20 Solved Questions with Answers
Biodiversity & Environment
1. “Access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy is the sine qua non to achieve Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).” Comment on the progress made in India in this regard. (2018)
Access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy (SDG-7) is one of the 17 sustainable development goals (SDG), adopted by International community in 2015.
It is the sine qua non to achieve SDGs as it is directly or indirectly linked to other sustainable goals such as industry, innovation and infrastructure, health and well being, gender equality, sustainable cities and communities etc.
India has a crucial role to play in shaping the SDGs and has done a commendable job in providing clean and efficient energy to the people.
- Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana (PMUY) has provided 50 million connections till date and aims to provide 80 million LPG connections by 2020 to BPL households.
- Government is committed to provide 24x7 reliable and quality power supply to the people by 2019. In this direction Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Gram Jyoti Yojana (DDUGJY) scheme and SAUBHAGYA scheme have been launched to achieve 100% village electrification and last mile connectivity. Because of all these efforts till now around 78% rural households have been electrified.
- India has increased the share of renewable energy which is around 3 times what it was in 2007. On 30th November, 2017 total installed capacity in India was around 330 GW out of which 18% was from renewable energy sources.
- Ministry of Finance has issued guidelines for mandatory installation of energy efficient appliances in all Central Government buildings which is implemented by Energy Efficiency Services Limited (EESL) by 2020.
According to Lawson, there is reduction in gender gap in India by half over the period 2008-17 which was the result of access to modern energy sources to the women and girl thereby leading to the positive impact on girl’s education and employment. But there are few cases raising question on accessibility of sustainable and affordable energy, like wide regional gaps in electrification of households. However on the basis of the pace of developmental work, we can say that India will be able to achieve the goal of SDG-7 within the decided time frame.
2. Comment on the important changes introduced in respect of the Long Term Capital Gains Tax (LTCGT) and Dividend Distribution Tax (DDT) in the Union Budget for 2018-2019. (2018)
The Union Budget of 2018-19 introduced the following two important changes:
- Long Term Capital Gains Tax (LTCGT): Reintroduction of a 10% tax on long term capital gains arising from transfer of listed equity shares.
- Dividend Distribution Tax (DDT): Introduction of a 10% tax on distributed income by equity oriented mutual fund.
The long-term capital gains tax existed until 2005 but was removed to encourage greater participation in the equity markets. Though it did have its intended effect but it also had the side-effect of business surpluses being invested in financial assets due to attractive return on investments. This benefitted corporates primarily and also created a bias against investing in manufacturing. It has also led to significant erosion in the tax base resulting in revenue loss.
Keeping in mind the points mentioned above, the decision to bring back long term capital gains tax on listed equities holds merit. Moreover, LTCG in unlisted shares are currently taxed - LTCGT on listed shares ends the advantage enjoyed by the latter, bringing them on par.
In addition, the tax on distributed income by equity oriented mutual funds will provide level playing field across growth oriented funds (where the dividend is re-invested back into stocks) and dividend distributing funds (investors receive regular income through dividends). Up until now, dividends from equity-oriented funds were tax-free and were also exempt from paying the DDT.
However, these changes should also be followed by abolishing or reducing the securities transaction tax rates (levied on all transactions made on the stock exchanges), which could lead to double taxation if continued.
3. What do you mean by Minimum Support Price (MSP)? How will MSP rescue the farmers from the low income trap? (2018)
MSP is a form of market intervention by the Government of India to insure agricultural producers against any sharp fall in farm prices during bumper production years. The major objectives are to support the farmers from distress sales and to procure food grains for public distribution.
The MSPs are announced by the Union Government at the beginning of the sowing season for certain crops on the basis of the recommendations of the Commission for Agricultural Costs and Prices (CACP). MSP will rescue farmers from low income trap in the following ways:
- Fixed Remunerations: The farmers are financially secured against the vagaries of price instability in the market.
- Social Security: The fixed prices for different crops saves farmers from distress selling. This in turn helps them to get out of the clutches of money lenders and middlemen.
- Diversification of crops: The MSP announced by the Government of India for the first time in 1966-67 for wheat has been extended to around 24 crops at the present. This will encourage the farmers to grow these diverse crops to maximize their income.
However, a lot is yet to be done as far as MSPs for different crops are concerned. Besides increased quantum and diversification of MSPs, the procurement of food grains must also be streamlined in order to sustain investment in agriculture and ensure food security in the country.
4. Examine the role of supermarkets in supply chain management of fruits, vegetables, and food items. How do they eliminate number of intermediaries? (2018)
India is one of the leading producers of vegetables, fresh fruits and a number of food items. Marketing of fruits and vegetables especially is more challenging than many industrial products because of their perishability, seasonality and bulkiness. A supermarket is a self-service shop offering a wide variety of food and household products.
The roles of supermarkets in supply chain management are as follows:
- Transportation: The perishability of fruits, vegetables and other food items require swift transportation facility so that their freshness remain intact. Supermarkets are equipped with such swift transportation facilities.
- Better Storage Facilities: The better refrigeration facilities provided by supermarkets increases the shelf-life of these products so that consumers can purchase them fresh.
- Price Discovery: Most of the supermarkets purchase these products directly from the farmers, helping in the better discovery of prices for them.
In this way, supermarkets help in elimination of intermediaries such as agents and auctioneers. Normally in traditional markets, these agents and auctioneers purchase produce from the farmers and sell it to the wholesalers from where the produce goes to the retailers and then to consumers. The supermarkets eliminate this entire chain, as they procure directly from farmers and sell directly to the consumers. Reliance Fresh and Reliance trends, Foodworld, and Easyday an example of supermarket in India.
Science & Technology
5. Discuss the work of ‘Bose-Einstein Statistics’ done by Prof. Satyendra Nath Bose and show how it revolutionized the field of Physics. (2018)
Satyendra Nath Bose did path-breaking work on quantum mechanics in the early 1920s, using maths to describe the behavioural pattern of the bosons. Bose worked with Einstein providing the foundation for Bose-Einstein statistics and the Bose-Einstein condensate.
Bose figured out how a group of identical photons would behave. He sent his paper to Albert Einstein who recognized the value of his research work and extended it further under the name of Bose-Einstein Statistics. The particles such as photons that obey these statistics are called bosons.
One of the most dramatic effects of Bose-Einstein statistics is the prediction that bosons can overlap and coexist with other bosons. Fermions on the other hand cannot do this because they follow the Pauli Exclusion Principle (no two electrons in an atom can be at the same time in the same state or configuration). Because of this, it is possible for photons to become a laser and some matter is able to form the exotic state of a Bose-Einstein Condensate (BEC). A BEC is used to study quantum mechanics on a macroscopic level. Light appears to slow down as it passes through a BEC, allowing study of the particle/wave paradox. A BEC also has many of the properties of a superfluid (flowing without friction). BECs are also used to simulate conditions that might apply in black holes.
Biodiversity & Environment
6. What are the impediments disposing the huge quantities of discarded solid waste which are continuously being generated? How do we remove safely the toxic wastes that have been accumulated in our habitable environment? (2018)
Presently in India, about 960 million tonnes of solid waste is being generated annually as by-products during industrial, mining, municipal, agricultural and other processes. Of this 350 million tonnes are organic wastes, 290 million tonnes are inorganic waste and 4.5 million tonnes are toxic in nature. But approximately 90% of waste generated is dumped rather than properly disposed.
Impediments in disposing waste:
- Lack of trained and qualified waste management professionals.
- Lack of accountability in current Solid Waste Management (SWM) systems throughout India.
- Limited budgetary support to cover the costs associated with developing proper waste collection, storage, treatment and disposal.
- Limited environmental awareness combined with low motivation has inhibited innovation and the adoption of new technologies that could transform waste management in India.
- Lack of coordination among govt. and civic agencies, local waste collection groups.
- Public attitudes to waste are also a major barrier to improve SWM in India.
Ways to remove safely the toxic wastes
- Proper collection and segregation of plastics, e-wastes, bio-medical wastes & other solid wastes at the site of generation.
- Recycling, waste to energy conversion, use of plastics in making road, and use of Green wastes as fertilizers can be a way in solving the problems of waste accumulation.
- Replacing dumps with properly managed engineered landfills to reduce the environmental impact of waste and prevent toxic leaks.
- Monitoring at ground by civic agencies, awareness campaigns on lines of Swachh Bharat mission.
- Implementation of Solid waste management rule backed by proper legislation, participation of self-help group and NGD, promotion to Start-ups to use solid waste & create innovative solutions.
Considering the pace of urbanization in India this is imperative that more waste will be generated in towns and cities and thus we need to take above mentioned steps keeping in mind the aspects of cleanness.
Biodiversity & Environment
7. What is wetland? Explain the Ramsar concept of ‘wise use’ in the context of wetland conservation. Cite two examples of Ramsar sites from India. (2018)
Wetlands are ecosystems saturated with water, either seasonally or permanently. They include mangroves, marshes, rivers, lakes, deltas, floodplains and flooded forests, rice-fields, and even coral reefs.
Wetlands are vital for human survival as they are among the world’s most productive environments; cradles of biological diversity that provide water and productivity upon which countless species of plants and animals depend for survival.
According to Ramsar Convention on Wetlands, ‘Wise use’ of wetlands is the maintenance of their ecological character, achieved through the implementation of ecosystem approaches, within the spirit of sustainable development. ‘Wise Use’ guidelines encourage Contracting Parties to:
- adopt national wetland policies with legislations and institutional arrangements to deal with wetland;
- develop programmes of wetland inventory, monitoring, research, training, education and public awareness; and
- take actions involving the development of integrated management plans covering every aspect of the wetlands and their relationships with their catchments.
India has 26 Ramsar Sites which are the Wetlands of International importance. The important Ramsar sites are: Chilika lake (Odisa), Keoladeo National Park (Rajasthan), Loktak Lake (Manipur), Ashtamudi Wetland (Kerala) etc.
Biodiversity & Environment
8. Sikkim is the first ‘Organic State’ in India. What are the ecological and economical benefits of Organic State? (2018)
Sikkim became India’s first ‘organic state’ by implementing organic practices - free of chemical pesticides and chemical fertilisers.
Ecological Benefits of Organic State
- Organic practices such as crop rotations, inter-cropping, symbiotic associations encourage soil fauna and flora, improving soil formation and structure and creating more stable systems.
- This increases retentive abilities of the soil for nutrients and water. This also plays an important role in soil erosion control.
- Pollution of groundwater due to synthetic fertilizers and pesticides is curtailed.
- Organic practices like minimum tillage, returning crop residues to the soil, and the greater integration of nitrogen-fixing legumes contributes to mitigating the greenhouse effect and global warming through its ability to sequester carbon in the soil.
- Reduce the risks of human, animal, and environmental exposure to toxic materials
- Fine-tunes farming practices to meet local production conditions.
- Less dependency on terminator seeds will decrease the input cost of farmers.
- Less consumption of fertilizers by farmers will lower the fertilizer subsidy burden on government.
- The high demand for organic products and their higher sale prices will lead to higher farmer income.
- It acts as a boon to tourist industry, with a growing market for eco-tours and farm vacations.
9. The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is viewed as a cardinal subset of China’s larger ‘One Belt One Road’ initiative. Give a brief description of CPEC and enumerate the reasons why India has distanced itself from the same. (2018)
One Belt One Road (OBOR) is one of the major initiatives of China focusing on improving connectivity and cooperation connecting Asia to Europe and Africa.
It has two dimensions: Silk Road Economic Belt (SREB), a land route and the 21st-century Maritime Silk Road (MSR) an ocean route.
China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is one of the flagship project of SREB.
It provides rail-road connectivity between Gwadar in Baluchistan, Pakistan to Xinjiang province of China and passes through Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir.
It is one of the largest bilateral initiatives between China and Pakistan with a budget of around $46 billion. CPEC is considered as a boon to struggling Pakistani Economy.
India has openly expressed it displeasure over CPEC due to following reasons:
- CPEC passes through Indian Territory, thus interferes with India’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.
- There is a lack of transparency around the way the project is funded. It is considered as a part of Chinese policy of debt-equity swap.
- It may disrupt and destroy Himalayan Ecology.
It is said that India should join the CPEC as it will benefit the region at-large and can lead to an improvement in ties between India and Pakistan as economic inter-dependence between the two will increase.
However, it should also be noted that India’s concerns regarding sovereignty and integrity have not been addressed by either China or Pakistan. It will not be good for India to join a project, which challenges India’s sovereignty. In addition, there is no clarity about the funding of the project.
10. Left Wing Extremism (LWE) is showing a downward trend, but still affects many parts of the country. Briefly explain the Government of India’s approach to counter the challenges posed by LWE. (2018)
The Government’s approach is to deal with Left Wing Extremism in a holistic manner, in the areas of security, development, improvement in governance and public perception management. Recently, Government has come out with operational strategy ‘SAMADHAN’ to fight Left Wing Extremism in the country.
- Governance and Development: The foremost focus of Government is to strengthen the connectivity in these areas so as to improve its engagement with the rest of the country. Infrastructural enhancements like road, railways and airport construction, instalment of mobile towers are taking place. For example- National Policy and Action Plan.
- Smart Leadership and better coordination with the State governments is being encouraged by the Government to expand its reach in the LWE affected areas.
- An aggressive strategy is being followed to modernise and strengthen the capacity of armed forces.
- Special emphasis is being laid on the implementation of Forest Rights Act and ensuring entitlement of local communities over Minor Forest Produce.
- No Access to Financing: To stop the maintenance and sustained survival of Left Wing Extremism, the Government is attempting to block Left Wing Extremist outfits’ access to financing.
- Rehabilitation and Surrender: Surrender-cum-Rehabilitation Scheme is being implemented to ensure militants’ rehabilitation and return to the mainstream.
- Public Perception Management: To counter the ideological effect of Left Wing Extremism on people, gaps between Security Forces and local people are being bridged through close interactions, Tribal Youth Exchange programmes, radio jingles, documentaries, pamphlets etc.
11. How are principles followed by the NITI Aayog different from those followed by erstwhile Planning Commission in India? (2018)
National Institution for Transforming India, popularly known as NITI Aayog was established by executive resolution on 1st January, 2015. It has been established with the mandate to be Government of India’s premier policy think tank giving both directional and policy inputs.
Principles followed by NITI Aayog are:
- Pro-People: NITI Aayog has followed bottom up approach in policy formulation unlike Planning Commission which followed top down approach. It has followed pro-people approach where focus is to fulfill the aspirations of society as well as individuals.
- Pro-Activity: Planning Commission in its plan provided for fixed five year plans depending on needs of nation. NITI Aayog is working on principle of pro-activity, where the problems faced by people are picked up and solutions are worked out. Activity of NITI Aayog is an ongoing process which is evident from its vision document and plans with milestone of 3 years, 7 years, and 15 years.
- Participation: NITI Aayog while formulating policies, includes participation not only of in house members, union, and state ministers but it also includes domain experts from different fields. Planning Commission included only its in house members, and union ministers.
- Empowering women: Policy formulation of NITI Aayog follows the principle of empowerment by inclusion of women in every aspect of decision making.
- Inclusion of All: The vision and policy formulation of NITI Aayog is based on inclusion of all focusing on SCs, STs, Minorities, Poor, Villages, and Agriculturists, etc. Planning Commission focused primarily on overall economic development based on one size fits all principle, thus sometimes it led to exclusion of certain section of society.
- Equality: The programmes like Atal Innovation Mission, SETU, etc., are based on principle of equality, providing opportunity to youth, and other sections of society.
- Transparency: NITI Aayog through its basic principle of inclusion, ‘more governance less government’, equality, participation and empowerment tries to make government visible, responsive, and sensitive to the needs and aspirations of the people.
With the coming of NITI Aayog, there has been paradigm shift in planning process as the principles followed by it have nurtured and supported Cooperative and Competitive Federalism in India.
12. How would the recent phenomena of protectionism and currency manipulations in world trade affect macroeconomic stability of India? (2018)
Protectionism refers to government actions and policies that restrict or restrain international trade, often with the intent of protecting local businesses and jobs from foreign competition. E.g.: The U.S.A. has placed tariffs on billions of dollars worth of goods from around the world, recent being 25% tariffs on all steel imports, and 10% on aluminum.
Currency manipulation refers to actions taken by governments to change the value of their currencies relative to other currencies in order to bring about some desirable objective, such as stimulate exports and retard imports. E.g.: China regularly intervenes to prevent its currency Renminbi (RMB) from appreciating relative to other currencies.
Both protectionism as well as currency manipulations are considered as trade distortion practices and are counterproductive to global free trade. These not only have impact on global economy but also affect macroeconomic stability of individual economies.
The effects of these phenomena on the macroeconomic stability of India are:
- Inflation: Currency manipulation (here depreciation) results into costlier imports which limits the Consumers’ choice and they end up paying more for the limited quantity of goods and products, thus causing inflation. Similarly, protectionism also limits the choices of consumers. Overall, global competition is a key factor in keeping the price of numerous goods and products down and gives consumers the ability to spend.
- GDP: Protectionism leads to increased import costs as manufacturers and producers have to pay more for equipment, commodities, and intermediate products from foreign markets. This will lead to decrease in real GDP.
- Employment: Protectionism is not only about restricting the flow of goods and services, but also the skilled human resource. Any restrictions on this will not only promote unemployment but will also hamper the growth.
- Industrial Growth: Protectionism may promote inefficiencies by the infant industry as it will have no incentive to make itself efficient through use of technology and long-term investments.
- Current Account Deficit: In the absence of robust export base, the intermediate goods that form part of the global supply chain becomes more expensive because of protectionism, leading to widening CAD. Higher CAD further puts the rupee under pressure and raises the cost of overseas borrowing.
Since, protectionism and currency manipulations do not seem to halt in coming future, it is necessary for India to walk through these murky waters carefully. Indian policy makers need to be innovative and flexible in responding to the current uncertainties of the global world.
13. Assess the role of National Horticulture Mission (NHM) in boosting the production, productivity and income of horticulture farms. How far has it succeeded in increasing the income of farmers? (2018)
National Horticulture Mission (NHM) is an Indian Government scheme promoted with the objective to develop horticulture to the maximum potential available in the states and to augment production of all horticultural products. This scheme was launched under 10th five year plan in 2005-06. Under this scheme centre government contributes 85%, and 15% is contributed by the state government.
The role of NHM in boosting the production, productivity and income of horticultural farms can be assessed as:
- It provides holistic growth of the horticulture sector through an area based regionally differentiated strategies due to which more than 9 crore metric tons of fruits on 63 lakh hectare land were produced during 2015-16.
- Horticulture farms are much smaller and horticulture crops have high return on investment which allows marginal farmers to increase their income using small lands.
- Farmers can plant multiple crops on their land which provide multiple earning resources.
- Regions experiencing low rainfall and prone to drought are getting benefit from the option of horticulture which requires less water and is less susceptible to crop failure. For example, Bagepalli, a drought prone area in Karnataka-Andhra Pradesh border is now emerging as a horticulture hot spot.
- Horticulture crops have short turnaround time than food crops which helps in efficient land utilization, increased production and productivity, and also increases income of farmers.
After the launch of the NHM, significant progress has been made in area expansion under horticulture crops, resulting in higher production and increase in income. Over the last decade, the area under horticulture grew at an average rate of 2.7% per annum and annual production increases at an average rate of 7.0% per annum. In Bagepalli, for example, the annual turnover was Rs 6 lakh in 2016. But it has been Rs 10 lakh a month in 2018, as farmers swiftly shifted to horticulture crops.
This form of cultivation is gathering steam across the country, even as the Centre aims to double farmer incomes by 2022. But still challenges like inadequate cold storage infrastructure, limited availability of market, limited support from government and high price fluctuation are needed to be catered to achieve the aim of doubling farmers’ income by 2022.
14. How has the emphasis on certain crops brought about changes in cropping patterns in recent past? Elaborate the emphasis on millets production and consumption. (2018)
Cropping pattern is the proportion of area under various crops at a point of time. The cropping patterns of a region are mainly influenced by the geo-climatic, socio-economic, historical and political factors.
In the recent past, a lot of changes have occurred in the cropping pattern in India:
- There has been a shift towards rice-wheat cropping pattern since the 'Green Revolution' of the 1960s.
- Paddy, cotton, soybean, and sugarcane cover more than half of total sown area taking over the area traditionally devoted to millets, oilseeds and pulses which were more suited to the local climatic and soil conditions.
- The gain in the wheat production has come at the cost of millets and sorghum as wheat has been considered superior over them.
- As India is one of the largest consumer and importer of pulses and oilseeds, the government has tried to increase their acreage and productivity. Higher MSPs has been announced for these crops recently.
Crop patterns in India are changing without consideration for local agro-climatic conditions. This has put a burden on environment, incurring huge long-term losses. Soil fertility has declined while groundwater has receded. Chemical pollution and changing food habits impacting human health are the direct manifestations of this change in crop patterns.
- Production: Millets grow well in dry zones as rain-fed crops, under marginal conditions of soil fertility and moisture and are stable yielders. About 30 million acres in India fall under millets. Millets are grown in about 21 States and major impetus is being given on its production in Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Telangana, Uttarakhand, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh and Haryana. Millets are the super foods for the present and future; their short growing season (65 days) makes them commercially sound.
- Consumption: With lifestyle diseases running rampant, millets have returned as a viable option to live healthy life. Various States have been distributing millets such as bajra, jowar and ragi through the PDS.
There is an unmet demand for rice and wheat which is met by millets. If consumers see millets as a solution to lifestyle disorders, producers have realised that it requires less inputs and is an economically viable option if marketing avenues are created.
Science & Technology
15. Why is there so much activity in the field of biotechnology in our country? How has this activity benefitted the field of biopharma? (2018)
Biotechnology refers to the application of technology to biological processes for industrial, agricultural and medical purposes. This field has seen a boom in terms of focus on immediate and long-term plans to promote it in India and active involvement of states and central government, private entities, and international players in this regard. The surge in activity is guided by the realization that field of biotechnology holds many promises for India in the following areas:
- Agriculture: High yielding varieties of crops, drought resistant plants, etc., have overall contributed to food security of vast population of India; fighting malnutrition by use of biofortified crops, e.g. Dhanashakti-first iron rich pearl millet in India; biofertilizers for ecologically safe enrichment of soil, e.g. algal biofertilizers for rice cultivation.
- Industry: Novel techniques for inexpensive production of several products like corn-syrup, alcohol, eatables like cheese etc., by use of bio-enzymes.
- Medicine: Correction of gene defects via gene therapy to treat diseases like adenosine deaminase (ADA) deficiency; products like genetically engineered insulin hold special significance in India which has a large diabetic population; use of biopharmaceuticals for better medicines with lesser side effects.
The development in the field of biotechnology has resulted in the development of biopharma industries in the following ways:
- Biopharmaceuticals drugs are structurally same as human compounds. This structural similarity gives biopharmaceuticals the potential to cure diseases rather than merely treat symptoms as done by traditional chemical compound medicines.
- Biotechnology allows researchers to use cell fusion, DNA-recombinant technologies, and other technologies to modify treatments specifically for individual diseases. Bio-pharma allows clinicians to tailor treatment to the specific medical problems experienced by each patient.
- The greatest potential for bio-pharma is in gene therapy. Conditions associated with rapidly dividing cells, such as cancer, develop as the result of defective or mutated genes. In gene therapy, scientists replace defective genes with healthy ones to treat existing disease or to prevent disease from developing later.
Initiatives such i3 (Innovate in India); National Biopharma Mission and establishment of Bio-incubation centre’s will provide impetus for the development of this sector. The sector has potential to create new jobs enhance revenues through medical tourism and to develop affordable medicinal market in India as well as abroad.
Science & Technology
16. With growing energy needs should India keep on expanding its nuclear energy programme? Discuss the facts and fears associated with nuclear energy? (2018)
Indian energy needs are growing rapidly in line with its ever increasing billion plus population and expanding economy. Indian energy demand grows at 4% annually, and is expected to increase from 700 million tonnes of oil equivalent (MTOE) in 2010 to 1,500 MTOE by 2030. In this, nuclear energy comes out as a clean source of energy for future.
With 6700 MW capacity under installation, nuclear energy currently provides 3% of India’s energy needs. It is projected by department of atomic energy that by 2050, 20-30 percent of Indian energy needs will be provided by nuclear energy.
Reasons why India needs to expand its nuclear energy programme:
- Fossil Fuel Dependence: With huge dependence on imported oil and associated foreign exchange payments, nuclear energy can reduce fossil fuel dependence.
- Environment Friendly: Being low on CO2 emissions, nuclear technology helps in checking climate change thereby helping realizing India’s Nationally Determined Contributions to UNFCCC.
- Strategic Benefits: With improved technological development and acceptance as responsible nuclear state, India will become part of global nuclear trade regime and also rightfully gain position in Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG).
- Economic Dependence: Reduced per unit cost with technological development and realization of thorium enabled production cycle.
- Agreements: Strategic position as India partnered many countries in bilateral and multilateral agreements. (e.g. 123-USA, Reactor sully – France, Russia, Fuel Supply – Canada, Australia).
Fears associated with nuclear technology:
- Safety Issues: Historical accidents like Chernobyl and recent ones like Fukushima raise persistent doubt about human safety and its impact on environment. This has led nations like Germany and Japan to phase out use of Nuclear energy.
- Waste Management: There is difficulty in the management of nuclear waste. It takes many years to eliminate its radioactivity and risks associated are high.
- Security: Terrorist and other mischievous organizations can create global havoc by getting access to critical nuclear material or technology.
With Indian motto of ‘atoms for peace’, nuclear energy can act as a great catalyst for inclusive growth and development by providing much needed energy security, so that India should continue to expand nuclear energy programme.
Biodiversity & Environment
17. How does biodiversity vary in India? How is the Biological Diversity Act, 2002 helpful in conservation of flora and fauna? (2018)
Biodiversity is defined as the variability among living organisms. Biogeographically, India is situated at the tri-junction of three realms namely Afro-tropical, Indo-Malayan and Paleo-Arctic realms, and therefore, has characteristic elements from each of them. This assemblage of three distinct realms probably is a fact which is believed to partly account for its rich and unique biological diversity.
Variations according to bio-geographic regions are:
- The Himalayan Region: The altitude gradient results in tremendous biodiversity of the region. There exist Tropical rainforests in the eastern Himalayas, dense subtropical and alpine forests in central and western Himalayas. Sambar, muntjac serow, goral, Himalayan thar, snow leopard and brown bear inhabit this region.
- The Indian Desert: The natural vegetation consists of tropical thorn forests and tropical dry deciduous forests, sandy deserts with seasonal salt marshes and mangroves. Thar desert possesses most of the major insect species. 43 reptile species and moderate bird endemism are found here.
- The Western Ghats: This zone displays diversity of forests from evergreen to dry deciduous. The Nilgiri langur, Lion tailed macaque, Nilgiri tahr, Malabar grey hornbill and most amphibian species are endemic to the Western Ghats.
- The Deccan Peninsula: Large parts are covered by tropical forests. Tropical dry deciduous forests occur in the northern, central and southern part of the plateau. Fauna like tiger, sloth bear, wild boar, gaur, sambar and chital are found throughout the zone.
- The Gangetic plains: It includes tropical dry deciduous forest, littoral and mangroves regions of the Sunderbans. The fauna includes elephants, black buck, gazelle, rhinoceros, Bengal florican, crocodile, freshwater turtle and a dense waterfowl community.
- The North East: The tropical vegetation of northeast India is rich in evergreen and semi evergreen rain forests, moist deciduous monsoon forests, swamps and grasslands. Mammalian fauna includes 390 species of which 63% are found in Assam.
- The Indian Islands: About 2,200 species of higher plants are found here of which many are endemic.
The Biological Diversity Act, 2002
It was enacted to preserve the biological diversity in India, and provides mechanism for equitable sharing of benefits arising out of the use of traditional biological resources and knowledge. It is helpful in conservation of flora and fauna as:
- There are provisions for setting up National Biodiversity Authority, State Biodiversity Board, and Biodiversity Management Committee for proper management of biological resources.
- It aims to respect and protect knowledge of local communities traditional knowledge related to biodiversity.
- It secures sharing of benefits with local people as they are conservers of biological resources and holders of knowledge and information relating to the use of biological resources.
- It also has provisions for notifying heritage sites by State Government in consultation with local body which will ensure better preservation.
18. Describe various measures taken in India for Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) before and after signing 'Sendai Framework for DRR (2015-30)'. How is this framework different from ‘Hyogo Framework for Action, 2005’? (2018)
Disaster leads to sudden disruption of normal life, causing severe damage to life and property. Its origin can be natural or man-made. India due to its geography and scarce resources is more prone to Disasters.
In order to manage disaster, prior to the signing ‘Sendai Framework for DRR (2015-30)’ in 2016, India has taken following steps:
- The Disaster Management Act was enacted in 2005, which ushered in a paradigm shift from a relief-centric approach to a more proactive regime that laid greater emphasis on preparedness, prevention and mitigation.
- The National Policy on Disaster Management (NPDM) has been prepared in pursuance of the Disaster Management Act, 2005, which laid the framework/roadmap for handling disasters in a holistic manner.
- In 2016, India released the country’s first ever National Disaster Management Plan, a document based on the global blueprint for reducing disaster losses, the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction. It will cover all phases of disaster management, from prevention and mitigation to response and recovery.
India is the largest democracy which has adopted the Sendai framework for disaster risk reduction and the first country to have drawn a national and local strategy with a short term goal achievement target set for 2020.
The difference between Hyogo Framework and Sendai Framework is:
- The Sendai Framework (2015-30) is the successor instrument to the Hyogo Framework for Action (2005-15).
- The Hyogo framework was the first plan which explained, described and detailed the work that is required from all different sectors and actors to reduce disaster losses.
- Sendai framework recognizes that the State has the primary role to reduce disaster risk but that responsibility should be shared with other stakeholders including local government, the private sector and other stakeholders.
19. Data security has assumed significant importance in the digitized world due to rising cyber crimes. The Justice B.N. Srikrishna Committee Report addresses issues related to data security. What, in your view, are the strengths and weaknesses of the Report relating to protection of personal data in cyber space? (2018)
The threat from cyber crime is multi-dimensional, targeting citizens, businesses, and governments at a rapidly growing rate. The Committee under the chairmanship of Justice B. N. Srikrishna was constituted to examine issues related to data protection, recommend methods to address them, and draft a data protection law. The objective was to ensure growth of the digital economy while keeping personal data of citizens secure and protected. The report inter alia presented a draft Personal Data Protection Act.
Some of the Important Strengths and Weakness of the Report:
- The Committee noted that consent is treated as one of the grounds for processing personal data.
- One in three internet users across the world is children under the age of 18. A data protection law must sufficiently protect their interests, while considering their vulnerability, and exposure to risks online.
- It discussed the principle where personal data must be collected for a specified purpose only.
- One of the principles of data protection is that a person whose data is being processed should be able to influence the processing. This includes the right to confirm, access, and rectify the data.
- Who owns the data of the individuals is a question not answered by the Committee as against the TRAI recommendation that ownership of data must rest with the individual.
- Globally, the right to be forgotten refers to the right to erase data. Srikrishna panel, says “...data principal shall have the right to restrict or prevent continuing disclosure of personal data by a data fiduciary related to the data principal where such disclosure has served the purpose for which it was made or is no longer necessary; was made on the basis of consent... and such consent has since been withdrawn; was made contrary to the provisions of this Act or any other law made by Parliament or any State Legislature.”
- On data breach, the Committee recommended that such a breach must first be reported to the Authority. This suggestion has been criticized and it is argued that it should be first reported to the subject of the breach instead.
20. India’s proximity to the two of the world’s biggest illicit opium growing states has enhanced her internal security concerns. Explain the linkages between drug trafficking and other illicit activities such as gunrunning, money laundering and human trafficking. What counter measures should be taken to prevent the same? (2018)
Geographically, India is placed between the two largest opium growing areas in the world. To the west is the Golden Crescent (Afghanistan) and to the east is the Golden Triangle (Myanmar). This makes India vulnerable to drug trafficking through its borders and other illicit activities, and has enhanced her internal security concerns.
There exist linkages between drug trafficking and other illicit activities such as gunrunning, money laundering and human trafficking, which are as follows:
- An increasing interoperability has been witnessed between drug cartels and other criminal groups. In Afghanistan around 85% of the opium growing area falls under Taliban. Taliban uses the funds from drug trade in many different ways like weapons smuggling, human trafficking, and proliferation of terrorism etc.
- Drug trafficking groups also get attracted to human trafficking activities as there is some overlap between the routes used and there are advantages to be gained by sharing established logistical infrastructure, which includes transportation and storage facilities.
- Similarly, gunrunning and money laundering require logistics supports which are shared by these organizations. At times these activities seem to sustain each other such as smuggling drugs by hiding it in human body parts. The revenue generated from drug trade is laundered to create assets such as casinos, bars, hotels etc. which again became breeding grounds for other crimes. Nexus between drug lords and armed groups gives rise to thriving weapons business.
Following counter-measures can be opted against these crimes:
- As these crimes are trans-national in character, countering them requires cooperation among all countries.
- Making the border management more robust and plugging the gaps by bringing in force the recommendations of Madhukar Gupta Committee on border protection. The committee has given broad recommendations on the issues of Threats and Border Protection, assessment of force level, deployment on the border, infrastructure and technology issues for protection of border and administrative issues
- Making the police and the concerned authorities acquainted to dark web and other modes of operation.
- Sensitizing the public against negative fallouts of drugs and starting rehabilitation programmes.
This drug problem is a serious menace giving impetus to various other crimes, so strong political will and hard measures if required should be opted to tackle this challenge. Technical solutions are also necessary to augment and complement the traditional methods of border guarding. Working on both the front can probably address the existing problems of internal security.