SECURE SYNOPSIS: 13 FEBRUARY 2018
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, their problems and their remedies.
1) Sustainable urban development needs to be led by the central government working closely with state and local governments. in this regard, it is said that India needs to develop its own national urban policy (NUP) as an instrument for applying a coherent set of interventions in relation to the future growth of cities, in partnership with all stakeholders. Discuss what features should NUP include. (250 Words)
- India is in the midst of a major urbanization boom. As per Census 2011, 377 million Indians comprising 31.1% of the total population lived in urban areas. Going ahead, by 2030, India’s urban population is projected to increase to 600 million. However, this positive trend is also accompanied by its own unique set of issues.
- Indian cities face challenges in terms of deficits in infrastructure, governance and sustainability. With rapid urbanization, these problems are going to aggravate, and can cumulatively pose a challenge to India’s growth trajectory.
Reasons why India needs a national urban policy are :-
- India needs to develop its own national urban policy (NUP) as an instrument for applying a coherent set of interventions in relation to the future growth of cities, in partnership with all stakeholders. Globally, around one-third of countries have a national urban policy in place.
- Such a policy will outline and highlight the importance and objectives of cities.
- India needs to fine-tune the vision about cities and urbanization in light of the aspirations of citizens, state capabilities, historical legacy, cultural context and present economic situation.
- Urbanization in India is a complex issue, with the majority of city-related issues being state subjects.
- However, there is a need to build adequate capacities at the state/urban local bodies level to prepare cities for future challenges. The National policy would set the common minimum agenda, involving participation of all stakeholders.
- In India, such agenda setting would encourage programmes and policies to be integrated and aim at operationalizing the spirit of the 74th Amendment.
- The present urban scenario has new stakeholders who are more connected than ever. A NUP framework would recognize all these stakeholders and prevent cities from seeing through these participants.
- Various aggregators like Uber and Amazon, distance learning universities, the active participation of non-resident Indians, service aggregators such as UrbanClap present a complex web of interdependent and interconnected stakeholders.
- Once their presence is acknowledged, states and cities would be better placed to develop the right processes and systems to utilize the potential of these stakeholders.
- A NUP will provide a framework for states, which would be encouraged and nudged to adopt a state version of this policy. This is a prerequisite for leveraging urbanization to the fullest extent and with the greatest efficiency. Addressing India’s current urban woes without such a policy will be considerably more difficult.
However government efforts are being made:-
- To cater to urbanization challenges, the government launched the Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation (Amrut)) as a step towards harnessing the agglomeration economies of the urban centres and making cities engines of growth.
- The mission lays emphasis on creating infrastructure, improving service delivery, making cities smarter for improved livelihood and providing for faster and integrated mobility.
- It envisages convergence across various initiatives such as Amrut, Smart Cities, Hriday (National Heritage City Development and Augmentation Yojana), Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana and Swachh Bharat.
- For 2018-19, the government increased the budget for the housing and urban affairs ministry by 8%, to Rs41,765 crore.
- The centre has also formulated separate policies for urban sanitation, transport, transit-oriented development and also a national mission on sustainable habitat, each with a specific mandate and vision
General Studies – 2
Topic: India and its neighborhood- relations
- After successfully implementing a “Look East” policy to promote trade and investment with its Asian neighbours, India has adopted a similar policy toward West Asia.
Nature of India’s evolving Look west policy:-
- India seeks to pursue a multi-dimensional engagement with West Asia. While much focus is often given to India’s ‘Act East’ policy, India’s ‘Look West’ policy too is evolving rapidly.
- India’s voice is becoming an important one in a region.
- Trade and economic ties are becoming the main point of relations and India is turning in a long term investor.
- De-hyphenation of relations is taking place for instance Israel and Palestine where India is acting independently to push its national interests.
- Growing convergence between the countries in the region and India on pragmatic issues like tackling terrorism, Energy security etc.
- The relations traditionally were based on energy and Indian Diaspora present there but now India seeks to maintain relations to be a significant power in the world as well.
- Trade and economic ties are becoming central to the India-UAE relationship.
- A landmark pact awarding a consortium of Indian oil companies a 10% stake in offshore oil concession will be the first Indian investment in the UAE’s upstream oil sector, transforming a traditional buyer-seller relationship into a long-term investor relationship with stakes in each other’s strategic sectors.
- Similarly India’s investment in Chabahar port of Iran
- China’s expanding footprint in the Indian Ocean Region has alerted India to the possibility of strengthening security ties with West Asian region. India is likely to step up its military presence in Oman.
- Naval cooperation has already been gaining momentum with Muscat giving berthing rights to Indian naval vessels to fight piracy in the Gulf of Aden. Regular naval exercises have now become the norm.
- India and Oman have not only made military cooperation more expansive by enhancing cooperation in the field of health, tourism and peaceful uses of outer space.
- West Asia is crucial for stability and economic growth in India. It is from this region that we get around 65 per cent of our oil and more than 80 per cent of our gas supplies. Seven million Indians live in these Arab Gulf monarchies which are all members of the Arab Gulf Cooperation Council.
- India remains strongly committed to the establishment of a viable Palestinian state, living at peace with Israel.
- Israel –India relations are so multidimensional be it defence, agricultural technologies etc
- Bureaucratic inertia in India continues to hamper India’s outreach.
- If the Association of South East Asian Nations has been the vehicle for India’s expanding partnership with South East Asia, there is no similar forum in the Middle East.
- One important reason for Delhi’s success east of India has been the absence of domestic political discord over the region. Ideological, political and religious divisions in India over the Middle East have long complicated Delhi’s thinking of the region.
- Instability in the region due to ISIS.
- India’s engagement with West Asia should now focus on delivering on its commitments and strengthening its presence as an economic and security partner.
- India as an emerging power need to articulate a clear road map for the region.
- Growing rivalry between the Sunni Arabs and Shia Iran is reshaping old relationships and India will have to be more pragmatic in its approach towards the region.
Topic: Mechanisms, laws, institutions and Bodies constituted for the protection and betterment of these vulnerable sections.
3) What is neo-abolitionism? It is argued that India should assert a leadership role in the global fight against exploitation by countering the influence of neo-abolitionism. What do you understand by this argument? In the light of the Trafficking of Persons (Prevention, Protection and Rehabilitation) Bill, 2016, discuss critically. (250 Words)
- Neoabolitionist (or neo-abolitionist or new abolitionism) is a term used by historians to refer to the rebirth of the civil rights movement in the late 1950s and early 1960s.
- Neoabolitionism is a discourse that perpetuates sensationalist accounts of modern slaves as victims tricked by unscrupulous traffickers and whose only hope is to be rescued by law-enforcing heroes.
- It describes discourse on abolition of modern slavery, forced labour and marriages by government intervention.
Why India should assert the leadership role ?
- Long before neoabolitionist groups and indeed Western countries set the global policy agenda on trafficking in the 1970s and 1980s India and Brazil had developed a rich, indigenous jurisprudence on exploitation. This had a structural understanding of coercion and exploitation in labour markets and was backed by a creative regulatory response.
- The topic of trafficking gained international prominence, and was treated to be equivalent to sex trafficking and sex work. But India has a magnitude of laws which consider trafficking as a multidimensional issue ranging from the Indian Penal Code and the Immoral Traffic Prevention Act (ITPA), 1986, to social welfare legislation on contract and bonded labour, and inter-state migrant work.
- Neo abolitionism tries to tackle these issues in only a legal way neglecting socio economic disparities triggering people to become modern slaves etc.
- The current definition of trafficking in Section 370 of the IPC is not limited to sex work which is what is understood by neoabolitionists.
Issues with the trafficking bill :-
- The Indian government is set to introduce the Trafficking of Persons (Prevention, Protection and Rehabilitation) Bill, 2016 and it exemplifies neoabolitionism.
- It pursues the classic raid-rescue-rehabilitation model, with stringent penalties for trafficking, including life imprisonment for its aggravated forms, reversals of burden of proof, and provisions for stripping traffickers of their assets.
- It creates a plethora of new institutions with unclear roles and no accountability
- It creates a parallel adjudication machinery with special courts and special public prosecutors.
- There is no clarity on how the Bill relates to the Immoral Traffic Prevention Act (ITPA) 1986, and to labour laws.
- It does not consider exploitation as a socio economic concept and deals with it in a purely legal manner.
What should India do?
- India should focus on a multi-faceted legal and economic strategy by looking into
- Robust implementation of labour laws
- A universal social protection floor
- Self-organisation of workers
- Improved labour inspection, including in the informal economy
- Corporate accountability for decent work conditions.
- Experts also reiterated the need for systemic reforms to counter distress migration, end caste-based discrimination, enforce the rural employment guarantee legislation, avoid the indiscriminate rescue of voluntary sex workers, and protect migrants mobility and rights.
- Only a bold, holistic response to what is a socioeconomic problem of labour exploitation can help India realise SDG 8.7.
Topic: Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests, Indian diaspora..
- The US government recently released its Nuclear Posture Review (NPR).
- A case to develop low-yield atomic bombs, largely in response to Russia and China’s advances over the years, forms the cornerstone of the Pentagon’s 2018 Nuclear Posture Review (NPR), released this month.
- This represents a radical break from former President Barack Obama’s 2010 NPR, which envisaged a reduced role for atomic weapons in defence, except in “extreme circumstances”.
Main points of NPR 2018:-
- It shows the Trump administration will broaden the circumstances under which it would use nuclear weapons first and more tightly integrate its nuclear and conventional forces to facilitate nuclear war-fighting.
- It also plans to add a third type of low-yield weapon to the arsenal by modifying some of the existing warheads on sub-based ballistic missiles.
- All of these changes can occur within this presidential term.
- In the longer run, the NPR calls for the deployment of a nuclear-armed sea-launched cruise missile. The U.S. has not deployed such a weapon for 25 years.
US government view:-
- The review is looking at how nuclear weapons can deter new non-nuclear attacks that could have strategic effects: catastrophic mass casualties, cyberattacks against U.S. infrastructure, chemical or biological attacks, or attacks against U.S. critical space capabilities
- This new policy deliberately blurs the line between nuclear and conventional forces and eliminates a clear firewall.
- The decision to deploy anothertype of low-yield weapon and this one on submarines is consistent with the new emphasis on nuclear war-fighting. Existing U.S. B61 bombs and air-launched cruise missiles already have low-yield options.
- The new policy also shoots a big hole in the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, which is key to U.S. security. It simply rejects the U.S. obligation to take steps toward nuclear disarmament.
- The NPR is a concern to the non-nuclear weapon states, who are already fed up with the slow progress of the United States and Russia.
- But early indications suggest the new NPR will expand the contingencies that could lead to the use of nuclear weapons.
- Experts say that threatening nuclear attack to counter new kinds of asymmetric threats is would increase the risk of nuclear weapons use, and would make it easier for other countries to justify excessive roles for nuclear weapons in their policies
- Once nuclear weapons are used in a conflict against another nuclear-armed adversary, there is no guarantee against a cycle of escalation leading to all-out global nuclear war.
- A legion of critics blasted a potential nuclear buildup as dangerous, fiscally ruinous and redolent of outdated Cold War thinking.
- Skeptics of the Trump administration’s embrace of nuclear weapons argue that they won’t be able to credibly deterthe sort of low-level aggression carried out by countries like Russia in Eastern Europe and North Korea in northeast Asia. The strategy seems to embrace the weapons more for their own sake than any utility they might provide.
- There is no replacement in hand once the NEW START treaty will end and this attitude of US would divert American resources away from conventional advantage, and bring no additional security.
Implications on India:-
- The policy can lead to focus on military aspect by countries and can threaten the peace and stability of the region.
- It would give further impetus to Pakistan to use nuclear weapon with India’s policy of no first use for nuclear weapons in place.
- India can get updated technology transfer from US and can use it to modernize Indian defence.
- There will be more pressure on India to indigenize the modernization of defence forces as relying on other countries is riskier.
General Studies – 3
Findings of the Biennal India state of forest report 2017:-
- 15thState of Forest Report shows that India’s total forest cover increased by 0.94 per cent, from 7,01,673 square kilometers to 7,08,273 square kilometres(which is 21.53% of the geographic area of the country) since its last assessment in 2015.
- India posted a marginal 0.21% rise in the area under forest between 2015 and 2017
- The total forest and tree cover is 24.39 per cent of the geographical area of the country
- Madhya Pradesh has the largest forest cover of 77,414 sq km in the country in terms of area, followed by Arunachal Pradesh with 66,964 sq km and Chhattisgarh (55,547 sq km).
- Andhra Pradesh (2141 sq km), followed by Karnataka (1101 sq km) and Kerala (1043 sq km) have shown the maximum increase in forest cover.
- In terms of percentage of forest cover with respect to the total geographical area, Lakshadweep with (90.33 per cent) has the highest forest cover, followed by Mizoram (86.27 per cent) and Andaman & Nicobar Island (81.73 per cent)”
- The present assessment also reveals that 15 states/UT’s have above 33 per cent of the geographical area under forest cover.
- The total carbon stock in the country’s forest is estimated to be 7,082 million tonnes, which shows an increase of 38 million tonnes, as compared to the previous assessment.
- The extent of bamboo-bearing area in the country has been estimated at 15.69 million ha. In comparison to the last assessment done in 2011, there has been an increase of 1.73 million ha in bamboo area.
- Maharashtra (432 sq kms), Gujarat (428 sq kms), Madhya Pradesh (389 sq kms) are top three states showing increase in water bodies within forest areas. Overall, almost all the states have shown a positive change in water bodies.
- Mangrove cover of the country has shown a positive change.
- As per ISFR 2017, mangrove forests have increased by 181 sq kms. Maharashtra (82 sq kms), Andhra Pradesh (37 sq kms) and Gujarat (33 sq kms) are the top three gainers in terms of mangrove cover.
- 7 out of the 12 mangrove states have shown an increase in mangrove cover and none of them show any negative change.
- Report also points towards an expansion of agro-forestry and private forestry.
- India has shown an increasing trend in the forest and tree cover, in comparison to the global trend of decreasing forest cover during the last decade.
- That most of the increase in the forest cover was observed in Very Dense Forest (VDF) was a positive sign as VDF absorbs maximum carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.
- India ranks among the top ten countries of the world in terms of forest area, despite the fact that none of the other 9 countries has a population density like India.
- ISFR 2017 has been prepared with the help of scientific tools.
- The spatial information given in the report is based on interpretation of LISS-III data from Indian Remote Sensing satellite data (Resourcesat-II) with a spatial resolution of 23.5 meters
- Information given in the report will serve as an important tool to monitor the country’s forest resources and plan suitable scientific and policy interventions for its management.
- It will also serve as a useful source of information for the policy makers, planners, State Forest Departments, line agencies involved in various developmental works, academicians, civil society and others interested in natural resource conservation and management.
- Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Kerala topped the States that posted an increase in forest cover. Much of this increase can be attributed to plantation and conservation activities both within and outside the Recorded Forest areas as well as an improvement in interpretation of satellite data
- In India’s north-east however, forest cover showed a decrease.
- In line with the Government of India’s vision of Digital India and the consequent need for integration of digital data sets, the Forest Survey of India has adopted the vector boundary layers of various administrative units upto districts developed by Survey of India along with digital open series topo sheets, bringing about full compatibility with the geographical areas as reported in Census, 2011.
- The report for the first time contains information on decadal change in water bodies in forest during 2005-2015, forest fire, production of timber from outside forest, state wise carbon stock in different forest types and density classes.
- The increasing trend of forest and tree cover is largely due to the various national policies aimed at conservation and sustainable management of our forests like Green India Mission, National Agro-Forestry policy (NAP), REDD plus policy, Joint Forest Management (JFM), National Afforestation Programme and funds under Compensatory Afforestation to States.
- India has been trying to achieve to put 33 per centof its geographical area under forest but has failed to do so. India needs to increasingly focus on this.
Topic: Environmental pollution
6) While supporting the mitigation efforts to reduce impact of climate change and global warming, adaptation projects aimed at helping people adapt to climate change effects also needs to be encouraged. Discuss. (250 Words)
- There are two main policy responses to climate change: mitigation and adaptation. Mitigation addresses the root causes, by reducing greenhouse gas emissions, while adaptation seeks to lower the risks posed by the consequences of climatic changes. Both approaches will be necessary, because even if emissions are dramatically decreased in the next decade, adaptation will still be needed to deal with the global changes that have already been set in motion.
- Adaptation strategies involve the modification of human behaviour or the environment in order to avoid the harmful consequences produced by climate change. Human communities will have to take steps to adapt to dangerous climate change that all of mitigation efforts will not be sufficient to prevent.
Adaptation projects need to be encouraged because:-
- Adaptation measures may be planned in advance or put in place spontaneously in response to a local pressure.
- They include large-scale infrastructure changes such as
- Building defences to protect against sea-level rise
- Improving the quality of road surfaces to withstand hotter temperatures
- Behavioural shifts such as individuals using less water, farmers planting different crops etc.
- Adaptation measures can help reduce vulnerability for example by lowering sensitivity or building adaptive capacity as well as allowing populations to benefit from opportunities of climatic changes, such as growing new crops in areas that were previously unsuitable
- Low-income countries tend to be more vulnerable to climate risks and some adaptation measures such as increasing access to education and health facilities will overlap with existing development programmes. But adaptation goes beyond just development to include measures to address additional risks specifically caused by climate change, such as raising the height of sea defences.
- Investing in education could be a better way to reduce vulnerability to climate-related disasters
- Education directly improves knowledge, the ability to understand and process information, and risk perception. It gives them the knowledge and skills to adapt flexibly.
- Adaptation is important because while scientists can make long-term projections of climate change, year-to-year weather variations mean they can’t say exactly when a disaster will hit and how severe it will be. So a flexible approach to adaptation gives people and communities more capacity to cope when a disaster occurs.
- They include large-scale infrastructure changes such as
Adaptation projects are failing:-
- Studies show that adaptation projects were not helping the most vulnerable communities, and benefits were simply reaching those who had been assisted earlier.
- When several projects from the global Adaptation Fund managed by the United Nations climate secretariat to help developing countries with climate change adaptation projects, were analysed, they too were found not to take into account unequal power structures.
- It is shown that adaptation strategies are being influenced by the following processes:-
- Enclosure, which is when private agents acquire public assets or expand their authority over them.
- Exclusion is associated with some stakeholders getting excluded or marginalised, thus limiting their access to decision-making processes.
- Encroachment, in which the adaptation actions undertaken during the project end up intervening in areas that are rich in biodiversity, thereby interfering with ecosystem services and often resulting in an increase in greenhouse gas emissions.
- Entrenchment, where the condition of those who are already marginalised in the local social context worsens from the intervention.
- International examples:-
- A desalination plant was constructed in Australia, by seizing valuable land from the Bunurong aboriginal community and turning it over to private actors.
- In Norway, as there was low representation of community organisations and environmental groups during the coastal planning process, their interests were not represented
- In Alaska, private contractors built a barrier against the sea even though this was against the wishes of the local community.
- Politics and power struggles to control resources need to be acknowledged as being part and parcel of adaptation projects.
- While considering and designing climate change adaptation projects, in addition to vulnerabilities and costs, issues around equity, justice and social hierarchies must be equally considered.
- Policies on adaptation need to consider the multiple scales of effects of the project not just on a household, community or state, for instance. Forces of political economy and ecology that are an integral part of societies cannot be wished away when considering adaptation projects.
Topic: Achievements of Indians in science & technology; indigenization of technology and developing new technology.
- With ISRO launching its 100th satellite recently and preparations in full swing for the launch of Chandrayaan-2 around the end of March this year, ISRO has come a long way in its journey of five decades.
- There is a need for national space legislation for supporting the overall growth of the space activities in India. This would encourage enhanced participation of non-governmental/private sector agencies in space activities in India, in compliance with international treaty obligations, which is becoming very relevant today.
Features of Space activities bill 2017:-
- It is a proposed Bill to promote and regulate the space activities of India. The new Bill encourages the participation of non-governmental/private sector agencies in space activities in India under the guidance and authorisation of the government through the Department of Space.
- The provisions of this Act shall apply to every citizen of India and to all sectors engaged in any space activity in India or outside India
- A non-transferable licence shall be provided by the Central Government to any person carrying out commercial space activity
- The Central Government will formulate the appropriate mechanism for licensing, eligibility criteria, and fees for licence.
- The government will maintain a register of all space objects (any object launched or intended to be launched around the earth) and develop more space activity plans for the country
- It will provide professional and technical support for commercial space activity and regulate the procedures for conduct and operation of space activity
- It will ensure safety requirements and supervise the conduct of every space activity of India and investigate any incident or accident in connection with the operation of a space activity.
- It will share details about the pricing of products created by space activity and technology with any person or any agency in a prescribed manner.
- If any person undertakes any commercial space activity without authorisation they shall be punished with imprisonment up to 3 years or fined more than ₹1 crore or both.
How use of outerspace by ISRO has helped common man in India:-
- The purpose of India’s space programme is the application of advanced technologies to the real problems of man and society.
- The impact of ISRO’s activities has been seen in various fields including
- Agriculture: IRS satellites have helped in agricultural crops inventory, handling drought, precision farming etc
- Fisheries: Monitoring of waterbodies and identification of potential fishing zones.
- Telecommunication: services offered by INSAT/GSAT satellites in the area of tele-education and telemedicine
- Remote sensing and disaster management:-
- ISRO’s Disaster Management Support (DMS) programme, monitoring and tracking of depressions and cyclones, and the prediction of landfall through Early Warning Systems.
- Advantages during Forest fires, landslides, earthquakes
- This is precisely why Indian space program is still a very ‘civilian space program’. The Satellite Instructional Television Experiment (SITE) in 1975 is one such example where outer space technology was used to educate the poor in India.
- The Indian space program has played a big role in India’s rise in the international system. India is among the select-few, elite group of nations which have a robust and comprehensive space program.
- Many experts criticise India’s space programme is as a waste when so many of the nation’s citizens struggle to fulfill basic needs.
- Space technology has broader applications and the investment in this field would help the country exponentially in streamlining development activities better.
General Studies – 4
Topic: Laws, rules, regulations and conscience as sources of ethical guidance; accountability and ethical governance
The issue before the Supreme Court arises out of Tamil Nadu’s amendment to the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960 (PCA Act) made early last year amidst vociferous protests in the State.
- Community’s right to cultural freedom comes into conflict with values of animal welfare as it is said that Jallikattu has been held for over 1000 years.
- Whether the act involves embracing the bull, rather than inflicting cruelty on them
- The sport helps the farmers to select the toughest and sturdiest bulls for further breeding and these bulls are so valuable that no farmer will ever risk the life of these bulls. The question is raised based on life of the animal and livelihood for farmers as well.
- There are incidents which show that the torture that is meted out to the bullsduring play – instances of lemons being squeezed into the bulls eyes, chilli powder rubbed on to their genitals, the force-feeding of liquor. The moral issue of empathy and compassion towards the bull is questioned.
- Many questions are raised like
- Whether the law made by the state be considered as a measure introduced in furtherance of a community’s cultural right under Article 29.
- Was Tamil Nadu’s intention in making the amendment aimed at ensuring the survival of a native breed of bulls.
- Does the exemption granted to jallikattu run counter to some of the fundamental duties imposed by the Constitution, thereby impinging on rights guaranteed by Articles 14 and 21.The enumerated fundamental rights do not explicitly recognise animals as persons.
- The Union government brought into force the Prevention of cruelty to animals (PCA) Act, which criminalised several different types of actions resulting in cruelty to animals but some exceptions were left out like :-
- General concession for “killing any animal in a manner required by the religion of any community”. Question is does Jallikattu come under this.
- Subject of preventing animal cruelty falls in the concurrent list of the Seventh Schedule to the Constitution, State governments possess an equal authority to determine what actions constitute cruelty to animals within their respective territories.
- Has the amending law by the state validly overcome the Supreme Court’s 2014 judgment in Animal Welfare Board of India v. A. Nagaraja, where the practice of jallikattu was found to offend the PCA Act.
- Is judiciary overstepping its mandate when there is already a law made by the legislature regarding this issue.
The Jallikattu is a very sensitive issue dealing with the emotions of millions of people so Judiciary needs to be cautious and listen to the arguments of multiple stakeholders and come to the decision which puts the moral and ethical front of Indian society as the primary one.