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[ Day 34 – Synopsis ] 75 Days Mains Revision Plan 2023 – Environment & Ethics

 

 

Environment


 

Q1. Rejuvenation of polluted stretches of rivers in India crucial for the survival of people and the environment. Discuss. (10M)

Introduction

Rivers play a vital role in supporting ecosystems, providing water for various purposes, and sustaining human livelihoods. However, many rivers in India have been severely impacted by pollution, leading to a range of negative consequences.

Body:

Need of rejuvenation of polluted stretches of rivers in India:

  • Biodiversity Conservation: Rivers are home to diverse aquatic species and provide habitats for a variety of flora and fauna. Pollution disrupts the natural balance, leading to the decline or loss of many species. E.g. threat to Ganga’s Dolphin
    • Rejuvenating polluted stretches helps preserve and restore biodiversity, allowing ecosystems to thrive.
  • Ecosystem Services: Pollution disrupts ecosystem services of healthy rivers, impacting water quality, flood control, and nutrient cycling. Rejuvenation efforts can restore these services, benefiting both nature and humans.
  • Water Availability: Pollution reduces freshwater availability from rivers, jeopardizing public health and agricultural productivity.
    • Rejuvenation measures aim to improve water quality, ensuring an adequate supply of clean water for various purposes.
  • Public Health: Polluted river stretches threaten public health, leading to waterborne diseases like cholera, dysentery, and hepatitis.
    • Rejuvenating these stretches will help in reducing the risk of waterborne diseases and improving public health outcomes.
  • Livelihoods and Economy: Many communities depend on rivers for their livelihoods, such as fishing, agriculture, and tourism. Pollution impacts these sectors, leading to reduced fish populations, contaminated crops, and decreased tourism
  • Climate Resilience: Healthy river ecosystems contribute to climate resilience by regulating water flow, mitigating floods, and maintaining groundwater levels. Pollution disrupts these natural processes, making communities more vulnerable to climate change impacts.
    • Rejuvenation measures help restore the resilience of river systems, enhancing adaptive capacity and reducing climate-related risks.

To achieve the rejuvenation of polluted stretches of rivers in India, following measures are needed:

  • Strengthening pollution control measures and enforcing stricter regulations on industrial and domestic waste disposal.
  • Bioremediation: It is important that Bioremediation (i.e. use of microbes to clean up contaminated soil and water) is made compulsory for areas wherever they can be applied.
  • Promoting sustainable agriculture practices to reduce chemical runoff and the use of pesticides and fertilizers.
  • Investing in wastewater treatment infrastructure to ensure proper treatment and recycling of sewage and industrial effluents.
  • Raising awareness and involving local communities in river conservation efforts through education, participation, and capacity building.
  • Encouraging sustainable urban planning to prevent encroachments, unplanned construction, and the discharge of untreated sewage into rivers.

 

Conclusion

By undertaking comprehensive and collaborative efforts to restore these polluted river stretches, India can safeguard its water resources, protect biodiversity, and ensure sustainable development.

 

Q2. Enumerate the key results and the potential impacts of the adoption of the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework during the COP15 conference? How is India contributing to it.  (15M)

Introduction

The conclusion of the 15th Conference of Parties to the UN Convention on Biological Diversity saw the adoption of the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF).  Amidst a dangerous decline in nature threatening the survival of 1 million species and impacting the lives of billions of people, the GBF aims to halt and reverse nature loss. The framework consists of global targets to be achieved by 2030 and beyond to safeguard and sustainably use biodiversity.

Body:

Key results of the adoption of the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework:

  • Clear indicators to measure progress have been set to avoid the failure as seen in the Aichi Targets.
  • 30×30 deal: The plan includes concrete measures to halt and reverse nature loss, including putting 30 per cent of the planet and 30 per cent of degraded ecosystems under protection by 2030.
  • Goals: The GBF consists of four overarching global goals to protect nature, including:
    • halting human-induced extinction of threatened species and reducing the rate of extinction of all species tenfold by 2050;
    • sustainable use and management of biodiversity to ensure that nature’s contributions to people are valued, maintained and enhanced;
    • fair sharing of the benefits from the utilization of genetic resources, and digital sequence information on genetic resources; and
    • adequate means of implementing the GBF be accessible to all Parties, particularly Least Developed Countries and Small Island Developing States.
  • Funding: The deal commits to progressively increase the level of financial resources from all sources by 2030, mobilising at least USD 200 billion per year.
    • A notable achievement is also the commitment to USD 20 billion in international finance flows to developing countries by 2025 and USD 30 billion by 2030.
  • Phasing out harmful subsidies: The 23 targets in the accord also include cutting environmentally “harmful” farming subsidies, reducing the risk from pesticides, and tackling invasive species while scaling up positive incentives for biodiversity conservation and sustainable use.
  • Gender equality, and the rights of indigenous communities must be prioritised when implementing biodiversity targets, as women and indigenous communities face differentiated impacts from the loss of biodiversity – hampering their access to resources and livelihood security.
  • Requiring transnational companies and financial institutions to monitor, assess, and transparently disclose risks and impacts on biodiversity through their operations, portfolios, supply and value chains.
  • GBF Fund: The Global Environment Facility has been requested to establish a Special Trust Fund to support the implementation of the Global Biodiversity Framework (“GBF Fund”).
    • This is to support the implementation of the GBF, in order to ensure an adequate, predictable and timely flow of funds.

 

Potential impacts of the adoption of the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework:

  • Will help reduce biodiversity loss: Agreement means people around the world can hope for real progress to halt biodiversity loss and protect and restore our lands and seas in a way that safeguards our planet and respects the rights of indigenous peoples and local communities.
  • Concrete actions: Countries have agreed to turn promises into action through a plan to report on, review and voluntarily “ratchet up” their ambitions for tackling biodiversity loss.
    • This is similar to the plan drawn up to implement the Paris Agreement for climate change.
  • Monitoring and reporting: It can lead to improved data collection and reporting on biodiversity status and trends at the global, regional, and national levels.
    • This can facilitate evidence-based decision-making, policy formulation, and adaptive management of biodiversity conservation efforts.
  • SDG goals: The framework promotes the integration of biodiversity considerations into broader development agendas, including the SDGs.
    • This can foster a more holistic approach to development that incorporates biodiversity conservation as a key component, ensuring the long-term sustainability of ecosystems and the services they provide.
  • Sustainable use of biological resources: This can lead to the development and implementation of policies and practices that promote sustainable resource management, including sustainable agriculture, forestry, fisheries, and tourism.

 

India’s contribution

  • Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD): India was amongst the first members to legislate and implement the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) domestically, the parent convention of the Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF) and its 30×30 target.
    • The Biological Diversity Act (BDA), 2002 serves as an umbrella legislation in India for protecting the country’s biological resources.
  • INDC: India’s National Forest Policy 1988, set a target of one-third of its geographical area to be under forest and tree cover.
    • Further, through NDC/climate goals, India has committed to creating an additional 5 to 3.0 billion tonnes of CO2 equivalent of carbon sink through forest and tree cover by 2030.
  • LiFE initiative introduced by India at COP26 in Glasgow last year. It is a campaign to encourage “mindful and deliberate utilisation, instead of mindless and destructive consumption” to protect and preserve the environment, in line with the Framework’s Target 16 on sustainable consumption.
  • High Ambition Coalition (HAC): India is already a member of the High Ambition Coalition, a group of over 113 countries that aims to bring 30 per cent of the world’s geographical area under conservation by 2030.

Conclusion

The success of the global targets set out in the Kunming Montreal Protocol would, to a large extent, depend on the operationalisation and implementation by nation-states. Therefore, it needs to be closely watched and monitored at the national level.

 


Ethics


 

Syllabus: “Ethical issues in international relations and funding Corporate governance”

Q3. How can the international community, especially in the era of social media, strike a balance between defending the right to free speech and preventing hate speech and misinformation?

Introduction:

Free speech is a fundamental human right, allowing individuals to express their opinions and ideas freely. However, the misuse of this freedom, such as spreading hate speech and misinformation, can have serious negative consequences for societies and individuals.

Body:

Values/factors/principles defending free speech:

  • Freedom of Expression: enshrined in Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It upholds the principle that individuals have the right to express their thoughts, opinions, and beliefs without fear of punishment or censorship.
  • Pluralism and Diversity: leading to a robust exchange of ideas and fostering a culture of tolerance and understanding.

Challenges and Ethical Considerations:

  • Hate Speech: that promotes violence, discrimination, or hostility against individuals or groups.
  • Misinformation: spreads rapidly on social media platforms.
  • Filter Bubbles/ echo chambers: created by Social media algorithms reinforcing users’ existing beliefs and limiting exposure to diverse viewpoints.

This can hinder the healthy exchange of ideas and contribute to the polarization of societies. Striking a balance involves distinguishing between legitimate criticism and harmful hate speech

Strategies to Strike a Balance:

  • Transparent Content Moderation: For instance, . YouTube’s Community Guidelines outline the rules regarding hate speech, harassment, and harmful content. The platform employs a combination of automated systems and human reviewers to enforce these policies consistently.
  • Digital Literacy and Education: critical thinking skills can empower individuals to discern reliable information from misinformation and counter the spread of falsehoods.
  • Contextual Approach: when assessing content can help distinguish between legitimate expression and harmful speech. Factors like intent, reach, and potential harm should be considered.
  • Multi-sectoral Cooperation: The Christchurch Call is an international initiative that seeks to eliminate terrorist and violent extremist content online. Governments and technology companies have come together to combat the misuse of online platforms to incite violence and hatred.
  • Public Discourse and Fact-Checking Initiatives: Various independent fact-checking organizations, like FactCheck.org, Snopes, and PolitiFact, have emerged to verify claims made by public figures and media outlets.
  • Cultural Sensitivity and Inclusivity: Twitter has implemented policies to address cultural appropriation and stereotypes in advertising. By being attentive to cultural sensitivities, platforms can promote a more inclusive and respectful online environment.

Conclusion:

By embracing collaboration, promoting digital literacy, and employing context-aware content moderation, societies can foster a more informed and responsible online discourse while safeguarding fundamental rights.

 

 


Case study


 

Q4. An international NGO’s report has been recently released which quotes chain of farmer suicides in your state. There has been huge difference between data on number of suicides by the state government and that of NGO. The farm distress includes, debt trap, loss of land fertility, distress sale, etc. Above all, the livelihood fragility and stress has caused huge psychological trauma. A government appointed committee also recently came out with a finding that psychological trauma caused 86% of farmers to lose interest and leave farming if they have a choice. The villages are sorrowful, frustrated and traumatized and lost a happy and dignified life and find themselves in a dilemma of choosing between life and death. You are appointed as the special officer for controlling farmer suicides, while responsibility of making agriculture remunerative has been given to another officer, your assignment is to make farmers confident, feel optimistic and bring back ‘happiness’ in their life. Narrate the logical and practical actions you will be taking upon assuming the responsibility. (20M)

Synopsis:

Introduction:

As the special officer appointed to bring back happiness and confidence, it is essential to address the underlying causes of distress and work towards building a sustainable and supportive environment for the farming community. This requires a comprehensive approach that encompasses psychological, economic, and social aspects.

Body:

The  logical and practical actions I would take include:

  • Implementing Psychological Support Programs:
    • Engaging Mental Health Professionals: The Government of Kerala launched the “Chiri” project, which involves the deployment of trained counselors in rural areas to provide mental health support to farmers facing distress and psychological trauma.
    • Crisis Intervention Teams: The Maharashtra government has set up “Kisan Mitra Helpline,” a toll-free helpline service that connects distressed farmers with trained counselors and social workers who can offer immediate assistance during crises.

 

  • Community Building and Social Welfare:
    • Farmer Clubs and Cooperatives: The Self Help Group (SHG) model has been successful in empowering women farmers across India. SHGs promote collective decision-making, skill-building, and access to credit.
    • Social Security Measures: Various state governments have introduced farmer-oriented social security schemes, such as the “Bhavantar Bhugtan Yojana” in Madhya Pradesh, providing income support to farmers.
    • “United We Stand” programs: can be initiated at the village and district levels. These programs aim to create a platform for farmers to come together, share their experiences, and collectively address common challenges.

 

  • Public-Private Partnerships:
    • Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Initiatives: Companies like ITC, Mahindra, and Tata Chemicals have undertaken CSR initiatives focused on improving agricultural practices, farmer training, and rural development.
    • Non-profit Collaborations: NGOs like the Foundation for Ecological Security (FES) work with farmers to promote sustainable agriculture and natural resource management.

 

  • Happiness programs: specifically tailored for farmers. These programs can incorporate various initiatives like mental health support, stress management workshops, and skill-building sessions to enhance farmers’ overall well-being and resilience.

 

  • Debt Relief and Restructuring: Several states have implemented debt relief schemes to provide relief to distressed farmers. For example, the Maharashtra government announced a debt waiver scheme to alleviate the burden of outstanding loans.

 

 

  • Strengthening Market Linkages: In states like Andhra Pradesh, the government has established “Rythu Bazaars” or farmer markets to facilitate direct connections between farmers and consumers, eliminating intermediaries and ensuring better prices for farmers.

Conclusion:

By implementing these practical actions and fostering collaboration between various stakeholders, it is possible to create an environment where farmers feel confident, optimistic, and secure in their livelihoods.

 


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