manipur, Nagaland and Mizoram, is also a matter of grave concern.
- Migration from surrounding areas of NERs (Bangladesh and states of Bihar and Bengal) reduced the average size of land holding to about one hectare.
- Lack of Social Infrastructure:
- Inadequate number of polytechnics and higher institutions for engineering, medical and nursing studies etc.
- Teachers’ Training is poor thereby leading to poor standards of education
Act east factor
- Troika of central government, state government and the indigenous people can peacefully stabilise the region by settling the issues harmoniously.
- Maintaining a peaceful North East is vital for India’s ‘Act East Policy’ as the NorthEast Region is the doorway to the ASEAN regions.
- All the states gain by being connected to one another and for this peaceful border to ensure ‘free’ movement of people and trade are essential.
- Empowerment of the people by maximizing self-governance and participatory development through grass-roots planning. Such planning will help to evolve development strategy based on the resources, needs and aspirations of the people.
- Rural development with a focus on improving agricultural productivity and the creation of non-farm avocations and employment.
- Development of sectors with comparative advantage agro-processing industries, modernization and development of sericulture, investment in manufacturing units based on the resources available in the region, harnessing the large hydroelectric power generation potential and focus on developing services such as tourism that will help to accelerate development and create productive employment opportunities.
- Capacity development will have to address the issue of imparting skills among the people to enhance their productivity, generating a class of entrepreneurs within the region willing to take risks.
- Augmenting infrastructure, including rail, road, inland water and air transportation to facilitate a two-way movement of people and goods within the region and outside, communication networks including broadband and wireless connectivity, and harnessing of the vast power generation potential, all of which will open up markets for produce from the region, attract private investment, create greater employment opportunities and expand choices for people of the region.
- Ensuring adequate flow of resources for public investments in infrastructure, implementing a framework for private participation in augmenting infrastructure and creating an enabling environment for the flow of investments to harness the physical resources of the region for the welfare of the people.
Innovation, Initiatives, Ideas and Implementation–all the four needs to go together. Inclusive growth is possible through improved governance, doing away with the draconian laws and ensuring the local communities are empowered to implement basic services. For this, all the stakeholders need to formulate a comprehensive realistic plan for the overall development of North East.
Government Initiatives for NE Region
- Ministry of Development of North Eastern Region (DoNER):A Department of Development of North Eastern Region (DoNER) was established in 2001. It was elevated to a full ministry in 2004.
- Infrastructure Related Initiatives:
- Under Bharatmala Pariyojana (BMP),road stretches aggregating to about 5,301 km in NER have been approved for improvement.
- The North East has been kept as a priority area under RCS-UDAN(to make flying more affordable).
- Connectivity Projects:Kaladan Multi-Modal Transit Project (Myanmar) and Bangladesh-China-India-Myanmar (BCIM) Corridor.
- For Promoting Tourism:Under the Swadesh Darshan Scheme of the Ministry of Tourism, projects worth Rs.1400.03 crore have been sanctioned for the NER in the last five years.
- Mission Purvodaya:Purvodaya in the steel sector is aimed at driving accelerated development of Eastern India through the establishment of an integrated steel hub.
- The Integrated Steel Hub, encompassing Odisha, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, West Bengal and Northern Andhra Pradesh, would serve as a torchbearer for socio-economic growth of Eastern India.
- North-East Industrial Development Scheme (NEIDS):In order to promote employment in the North East States, the Government is incentivizing primarily the MSME Sector through this scheme.
- The National Bamboo Missionhas a special significance for the Northeast.
- North Eastern Region Vision 2020:The document provides an overarching framework for the development of the NE Region to bring it at par with other developed regions under which different Ministries, including the Ministry of DoNER have undertaken various initiatives.
- Digital North East Vision 2022:It emphasises leveraging digital technologies to transform lives of people of the north east and enhance the ease of living.
General Studies – 3
9. Should India consider phasing out nuclear power as a source of energy? Examine the risks associated with nuclear power and the potential benefits of transitioning to renewable energy sources.
Reference: The Hindu
Nuclear Energy plays a critical role in achieving sustainable economic and social development. Modern civilization heavily depends on energy for daily activities. Energy is like a lifeline for the sustenance and progress of the entire world. Nuclear energy plays a vital role in the world economy by generating jobs, income and facilitating trade on a massive scale.
Expanded use of nuclear technologies offered immense potential to meet important development needs. In fact, to satisfy energy demands and to mitigate the threat of climate change — two of the 21st century’s greatest challenges — there are major opportunities for expansion of nuclear energy.
- The use of nuclear power is rising even in Europe and the U.S. China has been surging ahead on nuclear power.
- South Korea’s new president has changed the energy policyand committed to increasing the share of nuclear power in the country’s energy mix to 30% by 2030.
- Japan isrestarting nuclear reactors. 10 have been restarted following years of inspection and upgrading safety systems.
- The U.K. has said that without scaling up nuclear power, it won’t be possible to decarbonise the electricity sector.
Potential & benefits of nuclear energy as a source of power:
- Thorium and Uranium reserves: India has vast reserves of Thorium that can fuel India’s nuclear energy provided appropriate technology. India’s thorium deposits, estimated at 360,000 tonnes, and natural uranium deposits at 70,000 tonnes. The country’s thorium reserves make up 25% of the global reserves.
- Energy poverty: Although India is the 3rdlargest producer of electricity, about 20 % of the population of the country does not have access to electricity today. The per capita consumption of electricity is very low at about 1,181 kWh per annum, about half of the world average and way below that of advanced countries. There exist shortages in energy and peak power in the range 10-15%.
- Energy demand:Nuclear energy is a critical part for India’s future energy security. As we know India’s annual energy demand is expected to rise to 800 GW by 2032, it is very important to consider every source of energy in the optimum energy mix.
- Energy efficiency: Quantities of nuclear fuel needed are considerably less than thermal power plants. For instance, 10000 MW generation by coal will need 30-35 million tons of coal, but nuclear fuel needed will be only 300-350 tons.
- Economic growth:Rapid economic growth is also critical to achieve developmental objectives and poverty alleviation. A sustained economic growth of about 8 to 10% is needed over the next few decades. As electricity is a key driver for economic growth, it is necessary that there is a massive augmentation in electricity capacity, apart from transmissions and distribution systems.
- Decrease in Energy Supply:Energy supply has been negatively affected by changing weather patterns. As water reservoirs decreases due to lower precipitation and increased evaporation, capacity for electricity production from hydropower and other water-intensive generation technologies may decline.
- Climate change:Due to its emission-free nature, nuclear energy can contribute to global efforts under the Paris Agreement. India’s Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) has outlined goals to reduce the carbon emissions intensity of its economy by 33-35% by 2030 as well as increase the clean energy electricity capacity to 40% of the total installed capacity in the same period.
Risks posed by Nuclear Energy:
- India’s domestic Uranium Reserve can support only 10000 MW of energy. So our future potential depends upon development of third stage of Nuclear Program.
- Otherwise, there will be again overdependence upon imported Uranium as it is case with Oil currently. Hence, long term strategy will be only determined when third stage is functional.
- Current Nuclear reactors consume significant amount of water. So, most of upcoming plants will be set up near sea coasts.
- It will put pressure on the coastline as India’s Western coastline is home to fragile ecology of Western Ghats.
- Further, till now only 21 plants have been operational. There are long gestation periods which increase costs of the plant significantly. Only a Nuclear Industry revolution in the future in nuclear energy can make this achievable.
- New safeguard requirements post Fukushima disaster, has pushed per MW costs of nuclear reactors significantly higher in comparison to Thermal, solar and wind plants.
- Jaitapur plant in Maharashtra (AREVA) is expected to cost 21 crore/ MW in comparison other sources cost 8-10 crore/ MW. It is to be seen that whether differences of operational/ running costs justify such higher capital expenditure on nuclear plants.
- Some argue that Total costs of a Nuclear Lifecycle which involves Mining of Uranium, transportation and storage, capital costs of plants, processing/ reprocessing of plants, possible disasters and then handling of waste generated for hundreds of years is significantly more that economic value generated during lifetime of the functioning of the plant, which is generally 40-50 years.
- Nuclear installations will be favorite targets of terrorists (also in case of war) which can cause irreversible damage to people living in nearby areas.
- In long run if worldwide dependence on nuclear energy increases, it will be most unavoidable way of nuclear proliferation as interest and attempt to invest in indigenous industry will increase.
- Otherwise, smaller counties will continue to buy relevant technologies or components from a few western countries which will serve private interest of few.
- India doesn’t yet have credible waste disposal policy and infrastructure in place.
How India can leverage nuclear energy safely in its energy mix?
- India has very limited growth potentialfor hydropower because of conserving biodiversity and the costs of rehabilitating and compensating landowners.
- The alternative to coal is nuclear power. India has210 gigawatts of coal capacity, and it produces 73% of electricity of India. Nuclear is only around 3.2%. Business as usual cannot continue.
- One of the major reasons for the lack of growth in nuclear power is because ofmonopoly. All reactors are operated by the Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited. There is a need for a civilian nuclear programme.
- Other government companies like the NTPC should be allowed to produce nuclear power. To achieve ‘net zero’ by 2070,there is a need for 100 gigawatts by 2050.
- There is a need for a combination of small modular reactors and large reactors, but it cannot be done by one company. It has to be done bymultiple companies.
There is a need for a range of options. Energy is not going to be the one thing that solves all our problems. It’s going to be a mix of supply side and demand side. There is a need for a portfolio of technologies within the nuclear sector and outside the nuclear sector. The energy policy should be about enabling frameworks for all technologies. It should not be a bet for one technology.
10. What is the third-gen web, and how is it different from previous generations of the internet? How does the third-gen web aim to provide equal access to information and services, and what technologies does it utilize?
Reference: The Hindu
Web 3.0 or third-gen web is a decentralized internet built on an open blockchain network that is not owned and controlled by large entities. It is the third generation of the internet currently being built, where websites and apps will be able to process information in a smart human-like way through technologies like artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), Big Data, decentralized ledger technology (DLT), and more.
5 key features of Web 3:
- Ubiquity due to the Decentralization
- Semantically organized
- Autonomous and artificially intelligent
- Spatial Web and 3D Graphics
- Decentralization through blockchain
Potential of third-gen web
|Intellectual Property Rights Protection||Digital tokens minted by Web 3 platforms can enable India’s handicraft industry to secure their innovations|
|Rapid Dissemination of Grassroots Innovations||Web 3-based instruction tools can enable master artisans to share their innovations with fellow members, improving the economic fortunes of craftsmen and artisan communities in north-east, western and peninsular India|
|Deployment in Rural Areas||Web 3.0 can be used to provide data analytics and insights in rural development projects MGNREGA, mapping the water use habits of communities, and improving early warning systems for floods|
|Community Data Analytics||Web 3.0 analytics systems can be used to analyze community data generated by IoT-enabled development programs like the Jal Jeevan Mission, providing valuable insights|
|Tokenization for Development Programs||India’s National Blockchain Strategy 2021 proposes to explore tokenization and apply blockchain solutions for development programs, making Web 3.0 a useful tool for achieving this goal|
|Creation of distributed economic system||Native digital tokens, Central Bank Digital Currency and cryptocurrencies would be used for monetary circulation, making the transaction fast, traceable and effortless.|
|Creation of an ownership economy||Web3’s non-custodial wallets function as digital passports for users to access blockchain-enabled transaction platforms. Using these, creators themselves control their content. Fundamentally, they work as digital proof of identity.|
Potential challenges of Web 3.0
- Decentralized networks and smart contracts pose significant learning curves and management challenges for IT, not to mention everyday web users.
- The complexity of these foundational technologies makes Web 3.0 security a real challenge. Smart contracts have been hacked, and security incidents on blockchains and cryptocurrency exchanges make national news.
- Regulatory concerns.The lack of a central authority means the regulatory and compliance regimes that help keep online commerce and other web activities safe for users are ineffective or non-existent.
- Technical requirements. Blockchains and dApps are often resource intensive and require expensive hardware upgrades, in addition to the environmental and monetary costs of their energy use.
The new internet created by Web3 will provide more digital ownership and sovereignty in an increasingly digitized world, and other decentralized benefits that are hoped will help to establish a more equitable web. This will be achieved by empowering each individual user to become a sovereign over their data, and creating a richer overall experience thanks to the myriad of innovations that is to come once it is in place.
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