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UPSC Insights SECURE SYNOPSIS: 2 JULY 2024

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: Art and Culture

Q1. Discuss the significance of prehistoric sites in India, such as Bhimbetka and Attirampakkam, in understanding the early human presence and cultural evolution in the Indian subcontinent. (250 words)

Difficulty level: Moderate

Reference: Indian express          

Why the question:

Prehistoric sites like Bhimbetka and Attirampakkam offer crucial insights into early human history and cultural development in the Indian subcontinent.

Key Demand of the question:

Analyze the importance of these sites in shedding light on early human presence and cultural evolution in India, supported by specific examples and evidence.

Directive word:

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

Structure of the Answer:

Introduction:

Introduce the answer by highlighting the significance of pre-historic sites in providing insights about early human history and cultural development in Indian subcontinent.

Body:

  1. First list down the significance of these sites in shedding light on early human presence:
  2. Then list down individually their significance with examples in understanding the early human presence and cultural evolution in the Indian subcontinent:

Conclusion:

Conclude by summarising.

Introduction

Prehistoric sites in India, such as Bhimbetka and Attirampakkam, provide invaluable insights into the early human presence and cultural evolution in the Indian subcontinent. These sites, with their ancient artifacts, cave paintings, and tools, help us trace the journey of human civilization from its nascent stages to more complex societal structures.

Body:

Significance of prehistoric sites in India in understanding the early human presence and cultural evolution in the Indian subcontinent:

  1. Bhimbetka Rock Shelters:
    1. Cave Paintings: The Bhimbetka rock shelters in Madhya Pradesh, a UNESCO World Heritage site, contain some of the earliest cave paintings dating back to around 10,000 BCE.
      1. These paintings depict scenes of hunting, dancing, and communal activities, illustrating the transition from a hunter-gatherer society to one engaged in agriculture and animal husbandry.
    2. Cultural Continuity: The continuous habitation of Bhimbetka from the Paleolithic to the Mesolithic periods shows the cultural and social evolution over thousands of years.
      1. The art and artifacts found here indicate a sophisticated understanding of the environment and social structures.
    3. Attirampakkam:
      1. Stone Tools: Located near Chennai, Attirampakkam has yielded stone tools dating back over 1 million years. These tools suggest that early human ancestors, possibly Homo erectus, inhabited this region long before modern humans arrived.
      2. Technological Evolution: The progression in tool technology from simple stone flakes to more advanced hand-axes and cleavers at Attirampakkam highlights the cognitive and motor skills development of early hominins.
        1. It shows an evolution in tool-making techniques and adaptation to changing environments.
      3. Early Human Migrations: The artifacts at these sites provide evidence of multiple waves of human migration into the Indian subcontinent.
        1. g. Attirampakkam’s ancient tools suggest earlier, less successful migrations before the arrival of modern Homo sapiens.
      4. Cultural Exchange: These prehistoric sites indicate interactions between indigenous cultures and new migrants, leading to cultural exchanges and the amalgamation of diverse practices.
      5. Ritualistic Evidence: The presence of ashmounds in Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh, likely remnants of ritualistic cattle sacrifices, and the earliest sacred icons found at sites like Baghor in Madhya Pradesh, point to the emergence of religious beliefs and practices.
      6. Burial Practices: Megalithic structures such as menhirs and dolmens found in South India reflect early burial practices, indicating a belief in an afterlife and social stratification within these ancient communities.
      7. Environmental Adaptation: The cave paintings and tools show how early humans adapted to their environment, shifting from hunting and gathering to more settled forms of agriculture.
        1. This adaptation is also seen in the pit dwellings of Burzahom, Kashmir, which provided shelter against harsh climatic conditions.

Conclusion

The prehistoric sites thus, offer a window into the lives of our ancestors, showcasing their ingenuity, adaptability, and cultural richness. These sites underscore the importance of preserving such archaeological treasures, as they continue to enlighten us about the diverse and complex history of human civilization in the Indian subcontinent.

 

Topic: Important Geophysical phenomena

 Q2. Analyze the reasons behind the variations in monsoon rainfall across different regions of India, focusing on the disparity in rainfall distribution. How do these variations impact drought and flood conditions? (250 words)

Difficulty level: Tough

Reference: DTE

Why the question:

Variations in monsoon rainfall across India significantly affect agricultural productivity, water availability, and socio-economic conditions in different regions.

Key Demand of the question:

Explore the causes of varying monsoon rainfall patterns in India and their implications on drought and flood occurrences, supported by examples and data.

Structure of the Answer:

Introduction:

Introduce by writing about the significance of monsoon for Indian economy and how variation in rainfall affects the agriculture, water availability etc.

Body:

  1. First list down the causes of varying monsoon rainfall patterns in India that may include geographical, meteorological, and climatic factors.
  2. Next write about their implications on drought and flood occurrences in different parts of country, by providing appropriate examples.
  3. Next, discuss how these variations impact drought and flood conditions supported by examples and data.

Conclusion:

Conclude by writing a positive way forward.

Introduction

Monsoon rainfall in India is a critical determinant of the country’s agricultural productivity, water resources, and overall climate. However, there is significant variation in monsoon rainfall across different regions, resulting in disparate impacts on the environment and human activities.

Body:

Reasons behind the variations in monsoon rainfall across different regions of India:

  1. Geographical Influences:
    • Topography: The Western Ghats, Eastern Ghats, and the Himalayan ranges play a significant role in influencing monsoon patterns. The Western Ghats act as an orographic barrier, causing heavy rainfall on the windward side (Western Coastal Plains) and a rain shadow effect on the leeward side (Deccan Plateau).
      • Similarly, the Himalayas block the northward movement of monsoon winds, causing heavy rainfall in the foothills and contributing to the formation of the Indo-Gangetic Plain’s fertile region.
    • Latitude: Regions closer to the equator, like the southern parts of India, generally receive more consistent and intense rainfall due to the proximity to the Intertropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ). In contrast, northern regions experience more variability and lower total rainfall.
  2. Atmospheric Circulation:
    • Monsoon Trough: The position and strength of the monsoon trough, which extends from the Bay of Bengal to the Arabian Sea, significantly influence rainfall distribution.
      • Shifts in the trough can lead to variations in rainfall patterns, causing heavy rains in some areas while others experience deficits.
    • Jet Streams: The subtropical westerly jet stream and the tropical easterly jet stream affect the onset and intensity of the monsoon. Variations in the strength and position of these jet streams can lead to significant regional differences in rainfall.
  3. Oceanographic Factors:
    • Sea Surface Temperatures (SST): Warm SSTs in the Indian Ocean and the Bay of Bengal enhance moisture availability, leading to more intense rainfall. The Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD) phenomenon, characterized by differences in SST between the western and eastern Indian Ocean, can cause significant inter-annual variability in monsoon rainfall.
    • El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO): El Niño events typically weaken the Indian monsoon, reducing rainfall, especially in central and northern India, while La Niña events usually enhance rainfall.

Regional Disparities:

  1. Western India: The Western Ghats region receives heavy rainfall due to orographic lifting of moist monsoon winds.
    • However, the interior regions, like Gujarat and Rajasthan, receive significantly less rainfall due to the rain shadow effect and their distance from the Bay of Bengal and Arabian Sea sources.
  2. Northeastern India: This region, particularly Meghalaya and Assam, receives some of the highest rainfall in the world due to the funneling of moist winds from the Bay of Bengal into narrow valleys.
  3. Central and Northern India: The Gangetic plains receive moderate to high rainfall, but the amount decreases moving westward. States like Punjab and Haryana experience lower rainfall compared to eastern regions.
  4. Southern Peninsula: Kerala and coastal Karnataka receive heavy rainfall due to the Western Ghats, while interior regions like Tamil Nadu receive less due to their position on the leeward side.
    • Tamil Nadu also benefits from the Northeast monsoon, which contributes to its annual rainfall.

Impact of variations in monsoon rainfall on drought and flood conditions:

  1. Floods:
    • Northeastern States: Excessive rainfall and rapid runoff lead to frequent flooding in Assam and other northeastern states, exacerbated by the Brahmaputra River’s swelling.
    • Eastern India: States like Bihar and West Bengal experience annual flooding due to high rainfall and river overflow.
  2. Droughts:
    • Western and Central India: Regions like Rajasthan, Gujarat, and parts of Maharashtra face chronic drought conditions due to low and erratic rainfall.
    • Southern India: Parts of Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, and Andhra Pradesh experience droughts when the monsoon is weak or delayed.

 

 

Conclusion

Effective management and planning require a thorough understanding of these factors to mitigate the impacts of both excess and deficit rainfall, ensuring sustainable development and resilience against climate variability.

 

Topic: Features of Indian Constitution

 Q3. What is federalism? Do you subscribe to the view that federalism thrives under the coalition politics? Propose solutions to strengthen India’s federal structure. (250 words)

 Difficulty level: Moderate

 Reference: Indian Express

 Why this question:

 The return of coalition politics in India has brought questions of federalism and Centre-state relations back to the fore.

Key Demand of the question:

To define federalism, analyse whether federalism thrives under coalition politics, and propose solutions to strengthen India’s federal structure.

Directive:

Do you subscribe? (Open ended discussion similar to discuss and analyse)– This requires a detailed exploration of the concept of federalism, the relationship between federalism and coalition politics, and recommendations for strengthening the federal system.

Structure of the answer:

Introduction:

Begin by defining federalism and explaining its importance in the Indian context. Mention the relevance of coalition politics in shaping Centre-state relations.

Body:

  1. First part: Define federalism.

Explain the principles of federalism.

  1. Second part: Analyse the impact of coalition politics on federalism.

Provide arguments supporting the view that federalism thrives under coalition politics.

Present counterarguments highlighting potential challenges.

  1. Third part: Propose solutions to strengthen India’s federal structure.

Strengthen inter-state councils and mechanisms for dialogue.

Encourage cooperative federalism through collaborative governance.

Improve the division of powers and resources between the Centre and states.

Conclusion:

Summarise the role of federalism in India’s democracy, and emphasise the proposed solutions to reinforce the federal structure.

Introduction:

The return of coalition politics in India has brought questions of federalism and Centre-state relations back to the fore.

Federalism is a system of government where power is divided between a central authority and constituent political units (like states or provinces). It allows multiple levels of government to coexist and operate independently in their areas of jurisdiction.

 

Body:

 

Features of Federalism:

 

  1. Division of Powers: Powers are divided between the central government (Union) and state governments.
  2. Written Constitution: A written constitution delineates the powers of different levels of government.
  3. Supremacy of Constitution: The Constitution is supreme and governs the relationship between the Union and states.
  4. Independent Judiciary: An independent judiciary interprets and enforces the Constitution to resolve disputes between different levels of government.
  5. Dual Government: Both the central and state governments have their own spheres of influence and authority.
  6. Rigid Constitution: The Constitution is not easy to amend and provides for clear procedures for changes.

 

Federalism and Coalition Politics

 

Pros of coalition politics on Federalism: 

 

  1. Enhanced Regional Representation: Coalition governments often include regional parties, which can lead to better representation of state interests at the national level.
  2. Power Sharing: The necessity of accommodating coalition partners can lead to more negotiation and consensus-building, which can benefit federal structures.
  3. Policy Flexibility: Coalitions may need to adopt flexible policies that cater to the diverse needs of different states, enhancing federal cooperation.

 

Cons of Coalition Politics in Federalism:

 

  1. Can lead to policy paralysis due to conflicting interests.
  2. May result in short-term compromises rather than long-term planning.
  3. Can create instability in the central government affecting federal stability.

 

Solutions to Strengthen India’s Federal Structure:

 

  1. Strengthen State Autonomy: Enhance the powers of state governments in areas such as finance, education, and healthcare to reduce over-centralisation.
  2. Increase State Revenues: Allow states greater leeway to raise their revenues through various means such as taxation and borrowing, and more equitable distribution of GST.
  • The Punchhi Commission suggested increasing the share of states in central taxes and enhancing their fiscal autonomy.
  1. Inter-State Council: Strengthen the role and functioning of the Inter-State Council to address inter-state disputes and enhance cooperative federalism.
  2. Constitutional Bench: Establish a permanent constitutional bench in the Supreme Court to promptly address federal disputes.
  3. Minimising Central Intervention: The Sarakria Commission suggested Article 356 (President’s Rule) should be used very sparingly, in extreme cases as a last resort when all the available alternatives fail.

 

Conclusion:

 

To truly strengthen India’s federal structure, it is imperative to embrace the principles of cooperative federalism.By promoting dialogue, transparency, and mutual respect among different levels of government, cooperative federalism can help balance central authority with state autonomy.

Q4. Do you think marriage is a sacrament in Indian Society? Illustrate with the help of recent Supreme Court ruling on same sex marriage. (250 words)

Difficulty level: Tough

Reference: The Hindu

Why the question: 

Every year, June is observed as Pride Month the world over. The contributions of members of the LGBTQIA+ communities are commemorated. 31st June marks the end of Pride month.

Key Demand of the question:

To explore whether marriage is considered a sacrament in Indian society and discuss this in the context of recent Supreme Court rulings on same-sex marriage.

Directive:

Illustrate – This requires a detailed account, including relevant recent Supreme Court rulings, to explain  in context of whether marriage is a sacrament in Indian society.

Structure of the answer:

Introduction:

Begin by defining the concept of marriage as a sacrament in Indian society, highlighting its cultural and religious significance.

Body:

  1. First part: Discuss the traditional view of marriage in Indian society.

Explain how marriage is seen as a sacred and religious duty.

Mention the importance of rituals and customs in traditional marriages.

  1. Second part: Analyse the recent Supreme Court ruling on same-sex marriage.

Summarise the key points of the ruling and government’s stand which emphasises society.

Discuss the court’s stance on the legal recognition of same-sex marriages.

  1. Third part: Connect the ruling to the concept of marriage as a sacrament.

Examine how the ruling challenges or aligns with traditional views.

Discuss the evolving perception of marriage in contemporary Indian society.

Conclusion:

Reflect on the implications of the Supreme Court ruling on same-sex marriage and its potential to reshape societal norms.

Introduction:

 

Marriage is deeply ingrained in Indian society as a vital social institution that upholds family structure, lineage, and societal stability.

 

Body:

 

Marriage as Sacrament:

 

  1. In Hinduism, marriage (vivaha) is considered one of the sixteen samskaras (sacraments), which are rites of passage intended to purify and sanctify an individual’s life. It is seen as a sacred bond, not just between two individuals, but also their families and the divine.
  2. Similar sacramental views of marriage are held in other religions practised in India, such as Islam, Christianity, and Sikhism, where marriage is often seen as a covenant or contract with spiritual and social dimensions.
  3. Rituals and Traditions: Marriages in India are marked by elaborate rituals and customs that underscore its sacramental nature.

 

Diminishing value of marriage as sacrament:

 

  1. Rising Divorce: Escalating divorce rates suggest a decline in the sanctity and permanence of marriage.
  2. Changing Norms: Society now accepts diverse relationships, reducing the emphasis on traditional marriage. Recent data shows an increase in the ‘never married’ youth population to 26.1% in 2019.
  3. Individual Autonomy: Personal freedom leads to autonomous choices in partnerships, challenging arranged marriages through Live-in relationships and fostering single lifestyles.

 

Supreme Court Ruling on Same-Sex Marriage:

 

In 2018, the Supreme Court of India decriminalised homosexuality by reading down Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code, which was a significant step towards recognising LGBTQ+ rights. In a recent landmark case, the Supreme Court of India was petitioned to recognise same-sex marriages legally.

 

  1. Judgement: The court, while acknowledging the right to individual dignity and privacy, did not grant legal status to same-sex marriages.
  • It emphasised that any change in the legal recognition of marriage should come from the legislature, reflecting societal consensus and legal reform.
  1. Implications of the Ruling:
  • Status Quo Maintained: The ruling maintained the traditional view of marriage as a union between a man and a woman, aligned with the prevalent cultural and religious norms in India.
  • Judicial Restraint: The court showed judicial restraint, indicating that changes in the institution of marriage should emerge through democratic processes and broader societal acceptance.

The resistance to same-sex marriage highlights the stronghold of traditional norms that views marriage strictly as heterosexual union and the sacramental view of marriage in Indian society.

 

Conclusion:

 

Rigveda— “Vikruti Evam Prakriti,” which roughly translates to “What seems unnatural, is natural” as evidence that Hinduism tolerates homosexuality. As India progresses, it is essential to strike a balance that respects cultural heritage while promoting individual rights and dignity and to ensure that the institution of marriage evolves in a manner that honours both tradition and modern values.

 


General Studies – 2


 

Topic: Indian Economy/ Digital Economy

Q5. How has UPI revolutionized digital payments in India and what are its implications for Indian society and the economy? Also, briefly highlight how India’s digital payment revolution is inspiring the world. (250 Words)

Difficulty level: Moderate

Reference: Indian Express

Why the question?

India’s Unified Payments Interface (UPI) and FPSs of Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore and Thailand will be interlinked through Project Nexus of RBI. Going ahead, the platform can be extended to more countries.

Key Demand of the question: Analyze UPI’s role in revolutionizing digital payments in India, its implications for society and the economy, and its global influence.

Structure of the Answer:

Introduction:

Introduce the Unified Payments Interface (UPI) as a transformative digital payment system launched in India and its rapid adoption across the country.

Body:

  1. Revolutionizing Digital Payments:
    • Ease of Use: Seamless, real-time transactions using mobile devices.
    • Inclusivity: Increased financial inclusion by reaching unbanked and underbanked populations.
    • Integration: Integration with multiple banks and fintech platforms, fostering a unified payment ecosystem.
  2. Implications for Indian Society and Economy:
    • Economic Growth: Boost to digital economy, facilitating small businesses, and reducing cash dependency.
    • Transparency: Enhanced transparency in financial transactions, reducing black money and corruption.
    • Convenience: Simplified daily transactions, from bill payments to peer-to-peer transfers, enhancing user convenience.
  3. Global Inspiration:
    • Model for Other Countries: UPI’s success story inspiring similar digital payment initiatives worldwide.
    • Technological Innovation: Showcasing India’s capabilities in fintech innovation and digital infrastructure development.
    • International Partnerships: Collaboration with other countries to implement UPI-like systems, enhancing global digital payment ecosystems.

Conclusion:
Summarize UPI’s role in revolutionizing digital payments in India, its socio-economic benefits, and its influence as a model for global digital payment solutions.

 

UPI stands for Unified Payments Interface, which is a real-time payment system developed by the National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) to facilitate instant money transfers between bank accounts using a mobile device since 2016.

UPI has revolutionized digital payments in India:

AspectDescription
Easy and ConvenientUPI has made digital payments easy and convenient, allowing users to make instant money transfers between bank accounts using just a mobile device. UPI transactions grew from 0.2 million in November 2016 to 7.82 billion in December 2022.
Cost-EffectiveUPI has made digital payments cost-effective by eliminating the need for intermediaries such as payment gateways and reducing transaction fees.
SecureUPI uses two-factor authentication (2FA) to ensure secure transactions. Users can generate a virtual payment address (VPA) that is linked to their bank account, which makes transactions secure and hassle-free.
Financial InclusionUPI has brought millions of unbanked and underbanked Indians into the formal financial system. According to NPCI data in Sept 2022, UPI logged 220 million transactions per day.
Reduced Cash TransactionsUPI has helped to reduce cash transactions, which has brought transparency, efficiency, and accountability to the Indian economy.
Increased CompetitionUPI has increased competition among payment service providers such as Google Pay, PhonePe and Paytm, which has led to the development of new payment solutions and innovations in the digital payment space.

Implications of UPI

 

For Indian society

  • Financial Inclusion: UPI has enabled individuals from remote and rural areas to access digital payment services with ease.
    • In 2020, the number of Jan Dhan accounts linked to UPI increased by 77%, indicating that more people from lower-income groups are accessing digital payment services.
  • Reduced Corruption: With digital transactions, there is a record of all transactions, making it easier to track and trace any illegal activities. This has helped in promoting transparency in the economy.
  • Increased Digital Literacy: With the increasing adoption of UPI, people are learning to use smartphones and other digital devices to access digital payment services, making them more tech-savvy. This has also led to an increase in the use of other digital services such as online shopping, digital banking, and e-commerce.
  • Financial Empowerment of Women: With UPI, women can access financial services easily and securely, without having to rely on male family members. This has given them greater financial independence and control.

 

For Indian economy

  • Small Business Growth: UPI has facilitated the growth of small businesses by providing them with a secure and convenient platform to accept digital payments. This has helped in expanding their customer base, and has reduced the cost of transactions, making it easier for them to do business.
  • Increased Efficiency in the Banking System: According to NPCI, UPI transactions are processed in real-time, leading to faster payments and settlements.
  • Growth of Digital Commerce: E-commerce companies such as Flipkart and Amazon have reported that UPI transactions contribute to a significant percentage of their overall transactions.
  • Increased Investor Confidence: The growth of digital payments and the adoption of UPI has created a favorable environment for foreign investments.
    • Ex: In 2020, Google announced a $10 billion investment in India’s digital economy, citing the growth potential of UPI.

How India’s digital payment revolution is inspiring the world

  • UPI as a Model for Digital Payment Systems: Many countries are looking to replicate the UPI model in their own digital payment systems.
    • Ex: In 2024, the Bank of Namibia MoU with NPCI to develop local UPI model.
  • Linkages with other payment systems– Recently India’s UPI was linked with Singapore’s PayNow, which will allow the transfer of funds from UPI to PayNow and vice versa, solving the cross-border payment problems.

 

Challenges associated with UPI

  • Technical Glitches: There have been instances where users have faced issues while making transactions, such as delayed transactions or failed transactions. This can be frustrating for users and can lead to a loss of trust in the system.
  • Infrastructure Challenges: In some areas, network connectivity may be poor or non-existent, making it difficult for users to make transactions.
  • Lack of Awareness: While UPI has been highly successful in India, there are still many users who are not familiar with the system. Also digital literacy has been far less compared to other nations.
  • Transaction Limits: UPI has set transaction limits to ensure security and prevent fraud. However, these limits can be a hindrance for users who need to make larger transaction.

With continuous transformation of UPI along with the newly proposed Central Bank Digital Currency can be game changer to nudge India towards becoming digitally developed country by 2047.

 

Topic: Disaster Management

Q6. Account for the reasons behind increasing forest fire in the Himalayan and Western Ghats landscape. Discuss the limitations of the measures taken to prevent it. Also, suggests measures needed to mitigate the impact. (250 Words)

Difficulty level: Moderate

Reference: Indian Express

Why the question?

The recent fires in Uttarakhand’s Binsar forest highlight the tragic costs of a siloed governance structure.

Key Demand of the question: Analyze the causes of forest fires, their effects on human populations and biodiversity, and propose mitigation measures.

Structure of the Answer:

Introduction:
Briefly introduce the issue of rising forest fires in the Himalayan and Western Ghats regions, highlighting their significance as biodiversity hotspots.

Body:

  1. Reasons for Increasing Forest Fires:
    • Natural Causes: Climate change, prolonged dry spells, and lightning.
    • Anthropogenic Causes: Illegal logging, slash-and-burn agriculture, and tourism activities.
    • Management Issues: Inadequate Forest management and lack of early warning systems.
  1. Limitations of Measures Taken to Prevent Forest Fires: The response to forest fires in Uttarakhand is hindered by poor coordination among government agencies, inadequate training and equipment for firefighters, and poorly maintained roads that block emergency vehicles. Local discontent due to lack of development leads to deliberate fires, while the removal of incentives for villagers to assist in fire prevention has further reduced local participation.
  1. Measures to Mitigate Impact:
    • Preventive Measures: Strengthening Forest management practices, implementing early warning systems, and promoting community awareness.
    • Restorative Measures: Reforestation efforts, rehabilitation of affected areas, and support for affected communities.
    • Policy and Governance: Formulating stringent policies on land use and forest conservation, ensuring effective enforcement, and promoting sustainable tourism practices.

Conclusion:
Summarize the critical need for a comprehensive approach combining prevention, restoration, and policy measures to mitigate the impact of forest fires on humans and biodiversity in these ecologically sensitive regions.

According to the Forest Survey of India (FSI), 37,059 fires were detected in 2018 using MODIS (Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectro-radiometer) sensor data. On the contrary, Forest fires ensure timely rains and cool temperatures while sequestering carbon which moderates climate change.  However, as populations and demands on forest resources grow, the cycle of fires has gone out of balance.

 

Reasons for increasing forest fire in the Himalayan Ecosystem:

Dry forest floors caused by scant rainfall or snowfall are a major reason for the spread in the central and eastern Himalayas.

  • Slash and Burn Agriculture: Traditional agricultural practices involve clearing land by burning vegetation, which can unintentionally spread to nearby forests if not properly managed.
    • Eg: Jhumming cultivation in North Eastern India by local tribes.
  • Topography: The steep terrain and rugged landscape of the Himalayas can make firefighting efforts challenging, allowing fires to spread quickly and over large areas.
  • Scientists, including those in the US, said such an increase in extreme heat events can create unsafe labor conditions in major crop-producing parts of India.
    • Eg: Nainatal forest fire in 2024 due to intense heat wave.

 

Reasons for increasing forest fire in the Western Ghats landscape

  • Human encroachment and developmental activities: Most of the Western Ghats region, falls in the tropical rainforest belt which implies that forest fires are not a natural occurrence in most of India but are a consequence of Human Encroachment
    • g., massive forest fires in Bandipur (2019); Madukkarai, Bouluvampatti and Coimbatore circle experienced three fires recently.
  • Rain-shadow region of Western Ghats: Like Bandipur is a dry deciduous forest in the rain shadow region of the Western Ghats
  • A study has shown that between 1974 and 2014, 67% of the Nilgiri Biosphere had seen some form of forest fire, with Bandipur having reported the most incidents.
  • Clash between forest officials and forest-dwellers: One of the primary reasons for high number of forest fires in Nilgiri forest region is the growing animosity between the forest Department and forest-dwellers who accuse officials of harassment through the wildlife rules. Miscreants often set fire to forests.
  • Growth of Invasive species: an invasive weed species native to South America that has spread through nearly two-thirds of the forest area in Western Ghats.
    • g., ubiquity of Lantana camara act as catalyzer in increase of forest fire

 

Impact of Forest fire:

  • On Human’s:
    • People’s health is directly affected by inhaling wildfire smoke and Air pollution– Smoke from wildfires made the air quality very hazardous for human health.
    • Heatwaveis one of the extreme weather events (EWE). In 50 years (1971-2019) EWE killed 1.4lkh people. Of this, 17,362 people were killed due to heatwave — a little over 12 per cent of the total deaths recorded.
    • Human-animal conflicts– As these animals flee the flames, they are forced into areas of human habitation, setting up more and more encounters with humans and heightening the human-animal conflicts.
      • Eg: Recurring elephant raid cases in Karnataka.
    • Abundant human settlements: Almost all forests in South Asia are surrounded by human settlements, with locals dependent on them for essentials such as fodder, fuelwood and housing material.
  • On Biodiversity:
    • Recurrent fires can cause long-term alterations to the ecology of a place
    • Fires can modify soil properties. In pine forests particularly, “fire depletes the soil of the bacteria that promote the growth of native plants
    • Loss of Forest wealth: it is one of the major threats to forest and biodiversity conservation–wildfires killed scores of wild animals, including leopards, foxes, jackals, deer and partridges
      • Eg: Every year loss of 4,555.35 hectares in Himachal Pradesh’s forest wealth.

 

 However there are few positive role too played by forest fire on bio-diversity:

  • Ecological Rejuvenation: Intense fires are important for bush landscape as they consume old and diseased trees to create new habitats
  • Occasional fires can also keep down fuel loadsthat feed larger, more destructive conflagrations.
  • They help regenerate our soils, ensure timely rains and cool temperatures while sequestering carbon that helps to moderate climate change

 

Some of the Mitigation efforts undertaken are:

  • UNEP’s Fire Ready formula: The UNEP called on global governments to adopt a new ‘Fire Ready Formula–66 per cent of spending be devoted to planning, prevention, preparedness and recovery; Integrated wildfire management.
  • Geospatial technological tools and techniques have been very effectively used in forest fire management around the world.
  • National Action Plan on Forest Fires, 2018: Recognizing the need to revamp forest fire management in the country, the ministry of environment, forest and climate change have come up with the National Action Plan on Forest Fires, 2018.
  • Government’s Role in Mitigation:
    • National Action Plan on Forest Fires (NAPFF)
    • Forest Fire Prevention and Management Scheme: To minimise the forest fire incidences and help in restoring productivity of forests in affected areas.
    • NDMA Guidelines:
      • Incorporate Forest Fire Prevention and Management (FFPM) in existing policy and planning documents
      • Establish National Forest fire Knowledge Network

 

The UNEP report projected that the number of wildfires is likely to increase by up to 14 percent by 2030. It is projected to spike by 33 per cent by 2050 and 52 per cent by 2100. Likewise, in India, Forest fire is unavoidable. Situations of forest fires need immediate control by all mitigation measures. And government and all stakeholders can work together to prevent this grave phenomenon.

 


General Studies – 4


 

Q7. “Prioritizing one’s mental wellbeing and cultivating mental clarity is most valuable asset for oneself”. In this context what role does mental wellbeing play in people life? How do you attain state of mental clarity in you daily life?

Difficulty level: Moderate

Reference: Zee-News

Why the question?

The article discuss on people daily stressful life events and how to overcome it through attainment of mental wellbeing.

Key demand of question: Highlight the role played by mental wellbeing in people life. Also mention few of your routine refreshment activities. 

Structure of the answer:

Introduction: Begin by defining mental wellbeing and mental clarity.

Body:

  • Start with explaining why mental wellbeing is an asset to oneself.
  • Then explain what role mental wellbeing plays in people life.
  • Mentions few ways to attain mental wellbeing. Try to give personal touch to your answer.

Conclusion: End with quote on mental health.

Introduction:

Mental health is a state of mental well-being that enables people to cope with the stresses of life, realize their abilities, learn well and work well, and contribute to their community.

 

Body:

 

Some of determinant of mental health are:

  • Individual psychological and biological factors such as emotional skills, substance use and genetics can make people more vulnerable to mental health problems.
  • Exposure to unfavourable social, economic, geopolitical and environmental circumstances – including poverty, violence, inequality and environmental deprivation.

 

Role of mental health and wellbeing played in people life are as follows:

  • Enhanced self-awareness:A clear mind allows you to understand your thoughts, emotions, and motivations better. This self-awareness empowers you to make positive changes in your life and build healthier habits.
  • Mental clarity and well-being contribute to a more positive outlook and a greater sense of satisfaction
  • Mental well-being helps you to make a stronger relationship and promotes fraternity and brotherhood among the other social beings.
  • Mental wellbeing imparts the cognitive functions such as reasoning, judgment, and empathy. A person experiencing mental distress or imbalance may struggle with ethical decision-making.
    • Eg: Stressed person often indulge oneself in harassment and crimes of vulnerable.
  • Mental wellbeing fosters resilience, enabling individuals to withstand challenges, adhere to ethical principles, and resist pressures to engage in unethical behaviour.
    • Eg: Optimism and determination to succeed at life situations.

 

In order to handle the daily stressful life I often indulge myself in activity like,

  • Yoga and mindfulness meditation to cultivate present-moment awareness and observe thoughts without judgment. It allow me to look into my inner self.
  • Engage in regular physical activities such as gym, badminton and football. Exercise boosts endorphins, improves mood, reduces stress levels, and enhances my cognitive function.
  • Disconnecting from screens (Digital detoxification) allows me for mental rest, improved focus, and better concentration on meaningful activities.
  • Creative activities like painting, music stimulate the brain, foster self-expression, and provide a therapeutic outlet for emotions, contributing to mental clarity.

Conclusion:

“Mental health is not a destination, but a process. It’s about how you drive, not where you’re going.” Hence mental clarity and wellbeing act as the catalyser for the individual to attain the highest moral life and stronger emotional balance.

 

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