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SECURE SYNOPSIS: 02 FEBRUARY 2019


SECURE SYNOPSIS: 02 FEBRUARY 2019


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

1) India’s National Mission for a Green India assumes arbitrary targets that are rooted in habits of neo-colonial governance rather than “sound science”. Comment.(250 words)

Indianexpress

Why this question

The article examines the goals of the National Mission for a Green India and brings out its limitations.

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 National Mission for a Green India and express our opinion as to whether the mission has arbitrary targets which are rooted in neo-colonial governance.

Structure of the answer

Introduction– write a few introductory lines about the  National Mission for a Green India. E.g The Green India Mission is one of eight missions under the National Action Plan on Climate Change and aims at “protecting, restoring and enhancing India’s diminishing forest cover and responding to climate change by a combination of adaptation and mitigation measures”.

Body-

Discuss how the missions targets are rooted in neo-colonial governance and are devoid of any scientific backing. E.g

  • “Ostensibly aimed at improving forest-based livelihoods, the initiative has all the qualities of past forestry efforts in India, which have historically performed a reverse role: disinheriting forest-rooted populations,”
  • Given that forest cover of Europe in the colonial period was estimated at roughly one-third, and that this region serves as the source of knowledge, law and statecraft,afforestation rate of 30-33% became the widely accepted minimum for civilization.
  • Exported to India, this targeted minimum, it can easily be concluded, became a conceptual ghost that haunted successive generations of forest policymakers, whose goals might have been diverse… but whose mechanism represent a disordered form of repetitive compulsion, imposed over and over on arid and semi-arid ecosystems and the local communities.
  • Commitment to fixed rates of forest cover encourages tree plantations in “ecologically inappropriate sites and conditions”.
  • Again, afforestation typically extends the “authority” of Indian state forest departments in a way that is mostly “at the expense of local livelihoods” rather than in “support of them.”
  • One problem of plantation ecologies in India, according to the study, is “enthusiasm for fast growing species and exotic and invasive species, planted in the name of increasing land cover dedicated to ‘forest’.”

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

National mission for green India :-

  • Green India Mission is one of eight missions under the National Action Plan on Climate Change and aims at “protecting, restoring and enhancing India’s diminishing forest cover and responding to climate change by a combination of adaptation and mitigation measures”.
  • The $7billion environmental intervention, laid out in 2011, seeks to put a third of the country under forest cover by increasing forest and tree cover to the extent of 5 million hectares (mha), besides improving quality of forest/tree cover on another 5 mha of forest/non-forest lands.
  • The mission acknowledges the influence forests have on environmental amelioration through climate change mitigation, water security, food security, biodiversity conservation and livelihood security of forest-dependent communities.
  • It hinges on decentralized participatory approach by involving grass root level communities and organizations in decision making, planning, implementation and monitoring.

How is it rooted in habits of neo colonial governance :-

  • Tree planting is the focus :-
    • Obsession with tree-planting has its roots in the colonial forestry bureaucracy.
  • Commitment to fixed rates of forest cover encourages tree plantations in ecologically inappropriate sites and conditions.
  • Given that forest cover of Europe in the colonial period was estimated at roughly one-third, and that this region serves as the source of knowledge, law and statecraft ,afforestation rate of 30-33% became the widely accepted minimum for civilization.
  • Afforestation typically extends the authority of Indian state forest departments in a way that is mostly at the expense of local livelihoods rather than in support of them.
  • One problem of plantation ecologies in India is enthusiasm for fast growing species and exotic and invasive species, planted in the name of increasing land cover dedicated to ‘forest’.
  • Aggressive afforestation projects in India also tend to draw attention to, and direct resources toward, tree-planting, without a concomitant commitment to addressing the drivers of widespread and large-scale deforestation.

The mission has also been criticised:-

  • It has proved to be one of the most slow-moving missions in the NAPCC .
  • At present, the ministry is hugely understaffed and short of experts with respect to the GIM.
  • Lack of capacity building :-
    • Though the mission envisages an active gram sabha as the primary body at the decentralized level, no initiative has taken place with respect to capacity building at the ground level.
  • Decentralized and participatory governance as envisaged in the mission document seems to be more in principle than reality.
  • Approaches on carbon sequestration and the issue of forest diversion are largely neglected in the mission.
  • Funding issues :-
    • The budgetary allocation for the mission has been shrinking over the years. The allocations for the years 2015-16, 2016-17 and 2017-18 were Rs 72 crore, Rs 42.01 crore and Rs 47.80 crore respectively.
  • Failed to reach targets :-
    • In terms of targets, the data available for the year 2015-16 and 2016-17 shows that the mission has missed its targets by a long shot.
    • In 2015-16, the plantations undertaken were 34 per cent short of the targets. The following year the shortfall was more than 40 per cent.
    • The mission has also lagged in providing alternative fuel technology to households to reduce emissions from burning of fuelwood and other similar fuels. In 2015-16, only 25 per cent of the target was matched .
  • Data issues:-
    • Lack of baseline data will pose a problem in preparing a robust business plan for enterprise development
  • No institutional mechanisms to handle watershed and biodiversity ecosystems.
  • There is no clarity on the role of the Beat Office (the lowest rung of the Forest Department) that has a direct interface with village dwellers.

What needs to be done :-

 

  • The incredible and beautiful diversity of the Indian ecological mosaic deserves a true ‘greening’ approach, that takes seriously the genius loci, the peculiarity of local systems, and restores  these with local people.
    • More focus on the following aspect :-
      • Gram sabhas and the committees mandated by the gram sabhas, including revamped joint forest management committees (JFMCs), will oversee the mission implementation at the village level. 
    • Apart from afforestation, protection and conservation are equally important.
    • Convergence with NREGA and CAMPA funds would mean a steady and consistent line of finance an essential requirement for the long term sustainability of any project of this scale.

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

2) While the cash-transfer model may be popular and politically rewarding, it is unlikely to solve the crisis in agriculture. Examine.(250 words)

Livemint

Why this question

This year’s interim budget has pledged to provide cash transfers of Rs 6000 to farmers. Besides, various state governments have also launched similar programmes. In this context it is important to discuss the efficacy of such cash transfers in ameliorating the situation of the farmers.

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 deep into the cash transfer schemes being initiated in several Indian states and also the central budget, and bring out the reasons as to why they are not enough to solve the agricultural crisis in India.

Structure of the answer

Introduction- write a few introductory lines about the  Cash transfer schemes to Indian farmers. E.g mention the various state schemes and the announcement in the recent interim budget introduced by the centre.

Body-

Discuss in points as to why such schemes would not likely solve the agricultural crisis in the country. E.g

  • The crisis in agriculture has continued to worsen with the latest estimates of inflation suggesting that the trend of decline in farm produce prices has continued unabated.
  • Primarily because the crisis is not just of low incomes in agriculture.
  • The genesis of the current crisis lies in the faulty and ad hoc export-import policy, lack of infrastructure and cartelisation and collusion in agricultural markets, which have prevented farmers from realizing the market prices for agricultural produce.
  • It is the combination of these, along with the twin droughts of 2014 and 2015, which created the crisis in the first place.
  • It is also true that the crisis worsened due to the sudden shocks of demonetization and the hasty implementation of goods and services tax, which affected the rural economy adversely.
  • Cash transfers do nothing to resolve any of these, nor are they any guarantee of protection against unforeseen events, whether natural or policy induced.
  • It is neither a substitute for the structural reforms needed in agriculture, nor does it adequately compensate the farmer for the risks and uncertainty of crop cultivation.
  • The current crisis may have worsened due to the sharp fall in agricultural crop prices, but is finally a result of multiple failures of policy.
  • But it is also a crisis which is caused by the failure of the non-farm sector in creating enough jobs as is evident from the deceleration in real wages in rural areas.

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

Background:-

  • The crisis in agriculture has continued to worsen with the latest trend of decline in farm produce prices. But with the worsening of the crisis, newer ways of providing relief to the farmers are being experimented with such as cash transfers are proposed for farmers.

 

Cash transfers in agriculture :-

  • Bhavantar Bhugtan Yojana in Madhya Pradesh was sought to provide relief to farmers by providing the differential between MSPs and market prices.
  • The Rythu Bandhu scheme of the Telangana government provides ₹4,000 per acre for every season to all the farmers of the state. Similar initiatives have also be framed in Jharkhand and Odisha.
  • Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi
    • To provide an assured income support to the small and marginal farmers, the Government is launching the Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi (PM-KISAN)
    • Under this programme, vulnerable landholding farmer families, having cultivable land upto 2 hectares, will be provided direct income support at the rate of Rs. 6,000 per year.

Benefits:-

  • Past experiences:-
    • Success of cash transfers for cooking gas, food and the rural jobs scheme also seem to have convinced the government on adopting the mechanism for agriculture.
  • Poverty reduction:-
    • Cash transfer programmes have become an important tool of social protection and poverty reduction
    • It has immediate impact on reducing hunger and rural poverty.
    • They can help households to overcome credit constraints and manage risk.
  • Better use :-
    • This can increase productive investment, increase access to markets and stimulate local economies.
    • Income support can be used to make a repayment or at least activate a bank account which can then receive a loan.
    • It can increase investment in agricultural inputs, including farm implements and livestock
  • Rural development:-
    • It can serve as an important complement to a broader rural development agenda, including a pro-poor growth strategy focusing on agriculture.

 Criticism:-

  • Cash transfers do not solve the following problems which are Theresa one for the current agrarian crisis
    • The Agrarian crisis is not just of low incomes in agriculture. The genesis of the current crisis lies in the faulty and ad hoc export-import policy, lack of infrastructure and cartelisation and collusion in agricultural markets, which have prevented farmers from realizing the market prices for agricultural produce.
    • Cash transfers do nothing to resolve any of these, nor are they any guarantee of protection against unforeseen events, whether natural or policy induced.
    • Cash transfer is neither a substitute for the structural reforms needed in agriculture, nor does it adequately compensate the farmer for the risks and uncertainty of crop cultivation.
  • Regressive:-
    • Except for the Krushak Assistance for Livelihood and Income Augmentation scheme , which offers some relief to the sharecroppers and landless labourers most other schemes are regressive with amount of transfer proportional to the land owned.
  • Finding beneficiaries is tough :
    • In sugarcane and cotton, much of the ground-level work is organised and in the hands of cooperatives, where the person who has the operational holding of land is well identified. But in crops where the ownership holding is different from the operational holding, it might be
  • In the absence of proper tenancy records, it will also benefit the absentee landlords.
  • It is no substitute for the lack of investment in agriculture, which has declined at 2.3% per annum in real terms
  • By taking away precious fiscal resources, it makes the farmer more vulnerable to both market as well as non-market induced risks.
  • Fiscal constraints to states:-
    • The income transfer scheme will further erode the fiscal capacity of states.

Way forward :-

  • For a long-term solution, the government should first implement existing schemes, like it should give assured procurement and marketing of all commodities having MSP.
  • The Swaminathan Committee in 2004 had recommended farmers be allowed to fix the price for their produce on their own (cost of production plus 50% as profit), keeping local factors in mind.
  • Greater focus is required on enhancing farmer loan repayment capacity via smooth supply and value chains, and better price realisations.
  • The government must focus on three things: crop insurance, better irrigation and subsidised seed and fertilisers.

Topic – Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests

3) Development of India-Iran axis and Pakistan- Saudi axis in the region can undermine regional peace and security. Analyze. (250 words)

Indian express

Why this question

The article digs into the recent developments in the region defined by India, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan relationship. It is important to analyze the writeup in detail in order to broaden our understanding about the international affairs of our country.

Directive word

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.

Key demand of the question.

The question wants us to look deeper into the regional politics and the recent developments in the region and bring out how the apparent formation of  groupings can impact peace and security.

Structure of the answer

Introduction– write a few introductory lines about the  recent developments between the four countries. E.g mention the US sanctions on Iran and exemptions provided to India.

Body-

  1. Discuss about the Iran-India relationship. E.g
  • India formally took over operations of the Chabahar port last month.
  • For New Delhi, Chabahar is important to reach out to Afghanistan.
  • Last month, senior bureaucrats of all the three countries, India, Iran and Afghanistan, held the first meeting for the implementation of the trilateral Chabahar agreement signed in 2016.
  • They agreed on the routes for trade and transit corridors between the three countries and, according to the official communique, finalised the protocol to “harmonise transit, roads, customs and consular matters”.
  1. Discuss how it has impacted Pakistan- Saudi relationship. E.g
  • Pakistan has similarly been pushed towards Saudi Arabia by the compulsions of financial circumstances.
  • For Riyadh, this move precludes any Iranian presence in Gwadar, contrary to some of the plans talked about in Tehran and Islamabad etc.
  1. Discuss how these developments can affect regional peace and security. E.g
  • While Pakistan will continue to try not to take sides, a significant upgrading of its relations with Iran may become more difficult — saying “no” to Saudi Arabia may also become more difficult.
  • While the situation remains fluid, the present trends may eventually result in the crystallisation of two axes, bringing Pakistan closer to Saudi Arabia and Iran closer to India and this new regional game.
  • This evolution will foster the Arabisation (or Wahabisation) of Islam in Pakistan. It may also relaunch sectarian tensions in the region under the aegis of foreign countries.

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

Background:-

  • With India’s presence in Chabahar recently upgraded and the way Saudi Arabia is increasing its presence in Pakistan the relationship between Pakistan and Iran is moving in opposite directions.

India Iran axis :-

  • Chabahar port :-
    • It will boost India’s access to Iran, the key gateway to the International North-South Transport Corridor that has sea, rail and road routes between India, Russia, Iran, Europe and Central Asia.
    • Chabahar port will be beneficial to India in countering Chinese presence in the Arabian Seawhich China is trying to ensure by helping Pakistan develop the Gwadar port.
    • Recently India formally took over operations of the Chabahar port. 
    • Last month, senior bureaucrats of all the three countries, India, Iran and Afghanistan, held the first meeting for the implementation of the trilateral Chabahar agreement signed in 2016.
    • They agreed on the routes for trade and transit corridors between the three countries and, according to the official communique, finalised the protocol to harmonise transit, roads, customs.
    • Agreement with Iran and Afghanistan over access to overland routes from Chabahar to Afghanistan.
  • Iran has benefitted from waiver of sanctions with respect to oil trade with Iran.

 Saudi-Pakistan axis:-

  • The India-Saudi Arabia relationship may have made rapid strides in recent years, but Riyadh’s ties with Pakistan are much older, deeper, and consequential.
    • Firstly, relations between the two countries are firmly grounded on their shared religious values.
    • Secondly, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan have a decades-long and rich history of military and intelligence cooperation, with Riyadh having relied on the Pakistani military on various occasions
  • In the recent years Pakistan has been pushed towards Saudi Arabia by the compulsions of financial circumstances.
  • As Saudi Arabia tries to implement its Vision 2030, it may partner with India to achieve its economic objectives. But that cannot impact its unique alliance relationship with Pakistan. 
  • Financial:-
    • In the past few months, the dependence of Pakistan vis-à-vis Saudi and UAE has significantly increased because of the aid both countries agreed to give to Islamabad and because of industrial, strategic investments
    • Pakistan has benefited enormously from Saudi Arabia through generous financial aid, the supply of oil on a deferred paymentbasis and aid during crises.
    • Of late, Saudi Arabia has once again come to Pakistan’s rescue by promising assistance worth $2 billionto stabilise a falling economy.
    • Though the trade balance is heavily skewed in favour of Saudi Arabia, the two countries are negotiating a bilateral treaty to help correct the imbalance to some extent.
  • Strategic:-
    • Besides, there are around two million Pakistani expatriates in Saudi Arabia, and they send back remittances worth over $5 billion every year.
    • There is an implicit understandingthat on everything, in particular, on security and military issues, Pakistan will be there for Saudi Arabia’.
    • In March 2018, Pakistan approved the despatch of 1,000 troops to Saudi Arabia as part of their extensive defence cooperation.
  • Nuclear threat:-
    • Saudi-Pakistani defence relationship also has a more important nuclear dimension — any nuclear deal with Iran will necessarily leave it with some nuclear capability.
    • That very prospect would be a catalyst for what is seen as a burgeoning Saudi-Pakistan nuclear relationship. Many believe this could involve Saudi Arabia importing technology and equipment from Pakistan.

How development of these axis undermine regional peace and security :-

 

  • Afghanistan and Taliban:-
    • There will be active involvement of Iran and Saudi Arabia in Afghanistan as both the countries support different sections of Taliban.
  • Radicalisation:-
    • Growth of sectarianism and radicalisation in Pakistan can increase cross border terrorism and instability in Kashmir State.
    • Can lead to intensification of Sunni Shia conflict in the region.
  • Balance in relations is difficult to maintain:-
    • Saudi Arabia sees Iranian involvement and growing salience in regional politics as a threat to its security. Saudis argue that Iran is at the root of numerous security problems now plaguing the Middle East.
  • This evolution will foster the Arabisation (or Wahabisation) of Islam in Pakistan.
  • India’s interests:-
    • India’s historical commitment to nonalignment has brought it close to competing states such as Iran, Israel, and Saudi Arabia. Given that the rivalry among those three states could eventually lead to war endangering India’s interests in the Middle East, where it sources most of its energy and where millions of Indian emigrants
    • Issue of Kashmir can come to the forefront.

Despite issues there can be act of balancing the relations among the countries:-

  • India and Saudi Arabia have broadened the scope of their relationship with relations no longer encompassing only energy but infrastructure development and defense & security as well. However, Pakistan has no reason to worry—while Riyadh-New Delhi ties are more transactional, being primarily driven by economics, Saudi Arabia’s relationship with Islamabad is more strategic, based on shared values and geopolitical interests.
  • Saudi Arabia is the fulcrum of India’s new “Look Middle East” policy – economic/strategic outreach to a region with which India as over $180 billion of trade, source of 60 per cent of India’s energy supplies and home to 7 million Indians with massive
  • India is mostly looking towards balancing the relations between both Saudi and Iran.

General Studies – 3


Topic- Role of external state and non-state actors in creating challenges to internal security.

4) The possibility of emerging military technologies prompting inadvertent escalation and conflict cannot be ruled out. Comment.(250 words)

The hindu

Why this question

Emergence of technological warfare has gained prominence in recent times and conventional warfare has taken a backseat. In this context it is important to analyze how such developments can affect the conflicts between the countries.

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 rise and development of the emerging military technologies and express our opinion as to how they can lead to inadvertent escalation and hostility between nations.

Structure of the answer

Introduction– write a few introductory lines about the  emerging military technologies. E.g The current focus in military thinking across the world is increasingly moving away from traditional heavy-duty military hardware to high-tech innovations such as artificial intelligence (AI), big data analytics, satellite jammers, hypersonic strike technology, advanced cyber capabilities and spectrum denial and high-energy lasers.

Body-

Discuss how these technologies can inadvertently lead to escalation of conventional conflicts between the various countries. E.g

  • In the light of the unprecedented capabilities that these systems offer, there is also an increased focus on developing suitable command and control as well as doctrinal concepts to accommodate and calibrate them.
  • The arrival of these technologies might deeply frustrate strategic stability as we know it given their disruptive nature.
  • Strategic stability in the contemporary international system, especially among the nuclear weapon states, depends on several age-old certainties, the most important being the issue of survivability of a state’s nuclear arsenal and its ability to carry out a second strike after a first attack.
  • Once accuracies get better, hypersonic glide vehicles replace conventional delivery systems, real time tracking and surveillance make major strides, and AI-enabled systems take over, survivability of nuclear arsenal, which lies at the heart of great power stability, could take a severe beating.
  • While on the one hand, it is imperative for states to redesign their systems in the light of these new technologies, especially the digital and cyber components, this also makes the cyber- and digital-enabled systems vulnerable to covert cyberattacks.
  • More so, given that such surreptitious attacks might take place in the early stages of a conflict, ensuing confusion and scare might lead to uncontrolled escalation with little time for assessment and judgement.

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

Background:-

  • There is a revolution in military affairs with the current focus in military thinking across the world is increasingly moving away from traditional heavy-duty military hardware to high-tech innovations such as artificial intelligence (AI), big data analytics, satellite jammers, hypersonic strike technology, advanced cyber capabilities and spectrum denial and high-energy lasers.

How these emerging technologies can escalate conflicts :-

  • Affects strategic ability:-
    • The arrival of these technologies might deeply frustrate strategic stability.
    • Once accuracies get better, hypersonic glide vehicles replace conventional delivery systems, real time tracking and surveillance make major strides, and AI-enabled systems take over, survivability of nuclear arsenal, which lies at the heart of great power stability and this could take a severe beating.
  • Drones:-
    • The next generation of drones could include everything from hypersonic drones to Nano drones, in any range of forms with any type of weapons system that can be mounted on them.
  • Impact of deep sea drones:-
    • There is an assumption that the naval leg of a nuclear triad is the most survivable part since it is hidden away in the depths of the ocean away from the adversary’s gaze. However, the potential ability of deep-sea drones to detect ballistic-missile armed nuclear submarines or SSBNs may make this assurance a thing of the past thereby frustrating traditional calculations.
  • Fight amongst countries:-
    • Both China and Russia fear that new American long-range non-nuclear strike capabilities could be used to deliver a disarming attack on a substantial part of their strategic forces or decapitate their nuclear command and control. 
    • Some analysts believe that Beijing is in the lead position in emerging technologies with potential military applications such as quantum computing, 3D printing, hypersonic missiles and AI. If indeed, Beijing continues to develop hypersonic systems, for instance, it could potentially target a range of targets in the U.S. their potential to increase the risks of intentional and inadvertent nuclear use.
    • India might, in turn, consider developing some of these technologies which will create dilemmas for Islamabad. The cascading strategic competition then looks unavoidable at this point, and that is worrisome.
  • Many analysts believe that the utilization of AI and robotics will utterly revolutionize warfare, much as the introduction of tanks, airplanes, and nuclear weapons transformed the battlefields of each world war. 
    • The United States and its rivals are pursuing multiple weapons systems employing various combinations of AI, autonomy, and other emerging technologies. These include, for example, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) and unmanned surface and subsurface naval vessels capable of being assembled in swarms, or “wolfpacks,” to locate enemy assets such as tanks, missile launchers, submarines and, if communications are lost with their human operators, decide to strike them on their own.
    • some of the weapons now in development, such as unmanned anti-submarine wolfpacks and the TBG system, could theoretically endanger the current equilibrium in nuclear relations among the major powers, which rests on the threat of assured retaliation by invulnerable second-strike forces, by opening or seeming to open various first-strike options.
    • Not only are AI-equipped machines vulnerable to error and sabotage, they lack an ability to assess the context of events and may initiate inappropriate or unjustified escalatory steps that occur too rapidly for humans to correct. 
  • Hypersonics:-
    • The Defense Department of USA also has funded the development of two advanced weapons systems employing hypersonic technology: a hypersonic air-launched cruise missile and the Tactical Boost Glide (TBG) system, encompassing a hypersonic rocket for initial momentum and an unpowered payload that glides to its destination.
    • Anti-missile systems that may work against existing threats might not be able to track and engage hypersonic vehicles, potentially allowing an aggressor to contemplate first-strike disarming attacks on nuclear or conventional forces while impelling vulnerable defenders to adopt a launch-on-warning policy.
    • The development of hypersonic weaponry poses a significant threat to the core principle of assured retaliation, on which today’s nuclear strategies and arms control measures largely rest. The development of hypersonic munitions also introduces added problems of proliferation.
  • Cyberspace:-
    • In the cyberspace realm, a variety of offensive and retaliatory cyberweapons are being developed by the U.S. Cyber Command for use against hostile states found to be using cyberspace to endanger U.S. national security.
    • Warfare in cyberspace could also threaten nuclear stability by exposing critical early-warning and communications systems to paralyzing attacks and prompting anxious leaders to authorize the early launch of nuclear weapons.
  • Autonomous weapons:-
    • The introduction of these and other such weapons on future battlefields will transform every aspect of combat and raise a host of challenges for advocates of responsible arms control.
    • The use of fully autonomous weapons in combat, for example, automatically raises questions about the military’s ability to comply with the laws of war and international humanitarian law, which require belligerents to distinguish between enemy combatants and civilian bystanders. .

 

 Way forward:-

  • Mapping out the implications of the new technologies for warfare and arms control and devising effective mechanisms for their control are a mammoth undertaking that requires the efforts of many analysts and policymakers around the world.
  • More importantly, it is essential to consider how combat in cyberspace might spill over into the physical world, triggering armed combat and possibly hastening the pace of escalation.
  • Bilateral and multilateral mechanism:-
    • These issues logically could be addressed bilaterally, such as through the currently stalled U.S.-Russian nuclear stability talks, and when appropriate in various multilateral forums.
  • As the weaponization of the pivotal technologies proceeds, it will also be useful to consider how existing agreements might be used as the basis for added measures intended to control entirely novel types of munitions.
    • The CCW can be used as a framework on which to adopt additional measures in the form of protocols controlling or banning the use of armaments, such as autonomous weapons systems, not imagined at the time of the treaty’s initial signing in 1980.
    • Some analysts have suggested that the Missile Technology Control Regime could be used as a model for a mechanism intended to prevent the proliferation of hypersonic weapons technology.

Topic- Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation

5) St. Petersburg declaration has been unable to achieve the goals for tiger conservation set by it. Discuss.(250 words)

Reference

Why this question

A decade has passed since the St. Petersburg declaration was made. However the progress on the targets envisaged by the declaration has not been at par. In this context it is important to discuss the achievements of the declaration.

Directive word

Discuss- this is an all-encompassing directive which mandates us to write in detail about the key demand of the question. we also have to discuss about the related and important aspects of the question in order to bring out a complete picture of the issue in hand.

Key demand of the question.

The question wants us to write in detail about the St. Petersburg declaration, its resolutions and to what extent it has been able to achieve the targets set by it.

Structure of the answer

Introduction– write a few introductory lines about the  St Petersburg declaration. E.g In the 2010 St. Petersburg Declaration, the countries agreed to a Global Tiger Recovery Program and pledged to double the global tiger population by 2022.

Body-

  1. Discuss the progress on the font of tiger conservation after the declaration. E.g
  • over one-third of tiger conservation sites in the world are severely at risk of losing their wild tigers — the majority of which are in Southeast Asia.
  • Many of these areas lack basic plans for effective management, with over 60 per cent of the sites facing several limitations in anti-poaching.
  • Countries like India, Nepal and Russia have shown that tiger recovery is possible, despite challenges in poaching, funding and sustaining community livelihoods, which can be overcome with strong political commitment.
  1. Discuss the reasons behind the poor performance. E.g
  • Known hot spots for illegal trade in tiger parts include the Indo-Nepalese border, South India, Central India, Mekong-China, Indonesia-China and Russia-China.
  • Due to lack of centralised data across tiger range countries, it is difficult to enforce laws.
  • Lack of political will.
  • There is need for more cross-country cooperation between countries where there is high demand for tiger parts as well as countries which are home to tiger populations.

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

Background:-

  • The centrality of tiger agenda is an ecological necessity for the sustainability of our environment. At the St. Petersburg Tiger Summit in 2010, leaders of 13 tiger range countries resolved to double its number in the wild, with a popular slogan ‘T X 2’ but their goal seems nowhere in sight.

Some goals have been achieved :-

  • Countries like India, Nepal and Russia have shown that tiger recovery is possible, despite challenges in poaching, funding and sustaining community livelihoods, which can be overcome with strong political commitment.
  • India is among the tiger range countries that have registered an increase in the number of tigers in the wild. 
  • Tiger monitoring is being implemented in 87 percent of sites. All sites surveyed in South Asian and East Asian countries like Bangladesh, Bhutan, China, India, Nepal and Russia have management plans.

 

St.Petersberg declaration failed to ensure goals of tiger conservation:-

  • The global status of tiger continues to be a concern.
    • Countries are still a long way from achieving the ambitious target set in 2010 of doubling the global tiger numbers by 2022.
    • Over one-third of tiger conservation sites in the world are severely at risk of losing their wild tigers , the majority of which are in Southeast Asia.
    • Many of these areas lack basic plans for effective management, with over 60 per cent of the sites facing several limitations in anti-poaching, according to the Conservation Assured Tiger Standards (CATS) survey of tiger sites done in 2018.
    • All the range countries face the challenge to balance the interests of conservation and development.
      • Four categories emerge in the context of tiger presence and status across the range countries:
      • forest with no tiger or prey, forest with few tigers and abnormal sex-ratio, empty forests, and impoverished land mass devoid of forest with habitat values.
    • There is little convergence and conversation.
      • It is has been founded that in the last century 97% of all wild tigers had disappeared, with only around 3,000 left alive. Tigers are on the brink of extinction.
      • Many factors have caused their numbers to fall, including habitat loss, hunting and poaching, climate change.
    • The age-old concept of GDP continues to dominate with negligible green accounting.
    • Carbon trading hardly has kick-started in tiger range countries, where it is required most.
    • The limitations of Environmental Kuznet curve, has not fostered advancement of green development with less polluting technology to save tiger forests.
    • Over the past few years, instances of tigers travelling hundreds of kilometres looking for territory have come to the fore.
    • Lack of manpower:-
      • There is a 29% frontline staff vacancy against sanctioned posts in the tiger reserves of India.
    • Due to lack of centralised data across tiger range countries, it is difficult to enforce laws.
    • Only 12.5 percent of the tiger conservation areas meet the globally agreed upon science-based standards.

Way forward:

  • There is a need for country-specific differentiated approaches where there is high demand for tiger parts as well as countries which are home to tiger populations. 
  • Effective management is thus the single most important action. To achieve this, long-term investment in tiger conservation areas is absolutely essential, and this is a responsibility that must be led by tiger range governments
  • International engagements between border countries are important to address the threat of trafficking.
    • The momentum generated through national actions and global support must sustain in the face of economic growth agenda of the tiger range countries.
  • A citizen’s charter is needed for green development within sustainable tiger landscapes.
  • Better funding necessary:-
    • Low investment from governments in Southeast Asia was stated as one reason for the lack of management of these supposedly ‘protected areas
  • Effective tiger management is impossible unless there are enough skilled personnel to do all the jobs required: stopping poaching, managing community relations, keeping visitors safe and ensuring safe havens for tigers and other wildlife.
  • Better functional connectivity:-
    • National Tiger Conservation Authority and Wildlife Institute of India delineated the minimal tiger habitat corridors connecting tiger reserves for implementing landscape scale tiger conservation.
    • As a result all tiger reserves in India manage their tiger population based on a tiger conservation plan, which address specific prescriptions for core, buffer, and corridor habitats.

Topic-Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation

6) Poor implementation of environmental laws is a global concern. Discuss with a special focus on India. (250 words)

Reference

Why this question

The recent UN report highlights the issue of poor enforcement of environmental laws across the globe. It is therefore important to discuss the topic in detail.

Directive word

Discuss- this is an all-encompassing directive which mandates us to write in detail about the key demand of the question. we also have to discuss about the related and important aspects of the question in order to bring out a complete picture of the issue in hand.

Key demand of the question.

The question wants us to write in detail about the poor implementation of environmental laws across the globe.

Structure of the answer

Introduction– write a few introductory lines about the  recent UN report. E.g The world fares poorly on implementation of environmental laws and regulations despite the fact that 38 times more green laws have been framed and approved in the last four decades, says the United Nations (UN) in its first ever global assessment of environmental laws.

Body-

Discuss how the environmental laws are not being implemented sincerely, across the globe and especially in India. E.g

  • Like the Water Act, which was implemented in 1974, a number of laws and regulations have been existing for more than four decades now, but are proving to be ineffective.
  • We are perfect in the policy department but implementation is a problem. We have weak deterrents. The systems of accountability have been weakened, so monitoring is a huge problem.
  • Coal-based power plants continue to be the major source of air pollution in the country as more than 300 coal thermal power plants still violate emission standards
  • More than two-thirds of the states/union territories in the country have neither bothered to comply with the orders passed by the Supreme Court, nor complied with the directions given by the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEF&CC).
  • In a scenario where the judiciary is already struggling to clear the existing backlog of over 21,000 environment-related cases, lack of respect and poor implementation of the judiciary’s  orders only provides an explanation for degraded environment we live in.
  • Poor coordination across government agencies, weak institutional capacity, lack of access to information, corruption and stifled civic engagement are the key factors behind the poor effectiveness and implementation of environmental regulations etc.

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

Background:-

  • The world fares poorly on implementation of environmental laws and regulations despite the fact that 38 times more green laws have been framed and approved in the last four decades, says the United Nations (UN) in its first ever global assessment of environmental laws.

Environmental mechanisms:-

  • Global mechanisms like REDD and REDD+, Paris agreement, Stockholm declaration etc have been framed and adopted by many countries to conserve environment.
  • According to UN report as many as 88 countries have adopted the constitutional right to a healthy environment and more than 350 environmental courts and tribunals exist in around 50 countries.
  • Even in India there are plethora of environment protection laws :
    • Constitutional Provisions under article 21 and article 47.
    • Special acts such as Indian Forest Act, Wildlife Protection act ,Environment Protection Act, Air Act, Water Act, Forest Conservation Act, National Green Tribunal 2009, etc.

Failure of environmental laws from global perspective :-

  • Failure to fully implement and enforce the environmental laws is one of the greatest challenges towards mitigating climate change, reducing pollution and preventing widespread species and habitat loss.
  • poor coordination across government agencies, weak institutional capacity, lack of access to information, corruption and stifled civic engagement are the key factors behind the poor effectiveness and implementation of environmental regulations,

Failure of environmental laws in India :-

  • Like the Water Act, which was implemented in 1974, a number of laws and regulations have been existing for more than four decades now, but are proving to be ineffective.
  • The systems of accountability have been weakened, so monitoring is a huge problem.
  • India is ranked 177th out of 180 countries in the 2018 Global Environment Performance Index (EPI) rankings for being unable to improve its air quality, protect its biodiversity, and cut its greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Air pollution:-
    • India has highest number of cities which violate the threshold of healthy air limits
    • Coal-based power plants continue to be the major source of air pollution in the country as more than 300 coal thermal power plants still violate emission standards.
  • Wildlife:-
    • Despite laws to protect wildlife protection, poaching and illegal trade of wild animals is a common practise till date. Also rise in man animal conflict is an indicator of lack of proper implementation of the laws.
  • More than two-thirds of the states/union territories in the country have neither bothered to comply with the orders passed by the Supreme Court, nor complied with the directions given by the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEF&CC).
  • The judiciary’s order failed to even curb illegal rat hole mining and miners in Meghalaya paid the price for that.
    • Acting on the orders of the National Green Tribunal (NGT), the Meghalaya government in 2015, suspended rat hole mining and transportation of coal in the entire state. But four years later, illegal practices continue unabated in the state.
  • Poor coordination and rampant corruption :-
    • Most of these laws either die in nascent or intermediate stage due to profit motives and lax in execution
  • Public awareness is poor
    • Lack of public hearings and social audit before implementing projects
    • Environmental impact assessment has often been neglected for projects.

 Way forward:-

  • There is a need to consider TSR Subramanian committee recommendations: 
    • New bodies like National Environment Management Authority and State Environment Management Authority replacing CPCB and SPCB, to evaluate project clearance using technology and expertise. 
    • Areas with 70% tree cover should be declared “no go zone”
  • Positive attitude on the part of each citizen is essential for effective and efficient enforcement of these legislations. 
  • Also institutional capacities must be strengthened which are currently filled with problems such as understaffing ,lack of financial resources and low skill levels of workers.
  • Speed of justice delivery must be increased through special courts which improve compliance.