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SECURE SYNOPSIS: 25 February 2017

 


SECURE SYNOPSIS: 25 February 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.

STATIC Syllabus Timetable


General Studies – 1;


Topic:  Role of women; Social empowerment

1) The 2011 Census revealed the welcome fact that both the child sex ratio and the overall sex ratio in Punjab had improved considerably over the previous census data. However, subsequent rounds of National Family Health Survey data show that gender bias against the girl child in terms of health coverage and nutrition is not only higher than in the developed states but also the poorer ones. In this light, what should state and union government do to address this issue? Critically examine. (200 Words)

EPW

Introduction:-

Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched the ambitious “Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao” (B3P) campaign against female foeticide in Panipat in January 2015. Two years later, Haryana, notorious for its skewed sex ratio and patriarchal mindset, saw a historic turnaround.

sex ratio

Strategy to be adopted by state and central government:

  1. The welfare schemes aimed at not only bringing the structural reforms rather attitudinal changes. For example: the BBBP program launched as a movement.
    2. Promoting the women participation at the higher levels so that the empowerment can penetrate through their efforts. For example the 108 CAA be affected to provide 33% reservation to the women in the parliament. This empowers the few and inspires the millions.
    3. Involving multiple stakeholders like the civil society and the NGO’s in the policy cycle so that the effectiveness of the implementation can be ensured with due participation go the people. For example: the ASHA, ANM through the civil society awakening the people through them these institutions need to be empowered through the ICDS and adequate resources and training methodologies be made more robust.
    4. Capacity building program for empowering the women through an inward out process. For example: SHG’s for micro lending linkage.
  2. Convergence of all departments at the district-level, coupled with strong political will and co-ordinated efforts by all districts in the State
  3. video-conference with the Deputy Commissioners every month to monitor the progress by respective chief minister as done in case of Haryana. 7. Creation of a social media group, moderated by the Additional Principal Secretary to the Chief Minister. This forum enabled healthy competition between different districts and helped them learn from each other’s experiences.                     8.Universal health Care System which focuses especially on Girl Child and women at large.
    9. Special focus on pregnant and lactating women to Ensure better health of both Girl Child and Mother –  ICDS, JSY, JSSY, Maternity Leave and allowance.
    10.Educating the Adolescent Girl Children about Reproductive Rights and Reproductive Health.
    11. Improvement in the food quality of Mid-Day Meal Scheme.
    12. Bio-fortification of food grains distributed through PDS which address Hidden Hunger.
    13. Proper implementation of National Food Security Act.

Topic: World geography 

2) What do you understand by plate tectonics? Examine latest findings made in understanding plate tectonics. (200 Words)

Goh Cheng Leong, Chapter 2

world

  • Plate tectonics(from the Late Latin tectonicus, from the Greek: τεκτονικός “pertaining to building”)[1] is a scientific theory describing the large-scale motion of 7 large plates and the movements of a larger number of smaller plates of the Earth‘s lithosphere, over the last hundreds of millions of years.
  • The theoretical model builds on the concept ofcontinental drift developed during the first few decades of the 20th century. The geoscientific community accepted plate-tectonic theory after seafloor spreading was validated in the late 1950s and early 1960s.
  • The lithosphere, which is the rigid outermost shell of a planet (the crust and upper mantle), is broken up intotectonic plates. The Earth’s lithosphere is composed of seven or eight major plates (depending on how they are defined) and many minor plates.
  • Where the plates meet, their relative motion determines the type of boundary:convergentdivergent, or transformEarthquakesvolcanic activitymountain-building, and oceanic trench formation occur along these plate boundaries. The relative movement of the plates typically ranges from zero to 100 mm annually.
  • Tectonic plates are composed of oceanic lithosphere and thicker continental lithosphere, each topped by its own kind ofcrust. Along convergent boundaries, subduction carries plates into the mantle; the material lost is roughly balanced by the formation of new (oceanic) crust along divergent margins by seafloor spreading.
  • In this way, the total surface of the lithosphere remains the same. This prediction of plate tectonics is also referred to as the conveyor belt principle. Earlier theories, since disproven, proposed gradual shrinking (contraction) or gradual expansion of the globe.
  • Tectonic plates are able to move because the Earth’s lithosphere has greater strength than the underlyingasthenosphere. Lateral density variations in the mantle result in convection. Plate movement is thought to be driven by a combination of the motion of the seafloor away from the spreading ridge (due to variations in topography and density of the crust, which result in differences in gravitational forces) and drag, with downward suction, at the subduction zones. Another explanation lies in the different forces generated by tidal forces of the Sun and Moon. The relative importance of each of these factors and their relationship to each other is unclear, and still the subject of much debate.

TYPES OF PLATE BOUNDARIES:-

A divergent boundary :-

A divergent boundary occurs when two tectonic plates move away from each other. Along these boundaries, lava spews from long fissures and geysers spurt superheated water. Frequent earthquakes strike along the rift. Beneath the rift, magma—molten rock—rises from the mantle. It oozes up into the gap and hardens into solid rock, forming new crust on the torn edges of the plates. Magma from the mantle solidifies into basalt, a dark, dense rock that underlies the ocean floor. Thus at divergent boundaries, oceanic crust, made of basalt, is created.

convergent boundary :-

When two plates come together, it is known as a convergent boundary. The impact of the two colliding plates buckles the edge of one or both plates up into a rugged mountain range, and sometimes bends the other down into a deep seafloor trench. A chain of volcanoes often forms parallel to the boundary, to the mountain range, and to the trench. Powerful earthquakes shake a wide area on both sides of the boundary.

If one of the colliding plates is topped with oceanic crust, it is forced down into the mantle where it begins to melt. Magma rises into and through the other plate, solidifying into new crust. Magma formed from melting plates solidifies into granite, a light colored, low-density rock that makes up the continents. Thus at convergent boundaries, continental crust, made of granite, is created, and oceanic crust is destroyed.

Transform plate boundary :-

Two plates sliding past each other forms a transform plate boundary. Natural or human-made structures that cross a transform boundary are offset—split into pieces and carried in opposite directions. Rocks that line the boundary are pulverized as the plates grind along, creating a linear fault valley or undersea canyon. As the plates alternately jam and jump against each other, earthquakes rattle through a wide boundary zone. In contrast to convergent and divergent boundaries, no magma is formed. Thus, crust is cracked and broken at transform margins, but is not created or destroyed.

Latest findings made in understanding Plate Tectonics:-

1) Axial seamount = It refers to a live recording of volcano mountain. The volcano rising from Juan de fuca ridge demonstrates it. It supports the divergent movement.
2) After 2012 Sumatra Indonesia earthquake in Indian ocean the Indo Australian plate broken into many plate. It was mainly due to slipping of plate in interpolated and hence the activation of Barren volcano happened.
3) Zealandia:-It’s a new continent. It broke from Antarctica 100 million years and from Australia 80 million yrs ago. Its formation supports movement of plates.                                                                          

 4) Heat from the base of the mantle contributes significantly to the strength of the flow of heat in the mantle and to the resultant plate tectonics. Buoyancy is created by heat rising up from deep within the Earth’s core.


Topic:  Important Geophysical phenomena such as earthquakes, Tsunami, Volcanic activity, 

3) Identify earthquake prone regions of India. Explain why they are prone to frequent earthquakes. (200 Words)

Goh Cheng Leong, Chapter 3

earthquake

Zone 5

Zone 5 covers the areas with the highest risks zone that suffers earthquakes of intensity MSK IX or greater. The IS code assigns zone factor of 0.36 for Zone 5. Structural designers use this factor for earthquake resistant design of structures in Zone 5. The zone factor of 0.36 is indicative of effective (zero period) level earthquake in this zone. It is referred to as the Very High Damage Risk Zone. The region of Kashmir, the western and central Himalayas, North and Middle Bihar, the North-East Indian region and the Rann of Kutch fall in this zone.

Generally, the areas having trap rock or basaltic rock are prone to earthquakes.

Zone 4

This zone is called the High Damage Risk Zone and covers areas liable to MSK VIII. The IS code assigns zone factor of 0.24 for Zone 4. The Indo-Gangetic basin and the capital of the country (Delhi), Jammu and Kashmir fall in Zone 4. In Maharashtra, the Patan area (Koyananager) is also in zone no-4. In Bihar the northern part of the state like- Raksaul, Near the border of India and Nepal, is also in zone no-4.

Zone 3

The Andaman and Nicobar Islands, parts of Kashmir, Western Himalayas fall under this zone. This zone is classified as Moderate Damage Risk Zone which is liable to MSK VII. and also 7.8 The IS code assigns zone factor of 0.16 for Zone 3.

Zone 2

This region is liable to MSK VI or less and is classified as the Low Damage Risk Zone. The IS code assigns zone factor of 0.10 (maximum horizontal acceleration that can be experienced by a structure in this zone is 10% of gravitational acceleration) for Zone 2.

Zone 1

Since the current division of India into earthquake hazard zones does not use Zone 1, no area of India is classed as Zone 1.Future changes in the classification system may or may not return this zone to use.

REASONS BEHIND FREQUENT OCCURANCE:-

1 Volcanic activity

Exploding volcanoes release tremendous energy which offsets the Earth’s crust. This is the reason many earthquakes happen in and around volcanic regions. Earthquakes happening due to volcanic eruptions are called volcanic earthquakes.

 2 Folding and faulting

When a fracture occurs in the plane on which the Earth’s crust resides, an earthquake can happen. This type of earthquake is caused either by vertical or horizontal displacements. The movement of rocks along these fractures causes the movement of earth’s crust.

 3 Plate tectonics

The Earth’s surface is comprised of plates. These plates are always moving. When these plates move, their margins become sites of earthquakes. That is why earthquakes are found to be frequent in plate boundaries.

4 Nuclear bombs

Human beings test nuclear bombs underground. The explosion releases shock waves. This situation can cause a minor earthquake. The overlying rocks become unstable. They shift their position. It induces a mass chain reaction of shifting rocks.

 5 Construction activities

Blasting of rocks for construction work is common. Rocks are needed for construction. Blasts release energy and render the Earth’s crust unstable. In mountainous regions, rocks that were lying for millions of years could shift. A small shift releases outward energy that renders the whole region unstable. In this event, an earthquake happens.

 6 Underground mining

Deep underground mining creates big gaps beneath the Earth’s surface. This does not do much for the stability of the Earth’s upper layer. Also, mining involves the use of explosives and bombs to blast open rocks. Similar to nuclear bombs, and construction related bombs, explosions for mining release shock waves.

 7 Dams and reservoirs

Water held in dams and reservoirs exerts tremendous pressure on the ground surface. The ground surface spreads this pressure across to sustain itself. This is a natural phenomenon. But over a period of time, water disturbs the equilibrium of the Earth’s surface. The pressure could build up in a way so as to produce mild tremors. Over a period of time, a full-fledged earthquake can happen.

 8 Landslides

Avalanches and landslides disturb the equilibrium of the Earth’s crust. They cause the Earth’s crust to send shock waves as a means to release and distribute energy. Landslides exert tremendous force on the Earth’s crust, which can even cause a full-blown plate movement several kilometers below the Earth’s crust.

 9 Injecting liquid waste into the ground

In many parts of India, certain industries inject waste into the ground’s surface as a means of disposal. This process causes instability of the Earth’s crust and could lead to earthquakes.

 10 Creating high rise buildings on inappropriate land

The creation of high rise buildings on land that is not capable of withstanding such pressure can cause Earthquakes.


General Studies – 2


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

4) In the light of recent protests and violent incidents in two prestigious universities in Delhi, critically comment on the state of affairs  in institutions of higher learning in India – especially on their role as places of independent thinking and grooming ground for vibrant civil society. (200 Words)

The Hindu

EPW

Universities are places of learning as well as fresh thought, free flow of ideas, discussions and debates. Apart from imbibing the technical knowledge, they have also been the places for democracy to thrive in. Ideological freedom is necessary in universities in order to mould students into responsible,vibrant citizens who can drive a positive change in the society and lead to national development.

Universities have produced many great scholars, technocrats, policy makers, activists who work for the betterment of our country. They have acted as breeding grounds for rational thinking as well as excellence through integrity and creativity. They act as the knowledge hubs where intellectualism is nurtured.

But, recent incidences show the degrading status of universities. Increasing narrow-mindedness is hampering the broad vision that they strive to achieve.

  1. IDEOLOGICAL STRUGGLE –

Universities are places where one can discuss diverse thoughts, formulate new ideas and challenge the established things. Here, students get opportunity to develop rational thinking , ideologies and express views without any fear.

But, recently, the ideological struggle has taken the form of aggression and the fight for establishing the one over the other.

  • Increasing intolerance –

-Rise of the extreme tendencies and consequently the growth of the intolerance towards the diverse ideas.

-The rising revolutionist tendencies in the educated youth towards the growth of a central tendency which forbids the growth of others.

-Incidences of growing friction at university campuses tell a distressing tale of growing narrow-mindedness, the very spirit against which a university stands.

-Incidences of violence are themselves evidence of degradation of value system and integrity of universities.

  • Political interference – 

-Universities have become a playground for politicians to play Money and muscle power to influence the ideological developments and suppress the dissenting voices.

  • Shrinking spaces for freedom of speech –

-There are disruptions in the garb of nationalistic or other rhetoric.

-No room for quality public debate -The recent violent clash at Ramjas College reflects a serious threat to the culture of debate, dissent and discussion. Academic life should be marked by vibrancy in debates and dissent.

  1. STUDENT POLITICS –
  • It is necessary for the institutions to be liberal in matters of student elections, protests for the following reasons-

-It cannot be negated that students as the citizens of India, have their right to participate in political forum and by the very nature institutions become an arena for them to thrive.

-It provides them a platform to voice their concern and also to showcase the ills of society like caste discrimination.

– Institutions are the places where future leaders are made. Present finance minister was once a student leader showcase the need for liberal thoughts.

  • Although the student politics seemingly can cause harm to normal functioning of institutions, it is necessary to understand the nuances in politics-students nexus, role of external political interference and patronage to student unions.

 

  1. ADMINISTRATIVE CHALLENGES –
  • Political Interference: Universities have become an arena of showing political influence. Teachers are appointed based on political patronage instead of teaching skills. Appointments of directors, principals etc have seen rise in interference by political executives.
  • Regulatory bodies such as UGC is marred with serious administrative challenges.
  • Autonomy of universities is compromised for vested interests. Further no heed provided towards maintenance, the renewal, the sustainability of the university.

 

  1. DEGRADING QUALITY OF ACADEMICS –
  • Poor research by universities and lack of accessibility due to poor Scholarship schemes hampering creation of vibrant civil society.
  • Liberal allocation of degrees without quality etc.

 

WAY FORWARD –

  1. Non-interference of the external political forces into the university education and functioning. This is also highlighted by the TSR Subramanian Committee Report on education reforms .
  2. The university should be autonomous in terms of code of conduct within the university campus and its associated issues. It should have its own administrative machinery for tackling with these issues. The external forces should only be involved in grave situations. The universities should be graded on merit in order to have autonomy. The better a university performs the greater autonomy it should have (TSR Subramanian Committee Recommendation).
  3. The administrative and social environment must be conducive for respect diverse ideologies, practices and intellectualism.

Universities are the integral part to the working of a civilized society and therefore need nourished and cherished for the success of the democratic functioning.


Topic:  mechanisms, laws, institutions and Bodies constituted for the protection and betterment of these vulnerable sections

5) In the absence of clear and organised sentencing guidelines, it is said that contemporary penal policy in India is marred by unguided judicial discretion. Critically examine. (200 Words)

EPW

Judicial reforms in India are long overdue. There have been issues in the penal policy of India which is marred by the unguided judicial discretion.

Contemporary penal policy in India –

LEGISLATIVE PRESCRIPTION OF PUNISHMENTS AS KNEE-JERK REACTION –

  • Dramatic increases in prescribed punishments have become a preferred method for the central or state governments to demonstrate that they are committed to a cause- eg. Black money Holding and Human Trafficking, both have 10 years imprisonment.
  • Some of these increases in penalties seem justified as they attempt to deter wrongs that cause significant societal harm. However, the growing trend of indiscriminate increases in the maximum penalties prescribed raise questions around the meanings of punishment.
  • Academic approaches to criminal justice reform in India reflect a similar blind spot where legislative prescription of punishment is concerned. Judicial decisions too have only pointed to the paucity of sentencing guidelines without explicitly stating, or even recognising, the need for similar guidelines to Parliament to formulate a penal policy (State of Punjab v Prem Sagar 2008; Soman v State of Kerala 2013).

FLAWED JUSTIFICATIONS FOR PUNISHMENTS –

  • A responsive penal system requires one or more philosophical justifications for a punishment situated in a specific social and political context. Little or no thought, however, has gone into Parliament’s role in the determination of punishments, and whether it responsibly addresses questions of proportionality, fairness in choice of punishment, and the social impact of the chosen punishment.
  • The objective of retribution guides legislation and judicial pronouncements in India. Gandhiji believed in the reformative objective of punishment rather than retributive one. In India this retributive emotion leaves no space for reintegration and reformation of offenders. All offences from bribery to murder are weighed in balance of the severity of punishment with reformation missing clearly.
  • The primary objective of the criminal justice system is simple. A fair punishment should meet the test of proportionality. Mere severity does not constitute an effective deterrent. This has been asserted often in the case of sexual offences.
  • The absence of a penal policy followed by the legislature is equally, if not more, problematic than the absence of sentencing guidelines for the judiciary.

UNGUIDED JUDICIAL DISCRETION –

Institutional lacunae and anomalies that seek to increase judicial discretion:

  • Repressive laws like disturbed areas act give unbridled power to sentence. This means more judicial discretion.
  • Archaic laws: The sheer number of laws means that the judgement can be based on many versions hence again increasing the judicial discretion. Either the offence itself or the punishments prescribed have become obsolete.
  • Inconsistency of laws across the states: Indian judiciary is integrated institution. This means all the punishments and judgements are court of record. The different punishments only increase the judicial discretion. For example – Anti-Ragging Laws across different states.
  • The legislative guidance provided for the exercise of judicial discretion is woefully inadequate in several instances. Prescribed punishments do not assist judges in gauging parliamentary intent.

WAY FORWARD –

  • At the stage of determining a “just punishment,” the legislature is required to incorporate values of reformation, reintegration, and consequences of punishment to the society.
  • Model of ordinal (Gravity of offense) and cardinal (mitigate or aggravate the offence) proportionality, which is instructive to the legislature in the choice of punishments.
  • An absolute paucity of conceptual tools and empirical data on sentencing patterns or effectiveness of punishments has left a huge informational vacuum which needs to be plugged. In the order of priority, the need for a constant review of the socio-economic consequences of crime and punishment in a dynamic society like India heads the list.
  • The creation of an expansive information repository on the functioning of the penal process would be a good place to start. Such a repository can then contribute to the development of a penal scale as an integral part of penal policy.
  • It must be reviewed periodically and comprehensively in order to measure up to the requirements of changing social and political aspirations of the society.

CONCLUSION –

Judicial system represents the health of the overall wellbeing of a state and any system which is guided by individual discretion and emotions need to be reformed. It is imperative for the government to work in hand with Law commission and act according to their latest reports. Recommendations of committees like Justice Verma committee for amendments in criminal law shows how different stakeholders’ input can result in better guided judicial policy for India.

While we acknowledge that it is necessary for Parliament to leave a certain margin for the exercise of judicial discretion, it is equally important for it to responsibly determine the plane on which the judiciary should exercise its discretion.


Topic:  mechanisms, laws, institutions and Bodies constituted for the protection and betterment of these vulnerable sections

6) Discuss the significance of  observations made bySupreme Court in the Jeeja Ghosh & Anr v Union of India & Ors (2012) case. (200 Words)

EPW

ISSUE –

In the Jeeja Ghosh & Anr v Union of India & Ors (2012) case, which involved a passenger with cerebral palsy who was offloaded from the SpiceJet flight, the Supreme Court has highlighted two important rights of disabled travellers—accessibility and reasonable accommodation.

Article 21 of the constitution provides that “No person shall be deprived of his life and dignity except according to procedure established by law.”

Observations made by Supreme Court –
1) Disabled people have right to live with dignity : In this particular case Jeeja Bai who was travelling for an international conference was offended when she was refused by a private airline to travel stating that being disabled she can’t travel. SC in this judgment pronounced that even disabled people have the right to live with dignity.
2) Reorganization: There should be a full recognition of the fact that persons with disability were integral part of the community.
3)Legality : The Right to people with disability act 1995 which was later amended in 2016 had section 44 dealing with non-discrimination in transport and provides for adapting rail compartments, aircrafts, buses and vessels to be disabled-friendly.
4) International Convention: India is a signatory to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and hence disabled should be given equal rights be it transport or public spaces. By levying the compensation in this particular case court uphold the convention.

Significance of the Supreme Court verdict:

  • Verdict of S.C has awakened the spirit of hope among disabled persons and made them aware about their rights under PWD act and further gave a blow to worst form of discrimination.
  • Blow to the lax nature of executive and bureaucracy and further raised the issue of providing such persons with accessible public infrastructure like hospitals and roads etc.
  • C verdict maintained the image of india on world level as india is a signatory to UNCRPD which affirms rights to the disabled.
  • Verdict of S.C promoted the rich values of our constitution such as equality for all under article 14 as well as art-21 that is right to life.
  • Warned the private players as they are fond of running away from their responsibilities and this verdict has surely reversed their trend of counter-vailing laws.

CONCLUSION –

This judgment is significant in terms that it reminded states of equality to people with disability. Recent passage of Person with Disability Bill is major step in this regard. It should be implemented in letter and spirit.

Sugamya Bharat Abhiyan is one of the few approaches; it deals with providing ramps and other mandatory requirements.

Private players were reminded through this judgement that they are equally responsible in empowering differently abled.


General Studies – 3


Topic: Indian economy growth and development

7) The recent economic survey has recommended setting up of a centralised Public Sector Asset Rehabilitation Agency. Critically discuss reasons why the economic survey has recommended this step. (200 Words)

EPW

Introduction-

To address the festering Twin Balance Sheet (TBS) problem, the Economic Survey today suggested creation of state-owned asset reconstruction company, Public Sector Asset Rehabilitation Agency (PARA).

What is PARA?

Public sector Asset Rehabilitation Agency (PARA) will purchase the big bad-loans from the banks and then “work them out,” either by converting debt to equity and selling the controlling stakes in auctions, or granting debt reduction, both measures to restore corporate financial viability. With the big bad-loans off the books of the public sector banks, the government will then recapitalize and restore them back to financial health. PARA will be financed from three sources—the issue of government securities, encouraging private investors to take equity shares, and the RBI.

Why economic survey has recommended setting up PARA?

  • The Survey states that the simultaneous phenomena of companies turning overleveraged and banks being encumbered with bad loans have resulted in a ‘twin balance sheet’(TBS) problem, a legacy of the boom years around the global financial crisis. TBS had initially seemed to be a problem that would solve itself with the setting in of an economic recovery. However, the elusiveness of a recovery has exacerbated the problem to an extent where it could hinder growth.
  • RBI’s corporate debt restructuring scheme, which has favored the debtor over the creditor, extending repayment periods, reducing the rates of interest, converting some of the debt capital to equity capital, and extending additional credit, yet, the companies have not recovered. Therefore, the intent of the restructuring has not been realized.
  • Around one-sixth of the gross advances of the public sector banks are “stressed”—they are either “non-performing” or “restructured” or written off. Most of the stressed advances are categorized as “non-performing assets.” With such a large fraction of their portfolios impaired, it has become extremely difficult for them to earn enough income on their assets to cover their running and deposit costs.
  • The Survey notes that banks face severe coordination problems while attempting resolution, since large debtors have many creditors, each with different interests. They find it difficult – financially and politically — to grant sizeable debt reductions, or to take them over and sell them. Since banks can’t resolve the big cases, they have simply refinanced the debtors, effectively kicking the problems down the road.
  • Therefore there is a need for an agency which will take care of both private sector corporates and public sector. It could solve the coordination problem, since debts would be centralized in one agency; it could be set up with proper incentives by giving it an explicit mandate to maximize recoveries within a defined time period; and it would separate the loan resolution process from concerns about bank capital. For all these reasons, asset rehabilitation agencies have been adopted by many of the countries facing TBS problems, notably the East Asian crisis cases.

Conclusion-

The Survey says that private asset reconstruction companies have barely been more successful than banks in resolving bad debts. “But international experience shows that a professionally run central agency with government backing – while not without its own difficulties – can overcome the difficulties that have impeded progress.”


Topic:  Environmental pollution and degradation

8) Examine the health impacts of air pollution in India. Also critically comment on India’s response to pollution induced health problems. (200 Words)

EPW

What different reports say on impact of air pollution in India?

  • According to a Greenpeace India report released in 2016, India overtook China in the number of deaths caused by air pollution last year. Analyzing the Global Burden of Disease (GBD) data compiled by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington in Seattle, the report found that India had 3,283 premature deaths due to ambient air pollution every day, as opposed to China’s 3,233 per day.
  • As many as 1.2 million deaths take place every year due to air pollution in India, according to Greenpeace India Greenpeace’s report, titled ‘Airpocalypse,’ says Delhi is India’s most polluted city.
  • State of Global Air report has concluded that of the 4.2 million deaths globally attributable to air pollution in 2015, India and China together account for 52% of them. However, while China has taken steps that have steadied the rate of increase of air pollution–related mortality, the graph in India continues to climb.
  • Air pollution is killing nearly eight lakh people annually in the South East Asian Region with India alone accounting for over 75 per cent of the casualties caused by cardiovascular diseases and lung cancer, according to a new WHO report 2016.
  • WHO South East Asian Region (SEAR) statement quoting the WHO Report on Ambient Air Pollution 2016 said that 6,21,138 people died in India of air pollution due to Acute lower respiratory infection (ALRI), Chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder (COPD), Ischemic heart disease (IHD) and Lung Cancer.
  • In May 2014 the World Health Organization announced New Delhias the most polluted city in the world. In November 2016, the Great smog of Delhi was an environmental event which saw New Delhi and adjoining areas in a dense blanket of smog, which was the worst in 17 years.
  • In 2016, the World Health Organization listed 20 most polluted cities in the world. Of these, 10 were in India and the worst were Allahabad, Kanpur, Firozabad and Lucknow.

Health effects of Air pollution in India-

  • Carbon monoxide reduces the oxygen carrying capacity of red blood cells. The health effects depend on the duration of exposure and the concentration of carbon monoxide inhaled. Typical symptoms of exposure to low levels of carbon monoxide include headache, dizziness and tiredness. Higher concentration of carbon monoxide can lead to impaired vision, disturbed coordination and eventually death.
  • Nitrogen dioxide irritates the mucosa of the eyes, nose, throat and the lower respiratory tract. Exposure to low level of nitrogen dioxide may cause increased bronchial reactivity and in those with asthma increased response to allergens. Nitrogen dioxide also aggravates existing chronic respiratory diseases. Long-term exposure to nitrogen dioxide can lower a person’s lung function and resistance to respiratory infections.
  • In the upper atmosphere, ozone shields the earth from the harmful ultraviolet radiation. In ground level, ozone is a highly reactive gas which can irritate the eyes and bring upper and lower respiratory symptoms to healthy people. It may also provoke asthmatic attacks in people having asthma. Ozone can also increase a person’s susceptibility to respiratory infection and aggravate pre-existing respiratory illnesses.
  • PM is further identified according to their aerodynamic diameter, as either PM10 (particles with an aerodynamic diameter smaller than 10 µm) or PM2.5 (aerodynamic diameter smaller than 2.5 µm). The latter are more dangerous since, when inhaled, they may get deeper into the lungs. A number of research studies have shown association between increase in PM concentration and increase in daily hospital admissions and premature deaths from respiratory and cardiovascular diseases. Persons with pre-existing cardiovascular and respiratory diseases were found to be most susceptible.
  • Sulphur dioxide irritates eyes and nose. Inhalation of sulphur dioxide causes narrowing of the airways (bronchoconstriction), which people suffering from asthma and chronic respiratory diseases are more sensitive to than other people.

India’s response to pollution induced health problems-

  • The union Environment Ministry has notified in Jan 2017, a ‘Graded Response Action Plan’ against air pollution for Delhi and the National Capital Region. A graded response lays down stratified actions that are required to be taken as and when the concentration of pollutants, in this case particulate matter, reaches a certain level. For example at the level of 100 microgrammes per cubic metre of PM 2.5, mechanized sweeping and water-sprinkling along roads has to start. Traffic police personnel have to ensure smooth flow of traffic, and all pollution control measures that are already in place — such as stopping landfill fires, and enforcing Pollution Under Control (PUC) norms and a ban on firecrackers — have to be imposed strictly.

Challenge is that a large number of agencies, from different states, will have to work together. That a coordination agency Environment Pollution Control Authority (EPCA) has been appointed is the silver lining. According to EPCA’s report, at least 16 agencies will have to work together to implement the various parts of the plan.

  • An “Eco-mark” label has been introduced to put on consumer products that are environment-friendly. So far, the government has issued 19 notifications on different products criteria.
  • Introduction of Air Quality Index is proving fruitful in determining the quality of air and for public awareness. Union Environment Ministry proposed to extend the measurement of air quality on real time basis in 22 state capitals and 44 other cities with a population of more than one million. This index will help the people know about the level of pollution in the ambient air on daily basis.
  • NGT had ordered to ban diesel vehicles older than 15 years. Although Supreme Court has lifted the ban on diesel vehicles above 2000cc, it has levies one per cent cess on ex-showroom price as green cess on such vehicles.
  • Government is taking active steps to promote LPG gas in rural households through Ujjwala scheme to prevent use of woods and biomass as a fuel which causes respiratory problems.

Conclusion-

Government has to pursue all its efforts initiatives relentlessly and has to involve citizens in its projects for effective outcomes.  Indian government needs to work on Chinese and other best models of the world fighting air pollution so that precious lives of citizens are saved.