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SECURE SYNOPSIS: 29 January 2020

SECURE SYNOPSIS: 29 January 2020


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.


 

Topic:  Indian Culture will cover the salient aspects of Art forms, Literature and Architecture from ancient to modern times.

1. Trace the Socio-economic life of the regional kingdoms in Medieval India. (250 words)

Reference: Class XI NCERT Medieval India by Satish Sharma, Class XI NCERT Ancient India by Satish Sharma

Why this question:

The question is straightforward from the portions of GS paper I and there isn’t much to deliberate.

Key demand of the question:

The answer must discuss the Socio-economic life of the regional kingdoms in Ancient India in detail.

Structure of the answer:

Introduction:

Briefly explain the Kingdoms that ruled India and parts of it.

Body:

The body of the answer should discuss the aspects of social and economic life in the various kingdoms that existed during the times.

Discuss the Main Characteristics of Medieval India age.

In the Medieval Period, the growth of Human development was pushed up to a great extent.

Social Development:

  • With the coming of Muslims, the people of different places and different faiths were mixed with the Indian people.
  • The Society was divided into higher, middle and lower classes.
  • The Bhakti and Sufi movements influenced the social-religious life of the people.
  • The Worship of one God, Bhajans and Prayers became popular.

Economic Development in Medieval India:

  • Agriculture was well developed.
  • The Major share of agriculture yield was enjoyed by kings and landlords.
  • Jagir system was prevalent.
  • The Middlemen controlled the sale of products.

Conclusion:

Conclude by reasserting significance of the life in Medieval India and emphasis on the fact that characteristics from the past are still alive in today’s India.

Introduction:

The Medieval Period of Indian History comprises a long period, spanning from 6th century i.e. after the fall of the Gupta Empire to the 18th century, i.e the beginning of colonial domination. The nature of state in the early medieval period is marked by the presence of a large number of regional and local powers, in the absence of a paramount power in the country. The “Middle” period lasted for about 1500 years and ended in the 13th century, with the rise of the Delhi Sultanate, founded in 1206, and the end of the Later Cholas.

Body:

The Kingdoms that ruled in medieval India:

  • Chola dynasty: It was one of the longest ruling powers in south India. Initially they rose in power of the state of Tamil at the 2nd century BC in time of Indian ancient history and they were able to maintain their control until the 13th century.
  • The Chalukya Dynasty: The Chalukya Dynasties were in power of Indian medieval history from the reign of 600 to 1200 AD in the state of Deccan. They ruled the kingdom from a number of capital city. Western Chalukyas ruled from Badami.
  • Pallava Dynasty: Pallavas were a powerful Dynasties of Andhra Pradesh in Indian medieval history in the end of 500 AD. They ruled from its capital placed at Pallavapuri, for disturbance of natural power they moved it to Kanchipuram and established a more strong empire by the founder of pallavas Dynasty Simha Vishnu
  • Pala Dynasty: After death of the great king Shashanka, north India became a land of end. In the meantime at 750 AD king Gopala established the Pala Dynasty and rescued the state of north India, Bihar and West Bengal.
  • The Rajputs: The Rajput period was an era of chivalry and feudalism. The Rajputs weakened each other by constant fighting. This allowed the foreigners (Turks) to embark on victorious campaigns using duplicity and deceit wherever military strength failed against Rajputs.
  • Vijaynagar Empire: Vijaynagar city have a great historical value in India. Vijaynagar Empire was established by two brothers Harihara and Bukka in the middle of 13th century.
  • Delhi Sultanate: A number of Delhi Sultanates were in power from 1210 AD to 1526 AD.It was founded after Muhammad Ghori established the Delhi Sultanate by defeating Prithviraj (Rajput king) in the battle of 2nd Tarain in 1192 AD.
  • The Mughals: Babur (reign – 1526 to1530 AD), the founder of the Mughal Empire in India, was the descendant of as Changez Khan. Ousted by his cousins, he came to India and defeated Ibrahim, the last Lodi Sultan in 1526 at the First Battle of Panipat
  • The Marathas Maratha Empire: The Marathas rose in power by demise of Muslim power in India. They were initially in the service of Bijapur sultans in the western Deccan which was under siege by the Mughals Empire.

The Social, Economic and Culture Life of Medieval India:

Social Development:

  • With the coming of Muslims, the people of different places and different faiths were mixed with the Indian people.
  • The Society was divided into higher, middle and lower classes.
  • The Bhakti and Sufi movements influenced the social-religious life of the people.
  • The Worship of one God, Bhajans and Prayers became popular.

Economic Development in Medieval India:

  • Agriculture was well developed.
  • The Major share of agriculture yield was enjoyed by kings and landlords.
  • Jagir system was prevalent.
  • The Middlemen controlled the sale of products.

Culture Development in Medieval India:

  • The Sanskrit Language was perfected
  • Shad Darshanas were compiled.
  • The Sanskrit Books like Ramayana, Mahabharata, and Panchatantra were translated into many languages during Akbar’s reign.
  • Quran was translated into Persian Language.
  • Kings Encouraged Music and So Instrumental Music was also developed.
  • Amir Khusrau, Baz Bahadur, and his wife Rupamathi were famous Musicians.
  • A new art Known as Indo-Islamic art was born.

Conclusion:

The nature of state in the early medieval period is marked by the presence of a large number of regional and local powers, in the absence of a paramount power in the country. However, this period witnessed the presence of formidable political entities, often characterized by certain historians as ‘regional imperial kingdoms’.

 

Topic:  Important aspects of governance, transparency and accountability, e-governance- applications, models, successes, limitations, and potential; citizens charters, transparency & accountability and institutional and other measures.

2. With Data being the new oil, National Data and Analytics Platform will work to democratize access to publicly available government data. Elucidate. (250 words)

Reference: Economic Times

Why this question:

NITI Aayog released its vision for the National Data and Analytics Platform (NDAP) recently, thus the question.

Key demand of the question:

Discuss in detail the significance of such a platform in aiding to democratize access to publicly available government data.

Directive:

Elucidate – Give a detailed account as to how and why it occurred, or what is the particular context. You must be defining key terms where ever appropriate, and substantiate with relevant associated facts.

Structure of the answer:

Introduction:

Start with the concerns that were raising about access of available government data.

Body:

Comment on the features of the National Data and Analytics Platform (NDAP).

  • It aims to democratize access to publicly available government data.
  • It will host the latest datasets from various government websites, present them
  • Coherently and provide tools for analytics and visualization.
  • It will follow a user-centric approach and will enable data access in a simple and intuitive portal tailored to the needs of a variety of stakeholders.
  • It will spearhead the standardization of formats in which data is presented across sectors
  • It would cater to a wide audience of policy makers, researchers, innovators, data scientists, journalists and citizens.

Discuss the advantages of the move, explain any concerns associated.

Conclusion:

Conclude that the platform will bring in more transparency and accountability and will helps in achieving the Vision of Digital India under one of its pillars – Information For All.

Introduction:

Recently Government think-tank Niti Aayog will develop a national data and analytics platform to make all government data accessible to stakeholders in a user-friendly manner. The NDAP will strive to ensure that the data is assured, consistent, coherent and credible.

Body:

Concerns that were raising about access of available government data:

  • India has rich publicly available data. Government departments have digitized various processes and reporting requirements, which in turn are feeding into management information systems and interactive dashboards
  • Data is not published in a user-centric manner. The current data formats are often not conducive for research and innovation. Many departments maintain public dashboards with visualizations, and options to download data in analyzable formats.
  • Data ecosystem is incoherent due to different standards. Ministries and Departments do not use a shared standard for common indicators. Attributes like region and time period defined differently. This makes it difficult for datasets to speak to each other and present a coherent picture.

Features of the National Data and Analytics Platform (NDAP):

The advantages of National Data and Analytics Platform (NDAP):

  • NDAP will take a user-centric approach to providing access to data. The platform will be powered by a user friendly search engine, backed by seamless navigation, with a world-class user interface.
  • NDAP will provide access to data from multiple sectors in one place. Data will be sourced from different Central and State Ministries and Departments. This will be presented using a common schema, with clear definitions and narratives to help the user navigate the differences between similar data from different sources.
  • NDAP will be a reliable platform for up-to-date data. Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) will be developed to keep data updated. There will be regular tracking of compliance to these SOPs. Further, APIs, web-crawling and other methods will be used to keep the data fully up-to-date.
  • Success of NDAP relies on effective collaboration. NDAP goes beyond just developing a platform and will require extensive consultation. Inputs will be needed from data producers in the government to identify data sources and develop data processing techniques for the datasets to be coherent.
  • NDAP has the potential to transform data-driven discourse, research, innovation, and decision-making in India. There are a large number of benefits for up-to-date and reliable data. NDAP’s vision is to democratize access to public government data and provide a world-class user experience.

Conclusion:

NDAP is a pan-India initiative by NITI Aayog. Its success requires extensive support and cooperation of various stakeholders such as Central Ministries, State Governments and guidance from experts to realize the vision and meet the timelines.

 

Topic:   Parliament and State Legislatures – structure, functioning, conduct of business, powers & privileges and issues arising out of these. Structure, organization and functioning of the Executive and the Judiciary; Ministries and Departments of the Government; pressure groups and formal/informal associations and their role in the Polity.

3. Criminalization of politics has been a deep rooted concern in our democracy, in this context discuss the reasons causing it and comment on the landmark judgments of the apex court in addressing the issue of criminalization of politics and their effectiveness.(250 words)

Reference: The Hindu

Why this question:

The Supreme Court has agreed to hear a plea from the Election Commission of India (ECI) to direct political parties to not field candidates with criminal antecedents. Thus the question.

Key demand of the question:

Discuss in detail the aspects of criminalization of politics and the efforts made through various supreme court judgments to decriminalize politics.

Directive:

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

Structure of the answer:

Introduction:

Define what you understand by criminalization of Politics.

Body:

Discuss key facts like – The petition filed in the SC claims that 46% of Members of Parliament have criminal records. The current Lok Sabha has the highest (29%) proportion of those with serious criminal cases compared to the predecessors.

Explain the scenario; why there is ineffectiveness in the SC Judgment.

Discuss in detail the landmark judgments pertaining to the issue.

Suggest solutions as to what needs to be done.

Conclusion:

Conclude with way forward.

Introduction:

Criminalization of Politics means that the criminals entering the politics and contesting elections and even getting elected to the Parliament and state legislature. Criminalization of politics is the focus of public debate when discussion on electoral reforms takes place.

Data from the Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) indicate that 179 out of the 543 elected MPs in the present Lok Sabha have some kind of criminal case pending against them. In the case of over 100 MPs, the cases were of a very serious nature such as crimes against women and kidnapping.

Body:

Reasons why criminalization of politics still exists in India:

Corruption:

  • In every election political parties put up candidates with a criminal background.
  • Evident link between criminality and the probability of winning is further reinforced when winnability of a candidate is looked into. A candidate facing criminal charges is twice as likely to win as a clean candidate.

Vote Bank:

  • The political parties and independent candidates have astronomical expenditure for vote buying and other illegitimate purposes through these criminals.

Denial of Justice and Rule of Law:

  • Toothless laws against convicted criminals standing for elections further encourage this process. Under current law, only people who have been convicted at least on two counts be debarred from becoming candidates. This leaves the field open for charge sheeted criminals, many of whom are habitual offenders or history-sheeters.
  • Constitution does not specify what disqualifies an individual from contesting in an election to a legislature.
  • It is the Representation of People Act which specifies what can disqualify an individual from contesting an election. The law does not bar individuals who have criminal cases pending against them from contesting elections

Lack of governance:

  • The root of the problem lies in the country’s poor governance capacity. .

Scarcity of state capacity:

  • The scarcity of state capacity is the reason for the public preferring ‘strongmen’ who can employ the required pulls and triggers to get things done.
  • Criminality, far from deterring voters, encourages them because it signals that the candidate is capable of fulfilling his promises and securing the interests of the constituency.

 

  • No political party is free of this problem. The use of muscle power along with money power is a weapon used by all political parties to maximize electoral gains.
  • With cases dragging in courts for years, a disqualification based on conviction becomes ineffective. Low conviction rates in such cases compounds the problem; voters don’t mind electing candidates facing criminal cases.
  • Voter behavior then emboldens political parties to give tickets to such candidates who can win an election on their ticket etc.

 Landmark judgments pertaining to criminalization of Politics:

  • The Supreme Court has taken a timely decision by agreeing to hear a plea from the Election Commission of India (ECI) to direct political parties to not field candidates with criminal antecedents
  • The immediate provocation is the finding that 46% of Members of Parliament have criminal records.
  • While the number might be inflated as many politicians tend to be charged with relatively minor offences —“unlawful assembly” and “defamation” — the real worry is that the current cohort of Lok Sabha MPs has the highest (29%) proportion of those with serious declared criminal cases compared to its recent predecessors.
  • The Supreme Court has come up with a series of landmark judgments on addressing this issue.
  • It removed the statutory protection of convicted legislators from immediate disqualification in 2013, and in 2014, directed the completion of trials involving elected representatives within a year.
  • In 2017, it asked the Centre to frame a scheme to appoint special courts to exclusively try cases against politicians, and for political parties to publicize pending criminal cases faced by their candidates in 2018.
  • But these have not been a deterrent to legislators with dubious credentials. Perhaps what would do the trick is a rule that disallows candidates against whom charges have been framed in court for serious offences, but this is something for Parliament to consider as an amendment to the Representation of the People Act, 1951.
  • This denouement, however, is still a pie in the sky given the composition of the Lower House with a number of representatives facing serious cases.

RPA Criminalization of politics:

  • Currently, under the Representation of Peoples (RP) Act, lawmakers cannot contest elections only after their conviction in a criminal case.
  • Section 8 of the Representation of the People (RP) Act, 1951 disqualifies a person convicted with a sentence of two years or more from contesting elections. But those under trial continued to be eligible to contest elections. The Lily Thomas case (2013), however, ended this unfair advantage.

Challenges:

  • Election Commission has limited powers to legislate on such laws.
  • Public opinion too is not firm on the issue.
  • A survey found that opinion was divided when people were asked whether they would vote for an honest candidate who may not get their work done, or a tainted candidate who could get their work done.
  • While political parties raise concern about candidates with a tainted background contesting elections, none of them come forward to set an example for others when it is time to act.
  • In the present criminal justice system it takes years, probably decades, to complete the trial against a politician.
  • Those with political influence have taken full advantage by delaying hearings, obtaining repeated adjournments and filing innumerable interlocutory petitions to stall any progress.
  • They also engage in corruption and infect the bureaucracy and the police.

 Way Forward:-

  • Law panel report bats for using the time of the framing of charges to initiate disqualification as an appropriate measure to curb the criminalization of politics.
  • Political parties should themselves refuse tickets to the tainted.
  • The RPA Act should be amended to debar persons against whom cases of a heinous nature are pending from contesting elections.
  • Bringing greater transparency in campaign financing is going to make it less attractive for political parties to involve gangsters
  • The Election Commission of India (ECI) should have the power to audit the financial accounts of political parties, or political parties’ finances should be brought under the right to information (RTI) law
  • Broader governance will have to improve for voters to reduce the reliance on criminal politicians.
  • Fast-track courts are necessary because politicians are able to delay the judicial process and serve for decades before prosecution.
  • The Election Commission must take adequate measures to break the nexus between the criminals and the politicians.
  • The forms prescribed by the Election Commission for candidates disclosing their convictions, cases pending in courts and so on in their nomination papers is a step in the right direction if it applied properly.
  • Addressing the entire value chain of the electoral system will be the key to solving the puzzle of minimizing criminal elements from getting elected to our legislatures. This process would involve sensitizing the electorate about the role and responsibility of the elected representatives.
  • Political parties will have to be encouraged to have stronger inner party democracy to attract this new set of leaders to join the party. And finally, our judicial system will have to be overhauled drastically to ensure that justice is dispensed swiftly in all cases.

Conclusion:

While judicial pronouncements on making it difficult for criminal candidates to contest are necessary, only enhanced awareness and increased democratic participation could create the right conditions for the decriminalization of politics.

 

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

4. Biotechnology in cotton, post its introduction, has led to transformational changes in India’s cotton cultivation. Do you agree? Comment. (250 words)

Reference: The Hindu

Why this question:

The article presents with arguments for and against the use of Biotechnology, especially with respect to Bt. Cotton, in India. Thus the context of the question.

Key demand of the question:

Discuss in detail transformational changes in India’s cotton cultivation owing to the introduction of BT Cotton.

Directive:

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

Structure of the answer:

Introduction:

Describe what BT Cotton is.

Body:

Start with key facts that highlight the change such as – India’s cotton production in 2019 is projected as the highest ever. India’s cotton production has doubled over the past decade. India is expected to be the world’s largest cotton producer, surpassing China in output in 2020.

Present arguments for and against BT. Cotton, take cues from the article.

Explain that the outcome of using a technology such as Biotechnology is determined by the context in which it is deployed, and not just by the technology itself.

It is important to recognize that apart from the technology itself, its relevance to the particular context is also important. If the context is suboptimal and does not prioritize the needs of the farmers, it can have significant negative fallouts, especially in India with a high proportion of farmers being marginal and subsistence farmers.

Conclusion:

Conclude that In a fast-evolving global market, India’s farmers need the best technologies to remain competitive and Biotechnology can be a harbinger in this direction.

Introduction:

BT Cotton is a genetically modified organism or genetically modified pest-resistant variety of cotton. Genetically Modified (GM) pest resistant BT cotton hybrids have captured the Indian market since their introduction in 2002.

Body:

Advantages by BT cotton:

  • Several key studies by third-party economists and sociologists have established that
  • 85% of hybrid Bt cotton seed farmers and farm laborers invested in better education for children; 77% reported better intake of nutritious food; 75% reported better health of their family members; 64% invested on the health of livestock;
  • Female workers on Bt cotton fields earned an average 55% higher income; and 42.4 crore additional days of rural employment have been generated, thereby doubling cotton production.
  • India’s farmers are the ones who have reposed trust in biotechnology, making India the world’s second largest cotton producer and exporter by doubling cotton production over the past decade
  • Cotton Corporation of India data show that the highest production of 398 lakh bales of cotton in India was achieved in 2013-14, valued at around ₹72,000 crore.
  • Additional incomes were generated from cotton seeds oil (1.3 million tons) and cotton seed oil meal (11 million tons) worth ₹13,000 crore and ₹22,000 crore, respectively.
  • Biotechnology in cotton, post its introduction in 2002, has led to transformational changes in India’s cotton cultivation. These have helped increase cotton yields by over 1.8 times — from 241 kg/hectare in 2002-2003 to 541 kg/hectare in 2018-2019.
  • The significant increase in farmer incomes from higher yields and reduced pesticide use has generated additional farm income of over ₹42,300 crore.
  • India is moving to first place as the largest producer of cotton in the world.
  • Due to the adoption of Bt cotton ensured that India transitioned into a cotton-exporting country from being a net importer.
  • Hybrid cotton has delivered not only higher yields but also provided resistance to some pests and diseases.
  • Less use of insecticides:-
  • To produce the GM Cotton, the gene coding for Bt toxin (Cry-1-ac) has been inserted into cotton, causing cotton to produce this natural insecticide in its tissues. By this, the larvae are killed by the Bt protein in the GM cotton they eat. This eliminates the need to use large amounts of broad-spectrum insecticides to kill various pesticides.
  • There is no doubt that the Bt technology has brought down the use of pesticides by about 50%.

Disadvantages of BT Cotton:

  • Loss caused by the pink bollworm infestation have raised questions about the sustainability of GM cotton, which accounts for over 90% of all cotton grown in the country.
  • GM crops face strident opposition due to their perceived adverse ecological, bio-safety measures and health implications.
  • Cotton is also plagued by use of illegal herbicide-tolerant Bt cotton seeds.
  • There was no substantial difference found between Bt and non-Bt cotton for germination and vigour, indicating that there is no substantial difference between transgenic Bt and control non-Bt cotton with regard to their weediness potential.
  • Bt cotton hybrids do not have any toxic effects on the non -target species such as sucking pests. The beneficial insects remained active in both Bt and non Bt varieties.
  • The growing number of farmers committing suicides in some cotton growing states has re-ignited the protests against the Bt Cotton.
  • Normal cotton seed is largely unavailable to Indian farmers because of Monsanto’s control of the seed market.

Takeaways from the experience of BT cotton:

  • First, we must be clear that the outcome of using a technology such as Bt is determined by the context in which it is deployed, and not just by the technology itself.
  • If the context is suboptimal and does not prioritise the needs of the principal stakeholders (farmers), it can have significant negative fallouts, especially in India with a high proportion being marginal and subsistence farmers.
  • Second, there is a need for better consultation in policy, be it agriculture as a whole or crop-wise.
  • Notably, India is a signatory to international treaties on GMO regulation (the Convention on Biological Diversity, and the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety), which specifically provide for inclusion of socioeconomic considerations in GMO risk assessment.
  • However, socioeconomic and need-based considerations have not been a part of GMO regulatory process in India.
  • It is important to recognize that adoption of any new technology such as Bt is a choice and not an imperative.
  • For example, some of the major cotton-producing countries such as Brazil (until 2012) and Turkey (up to the present) have achieved high productivity without the use of GM cotton by using alternative pest-management approaches.

Conclusion:

The purpose of risk assessment in GMO regulation is to enable exercising of this choice by careful and comprehensive evaluation of costs and benefits. In the case of Bt cotton hybrids, the benefits were limited and costs may well have been too high, particularly for resource-poor farmers.

 

Topic: Disaster and disaster management.

5. Discuss in detail the Institutional Framework for Disaster Management in India. (250 words)

Reference: VikasPedia 

Why this question:

The question is direct from the static portions of GS paper III.

Key demand of the question:

One must discuss in detail the Institutional Framework for Disaster Management in India.

Directive:

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:

Briefly explain the Conceptual and Institutional Framework of Disaster Management in the country.

Body:

The National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) was set up in 2005 by the Government of India as an apex body to spearhead and implement a holistic and integrated approach to Disaster Management.

NDMA has the responsibility for laying down policies, plans and guidelines for disaster management and coordinating their enforcement and implementation for ensuring preparedness, mitigation and timely and effective response to disasters.

NDMA has launched a number of initiatives to take the message of

Disaster management to all the stakeholders including community at the grassroots level.

NDMA has taken up mainstreaming of disaster risk reduction concerns in Government departments, States, Districts and civil society, School and College education, technical education, Panchayati Raj Institutions and

Urban Local Bodies. NDMA has laid down the framework of capacity building and mainstreaming DM for various disasters through its National Disaster Management Guidelines.

Conclusion:

Conclude with way forward.

Introduction:

The Indian subcontinent is among the world’s most disaster prone areas. Almost 57% of the land is vulnerable to earthquake (high seismic zones lll-V), 68% to drought, 8% to cyclones and 12% to floods.

Disaster management in India has evolved from an activity-based setup to an institutionalized structure; from single faculty domain to a multi-stakeholder setup; and from a relief-based approach to a ‘multi-dimensional approach for reducing risk’

Body:

Institutional framework for disaster management in India:

The institutional structure for disaster management in India is hierarchical and functions at four levels – Centre, State, District and Local. The structure draws involvement of various relevant ministries, government departments and administrative bodies.

 National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA):

  • The Disaster Management ACT, 2005 provides for setting up of a National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) with the Prime Minister as Chairperson.
  • NDMA is to be assisted by a National Executive Committee which comprises of Secretaries to the Government of India heading various Ministries or Departments having administrative control over Agriculture, Atomic Energy, Defence, drinking water supply, environment and forests, finance, health, power, rural development, science and technology, space, telecommunication, urban development and water resources.

State Disaster Management Authority (SDMA):

  • The Disaster Management Act 2005 also provides for setting up of Stage Disaster Management Authorities under the Chairpersonship of the Chief Minister.
  • State Authority is to be assisted by a State Executive Committee under the Chairpersonship of the Chief Secretary of the State.

District Disaster Management Authority (DDMA):

  • The structure of disaster management institutions goes down to the district level where the responsibility is given to DDMA which is headed by the Collector/ District Magistrate with elected representative of the local authority as co-chairperson.
  • DDMA will act as the planning, coordinating and implementing body for disaster management at the district

Local Authority:

  • For the purpose of disaster management, local authorities would include Panchayati Raj institutions and those agencies which control and manage civic services.
  • These bodies are required to ensure capacity building of their employees for managing disasters and carrying out relief and reconstruction activities in the affected areas.

National Institute of Disaster Management (NIDM):

  • The institute was formed as National Centre for Disaster Management (NCDM) in 1995 but was re-designated as National Institute of Disaster Management in 2005 after the enacting of the Disaster Management Act.
  • The institute is headed by the Union Home Minister and Vice-Chairman, NDMA also acts as the Vice-President of the Institute.

National Disaster Response Force (NDRF):

  • NDRF was constituted in 2006 with 8 battalions drawn from the paramilitary forces.
  • Presently it has strength of 10 battalions. General superintendence of the force vests in NDMA and the force is headed by the Director General of NDRF and Civil Defence.
  • These battalions are positioned at different locations to provide timely response to disaster situations and are available to State Governments at the time of need.

Integrated Data Resource Network (IDRN):

  • Integrated Data Resource Network is a database in the electronic form maintained by the Ministry of Home Affairs.
  • The data enlists inventory of equipment and human resources relevant to disaster management.

National Disaster Management Authority:

The Government of India (GOI), in recognition of the importance of Disaster Management as a national priority, has set up a High-Powered Committee (HPC) in August 1999 and also a nation committee after the Gujarat earthquake, for making recommendations on the preparation of Disaster Management plans and suggestion effective mitigation mechanisms.

NDMA Vision:

“To build a safer and disaster resilient India by a holistic, pro-active, technology driven and sustainable development strategy that involves all stakeholders and fosters a culture of prevention, preparedness and mitigation.”

Functions and Responsibilities:

NDMA, as the apex body, is mandated to lay down the policies, plans and guidelines for Disaster Management to ensure timely and effective response to disasters. Towards this, it has the following responsibilities: –

  • Lay down policies on disaster management
  • Approve the National Plan
  • Approve plans prepared by the Ministries or Departments of the Government of India in accordance with the National Plan
  • Lay down guidelines to be followed by the State Authorities in drawing up the State Plan
  • Lay down guidelines to be followed by the different Ministries or Departments of the Government of India for the Purpose of integrating the measures for prevention of disaster or the mitigation of its effects in their development plans and projects
  • Coordinate the enforcement and implementation of the policy and plans for disaster management
  • Recommend provision of funds for the purpose of mitigation
  • Provide such support to other countries affected by major disasters as may be determined by the Central Government
  • Take such other measures for the prevention of disaster, or the mitigation, or preparedness and capacity building for dealing with threatening disaster situations or disasters as it may consider necessary
  • Lay down broad policies and guidelines for the functioning of the National Institute of Disaster Management.

Conclusion:

International agencies also play a role in disaster management. UNDP along with NDMA took up Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) and Urban Risk Reduction programmes. World Bank is associated with National Cyclone Risk Mitigation Project (NCRMP) being taken up in Andhra Pradesh and Orissa. Red Cross Society also provides valuable support during relief operations.

 

Topic:   Disaster and disaster management.

6. What do you understand by a public health emergency of international concern? Present the case of Corona outbreak in China while discussing the preparedness of India for such an epidemic. (250 words)

Reference: Live Mint

Why this question:

Wuhan has been the epicenter of this spread of Coronavirus. There has been a consistent rise in number of cases registered and death due to it in the province. WHO has confirmed that the virus can spread from human-to-human. Thus the context of the question.

Key demand of the question:

Discuss in detail what a public health emergency of international concern is.

Directive:

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:

Public health emergency of international concern is defined as an “extraordinary event that is determined to constitute a public health risk to other States through the international spread of disease and to potentially require a coordinated international response.” The public emergency announcement is the highest level of alarm that is only raised during the gravest of outbreaks.

Body:

Discuss the case of corona virus spreading rapidly in China.

Explain the factors that need focus during such an outbreak.

Explain how China is managing the outbreak.

Discuss the levels of preparedness of India for such mass epidemics.

Conclusion:

Current health infrastructure in India paints a dismal picture of healthcare delivery system in the country, however India needs to ensure that the Central and state health agencies act in tandem and gear up the capacity to handle such concerns.

Introduction:

The World Health Organization (WHO) has announced that it was “too early” to declare the outbreak of the novel coronavirus in China a public health emergency of international concern (PHEIC), while warning that the number of cases may increase as much about the virus remains unknown.

Body:

Public health emergency of international concern

Public health emergency of international concern is defined as an “extraordinary event that is determined to constitute a public health risk to other States through the international spread of disease and to potentially require a coordinated international response.” The public emergency announcement is the highest level of alarm that is only raised during the gravest of outbreaks.

Coronavirus:

Coronaviruses (CoV) are a large family of viruses that cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV). Coronaviruses are zoonotic, meaning they are transmitted between animals and people.

Corona virus spreading rapidly in China

  • China is struggling to contain the spread of a new virus that has claimed at least six lives so far since 31st December.
  • Almost 300 people have been hospitalised. Worryingly enough doctors have confirmed that the infection is spreading rapidly among humans.
  • The outbreak has triggered memories of SARS or severe acute respiratory syndrome, SARS originated in China in 2002, by 2003 it infected more than 8,000 people and killed 774 in a pandemic that ripped through Asia. The present virus is called the Coronavirus.
  • It was first detected in Wuhan city that has cancelled the upcoming Lunar New Year celebrations, where hundreds of thousands of people were expected to attend.
  • Tour agencies have also been banned from taking groups out of Wuhan, even as Chinese President Xi Jinping has ordered resolute efforts to curb the spread of the virus.
  • With one patient infecting as many as 14 medical staff in just one hospital, Chinese doctors believe the disease is spreading far more easily than it was thought previously.
  • By late January, there were 300 confirmed cases in China and a death count that was still in the single digits, but rising. And despite airport screenings, a traveler had brought the first case to the U.S.

The levels of preparedness of India for such mass epidemics:

  • Most countries, including India, are unprepared for outbreaks of major infectious diseases, with Asian countries facing significant risks, according to the Global Health Security Index 2019.
  • India is not prepared to tackle health epidemics, particularly given its urban congestion. In fact, given the city structure and the way the settlements have grown, epidemics, once they occur, will spread at a galloping rate.
  • The slum clusters all around the cities, the unhygienic growth, and poor waste disposal system will only aggravate the situation.
  • Health infrastructure is the basic support for the delivery of public health activities, but current facilities in the country paint a dismal picture of the delivery system.
  • There are 23,582 government hospitals with 710,761 beds in the country, according to the National Health Profile 2018. These comprise 19,810 hospitals in rural areas with 279,588 beds and 3,772 hospitals in urban areas with 431,173 beds.
  • More than 70% of India’s population lives in rural areas and there are 156,231 sub centres, 25,650 primary health centres and 5,624 community health centres to cater to their needs, according to figures from 31 March 2017.

Conclusion:

The private sector has emerged as a strong force in India’s healthcare service delivery. For health emergencies such as coronavirus, private hospitals have geared themselves up.

 

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

7. Discuss the importance and role played by Wetlands in the Ecological conservation of Earth. (250 words)

Reference:  The Hindu

Why this question:

37 sites in the country have been freshly recognized under the international treaty of Ramsar Convention.

Key demand of the question:

Discuss in detail the importance and role played by Wetlands in the Ecological conservation of Earth.

Directive:

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:

First discuss what wetlands are – Wetlands are defined as: “lands transitional between terrestrial and aquatic eco-systems where the water table is usually at or near the surface or the land is covered by shallow water”.

Body:

Discuss first the importance of wetlands to the ecosystem.

  • Wetlands are highly productive ecosystems that provide the world with nearly two-thirds of its fish harvest.
  • Wetlands play an integral role in the ecology of the watershed. The combination of shallow water, high levels of nutrients is ideal for the development of organisms that form the base of the food web and feed many species of fish, amphibians, shellfish and insects.
  • Wetlands’ microbes, plants and wildlife are part of global cycles for water, nitrogen and sulphur. Wetlands store carbon within their plant communities and soil instead of releasing it to the atmosphere as carbon dioxide.
  • Wetlands function as natural barriers that trap and slowly release surface water, rain, snowmelt, groundwater and flood waters. Wetland vegetation also slow the speed of flood waters lowering flood heights and reduces soil erosion etc.

Discuss the importance of Ramsar convention. Explain the scenario in India.

Conclusion:

Conclude that along with such treaties, Spreading awareness by initiating awareness programs about the importance of wetlands and constant monitoring of wetlands for their water quality would provide vital inputs to safeguard the wetlands from further deterioration.

Introduction:

Wetlands are Ecotones between terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems. They get periodically get inundated with water. They support a flourishing community of aquatic organisms including frogs and other amphibians. Swamps, marshes and mangroves are examples of wetlands.

India has added 10 more wetlands to sites protected by the Ramsar Convention, With this, a total of 37 sites in the country have been recognized under the international treaty. Wetlands declared as Ramsar sites are protected under strict guidelines.

Body:

The importance of wetlands to the ecosystem:

  • Wetlands play an integral role in the ecology of the watershed. The combination of shallow water, high levels of nutrients and primary productivity is ideal for the development of organisms that form the base of the food web and feed many species of fish, amphibians, shellfish and insects
  • Wetlands are among the most productive ecosystems in the world, comparable to rain forests and coral reefs. An immense variety of species of microbes, plants, insects, amphibians, reptiles, birds, fish and mammals can be part of a wetland ecosystem.
  • Wetlands are indispensable for the countless benefits or “ecosystem services” that they provide humanity, ranging from freshwater supply, food and building materials, and biodiversity, to flood control, groundwater recharge, and climate change mitigation.
  • Wetlands are an important resource for sustainable tourism.
  • They carry out water purification, filtration of sediments and nutrients from surface water.
  • They help in nutrients recycling, groundwater recharging and stabilization of local climate.
  • Buffer (act as a riparian buffer) shorelines against erosion and pollutants.
  • They act as a genetic reservoir for various species of plants (especially rice).
  • Wetlands function as natural sponges that trap and slowly release surface water, rain, snowmelt, groundwater and flood waters.

Role played by Wetlands in the Ecological conservation of Earth:

  • Flood attenuation: many water-stressed regions in South Africa are subject to high intensity rainfall over very short periods, often resulting in flash floods. Wetlands are effective in spreading out and slowing down floodwaters, thereby reducing the severity of floods downstream.
  • Regulation of stream flow: wetlands are often compared to sponges, in their ability to absorb water in wet periods, and release it during dry periods.
  • Sediment trapping: wetlands reduce runoff velocity, and through their vegetation are effective in trapping and retaining sediment.
  • Phosphate and nitrate assimilation: removal by the wetland of phosphates and nitrates carried by runoff water. This takes place through the presence of wetland vegetation and the action of anaerobic bacteria (which would otherwise not exist in fast-flowing, energised streams or rivers).
  • Erosion control: wetlands can limit the extent of erosion, predominantly through the protection provided by vegetation, and through their ability to reduce stream flow velocity.
  • Maintenance of biodiversity: through the provision of habitat and the maintenance of natural processes, wetlands contribute to supporting and maintaining biodiversity.

Ramsar convention

Ramsar convention is an international treaty for the conservation and wise use of wetlands. It is named after the Iranian city of Ramsar, on the Caspian Sea, where the treaty was signed on 2 February 1971. It is Known officially as ‘the Convention on Wetlands of International Importance especially as Waterfowl Habitat’ (or, more recently, just ‘the Convention on Wetlands’), it came into force in 1975.

Ramsar “Wise use concept” requires that wetlands’ ecological character should be maintained within the framework of sustainable development. This concept recognizes that:

  • Developmental activities are inevitable in wetland areas such as construction of roads, electricity infrastructure, schools and hospitals for poor families.
  • Economic activities are also inevitable in wetland areas such as fisheries, farming and tourism.
  • Such activities aid in human development and economic development in a wetland area.
  • And for these activities, wetland’s land, water and bio-resources will have to be used.
  • However, these resources should not be used in a manner that wetland’s ecological character is harmed.

Conclusion:

Wetland conservation is crucial for protecting biodiversity and mitigating the adverse impacts of climate change. At the same time, due to high level of poverty & population, it’s not possible for developing countries & Least Developed Countries (LDCs) to keep wetlands in pristine conditions completely free from human activities