Type: op-ed snap


Environmental Conservation and Mitigation strategy Conservation & Mitigation

[op-ed snap] The right to breathe

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Note4students

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

The following things are important from UPSC perspective:

Prelims Level: Not much

Mains level: Most probable consequences(related to pollution) are discussed in the article. Specially mentioned in the Mains syllabus.


News

Context

  1. The article talks about the recent judgement of the SC on firecrackers and the effects of pollution on Delhi(in different areas)

Pollution figures same as last year

  1. Air quality readings in Delhi are extremely poor, once again
  2. In November 2016, Delhi witnessed a public health emergency with the air pollution hitting perilous levels and smog covering the city
  3. Given that the situation repeats itself year after year

Issues related to the recent SC judgement on firecrackers ban

  1. Yes, the apex court’s ban on firecrackers may hurt the interests of the traders in the short run
  2. But then, clean air is a basic human right

Particulate matter in firecrackers

  1. Diwali firecrackers produce extremely high levels of PM 2.5 (fine particulate matter with a diameter of 2.5 microns or less) over a short period of time, especially in the breathing zone (within a three-feet radius of the lit firework)
  2. PM 2.5 enters the blood stream through the lungs and cannot be filtered out
  3. They act as silent killers causing cancer, respiratory and cardiovascular diseases

Pollution effect on Delhi’s children

  1.  Delhi is silently suffering from a severe paediatric respiratory crisis with children suffering from irreversible lung damage
  2. Half of Delhi’s school children will never recover full lung capacity, surveys reveal
  3. Its deathly air has led to generations with choked lungs, weak hearts and a failing immune system

Serious impact on foreigners

  1. Delhi is among those with the poorest air quality, according to a WHO report
  2. To contend with the poor air quality, embassies and international businesses in Delhi considered reducing staff tenures, advised staff to reconsider bringing their children to Delhi and provided high-end air purifiers

Why is it important for India to solve the problem of pollution?

  1. As an aspiring global super power, India needs to showcase its capital by meeting international standards on pollution control, and adhering to the quality of living index etc
  2. While trying to project itself as the world’s manufacturing hub and seeking foreign investment, the country needs to attain global standards
  3. Delhi needs to be safe and inviting for the global community

History of solving pollution related issues in Delhi

  1. Delhi has managed to clean up its air before
  2. At the turn of the century, polluting industries were made to leave the city
  3. Coal-burning power plants were shut down
  4. A historic SC judgment in 1998, compelling all public transport vehicles to run on CNG, had reduced levels of Respirable Suspended Particulate Matter (RSPM) significantly
Internal Security: Updates

[op-ed snap] The right balance

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Note4students

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

The following things are important from UPSC perspective:

Prelims: Particulars of the SCO

Mains level: The article comprehensively explains the current issues related to India and the SCO. The UPSC is known to ask direct questions on such kind of topics. Very important for Mains Paper 2.


News

Context

  1. The article talks about the relations between India and the SCO.

Speculations about the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO)

  1. India’s relations with Pakistan and China have entered a difficult phase has also generated apprehensions in India about the forum creating new pressures on Jammu and Kashmir

Is the SCO’s objective and India’s expectations same?

  1. Countering extremism, terrorism and separatism is a major objective of the SCO
  2. Sceptics would say the apparent convergence between what the SCO does and India wants may be somewhat deceptive
  3. They would insist that the difficulties encountered by the recent Indian bid to isolate Pakistan in various international forums should caution India against expecting too much on this front at the SCO

What India should do?

  1. India must persist in the belief that change is inevitable and purposeful diplomacy can allow India to probe for new opportunities for regional security cooperation
  2. The recent kidnapping and killing of two Chinese nationals in Pakistan underlines the prospect that Beijing can’t forever remain untouched by the terror nurtured by Pakistan

Issues related to Belt and road initiative

  1. Differences between China’s President Xi Jinping and Prime Minister Narendra Modi could not be masked
  2. If Xi argued that the SCO could become a major vehicle for its ambitious Belt and Road Initiative, Modi articulated India’s reservations, especially the impact of the project on India’s sovereignty in Kashmir

Effective steps by the Indian PM

  1. The PM appears to have found the right balance between articulating India’s concerns and underlining India’s promise to strengthen inner Asian regionalism
  2. He outlined a realistic approach towards the SCO that combined a strong emphasis on countering terrorism and a readiness to explore win-win solutions for expanding connectivity
Minimum Support Prices for Agricultural Produce

[op-ed snap] Retrench India’s farm economy to sustain it

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Note4students

Mains Paper 3: Agriculture | Issues related to direct & indirect farm subsidies & minimum support prices

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: National Agriculture Market (eNAM), Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchayee Yojana

Mains level: Long pending agricultural reforms in India


Context

  1. In 2007-08, Madhya Pradesh government announced a bonus of Rs 150 above the minimum support price (MSP) per quintal of wheat
  2. Predictably, a large segment of farmers in the state shifted to the crop
  3. The bonus was stopped in 2014
  4. Farmers who had shifted production were not pleased
  5. It fed into the resentment that would eventually erupt in widespread farmer agitations in the state this year

Artificial incentives for agriculture

  1. The Indian state has often played the same role in the agricultural sector
  2. Its policies have created artificial incentives that are unsustainable, an inefficient drain on public funds, or both

Another such scheme by MP government

  1. The Bhavantar Bhugtan Yojana will replace government procurement with compensatory payments
  2. This will be when market prices are below the MSP
  3. It is being implemented as a pilot scheme for eight crops

Hope from the scheme

  1. The hope is that this will sidestep the implementation shortcomings of the procurement system
  2. These extend from the lack of government storage facilities and supply chain logistics
  3. Also, the fact that despite the government declaring MSPs for 25 crops, it largely procures only rice and wheat
  4. It will be less distortionary, freeing up space for the market to set rates

Reality check

  1. The knowledge that the government will make up the shortfall will incentivize traders to set rates well below the MSP
  2. The scheme has a two-month window, which means that the rush to sell in that period will also push prices down

Need for government intervention

  1. The agricultural sector is one of the handful where inelastic demand for the products, the deleterious public effects of supply shocks and inherent risks for suppliers mandate a government role

Agricultural reforms: What is needed?

Truly transformative agricultural reforms will require work on three levels

  1. The first level is mandi system
  • With the 2003 and 2017 versions of the model Agricultural Produce Market Committee (APMC) Act, governments have attempted to liberalize this system, providing for private markets and integrated state markets
  • This was a step towards a national market facilitated by the National Agriculture Market (eNAM)
  • The problem with this is that it still operates within the mandi system
  • Solution: Government needs to get out of the business altogether—and that is only possible with a switch from the public distribution system to direct benefit transfers

2. The second level of reforms should be aimed at inputs

  • The Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchayee Yojana aims to extend irrigation cover to all forms and maximize water-use efficiency over a period of five years
  • In a water-stressed yet groundwater-dependent country like India, this is only possible with comprehensive rural electrification, allowing for techniques such as drip irrigation
  • The other major reform needed here is access to formal credit
  • The current dependence on informal credit leaves farmers beholden to middlemen and traders who are often the credit suppliers, thus undercutting the former’s bargaining power

3.  The third level of reforms should be reduction in number of people participating in Agriculture

  • As per the last Agriculture Census, the average farm holding in India is a minuscule 1.15 hectares
  • Their number has been on the rise since the 1970s and is expected to touch 91% by 2030
  • There is no feasible way to make such a fragmented agricultural economy workable
  • For a sustainably healthy agricultural economy, the number of people participating in it must be drastically reduced
  • Measures such as enabling large-scale contract farming and corporate farming will help here—but the only genuine solution is job creation in non-agricultural sectors
Environmental Conservation and Mitigation strategy Conservation & Mitigation

[op-ed snap] Time for auto industry to go all electric

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Note4students

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

From the UPSC perspective following things are important:

Prelims Level: Particulars of the EV technology

Mains Level: The article is important for both Mains paper 2 and paper 3.


News

Context

  1. The article talks about Electric Vehicles(EVs) and how government is planning to achieve its targets related to EVs.

India is going after clean and renewable energy sources

  1. The government has been working to effect a radical shift in India’s energy production and consumption patterns to reduce dependence on fossil fuels
  2. According to last year’s National Electricity Plan (NEP3) forecast, India will achieve(ahead of schedule), the target of renewable energy being 40% of total power production by 2030
  3. The target was declared at the Paris Climate Change Conference in 2015

NITI Aayog’s report on mobility transformation 

  1. The government intends that all vehicles sold in India by 2030 should be electric
  2. A recently released NITI Aayog report on mobility transformation outlines a feasible and phased approach to achieve this goal
  3. It presents the government’s vision of a shared, electric and connected mobility paradigm where mobility is a service based on an electric vehicle (EV) fleet, enabled by the convergence of
    (1) low-cost technologies,
    (2) smart designs,
    (3) business model innovation and supportive policies

The government is leading by example

  1. The Central government is calling global tenders for the first 10,000 electric cars, of which a pilot phase of 500 cars has already been awarded to Tata Motors Ltd and Mahindra & Mahindra
  2. Among the states, the Karnataka government has taken the lead in formulating India’s first comprehensive EV policy
  3. The policy will support a complete ecosystem from manufacturing to deployment of charging stations

Why EVs are not popular in India?

  1. Due to range anxiety, high capital cost and long charging time, despite the obvious benefits of very low running costs and zero emission

Government’s plan for Public Transport

  1. Coming to public transport, despite a sharp increase in private vehicle ownership over the last decade, India still relies heavily on public transport
  2. The government plans to make public transport more economical and environment-friendly by promoting electric buses
  3. However, the current generation of electric buses with traditional battery technology are prohibitively expensive at four to five times the cost of a diesel bus

How to counter challenges related to EVs?
One way is “Battery swapping” 

  1. To help bring down the capital cost of electric buses, experts are recommending two things among the various solutions being looked at
    (1) reducing the battery size and
    (2) adopting “swappable” battery technology,
  2. It will help in bringing down the upfront capital cost while reducing the operational cost and charging time
  3. The Indian auto industry is actively working in this direction as it helps state public transport agencies to induct electric bus fleets without incurring too much additional expenditure

Benefits of connected vehicles

  1. The government’s agenda also focuses on developing an ecosystem to support the EV industry
  2. It will enable various stakeholders to stay connected, enabling a high-functioning ,EV-driven public transport system
  3. For example, an electric bus heading for the last stop can signal EV taxis in the area about how many passengers it will be offloading
  4. This ensures optimum onward journey options for the disembarking passengers
  5. Or EVs can communicate with refuelling stations about battery requirements, so there is never a danger of getting stranded
  6. These connected vehicles are also a necessary step towards the inevitable progression to autonomous vehicles

The Way Forward

  1. The auto industry has been growing at a steady pace and India is now becoming an export hub for small and medium-sized cars
  2. This leaves the auto industry well-placed to go all out on electric
  3. This is an opportune time for the auto industry to embrace the government’s EV push and collaborate with technology and mobility solution providers to capitalize on this opportunity
  4. It will hugely benefit the nation, economically and environmentally
Direct Benefits Transfer: The Big Reform Finance and Banking

[op-ed snap] Universal Basic Income is not feasible for India

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Note4students

Mains Paper 3: Economy | Inclusive growth & issues arising from it.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: International Monetary Fund (IMF), Fiscal Monitor, GDP, Economic Survey, Universal Basic Income

Mains level: Debate surrounding Universal Basic Income


Context

IMF joins in the UBI debate

  1. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has added its bit to the ongoing debate on Universal Basic Income in India.
  2. The latest Fiscal Monitor of the IMF, in its analysis, used fiscal space equivalent to the cost of the public distribution system and energy subsidies in 2011-12
  3. It showed that this can finance an annual Universal Basic Income of Rs 2,600 per person
  4. It is equivalent to about 20% of that year’s median per capita consumption, with the estimated cost at about 3% of the gross domestic product (GDP)

UBI: New to India?

  1. The basic idea of Universal Basic Income is not new for India
  2. The erstwhile Planning Commission had worked on it in the early 1960s

Why UBI debate started?

  1. Economists in the Union finance ministry published an excellent chapter on Universal Basic Income in the 2016-17 Economic Survey
  2. A large proportion of the population in India still lives below the poverty line and a number of government programmes providing subsidies and support to the poor are marred by inefficiencies
  3. There are leakages in the system, and often, people who actually need government support are left out
  4. Universal Basic Income is seen by many as an alternative to the existing system of subsidies, which is often associated with systemic inefficiencies

Why can India not opt for Universal Basic Income?

  1. Fiscal capacity
  • The Economic Survey calculations showed that a 75% universality rate with an annual Universal Basic Income of Rs 7,620 per year at 2016-17 prices will cost about 5% of the GDP
  • Economists calculated that an inflation-indexed Universal Basic Income of Rs 10,000 at 2014-15 prices—about three-quarters of that year’s poverty line—will cost about 10% of the GDP
  • Thinking: It is often assumed that resources can be raised by rationalizing subsidies and capturing a part of the revenue foregone on account of various tax exemptions, including in the personal income tax
  • Reality: The revenue forgone in most cases is optical and the result of poor design. In any case, a part of it is now out of the system with the implementation of the goods and services tax
  • Further, politically, it will be extremely difficult to roll back subsidies in order to create fiscal space for Universal Basic Income

2. Can create distortions in the labour market

  • A steady, permanent and guaranteed income without any work is likely to affect labour mobility and participation
  • It is also likely to increase wages, as has been witnessed after the implementation of the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act
  • Problem: Higher wages without a commensurate increase in productivity will affect India’s competitiveness
  • This could also have longer-term implications in terms of higher inflation and lower growth

3. Nature of Indian politics

  • It is highly likely that political parties, in order to improve their chances in elections, would want to increase the amount of Universal Basic Income
  • Or try to bring back subsidies in some form or the other, which will have fiscal implications
  • India still has to prove that it can actually run balanced budgets for an extended period
  • The political class always has this temptation to declare premature victories and give away fiscal gains

What India actually needs?

  1. India needs rationalization of subsidies, better targeting and operational efficiency
  2. It needs to move to cash transfers at an accelerated pace with the use of Jan-Dhan, Aadhaar and mobile
  3. This will help reduce costs and spare resources for capital spending to augment growth
  4. As history has shown, the best way to pull people out of poverty is sustained higher growth

Back2Basics

Read Economic survey all chapters here- Click2get

SEBI-FMC Merger: The Road Ahead Finance and Banking

New Sebi panel to review stock exchange norms

Note4students

Mains Paper 2: Polity | Statutory, regulatory and various quasi-judicial bodies.

From the UPSC perspective following things are important:

Prelims Level: IPO

Mains Level: Complement it with other committees constituted by the SEBI, for the improvement of stock exchanges, etc. The article also shows the statutory powers of the SEBI.


News

Setting up of a committee by the SEBI

  1. SEBI has constituted a committee to review the norms for market infrastructure institutions such as stock exchanges, depositories and clearing corporations
  2. The committee will be headed by former Reserve Bank of India deputy governor R. Gandhi

Why this move?

  1. This move comes after SEBI proposed a review of regulations related to ownership and governance of market infrastructure institutions earlier this year

Comprehensive review

  1. After SEBI’s 11 February board meeting, it had announced a comprehensive review of
    (1) Stock Exchange and Clearing Corporation (SECC) regulations,
    (2) Securities Contracts (Regulation) Act and
    (3) Sebi Depositories and Participants (D&P) regulations
  2. And sought public comments
  3. The review is in line with the recommendation of the Bimal Jalan committee
  4. The committee tabled its report in 2012 and had asked the regulator to conduct a review every five years
  5. Sebi’s review is significant in the wake of Multi-Commodity Exchange Ltd and BSE Ltd getting listed and National Stock Exchange of India Ltd preparing for an initial public offering (IPO) in the next financial year

Back2basics

Initial public offering (IPO)

  1. An initial public offering, or IPO, is the very first sale of stock issued by a company to the public
  2. Prior to an IPO the company is considered private, with a relatively small number of shareholders made up primarily of early investors (such as the founders, their families and friends) and professional investors (such as venture capitalists or angel investors)
  3. The public, on the other hand, consists of everybody else – any individual or institutional investor who wasn’t involved in the early days of the company and who is interested in buying shares of the company
Policy Wise: India’s Health Sector Health

[op-ed snap] The case for a public health cadre

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Note4students

Mains Paper 2: Governance | Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.

From the UPSC perspective following things are important:

Prelims Level: Not much

Mains Level: Specially mentioned in the Mains Syllabus


News

Context

  1. The article talks about a service, on the lines of the IAS, which can improve India’s health-care delivery

Different committees in the past supporting dedicated personnel for public health management

  1.  Mudaliar Committe(1959): It had observed that “personnel dealing with problems of health and welfare should have a comprehensive and wide outlook and rich experience of administration at the state level”
  2. Kartar Singh Committee(1973): It had said that “doctors with no formal training in infectious disease control, surveillance systems, data management, community health related problems, and lacking in leadership and communication skills, with no exposure to rural environments and their social dynamics, nor having been trained to manage a facility or draw up budget estimates, were ill-equipped and misfits to work in public facilities”
  3. Other observations: It was also felt that “the medical education that [a doctor] receives has hardly any relevance to the conditions in which he would be required to work, either in the state-run health programme or even in private practice
  4. Since medical education is based almost entirely on the western model, and where he is more suitable for the conditions that prevail in western countries than in his own

12th Five Year Plan and the National Health Policy, 2017

  1. They have also strongly advocated establishing a public health management cadre to improve the quality of health services
  2. How: by having dedicated, trained and exclusive personnel to run public health facilities

Public health cadre by Odisha

  1. It has notified the establishment of a public health cadre in the hope of ensuring vast improvement in the delivery of health care

Why India’s Health care system should have a cadre?

  1. Doctors with clinical qualifications and even with vast experience are unable to address all these challenges, thereby hampering the quality of our public health-care system
  2. Doctors recruited by the States and the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (through the UPSC) are to implement multiple, complex and large public health programmes besides applying fundamental management techniques
  3. In most places, this is neither structured nor of any quality
  4. In the absence of a public health cadre in most States, doctors with hardly any public health knowledge is required to implement reproductive and child health or a malaria control programme
  5. Further, at the Ministry level, the highest post may be held by a person with no formal training in the principles of public health to guide and advise the country on public health issues
  6. With a public health cadre in place, we will have personnel who can apply the principles of public health management
  7. And may avoid mistakes such as one that led to the tragedy in UP as well as deliver quality services

The Way Forward

  1. Such an exclusive department of public health will help in developing the recruitment, training, implementation and monitoring of public health management cadre
  2. Doctors recruited under this cadre may be trained in public health management on the lines of the civil service
  3. Financial support for establishing the cadre is also to be provisioned by the Central government under the Health Ministry’s budget
Environmental Conservation and Mitigation strategy Conservation & Mitigation

[op-ed snap] The wrong approach to environmental regulation

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Note4students

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

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level:Not much

Mains level: The recent decision decision of the SC on Diwali crackers is a hot topic of discussion these days. It is important to go through the issues related to this judgement.


News

Context

  1. The article talks about the recent SC order banning the sale of firecrackers in Delhi and the National Capital Region (NCR), which has expectedly turned into a controversy

There are two distinct issues that need to be separately analysed:
a) the scope of the state’s regulatory power vis-à-vis a religious celebration

  1. On this account, the matter is relatively clear
  2. The bursting of firecrackers releases a heavy dose of carcinogens in the atmosphere, presenting a public health challenge for the entire city
  3. As soon as it is clear that bursting of firecrackers by one person presents a health challenge to another, any argument of religion cannot reign supreme in a constitutional, secular republic

b) the agency of the state that such regulation should vest with

  1. The more difficult question is the choice between regulation
  2. The decision requires numerous inputs from scientific organizations, regulatory institutions, public policy experts and civil society
  3. Since a court of law does not have in-house expertise in these domains, it should leave such matters to the executive
  4. The Supreme Court delivered its arguments in the broader framework of the “right to breathe clean air” and the “right to health”
  5. But it went about dismissing the commercial considerations of the firecracker industry.
  6. These considerations could have equally been framed in terms of the right to livelihoods of thousands who depend heavily on the sale of firecrackers during Diwali

Possible harm to the credibility of the SC

  1. Bans are rarely effective
  2. It is difficult to imagine that no firecracker sale will happen in the entire territory of Delhi and NCR as a result of the SC order
  3. If the police fail to enforce the order, the credibility of the SC, particularly in cases of environmental regulation, will suffer immensely

Dealing of this matter by the SC

  1. The manner in which the SC has dealt with this particular case also raises a number of concerns
  2. It first passed an order on 11 November 2016 (after Diwali) banning the sale of firecrackers
  3. Then it partially lifted the ban on 12 September 2017
  4. To make matters worse, the court has ordered suspension of all the temporary licences issued after its 12 September 2017 verdict which allowed the grant of these licences

These kind of issues are not new

  1. In an earlier instance, the SC had increased the entry tax on trucks entering Delhi without factoring in the demand elasticity of goods (carried in those trucks) transported to Delhi

The way forward

  1. The elected government is in the best position to elicit scientific and economic inputs and take a call, even if it involves expending political capital
  2. The governments at the Centre and the states should involve different agencies like the Petroleum and Explosives Safety Organisation and the pollution control boards and invest in setting regulatory standards
  3. This can solve environment issues, better than Judiciary
Euthanasia : Euphemism for Killing? Constitution

[op-ed snap] The will to die — on ‘living wills’

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Note4students

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 the UPSC perspective following things are important:

Prelims Level: Vegetative state, Living will.

Mains Level: Much debated topic. The SCs cognizance on the issue has made it more important for the Mains paper.


News

Context

  1. The article talks about the recent case came before the Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court
  2. The case is on allowing euthanasia as a means to protect the dignity of patients in a vegetative state

What is a vegetative state?

  1. A vegetative state is absence of responsiveness and awareness due to overwhelming dysfunction of the cerebral hemispheres(a part of brain), with sufficient sparing of the diencephalon and brain stem to preserve autonomic and motor reflexes and sleep-wake cycles

What is a living will?

  1. A written statement detailing a person’s desires regarding future medical treatment in circumstances in which they are no longer able to express informed consent, especially an advance directive

Should the law allow ‘living wills’?

  1. The court will have to resolve the question whether the right to life under Article 21 of the Constitution(while taking decision on euthanasia and living will)
  2. And according to an earlier verdict, Article 21 does not include the right to die
  3. And a living will may relieve the close family members and caregivers of a terminally ill patient of the moral burden of making a life-ending decision

Courts reaction on this

  1. While reserving its verdict, the court has indicated that it may lay down comprehensive guidelines on operationalising the idea of living wills

Government’s stance on the issue

  1. The government has opposed the concept of an advance directive, arguing that it would be against public policy and the right to life
  2. The government is rightly concerned that the idea may be misused and result in the neglect of the elderly

Earlier judgement of SC on Euthanasia

  1. The Supreme Court, in a landmark verdict in 2011, ruled out any support for active euthanasia
  2. But laid down a broad legal framework for passive euthanasia, or the withdrawal of life support subject to safeguards and a fair procedure

The way forward

  1. In the present case, the court may have to draw up stringent safeguards for certifying living wills, preferably by a judicial officer
  2. And lay down the exact stage at which the advance directive becomes applicable
  3. The court’s observation that it would initiate only after a medical board rules that a person’s condition is incurable
  4. So, Living wills, if sanctified in law, should come with robust safeguards
Security issues – Internal & External

[op-ed snap] New Pattern Of Urban Terror

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Note4students

Mains Paper 3: Internal Security | Challenges to internal security through communication networks, role of media and social networking sites in internal security challenges,

From the UPSC perspective following things are important:

Prelims Level: Not much

Mains Level: Important suggestions are given in this article that can be mentioned in mains answers.


News

Context

  1. The article talks about the recent sniper attack by a “lone wolf”, which took a heavy toll of innocent lives at a Sunday night country music concert in Las Vegas
  2. The article compares the response of the US and India to such kind of attacks

Change in the pattern of global urban terrorist attacks

  1. Large groups of trained and armed terrorists attacking targets selected by their masters, are not famous these days
  2. Instead, we see lone wolf attackers targeting large gatherings

Comparison of the recent Las Vegas mass shooting with 26/11 attacks of India
Las Vegas

  1. In the US, police agencies, local and federal, were on the same page
  2. The electronic media was not overreacting or speculating
  3. The people on the streets of the city that never sleeps were quiet, not indulging in rumour mongering or spreading panic
  4. There was no politicking, blame games or mudslinging

26/11 of India

  1. Mumbai Police, one of the finest metropolitan police forces in the country, was taken by surprise and was ill-prepared to respond to such an attack
  2. About the role of certain sections of the electronic media, the less said the better. The blame game over intelligence and police failure went on and on
  3. A committee was constituted to go into the lapses and some progress has been made in training and equipping the Maharashtra and Mumbai Police with their own commandos

Issues with Indian Police System

  1. Indian police officers and men are second to none in bravery and courage but they need to be trained and equipped
  2. But our political and bureaucratic leadership is not willing to pay attention to this need
  3. Similarly, raising the strength of our police thanas and posts in cities, needs to be stepped up on a war footing
  4. But unfortunately, the limited resources of the Central and state home ministries are being mindlessly spent in rapidly expanding the para military forces
  5. And hordes of policemen and officers continue to be deployed on so-called VIP security duties

What should be done?

  1. Untrained and ill-equipped policemen must be replaced by meticulously planned operations on the ground
  2. Audit of the work done(by the forces) has to be an ongoing process and obstacles must be addressed with urgency without waiting for a repeat of a disaster
  3. Finally, Informing the nation about the need to understand security threats, is an important task that shoud be carried out
  4. A nation which understands the importance of the issue is well prepared. An alert citizenry is a powerful countermeasure, perhaps the most effective preventive weapon
Air Pollution: Issues & Challenges Climate Change

[op-ed snap] Don’t ban, say no

Note4students

Mains Paper 2: Polity | Separation of powers between various organs, dispute redressal mechanisms & institutions

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Air pollution and factors related to it

Mains level: Efforts being done by government, society to reduce air pollution and their outcomes, way forward


Context

  1. The Supreme Court has put its weight behind the 2016 ban on the sale of fireworks in Delhi-NCR
  2. This was imposed in response to an unusual plea filed by children affected by air pollution

Is ban a right step?

  1. A ban is an inefficient instrument
  2. Aimed at restricting a celebration, the ban on firecrackers may alienate people who were otherwise receptive to the idea of giving up or cutting down on the fireworks
  3. Besides, it would have the predictable effect of driving sales underground at inflated prices

Effect on Supreme court’s authority

  1. A Supreme Court ban which cannot be implemented in spirit would have the unfortunate effect of undermining the authority of the apex court in the eyes of the people

Other factors

  1. While the court has admitted that other factors like stubble burning contribute to the disastrous air quality of Delhi, the focus on fireworks makes its response seem unequal
  2. Livelihoods will be harmed by the court’s order

Judicial overreach?

  1. Matters of policy and implementation are ideally left to the legislature and executive
  2. The court has a moral obligation to step in if they are in complete dereliction of their duty to the people
  3. Since governments and society itself have shown an inclination to stop polluting practices, the last resort has been unnecessarily invoked

What court should have done?

  1. The Supreme Court could have urged government to intensify its efforts to influence the public will, and the process could have played out under its cautionary eye
  2. That would have been a better solution than to impose a ban which may be observed more in the breach
Environmental Conservation and Mitigation strategy Conservation & Mitigation

[op-ed snap] At Bonn, stay the course

Note4students

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

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Particulars of the COP, NDCs, etc.

Mains level: The UPSC is known to ask questions on COP and UNFCCC. Also, these issues are specially mentioned in the mains syllabus.


News

Context

  1. The article talks about the upcoming COP-23 meeting, issues to be discussed and challenges in attaining the targets.

23rd Conference of Parties (COP-23) of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC)

  1. Between November 6 and 17 this year, world leaders and delegates from various countries will gather at Bonn for attending this
  2. The meeting will primarily concentrate on various aspects associated with the implementation of the Paris Agreement (PA)
  3. PA was negotiated at COP-21 and entered into force, or became legally binding, on November 4, 2016

Issues to be discussed

  1. Adaptation to climate change
  2. Reduction in greenhouse gases
  3. Implementation of targets that were decided by each country ahead of the Paris meeting, eferred to as the nationally determined contributions (NDCs)
  4. In addition, the Bonn meetings will include the 47th sessions of the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA 47) which assists on science and technology

New warming target

  1. At the Paris COP, countries agreed to try and limit global warming to 1.5°C
  2. But since previous discussions had centred on the Lakshman rekha of 2°C, this required renewed understanding of the policies and actions required to stay within a lower target
  3. Half a degree reduction may seem really small, but in terms of the impacts on ecosystems, geophysical cycles and diverse life forms on earth, this is a substantial difference

Is achieving the target of 1.5°C really possible?

  1. Many scientists who research climate change, believe that we are on our way to a world that is 4°C warmer and that limiting warming to less than 1.5°C is an impossible dream
  2. But a recent paper in Nature Geoscience scientists analyses scenarios to demonstrate that limiting warming to 1.5 °C is not yet a geophysical impossibility
  3. But this would imply continuing to strengthen pledges for 2030, deepening the mitigation targets rapidly and deeply

Article 14 of the Agreement

  1. It provides the details on the targets, taking stock and reviewing them and the progress made towards long-term goals
  2. The first such stock-taking covering all aspects such as mitigation, adaptation communications, and support for implementation is expected to take place in 2023

Issues that can halt the progress

  1. This is the first COP after the US pulled out of the PA and the implications of this at a global platform are likely to become more evident
  2. According to earlier reports from the UN and other groups, the NDCs, when added up, fall short of what is needed to keep global temperature rise below 2°C and will likely take us about a degree higher
  3. Further, most NDCs are conditional — they depend on financial and technological support from rich countries for their full implementation

The way forward

  1. Political conditions prevalent today are not favourable to renegotiate the Paris Agreement
  2. Our only hope is to see a greater readiness on the part of all nations to compromise on their erstwhile hard positions, and sincerity to make progress in reducing emissions

Back2basics

Nationally Determined Contributions

  1. Countries across the globe adopted an historic international climate agreement at the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Conference of the Parties (COP21) in Paris in December 2015
  2. In anticipation of this moment, countries publicly outlined what post-2020 climate actions they intended to take under the new international agreement, known as their Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs)
  3. The climate actions communicated in these INDCs largely determine whether the world achieves the long-term goals of the Paris Agreement: to hold the increase in global average temperature to well below 2°C, to pursue efforts to limit the increase to 1.5°C, and to achieve net zero emissions in the second half of this century
Judicial Appointments Conundrum Post-NJAC Verdict Constitution

[op-ed snap] Open court: In judicial appointments and transfers, justice will now be seen to be done

Image source

Note4students

Mains Paper 2: Polity | Structure, organization & functioning of the Executive & the Judiciary

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Collegium system, Memorandum of Procedure, National Judicial Appointments Commission

Mains level: Transparency initiative taken by SC & various HC’s and its ramifications on overall Indian Polity i.e judiciary, legislature and executive


News

Judiciary moves towards more transparency

  1. The Supreme Court has begun to upload the decisions of the collegium in the elevation, confirmation, and transfer of judges, and the reasoning behind them, at the time that its recommendations are forwarded to the government
  2.  This initiates transparency in a contested process when the judiciary and the executive have been at loggerheads over the Memorandum of Procedure
  3. In a 2015 judgment rejecting the proposed National Judicial Appointments Commission, the Supreme Court recommended improving the transparency of the collegium system

Consent of judges necessary in transfers

  1. A 1993 judgment makes it clear that consent for transfer should be taken “unless there exist pressing circumstances making it unavoidable”
  2. In addition, the circumstances must be in “public interest”

Current status: Criticism and justification

  1. The collegium’s recommendations for appointments to the Kerala and Madras High Courts are already on record and detail the process by which candidates were vetted
  2. The criticism has been made that the details were uploaded after the collegium took the decision, and the recommendations were on their way to the government
  3. Justification: If the collegium were to publish details prior to the decision, it would impugn the objective of confidentiality, which its resolution specifies
  4. The transparency delivered by the system is enough to prevent appointments that are clearly ill-advised
Agricultural Sector

[op-ed snap] From Plate to Plough: What Gujarat did yesterday

Image Source

Note4students

Mains Paper 3: Agriculture | Transport and marketing of agricultural produce and issues and related constraints

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Not much

Mains level: The possible solutions given in the article can be mentioned in the Mains paper.


News

Context

  1. The article talks about the Gujarat agricultural model from 2003 to 2014, and how it can help the current bad situation of agriculture situation in country.

Agriculture Growth of Gujarat from 2003 to 2014

  1. Gujarat’s agri-GDP registered an unprecedented growth of 8 per cent per annum during 2002-03 to 2013-14, way more than the all-India figure of 3.3 per cent per annum 
  2. Gujarat’s agri-growth was even higher than that achieved by Punjab during the Green Revolution’s

Expectations from the Gujarat model

  1. When Modi became the prime minister in May 2014, one was expecting that the “Gujarat model” would be extended to many states, with the fine-tuning to suit each state’s requirements
  2. But the growth of all-India agri-GDP in the first three years of NDA rule has come down to 1.8 per cent

Is deficient rain the reason behind this situation?

  1. Deficient rain in 2014-15 and 2015-16 is of course one factor behind this poor performance
  2. But there were bumper harvests in 2016-17, yet farmers suffered due to a collapse in agri-prices
  3. The advance estimates of 2017-18 do not indicate much recovery

Reasons behind Gujarat’s excellent agri-performance during 2003 to 2014
First

  1. The Atal Bihari Vajpayee government’s bold decision to allow the commercial use of Bt cotton became a catalyst for change, from which Gujarat benefited the most
  2. From nowhere in 2002, Bt cotton spread to more than 90 per cent of the area under cotton in Gujarat by 2014

Second

  1. China is taking over Syngenta for $43 billion to access the best technologies for its farmers
  2. While the Centre is creating conditions that may force companies like Monsanto to quit
  3. This government is literally reversing the benefits that the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government bestowed to farmers

Third

  1. Gujarat government at that time provided basic infrastructure to farmers — irrigation, power and roads enabled the easy adoption of Bt cotton, and benefited other crops and the livestock sector as well
  2. Currently, Gujarat has one of the best road-network in the country, of which 89 per cent are pucca/surfaced roads

Fourth

  1. Good marketing institutions propelled Gujarat agriculture, especially its dairy industry
  2. The AMUL model of directly buying milk from farmers’ cooperatives and processing and distributing it through millions of outlets ensures that farmers receive 75-80 per cent of the consumers’ price
  3. This model is worth extending to other commodities, especially fruits and vegetables, bypassing the mandi system

The way forward

  1. Enable farmers to access best technologies and best markets at home or abroad
  2. Invest in basic infrastructure that can give access to water for irrigation, power and rural roads
  3. Create AMUL type institutions for other commodities to enable farmers to access high share of consumers’ price
  4. Export bans or high minimum export prices for agri-products are anti-farmer
Digital India Initiatives: What’s Buzzing! Governance

[op-ed snap] The need for doing digital

Note4students

Mains Paper 3: Science & Technology | Awareness in the fields of IT, Space, Computers, robotics, nano-technology, bio-technology and issues relating to intellectual property rights.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level:Internet of things, blockchain tech, big data, etc.

Mains level: Importance of digital technology is well known. UPSC is known to ask questions on such kind of topics.


News

Context

  1. The article effectively explains how digital leadership and digital transformation can be beneficial for companies and also in other fields like agriculture.

Why is Digital Technologies important for India?

  1. India is particularly poised to take advantage of digital technologies
  2. Because they have the potential to add economic value of $550 billion to $1 trillion per year by 2025, and create millions of well-paying, productive jobs

When is digital leadership important for companies?

  1. Digital leadership is effective for companies only when it creates value—for their customers, partners and employees

What was the issues in deploying digital technologies in companies?

  1. The business process improvement strategy was often overlooked as the technology teams typically jumped into operations deploying a set of digital tools
  2. This mindset is precisely what led to failed implementation and reduced business value in the past
  3. What is going wrong in solving this issue: Organisations, in their attempt to solve their problems, have rushed to adopt various isolated technology components before defining the problem they were trying to solve

How is today’s situation is different from the above issues?

  1. Today, the entire thought process has been changed
  2. Addressing design is now the first port of call in the new-age digital businesses that intelligently connect people, things and business, to create a good experience for their customers
  3. The result is simultaneous growth in revenue and reduction in costs
  4. Retail chains are experiencing the impact when they turned its online sales platform into a unique mobile experience
  5. And moved its infrastructure to the cloud, leveraging a digital platform that combined several digital tools, including the Internet of Things (IoT), machine learning, blockchain and big data analytics to create a better experience for its users

Benefits of digital technologies in other areas

  1. Production at an agriculture farm can be monitored digitally, thereby allowing informed, intelligent decisions that can prevent crop spoilage, increase efficiency with sustainability
  2. For large manufacturing companies, digital technology can empower the workforce to fix critical problems in real time

How digital leadership can accomplish above mentioned targets?

  1. By using IoT, machine learning, artificial intelligence (AI), blockchain and big data analytics
  2. All these technologies provide tremendous value

The way forward

  1. Technology is core to digital transformation
  2. Digital leaders realise that digital transformation needs to be viewed in a holistic manner
  3. In a manner that impacts end-to-end business processes, creating delight at every user interface, and delivering real business value

Back2basics

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