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SECURE SYNOPSIS: 28 MAY 2018


SECURE SYNOPSIS: 28 MAY 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: Salient features of Indian Society, Diversity of India.

1)There are systemic issues that act as barriers against entry of minorities like Dalits and Muslims in Indian cricket. Analyse. (250 words) 

Epw

Why this question

Indian cricket is poorly represented by the Dalits and other minorities like Muslims. The question is more of a sociological question rather than highlighting a expedient action required. The issue is related to GS 1 syllabus under the following heading-

Salient features of Indian Society, Diversity of India.

Key demand of the question.

The question wants us to bring out the reasons behind poor representation of minorities in Indian Cricket. We have to look into all the aspects of the issue.

Directive word

Analyse- we have to look deep into the issue and identify the key aspects of the which need to be addressed- systemic issues that act as barriers against entry of minorities in cricket. We also have to see if there are any other related aspects also.

Structure of the answer

Introduction– mention the low number of cricketers from India’s minority communities especially Dalits, Muslims and also Sikhs.

Body-

Discuss in points the systemic issues behind this.

The princes and the British had multiple motives to encourage diversity. This included the belief that cricket would “civilise the natives” and that it could be a unifying factor.  But corporate patronage ended this diversity and laid stress on player’s qualifications (e.g TATAs),

non-sweaty, non-contact and slow nature of the sport which is better  suited to Brahminical tastes,

relegation of dalits and muslims to bowling only,

hockey among SIkhs was more popular, cricket is not as developed in Kashmir and Noth-east- where most of non-Hindu population lives etc.

Conclusion– mention the inadequacy of data regarding representation of minorities in Cricket and other associated factors which affect representation like regional and urban development of Cricket,

 

Background:-

  • In India’s 85-year-long Test history, only four of the 289 male Test cricketers have reportedly been Dalits. Even Muslims have been under-represented in Indian cricket since independence, though not quite to the extent of the Dalits. 
  • Lack of Dalits in Indian cricket is due to the presence of systemic barriers can be seen from the decline in Dalit representation in professional cricket in India since independence.

Systemic issues:-

  • Several reasons for these disparities have been put forth, ranging from bias in selection, to the slow nature of cricket being more suited to the Brahminical way of life.
  • Corporate patrons:-
    • The game that thrived on the patronage of the princes and the colonial administrators was now taken over by corporate patrons.
    • Corporate patronage, however, resulted in the sport being concentrated in urban areas.
    • Corporate patrons preferred educated cricketers who would be employable post their retirement from cricket. For instance, the Tatas insisted on hiring cricketers with graduate degrees and the players’ qualifications would also influence their rank and salary.
    • The norms laid down by the Tatas also served as a model for other corporate patrons of cricket. This resulted in players from affluent, educated backgrounds having an advantage over those who did not have access to higher education, quite often those from the lower castes.
  • Cricket is a time-consuming sport, and is thereby limited to people who could afford to spare the time or the fact that cricket has typically been the preserve of the elite
  • Urban focus:-
    • As many as 48% of the total Indian Test cricketers in the 1970s–1980s hailed from merely six cities, namely Mumbai, Chennai, Delhi, Bengaluru, Hyderabad and Kolkata.
    • Shift to smaller towns has coincided with a significant increase in the number of Muslims playing for India.
  • Patronage determines the nature of feeder tournaments:-
    • The men’s game is primarily dependent on interprovincial tournaments such as the Ranji Trophy, inter-corporate tournaments and the lucrative Indian Premier League (IPL). While several of the teams were run by public sector undertakings they employed the same models of employment as the Tatas  so lower castes did not benefit much
    • On the other hand, women’s cricket in India thrives on the patronage of state bodies thus ensuring more diverse employee pool.
  • Minorities focused on bowling:-
    • Bowling was the most physically taxing part of the game which was left to the professionals in England and was even visible in India and south Africa where dalits, muslims and blacks have been bowlers rather than batsmen .
  • There is a complete dearth of Dalit role models in Indian cricket. 
  • Lack of data:-
    • Unfortunately, at present, there is no publicly available data about the number of Dalits playing in the domestic structure in India. Even at the international level, most of the data is speculative.
  • The lack of support for students from disadvantaged classes in institutions of primary education, specifically after the age of 14 means that even though students are admitted into institutions of higher educations, they face structural barriers which translate into high dropout rates and failures 
  • Regional development of the sport:-
    • For instance, cricket is not as well developed in the North East and Kashmir, which have larger than average non-Hindu populations.
  • Minorities like Sikhs had more popularity with the sport of hockey rather than cricket.

Way forward:-

  • Given the fact that the barriers are often invisible and are not isolable, a quota is perhaps the best way to address these simultaneously.
    • Further, the example of South Africa shows that reservations have indeed been effective.
    • The first benefit has been an increased black interest and participation in cricket.
    • Equally important, it is significantly changing the school cricket system on which South African cricket thrives.
    • In South Africa, the quota for cricketers of colour was introduced at the lower levels of the sport long before its introduction at the national level This ensured that there was no sudden dip in the quality of cricket being played.

 


General Studies – 2


Topic: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.

2) Implementation of RERA leaves a lot to be desired. Critically analyze. (250 words)

The hindu

Why this question

RERA was introduced with much fanfare and was expected to transform the real estate sector dealings. Implementation of RERA however raises a lot of question and need to be examined in detail.

Key demand of the question

The question basically expects us to provide whether the implementation of RERA has resolved the problems of real estate dealings. Or else, we are expected to get into depth of the challenges in the implementation of RERA that need to be tackled.

Directive word

Critically analyze – When asked to analyze, you  have to examine methodically the structure or nature of the topic by separating it into component parts and present them as a whole in a summary. You need to conclude with  a fair judgement, after analyzing the nature of each component part and interrelationship between them.

Structure of the answer

Introduction – Explain in brief about RERA.

Body

  • Mention some of the key provisions of RERA
  • Talk about the status quo of implementation and examine the reasons for delay.
  • Analyze how can we quicken the entire process
  • Talk about the benefits that will accrue if RERA is properly implemented

Conclusion – Present your view on the implementation of RERA and the way forward.

Background:-

  • Real Estate (Regulation and Development) Act, 2016 (RERA) is an Act passed by the Indian Parliament. The RERA seeks to protect the interests of home buyers and also boost investments in the real estate sector. 

Provisions of RERA:-

  • The RERA will give the Indian real estate industry its first regulator. The Real Estate Act makes it mandatory for each state and union territory, to form its own regulator and frame the rules that will govern the functioning of the regulator.
  • Reserve account:
    • One of the primary reasons for delay of projects was that funds collected from one project, would invariably be diverted to fund new, different projects. To prevent such a diversion, promoters are now required to park 70% of all project receivables into a separate reserve account. The proceeds of such account can only be used towards land and construction expenses and will be required to be certified by a professional.
  • Continual disclosures by promoters:
    • After the implementation of the Act, home buyers will be able to monitor the progress of the project on the RERA website since promoters will be required to make periodic submissions to the regulator regarding the progress of the project.
  • Title representation:
    • Promoters are now required to make a positive warranty on his right title and interest on the land, which can be used later against him by the home buyer, should any title defect be discovered.
    • Additionally, they are required to obtain insurance against the title and construction of the projects, proceeds of which shall go to the allottee upon execution of the agreement of sale.
  • Standardisation of sale agreement:
    • The Act prescribes a standard model sale agreement to be entered into between promoters and homebuyers. Typically, promoters insert punitive clauses against home buyers which penalised them for any default while similar defaults by the promoter attracted negligible or no penalty. Such penal clauses could well be a thing of the past and home buyers can look forward to more balanced agreements in the future.
  • Penalty:
    • To ensure that violation of the Act is not taken lightly, stiff monetary penalty (up to 10% of the project cost) and imprisonment has been prescribed against violators.

Implementation issues:-

  • Only 20 of the 28 States (the Act is not applicable in Jammu and Kashmir) have framed the rules stipulated under RERA to carry out its legal mandate.
  • In some States such as Uttar Pradesh, the Act’s provisions have been watered down in favour of builders by altering the definition of “on-going projects” which need registration under RERA.
  • There is also a dilution on the penalties for non-compliance.
  • The speedy dispute redress mechanism envisaged by the Act is yet to take shape.
    • Apart from Maharashtra, only Punjab and Madhya Pradesh have appointed a permanent regulatory authority (to be established within a period of a year).
    • To ease the transition, RERA allows State governments to designate an existing body as the regulatory authority until a permanent one is established. This has resulted in 13 States working with only a designated regulatory authority.
  • Additionally, only six States have set up the online portal contemplated by the Act.
  • In the North eastern States, RERA has been challenged on certain constitutional grounds  of land belonging to the community and autonomous councils.
  • Urban concentration:-
    • In U.P., a large number of new projects are concentrated in Ghaziabad or Gautam Budh Nagar/Noida.
    • However, even though the Act provides for State governments to establish more than one regulatory authority, the interim regulator designated in U.P. is located in Lucknow. This has led to consumers being inconvenienced as they need to travel to Lucknow to file their complaints.
  • There also appears to be a potential conflict developing between the Insolvency bankruptcy code and RERA which needs to be checked as it would be against consumer interests
  • So far only 14 out of the 20 states, which notified RERA, have a functional website
  • Lack of awareness:-
    • A huge 74% of potential homebuyers said they did not know how to check the RERA status of their project. This does point towards a gap existing in the Act’s implementation and consumer seeding.

Benefits if properly implemented:-

 

  • Experiences of states which implemented:-
    • Maharashtra, which has established both the regulatory authority and the appellate tribunal, has shown that with earnest action, the Act and the establishment of the permanent regulator can have a positive impact in reassuring real estate purchasers.
    • MahaRERA’s online portal has led to builders registering projects and a high degree of compliance in terms of registration by real estate agents.
    • This along with fast track adjudication of consumer complaints has made the MahaRERA an example of how other States need to implement the Act.
  • For long, home buyers have complained that real estate transactions were lopsided and heavily in favour of the developers. RERA and the government’s model code, aim to create a more equitable and fair transaction between the seller and the buyer of properties, especially in the primary market.
  • RERA will make real estate purchase simpler, by bringing in better accountability and transparency, provided that states do not dilute the provisions and the spirit of the central act.
  • The most positive aspect of this Act is that it provides a unified legal regime for the purchase of flats; apartments, etc., and seeks to standardise the practice across the
  • Has brought much needed transparency in the industry along with a boost to buyer sentiment. 
  • Due to stringent provisions of RERA, non-serious developers are finding it difficult to sustain and will eventually move out. This consolidation will not only bring in more professionalism but will also boost consumer confidence as buyers start dealing with organised entities that see a longer stake in the business
  • Consumer complaints are now being heard and addressed

Topic Parliament and State Legislatures – structure, functioning, conduct of business, powers & privileges

3)The rules governing the functioning of the Rajya Sabha have not kept pace with the times and requires reform. Examine (250 words)

Indian express

 

Why this question

The rules governing the functioning of the Rajya Sabha have not kept pace with the times. Earlier this month, Vice President Venkaiah Naidu appointed a two-member committee to make recommendations for revising the rules of the Upper House. This makes a discussion to understand the requirement of reforms in rules of Rajya Sabha and the kind of reforms required, imperative.

Key demand of the question

The questik expects us to challenge the assertion whether the rule of Rajya Sabha have become anachronistic. This would require an analysis into the performance of Rajya sabha and where all the rules are creating bottlenecks. We would have to provide way forward as well.

Directive word

Examine – When you are asked to examine, you have to probe deeper into the topic,  get into details, and find out the causes or implications if any

Structure of the answer

Introduction – Talk about some of the recent controversy in Rajya Sabha which has necessitated a relook into the rules of the rajya sabha

Body

  • Briefly explain the origin of Rajya Sabha rules.
  • Briefly explain that nature of governance and legislation has changed significantly which means that the legislators can not keep on functioning in business as usual attitude
  • Examine whether the rules have not kept pace with times and merit reform – talk about the performance of Rajya sabha as an institution, efficiency etc
  • Suggest some of the changes required in the rules

Conclusion – Present your view on the assertion made in the question and present a way forward.

 

Background:-

 

  • Concerned over repeated disruptions and adjournments in the Rajya Sabha during the Budget session, Chairman of Rajya sabha has constituted a two-member committee to review Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business to ensure smooth conduct of proceedings.
  • The Agnihotri committee has been set up at a time when the two Houses of Parliament are facing similar structural challenges. So its recommendations, while meant for the Rajya Sabha, will also influence rule-making for the Lok Sabha

Rules governing functioning of Rajya Sabha:-

  • Both Houses of Parliament have their own rules of procedure. These rules govern every detail of how the Houses function on a daily basis. For Parliament to be effective in its role, these rules require regular updating and strengthening. The Constitution, through Article 118(1), gives the two Houses of Parliament the power to make rules to regulate their functioning.
  • When the Rajya Sabha met for the first time in 1952, it did not have any rules of its own. Article 118(2) of the Constitution provided an interim mechanism for rules.
  • Under this article, the chairman of Rajya Sabha had the power to modify and adopt rules that were in place before the commencement of the Constitution. In 1952, these were the rules of the Constituent Assembly, the body which had framed the Constitution. Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan, the first chairman of Rajya Sabha, amended these to be used as the rules of procedure.
  • Among other things, they provided for Question Hour in the style of the House of Lords. Ministers had to answer questions two days a week and three oral questions a day. The rules also created a committee of 15 MPs to suggest any change. Based on this committee’s recommendation, the initial rules were amended four more times until the end of 1952.
  • But it was not until 1964 that the Rajya Sabha made its own rules under Article 118(1). And it is the 1964 rules that have been amended over the years and currently govern the functioning of the Upper House.
  • However, these rules were not made from the ground up. The old framework of 1952 was used as a base and supplemented. In some cases, the provisions were merely carried forward and continue to exist even today. For example, the 1952 Rajya Sabha rules to discipline disorderly MPs are the same ones as now.

They have not kept pace with times:-

 

  • According to the Rajya Sabha Secretariat, the need for a review was felt as over 120 working hours of a total of 165 were lost during the Budget session
    • There is no specific provision for automatic suspension of members who persistently and wilfully obstruct House proceedings by shouting slogans unlike Rule 374 (A) of the Lok Sabha Rules that provides for automatic suspension. So, the Chair is often left with no option but to adjourn the House if there is grave disorder.
  • Disruptions also make it difficult to get Bills passed:-
    • The current Rules of Procedure relating to voting procedure on the Bill become inadequate in such a situation. Therefore, there is a need to amend such rules to make them effective and robust in future.
  • There were differences in provisions of Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha Rules in certain matters, with some Upper House Rules being more precise than corresponding Lower House Rules and some inadequate and not very precise. Some of these Rules relate to Points of Order, Suspension of Rules, Discussion on Matters of Public Interest, and Notice of Privilege,
  • Rajya Sabha (Council of States), was devised to represent the states and prevent hasty, ill-conceived legislation. But it is performing poorly on both counts.
  • Today’s Rajya Sabha is acting as a tool for partisan politics.
  • The existing mechanisms (like Question Hour) for securing the government’s accountability to Parliament have lost their edge.
  • Issues facing Parliament are now more complex and technical than ever.

 What can be done?

  • Agnihotri committee:-
    • The committee will have to balance completion of government business with discussions raised by other political parties
    • The committee will have to suggest measures for completely overhauling mechanisms like question hour.
    • The committee’s suggestions for strengthening deliberations in the House will be crucial.
    • The committee will have the difficult task of suggesting solutions for protecting the sanctity of parliamentary proceedings.

General Studies – 3


TopicIndian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization of resources, growth, development and employment.

4) Recent estimates for employment generation do not give the true picture of the economy and suffers from flaws on several fronts. Examine. (250 words)

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Why this question

The recent estimates of employment generation have been criticized for being over estimating the employment generation in the country. The estimates have been based on data from EPFO, ESIC, PFRDA. The results however do not corroborate with other factors. The issue is related to GS 3 syllabus under the following heading-

Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization of resources, growth, development and employment.

Key demand of the question.

The question wants us to give reason for why the recent employment generation statistics are inflated and do not represent the true picture of employment in the economy.

Directive word

Examine- We have to dig deep into the issue and come out with proper reasons as to why the recent estimates do not represent the true picture of the economy and we have to form our arguments/ facts etc in support of the answer.

Structure of the answer

Introduction- Mention the quantum of jobs created as per the recent employment generation estimates by the govt. And mention the sources of data- EPFO, ESIC, PFRDA.

Body– discuss in detail about the flaws in the present estimates.

E.g some of the schemes are mandatory while others optional and hence don’t represent a true picture of even formal sector employment,  it is hard to distinguish the accounts of those newly joining the labour market from those being formalised because of the change in the ­nature of enterprise, not in consonance with the Labour Bureau’s annual surveys which point out decrease in employment in agriculture etc.

Conclusion- mention the need for household surveys to capture the true and holistic picture of the employment generation in the economy,

Background:-

  • A new method to measure formal sector employment, is being promoted by this government
  • Recently the Employees’ Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO), the Employees’ State Insurance Corporation (ESIC), and the Pension Fund Regulatory and Development Authority (PFRDA) released data on formal employment based on “payroll” reporting.

Recent estimates for employment generation :-

  • The study used administrative records from the EPFO, ESIC, and National Pension Scheme (NPS).
  • The government used these estimates to confirm their claim of creating seven million new jobs in the economy in 2017–18

They do not give a true picture of the economy :-

  • Erratic:-
    • The ESIC data is hard to interpret since it is voluntary and also shows erratic patterns across months.
    • But, even for the EPFO, it is hard to distinguish the accounts of those newly joining the labour market from those being formalised because of the change in the ­nature of enterprise. 
  • The estimates only measure the extent to which workers are availing social security provisions.
    • Some of these are voluntary such as the ESIC, and some are mandatory such as the EPFO.
    • The NPS is mandatory for central government employees, but voluntary for some state government and private sector employees. Even EPFO enrolment is mandatory only for enterprises that meet certain criteria.
  • Latest estimates from the Labour Bureau’s annual surveys on employment suggest that the trend of decline in workers in agriculture has continued at the same pace as before. Demonetisation ,goods and services tax etc had an impact on informal sector employment.
  • The debate on payroll data needs to be seen in the larger context of the Indian economy not generating enough employment despite growing at more than 7% for the last decade and a half.
  • For most of these youth, the reality is quite different from the claims of employment creation by the government based on payroll data

Flaws:-

  • New jobs not created:-
    • It used data from the Employees’ Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO) which registers employees from the formal sector for provident fund benefits .It assumed that any 18- to 25-year-old registering with the EPFO implies that he or she found a new job in the organised sector which did not happen.
    • New 18- to 25-year-old EPFO members do not automatically mean net new jobs in the economy because an informal job that turns formal with an EPFO registration does not mean it is a new job
  • Due to GST thousands of small and medium businesses in the country were pushed to transition at least a part of their workforce from informal to formal employment. The costs of formalisation may have resulted in many firms cutting costs or even shutting down. The EPFO methodology does not capture any of these costs of forced formalisation but merely showcases the new formal employees as new jobs.
  • The EPFO data set may reflect new additions accurately but not deletions, i.e. job losses.
  • It is hard to distinguish the accounts of those newly joining the labour market from those being formalised because of the change in the ­nature of enterprise
  • EPFO data does not necessarily point to new jobs due to the following reasons:
    • Duplication of accounts.
    • Inactive accounts.
    • Payrolls added due to companies moving above the threshold of more than 20 employees.
  • Indeed, even the government’s own Economic Survey had used the data to judge formalisation of jobs rather than job creation. A committee of the government’s NITI Aayog had, in 2017, also noted that the data may not reflect new jobs.
  • Experts even questioned the privileged access of EPFO data not available to others.

Way forward:-

  • Primary argument for a better payroll reporting system in India is perfectly justified and much needed.
  • There is a need for a survey of households for data on jobs as self-employment will be a big generator of jobs in future. The current enterprise survey is not comprehensive enough to capture self-employment which is mainly generated in the informal sector.
  • Creating a central server from which all government data can be accessed
  • Modernising and revamping the statistical system with substantial jump in financial and human resources, and rapid clearances to fund proposal of statistical agencies.

TOPIC: Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation

5) India’s efforts at addressing climate change and the wider issues of environmental governance has been far from convincing. Critically examine.(250 words)

Reference

Why this question

As the impact of climate change becomes more apparent, and the Paris deal fails to make the dent that was expected of it, how we are dealing with questions related to sustainability and climate change becomes very important. Hence this question.

Key demand of the question

The question expects us to list out the various ways in which we have tried to address climate change and improve our environmental management practices. Thereafter, we are required to bring out the pros and cons of the way in which we deal with environmental governance. Post the critical analysis, we need to present our own view on the assertion made in the question and suggest alternatives.

Directive word

Critically examine – When you are asked to examine, you have to probe deeper into the topic,  get into details, and find out the causes or implications if any . When ‘critically’ is suffixed or prefixed to a directive, all you need to do is look at the good and bad of something and give a fair judgement.

Structure of the answer

Introduction – The opening to your answer must paint a brief picture of the challenges related to climate change and sustainability that should give sleepless nights to our policy makers but is not.

Body

  • List the various steps taken for environmental governance – increase in coal cess, shift to renewables, BSV standards etc
  • Analyze the pros and cons of the above steps taken and examine whether they have really helped make the impact they were designed for
  • Highlight some of the critical steps that have not been taken and is urgently required such as the move to dilute forest right etc
  • Provide your view on how the performance of the government has been based on the arguments made above
  • List some of the alternatives which can help improve environmental governance

Conclusion – Stress on the immense burden on our environment and the need to gear ourselves for the upcoming challenges.

 

Background:-

  • India has been facing mounting losses due to droughts and an increasing number of destructive extreme weather events which have also been contributing to the staggering number of farmer suicides the country has witnessed.

Indian efforts:-

  • The Paris Agreement :-
    • India’s intended contributions earned international praise for its ambitious contributions including large investments in renewable energy, afforestation and a plan to cut emission intensity of productive activity. 
  • India has been lauded internationally for its forward thinking move in disincentivising coal. Coal cess and the National Clean Energy Fund (NCEF) plays a big role in mitigating climate change in the country
  • Introduction of new emission norms in 2015 for thermal power plants:-
    • Notification requiring all thermal power plants in the country to cut particulate matter emissions by about 40 per cent, sulphur and nitrogen oxides by about 48 per cent, and water consumption by nearly a third within two years of the notification.
  • India has been lauded at several forums for taking the lead with an ambitious plan to increase renewable energy capacities, not least for the International Solar Alliance (ISA) that India is leading with France.
  • An aggressive target was set to implement Bharat Stage VI emission norms from April 1, 2020, skipping Stage V norms.
  • In 2017, a road map was being prepared so that only electric vehicles would be produced and sold in the country by 2030.
  • In order to accelerate the transition to renewable sources of power, the government, under the National Solar Mission, revised the target for setting up solar capacity from 20 GW to 100 GW by 2021-22.
  • The Centre has also assured the Supreme Court of India that the highly polluted Ganga will be cleaned up by 2018.
  • Compensatory afforestation purports to be a ‘win-win’ solution: a win for the environment because lost forests are compensated for, and a win for business because these forests can be traded on international carbon markets for their value as carbon sinks.
  • The overall objective and goal of the present draft forest policy is to safeguard the ecological and livelihood security of people, of the present and future generations, based on sustainable management of the forests for the flow of ecosystem services.
  • National Innovations on Climate Resilient Agriculture (NICRA),  covers 151 villages in different regions of the country that are vulnerable to climate change. NICRA has also been projected as an integral part of India’s INDCs (Intended Nationally Determined Contributions) under the Paris climate agreement (2015), and to fulfil its obligations under the UN Sustainable Development Goals for the agricultural sector.

Criticism:-

  • While ambitious initiatives have created an image of environmental concern, policy implementation on the ground looks nothing alike. In a bid to improve the ease of doing business, the government has diluted requirements of Environmental Impact Assessments and public hearings before approval of projects.
  • Coal cess:-
    • CAG reported a 106 per cent jump in cess in its 2017 audit report.But nobody knows where these funds have been spent.
    • With a plethora of ministries hosting poorly inter-linked climate-related programmes, there is little clarity on where finance comes from and where it is being spent.
  • Even in projects that are actually sanctioned using the funds, there have been criticisms abound regarding the difficulty to get projects approved
    • Apart from the Coal Cess, the status of utilisation of thousands of crores accrued from education cess, road cess, infrastructure cess, Krishi Kalyan cess, Swachh Bharat cess etc. is still not known.
  • In 2017, the thermal power plant notification was almost nullified when the Central Pollution Control Board issued letters to more than 400 thermal power plants  allowing the plants to release pollutants and effluents directly into the environment for up to five more years. 
  • While the country is on-track with its wind power commitments, it is lagging behind in solar and biomass energy capacities.
  • India ranks low in the Environmental Performance Index(EPI) 2018, slipping from rank 141 in 2016, to 177 in 2018.
  • The automobile industry has categorically stated that based on current estimates, full conversion to electric vehicles is realistically possible only by 2047.
  • After setting electronics manufacturers a reasonable annual electronic waste collection target of 30% of the products sold in the market, the figure has now been relaxed to 10%.
  • And late last year, the Comptroller and Auditor General, in a report, pulled up the government for not developing an action plan and for its poor utilisation of allocated funds in the clean-up of the Ganga.
  • Compensatory afforestation:-
    • Evidence establishes that CA plantations destroy natural forests, harm biodiversity, undermine the rights and nutrition of local communities, and disguise rampant misuse of public funds.
    • Subverts forest rights act and PESA:-
      • By allocating more than Rs50,000 crore, the Act enables the forest bureaucracy to entrench its control over forests and subvert democratic forest governance established by the Forest Rights Act (FRA), 2006 and Panchayats (Extension to Schedule Areas) Act (Pesa), 1996.
    • Yamuna River Project has not addressed the issue of environmental flow which is crucial to save a river.
    • It does not tell the action plans for rejuvenation of the river and its riparian ecosystem that generate ecological services including the storage of flood water, enhanced recharging of ground water, flood regulation, treatment of sewage before and after discharging into river
  • Draft policy has completely deleted the section on safeguardsto be followed for diversion of forest land.
    • Before diversion of forest land there is no requirement of cost-benefit analysis, no examinations by specialists, no requirement of alternatives and no mention of the fact that tropical moist evergreen forests as well as forests in hilly States such as Arunachal Pradesh should be totally safeguarded.

Way forward:-

  • Community projects:-
    • By working together as a community, efforts to reduce impact on the environment are multiplied.
  • These community-led initiatives have successfully regenerated forests by adopting sustainable- use practices, regeneration through traditional knowledge of forests and species, guarding and penalizing poachers, among others.
  • Carbon offset projects can be fantastic community building events and help communities go green. Community gardens can allow residents to grow some of their own food. Tree planting and green-scaping will make a community more appealing, too.
  • Preserving open space in building and zoning plans, especially preserving mature trees and planting new ones helps keep communities healthy.
  • River rejuvenation:-
    • All state governments must make it mandatory to have rain water harvesting techniquesin government as well as private buildings and make roof water and surface harvesting mandatory.
    • Include embankments, embankment roads, and roads on either side of the river need to be developed as greenways, with walkways, cycle paths and recreational centres to facilitate the link between citizens and the river.
    • Rejuvenation of wetlands:-
      • These wetlands can store millions of gallons of flood water and recharge ground water and also enhance the river flow during lean period
    • Reforestation and protection of forested catchments:-
      • Forested catchments reduce soil erosion and siltation of the river they regulate stream flows and micro climate. A protected catchment automatically means lesser silt in rivers
    • Vegetated and protected riparian banks.These protect the river banks, reduce erosion and maintain water quality
  • Climate resilient agriculture:-
    • Technology:-
      • Government should increase the yield per hectare by using science and technology
      • Integrated farming has immense potentialto make farmers climate smart through the cultivation of different crops on the same land and using farm resources sustainably:
      • Climate smart agriculture involves integrated resource management for maximum productivity
      • Identifying cost-effective methane emission reduction practices in ruminants and in rice paddy

 


Topic: Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment

6) Discuss the health and environmental hazards associated with fly-ash. Also discuss the issues which impede its full-scale utilization in India.(250 words)

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Why this question

India depends heavily on coal for power generation ( 3/4th of total electricity comes from coal) and the dependence is bound to increase in future. This creates the problem of fly-ash generation and its proper disposal, usage. The issue is related to GS 3 syllabus under the following heading-

Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment

Key demand of the question.

The question has two key demands; one, what are the health and environmental hazards associated with fly-ash and second, what are the technical issues and regulatory issues which impede the proper utilization of the fly-ash.

Directive word

Discuss- we have to write in detail about the key demands  of the question. We have to discuss the health and environmental hazards of fly-ash and  technical, regulatory and other issues which impede its full scale utilization.

Structure of the answer

Introduction– Mention the statistics about India’s coal usage, fly-ash generated, cement production etc. You don’t have to remember exact figures but rank,estimated changes etc.

Body-

  • Mention the environmental and health hazards of fly-ash.

E.g All the heavy metals found in fly ash—nickel, cadmium, arsenic, chromium, lead, etc—are toxic in nature. They leech into the surrounding soil and can enter food-chains, asthma and respiratory ailments due to direct exposure, destruction of mangroves, drastic reduction in crop yields, and the pollution of groundwater etc.

 

  1. Discuss the technical and regulatory and other issues involved.

e.g BIS standards allow low level of fly-ash blending in PPC, proper documentation on collection and disposal costs are usually not available, indexing the fly ash price to the price of cement ultimately works by eroding the competitive advantage of PPC etc.

Conclusion- mention that it is most desirable to limit fly ash production through greater deployment of renewable energy sources, using better coal and combustion techniques, etc, since cement-related industries alone will not be able to absorb all the fly ash generated in the future.

 

Background:-

  • Various estimates indicate that electricity generated from coal is expected to grow twofold to threefold by 2030. However, burning coal results in the generation of fly ash, a residual waste product that is harmful for human health and the environment.

Health and environmental hazards:-

  • Health:-
    • All the heavy metals found in fly ash nickel, cadmium, arsenic, chromium, lead, etc—are toxic in nature. Its minute, poisonous particles accumulate in the respiratory tract, and cause gradual poisoning .
    • Around 20 million cases of asthma and respiratory ailments could be directly linked to exposure to fly ash
  • Environment:-
    • For an equal amount of electricity generated, fly ash contains a hundred times more radiation than nuclear waste secured via dry cask or water storage.
    • The breaching of ash dykes and consequent ash spills occur frequently in India, polluting a large number of water bodies 
    • The destruction of mangroves, drastic reduction in crop yields, and the pollution of groundwater in the Rann of Kutch from the ash sludge of adjoining Coal power plants has been well documented.
    • Due to weathering action heavy metals or radioactivity content increases manifold when fly ash is left open in fields

The issues which impede its full-scale utilization in India:-

  • Technical and regulatory issues:-
    • Indian fly ash is primarily of the calcareous or class C variety, implying that it possesses not only pozzolanic, but also hydraulic (self-cementing) properties. In contrast, European fly ash is of a silicious or class F variety, implying an absence of hydraulic properties.
    • BIS revised the maximum and minimum blending standards.While the BIS is in line with the American standards on blended cement, the European and South African standards allow the blending of fly ash up to 55%.
    • While Indian class C fly ash may provide greater early strength development and a reduced initial setting time, its major disadvantages are:
      • low lime reactivity
      • low glass content
      • high carbon content
      • varying fineness levels
    • The National Council for Cement and Building Materials (NCCBM) conducted initial studies on increased fly ash blending, and the results have been encouraging. However, it has been unable to conclude these studies due to the lack of funds 
    • Pricing and logistics:
      • The pricing of fly ash is increasingly becoming a contentious issue that is hampering its gainful utilisation.
      • It has been repeatedly emphasised that there is opacity around the disposal process. No information is available in public domain about the amount of stock of fly ash, the amount of generation at each location and the amount of fly ash disposed of to various sectors
    • Political interference:-
      • There is evidence of political interference in the process, leading to exorbitant prices being charged, to the detriment of the producers and consumers of fly ash.
    • Perception:-
      • Many government construction agencies and public sector undertakings have chosen clay bricks despite the availability of fly ash bricks 
    • Imperfections typical of quasi-markets, such as information asymmetry and high transaction costs, vested interests, technical and technological limitations, and the lack of regulatory oversight and political will, have impeded the flow of fly ash to its most value-adding use. 

Way forward:-

  • NCCBM must be allocated funds on a priority basis by the government to conduct research on improving the quality of fly ash, grading fly ash generated by different technologies and types of coal, and feasible blending ratios for the cement industry.
  • The BIS must update the blending standards, which have not been revised since 2000.
  • Improve transparency and reduce the costs of fly ash disposal by Coal power plants:-
    • The average revenue requirement calculations of CPPs must account for avoided costs, additional revenues generated, and utilisation of these revenues.
    • This will help remove the opacity around fly ash utilisation in CPPs, and allow for cost reductions to be passed on to the consumer.
    • It will also pave the way for fly ash pricing mechanisms to be disclosed, scrutinised, and subject to regulatory oversight.
  • Limit fly ash production through greater deployment of renewable energy sources, using better coal and combustion techniques, etc, since cement-related industries alone will not be able to absorb all the fly ash generated in the future
  • The key requirements for overcoming the barriers are greater regulatory oversight and price control, revision of cement blending standards, research in improving fly ash quality, reducing cost of transportation, provisions for overcoming information asymmetries, and overall sensitisation of key decision-makers on the matter.

Topic: Major crops cropping patterns in various parts of the country, different types of irrigation and irrigation systems storage, transport and marketing of agricultural produce and issues and related constraints; e-technology in the aid of farmers.

7)Discuss the Objectives of  National Innovations in Climate Resilient Agriculture (NICRA), India’s flagship programme that aims to make Indian villages climate-proof. Also, discuss the issues affecting the programme that need to be resolved.(250 words)  

Reference

Reference

Why this question

NICRA is one of the several schemes aimed at increasing farmers income, improving productivity, sustainability, climate adaptation etc. The scheme will soon enter its second phase and was launched in 2011. The scheme has a fair potential as can be assessed from its success stories. However, it needs revision and improvement in order to attain its objectives. The question is related to GS 3 syllabus under the following heading-

Major crops cropping patterns in various parts of the country, different types of irrigation and irrigation systems storage, transport and marketing of agricultural produce and issues and related constraints; e-technology in the aid of farmers.

Key demand of the question.

The question wants us to mention the objectives of NICRA and then discuss in detail about the issues affecting the performance of NICRA.

Directive word

Discuss- We have to write in detail about both the parts of the question- objectives of NICRA and issues affecting its performance. We have to suggest proper and necessary changes along with the logic behind why the change is required in NICRA.

Structure of the answer

Introduction- Give a brief description of NICRA along with year of implementation and its second phase of implementation.

Body-

  • Discuss in points the objectives of NICRA. You can simply copy them from NICRA’s website and modify them in an easier language, so that you can remember them.
  • Discuss the issues affecting NICRA.

E.g scenario of 2020 or later is not taken into account to select the districts, KVKs act as the fulcrum of the scheme and there is shortage of staffa and infrastructure in KVKs, farmers tend to become dependent on KVKs for inputs, knowledge, machinery etc, decreased budgetary allocation, lack of integration with similar schemes etc.

Conclusion– mention how NICRA is the need of the hour and how this programme could act as a pilot programme in India’s fight against climate change etc.. Also mention there is need for improvising it by addressing above discussed issues.

 

Background:-

  • In response to climate change playing havoc with agriculture, the Union government launched the National Innovations in Climate Resilient Agriculture in 2010, its first flagship programme to make villages climate-proof. 
  • Climate change-induced extreme weather conditions, temperature increase and sustained changes in climatic patterns have cast a shadow on the productivity of Indian agriculture. 

NICRA:-

  • Launched in 2010-11, the programme, run under the aegis of the Indian Council of Agricultural Research, covers 151 villages that are vulnerable to extreme weather.
  • The objective is to provide site-specific technological demonstrations to enhance the adaptive capacity of farmers in “climatically vulnerable districts” of the country.
  • The objective is to use farming equipment as a shared resource that can be rented by farmers as per their requirement for a nominal fee, and the money collected is then used for expansion and maintenance of the inventory. 
  • One of the main objectives of NICRA is to create a model for climate-adaptable agriculture that can be replicated in every village in the country in accordance with the specific vulnerabilities

Success:-

  • Integrated farming, promoted under NICRA, is a big hit in in Kerala’s Alappuzha district. Farmers here say trainings in poultry farming, animal husbandry and mushroom cultivation have been immensely helpful in supplementing incomes.
  • NICRA has achieved twin objectives piloting the innovative technologies for climate resilient agriculture and deployment of technology. Farmers who have been a part of NICRA have benefitted in income by 20-60 per cent.
  • Importantly, the aim is not only to achieve doubling of farmers’ income by 2022 but also to make agriculture climate-resilient and resource efficient, and to minimise agricultural emissions The project has also been advertised as being integral to not only India’s Intended Nationally Determined Contribution (INDC) for climate action under the Paris Climate Pact, but also to meet four Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations.
  • Based on a climate vulnerability index and inputs from district-based Krishi Vigyan Kendras (KVKs), many villages in different districts were selected for the pilot project
  • About 24 interventions are being implemented to boost natural resource management, crop production, livestock and fisheries potential and farmers financial safety nets
  • Till now, nearly Rs 1,000 crore have been allocated for the programme.

Issues:-

  • Paucity of funds allocated, as a paltry sum of Rs 900-1,000 crore has been sanctioned under the scheme during the last seven years of its operation and allocations have been declining from year to year, Further, of this, only about Rs 500 crore has been spent so far
  • There are not enough strong institutions to increase the availability of inputs such as seeds, fodder, farm machinery and tools, and access to market for ease of transactions
  • KVKs do not have suitable and sufficient trained staff to teach farmers about various innovative interventions and give demonstrations to them
    • A farmer can benefit only if he/she is directly connected with the nodal agency, the KVKs. But most farmers are cautious as they are now entirely dependent on the KVK to supply them with the seeds. 
    • Since the initial investment is borne by the KVKs, it is not easily replicable in villages that have not been adopted by NICRA. Also, the feasibility is limited in large and poorer villages as farmers say the effort could not take off as resource sharing was prone to disputes between farmers.
    • KVKs are equipped with modest infrastructural facilities
  • There is no linkage of NICRA with several agricultural and rural programmes of the government (for which heavy allocations are being made every year), and which are meant to provide additional sources of income to farmers and also to increase agricultural production.
  • Communities have not participated in the programme and are not convinced of its impacts:-
    • NICRA has failed in one of its most basic metrics of evaluation which is participation. One of the most striking gaps in the entire roll-out of the programme has been the low number of participants who have enrolled in the programme.
  • NICRA’s interventions have not taken into account the specifics of ground realities that make villages vulnerable.
  • Case study:-
    • In the case of Ramanathapuram district of Tamil Nadu, NICRA’s interventions were supposed to tide over the perennial water scarcit The techniques that were implemented were building farm ponds, check dams and encouraging farmers to grow dryland crops.
    • But NICRA’s interventions did not work when this region experienced its historic drought spell between 2015 and 2017.
    • The villagers had built many water harvesting structures. But there was no rainfall.
  • The National Innovations on Climate Resilient Agriculture is rigorous in identifying the climate change risks to agriculture at local level but suffers from lack of coordinated implementation.
  • One of the modules under NICRA’s action plan was to strengthen existing institutions and creating new ones to supplement the availability of inputs like seeds, fodder, farm machinery and tools, as well as to facilitate access to markets for ease of transactions. However, this component of the programme seems to have failed to take off.

 

Way forward:-

 

  • Technology:-
    • Government should increase the yield per hectare by using science and technology
    • Integrated farming has immense potentialto make farmers climate smart through the cultivation of different crops on the same land and using farm resources sustainably:
    • Climate smart agriculture involves integrated resource management for maximum productivity
    • Identifying cost-effective methane emission reduction practices in ruminants and in rice paddy
  • Need to supplement farmers income by other meansso that he doesn’t depend only upon farm income.
  • Merging schemes:-
    • Some coordination among all these programmes so that they can be implemented in the most beneficial manner for the poor farmer.
    • The policy-makers should also examine whether the number of such programmes can be reduced for better monitoring.
    • In addition, it is suggested that NICRA and NRLM may be mergedas the main focus in both the schemes is to ensure better income to the farmer by adopting similar innovations
    • While there has been a broad convergence between NICRA and the National Mission for Sustainable Agriculture (NMSA), convergence with department officials of Agriculture and Allied Sectors is the need of the hour.
  • Drought monitoring and management,especially critical for areas under water scarcity.
  • Crop diversificationis one of the central pillars of climate resilience that enables smoothing out climate impacts on food production and income. 
  • Efficient water and nutrient management options to enhance use efficiency
  • Understanding opportunities offered by conservation agriculture and agro-forestry
  • Better land management practiceis one of the ways to fight climate change and increase resilience of farming systems in the continent.
  • Reusing of agricultural wastesrather than incineration also reduces greenhouse gases. 
  • Every climate-smart farmer would incorporate practices like farm ponds, bundings, trenching, mulching and other practices for conservation of soil moisture, use appropriate seeds and on-farm inputs (to avoid debt situations) and to have better access and control over required water resources
  • ICAR Institutes should continue focus on research and technology innovations whereas large scale execution and up-scaling should be assigned to the line departments like agriculture, animal husbandry, fisheries, irrigation, groundwater departments etc.