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33 Solved Questions with Answers
  • 2019

    4. Assess the impact of global warming on the coral life system with examples.

    Coral life system harbour the highest biodiversity of any ecosystem globally and directly support over 500 million people worldwide.

    However, over the last three years, coral reefs ecosystem around the world have suffered from mass coral bleaching events. They are now among the most threatened ecosystems on Earth, largely due to unprecedented global warming and climate changes, combined with growing local pressures.

    Impact of global warming on the coral life system

    • As temperature rises, mass coral bleaching events and infectious disease outbreaks are becoming more frequent. The bleaching of the Great Barrier Reef in 2016 and 2017, for instance, killed around 50% of its corals.
    • Bleached corals are likely to experience reduced growth rates, decreased reproductive capacity, increased susceptibility to diseases and elevated mortality rates.
    • Ocean acidification, or increased CO2 levels has reduced calcification rates in reef-building and reefassociated organisms, causing their skeletons to become weaker and growth to be impaired.
    • Sea level rise may lead to increases in sedimentation for reefs located near land-based sources of sediment. Sedimentation runoff can lead to the smothering of coral.
    • Changes in storm patterns, due to climate change, may lead to stronger and more frequent storms that can cause the destruction of coral reefs.
    • Changes in coral ecosystem also affect the species that depend on them, such as the fish and invertebrates that rely on live coral for food, shelter, or recruitment habitat.
    • Changes in precipitation result in increased runoff of freshwater, sediment, and land-based pollutants contribute to algal blooms and cause murky water conditions that reduce light.
    • Altered ocean currents lead to changes in connectivity and temperature regimes that contribute to lack of food for corals and hampers dispersal of coral larvae.
    • It is also expected that there will be a gradual decrease in the quantity of marine plants such as phytoplankton in warmer waters, effectively reducing the amount of nutrients available to animals further along the food chain.
    • In addition, the collapse of coral life system due to global warming can have direct impacts on tourism, aquaculture, and pharmaceutical industries as well as reduce the overall resilience of coastal communities.

    Way forward

    • Limiting global average temperature to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels, addressing local pollution and destructive fishing practices provide chance for the survival of coral life system globally. Also, transformation of mainstream economic systems towards circular economic practices can help in mitigating rising global temperatures.
    • According to UNESCO, the coral reefs in all 29 reef-containing World Heritage sites would cease to exist by the end of this century if global warming is not reduced. Reinforcing commitments to the Paris Agreement may be mirrored in all other global agreements such as the Sustainable Development Goals. SDG 13, for instance, calls for urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts.

  • 2018

    4. Why is Indian Regional Navigational Satellite System (IRNSS) needed? How does it help in navigation? (2018)

    IRNSS: NavIC (Navigation with Indian Constellation) is an independent and indigenous regional navigation satellite system developed by India. It is a set of 8 satellites which will be located in suitable orbital slots - geostationary or geosynchronous.

    It makes India only the sixth country in the world to have its own navigation system.

    This frees India from dependence on other countries for its navigation (GPS, GLONASS, Galileo etc.).

    Given that it’s primary service area is India and the region extending up to 1500 km from its boundary, it’s expected to be more accurate (better than 20 m) and reliable. Also, this will help solidify India’s position as a regional power as NavIC will be open for use by India’s neighbours as well.

    Further, it will help meet local user requirements of the positioning, navigation and timing services.


    • IRNSS will provide two types of navigation services:
      • Standard Positioning Service – for all users.
      • Restricted Service – an encrypted service only for authourised users.
    • The signals broadcast by IRNSS satellites will transmit navigation service signals (timing and position information) to the users.
    • This data will be used to give users visual and voice navigation assistance.
    • These will form the basis for variety of navigation applications:
      • Land navigation – traffic management, tracking train’s movement, land survey, etc.
      • Marine navigation – fishermen, merchant ships, port operations, disaster management, etc.
      • Aerial navigation – civil aviation, military operations, etc.

  • 2019

    5. Discuss the causes of depletion of mangroves and explain their importance in maintaining coastal ecology.

    Mangroves are salt-tolerant vegetation that grows in intertidal regions of rivers and estuaries. They are referred to as ‘tidal forests’ and belong to the category of ‘tropical wetland rainforest ecosystem’.

    Mangrove forests occupy around 2,00,000 square kilometres across the globe in tropical regions of 30 countries. India has a total mangrove cover of 4,482 sq km. However, more than 35% of the world’s mangroves are already depleted.

    Causes of Depletion

    • Clearing: Large tracts of mangrove forests have been cleared to make room for agricultural land, human settlements, industrial areas, shrimp aquaculture etc. As a result, mangroves get depleted to the tune of 2-8 percent annually.
    • Overharvesting: They are also overexploited for firewood, construction wood and pulp production, charcoal production, and animal fodder.
    • Damming of rivers: Dams built over the river courses reduce the amount of water and sediments reaching mangrove forests, altering their salinity level.
    • Destruction of coral reefs: Coral reefs provide the first barrier against currents and strong waves. When they are destroyed, even stronger-than-normal waves reaching the coast can wash away the fine sediment in which the mangroves grow.
    • Pollution: Mangroves also face severe threats due to fertilizers, pesticides, discharge of domestic sewage and industrial effluents carried down by the river systems.
    • Climate change: Unusually low rainfall and very high sea surface and air temperatures caused severe threats to the survival of mangrove forests.

    Importance of mangroves in maintaining coastal ecology

    • Mangroves are among the most productive terrestrial ecosystems and are a natural, renewable resource. For instance, Sundarbans in the Gangetic delta supports around 30 plant species of mangroves.
    • Mangroves provide ecological niches for a wide variety of organisms. They serve as breeding, feeding and nursery grounds for fisheries and provide timber and wood for fuel.
    • Mangrove forests act as water filters and purifiers as well. When water from rivers and floodplains flow into the ocean, mangroves filter a lot of sediments, hence protecting the coastal ecology including coral reefs.
    • Mangroves act as shock absorbers. They reduce high tides and waves and protect shorelines from erosion and also minimise disasters due to cyclones and tsunami.

    Given their importance, strict enforcement of the coastal regulation measures, scientific management practices and participation of the local community in conservation and management are essential for the conservation and sustainable management of the precious mangrove forests.

  • 2018

    5. Why is India taking keen interest in resources of Arctic region? (2018)

    According to the Ministry of External Affairs, India’s interests in Arctic Ocean region are commercial, strategic, environmental and scientific. Pursuant to this, in 2013, India gained Observer status in the Arctic Council.

    • Potential Natural Resources: Arctic region holds oil and natural gas resources which can boost India’s energy security and diversify its energy imports especially when West Asia is under geopolitical turmoil. Arctic is also an abundant source for fishing.
    • Potential for Newer Shipping Routes: As global climate warms up and polar ice recedes, new paths between Asia, Europe and North America become open which can reduce cost of transportation for India’s exports and imports. For example, the Northern Sea Route, a mostly frozen seaway can become navigable throughout the year.
    • Increased Vulnerability of Coastal Communities: Melting of ice on large scale can make India’s coastal cities more vulnerable to sea level rise.
    • Potential for Joint Research on Environmental Issues: Joint research with countries like Norway can help India in better research on issues related to aerosol radiation, space weather, glacier cycles which are also mandate of Himadri Research Station.
    • Geopolitical Importance: While a treaty for Arctic, a global common, being negotiated, it is a strategic necessity to mould it in India’s favour. Also, India needs to make investments to match Chinese investments in Arctic.

  • 2017

    5. How does the Juno Mission of NASA help to understand the origin and evolution of the Earth? (2017)

    With the principal goal to understanding the origin and evolution of Jupiter, the Juno spacecraft (NASA) was launched in 2011.  Juno will study Jupiter much more thoroughly, given the array of nine scientific instruments that it carries on board.

    The huge gas planet was likely the first planet formed and had a major impact on the formation of other planets. Like our sun, Jupiter is composed primarily of hydrogen and helium but is also imbued with other heavy elements fundamental to the creation of terrestrial planets.

    By studying the atmosphere on Jupiter we can get an unprecedented insight into its origins and most importantly on the origins of other planets in our solar system including Earth. Once Jupiter’s current construction is known, it will then be possible to work out how, when and potentially where in the Solar System the first planet formed. The spacecraft will hunt for oxygen (in the form of water) in Jupiter’s atmosphere, which may also help explain how Earth got its water.

    To summarize, we can expect to learn a wealth of information about Jupiter’s inner workings in the months and years to come. In discovering Jupiter, we’ll be discovering a part of ourselves.

  • 2019

    6. Can the strategy of regional-resource based manufacturing help in promoting employment in India?

    The National Manufacturing Policy aims to increase the share of manufacturing in the country’s GDP to 25% by 2022. However, It has been observed that the rate of development in certain areas is very fast due to some locational advantages with a high degree of industrialization while other areas lag behind. In this regard, regional manufacturing becomes very important.

    Employment generation due to Regional-Resource based manufacturing

    • Suitably organized industries can utilize raw materials in the area and thereby give a fillip to greater production and processing. This would help in overall regional development.
    • Manufacturing creates employment in the industry at various levels of skills. Normally a good proportion of the employment is in the unskilled and semi-skilled labor field who can expect higher wages than the informal sector earning.
    • The industry also creates opportunities for entrepreneurship and employment in ancillary industries and services in the secondary and tertiary sectors.
    • There would be greater and more varied demand for consumer goods. This creates its own cycle of possible growth in local production, distribution and support in the secondary and tertiary sectors.
    • It would also reduce the income gap between rural and urban areas and thereby reducing the distress migration.

    Challenges to regional-resource based manufacturing

    • While many states like Jharkhand, Chattisgarh have abundant mineral resources, it is the lack of adequate infrastructure — mainly roads and power — that has been a major roadblock.
    • Lack of skills amongst people in these manufacturing industries.
    • MSME sector which will have lion’s share in such a strategy are already facing challenges related to marketing, credit, growth, and non-availability of suitable technology for manufacturing, etc.
    • Intellectual Property protection and enforcement are expensive and high risk in India.

    In this regard, State and the Union government have come up with various strategies for harnessing the regional manufacturing potential-

    • Orissa has also launched ‘Odisha Industrial Development Plan: Vision 2025’ the with focussed attention on five sectors that aim to attract investments of Rs. 2.5-lakh crore and generate direct and indirect employment opportunities for 30 lakh people.
    • UP government’s One District, One Product scheme seeks to promote traditional industries synonymous with their respective districts to spur the local economy and create jobs.
    • North East Industrial Development Scheme (NEIDS) encourages micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) to set up in the north-east region.
    • Forest-based industries and Tribal Products are being encouraged in different states because of its ability to solve the problem of unemployment and poverty.
    • Different states and regions harbor GI tagged products that could be manufactured locally and marketed globally.

    The overall development of the country can happen only by securing a balanced and coordinated development of the decentralized manufacturing economy in each region.

  • 2018

    6. Define mantle plume and explain its role in plate tectonics. (2018)

    Mantle plume is an upwelling of abnormally hot rock within the earth's mantle which carries heat upward in narrow, rising columns, driven by heat exchange across the core-mantle boundary. Eventually, the rising column of hot rock reaches the base of the lithosphere, where it spreads out, forming a mushroom-shaped cap to the plume. Heat transferred from the plume raises the temperature in the lower lithosphere to above melting point, and forms magma chambers that feed volcanoes at the surface. It is a secondary way through which earth loses heat. In 1971, geophysicist W. Jason Morgan developed the hypothesis of mantle plumes.

    Role of Mantle Plumes in Plate Tectonics

    • Mantle plumes transport primordial mantle material from below the zone of active convection; produce time-progressive volcanic chains; break up continents; and act as a driving force for plate tectonics.
    • The narrow conduits of deep-mantle material rise through the solid mantle before spreading out laterally in the upper asthenosphere. From there, they cause the lithosphere to swell and shear as the heat from the plume increases the temperature of lower lithosphere.
    • Mantle plumes are also thought to be the cause of volcanic centers known as hotspots and probably have also caused flood basalts.
    • As the plume remains anchored at the core-mantle boundary and it does not shift position over time, a string of volcanoes is created when the lithospheric plate moves above it. The formation of the Hawaiian Island and Emperor Seamount chain in the middle of the Pacific Plate are caused by mantle plume.

  • 2017

    6. “In spite of adverse environmental impact, coal mining is still inevitable for development”. Discuss. (2017)

    India’s coal reserves, fourth largest in the world, provide it with a cheap source of energy. However, the mining of coal causes severe damage to the environment:

    • Pollution due to exposure of mining waste to air and water.
    • Coal mining results in methane emissions, a powerful greenhouse gas.
    • Fires from underground mines can burn for years, releasing smoke containing CO2, CO, NOx, SO2 etc.
    • Deforestation when trees are cut down or burned for clearing the way for a coal mine.

    Despite the damage caused by coal mining, it is expected to contribute the dominant share to India’s electricity production for decades to come. Even with annual growth rates above 10%, the share of renewable sources in India is unlikely to reach even 10% of the energy mix before 2040. (Solar energy still provides only about 1 per cent of the electricity generated in the country).

    India’s reliance on coal is expected to persist even in 2040s, with an envisaged share of 42%-50% in energy mix. A lower growth trajectory of renewable energy in view of the challenges and uncertainty of prices, storage costs, grid connectivity and parity make it over-ambitious to expect them to be central for India’s development.  

  • 2019

    7. Discuss the factors for localisation of agro-based food processing industries of North-West India.

    Agro-based food processing industry, aptly recognised as ‘sunrise industry’, is described as one that adds value to agricultural raw materials. This value addition converts the raw agricultural products into marketable, easy-to-use or edible products like corn flakes, chips, ready to serve drinks, etc.

    The Indian food processing industry accounts for 32% of the country’s total food market. It is one of the largest industries in India and is ranked fifth in terms of production, consumption, export and expected growth.

    However, the North-West India showcases a better-developed agro-based food processing industry. The factors for this localisation are as follows:

    • Geography: The region is blessed with a diverse agro-climatic zones, fertile soil and undulating plains. These support a multitude of crops, vegetables and fruits round the year which provide ample raw material.
    • Raw material: Availability of diverse raw materials viz. cereals, fruits, vegetables and livestock provide attractive base for food processing industry in this region. For instance, Punjab accounts for 17% of rice and 11% of wheat production of India. This region also has the distinction of having the largest population of livestock and largest producer of milk in India.
    • Infrastructure: Well-connected transportation network, subsidised electricity, irrigation facilities (such as Indira Gandhi canal and Bhakhra Nangal) and ample warehousing and storage facilities contribute to flourishing agro-based industries in the region.
    • Agricultural marketing: This region has well-developed agri-export zones, market yards, organised APMCs and mandis, etc. which have provided a conducive environment for the establishment of agro-based industries.
    • Socio-economic status: The population of the region has good literacy rate, including financial literacy, and enjoys an efficient banking network. This helps channel easy availability of credit and capital investment.
    • Policy support: The Punjab government operates an agricultural mega project policy to facilitate investment in the food processing sector. Additionally, large landholdings, single window clearance, permission to set up private sub e-markets, amendment to APMC Act, etc. have enabled agro-based industries in this region to flourish.
    • Capacity building and R&D: Capacity building of the manpower in food processing sector in India is spearheaded by the National Institute of Food Technology Entrepreneurship and Management which is located in Sonepat, Haryana. Likewise, a prominent institution for research and development to improve agricultural productivity and business opportunities is the Indian Institute of Maize Research located in Ludhiana, Punjab.

    The initiatives taken at the Union level like permitting 100% FDI through the automatic route in food processing sector and Scheme for Mega Food Parks under the Ministry of Food Processing Industries are conducive steps. However, the challenges for the industry remain such as fluctuations in the availability of raw material due to climate change, inadequate implementation of the APMC Act, multiplicity of ministries and laws to regulate food value chain, etc.

  • 2018

    7. What are the consequences of spreading of ‘Dead Zones’ on marine ecosystems? (2018)

    "Dead Zone" is a more common term for hypoxia, which refers to a reduced level of oxygen in the water in some parts of the world's oceans and large lakes. In March 2004, Global Environment Outlook Year Book, published by the UN Environment Programme, reported 146 dead zones in the world's oceans. One of the largest dead zones forms in the Gulf of Mexico every spring. Hypoxic zones can occur naturally but climate change, nutrients run-off from the land, and eutrophication are leading to algal bloom and causing further depletion of oxygen level in water. As a result dead zones are spreading at much faster pace.

    Consequences of spreading dead zones on marine ecosystem:

    • The reduced dissolved oxygen in ocean water results in loss of marine life thus the habitats which were teeming with life become biological desert.
    • Toxic algal blooms release toxins that can poison fish, molluscs and marine mammals like dolphins. Thus, affecting marine ecosystem by altering its food chain.
    • The reproductive problems emanate when the oxygen level depletes i.e. there is lower egg count and less spawning.
    • Slow moving bottom-dwelling creatures like clams, lobsters and oysters are unable to escape the dead zone and face extinction.
    • When fast moving marine species flee from the dead zones and occupy a new habitat, they cause overcrowding of their new habitats and affect the ecosystem services over there.

    It is clear that the spread of dead zones can affect most marine ecosystems and have socio-economic ramifications due to human dependency on marine goods and services.

  • 2017

    7. Mention the advantages of the cultivation of pulses because of which the year 2016 was declared as the International Year of Pulses by United Nations. (2017)

    Despite the strong evidences of health and nutritional benefits of pulses, its consumption remains low in many developing and developed countries. Therefore, the United Nations declared the year 2016 as the International Year of Pulses to heighten public awareness of the nutritional benefits of pulses as part of sustainable food production aimed towards food security and nutrition.

    Advantages of Cultivation of Pulses:

    • Pulses are able to increase biodiversity as they are able to fix their own nitrogen into the soil, which increases soil fertility.
    • Introducing pulses into crop production can be key to increasing resilience to climate change.
    • Pulses also offer a great potential to lift farmers out of rural poverty, as they can yield two to three times higher prices than cereals, and their processing provides additional economic opportunities, especially for women.
    • Pulses are a powerful ally in achieving food security. They are economically affordable, can be grown in dry environments, and have a low food wastage footprint, as they can be stored for long periods without spoiling.

    Therefore, pulses contribute significantly in addressing hunger, food security, malnutrition, environmental challenges and human health and also are a vital source of plant-based proteins and amino acids.

  • 2017

    8. How does the cryosphere affect global climate? (2017)

    Cryosphere is the frozen water part of the Earth system - snow cover, permafrost, sea ice. It impacts global climate in a variety of ways:

    • Snow and ice have a high albedo, reflecting back a significant amount of solar radiation back into space. In this way, cryosphere acts as an important cooling factor in the global climate system.
    • Snow and ice act as an insulating layer over land and ocean surfaces, holding in heat and moisture that would otherwise escape into the atmosphere. This insulation, then, also acts to cool the global climate.
    • Since cold polar seawater is dense due its high salinity and sinks to the bottom of the ocean, spreading out across the globe and acting as a pump which drives oceanic circulation that transfers energy between the equator and the poles – acting as a conveyor belt.

    The cryosphere is highly vulnerable to global warming. Therefore, any change in its composition is likely to have great side-effects on the global climate.

  • 2016

    11. With a brief background of quality of urban life in India, introduce the objectives and strategy of the ‘Smart City Programme.” (2016)

    A 2015 report from PwC and Save the Children uncovered some of the conditions India’s urban poor are living in. The challenges they face are enormous such as: 1. Housing and Slums; 2. Crowding and Depersonalisation; 3. Water Supply and Drainage; 4. Transportation and Traffic; 5. Power Shortage, 6. Sanitation; 7. Pollution. In Mumbai, for example, over 50% of the population live in informal settlements. As a result, they have little or no access to basic services: water, sanitation, power and waste management.

    Government of India launched Smart Cities Mission to identify and roll out smart cities in order to drive economic growth, strengthen governance as well as enhance the quality of life for people.

    • A 'smart city' is an urban region that is highly advanced in terms of overall infrastructure, sustainable real estate, communications and market viability. It is a city where information technology is the principal infrastructure and the basis for providing essential services to residents. There are many technological platforms involved, including but not limited to automated sensor networks and data centres.
    • Provision for affordable basic services such as adequate water supply, assured electricity supply, sanitation including solid waste management, affordable housing, especially for the poor, good governance, especially e-Governance and citizen participation etc would be the features of Smart Cities.
    • Apart from this, the government is partnering with countries such as France, Germany, Spain and Singapore to leverage their expertise for making Indian cities smart.
    • In a smart city, economic development and activity is sustainable and rationally incremental by virtue of being based on success-oriented market drivers such as supply and demand. They benefit everybody, including citizens, businesses, the government and the environment.

    These provisions under smart city, if implemented earnestly will go a long way in enabling the urban dweller to have a wholesome experience of city life.

  • 2016

    13. Discuss the concept of air mass and explain its role in macro-climatic changes. (2016)

    An air mass is a large volume of air in the atmosphere that is mostly uniform in temperature and moisture. Air masses can extend thousands of kilometers across the surface of the Earth, and can reach from ground level to the stratosphere—16 kilometers (10 miles) into the atmosphere.

    Air masses form over large surfaces with uniform temperatures and humidity, called source regions. Low wind speeds let air remain stationary long enough to take on the features of the source region, such as heat or cold. Meteorologists identify air masses according to their place of origin.

    There are four categories of air masses: arctic, tropical, polar and equatorial. Arctic air masses form in the Arctic region and are very cold. Tropical air masses form in low-latitude areas and are moderately warm. Polar air masses take shape in high-latitude regions and are cold. Equatorial air masses develop near the Equator, and are warm.

    Role of Air mass in Macro Climate Changes

    • The properties of an air mass which influence the accompanying weather are vertical distribution temperature (indicating its stability and coldness or warmness) and the moisture content.
    • The air masses carry atmospheric moisture from oceans to continents and cause precipitation over landmasses.
    • They transport latent heat, thus removing the latitudinal heat balance.
    • Most of the migratory atmospheric disturbances such as temperate cyclones and storms originate at the contact zone between different air masses and the weather associated with these disturbances is determined by characteristics of the air masses involved.

  • 2019

    14. What is water stress? How and why does it differ regionally in India?

    Water stress is a situation in which the water resources in a region or country are insufficient for its needs. Such a situation arises when the demand for water exceeds the available amount or when poor quality restricts its use.

    Water stress in India

    • India is home to nearly 17% of the world’s population but has only 4% of the world’s freshwater resources.
    • According to NITI Aayog’s Composite Water Management Index (CWMI) report 2018, 21 major cities including Delhi, Bengaluru, Chennai, and Hyderabad are racing to reach zero groundwater levels by 2020, affecting access for 100 million people. Besides, 12% of India’s population is already living the ‘Day Zero’ scenario.
    • According to the Aqueduct Water Risk Atlas of World Resources Institute, India is ranked 13th among the 17 most water-stressed countries of the world.

    This indicates that India is going through water emergency. However, there is regional variation i.e. not all regions are equally water stressed.

    • While the northwestern and central parts of the country are severely water stressed, the eastern parts receive abundant rainfall for groundwater recharge.
    • The variation is also at the intra-regional level. For example, the areas in north Bihar struggle due to flooding while that of south Bihar finds it difficult to beat the heat. Flooding in Mumbai has become a regular phenomena while the nearby Vidarbha faces drought.

    This uneven distribution of water crisis can be attributed to the following reasons:

    • Geographical factors
      • India has diverse physiography, due to which different regions receive varying degrees of rainfall. For example, winter monsoon along the eastern coast and summer monsoon in northern India.
      • Interior of southern India lies in the rain shadow zone and most of Rajasthan and northern Gujarat have arid climate.
      • Also, the arid and semi-arid areas of northwestern India and central India are naturally occurring waterstressed areas.
    • Climatic factors
      • Changing climate has led to an increase in the frequency and intensity of floods as well as droughts.
      • Erratic monsoon is causing delayed and infrequent rainfall in different parts of India.
    • Agricultural practices
      • In India, agriculture is not practised according to the agro-climatic zone. Groundwater is used to cultivate water intensive crops like paddy and sugarcane in rain deficit states like Punjab and Maharashtra respectively.
      • State procurement policy and subsidised electricity in Punjab makes it profitable for farmers to produce rice. Similarly, farmers in Maharashtra cultivate sugarcane because they are assured of marketing.
      • Moreover, flood irrigation is the most common form of irrigation in India which leads to a lot of water loss.
      • All these have led to excessive groundwater extraction and have made India virtual exporter of water.
    • Human factors
      • Rapid urbanization has led to the concentration of population in and around major cities which usually happen to be located in the rainfall deficient regions (like Delhi-NCR).
      • The situation is aggravated by encroachment, contamination and consequent destruction of water bodies which otherwise help recharge the underground aquifers.
      • Above all, there is a lack of awareness about water economy which demands judicious use of water.
    • Way forward
      • India’s water challenge stems not only from the limited availability of water resources but also its mismanagement.
      • There is a need to follow conservation agriculture i.e. farming practices adapted to the requirements of crops and local conditions. Cultivation of less water intensive crops like pulses, millets and oilseeds should be encouraged in water stressed regions.
      • Rainwater harvesting needs to be incorporated with urban development projects. Mission Kakatiya (Telangana), which seeks to restore tanks through community-based irrigation management, is commendable.
      • Freshwater sources need to be declared as water sanctuaries on the lines of national parks and tiger reserves. Water must be treated as a resource rather than a commodity.
      • The efforts like the formation of Jal Shakti ministry (to tackle water issues holistically) and the goal to provide piped water to all rural households by 2024, under the Jal Jeevan mission, are steps in the right direction.

  • 2018

    14. “The ideal solution of depleting ground water resources in India is water harvesting system”. How can it be made effective in urban areas? (2018)

    The NITI Aayog in its recently released Composite Water Management Index warned that India is facing its ‘worst’ water crisis in history. Critical groundwater resources, which accounted for 40% of India’s water supply, are being depleted at “unsustainable” rates.Twenty-one cities, including Delhi, Bengaluru, Chennai and Hyderabad will run out of groundwater by 2020, affecting 100 million people.

    Though there are many ways to check the further depletion of ground water and increase the level of water such as limit of water-extraction, change in crop-patterns, diverting river streams, building reservoirs and plantation drives but water harvesting system provides ideal solution for the problem.

    Water Harvesting (WH) means capturing rain water, where it falls and capture the runoff from, catchment and streams etc. Local people can easily be trained to build expand systems themselves. It will not only reduce water bills; provide an alternative supply during water restrictions but also ensure supply of high quality water - pure, free of chemicals. In fact, depending upon tank size and climate, rainwater harvesting can reduce main water use by 100%. RWH also decreases storm water runoff, thereby helping to reduce local flooding and scouring of creeks. RWH is most suitable where groundwater is scarce, contaminated, rugged or mountainous terrains, risk to aquifer from salt water intrusion.

    Approaches for Effectiveness of WH in Urban India

    • Water Harvesting in urban small areas is done by surface runoff harvesting and rooftop rainwater harvesting. Since present day urbanization has resulted both in shrinking of open spaces and very minimal area remaining unpaved, so small structures like recharge pit, recharge trenches, dug wells, recharge shafts, and percolation tanks should be built to capture the runoff and inject rainwater into the soil during rains.
    • For better effectiveness of water harvesting in urban areas, existing water bodies should be protected and revived without allowing any further construction in them in future. This will have to be undertaken by the government. At the micro level every resident/individual should implement both rooftop and driveway runoff harvesting in their respective homes, commercial complexes, office premises, factories etc.

    Most metro cities in India are water starved but not rain starved. We should not forget the fact that water harvested is water produced and make sincere attempts to harvest every drop of water that falls within every premises, locality, city and country. For this, WH should be made mandatory in new buildings.

  • 2016

    14. “The Himalayas are highly prone to landslides.” Discuss the causes and suggest suitable measures of mitigation. (2016)

    Landslides are simply defined as the mass movement of rock, debris or earth down a slope and have come to include a broad range of motions whereby falling, sliding and flowing under the influence of gravity dislodges earth material. They often take place in conjunction with earthquakes, floods and volcanoes. In the hilly terrain of India including the Himalayas, landslides have been a major and widely spread natural disaster that often strike life and property and occupy a position of major concern. Example: the Uttarakhand tragedy.

    The reason why Himalayas are particularly vulnerable to landslides is because the mountain belt comprises of tectonically unstable younger geological formations subjected to severe seismic activity. The slides in the Himalayas region are huge and massive and in most cases the overburden along with the underlying lithology is displaced during sliding particularly due to the seismic factor. The landslide-prone Himalayan terrain also belongs to the maximum earthquake-prone zones and thus is also prone to earthquake-triggered landslides. The slopes of the mountains have immature and rugged topography, high seismicity and high rainfall, all contributing to the region's high vulnerability to landslides.

    Like any other natural hazard they can't be entirely eliminated. The damage however can be reduced by planning and disaster management. This can be done through:

    • Treating vulnerable slopes and existing hazardous landslides.
    • Restricting development in landslide-prone areas.
    • Preparing codes for excavation, construction and grading.
    • Protecting existing developments.
    • Monitoring and warning systems.
    • Putting in place arrangements for landslide insurance and compensation for losses.

    Above measures, if integrated in development and planning of Himalayan states will ensure sufficient protection against tragedies like Uttarakhand floods.

  • 2017

    14. Account for variations in oceanic salinity and discuss its multidimensional effects. (2017)

    Salinity refers to the amount of salt dissolved in 1000 gms of sea water. It is usually expressed as parts per thousand or ppt. The salinity for normal open ocean ranges between 33 o/oo and 37 o/oo. Oceanic salinity varies significantly due to the free movement of ocean water and its distribution has two aspects:

    • Horizontal: The areas of highest salinity (about 37o/oo, in Atlantic Ocean) are found near the Tropics due to active evaporation owing to clear skies, high temperature and steady Trade Winds.
    • From the tropical areas, salinity decreases both towards the equator and towards the poles. Salinity is relatively low near the equator (about 35 o/oo, in Atlantic Ocean) due to high rainfall, high relative humidity, cloudiness and calm air of the doldrums.
    • In polar seas, salinity decreases (20-32 o/oo) due to very little evaporation and due to melting ice yielding fresh water.
    • Vertical: Generally salinity decreases with increasing depth. Surface water is more saline due to loss of water from evaporation. This varies greatly with latitudes and is influenced by the cold and warm currents. In higher latitudes, salinity increases with depth and in middle latitudes it increases upto 35 meters and then decreases.
    • The multidimensional effects of oceanic salinity are as follows:
    • Salinity determines compressibility, thermal expansion, temperature, density, absorption of insolation, evaporation and humidity.
    • Salinity & Water Cycle: Water in liquid state dissolves rocks and sediments which creates a complex solution of mineral salts in ocean basins. Conversely, in other states such as vapor and ice, water and salt are incompatible and water vapor and ice are essentially salt free. By tracking ocean surface salinity we can directly monitor variations in the water cycle: land runoff, sea ice freezing and melting, and evaporation and precipitation over the oceans.
    • Salinity, Ocean Circulation & Climate: Ocean circulation in deep waters is primarily driven by changes in seawater density, which is determined by salinity and temperature. In the North Atlantic near Greenland, cooled high-salinity surface waters can become dense enough to sink to great depths.
    • Salinity & Climate Density: The ocean stores more heat in the uppermost three meters than the entire atmosphere. Thus density-controlled circulation is key to transporting heat in the ocean and maintaining Earth's climate. Excess heat associated with the increase in global temperature during the last century is being absorbed and moved by the ocean.
    • Ocean also influences the distribution of fish and other marine resources.
    • NASA studies suggest that sea water is getting fresher in high latitudes while saltier in sub-tropical latitude. This will significantly impact not only ocean circulation but also the climate in which we live.

  • 2019

    15. How can the mountain ecosystem be restored from the negative impact of development initiatives and tourism?

    The Himalayan States, including the Northeast, and the Western Ghats are the most prominent mountain ecosystems in India which are struggling to cope up with the negative impacts of development initiatives and tourism. The Report of Working Group II Sustainable Tourism in the Indian Himalayan Region by the NITI Aayog highlights similar concern.

    The negative impacts emerge out of the replacement of traditional eco-friendly and aesthetic architecture with inappropriate and dangerous construction, poorly designed roads and associated infrastructure, inadequate solid waste management, air pollution, degradation of water sources, and the loss of biodiversity and ecosystem services. Their repercussions were evident in the Kedarnath floods of 2013.

    In this respect, the following steps can be considered:

    • The reports by committees on Western Ghats ecology headed by Madhav Gadgil and K. Kasturirangan need urgent attention. The concept of ecological sensitive zones (ESZ) cannot be sacrificed for the sake of development. Likewise, NITI Aayog has suggested setting up of Himalayan Authority for coordinated and holistic development of entire Himalayan region.
    • There has to be clear demarcation and planning with respect to the extent of infrastructure development. It should include a systematic process of urban planning, developing tourist hubs with strict controls, spring mapping and revival etc. For example, provision for no encroachment areas, well-preserved forested areas, etc.
    • With respect to tourism, measures like application of carrying capacity concept to tourist destinations, implementation and monitoring of tourism sector standards, and performance-based incentives for States faring well on the standards can be considered. The unregulated tourism movement is a major reason for plastic pollution.
    • States should also be encouraged to spend more on sustainable development of tourism. For instance, Uttarakhand stands second in tourist arrivals but invests only 0.15% of its total expenditure on this sector. Besides, States can also adopt and share the best practices. For example, Sikkim can be a lodestar for sustainable agriculture, waste management and ecotourism.
    • With collaborative and participatory frameworks capacity building for conservation is required. Viable enterprises that can provide sustained economic incentives and support local communities need to be promoted. These can help achieve SDG Goal 8 (decent work and economic growth) and Goal 12 (responsible consumption and production).

    To provide a better standard of living to the mountain communities and to meet the overall needs of the economy, a linkage between development and conservation needs to be formed. Besides, effective implementation of schemes and policies hold significance for any desirable results.

  • 2018

    15. Defining blue revolution, explain the problems and strategies for pisciculture development in India. (2018)

    The concept of rapid increase in the production of fish and marine product through package programme like Green Revolution is called as Blue Revolution. It was launched during the seventh Five-Year Plan, when the Central Government sponsored the Fish Farmers Development Agency (FFDA) with an aim to create an integrated and holistic development and management of fisheries in the country and to improve the socio-economic conditions of fisher folk and fish farmers.


    • There are lack of reliable database relating to aquatic and fisheries resources in India as well as lack of suitable policies of government and inefficiency of an enforcement agency to monitor the supply of good quality seeds and feeds.
    • Water pollution, unscientific management of aquaculture and over exploitation of coastal fisheries along with problems in harvest and post-harvest operation; lack of landing and berthing facilities for fishing vessels.
    • Many fisheries management bodies do not heed scientific advice on fish quotas and set catch limits above the recommended maximum amount.
    • Lack of adequate financial support and proper transport and marketing facilities for the products.
    • Lack of skill and prevalence of negative social perception and prejudice regarding fishing as a profession in the caste ridden Indian society.

    Strategies for the Development of Pisciculture

    • Focus on the improvements in breeding technology, disease control, feeds and nutrition, and low-impact production systems to complement traditional knowledge to improve efficiency.
    • Focus on spatial planning and zoning to ensure that aquaculture operations stay within the surrounding ecosystem’s carrying capacity.
    • Formulation of public and private policies to provide financial support, enhance skill and make farmers aware and capable to practice sustainable pisciculture.
    • Emphasis on leveraging the latest information technology for better planning and monitoring.
    • Invest on cold chain and market infrastructure to avoid loss due to delay in selling and price fall.

    India is home to more than 10 percent of the global fish diversity and it ranks second in the world in total fish production. Realizing the immense scope for development of fisheries and aquaculture, the Government of India has restructured the Central Plan Scheme named, Blue Revolution: Integrated Development and Management of Fisheries for overall development of the sector.

  • 2016

    15. The effective management of land and water resources will drastically reduce the human miseries. Explain. (2016)

    The twin problems of recurrent drought in Maharashtra- Telangana region resulting in suicides and furore over displacement of residents following forcible land acquisitions hold a common thread - increasing demand and avid scarcity of resources. While from the advent of life on earth water is a sin qua non for survival, exponential increase in population has put pressure on land too. Thus effective management of these two resources is important for mankind’s survival which involves the smart utilization of land and water for various purposes such as.

    • Economic: Balancing industrialisation needs with that of land for cultivation. Thus as far as possible cultivable land should be left for agricultural purposes.
    • Social: Land is required for settlement. Amid population explosion and transition of economy (Rostow’s model) has created urban clusters which if not managed will lead to slums development. Thus instead of a growth pole for industrialisation, India needs to develop more cities, industrial complexes.
    • Ecological: Land development for ecological needs such as forestry, wetland, biodiversity rich parks etc. would stabalise the gene pool and the food web. At all tropical levels effective management of water involves these components.
    • Recycling and reusing waste water through treatment.
    • Storing excess water (rain water harvesting, building canals and reservoirs)
    • Smart Agriculture (micro irrigation, hydroponics)
    • Minimising water pollution through sewage treatment as well as treating industrial water before release.

  • 2017

    15. Petroleum refineries are not necessarily located nearer to crude oil producing areas, particularly in many of the developing countries. Explain its implications. (2017)

    Oil refineries usually in developing countries are built away from the oil producing areas, the implications of which are both negative and positive, vis –a- vis environmental and economic costs:

    Positive implications:

    • Rrefineries tend to be situated closer to markets or distribution centres as it helps in saving transport costs of refined products because transport costs of refined products tends to be higher than transporting crude, as refined products lose weight through evaporation during transporting.
    • Since pipeline transfer of refined products in India is still only with private companies, it is not evenly distributed, making transportation through this method difficult. When refineries are far away from the market, other modes of transport for refined products like railways, road or waterways, always increases the economical as well as the environmental costs (eg. air pollution).
    • Since oil producing areas have a limited oil producing capacity the investments in setting up a refinery in its vicinity can go to waste once oil in the area dries up. Hence, it becomes economical to set up refineries near markets where a continuous consumer demand keeps it viable for longer durations of time.
    • Refineries also need abundant sources of water for cooling purpose and for discharge of wastes, and hence environmental concerns make refineries viable only where there are sufficient water resources available.
    • Promote decentralized industrial growth and balanced regional development.
    • Seaboard location eases the export of petrochemical products.

    Negative implications:

    • Having crude transported to large distances add to environmental pollution and economic costs.
    • Also, it does not incentivise further exploration and setting up of oil producing areas as it doesn't attract other industrial investments.

  • 2018

    16. What is the significance of Industrial Corridors in India? Identifying industrial corridors, explain their main characteristics. (2018)

    Industrial Corridors (ICs) are stretches across the country allocated to a specific geographical area with the intent to stimulate industrial development. It aims to create an area with a cluster of manufacturing or other industries and gives an impetus to smart and sustainable cities by leveraging on the high speed, high connectivity transportation system.

    The Significance of Industrial Corridors in India

    • Setting up of industrial townships, educational institutions, roads, railways, airports, hospitals along industrial corridors would generate employment and raise standard of living.
    • Production costs would come down due to improved transportation system and agglomeration effect, making Indian goods competitive in domestic as well as foreign markets.
    • Provide necessary logistics infrastructure needed to reap economies of scale, thus enabling firms to focus on their areas of core competence.
    • People would find job opportunities close to their homes which would curb migration towards cities, thus preventing stress on already burdened urban landscape.
    • Prevention of concentration of industries in one particular location would prevent exploitation of environment as well as ensure balanced development in the country.

    Various Industrial Corridors of India

    • Delhi – Mumbai Industrial Corridor
    • Bengaluru – Mumbai Economic Corridor
    • Chennai – Bengaluru Industrial Corridor
    • Vizag - Chennai Industrial Corridor
    • Amritsar – Kolkata Industrial Corridor

    The Main Characteristics of Industrial Corridors

    • Constructed in areas that have pre-existing infrastructure, such as ports, highways and railroads.
    • Each IC would have 6-8 key nodes developed on Smart City principles.
    • Dedicated construction of residential areas, public utilities, production units, schools, and hospitals.
    • Freight cargo would be brought to the industrial corridor via rail and road feeder links that shall provide last mile connectivity.
    • The challenges while creating ICs would include correctly assessing the demand and viability, transport options for goods and workers, land values, and economic incentives for companies. The economic and financial feasibility of ICs should be ensured by attracting potential investors to set up manufacturing units at National Investment and Manufacturing Zones (NMIZs). India will also have to rely on foreign players for innovative technologies. The fundamental focus of ICs should be on improving both Industrial and Urban Infrastructure.

  • 2016

    16. South China Sea has assumed great geopolitical significance in the present context. Comment. (2016)

    South China Sea is a marginal sea of Pacific Ocean having the area of 3,500,000 square kilometer situated on the south of China. South China Sea has been “apple of discord” between US and China in international affairs for decades. Not only US-China rivalry but also regional countries have been motivated to involve on the territory as it’s one of the lucrative territories in both geopolitical and strategic dynamics. Now, it has become a global issue even small countries are involving vis-à-vis position. Philippine already has gone to Permanent Court of Arbitration against China and the court verdict is in favour of its claim.

    Geopolitical significance of South China Sea

    • South China Sea is the sea route for 50% global trade. It is the link between the Pacific Ocean and Indian Ocean. Malacca strait is the economical sea passage of Persian Gulf. Thus it becomes an imp Sea Lanes of Communications (SLOC) for US, China, Japan, Korean Peninsula and East Asian countries.
    • It’s the territory where a vast number of gas, petroleum and mineral resources are preserved, hence SCS attains strategic place as energy store house, important for both developed and developing countries.
    • South China Sea covers 12% of global fish products. China, Philippine, Vietnam etc produce a huge number of fisheries resources.
    • There are some other valuable materials like Limonite, Monazite, Zircon, Cassiterite, Arenaceous quartz etc. which are very important raw materials for industries. South China Sea is also rich in salt.

    While geopolitics indicates geographical relations with politics, it also has strategic importance. The power politics, military interests have made South China Sea important. The concept of Exclusive Economic Zone could be another conflicting zone between China and its neighbours.

  • 2017

    16. In what way can floods be converted into a sustainable source of irrigation and all-weather inland navigation in India? (2017)

    India experiences monsoons for a period of four months during which sometimes incessant rains cause floods and devastation, while for the rest of the year it remains dry for most parts, often resulting in water shortages. This excess flood water can surely be used as a valuable resource in water scarce regions for the non-monsoon months, thereby solving the twin problems of flood and water scarcity. The following methods may be used to achieve this objective:

    • River linking: The government has been ambitious with this project of diverting excess water from overflowing rivers to rivers in non-perennial regions, in order to solve the problems of flood and water shortage. These river linking channels could also be useful as all-weather inland navigation waterways, thereby helping in creating a cheaper and pollution free mode of transport.
    • Rain water harvesting: The excess water can be captured and stored in wells, tanks etc. during rains as was practiced in many parts of India during medieval period (in form of stepwells/baolis etc).
    • Multi-purpose projects/dams: Dams can be erected in flood areas to capture excess water which can then be released slowly over the year as per irrigation requirements.
    • Inundation canals and weirs: Flood water can also be managed by making diversions through inundation canals, small irrigation structures, and with weirs that take away excess water to the agricultural fields.

    The methods stated above, can go a long way in solving various water woes of India if implemented expeditiously and on a large scale.

  • 2019

    17. How do ocean currents and water masses differ in their impacts on marine life and coastal environment? Give suitable examples.

    Ocean currents (surface or deep ocean currents) are streams of water flowing constantly in definite path and direction, for example, Gulf Stream (warm current) and Labrador current (cold current ). Water masses are the extensive homogeneous body of immense volume of ocean water in terms of temperature and salinity. These are generally characterised by the the downwelling of denser cold water and upwelling of less dense water, for example, the North Atlantic Deep water mass in the Norwegian Sea.

    Impacts of ocean currents

    • On marine life
      • Ocean currents act as distributing agents of nutrients, oxygen and other elements necessary for the existence and survival of fishes and zooplanktons.
      • They also transport planktons from one area to the other area. For example, Gulf Stream carries planktons from the Mexican Gulf to the coasts of Newfoundland and north-western Europe. Many significant fishing grounds of the world are developed in these areas.
      • Mixing of warm and cold ocean currents bring rich nutrients which support marine organisms. For example, seas north of Japan is a rich fishing ground due to the mixing of warm Kuroshio and cold Kurile currents.
      • Sometimes, a few ocean currents destroy planktons. For example, El Nino current destroys planktons off the Peruvian coasts resulting into mass deaths of fishes.
    • On coastal environment
      • Ocean currents maintain the horizontal heat balance of the earth. The warm currents transport warm waters of the tropics to colder areas of temperate and polar zones. Cold currents on the other hand bring cold waters of the high latitudes to the areas of low latitudes.
      • Surface ocean currents also modify the weather conditions of the coastal areas. The ideal and favourable European type of climate of the western coasts of Europe is due to the moderating effects of the North Atlantic warm currents.
      • Cold currents also intensify the desert-like conditions in the coastal areas, exemplified by the presence of some deserts in the western edges of continents, e.g., Namib Desert in Africa.
      • The convergence of warm and cold currents causes foggy conditions, e.g., near Newfoundland due to convergence of warm Gulf Stream and cold Labrador current.

    Impacts of water masses

    • Downwelling of water masses
      • It transports oxygen downward which is much needed by the marine organisms.
      • This process discourages enrichment of seawater by bringing nutrients, and hence the areas of downwelling of water masses are not conducive to marine life and hence they are the areas of low marine productivity.
    • Upwelling of water masses
      • It is beneficial to the rich marine life because dissolved oxygen and nutrients are brought to the surface through upwelling. For example, the upwelling of nutrient rich cold water off the coast of Peru has made the region one of the richest fishing grounds.

    Global warming is disrupting the sinking of cold, salty water as a result of increased melting of glaciers and sea ice. This could slow or even stop the circulation of ocean waters, which could result in potentially drastic impact on marine life and coastal environment. Thus, arresting global warming is the need of the hour.

  • 2018

    17. Mention core strategies for the transformation of aspirational districts in India & explain the nature of convergence, collaboration & Competition for its success. (2018)

    The ‘Transformation of Aspirational Districts’ Programme aims to expeditiously improve the socio-economic status of 117 districts from across 28 states.The programme focusses on 5 main themes - Health & Nutrition, Education, Agriculture & Water Resources, Financial Inclusion & Skill Development, and Basic Infrastructure, which have direct bearing on the quality of life and economic productivity of citizens.

    Core Strategies of the programme are:

    States as main drivers

    • Work on the strength of each district.
    • Make development as a mass movement in these districts.
    • Identify low hanging fruits and the strength of each district, to act as a catalyst for development.
    • Measure progress and rank districts to spur a sense of competition.
    • Districts shall aspire to become State’s best to Nation’s best.

    The three core principles of the programme i.e. Convergence (of Central & State Schemes), Collaboration (among citizens and functionaries of Central & State Governments including district teams), and Competition among districts have been envisaged for the success of the programme.

    Nature of Convergence, Collaboration and Competition

    • The Aspirational Districts Programme is a product of collective and collaborative effort in which States are the main drivers which are being anchored by NITI Aayog.
    • In addition, individual Ministries as well as administration of respective district have assumed responsibility to drive progress of districts. For each district, a central Prabhari offcer of the rank of Additional Secretary/Joint Secretary has been nominated.
    • States have been requested to form a committee under Chief Secretary to implement the programme. States have also nominated nodal offcers and also State level Prabhari offcers.
    • An Empowered Committee under the convenership of CEO, NITI Aayog has been notified to ensure convergence in schemes and address speciffic issues brought out by Prabhari offcers.
    • NITI Aayog in partnering releases delta ranking for the districts. The purpose of this ranking is to spur a sense of competition among dynamic teams in districts.

    As per UNDP’s 2018 Human Development Index wherein India is ranked 130 out of 189 countries, there are significant inter-state and inter-district disparity. By uplifting the districts which have shown relatively lesser progress in achieving key social outcome, India can move ahead in the Human Development Index which will promote inclusive development through transformative governance.

  • 2016

    17. Major cities of India are becoming vulnerable to flood conditions. Discuss. (2016)

    Indian cities like Mumbai, Kolkata and Chennai are being continuously deluged by the floods, throwing the amenities of urban life to question. Along with climate change, that has resulted in such unexpected monsoon spills, the other reasons that can be attributed to it are:

    • Haphazard and rapid urbanization without proper planning has put the natural carrying capacity of cities under stress, severely limiting their drainage capacity.
    • Improper and unregulated urbanization has also led to failure of civic authorities to manage drainage resulting in poor sewage treatment, clogging of drains and sewer lines thus intensifying drainage problem during monsoon.
    • Urbanization and associated activities like dredging, spilling on to the fragile coastal and river beds, thus hampering their natural absorptive capacity.
    • Destruction of wetlands in and around cities which act as natural absorbers of excess runoff during monsoons.

    To prevent such flooding of cities, following measures need to be taken:

    • Proper urban planning along with provisions for efficient drainage system.
    • Strict regulations on construction in fragile coastal and riverbed systems.
    • Rainwater harvesting systems should be put up.
    • Timely preparedness and precautions should be taken by the municipal bodies like cleaning of drainage systems, traffic management, out flow provisions for excess water before onset of monsoons.
    • Disaster management team to be put in place to chalk out pre and post disaster responses to minimize losses due to such eventualities.

    Apart from above measures, robust implementation of Sendai framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-30,effective utilization of government schemes like AMRUT, Smart Cities and further impetus on Coastal Zone Management and Regulation should be undertaken to deal with such challenges.

  • 2017

    17. What characteristics can be assigned to monsoon climate that succeeds in feeding more than 50 percent of the world population residing in Monsoon Asia? (2017)

    Some parts of the world experience seasonal winds like land and sea breezes but do so, on a much larger scale. There are tropical monsoon lands with on-shore wet monsoons in the summer and off-shore dry monsoons in the winter. They are best developed in Indian sub-continent, Myanmar, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, parts of South China and Northern Australia.

    Characteristics of Monsoon Climate

    Temperature: Monthly mean temperature in Monsoon climate is above 18°C but temperature ranges from 15-45°C in summer and 15-30°C in winters. This temperature range helps in cultivating various crops such as wheat and rice, staple crop for the large population in the world.

    Precipitation: Monsoon is associated with high precipitation. Annual mean rainfall ranges from 200-250cm but varies according to the intensity of seasonal winds. It also helps in paddy cultivation.

    Distinct season: Seasons are chief characteristics of monsoon climate. Distinct seasons have been observed with the movement of sun between the Tropic of Cancer and Capricorn. It facilitates the cultivation of various types of crops.

    • The Cool dry season: Out blowing dry winds, the North-East Monsoon, bring little or no rain to the Indian sub-continent. It has been observed during October to February.
    • The Hot dry season: The temperature rises sharply with the sun’s northward shift to the Tropic of Cancer. Coastal regions are a little relieved by sea breezes.
    • The Rainy season: Rainy season has been observed during mid June to September. With the burst of the South-west monsoon in mid June, torrential downpours sweep across the country. Almost all the rain for the year falls within this rainy season.
    • This pattern of concentrated heavy rainfall in summer is a characteristic feature of the Tropical Monsoon climate.
    • The Retreating Monsoon: The amount and frequency of rain decreases towards the end of the rainy season. It retreats gradually southwards after mid September until it leaves the continent altogether.

    The role of monsoon is vital in the economy of major parts of the world because it is the main source of irrigation in rain-fed areas and facilitates in feeding more than 50 percent of the world population residing in Monsoon Asia.

  • 2016

    18. Major cities of India are becoming vulnerable to flood conditions. Discuss. (2016)

    Indus Water treaty was signed in 1960 by then Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru and then Pakistan President Ayub Khan, the treaty allocates 80% of water from the six-river Indus water system to Pakistan. India got control over the rivers Beas, Ravi and Sutlej whereas Pakistan got control over Indus, Chenab and Jhelum. India could use the water from Indus, Chenab and Jhelum for non consumptive purposes. A Permanent Indus Commission solves disputes arising over water sharing. The Treaty also provides arbitration mechanism to solve disputes amicably.

    Its implications in changing bilateral relations

    • About 65% area of Pakistan, including the entire Punjab province, is a part of the Indus basin. The water from Indus is important for the country for irrigation, drinking and other purposes. India’s decision to abrogate the treaty would affect Pakistan severely. Pakistan may face drought-like conditions.
    • To deter India from employing its water leverage, the anxiety of Chinese retaliation has been invented. The main Indus stream and the Sutlej, originated in Tibet and collect their main water in India.
    • India at present enjoys a moral high ground because it respects all its treaties with the neighbouring countries. The decision to abrogate the treaty would make other smaller neighbours uneasy.
    • The China may take similar actions in future in case of conflict. Indus originates in China and if the country decides to divert the Indus, India would lose over 35% of its river water.
    • The treaty has been brokered by World Bank. Abrogating the treaty may lead to Pakistan taking India to international dispute settlement agencies.
    • It would affect India’s chances of diplomatically isolating Pakistan.
    • India may face environmental challenges if it decides to scrap the treaty and starts building dams etc. Since river flows through earthquake prone region.

    Hence, before taking a decision on such an important international treaty with huge diplomatic, environmental and security repercu-ssions, India should weigh in all pros of cons and take a practical view.

  • 2016

    19. Enumerate the problems and prospects of inland water transport in India. (2016)

    India is estimated to have nearly 14,500 km of navigable inland waterways, even though the exploitation of sector has remained neglected as most waterways in the country require constant dredging on account of heavy silting and draft is available only seasonally.

    In the European Union it is 44 per cent. Inland waterways transportation in India, however, is a paltry 3 per cent. The number of vessels carrying cargo that ply on inland waterway systems in China and the EU are 2,00,000 and 11,000, respectively, while there are less than 1,000 vessels estimated to be using the Indian inland waterway systems. The crucial difference being that these countries have maintained and upgraded their river systems on core routes that can support large modern vessel fleets up to 40,000 tonnes of cargo on a single voyage, even as India is struggling to create depth in its river systems for vessels of 1,500 tonnage to go through. Even in Bangladesh, about 35 per cent of the freight movement is by inland waterways, according to ADB figures.

    Problems of Inland Water Transport

    • There is a seasonal fall in water level in rivers especially in the rain-fed rivers of the peninsula which become nearly dry during summer.
    • Reduced flow due to diversion of water for irrigation, for instance, in the Ganga which makes it difficult even for steamers to ply.
    • There is reduced navigability due to siltation, as in the Bhagirathi-Hooghly and in the Buckingham Canal.
    • There are problems in smooth navigation because of waterfalls and cataracts. For example, in rivers like Narmada and Tapti.
    • Salinity, especially in the coastal stretches, affects navigation.

    India should cash on its huge inland river network by addressing the above problems to save huge energy, time and environment costs (pollution)which it incurs on transport through road and rail network.

  • 2016

    20. In what way micro-watershed development projects help in water conservation in drought-prone and semi-arid regions of India? (2016)

    A watershed is a geo-hydrological unit, which drains into a common point. Watershed management is a comprehensive programme to maximize land and water utilization available in the region. Micro-watershed development projects involve regional planning at village and other micro levels to manage and improve water use efficiency that indirectly enhances agricultural productivity and income of rural households.

    Micro-watershed management through development projects become imperative in drought-prone and semi-arid regions that reels under constant water scarcity and drought conditions. Ways in which such development projects help conserve water are:

    • Land Development that includes in-situ soil and moisture conservation measures like contour and graded bunds that are fortified by plantation.
    • Afforestation Programmes that include block plantations, agro-forestry and horticultural development. This increases the green cover of the region and enhancing ground water recharge rate.
    • Repair, restoration and up-gradation of existing common property assets and structures under the watershed projects optimize sustained benefits.
    • Innovative management practices like crop demonstrations for popularizing new crops/varieties that are less water dependent and are well suited to the agro-climatic conditions of the region.
    • Other measures like renovation and augmentation of water resources, desiltation of tanks for drinking water/irrigation also improves water availability in the region.
    • Development of small water harvesting structures such as low-cost farm ponds, check-dams under watershed management programmes also augments percolation & ground water recharge rates.

  • 2017

    20. “The growth of cities as I.T. hubs has opened up new avenues of employment, but has also created new problems”. Substantiate this statement with examples. (2017)

    Cities like Bangalore, Hyderabad, Chennai, Pune, Mumbai, Delhi-NCR etc grew significantly and fastidiously in the last two decades owing to growth in the IT-related services sector. The employment provided by the IT sector agrees with middle-class values and aspirations, further boosting the relevance and importance of these IT hubs, and further causing inward migration to these destinations.

    Since, these IT hubs employ a considerable number of people, and since they attract a host of other related and unrelated services needed to cater to the daily needs of these employees, it causes the twin problems of over-population and over-crowding. The result is that municipal services get over-stretched, housing prices soar, traffic gets congested, prices of essential commodities inflate, and most importantly social tensions develop and increase. Sometimes, civil and police administrative machineries are also put to test in these cities. Especially in bigger cities like Delhi-NCR where IT hubs create sub-localities within the city, policing power is seen decreasing proportionately to the size and scale of a locality’s policing requirements. This is why problems like crimes against women, child abduction, racial-religious mob violence etc happen with great frequency in such places.

    Lastly, the growth of cities as IT hubs creates problems with pollution, waste disposal and energy management. Also, E-waste generation and its associated harms, and also the strain that IT infrastructure put on the electric grid, are much bigger challenges than one would like to admit and the only way forward is to follow sustainable development practices while developing IT hubs.

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