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SECURE SYNOPSIS: 17 DECEMBER 2018


SECURE SYNOPSIS: 17 DECEMBER 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 modern Indian history

1) The charkha was Gandhi’s attempt to crystallise the very deep paradox of an Indian economy and culture in the hands of Western imperialism. Comment.(250 words)

The hindu

Why this question

The article talks about how British used the textile industry as a tool of economic imperialism and made full use of it, at India’s cost. The article then talks about how Gandhi recognised that domination of British in textile industry in India was not only economic exploitation but domination over the spirit of Indians and thus he emphasized on Swadeshi and the power of charkha. The question expects us to discuss these issues and comment on them.

Key demand of the question

The question expects us to bring out how British dominated textile trade in India and used it to prosper at the cost of India’s resources and in the process negatively affected the life of many Indian skilled craftsmen. Thereafter, it expects us to bring out how Gandhi through the symbolism of charkha and the message of Swadeshi fought against this domination and the impact it had.

Directive word

Comment – When you are asked to comment, you have to pick main points and give your ‘opinion’ on them based on evidences or arguments stemming from your wide reading. Your opinion may be for or against, but you must back your argument with evidences.

Structure of the answer

Introduction – explain that the theory of economic drain has been put forward by several historians and explain that charkha symbolised the power of Swadeshi – the most valiant resistance against the capture of domestic textile industry.

Body

  • Explain how the British systematically dismantled the cotton mill industry of India and reduced Indian trade in this segment, destroyed economic opportunities for Indians and reduced India to a position of exporter of raw material.
  • Highlight the impact it had on poverty and economic underdevelopment of India.
  • Explain that Gandhi understood the ghostliness of an industry that had mummified weavers into power looms. And one of the first strikes he led was at a cotton mill in Ahmedabad in 1918. Discuss the steps he took and analyze its impact. Highlight the opposition to his policies. by the 1930s, the Mahatma, passionate about exorcising the ghosts of previous centuries, wanted to boycott not only British-manufactured cotton, but also cotton produced in Indian mills. Even though two of his most notable companions, Ghanshyam Das Birla, a cotton magnate, and Jawaharlal Nehru, opposed this theatrical idea of swaraj.

Conclusion – Comment on the power of charkha and the impact it had on the freedom struggle.

Background :-

  • Indian textile industry has been considered one of the finest textile industries of the world from ancient times. It is believed that India became the “golden sparrow” in the past because of this textile industry. 

Charkha :-

  • The charkha, or spinning wheel, was the physical embodiment and symbol of Gandhi’s constructive program. It represents Swadeshi, self-sufficiency, and at the same time interdependence, because the wheel is at the center of a network of cotton growers, carders, weavers, distributors, and users. . 
  • It also embodied the dignity of labor, equality, unity, as all volunteers were to spin each day, and finally independence, as British control of India was rooted in control of indigenous industries such as textiles.

Impact on textile industry in the hands of western imperialism:-

  • Demand for Indian fabrics increased in British and this posed a threat to the traditional woolen industry. Due to this, an Act was passed in 1700 against the import of any of such fabric from India, Persia and China
  • Imposition of taxes, banning of Indian textiles in other markets and physically abuse of Indian weavers by British caused the death of Indian small scale textile industries. As Indian industries declined, British started selling their textiles in Indian markets too. 
  • British destroyed economic opportunities for Indians and reduced India to a position of exporter of raw material. The import of finished goods from England also increased with the simultaneous export of raw materials from India. India was paying for it’s own conquest by British by handing to Britishers the requisite resources.
  • In India the ruin of the millions of artisans and craftsmen was not accompanied by any alternative growth of new industrial forms. This lead to a massive loss of jobs.

Impact of Gandhi’s Charkha:-

  • Gandhi understood the ghostliness of an industry that had mummified weavers into power looms. And one of the first strikes he led was at a cotton mill in Ahmedabad in 1918.
  • The real colonisation was not just British economic exploitation, but the transition of India from a self-sustained economy to an industrialised nation, which would preserve and perpetuate the class divide.
  • Charkha symbolised self-reliance, perseverance and determination.
  • His policy flourished indigenously manufactured goods and focused on ‘swadeshi’ as tool to lead the national movement. It facilitated employment among poor at the bottom of pyramid. It led to self-sufficient village economy promoting trusteeship model.

General Studies – 2


Topic – Statutory, regulatory and various quasi-judicial bodies

2) Critically examine the impact of TDSAT’s order on predatory pricing? Also explain the function of TDSAT?(250 words)

Economictimes

Why this question

This article discusses the recent judgmental of TDSAT where it rejected the telecom regulator’s order that had changed the definition of ‘significant market power’ (SMP) to identify predatory pricing. This order has significant impact on the telecom sector of the country and thus needs to be understood and its impact analyzed.

Key demand of the question

The question first expects you to first explain the role of TDSAT. Thereafter, we need to explain the order and by referring TRAI regulations. We need to discuss the pros and cons of the impact of the order. Finally, we need to provide a fair and balanced conclusion and discuss the way forward.

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 – Discuss why this question has come by explaining TDSAT’s order.

Body

  • First answer the second part of the question regarding role and function or TDSAT.
    • In order to bring in functional clarity and strengthen the regulatory framework and the disputes settlement mechanism in the telecommunication sector, the TRAI Act of 1997 was amended in the year 2000 and TDSAT was set up to adjudicate disputes and dispose of appeals with a view to protect the interests of service providers and consumers of the telecom sector.
    • The Tribunal exercises jurisdiction over Telecom, Broadcasting, IT and Airport tariff matters under the TRAI Act, 1997 (as amended), the Information Technology Act, 2008 and the Airport Economic Regulatory Authority of India Act, 2008
  • Explain what predatory pricing is. Explain how by altering the definition of significant market player, the order has has a huge impact on reliance Jio, Airtel , Vodafone etc.
  • Analyze the impact of the order on enhancing the reach of cell phones and telecom connectivity in the country versus the upholding of principles of transparency and effectiveness

Conclusion – Give your view on the verdict and discuss about the way forward.

Background:-

  • Recently the Telecom Dispute Settlement Appellate Tribunal rejected the regulator’s order that had changed the definition of ‘significant market power’ (SMP) to identify predatory pricing.
  • TDSAT has asked the regulator to reconsider the provisions within six months and barred it from levying any penalty based on the February 2018 guidelines.

Predatory pricing :-

  • Predatory pricing is the practice pricing of goods or services at such a low level that other firms cannot compete and are forced to leave the market.

Functions of TDSAT:

  • In order to bring in functional clarity and strengthen the regulatory framework and the disputes settlement mechanism in the telecommunication sector, the TRAI Act of 1997 was amended in the year 2000 and TDSAT was set up
  • TDSAT role is to adjudicate disputes and dispose of appeals with a view to protect the interests of service providers and consumers of the telecom sector and to promote and ensure orderly growth of the telecom sector.
  • The Tribunal exercises jurisdiction over Telecom, Broadcasting, IT and Airport tariff matters under the TRAI Act, 1997 (as amended), the Information Technology Act, 2008 and the Airport Economic Regulatory Authority of India Act, 2008.
  • The Tribunal exercises original as well as appellate jurisdiction in regard to Telecom, Broadcasting and Airport tariff matters. In regard to Cyber matters the Tribunal exercises only the appellate jurisdiction.

Impact :-

  • The Telecom Disputes Settlement & Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT) also set aside a rule in the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) predatory pricing regulationthat required top telcos to report all tariffs in the interests of transparency and non-discrimination.
  • The tribunal’s order comes as a respite to Vodafone Idea erstwhile Vodafone India and Idea Cellular and Airtel who had challenged the TRAI order.
  • To allow freedom from requirement of non-predation till acquisition of 30 per cent of total activity in a given market prima facie appears to be an extreme step.
  • As per the TRAI rule, a tariff could be predatory only if an operator with over 30 per cent market share offers tarifffs lower than the average variable cost. With the order, the TDSAT has struck down this rule.
  • The competition in the telecom sector will be maintained enhancing the reach of cell phones and telecom connectivity in the country.

Topic-Linkages between development and spread of extremism.

3) Kashmir stands today at the cusp of a new and dangerous phase. Comment in the context of the present turmoil in Kashmir.(250 words) 

The hindu

Why this question

The recent report about the spate in the number of casualties in Kashmir and a handful of other incidents point out to the grim situation in Kashmir today. It is therefore important to discuss the present situation and bring out the reasons behind the same.

Directive word

Comment- here we have to express our knowledge and understanding of the issue and form an overall opinion thereupon.

Key demand of the question.

The question wants us to express our knowledge and understanding of the present situation in Kashmir and express our opinion as to why/ why not Kashmir is at the cusp of a new and dangerous phase.

Structure of the answer

Introduction– write a few introductory lines about the  increase in number of casualties in Kashmir witnessed during the past few years. E.g 2018 has turned out to be the worst for the j&k state, with nearly 50 policemen & dozens of civilians killed, hundreds of militants neutralized etc.

Body-

Discuss why the present situation is critical and at the cusp of a new and dangerous phase. E.g

Four years of mismanaged politics have plunged J&K into its worst ever cycle of violence and confusion; failure to sustain democracy in the state as the recent dissolution of the assembly denotes; Over the past three years, South Kashmir had been the main epicentre of violence, but more recently, North and Central Kashmir have also emerged as violence prone;  This year has witnessed some of the highest levels of violence since 1989; Areas such as Srinagar which had previously been declared a ‘militancy free zone’ have again witnessed a series of militant attacks; a distinct feature of the situation in Kashmir today is the divide between the administration and the populace, which is possibly at its widest today; mention the turnout in recent years in the elections held for the local bodies etc.

Conclusion- based on your discussion, form a fair and a balanced conclusion on the given issue.

Background:-

  • J & K Valley’s prolonged anti-India protest, rising insurgency in Kashmir, intense counter- insurgency operation has caused acute distress in the region. For the first time in nearly a decade, the number of listed militants in Kashmir has crossed 300.

New phase in Kashmir:-

  • Changing nature of the militancy:-
    • This has seen an escalation of local recruitment which has outpaced the numbers the security forces have been able to neutralise.
  • Mass participation in violent civil protest involving stone pelting often at the site of an encounter or a funeral. 
  • Despite a major offensive by the Indian Army against terrorists this year, the number of locally recruited terrorists has increased.
  • Foreign terrorists infiltrating into India from across the border are setting up hideouts which could be used a training grounds for these local Kashmiri men.
  • According to the widely-cited reports, each encounter in the valley triggers a surge in militant recruitment which far exceeds militants killed in counter-insurgency operations. 
  • More disturbing than the rise in local recruitment into militancy is the rising public support for militancy. Open support by locals to trapped militants particularly during encounters enabling their easy escape, has entirely changed the relationship between the locals and the militants. 
  • Poor and unemployed youth are easily being targeted by radicalists.
  • Anger in the Valley is higher than it has been in two decades and has reached alarming proportions. Peace and reconciliation process is failing.
  • Focal point of violence changed:-
    • Over the past three years, South Kashmir had been the main epicentre of violence, but more recently, North and Central Kashmir have also emerged as violence prone. 
  • Distinct feature of the situation in Kashmir today is the divide between the administration and the populace. The turnout in local body elections in urban areas dropped is a negligible percentage. 
  • Controversy generated over Article 35A of the Constitution, accompanied by demands that it should be revoked. It led to widespread apprehension that the Centre was trying to undermine the special concessions granted to J&K which were embedded in the Constitution.
  • Militants adopted a variety of new tactics to create fear. They targeted the families of policemen, in addition to concentrating on off-duty policemen, especially when they went home on leave. This led to a fear psychosis. 
  • The profile of those joining the ranks of the militants is also changing, with many more educated Kashmiri youth signing up. The new generation of militants appears far more religiously inclined. This makes them easy fodder for ideologies propounded by terror groups such as the Islamic State (IS).
  • Opinions in J&K have become further inflamed following the Governor’s decision to dissolve the J&K Assembly.
  • There are many stray indications that official agencies and jihadi organisations in Pakistan are collaborating in training recruits to be sent into Kashmir. 

Issues with government strategy:-

  • The government still remains undecided about resuming peace talks with Pakistan.
  • A hybrid policy of appeasing separatists along with stop-start counter-terror operations won’t work.
  • Past experience:-
    • During the first three months of the 2000 ceasefire, casualties amongst security forces rose sharply.
  • There might be continuing attacks on security forces under a unilateral ceasefire. The ceasefire has seen a marked increase of violence in the state, capped by the assassination of journalist Shujaat Bukhari .
  • Time is not right for ceasefire:-
    • There is little public pressure on the armed groups. The impetus for peace has been replaced by communal stand-offs, anger and hatred. 
    • More civilians, militants and security forces have died in the first five months of 2018 than in corresponding periods for the previous decade. 
    • In the Valley, alienation from India is as high as it was in the early 1990s, when insurgency took root.
  • There have been debated about abrogating article 35 A and article 370 but the state is vehemently opposing it. The government needs to be very cautious.

What should be the fresh strategy :-

  • Focus on investing in J&K’s infrastructure:-
    • The Kishanganga hydroelectric power plant, which will generate 330MW of electricity, the tunnel-cum-highway connecting Jammu and Srinagar and new-economy jobs for youth are what J&K needs.
  • Absence of an effective information and communication plan has hobbled the government’s ability to respond even when it is on the moral high ground. This must be immediately corrected.
  • Standard operating procedures must require the use of lethal force only when there is an imminent threat to life and property, force should be used proportionately and not as a punitive measure.
  • India can consider an approach taken by the British in Northern Ireland. This strategy involved operating within the framework of law, avoiding torture, illegal killing and arbitrary punishment. Though there were excesses, by and large the British stuck to the policy that has led to sustainable peace in the region.
  • It is that much more obligatory on India’s part to conduct operations within the ambit of the law and through the use of discriminate and proportionate force.
  • What is needed at the moment is the deployment of new socio-cultural resources, and a new operational culture to wind down the militancy without alienating more locals who could either join or influence their relatives and friends to join various terrorist organisations.
  • Lethal force should be the last resort, used only when lives are threatened. Promptly investigating allegations of abuses and prosecuting those responsible is key to resolving this mess.
  • The 2000’s ceasefire experience also showed that casualties among the security forces could have been minimised had more urgent attention been paid to tightening defence of security installations and personnel. This needs to looked into now.
  • Externally, wide-ranging peace talks between India and Pakistan, the Indian administration and ‘azaadi’ groups is needed and internally, peace-building on the ground by multiple stakeholders involved is necessary.
  • Intelligence agencies also need to ferret out more details of what Pakistan is planning in J&K, even while talking of peace in Kartarpur and elsewhere.

General Studies – 3


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

4) The Rule book agreed to in COP 24, is not ambitious enough to prevent the dangerous effects of global warming. Critically analyze.(250 words)

The hindu

Downtoearth

Downtoearth

Why this question

Nearly 200 countries have agreed to the rule book to the Paris agreement in the recently held COP 24 held at Kavotice recently. However the rule book has been criticised for being not enough to tackle the Climate change issue. It is therefore necessary to discuss its shortcomings as well as its positive implications.

Directive word

Critically analyze-  here we 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. based on our discussion we have to form a concluding opinion on the issue.

Key demand of the question.

The question wants us to delve deeper into the provisions and main points of the rule-book agreed to in COP 24. It wants to bring out the shortfalls and deficiencies of the rule-book and also bring out the positive implications/ points, if any. Based on our discussion we have to form an opinion on the issue in the form of a way-forward.

Structure of the answer

Introduction– write a few introductory lines about the  COP 24 and the rulebook recently agreed to by the group of nearly 200 countries. E.g mention what is rulebook and its relation to the Paris agreement.

Body-

Discuss the shortcomings of the rulebook. E.g Fine-tuning of some of the technical aspects under sub-article 6.2 (concerned with cooperative approaches and internationally transferred mitigation outcomes  or ITMOs), and sub-article 6.4 (Sustainable Development Mechanism or SDM) has been left for COP25 in 2019, and will be based on the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice’s (SBSTA’s) recommendations and guidance. Similarly, sub-article 6.8 (non-market approaches) has also been relegated to the SBSTA for guidance, which unlike the other sub-articles, largely lacks content; The ambitious options of levying an automatic or discounted cancellation on the transfer of emission reductions, as proposed by the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS), have been removed etc.

Discuss the positive points. E.g While some rulebook elements still need to be fleshed out, it is a foundation for strengthening the Paris Agreement and could help facilitate U.S. re-entry into the Paris Agreement etc.

Conclusion- based on your discussion, form a fair and a balanced conclusion on the given issue.

Rule book agreed in COP 24 :-

  • The Paris Rulebook, agreed at the UN climate summit in Katowice, Poland, gives countries a common framework for reporting and reviewing progress towards their climate targets.
  • The world will now be able to see how much the world is lagging behind on the necessary climate action.
  • A key element of the Paris Agreement is the Global Stocktake  which is a five-yearly assessment of whether countries are collectively on track to meet the Paris Agreement’s goals to limit global warming. The new rulebook affirms that this process will consider “equity and best available science”.
  • The new rules allow a degree of flexibility for the most vulnerable countries, who are not compelled to submit quantified climate pledges or regular transparency reports. All other countries will be bound to report on their climate action every two years, starting in 2024.
  • Finance:-
    • The new rulebook defines what will constitute “climate finance”, and how it will be reported and reviewed.
    • Developed countries are now obliged to report every two years on what climate finance they plan to provide, while other countries in a position to provide climate finance are encouraged to follow the same schedule.

The rule book fails to prevent the dangerous effects of global warming :-

  • The rulebook offers little to compel countries to up their game to the level required.
  • The rule book will offer no prescription for fixing things with respect to global stocktake. This risks failing to address one of the biggest issues with the Paris Agreement so far i.e..,that countries are under no obligation to ensure their climate pledges are in line with the overall goals. 
  • Rather than directly asking for national climate targets to be increased, the Katowice text simply reiterates the existing request in the Paris Agreement for countries to communicate and update their contributions by 2020.
  • The newly agreed rulebook carries a substantial risk of double-counting where countries could potentially count overseas emissions reductions towards their own target, even if another country has also claimed this reduction for itself.
  • Accounting rules for action in the land sector have also been difficult to agree. Countries such as Brazil and some African nations sought to avoid an agreement on this issue.

Topic-Environmental pollution and degradation

5) The results of Lancet Planetary Health study are disquieting, for they point to a looming public health emergency that necessitates a renewed focus on mitigating the hazards of air pollution in India. Discuss and critically analyze government policies for dealing with the crisis?(250 words)

Epw

Why this question

The article highlights the results of the planetary health study and emphasizes on the sizeable problem caused by the scourge of air pollution. The article also critically analyzes the policy of the government to deal with air pollution and provides alternative solutions. At a time when air pollution has become a daily news item, the question is relevant for mains.

Key demand of the question

The question expects us to to highlight the major problem that air pollution is in the introduction. Thereafter, we need to explain the findings of Lancet study and discuss its implications. Thereafter, we need to bring out the steps taken by the government to deal with the problem of air pollution and highlight it’s shortcomings. We need to end with emphasizing on the magnitude of the problem and discuss the way forward.

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. 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 – Highlight that air pollution has become a major issue with aqi constantly showing very poor or worse results in several major cities of the country.

Body

  • Discuss the findings of the Lancet study
    • Indians suffer from disproportionately high mortality and disease burden on account of polluted air.
    • It revealed that in India, the annual population weighted mean exposure to ambient particulate matter, PM2.5,in 2017 was 89.9µg/m3, which was one of the highest in the world. None of the states in India could comply with the World Health Organization (WHO)-recommended norm of ambient particulate matter air quality of less than 10µg/m3. Moreover, about 77% of the population was exposed to pollution levels higher than 40µg/m3, the level recommended by the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS).
  • Discuss the impact of these findings
    • Air pollution caused more disease burden in India than tobacco use, leading to respiratory infections, diseases of the lungs and heart, stroke and diabetes.
    • The study estimated that about 1.24 million deaths in 2017 were attributable to air pollution. Of these, about 51.4% were of persons aged less than 70 years. The average life expectancy would have been higher by 1.7 years had the air pollution level been less than the minimal level. Etc
  • Explain the steps taken by the government in dealing with air pollution and examine its shortcomings.
    • government acknowledged air pollution as a pan–India problem with the drafting of the National Clean Air Programme (NCAP), which was intended to build and strengthen the institutional capacity to monitor air quality across India, carry out indigenous studies to understand the health impacts of air pollution and create a national emission inventory.
    • programme has been criticised by environmentalists for lack of clear reduction targets and strategies to ensure compliance to standards within a specified time frame. The criticisms are especially pertinent as the government has recently relaxed regulations for polluting coal-fired thermal power plants which were required to comply with emission standards

Conclusion – Give your view on the problem of air pollution and discuss way forward.

Background:-

  • The WHO global air pollution database report that ranked 14 Indian cities among the 15 of the world’s most polluted, in terms of particulate matter (PM) 2.5 concentration, received great attention in India.

Lancet study:-

  • The findings of research published in the LancetPlanetary Health validate that Indians suffer from disproportionately high mortality and disease burden on account of polluted air.
  • None of the states in India could comply with the World Health Organization (WHO)-recommended norm of ambient particulate matter air quality of less than 10µg/m3.
  • Moreover, about 77% of the population was exposed to pollution levels higher than 40µg/m3, the level recommended by the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS).
  • The study estimated that about 1.24 million deaths in 2017 were attributable to air pollution. 
  • Air pollution was not only confined to urban areas or cities alone, but affected rural regions as well, with rural Indians affected more disproportionately due to the burning of solid fuels.

Government policies in dealing with air pollution:-

  • The government acknowledged air pollution as a pan–India problem with the drafting of the National Clean Air Programme (NCAP), which was intended to build and strengthen the institutional capacity to monitor air quality across India, carry out indigenous studies to understand the health impacts of air pollution and create a national emission inventory. 
  • Banning the use of private vehicles from November 1 onwards, although drastic, will definitely not be enough to curb pollution.
  • Odd-even schemes and, recently, the allowance by the Supreme Court (SC) for only green or zero-emission firecrackers, are the episodic measures that have been used, and still continue to be, to combat this methodical pollution. 
  • There have also been instances of ban on construction activities.

Failure of government policies:-

  • National clean air programme:-
    • The programme has been criticised by environmentalists for lack of clear reduction targets and strategies to ensure compliance to standards within a specified time frame. 
    • The criticisms are especially pertinent as the government has recently relaxed regulations for polluting coal-fired thermal power plants which were required to comply with emission standards
  • Banning the use of private vehicles from November 1 onwards, although drastic, will definitely not be enough to curb pollution.
  • Odd-even schemes and, recently, the allowance by the Supreme Court (SC) for only green or zero-emission firecrackers, are the episodic measures that have been used, and still continue to be, to combat this methodical pollution. 
  • These solutions don’t work :-
    • Odd-even didn’t work because, while vehicles accounted for around 9% of the city’s pollution, just a tenth was due to 4-wheelers that were affected by odd-even.
    • Pollution due to the bursting of firecrackers is relatively small, compared to road dust that contributes 56% and 38% of Delhi’s PM10 and PM2.5 pollution, respectively, and crop stubble burning according to a Harvard study, is responsible for 50% of the pollution in October and November in the NCR.
    • Though both Punjab and Haryana governments have introduced renting of machines, and subsidies for the same, that are part of the mechanised alternative, as per Down to Earth, the available lot can cover just a fifth of the acreage under paddy in Haryana in the short period farmers have between the harvest and sowing period.
    • Public transport system might not be capable of handling these numbers, especially if the Delhi government continues to overlook the establishment of dedicated bus corridors, despite increased metro coverage.
  • Failure of the union and state governments in curbing crop residue burning in the areas around the National Capital Territory.
  • Transport:-
    • Use of private cars, two- and three-wheelers, and taxis is bound to be much higher in Delhi NCR than in Beijing. Public transport system might not be capable of handling these numbers, especially if the Delhi government continues to overlook the establishment of dedicated bus corridors, despite increased metro coverage.
  • SC had ordered building of peripheral expressways so that diesel trucks, not destined for Delhi, do not enter the city. However, these have been completed only now after 13 years.
  • Construction:-
    • While Delhi NCR banned all construction activities only for 12-15 days stating November1, Beijing enforced it for four months last year and this year too ensured that measures are taken to suppress dust.
  • Upgrading to zig-zag technology of highly-polluting brick-klins industry to be completed before the start of winter has been partially done.
  • Also, the ban on use of coal in industries (50,000 still in residential areas) after October 30 is not effectively implemented according to NGT.

Long term measures are needed to tackle the crisis of air pollution :-

  • Short term measures should be accompanied by measures that increase the forest cover of the land and provide farmers with an alternative to burning the remains of their crops.
  • Need to speed up the journey towards LPG and solar-powered stoves.
  • Addressing vehicular emissions is within India’s grasp but requires a multi-pronged approach. It needs to combine the already-proposed tighter emission norms (in form of BS VI), with a push for shared mobility and public transport and adoption of alternate mobility technologies. While shared mobility can moderate the demand for individual vehicle ownership and usage, technology solutions today can allow for a sharp reduction in emissions per vehicle. 
  • Incentives for adoption of alternate mobility technologies:-
    • India might need to consider pushing for battery localisation. Cell investments would need a long lead-time to materialize.
  • Restrictions on elements that contribute negatively to strategic objectives (such as congestion charges on polluting technologies):-
    • London imposes congestion charges during working hours on weekdays to vehicles entering the city centre.
    • All these disincentives to traditional cars help in the push for electric vehicles.
  • Enabling infrastructure.:-
    • There is an early need to standardise charging infrastructure/equipment to ensure interoperability and make it widespread. 
  • Stubble burning issue in North India need to be looked into seriously.
  • Attention to non-technological aspects such as urban planning, to reduce driving, and to increase cycling, walking, and use of public transport are needed.

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

6) Despite the environmental and human costs,  and NGT orders banning rat -hole mining, it is widely practiced across Meghalaya. Critically analyze.(250 words)

Downtoearth

Reference

Why this question

Rat-hole mining is a dangerous business and it recently took over the life of around 13 people in Meghalaya. This highlights the need to discuss its harms and also why the activity has continued even though NGT has banned it.

Directive word

Critically analyze-  here we 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. based on our discussion we have to form a concluding opinion on the issue.

Key demand of the question.

The question wants us to bring out in detail about the environmental and human costs of rat-hole mining in Meghalaya and bring out the reasons as to why the activity continues even after NGT orders banning it.

Structure of the answer

Introduction- write a few introductory lines about the  Rat-hole mines. E.g briefly present a picture of a rat-hole mine as to how it is dug etc.

Body-

  1. Discuss briefly the environmental and human costs of rat-hole mining. E.g it is a dangerous pursuit putting at risk the lives of miners who venture inside without any safety; danger of flooding and mine collapse; environmental hazard posed by mined out coal etc.
  2. Discuss why rat-hole mining continues in Meghalaya even after the NGT has banned it. E.g the relaxations granted by the court have made it difficult to enforce the ban; The green tribunal, too, on several occasions, has caved in to appeals by miners and allowed the transportation of coal that had already been extracted; in January miners tend to sneak in fresh coal with previously extracted coal etc.

Conclusion– based on your discussion, form a fair and a balanced conclusion on the given issue.

Background:-

  • In 2014, the National Green Tribunal imposed a ban in Meghalaya on rat-hole mining of coal which is a technique that entails digging small vertical pits to reach the mineral.

Rat hole mining:-

  • A rat-hole mine is made by digging pits ranging from 5 to 100 metres into the ground to reach the coal seam. Thereafter, tunnels are made sideways into the seam to extract the coal. Coal seams are reached by excavating the side edge of the hill slopes after which, coal is extracted through a horizontal tunnel. The coal from the tunnel or pit is taken out and dumped on nearby un-mined area from where it is carried to the larger dumping places near highways for its trade and transportation. 
  • These rat-hole mines are spread throughout Meghalaya, but are mostly concentrated in the Jaintia Hills, the South Garo Hills, west Khasi hills.

Environmental and human costs of rat-hole mining:-

  • Threat to life:-
    • Recently 13 people have been trapped inside a coal mine in Ksan village in East Jaintia Hills.
  • Health impacts:-
    • Accidents, Mental problems including stress, depression and suicide, Violence related health impacts ,Occupational disease and accidents, Deaths.
    • During the rainy season, water flooded into the mining areas resulting in death of many individuals including employees/workers.
  • Environmental impact:-
    • In Jaintia Hills large scale forest denudation, scarcity of  water, pollution of air, water and soil and degradation of agricultural lands are some of the conspicuous environmental implications of coal mining .
    • Air pollution, Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Food insecurity (crop damage), Global warming, Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Noise pollution, Soil contamination, Soil erosion, Waste overflow, Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Groundwater pollution or depletion, Large-scale disturbance of hydro and geological systems, Reduced ecological / hydrological connectivity.
    • According to activists rat-hole mining in Meghalaya had caused the water in the Kopili river to turn acidic.
    • Off road movement of trucks and other vehicles in the area causes further damage to the ecology of the area.

Why rat-hole mining continues in Meghalaya even after the NGT has banned it:-

  • Illegal mining:-
    • Activists have often alleged that coal continues to be mined illegally in the state, particularly in the Jaintia Hills, often with the collusion of authorities. 
  • Government officials and the police say the relaxations granted by the Supreme court have made it difficult to enforce the ban.
  • The green tribunal, too, on several occasions, has caved in to appeals by miners and allowed the transportation of coal that had already been extracted.
  • Miners tend to sneak in fresh coal with previously extracted coal.
  • The National Green Tribunal’s order banning coal mining in the state notes that it did not follow regulations. Before 2014, coal mining was practically a free for all in Meghalaya so miners, citing the state’s Sixth Schedule status, followed none of the laws that apply to coal extraction in the state.
  • The state government was supposed to take steps for environmental restoration, but nothing has been done.
    • The State Government has failed to check illegal mining effectively and has also not framed the mining policy, mining plan and the guidelines as directed under the orders of the Tribunal.
  • Coal mining is a means of livelihood for large portion of the population.

Way forward:-

  • The order of the tribunal is likely to bring about some serious response from the government and the mining community as it an important economic activity that cannot afford to remain suspended.
  • The state has also proclaimed that they are in the process of formulating the concession rules for implementation of the Meghalaya Mines and Mineral Policy, 2012.

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

7) There is an urgent need to reconsider green clearance mechanism for small-scale mining in India. Examine.(250 words)

downtoearth

Why this question

Small-scale mining is a huge source of resource exploitation, environmental degradation as well as corruption. It is necessary to look into the issue in detail and discuss why there is a need to reconsider the regulatory aspects of Small-scale mining in India.

Directive word

Examine- here we have to probe deeper into the topic,  get into details, and find out the causes or implications if any.  

Key demand of the question.

The question wants us to dig deeper into the issue of small-scale mining in India and bring out the reasons in detail as to why there is an urgent mechanism to reconsider the green clearance mechanism designed for small-scale mining.

Structure of the answer

Introduction- write a few introductory lines about the  regulatory aspect of small-scale mining in India. E.g the regulating authorities identify the areas where mining can be allowed and also where mining must be prohibited due to geological and physical limits etc.

Body-

Discuss in points about the problems with the green clearance mechanism for small-scale mining and why therefore there is a need to reconsider it. E.g In its December order, the NGT has observed that the 2016 EIA Amendment has failed improve environmental safeguards for mining in small scale leases; the tribunal questioned the competence and knowledge of authorities dealing with such ECs; There are mounting cases of rampant and illegal activities particularly related to sand and stone mining,; DEAC is not competent enough to conduct proper scientific evaluation of project impacts allowing it to evaluate sand mining proposals, which is a major small scale mining activity in all states and has huge environmental implications, is also not suitable for the Sustainable Sand Mining Management Guidelines, proposed by the union ministry in 2016; The NGT has particularly questioned expertise and qualification of the DEAC members as outlined in the 2016 Amendment; To ensure environmentally responsible mining, the Centre should develop guidelines in spirit of the SC judgment that was given in 2012. The SC in its 2012 judgment in the matter of Deepak Kumar etc. vs State of Haryana & Ors. had emphasised the ills of unscientific sand mining and the importance to deal with it through proper regulatory mechanism.

Conclusion– based on your discussion, form a fair and a balanced conclusion on the given issue.

Background:-

  • Three years ago Environment ministry in India created district-level authorities to give environmental clearance (EC) to small-scale mining projects. The NGT has now directed the ministry to reconsider and revise the steps and procedures for granting EC to small scale mining leases of minor minerals, as laid down in the January 2016 notification.

Green clearance mechanism for small scale mining in India:-

  • In 2016, the ministry of environment amended the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Notification 2006 and made EC compulsory for mining of minor minerals in lease areas of any size.
  • The amendment specified that ECs will be required for mining even in leases below or equal to five ha, which earlier did not require an EC.
  • At the same time, district level authorities i.e.., District Environment Impact Assessment Authority (DEIAA) and District Expert Appraisal Committee (DEAC) were created to deal with ECs of such small-scale mine leases.
    • They have also been charged with ECs for mining in clusters, where the cluster size is greater than five hectares but less than 25 hectares, with no individual lease being more than five hectares.
  • The amendment also outlined certain environmental safeguards:-
    • Development of a district survey report (DSR)and small scale mining in a clustered manner. It was noted that the DSR shall be prepared for each minor mineral in the district separately.
    • The main objective of the preparation of DSR is the identification of areas where mining can be allowed and also where mining must be prohibited due to geological and physical limits.
    • The report will also help in calculation of annual rate of replenishment and allowing time for replenishment after mining in an area.
    • The DSR shall form the basis of application for EC, preparation of reports and appraisal of projects. The DSR shall be updated once every five years.

Why there is a need to reconsider the green clearance mechanism:-

  • District Expert Appraisal Committee :-
    • National green tribunal strictly noted that the District Expert Appraisal Committee (DEAC), which is entrusted with evaluating EC proposals for small-scale mining projects of minor minerals, comprises of officers with no expertise or scientific knowledge to assess environment implications .
  • NGT has also questioned the procedure laid down by the Union ministry for granting Environmental clearance to small-scale mining projects.
  • The NGT observed that the 2016 Amendment has failed improve environmental safeguards for mining in small scale leases.
  • NGT also criticized that allowing the district authorities to evaluate sand mining proposals is also not suitable for the Sustainable Sand Mining Management Guidelines, proposed by the union ministry in 2016.

Way forward:-

  • The Tribunal has emphasised that to ensure environmentally responsible mining, the Centre should develop guidelines in spirit of the SC judgment that was given in 2012. The SC in its 2012 judgment in the matter of Deepak Kumar etc. vs State of Haryana & Orshad emphasised the ills of unscientific sand mining and the importance to deal with it through proper regulatory mechanism.
  • The NGT has also asked to demarcate mining area with pillars and geo-referencing should be done prior to start of mining. The project proponents (tehsildars) must ensure that the CCTV cameras, personal computer, Internet connection, power back up, access control of mine lease site; and arrangement for weight or approximation of weight of mined out mineral on basis of volume of the trailer of vehicle used at mine lease site are available 
  • The NGT asked the environment ministry to revise the procedure of the EC requirement requiring an EIA and public consultation to be done for all mining proposals involving leases more than five hectares.
  • Authorities should also ensure the scanning of transport permit and uploading on server against the mine lease area. Each receipt should be preferably with pre-fixed quantity, so the total quantity gets determined for the receipts issued. The state needs to establish a call centre and go for radio-frequency identification and GPS tracking of sand vehicles, 

Topic– Environmental pollution and degradation.

8) NGT’s fine on Karnataka government for improper management of city’s lakes is a timely reminder to other states to take care of their water bodies. Discuss.(250 words)

Financialexpress

Why this question

The article examines the recent decision of NGT of imposing fine on karnataka government for mismanagement of city lakes and the larger issue it raises about the mismanagement of water bodies and sewage disposal in general. This question would help you understand the issue and think over the way forward.

Key demand of the question

The question expects us to first highlight and explain the reasons behind the order of NGT of imposing fine on Karnataka government. Thereafter, it expects us to highlight the poor condition of water bodies and improper waste disposal which causes such condition of your water bodies across the states. Next, we need to bring out the steps required for proper management of such lakes and provide the way forward.

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 decision of NGT – The National Green Tribunal’s order earlier this month, imposed a Rs 50-crore fine on the Karnataka government and a Rs 25 crore one on the city’s municipal government for negligence that led to the city’s lakes sporting flotillas of toxic froth—and even catching fire in the case of Bellandur.

Body

  • Highlight the reasons behind NGT’s order
    • BBMP had sanctioned illegal construction around a lake, in violation of an earlier NGT order, via a circular that was later withdrawn.
    • NGT also pulled up the state government for its “apathy”, saying projects were being “sanctioned without ensuring preventive, restorative and controlling measures”.
    • The NGT made note of how the state and the local governments’ failure to act has led to rampant encroachment—98% of lakes suffer from this—that has choked off recharging and the unchecked flow of untreated wastewater (90% of the lakes suffer from this; more than 35% of the sewage that flows into Bellandur is untreated).
  • Comment on the larger issues that the order raises – that of mismanagement of city lakes and poor waste disposal. Highlight the situation across the country. Non-profit water pollution monitor WaterAid estimates nearly 80% of surface water in India—rivers, lakes, canals, etc—to be highly polluted, mostly due to untreated domestic sewage flowing into these water bodies from urban areas and, in the case of some rivers, due to untreated effluent from factories
  • Discuss the solutions that can mitigate this issue

Conclusion – Highlight that NGT’s decision should serve as an eye opener for other states to take care of the water bodies.

 

Background:-

  • Recently the National Green Tribunal’s order imposing a Rs.50-crore fine on the Karnataka government and a Rs.25 crore on the Bengaluru city’s municipal government for negligence that led to the city’s lakes sporting flotillas of toxic froth and even catching fire in the case of Bellandur is the right step which was needed in environmental governance.

Reasons behind the deteriorating situation of water bodies in India :-

  • Karnataka:-
    • In March 2017, the Bengaluru municipality had sanctioned illegal construction around a lake, in violation of an earlier NGT order.
    • Projects were being sanctioned without ensuring preventive, restorative and controlling measures. Failure of state and the local governments to act has led to rampant encroachment i.e.., 98% of lakes suffer from this and this has choked off recharging and the unchecked flow of untreated waste water.
    • Of the city’s 125 lakes covered in a study by the Centre for Ecological Studies at IISc, only four were found to be in a fair state while 25 were either dying or dead.
  • Non-profit water pollution monitor WaterAid estimates nearly 80% of surface water in India—rivers, lakes, canals, etc to be highly polluted, mostly due to untreated domestic sewage flowing into these water bodies from urban areas and, in the case of some rivers, due to untreated effluent from factories.
  • According to the recent finding of the Central Pollution Control Board that the number of critically polluted segments of India’s rivers has risen to 351 from 302 two years ago is a strong indictment of the departments responsible for environmental protection.
  • The data show that the plethora of laws enacted to regulate waste management and protect water quality are simply not working.
  • The study by CPCB also underscores the failure of many national programmes run by the Centre for river conservation, preservation of wetlands, and water quality monitoring. 
  • The failed efforts to control pollution are all too evident in Maharashtra, Gujarat and Assam, which account for a third of the degraded river segments. Their problems are worsened by the poor infrastructure available in a large number of cities and towns located near rivers.
  • Managing sewage requires steady funding of treatment plants for all urban agglomerations that discharge their waste into rivers, and also reliable power supply
  • A primary cause is the quantity of sewage generated by cities and townsalong polluted stretches .
  • Country’s waterways have also suffered badly in recent years, with vast quantities of municipal and industrial waste discharged into them every day.
  • Relentless dumping of waste and release of untreated effluentsis posing a serious threat to the over 50 rivers in the country. 
    • Ganga has been dammed, over-drained and sullied by sewageas well as industrial waste from the numerous towns and cities which dot the river bank.
  • Government  has  focussed on cleaning the Ganges but there has been little progress so far on a project which has defeated successive administrations, despite substantial funding.

Way forward:-

  • The green tribunal incentivised the states to act against polluters in a “polluter pays” model. Hefty fines, for lax state and local governments as well as private sector polluters, will go a long way in ensuring action against pollution.
  • CPCB should be reporting more frequently on pollution, and carrying out intensive measures through State Pollution Control Boards to eliminate pollutants, starting with sewage and industrial effluents.
  • Low priority is accorded to enforcement of laws by the SPCBs and Pollution Control Committees. So the immediate plan should be to expand the supply of treatment plants. Sustained civil society pressure on governments is vital to ensure that this is done in a time-bound manner.
  • On the industrial side, the plan to bring all liquid effluent discharge from textile units and tanneries to zero has to be pursued vigorously, giving industries the assistance to help them choose the best technologies for the recovery of waste water for reuse.
  • These measures are urgently needed to revive India’s many dying rivers, protect its agriculture, and prevent serious harm to public health from contaminated water.
  • All state governments must make it mandatory to have rain water harvesting techniques in 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.