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Insights SECURE SYNOPSIS: 09 January 2017

 


SECURE SYNOPSIS: 09 January 2017


NOTE: Please remember that following ‘answers’ are NOT ‘model answers’. They are NOT synopsis too if we go by definition of the term. What we are providing is content that both meets demand of the question and at the same time gives you extra points in the form of background information.

 


General Studies – 1;


Topic: Urbanization – problems and remedies

1) Pollution in Delhi is a growing emergency and could reach real dangerous levels if treated with the usual sluggish, ad hoc measures. Discuss alternative measures to such as odd-even scheme to fight pollution in Delhi. (200 Words)

The Indian Express

Introduction-

The capital city of India is facing worst phase of pollution and it could lead to devastating effect if pollution remains untreated or inadequately treated. Although number of steps have been taken in this regard, strict implementation has been lackluster and inadequate. Further most of the actions themselves lack sound strategy and sustainability. Thus is urgent need for evolving sustainable and effective measures.

Causes of pollution in Delhi

  • Growing population of the city. The pressure and haphazard growth of the population is deteriorating the environment.
  • There has been highly haphazard and unplanned development of industries and factories. Studies have revealed that only about 20% of the industrial units are set up in the approved industrial areas whereas the rest of them are in residential and commercial areas.
  • There has been a huge rise in the vehicular population, in spite of the metro railways, aggravating traffic congestion and increasing air and noise pollution. It has also been reported that the number of vehicles plying on the roads of Delhi is more than that of the three metropolitan cities of Mumbai, Kolkata and Chennai taken together.
  • There have also been an ever-increasing number of diesel vehicles plying on the roads, which are largely responsible for the air pollution.
  • It has been reported by the National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI) that everyday almost 8,000 m tonnes of solid waste is being generated in Delhi. Plus we also have the industrial hazardous and non-hazardous waste. On an average, everyday, the MCDs and the NDMC manage to clear about 5,000-5,500 m tonnes of garbage. This results in the accumulation of more and more garbage in the city.
  • There has been no proper technology or methods to treat solid, liquid, waste water, industrial and hospital wastes in the city.
  • There has been too much dependence on fossil fuels like coal-fired power plants, improper use of energy in buildings and the excessive use of biomass for cooking and heating, etc

Pollution in Delhi: Facts and figures

  • According to the Ambient Air Pollution (AAP) report for the year 2014, Delhi had PM 2.5 pollution levels, which is the highest in the world, followed by Beijing. This result was based on the monitoring of PM measurement of outdoor air pollution from almost 1,600 cities in 91 countries.
  • The highest concentration of PM 2.5 form of air pollution is supposed to be a very serious matter and can lead to respiratory diseases and other health problems like lung cancer.
  • According to the WHO, air pollution is the fifth largest killer in India.
  • Carbon monoxide (CO), a dangerous gas emission, is around 6,000 microgram per cubic metre in Delhi, which is much above the the safe level of 2,000 microgram per cubic metre.
  • The level of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) has also been increasing.
  • According to the Ministry of Earth Sciences, Delhi’s air quality index (AQI) is 121, which is described as “poor.” The AQI is an index for reporting daily air quality, about how clean or polluted the air is.

Alternative measures-

For Air pollution-

  • Adoption ofCar Pool Lane (CPL)/ High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) as in US, Canada which encourages people to car pool instead of commuting solo. Incentivizing CPL/HOV would make citizens to embrace this concept voluntarily.
  • A congestion charge may be levied on vehicles entering congested areas as in Stockholm, to discourage them from using vehicles during peak hours.
  • Government can provide subsidy on sustainable, non-polluting transportation choices like cycles, electric cars which have zero emissions.
  • Encouraging people to opt for public transport. Making it free of charge for a few days can make it an attractive choice.
  • Restricting farmers from Punjab and Haryana from burning the leftover after harvesting season.
  • There should be mobile enforcement teams deployed at various locations for monitoring polluting vehicles and vehicles not having PUC certificates.
  • A Mass Rapid Transport System (MRTS) should be constructed with the aim of providing a non-polluting, useful and affordable rail-based mass rapid transit system for Delhi, integrated with other modes of transport.

For water pollution-

  • There is need to prepare action plans to deal with improving quality of water resources in and around Delhi.
  • Online Effluent monitoring system can be installed to check the discharge of effluent directly into the rivers and other water resources.
  • One can also reduce water pollution by reducing the use of chemicals, cleaning agents, pesticides, herbicides, fertilizers etc.
  • Treatment of wastes before discharge:Factories should be made to treat its effluent wastes prior to discharge. Toxic material must be treated chemically and converted into harmless materials. If possible, factories should try to recycle the treated water.

For noise pollution-

  • There is need to create acoustic zoning where distance between source and receiver is increased by zoning of noisy industrial areas, bus terminals and railway stations, aerodromes etc. away from the resi­dential areas. It would go a long way in minimizing noise pollution.
  • There should be silence zones near the residential areas, educational institu­tions and above all, near hospitals.
  • Planting green trees and shrubs along roads, hospitals, educational institutions etc. help in noise reduction to a considerable extent in Delhi.

For soil pollution-

  • Reduce the use of harmful products to the environment by using more biodegradable products and reducing the use of plastic bags.
  • Citizens should reduce the amount of generation of garbage itself by reusing and recycling the waste products.
  • Local authorities should use scientific methods of waste disposal. Eg Pyrolysis.

 


Topic:  Urbanization – problems and remedies

2) Discuss the significance and feasibility of New Delhi’s decision to make iconic Connaught Place a pedestrian zone and keep out cars and other vehicles from its middle and inner circle roads. (200 Words)

The Hindu

Introduction-

The move to make New Delhi’s iconic Connaught Place a pedestrian zone and to keep out cars and other vehicles from its middle and inner circle roads, during a three-month trial program is an encouraging attempt to reconquer public space.

Significance of this decision-

  • It will provide safe, comfortable and accessible experience for walkers. Adding fountains as humidifiers, public plazas, light and sound shows are inexpensive provisions which will supplement the aesthetics of the area.
  • The pilot project will decide the feasibility of such move and will act as precedence for other municipal bodies to implement the same in their cities.
  • Increased use of bicycles and walking will induce a behavioral change among the citizens which will have health benefits.
  • Decrease in quantity of vehicles would also result in reducing the pollution in those areas.
  • The move may also result in decrease in pedestrian injuries which often takes place when large number of vehicles clogs the road. This was evident in Times Square in New York.

Feasibility of the move:

  • The popular conservative opinion states that such unclogging measures are pernicious to economy and efficiency. But the experience from Times Square, New York; Central Avenue, Madrid shows that better walking and availability of food plazas and shops attract more people improving the local economy.
  • The public transport infrastructure should be improved so that people do not face difficulties in such areas.
  • The feasibility depends on the determination of law enforcers and the will of public to understand their own benefit and comply.

 Conclusion-

Keeping powered vehicles out of core areas, expanding pavements for pedestrians and facilitating the use of bicycles is today a high-priority goal for mayors and urban governments the world over. In the intermediate phase, many cities find it rewarding to levy a stiff congestion charge on personal vehicles entering designated areas. This is a mature idea and needs to be trialled in India, under its ongoing smart cities program.

 


General Studies – 2


Topic : Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests, Indian diaspora.

3) Discuss various socio-economic and political challenges faced by Indian diaspora living in West Asia, the US, Canada and the UK.   (200 Words)

The Hindu

Introduction-

 The Indian Diaspora is a generic term to describe the people who migrated from territories that are currently within the borders of the Republic of India. It also refers to their descendants. The Diaspora is currently estimated to number over twenty million composed of “NRIs” (Indian citizens not residing in India) and “PIOs” (Persons of Indian Origin who have acquired the citizenship of some other country). The Diaspora covers practically every part of the world.

The diaspora is relatively dense in regions like West Asia, North America and Western Europe. However recent developments have created certain issues for Indian Diaspora in these regions.

Socio-Economic and Political Challenges faced by Indian Diaspora in West Asia-

West Asian countries are facing two new challenges. One, the shale oil revolution in the United States combined with slower global growth and environmental concerns may have already pushed the world into a post-OPEC phase and perennial low oil prices. Two, the entire region to the west of India up to the Mediterranean is now swept by Shia-Sunni contestation and the challenge posed by radical Islam. Thus instability may persist for decades.

  • Due to low oil prices persisting for more than 4-5 years have led to economic slowdown in West Asian nations. Thus Indians working there are facing difficulties in finding employment and are facing tough living conditions.
  • West Asian nations have started preferring local over South Asians, kwon as Arabisation. Thus there are increasing chances for Indians of losing jobs to locals.
  • Further Indian workers, particularly the vast majority from Kerala, are facing tremendous competition from more skilled workers from countries such as the Philippines or cheaper labor from Nepal, etc. In India, the Union and State governments have failed to upgrade skills of Indian workers going to West Asia. 
  • Also West Asian region is engulfed into terrorism and Shia-Sunni conflict which makes Indians vulnerable to violence.
  • For decades India has let its citizens be subjected to local labor rules that are medieval and regressive, such as employer seizing the travel documents of the worker on arrival. The conditions have not improved yet and Indian workers are still undergoing treatment of secondary citizens.

Socio-Economic and Political Challenges faced by Indian Diaspora in North America and UK-

  • Indians facing in these countries are facing racist and discriminatory treatment. There is spurt in the racist incidences against the Indians.
  • With the election of Donald Trump as American President, employment opportunities may shrink for Indians as he is determined to make MNCs to hire local talent.
  • Economies in these countries are yet to recover from slowdown. Employment opportunities are still worry for Indians moving in these nations.
  • Indian Muslims and Sikhs are facing discriminatory treatment due to their appearances after the 9/11 attack on USA.
  • Recent rising tide of Hindutva in Indians living in these nations is making them vulnerable to the backlash from the majority community.

Conclusion-

Indian diaspora’s remittances in the past have been of vital assistance to Indian foreign exchange reserves. But the challenge now is to go to the next stage — of harnessing not just their financial but also their intellectual capital. The present Indian government needs to market a new way of dealing with each of the three groups — wisely, pro-actively, and in a secular non-jingoistic tone.

 


Topic:  e-Governance; Poverty

4) Will Aadhaar help the poor become cashless? Critically analyse. (200 Words)

Livemint

Introduction-

Aadhaar program was launched in 2009 with a main objective to give universal identity to every resident Indian. However in recent years government is trying to make Aadhar as digital platform to move towards digital economy.

The Aadhaar system, centred on biometric data captured to improve access to social services can help the poor to become cashless-

  • Person can open a bank account with the help of Aadhar card under the Jan Dhan Yojana, allowing him/her to enter into world of digital transactions.
  • Aadhaar offers a digitally verifiable identity, which made it possible for those enrolled to change cash at an enabled banking facility.
  • Subsidies like LPG are directly added to beneficiary’s bank account. Further Aadhar will be linked to every scheme in future so beneficiaries once under it will move towards cashless transaction since directly they will be paid with transparency and no leakages.
  • Since a new ordinance directs to send employee salary directly into their account in informal sector Aadhar card e-KYC and band accounts when linked with it will help for financial inclusion.
  • Person can also open a digital locker with the help of Aadhar number which would allow person to store all personal documents on government’s server.

However there are some limitations which may restrict the digital path of poor people even when having Aadhar card. The reasons are-

  • Lack of technological means- cashless economy involves exchanges of digital money. This is not only transacted through bank cards, but also and increasingly through so-called digital wallets, which require a smartphone device to work. Smartphones, however, are owned by only 17% of the Indian population.
  • Lack of internet facilities- Access to the digital space is another requirement to enter the new system. However, this is dependent on access to the Internet, which in India is geographically limited. The International Telecommunications Unit (ITU) calculates an ICT (information and communications technology) Development Index (IDI) for 175 countries. Based on India’s IDI data, it is ranked 138 worldwide, behind nations such as Gabon, Nigeria and Zimbabwe, which rank significantly lower on economic and human development.

The problem lies in high inequality between computerised megacities and large unconnected peripheries: This relegates many rural and tribal communities to isolation, making it hard to enter the digital space.

  • Infrastructural un-readiness- technology-enabling digital transactions should be in place nationally. But 24% of the Indian population lives without electricity (compared, for example, to 0.2% in China), and gaps in electrical and mobile coverage are concentrated in rural and tribal areas.

Once established, digital infrastructure needs to be reliable. But recent precedents, particularly the use of Aadhaar for the identification of social scheme beneficiaries, cast doubt on this. Recent studies show beneficiaries being turned down due to technology failure, and hence being denied the food rations they are entitled to.

  • Digital illiteracy- even when person has bank account and smart phone, many people don’t know how to carry out digital transactions. There is general skepticism to use mobiles or computes for the transactions.
  • Large number of people’s Aadhar card is yet to link with their bank account.

Conclusion-

Poor and people working in unorganized sectors are the ones who need to be integrated in to formal digital economy. In this regard, Aadhar can indeed prove a game changer if its limitations are overcame.

 


Topic: India and its neighborhood- relations

5) China has been active in increasing its bilateral cooperation with Nepalese army in recent years. Should India be worried? How should India deal with Nepalese army? Critically comment. (200 Words)

The Indian Express

Introduction:-

The cooperation between Nepal and China is increasing on many front and which can be seen in the following steps:-

  • China’s pledge for a grant of one billion RMB for post-earthquake reconstruction and border road construction last month.
  • The formal announcement made that Nepal and China will conduct a “joint military training” soon.
  • The two armies have quietly undertaken confidence building measures, especially after 2008, when China solicited the help of Nepal’s army to keep a vigil on the Nepal-China border.
  • China sent the chief of its Peoples Liberation Army, Chen Bingde, to explore army-to-army relations with Nepal

Some reasons to worry:-

  • Nepal is a buffer state between India and China. It is extremely important both for our internal and external security as India shares open border with Nepal.
  • The present nature geo-politics is such that any gain made by China vis-à-vis Nepal will come at the cost of India. This will hurt our economic and political interests.
  • Increasing bilateral cooperation of China with Nepal also has to been seen in larger context of China’s influence among SAARC nation and south Asia and Indian Ocean via its “One Belt One Road” initiative.
  • Nepal is proposing to amend the 1950 Peace and Friendship treaty with India which makes it mandatory for Nepal to inform or receive consent from India for military hardware purchase. An amendment will lead to independent decision making on security issues which again may be a concern to India’s security.

But many positive things show that India need not to worry:-

  • Relations between the two armies have remained unique from 1947 — their heads have been conferred the status of honorary general in the other country since 1965.
  • India’s then-army chief, Dalbir Singh Suhag, is believed to have played a crucial behind-the-scenes role in February last year in persuading his government to end the five-month-long economic blockade of Nepal.
  • There is historical inclination for India in Nepalese government. Geography also favors relation of Nepal with India rather than with China.
  • India is still the largest military supplier to Nepal and increasing Chinese presence is more of a political mandate resulting from Nepal’s increasing cooperation with China.

Way Forward:-

  • Utilize SAADMEX to improve disaster-readiness of Nepalese army, and perform multiple military exercises on lines of Surya Kiran.
  • India can also provide GPS services to Nepalese armies to improve the ties. India mustn’t stop supply of arms and equipment to Nepalese armies at crucial juncture like she did in 2005. There must be continuity in policy.
  • India should undertake Confident Building Measures (CBM) through cooperation on border security and exercises.
  • Soft loans to modernize military equipment and providing support through DRDO
  • Geo Mapping and support from IRNSS to Nepal Army to check conflicts in the areas
  • Agreements on sharing of information of terrorist and mutual support in crisis

Conclusion:-

However, China has invested heavily in Nepal, so the country’s engagement at the higher political and institutional levels in Nepal is inevitable. As Nepal continues to be in disarray and with its one-year-old constitution proving hard to implement, the army has regained credibility. So, instead of worrying maintaining cordial relations with the army seems an essential part of diplomacy for Nepal’s two neighbors.

 


General Studies – 3


Topic:  Resource mobilization; Conservation

6) Green bonds, which finance environmentally friendly businesses and assets, have emerged as one of the key financing mechanisms driving the global economy’s transition to a greener future. Analyse growth and potential of green bond market in India. (200 Words)

The Hindu

Introduction:-

A bond is a debt instrument with which an entity raises money from investors. The bond issuer gets capital while the investors receive fixed income in the form of interest. When the bond matures, the money is repaid.

A green bond is very similar. The only difference is that the issuer of a green bond publicly states that capital is being raised to fund ‘green’ projects, which typically include those relating to renewable energy, emission reductions and so on. There is no standard definition of green bonds as of now.

Indian firms like Indian Renewable Energy Development Agency Ltd and Greenko have in the past issued bonds that have been used for financing renewable energy, however, without the tag of green bonds.

Green bonds are issued by multilateral agencies such as the World Bank, corporations, government agencies and municipalities.  Institutional investors and pension funds also have appetite for such bonds. For instance, investment funds BlackRock and PIMCO have specific mandates from their investors to invest only in bonds which fund green projects. The issuer provides periodic reports about the project.

IMPORTANCE FOR INDIA:-

  • India has embarked on an ambitious target of building 175 gigawatt of renewable energy capacity by 2022, from just over 30 gigawatt now. This requires a massive $200 billion in funding.
  • India raise the cost of renewable energy by 24-32 per cent compared to the U.S. and Europe. India has big goals in terms of renewable energy installations, but a big hurdle has been financing and the cost of financing.
  • Budget allocations have been insufficient. Renewable energy is still part of the larger power/infrastructure funding basket in most banks, and with most financing going towards coal power projects, there is very little funding left for renewable energy.

This recent growth is because of following reasons-

  • India’s commitment to Paris Climate Accord to reduce dependence on fossil fuels and increase green infrastructure.
  • Increase in solar projects due to reduction in tariffs, better ROI and better involvement of DISCOMs due to which green financing has increased.
  • Recent listing of green masala bonds by Yes Bank in LSE with International Finance Corporation.
  • Demand for Cap & Trade from developed nations to meet Carbon Credit.
  • Regulatory mechanism introduced by SEBI and RBI for the green bond financing

India’s green bond market growth and potential:-

  • It is estimated that approximately USD 2.5 trillion is required to meet India’s climate change mitigation targets by 2030 and approximately USD 1 trillion in investment in infrastructure every five years to satisfy the demand. And around half of the total investment is expected to come from the private sector, says the report.
  • India’s green bond market has witnessed a number of critical milestones following Yes Bank’s and India’s first green infrastructure bonds issued in February 2015. A growing number of corporates and financial institutions have leveraged this innovative mechanism to raise capital, attracting foreign investments and inducing momentum in the market.
  • India also witnessed its award-winning first green masala bond (rupee-denominated bond), with the International Financial Corporation raising an off-shore rupee bond on London Stock Exchange for investing in Yes Bank’s green bond, demonstrating how innovations in emerging markets have the potential to capture global attention.
  • Green bond issuance in the country witnessed a 30 per cent year-on-year increase in 2016, cumulatively amounting to about Rs.18,131 crore (equivalent to $2.7 billion) and making India the seventh largest green bond market globally. These green bonds have been crucial in increasing financing to sunrise sectors like renewable energy, thus contributing to India’s sustainable growth.
  • The Climate Bond Initiative, in its India update, indicated that about 62 per cent of the green bond proceeds have been allocated to renewable energy projects, followed by the low carbon transport sector and low carbon buildings accounting for 17.5 per cent and 14 per cent of the proceeds, respectively.
  • At 2.2 per cent for each, the allocation of green bond proceeds towards water management and waste management has been somewhat limited owing to perceived sector-specific issues as well as due to projects being smaller in size and geographically dispersed.
  • Indian regulators have shown exemplary foresight in recognising green bonds as a key tool towards financing the nation’s climate change targets and in guiding the development of the green bond market through necessary policies and reforms. In January 2016, the Securities and Exchange Board (SEBI) of India published its official green bond guidelinesand requirements for Indian issuers, placing India amongst a select set of pioneering countries who have developed national level guidelines.
  • In addition to SEBI’s guidance on green bonds, the Reserve Bank of India passed regulatory reforms aimed at strengthening and expanding India’s corporate bond market. The extent of partial credit enhancement provided by banks has been increased to 50 per cent from 20 per cent of the bond issue size, while also permitting banks to issue masala bonds — key moves that will bolster the Indian green bond market.

 


Topic:  Developments in S&T

7) Recently scientists have found a way to tweak photosynthesis to increase crop productivity by accelerating recovery from photo-protection in plants. Examine the science and benefits involved in this process. (200 Words)

The Hindu

Introduction:-

Energy from sunlight is captured by the green pigment called chlorophyll in the leaves in order to conduct these chemical reactions. But this energy can also damage the leaves (recall how sunbathers in beaches can get sunburnt). Plants protect themselves from such light-induced damage by releasing heat (but we use sun-tan lotions or dark glasses for protection). Now, such “quenching” of excess solar energy must be quick. If it takes too long (often as long as half an hour) to “relax” and resume the cycle, it may be thought of as a “waste of time.” If only we can hasten this process (termed non-photochemical quenching, abbreviated as NPQ) of recovery safely, argues this research team, we may be able to improve crop productivity.

Scientific steps:-

Analyzing plant proteins:- ZEP, to speed up NPQ; VDP to moderate NPQ process; PSBS, to adjust NPQ level. According to researchers, insertion of all three[VPZ], could be used to modify crop yield and productivity. ex Tobacco plants tested with this system showed about 15% greater plant biomass production in natural field conditions.
VPZ plants shows faster relaxation during shade to sunshine period and soon engage in photosynthesis.

BENEFITS

  • It will fasten the efficiency of photosynthesis process (between 8 to 30 %) and hence the productivity of plants.
  • Will reduce the sun damage to plants and maintain the optimum level.
  • Though it is genetically modified process but it is plant based and not foreign to the plant kingdom so may not be opposed by activists.
  • It increase leaf area, stem and root weight , which is the clear indication of higher productivity in minimum crop sown area. It’ll be a significant step towards food security for the ever increasing population
  • It will open up gateways for further research to increase the oxygen yield during photosynthesis and towards carbon capture and sequestration