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Day: January 8, 2018

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January 2018
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Climate Change Impact on India and World – International Reports, Key Observations, etc. Climate Change

Chemical ban helping ozone hole recover: Nasa


Mains Paper 3: Environment | Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Basics of Ozone Depletion

Mains level: One of the few positive outcomes of the efforts done against environmental pollution and degradation


NASA’s report on ozone depletion

  1. An international ban on chlorine-containing man-made chemicals called chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), has resulted in about 20% less ozone depletion
  2. Chlorine from CFCs is going down in the ozone hole, and that less ozone depletion is occurring because of it

What are CFCs?

  1. CFCs are long-lived chemical compounds that eventually rise into the stratosphere, where they are broken apart by the sun’s ultraviolet radiation, releasing chlorine atoms that go on to destroy ozone molecules
  2. CFCs have lifetimes from 50 to 100 years, so they linger in the atmosphere for a very long time
  3. Stratospheric ozone protects life on the planet by absorbing potentially harmful ultraviolet radiation that can cause skin cancer and cataracts, suppress immune systems and damage plant life

Antarctic ozone hole

  1. The Antarctic ozone hole forms during September in the southern hemisphere’s winter as the returning sun’s rays catalyse ozone destruction cycles involving chlorine and bromine that come primarily from CFCs


Ozone Depeletion

  1. Ozone depletion describes two related phenomena observed since the late 1970s: a steady decline of about four percent in the total amount of ozone in Earth’s stratosphere (the ozone layer), and a much larger springtime decrease in stratospheric ozone around Earth’s polar regions
  2. The latter phenomenon is referred to as the ozone hole. There are also springtime polar tropospheric ozone depletion events in addition to these stratospheric phenomena
  3. The main cause of ozone depletion and the ozone hole is man-made chemicals, especially man-made halocarbon refrigerants, solvents, propellants, and foam-blowing agents (chlorofluorocarbon (CFCs), HCFCs, halons), referred to as ozone-depleting substances (ODS)
  4. These compounds are transported into the stratosphere by the winds after being emitted at the surface
  5. Once in the stratosphere, they release halogen atoms through photodissociation, which catalyze the breakdown of ozone (O3) into oxygen (O2). Both types of ozone depletion were observed to increase as emissions of halocarbons increased
  6. Ozone depletion and the ozone hole generated worldwide concern over increased cancer risks and other negative effects
  7. The ozone layer prevents most harmful UVB wavelengths of ultraviolet light (UV light) from passing through the Earth’s atmosphere
  8. These wavelengths cause skin cancer, sunburn, and cataracts, which were projected to increase dramatically as a result of thinning ozone, as well as harming plants and animals
  9. These concerns led to the adoption of the Montreal Protocol in 1987, which bans the production of CFCs, halons, and other ozone-depleting chemicals
Human rights issues

[op-ed snap] Standing up for human rights

Image Source


Mains Paper 2: Governance | Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the Centre and States and the performance of these schemes; mechanisms, laws, institutions and Bodies constituted for the protection and betterment of these vulnerable sections.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Particulars of the Anti-torture law

Mains level: Complement this newscard with one(attached below) of our previous newcards on the same issue. The law is much needed in the current situation where there is a huge focus on Human Rights values.


India must hasten to bring in an anti-torture law

  1. This is because the torture of individuals in state custody remains a brazen human rights abuse that mocks our governance
  2. In our approach towards eliminating torture as an affront to human dignity, we have been caught between legislative apathy and judicial abdication
  3. The necessity to move the SC arose because even years after India became a signatory to the Convention Against Torture in 1997
  4. But we have not been able to ratify it or have in place a domestic legislation to effectuate the right to life with dignity read into Article 21 of the Constitution

Imperviousness of the SC

  1. Can’t force govt. to frame anti-torture law: SC
  2. And this is despite the 2010 recommendation of the Select Committee of the Rajya Sabha supported by the National Human Rights Commission, the Law Commission of India and repeated assurances given on behalf of the Indian government at the UN Universal Periodic Review(in favor of the law)
  3. The court remained impervious to its own jurisprudence expounded in Puttaswamy and NALSA (2014)
  4. In the precedent the court said that “unless there is a manifest intent expressed to the contrary, domestic laws should be aligned with the international legal regime on the subject”
  5. It seemed legitimate to expect the highest constitutional court to inspire legislation that would vindicate the ethic of human rights as it has done so often in the past

How is it affecting India’s reputation?

  1.  Those facing criminal trials and extradition proceedings abroad including Abu Salem, Kim Davy, Jagtar Singh Johal and others have questioned the country’s investigative and criminal justice system
  2. in the absence of an effective and enforceable law against custodial torture

Government’s view on the law

  1. According to government’s representatives, it is seriously considering the October 2017 recommendation of the Law Commission in support of a standalone anti-torture law
  2. Parliamentarians who are privileged to represent the concerns of the people must keep faith and ensure the passage of a humanitarian law
Climate Change Negotiations – UNFCCC, COP, Other Conventions and Protocols Global Groupings and Conventions

[op-ed snap] A sum of contributions: Climate Change


Mains Paper 3: Environment | Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: NMSKCC, Talanoa Dialogue, Under2 Coalition, etc.

Mains level: Various reports, MoU, Dialogue, Coalition and Indian government’s plans, on climate change, discussed in the newscard.


The Emissions Gap Report 2017

  1. It had underlined that fulfilment of national pledges related to carbon emission reductions under the Paris Agreement would be inadequate to keep global warming below 2°C
  2. Thus, a renewed focus on climate governance is imperative

The Talanoa Dialogue of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change

  1. Beginning this month
  2. It will facilitate the parties to take stock of progress post-Paris
  3. India’s role: As a key player in international climate governance, India could set the precedent in deepening the dialogue process

Contribution of Indian States is important for achieving India’s Climate Targets

  1. In a federal democracy like India, subnationals or States are a vital part of the grand coalition between the Centre, civil society, businesses, and key climate stakeholders
  2. India’s State Action Plan on Climate Change supports the integration of national climate change goals into subnational policies
  3. India has committed to meet its current target of 33% reduction in emission intensity of the 2005 level by 2030, by generating 40% of its energy from renewables
  4. States are important for the realisation of this goal

The Under2 Coalition

  1. It is an MoU by subnational governments to reduce their greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions towards net-zero by 2050
  2. It is generating a unique precedent for bold climate leadership, with its member states and regions surpassing 200 in number
  3. Currently, Telangana and Chhattisgarh are signatories to this pact from India
  4. Comparision: 26 subnational governments in China and 24 in the U.S.
  5. Greater representation of Indian States is crucial

Need of knowledge action networks

  1. States have enormous mitigation potential, but the evidence pertaining to its effectiveness is still scarce.
  2. Therefore, India must look towards creating knowledge action networks and partnerships under both national and State action plan frameworks
  3. Kerala has taken the lead to build such a knowledge network funded by the National Mission on Strategic Knowledge for Climate Change


The National Mission on Strategic Knowledge for Climate Change (NMSKCC)
Mission Objectives

  1. Formation of knowledge networks among the existing knowledge institutions engaged in research and development relating to climate science.
  2. Establishment of global technology watch groups with institutional capacities to carry out research on risk minimized technology selection for developmental choices
  3. Development of national capacity for modeling the regional impact of climate change on different ecological zones within the country for different seasons and living standards
  4. Establishing research networks and encouraging research in the areas of climate change impacts on important socio-economic sectors like agriculture, health, natural ecosystems, biodiversity, coastal zones, etc.
Disinvestment in India Industries

Don’t divest AI, give it 5 years to revive: panel


Mains Paper 3: Economy | Infrastructure: Energy, Ports, Roads, Airports, Railways etc.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Parliamentary panels

Mains level: Crucial suggestion by the parliamentary panel as the government is on the verge of disinvestment in the Air India(AI)


Suggestion by the Parliamentary Panel to the government

  1. This is not the appropriate time to divest government stake in Air India (AI)
  2. And it should be given at least five years to revive and its debt written off
  3. The panel has concluded that the government should review its decision to privatise or disinvest AI
  4. And explore the possibility of “an alternative to disinvestment of our national carrier which is our national pride”
  5. Important comment by the panel: It would be lopsided to assess and evaluate the functioning of AI solely from business point of view, as has been done by NITI Aayog

Other concerns noted by the panel

  1. It has concluded that the equity infusion in the national carrier[as part of the turnaround plan (TAP)] is adversely affecting its financial and operational performance
  2. And “forcing” the airline to take loans “at a higher interest rate to meet the shortfall
Land Reforms Governance

[op-ed snap] The problem of land hoarding


Mains Paper 1: Social issues | Urbanization , their problems & remedies

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Government Land Information System (GLIS), floor space index (FSI)

Mains level: Problems associated with land use and how to effectively use land in urban as well as rural areas


Government having very less information about its landholding

  1. The Centre, by its own admission, does not know exactly how much property it owns
  2. The information provided by the Government Land Information System (GLIS) is both incomplete and patchy
  3. Various Central Ministries admit to owning only about 13,50,500 hectares of land, official sources suggest that the correct figure is several times more than what is disclosed

The problem of unused land

  1. A large proportion of government land lies unused
  2. A large part of the unused land is high-value property in prime areas in major cities
  3. Land hoarding by government agencies has created artificial scarcity and is one of the main drivers of skyrocketing urban real estate prices

What does this lead to?

  1. Middle- and lower-income households find adequate housing unaffordable
  2. High land prices also reduce competitiveness by increasing the cost of industrial and development projects
  3. The allocation of unused land is rife with corruption
  4. Scams involving the Adarsh Cooperative Housing Society, the Srinagar airfield project, and the Kandla Port Trust are a few of the many examples

Basic tenets of urban planning defied

  1. Land is a crucial and often constraining input for production, not only in agriculture but also in secondary and tertiary sectors
  2. A useful measure of this is the floor space index (FSI), which is the total floor area built per square metre of land
  3. For example, if a single-storey building occupies 50% of a plot, the FSI would be 1/2. If the building is expanded vertically to have four stories, the FSI will go up to two (4 times 1/2), as the effective floor area has quadrupled

Why should FSI be increased?

  1. The demand for land increases with both population density and economic growth
  2. Therefore, to maintain efficiency, the FSI should also increase. By this token, the FSI should be the highest in major city centres
  3. Apart from supplying space for economic activities, such an arrangement would also help maximise the gains from transport infrastructure

What is needed?

  1. The need of the hour is a comprehensive inventory of land resources and usage patterns for all government branches
  2. It should include information on the location of each property, its dimensions, the legal title, current and planned use, and any applicable land use restrictions
  3. This will enable effective identification of suboptimal land use, as well as of the land that is surplus

Utilization of surplus land

  1. Surplus land should be utilised to meet the ever-growing demands for services, such as water and waste disposal, as well as government-sponsored housing and transportation projects

Way forward

  1. The problem of inefficient land use by government departments and public sector units is complicated and endemic
  2. Solving the problem of wastage could generate employment and pull masses out of poverty, thereby aiding the economy to grow fast
Foreign Policy Watch: Cross-Border Terrorism Bilateral Relations

US, Russia back India in bid to stop terror funding by Pakistan


Mains Paper 2: IR | Bilateral, regional & global groupings & agreements involving India &/or affecting India’s interests

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Financial Action Task Force (FATF)

Mains level: Pakistan support to terrorist groups and India’s efforts at exposing Pakistan


Highlighting Pakistan’s role in abetment of terrorism

  1. India’s attempts at highlighting Pakistan’s role in abetment of terrorism and financing of terrorist organizations globally is meeting with success
  2. Countries like the US and Russia are backing New Delhi’s attempts to pressure Islamabad to stem the flow of funds to banned individuals and entities at forums like the international Financial Action Task Force (FATF)
  3. India has kept up its efforts to highlight Pakistan’s links with anti-India terrorist groups and abetment of terrorism at various multilateral forums including the United Nations general assembly as well as during bilateral interactions

Pakistan warned

  1. The government said American and Russian support had ensured that the FATF, in its meeting in November in Argentina, called on Pakistan to report on the action it was taking to curb terror funding
  2. FATF has warned Pakistan it could be put on a watch list if failed to crack down on the financing of terrorism


Financial Action Task Force (FATF)

  1. The Financial Action Task Force (FATF) is an inter-governmental body established in 1989 by the Ministers of its Member Jurisdictions
  2. The FATF currently comprises 35 member jurisdictions and 2 regional organizations (GCC and European Commission), representing most major financial centres in all parts of the globe
  3. The objectives of the FATF are to set standards and promote effective implementation of legal, regulatory and operational measures for combating money laundering, terrorist financing and other related threats to the integrity of the international financial system
  4. The FATF is, therefore, a “policy-making body” which works to generate the necessary political will to bring about national legislative and regulatory reforms in these areas
  5. The FATF’s decision-making body, the FATF Plenary, meets three times per year
  6. The FATF has developed a series of Recommendations that are recognized as the international standard for combating of money laundering and the financing of terrorism and proliferation of weapons of mass destruction
Air Pollution Conservation & Mitigation

‘Green’ crackers on the anvil

Image source


Mains Paper 3: Environment | Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Environment-friendly crackers, CSIR, perchlorate

Mains level: Harmful effects of firecrackers and ways to reduce their usage


Environment-friendly crackers

  1. In a bid to fight air pollution, Science and Environment Minister has tasked the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research to come up with a way to make crackers that are “environmentally friendly”
  2. Several CSIR laboratories have come together and are putting together a robust S&T strategy for development of eco-friendly firecrackers and fireworks

How will this be done?

  1. The first phase will cover reduction of pollutants, while future strategies will cover removal of pollutants from the compositions
  2. A key ingredient in several crackers is perchlorate and replacing them with nitrogen-rich materials or nitrocellulose could make them burn cleaner and produce less smoke

Harmful effect of crackers

  1. Other than smoke-aggravating partially-burnt paper that sheaths the gunpowder in crackers, metals in fireworks such as strontium and barium are toxic to human and animal health
  2. The burning process produces other harmful emissions such as polychlorinated hydrocarbons
Tribal Development Human Resource Development

Mankidia denied habitat in Simlipal

Image source


Mains Paper 2: Governance | Government policies & interventions for development in various sectors & issues arising out of their design & implementation.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups, Similipal Tiger Reserve, Forest Rights Act, Mankidia, Bondas, Didai, Hill Khadia and Paudi Bhuyan tribes

Mains level: Schemes for development of Tribes and issues in their implementation


Not getting benefits of Forest Rights Act

  1. Mankidia, one of the 13 Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups (PVTG) in Odisha, were denied habitat rights inside the Similipal Tiger Reserve (STR)
  2. There are provisions related to this in the historic Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006

Forest department’s reasoning

  1. The State Forest Department has objected on grounds that tribals could be attacked by wild animals, especially tigers
  2. Habitat rights would also create barriers for free movement of tigers and other animals

How this would affect Mankidia tribe?

  1. Mankidia, a marginalised group that critically depends on making rope with siali fibre that’s richly available in Similipal, would now be deprived of the non-timber forest produce

Definition of Habitat

  1. ‘Habitat’ as defined under Section 2(h) of the FRA (Forest Rights Act) includes the area comprising the customary habitat and such other habitats in reserved forests and protected forests of primitive tribal groups and pre-agricultural communities and other forest dwelling Scheduled Tribes

Tribes in Odisha

  1. In Odisha, processes have been initiated for according habitat rights to PVTGs such as Bondas, Didai, Hill Khadia and Paudi Bhuyan


Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups

  1. Particularly vulnerable tribal group (PVTG) (earlier: Primitive tribal group) is a government of India classification created with the purpose of enabling improvement in the conditions of certain communities with particularly low development indices
  2. PVTGs have some basic characteristics -they are mostly homogenous, with a small population, relatively physically isolated, social institutes cast in a simple mould, absence of written language, relatively simple technology and a slower rate of change etc.
  3. In 1973, the Dhebar Commission created Primitive Tribal Groups (PTGs) as a separate category, who are less developed among the tribal groups
  4. PVTGs are scattered in different geographical areas of the country
  5. The Scheme for Development of Primitive Vulnerable Tribal Groups (PVTGs), came into effect from April 1,2008
  6. The Scheme defines PVTGs as the most vulnerable among the Scheduled Tribes and the Scheme therefore seeks to prioritise their protection and development
  7. It identifies 75 PVTGs
  8. Activities supported under the scheme include housing, land distribution, land development, agricultural development, cattle development, construction of link roads, installation of non conventional sources of energy, social security, etc
International Space Agencies – Missions and Discoveries Space Technology

SpaceX launches secretive Zuma mission

Image source


Mains Paper 3: Science & Technology | Awareness in the fields of IT, Space, Computers, robotics, nano-technology, bio-technology

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: SpaceX, Zuma, Falcon 9

Mains level: Emerging private sector in Space technology


Secretive U.S. government payload launched

  1. SpaceX blasted off a secretive U.S. government payload known as Zuma
  2. Mission’s nature and the agency behind it still remains a mystery

Falcon 9 used

  1. Falcon 9 rocket was used to launch the payload
  2. After launch, SpaceX returned the tall portion of the Falcon 9 rocket to an upright landing at Cape Canaveral



  1. Space Exploration Technologies Corp., doing business as SpaceX, is a private American aerospace manufacturer and space transport services company
  2. It was founded in 2002 by entrepreneur Elon Musk with the goal of reducing space transportation costs and enabling the colonization of Mars
  3. SpaceX has since developed the Falcon launch vehicle family and the Dragon spacecraft family, which both currently deliver payloads into Earth orbit
  4. In March 2017, SpaceX became the first to successfully re-launch and land the first stage of an orbital rocket
  5. SpaceX’s achievements include
  • the first privately funded liquid-propellant rocket to reach orbit (Falcon 1 in 2008);
  • the first privately funded company to successfully launch, orbit, and recover a spacecraft (Dragon in 2010);
  • the first private company to send a spacecraft to the International Space Station (Dragon in 2012);
  • the first propulsive landing for an orbital rocket (Falcon 9 in 2015); and
  • the first reuse of an orbital rocket (Falcon 9 in 2017)

Falcon 9

  1. Falcon 9 is a family of two-stage-to-orbit medium lift launch vehicles, named for its use of nine first-stage engines, designed and manufactured by SpaceX
  2. Falcon 9 is going to be developed as a “fully reusable heavy lift launch vehicle”
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