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[Mission 2024] Insights SECURE SYNOPSIS: 18 November 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. Volcanic activity plays a crucial role in shaping the Earth’s surface and contributing to geological processes. However, its impacts on the environment and human activities can be both beneficial and detrimental. Analyse.

Reference: Indian Express , Insights on India

Introduction

volcano is a rupture in the crust of a planetary-mass object, such as Earth, that allows hot lava, volcanic ash, and gases to escape from a magma chamber below the surface. The process is called Volcanism and has been ongoing on Earth since the initial stages of its evolution over 4 billion years ago.

Data from the Smithsonian Institution’s Global Volcanism Program suggests that 56 volcanoes erupted in the first six months of 2023. In November 2023, shifting magma under the Earth’s crust triggered hundreds of earthquakes around the town of Grindavik in Iceland, with seismologists warning the quakes could be a precursor to a volcanic eruption.

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Volcanic landforms are divided into extrusive and intrusive landforms based on weather magma cools within the crust or above the crust. Rocks formed by either plutonic (cooling of magma within the crust) or volcanic (cooling of lava above the surface) are called ‘Igneous rocks’.

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Extrusive Volcanic LandformsThese are formed from material thrown out during volcanic activity. The materials thrown out during volcanic activity includes lava flows, pyroclastic debris, volcanic bombs, ash and dust and gases such as nitrogen compounds, sulphur compounds and minor amounts of chlorine, hydrogen and argon.

  • Conical Vent and Fissure Vent:
    • A conical vent is a narrow cylindrical vent through which magma flows out violently. Conical vents are common in andesitic (composite or strato volcano) volcanism.
    • fissure vent, also known as a volcanic fissure or eruption fissure, is a narrow, linear volcanic vent through which lava erupts, usually without any explosive activity. The vent is often a few meters wide and may be many kilometres long. Fissure vents are common in basaltic volcanism.
  • Composite Cones or Strato volcanoes:
    • They are conical or central type volcanic landforms.
    • Along with andesitic lava, large quantities of pyroclastic material and ashes find their way to the ground.
    • They are accumulated in the vicinity of the vent openings leading to formation of layers, and this makes the mounts appear as composite volcanoes.
    • The highest and most common volcanoes have composite cones.
    • Example:Vesuvius, Mt. Fuji, Stromboli (Lighthouse of the Mediterranean) etc.
  • Shield Volcanoes or Lava domes:
    • These volcanoes are mostly made up of basalt, a type of lava that is very fluid when erupted. They are not steep.
    • They become explosive if somehow water gets into the vent; otherwise, they are less explosive.
    • Example: Mauna Loa (Hawaii).
  • Lava Plains and Basalt Plateaus:
    • Sometimes, a very thin magma escapes through cracks and fissures in the earth’s surface and flows after intervals for a long time, spreading over a vast area, finally producing a layered, undulating (wave like), flat surface.
    • Example: Deccan traps (peninsular India), Snake Basin, U.S.A, Icelandic Shield, Canadian Shield etc.
  • Cinder cone (Tephra cones):
    • Cinder cones are small volume cones consisting predominantly of tephra that result from strombolian eruptions.
    • They usually consist of basaltic to andesitic material.
  • Calderas:
    • After the eruption of magma has ceased from the cones, the crater frequently turns into a lake at a later time.
    • Water may collect in the crater. This lake is called a ‘caldera’.
    • Example:Lake Toba in Sumatra, Crater Lake in Oregon, USA.
  • Mid-Ocean Ridges
    • These volcanoes occur in the oceanic areas. There is a system of mid-ocean ridges more than 70,000 km long that stretches through all the ocean basins. The central portion of this ridge experiences frequent eruptions.
    • The lava is basaltic in nature.
    • Cools slowly and flows through longer distances.
    • The lava here is responsible for sea floor spreading.
    • Example: Mid-Atlantic ocean ridge; extension is seen in the Iceland.

Intrusive Volcanic LandformsIntrusive landforms are formed when magma cools within the crust. The intrusive activity of volcanoes gives rise to various forms.

  • Batholiths:
    • These are huge mass of igneous rocks, usually of granite.
    • These rock masses formed due to cooling down and solidification of hot magma inside the earth.
    • They appear on the surface only after the denudation processes remove the overlying materials and may be exposed on surface after erosion.
    • Example: Wicklow mountains of Ireland; the uplands of Brittany, France.
  • Laccoliths:
    • These are large dome-shaped intrusive bodies connected by a pipe-like conduit from below.
    • These are basically intrusive counterparts of an exposed domelike batholith.
    • Example:The laccoliths of Henry mountains in the Utah, USA.
  • Lopolith:
    • As and when the lava moves upwards, a portion of the same may tend to move in a horizontal direction wherever it finds a weak plane.
    • In case it develops into a saucer shape, concave to the sky body, it is called Lopolith.
    • Example:The Bushveld lopolith of Transvaal, South Africa.
  • Phacolith:
    • A wavy mass of intrusive rocks, at times, is found at the base of synclines or at the top of anticline in folded igneous country.
    • Such wavy materials have a definite conduit to source beneath in the form of magma chambers (subsequently developed as batholiths). These are called the Phacoliths.
    • Example: Corndon hill in Shropshire, England.
  • Sills:
    • These are solidified horizontal lava layers inside the earth.
    • The near horizontal bodies of the intrusive igneous rocks are called sill or sheet, depending on the thickness of the material.
    • The thinner ones are called sheets while the thick horizontal deposits are called sills.
    • Example: Great whin sill of NE England
  • Dykes:
    • When the lava makes its way through cracks and the fissures developed in the land, it solidifies almost perpendicular to the ground.
    • It gets cooled in the same position to develop a wall-like structure. Such structures are called dykes.
    • These are the most commonly found intrusive forms in the western Maharashtra area. These are considered the feeders for the eruptions that led to the development of the Deccan traps. Cleveland Dyke of Yorkshire, England.

Impact on the regional environment

  • Volcanism can be a greatly damaging natural disaster.
  • Habitats and landscapes are destroyed by lava flows.
  • Violent earthquakes associated with volcanic activity and mud flows of volcanic ash saturated by heavy rain can bury nearby places.
  • Sometimes ash can precipitate under the influence of rain and completely cover the surrounding regions.
  • deterioration of water quality, fewer periods of rain, crop damages, and the destruction of vegetation.
  • In coastal areas, seismic sea waves called tsunamis are an additional danger which are generated by submarine earth faults where volcanism is active.
  • Volcanic rocks yield very fertile soil upon weathering and decomposition.
  • Although steep volcano slopes prevent extensive agriculture, forestry operations on them provide valuable timber resources.
  • Mineral resources, particularly metallic ores are brought to the surface by volcanoes. Sometimes copper and other ores fill the gas bubble cavities. The famed Kimberlite rock of South Africa, source of diamonds is the pipe of an ancient volcano.

Impact on human activities

  • Volcanic activity and the formation of volcanic landscapes can have both positive and negative impacts on human settlement and economic development.
  • While they can be inhospitable and hazardous to human habitation, they can also provide opportunities for economic development.
  • For example, Volcanic ash and rock fragments can be used for construction and road building, and volcanic landscapes often have unique biodiversity which can be utilized for tourism and recreation.
  • Volcanic landscapes can also contain geothermal resources which can be used for power generation and other forms of economic development.
  • Volcanic eruptions can cause significant damage to infrastructure, agriculture, and human health, and can lead to displacement of populations.
  • Additionally, the rugged terrain and harsh climate of volcanic landscapes can make it difficult for people to settle in these regions.

Conclusion

Volcanoes have a huge impact on man and material as urbanization and globalization increases. The effects have impacts on flora, fauna and the global warming which can accelerate the climate change.

 

2. The issue of farmer suicides is a complex and multifaceted problem that stems from a combination of social, economic, and environmental factors.

Reference: Indian Express. ,  Insights on India

Introduction

According to the National Crime Records Bureau data, a total of 10,881 persons from the farming sector died by suicide in 2021—this includes farmers and farm labourers. Several socio-economic factors have enabled an environment vulnerable to distress in the agricultural belts of the nation. Unable to cope with mounting debt and the inability to take care of their families, many choose to end their lives.

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Factors behind increasing cases of farmer suicides

  • Plummeting incomes, mounting debt, and high interest rates (particularly of non-institutional sources) have pushed the peasantry towards deprivation
  • The high debt burdenwas the primary reason behind 75% of farmer suicides.
  • Large chunk of persons were underemployed or disguisedly unemployedduring 2016–17 in Punjab.
  • The mismatch between farm inputs and output prices, crop failures, and unfavourable terms of trade between prices paid and received by the farmers have contributed fairly to declining farm incomes.
  • Cost of cultivation:
    • The MSP of wheat and paddy increased at the rate of 2% per annum while the cost of cultivation increased at the rate of 7.9% during the last one and a half decades.
  • With a growth rate of around 1.6% (during 2012–17) and the stress on natural resources, thefarm sector is trapped in a vicious circle of crisis. Expectedly, small farmers are the worst sufferers.
  • Due to the declining water table, the cost of irrigation structures has increased as the farmers have to replace centrifugal pumps by costly submersible pumps.
  • According to the Niti Aayog, in 2022-23, of the 21 crore hectares of sown area across India, 11.5 crore hectares had access to irrigation—54.76% against 47.80% in 2013-14.
  • The farmers are being exploited by traders and dealers providing them spurious seeds and agrochemicals.
  • Agriculture in Punjab suffers from mono-crop culture of mainly wheat and paddy. With this cropping pattern, farming itself is becoming an unviable occupation, due to rising fixed and variable input costs, and low remuneration leading to falling profit margins.
  • Cost of inputs:
    • Variable costs increase due to rising prices of inputs like fertilisers, pesticides, weedicides, diesel etc.
    • Fixed costs like installation and deepening of submersible pumps due to the dipping water table increase the financial woes of farmers.
    • For a small and marginal farmer, it is economically unviable to make such investments, especially by borrowing from informal sources at high rates of interest
  • Data Anomaly:
    • Existing studies have analysed the intensity of farmer suicides in isolation, i.e. without comparing farmer suicides with those by other professionals

Policy measures needed to prevent farmer suicides

  • The “Scheme for Debt Swapping of Borrowers” should be made more effective for converting the non-institutional debt into institutional debt.
  • The AMSCs should be set up at every village to provide custom-hiring services to small farmers on a priority basis.
  • Quality farm inputs like seed, fertilisers, and pesticides must be supplied to the farmers at subsidised prices.
  • Rationalisation of subsidies, especially in favour of small farmers may control appreciating farm costs and making small farming viable.
  • For alternative employment, the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme should be effectively implemented by ensuring stipulated annual employment of 100 days, rather than the existing 30 days, to each family in the state.
  • Identifying and developing crop niches that will encourage allied activities in appropriate agro-climatic zones of the state, and developing cooperative primary processingand marketing units for crops and activities in these zones can help improve the economic well-being of the farmers.
  • Effective irrigation facilities should be provided. Drip and sprinkle irrigation should be popularized. Canals should be built to reach deep into villages.
  • Using Information technologies and electronic media (like DD Kisan channel) to spread awareness about government schemes and monsoon predictions.
  • Skill Development of farmers, so that they can develop alternative sources of income. Government should initiate alternative employment generation programmes.
  • Land pooling, where lands of small farmers can be pooled into a larger piece, and benefits can be maximized.
  • Effective implementation of various government schemes like pradhan Mantri Krishi sinchai yojana, pradhan Mantri fasal bima yojana and Soil Health Card scheme.

 

 


General Studies – 2


 

3. The efficacy and fairness of the death penalty in India remain contentious issues, with ongoing discussions about its moral, ethical, and practical implications. Examine.

Reference: The Hindu

Introduction

Capital punishment also called as death penalty is the execution of an offender sentenced to death after conviction by a court of law. The debate on whether to abolish the death penalty or not, has been raging in India and in several other countries for decades.

The proposed criminal law seeks to increase the number of crimes attracting the death penalty from 11 to 15 in India.

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Background

  • The Supreme Court asked the Centre to provide data that may point to a more dignified, less painful and socially acceptable method of executing prisoners other than death by hanging.
  • The Bench has sought fresh data to substantiate the argument that a more humane means of execution can be found.

Rationale behind death penalty

  • The punishment is not arbitrary because, it comes out of a judicial process.To call it arbitrary, one has to necessarily prove the process as flawed.
  • It is being implemented in the “rarest of the rare” cases and the fact is during the last 13 years, only four peoplehave been executed.
  • The hanging of Ajmal Kasab and Yakub Memon strongly affirms India’s commitment to the protection of life.
  • People criticise it on arbitrariness, irreversibility and human rights and these are not valid arguments.
  • Its constitutionality is upheld, even in liberal democracies like U.S. It is not reflection of uncivilised society.
  • India’s neighbourhood is not peaceful, unlike Scandinavia. It is not in a group of countries, like European Union.
  • India has got troubled borders. Several forces are trying to destabilise the very idea of our Nation from across the Border.
  • The sacredness of life can only be seen to be protected, if those who take it away are proportionately punished.

Efficiency of death penalty

  • A study by the Centre of Death Penalty – at the National Law University Delhi (NLUD) — in 2015 analyzed data of 15 years to conclude that less than 5 per cent death penalties awarded by trial courts were confirmed by the time the cases passed the tests in high courts and the Supreme Court.
  • Another NLU Delhi study found that 162 death sentences were awarded across the country in 2018. Only 23 were confirmed by the high courts.
  • The Supreme Court heard 12 death penalty cases in 2018 but confirmed death penalty in only one case – of Nirbhaya gangrape and murder.
  • The Justice JS Verma committee, appointed after the Nirbhaya case, too had examined the efficiency of death penalty for rape. In its report, Justice Verma did not prescribe death penalty for rape for the lack of correlation in preventing the crime of rape or gangrape.

Death Penalty is not the panacea

  • It unfairly targets poor and marginalised, that means, those without money & power.
  • Executions occurred in around five cases for every 1 lakh murdersand it looks quite arbitrary. It depends on judges personal beliefs.
  • India’s murder rate has declinedcontinuously since 1991 and at present the lowest, except for 1963.
  • Punishment should not imitate crime.
  • As per the recent Death Penalty India Report by the National Law University, Delhi, the structural flaws in our criminal procedure and criminal justice system are most pronounced in death penalty cases.
  • Most of the civilised world abolished it. Death penalty has not deterred terrorism, murder or even theft.
  • From 200-2015, Supreme Court imposed 60 death sentences and subsequently admitted that it had erred in 15 of them. So, it clearly admitted that it has arbitrarily imposed the most extreme punishment.
  • The Police is not known for its probity or efficiency in our Country.
  • Delays in the Criminal Justice System disproportionately affects those, who suffer the tyranny of the uncertainty of their life.

Measures needed

  • Law Commission in its 262ndreport submitted recently recommended the abolition of capital punishment for all crimes in India, except the crime of waging war against the nation or for terrorism-related offences.
  • It cited several factors to justify abolishing the death penalty, including its abolition by 140 other nations, its arbitrary and flawed application and its lack of any proven deterring effect on criminals.
  • Taking empirical lessons from the fate of Bachan Singh, the Supreme Court may have to now ask the more fundamental question posed and negatived in Bachan Singh — the question of the constitutional validity of death penalty.
  • The Court may have to revisit Bachan Singh itself in so far as it refused to declare the death penalty as violative of the right to life envisaged under Article 21 of the Constitution.
  • Across the world, 108 nations have abolished death penalty in law and 144 countries have done so in law or practice, according to the Amnesty Report of 2021.
  • In the Indian context, where judgmental error is quite frequent and the quality of adjudication is not ensured, what is required is a judicial abolition of death penalty.

Conclusion

As Law Commission said that it is the not right time of abolition experiment, the issue needs to be debated  and  researched  in  more  detail.  But,  capital  punishment  should  not  become  a  pent-up  of  society’s misplaced anger and sense of judgment. It is also against the reformative purpose of the Criminal Justice System and we must remember the words of Oscar Wilde, “Every saint has a past and every sinner a future.”

 

 


General Studies – 3


 

4. India has significant scope and opportunities in the solar energy sector, and the government has implemented various measures to promote solar energy. Discuss.

Reference: Indian ExpressInsights on India

Introduction

Since 2011, India’s solar sector has grown at a compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) of around 59%. From less than 10 MW in 2010, India has added significant solar PV capacity over the past decade, achieving over 50 GW by 2022. By 2030, India is targeting about 500 GW of renewable energy deployment, out of which 280 GW is expected from solar PV.

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Current status of Solar Energy in India

  • The Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission (JNNSM), also known as the National Solar Mission (NSM),which commenced in January 2010, marked the first time the government focused on promoting and developing solar power in India.
  • Under the scheme, the total installed capacity target was set as 20GW by 2022. In 2015, the target was revised to 100GW and in August 2021, the government set a solar target of 300GW by 2030.
  • India currently ranks fifth after China, U.S., Japan and Germany in terms of installed solar power capacity.
  • As of December 2021, the cumulative solar installed capacity of India is 55GW, which is roughly half the renewable energy (RE) capacity (excluding large hydro power) and 14% of the overall power generation capacity of India.
  • Within the 55GW, grid-connected utility-scale projects contribute 77% and the rest comes from grid-connected rooftop and off-grid projects.

Scope & Opportunities

  • India, being a tropical country is endowed with plenty of solar energy; hence, exploitation of solar energy becomes an important component of renewable energy sector
  • India is endowed with vast solar energy potential.
    • About 5,000 trillion kWh per year energyis incident over India’s land area with most parts receiving 4-7 kWh per sq. m per day
  • Karnataka leads India’s list of states producing solar energy, with a total installed solar power capacity of about 7,100MW; followed by Telangana, Rajasthan, Andhra Pradesh and Gujarat
  • Also, India is now the fourth-largest solar power producer in the world
  • India’s Bhadla Solar Park is the largest solar power park in the world, which contribute to an operational capacity of 2245MW.

Government Initiatives towards promotion of Solar Energy

 

  • National Solar Mission (NSM): The 100 GW solar ambition at the heart of the world’s largest renewable energy expansion programme
  • International Solar Alliance:In pursuance to enhance Solar Energy production, India along with France launched the International Solar Alliance with the aim to promote solar energy in 121 member countries and to mobilize over $1 trillion of investment for the deployment of solar energy at affordable costs.
  • 100 GW target: The target set by India, for installed solar energy capacity is 100 GW by March 2023 — 40 GW rooftop solar and 60 GW ground-mounted utility scale
  • Under ‘One sun One World One Grid’, India seeks to replicate its global solar leadership by encouraging the phased development of a single globally connected solar electricity grid to leverage the multiple benefits (Low cost, Zero pollution) of solar energy.
  • India has pledged to mobilize more than US $ 1000 billion of investments needed by 2030 for massive deployment of solar energy.

Challenges

  • India’s solar energy development is largely built over imported products.
  • India is facing challenge to balance Prioritising domestic goals and WTO commitments.
  • India is dependent on Chinese imports for solar equipment, such as solar cells, panels, etc.
  • The dumping of products is leading to profit erosion of local manufacturers.
  • Land availability in India for solar plant is less due to high population density.
  • China’s strong manufacturing base is giving stiff challenge to domestic manufacturer.
  • India’s solar waste is estimated to be around 1.8 million by 2050, which needs to be tackled.
  • There is little fiscal space for large public investment in renewables, while private investment in renewables at scale is just starting.
  • The willingness of developed countries to make available adequate low-cost finance and required technologies remains uncertain.

Way Forward

  • Strong financial measures are required to finance the solar projects.
  • Innovative steps like green bonds, institutional loans and clean energy fund can play a crucial role.
  • Promotion of research and development in renewable energy sector, especially in storage technology.
  • Along with prioritizing designing microgrids, public policy attention is needed for developing battery technologies at scale for local applications.
  • India needs a Solar Waste Management and Manufacturing Standards Policy.

Conclusion

India’s bid to play a leadership role in setting up a World Solar Bank is laudable. It could galvanize domestic efforts and give the country a global voice in the push for a clean planet.

 

5. Examine the causes behind various disasters in the Himalayan region, its impact and measures need to prevent these disasters.

Reference: Indian ExpressIndian Express

Introduction

The Himalayan landscape is susceptible to landslides and earthquakes. Formed due to the collision of Indian and Eurasian plates, the northward movement of the former puts continuous stress on the rocks, rendering them weak and prone to landslides and earthquakes.

This, combined with steep slopes, rugged topography, high seismic vulnerability, and rainfall, makes the region one of the most disaster prone areas in the world.

 

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Causes of disasters in Himalayan region

  • Unsustainable Exploitation: From the mega road expansion project in the name of national security (Char Dham Highway) to building cascading hydroelectric power projects, from unplanned expansion of towns to unsustainable tourism, the Indian States have ignored warnings about the fragile ecology.
    • Such an approach has also led to pollution, deforestation, and water and waste management crises.
  • Threat of Development Activity: Mega hydropower, which is a significant source of “green” power that substitutes energy from fossil fuels, could alter several aspects of ecology, rendering it vulnerable to the effects of extreme events such as cloudbursts, flash floods, landslides and earthquakes.
    • An incompatible model of development in the hills, represented by big hydroelectric projects and large-scale construction activity involving destruction of forests and damming of rivers, is an invitation to harm.
  • Impacts of Global warming on the Himalayan Ecology: With the utter disregard for the fragile topography and climate-sensitive planning, the threat to ecology has increased many folds.
    • Glacier melting, resulting in an abrupt rise in water causes floods and impacts the local society.
    • Increased incidences of forest fire are also linked with warming of Himalayan region.
  • Conversion of forest to agricultural land, and the exploitation of forests for timber, fodder and fuel wood are some of the main threats to biodiversity in this region.

 

Prevention and mitigation

  • Earthquakes: Strict building codes, early warning systems, and public awareness campaigns can help reduce casualties. Better urban planning and construction techniques are also crucial.
  • Landslides: Soil stabilization techniques, early warning systems, and controlled deforestation can help reduce landslide risk. Proper land use planning is vital.
  • GLOF: Regular monitoring of glacial lakes, engineering interventions like controlled drainage, and climate change mitigation efforts can help reduce GLOF risks.
  • Flash floods: Early warning systems, afforestation, and sustainable land use practices can mitigate flash flood risks. Effective disaster response plans are essential.
  • Avalanches: Snowpack monitoring, avalanche forecasting, and controlled release of snow can help prevent avalanches. Public awareness and education are also critical.
  • Glacial Retreat and Climate Change: Climate change mitigation efforts are crucial. Sustainable water management and adaptation strategies are needed to address the impacts of glacial retreat.
  • Human activities: Sustainable land use planning, afforestation, and regulations to control construction in vulnerable areas are necessary to reduce the impact of human activities.

Conclusion

Himalayan region faces a range of natural disasters due to its geological and environmental characteristics. Effective prevention and mitigation strategies include early warning systems, sustainable land use planning, climate change mitigation efforts, and public awareness campaigns. Collaboration between governments, local communities, and international organizations is essential to address the complex challenges posed by these disasters in the Himalayas.

 

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


General Studies – 1


 

6. While Jawahar Lal Nehru’s contributions were substantial in laying a strong foundation for the growth and development of Modern India, it’s important to note that his policies and decisions have been subjects of both praise and criticism. Analyse.

Reference: Indian Express

Introduction

Jawahar Lal Nehru (1889-1964) was the first Prime Minister of India and a control figure in Indian Politics before and after independence. He emerged as the paramount leader of the Indian independence movement under the tutelage of Mahatma Gandhi and ledIndia from its establishment as an independent nation in 1947 until his death in 1964.

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Nehruvian Policies that aided nation building post Independence

  • Nehru’s vision of India was anchored in a set of ideas such as democracy, secularism, inclusive economic growth, free press and non-alignment in international affairs and also in institutions that would lay the foundation for India’s future growth.
  • These institutions touched every kind of economic activity, ranging from agriculture to aviation and space research.
  • Consolidation of the nation: Nehru took a firm stance against the possible division of India into smaller principalities. He established the State Reorganization Committee to fulfil regional aspirations of the people which would lower the chances of them wanting to cede from the nation. This way he strengthened the unity.
  • Rehabilitation of refugees: Refugees from Pakistan were given shelter and attempts were made to reduce communalism.
  • Secularism: It was mainly due to Jawahar Lal Nehru’s efforts that India emerged as a secular state in the mid-twentieth century. Much before independence, he played a heroic role in the development of a secular basis for Indian polity. This helped in building the narrative of ‘Unity in Diversity’.
  • Welfare state: Nehru was a practical idealist and believed that socialism and democracy were not contradictory but complementary to each other. He wanted to build a welfare state for the equitable distribution of wealth.
  • Planning Commission: Nehru, a pragmatic socialist understood the importance of the welfare state in a country which does not have sufficient infrastructure, established a planning commission for long term planning of social schemes.
  • Non-Alllignment Policy (NAM): Nehru, being the Foreign Minister, did not want to join either of the power blocs. Also he did not want India to remain aloof from world politics. Therefore, Nehru’s visionary approach to establish NAM with other third world countries proved to be an ideal foreign policy approach.

Conclusion

The period of Nehru is recorded in the history as “Nehruvian Era” during which democracy took the roots; and social, economic, cultural and educational development for the nation building. Despite facing daunting tasks, he was successful in maintaining and strengthening the nation.


General Studies – 2


 

7. Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi (PM-KISAN) represents a positive step to improve the financial stability of farmers. Ongoing evaluation and adjustments based on feedback and changing agricultural dynamics are crucial to ensure its continued effectiveness in addressing the diverse needs of farmers across the country. Analyse.

Reference: The Hindu

Introduction

Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi (PM-KISAN) is a central sector scheme under the government of India which provides income support to the farmers and their families. PM-KISAN scheme was first implemented as the Rythu Bandhu scheme by the Government of Telangana where a certain amount was handed directly to the eligible farmers.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi released the 15th instalment of the Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi (PM-KISAN) scheme. Over eight crore farmers will receive an amount of more than ₹18,000 crore — ₹2000 each.

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About Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi

  • The scheme was started with a view to augment the income of the farmers by providing income support to all landholding farmers’ families across the country, to enable them to take care of expenses related to agriculture and allied activities as well as domestic needs.
  • Under the Scheme an amount of Rs.6000/- per year is transferred in three 4-monthly instalments of Rs.2000/- directly into the bank accounts of the farmers, subject to certain exclusion criteria relating to higher income status.
  • The entire responsibility of identification of beneficiaries rests with the State / UT Governments.
  • The Scheme initially provided income support to all Small and Marginal Farmers’ families across the country, holding cultivable land upto 2 hectares. Its ambit was later expanded w.e.f. 01.06.2019 to cover all farmer families in the country irrespective of the size of their land holdings.

Success of PM-KISAN

  • The revised Scheme is expected to cover around 2 crore more farmers, increasing the coverage of PM-KISAN to around 14.5 crore beneficiaries, with an estimated expenditure by Central Government of Rs. 87,217.50 crores for year 2019-20.
  • Earlier, under the scheme, financial benefit has been provided to all Small and Marginal landholder farmer families with total cultivable holding upto 2 hectares with a benefit of Rs.6000 per annum per family payable in three equal instalments, every four months.
  • Now the cash transfer is not linked to the size of the farmer’s land, unlike Telangana’s Rythu Bandhu scheme, under which farmers receive ₹8,000 per annum for every acre owned.
  • Though what the programme offers is meagre, it promises some relief to poor farmers by partially supplementing their input costs or consumption needs.

Shortcomings reported

  • Practical Difficulties: The benefits of PM-KISAN have not reached farmers in most parts of the country. There are 125 million farming households owning small and marginal holdings of land in the country, who constitute the scheme’s original intended beneficiaries.
    • However, at present, the list of beneficiaries includes only 32% (40.27 million) of these households.
    • Further, a majority of the intended beneficiary households are yet to receive even their first instalment of ₹2,000. Only 27% (33.99 million) received the first instalment, and only 24% (29.76 million) received the second.
  • In budgetary terms, only 17% of the estimated ₹75,000 crore expenditure has been spent.
  • Structural Issues: PM-KISAN offers ₹6,000 a year per household in three instalments. Broadly speaking, this amounts to only about a tenth of the production cost per hectare or consumption expenditure for a poor household.
  • While landless tenants have been left out in both the schemes (PM KISAN, Rythu Bandhu) the link with land size makes the support provided by the Telangana scheme more substantial.
  • Uneven implementation: Moreover, implementation in certain States has been prioritized.
    • P., for instance, accounts for one-third of total beneficiary households 33% (11.16 million) in the first instalment and 36% (10.84 million) in the second.
    • About half of the State’s SMF households have been covered, a total of 17 States have received a negligible share of the first instalment, accounting for less than 9%.
  • Further, the scheme recognizes only landowners as farmers, Tenants who constitute 13.7% of farm households and incur the additional input cost of land rent, don’t stand to gain anything if no part of the cultivated land is owned.

Way forward

  • For the scheme to be effective, PM-KISAN needs to be uniformly implemented across regions.
  • Cash transfers will cease to be effective if the state withdraws from its other long-term budgetary commitments in agricultural markets and areas of infrastructure such as irrigation.
  • Subsidies for inputs, extension services, and procurement assurances provide a semblance of stability to agricultural production.
  • There is a strong case to include landless tenants and other poor families to the scheme.
  • PM-KISAN can be formulated in the side-lines of Odisha’s Krushak Assistance for Livelihood and Income Augmentation (KALIA) scheme, which includes even poor rural households that do not own land.
  • Moreover, though the scheme is conceptualized to supplement agricultural inputs, it ceases to be so without the necessary link with scale of production (farm size) built into it. It becomes, in effect, an income supplement to landowning households. Thus if income support is indeed the objective, the most deserving need to be given precedence.

 

8. The question of state-funded elections involves a delicate balance between curbing corruption and ensuring fair competition. It requires careful consideration and comprehensive reforms to address the concerns of all stakeholders. Examine.

Reference: The Hindu

Introduction

State or public funding of elections means that government gives funds to political parties or candidates for contesting elections. Its main purpose is to make it unnecessary for contestants to take money from powerful moneyed interests so that they can remain clean. The Election Commission of India has informed the Government that it is not in favour of state funding of elections.

A Constitution Bench headed by the Chief Justice of India, D.Y. Chandrachud, recently reserved its judgment on petitions challenging the validity of the electoral bonds scheme.

Body:

Importance of state funding of elections:

  • Indian elections cost huge sums of money.
  • This money can hardly come from retail contributions of political-party sympathisers. It has to come from big corporate houses.
  • But, contributions from corporate houses are largely from undeclared income and, hence, the contribution is not recorded.
  • As long as India’s politics is systemically dependent on unaccounted money for its finances, there can be no decisive political will to eradicate black money.
  • Political parties spend huge amounts in election years but report income that is only a fraction of what they spend. When the bulk of their spending is financed by unaccounted income, it compromises the integrity of governance, corrupts the civil service, promotes crony capitalism and makes managing the government a decisive core competence of entrepreneurship.
  • All this will change only if the sources of political funding are made fully transparent.

Pros of state funding of elections:

  • Political parties and candidates need money for their electoral campaigns, to keep contacts with their constituencies, to prepare policy decisions and to pay professional staff. Therefore, public funding is a natural and necessary cost of democracy.
  • In theory, State funding would provide a level playing field for political parties and cut out money power from the equation, but in practice, things may not work out so linearly. India collects only about 16% of GDP as a tax.
  • Public funding can increase transparency in party and candidate finance and thereby help curb corruption.
  • In societies where many citizens are under or just above the poverty line, they cannot be expected to donate large amounts of money to political parties or candidates.
  • If parties and candidates receive at least a basic amount of money from the State the country could have a functioning multi-party system without people having to give up their scarce resources.

Challenges posed by state funding of elections:

  • Those against this idea wonder how a Government that is grappling with deficit budgets, can provide money to political parties to contest elections.
  • They also warn that state funding would encourage every second outfit to get into the political arena merely to avail of state funds.
  • Also, given that state expenditure on key social sectors such as primary healthcare is “pitifully small”, the very idea of the Government giving away money to political parties to contest polls, is revolting.
  • The funds that a political party advances to its party candidates in an election vary from one candidate to another, and there is much variation across political parties in this regard.
  • Assuming that there are five contending candidates in a constituency, and even if each one of them does not spend as much, but just half of their elected counterpart, an amount of about ₹15 crore will be spent in each constituency, which with about 4,215 MLAs in India works out to an about ₹13,000 crore per annum.
  • While the legal limit that a Lok Sabha candidate can spend is ₹70 lakh, a victorious candidate on an average does not spend less than ₹10 crore for the purpose. Suppose we assume again an average of five candidates per constituency, and halving the amount to losers, about ₹30 crore will be spent in each Lok Sabha constituency, and given 543 members of the Lok Sabha, about ₹3,300 crore per annum.
  • Then there are elections to the Upper Houses, both at the Centre and in some States, and the local governing bodies. Hence, it is argued that public funding places unnecessary burden on the exchequer.

Measures to ensure transparency in electoral funding:

  • In India, the main reason for the prevalence of black money in election spending is the unrealistically low limits set by the Election Commission of India on campaign spending by political parties and candidates. More realistic campaign spending limits should be set.
  • Part-public funding of election campaigns is a practice in some countries. e.g. United States and Britain. We could have our own version.
  • The strict monitoring of expenditure by political parties and their functionaries at every level, starting with the panchayat, polling booth area and municipal ward should be done.
  • Every party should disclose its expenditure every month at every level.
  • This should be open to challenge by rival parties, media, etc.
  • The Election Commission could determine the actual expenditure and ask the parties to show the source of income.
  • Parties will have to collect money in the open.
  • These steps will ensure transparency.

Way Forward:

  • A party’s expenditure limit should be 50% or less of the combined maximum spend prescribed for all of its candidates.
  • Individual spending needs to be capped based on whether a candidate has stood for an assembly or a general election.
  • Anonymous donations should be limited to 20% of a party’s total collections.


General Studies – 3


 


9. The Environment Protection Act, 1986 remains an important piece of legislation in India’s environmental regulatory framework, and continued efforts are needed to ensure its effective implementation and enforcement. Discuss.

Reference: wikipedia.org

Introduction

The Environment (Protection) Act (EPA) was enacted in 1986 with the objective of providing the protection and improvement of the environment. The Act is largely regarded as a response to the Bhopal gas tragedy. The Act was enacted by the Government of India in accordance with Article 253 of the Indian Constitution, which authorises the union government to establish legislation to give effect to foreign agreements made by the country.

Body

Major features of EPA

  • The Central government is also empowered to:
    • Plan and Execute a nation-wide programmefor the prevention, control and abatement of environmental pollution.
    • Lay down standards for the quality of environmentin its various aspects.
    • Lay down standards for emission or discharge of environmental pollutantsfrom various sources.
    • The restriction of areasin which any industries, operations or processes or class of industries, operations or processes shall/ shall not be carried out subject to certain safeguards.
  • The Central Government mayappoint officers under this Act for various purposes and entrust them with the corresponding powers and functions.
  • The central government as per the Act has the power to direct:
    • The closure, prohibition or regulation of any industry, operation or process.
    • The stoppage or regulation of the supply of electricity or water or any other service.
  • Restriction on Pollutant Discharge:No individual or organisation shall discharge/emit or permit to discharge/emit any environmental pollutant in excess of the prescribed standards.
  • Compliance with Procedural Safeguards:No individual shall handle or shall be caused to handle any hazardous substance except in accordance with the procedure and without complying with the safeguards, as prescribed.
  • Powers of Entry and Inspection:Any person empowered by the Central Government shall have a right to enter (with the assistance deemed necessary) at any place:
    • For the inspection of compliance of any orders, notifications and directions given under the Act.
    • For the purpose of examining (and if required seizing) any equipment, industrial plant, record, register, document or any other material object may furnish evidence of the commission of an offence punishable under this Act.
  • Establishment of Environmental Laboratories:The Central Government, as per the Act, is entitled to:
    • Establish environmental laboratories.
    • Recognise any laboratory or institute as environmental laboratories to carry out the functions entrusted to such a laboratory.
    • The Central Government is also entitled to make rules specifying the functions of environmental laboratories.
  • Appointment of Government Analyst:A Government Analyst is appointed by the Central Government for the analysing the samples of air, water, soil or other substance sent to a recognised environmental laboratory.
  • Penalties for Offences:Non-compliance or Contravention to any of the provisions of the Act is considered as an offence.
    • Any offences under the EPA are punishable with the imprisonment of upto five years or a fine upto one lakh rupees or both.
  • Offences by Companies:If an offence under this Act is committed by a company, every person directly in charge of the company, at the time of the commitment of offence, is deemed to be guilty unless proven otherwise.
  • Offences by Government Departments:If an offence under this Act has been committed by any Department of Government, the Head of the Department (HoD) shall be deemed to be guilty of the offence unless proven otherwise.
    • Any officer, other than HoD, if proven guilty, shall also be liable to be proceeded against and punished accordingly.
  • Cognizance of offences:No Court shall take cognizance of any offence under this Act except on a complaint made by:
    • The Central Government or any authority on behalf of the former.
    • A person who has approached the Courts after a 60-day notice has been furnished to the Central Government or the authority on its behalf.

Strengths of the Act

  • It empowers the Central Governmentto establish authorities charged with the mandate of preventing environmental pollution in all its forms and to tackle specific environmental problems that are peculiar to different parts of the country.
  • The Central Government shall have the power to take all such measures as it deems necessary or expedient for the purpose of protecting and improving the quality of the environment in coordination with the State Governments.
  • The Act is one of the most comprehensive legislationswith a pretext to protection and improvement of the environment.

Limitations

  • While the Centre is given broad powers, the state governments are given none, the former is prone to arbitrariness and abuse.
  • The Act likewise makes no mention of public participation in environmental protection.
  • Citizens must be involved in environmental preservation to counteract arbitrariness and promote understanding and empathy for the environment.
  • The Act does not address current concepts of pollution such as noise, overcrowded transportation systems, and radiation waves, all of which contribute to the deterioration of the environment.

Conclusion

EPA was enacted with the primary purpose of conserving and enhancing the environment and associated issues. It empowers the Central Government to make all necessary efforts to avoid and control pollution, as well as to construct effective machinery to protect, improve, and regulate environmental pollution.

 

10. The Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF) is a landmark agreement adopted at the 15th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) sets out a comprehensive and ambitious plan to halt and reverse biodiversity loss by 2030 and achieve a nature-positive world by 2050. Discuss.

Reference: Insights on India

Introduction

The 15th Conference of Parties (COP15) to the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) adopted the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF) December 19, 2022. The framework has 23 targets that the world needs to achieve by 2030. The first part of COP 15 took place in Kunming, China and reinforced the commitment to address the biodiversity crisis and the Kunming Declaration was adopted by over 100 countries.

GBF includes 4 goals and 23 targets for achievement by 2030. The targets are ambitious, considering that biodiversity is in a poor state. In 2020, the world had failed to meet the last set of targets, the Aichi Targets. Countries would need to ensure success this time round.

Body

Roadmap
Four GBF goals for 2030 Implementation strategy for 2030 Monitoring
  • Maintaining ecosystem integrity and health to halt extinctions.
  • Measuring and valuing ecosystem services provided by biodiversity.
  • Sharing monetary and non-monetary gains from genetic resources and digital sequencing of genetic resources.
  • Raising resources for all countries to close a biodiversity finance gap of an estimated $700 billion.
The GBF is aligned with UN SDGs, three of which directly deal with the environment and thus with biodiversity: Goal 13 on climate action, Goal 14 on life below water and Goal 15 on life on land.

 

  • Member nations need to submit a revised and updated national biodiversity strategy and action plan in 2024.
  • Countries would have to review existing laws relating to not just the environment, but areas such as industry, agriculture and land use.
  • There are specific indicators for countries to report their progress, as part of a transparency and reporting arrangement.

 

key takeaways from the COP15 biodiversity summit

  • 30×30 Deal:
    • Restore 30% degraded ecosystemsglobally (on land and sea) by 2030
    • Conserve and manage 30% areas(terrestrial, inland water, and coastal and marine) by 2030
  • Stop the extinction of known species, and by 2050reduce tenfold the extinction risk and rate of all species (including unknown)
  • Reduce risk from pesticides by at least 50% by 2030
  • Reduce nutrients lost to the environment by at least 50% by 2030
  • Reduce pollution risks and negative impacts of pollutionfrom all sources by 2030 to levels that are not harmful to biodiversity and ecosystem functions
  • Reduce global footprint of consumption by 2030, including through significantly reducing overconsumption and waste generation and halving food waste
  • Money for Nature:
    • Signatories aim to ensure USD200 billion per year is channelled to conservation initiatives, from public and private sources.
    • Wealthier countries should contribute at least USD20 billions of this every year by 2025, and at least USD30 billion a year by 2030.
  • Big Companies Report Impacts on Biodiversity:
    • Companies should analyse and report how their operations affect and are affected by biodiversity issues.
    • The parties agreed to large companies and financial institutions being subject to “requirements” to make disclosures regarding their operations, supply chains and portfolios.
  • Harmful Subsidies:
    • Countries committed to identify subsidies that deplete biodiversity by 2025, and then eliminate, phase out or reform them.
    • They agreed to slash those incentives by at least USD500 billion a year by 2030 and increase incentives that are positive for conservation.
  • Monitoring and reporting progress:
    • All the agreed aims will be supported by processes to monitor progress in the future, in a bid to prevent this agreement meeting the same fate as similar targets that were agreed in Aichi, Japan, in 2010, and never met.
    • National action plans will be set and reviewed, following a similar format used for greenhouse gas emissions under U.N.-led efforts to curb climate change. Some observers objected to the lack of a deadline for countries to submit these plans.

The challenges to protecting biodiversity:

  • Use of GDP as the chief determinant of development.
  • GDP calculations exclude the depreciation of assets like nature, degraded by the relentless extraction of resources.
  • According to the UN’s Inclusive Wealth (IW) report, although 135 countries did better on inclusive wealth in 2014 compared to 1990, the global GDP growth rate considerably outpaced IW.

Way forward

There is a need for environmental appreciation and the measurement of “inclusive wealth,” which considers not only financial and produced capital but also human, social, and natural capital.


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