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SECURE SYNOPSIS: 18 JUNE 2018


SECURE SYNOPSIS: 18 JUNE 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 – 2


Topic: Appointment to various Constitutional posts, powers, functions and responsibilities
of various Constitutional Bodies.

1) How far preamble is useful in interpreting the constitution?(250 words) 

Key demand of the question

The question basically expects us to examine the extent to which preamble can be utilised for understanding and interpreting the provisions of the constitution. This can be done by analyzing the view of SC on whether preamble forms a part of the constitution and what power is derived from the preamble.

Structure of the answer

Introduction – Explain the controversy surrounding whether or not the preamble is a part of the constitution.

Body – Discuss the view of SC in Berubari Union Case regarding why preamble is not considered a part of the constitution and the impact of it. thereafter, analyze the view of SC in Keshavananand Bharti case on why it reversed it’s earlier stand on preamble as a part of the constitution and the impact of it.

Conclusion – Mention the present stand on preamble as a part of the constitution and how far is it useful in interpreting the provisions of the constitution.

 

Background:-

  • No reading of any Constitution can be complete without reading Preamble from the beginning to the end .It is the Preamble wherefrom the Constitution commences. Hence, the significance of the Preamble.

How is it useful in interpreting the constitution:-

  • In Berubari Union case, the Supreme Court held that the Preamble is not a part of the Constitution.
    • The court ruled out that the Preamble to the Constitution, containing the declaration made by the people of India in exercise of their sovereign will, no doubt is a key to open the mind of the makers which may show the general purposes for which they made the several provisions in the Constitution but nevertheless the Preamble is not a part of the Constitution
  • However in the Keshavananda Bharati v. State of Kerala case Supreme Court of India has emphasized that the Preamble to the Constitution emphasizes the principle of equality as basic to the Constitution of India. This is the basic features of the Constitution which no legislature in India can transgress.
    • It was held in this case:
      • Preamble to the Constitution of India is a part of Constitution
      • Preamble is not a source of power nor a source of limitation
      • Preamble has a significant role to play in the interpretation of statues, also in the interpretation of provisions of the Constitution.
      • It can be concluded that Preamble is introductory part of Indian Constitution.
    • A preamble helps in interpreting the provisions of the constitution.
      • It can be looked at when some article is ambiguous.
      • It also explains the object of the constitution. While summing up, it can be said that a preamble is introduction of an enactment.
      • Although it is not an integral part of the constitution, it explains introduction, reasons, intent and scope of the constitution.
      • The Preamble does not grant any power but it gives direction and purpose to the Constitution .It outlines the objective of the whole Constitution.
    • The Preamble contains the fundamental of constitution. It serves several important purposes, as for example:-
      • It contains the enacting clause which brings the Constitution into force.
      • It declares the basic type of government and polity which is sought to be established in the country.
      • It declares the great rights and freedom which the people of India intended to secure to its entire citizen.
      • It throws light on the source of the Constitution, viz., the People of India.
      • The Preamble can also be used to shed light on and clarify obscurity in the language of a statutory or, constitutional provision. 
      • The preamble acts as the preface of the constitution of India and lays down the philosophical ideas.
      • Preamble as Projector of ‘Desired Established State’
        • The Preamble proclaims the solemn resolution of the people of India to constitute India into a ‘Sovereign socialist secular democratic republic’. 
      • Preamble as Interpreter of Legislation and statutes:
        • The Constitution of India starts with a preamble which contains the spirit of the constitution. Every legislation framed is in conformity with the spirit of the preamble and thus the constitutionality and objects of the statutes are tested.

 

Conclusion:-

  • Preamble of the Constitution of India is one of the best of its kind ever drafted. Both in ideas and expression it is a unique one. It embodies the spirit of the constitution to build up an independent nation which will ensure the triumph of justice, liberty, equality and fraternity.

Topic: Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Education.

2) Analyze how Samagra Shiksha Abhiyan is an improvement over its constituent schemes? (250 words)

Financial express

Why this question

Samagra Shikhsha Abhiyan aims at unifiying learning from pre-school to class 12 levels by treating education holistically as continuum from pre-school to class 12. It encapsulates elements of previous scheme and focuses on digital education by giving emphasis on integration of two Ts – Teacher and Technology. The scheme thus tries to create a paradigm shift in education system and how it does so needs to be analyzed in depth.

Key demand of the question

The question focuses on analyzing the improvements made in the current scheme with respect to its constituent schemes. Thus the positives of the scheme has to be brought out. In case, we feel that there are certain shortcomings, those can be highlighted as well.

Directive word

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.

Structure of the answer

Introduction – Explain Samagra Shiksha Abhiyan.

Body – Analyze how SSA is an improvement over the previous schemes. Bring out points like holistic assessment, focus on teacher quality, incentivizing states for good performance, incorporation of technology etc. Highlight any shortcomings that you feel are there.

Conclusion – Mention that SSA is in tune with the need of the hour and requires sound implementation.

Samagra shiksha abhiyan:-

  • The Union Ministry of Human Resource Development (HRD) launched Samagra Shiksha scheme to improve quality of school education.
  • Aim:-
    • The scheme aims at improving quality of education, enhancing learning outcomes and using technology to empower children and teachers.
    • Samagra Shiksha Scheme aims at unifiying learning from pre-school to class 12 levels by treating education holistically as continuum from pre-school to class 12. It encapsulates elements of previous scheme and focuses on digital education by giving emphasis on integration of two Ts – Teacher and Technology.
  • The scheme subsumes three existing schemes: Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA), Rashtriya Madhyamik Shikskha Abhiyan (RMSA) and Teacher Education (TE) to treat school education holistically, from pre-school to Class XII.
  • Objectives of scheme
    • Provision of quality education
    • Enhancing learning outcomes of students
    • Bridging social and gender gaps in school education
    • Promoting vocationalisation of education
    • Strengthening teacher education institutions like SCERTs and Diets to improve quality of teachers
    • Providing annual grant of Rs 5,000 to Rs 20,000 per school for strengthening of libraries

How is it better than previous schemes:-

  • Holistic assessment:-
    • It is the first integrated scheme extending unified support to states from pre-school to senior secondary levels. It is paradigm shift in conceptual design of school education by treating school holistically as continuum from pre-school, primary, upper primary, secondary and senior secondary levels.
  • The scheme builds on grade-wise, subject-wise Learning Outcomes and largest National Achievement Survey (NAS)-2017-18 to strategize district level interventions for improving quality of education. It will help to shift focus of student learning from content to competencies.
  • The scheme envisages active participation of all stakeholders especially parents, school management committee (SMC) members, community and state functionaries towards efforts to ensure quality education to children.
  • It also extends benefits of Kasturba Gandhi Balika Vidyalaya scheme, under which girls from disadvantaged sections are provided education with hostel facility from class 6-8 to class 6-12.
  • Teacher quality:-
    • The scheme focuses on strengthening teachers, the crucial pillar of education system by making SCERTs and DIETs nodal agencies for teacher training. These institutions will be strengthened to emphasize integration of in-service and pre-service training structures in states to make it need-focused and dynamic. This will strengthen quality of teaching in schools across levels.
  • Getting rid of the segmented approach to school education policy should prove a blessing, especially in tackling high middle-school dropout ratios.
  • States :-
    • This scheme will enable reaping the benefits of technology and widen the access to good quality education across all States and UTs and across all sections of the society.
    • The grants given to states are performance based thus ensuring competitive federalism for getting funds 

Criticism:-

  • It is criticized as old wine in a new bottle:-
    • The new scheme is similar to SSA and the RMSA, is designed to ensure the opening of new and upgraded schools from Class 1 to 12, with an addition of giving preference to children from areas affected by Left-Wing Extremism, border areas, and backward blocks.
    • Transport facility, which existed in the previous schemes, is part of the new scheme as well, along with the provision of free books and uniforms.
    • Other things in common include the reimbursement of 25 per cent of the admission fees for economically weaker sections, and the intervention for enhancement of learning outcomes and developing modules for teacher-learning.
    • Digital initiatives in schools are also more or less the same as the previous schemes

Conclusion:-

Despite some concerns it is a comprehensive programme which is required to give push to the holistic approach to education.


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

Issues relating to poverty and hunger.

3) India suffers from a huge malnourishment problem, which in turn is related to a number of factors. Discuss the initiatives taken by the government to address the issue.(250 words)

Yojana magazine, May 2018 (Nutrition) issue

 

Why this question

Malnourishment is a multi-dimensional problem and india is home to the largest number of malnourished children. The government has taken various initiatives to address the important dimensions of the problem. The issue is related to GS 2 syllabus under the following heading-

Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.

Issues relating to poverty and hunger.

Key demand of the question.

The question simply wants us to discuss the initiatives taken by the government of to address the issue of malnourishment in India. However, we have to discuss the programs/ initiatives in relation to all the dimensions of the problem-health, hygiene, intake, quality etc.

Directive word

Discuss- This is an all-encompassing directive and it directs us to be exhaustive in our approach to the answer. We have to write at length about all the important initiatives taken by the govt to address the multidimensional issue of poverty.

Structure of the answer

Introduction-mention that malnourishment is a multidimensional problem (poverty, undernourished mother, sanitation, lack of awareness etc) and present some statistics about malnourishment in India.

Body

Discuss in points various initiatives taken by the govt to address the issue in all its dimensions. Briefly discuss the aims of those initiatives.

E.g ICDS, Indira Gandhi Matritva Sahyog Yojana, Reproductive Child Health RCH-II, National Rural Health Mission (NRHM), Janani Suraksha Yojana (JSY), Rajiv Gandhi National Creche Scheme, Total Sanitation Campaign, National Rural Drinking Water Programme, Mid day Meals, Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA), Rajiv Gandhi Scheme for the Empowerment of Adolescent Girls (RGSEAG), Kishori Shakti Yojana, NRHM, MNREGS, Skill Development Mission, Women Welfare and Support Programme, Adult Literacy Programme, TPDS, AAY etc.

Conclusion- give your suggestions ( e.g need for coherence and linking together all initiatives, increased spending on health and nutrition etc) and form a fair and a balanced conclusion on the above issue.

Background :-

  • India is home to over 40 million stunted and 17 million wasted children (under-five years).

Factors responsible for high malnutrition in India:-

  • The problem of malnutrition is intergenerational and is dependent on multiple factors such as
    • Optimal Infant and Young Child Feeding (IYCF) practices
    • Immunisation
    • Institutional Delivery
    • Early Childhood Development
    • Food Fortification
    • Deworming
    • Access to safe drinking water and proper sanitation (WASH)
    • Dietary Diversification and other related factors i..e. Socio-behavioural aspects.
  • Mothers:-
    • Many children are born to anaemic and malnourished teenage mothers. Indeed, 33.6 per cent of Indian women are chronically undernourished and 55 per cent are anaemic. 
  • Lack of food security:-
    • The dismal health of Indian women and children is primarily due to lack of food security.
    • Nearly one-third of adults in the country have a body mass index (BMI) below normal just because they do not have enough food to eat.
  • Failure of government approaches:-
    • India already has two robust national programmes addressing malnutrition the Integrated Child Development Service (ICDS) and the National Health Mission  but these do not yet reach enough people.
  • The delivery system is also inadequate and plagued by inefficiency and corruption. Some analysts estimate that 40 per cent of the subsidised food never reaches the intended recipients
  • Disease spread:-
    • Most child deaths in India occur from treatable diseases like pneumonia, diarrhea, malaria and complications at birth. The child may eventually die of a disease, but that disease becomes lethal because the child is malnourished and unable to put up resistance to it.
  • Poverty:-
    • The staff of ICDS places part of the blame of malnutrition on parents being inattentive to the needs of their children, but crushing poverty forces most women to leave their young children at home and work in the fields during the agricultural seasons.
  • Regional disparities in the availability of food and varying food habits lead to the differential status of undernutrition which is substantially higher in rural than in urban areas. This demands a region-specific action plan with significant investments in human resources with critical health investments at the local levels.
  • Lack of nutrition:-
    • Significant cause of malnutrition is also the deliberate failure of malnourished people to choose nutritious food.
    • An international study found that the poor in developing countries had enough money to increase their food spending by as much as 30 per cent but that this money was spent on alcohol, tobacco and festivals instead.

Initiatives taken by government:-

  • ICDS:-
    • High priority was accorded to reducing undernutrition in preschool children. The Integrated Child Development Scheme (ICDS) was aimed at providing food supplements to children from poor and marginalised sections to bridge the gap between requirement and actual dietary intake. 
    • Another component of ICDS programme was weighing children for early detection of growth faltering and undernutrition.
  • Universal Salt Iodisation:-
    • National Iodine Deficiency Control Programme (NIDDCP) was initiated in 1992 with the goal that all salt for human consumption will be iodised to ensure universal household access to iodised salt. 
  • There are a number of existing programmes targeting nutrition outcomes, directly or indirectly. These include the National Health Mission – Janani Suraksha Yojana, the National Rural Drinking Water Programme, Matritva Sahyog Yojana, SABLA for adolescent girls, Mid-day Meal Scheme, Targeted Public Distribution System, National Food Security Mission, MGNREGA and the National Rural Livelihoods Mission among others.
  • National Nutrition Mission :-
    • NNM has introduced a central nodal agency with extensive financial resources to coordinate various central and state government schemes and imbue them with additional financial resources.
    • The programme will  cover all states and districts in a phased manner.
    • The core strategy of the mission is to create decentralised governance systems with flexibility given to states, districts and local level with robust monitoring, accountability and incentive frameworks that will encourage local solutions. 
    • More than 10 crore people are likely to be benefitted by this programme. 
  • POSHAN Abhiyaan -PM’s Overarching Scheme for Holistic Nourishment from Jhunjhunu in Rajasthan.
    • The programme through the use of technology, a targeted approach and convergence strives to reduce the level of stunting, undernutrition, anemia and low birthweight in children, as also, focus on adolescent girls, pregnant women and lactating mothers, thus holistically addressing malnutrition. 
    • The programme aims to ensure service delivery and interventions by use of technology, behavioural change through convergence and lays-down specific targets to be achieved across different monitoring parameters  over the next few years. 
  • Indian Government has taken important steps, such as the release of fortification standards for five staples by the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) to fight micronutrient malnutrition, release of food composition tables by the National Institute of Nutrition to increase focus on dietary diversity, and now, the release of nutrition data to address the issue of malnutrition more holistically.
  • The Sustainable Development Goal (SDG)-2 goal, which aims to “end hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture”, is a priority area for India, which can offer key solutions for hunger and poverty eradication and also tackle the issue of malnutrition and undernourishment in the country. 

Way forward:-

  • Package of basic measures like including programmess to encourage mothers to exclusively breastfeed their children for up to six months, fortifying basic foods with essential minerals and vitamins, and increased cash transfers with payments targeted at the poorest families can turn the tide.
  • Some other recommendations are for universal access to infant and young childcare, including ICDS and crèches, provisions to provide biannual critical nutrient supplements and programmes aimed at deworming children.
  • In the area of maternal care, the strategy proposes that the government provide nutritional support in particular, the adequate consumption of iodised salt  to mothers during pregnancy and lactation.
  • India is facing a double-burden of malnutrition: Over-nutrition and under-nutrition existing simultaneously, there is a pressing need for a multi-sectoral approach along with nutrition-sensitive and nutrition-specific interventions to address the problems holistically.
    • For this, there is a need to reiterate the priorities which may include, spreading of knowledge and awareness regarding safe food, diversifying food baskets, putting women and children at the centre of any nutritional intervention and leverage on modern technologies to impart nutrition-linked messages and sustainable agricultural practices.
  • Strengthen and restructure ICDS and leverage PDS :-
    • ICDS needs to be in mission mode, with a sanction of adequate financial resources (from the central government) and decision-making authority. 
  • Extend coverage of food fortification of staples:-
    • Currently, fortification of staples is limited to the mandatory iodisation of salt. However, the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) is in the process of formulating draft standards for the fortification of foodgrains which will add to the nutrient value. 
    • This would help in providing sufficient calories and micronutrients to a large number of children under-five. 
  • Target multiple contributing factors, for example, WASH – The underlying drivers for India’s ‘hidden hunger’ challenges are complex and go beyond direct nutritional inputs. The push for toilet construction must be combined with a strategy for behavioural change. 
  • Align agricultural policy with national nutritional objectives – Agriculture policy must be brought in tune with nutritional policy, with incentives provided for encouraging the production of nutrient-rich and local crops for self-consumption. 

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

Issues relating to poverty and hunger.

4) Private sector can  play a significant role in addressing the nutritional woes of India. Analyse.(250 words) 

Yojana magazine, May 2018 (Nutrition) issue

 

Why this question

Although government has taken several measures and introduced many schemes to address the issue of malnutrition in India, the efforts have not been enough in addressing the problem. Therefore if private sector can supplement the role of the govt, then it would hasten India’s progress towards a healthy society. The issue is related to GS  2 syllabus under the following heading-

Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.

Issues relating to poverty and hunger.

Key demand of the question.

The question wants us to bring out the role private sector can play in addressing India’s nutritional woes (malnourishment as well as obesity). We have to express our understanding of the issue and discuss how it can be done.

Directive word

Analyze- We have to dig deep into the question and discuss the need to rope in private sector and the role it can play in addressing the nutritional problems of India.

Structure of the answer

Introduction – Present  some statistics about the severity of malnourishment in India- its prevalence, and also obesity. Mention the SDG of ending malnutrition by 2030.

Body

 

  • Discuss the need to bring in private sector. E.g mention a few important govt schemes aimed at ending malnourishment and argue that despite so much efforts the progress has not been upto the mark; and given the severity of the problem and  need to achieve SDG means that the efforts have to be scaled up.
  • Discuss how private sector can play  a role n addressing the nutritional problems of India.

 

E.g Attracting/ influencing customers to purchase nutritional products, Tech-enabled nutrition awareness and service delivery, Influencing cooking practices through awareness programmes and strategies, Workplace nutrition programmes, CSR support for nutritional programmes etc.

Conclusion- based on the above discussion, form a fair and a balanced opinion on the overall issue.

Background :-

  • Given that many child deaths  are because of undernutriton, tackling it should be the highest of priorities for Indian decision makers. With this is mind, as most people, even the rural poor, purchase at least some of their food from markets, there is increasing interest in understanding how and when the private sector, might be effective in using the market to deliver nutritious foods to those most likely to suffer from undernutrition.

Why private role is needed :-

  • Public health crisis:-
    • The scale of malnutrition in India constitutes a public health crisis, which not only violates a fundamental right of humanity, but also undermines significant advances made in economic, social, and cultural indicators.
  • An investment in nutrition is one of the most compelling economic investments, not to mention the substantial humanitarian returns: for every $1 invested in nutrition, a country can get $16 in returns (GNR, 2016).
  • Nutrition is not the priority:-
    • Despite moderate progress over the past two decades, including the significance of the National Food Security Act 2013, which enshrines the basic right to food in law, nutrition has failed to attract priority status in the Government’s health agenda.
  • Issues with government approach:-
    • More specifically, the current institutional structure has so far failed to correctly map the time frame for focused intervention, and state spending directed at nutrition and micronutrient supplementation continues to be low.
    • These challenges are compounded by the continued lack of clarity in identifying the nodal ministry from which to coordinate the Government’s various nutrition programmes, including the Integrated Child Development Scheme (ICDS) and the National Rural Health Mission (NRHM).
    • With current interventions retaining a focus on addressing malnutrition post-birth, the importance of intervening during the first 1,000 days of a child’s life cannot be over emphasised.

How private sector can help :-

  • Food fortification represents an opportunity ripe for private sector collaboration, especially in the role for public-private partnerships (PPPs) to introduce the appropriate technology (for making nutritious food affordable), boosting the low levels of nutrition awareness in urban and rural communities, and supplementing government delivery systems.
  • Multi-sectoral partnerships are of critical importance in plugging delivery gaps:
    • With the trend towards packaged food moving into the consumption basket of rural households, there exist increasing opportunities for the private sector to engage in food distribution and food fortification, provide micronutrient supplementation, and promote dietary diversification. 
  • While Anganwadi Centres represent an appropriate platform for such engagement, common people do not understand complex communication. This reinforces the need for private sector outreach interventions aimed at spreading awareness about the importance of the first 1,000 days of a child’s life to households at the bottom of the socio-economic pyramid.
  • The private sector therefore has a key role to play in developing sustainable agriculture and delivering nutrition for all people. As governments cannot feed people on a sustainable basis, they need to deal with structural conditions which constrain development while at the same time promote policies which will enable the private sector to continue to innovate and invest in the food and agriculture sector.  This includes supporting local business development.
  • Attracting/ influencing customers to purchase nutritional products:-
    • Due to their efficient marketing strategies private sector can play a significant role in educating customers about nutrition
  • Tech-enabled nutrition awareness and service delivery:-
    • With advanced technologies like AI, Big data proper analysis can be done on nutrition to get more clarity and information and then target the people based on it.
  • Influencing cooking practices through awareness programmes and strategies
  • Workplace nutrition programmes
  • CSR support for nutritional programmes

Issues:-

  • The food must be affordable.Processed foods which have been fortified are often too expensive for the poorest and those most at risk of undernutrition.
  • The food must be safe and contain the nutrients that they claim to have:- 
    • When purchasing iodized salt or fortified flour, a consumer cannot tell if the product actually contains the nutrient which the package claims- they must trust that the claims are true and that someone is responsible for ensuring that manufactures are complying with regulations.
  • Nutritional content of foods is not the only factor motivating consumer choice:-
    • In reality it is just one of the many factors people consider along with taste, ease of preparation, and cultural preference, among others.
  • The nutritious food must be available in the local market:-
    • This can be a particular challenge in rural areas, where low population densities, high distribution costs, poor infrastructure and low purchasing power mean that it is often not financially viable for companies to distribute products in rural areas.

Way forward:-

  • Three key actions are needed to result in ‘better access of better food and nutrition for more people
    • Connect agriculture, food and nutrition at all levels
    • Invest in new ideas and delivery models
    • Align agendas (including a One UN agenda on nutrition) and work together on the Zero Hunger Challenge .Make zero hunger a cross-sector objective and ensure the post-2015 MDG agenda includes nutrition security as an explicit part of food security and vice versa.
  • Boost private sector engagement in nutrition interventions :- The government should facilitate PPPs in the sector that can leverage technological solutions for scaling up food fortification initiatives and complement the government’s outreach efforts through mass awareness.

General Studies – 3


Topic – Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation

5) Discuss the efficacy of banning single use plastics in solid waste management?(250 words)

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Why this question

Tackling plastic waste was the theme of the world environment day and has come under intense focus. Several states have banned the use of single use plastics, while a few have reversed this step. The effectiveness of banning single use plastics need to be analyzed in depth.

Key demand of the question

We need to discuss the pros and cons of implementing the policy of banning single use plastic. Alternatives to banning single use plastic may also be provided.

Directive word

Discuss – This is an all-encompassing directive – you have to debate on paper by going through the details of the issues concerned by examining each one of them. You have to give reasons for both for and against arguments.

Structure of the answer

Introduction – Highlight the recent pledge by the government to ban all forms of plastic by 2022 and the step taken by state governments like Maharashtra to ban single use plastic.

Body – Analyze the pros and cons of such a move. Highlight pros like the necessity to ban plastic because of its non biodegradable nature, the massive ill effects that dumping of plastic in oceans and as landfills have on ecosystem, the necessity of weaning people away from a convenient item like plastic etc. Highlight the cons like lack of assessment of its actual impact, lack of focus on collection and segregation which is the real bane of waste management etc. Discuss alternatives to banning.

Conclusion – Mention the way forward for mitigating the ill effects of plastic pollution.

Background:-

  • Recently Maharashtra passed a decision to ban single-use plastics. This includes items such as thermocol plates, small polyethylene terephthalate (PET) bottles, flexes and plastic cutlery. With this ban, Maharashtra joined a list of over 18 states in the country, which have imposed a partial or complete ban on single-use plastics.

Why there is need to ban plastic :-

  • So far plastic bans have not worked in India because the user was never penalised. But the Maharashtra law includes fines for users, which is good.
  • It is necessary to ban plastic because of its non biodegradable nature.
  • Plastic in oceans and forests are choking flora and fauna. In fact, plastic trash is expected to exceed the fish population in 2050.
  • Microplastics has ability to enter food chain with the highest concentration of the pollutants.

Bad efficacy :-

  • Across the world, bans on plastic (primarily polythene bags) and taxation of plastic bags have achieved mixed results, with many of them failing even in the developed world.
  • Beyond implementation, there is also a great deal of arbitrariness which surrounds the ban, beginning with the vague and broad set of reasons provided for its imposition.
    • These include the nuisance of litter created by plastic bags (its non-biodegradable nature, the clogging of drains by plastic bags, its presence in water bodies and its excessive presence in landfills), the harm caused by plastics to marine and animal life (cows in particular), and as a potential threat to health. 
  • Single-use, lightweight plastics are, many a times, not even a major source of municipal waste.
  • In India, there are few or no reliable statistics on the scale and scope of the problem.
    • Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB 2016) estimates the total plastic waste of Maharashtra to be 4,69,098 tonnes. However, this includes all manner of plastic waste, such as industrial plastic waste which is recyclable. In terms of actual weights, there are no figures provided for the scale of lightweight single-use plastics such as polythene bags.
  • What is not paid attention to is the collection and segregation of plastic within solid waste management. :-
    • Most municipal corporations still do not have a proper system of collection and segregation, given their lack of access to technology and infrastructure, which are needed to dispose of plastic waste in a cost- and resource-efficient way
  • The decision to ban single-use plastics has evoked a great deal of anger and resentment amongst the people working in the recycling trade.
    • Despite their presence for well over 50 years, recycling clusters in Mumbai have been ignored, and their contribution to waste management and sustainability in the regional economy has been discounted
  • There are a bigger problem in terms of the volume of waste generated
  • The idea of extended producer responsibility (EPR), which was introduced in the rules of 2016, still remains nowhereclose to being implemented even after two years.
    • EPR targets have to be accounted for at the national level, irrespective of which state the products are sold or consumed in. The amendment does not address these issues. Moreover, no example of deposit refund scheme system has been implemented in any state.
  • The Solid Waste Management Rules, 2016, mandate ULBs to set up facilities for processing sorted dry waste. However, the implementation has been rather bleak, owing to available land/space concerns.
  • Source separation of waste, coupled with segregated collection and transportation, have been weak links in the waste supply
  • Imposing penalties or fines is easier said than done in a democratic setup. 

Way forward:-

  • With a worldwide crisis due to plastic waste, India has to involve all the stakeholderstake the responsibility of ensuring minimisation, reuse and recycling of plastic to the maximum.
    • Sensitise people to stop littering and segregate their waste. Nowadays the most popular eco-conscious effort is participating in beach cleanups.
  • International examples:-
    • The success of imposing a plastic bag fee has also been established in cities like Chicago and Washington, showing that such interventions could be effective in shaping behaviour change.
    • The European Union is mulling new laws to ban some everyday single-use plastic products including straws, cutlery and plates citing plastic litter in oceans as the concern prompting the action.
    • Countries such as the U.S., Canada and the Netherlands have already put in place regulations to stop the use of microbeads in personal-care products. The sooner India adopts such regulations, the better
    • Encouraging plogging:-
      • Picking up litter while jogging or strolling was kick-started on a small scale in a small part of Stockholm about an year ago, it has spread across the globe and India can adopt this as well.

Topic: Disaster and disaster management.

6) It is not deficit monsoon, rather the lack of policies and mechanisms to drought-proof susceptible areas that has turned the situation in India so severe. Examine.(250 words) 

Reference

Reference

Why this question

Drought is a huge challenge for the government. With climate change adversely affecting monsoons each year, it is imperative for us to analyze whether we have been able to get the policy steps to tackle drought right.

Key demand of the question

The question expects us to first explain the causes of drought, whether lack of rainfall is the only reason. Thereafter, we need to highlight the lacunae in governmental policy to tackle drought. We should briefly highlight the seriousness of the problem and end with a way forward.

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 – Bring out the fact through relevant data that drought is a recurring problem for India and needs deeper analysis.

Body – Examine the reasons of drought to evaluate whether lack of rainfall is the sole reason and how far mismanagement of drought by government is responsible for the current state. Delve deeper into the lacunae in governmental policies to prevent drought as well as in capacity building to withstand drought. Analyze whether we have been successful in creating natural assets, utilize our traditional water harvesting systems, our agricultural policies which have induced drought like situations in certain parts, our mismanagement of groundwater reserves etc. Discuss the impact of these gaps by emphasizing on how serious the situation has become.

Conclusion – Highlight the importance of urgently tackling this issue and discuss way forward.

Background:-

  • Officially, drought is a permanent disaster that strikes, on an average, 50 million Indians every year; 33 per cent of the country is chronically drought-affected while close to 68 per cent areas are drought-prone.
  • India has more than 150 years of experience in drought management. Despite this, every time the country faces a deficit monsoon, we plunge into a crisis.

Main cause of drought is due to lack of rainfall:-

  • The existing problems of rainfed regions, if not addressed in time, will get more acute in the coming years due to global warming and climate change. There would be a downward trend in the number of wet days in a year; in a country which gets rain only for less than 100 hours in a year (a year has 8,760 hours), this would be disastrous.
  • Deficient and uneven rainfall in the last two agricultural years adversely affected overall agricultural production

Measures taken:-

  • In the last six decades India has spent more than Rs 3.5 lakh crore on water conservation and drought-proofing.
  • Particularly, in the last one decade, the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) has helped create, on an average, 21 water bodies in every village. Some 12.3 million water harvesting structures have been built.
  • India has a better monsoon forecasting system than India  had before and  crisis response management has improved. 

 

However policy mechanisms are to be blamed more:-

  • Centre-state non cooperation:-
    • Earlier, the states could approach the Centre for drought relief without restrictions of the category of drought, and ask for monetary help under the Calamity Relief Fund and the National Calamity Contingency Fund.
    • However new “Manual for Drought Management” says that the states can ask for Centre’s help only if the drought is “severe”. Also the parameters that make a drought “severe” are extremely stringent.
  • Maharashtra launched Jalyukt Shivar Abhiyaan to make the state drought-free by 2019 by carrying out decentralised soil and water conservation works. But the situation on the ground remains worrisome. 
  • Other  contributing factors such as rapid population growth, depletion of groundwater resources, poor water management, chronic lack of investment in storage systems, greater urbanization, consequent large-scale deforestation and leveling of water bodies like large ponds and lakes for legal or illegal constructions have added to the water problems.
  • Water intensive crops:-
    • Government policies such as subsidies for particularly water-intensive crops as well as heavy irrigation methods for having contributed to the problem.
    • There is a political reluctance to control water-hungry crops in low-rainfall regions, such as sugarcane in Maharashtra and paddy in Punjab.
  • Successive Indian governments have for many decades failed to invest in rural infrastructure, particularly water storage and irrigation infrastructure, which has been a major contributor to the drought problems of India
  • The policy approach to agriculture since the 90s has been to secure increased production by subsidising inputs such as power, water and fertiliser; and by increasing the minimum support price, rather than by building new capital assets in surface irrigation, rainwater harvesting, improving credit for smallholders and evolving new drought-resistant technologies.
    • This has shifted the production base from low-cost regions to high-cost ones, causing an increase in the cost of production, regional imbalance and an increase in the burden of storage and transport of produce.
  • Exploitation of groundwater:-
    • Policies have resulted in excessive use of capital on farms, such as too many tubewells in water-scarce regions.
    • Groundwater, as opposed to surface and sub-soil water, has become the main source of irrigation, leading to more than 30% of the blocks in the country getting classified as semi-critical, critical or overexploited.
    • As there is no effective control over the digging of tubewells in water-scarce regions, farmers are borrowing money from informal sources at high interest rates to dig tubewells, but many such borings fail, leading to indebtedness and even suicides.
  • Lack of participation:-
    • The government of India has announced several programmes in soil and water conservation but, when undertaken by the agriculture department, these remain departmental in approach with no involvement of people. Maintenance of the created assets suffers, as beneficiaries are not motivated to assume responsibility for maintenance.
    • Watershed development programmes cannot succeed without full participation of project beneficiaries and careful attention to issues of social organisation. Despite the fact that MGNREGA mandates that 80% of work must be related to local water conservation and drought-proofing, the sustainability and productivity of assets created is never monitored.

Impact:-

  • Impact of drought is felt directly by farmers, due to poor crop yields or crop failures, which results in reduced farm incomes, and this has wider transmission effects throughout rural communities due to lower consumer spending by agricultural households.
  • Many farmers in India are also deeply indebted and need good harvests to allow them to recoup financial losses and repay loans.
  • Drought is a major factor in the thousands of farmer suicides afflicting India over the last few decades.

Way forward:-

  • A large-scale national water infrastructure development program that will not only use Indian public funds but also leverage international aid assistance and other forms of development finance to rapidly build up national water storage capacity is needed.
  • India need to build a much larger network of big water reservoirs as well as regional and local water storage systems.
  • In parallel, advanced agricultural irrigation systems should be integrated into low rainfall areas of India, utilizing advanced technology that is used in arid areas of countries such as the US, Australia and Israel
  • Modernization of urban waterworks is also very important in order to prevent large-scale loss of water through leaking and damaged pipes.
  • In the short term, however, the Indian government can take certain preemptive and proactive steps to lessen the vulnerability of people to drought.
    • This should entail providing more financial support to farmers; staging awareness raising campaigns that teach people how to conserve water and use it more judiciously; and essentially giving people incentives to use water cautiously.
    • Need to reduce unrestricted mining of groundwater and ensure stricter implementation of environmentally sound cropping patterns.
    • Drip irrigation and a water sprinkler approach, mulching and bed plantation, and construction of tanks and check dams should be promoted for water harvesting and conservation.
  • Build efficient irrigation systems and water conservation strategies in rainfed regions, through conjunctive use of surface and groundwater. Agriculture in semi-arid regions has to move from traditional, crop-centric farming to agri-pastoral-farm-forestry systems (fruit trees, shrubs, perennial grasses and small ruminants).
  • MS Swaminathan , as a long-term solution to drought and financial support to farmers, advocated the implementation of the Minimum Support Price. He recommended pricing and procurement based on total cost of production plus 50 percent principal.

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

7) Critically analyze the policy of enhancing the production and use of biofuels in airplanes, for a carbon neutral growth of the aviation industry.(250 words)

Reference

Reference

Why this question

The International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) has recently mooted the idea of quickly scaling up the production and use of biofuels for aviation industry. However, the idea has been opposed by many environmentalists. 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 wants us to delve deep into the issue, and identify and discuss the important aspects of the question. We have to deliberate on the pros and cons of such a policy/action and form a personal opinion on the issue, based on our understanding and knowledge on various aspects of the question.

Directive word

Critically analyze- We have to identify the key demand and discuss all the related and important aspects of the question. Here we have to discuss the pros and cons of increasing the use and production of biofuels in the aviation sector. Based on our discussion, we have to form a personal opinion on the issue.

Structure of the answer

Introduction – mention the rising aviation emissions and the recent ICAO proposal to scale up the production and use of biofuels for aviation sector. You can also put some statistics related to aviation emissions (e.g Global energy consumption in the transport sector accounted for approximately 2,300 Mtoe in 2009, with 10 % of it consumed by global aviation).

Body

  • Discuss the pros/need for such an action/ policy. E.g advanced liquid have a high specific energy content, growth of aviation sector and consequent fuel demand which must be environmentally sensitive, biofuels do not emit sulfur dioxide, technically it is the only alternate available right now etc.
  • Discuss in points the cons/ challenges involved of /in such an action/policy. E.g oxidation and gel formation of biodiesel, damage to hoses and gaskets, presence of harmful bacteria and fungi in biofuel engines, it may drive new deforestation in the name of growing biofuels, it would further expand monoculture plantations, land-grabbing and food price volatility, more biodiversity destruction, more agrochemical use, and pollution of freshwater etc.

Conclusion– based on the above discussion, form a fair and a balanced opinion on the overall issue.

Background:-

  • Global energy consumption in the transport sector accounted for approximately 2,300 Mtoe in 2009, with 10 % of it consumed by global aviation.
  • Aviation emissions have taken an  8-per cent leap in Europe last year and the global CO2 pollution is expected  to rise fourfold, so the ICAO recently proposed to rapidly scale up use and production of biofuels in airplanes for a carbon neutral growth of the aviation industry by 2020. 

Positives of this move and why biofuels in aviation is a better option:-

  • As a result of the strong growth in the aviation industry, the CO2 emissions produced by the sector are set to rise rapidly in the years ahead. The use of sustainably produced biofuels is an essential element of structurally reducing these emissions
  • If the use of biofuels is increased to 285m tonnes by 2050, almost half of the international aviation fuel demand would be met.
  • Produced from renewable resources like plant materials, biofuels have emerged as a clean and sustainable source of fuel
    • Also the industry is planning to use Hydrotreated Vegetable Oil (HVO), which contains palm oil, which  is the cheapest and abundantly available vegetable oil and its refining also doesnt cost as much as other plant oils. 
  • CO2 can vary significantly depending on the type of biomass, where the biofuel is produced and the technology used. Emission reductions of up to 95% can be achieved if the biofuel is produced sustainably
  • Low-carbon aviation biofuel could be grown that will not affect the environment and could reward farmers .
    • For instance in project Solaris instead of the usual petroleum-based jet fuel, the plane was burning thousands of litres of a clear liquid derived from the oil of nicotine-free tobacco plants .
  • Advanced liquid biofuels have a high specific energy content unlike other fuels.
  • Biofuels do not emit sulfur dioxide so technically it is the only alternate available right now 

Negatives:- 

  • This move  to promote biofuel will be the end of rainforests in the world and will be new driver of deforestation.
  • Such ways to reduce carbon emissions would further expand monoculture plantations, land-grabbing and food price volatility,  more biodiversity destruction, more agrochemical use, and pollution of freshwater, without reducing the climate impacts of aviation.
  • No credible scenarios exist for large-scale production of biofuels at present. So far, only a handful of companies produce renewable jet fuel on a commercial scale.
  • Challenge facing the use of biofuels in aviation is the high quality standards requirement.
  • In order to boost the production of biofuels, the entire production chain needs to be further developed. These developments take time.
  • Use of food crops to produce biofuels could lead to higher agricultural commodity
  • Bioethanol cannot be used for air transport due to its low energy density, and because it doesn’t combust effectively in ‘thin air’ at high altitude. Methanol and biogas are unsuitable for air transport for both technical and safety reasons.
  • Biofuels will be an important measure, but they are currently only available in small quantities at high cost

Way forward:-

  • Even though biofuels might seem like an economical solution at this point of time, in the forthcoming years, with an increase in the biofuel supply backed by stringent government policies, biofuels will emerge as the future of the aviation industry.
  • Structural policy to stimulate the use of biofuels in the aviation industry is yet to be put into place at international level. International agreements will therefore need to be reached to promote the use of biofuels in the aviation sector.
  • Sensible policies can minimise these downsides by promoting the use of non-food crops and wastes to produce biofuels and disincentivising feedstocks linked to unsustainable land-use change.
  • Making lighter engines:-
    • A long series of gradual cuts in fuel use have been achieved by boosting engine efficiency and using lightweight materials for the body, such as in the current generation of 737s.