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[Mission 2024] Insights SECURE SYNOPSIS: 7 November 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: Development processes and the development industry —the role of NGOs, SHGs, various groups and associations, donors, charities, institutional and other stakeholders.

1. Striking a balance between ensuring accountability and enabling NGOs to carry out their crucial work is essential for a robust civil society. Critically analyse. (250 words).

Difficulty level: Tough

Reference: The Hindu

Why the question:

Amnesty International, the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), and Human Rights Watch (HRW) have accused the Indian government of harassing human rights activists and non-governmental organizations (NGOs).

Key Demand of the question:

To understand the importance of NGOs and ensuring a balance between enabling NGOs to perform and hold them accountable.

Directive word:

Critically analyze – When asked to analyze, 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:

Briefly mention the role of NGOs in civil society.

Body:

Explain the role performed by NGOs in the country.

Next, write about the various issues faced by NGOs in the country especially in the backdrop of amendments to FCRA act.

Next, write about the ways to achieve balance between ensuring accountability and enabling NGOs to carry out their crucial work etc.

Conclusion:

Conclude by writing a way forward.

Introduction

The role of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in India’s civil society is undeniably significant, as they play a pivotal role in addressing a wide range of societal challenges. However, in order to maintain public trust and ensure effective operations, it is imperative to strike a delicate balance between holding NGOs accountable for their actions and providing them with the necessary autonomy to carry out their crucial work.

Body

Importance of NGO’s and their role

  • In a large developing country like India, there are numerous gaps left by the government in the development process. These are the gaps that civil societies try to fill in modern India.
  • Supplementing the government effort to provide health care to citizens, and by raising awareness in society about issues like child and maternal malnutrition
  • A number of NGO’s like Childline India Foundation, World Vision, Arambh India have played important role in raising awareness on child sexual abuse.
  • In the last 20 years, a very large number of NGOs in India have been active in the area of environmental protection.
  • The NGOs have often been helped by the judiciary whenever the government of the day has proved unresponsive.
  • The engagement of civil society and the media in educating citizens about the evils of corruption, raising their awareness levels and securing their participation by giving them a ‘voice’.
  • Civil society can influence policy and project formulation through membership of committees and submission of memoranda.

 

Issues with NGO functioning

  • Misappropriation of funds: Many NGOs don’t have sophisticated finance and legal teams, nor do they have the funds to conduct audits.
  • The issue of foreign funding: According to government data a total of 3,068 non-governmental organizations (NGOs) received foreign funding above Rs. 22,000 Cr in 2014-15. It is often said that foreign-funded NGOs tries to propagate the foreign propaganda to stall developmental projects. Example: Kudankulam Protest.
  • Non-accountable, non-transparent undemocratic functioning: CBI records filed in the Supreme Court show that only 10% of the total registered NGOs under the Societies Registration Act file annual financial statements.
  • Money Laundering: Corrupt or unscrupulous NGOs that receive foreign funds may serve as conduits for money laundering.
  • Accreditation remains a big challenge as it is very difficult to distinguish whether an organization wants to work for the cause or has been set up only for the purpose of receiving government grants.
  • Over dependence on funds from the government dilutes the willingness of NGOs to speak out against the government.
  • NGOs are often seen as encroaching on centuries-old tradition and culture of the people, and lead to mass protest at times. Ban of Jallikattu, after the PIL by PETA is one such example

 

Way forward

  • A National Accreditation Council consisting of academicians, activist, retired bureaucrats should be made to ensure compliance by NGOs.
  • There should be better coordination between Ministries of Home Affairs and Finance in terms of monitoring and regulating illicit and unaccounted funds.
  • A regulatory mechanism to keep a watch on the financial activities of NGOs and voluntary organizations is the need of the hour.
  • Citizens today are keen to play an active role in processes that shape their lives and it is important that their participation in democracy go beyond the ritual of voting and should include promotion of social justice, gender equity, inclusion etc.
  • The government should frame guidelines for their accreditation, the manner in which these organizations should maintain their accounts and the procedure for recovery in case they fail to submit their balance sheets.
  • Avoid tussle between Home Ministry and Finance Ministry by bringing the regulation of NGOs under one head.
  • General Financial Rules, 2005 have mandated a regulatory mechanism for the NGOs and a comprehensive law in line with these rules should be framed in no time.

 

Conclusion

Achieving the right balance between accountability and enabling NGOs is a nuanced endeavor. A well-designed regulatory framework that promotes transparency and efficiency while allowing flexibility for innovation and adaptability is essential for a robust civil society in India. This balance ensures that NGOs can effectively address critical societal issues while maintaining public trust and credibility.

 

Value addition

Enabling NGOs for Effective Impact:

  • Flexibility in Operations: NGOs often work in dynamic and complex environments. Excessive regulations or bureaucratic hurdles can stifle their ability to respond quickly and effectively to emerging issues or crises.
  • Encourages Innovation and Experimentation: NGOs often pioneer innovative solutions to societal challenges. Allowing them some degree of flexibility and autonomy enables them to experiment with new approaches and adapt to evolving circumstances.
  • Fosters a Diverse Civil Society: A diverse array of NGOs with various missions and strategies is essential for a vibrant civil society. Striking the right balance allows for a rich tapestry of organizations, each contributing uniquely to societal development.

 

Topic: Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests.

2. For a free, open, and inclusive Indo-Pacific region, QUAD members must maintain a coordinated approach, build trust among themselves, and work together to address shared concerns. Analyse. (250 words)

Difficulty level: Tough

Reference: The Hindu

Why the question:

In a statement, the Indian Navy Chief emphasized the significance of the Indo-Pacific and the Quad’s Integrated Project Monitoring and Data Analysis (IPMDA).

Key Demand of the question:

To write about the various initiatives of QUAD and impact of various geopolitical conflicts on QUAD and ways to overcome them.

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 writing about aims and objectives of Quad.

Body:

In the first part, Mention, the initiatives of Quad – maritime security, cyber security and disaster response to connectivity and infrastructure, climate action, vaccine production, student mobility, resilient supply chains, combating disinformation and counter-terrorism etc.

Next, mention the challenges – Ukraine crisis, withdrawal of U.S from Afghanistan, formation of AUKUS, Free and open Indo-Pacific, formation of AUKUS, issue of Quad expansion and Chinese aggression etc.

Conclusion:

Write a way forward to overcome the above challenges and realise their collective goals.

 

Introduction

The Quad, also known as, the ‘Quadrilateral Security Dialogue’ (QSD), is an informal strategic forum comprising of four nations, namely, United States of America (USA), India, Australia and Japan. One of the primary objectives of the Quad is, to work for a free, open, prosperous and inclusive Indo-Pacific region.

Body

Objectives of QUAD

  • The motive behind the Quad is, to keep the strategic sea routes in the Indo-Pacific, free of any military or political influence.
  • It is basically seen as a strategic grouping, aimed at reducing the Chinese domination.
  • The core objective of the Quad is, to secure a rules-based global order, freedom of navigation and, a liberal trading system.
  • The coalition also aims to offer, alternative debt financing for nations in the Indo-Pacific
  • The Quad leaders exchange views on contemporary global issues, such as, critical and emerging technologies, connectivity and infrastructure, cyber security, maritime security, humanitarian assistance, disaster relief, climate change, pandemic and education.

Quad significance of India and Indo-Pacific

  • In the current scenario, given Chinese intransigence and our misreading of their imperialist-expansionist intent, Sino-Indian tensions are likely to persist.
  • If India is not to cede ground physically or diplomatically, it must muster all elements of its “comprehensive national power”, including the maritime, and create a strong negotiating position.
  • Apart from the balance of forces on land favouring China, there is also the Beijing-Islamabad Axis that awaits activation.
  • Keeping tensions confined to the Himalayan arena is, therefore, not only militarily advantageous to China but a continental focus also helps to keep India contained in a “South-Asia box”.
  • It is also time to seek an enlargement of this grouping into a partnership of the like-minded.
  • Other nations feeling the brunt of Chinese brawn may be willing to join an “Indo-Pacific concord” to maintain peace and tranquillity and to ensure observance of the UN Law of the Seas.
  • News of Australia being re-invited to participate in the Malabar exercise deserves a conditional welcome, given Canberra’s past inconsistency and political flip-flops.

Challenges to Quad

  • Divergence of interest on Russia-Ukraine crisis can spell doom for QUAD to kick off in a substantial manner. This may reduce the solidarity against China.
  • India’s defence purchase from Russia is an irritant for USA.
  • There are varied interests and diverging opinions on matters of trade, intellectual property, Ukraine crisis and support for Ukraine among others.
  • Any ambition to formalise the Quad as a substantive manifestation of a free and open Indo-Pacific is likely to encounter difficulties. The future of the Quad beyond its current consultative format is not certain.
  • Given the complex array of interests at play across the dynamic region, key partners are more likely to preference loose coalitions based on dialogue and cooperation over more fixed, institutionalised formats.

Way forward

  • The opportunity to discuss emerging regional issues, from piracy to maritime pollution and disaster management, through such a platform should be seen as a positive.
  • At the same time, assuring ASEAN of its role and relevance to Indo-Pacific, including through established dialogue mechanisms like the EAS, could reinforce notions of inclusivity, build support for the key rules shaping behaviour, and mitigate against the threat of strategic drift within the region.
  • Engaging others, including China, in dialogue about the Indo-Pacific project through such mechanisms will be integral to realising the long-term vision for a stable and inclusive region.

 

Conclusion

A formal revival and re-invigoration of the Quad is called for. It is also time to seek an enlargement of this grouping into a partnership of the like-minded. Other nations feeling the brunt of Chinese brawn may be willing to join an “Indo-Pacific concord” to maintain peace and tranquillity and to ensure observance of the UN Law of the Seas.

 

Topic: Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.

3. What is anti-microbial resistance (AMR)? What are the factors that lead to AMR? Evaluate India’s preparedness in dealing with it. (250 words)

Difficulty level: Moderate

Reference: Indian Express

Why the question:

The article emphasizes the critical importance of addressing the threat of antimicrobial resistance (AMR).

Key Demand of the question:

To write about concerns surrounding AMR, its causes, measures to deal with it.

Directive word: 

Evaluate – When you are asked to evaluate, you have to pass a sound judgement about the truth of the given statement in the question or the topic based on evidence.  You must appraise the worth of the statement in question. There is scope for forming an opinion here.

Structure of the answer:

Introduction: 

Define AMR and its causes.

Body:

First, Write about the causes of AMR.

Next, write about the why there is global cause of concern – Superbug, Multi drug resistance to bacterium and viruses, Increased cost of treatment, prolonged hospitalisation, increased mortality and less effective inoculation.

Next, write about the various initiatives to tackle AMR – Global Action Plan on AMR, World Anti-microbial awareness week, Delhi Declaration on AMR, National Action Plan on Antimicrobial Resistance etc. Evaluate its efficacy.

Conclusion:

Conclude by writing a way forward.

 

Introduction

The WHO defines antimicrobial resistance (AMR) as a condition wherein microbes survive when exposed to the drug which would have normally caused them to die. It is the resistance acquired by any microorganism like bacteria, viruses, fungi, parasite, etc. against antimicrobial drugs (such as antibiotics, antifungals, antivirals, antimalarial, and anthelmintic) that are used to treat infections and is regarded as a major threat to public health across the globe.

Microorganisms that develop antimicrobial resistance are sometimes referred to as “superbugs”. As a result, standard treatments become ineffective, infections persist and may spread to others.

Body

Reasons for the spread of AMR:

  • Antibiotic consumption in humans
    • Unnecessary and injudicious use of antibiotic fixed dose combinations could lead to emergence of bacterial strains resistant to multiple antibiotics.
  • Social factors
    • Self-medication.
    • Access to antibiotics without prescription.
    • Lack of knowledge about when to use antibiotics.
  • Cultural Activities
    • Mass bathing in rivers as part of religious mass gathering occasions.
  • Antibiotic Consumption in Food Animals
    • Antibiotics which are critical to human health are commonly used for growth promotion in poultry.
  • Pharmaceutical Industry Pollution
    • The wastewater effluents from the antibiotic manufacturing units contain a substantial amount of antibiotics, leading to contamination of rivers and lakes.
  • Environmental Sanitation
    • Untreated disposal of sewage water bodies – leading to contamination of rivers with antibiotic residues and antibiotic-resistant organisms.
  • Infection Control Practices in Healthcare Settings
    • A report on hand-washing practices of nurses and doctors found that only 31.8% of them washed hands after contact with patients.

Global steps to AMR:

  • Netherlands and Thailandhave decreased their usage by almost 50%.
  • In China, the consumption of antibiotics in the agricultural sector has fallen substantially.
  • The use of antibiotics in healthy animalsto boost growth has also been reduced in the last decade in many countries.

Efforts to control AMR in India:

  • Burden of infectious disease (Bacterial infections) is high and healthcare spending is low. The National Health Policy 2017 highlights the problem of antimicrobial resistance and calls for effective action to address it.
  • The Ministry of Health & Family Welfare (MoHFW) identified AMR as one of the top 10 priorities for the ministry’s collaborative work with WHO.
  • In 2012, India’s medical societies adopted the Chennai Declaration, a set of national recommendations to promote antibiotic stewardship.
  • India’s Red Line campaign demands that prescription-only antibiotics be marked with a red line, to discourage the over-the-counter sale of antibiotics.
  • National Policy for Containment of Antimicrobial Resistance 2011.
  • National Action Plan on AMR resistance 2017-2021.
  • India has instituted surveillance of the emergence of drug resistance in disease causing microbes in programmes on Tuberculosis, Vector Borne diseases, AIDS, etc.
  • Since March 2014 a separate Schedule H-1 has been incorporated in Drug and Cosmetic rules to regulate the sale of antimicrobials in the country.
  • The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) banned the use of antibiotics and several pharmacologically active substances in fisheries.
  • The government has also capped the maximum levels of drugs that can be used for growth promotion in meat and meat products.

Way forward

  • The rapidly rising AMR rates need an accelerated, multi-sectoral, global and national response.
  • G-20 president, and as a country vulnerable to this silent pandemic: India’s role is critical in ensuring that AMR remains high on the global public health agenda.
  • G-20 health summits spread through 2023offer an opportunity for India to ensure that all aspects of AMR are addressed and countries commit to progress.
  • Some key areas for action are:
    • surveillance of both phenotypic and genotypic — of priority pathogens
    • Sharing of data, including through WHO’s GLASS platform
    • Regulatory and policy action to stop use of antibiotics that are important for human health in animals;
    • No use of antibiotics for growth promotion in animals
    • More government investmentin research and innovation for new antibiotics
    • Explore use of vaccinesto prevent certain infections due to AMR organisms in humans and animals.
    • Special focus on combating TB and drug-resistant TB.

 

Conclusion

Anti-Microbial Resistance is not a country specific issue but a global concern that is jeopardizing global health security. Antimicrobial resistance is one of the major public health problems. Reducing the incidence of infection through effective infection prevention and control.  As stated by WHO, making infection prevention and hand hygiene a national policy priority is need of the hour.

Value addition

International Efforts

  • A multi-sectoral $1 billion AMR Action Fund was launched in 2020 to support the development of new antibiotics.
  • Peru’s efforts on patient education to reduce unnecessary antibiotic prescriptions.
  • Australian regulatory reforms to influence prescriber behaviour.
  • Denmark’s reforms to prevent the use of antibiotics in livestock have not only led to a significant reduction in the prevalence of resistant microbes in animals, but also improved the efficiency of farming.
  • India proposed laws to curb the amount of active antibiotics released in pharmaceutical waste

 

 


General Studies – 3


 

Topic: Major crops-cropping patterns in various parts of the country, – different types of irrigation and irrigation systems storage, transport and marketing of agricultural produce and issues and related constraints; e-technology in the aid of farmers

4. There is a need for integrating climate-smart approaches into agriculture to ensure food security, reduce the environmental impact, and enhance the resilience to climate change. Discuss. (250 words)

Difficulty level: Moderate

Reference: Down to Earth

Why the question:

At the African Conference on Agricultural Technology, experts discussed the importance of making urban agriculture climate-smart.

Key Demand of the question: 

To bring out the interlinkage between climate change, farming, poverty alleviation and food security in India and the role climate smart agriculture can play in this regard.

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 climate smart agriculture.

Body:

First, write about describing the vagaries of agriculture brought about by climate change such as higher ambient temperatures, less predictable rains, frequent droughts and cyclones.

Next, write about the major features of climate smart agriculture and benefits offered by climate smart agriculture – increase sustainable productivity, strengthen farmers’ resilience, reduce agriculture’s greenhouse gas emissions and increase carbon sequestration. Substantiate with examples.

Next, mention the limitations associated with by climate smart agriculture and ways to overcome it.

Conclusion:

Conclude by writing a way forward.

Introduction

Climate change directly affects agricultural production as this sector is inherently sensitive to climatic conditions and is one of the most vulnerable sectors at the risk and impact of global climate change.

FAO defines Climate-smart agriculture (CSA) as “agriculture that sustainably increases productivity, enhances resilience (adaptation), reduces/removes GHGs (mitigation) where possible, and enhances achievement of national food security and development goals”

Body

Need for Climate-Smart agriculture in India

  • India’s agricultural ecosystem is distinguished by high monsoon dependence and with 85% small and marginal landholdings, it is highly sensitive to weather abnormalities.
  • There has been less than normal rainfall during the last four years, with 2014 and 2015 declared as drought years.
  • There are also reports of an escalation in heat waves, which in turn affecting crops, aquatic systems and livestock.
  • The Economic Survey 2017-18 has estimated farm income losses between 15% and 18% on average, which could rise to 20%-25% for unirrigated areas without any policy interventions.
  • These projections underline the need for strategic change in dealing with climate change in agriculture.
  • There will be an increased risk of pests and diseases due to change in the pattern of host and pathogen interaction. For every two-degree rise in temperature, the agriculture GDP of India will reduce by five percent.
  • The recent locust attack is also attributed to climate change, which can have highly disastrous effect on food security.
  • Poor agricultural performance can lead to inflation, farmer distress and unrest, and larger political and social disaffection, all of which can hold back the economy. It will force farmers to either adapt to challenges of climate change or face the risk of getting poorer.

 

Climate Smart Agriculture: Solving food security and climate change problems

  • Increased productivity: Produce more food to improve food and nutrition security and boost the incomes of 75 percent of the world’s poor who live in rural areas and mainly rely on agriculture for their livelihoods.
  • Enhanced resilience: Reduce vulnerability to drought, pests, disease, and other shocks; and improve capacity to adapt and grow in the face of longer-term stresses like shortened seasons and erratic weather patterns.
  • Reduced emissions: Pursue lower emissions for each calorie or kilo of food produced, avoid deforestation from agriculture and identify ways to suck carbon out of the atmosphere.
  • The climate-smart agriculture approach seeks to reduce trade-offs to make crop and livestock systems, forestry, and fisheries and aquaculture more productive and more sustainable.
  • Climate-smart agriculture explicitly looks for where there are synergies and trade-offs among food security, adaptation and mitigation. Climate smart agriculture works through several dimensions to reorient agricultural development and management to take climate change into account.
  • Management of farms, crops, livestock, aquaculture and capture fisheries to balance near-term food security and livelihoods needs with priorities for adaptation and mitigation.
  • Ecosystem and landscape management to conserve ecosystem services that are important for food security, agricultural development, adaptation and mitigation.

 

Way forward and Conclusion

  • Farmers, especially smallholder farmers, need handholding during their scaling up to adopt CSA.
  • Mobile telecommunication systems are increasingly cost-effective and an efficient way of delivering weather-based agro-advisories to farmers at a large scale (Kisan app).
    Radio (especially community radio), television, newspapers, folk media, and village level public address systems will also need to be used to bridge this “communication divide.”
  • Weather-based agro-advisories must be locale-specific, crop-and farmer-specific; need to also recommend soil, water, and biodiversity conservation practices. Integrating this with Soil Health Card scheme will be a good step forward.
  • Build adaptive capacities to climate variability and strengthen the sustainability of farming systems.
  • On-site training and awareness campaigns, technology demonstrations, farmer-specialist interactions, and engagement with local governance bodies.
  • Soil health and need-based irrigation management need to be addressed adequately.
  • Closer collaboration between public, civil society, and private technology and financial service providers so that farmers get access to accurate information, and affordable technologies.

 

Conclusion

Overall, climate-smart agriculture is a crucial approach for ensuring the sustainability and resilience of agricultural systems in the face of climate change, while also contributing to broader environmental and socio-economic goals.

 

Topic: Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment.

5. Biosphere reserves represent an innovative and holistic approach to balancing human needs with ecological protection. They showcase the potential for humans to live in harmony with nature while also contributing to the broader goals of conservation and sustainability. Discuss. (250 words)

Difficulty level: Easy

Reference: Insights on India

Why the question:

The question is part of the static syllabus of General studies paper – 3 and mentioned as part of Mission-2024 Secure timetable.

Key Demand of the question:

To write about the role of Biosphere reserves in conservation and sustainable development.

Directive word: 

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

Structure of the answer:

Introduction: 

Start by defining a biosphere reserve and its various aspects.

Body:

First, write about the role of biosphere reserve in conservation and sustainable development – They are sites for testing interdisciplinary approaches to understanding and managing changes and interactions between social and ecological systems, including conflict prevention and management of biodiversity. They are places that provide local solutions to global challenges. Use examples to substantiate.

Next, write about the various threats to biosphere reserves and ways to protect them.

Conclusion:

Conclude with a way forward.

Introduction

Biosphere Reserve (BR) is an international designation by UNESCO for representative parts of natural and cultural landscapes extending over large area of terrestrial or coastal/marine ecosystems or a combination thereof. BRs are designated to deal with one of the most important questions of reconciling the conservation of biodiversity, the quest for economic and social development and maintenance of associated cultural values. BRs are thus special environments for both people and the nature and are living examples of how human beings and nature can co-exist while respecting each other’s needs.

Body

Role of biosphere reserve in conservation and sustainable development

  • Conservation: Managing Biosphere Reserve’s genetic resources, endemic species, ecosystems, and landscapes.
    • It may prevent man-animal conflict E Death of tiger Avni who was shot dead when she turned man-eater
    • Along with the wildlife, culture and customs of tribals are also protected
  • Development: Promoting economic and human growth that is sustainable on a sociocultural and ecological level. It seeks to strengthen the three pillars of sustainable development: social, economic and protection of the environment.
  • Endemic flora and fauna: Biosphere Reserves aim to preserve the rich flora and fauna flourishing in India and to maintain the authentic diversity and integrity of nature.
  • Research: Biosphere Reserves are also popularly known as the Laboratory of Nature, where research and scientific studies could be carried out along with several training programs.
  • Healthy Ecosystem: They help in maintaining healthy ecosystems by preventing soil erosion, protecting water springs, and maintaining the decomposers to maintain the soil quality.
  • Genetic diversity: The main aim of biosphere reserve is to preserve genetic diversity in representative ecosystems by protecting wild animals, traditional lifestyle of inhabitant and domesticated plant/animal genetic resources.

Various threats to biosphere reserves

  • Climatic changes: Climate is a major factor which caters to the degradation of Wildlife. India has a moderate climate, despite that; the excessive spike in the rate of Global warming has caused a threat to the life that sustains in these Reserves.
  • Wildfire: Scorching weather conditions give a spark to the Wildfire which causes huge devastation of both the flora and fauna.
  • Landslides: There are times when huge landslides occur that result in fragmentation of resources. Every time there is a climatic shift, it takes a lot of effort for the plants and animals to adjust in the new transition.
  • Deforestation and human activities are gaining momentum without planning of reforestation. Lands are acquired to construct houses, factories, and set up a society.
    • Such a community is confiscating the space, where vegetation blossomed.
    • Forests are storehouses of natural resources for which and now the woods are stripped into barren land and turned into the site of mining.
    • Stone crushing and fragmentation of mountains in search of coals are causing a significant loss of habitat.
  • Exploitation of natural flora: Trees are slain down not only for timber but also for several products like resins, honey, seeds, firewood, lichens, canes, dyes, cosmetics, medicines, fibbers, and a lot more. The urban population is not the only one who is exploiting flora for its needs.
    • The tribal communities living in these Biosphere Reserves solely depend upon their surrounding for survival.
    • They claim woods for fire, leaves for shelter, fibbers for yarns, and all the essential bearings of the plants for their survival.
    • Certain communities live near the buffer zones who exploit the plant species to earn a livelihood out of the sale.
  • Poaching and hunting: Problems like illegal trading, poaching, and hunting of wildlife have immerged as a major challenge to the Indian Government.
    • Elephants are poached for their valuable teeth, rhinoceros and deers are exploited for their horns, tigers are poached for their precious skin.
    • Animal leather has been a great fashion force amongst humanity, thereby causing huge mortification of the diversity of wildlife.

Conclusion and way forward

  • Resources like spices from the reserves of Kerala should be marketed with “Biosphere Reserve Tags” which will increase their value.
  • Munnar declaration which suggests that biosphere reserves can be carved out of the desert and Gangetic plain bio-geographic zones should also be implemented.
  • As the biosphere reserve concept was aimed at sustainable development, the term, reserve, should be replaced with a suitable word.
  • The government must take strict steps against alien species invading various biosphere reserves Eg Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve.

Value addition

Criteria for designation of BR

  • A site that must contain an effectively protected and minimally disturbed core area of value of nature conservation.
  • The core area should be typical of a bio-geographical unit and large enough to sustain viable populations representing all trophic levels in the ecosystem.
  • The management authority to ensure the involvement/cooperation of local communities to bring variety of knowledge and experiences to link biodiversity conservation and socio-economic development while managing and containing the conflicts.
  • Area’s potential for preservation of traditional tribal or rural modes of living for harmonious use of environment.

 

Topic: Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment.

6. Conserving biodiversity hotspots is essential not only for safeguarding unique and endangered species but also for ensuring the health and resilience of the planet’s ecosystems. Analyse. (250 words)

Difficulty level: Moderate

Reference: Insights on IndiaInsights on India

Why the question:

The question is part of the static syllabus of General studies paper – 3 and mentioned as part of Mission-2024 Secure timetable.

Key Demand of the question:

To write about the criteria for Biodiversity Hotspot, threats faced by the hotspots and measures needed for conservation.

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 defining Biodiversity Hotspot

Body:

First, write about the major functions played by biodiversity hotspots.

Next, write about the major threats faced by them – habitat loss and fragmentation, overexploitation of natural resources, climate change, and invasive species.

Next, suggest measures needed to overcome the above threats.

Conclusion:

Conclude by writing a way forward.

Introduction

Biodiversity Hotspot is a region which is a prime location for the existence of rich biodiversity but also faces the threat of destruction. These are Earth’s most biologically rich—yet threatened—terrestrial regions. Biodiversity hotspots are home to thousands of irreplaceable species that are facing multiple, urgent threats.

There are currently 36 recognized biodiversity hotspots of which 4 are in India. The Himalayas, Western Ghats, Indo-Burma area, and Sundaland. Two of these, the Indo-Burma area and Sundaland, are distributed throughout South Asia and are not precisely contained within India’s formal borders.

 

Body

According to Conservation International, a region must fulfill the following two criteria to qualify as a hotspot:

  1. The region should have at least 1500 species of vascular plants i.e., it should have a high degree of endemism.
  2. It must contain 30% (or less) of its original habitat,e. it must be threatened.

 

 

Importance of biodiversity hotspots

  • Ecosystem services: Because biodiversity underpins all life on Earth, these hotspots have significant global value as they contain species and habitats that are found nowhere else.
    • Their loss would mean loss of species and habitats that provide wild and farmed food, medicine and other materials and services such as climate regulation, pollination and water purification, all of which maintain the health of the ecosystems we depend upon.
  • If a significant portion of the plant life is eradicated, lessening the gene pool, the remaining plant life will likely become weakened, vulnerable to disease and eventually die as well. Simply put, if the variety in this web of life loses a player, the biome cannot simply be recreated.
  • The processes that have created their interactions may be millions of years old and planting what appears to be a similar plant or adding in another species of frog will not restore the balance nature has taken millions of years to perfect.
  • Each species is interdependent upon the services of the other. We need the genetic diversity of different plants in order to keep the plant kingdom healthy. We are learning that felling a forest of trees and replanting it with a monoculture of trees does not regenerate the soil life or support a community capable of resisting stresses like disease.
  • Plants provide food, fruit and seeds for pollination and continued life, medicines and fiber for clothing and shelter.
  • We need intact ecosystems to absorb excess carbon to keep the temperatures suitable for human life, in fact suitable for much of the life that currently exists. We need intact ecosystems to provide fresh air. We need intact ecosystems to filter water and release it to the air where it can fall back down and replenish our water supplies. And we need the healthy soil of intact ecosystems to grow our food.

Threats to the biodiversity hotspots

  • It is becoming abundantly clear that industrial agriculture methods are polluting the earth to the point where the soil will not be able to grow the nutritious food we need for the world’s burgeoning population. Each species plays an important role within the larger web of life.
  • We are rapidly losing keystone species. The earth is warming, and we are losing species that help regulate it from further warming. This is just a snapshot of the web of life. These webs are disappearing.
  • In short, we are fast approaching a point where there will not be enough diversity of life to maintain the processes necessary for humans to exist.
  • In the Himalayas, illegal poaching is a significant problem; tigers and rhinoceroses are targeted for their body parts for use in traditional remedies, whilst snow leopards and red pandas are targeted for their stunning pelts.
  • The forests of the Western Ghats have been heavily fragmented and selectively cut across their whole range.
  • For monoculture plantations of tea, coffee, rubber, oil palm, teak, eucalyptus, and wattle as well as to make room for reservoirs, highways, and railways, forests have been removed.
  • More forests are lost due to encroachment into protected areas. On slopes that were once covered in forest, cattle and goat grazing inside and close to protected zones severely erodes them.
  • The conflict between humans and wildlife has increased as a result of population growth in protected zones and other woods. In an effort to stop more harm, wild animals are routinely killed or hurt, and farmers are typically under-compensated.

Measures needed

  • There is a need for remote sensing based vegetation characterisation of biodiversity hotspots in India, with a consistent spatio-temporal scale and vegetation classification.
  • A comprehensive study could provide reliable, accurate and up-to-date estimates of biological attributes, vegetation types, diversity, endemism, anthropogenic disturbance, human population density and forest fragmentation.
  • In the face of global environmental change, there is need to identify the transition zones in the distribution of endemic plants due to climate change induced species’ migration, which could be addressed by designing dynamic networks such as the ‘Protected Areas Resilient to Climate Change’ (PARCC) developed by UNEP

 

Conclusion

Biodiversity hotspots are critical for a healthy ecosystem. Biodiversity is the foundation of all life on Earth. There would be no air to breathe, no food to eat, and no water to drink if there were no species. There would be no such thing as human society. The coexistence of living and natural resources is essential for the entire ecological life support system.

 

 


General Studies – 4


 

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

7. Examine the major ethical implications of the trusteeship model of Mahama Gandhi. (150 words)

Difficulty level: Moderate

Reference: Insights on India

Why the question:

The question is part of the static syllabus of General studies paper – 4.

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.

Key Demand of the question:  To write about the trusteeship model of Gandhi and its ethical implications.

Structure of the answer:

Introduction: 

Start by giving context of trusteeship model of Gandhi

Body:

First, explain the core aspects of trusteeship model of Gandhi.

Next, write about the ethical implications of trusteeship model of Gandhi and major values encompassing.

Conclusion:

Conclude by summarising.

 

Introduction

“All that is in the universe is pervaded by God. Renounce first in order to enjoy. Covet not anyone’s wealth.

The “trusteeship model” was a concept developed by Mahatma Gandhi as part of his vision for a just and equitable society. It was a central idea in his philosophy of socio-economic and political change.

Gandhi believed that the means and fruits of production should be distributed in such a way that they benefit everyone in society, rather than being concentrated in the hands of a few. He argued that the wealthy individuals and industrialists should consider themselves as trustees, or caretakers, of their wealth and resources, rather than as outright owners. They would be responsible for using their resources in a way that benefits the wider community.

Body

About the trusteeship model

According to Gandhi, this trusteeship model would help prevent the extremes of wealth and poverty that can lead to social unrest and inequality. He advocated for a voluntary and moral commitment on the part of the wealthy to use their resources for the collective good.

It’s worth noting that while Gandhi’s trusteeship model was influential in shaping discussions around economic justice and social responsibility, it has also been critiqued for being somewhat idealistic and potentially difficult to implement in practice.

Trusteeship envisages equal partnership of entrepreneurs, workers, consumers and the community at large. Payment of better wages and salaries and provision of amenities for the welfare of labor do not represent trusteeship. Making periodical donations for the benefit of various projects with or without associating the names of donors is not trusteeship. Holding equity shares of companies by a trust is a far cry from trusteeship. Trusteeship could become wider concept -a movement, in fact a way of life. Let those in power consider themselves trustees and use the vast resources, power and accompanying influence for the good of people rather than for personal good. Similarly, let the intellectuals use their knowledge and intelligence for the benefit of the community. Organized labour must also remember that they are among the 10% of the privileged citizens

 

Ethical implications

  • Voluntary Participation: It is based on the voluntary participation of wealthy individuals. This implies that individuals should willingly accept the responsibility of using their resources for the betterment of society. This emphasizes the ethical value of personal choice and commitment to the common good.
  • Stewardship and Responsibility: The model emphasizes the idea that those who possess wealth are stewards or caretakers of it, rather than absolute owners. This implies a moral duty to use resources responsibly and in a way that benefits society at large. It promotes the ethical principle of stewardship, highlighting the responsibility that comes with privilege.
  • Reduction of Wealth Disparities: The trusteeship model aims to address economic inequality by encouraging the redistribution of wealth. This aligns with the ethical principle of distributive justice, which asserts that resources and benefits should be distributed in a way that is fair and just for all members of society.
  • Promotion of Social Welfare: The model prioritizes the welfare of the community over individual accumulation of wealth. This reflects an ethical perspective that values the well-being and flourishing of the entire society, rather than the interests of a select few.
  • Nonviolence and Harmony: The trusteeship model is in line with Gandhi’s broader philosophy of nonviolence (ahimsa) and his vision of a harmonious society. It promotes peaceful and cooperative approaches to addressing economic disparities, rather than resorting to coercive or exploitative means.
  • Emphasis on Human Dignity: By focusing on the equitable distribution of resources, the trusteeship model underscores the intrinsic value and dignity of every individual. It recognizes that all members of society should have access to basic necessities and opportunities for a dignified life.
  • Accountability and Transparency: The model implies a need for transparency and accountability in the management and distribution of resources. This aligns with ethical principles related to integrity, honesty, and accountability in financial matters.
  • Long-term Sustainability: Encouraging the responsible use of resources for the benefit of society implies a concern for long-term sustainability. This reflects an ethical perspective that emphasizes the importance of considering the well-being of future generations.

Disadvantages and moral hazard

  • Potential for Free-Riding: There may be concerns about individuals or businesses taking advantage of the system without contributing proportionally, potentially leading to inefficiencies or inequality within the model.
  • Inequality of Resources: Critics argue that even with the trusteeship model, there may still be questions about how resources are initially acquired. Addressing historical injustices and ensuring fair access to resources can be complex.
  • Risk of Dependence: Relying on the benevolence of the wealthy may lead to a form of dependence on their charity rather than addressing structural issues that contribute to economic disparities.
  • Lack of Specificity: The trusteeship model may not provide concrete guidelines on how to handle specific economic situations or industries. Without clear guidelines, there may be uncertainty about how to apply the model in practice.

 

Conclusion

Gandhi’s trusteeship model is rooted in ethical principles that emphasize shared responsibility, justice, and the well-being of all members of society. It calls for a re-evaluation of how resources are managed and distributed to ensure a more equitable and harmonious society.


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