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[Mission 2023] Insights SECURE SYNOPSIS: 17 June 2023

 

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

 

Answer the following questions in 150 words:


General Studies – 1


 

1. Discuss the role of private museums in India in preserving cultural heritage and fostering the creation of new narratives for the future.

Reference: The Hindu

Introduction

India is home to over 1,000 museums representing a rich and diverse blend of the cultural, religious and scientific achievements that our civilisation has witnessed over the years. As economic progress brings a stronger sense of one’s history, private museums in India are helping people celebrate their heritage and curate new stories for the future.

The new Kiran Nadar Museum of Art (KNMA) will open its doors in the capital in 2026. Designed by British-Ghanaian architect David Adjaye, the museum model was recently unveiled at the Venice Architecture Biennale.

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Role of private museums in preserving culture and heritage

  • Platform to showcase diverse heritage: Indian history undoubtedly, is one of the richest and varied histories of the world.
    • But history comes in different forms. It could be through art, culture, science or natural objects.
    • History can be understood through esteemed facets, such as paintings, carvings, documents, and weaponry.
  • Foray into economic and social life of Ancient Indians: At the same time, history can also be seen through the prism ofdaily objects, such as clothing, pots and pans, toys, cutlery and more.
    • Either way history or heritage is preserved through tangible articles and it is a museum that houses these.Eg: National Museum in Delhi has artefacts from Harappan civilisation giving us a feel of life in 3500 B.C
  • Recognizing the contributions of great personalities for posterity: For instance, today, to recognise the role of over 200 tribal freedom fightersacross India who participated in about 85 revolts and uprisings against colonial rule, 10 tribal freedom fighter museums are being set up across the country.
    • In tribute to Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, the Prime Minister inaugurated theStatue of Unity in October 2018, which also contains a museum that chronicles the various facets of Patel in great detail.
  • Specific purpose museums: The strategic shift to specific theme-based museums, which have unique content and a definite purpose, also ensures that rich material is on display and the overall experience is wholesome.
    • There have been several other attempts along these lines that are worth mentioning, such as theBiplobi Bharat museum in Kolkata, the arms and armour museum at the Red Fort, a gallery on Gautama Buddha in Delhi, and the museum on Jammu and Kashmir.
  • Spreading awareness:The use of digital technology to enhance user experience is not limited to the use of Artificial Intelligence, Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality, but to widen public access through modernisation and digitisation of collections and exhibitions.

Way forward

  • Breaking down silos to forge a whole-of-government approach in such a specialised domain requires new skills and perspectives and these are being developed.
  • Human capacities and domain knowledge require continued upgradation, and the new Indian Institute of Heritage that is being set up as a world class university aims to address these challenges.
  • There are also challenges in modernising our traditional museums from display spaces of past glory to making them more interactive, immersive experiences through technology interfaces, innovative curatorial skills and imaginative storytelling.
  • Compared to new museums, successfully repurposing existing museum spaces needs more imaginative thinking and has a different set of challenges.
  • The efforts in digitisation and reprography are painstaking processes that can take several years to complete but must be done.

Conclusion

With this renewed mandate of modernisation, upgradation, and establishment of new museums, we are bringing our institutions closer to international standards of museology in the 21st century. Though private institutions may seem at an advantage, it takes many factors, both structural and functional, for a private collection to manifest as a successful museum. The vibrancy — how well a museum attracts audience engagement along with skilled staff is as important to attract and manage the audience, as is technology. These will ultimately define its sustainability, along with a sound long-term business plan.

 

2. What are the reasons behind the phenomenon of deglobalization that is currently observed globally? Are there any benefits for Indian society in the context of deglobalization?

Reference: Live Mint

Introduction

The term de-globalisation is used by economic and market commentators to highlight the trend of several countries wanting to go back to economic and trade policies that put their national interests first. These policies often take the form of tariffs or quantitative barriers that impede free movement of people, products and services among countries. The idea behind all this protectionism is to shield local manufacturing by making imports costlier.

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Background

  • The COVID-19 pandemic is driving the world economy to retreat from global economic integration.
  • Policymakers and business leaders are now questioning whether global supply chains have been stretched too far.
  • In an environment where alliances are uncertain and international cooperation is absent, they are also asking whether they should reduce their economic interdependence.
  • National security and public health concerns are providing new rationales for protectionism, especially for medical gear and food, and an emphasis on domestic sourcing.

Factors contributing to deglobalisation

  • Right wing politics in West: A surge in populist politics in Europe and the US has ridden a wave of opposition to globalized economies and international institutions such as the World Trade Organization (WTO) and NATO.
  • Brexit: Leaving the European Union (EU) is written into the constitutions of populist parties in countries such as Poland and Hungary.
  • Delegitimization of International Organizations: The United Nations (UN) is widely viewed as weak and deadlocked, and populist movements tend to ridicule the notion of belonging to an international community of nations.
    • International organizations have seen their reputations suffer, either condemned as too powerful or too weak.
    • The World Health Organization (WHO) struggled to drive an efficient response to the COVID19 pandemic, in large part due to uncooperative governments.
  • Lockdown of national borders: The COVID-19 pandemic illustrates the danger of relying on global supply chains for essential medical supplies, while climate change demands reductions in the enormous carbon footprint of international trade.
    • India came up with self-sufficient ‘Atmanirbharta’ concept and so did many other nations.
    • Nations like Japan and India have joined hands to from SCRI – Supply Chain Resilience Initiative.

Positives of deglobalisation

  • Increased manufacturing: Atmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyaan will provide impetus for indigenous manufacturing and becoming self-reliant in products, so that dependency mainly on China is reduced.
  • Reduce income inequality: Deglobalization is successful if the goal is to reduce income inequality (the Gini coefficient falls by .005) and to increase the share of manufacturing in the Indian economy.
    • It also means that more jobs will be available for youth who are entering the work force.
  • India’s share in global trade: India, while protecting its national interests, has an opportunity to redefine the contours of global trade. Companies whose factories and units are in China, can be attracted towards India, which also offers alternative supply chain.
  • Trade agreement with UK and EU: With Brexit, India can renew its attempt to arrive at a free trade agreement with UK and reign in the trade opportunities. Similarly, India and EU have been negotiating a trade agreement that will propel the trade.
    • India, with its much-hyped demographic dividend, offers unparalleled markets to EU investors and an enabling FTA can accrue wide ranging economic gains to all stakeholders.
  • Pharmacy of the world: India stands to gain by becoming generic drug manufacturer, as well as vaccines and become net distributors of the same. India must focus on manufacturing API’s by reducing dependency on China and increase its production.

Negative Impact of deglobalisation on Indian society

  • Impact on food security: Indonesia, the world’s top producer of palm oil which was indicted for driving destruction of its tropical forests, has now sent shock waves as it has banned exports of this cooking oil.
    • Ukraine is a supplier of wheat and the war has led to severe shortage in the globe. Same is the case with sunflower oil.
    • This impacts the food security in India.
  • High energy costs: It is fuelled partly because of the sanctions on Russian oil and gas that are driving the world to leapfrog to wind and solar.
    • But it is a fact that much of the rare earth minerals that will be needed to power this new energy future from petro to electro are controlled by the same countries that are in the non-democracy camp, from China to Russia.
    • India’s antagonism with China makes it harder for India in obtaining Lithium to achieve its FAME targets.
  • Reduced income: While a retreat into protectionism may improve income equality in some countries, it will reduce incomes of both the poor and the rich and poverty headcounts will be increased.
  • Political instability will rise in a majority of countries and the probability of interstate war will increase.
    • These results suggest that it would be far better to deal with the negative aspects of globalization directly by improving trade adjustment assistance, providing more secure access to health care, and negotiating new international agreements that benefit all countries
  • Migration: De-globalisation with respect to the mobility of services and people can impact both the export of services, and the trend of Indians migrating abroad for higher education and jobs.
  • Climate change cooperation impacted: We are closing borders; shutting doors of global trade and, worse, dividing and polarising the world into camps of good versus evil. This, please remember, is happening at a time when climate change needs us to come together to cooperate and act globally.

 

Conclusion

Globalisation is likely to have peaked amid the rise of populism and protectionism as well as social and environmental challenges. The shifting trend from globalisation to regionalisation/localisation is creating opportunities in regional/local markets including mid- and small-caps. At the same time, deglobalisation also entails more political/geopolitical uncertainty, which could lead to market volatility.

In a world where global trade and commerce is inevitable, protectionist policies of a few nations will only cause severe inequality. A middle ground is the need of the hour and a gated globalization could be the preferred option, with India paving the path for other nations to follow, in the decades to come.


General Studies – 2


 

3. Although there is no specific time limit for Governors to decide on Bills, they cannot misuse their power to indefinitely obstruct or delay the functioning of a democratically elected government. Examine.

Reference: The Hindu

Introduction

The makers of the Constitution of India did not anticipate that the office of the Governor, meant to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution and the law”, would metamorphose into the most controversial constitutional office rendering the constitutional praxis rugged.

On his/ her discretion, the Governor can reserve a bill passed by the state legislature for president’s assent. However, situations are mentioned in Article 200, when he will reserve the bill, yet he can use, discretion regarding this matter. Governor has discretion to refuse to sign to an ordinary bill passed by the state legislature.

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Governor’s power to reserve bills for consideration of the President

Article 200 of the Indian Constitution deals with the powers of the Governor with regard to assent given to bills passed by the State legislature and other powers of the Governor such as reserving the bill for the President’s consideration.

According to Article 200, when a Bill, passed by the Legislature of a State, is presented to the Governor, he has the following options:

Ordinary Bills

When a bill is sent to the governor after it is passed by state legislature, he can:

  • Give his assent to the bill, or
  • Withhold his assent to the bill, or
  • Return the bill (if it is not a money bill) for reconsideration of the state legislature.

However, if the bill is passed again by the state legislature with or without amendments, the governor has to give his assent to the bill or

  • Reserve the bill for the consideration of the president. In one case such reservation is obligatory, that is, where the bill passed by the state legislature endangers the position of the state high court. When the governor reserves a bill for the consideration of the President, he will not have any further role in the enactment of the bill.
    • If the bill is returned by the President for the reconsideration of the House or Houses and is passed again, the bill must be presented again for the presidential assent only.
    • If the President gives his assent to the bill, it becomes an act.
    • This means that the assent of the Governor is no longer required.

 

Options before the President:

When a Bill is reserved by a Governor for the consideration of the President, the President shall declare either that he assents to the Bill or that he withholds assent therefrom Provided that:

  1. Where the Bill is not a Money Bill, the President may direct the Governor to return the Bill to the House or, as the case may be, the Houses of the Legislature of the State together with such a message as is mentioned in the first proviso to article 200.
  2. When a Bill is so returned, the House or Houses shall reconsider it accordingly within a period of six months from the date of receipt of such message and, if it is again passed by the House or Houses with or without amendment, it shall be presented again to the President for his consideration.
  3. It is not mentioned in the constitution whether it is obligatory on the part of the President to give his assent to such a bill or not.

Critical analysis of such powers of Governor

  • Delays in granting assent: Thegovernors sometimes sat over the Bills without giving assent or returning the Bills for an indefinite period, even though the Constitution required it to be done as soon as possible.
    • The governors were also taking months together to reserve the Billsfor the assent of the President even though it was to be done immediately.
    • This erodes the authority of the legislaturesand the governors, though heads of the state executive, are appointed by the Union government.
  • Exceptional situations: In addition to above illustrated powers, the governor can also reserve the bill if it is of the following nature:
    • Ultra-vires, that is, against the provisions of the Constitution.
    • Opposed to the Directive Principles of State Policy.
    • Against the larger interest of the country.
    • Of grave national importance.
    • Dealing with compulsory acquisition of property under Article 31A of the Constitution.
  • Case studies
    • Tamil Nadu Assembly in September, 2021passed a bill seeking exemption for students from the state from the National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET) required for undergraduate medical college admissions.
      • This Bill has been with Governor since then without rejection or acceptance.
      • Indecision can prove costly.
    • Manipur Speaker had not decided on defection, until Supreme Court forced him and bound him by giving a time frame. Justice can be denied in such cases to those who are affected.
  • Against the spirit of Constitution: Withholding of assent, though an option, is not normally exercised by Governors because it will be an extremely unpopular step.
    • Besides, withholding assent to a Bill by the Governor, an appointee of the President, neutralises the entire legislative exercise by an elected legislature enjoying the support of the people.

Conclusion

Giving assent to a Bill passed by the legislature is a normal constitutional act performed by the Governor. But of late, even such normal acts have become a source of confrontation between State governments and the Governors. The conduct of Governors in certain States follows a definite pattern which causes a great deal of disquiet to elected governments as well as to those who have faith in the constitutional order. Thus, it falls to the Supreme Court to fix a reasonable time frame for Governors to take a decision on a Bill passed by the Assembly in the larger interest of federalism in the country.


General Studies – 3


 

4. In recent years, policymakers have increasingly prioritized the poverty-reducing aspects of inclusive growth rather than focusing solely on economic growth itself. Analyse.

Reference: Hindustan Times

Introduction

The recent release of the NFHS data for 2019-21 allows for a detailed analysis of the progress in the reduction of absolute poverty and related determinants like nutrition. There is decline in poverty between periods of 2004-2013 and 2014-2021 and that India’s economic growth has been the most inclusive between 2014 and 2019.

The two time periods under examination i.e. 2005 to 2011 (P-1) and 2011 to 2021 (P-2) are separated by per capita income growth declining in the world (2.8 to 2.2 per cent) and in India (from 6.3 to 4.4 per cent).

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Background: Statistics

  • Poverty downturn: NFHS estimates put emphasis that poverty fell sharply after 2011 based on these two periods i.e. P-1 to P-2
  • Depiction:Multidimensional poverty declined at a compounded annual average rate of 4.8 per cent per year in P-1 and more than double that pace at 10.3 per cent a year during P-2.
    • The average equally weighted decline for nine indicators was 1.9 per cent per annum in P-1 and a rate of 6 per cent per annum, more than eight times higher in P-2.
    • This unambiguous and strong conclusion however needs further investigation that what made growth so inclusive in P-2.
  • Bolstering reveals:Also the Demographic and Health Surveys (DHS) nutrition index improved at a 2.5 per cent rate during 2005-11 and at a more than five times faster rate during 2020-11.
  • About DHS:The DHS are nationally-representative household surveys that provide data for a wide range of monitoring and impact evaluation indicators in the areas of population, health, and nutrition.
    • A similar improvement is found in nutrition deprivation, which registered a CAGR decline of 11.6 per cent from 2015 onward.
  • Contrasting findings: On other hand, the Global Hunger Index (GHI) released recently depicted a worsening of hunger in India between 2014 and 2021, and hence contradicts the large improvement documented in the NFHS data.
    • It ranked India 107 out of 123 countries, dropping from the rank of 101 in 2021 and put it in “serious” category and behind all south Asian countries except the war-torn Afghanistan.
  • However, unlike the GHI, the NFHS provides comparative state-level data, including the main pointers that determine health and nutrition.

Inclusive growth prioritised in recent times

  • Access to toilets : The current government’s Swachh Bharat mission in P-2 constructed over 110 million toilets.
  • Access to electricity: Close to one-third of Indians were deprived of electricity till as recently as 2014. However, after a dedicated push ofSaubhagya Yojana, India managed to electrify every village, and eventually households.
    • Electricity deprivation declined by a 28.2 per cent rate post-2014, but from 2005-2011 (P-1), the rate of decline was close to zero.
  • Financial inclusion: Jan Dhan Yojana, providing basic banking facilities to the underprivileged, made financial inclusion a reality in India, especially for women.
    • It presently has in excess of 472 million accounts with deposits in excess of ₹1.75 lakh crore.
  • Access to modern cooking fuel: Through the Ujjwala Yojana, deprivation was nearly halved from 26 per cent to 14 per cent in just five years. The previous halving (2005/6 to 2015/16) took 10 years.
  • Affordable housing scheme: Under Awas Yojana,less than 14 per cent are now deprived, compared to thrice that number in 2011/12.
  • Clean water:More recently, after 2019, India has embarked on an ambitious project of ensuring universal access to piped water under the Jal Jeevan Mission.
    • Rural piped water coverage was a little less than 17 per cent in 2019, but is now well above 54 per cent and expected to at least be near, if not meet, the 100 per cent target by 2024.

Measures needed

  • To engineer an inclusive and sustainable growth for India, the social infrastructure like education, health and social protection are being given utmost priority by the Government
  • The gaps in the expenditure on social infrastructure like health and education should be closed by strengthening the delivery mechanisms of the government initiatives. Protecting and investing in people’s health, education, and skilling is vital for reducing income inequality, and sustained inclusive economic growth.
  • India needs to increase its spending on health and education. As recommended by the National Health Policy 2017 and the NEP 2020, India needs to increase its spending on health and education to at least 2.5 % in 6 % of GDP respectively from its current levels. Enhancing policies to maintain and even increase health and longevity will therefore be necessary.
  • The current situation calls for more and better schools, especially in rural areas. It also calls for better transportation links between rural areas and regional urban hubs.
  • India has to invest morein human capital formation at all levels, from primary education to higher education, cutting-edge research and development as well as on vocational training to increase the skill sets of its growing working-age population.
  • The flagship schemes such as Skill IndiaMake in India, and Digital Indiahave to be implemented to achieve convergence between skill training and employment generation.
  • Bridging the gender gaps in education, skill development, employment, earnings and reducing social inequalities prevalent in the society have been the underlying goals of the development strategy to enhance human capabilities.
  • Improved infrastructure, skill development, access to easy finance, reducing barriers to entrepreneurship and forums for mentorship of emerging entrepreneursin partnership with corporates are some of measures.
  • Decentralized models of development: Social policies for each state must be differentiated to accommodate different rates of population growth. The populations in south and west India are growing at a much slower pace than in the central and eastern states.

Conclusion

The policy-makers and academics have given a higher priority to the poverty-reducing properties of inclusive growth rather than growth per se. Given the estimated poverty decline in India, time has come to change our economic policies; concentrate on what causes growth, not what causes poverty to decline.

Poverty is now not just about food but living standards like sanitation, housing, piped water, electricity, education, health, and jobs. And on each of these elements, the focus should shift to quality, not quantity.

 

5. Discuss the concerns surrounding the approval of Neuralink for humans. Examine the potential risks from the Neuralink project.

Reference: Indian Express

Introduction

On May 25, the USFDA approved an implantable Brain-Computer Interface (BCI) for clinical trials in humans. The company building the device is Neuralink, a neurotech startup co-founded in 2016, by tech mogul Elon Musk and a group of young neuroscientist-engineers..

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About Neuralink

  • A relatively low-key start-up compared to other companies headed by Musk, Neuralink’s mission is two-fold: treating brain disorders and eventually, fusing human consciousness with AI.
  • The company hopes to build a surgically implantable chip containing several electrodes that essentially allows the brain to convey intent of movement to a device connected via Bluetooth (e.g. a smartphone, to begin with) and then the device decodes the neural data and converts intent to action.
  • For example, moving a cursor to a certain point and clicking or pressing a button with a robotic arm

Concerns associated with neuralink

  • Data opacity: There is complete data opacity when it comes to backing the claims with evidence.
    • Instead, the company has relied on episodic launch videos and show-and-tell events live-streamed on YouTube, which predictably went viral very quickly.
    • Despite how cool the videos make it out to be, there remain several major safety and viability concerns with Neuralink, even if one does not engage with the obviously murky ethics of creating trans-humans whose consciousness is fused with AI.
  • Untested: One major problem with Neuralink is scant published data that support its claims.
    • There is just one article published in 2019, preceding the launch, with Musk and Neuralink sharing the authorship, that too, not in a prominent journal, which describes the chip, the process of implantation of the chip by a surgical robot and shows one exemplar picture of a rodent with the implant.
  • Feasibility not supported: However, before a device is approved for use in humans, its feasibility and safety parameters need in-depth pre-clinical assessment in more complex mammals such as pigs, sheep and monkeys. In one of the show-and-tell livestreams, Musk demonstrated a sole monkey, playing a video game with just eye movements.
  • Safety of implant: In the case of an invasive surgical implant, questions immediately arise about how safe the materials used in the fabrication of the implants are — how truly inert they are — and despite the coatings on the surface, how stable is the material.
    • Before this is anywhere near implantation in humans, it has to be ascertained that there is no leaching of any harmful chemical in the brain over time and the impact of small everyday actions, like bumping into something, has to be studied.
    • The second concern is the thin wires, which will arguably build more resistance and be susceptible to heat generation.

Potential risks from Neuralink project

  • No quantitative data: In the case of Neuralink, except for showing individual animals, and images from a brain (without even disclosing if that brain in question is a rodent, a pig or a monkey) there is no released imaging or quantitative data from their so-called histology unit.
  • Mortality: There is no data published about the per cent mortality in experimental animals or the success rate of the surgery. There is pretty much no quantitative data available to the public about the safety of the procedure, or the efficacy of the implant — except what the Neuralink team chooses to display in a purely qualitative fashion.
  • Animal rights violation: To make matters worse, a lawsuit by an animal ethics group has revealed several violations of animal welfare by Neuralink with monkeys being used for invasive implant surgeries, and high mortality among animals from surgery-related infections or other complications.
    • The company is also being investigated for the same by federal agencies.
    • Collectively, these events point to a general culture of secrecy about data regarding the safety of the device and its efficacy against non-invasive BCIs, which are also in development.
    • In addition, there is a conscious effort to mitigate the critical eye by dialling up the coolness factor for the general public.
  • It is, however, known that Neuralink filed for this approval in 2022 and the FDA rejected the application, citing safety issues with the lithium batteries in the implanted chip and other concerns.
  • It is unclear on what basis the FDA revised their decision. In an ideal world, companies would be ethical and the FDA would also be exacting and relentless in their scrutiny before approving a device. However, in reality, neither really applies when it comes to companies with deep pockets that routinely lobby legislators and regulatory authorities to review their products favourably for approvals.

Conclusion

It is, however, known that Neuralink filed for this approval in 2022 and the FDA rejected the The scientific and medical communities need to keep their eyes peeled, despite cautious optimism, because medical history in the US is full of instances when companies prioritise profit over patient safety, and regulatory oversight fails to curb such practices. Before the ethics of creating cyborgs can be debated at length, we need to ensure whether the Neuralink device is safe and offers any actual benefit over non-invasive counterparts.

 

Answer the following questions in 250 words(15 marks each):


General Studies – 1


 

6. Climate change plays a significant role in the increasing frequency and intensity of cyclones in the Arabian Sea by altering key environmental factors that contribute to cyclone formation and development. Analyse.

Reference: Down to Earth

Introduction

Cyclone is a region of low atmospheric pressure surrounded by high atmospheric pressure resulting in swirling atmospheric disturbance accompanied by powerful winds. They occur mainly in the tropical and temperate regions of the world. Recently cyclonic storm Sitrang made an early landfall in Bangladesh causing a surprise among meteorologists.

Climate change will have opposite effects on the frequency of strong tropical cyclones along the western and eastern coasts of India by 2050. The frequency will reduce in the Bay of Bengal, traditionally known for its powerful storms, while it will increase in the Arabian Sea, a calmer body of water in this regard, a new study published in Science Advances has estimated.

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Impact of Climate change on tropical cyclones

  • Warming of the surface ocean from anthropogenic (human-induced) climate change is likely fuelling more powerful Tropical Cyclones.
  • The destructive power of individual Tropical Cyclones through flooding is amplified by rising sea levels, which very likely has a substantial contribution at the global scale from anthropogenic climate change.
  • In addition, Tropical Cyclones’ precipitation rates are projected to increase due to enhanced atmospheric moisture associated with anthropogenic global warming.
  • The proportion of severe Tropical Cyclones has increased, possibly due to anthropogenic climate change.
  • However, most climate model studies project a corresponding reduction in the proportion of low-intensity cyclones, so the total number of Tropical Cyclones each year is projected to decrease or remain approximately the same.
  • Studies have shown that some 2.1 to 3.1 per cent of the total number of tropical cyclones expected to strike in the near future, could be strong.
  • Globally, the risk of strong tropical cyclones is expected to become more than double by 2050. The Gulf of Mexico is not likely to see the same trend, according to the analysis.
  • The studies associated with temperature suggest that the Indian Ocean is warming, particularly the Arabian Sea, which is doing so at the fastest rate.
  • Previously, tropical cyclones in the Arabian Sea were restricted to Gujarat.
  • In the past decade though, Kerala and Karnataka have also become more vulnerable to cyclones. A recent example is ‘Ockhi’.
  • The Arabian Sea is quickly responding to climate change signals, heating rapidly and driving more and more cyclones, and excessive rainfall, although, experts still do not understand how much of a performance climate change must work on Ockhi.
  • The rise in Arabian Sea surface temperature makes it warmer than other seas all through this period.
  • Global warming adds to climate variability and weather changes.
  • A sophisticated climate model to compare the conditions in 2015 to conditions in 1860, keeping in mind the carbon footprints. The findings suggest that 64 per cent of the cyclone risk in the Arabian Sea was due to climate change.
  • The coastal areas surrounding the Arabian Sea are at specific risk since the geographical location offers cyclones nowhere to go but the land.

Steps to be taken to mitigate impact of disaster

  • Coastal belt plantation:Providing a cover through green belt sustains less damage as forests act as a wide buffer zone against strong winds and flash floods. Without the forest the cyclone travel freely inland.
  • Hazard mapping: Meteorological records of the wind speed and the directions give the pattern of occurrence of cyclone for particular wind speeds. A hazard map will illustrate the areas vulnerable to cyclone in any given year and estimate the severity of the cyclone and various damage intensities in the region.
  • Land use control: It can be designed so that least critical activities are placed in vulnerable areas. Location of settlements in the flood plains is at utmost risk. Citing of key facilities must be marked in the land use. Policies should be in place to regulate land use and building codes should be enforced.
  • Engineered structures:  This needs to be built to withstand wind forces. Good site selection is also important. Majority of the buildings in coastal areas are built with locally available materials and have no engineering inputs. Good construction practices should be adopted such as:
    • Cyclonic wind storms inundate the coastal areas. It is advised to construct on stilts or on earth mound.
    • Houses can be strengthened to resist wind and flood damage. All elements holding the structures need to be properly anchored to resist the uplift or flying off of the objects. For example, avoid large overhangs of roofs, and the projections should be tied down.
    • row of planted trees will act as a shield. It reduces the energy.
    • Buildings storing food supplies must be protected against the winds and water.
    • Protect river embankments.
    • Communication lines should be installed underground.
    • Providestrong halls for community shelter in vulnerable locations.
  • Flood management:  Torrential rains, strong wind and storm range leads to flooding in the cyclone affected areas. There are possibilities of landslides too. Flood mitigation measures must be incorporated.
  • Improving vegetation cover: The roots of the plants and trees keep the soil intact and prevent erosion and slow runoff to prevent or lessen flooding.
    • The use of tree planted in rows will act as a windbreak.
    • Coastal shelterbelt plantations can be developed to break severe wind speeds.
    • It minimizes devastating effects.
  • Improved early warning systems are a must to ensure preparedness.

Way Forward

  • Develop a Climate Risk Atlas to mapcritical vulnerabilities such as coasts, urban heat stress, water stress, and biodiversity collapse.
  • Develop an Integrated Emergency Surveillance Systemto facilitate a systematic and sustained response to emergencies.
  • Mainstream risk assessment at all levels,including localised, regional, sectoral, cross-sectoral, macro and micro-climatic level.
  • Enhance adaptive and resilience capacityto climate-proof lives, livelihoods and investments.
  • Increase the participatory engagement of all stakeholders in the risk assessment process.
  • Integrate risk assessment into local, sub-national, and national level plans.

Conclusion

Global warming has presented us with new challenges such as rapid intensification of cyclones, which need to be closely monitored at higher resolution and accuracy using on-site platforms such as buoys and moorings. Improving the Indian Ocean Observing System (IndOOS) and incorporating the global warming signals in the weather models can help us tackle the challenges of intense cyclones in the future.


General Studies – 2


 

7. Civil society acts as a critical check on governmental power, promotes transparency and accountability, and strengthens the rule of law. It fosters a more inclusive, participatory, and responsive governance system that benefits society as a whole. Analyse.

Reference: Indian Express

Civil Society Organizations can be defined to include all non-market and non-state organizations outside of the family in which people organize themselves to pursue shared interests in the public domain”.

Examples include community-based organizations and village associations, environmental groups, women’s rights groups, farmers’ associations, faith-based organizations, labour unions, co-operatives, professional associations, chambers of commerce, independent research institutes and the not-for-profit media.

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Need for an active civil society:

  • Citizens have the right to scrutinise the work of their representatives.
  • To publicise acts such as infringement of civil liberties and failure of governments to provide a reasonable standard of life for the citizens.
  • Article 19 of the constitution provides for the democratic right to protest as part of the freedom of expression.
  • The right to participate in an activity should not be restricted to politics and elections alone.
  • Without this right, democracy becomes an illusion.
  • So civil society cannot be conceptualised independent of the state.

Civil society’s functional contribution to good governance

  • Watchdog:against violation of human rights and governing deficiencies.
  • Advocate:of the weaker sections’ point of view.
  • Agitator: on behalf of aggrieved citizens.
  • Educator:of citizens on their rights, entitlements and responsibilities and the government about the pulse of the people.
  • Service provider:to areas and people not reached by official efforts or as government’s agent.
  • Mobilizer:of public opinion for or against a programme or policy.
  • The ways include: Right to Information Act, Consumer Protection Act, Citizens Charters, Whistle-blower protection, e-governance, Democratic Decentralisation, Public Interest Litigation, etc

Role of Civil Society:

  • In a large developing country like India, there are numerous gaps left by the government in the development process. These are the gaps that civil societies try to fill in modern India.
  • Supplementing the government effort to provide health care to citizens, and by raising awareness in society about issues like child and maternal malnutrition
  • A number of NGO’s like Childline India Foundation, World Vision, Arambh India have played important role in raising awareness on child sexual abuse.
  • In the last 20 years, a very large number of NGOs in India have been active in the area of environmental protection.
  • The NGOs have often been helped by the judiciary whenever the government of the day has proved unresponsive.
  • The engagement of civil society and the media in educating citizens about the evils of corruption, raising their awareness levels and securing their participation by giving them a ‘voice’.
  • Civil society can influence policy and project formulation through membership of committees and submission of memoranda.

Limitations of Civil Society

  • Misappropriation of funds:Many NGOs don’t have sophisticated finance and legal teams, nor do they have the funds to conduct audits.
  • The issue of foreign funding:According to government data a total of 3,068 non-governmental organizations (NGOs) received foreign funding above Rs. 22,000 Cr in 2014-15. It is often said that foreign-funded NGOs tries to propagate the foreign propaganda to stall developmental projects. Example: Kudankulam Protest.
  • Non-accountable, non-transparent undemocratic functioning:CBI records filed in the Supreme Court show that only 10% of the total registered NGOs under the Societies Registration Act file annual financial statements.
  • Money Laundering:Corrupt or unscrupulous NGOs that receive foreign funds may serve as conduits for money laundering.
  • Accreditationremains a big challenge as it is very difficult to distinguish whether an organization wants to work for the cause or has been set up only for the purpose of receiving government grants.
  • Over dependence on funds from the governmentdilutes the willingness of NGOs to speak out against the government.
  • NGOs are often seen as encroaching on centuries-old tradition and culture of the people, and lead to mass protest at times. Ban of Jallikattu, after the PIL by PETA is one such example

Way Forward:

  • National Accreditation Councilconsisting of academicians, activist, retired bureaucrats should be made to ensure compliance by NGOs.
  • There should be better coordination between Ministries of Home Affairs and Finance in terms of monitoring and regulating illicit and unaccounted funds.
  • regulatory mechanismto keep a watch on the financial activities of NGOs and voluntary organizations is the need of the hour.
  • Citizens today are keen to play an active role in processes that shape their lives and it is important that their participation in democracy go beyond the ritual of voting and should include promotion of social justice, gender equity, inclusion etc.
  • The government should frame guidelines for their accreditation, the manner in which these organizations should maintain their accounts and the procedure for recovery in case they fail to submit their balance sheets.
  • Avoid tussle between Home Ministry and Finance Ministry by bringing the regulation of NGOs under one head.
  • General Financial Rules, 2005have mandated a regulatory mechanism for the NGOs and a comprehensive law in line with these rules should be framed in no time.

Conclusion

NGOs, Pressure groups and CSOs form the backbone of democracy. Democracy does not just revolve around elections but how rights of the citizens are protected and are allowed to hold power holders accountable. The state must respect the articulation of the politics of voice and not just the politics of the vote. The promises of democracy can only be realised through collective action in civil society. A democratic state needs a democratic civil society and a democratic civil society also needs a democratic state. They mutually reinforce each other.

 

8. The decision to introduce a UCC is ultimately a matter of political, social, and constitutional considerations. It requires a careful balance between ensuring equality, protecting individual rights, respecting cultural diversity, and fostering social harmony. Critically analyse.

Reference: The Hindu

Introduction

A Uniform Civil Code is one that would provide for one law for the entire country, applicable to all religious communities in their personal matters such as marriage, divorce, inheritance, adoption etc. It proposes to replace the personal laws based on the scriptures and customs of each major religious community in the country with a common set of laws governing every citizen.

Article 44 of the Constitution lays down that the state shall endeavor to secure a Uniform Civil Code for the citizens throughout the territory of India.

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Background

  • The 22nd Law Commission of India has initiated a new consultation process on the Uniform Civil Code (UCC) and invited views of general public as well as recognised religious organisations on the same.
  • The commission has given 30 days from the date of notice to present their views and feedback.
  • The previous 21st Law Commission had said UCC is neither necessary nor desirable at this stage in the country

UCC helps in achieving the following

  • Promotion of secularism: One set of laws to govern the personal matters of all citizens irrespective of religion is the cornerstone of true secularism. A secular republic needs a common law for all citizens rather than differentiated rules based on religious practices. It would help end gender discrimination on religious grounds and strengthens the secular fabric of the nation.
  • Protection of Vulnerable & Women’s Rights: It will protect the vulnerable sections of society. Women have been denied via personal laws in the name of socio cultural-religious traditions. Therefore, UCC could bring all communities together to ensure Women the Right to a dignified life and control over their life as well as body.
  • Gender justice:The rights of women are usually limited under religious law, be it Hindu or Muslim. Many practices governed by religious tradition are at odds with the fundamental rights guaranteed in the Indian Constitution. Courts have also often said in their judgements that the government should move towards a uniform civil code including the judgement in the Shah Bano case.
  • Prevents religion-based discrimination: Personal laws differentiate between people on grounds of religion. A unified law having the same provisions regarding marital affairs would provide justice to those who feel discriminated against.
  • Ending unjust customs and traditions: A rational common and unified personal law will help eradicate many evil, unjust and irrational customs and traditions prevalent across the communities. For example, Law against Manual scavenging. It might have been a custom in the past but in a mature democracy like India, this custom cannot be justified.
  • Indian laws do follow a uniform code in most civil matters –Indian Contract Act, Civil Procedure Code, Sale of Goods Act, Transfer of Property Act, Partnership Act, Evidence Act etc. States, however, have made hundreds of amendments and therefore in certain matters, there is diversity even under these secular civil laws.
  • Justice Prathiba M Singh of Delhi HC stated that the modern Indian society was gradually becoming homogenous, the traditional barriers of religion, community and caste are slowly dissipating and thus UCC ought not to remain a mere hope.
  • Eases Administration: UCC would make it easy to administer the huge population base of India.

Challenges facing the passage of UCC:

  • Violation of fundamental rights: Religious bodies oppose uniform civil code on the ground that it would be interference into religious affairs which would violate fundamental rights guaranteed under article 25 of the constitution.
  • Reduces diversity: It would reduce the diversity of the nation by painting everyone in one colour. Tribals have their unique customs and traditions as per their culture. Replacing their customs and traditions with a unified law may lead to the identity crisis of the tribals. This may further lead to social tension.
  • Communal politics: It would be a tyranny to the minority and when implemented could bring a lot of unrest in the country.
  • Threat to Multiculturalism: Indian society has a unique identity in the form of its being multiculturalism, and unified law might do away with these unique characteristics of this nation.
  • Affects Majority as well: For example, even Hindus themselves have separate Hindu laws for themselves. Thus, it is not merely a question for minorities but it also affects the majority.
  • Lacking Political Will: Bigger issues have been resolved by the BJP Government like Ayodhya Dispute, repeal of Article 370, so with adequate will from the political community, UCC could also be implemented
  • Sensitive and tough task: Such a code, in its true spirit, must be brought about by borrowing freely from different personal laws, making gradual changes in each, issuing judicial pronouncements assuring gender equality, and adopting expansive interpretations on marriage, maintenance, adoption, and succession by acknowledging the benefits that one community secures from the others. This task will be very demanding time and human resource wise. The government should be sensitive and unbiased at each step while dealing with the majority and minority communities. Otherwise, it might turn out to be more disastrous in a form of communal violence.
  • Time is not yet suitable for this reform: Considering a major opposition from Muslim community in India over this issue overlapping with controversies over beef, saffronization of school and college curriculum, love jihad, and the silence emanating from the top leadership on these controversies, there needs to be given sufficient time for instilling confidence in the community. Otherwise, these efforts towards common will be counterproductive leaving minority class particularly Muslims more insecure and vulnerable to get attracted towards fundamentalist and extremist ideologies.

Way forward

  • Major sensitization efforts are needed to reform current personal law reforms which should first be initiated by the communities themselves.
  • Current institutions need to be modernized, democratized and strengthened for this change. Sincere efforts towards women empowerment have to be taken for all women of all religions.
  • UCC can only emerge through an evolutionary process, which preserves India’s rich legal heritage, of which all the personal laws are equal constituents.
  • The social transformation from diverse civil code to uniformity shall be gradual and cannot happen in a day. Therefore, the government must adopt a piecemeal approach and no knee-jerk decisions.
  • There is need  for deliberations and discussions among  members of various communities to reach a common ground.

Conclusion

The guiding principles of the Constitution itself visualize diversity and have tried to promote uniformity among peoples of different denominations.  A uniform law, although highly desirable but may be counterproductive to the unity and integrity of the nation. Hence, only those elements of customs and traditions should be brought into a unified law that causes injustice to individuals. In a democracy and rule of law, a gradual progressive change and order must be brought about.


General Studies – 3


 

9. Green Hydrogen holds significant promise in ensuring energy security and combating climate change. By scaling up green hydrogen production and utilization, India can transition to a more sustainable energy system. Evaluate.

Reference: Down to Earth

Green hydrogen — also referred to as ‘clean hydrogen’ — is produced by using electricity from renewable energy sources, such as solar or wind power, to split water into two hydrogen atoms and one oxygen atom through a process called electrolysis. The Union Government recently notified the green hydrogen and green ammonia policy aimed at boosting the domestic production of green hydrogen to 5 million tonnes by 2030 and making India an export hub for the clean fuel.

Green hydrogen is an emerging option that will help reduce India’s vulnerability to such price shocks. The Cabinet has cleared India’s Rs 20,000 cr National Green Hydrogen Mission to make the country a global green hydrogen hub..

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Advantages of Green hydrogen

  • It is a clean-burning molecule, which can decarbonize a range of sectors including iron and steel, chemicals, and transportation.
  • Renewable energy that cannot be stored or used by the grid can be channelled to produce hydrogen.
  • India, being a tropical country,has a significant edge in green hydrogen production due to its favourable geographical conditions and abundant natural resources.
  • Producing hydrogen from renewables in India is likely to be cheaper than producing it from natural gas.

Significance of Green Hydrogen in tackling energy challenges

  • Green hydrogen energy is vital for India to meet its Nationally Determined Contribution (INDC) Targets and ensure regional and national energy security, access and availability.
  • Green Hydrogen can act as an energy storage option, which would be essential to meet intermittencies (of renewable energy) in the future.
  • In terms of mobility, for long distance mobilisations for either urban freight movement within cities and states or for passengers, Green Hydrogen can be used in railways, large ships, buses or trucks, etc.
  • India is the world’s fourth largest energy consuming country (behind China, the United States and the European Union), according to the IEA’s forecast, and will overtake the European Union to become the world’s third energy consumer by the year 2030.
  • Realising the impending threats to economies, the Summit will see several innovative proposals from all over the world in order to reduce dependence on use of fossil fuels.
  • The scale of interest for ‘plucking the low hanging fruit’ can be gauged by the fact that even oil-producing nations such as Saudi Arabia where the day temperature soars to over 50° C in summer, is prioritising plans to manufacture this source of energy by utilising ‘idle-land-banks’ for solar and wind energy generation.
  • It is working to establish a mega $5 billion ‘Green hydrogen’ manufacturing unit covering a land-size as large as that of Belgium, in the northern-western part of the country.
  • India is also gradually unveiling its plans. The Indian Railways have announced the country’s first experiment of a hydrogen-fuel cell technology-based train by retrofitting an existing diesel engine; this will run under Northern Railway on the 89 km stretch between Sonepat and Jind.
  • The project will not only ensure diesel savings to the tune of several lakhs annually but will also prevent the emission of 0.72 kilo tons of particulate matter and 11.12 kilo tons of carbon per annum.

Challenges

  • The ‘production cost’ of ‘Green hydrogen’ has been considered to be a prime obstacle.
  • According to studies by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IREA), the production cost of this ‘green source of energy’ is expected to be around $1.5 per kilogram (for nations having perpetual sunshine and vast unused land), by the year 2030; by adopting various conservative measures.
  • The global population is growing at a rate of 1.1%, adding about 83 million human heads every year on the planet.
  • As a result, the International Energy Agency (IEA) forecasts the additional power demand to be to the tune of 25%-30% by the year 2040.
  • Thus, power generation by ‘net-zero’ emission will be the best solution to achieve the target of expert guidelines on global warming to remain under 1.5° C.
  • This will also be a leap forward in minimising our dependence on conventional fossil fuel; in 2018, 8.7 million people died prematurely as result of air pollution from fossil fuels.
  • India has made good progress in decarbonization growing the share of renewable energy, energy efficiency & fuel transition.
  • There is growing interest and hype for using hydrogen in multiple applications such as Hydrogen-based Agro vehicles, Hydrogen-powered passenger trains, Hydrogen in aviation etc.

Way forward

  • As India is scaling up to the target of having 450 GW of renewable energy by 2030, aligning hydrogen production needs with broader electricity demand in the economy would be critical.
  • The industrial sectors like steel, refining, fertilizer & methanol sectors are attractive for Green Hydrogen adoption as Hydrogen is already being generated & consumed either as a chemical feedstock or a process input.
  • The public funding will have to lead the way in the development of green hydrogen, but the private sector has significant gains too to be made by securing its energy future.
  • India requires a manufacturing strategy that can leverage the existing strengths and mitigate threats by integrating with the global value chain.
  • The green hydrogen has been anointed the flag-bearer of India’s low-carbon transition as Hydrogen may be lighter than air, but it will take some heavy lifting to get the ecosystem in place.
  • Enforcing time-bound mid- and long-term policies would inspire the private sector to invest more in green hydrogen.
  • India should aim to produce 4-6 million tonnes of green hydrogen per annum by the end of the decade and export at least 2 million tonnes per annum.

 

10. Understanding the link between deforestation, ecological challenges, and the severity of landslides is essential in developing comprehensive strategies to reduce the risks and impacts of these disasters. Analyse.

Reference: Insights on India

Introduction

landslide is defined as the movement of a mass of rock, debris, or earth down a slope. Landslides are a type of “mass wasting,” which denotes any down-slope movement of soil and rock under the direct influence of gravity.

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Vulnerability of India to landslides

  • About 12.6 per cent of the total land mass of India falls under the landslide-prone hazardous zone, according to a study by the GSI
  • The most recent report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)stated that a global rise of 1.5 degrees Celsius (from pre-Industrial times) was inevitable in the next two decades. This would increase glacier melt and more water would flow over the steep slopes, thereby generating more landslides.
  • Highly unstable, relatively young mountainous areas in the Himalayas and Andaman and Nicobar, high rainfall regions with steep slopes in the Western Ghats and Nilgiris, the north-eastern regions, along with areas that experience frequent ground-shaking due to earthquakes, etc., which can result in an increased number of landslides.
  • The rivers in Himalayan regions are mighty and in their youthful stage. They do a lot of downcutting, which enhances the occurrence of landslides.
  • Landslides due to mining and subsidence are most common in states like Jharkhand, Orissa. Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Goa, and Kerala.
  • India was one of the countries most affected by human-triggered fatal landslides in the 2004-16 period, found a study by researchers at Sheffield University, UK.
  • A 2011 estimate suggested that India suffers Rs 150-200 crore of monetary loss every year from landslides, said a study by the National Institute of Disaster Management (NIDM)

link between deforestation, ecological challenges, and the severity of landslides

  • Deforestation of steep slopes may temporarily reduce evapotranspiration and lessen root reinforcement thus potentially enhancing landslide susceptibility.
  • Deforestation adds to landslides because the roots of trees and plants hold the soil.
  • The presence of vegetation on steep hillslopes contributes to the mechanical stability of the soil mantle primarily by root reinforcement that enhances soil strength and by reducing wetness conditions through evapotranspiration and rainfall interception.
  • Evidence suggests that forest removal enhances landslide occurrence.
  • For example, forest clear-cutting in regions with steep topography and high rainfall has been reported to increase landslide events by 2 to 10-fold relative to vegetated slopes
  • On clearing the vegetation, the mountain slope loses its protective layer due to which the rain water flows with very high speed on the slopes which results in landslides.
  • Increased grazing has led to wiping out of many grassland areas causing soil erosion and easy prey for landslides.
  • In the regions of North East India, landslides occur because of shifting agriculture (jhum cultivation) as it involves clearing the forest areas.

The measures to control landslides are

  • Structural measures:
    • Stopping Jhum cultivation.
    • Store Excess water in catchments areas to reduce the fury of flash floods, recharge the ground water and improve the environment. Dig runoff collection ponds in the catchments.
    • Grow fuel / fodder trees in all of the common lands.
    • Plantation in barren areas, especially on slopes, with grass cover is an important component of integrated watershed management programme.
    • Grazing should be restricted. The grasses of industrial importance should also be planted so that there is some economic return to the farmers as well.
    • Use the surface vegetative coverto protect the land from raindrop’s beating action, bind the soil particles and decrease the velocity of flowing water.
    • Construction of engineering structures like buttress beams,retaining walls, geogids, nailings, anchorsto stabilise the slopes.
  • Non-structural measures:
    • Environmental Impact Assessment of the infrastructure projectsbefore commencing the work.
    • Declaration ofeco-sensitive zones where mining and other industrial activities are banned. Eco-tourismshould be promoted.
    • Hazard mapping of the region to identify the most vulnerable zones and take measures to safeguard it.
    • Local Disaster Management force for quick relief and safety of the people affected by landslides.
    • Teaching people about landslides & ways to mitigate.
    • Constructing a permanent assessment team comprising scientists & geologists for better mitigation and adaptation techniques.
    • Involving the local people for sustainable development of Himalayas

Conclusion

Himalayas are of vital importance to India in terms of climate, monsoon, water source and a natural barrier safeguarding the peninsula. The National Mission for Sustaining the Himalayan Ecosystem under NAPCC is a step ahead to address a variety of issues Himalayas is facing today.


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